Thursday, December 15, 2011

All in One Christmas Post - Recipes, Scrapbooking Ideas, Fun Links, Tips......

Well, my friends, the countdown is on and there's lots for all the Mrs. Claus' to do.  In the spirit of gettin' it done and keepin' it real, this is an all in one Christmas-palooza post.  So, here goes....

Recipe:  Raisin Clusters

1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups raisins

Line baking sheet with buttered wax paper.  Set aside.  Melt chocolate with milk and vanilla in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat when melted.  Stir in raisins.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet.  Refrigerate until firm.  Store in fridge in container between layers of wax paper.  Makes 30 clusters.  This is my dad's very favorite Christmas treat.

Tip of the Week:

If you're making chocolate cakes or cup cakes this season, try dusting the greased cake pans with cocoa instead of flour.  No white flour marks on the cake - yay!

Family Activity:  Christmas ABC Scrapbook

  This is one I'm going to start in the New Year, it's an old idea I've had in my Christmas File for over a decade.  Basically, all the Christmas cards that you've kept through the years can be added to an ABC scrapbook.  Get a nice big scrapbook and make sure it has at least 26 pages in it.  Label each page A-Z with the following verses:

A is for angels, with halos so bright, whose carols were heard on that first Christmas Night.
B is for baby, that Christ child so dear, We celebrate Christmas, His Birthday, each year.
C is for Candles that so brightly shine, To give a warm welcome to your friends and mine.
D is for doorway with garlands of green, To make Christmas merry for as far as they're seen.
E is for evergreen garlands galore, We hang at our window, fireplace and door.
F is for fun the whole season long, From trimming the tree, to singing a song.
G is for greetings, a merry hello- With a heart full of love for people we know.
H is for holly with berries so red, To make into wreaths to hang overhead.
I is for ice on white covered hills, Where sledding is fun along with the spills.
J is for jingle bells merrily ringing To the whole world, joy they are bringing.
K is for Kris Kringle, so merrily he stands.  He is who they call Santa, in ours and many lands.
L is for lantern, I'm sure that their light Helped Mary and Joseph, on that first Christmas night.
M is for Mary, her heart full of love For her little son Jesus who came from above.
N is for Noel the angels did sing To herald the birth of Jesus, our King.
O is for ornaments, so shiny and bright, With lights on the tree, they sparkle at night.
P is for packages, presents so gay, All around the tree for our Christmas Day.
Q is for quiet Christmas Eve night, With snow covered hills glistening so bright.
R is for red, the color so gay, That makes all things bright on that one special day!
S is for shepherds who first saw the star Over Behtlehem's manger and followed it far.
T is for trees we decorate so gay, They wait for old Santa to hurry our way.
U is for universe, the whole wide world, Where Christmas means joy to each boy and girl.
V is for Vixen, the lively reindeer.  He always helps Santa deliver toys each year.
W is for wisemen who brought gifts so rare, and fell down and worshipped the Christ child there.
X is for excitement, the best day of the year, We can all hardly wait until it is here.
Y is for young children who love Christmas so, Who teach its true meaning by the love that they show.
Z is for Zeal, real excitement and fun.  May this book help to bring a "Merry Christmas" to everyone!

This is a project to be brought out every Christmas season.  Keep the Christmas cards you receive every year alongside the scrapbook, so whenever little people get restless, you can get them to look through the cards and find new pictures to add to each scrapbook page.  Warning:  this scrapbook is not for moms to obsess over, it is a yearly activity for the kids, so please put your perfectionism aside!  (Unless you want to do one for yourself, of course.  Kind of like how dads should have their own kub kar/pinewood derby car all for themselves.)

