Monday, December 20, 2010

{Neighbor gifts}

As Christmas approaches, we tend to turn our thoughts to those that we care about and who share our lives.  One group in particular would be the neighbors.  For me this group in a fairly new concept...

When I lived in California, I lived next to the same people for 10 years and never even knew their names.  Not even their LAST names.  Couldn't pick 'em out in a line up.  Since you just DIDN'T allow your children to play out front - only in the backyard, we never even gave the cordial "wave" as they drove by.

Utah has been such a refreshing change!  The culture is completely different and it's amazingly wonderful to feel that sense of belonging and community.  The very day we moved in to our home, we had treats delivered by hand and offers to help in so many ways!  Crazy but awesome.  To share in the lives of others and know that someone is always watching and vice versa is very comforting.

To those nearby that we appreciate so much we wanted to make a little something to please the palette.  Enter the pretzel hugs!  These are totally easy but taste unbelievably good!

Take the pretzels and line a baking sheet with them.  Then stack a Hershey kiss or hug on top.  For the kisses I used the ones with caramel inside.

Put into the oven at 170 degrees for 5-8 minutes.  Remove and press an M&M into the softened hug or kiss.  I used M&Ms for the striped hugs (in green and red, of course) and for the ones with the caramel kisses I pressed a pecan half into the top - YUM!  Put them in the freezer for 8-10 minutes and package as desired.  These are really SO tasty and simple enough for the kiddos to help with!

What are YOUR neighbor gifts this year?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's a PARTY!

Nolan's 4th birthday and his first REAL birthday party.  It's a bummer to have your birthday two days after Christmas, so anticlimactic.  But it's also very tough to PLAN a birthday party 2 days after Christmas.  People are typically partied out by this time.  Not in the mood for more food, more presents, more traveling or more merriment!

His request is for a "cop party." Obviously my attempts to eek out better behavior have instilled a strong respect for police officers and the powerful position they hold.  The whole "good guy, bad guy" thing has taken hold and he LOVES cops.

So, in that vein, here's what I've some up with for invites:

Not great lighting, but you get the idea :)  I had metallic blue cardstock and a white printed invite on the top, but before attaching the invite I wrapped a wide piece of yellow ribbon around it, which allowed me to clip on the police badge.

We will be hand delivering these since the badges make the envelopes pretty bulky.

Oh, and yes.... totally caved to having the party at Chuck E. Cheese (blech).  We've never been there before but Nolan insists that his birthday party MUST happen there.  Easy clean up I guess, huh?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A visit with Santa

Today was the hubbs Christmas party for work. They had it catered and all the families were invited. One of the fellow employees even offered to dress up as Santa and give out gifts to all the kids.

Now, I was a bit worried, in that, the guy who was playing Santa is also a member at our church. Whenever Nolan sees him at church he will holler out a resounding (and completely NOT reverent) hello! But with the suit & all, hopefully he wouldn't see any resemblance.

So we arrive, eat and wait...getting the kids excited for Santa's arrival. Finally, after much anticipation Santa appears from the upstairs hall and starts making his way down the long staircase. So here's the part I where most children would run up to Santa and start rattling off their wish list right? Not mine. Nope. Nolan quickly blurts out "How come Santa's so SHORT?!?"
which, of course, prompts all those who still believe to look to their parents in bewilderment. Leave it to my child to instill doubt into the minds that surely never before questioned Santa's height.

All in all, it was still good to see everyone and get just a bit more excited about Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

C + PB = TLA

Every once in a while, I just get a craving for something sweet.  But not the usual Oreo or duplex type cookie. Something different.

So today when I went to my pantry (which is totally UNDERstocked these days!  Project for the New Year) and found that I really didn't have ANYTHING to pull together :(  No chocolate chips, no nuts, nothing to get creative with. All I had was less than half of a bag of peanut butter chips leftover from melting them & drizzling over rice krispie treats a while back.

And BONUS!  When I went to pull those out I found a box of Bakers chocolate...SCORE!  That instantly reminded me of a recipe I've had forever:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

8 (1 oz) squares semi-sweet chocolate
3 TBSP butter
1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
2 cups biscuit making mix
1 TSP vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter flavored chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter with sweetened condensed milk; remove from heat.  Add biscuit mix and vanilla; beat at low speed until smooth and well blended.  Cool to room temperature.  Stir in chips.

Shape the dough into 1 1/4" balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until tops are slightly crusted.  DO NOT OVERBAKE

Now it's absolutely worth it to stick around and watch these.  Just when the outside of the cookie starts to  get a bit crackly and crusty, THAT'S when you want to pull them out.  Then they will be done on the outside but still gooey on the inside... and since there's no egg in this I completely advocate eating the dough :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Joy And Happiness Christmas 5x7 folded card
Turn your pictures into personalized Christmas cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Charlie Brown Christmas

This is, without a doubt one of my most favorite Christmas specials of all time. Don't get me wrong, I love watching how the grinch stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and all the claymation classics. But Charlie Brown Christmas, for me, truly captures the spirit of Christmas.

If you love the recitation Linus gives in this clip, you can visit Betty Crocker Wannabe for a beautiful {free} printable version of the scripture Luke 2: 13-14.