Monday, December 24, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white christmas

It's a nice sentiment, that song. The reality is a little less romantic. The weather forecast said there would be some snow today.

We put the babies down for their afternoon nap, and then the big kids and I decorated Christmas cookies for Santa. M asked me if Santa was really his dad. I asked him what he thought, and he said he thought so. Interestingly enough, he still wrote a letter for Santa tonight.

After the kids had been asleep for about 15 minutes, it began to snow. It started out pretty light, but got heavy pretty quickly. We had plans to go to my parents' house for the annual Christmas eve party this evening. Because the weather had gotten bad so quickly, we decided we'd leave as soon as the littles woke up from their nap.

We set out for Salt Lake about 4pm. After driving about a half hour, we still weren't to the freeway, and that is usually only about 5 minutes. The roads were very slick, and cars were sliding all over the place. Meanwhile, it was still snowing sideways. We decided it was just too dangerous to make the trip.

The kids were terribly disappointed. K had even memorized "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to recite at the party tonight. I have to admit I was almost as disappointed myself. I have gone to this party every single year of my life. Even the year we lived in Japan, we managed to make it home for Christmas.

However, we did have a really nice evening of playing a new Life game that my sister-in-law and brother-in-law gave us, ate ham and asparagus (my kids loooooooove asparagus, so I splurged and bought some on the way home to cheer them up. LOL Isn't that funny? Cheering up kids by buying and serving green vegetables?!).

The weather eased off, though as I've sat down to type this, it started snowing again, and I'll guess that it's snowed a good two inches in the last fifteen minutes. Maybe we'll end up having the quiet Christmas at home that my husband has always dreamed about, but never got because I love the hustle and chaos of visiting my family every year.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies
a story by K

Hi. My name is Samantha. But you can just call me Sam. All my friends do. It was Wednesday. Five more nights til Christmas! I was just waking up when I saw snow! I swear there was a foot of snow! Okay, I'm exaggerating too much. But there was a good five inches.

I awoke with a start. I hurried and got dressed and ran to my closet to get my snowboots, snowpants, and my big puffy coat. My gloves were in the coat pockets.

I ran upstairs, shoveled down my cheerios and was putting on my boots when my mom said, "Sammy, aren't you going to help me make fudge and gingerbread cookies?

"No, I'm going to go outside and play in the snow."

My mom had a sad look in her eyes. I wasn't sure why. I ran outside and there standing in her back yard was my friend Lilly.

"Hi Lilly!" I shouted, "Want to come play in the snow with me?"

"Sure!" she said. And she climbed over her little fence to keep her dog in.

When she got over to my yard, we said that we should make an igloo. So we started making an igloo. We were having so much fun that we didn't notice the sun going down. Lilly said that she should get home. So she went home and I went inside.

When I walked in the kitchen, I got a big shock. One by one, gingerbread women, men, and children were jumping out of the oven. I rubbed my eyes. They were still there.

I saw my mom. She was swaying as if she were going to faint. I ran over to her. She was really pale. I waved my hand in front of her. She didn't respond to it. Then she toppled to the ground.

"Mom!" I yelled. I hurried over to her and looked at her. She had her eyes closed. Just then, little pieces of fudge were jumping out of the oven. I ran to the sink and soaked a towel. I trickled water on her forehead. Her eyes fluttered open.

She explained that somebody came to the door and rang the doorbell and she let him in. The way the guy convinced her to let him in was that he was raising funds for an "orfanage" (sorry, couldn't correct her spelling on this, thought it was too cute). My mom let him in and went to look for her checkbook.

She said her guess is that he came in the kitchen and bewitched the cookies and fudge. before my mom could go after him, he ran out the door. The funny thing is that he ran past a tree and disappeared. But you could see the footprints in the snow. My mom said that he wore sneakers like any old teenager. But the footprints in the snow were footprints of boots. They didn't have any trace of a design on the bottom as most sneakers do. But there was also some markings in the snow. Sort of. The kind of markings there would be on the ground if you were Dracula for Halloween and there was some snow on the ground.