Home and Garden:  It's Yarn Season for me.  I can't go outside and dig in the dirt, so I play with yarn and drool over seed catalogues.  Here's a link to one of my favorite crochet pattern websites, it's pretty comprehensive:  Crochet Pattern Central .  I've made two cute hats already and am working on a Mobius Granny Scarf right now.  Confession:  I drooled over yarn at Michael's yesterday, then reminded myself of the pact I have made to abstain from buying yarn until I have used up my current stock, which is shocking.  I think I have enough yarn to cover a bus.  Did you know there are yarn ninjas out there who do yarn grafitti?  Maybe Beaumont will discover a yarn activist when I run out of people to cover in granny squares........

Review:  The Graphics Fairy

This isn't so much a review as a big thank you to The Graphics Fairy.  Her site is amazing, and filled with free vintage clip art and absolutely cute craft projects.  I am in awe.....

Family Inspiration: 

This was written by Toni Young of Calgary many many years ago:


What children really want for Christmas is a warm and close family celebration and a few carefully chosen gifts from people who care about them.

Build up to Christmas has been lengthened, but its ending has been cut short.  When the gifts have been unwrapped, Christmas is over and children are left dazed and bewildered. 

When parents have family celebrations, kids learn there's more fun to Christmas than just unwrapping gifts.  When children have exciting family activities to look forward to, before and after the present-opening, gifts start taking their rightrful place in the festivities."


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let It Snow

                              It doesn't take much snow for a little flake to have fun!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scrooge - 1970 (Albert Finney)

This is my husband's favorite Christmas movie of all time.  Albert Finney plays the title role in Scrooge.  It's a musical version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, so you all know the story.  What makes this movie special is the music, one great show tune after another.  And the best ghost of Christmas present ever!  Plus, Alec Guinness is really funny as Jacob Marley. Our favorite song is "Thank You Very Much", and I tried to link it here from Youtube, but I'm having technical problems with that site, so go check it out if you have the chance. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Red Berries Covered in Snow

Just as I am decorating for Christmas inside our cozy little house, Mother Nature is also getting festive outside.  Here's a picture I took with my phone a few days ago.  Hope you're all enjoying getting ready for Christmas as well!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Candy Cane Cookies

The other night we were having a vote to see which cookies I would make for Christmas this year, and hands down this is the winner.  Our children absolutely love these cookies.  My mother made these when I was a child, and we always left one of these on the plate for the guy in the red suit, and my children do as well.

Candy Cane Cookies

375 degrees F.
8-10 minutes

Sift together three cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Cream together 1/2 cup shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, to the creamed mixture.  Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 cup milk.  Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide the dough in half, and to one half mix in 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring.  Mix well.  Shape into candy canes by pinching off a 1" ball of both white and red dough.  Roll each piece of dough out into a snake, take the ends of the dough, and twist together into the shape of a candy cane.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet, bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Let cool a bit first, and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Be careful taking them off the sheet, they'll snap.  If the dough seems a little dry, add a tablespoon more of milk if necessary.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How do you keep from chasing that ball of yarn?

Since snow is on the ground, my interest has turned to the huge collection of yarn I have.  My project is to work my way through it as fast as possible, as I have taken a solemn vow to abstain from buying yarn until I have used up what I have.  Other people have a thing for buying fabric, for me it's yarn.  There you go.

I work with seniors during the week, and one very aged Ukrainian lady named Mary D. loved to knit, but due to lack of agility had given up on chasing balls of yarn around.  Her solution was to get a small mixing bowl and put the ball of yarn in the bowl at her feet.  The yarn was free to turn around as she yanked on it, but never left the bowl.  Voila! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Love Notes"

Christmas is all about traditions, and here's a nice simple one that our family loves.  We don't always wait for Christmas to do this activity, because it's always nice to hear kind things.

All you need is an envelope for each family member with their name written on it, and slips of paper for each member of the family (for example, there are seven of us, so each individual would need six slips of paper).  Pass the papers and a pencil or pen around, and have each member of the family write down something they love about everyone in the family.  When you're finished, put the correct slips of paper (labelled with the individual's names) in their envelope, and set it aside until Christmas Eve.  Then everyone can get their envelope and read how much they are loved!