Friday, December 23, 2011

Reindeer Cupcakes

We made these yummy cupcakes for Pappy's birthday. I got the idea from family fun, but had to tweak the decorations a bit for what I had in my pantry. I also created amazing chocolate cream cheese frosting!
For the cake, I use a butter cake recipe I found on allrecipes here. I adapted it for cupcakes by cutting the baking time to about 20 minutes.
For the frosting, I creamed 1/2 cup butter, 1 package light cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla extract, with 1 cup powdered sugar. I then added 1/4 cup cocoa powder. For the perfect touch, I added 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips to the mixture. So yummy!
The nose is a piece of pizzelle (was supposed to be vanilla wafer) with a brown M&M on it. The eyes are mini M&Ms attached with frosting onto white Smarties. The ears are warmed, reshaped mini Tootsie Rolls. The antlers are broken pretzels.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sugar Cookies pt 2

It took us a few days to find some time, but we finally got around to decorating our sugar cookies. I think they look amazing, and taste yummy too!

Due to time constraints, I just bought a sprinkles pack from a big box store, but many of our local Amish/Mennonite run stores carry decorating and baking supplies for very low prices. (My container of green decorating sugar cost 68 cents).

I make a thinned out buttercream icing for the cookies and paint it on. Since it is so thin, you don't need much. It dries hard overnight. As you can see in the picture, it is runny and will run off onto your table (and dry hard overnight) so be sure to clean up before bed.

To make the icing, I used 2tbsp softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, about a cup of confectionary sugar, and enough milk to make it thin enough to paint. Add this 1 tbsp at a time, but I'd estimate I used 3-4tbsp. Just mix in your mixer and add the milk slowly. If you add too much, counter with more powdered sugar.

Just paint the icing on with a spatula or brush, add sprinkles, and dry overnight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Candylane

We go to this special event at Hershey Park each year. With a coupon, tickets are $10.95 for ages 3 plus. The roller coasters aren't open, nor the water rides (Ha Ha) but there are plenty of kiddie rides and a few big kid rides (like The Claw).

Years ago, before we had kids, Hershey didn't charge admission to the park. They'd operate on a ride ticket system, so my husband and I would stop for some Hershey's hot cocoa and cookies and just walk around the park looking at all the lights without riding anything (for free).

If you go, one of the overlooked neat treats is the dancing lights on the bridges. Every so often music will start (such as a selection from Trans Siberian Orchestra) and thousands of dancing lights will accompany. Not quite the caliber of Osbourne's Festival of Lights at Disney World, but still very neat (and MUCH less crowded).

This year, we had the privilege of going on a warmer day and a school night so it was very empty. Definitely recommend! Merry Christmas!

Sugar Cookies pt 1

We had fun mixing up sugar cookie dough and cutting out shapes this past week. My older daughter even enjoyed making cutout "freaks" where she'd put a triangle on a gingerbread man or a circle on top of a Christmas tree. I use this recipe:

It is super yummy! Be prepared though for the time needed to cool! We mixed up the dough together one day and cut out the cookies the next, but you could just give it a couple hours to chill.

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Christmas Fun

Oh, it would appear this whole daily blogging thing isn't going to work out, but I'll still post about all our fun. As I mentioned before, the library is a great place for free, family fun. This day we went on the Polar Express. A librarian read The Polar Express and each child received a bag with a bell and coin. We then boarded the Polar Express trolley, which drove us all the way to the North Pole. There, we saw Santa, spent our coin to get a toy from his workshop, and decorated a paper frame with our picture with Santa in it. What great fun and all provided by the library.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth...Day of December

Hi everyone, we are playing catchup here with all the special projects we are doing at home! Today I have 2 more to share. The reason we got behind is we were expecting a new member of our family to join us this week (we are also foster parents) and were hurriedly preparing.  However, at the last minute the child was able to go home instead. So, all is back to normal.

Yesterday we made Christmas Tree wall hangings with tissue paper.  This is a really easy project for any age, and looks pretty awesome.  To make, first you cut out Christmas trees out of green paper.  Then, allow the children to paint glue onto the trees.  Next, take tiny pieces of squished up red and green tissue paper and let the kids place it all over the tress.  My oldest ran and got a star sticker for the top. That's it! Super simple and the kids loved it.

We also baked chocolate chip cookies together. After dinner we had hot cocoa and the cookies while we watched Santa Buddies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fun, easy lunch! Cookie Cutters!

I recently got some new mini cookie cutters and was anxious to try them out. Since we were running errands this morning, a cheese sandwich was perfect for lunch. It took an extra 2 minutes to get out the cutters and make lunch a little special. The girls enjoyed making some themselves, too!

For those who have been following along with the Special December posts, we'll be catching up tomorrow with an explanation on why!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

4th day of December

Today the girls went with their grandparents to a Christmas party. They came back with these four handmade ornaments. The star ornament with toothpicks and chewy candies. The angel is made with coffee filters. The ball ornament is made with old Christmas cards cut in strips and brass fasteners. The pinecone is simply painted with glitter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On the 3rd day of December

Today we went and got a Christmas tree.

We get our tree from a local tree farm in the next county. The trees are cut that morning, and after you select one, it is put on a shaking machine to remove bugs, drilled and put on a tree stand at just the perfect angle. Then, it's netted and put in/on your vehicle. When we get home we just have to put it up in the living room, cut the net and add water.

Here's a bonus photo from the Ice Festival yesterday.  Its amazing what they can carve with ice!

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the Second day of December

Today's special activity was a trip to our local Ice Festival. We walked around town munching on free cookies and drinking free hot chocolate checking out the ice sculptures. There was even this cool train display! Hopefully you have a fun, free Christmas event nearby to enjoy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days of Christmas

Today is December 1, which means there are 25 days until Christmas. Each day up until Christmas I try to do something special with the kids, either a craft, special Christmas outing or baking.

Today we made this Countdown Calendar made out of mismatched socks. Each sock will display the project of the day. I plan to share each of them with you! Today's special project is "decking the halls" (decorating for Christmas)!