Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Treats

We are looking forward to a New Years Eve that is spent with family and then friends! In preparation for both I've made these fun treats.

I think that the petit fours turned out really cute. They were inspired by these but since I didn't have fondant I used chocolate ganache. I don't know why I can't seem to get the icing down (it's good but it looks a bit sloppy). Also, I did track down a recipe for them that used oreo cakesters but I thought I would make them with the traditional sponge cake. Cakesters didn't sound all that good to me. The 2010 on top was surprisingly easy to do.


I made cookie clocks that are counting down toward midnight for the children. The instructions are right here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shutters


Do you notice anything new about our house? We put on shutters! The old fashioned hinged shutters that I love! We even have a special cut-out on the bottom two. What else could they possibly be but frogs?



Monday, December 28, 2009

Sibling Gifts

I couldn't be happier with how the children's gifts to each other this year turned out. What I'm really happy about is that they are actually useful and not something to be thrown out in a few weeks when the novelty is worn off.

Grace made Harris a set of handkerchiefs. He's already put them in a pile by his bed and will really enjoy being like his Dad. Regular handkerchiefs are way too large (16 by 16) for children and I couldn't find any smaller ones so we had to cut the inside square out of regular handkerchiefs. Grace drew scenes on each handkerchief using fabric markers. This was super easy and turned out really cute.


Harris and I struggled a bit with what to make Grace. Fortunately, we got inspiration from Design Mom! Just a few days before Christmas I ran into Old Navy looking for something for Harris to print on using a potato. I got so lucky because right up front on a mannequin was this adorable dress with silver sparkles in it. It was the last one, it was on sale ($14!) and it was Grace's size! I grabbed it and ran! We decided that since it had sparkles it was perfect for glittery snowflakes. Bryce and Harris cut the potato using a cookie cutter and printed on the dress using glittery silver fabric paint. Grace loves it and will wear it frequently I'm sure.






Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009


Can you believe Christmas has come and gone? We had a wonderful Christmas spent with family. Bryce's parents arrived Christmas Eve and so were here for Christmas morning and breakfast together. The children are excited to spend time with them over the next week.

Grace has exclaimed that this was the Christmas of her dreams! She said that Santa brought her everything she asked for and more. She received an American Girl doll and has not stopped playing with her. Harris received the microscope that he asked for and a wonderful box to store all of his collections in.

Santa gifts


Breakfast was wonderful (food and family)!

I have to share two of my favorite details- festive slippers and festive sugar cubes!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Preparing

The past few days we've been busy preparing for Christmas! We've been making, wrapping, snacking, baking, crafting, and cleaning!

Snacking- To celebrate school being out for the holidays I made these Santa's out of Ritz crackers!

Wrapping- We've done a lot of wrapping and the cat has done some napping!

Crafting- The children and Grandma made a Christmas scene out of gumdrops and candy. It turned out so cute that I'm using it as a centerpiece!

Making- The children's sibling and grandparent gifts have turned out so very cute this year!

Baking- We made chocolate gingerbread cookies and they are good! I boxed some up in these cute gingerbread houses, but next year I need to remember to make the cookies smaller so that I can stack them!


And now of course we are celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas menus


I've just finished finalizing the menus for the two meals that I am making this Christmas! Years ago our family started a tradition of having seafood on Christmas Eve. We began with lobster which was delicious but a logistical nightmare. All dressed up for a church service and trying to claw open a lobster does not really go hand in hand. Also, lobster can't really be made ahead of time and therefore makes for a less relaxing Christmas Eve. (Just ask my family - when I first started cooking everything took me SO long!) We've had plenty of rushed/late dinners. Thankfully, I've gotten a lot better! Over the years we have tried several different kinds of seafood dishes but haven't found THE one yet. So this year I'm trying something new (although something is tugging at the back of my mind that perhaps we've made this before). I believe my sister is trying a lobster bisque so I hope we can compare notes (we are not together this year for Christmas). Everything on the Christmas Breakfast menu is tried and true and delicious!

Christmas Eve Dinner
Peppermint Eggnog
Clams Casino
Christmas Soup (a really delicious broccoli soup)
Seafood Gratins
Salad with champagne vinaigrette
Gingerbread cupcakes with chocolate glaze and meringue buttercream

Christmas Morning Breakfast
Egg Strata with goat cheese and herbs
Gingerbread waffles with Christmas spice butter and berry preserves
Candied Bacon
Fruit
Juice
Coffee

By the way, the picture above has nothing whatsoever to do with menus. I just thought he was cute. He's been fun to look at all season!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sledding


Matthew, Harris, Grace and Grace

On Sunday we went sledding with friends who had discovered a secret sledding spot! The weather was perfect for sledding because it wasn't too cold.

