Monthly Archives: December 2014

The 12 Posts of Christmas #9: Christmas Baking

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And just like that…it’s over.  All of that planning and prepping…is over.

Pretend like you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, because that’s when I intended on posting it.  Why I thought I would be posting on the Eve, I have not a clue.

I made two new recipes this year.  I made gingerbread cookies (sorry, I guess I didn’t take a picture of them).  They taste good, but are a pain in the you-know-wutt to cut (do you see what I did there?  no?  ok…nevermind).  The dough is really tacky, even after sitting in the fridge for more than 24 hours.  I also made chocolate peppermint biscotti.  A few years back, I worked with a girl that made them and they were delicious.  I didn’t use her recipe though.

In addition to the newbies, I also made my regular sugar cookies and my new regular (as of last year) Kringlers.

First thing’s first, I made the sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie doughs a few days before I baked them.  Then let them set in the fridge for just over 24 hours.  Then I rolled and cut all the cookies while my son napped.  ***Baking tip*** When cutting out cookies, just set aside the scraps and pile them up.  Try to handle the dough with your hands as little as possible.  When you have all your scraps set aside, roll them out.  Do not kneed the dough.

Once I cut the cookies, I lined them up on parchment paper, stacked them on cookie sheets, covered them in foil and put them in the freezer overnight.  The next day, I transferred them to gallon size zip top bags.  I folded my parchment papers and kept them in the zip top bags so I had them to bake on.

Now…for these biscotti I mentioned before.  Like I said, I first had them when a coworker of mine made a bunch of different kind of biscotti a few years back.  More than I love pumpkin, I love mint/chocolate or peppermint/chocolate flavors.  Thankfully, the one she gave me was peppermint/chocolate.  I got a wild hair this year that I wanted to try to make them.  So I found this recipe.  I did make a couple of changes to it.  Here’s what I did…

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

Preheat 350 degrees

2 cups All-Purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3/4 stick butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 tsp peppermint extract

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup semi-sweet mini morsels

1/4 cup Andes Peppermint candy pieces (only around at Christmas time)

– Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

– Beat butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add extracts, mix well.  Stir in flour mixture until combined.  Mix in morsels and peppermint candy pieces.

– Divide dough in half.  Flour hands and form dough into two slightly flattened logs.  Place logs on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Each log should be approx 12″ long and 2″ wide.  (side note: I didn’t take this part seriously.  I did mine about 9 or so inches long and maybe 3.5 inches wide, they spread a little during the first bake and then cutting them made them ridiculously long).

– Bake 35 minutes or until slightly firm to touch.  Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet (side note: mine set longer than 5 min because I was eating lunch…no interrupting lunch).

– Transfer to cutting board and cut diagonally into 3/4″ slices.  Arrange biscotti, cut sides up, back on cookie sheet and bake another 10 minutes or until crisp.  Cool on rack.

– Drizzle with chocolate.

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For my drizzle, I melted 1 regular bag of Hershey’s special dark chocolate and about 1/4-1/3 cup of the peppermint candies over a double boiler.  If you don’t have a double boiler (which is me), just set a glass or ceramic bowl over a pot of 1″ or so of water.  Make sure your bowl is way bigger than the pan so it sets nicely at the top.  Simmer water and stir chocolate often.  Once it’s all melted, I just arranged the biscotti on wax paper and used a spoon to drizzle the chocolate mixture over it all.  I left it out the rest of the day to set up.  It didn’t get 100% set.  I couldn’t stack them but they are still yummy!!!

SUGAR cookies!  Now, I know I put something about the sugar cookies in a post from last year.  In there you will find the recipe.  Now, once you’ve read that, you’ll know that I don’t really like to decorate the sugar cookies.  But this year, I actually tried to do a little something with them.  🙂

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I do my icing with a zip top bag with a corner cut off.  And then I had a blow out.  The zipper part didn’t hold and ended up squishing out the top while I was “decorating” a different cookie.  LOL

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Seriously, the best sugar cookie recipe in the world.  All growing up, I thought it was my great-grandmother’s recipe.  Come to find out it’s just a Betty Crocker recipe.

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I had a little helper…

And last, but certainly not least, the Kringlers. (read more here).

Here are a few action shots of how these little cookies are made.  I hope my Great-Grandma would be proud. 🙂

And when Ayden asked for a cookie, more often than not he asked for a Kringler.  Like for breakfast…IMG_0546.JPG

I wonder what From J to Z has up her sleeve for her second-to-last post for our #The12PostsofChristmas collaboration.

The 12 Posts of Christmas #7: Candy Cane Ornament Kid Craft

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How is it December 22 already?  Here I was, in disbelief of it being 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas, and now it’s only 3 days away?

