Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Week in Review

Hold onto your Santa hats. I am about to take you through a mad dash through our Christmas week. 

5th Annual Cookie Frenzy 

We crowded our little kitchen with family and friends and baked up a storm. My niece had three of her friends come over with her - 13 year old girls are a funny bunch :) 

Our Pinterest Cookie of the Year was the Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups. I like to include a fun new structured cookie with our old favorites. We started with sugar cookie dough baked in mini muffin pans. After baking, the centers collapse to create a well to fill with the chocolate.
My father-in-law (the carpenter) was tasked with making the handles from pretzels. I don't think he was joking when he said we should have given him the pretzels in advance and he would have cut them on his band saw at his shop.  The "foredog"waited patiently to do quality control.
Here is the finished product product. A sugar cookie filled with chocolate ganache topped with mini-marshmallows - what could be bad about that??
Another new recipe we tried was the Frosted Peppermint Brownie Cookies. They were a hit!
Then on to the old standbys, including Cornflake Wreaths (basically a Rice Krispie Treat made with Cornflakes and shaped into wreaths). My nephew arrived after his wrestling practice and we put him to sticky work. (Nephew Brag - He is currently ranked 6th in the state in his wrestling weight class).
And of course with my nephew on the scene, something like this is bound to happen.  There is nothing my husband likes less than "sticky". He is the best sport :)
One of my all time favorites is Peppernuts. I got the recipe from a Mennonite friend a zillion years ago. When baked they end up looking like dog kibble, but I love them. They are are flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and raisins.The are not super sweet unlike the rest of the cookies we made.
My husband's favorite is the Linzer Cookies. I love how pretty they are.
My niece hung out with us, but the only baking she did was finishing up her little bun  - set to arrive a few days after Christmas.
The fruits (cookies) of our labor. As always, people took home samples and the rest went to our various Christmas get togethers. One thing I did this year that turned out well. I picked up some cute containers, which I gave to my husband's aunts and grandma. We had them divvy up the cookies to take home. That way they took only what they liked in the amount they wanted. 

Secret Santa

One of my favorites things this Christmas season was our Secret Santa exchange with my Lovely Ladies Group. We mailed packages to our person and opened them all on the same day. It was so much fun shopping and then seeing what everyone received. There are some very creative and fun ladies across this country of ours.  My gifts arrived from Mary at Runs to Get Waisted. I could barely wait to tear of the packaging.
Homemade vanilla extract - it still needs a couple weeks to steep, but I am super excited to try it - it smells amaing already. Big Foot bandaids - how fun - is it bad that I am eager to use them - I might give up and fake an injury :)  Finally, an Oregon shaped cheese board - Mary knows how we love our cheese. Such a lovely gift from the Pacific Northwest.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping

I got a late start on my Christmas shopping this year, but was mostly done a few days before Christmas. There were just a couple things I needed to grab Christmas Eve morning. Looks like some serious price gouging on some boxes :)
I went super early to avoid the crowds and parked away from the store to protect the new car. I was not too excited when it started to pour while I was in the store. But at least our pretty white car didn't sustain any hurried shopper dings on my watch.
There were a few things I didn't buy....  Although this mug did remind me of a couple people :)
 I might still have some remorse for not bringing this home...for myself.
I was slightly traumatized by this toy. It reminded me of my husband and I driving down the highway when we passed a livestock truck. I burst out crying when I saw all those piggy faces. My poor husband could not pass that truck fast enough!  I admit I enjoy eating meat - I just can't see its face first :(

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

A new activity we tried this year was a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt. We like to do scavenger hunts on road trips so it seemed like a must do. I printed this list here.
We had a good time...and Aunt Anna loses another game. The only complaint about this scavenger hunt was that it got pretty intense trying to find everything. It was easy to forget to enjoy the lights.

Millie was less than thrilled with my attempt to make her festive. But that is what dogs are for, right?

Christmas Morning.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake is a must for Christmas morning. These are fresh out of the oven. Later they are drizzled with icing.  Other Christmas morning must haves are Monkey Bread and a Hash Brown Egg Casserole with Christmas Eve ham cooked in the crockpot overnight. 

