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Wordless Wednesday: Gingerbread Man

December 19, 2012

12DaysofChristmasGreen

GingerbreadMan

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Grown-Up Christmas List

December 18, 2012

12DaysofChristmasRed

DearSantaOne of my favorite Christmas songs has to be Michael Bublé’s version of Grown-Up Christmas List.  Each passing year, I grow up and mature just a little bit more and find myself relating to the lyrics even more than the previous year.

While all I really want this year for Christmas is anything and everything that is available in bright blue (Furby, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but think about what I really wish could realistically be wished for.

At the risk of sounding cliché, my first wish would be for peace.  I won’t stretch as far to request world peace because let’s be real: I have serious doubts that even Santa would be capable of pulling off that feat.  I would however request peace among neighbors.  Simply be and let be.

PeaceI would wish for everyone to experience the feeling of true happiness in whichever capacity would provide the most joy.  Everyone deserves to understand what real happiness feels like even if it isn’t everlasting.  Something to remember at the very least.

My last Christmas wish would rid the world of evil: something the world seems to have an abundance of as of lately.  While I’m not pretending to be the poster-child for nice and friendly, I can at least say that nothing compares to recent events here in the United States.

I will continue to hope for these things to all happen, but I’m going to keep it real and not let myself down by expecting anything much.  Until then, I’ll be on the prowl for my bright blue Furby.

 

How-To: Cake Cookies

December 17, 2012

12DaysofChristmasGreenCakeCookies2

Christmas is the one time of the year where it is perfectly fine to eat your weight in foods that you really shouldn’t be touching in the first place.  Adding to the cupcakes and cake I mad for her birthday, my mother has made about eight or nine different types of candy and I have made two myself.  I’m going to share with you today the most simple cookies that will end up looking like you tried really hard: cake cookies.

I’ll be honest up front: these are essentially Funfetti cookies that everyone knows and loves.  But instead of using Funfetti cake mix, I experimented with different cake flavors.  And guess what?  The results are perfect!

SpiceVelvet2Ingredients:

  • package of desired cake mix
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 of a container of frosting

Things You’ll Need:

  1. mixing bowl
  2. cookie sheet
  3. decorating bag
  4. flour
  5. a glass/cup

As I said before, this is essentially a Funfetti cookie but can be used for any cake mix.  My favorites to use are red velvet and spice with cream cheese icing.  If you are using a decorating bag for the icing, you will only need half of the frosting but if you decide to spread it on the cookie instead, a whole container may be needed.

Let’s get started!

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In your mixing bowl, add the cake mix, oil, and eggs.  Stir with a spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  3. Shape the dough into small (roughly 1-inch) balls and then place them on your cookie sheet.
  4. Take a glass or cup and coat the bottom with a little flour.  Then flatten the dough to roughly a 1/4-inch thickness.CakeCookiesSteps2
  5. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.
  7. After the cookies have completely cooled, put your frosting into your decorating bag (if you choose to do so) and decorate the cookies!  If not using a decorating bag, simply spread the frosting over the cookies.
  8. Allow the frosting to stiffen up before storing (I usually allow it about 45 minutes to an hour before putting them away).

Once the frosting is on, all that is left to do is enjoy!

These cookies are super easy and have left many people impressed.  I believe the thing that makes them seem so great is the frosting being applied with the decorating bag, it truly creates a Christmassy, Babes in Toyland type of feeling with the cookies.  But the best part is seriously how simple they are to make!

CakeCookies

Preparing these will definitely lighten your Christmas candy load this year and make people think you spent some serious time crafting custom cookies.  Just remember, all you need is some cake mix!  Experiment with the flavors and see what variations you can come up with!

Sounds of Christmas

December 16, 2012

12DaysofChristmasRed

When I was thinking about what makes Christmas feel like Christmas, many things came to mind.  The smell of cinnamon, candy, and sugar cookies which lead me to the food of Christmas.  The feel of a warm sweater, perhaps.  I won’t keep going: the idea is that there are many things that signify Christmas that stimulate the senses.  I decided though, that my favorite would have to be the sounds.

