Christmas Recap

I hope you all a happy Christmas Day, whether you celebrate it or not.

We had a lovely and quiet day, I was am thankful for the whole experience.  A couple we are friends with (haven’t come up a cute code name for them yet) joined us for dinner and we got to enjoy the holiday in our new home.  We had bought a local turkey around Thanksgiving but decided to freeze it for Christmas.  The wait was worth it.

is it me or did it look extremely relaxed in fridge?

is it me or did it look very relaxed in the fridge?

In the morning John and woke and exchanged gifts, Hitch played with the wrapping paper for a little while, and we listened to music and hung out around the house until our friends came over.  John had brined the turkey overnight and since it was a smaller bird (under 10 lbs) it didn’t take all of our attention and the whole day to cook.

cooked turkey 2013

The turkey was amazing, the best I have ever had.  It was juicy and flavorful, it took a lot of self control not to just have that on my plate.  Tonight we are having leftovers with some sautéed kale and I can hardly wait.  We also plan to use the bones for stock and maybe use that for some risotto later in the week.  Man, I am making myself hungry again.

We are still under the one year mark for living here, so this was our first Christmas out here. I worried that like with Thanksgiving (which is post I never published) that it might be melancholy; but maybe because we had more control and it was our plans for the holiday I didn’t feel like that at all.  We had a great time with our friends and there was lots of laughing and great food.  I spoke to my sister a few times (my parents too) and I got lots of e-card love from my aunts out West.  We even got to show our friends the first half of A Christmas Story for the first time and they loved it!  Maybe like with marriage, the first year of living somewhere can be the most difficult to find your own groove in.  Traditions and habits haven’t been cemented into our minds yet so it feels like a free for all, but maybe if we just go with the things that make happy and most comfortable we might just find your groove.

Santa’s Cookies

Christmas is upon us so a few nights ago I decided to do a test run for “Santa’s Cookies”.

I made my Chocolate Chip Cookies and though the recipe as listed is still wonderful, we accidentally stumbled on a few improvements.

We were out of our usual so instead of using the Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Chocolate we used… Ghiradelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate.  John had them for another cookie recipe (that I will share with you as soon as I find it) and was nice enough to share. I got the bag at Target (eek, bring cash), so they are probably available in most baking sections. It was around $1 more than Tollhouse per bag I think you should indulge with it at least once, it is the holidays after all.   You can also use less than 2/3 of the bag in my opinion, but that’s up to you.

Chocolate Chips

Hey, it’s even All Natural 😉

I also discovered hand stirring the batter made for much better cookies too.   I have been lazy and using my Kitchen Aid for years to make these.

So Here It is…

The Way-Too-Good-For-it’s-Own-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Original Recipe from Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

WARNING: Serving these to Santa might result in more than just an annual visit.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1  1/8 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt (table salt is better for this)

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (I use Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Ghiradelli’s) also note I put more chocolate chips in there than the recipe says to, they said only half (what fools) =)

Supplies:

MIXING BOWLl (I use a Kitchen Aid Bowl)

cookie sheet

spatula

big spoon

a SMALL MIXING BOWL

1. In a small pan, melt the butter.  When it’s hot add both sugars, stir and then let it cool down a bit.

2.While the butter mixture is cooling, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into the MIXING BOWL.

3.In the SMALL MIXING BOWL, beat the egg lightly with a fork (I beat it just short of scrambled egg color-if that makes sense), then add the egg and vanilla to butter mixture. Stir.

4. Now add the butter, egg, and vanilla mixture to the MIXING BOWL.  Stir again, and then add chocolate chips.  If you are using a electric mixer only stir in the chocolate chips for a few seconds, enough so it is mixed but not enough to beat the chocolate chips to death.  Use some elbow grease.

5. Now the hard part: put the bowl in the fridge to cool for about an hour.

6. Ten minutes before you take the mixing bowl out pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Don’t grease the cookie sheet.  Roll the dough into walnut size balls, put them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.

Enjoy Everyone!

photo-2

The 12 Stitch Program

It was my goal to knit a scarf for every East Coast family member by Christmas this year.  I am proud to say I achieved this goal and then some…

2013 Scarves

You might not be able to tell but there are 16 scarves there, several more were not pictured.  Two were in the mail, one in production, and three others had not been made when I took this picture on December 3rd.

