Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last of the Crafting and Baking

Party day at school! This was snack for the second graders.

A little army of reindeer, ready to go.

We also needed some little godparent gifts. Traditionally, we've given ornaments, and I like when the kids can help out with the process. I was on a search for things we could do quickly, using materials we already had around the house, and would actually look good on a tree. My quick web search led me to this idea, which Dora chose and did a fabulous job. We used Sculpey and alphabet rubber stamps.

Theo chose to do Shrinky-Dink self portraits.

And Theo chose these silver and black beads to make keychains for two teenage cousins.

I had work to finish up today, an order for my favorite customer. I constructed these paper envelopes during naptime ... each one has a set of personalized notesheets inside.

I was able to sneak out for a quick meal and chat with good friends, then back home for more baking ... 32 dozen for our crazy family cookie exchange! These are pics from last years' goodness:

Happy Christmas and more to come in the new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baking Monday - Gingerbread Cinnamon Chip

Had a two week break from baking Monday. One week because another friend took a turn making treats and one week because I was terribly sick and didn't think anyone would want to eat if I had baked anyway. Oh, I also made chocolate brownie cookies one week, but did not take any pics (they were good.) Today we're back with Gingerbread Cinnamon Chip cookies. This is my favorite gingerbread recipe. It's made with whole wheat flour, so it has that nice slightly gritty texture, and the cinnamon chips add just the perfect amount of flavor. These are fun to make with the kids, usually if there's a day home from school. When we've made them as cutouts, they pick out whatever cutters they want, which makes for an interesting assortment. (One time we had a mix of race cars, teddy bears and the state of Texas.) They take such care embellishing with the chips, so it's a nice way to burn some time, too. Cinnamon chips don't taste that great until they're baked in something, eliminating the temptation to taste while decorating.

However ... some days I want the cookie without all the work, so I've been curious to see if these would work as drop cookies. Answer: heck, yeah. The key to these cookies is keeping them soft. They are heavenly just out of the oven, but tend to get crunchy after awhile. My sis taught me the trick of keeping a slice of bread in the cookie container, on a sheet of wax paper, right on top of the cookies. The moisture from the bread keeps these cookies nice and soft.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The tree is decorated ...

Stockings are hung ...

Snowmen have come out to play ...

Little touches everywhere ...

Even if I'm not ready for Christmas, the house is and it feels good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cross-Stitchin' Tuesday

I've been working on these Minipops cross-stitch projects for the kids and finally finished them last week. The idea came from this Flickr set and this artist's work. (Cross-stitch Duran Duran? Seriously, how can you resist?) I would love to do a big series like the one featured above. I already have all the figures picked out but decided it might be smart to start small. I can't read in the car, but can sew (go figure!), so I've been taking advantage of our many long road trips to work on these projects.

Superheroes for Theo.

Sesame Street for Clark.

Fairies for Dora of my own design, based on the other figures. I made a ton of mistakes on the wings, don't count the stitches! Also, I accidentally made the middle fairy's skirt too short, so it looks like she has a little Marylyn Monroe skirt blow going on.

Here's a snowman project that I started when I was pregnant the first time around and had LOADS of time on my hands and no better way to fill it (apparently) than with cross-stitch. I did a bunch of projects that fall. This one for me was the last one started and then whoops! I went and had a baby, then two more, then before you know it, it takes eight years (EIGHT!) to complete one project. I finally finished this one up in the fall.

This project was from a kit that I tweaked a little bit and am very happy with the result.

My mom just found this in her sewing basket! I'm guessing I did this circa '82-83, when I was in middle school. Before I got to high school and became SO popular that I would never have time for trivial things like sewing. (BWAH-HA-HA!! Excuse me while I wipe away tears of laughter.)

Look how sloppy!

I've gotten much neater since then.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Last Week's Sewing and Baking

Last week was crazy busy. I had three layout jobs, two sewing orders and a cookie order on my plate. All things that I love to do, but all things that were due at the same time, so it was just a teeny bit stressful. I'm proud to say that everything was completed on time, and I caught up on my sleep last night. Some of the things are holiday gifts for friends of friends, so I can't post pics until I know they've been given as gifts.

Some superhero capes for an Etsy order ...

Bib and burpcloth ...

