24 Dec
2013

Starlight Peppermint Cups

Someone asked in the comments the other day if I was crafty by nature or nurture. I don’t know if this answers the question, but surely means something that my brother showed up with ten pounds of candy yesterday and, without a word, proceeded to do this:

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The oven was on at 350 degrees and the candy went in on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 6 minutes. You’ll want to watch them so they melt together to a nice thickness, i.e., not so thin they’ll rip or break. When you’re placing the candies on the baking sheet, make sure you space each set far enough apart so they don’t run together–unless you want them to run together so you can make one large peppermint peppermint tray or bowl instead of single-serving peppermint cups.

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Fill it with brownie bites! Or giant chocolate cookies for Santa!

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My brother said he saw a photo of a large peppermint tray made with this technique on Tumblr, but it was his idea to form them around muffin tins. Crafty crafty.

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We’re serving these for our big Christmas Eve dinner with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and maybe some crushed peppermints on top. I’ll update with a photo when I have one. For now, they look pretty sweet with cookies.

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I know it’s kind of late in the game to say you should make these for Christmas (although all you need is a bag of candy, which you maybe already have?), but something tells me these will be just as awesome the day after and/or the day after that and/or maybe sometime in the summer too. But one step at a time; I’ve got some eating to do.

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19 Dec
2013
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
By    5 Comments

Yes, Santa Claus, There Is a Virginia

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Am I crazy (yes), or did Christmas come extra quickly this year? I know we were robbed of a week because Thanksgiving was late, and I can only assume that adding a toddler to the mix naturally increases the hustle in our bustle, but this morning even Wombat, who as a freshly minted five-year-old should feel like Christmas is always impossibly far off in the hazy distance, commented on how fast it’s all flying by. “I can’t believe how quickly December and November were! It seems like it was just Halloween!” I feel you, dude. (And if that’s true, it means I can still sneak in blog recaps of Halloween and Thanksgiving as things that did indeed happen to us this year, yes?) Of course, we’re told to cherish these moments because they are so soon behind us, but what I’ve found is that paying any amount of attention to the passage of time only serves to get my real-time nostalgia neurons turned to rapid-fire and faster than you can say “sunrise, sunset,” I’m reduced to humming through every day with giant moist Bambi eyes because it’s all going so fast and soon my kids will be big and old and acknowledging me with only a synchronized eye roll from behind their handheld gaming devices and we’re all just tiny specks in the vast expanse of space and time and what does it all meeeeeean?!?!? I never considered Christmas a time for reflecting on the nature of existence, but we don’t always get to choose the content and timing of our breakdowns, do we?

But seriously, it feels like there’s just not enough time to do all the holiday things I want to do. There’s no time to read all the Christmas books (let alone read some of them more than once), and I feel like watching Christmas movies has turned into a high-pressure job. Every day after school, I cattle-drive the kids into the t.v. room and turn on some charming holiday classic (or something new and creepy like Polar Express *shudder*), and I’ve found myself wanting to create a spreadsheet just to make sure we get everything in before it’s too late (which is silly because I’ll watch Eloise at Christmastime while lazing in a hammock in the middle of July). Still, I can’t shake the feeling that if we don’t complete our movie-watching assignments in time we’re going to catch hell from our supervisor, which is ridiculous and, thank goodness, almost certainly merely residual intensity spilling over from how much scrambling I’ve been doing during the day. Gifts to buy, cards to address, rooms to clean, suitcases to pack, all that stuff plus scheduling a dozen kindergarten tours and planning two birthday parties for January and trying to find power cords for the electronic devices that will get us through the next two weeks. When we deboard de plane in Salt Lake next Monday, I hope someone is there to greet me with a big old cocktail and a comfy recliner (HINT HINT).