I love these pictures because of their faces! They are having so much FUN!




A family picture... poor Harris couldn't open his eyes because the sun was so bright off the snow!
Of course we brought along provisions for hot cocoa!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Perfect Weekend

We had such a great pre- Christmas weekend! It included three parties, one breakfast and lots of snow! I love where we live. I love our community, our friends and our home. I'm so grateful for having such wonderful opportunities to spend with friends.

We were able to celebrate Chanukah with our friends Marci and John and their daughter Hannah (and three other families). John made delicious stew and biscuits and the children got to help light the last candle. It's such a wonderful experience for the children!


Later that evening Bryce and I attended a holiday celebration in the wine cellar of our dear friends Sonja and Ryan. They are wonderful hosts and we had a great time!


Saturday morning we awoke to snow! Last year we started a new tradition with Tim, Kristin, Grace and Matthew of having Christmas breakfast together the Saturday before Christmas. This year we had it at their house. The food was yummy and it was so cozy sitting by the fire (all in our jammies) and watching the snow fall! After we left we sat by the fire at home and watched the snow accumulate even more. It was so beautiful and dreamy. Saturday evening we went to another fun party while the children spent the night with Grandma (which helped to make their weekend perfect!).


Today we had a beautiful day with beautiful snow! We went sledding- but that deserves it's own post!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teacher Gift

Teacher gifts can be a bit tricky. As a former teacher I have received some really lovely gifts and some really lovely gift cards! Some years we have contributed to the gift card and others we have given a gift that we made. This year Grace really wanted to make something to give to her wonderful teacher and so we did.

I took this idea straight out of a Martha Stewart Kids and even got the canvas bag from the source the magazine suggested. It's from Twelve NYC and I love it! It's the perfect size and really great quality, all for a reasonable price! I cut out the A with some cute fabric and attached it with fusible webbing and fabric glue. I'm fairly sure that the webbing was supposed to be enough, but I think I did something wrong. At any rate, the glue did the trick.

Perhaps my favorite part of the whole gift is the gift tag. Isn't it just perfect for a teacher gift?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas books




Do you know what I love more than children's books? Children's Christmas books! We have quite the collection and add at least one every year. Growing up we always read the same books on Christmas Eve and Bryce and I have continued that tradition. In fact, we literally read from the same books that we read as children. Here are our favorites...

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa was the last book that we read before going to bed on Christmas Eve. Of course, this could just be nostalgia at it's best but I don't think any other edition of this classic story holds a (Christmas) candle to this one. The illustrations are magical. I love it.

The Sweet Smells of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry. Again, this is a childhood favorite. I believe that my sister and I both got our own copy when we left home. It's a scratch and scent book which makes it even more special (even though ours lost it's scent a long time ago!). Whenever I read this book I can feel Bears excitement for Christmas!

Santa Mouse by Michael Brown. We just discovered this book a couple of years ago but it is already a favorite. In fact, my children began leaving a piece of cheese out along side Santa's cookies!

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. This is such a cute book! It is fun to follow Mr. Willowby's treetops and find out where they land! We have a fondness for books that feature animals as "people like" and this fits the bill.

What are your favorites?

P.S. Amazon doesn't seem to have Santa Mouse except through third parties but I just saw a hardback Santa Mouse at Barnes and Noble in their discount bin for $6.00!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas in the city



Yesterday we braved the cold and the crowds and ventured into New York City for the day. We thought it would be fun to see the tree and the city decorated for Christmas. It was so very crowded and we waited in lines all day but it was a lot of fun. The children were real troopers and didn't complain about the lines and only got tired of walking at the end (I couldn't blame them my feet hurt too!).

After seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center we headed to lunch at The Burger Joint. It was a hole in the wall and had no apparent signage except for a small fluorescent light in the hallway. I had read that it had one of the best burgers in the city and it didn't disappoint.


We went to Central Park for a bit and even enjoyed a carriage ride.

The decorations and lights at night were stunning!



We even ventured into FAO Shwartz. As Grace was peering in the window she said, "This store could really change a kids life!"

This is a blurry, not great picture but it sort of sums up how we felt at the end of the day! If you look closely Harris is mid yawn and Grace is in the midst of explaining that she was tired and thought we should head home! And that is exactly what we did!

 
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