And some Union Endicott Tiger cookies.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Baking Monday - Week 5

Caramel popcorn, from my grandma's recipe. Long time eater, first time baker, and found out that grandma's recipe needed a few adjustments! One batch of this went to the Monday night pool team and four more travelled with us to Maryland for Thanksgiving. Good, good stuff.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Declaring Birthday #3 Officially Over!

... after a week-long celebration. Family party last Saturday, actual birthday on Wednesday, birthday snack at school on Thursday, and friends' party on Saturday. This was the year that he really got into his birthday, which was so cool to watch. He loved the singing, the candles, the presents and all the attention. Many celebrations meant lots of baking for me and a chance to use some new cookie cutters.

Family party: rockets, football helmets and race cars.

School snack and playgroup friends: number 3 circles.

Friends party: ice cream cones and presents.

Lots of work, yes, but look at that face! You'd do it, too.

Clark picked out this great robot pattern at Target way back in the fall. I put together little gift bags: wind up robots, glow bracelets, energy bar plus a plastic microphone for making robot voices.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Baking Monday - Cocoa Sandies

Week 4: Cocoa Sandies with mint chocolate glaze. These cookies are very shortbread-like, one of my favorites. The original recipe calls for dipping half the cookie in the glaze. I chose to drizzle, because it's easier, but I think the dipping looks prettier. However, as Jeff pointed out, this way you get a bite of frosting with each bite. Yay!

In other news, today was hat day at school. Clark wanted in on the action.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baking Monday - Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Week 3? Did I miss Week 1 and 2? Is the question you are probably asking yourself right now. Haha! There was no Week 1 and 2. I mean, there was, but I did not document it. Which is a bummer, because Week 2 was awesome.

Jeff plays pool on Monday nights. A couple of years ago, I wanted to take a cake decorating class on Monday nights. He agreed to be late for pool for a few weeks as long as he got to bring along the cake class leftovers for sharing. Win-win! Anyhow, apparently there was some discussion recently about the lack of desserts during pool play and Jeff challenged me to try out some new recipes for the team to share. I'm happy to oblige, since I love baking but reeeeeally don't need all those sweets around the house.

So! For Week 1, I made peanut butter bars from my friend Kerri's recipe. She made them for an event this past spring and I could not stop eating them. Very yummy. Week 2 was mocha chocolate chip cookies. The recipe came from a magazine, and I had only made them once before for my friends Steph and Chris when they used to live in NYC. The cookies were a big hit, but they also have like three cups of coffee in them, and since I typically now only bake for family events with small children around, I haven't had another opportunity to make them again. They were fabulous.

Today was Week 3 ... peanut butter chocolate fudge. The recipe is from Very sweet, but very delicious. Lots of stirring involved, which made today one more day that I am happy to have my heat-resistant rubber spatula. (Thanks, Carrie!)

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Our local PBS station had a party to celebrate Sesame Street's 40th birthday this week. I am happy to say that I am not as old as Sesame Street ... yet. They put on a great party, including a snack room with tables full of granola bars, teddy grahams, pb crackers, pretzels, fruit snacks and rows and rows of juice boxes.

Clark ran right up to Elmo and gave him a hug and a high five, without hesitation. I was happy to get my camera out in time.

Clark checking out the green screen, this was his favorite thing to do. He was watching himself on tv with the Muppets.

Theo's traditional Elmo rendering.

Dora's own interpretation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Bugging Me, Monday Edition

I've spent the last few days arguing with my almost three-year-old over impossible requests. He engages in these go nowhere conversations almost constantly.

"I want to watch Peep Makes A Friend."
"We don't have that."
"But I want to watch Peep Makes A Friend."
"I know that you do, but we don't have it."
"But I want to watch it."

"I want bacon."
"We don't have any bacon."
"But I want bacon."
"I understand that you want bacon, but it is physically impossible for me to produce bacon at this moment in time."
"Can I have some bacon?"

I won't torture you with any more, but imagine these discussions going about 10 rounds. And no, offering alternative options does not work. Eventually, one of us throws up our hands in frustration and moves on. Really, I love the kid to bits, but I'm ready to bang my head against the wall with this new trend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Fall ...

Haunted Gingerbread Houses (aka Use Up All the Candy in the House Before Saturday)

...and some leaf therapy.