Monday, January 14, 2013

The Twelve days of the Holidays

I've just emerged from the holidays somewhat. Yes, I realize we're a third of the way through January, but over the holidays my husband and I took a huge step in our relationship. . . we finished the living room. But that will have to be a story for another day.

The kids were home from school and we had a good time. Okay, that is an outright lie. We had a lot going on punctuated with bouts of fun.

Here are twelve of the things (like the 12 days of Christmas, but shorter, less musical, less repetitive and less likely to be played over and over) we did over the holidays, in no particular order because I can't really remember the order.

1. Treats for the neighbors.
One of my childhood memories was candy making with my mom. She had a big marble slab for candy making that I'm pretty sure we, as the children, broke. That is probably why she stopped, or maybe life got busy. One of the other differences between us, besides that she had a marble slab and I don't, is her candy was good.

So instead of making candy as treats for the neighbors, we baked pumpkin squares.

2 eggs
1  2/3 cups granulated sugar
1  cup applesauce
2 cups or a big can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the eggs, sugar, applesauce and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

In order to be festive we made snowflakes and snowpeople. The face is a blob of cream cheese frosting placed with large decorator tip. The nose is made from candy melts. The eyes and mouth are of melted chocolate chips. I used a bag and a small piping icing tip for the eyes and mouth. Some turned out well, but others, where the chocolate didn't cut off in a neat little circle, ended up looking like Bane from Batman.

2. Number 2 may seem a lot like 1, but when you see the pictures you will understand exactly how different they are. I can no longer recall why we made a second round of treat plates, but we did. The first set of snow people were mistaken for something else, so on the second round, I added hats. Obviously it is now simple to tell that they are snowpeople. The hats were a wise choice. 

 Not all of them had mustaches, but you must admit it was a nice touch.

3. More treats for the neighbors

My college roommate gave me this recipe. Another roommate made a similar treat, but she called them Fridgie Treats and the cashier at the store where I purchased the ingredients called them peanut butter yummies or something like that.  I'll stick with Scotcharoos.


1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
6 cups rice krispies
1/2 of 12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 12 oz bag butter scotch chips

Combine corn syrup, peanut butter, and sugar in sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and peanut butter is melted. 
Add rice krispies and stir together.
Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
cover with chocolate and butterscotch chips.
the heat from the rice krispie mixture will melt the chips.
As they melt, use a rubber scraper to spread evenly to cover the top of the dessert.  If necessary, you can put it in a hot oven under broil for a short time to melt the chips. 
Allow to cool fully and then cut into squares to serve.

I also drizzled them (while still warm and the chocolate gooey) with festive red and green. I'm not going to say I'm a gifted culinary artist, but all of them got eaten.

 4. Even more treats for the neighbors.

Chex Muddy Buddies (a.k.a. puppy chow)

9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
  • 2 In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  • 3 Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. 
  • As you can see, I took an extra step. I dipped plain Chex cereals in red or green candy melts and then used a piping decorator tip to make ribbons so that mixed throughout it would look like muddy buddies with presents mixed into it. 

5. Worked on Christmas gifts.

I made books for each of my kids. Time consuming little treasures they were. I also made my daughter a skirt to go with her black sweater and a matching outfit for her dolly. Plus, what doll wardrobe would be complete without a Home Depot apron? Not every dolly romance works out and when she finds herself abandoned with four children she'd better have more skills to fall back on than a vast wardrobe. 

6. Spent time hanging out in the toy room with the kids.

On Christmas my daughter got a new Barbie and I promised I'd play Barbies with her. The day I went upstairs, this is what I found.

What a beautiful home for three men and 15 women, though there is no bathroom so I can't imagine the perimeter of the property, but they all look fairly settled except for Mirida, who is about to plummet to her death and . . .

I asked my daughter about it and she said they were in love. So for all you Barbie-haters that say the toy promotes an unhealthy body image and poor values etc. etc. etc. someday when my daughter is an anorexic prostitute in Las Vegas, you'll be able to return to this blog and  post "I told you so" and tell me that I should have burned the house to the ground and dismembered the Barbies, all while she sat by sobbing,  and perhaps you will be right.