Now don’t be confused.  Amanda at From J to Z usually posts first, but I’m switching it up!

I don’t do many kid crafts with little A, so I decided that I am going to try to be better at that.  These little ornaments would kill a few birds with one stone: Craft, gift, and giving Ayden some much needed mommy attention while I am so busy with getting the house and Christmas stuff ready.

I decided to make these candy cane ornaments because they are easy and I made one when I was a kid so it brought back some memories.

IMG_0497.JPGAyden was very excited to do a craft!  At first we started out with separating out the beads.  Because…why not organize?  And as you can probably guess, it didn’t last that long.  At first, he was really excited about putting all the white ones together, and red ones.

_MG_7973Long story short…Mommy ended up doing most of the work.  He did hand me the beads when I asked for them.  He helped push them down the pipe cleaner.  And He did help put some of the beads on each one.  So…KID CRAFT!  We were going to make like 12 or something…we made four!  He did good though and was very excited.  He didn’t let me wrap them for our family members, so they are all on the tree for all to see.  I did add a tag to them because I plan on him doing something every year.  And it will be nice to know what year they came from.  (Or is that just the neurosis coming out?)

All in all he was very proud and excited for the candy cane ornaments.  I’m new to this kid craft thing so we will see what the future brings.

 

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In other news, it’s been a busy but fun week.  Ayden and I had a play date, I got a haircut, got my nails done (Salon and a scarf?  I’m so fancy!), and my parents got in late last night.  It’s officially Christmas!!!  Tomorrow begins prep for Christmas Eve!  And right now we are watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’m kinda brain dead so I’m taking the night off and enjoying my family.

And don’t forget about my friend at From J to Z.  I smell something good coming from her next post!

The 12 Posts of Christmas #6: Handmade Christmas Ornaments

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Yes, I’m late…story of my life.  I’ve been so busy with trying to get Christmas stuff done and trying not to let the house be mistaken for a landfill.  I SO thought I was ahead of the game seeing as I did this craft LAST FRIDAY!!!  And here I sit again, after 9PM on Friday, writing this.  Please do not ask me where last week went, because I can honestly say I do not know.  Just trying to keep up with dishes, laundry and my 3 year-old…there isn’t much time for more.  Throw in trying to get ready for Christmas, and I’m behind just thinking out it.

I know, I know…my very first post was on organization.  Reality is, I’m a much better planner than doer (if you know me, or have read my blog…you already know that).

BUT! Here we go.  For the past two Christmases, I’ve given handmade ornaments with Ayden’s pictures on them.  The first ones were these:IMG_6038And I only made 4 of them.  One for each of his Grandparents.  Four pictures on each side (look at his little face, he was only one year old then…wipe away tear), red scrapbook paper on the top and bottom, and a string.

Last year was this:

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

A little more of them, and I added paint.  But only one picture each.

And this year…(it’s going to spoil the surprise for whoever of my family reads my blog…but it’s ok).

Drumroll…….

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And…like FromJtoZ, I too am in a little bit of a time crunch (still have a project to do before bed…and it’s not even my project, sigh).  So, thankfully last week I took pictures of each step.

What I didn’t take a picture of, was the package of these little wooden sticks before I opened it and painted them.  But I think you can tell what they are.  They are found with the Popsicle sticks at Hobby Lobby.  They were $2.49 for a package of 75.  (I believe I used my 40% off coupon on these that day, cuz everything else I got that day was already on sale).  I used 64 sticks to make 16 ornaments.  So $1.47 for 64 sticks, 16 photos at $0.09/print on Snapfish = $1.44.  Two sheets of 8×10 scrapbook paper from a paper pad = $.022.  Plus adhesive, hot glue, and marker that I already had.  Bringing this project total to roughly $3.13 (20 cents each).

It took some time, and some patience.  And they’re not as fancy as those you can buy and put the picture in.  But for a thrifty mom with time and (some) patience…this works for me!

Step one (not pictured), chose paint and paint 2+ coats per side (I only did 2, cuz I wanted them to show some of the wood grain and look handmade).

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Steps 2, 3, 4, and 5.  I lined up my sticks how I wanted them to turn out and traced them so I had a guide.  And I am sure glad I did since they seem to move around while gluing.  Lay side pieces down, glue bottom piece at corners.  Glue string at the top and then glue top piece at the corners.

_MG_7938Moving on…

_MG_7942I measured how big to make my picture (ended up cutting them 2.5″ square) and then cut the back cover 1/8″ larger.  Glued the back of the picture to the back of the patterned paper so when it was adhered to the back of the frame, it looks like this…

_MG_7945Truth is, I should have cut them a little bigger so I had more area to glue to the wooden sticks.  I had to take this mounting tape that is 1/2″ wide, and cut it into 3 strips so that the adhesive didn’t show on the front.

