Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

From our families to yours.

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Galatians 4:4-7
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Christina and Victoria

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Miscellany-Home and Food

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A simple approach for holiday decorations appealed to me this year. Using things that weren't necessarily holiday, but already in my everyday stash was my goal.


Simple little touches of pretties on the mantle.
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The full picture. Only the ribbon, star and gold fruit ornaments (from the Dollar Store) were from my Christmas box. I just added that to thing already out and really have enjoyed the results.

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Last year I posted the recipe for Heavenly Cranberry Bliss Bars and it just begged to be posted again. This for me is the quintessential Christmas cookie/bar. It is like all of the tastes that Christmas would be if Christmas was a taste in one little triangle. The word "bliss" truly captures this recipe

Photo provided by:ohdearbarb's photostream Starbucks cranberry bliss bars

I found this recipe on a message board probably about seven years ago. The lady lived in Seattle and had found it in a Seattle Jr. League Cookbook years before. I can't remember what year the cookbook was from, but I think it was from the 70's. What I do know is that Starbucks sells something almost identical and they are headquartered in Seattle. Who knows, it might be where they found the recipe. They are a little labor intensive as there are several steps. My ADD almost caused me to never try the recipe, but it just looked so good, so I'm glad it won me over. Please give them a try! You will not be sorry!

Heavenly Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
¼ cup grated orange zest (see note below)

White Chocolate Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons grated orange zest, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
6 ounces high quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350̊F. Lightly butter an 11- by 15-inch jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Whisk together the brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended, then stir in the white chocolate chips, cranberries, pecans, and orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan (it will be quite stiff) and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 22 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, 1 tablespoon of the orange zest, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Spread the mixture over the cooled base. Stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons orange zest with the dried cranberries in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the frosting. Melt the white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle the white chocolate over the bars and let sit until the chocolate is set. Cut the bars into 3-inch squares and then diagonally into triangles.

Makes 48 bars.

The amount of orange zest is *not* a misprint. I use a microplane (this may be one of the most amazing kitchen tools ever)to do the zesting. The grating goes so quickly with this tool. When zesting citrus, get only the outer part of the citrus. Once you get to the white part underneath go to another spot. The white part is very bitter.

As Jacques Pepin would say--Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feliz Navidad Snowmen

We are joining in with Darlene of Our Creative Life for her Christmas Cookie party today. Go over and check out her delicious looking peanut butter brownie cookie recipe. Honestly, that is one cookie makes me wish we didn't have peanut allergies around here. Check out the other recipes and try to link up if you can.

Scroll past our giveaway winners for the cute snowman pretzels that Victoria made with her sweet girl. While technically not a cookie, it will bring delight to the little and big ones in your life.
First, we have winners! I had my Sweet Girl pull numbers out of a bowl so blame her if you didn't win. He he.

Tracy @ Beneath my Heart
Gummy rings for the hat...

fruit leather cut into slices for the scarvesgumballs...

mini chocolate chips...

Sweet Girl had such concentration while working on their noses ...
Very proud of her creations!We had a really good time together making these and I highly recommend making some with a little guy or gal in your life.
Shoot, I would have enjoyed doing these by myself and coming up with my own creations! :)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Welcome and a giveaway

Awhile back at Kohl's I found some vinyl lettering on clearance. There was a "welcome" that I thought would be perfect for my carport door. My husband painted the door while he was off on Thanksgiving break and I excitedly pulled out my "welcome" to put on the door. Imagine my surprise when I saw how HUGE the letters were! It was over 3' long! Christina had the brilliant idea of placing the letters over my french doors so you see it when you walk through the front door and I love, love, love it!!!

welcome table

While I am at it, here's a shot of my corner cabinet decorated for Christmas.

Now on to the fun stuff...

Christina and I are honored so many of you would choose to follow us! We wanted to show our appreciation and share a little holiday spirit with a giveaway!

Four winners will be chosen at random from the comments for

The first vinyl saying is "Every day is a Gift" and it measures 22" x 5.75".

The second is "Love is spoken here" and it measures 43.5" x 6.13"

and the pillows....
Giveaway will run from now through Monday the 14th at 1:00pm EST so just leave a comment to be entered!

Merry Christmas!

Victoria for us both

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A dinner party


Monday, I had the brilliant idea to have my in-laws over for dinner. Due to a surgery we will not be seeing them as much as usual between now and Christmas and I figured last night would be a good chance to spend time with them.


Did I mention my sweet Mother-in-law is the Queen of Clean and I am not? That fact is a little overwhelming to me and there are many times when I pass up opportunities to have them (or someone else) over due to my house not being clean enough (why do I think the floors need to be scrubbed anyway?). While I pondered whether or not I would have time to clean and scour my floors I was reminded of what this season is all about anyway. Forget the presents and decorations, I want to spend time with my family and friends, clean floors or not!

I told Sweet Girl we were having a Christmas dinner party and she was all for it! Out came the snowman plates that I really wasn't planning on unpacking this year, along with a tablecloth and napkins from bygone years. Now I was getting excited and in the mood for company too (except for the cleaning house bit)!


While I was putting the finishing touches on dinner, I asked Sweet Girl if she would like to make place cards. She was all for it and wrote out everyone's name and then colored each card a different color.




I let her pick the candles for the table from some I had packed away. She also made the centerpiece from snow, some Christmas trees and her Polar Bear AND she set the table as well. Boy did she enjoy helping out!


We had a wonderful time visiting and enjoying our Grammy and Grumpy's company!

Lesson learned? Clean house be darned, I will have company when I feel like it! Oh and candlelight hides a multitude of sins. ;)


Friday, December 4, 2009

A Delightfully Different Cookie

Darlene over at Our Creative Life is having a Cookie Recipe Party. Make sure to go over and check out all of the goodies and join in with your favorite recipe. I would love to see what all of you guys make during the holidays.

My recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine in 2001. Something different for sure and just delightful. This has become my husband's favorite cookie and is the perfect addition to a Christmas cookie platter or with a cup of hot tea on a cold afternoon.


Berry Sage Thumbprints

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow corn meal
1 1/2 tsp. dried sage, crushed (mine is a powder)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup blackberry preserves (I use b. berry jelly because I don't like the seeds)

preheat oven to 350 degrees

combine flour, cornmeal, sage and baking powder. Set aside.

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until combined, scraping sides occasionally. Beat in egg yolks, lemon peel, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly press the tip of your thumb into the center of each ball. Fill the centers with about 1/4 tsp. of the blackberry preserves. bake about 10 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely. Makes about 60.
From Better Homes and Garden's December 2001

Oh, so yummy!

I hope you enjoyed your virtual taste. Try it, you might like it.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

A friend passed along this recipe about nine years ago. It has since been a family favorite. Think cheese ball but for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball


1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans For those with nut allergies don't despair-just roll cheese ball in more mini chocolate chips.
Graham crackers (we prefer the chocolate grahams for this)


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers. Yield: 1 cheese ball (about 2 cups). Originally from Taste of Home Magazine