Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Christmas Rose

Well Christmas is over and we were blessed with many more gifts than we could ever wish for. Jared bought a beautiful cherry-wood desk for me that I am sitting at now as I type. I already filled the drawers and shelves with all of my crafting things. It is my little corner of the living room to do with as I please! The laptop moved out of its temporary residence on our kitchen table, and into its perminant new home atop my new desk!
Though the desk was by far the most expensive gift I received this year, and I love it, it was not my favorite gift. I am going to share a story that goes to show that a woman is not always won over by the big expensive gifts. Thoughtfulness and attentiveness go a LOOOONG way. My most favorite gift this year was a stocking stuffer that cost $15.00
Let me explain...
Last Thursday my sister Shinae called me up and asked if I would like to meet her for lunch. I joyfully accepted and arrived an hour later. After lunch, we had about an hour to spend together before Shinae had to leave for work. So we casually walked down Main St. and popped into some of the shops. We came to an antique shop and were both excited to go look around. Our search started by looking for hand-painted teacups from England (for Shinae). After scouring the shelves without success, we opted to look at the huge trays full of beautiful antique rings. Since I had recently spent every last penny on Christmas gifts, we were mainly looking for a ring for Shinae. We stood at that counter pouring over the rings for a good twenty minutes, trying on anything that would fit our fingers! (Just because I didn't have any money does not mean I could not try them on!) I found an exquisite ring made of a thin band of sterling silver. Several delicate pieces of silver were bent into the form of a rose, with a leaf on each side. The center of the rose clutched a tiny red ruby. Shinae finally chose a beautiful green and gold ring and then we left.

After returning home on Thursday, I had briefly mentioned the ring to Jared, and how beautiful I thought it was. Jared gathered the limited information I had given him and snuck to the antique store the following day. After describing the ring as best he could, the store attendant helped him find the beautiful little ring.

On Christmas morning I reached into my stocking and opened up the most beautiful antique rose ring. What a guy! This tiny little token was by far my favorite present. Not only because I think the ring is beautiful, but also because of Jared's thoughtfulness and attentiveness. The huge surprise factor also contributed to my delight. Anyways, kudos to Jared! I love you! Thank you for the person you are and the way you cherish me!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stocking Stuffers

I finally got all the presents bought for my dear husband (which always sounds easier than it proves to be). I want to get him gifts that he will not only like, but will be excited about. Well, yay to me! All that is behind me now. I found the greatest gifts that I am confident he will love. Today, I bought the rest of the stocking stuffers, which is always a bit of a puzzle to me. How much do you spend on stocking stuffers? In my mind, they are always an afterthought, but then once I get going, I never know where to stop. I started small with traditional "stuffer" gifts, but then my excitement grew and the gifts got bigger and more expensive until I realized I just needed to cut myself off. Tonight I wrapped them all and started packing them into his fuzzy red stocking... yeah, they don't all fit. I got too carried away. So three of his stuffers are now under the Christmas tree. Then after carefully (and very strategically) packing the gifts into his stocking I went to hang it up again. Let me explain how we jimmy-rigged our stockings. We are using tiny 3M wall hooks stuck to the side of our entertainment center, with a paper clip carefully bent into a hook. As you guessed, the strength of a paper clip is no match for the overstuffed stocking. After attempting to hang it three times, and the stocking crashing to the floor three times, I was able to bend the paper clip in a way that supported the weight. I don't know how, but I am not touching it again until Christmas!
Oh the joys of the holiday season! I love Christmas! Happy Day to all!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

World's Best Spritz Cookie Recipe

This is the recipe I forgot to bring with me to the cookie party last week. This recipe is delicious and the cookies turn out buttery and delicious!

Jan's Spritz Cookies
Yield: 6 dozen
Temp: 350

1 C. shortening
3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.vanilla

Cream shortening in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and cream well. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in all dry ingrediants. Mix well. Fill cookie press and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes. (Check after 6-7 minutes. Baking time will vary depending on your oven.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Cookie Bonanza

On Friday afternoon, I packed up my spatulas and cookie sheets, my measuring cups and colored sprinkles and headed for the home of all homes... my parents' house. It was the big Christmas cookie bake-off day! I arrived around 3 pm and was greeted by the warm, cozy glow of the twinkly lights dancing on the Christmas tree. Soft, cheerful carols drifted through the house. But best of all, I was welcomed with huge smiles and big hugs! I was the first to arrive, and it was just Mom, Anna and me. We went right to work. I melted chocolate and sweetened condensed milk and made four flavors of fabulous truffles, including almond, peppermint, coconut and orange! My mom made tray-fulls of delicious turtles! And Anna ran back and forth helping us both when needed. At about 5 pm, my sister-in-law, Ariel, arrived and began baking her amazing sugar cookies. Nearing 6 o'clock, we were all getting hungry, so we sat down to enjoy the hot Hawaiian chicken and rice that mom had simmering in a crock pot all afternoon. By 7pm, Abby and Shinae had arrived and the kitchen was a bustle of activity. Sweet smells drifted through the air and tickled our noses. Abby and I decided to make a mega batch of Spritz cookies, so we quadrupled the recipe! I am sure most of you know that spritz cookies are basically butter cookies...

That is how much butter you need to quadrupel a spritz recipe! The recipe also called for 10 cups of flour! After finally stirring the last cup of flour in, (it took 3 of us taking turns to get it all mixed together!) we packed the dough into the presses and took off. We had about 7 cookie sheets filled with cute little shapes and colors. When the cookies came out of the oven and were ready for sampling, I tried one. To my utter dismay, they tasted like cute, colorful FLOUR. Poop.
I finally got the hang of the spritz press at least. Good practice.
Around 10pm, we took the last tray out of the oven, washed all the dishes, cleaned off the counters and sat down to devour some of our handiwork! It was a successful, fun, joyous night!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Wishes

Christmas shopping.... ahhh! The joy... and the PAIN. I love Christmas shopping and the sheer pleasure that comes when you find the perfect gift for someone on your list. And then at the next store, you find the perfect gift for...oops! that same someone on your list. This cycle repeats itself endlessly. These people are referred to as the "easy people" to shop for. Now in every family, there is at least one "hard person." In some cases, there are several "hard people."
Needless to say, I have found boundless treasures for all of my easy people, but for those hard peeps, nada, zippo, zilch, NOTHING.
This is how the institution of the Christmas Wish List came about. Which, for the agigtated shopper, is a brilliant miracle. However, when getting back to the reason for gift giving,-- mainly celebrating the birth of Jesus, the idea of telling eachother what we want for Christmas suddenly seems out of place and mildly selfish. Am I correct in this pondering? Or have I missed the mark completely? Am I accurate in the meaning behind our gift-giving? Or is there some portion of history that I have neglected and which completely justifies the institution of the Wish List?

Now, true, I know my ponderings have pierced your hearts and convinced you to do away with your Wish List forever. But before you do that, just ask your family and friends this simple question: "Am I easy...? Or am I hard?" All you hard people out there... let's not be too hasty. These ponderings are not for your need-nothing selves. Bring on the Wish Lists! These thoughts of mine are for the easy crowd. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Our Picture Perfect Tree

Here is Jared and I tying the tree to the car....

At home after unbinding our beautiful tree....

All decked out in its Christmas gear....

...and shining in all its brilliance!!!