Turn it over, write on it with a sharpie, and tada!!!!

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_MG_7937 _MG_7935PS, this is what was happening while I was assembling these ornaments.  Ayden playing with the swiffer while watching Christmas George.  And then me being told to hold the swiffer while he put a sock on it.

 

So there you have it; simple, inexpensive ornaments!

And if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you saw that I made my cookie doughs the other night and today, while Ayden napped, I rolled and cut them and they are in the freezer.  Which reminds me that I need to take them off the cookie sheets and put them in Ziploc bags so they are sealed up.

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Gingerbread cookie recipe can be found here.  And sugar cookie recipe can be found here.  Yes, that is a lot of flour on my gingerbread men.  It is a sticky dough and I hate cutting out dough.  Hopefully they will still be good 🙂

Ok…it’s the final countdown.  SIX posts left and only 6 days to go!  Make sure to keep up with FromJtoZ to see what she’s got up her sleeve next!

 

The 12 Posts of Christmas #4

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Welcome back to the Christmas collaboration From J to Z and I find ourselves in.  Here’s the 4th Post of Christmas

 

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Here we are, 13 days away from Christmas Day!!!  So that means I only have 12 days until I need to have everything done (since we celebrate with the big family on the Eve).  And finally today…TODAY, I started my Christmas crafts.  One of those crafts was this terracotta pot candy jar that has been stalking me on Pinterest.  Maybe it’s the other way around…moving on!

Well, I finally decided to get the stuff and actually make it.  That’s a huge step for me because even the most simple projects become “too much work” for me if I think about really making it.

I was going to just make one, and if it was easy enough, make them for the rest of the family.  It is easy, but I don’t know if I have time.  The nice thing is, if I decide to do that…I can do it fairly late as I did this little cutie just this morning.

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Here’s what you are going to need.  A terracotta pot with saucer (I got this one at Home Depot, Hobby Lobby didn’t have the right size), a glass bowl, paint color of your choice, ribbon of your choice, a wooden round drawer pull, a paint brush, and glue!  (optional, buttons)

I used this opportunity to get myself a new (bigger and better) glue gun!  Thank you to the 40% coupon at the LOB!  But if I do this project again, I might get myself a very strong non-hot glue (one post says to use E-6000 (I was going to link it, but I didn’t pin it and can’t find it)).  And I’ll tell you why.  After I painted the pot, I glued the drawer pull to the saucer, and after it dried, I picked it up to see if it was going to hold, and it didn’t stick!  I stuck that with Gorilla super glue that I had laying around.  And THEN, when I tried to glue the bowl to the pot, it took me 3 times to get it to stick.  The hot glue cooled too fast before I could get the bowl placed right.  The third time seems to be the charm.  I also hot glued the ribbon so that’s also squeezed glue between the pot and the bowl.

This is a pretty self explanatory craft.  Paint…glue…tie…fill…VOILA!

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In other news…Ayden and I put up his very first Christmas tree in his new big boy room.  Yes, my son is 3 (just barely) and I am just transitioning his room.  In my defense!!!  He has never tried to climb out of his crib and…well…I’ve been avoiding it.  Both for financial reasons and procrastination reasons.  BUT, it’s done now (sorta kinda).  So, all in this afternoon, I replaced the front panel of his bed for a bed rail, took out the glider and put down a reading/blanket/stuffed animal fun corner, and put up his little tree (that I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby last year).  And I think waiting longer helped his transition to freedom.  I’m pretty sure he never got out of bed (and I left his tree on when I left).

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Now, in case you missed it, head back to From J to Z and check out what she made for $4!!!  IMG_0413.JPG

#2 of The 12 Post of Christmas

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Well hello there!

 

I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of The Veronica Blog and FromJtoZ Christmas colab.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, here ya go!

It has been a little while since my last post.  I had been so busy with Thanksgiving preparations.  And then my little baby boy turned THREE on Black Friday so we had his birthday party on Saturday.  So I was busy with that.  I’m not really sure what’s happened to the last week and a half, but it just hit me that there are only 2 1/2 weeks until The Big Day!  And I haven’t even begun planning!  If you’ve read any of my previous Christmas posts (or this one, or even this one), you’ll know that I get myself quite busy around Christmas.

I start planning in the Summer, even though it usually all changes by the time to start getting busy.