A few weeks later a sorry card came in the mail. It said, "Dear Jorgansons, I didn't mean to startle you. I thought it would give you a good laugh. With great apology, KK"

Me and my mom were so puzzled by who sent the note that we didn't bother to look at the return address. And there labeled on the envelope was this address: The North Pole.

I figured out that KK stood for Kris Kringle. Other people call him Santa Clause, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas. I thought it was a great Christmas story. I hope you enjoyed it.

The End.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels

So, the cookies. I made these cookies from Alton Brown's recipe with a couple of alterations. I think they turned out quite pretty, even though peppermint cookies aren't really my thing. S seemed to really like them. I gave her one, and she wolfed it right down and asked for another. Since the recipe only makes about 30 cookies, I had to save what was left for the party, so I told her "no". Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued. She found a stool and drug it to the counter while I was busy and managed to sneak another cookie. Apparently they met with her seal of approval.

We were at the church party when Jon approached me. I was at the dessert table, trying to decide if I wanted a second brownie or not. He warned me that the swirlie cookies tasted "funny, like mint or something". I played it cool, and said it looked like there was bits of candy cane in it, so they were probably SUPPOSED to taste like mint. He shook his head in disgust and said, "mint has no business in dessert."

I was so tempted to tell him that I had made those atrocities, but I decided to not embarrass him. It would've been fun.

So, if you feel that peppermint has no business in cookies, don't eat these. If you feel otherwise, like most people, they're quite pretty, and yummy.
Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels (with my alterations)

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup margerine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (7 regular candy canes = 1/2 c. of crushed candy) (note to self: if crushing candies in a plastic baggie by hand, don't do so on a soft wooden table, it'll put little tiny dings in it)

Divide the dough in half and add chocolate and vanilla to one half and incorporate with hands (I suggest using rubber gloves for sanitary reasons). Add egg yolk, peppermint extract, and crushed candy to other half of dough and incorporate with hands. Cover both with plastic and chill for approximately 15 minutes. Roll out doughs separately to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Place peppermint dough on top of chocolate and press together around the edges. Using waxed paper or flexible cutting board underneath, roll dough into log. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2-inch slices. I suggest doing this by getting a piece of floss or thread. Slide the string under the roll, bring the ends up to the top, cross and pull. This will cut the cookies without mashing them or mixing the colors.

Place cookies 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Church Christmas Party

We had our church Christmas party last night. It was one of the best I've ever been to. It was by far the most creative. Our invitations were "tax notices". We were told that we had to appear in Bethlehem (our church) on Dec. 1 at 6:00pm for our taxation. We were asked to bring some canned goods for a donation and a blanket to sit on. We also were invited to dress as we would if we lived in Jesus' time. Separately from that, we could sign up to bring misc. food. I signed up for cookies, and made Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels, but more on that later. When we arrived at the church, there was a sign welcoming us to Bethlehem. We were taken on a roundabout route, and were given small bags of "coins", one for each person.

We put our blankets on the floor to eat picnic style. They had the back of the gym set up to look like an ancient village, complete with sign advertising a bakery, fruit market, etc. They even had a well set up with a big punch bowl in the middle so we got our water from the well to drink. We were given food that at least approached food from that time. Fresh fruit, deviled eggs, chicken salad in pita bread. Each item was for sale, and coincidentally enough, we had just enough money to get something of everything. The children's money pouches had an extra dollar coin where they could go to the toy store and buy a dreidel.

After we ate, there was a short program. It was simply reading Luke 2:1-20 while people acted the parts and singing Christmas hymns at appropriate times. It wasn't very long, maybe 10 minutes, but absolutely beautiful in its' simplicity

I would say that at least 75% of the people were there in clothes that somewhat approximated clothing from the era. Something tells me that snowflake bathrobes weren't common attire then, but hey, they tried! The lights were slightly dimmed the whole time, and the spirit there was absolutely amazing.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Deck the..... couch?

Ok, the kids' decorating has gotten out of control. I guess K didn't approve of M's ornament placement, and took all of the balls off the tree and put them on the couch. She then got distracted and forgot. A while later, I go into the front room, and there was a big pile of ball ornaments covering the one couch cushion.

As I type this, S is having quite the adventure involving candy canes off the tree, M's transformer, and a halloween trick or treat pumpkin that hasn't made it back into storage yet.