Sounds

What exactly would I venture to include as a sound of Christmas?  Obviously the music.  Last year, I covered some albums that I love for Christmas.  Only one problem, though: I completely left out traditional songs.  Every year, I tend to forget a select few of my favorites until suddenly they are thrown in front of me.  What did it this year?  My nephew’s Christmas concert.  Which songs?  To name a few: Greensleeves, Carol of the Bells, and The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy.  Instantly upon hearing the first chord of each song, I knew every last bit of the songs.

Beyond the more traditional Christmas songs, there are many beautiful sounds to be found.  One that can never be missed yet can be the most annoying: Salvation Army bell-ringers.  There is something both heart-warming and irritating about the sound of those bells.  It never fails once you’ve dropped a few coins or a couple of dollars into the bucket, the bell stops for maybe a split second to receive a Merry Christmas and then it picks right back up.  I challenge you to think of a Christmas where you’ve gone without hearing one!

I also associate the sounds of trains with Christmas.  Well, any train except the real ones, honestly.  Maybe that is due to the fact that my mother always had a train circling our tree when I was little or quite possibly because of the train rides populating most shopping malls these days during Christmas.  Either way, a train horn will always remind me of Christmas.

Another sound is of course the crackling of a fireplace.  Something both relaxing to listen to and to watch but is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past.  I know we had to stop when I was younger due to my wicked allergies.  Thankfully as time has progressed, someone decided to build a fake fire with fake crackles and all.  Is it the same?  Not really, but at least I can enjoy a “fireplace” without having to suffer the runny nose and itchy eyes!

There are many, many more sounds that can be linked to Christmas.  These are only a few of my favorites.  Take a moment and think about what sounds make Christmas amazing for you and then find them as a sound loop to listen to throughout your day.  There’s nothing quite like listening to a crackling fire on your iPod as you drift to sleep on a cold winter night!

Joy

December 15, 2012

12DaysofChristmasGreen

JoyOrnamentJoy: one of the most often-used words this time of the year.  It is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.  Fair enough, it covers quite a bit of ground; especially during Christmas.

From the lights and music to being surrounded by friends and family: there is nothing more joyful than Christmas.

That’s why I am telling you that Tazo hit the nail on the head when they developed a special blend of tea specifically for Christmas and named it Joy.

Described on the tin by Tazo itself: this full-bodied, festive cup of rare Darjeelings and Oolongs is a special tea to share with family and friends.  (They will understand completely, however, if you decided to be a Scrooge about this instead.)

TazoJoyFull-bodied definitely covers this tea perfectly.  The best part of this blend, however, is also the hardest thing to describe.  It has a sort of magic quality that changes the flavor as you go.  No joke.  Like the label says: it is a blend of different types of teas and it really shows.  At first glance, Joy is passable simply as a black tea yet the aroma leads you to believe otherwise: there is more to it than just black tea.  The first sip tastes exactly like what you believe it would: a festive black tea.  Then the magic happens when the green tea reveals itself and then suddenly you are left with yet another flavor as an aftertaste.

I have already shared this tea with several people and each one of them enjoyed the tea as much as I do.  Even my mother didn’t hate it and she typically gags at the thought of hot tea.

I recommend you get to Starbucks as soon as possible to either try a cup or buy a tin of 15 full-leaf sachets for $6.95.  Since it is a seasonal item, I have been stocking up like crazy and have a couple empty tins and several unopened.  Hopefully the Mayan apocalypse won’t happen so I have time to consume every bit that I have bought!

The Elf on the Shelf

December 14, 2012

12DaysofChristmasRedThere are a few times where something comes across my attention that prompts the thought: it is probably for the best I never plan to have children.  What sparked it this year?  None other than The Elf on the Shelf.

