Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Happenings

I've been pretty busy this week!  All of these pictures are a little dark because the past couple weeks we leave in the dark and come home in the dark so I haven't been able to get decent photos.  Anyway, this year I challenged myself (I also challenged friends and family but no one accepted) to not purchase any gift wrapping supplies.  I had to be quite creative - some look pretty cool and others look not so pretty... but I did save money and a few trees :)  These are Callie's presents from Santa (good thing she doesn't read my blog!) - wrapped in the paper that was in that same box that we used to make Callie's car!  Nothing from that shipment was wasted :)  She truly believes that Santa is bringing Rudolph and Clarice with him to our house so to go along with it, she will have a gift from each under the tree!

(Silly Hair Girl (AKA Lalaloopsy) tree house from Santa, "girl" Lego set from Clarice, and a very cute stuffed puppy from Rudolph)

*Oh my gosh!  I just realized when looking at this picture that I spelled her middle name wrong!  Better change that before she accuses Santa!  To my defense, it was pretty late when I wrapped these - haha - I can't believe I did that!*

Spicin' up the school uniform with a cute headband!

The past few nights I've been working on my stock of Christmas treats to hand out.  So far I've made Chex mix (just the original recipe on the back of the cereal box), Granola (my own recipe with a couple extra Christmasy ingredients), candied nuts (recipe below), and strawberry jam.  I still have to make Russian tea cakes and mock almond roca - hope to do that tomorrow.

For the top of the jam jars I just used the lid as a template to cut circles from some decorated paper I already had.  I think they turned out pretty cute!  Gallie took her teachers each a jar this morning :)

And just for fun... this is what Caleb looks like after a 15 hour day of shooting on Snoqualmie Pass!

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I might up this by a 1/2 tsp. next time for more of a sweet/salty balance)
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (I swapped this with 1/4 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

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