Wednesday, February 2, 2011

12 Treats of Christmas

Ok, so each year the Christmas season comes around and people start stressing over gifts and wrapping, etc, etc, etc. A couple of years ago I found Advent Conspiracy and decided to do things a little differently. Instead of buying gifts for each person in the family, I decided to sponsor a child through World Vision. So I spend $35 each month, about the equivalent of a Christmas gift, and someone in the world has medical care, education and gets to know about Jesus. That's better than any physical gift I could give my family in my opinion.

But, because I still like to have stuff under my tree, I've started doing Twelve Treats of Christmas! This year I tried quite a few new things and really enjoyed my time in the kitchen. I got to wrap them all individually and then put them in bags I'd stamped and tied up with an ornament I made. I loved it, and think most of the recipients did as well.

Here are the links to the treats I made:

Gingerbread Biscotti (My first attempt at biscotti - and it was easy and tasty - will definitely be trying more...)

Peppermint Marshmallows (I know, I know, WHY in the world make homemade marshmallows? Because they're AWESOME! SO much better than the plain ol store brand!)

Almond Roca (My mom's favorite! I burned it a little this year :o(, I went by temperature, next year I think I'm going to just focus on how it looks!)

Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt (How do you make fudge even better? By adding Nutella and a touch of sea salt!)

Vanilla Caramels with Fleur de Sel (Homemade caramels! So much easier than I thought it'd be, and SO much better than store-bought!)

Pecan Pralines (I'll tweak this a little bit next time - I went with the 'bars' rather than spooning them and letting them spread into the 'circle's - this led to a lot of breaking when I cut them up - I'll try the spoon technique next time.)

Poppy Chow (A simple spin on the typical 'puppy chow')

Peanutbutter Brownies (Holy Moses these are as good as the first time. Definite winner!)

Pecan Pie Bites (My dad liked these a lot the first time I made them, so I thought I'd make them for him again.)

Vanilla Bean Shortbread (Another recipe I made for my dad - he's not real big on the really rich sweets.)

I also made, but don't have the recipes for:
- Snickerdoodles
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 5-star Brownies

I know that's technically 13, but I split the dough for the cookies - made 1/2 of it into Snickerdoodles and the other 1/2 into chocolate chip cookies, so I'm claiming it as only one! ;)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oak Ridge Boys, Beth Moore, Blogs and Life!

Sorry I was a little absent over the weekend - just didn't get around to blogging. After I finish this post, my goal is to find all of the links for the Christmas treats I made and finally finish that post as well...

Music Dabble:

Speaking of this weekend, there was an unexpected turn of events on Saturday and I ended up in Galveston seeing none other than The Oak Ridge Boys.

Wowza. Definitely a good time, but so much to take in! Ha ha! First of all, my friend and I were the youngest people there my a LONG SHOT (other than some kids that were friends with the ORB with the beard). The ORB's draw out a full house, and I'm not sure why I expected anything different, but it was definitely an older crowd. Unfortunately the 'ooom boppa mow mow' guy was really rude after the show and acted as if the fans were an inconvenience. Which sucks. But the bearded guy (William Lee Gibson) was SO NICE! Took the time to sign everything that people wanted signed, took all the pictures that people wanted taken (some of them twice, ahem), and was genuine. His buddy should take a lesson...

Overall, it was awesome to see a band from my childhood live. There were quite a few songs I forgot about, but they were fun to hear. I'm sure I saw them at the rodeo when I was little, but it was fun to see a show that I'll actually remember!

Spiritual Dabble:

Can I just say I love studying and digging into the bible under the direction of Beth Moore? She absolutely amazes me and I'm so glad that God has given her the gift that He did and that she answered the call to use it in such a powerful way! Currently, she's teaching the book of James, which I LOVE. We've been to two sessions and we are through James 1:1. Ha ha! Obviously we don't go verse by verse as the entire session is only 8 weeks, but it's somewhat laughable. I'm going tonight with my girlfriends and it's one of the highlights of my week!

Blog Dabble:

There are so many blogs I follow on an (ir)regular basis. Thank God for Google Reader! I'd never be able to be so 'productive' without it! I sort my blogs into different categories (Friends/Health/Inspirational/Food/Business News/Other), which helps me when I'm looking for certain types of info. My Google Reader is never completely read, but at least there's always something to read, right? I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorites...

- For those of you that are doing, or interested in, the new Weight Watchers program, a great blog to follow for recipes and ideas is Danica's Daily. She also has her own forum (Friends of Weight Watchers?) where you can connect with others. I'm not doing the program, so I haven't joined in on that, but I find that she has some great general info and recipes, so I read it pretty regularly!

- For inspiration, I highly suggest Melanie, aka Big Mama. She's a mom, an Aggie, a Christian and FUNNY! Her antics with her daughter crack me up. So if you're looking for a light-hearted laugh, she's a good place to visit...

- Also for laughs, I recently found A Bad Case of Dates. These make me laugh and cringe at the same time!

- There are SO many good food blogs, so I'll just throw a few up here and come back with more later... Here are my recommendations for today: Evil Shenanigans, Annie's Eats and Sing for Your Supper.

Life Dabble:

Ok - I've gotta run (therefore the Christmas Treats post will wait til tomorrow). But life has been pretty good other than a generally crappy Monday that I will gladly not repeat any time soon. I've been working out and (mostly) eating right. I should probably be more stringent, but I'm just trying to do what works. In January a couple of things I implemented that are really working for me are a morning 'reflection time' where I go through my day, my goals and read some other things to get me in the right frame of mind to start my day. I've really enjoyed that time to get myself together. Also I bought 4 huge water bottles in order to spur along my water intake. It's going ok. Still need to improve. My goal for February is to institute morning workouts so I'll be ready when rodeo season hits. I also should start tracking again. I'm so bad at that...

Ok - signing off! Be blessed!