Why would something so cute make me thankful that I have sworn off procreation?  Well, that’s simple: my elf would be absolutely evil.  Gone would be the cute little pranks that the elf pulls on unsuspecting children.  Fittingly, my elf would be named Ivan the Terrible.  Here are a few things I’d be pulling off as an evil elf…

ElfOnTheShelf1.) Haircuts.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Needed one?  Doesn’t matter, Ivan would definitely not object to trimming your bangs or perhaps buzzing a bit of your hair.

2.) Markers.  What would he do with them?  You never know, mustaches are pretty trendy now, right?  Of course, he’d make sure it was a permanent marker before he got started on their faces.

3.) Toilet paper.  Everywhere.

4.) Saran wrap.  Same as toilet paper.  Everywhere.  Who know’s maybe that evil little elf is capable of saran wrapping a child in their bed?  That’s just rude!

5.) Laundry.  Your favorite shirt?  Well, Ivan decided to help out with the laundry, and it appears he went a little heavy on the bleach.  Sorry.

That’s just a taste of what my elf would be capable of.  Hopefully this isn’t reflective upon my skills to watch after children.  If that is the case, then I am sorry, but I must point out that my niece and nephew love me.

There are no rules in this house, I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.  Right, Regina?

Throwback Thursday: Christmas Cow Edition

December 13, 2012

12DaysofChristmasGreen

Christmas Cow

 

I have always been a big guy.  But before I was a big guy, I was a husky boy.  Something everyone was onto from the get-go.

Never before in any school production was I cast more perfect for a part.  One year I was in the nativity play at church.  My part?  The cow.

Was it a speaking role?  Of course not.  Did I pull it off?  Obviously, being a husky child, this part was made for me.

Looking back, I honestly remember nothing about this play or how I felt playing the role of a cow.  However, I would much rather have played baby Jesus.  That required just laying there.  So much easier than trying to make a cow standing on two legs pass as believable.

Wordless Wednesday: Santa Meets My Blog

December 12, 2012

12DaysofChristmasRed

Pixelated Santa

First Birthday!

December 10, 2012

CandleSomething is turning one today!  This blog is officially one year old!  But now comes the question: exactly how does one celebrate a blog’s first birthday?

Awkward, right?  Yeah.  Me, too.

The thought had crossed my mind to make some bright blue cupcakes.  Then I realized exactly how lame that idea was.  Thought about just ignoring the one-year mark altogether only to realize that is just as lame.

Instead, I decided to simply blog.  Blog about what has happened in this year.  Before jumping into how I feel about lasting through a year, I must first get one terrible reference out of the way: 525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear, 525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?

That was inevitable.  It was best to go ahead and get it out of the way.

Over the course of a year, I have gone through quite a bit of change personally.  But involving this blog, I feel like it is obvious that I have learned to open up a lot more than I was originally used to.  A year ago, I honestly didn’t think this would still be a thing let alone something that would be visited as much as it is.

BirthdayCakeThere was a period that I let the blog fall into the back of my mind.  I honestly hate that it happened, but I was one busy little bee during that time.  I’m just relieved that it not only held me down, but made me that much more enthusiastic to start working on it again.

Blogging everyday in September really marked the turnaround for me with this blog.  By posting everyday, I really had to reach for ideas and actually be creative.  Though I will admit that some of the ideas that I explored weren’t really all too great, but hey, I was also working full-time and trying to maintain a social life, too!

Looking forward, I am very excited about some new ideas I have for this blog as well as the ability to share them with a much larger audience than I began with.  This journey I started a year ago today with an awkward hello is only just beginning.

Here’s to another year to come!

Coming Soon: 12 Days of Christmas

December 8, 2012

Last year to celebrate Christmas on this blog, I talked about my favorite things.  One post covered food and music while the second post covered movies and books.  This year, I decided instead of cramming just a few of my favorite things into two measly posts, I will extend everything Christmas over several days.

I will be doing 12 Days of Christmas starting on the 12th leading up into Christmas Eve.

12DaysofChristmasBlue

Much like with Blog Everyday in September, I have quite a few ideas but not one thing is set in stone.  This has the potential to get interesting.  Make sure to check back on the 12th when I start counting down the days until Christmas!