Friday, December 2, 2011

Commence Christmas Music!

December 1st and we're getting into the spirit! The tree is up, the Advent Calendar is hung, cookie recipes are calling my name...  It's beginning to feel like Christmas around here! Even Andrew is getting elfish!

Even though Andrew is now working, it doesn't mean that we are spend, spend, spending.  We are still frugal with our money, and I shopped for gifts the whole year, scoring items on sale or with coupons to make it an even sweeter deal.  I'm pretty much done with gifts for the kiddos this year, but I still have a few items I need to pick up for other family members. 

Despite repeated requests not to exchange gifts, we have relatives that insist on giving the children something and I always feel bad not having anything in return. I know it's the season of giving, but I always feel like I'm taking and taking and not giving. So I am trying hard this year to come up with some simple gifts that are thoughtful and appreciated, without feeling like I've just drained the bank account.  I don't spend a whole lot on my own children, so it makes no sense to me to spend a lot on my nieces and nephews. It doesn't mean I love them any less-- on the contrary, I am putting a lot of love into what I am making/creating and hoping they'll like what I've come up with.

Andrew has an Aunt that just loooooves snickers-- I plan on making a cloth bucket and filling it with  full-size snickers candy bars for her.  Simple, yet it will be something I know she'll enjoy, and it didn't cost a lot of money, because I used coupons for the candy bars, and it was just a little bit of time at the sewing machine.  I'll be making several similar gifts like this for the Aunts and Uncles, for the ones that have a sweet tooth and put their favorite candies inside them.

For the kiddos-- I have group gifts for them to share, but I'd like to get them all something special for individual gifts.  I'm still thinking and working on that.  I can't say too much here, but I have a few ideas up my sleeve.

 I get to go out all by myself next week-- a rarity now that Andrew is working and I have to wait for a day off, and I'll be picking up items and stopping at the fabric store for a few things.  I don't want to take the kids with me-- they'll see items I want to keep a surprise.  And I must admit, Peter is not the best shopping companion. Whew! He's a handful, that one!  I don't enjoy shopping with him along, I get all flustered and frustrated and I end up forgetting items on my list, or errors are made with the coupons and I end up paying more than I should have, but I can't figure out what went wrong when I am wrestling with a squirmy, screamy toddler that just wants me to let him go and get. down. now. Just reading that last sentence makes me want to go lie down!  He's a great kid, I know he just wants to run and explore and if mama wants to shop, it's not a good combination! Better to leave him at home where he's on familiar turf and I can do my thing in peace.

I have Christmas music playing on my internal radio and I love when the kids tell me they hear certain songs on the radio. They still believe in the magic of Christmas and they were so excited when the tree went up. Now it's the battle of the wills between parents and kids at getting them to leave. the. tree. alone. I actually went so far as to take off the garland and tears were flowing, "I'll be good, I'll be good!  No, mama! Please! We won't touch the tree anymore!" I left it off a day before putting it back up and it worked for a while.  The threat has lost its' power now, so the newest warning is: Any bad behavior and you have to take an ornament off the tree!  So far so good!

I've been thumbing through recipe books, looking for new ideas for cookies and bars.  Before kids (B.K.), I used to make hundreds of cookies and give them as gifts.  After kids (A.K.), I'm lucky if I can make a couple of batches and then fend off the hungry cookie monsters. If anyone got a dozen cookies, they're the lucky ones! This year, I have a good feeling I'll be able to make more than a few batches.  I have some cookie ideas bubbling up in that brain of mine and can't wait to make a test batch.

I made eggnog spice cake the other day and man oh man! Is that ever good!!  Moist and flavorful, and I get that great eggnoggy taste I love in every bite! It's a keeper!  Anything cooked in a bundt pan looks great and we love cake that requires no frosting! The only thing is I would cook it a little longer next time, 40-45 minutes isn't long enough, I'll try 50-55 minutes next time. 

Any good cookies recipes you want to share? I'd love to try new ones!

1 comment:

Stephanie D. said...

Jennifer, have you been to Pinterest? I've found several promising recipes there. Tonight I tried one called "sour cream chicken"--easy, quick, and pretty good, though I'd probably add another spice or two.

Anyway there are loads of ideas and links to frugal decorating and gift-giving. You might like it!