Monday, December 28, 2009

Momma's Soft Sugar Cookies

This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe for cutting out shapes with cookie cutters. It makes a really nice dough and is fun to do with the kids.

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room teperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Into a bowl, sift together the sifted flour, baking soda and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric mixer. Beat for 2 minutes. Add sour cream and half of the sifted dry ingredients; beat 1 minute.

Stir in remaining dry ingredietns with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half and roll each portion out on a lightly flour surface to 1/4" thick. Cut with floured cookie cutter. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake or they will not be soft, which is the best part. Store soft sugar cookies in an airtight container.
My boys added red and green sprinkles for Christmas! But I use this recipe for all seasons. They are great for Easter or Halloween cookies too.

For more great recipes, visit Foodie Friday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

The week before Christmas, I found a silicone Christmas tree bakeware at Hobby Lobby half off. I thought the boys would enjoy making a Happy Birthday Jesus birthday cake that we could have that night with dinner. I used one box mix to make 2 cakes - but I think I should have made 3 because they split when I took them out to place on the cake server.
But with a little icing - who knew! Not a pretty icing job either, but it worked. And that is green icing, but you can't tell that real well in this picture.They each got to decorate their own cake. Tyler with a little help from Mommy. The decorating didn't last long, but it was fun for them.
They had red glaze icing, green, blue and red sugar sprinkles, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, and little star sprinkles.
It didn't take Tyler long to realize it was more fun to pick the stars and icing back off to eat.
Tyler's Cake
Samuel's Cake
Maybe not the prettiest, but the boys had fun and they tasted really good!
Christmas night when the family was here, I said "Oh, I forgot, we have Birthday cake." Kevin's sister Stacy quickly replied - "Who's birthday is it?" In a serious voice I replied "JESUS." She dropped her head and said "Oh yea." We all had a good laugh! Love you Stacy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Editorial By Shaila Creekmore, Illustration By Brittney Guest as printed in the Dec. 09 Jonesboro Occasions.

I grew up with simple Christmases. A few little gifts, lunch with my parents and maybe my oldest brother’s family, and a lazy day of lying around the house watching old Christmas movies or football.

Christmas of 1997 that all changed. The first year my husband and I were dating, I decided to spend Christmas with his family. We spent the entire day of Christmas Eve going from one store to the next and that night wrapping all of our finds. Christmas morning, we ripped through gifts and then sat in mounds of wrapping paper and boxes while his dad made everyone pancakes.
Then, the mad rush began. Six adults in one house began to run around to quickly get dressed and ready for the day’s activities. Lunch at one grandmother’s house with the family and dinner at the other grandmother’s with all seven brothers and their families.

It was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. Later in the evening when my mom called to wish us a Merry Christmas I remarked, “I didn’t know people had Christmases like this.”

But that was to become my Christmas tradition for the next nine years. The last couple years, I began to prepare the family for the change that was about to come. With the birth of our first son in 2003, I began to long again for the quiet Christmas at home, and it was time to begin our own family traditions.

Even my husband, who had always been home on Christmas morning, wasn’t sure about the change we made three years ago. I assured him that it was time to let our then 3-year-old wake up in his own bed and open gifts under his own tree.

That first Christmas Eve, Samuel and I finished up a little shopping and baking. After a quiet dinner at home, Samuel opened his Christmas Eve gift, a tradition in my family that my husband has learned to appreciate. Later that night, we attended our church’s Christmas Eve service, a program we had never attended before.

Early the next morning, we woke to Samuel joining us in bed where we played and talked before making our way to the tree. As we sat in its soft glow, my husband read the story of Jesus’ birth as recorded in Luke. Then the three of us enjoyed opening gifts from each other and spent the morning playing with all of the new toys. Later in the evening, Kevin’s family joined us for dinner – the first Christmas meal I had ever prepared by myself.

It was a perfect Christmas. Over the last couple of years, we have begun to develop a few other Christmas traditions just within our small family. I hope that some of these traditions our boys will continue in their own families, but I know that some will give way to their wives’ traditions and others that they will develop on their own.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Decorating - Master Bedroom

This is the first year I've really done much decorating at all in my bedroom. Some years I have used a ceramic tree, you know the ones with the little colored light, but I decided to do something a little more. Not much, but a little.
I found this quilt on Black Friday for $18 at Wal-Mart. The colors are a good match for the bedding I already use.
Then I found these wreaths at Hobby Lobby. They are actually candle rings, but I thought they would be pretty hanging above our bed. I found some red and gold ribbon to tie in to the bedding. They look tiny in the picture, but they make a bigger impact in person. I'm working on a new painting to go behind my bed, so next year these will find a new home, maybe hanging in the windows on each side of our bed.
Then I decided to do another tabletop tree. I've had this tree for a couple years, but I've never used it because I didn't like the bottom of the tree. But with the quilt, I thought it would be cute to do a tree with all handmade ornaments.
I love these bears! A friend of my mom's made these for me when I was younger.
Another friend of my mom's has made me several ornaments like this and my mom has nearly enough to do an entire tree. They are beautiful!
And it gives me a great place to put the little ornaments that the boys have made.
This one I made years ago when I was in high school.
To keep with the homemade theme, I Mod Podged a star topper and a few other ornaments that you can see below in a post.
That completes my Christmas Tour of my home. If you've missed it, keep scrolling or click on the labels below.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Decorating - Boys Rooms

Today's post is pretty short and simple, but I wanted to show my boys trees. They are really nothing fancy, but each have ornaments that they like and they are simple little Christmas touches to their room.

