My semi-new and favorite cake stand provides a nice display for some Christmas Treats: candy canes, Italian candies and chocolates and, of course, Heavenly Pecans. Two different kinds of sherbet cups tied with ribbon hold various treats and provide extra interest to the display.
If you have seen HGTV these last two weeks, then you probably know this year's White House holiday theme is a "Red, White and Blue Christmas". I have used this and some chocolate snowmen as inspiration for our holiday table. Fresh flowers, cute foil-wrapped snowmen and some blue and white striped napkins (inspiration taken from Anna Spiro's pink and yellow party) were added to our standard Christmas gear.
The other addition to our holiday table was an *Igloo Cake* (item #5 on my Christmas To-Do List). As with most celebrations I was running late and I attempted to scratch the Igloo cake as it sat sadly in its crumb coat on the kitchen counter waiting for the penguins (which I had not yet done) and the final layer of frosting with dinner only 30 minutes away. What happened next I will probably always fondly remember...Chef M eagerly offered to make snowmen. His offer started a snowball effect (pardon the pun), where all of the adults hanging out in the kitchen pitched in to make three darling snowmen out of fondant (Martha's recipe calls for marzipan, but we replaced with fondant). Allie did most of the heavy lifting, forming all but one of the snowballs (Hubby made one...whoa) and the door to the igloo. Chef M cut tiny pieces of carrots for the noses and Mom's boyfriend added the twig arms (from boxwood sprigs). The crew did an excellent job and I couldn't have been more pleased with their unexpected support for the Igloo cake that almost never was.
P.S. To make the Igloo shape I used a metal bowl that I had purchased to make an ice cream bombe and an 8 inch round cake pan. I couldn't find the cake pans I used to make the Moon Cakes for the boys' Space Mission birthday, but the improvised version worked well enough.
P.P.S. Here is a joke from one of the Christmas Crackers:
Here is the *Christmas/Winter Ceiling Love* . When Christmas is over the Santa hats come off the felted polar bears (from Paper Source). To hang the snowballs: string Styrofoam balls on fishing line, putting a knot where each snowball should sit (so it doesn't slip down the line). Use pliers and a long needle to push through the thick Styrofoam. Hang and enjoy! The Santa hats are made from from felt and cotton filling. Roll the cotton filling back-and-forth between your palms to form a snake and then glue around the bottom of the hat. Use cloth pins to help hold the 'fur' in place while the glue drys.
It wouldn't seem like Christmas (or New Years) without this delicious and versatile treat. Our family (and also Crafty Friend Karen's family) have adopted *Heavenly Pecans* as a must-do holiday tradition. The pecans are a favorite for many reasons:
They make any salad scrumptious
Are entirely delicious on their own (they are hard to stop eating)
Make great gifts
The Heavenly Pecan recipe is a slightly modified Martha recipe. The Martha recipe is for Pecans on Fire and calls for a peppery blend to be added to the sugared pecans. We have found that we prefer the sweet version. Both recipes are available here.
I bet you thought that some long tirade post would follow---you know that this is not one of K's post (the big tip off is the lack of a fantastic picture). I do eventually have things to share---secret things. But I digress...
I am just here to announce to the world, my sister rocks:
Congratulations! Your photo won
marthastewart.com’s “Your Finest Thanksgiving Moment” contest. You will receive
Martha Stewart’s Cooking School book.
K mentioned that she had put a picture up and I knew without a doubt that she would win. I just wasn't anticipating the prize to be something I had bought her for Christmas...Oh, well.
Yesterday Jax had his Winter Party at school. The kids made gingerbread houses and decorated them with lots of green and red candy. Here is J's creation....
They also play a fun game where they split into groups of 4 or 5 kids. One kid from each group was designated the 'snowman' and all the other kids had to dress him up using toilet paper, hats, scarves, gloves, etc. Then they had to present their snowman to the class. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed it! This would definitely be a fun game for any larger holiday group.
Item # 2 on the Christmas To-Do List is complete! To make the *Gingerbread Cookie Ornaments* I followed Martha's recipe, which was pretty decent. The cookies held their shape and the color was very nice (they tasted quite yummy too). The dough was soft and required a lot of chilling, so the cutting out step took much longer than I had anticipated. The best part about the gingerbread cookie process was the icing. In my past experience with sugar cookies the icing part always tended to get tiresome fast, but with gingerbread since I only did the outline of the cookie (no flooding) it was enjoyable and quick. One thing I learned is that the glitter doesn't stick to royal icing too well, so if you plan to glitter you should use the same color icing underneath.
The finished doves, reindeer and polar bears were sprayed with a clear matte paint and hung on our tree and Christmas garland. I am already looking forward to next's years batch of new gingerbread ornaments. Next year I plan to do Santa with all his reindeer to hang around the kitchen table.
What to do with all the Christmas cards you receive once the season is over? It is hard to throw away the cute 'Santa' pictures that have been taken from all over the country (and world) and sent so joyously to you...so don't. Save all the photo cards and pictures sent to you, punch a whole in the bottom corner of each one and then tie them together with a ribbon, and then you will have a Christmas memory book of all your family and friends. We have 3 years of holiday photos now. Every year I look forward to flipping through all the pictures of yesteryear to marvel at how much families have grown (in both age and number).
The first tree we put up every year is the boys' *Candy Tree*. It was inspired by an article in Martha's 2002 Winter Kids magazine. The original article is very detailed and gives lots of step-by-step instructions on how to make a variety of ornaments. Her on-line article is not as instructional, but still provides the basics. The only tools you need are a sharp knife (kids can use a plastic knife), wire cutters, floral wire, toothpicks (for making holes in the gumdrops so the sprinkles will stick) and your imagination.
Most of the ornaments I made several years ago when the boys were babies. They have been sprayed with clear acrylic to make sure they last. The boys helped me create some new ornaments last year...it was fun and sweet!
The ornament with the purple nose and fancy hat is my favorite. It is one of three that Hubby made years ago. I never would have come up with something so cute.
Here is look at some of the candy ornaments. You can see some more close-up pictures here.
Finally, here is the Martha Candy Tree. I love the candy stick tree holder. And of course I love the thought of using a real tree!