Thursday, December 22, 2011

Packing Up

Mr. Higgins and I are packing up and getting ready to head out of town. We'll stop at my parents' for a few nights and then head to Tennessee for a week. It's always a challenge packing at Christmas - the car ends up overflowing with presents!

Along with holiday festivities, my best friend is now planning a March wedding. I'm trying to help in any way that I can so I went dress shopping with her yesterday. That was quite an adventure! She ended up with a lovely dress and I couldn't be happier for her.

The next few days will be hectic so when I next talk with you, I'll probably be in another state!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookies and Kittehs

Because Christmas trees are fun and kittehs are cute, I offer you the photo above for your morning amusement. (That's Dooku under the treeskirt.)

Over the weekend, I went out my parents' house for some baking with my mom. I always love baking with her; we inevitably have tons of fun.....and make yummy cookies. Every year we make gingerbread and sugar cookies. I love gingerbread - especially our gingerbread (which is actually Betty Crocker's gingerbread). We found out early on that the key to these cookies is the molasses. It can't be full flavor or else all the ginger-y goodness is covered up by the taste of molasses. So, we use Brer Rabbit Mild Molasses. The cookies come out great - better than any I've found in stores.

Less than a week until Christmas! I can't believe it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gift Giving

I'm finally feeling caught up with the holidays. Time - and the month of December - has just flown by.

Together with Christmas, we have two family birthdays in December, which always makes gift giving more difficult. I love giving gifts but this year I felt very uninspired for many people on my list. I love coming up with little things but big gifts....well, my inspiration was lacking. My progress has been good and I hope to be done - or close to done - by the end of the weekend. Yay!

It's a busy time of year but I hope to have more for you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

I had a busy and productive weekend. The best part of it was hanging out with great friends. The second best part was eating really good food!

These Chicken and Cheese Ta
quitos were on the menu on Saturday and....oh, boy. They were incredible! Mr. Higgins inhaled most of I really want to make some more and soon!

On the baking side of things, I made Victorian Tea Cakes, which my mom and I have been making for the past five Christmases. They're not Mr. Higgins' favorite but I like the soft spiciness and lightness of them - a change from other Christmas cookies. They've taken the place of sugar cookies for me - being a step up from those.

As if I needed more sweets, I made my mom's fudge. So good, so easy, and so delicious!

On Sunday, I headed over to a friend's house to make a German cookie that my dad likes - and hasn't had in years. They're not exactly widespread in US bakeries; they're called springerle. We didn't use hers (we used a German one), but it looks as if Martha Stewart actually has this recipe. It's got more ingredients than our "authentic" German ones, but it's the same idea - an anise flavored, stale cookie. I have no idea why my dad likes them - though he does like licorice.

It was a productive weekend! I love Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tree Kittehs

I promised pictures of the kittehs under the tree....and here it is. There are more pictures but I'll save some for other holiday posts.

Thankfully, the kittehs have not climbed the tree lately. Let's home they keep up this trend!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Project Life

I love to scrapbook. My sister first got me into it when she sold Creative Memories. This is when I was in college. To this day, I still only use Creative Memories products to scrapbook, finding the selection of products in other stores and on other sites completely overwhelming.

Soon after I got the scrapbooking bug, I realized I had a problem. My OCD-self wanted all my pictures in a scrapbook. I had no problem scrapbooking trips but what about the other stuff? I did a Christmas album and a first-year graduate school album... But there are tons of pics in any given year that are not from trips or theme-related. Mr. Higgins has also been insistent that we take more pictures of settling into the house together....doing normal things like cleaning or hanging pictures. This is a great idea but, again, not having these pictures organized drives me crazy.

Recently I stumbled upon a solution to my OCD problem: Project Life by Becky Higgins. The concept is simple: an easy approach to scrapbooking day-to-day activities. The products are simple but great: sheet protectors that are designed specifically for pictures and journaling cards and that fit in a three-ring binder. The Core Kit gives you journaling cards, stickers, title cards....everything you need to complete a year-long album. A lot of people try to take a picture a day and then do a two-page layout for a week.... But there are many ways to do Project Life that will fit any of your needs.

I'm going to do it! I wish I had known about PL during the busiest year of my life - this year! - but I'm still excited to get started on January 1. I can't wait to combine all my day-to-day interests in one place - reading, knitting, crafts, work, pleasure. Now, instead of having all of my info spread between my journal, knitting journal, and reading journal, it will all be gathered into one place - my PL album. How cool is that?!

To see some PL layouts, click on Mish Mash and Ali Edwards on the sidebar. These ladies and their designs really inspire me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread

This past weekend was cold and dreary. We got tons of rain, which we desperately needed, and I stayed mostly inside. I made 30 Christmas cards....and about 30 cookies...

I saw this recipe last week f
or Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and was immediately tempted. It sounded SO good! I'm happy to report that they taste as good as they sound! They even got Mr. Higgins' seal of approval!

There were a few substitutions I made... There was not an orange to be found in the house so I substituted a teaspoon of orange juice for the orange zest. The cocoa I used was Hershey's Unsweetened. And the finely chopped chocolate.... Well, I have nightmares of finally chopping chocolate, so I used mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)...and the cookies are delectable!

I highly recommend this recipe, especially if you're not the biggest fan of traditional gingerbread! And if you love traditional gingerbread - like me! - you'll enjoy this different version of the yummy cookie!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Cookies

I made my first batch of Christmas cookies this week: Martha Stewart's Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps. I adore these little cookies!

I have a lot of baking to do this year. Since we're going to see Mr. Higgins' family in Tennessee for the week of Christmas, all my baking needs to be done and eaten before we leave. Eek!

Other cookies on the baking agenda:
1. Victorian Tea Cakes
2. Gingerbread Men
3. Chocolate Gingerbread Men (new recipe!)
4. Triple Chocolate Cookies
5. Gingersnaps.....perhaps

All this baking must be done while I try to lose the few pounds I gained at I can gain them back at Christmas! Ha!