Thursday, December 29, 2011

Handmade Christmas

In the past, I have often planned so many Christmas projects for the month of December, that I've hardly had time to be present and really enjoy the season with my family.  This year, in search of balance, I opted for a much simpler, pared down version of what I would normally do.  Instead of baking every single delicious looking cookie and bar and candy recipe I could lay my hands on, I made a giant batch of lemon curd (this recipe x6), and processed 4-1/2 lbs of jalapeƱos into spicy-sweet Cowboy Candy.

Lemon Curd and Cowboy Candy gifts for teachers and friends

I then packed the treats into tiny jars for friends, neighbors and teachers, and was done!  Two days of cooking/packing vs. 7 days of baking/packing.  Perfect!  On top of that, no one was saddled with a billion-calorie-Faith-induced-overload, because...Christmas comes but once a year, but no one wants to work for the next 6 months trying to get all that business off the hips.

Lemon Curd and Cowboy Candy gifts for teachers and friends

For my children, instead of coming up with all kinds of last minute handmade gifts, I stuck to my original plan: five little 6x6 photo books (one for each of my children, one for my 3-year-old nephew).  I didn't write a story line for the books, I didn't put any captions in them, and for the most part didn't use any special paper -- just plain and simple photographic memories from the past year, tailored to each child.

(It's obviously not possible to find all of the books at the same time to take a group shot, so here are two of them...)

6x6 mini photo book for Billy

Today I am working on a little pair of mittens for Daisy and watching my current favorite guilty TV pleasure: The Vampire Diaries (thank you, Netflix), while the children take their afternoon nap.


Tomorrow we are having friends over for dinner, and then on New Year's Eve we intend to stay in, eat a simple dinner followed by Cinnamon Brown Butter Puffs, watch some silly family videos from the past year, play a few board games, and gather around a little campfire in our backyard with mugs of hot chocolate (or perhaps some milk punch or hot buttered rum for the grown-ups).  Greg and I will then tuck our children into bed well before midnight, and spend the rest of the evening together, just the two of us.  We began dating on a New Year's Eve 11 years ago, and have never managed to celebrate our little mini-versary on our own until this year.  I'm excited!

How are you spending the last few days of 2011?  Here's a list of some fun ideas if you're stumped for plans to ring in the new year.

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