Millie and Zommie had a stuffed stocking. I know the toys won't last long, but couldn't resist.
Millie got a new bed. I hopeful that she has outgrown chewing and won't eat it like she did the last one. She loves her giant tennis ball.
A few minutes later....
 The next day....

Stocking Stuffers

My husband and I just bought a new car a couple weeks ago. We agreed to just fill a stocking for each other instead of exchanging big gifts.

My husband took the stocking to a whole new level. He put a few things in the stocking the day before Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning the whole stocking was gone...replaced by a note that lead me on a scavenger hunt that included clues and small gifts. I loved everything about it!  I didn't even mind when he said he got the jacket cause it would be "good for exercise" :)
Eventually. I found the stocking-stealing culprit in the cabinet...The Grinch. Incidentally, the Grinch is a pair of cozy PJ pants (I am going to have to do well on my New Year's Resolutions to make them a better fit though for next year.)
In addition to the piggy slippers I got on my stocking scavenger hunt, I got these cute piggy slippers from my sister. This was the year of the slipper. I think our new floors gave some people ideas that I would have cold tootsies this winter. I got a third pair of slippers (not pigs) from my MIL.

Stikbot Invasion

I found these little poseable figures and gave them to my husband, niece, and nephews. I was a little disappointed in their suction cups, but we have already had tons of fun sending each other crazy pictures. There is a social media app element, but we have stuck to texting and Snapchat to send pictures to each other.
I confess, I was a little disturbed when we got this Snapchat. My niece got all the way to the bedroom taking pictures throughout the house along the way.  Meanwhile, our "guard dog" said absolutely nothing until she finally noticed my niece at the bedroom door.
My niece and her husband gave us a movie gift card. So we did what any nerds would do spent a rainy afternoon watching Star Wars The Force Awakens again :)
Christmas was a gorgeous sunny non-wintry day. Millie took her ball to the farm to play with her new friend, Buddy. Neighbors of my in-laws found this beautiful pup out in the country. They couldn't find the owner - maybe it was dumped like so many dogs before it. The neighbors didn't want it and now it has a great home at the farm :)
After the fantastic weather Friday came the rain...and more rain. In 48 hours we got about 10 inches of rain. My sister's basement flooded. We left there at 2 a.m. Sunday and went back Sunday afternoon to tear out their carpet. The floor was dry when they went to bed Sunday night. Then by Monday morning they had a couple more inches of new water. What a mess!  Did I mention they have company from out of town and my sister's first grandchild will be born tomorrow??

I did a few minutes on hose duty...basically enough for the picture :)  I tried mostly to be moral support and the guys did the heavy lifting.
I opted to use a vacation day Monday, since I wasn't sure the best way to get to work. This was one of my options...not a good one. Yikes!
Thankfully, the rain has stopped. We are near the Mississippi River, which is expected to crest on Thursday at 39 feet. That is the highest since the record setting flood of 1993. It sounds like the flood gates will be closed tomorrow morning and hopefully, the levees will hold. Our house wouldn't be impacted by river flooding, but I worry for others in our community. Additionally, the temperatures will be dropping into the 20s making it even more miserable :(

So, that is Christmas week. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. In the next few days, I need to finalize my New Year's goals.


  1. Gosh y'all have been inundated with bad weather. I hope your sis and family can recover from the flooded basement. What a mess! It does sound like y'all had a wonderful Christmas though! Wishing all the good vibes for your niece and her bebe!

    1. Definitely crazy December weather. It was a good Christmas :)

  2. Those cookies look amazing. I'm glad you had a wonderful Christmas, though I'm sure you definitely could have gone without the weather and flooding!

    1. Yeah, not ideal with weather and flooding, but much better than it was (still is) for many people

  3. I swear one of these days, I'm just showing up to your house. You and your family always look like you're having so much fun! I am glad you like all of your Santa gifts! Hopefully that extract will come in handy for a future cookie party!

    1. Okay, but you should call might just find us in our pjs slogging through reruns of something :) I can't wait to try the extract!!!

  4. Great Christmas re-cap! Your cookies look delicious! Love the scavenger hunt idea :)

    1. Thanks - cookies are a major weakness in my world!

  5. Crazy fun times. Love your recap!