Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Candy Cane Cookies

It's a few days before Christmas and time to pull out the ole' family recipe for Candy Cane Cookies!

Three sisters and our mom gathered to make one of our favorite holiday cookies.  We had a few daughters and granddaughters there to learn the time treasured tradition as well. 

We crafted fat canes, skinny canes, candy cane buttons and sticks.  They were all delightfully delicious.  

Candy Cane Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix ingredients.  Separate dough in half and add red food coloring to half the dough.  Chill in refrigerator for about an hour.  

Make the canes (see pictures).  Bake at 375 degrees for 9 min.  When cookies come out of the oven, place on wire rack (over a cookie sheet to catch excess) and sprinkle with crushed candy cane mixture.  Be generous with your sprinkles. 

Crushed Candy Cane Mixture
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/2 cup sugar  

I love this time of year!  Not just for the goodies but for the warm, wonderful memories and just being together again.  
Missed you Jen!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Neighbor gifts 2015 and the Jello Story

Our neighbors and friend gifts for Christmas this year were simple, but meaningful to us. The story is a very special one, especially for us this season. Our son is serving a mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is his first Christmas away from us. This story touched my heart so much. I wanted to share it with you. 

Jello Christmas

Christmas Story First Prize/in Woman's Day/December 18, 1979/Sandra Bateman, American Fork, UT

It was but a few short days until Christmas in 1966.  Two young elders of the Mormon Church walked the streets of Laredo, Texas, knocking on doors in search of someone who would listen to their gospel message.  No one, it seemed, in the entire city had time to hear the teachings of the Savior, so intent were they that the celebration of His birth should suit their own social purposes.

Filled with discouragement, the two young men turned their backs to the approaching twilight and began the long walk home.  Retracing their steps of the afternoon, they came upon a low, windswept riverbank.  Jutting from its brow stood the barest means of a shelter, constructed of weathered wooden slats and large pieces of cardboard. 

Strangely, they felt moved to go to the door and knock.  A small, olive-skinned child with tangled black hair and large dark eyes answered.  Her mother appeared behind her, a short, thin woman with a tired but warm smile.  In her rich Spanish accent she invited the young men to come in and rest awhile. 

They were made welcome and seated on the clean-swept floor.  The little one-room shanty seemed to be filled with shy, smiling, dark-eyed children.  The mother proudly introduced each of them - eight in all - and each in turn quickly bobbed his or her head.

The young men were deeply moved at the extreme poverty they saw.  Not one in the family had shoes, and their clothes were ill-fitting and in a condition beyond mending.  The walls of the little home showed daylight between the wooden slats, and eight little rolls of bedding were pressed tightly into the cracks to help keep out the draft until they were needed for sleeping.  A small round fire pit dug in one corner marked the kitchen.  An odd assortment of chipped dishes and pots were stacked beside an old ice chest, and a curtained-off section with a cracked porcelain tub served as the bathing area. Except for these, the room was barren.

The mother told how her husband had gone north to find employment.  He had written that he had found a job of manual labor and that it took most of his small wage to pay his board and room.  But, she told the young men, he had managed to save fifty cents to send them for Christmas, with which she had purchased two boxes of fruit gelatin.  It was one of the children's favorites and would make a special treat on Christmas day.

Later, long after the young men had left the family, they still asked each other incredulously, "Fifty-cents? ... Fifty cents for eight children for Christmas?"  Surely there must be something they could do to brighten Christmas for such children.

The next morning, as soon as the local shops opened, the young men hurried to the dime store and purchased as many crayons, cars, trucks, and little inexpensive toys as they could afford.  Each was carefully wrapped in brightly colored paper and all were put in a large grocery bag.  That evening the two young men took their gifts to the shanty on the riverbank.  

When they knocked, the mother swung the door open wide and invited them in.  They stepped inside and in halting Spanish explained to the children that they had seen Santa and he had been in such a hurry he'd asked if they would deliver his gifts to the children for him.