For anyone who, like me, loves hearing about what other people get their kids: This year the baby’s getting hand-me-down stuff we’re pulling out of the attic (ring stacker, popper push-toy, plus a few puzzles Wombat got after he was too old for them), and Wombat has asked Santa for a fairy princess (check), jewels “for [his] fairies” (check), and a volcano kit (check). He’ll be getting some other stuff he needs like socks and p.j.s and workbooks and whatnot, mostly in an attempt to create the feeling of bounty that was one of my favorite parts of Christmas growing up. A virtual cornucopia of new underwear is better than no cornucopia. Oh, and he’s also a REAL FLYING FAIRY, which I’ve made a command decision will come from Mom and Dad instead of Santa because (a) he didn’t ask Santa for it and (b) it never hurts to remind your kids how awesome you are. I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait!

Speaking of Santa, Wombat’s been reading enough Christmas books and seeing enough Christmas movies that he’s come to the realization that Santa is more complicated than he seems at first glance. He’s noticed how often fictional kids say they don’t believe in Santa as well as how often the Santa they visit at the mall or wherever turns out to not be the real Santa after all. This morning he was wondering aloud why the Santa at the shopping center had a straight beard and the one at the zoo had a curly beard and the one who sent him a video message had an impractically long beard, and I can only guess what will happen when we visit a black Santa this evening. For a kid who asks a million questions about everything, I can see him holding back on the Santa issue, almost as if he doesn’t want any answers because he’s afraid of what they might be. I love how keen he is to believe in magic of all sorts, and I’m trying my best not to be hopelessly maudlin that we only have a few more years before he gets wise and not even the Santa-tracking segment on the local news on Christmas Eve will be enough. *cue existential crisis #324*

Meanwhile, we’re soaking up every second. We finally got the tree decorated on December 15, I sent out our first batch of Christmas cards this morning, and I bought myself a new red and green plaid shirt. We’ve been kind of loose with our advent activities, but we’ve still managed to go ice skating, sing carols around the piano, make some dumb little crafts courtesy of the Target dollar bin, and of course watch too many yet not enough Christmas movies. Simon mixed up a batch of stovetop potpurri we’ve been simmering on and off for the last week (1/2 pot water, 2 cups apple juice, 3 heaping tbsp ground cinnamon (or a handful of sticks), 2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 cup bourbon (optional), 4 tbsp concentrated urine (human, not cat)), and I couldn’t be more pleased with our new Christmas stockings, especially since they were on saaaaale, glorious saaaaale (see below). Every year, Simon is appalled that I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life from start to finish, and every year I’m more convinced it doesn’t matter because I’ve got my wonderful life right here.

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Someone is obviously too busy deconstructing the Santa Industrial Complex to smile.

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18 Dec
2013

Martha Trees

This post is not sponsored by Martha Stewart, but it should be. (Call me, Martha!) A few weeks ago I picked up this so-called Martha Wrap (I’m trying affiliate links; do you hate me?) at the grocery store because the idea of a sheet that’s foil on one side and parchment on the other made the craft center of my brain light up like a…well, okay, fine, like a Christmas tree. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I was sure it had potential.

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One thing it turned out to work really great for was the little notes that go inside each pocket of our advent calendar. I cut and folded and crinkled the paper into interesting shapes and displayed them foil side out to add a little shine to our otherwise subdued calendar. I wrote on the parchment side with a white chalk marker because it looked cool.

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The other thing I did was make these foil and parchment non-denominational winter trees, using scissors, double-stick tape, and left-over cone-shaped things from the ivory snow trees project I shared a few weeks ago.

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Christmas is only a week away *heart attack*, but you can make one of these in ten minutes or a whole forest of them while watching Love Actually/going on Facebook to snark about Love Actually. (For the record, I’m a lover, not a snarker.) And because these are neutral and silver instead of red and green (like these similar and equally awesome trees I made last year out of felt), they’re good to have around for the New Year too.

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This is one seasonal decoration you can let your kids incorporate into their winter scene (cue miniature plastic reindeer and polar bears and dinosaurs) and because they’re cheap and easy and disposable, it’ll be no big deal when they accidentally crush them, tiny son of mine.

If you guessed that full instructions are over at Work It, Mom, you win ten gold stars.

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