Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lesson 7- Last Minute Christmas Gifts

We learned today that Christmas morning will not only be spent with my in-laws but some of their friends from church. While we are in the spirit of giving, our checking account is no longer willing to give us too much more for gifts. Not a problem, just gives me an excuse to get crafty! We decided for each family to do hot cocoa in a jar. since they all have young children we figured it's a great holiday treat.

Hot Cocoa Recipe:
* 1 1/2 C. skim milk powder
* 1 1/2 C. white sugar
* 3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa
* 3/4 C. non-dairy creamer
* mini marshmallows

1. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well. For a finer mix, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix well.

2. Transfer cocoa mix into canning jars (about 32-36 oz). Fill remaining space in jar with mini marshmallows. I used the seasonal French Vanilla ones that were in the shape of snowmen--very festive!

3. Cut fabric in square pieces with pinking shears one inch larger than lid diameter.

4. Place lid on jar, then fabric square, then ring onto jar.

5. With ribbon, yarn, or rafia, attach directions:
"Place 2 or 3 tablespoons in a mug and add boiling water"

Happy Gift-Giving and Merry Christmas!

Lesson 6- A Holiday Gingerbread House

In high school, my German teacher offered us extra credit once a year. The assignment was to build a Lebküchenhaus--or Gingerbread house--completely from scratch and completely edible. I only attempted this feat once; I failed miserably. Seven years later I decided it was time to try again. And so I did. This one wasn't such an epic failure.

Gingerbread Recipe:
* 1/2 C. shortening
* 1/2 C. sugar
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
* 1/2 C. molasses
* 1 egg
* 1 tbsp. vinegar
* 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1. In a mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Cover dough about 3 hours or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a cookie sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter and premade stencils cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.

3. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
(From Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook)

Royal Icing Recipe:
* 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 C. egg whites (3 large egg whites)
* 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1. Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine. Scrape down sides. Turn the mixer to high and beat until thick and very white. Mixture will hold a peak. This should take at least 7-10 minutes.

The most difficult step in the process is constructing the house. Lucky for me I had my husband to help! But even with him helping the frustration almost sent me into a fit. Yes, I'm 24 and still throw the occasional temper tantrum. The best tip I can give you is do it slowly allowing each 'joint' to dry before adding a new piece. Also, a blowdryer really helps!

Once all the icing as dried and your house is stable, comes the fun part: decorating! Pretty much any dry, edible is fair game. We used marshmallows (roof shingles), Dots (siding), mini candy canes (more siding and decorations), and chocolate chips (more decorations).

It's simple, but beautiful. I think so, anyways!
Merry Christmas and Frohe Weihnachten!

Lesson 5- A thrifty Thanksgiving tablescape

This year my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving. And we had a full house! Here are a few pics of the tablescape I put together and an approximate breakdown of the prices. This particular arrangement made tablescaping a new love of mine!

Tablecloth: $6.99 (thrift store)
Napkins: $9.99 for 12 (Bed Bath & Beyond)
Napkin rings: $6.99 for 4 (Hobby Lobby)
Runner: $1.00/sheet of scrapbooking paper (Hobby Lobby)
Vases: left over from our wedding
Coffee grounds: free from Starbucks
Cinnamon sticks: $3.99/pack (Bed Bath & Beyond)
Branches: $1.75/bunch (Hobby Lobby)
Decorations on vases: scraps of scrapbooking paper+rafia from my craft room
A super Thanksgiving: Priceless!

Lesson 4- How to go scorpion hunting

As a life long resident of the American southwest, you grow accustomed to sharing your abode with creepy crawlies. However, most of these are not wanted. The past couple of months my husband and I have battling the invasion of our home by scorpions.

We found 2 in our garage within just days of each other. It was at this point we decided to call our exterminator. Most exterminators in the Southwest are equipped to fight the scorpions. However, just hours after having our house sprayed I came across another one in the garage ready to attack me as I got in my car to go to work.

The next evening while at dinner my husband and I were talking about our scorpion problem. I came up with the brilliant idea of going scorpion hunting. At least I'm going to take credit for coming up with the idea--this is my blog after all. After doing a little research on my Blackberry we headed to Wal-mart on our way home. Our shopping list consisted of two things:

A black light (approx. $10) and scorpion tongs ($3)
We also used glue traps given to us by our exterminator.

We returned home to search our entire backyard. No sign of any scorpions. So we searched the front yard and the side of the house. No luck. We were getting a little discouraged. Where were they hiding? At this point we opened the garage door, turned off the lights and turned on our black light again. Score!!!

The first one we saw was hiding under my car (they're out to get me, I tell ya!). I held the black light while my husband coaxed the lil' bugger on to the glue trap. We found another one in between the two cars in the garage. Again my husband was responsible for coaxing it on to the glue trap. Boy, were they angry. Now this may seem inhumane, as the glue traps doesn't kill them instantly, but we're not taking any chances that these things hurt us or our awesome dog, Montana.

Once we were back inside I did some research on scorpions and thanks to Wikipedia found some interesting info. If you are stung, there is no anti-venom used in the US, and unless the victim is a small child, elderly person, or sufferer of asthma or other breathing related ailment, going to the ER is a mute point. The wound should be washed well and have an anti-hestimine applied to it. To read more click here:
Related Posts with Thumbnails