Merry Christmas!

Tuesday was Christmas Eve, so I didnt get around to posting, although I actually had a post planned. I was going to post some links to recipes for Christmas cookies that I made this year. Ill do that today instead.

Baking with toddlers (and babies who are angry they arentactually attached to your hip by biology) isnt as romantic as it sounds (does it sound romantic?), though it can be worthwhile. I ended up powering through 4 recipes all on Saturday, rather than dragging it out.

The first recipe was recommended by a friend: these Orange Cranberry Swirls. It involves chilling for several hours between various steps, so I knew I wanted to start it first. For this one, I will admit, I mostly worked around Meg, instead of involving her.

After naps, Meg and I gave Ginny to Daddy and collaborated on Peanut Butter Blossoms. This was the only recipe I got from a physical cookbook, so I cant post a link, but recipes abound, both online and in cookbooks. You know, those classic peanut butter cookies with Hersheys kisses in the centers. Meg was SO EXCITED to dump the ingredients into the bowl. After that, we were supposed to roll the dough into balls, roll the balls in sugar, and arrange them on a pan. I tried letting Meg roll the balls in sugar, but that didnt go very well, so in the end I let her arrange them on the pan. She arranged them in a hoard, sweeping them all together in front of her like a dragon. She didnt even try to eat them until the process was almost finished (She did get one at the end, there.).

While they were baking, Meg helped me unwrap the Hersheys kisses, and only ate one. When the cookies came out of the oven, Joe and I swiftly pressed the chocolates onto the tops, and I slid them off onto a cooling rack, where Meg proceeded to bite the tops off ofseveral. She didnt take the cookies off the rack. She just leaned over and chomped off the top of the softened Hersheys kisses.

After the girls went to bed, I decided to finish the job I had begun, so I made Christmas Crack, (The PG name is Ritz Cracker Toffee.), and then, on a whim (because I ritually, or maybe obsessively, buy chocolate chips, so I had enough ingredients in the back of my pantry,) made this quick, 3 ingredient fudge. Joe arranged the toppings on the toffee very carefully. He sorted out the green and red M&Ms so he could use them separately. Thats dedication.

We still need to make Joes familys traditional Scandinavian Almond Bars, but we decided not to give those away to the neighbors. We will keep them for ourselves. The other cookies were divided amongst our 7 closest neighbors and our freezer (The freezer got the lions share.).

My computer is loading so slowly I am giving up on rotating this photo. Maybe someday Ill come back and edit it. For now, my baby just woke up, sosideways cookies it is.

Anyway, that was my post for Tuesday. Now, of course, Christmas has passed, so I can say a bit more.

Like, for example, Joe made Cornish hens for Christmas Eve dinner! We had never had them before.

We went to Mass on Christmas morning, as Midnight Mass seemed like a recipe for disaster with our two schedule-a-holic children. We briefly considered going to an earlier vigil, but decided not to try. (Cf. the Cornish hens that needed an hour + to bake)

This was our first Christmas in our new Church building. Of the 4 Christmases since we have been married, we spent the first with my family in VA, the second here in Oregon, but had Mass in the parish hall because the Church wasnt built yet, the third with both our families in CA, and finally, the 4th at home in Oregonwith the new church.

Lest you be too impressed with my breakfast bread, I used this total cheater recipe.

I think we got off easy because our kids are too little to realize what joys are in store for them on Christmas morning. We didnt look in the stockings until 10am, while breakfast was baking, and didnt unwrap presents till after we had eaten. A nice, relaxed approach that we will probably never be able to repeat in future years.

They even tolerated a little photo shoot before breakfast.

Other than that, wellIll just skip to the fun part. We got Meg a little toy kitchen. I might be more excited about it than she is. Im not sure of that, because she does like it alot, but I mean, look how cute!

My parents had already given her some nice toy food for her birthday, so we added a set of tiny pots, pans and utensils, and she was all set. Joe spent until midnight on Christmas Eve working through the 46 steps of instructions to assemble the kitchen (We got it at IKEA, of course.), while we watched old episodes ofThe Office. Isnt that what all parents do the night before Christmas? It turned out perfectly.

At the moment, it is just a play kitchen, but I do have some ideas for its future, when the novelty wears off (if the novelty ever wears off?). Have you heard of Montessori kitchens? Basically, the Montessori idea is that kids dont want play kitchens, they wantreal kitchens. They will play with the imaginary kind because their drive to work and learn by experience is so strong, but that drive would be even more thoroughly satisfied by real work. Because of this, serious Montessori families dont seem to like play kitchens, but they sometimes set up little work-spaces for their kids, which they call functional kitchens. That is part of why we opted for the IKEA kitchen. It seems to be a frequent starting point for these functional kitchens. Its pretty basic, but made of real wood, quite spacious, and has plenty of storage.

Well see if we ever get around to modifying it. Even if we dont, its a great toy, which Meg is loving. In the mean time, just look and see if these Montessori kitchens dont send you into raptures. I was in raptures for days after I discovered them.

Meg already does have a designated kitchen cabinet, too. It holds her dishes, some snacks, and also her crayons and paper. It isnt perfect, but technically I guess it could be considered the start of a functional kitchen for her. She could use more storage, so if the play kitchen ever becomes a functional kitchen, it will be nice to take over all its cabinets, but at the moment they are taken up with play food and pans.

I still havent mailed my Christmas cards, even though most of them are written, addressed, sealed, and stamped, so I should probably go work on that before this nap ends. Or maybe just work on cleaning up my house. I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas day, and that the rest of the octave and season are just as beautiful. Merry Christmas!