But I can't.
I loved Barbies.
I loved my barbie house.
I loved to change their clothes and do their hair.
I played with them until I was like 14.
I had a Micheal Jackson Barbie with a sparkly glove.
I have never worked in Las Vegas.
I had a special suitcase with my Barbies and Barbie clothes so that I could take them with me to my best friend's house and we could spend hours playing Barbies. 

7. The seventh thing wasn't planned. I had some marshmallows out for something else and the kids asked to eat some. Like the perfect mother that I am, who is concerned about their childhood obesity and their teeth rotting out of their jaws, I consented. They asked for pretzels to go with them. This is what happened.

Here we have momma-mallow. She's short, but a spit-fire. Also depicted is momma-mallow checking the mail in the mailbox. I guess not every hour of her life can be excitement riddled. 

And what mallow family would be complete without super-diaper-mallow. I'm still not certain if he is super-diaper mallow because his diaper is so large or if he is super diaper-mallow because he is a diaper covered super hero.

You'll see him both sitting and standing, so he has the added benefit of being pose-able.

There was a third figurine, but he was consumed before I could get a picture. I have a saliva covered head shot, but didn't think that an appetizing post to make.

8. Made a lamp

Okay, that is misleading. I didn't actually make the lamp. The lamp is one that turns on at a touch and is one we were given at our wedding. It was silver and gold as is evidenced by the random two second video I have (I didn't know I was going to paint it at that point, so it's weird that it's in the video) of it, and has spent many happy years softly lighting our living room. Only this year, as we repainted, did I find out that my husband hates the table on which it has rested for nearly 11 years, which rendered it homeless. (It doesn't have a spot, but spotless is the wrong word because with people touching it all the time it gets dirty). I thought about giving it away, donating it to a thrift store, or storing it in the basement, but then, as I was cooking, I thought it would make nice, inexpensive, under cabinet lighting. So I taped off the gold (if I were more confident in my lamp electrical wiring abilities I may have taken the whole thing apart to paint) and spray painted the silver to give myself a new red lamp. It's a lot like Christmas, only a lot less work and infinitely less expensive. And although I know eventually Tony Stark is going to show up on my doorstep demanding his lamp, never discount the possibilities of a fresh coat of paint. It adds color to the room and light to an otherwise dark corner of the kitchen.

9. Spent a great deal of time in contemplation.

As we took down the decorations from the living room to repaint, I took down a photo of my mom and dad. A lot of people say the holidays are hard after the death of a loved one, but for the most part it wasn't too bad until I took down his picture and looked at him and thought "Holy Crap! What just happened?" I was a bit melancholy and nostalgic the rest of the day. I sure do miss him, but can't really feel that he is that far removed.  Also, as it is the season where the Christian World celebrates the birth of Christ, I contemplated a great deal on Him. The two things may seem unrelated, but much of my understanding of my Savior came from the way my parents raised me, the example they've given in the lives they live, and helping me to find my spiritual side. I find it easy to develop a relationship with my Heavenly Father because of the relationship I have with the father He sent me on this earth.

10. Spent a great deal of time with family.

One of the best parts of being married is having another family. I'm not going to say it's all butterflies and unicorns all the time, but it is nice to have more people that care about you. It is a blessing to be able to spend time with people that one might not have accepted into one's life in any other way. And the holidays seem to warrant spending additional time forming and maintaining those relationships.

11. Went sledding and celebrated the snowfall.

As a general rule, I don't love snow. I love it on Christmas Eve, and that is about it. I used to appreciate snuggling under a blanket, hot cocoa and a good book. Now it means that we are all trapped inside and even when the indoor temperature is consistent, it's cold. Any other time of the year and it is just cold and makes for a lot of dingy roads, cars, boots, etc. I do appreciate the water it brings to the desert and the fact that I'll be able to water my plants next summer. On one of the better snow-fall days we went sledding. We have a sled used for hauling deer carcass that we use. It fits 3-5 children depending on size and is fairly thick plastic, so we've had it for several seasons. We also tried a laundry basket, which worked fairly well, but isn't really contoured to glide through the snow; weird.

12. Put together a couple of 1000 piece puzzles with my son.

1 comment:

  1. I love the chocolate covered presents in the muddy buddy's! What a cute idea.