I have just small tabletop trees in their rooms, mostly because they are still at the age where they need as much floor room as possible. This is Tyler's tree (my 2 year old). It is decorated mostly with Sesame Street ornaments, Thomas the Train and some other cute little things. You can also see a wooden camel right on the front. That was a gift from our nursery director at church last year. She had her husband get all of the kids ornaments when he made a trip to Jerusalm with our church.
This is Samuel's tree (my 6 year old). His tree has Hot Wheels cars, Mater and Lightening McQueen and Star Wars. Not sure if you can see the rather large black ornament in the front of the tree, but that's Darth Vader my Mother-in-Law bought for him last year. I joked that nothing says Christmas like Darth Vader! LOL And he will plug into the Christmas lights which light up his light saber and he'll make that creepy breathing noise. That really makes a Christmas tree unique - and he loves it!
I just added a couple things in the bathroom. I couldn't decide where to put these two Santa Claus items because I have such little Santa stuff since most of mine revolves around snowmen. So when I was trying to figure out what to put in there to add a little Christmas cheer, I thought the bathroom would be a good place. I added the little picture of my nieces family and called it good. I thought about doing another tabletop tree here, but decided that my husband might put me away. LOL

Tomorrow, one last room - my bedroom. To see the rest of my house, keep scrolling.

Decopaged Ornaments

This year I added a new tabletop tree to my bedroom which I'll show you tomorrow. For that tree, I made three star ornaments and a star topper. I started with a these:

And ended up with these:

I simply Mod Podged Christmas scrapbook paper onto the stars in alternating patterns. To cut out the shapes, I layed the paper over the stars and folded it along the shapes. I then cut them out and Mod Podged them on. Very simple, just a little bit of time. This is a craft you could easily do with your children too!

Visit tomorrow and I'll show you the entire tree and the rest of my bedroom.

I'm linking this post up to Blue Eyed Blessings Holly Bloggy Christmas Bash. Lots of Great Ideas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Decorations - Kitchen

My kitchen holds my other large tree. By large, I mean not a tabletop tree. It is a smaller, 6 ft., narrow tree, but it does the job. Our largest collection of items has to be our M&M collection. We have around two dozen large dispensers, dozens of toppers, ornaments and decorations for several other holidays. So to showcase most of our Christmas items, I started putting up a tree a couple of years ago. It is placed in our kitchen and this window is at the front of the house so it can be seen from the street. This tree has all colored lights and all of the decorations are M&M ornaments, toppers, lights, etc.
Under the tree are our M&M village tins. I used to put these along the mantel or on the entertainment center, but I like it so much more having it all together in one location.
We have collected many over the years and have been given a lot by friends and family. And our boys love it.
On the counter next to the tree, I have our M&M advent counter and ceramic M&M house. It is actually a Christmas village piece and lights up.
The train toppers that are not ornaments, I decided to put above one of the cabinets this year. They are out of the way of little hands that have trouble keeping away, but can still be seen.

To see my dinning room and living room, just keep scrolling down. Tomorrow I'll feature my boys trees and bathroom. And don't forget my giveaway!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Decorations - Dining Room

Today I'm going to show my dining room Christmas decorations. We don't have a formal dining room, this is the table we use for every day. And we also have a very open floor plan. Our dining room is at the front of the house and is open to both the living room and the kitchen on the right.

So, any table centerpiece I use, I like to to be easily movable. Last year I came up with this idea. Using a table runner I had made by a friend, I place the three different sized glass cylinder vases along the runner. The large center vase has small gold and silver ornaments. The medium vases I have red and green ornaments. The four small vases had silver beads in two and gold beads in two. Above the table, I have gold and silver ornaments hanging from the chandelier.
What I like best about the centerpiece is how easily I can change the look. When we have company over, I can easily stretch it out along the length of the table. But for everyday, I simple push it toward the center of the table so that we can use the table space.

And I can bunch them together even more into a smaller circle. And when we are having dinner, I can just slide the entire thing to one end of the table and afterwards I can simply slide it back into place.

Against the wall, I have my table all in blue and silver. This year I wanted to do something really different. It all started with this silver tray. On a trip wondering through Hobby Lobby (love to do that!), I saw this tray 1/2 off. I had the idea to use it with my Santa's Cookies plate which I also usually pair with this tea pot and mug. After playing with it a while, I came up with this arrangement. Then I pulled together a couple more of my blue, white and silver snowmen items for the other side.

But that left me with a hole in the center. I decided it would be the perfect place for another tabletop tree. I pulled off all of my clear snowflake ornaments off my big tree and added them. I bought the topper and skirt, which I thought was a perfect color match, at Hobby Lobby of course.
I was really happy how it turned out for only having bought a couple little things to pull it all together.
And a couple more little things: A Christmas card holder I made several years ago. You can see my instructions here.
And another of my favorite little snowmen.
And a snowman candle jar holder I made. Details are also here.

Tomorrow I will show my kitchen decorations which is done all in M&Ms.

12/20 - I'm adding this post to Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphasis Monday. Click on the Christmas Label below to see all of the rooms in my home and our little touches of the holidays.
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