As I knitted my way down the list of people out here (12+1/2) my quality improved and I became much faster.  I found myself getting towards the end of my list with practically all of December free and that just didn’t seem right.  So I added my parents and my sister, then a few friends, then my mother-in-law, then John asked for another, and I wanted another…so yeah, two dozen scarves later and I am wondering if I can fit in a few more before the last ship date before Christmas.  This is bad right?

I mean it’s not like I have a drawer just dedicated to holding yarn that I haven’t used yet…

Yarn

Damnit!

Is there a 12 Stitch…I mean Step Program for this? They weren’t kidding when they said it was addictive, but thankfully for my hands and sanity were are  near the deadline and I can start giving more time to my other hobbies.  It has been fun, but let’s just say I’m not planning on making matching hats for everyone next year 😉

Real or Artificial?

You know how there is that list of things you and your partner should discuss before moving in together/getting married?  Things like do you think there should be a tv in the bedroom, who will do the dishes, etc.  I have found something to add (to whom it applies to) that has not been mentioned…Christmas tree, real or artificial?

All of my life I have been a real Christmas tree girl.  John had been a artificial tree guy when I met him and he already had one.  Our first year together, because I was so love and was willing to give it a go I said Sure, let’s use the artificial tree this year.  I was willing but not thrilled.  When the time came I was not so secretly ecstatic when John pulled the Christmas tree out of storage and found the box was covered in mildew, he had to throw it away.  That year and every year since we have a Real Christmas tree, until this year.  This year there were a few circumstances that pointed us to getting a fake one.

What it led to

While I complained at the time:

“My tree has instructions” ……”my tree has small hazardous pieces” …….”what do you mean I have to spend to hours making it look like a real tree before I can decorate it?”

I have found many advantages to this artificial tree.

First of all it came with lights, lights that with a push of a button go from solid white to fading in & out white to multicolor to fading in & out multicolor.  So no more keeping lights in storage and hoping that there are enough to cover this year’s tree. I can also change my mind about the color whenever I want.  We can have a tree out when we decorate the rest of the house instead of waiting until half way through the month so we don’t have a brown tree on Christmas.  If an ornament does’t fit right in the space on the tree you can just adjust the branches to fit it.  We don’t have to worry about water on the carpet or how it will break down and fit into the trash when we are done with it.

It’s true that it doesn’t have that “Christmas Tree Smell” and it’s not part of the ritual of the season to go pick out a tree, but maybe since we are in a place that has so many trees around I don’t feel like I have to have a (let’s be honest…dying) tree in the house.  If you think about it Real Christmas trees are kind of like “Fortnight At Bernie’s” what with the dressing up and playing with something that is withering away in front of you.   But there is something very special about going into a home with a “living” tree, it marks an occasion and a presence of time.  I have not fully converted to be an artificial tree enthusiast but I am willing to give a shot for the next few years.

And to be honest it doesn’t look half bad.

Tree2013

So out of curiosity which do you prefer? Real or Artificial Christmas trees?

My Body Seems to Reject Vanity

It has been quite chilly here the last few weeks, the humidity has gone down and the air is dry.  Combine that with the excessive knitting and the normal wear and tear I put on my hands and my paws are looking a bit rough.  I must admit it is not so much the look, but how much they hurt when I do my excessive knitting and touch any water hotter than lukewarm.  To combat this I decided to get some gloves to wear while I sleep, something to lock in the lotion I put on my hands.

I’ve tried this for weeks, unfortunately my hands have other plans.

Every morning when I wake up the gloves are on the floor.  It’s not like I find them twisted in the sheets in some accidental “oh they slipped off” kind of way, they are cast down onto the floor several feet away from the bed. I think in my sleep my body uses the fact my brain is otherwise occupied and strips them away and then throws them across the room.  On rare occasions one glove with survive the night on my hand but usually it’s only because a cat is sleeping on it. And yes I did instantly tell John I woke up as Michael Jackson (luckily he’s not a morning person and barely remembers this conversation).

My body just does not seem to jive with next level maintenance, but my brain is all on board so I am trying a new tactic… I am wearing the gloves while I type.  It makes navigating the mouse harder and the tyops are more frequent but hopefully I will only have have to do it a few times a week once my hands are better.

So how about you…does your body enjoy some extra pampering or does it throw a hissy fit?