Tuesday, December 22, 2009

december 09 festivities

I have a folder on my computer that has been collecting the pictures of all of the fun & festive things we have done this month to celebrate Christmas. I figured it would be easier to post them all at once rather than a separate post for each, so here I give you a month's worth of holiday fun :).

We have so enjoyed the holiday feeling this year. I feel so grateful for the cozy, easy way this month has seemed to pass. We have soaked a lot of Christmas spirit in, watching plenty of Christmas movies, baking almost constantly, and crafting and creating festive projects. 

Most of our Christmas fun has happened within the walls of our home, but we did venture out to The Festival of Trees at the beginning of the month to kick off the holidays. 

Little G was not so sure about being engulfed by a giant bubble, but after it popped on him he was all smiles.
We brought my little sisters along (and brothers and grandma, too, actually), and they had fun helping G do some of the little Christmas projects in the kids' area.

The next thing to check off our list was getting our tree picked out and brought home. G was pretty excited about having a big tree tied to the top of our car, and of course, thought he was an indispensable help to his daddy in getting the tree all situated in the stand. Notice his little step-stool in the picture-- he totes that around with him all over the house to "help" with whatever project is going on.

Here is the tree all lit up and decorated. G has not let me forget that our tree does not have "colors" on it this year, only "whites," and that next year he would like a tree with colors please.

I have seen a bunch of ornament wreath tutorials floating around on the internet. I went with the one that used a hanger, not a straw wreath, and I LOVED making it and I LOVED the final product. In fact, I loved it all so much that I made two of them. This was one of those projects that is so fun and satisfying to make. (Quite unlike the gumdrop wreath that I also started to make this year, but is not pictured here because I tediously made it about half way around the wreath with the gumdrops and got so sick of doing it that I haven't gone back to finish it since. I have half of a gumdrop wreath and about 3 pounds of gumdrops sitting in my room staring at me, but every time I have a free moment to sit down and get working on it, I think of something else I'd much rather be doing.)

I had never made a real gingerbread house before. I have decorated one using the kits you can buy, and have made a few out of graham crackers, but had never actually made and baked the gingerbread and then assembled and decorated the house. So this year G and I set out to learn how. First we made the gingerbread dough.

Then we rolled the dough out and used cookie cutters to cut out the shapes. (After this picture I realized that it would be a much better idea to roll out the dough onto parchment paper so I didn't have to lift it up and transfer it to a cookie sheet to bake. This made a huge difference in having smooth, even edges of the house to fit together.)

After a horrible realization that I had used the roof pieces for the sides of the house, and a construction intervention that salvaged the project thanks to my husband, I had so much fun decorating the house. My favorite part is the mini Charleston Chews I used to create the bricks on the front of the house.

G loved helping with the house. By helping I mean eating the candy as we went. One afternoon I found him in the kitchen on the table breaking the bottom halves of the roof cookies off and eating them. It was too classic to be mad at him (in fact, I had to leave the room to giggle about it), but he immediately felt bad (he definitely knew better) and started crying and apologizing over and over. The broken cookies give the house character, right?

I am not a fabulous chef by any means, but I do know how to follow recipes and cook, and usually stuff turns out okay. I got all excited to make caramel & chocolate dipped pretzels to give away, but holy cow, making the caramel for dipping almost made me crazy. I made three different batches, thinking it was turning out, but as it dried, the texture went all grainy and yucky-- not at all the soft, chewy caramel I was going for. It was so frustrating and I wanted to just throw them all away, but I couldn't quite stand the thought of just wasting it all. I did throw away a bunch of them, but the ones that weren't quite as bad I dipped in chocolate and decorated anyway. They taste just fine (my mom and J both loved them), but I don't want to give them away. So I shoved them all into a giant Ziploc bag on my counter and that is where they still sit. I don't know what to do with them.

My handy little helper and I have also made dozens of cookies, brownies, and other baked goods for various parties and activities. My favorite ones were the caramel filled chocolate nut cookies. I made this recipe last year for the first time, and it is so perfect for the holidays because you can make up a few batches of dough, shape them into balls, freeze them, and then when you are short on time but need a yummy homemade treat to take to a party or give away, you just pull some out and bake them. If anyone wants the recipe let me know and I can post it. It is too far away for me to get right now :).
G licking the beaters-- the baking skill he does best.
I took a picture of the process so you could get an idea of what you do. The most time consuming part is unwrapping all the Rolos. Then you just shape the dough around them, dip in a nut/sugar mixture, and
put in a Ziploc and freeze. Once they bake you drizzle them with melted white chocolate and they really do make such a yummy, pretty holiday treat.
After the baking, this is where G inevitably ends up. I am loving the modesty cup in this picture, and not loving how incredibly TALL this little boy of mine looks.

For the last three Christmases this has been our little family. I can't believe we've had that many Christmases with our little boy of joy, and oh how excited I am to celebrate Christmas with him this year-- I get butterflies thinking of Christmas morning and running out to the tree with him. I'm sure I'll take plenty of pictures and give you all a play by play at some point next week :).


Lemme said...

of this whole post, the modesty cup is by far my favorite.

Teacher Mama said...

I LOVE your gingerbread house! I bet G had so much fun doing that with you!

Mama Janet said...

What fun creative stuff, love the ginger bread and wreath, but mostly your creative photography of g in the tub!