With cries of delight the children scrambled for the bag, spilling its contents upon the floor and quickly dividing the treasured packages.  Silently the mother's eyes filled with tears of gratitude.  She stepped forward to clasp tightly one of each of the young men's hands in hers.  For long moments she was unable to speak.  Then, with tears still welling from her eyes, she smiled and said, "No one ever has been so kind.  You have given us a special gift, the kind of love that lights Christmas in the heart.  May we also give you a special gift?" 

From the corner of the room she drew out the two small boxes of fruit gelatin and handed them to the young men.  Then all eyes were moist.  All knew the true meaning of giving, and none would forget that at Christmas the greatest gift of all was given. 

 I found this cute free printable tag here

If you would like to print a copy of the story, here you go! Just click on the pictures and save!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Christmas Neighbor Gifts-OH WHAT FUN!

Need a quick, scrumptious neighbor Christmas gift?  I did.  I had a couple of leftover mugs from our Cocoa bar party so I filled them with GINGERBREAD COOKIES.

Topped it off with parchment and a candy cane.  Then added an EAT ME tag.

The gingerbread boy cookies came from Trader favorite one stop shopping for Christmas treats and goodies.
I also love their fragrant fir tree wreaths and flowers.

Along with the gingerbread cookies, I bought a few of their famous Christmas Joe-Joe packs.  Makes a lovely, yummy  quickie gift. 

Once tagged, I stowed them away in our Macy's BELIEVE mail box for those friends and neighbors that drop by unexpectedly.

OH WHAT FUN it is...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Santa's Long Johns

Connie, one of my cute sisters takes after my mom and is learning the art of quilting and sewing.  She came up with these cute Santa pants for Christmas gifts.

She claims that it is a mostly non-sewing project.  Just a little hand stitching around the pattern to keep the two felt sides together.  You can tell she is a quilter by her small, even stitches.  I'm afraid mine would look totally different!

A little flap in the back.  To fill the pants with goodies.

And cute buttons.

She created her own pattern, cause she's talented like that.

Pattern was drawn on stiff cardboard.

Another cute, inexpensive gift idea.  Saw this at a boutique and couldn't resist.  Ladies were buying them by the armfuls.

Love the clever ladies in my life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls and Cocoa Bar

Fresh Cinnamon Rolls and a Cocoa Bar.  What better way to say thank you to our High School teachers and staff.

A couple of weeks before Christmas we decided our teachers needed a little pick-me-up party after school.  Their long hours at school do not go unnoticed.

The staff room smelled delicious.  Fresh cinnamon rolls, hot cocoa with the fixins and fir tree sprigs adorned the tables.

These little mason jars were filled with fir tree sprigs and pine cones, straight from the local Christmas tree lot.

Decorative snow skis and candy canes brought a little fun to the yummy display.

Don't you just love a cup of hot cocoa while grading papers on a snowy December day.

Along with the goodies, our PTO board put together Christmas Potpourri bags for each of the teachers and staff.  Oh...they smelled so wonderful.

The Sweet Smells of Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Night in Bethlehem

This was a night like no other.  In and amongst all the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations it was so nice to walk into this humble, peaceful night of honoring the birth of our Savior. 

Many, many talented and gifted individuals worked their magic and came up with a beautiful marketplace that offered fruits, sliced meat pitas, olives, crackers and all sorts of great food for our "supper."  

Bottled water at the well.

Lots of rugs and blankets for family seating.  Tables and chairs were set up for a few of those that did not want to sit on the floor.

The canopies were outdoor EZ-UP tents with gauzy materials draped on the top with palm frawns.

Nice touches of what seemed to be authentic old world baskets and cloths.

The city of Bethlehem was depicted in a mural for our photo op spot.  All were encouraged to gather together for a family picture.

A manger scene was set for the program.

After supper a short program included reading from Luke II.  We sang Christmas carols.

The beautiful clothing came from a local well known playhouse.

When it was time to depart the committee had special instructions for each of us.  No help needed in cleaning up that night.  Instead they asked all to go home as families and savor the sweet feelings and spirit of the true meaning of Christmas.  
(We were invited back the next morning to clean up!)

A very nice evening.

 photo Kelliesign.jpg