I’ve decided to take a step back from 95% homemade gifts for every one.  I did that 2 years ago and it was nice, but I waited way too late to start making them (didn’t account for time to make, time to mess up, time for it not to work out like I had planned, time to do something different, and time for life).  Ayden was just one then and I wasn’t working at all out side the home.  Last year, I made a little less, but still made the majority of the gifts.  Ayden was 2 years old then…a little easier to work with, and I had just started back at Publix part-time and wasn’t working very many hours.  This year, I’ve decided to keep the hand making to a minimum.  It’s kind of sad, but I’m still doing personalized gifts (just using Snapfish more).  Oh thank goodness for Snapfish!!!!!  If you haven’t checked them out, do yourself a favor and go NOW!  They have amazing coupon codes during the season and they try their hardest to get your stuff by Christmas Eve (if you follow their dates).  They have always been good to me.  Anyhoo, I started to panic yesterday when I realized that I don’t even have my lists made!

Are any of you surprised?  If you’re new to my blog, I function on lists.  My brain is too scattered to try and accomplish everything (anything, really) without a list.  So, I woke up today ready to organize my thoughts so I could calm my nerves.  After getting hubby off to work, feeding the dogs, and the boy child, I got my coffee ready, turned on all my Christmas decorations and went to work.

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First thing’s first…my work space needed a little tidying.  After doing that, I got a little distracted by my Christmas tree!

After I reigned my attention back to the task at hand, I sat down with my calendar (Blue Sky Monthly/Weekly, I’m kind of picky about my calendars, and I’ve been using this design for years), and my trusty notebook paper.  I made a master cleaning list. Thumbnail PreHolidayCleaningListWord

This really should have been posted before Thanksgiving.  When I created it, I had it in mind to do before Thanksgiving (if you were hosting).  BUT I wasn’t hosting, so I didn’t do the cleaning for it.  I AM hosting Christmas Eve celebrations so I do need to get the cleaning done.  However, being realistic, I won’t get all of this done.  But at least I have something on paper for next year (and yes, you’ll probably see me here next year, not having done the list).  I do feel it is helpful though, because there could be something on the list, that should get done but might not have gotten thought about.  I know the image is only the first page (it ended up being 4 pages long).  I did it in a fun font, to hopefully be more fun to accomplish.  Feel free to download the document (link), print it, edit it, highlight the most important ones and do those.  I do recommend determining which ones you can do ASAP (tops of things, cupboards, cabinets, fans, frames, etc.) and get those done soon.  After that, determine what can’t be done until the last second and save only those few (shouldn’t be a long list) for last.  Try to fit in the others in the meantime.

I know, BORING!  Who wants to clean.  But for me, it’s important to not be very embarrassed of the food crusted cracks between my stove and countertop.  I don’t need an immaculate house, but I don’t like extended family members thinking I’m a dirty person.  If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.  I’m ok with that, but I like to try.  It is last on the list after ensuring gifts are taken care of, hubby/baby/dogs are fed and happy and the food prep…of course the food.  But still something to help, in case it’s important to you too.

 

After this, I started my To Do lists:  One for the things I need to get done and another one for gift specifics I’m doing.  I don’t think you people understand the scatter-brainedness of my situation.  But I know I’m not alone, so hopefully this not-so-fun post finds those few that need direction.  (is it sad, that I was excited about this post?)  (I’ll keep it quick)  After I made my lists, I got my calendar (monthly view – after schedules and appointments entered), I started planning when I am going to do what).  If I have it down early, and I happen to not get to it, I still have plenty of time to do it another day.  This planning = LESS STRESS for me!  And less stress around the holidays is always better!

Any bakers out there?  Do you make cut out cookies?  Do you feel overwhelmed when you make them?  No? Just me?  Ok well, just in case there is someone who is like me, try this.

I am going to make my doughs (making three: sugar, gingerbread, and a mint cookie) on Friday the 12th.  I will mix them, wrap them in parchment and put them in the fridge.  On Saturday the 13th (during Ayden’s nap), I will roll and cut the cookies.  I will place them on a cookie sheet between layers of parchment, wrap and freeze them.  On Sunday the 14th, I will transfer the now frozen/cut cookies to zip top bags and there they will stay until I bake them on the 23rd.  Sounds like extra work with the freezing part.  But I’d rather do that, than have to do it all in one day on the 23rd.  And if I bake them too early, they won’t be fresh (and probably won’t exist) by Christmas Eve.

To make this easier, just follow me on Instagram @theveronicablog and on Facebook.

I am a recovering procrastinator…if I leave it up to my brain alone…it won’t get done.

 

What helps get you through the holidays?

 

Make sure to stay tuned to FromJtoZ to see what’s next on our #12PostsofChristmas.  Here’s a link to “like” her Facebook page as well!

 

And just for fun…I took Ayden’s 3 year pictures last week…so you’re welcome!

 

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