Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family Christmas Collection, 2012

The gifts are wrapped, cards are sent, baking is finished, groceries are purchased, my Mother and Father arrive from out of town today, Christmas is finally here.  Christmas Eve at our house is low key.  I will prepare food for Christmas dinner, attend mass and have dinner out with my husband, Mom and Dad.

Christmas Day is quite the opposite.  We will have 30 guests ranging in age from 85 to 2.  Oh what fun it is. . .

The cookies are ready.  I had big plans this year including 3d cookies and some new and unusual designs, but I ran out of time.  The family is happy with whatever I do so I stuck to some tried and true designs with just a few new ideas.

 I added a few new Snowmen to the family favorite.

 Every year the family collection includes Santa and reindeer in unusual shapes.  This year I decided to add Mrs. Santa because we all know the Mrs. Santas in every family deserve far more credit at this time of year.  Her lips look like perhaps she received Botox as a gift, you go girl!
 My traditional way of decorating snowflakes are the ones in the upper left and lower right corners, but I tried some new designs this year that were inspired by Good Housekeeping magazine.

 Traditional designs and lots of minis.
In light of recent events, I'm sure most of us are finding it easy to count our blessing this year.  For me it is extremely easy.   At this time last year:
  •  My great-niece Kaley (17) was unable to talk and every muscle and bone ached.  Doctors were baffled.  Finally, she was diagnosed with Lyme's disease and today she is healthy and looking forward to graduation from high school.
  • Kaley's sister, Kendall (15), was diagnosed with a tumor on her pituitary gland.  Today she is healthy.
  • Kaley and Kendall's first cousin, Logan (15), was diagnosed with Hodkins Lymphoma.  After 6 months of chemo, he has had two PET scans that show no signs of cancer.
Prayers of thanks for good health, a loving family and a circle of wonderful, caring friends. . .

A few of the Great nieces and nephews posed for a photo before eating their cookies.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Collection, 2012

For friends who celebrate Hanukkah
Christmas cookies for friends. . .some like traditional, some like pastel
For friends who prefer warm weather

 Elf on the Shelf for the little ones in the family.  Since I only made 4 of these, I pieced them together without a cutter.   The faces are too round and I think they look like creepy clowns.  My friend, Kathy,  stopped over while I was finishing them and said, "You made that creepy Elf on the Shelf guy." Success!  If Kathy thinks they look like Elf, I am sure the kids will be happy with them.

I received an email from a friend asking if I could make 2 dozen cookies for her to share with her Grandchidren.  She explained that she bought personalized Christmas dough ornaments at a craft fair of their favorite characters, Snow White and Thomas the Train. Her granddaughter was disappointed to learn that she couldn't EAT the ornament.  We agreed that I would make a traditional collection of Santas, reindeers, trees and snowmen.

As I prepared to make her cookies, I thought perhaps I could make Thomas and Snow White.  I didn't have a lot of time, so I limited myself to one try for each cookie.  SW's eye and nose are a bit messy, but it was free hand and it is EDIBLE!

Lisa, The Bearfoot Baker, convinced me to make the full body Santa cookie for the annual Women's Club Christmas party this year.

. . . and finally, dream vs. reality.  I gave this set to a friend who loves the beach on the first day that it snowed in Chicago this year.  I was able to fit 4 individually wrapped snowflakes in the gift boxes that were a gift from Donna, Carroll's Cookies and Crumbs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merry "Beach"mas

Twenty years ago I moved into a new home, in a western suburb of Chicago, just three months after the neighbors next door.  Beth and I eventually got to know each other and I am confident we will be friends for life.

Beth (right) and me
Our friendship is an unlikely one, an odd couple of sorts.  When we met I was working full time, she stayed home to raise her children.  She's a Mom, I am not.  I'm a city gal, she's a suburbanite.  Our age gap is 13 years.  The differences go on and on, however, Beth has become the kid sister that I never had.

We were friends and neighbors for 10 years, then we both moved to new locations, again, within three months of each other.  Beth moved further west for better schools for her children and I moved back to Chicago to be closer to my family. The miles between us have not altered the friendship.

One thing we have in common is our love of warm weather, blue skies and beautiful beaches.  My dream would be to live near Keawekapu beach in Maui, Hawaii.  Beth's dream location is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Dreams are wonderful, but if they come true there will be even more miles between us, however, I suspect that travel arrangements could be made.

For Christmas this year, I am sending her a little beach of her own.  I had so much fun making beach cookies  last summer that I decided to fashion it into a tree for the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas friend.  I wish you peace, joy, love and dreams of warm beaches. . .

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

I am a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays.  In my ideal world, all pumpkins, turkeys and scarecrows would disappear before I saw a Christmas tree or snowman.  However, I am trying to adjust to this era of Black Friday shopping, Thanksgiving and Christmas blending and the reality that by the time we celebrate the "twelfth day of Christmas", Valentines will be everywhere.  Cards are written, many gifts are wrapped, and I will decorate the house this week.  I've got the Christmas music playing as I begin to bake the  holiday cookies.

A friend asked for some snowmen and snowflakes attached to an enveloped of instant hot cocoa.  I added some curly ribbon and a little jingle bell to the package.

Although I usually decorate cookies with a smooth surface, I am trying to add some dimension as I did in the mini snowmen.  Alas, I continue to be plagued by the dreaded craters in my frosting.  In this case, they were easily hidden with some sanding sugar that actually enhanced their appearance.  Too bad, this little trick will not work every time the nasty craters appear in my designs.
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