Holiday Gifts and Goodies

I’ve been channeling my inner Martha over the past few days and I have to say – move over beyotch… there is a new girl in town.

Not quite sure what got into all of the neighbors this year, but everyone has been baking and buying up a storm. We have received a bottle of wine, cookie tins and 3 platters of other baked goods from almond cookies to toffee bark.

I’ve known what I’ve wanted to make for the neighbors since Summer. Not that I needed that much time to plan, but remember back in June when my girlfriend Michelle and I got together for a marathon candy pretzel making session for her daughter’s graduation party? Yep, that’s what I set out to make for my Christmas goodies.

Michelle and I spent Monday morning gathering supplies.

I picked up most of the decorating items at T.J.Maxx and HomeGoods.

We bought the caramel from the bulk bins at the grocery store and sat around the table and unwrapped for what seemed like FOREVER. I’ve seen the caramel unwrapped beads around Halloween for caramel apples, but those were no where to be found.

I had fun with my camera and the different lenses while we waited for the chocolate to melt.

Who knew wrappers could be so interesting?

We got the first batch of caramel dipped – it was too runny. We then decided to actually use the recipe from my Summer post – amazing how that worked. We had added too much water to the caramel before microwaving.

Once the production line got going, it was tough to snap photos. My fingers were too sticky. We made a bunch of the Heath pretzels, they were the hit of the graduation party and Michelle wanted those for their family. I was interested in more of a holiday theme, but I did anchor some of the dishes with the toffee ones.

I used some Christmas sprinkles on the remaining milk chocolate pretzels and then we got started on the white chocolate sticks.

The Ghirardelli White Chocolate was much harder to use than the Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips. We ended up having to add vegetable oil.

At first it was runny and hard to achieve full coverage, then it was thick and easier to spread – but then it got too thick… more frustrating than the milk chocolate for sure.

The candy coating process worked perfectly. I was so happy to have found the peppermint already broken up. We also made bark with the two kinds of chocolate and had a tough time getting the candy canes into small enough pieces. Michelle and her daughter ended up using a meat tenderizer and Ziploc bags. The jarred variety was much more delicate. It was $4.99 for the jar in case you were wondering. The jar coated about 3 dozen sticks.

We also dipped apricots. The entire table was covered and there were more platters in the fridge setting.

I had made multiple trips to HomeGoods over the past few weeks. I hunted for white rectangular dishes in the $1.99-$2.99 range. I did find two for $1.00. It’s pretty easy to find single pieces, it didn’t matter than they were all different.

I bought ribbon and tags from Joanne’s and I was set.

I got them all delivered last night.  I had so much fun seeing everyone’s Christmas trees and houses all decorated for the holidays.

I finished with deliveries and visiting around 8:00 p.m. – I walked through the door and Dan suggested that he would like to bring cookies to work tomorrow. Um… o.k.

We immediately got to work on the sugar cookie dough and the gingerbread dough. I knew they probably weren’t going to have enough time in the fridge to chill, but we managed.

Decorating happened around 10:30-11:00 p.m. We did have one minor argument – he put boobs on one of the gingerbread peeps and I didn’t think that was appropriate, LOL… thinking about it now, I can’t stop laughing. I’m guessing I was just exhausted. (Note: He works with all men and no, there will be no boob photos – hah!)

I’m keeping the blog G-Rated…

We also made Christmas trees…

Not too shabby for last minute. I boxed them up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and thankfully the royal icing had set. We were golden. Best wife ever!

I then went back to bed for a few hours. I can’t believe Christmas is Saturday – time is just going by way too fast.

Every year we make a Higgy photo card as our Christmas card. I LOVE getting Christmas cards and wanted to share what my entry way bulletin board is looking like now.

Let’s play “I spy” – Can you find the Higgy card? I loved his photo this year. The new camera made a huge difference. I’m going to share some of the photos I didn’t end up using. They were all adorable.

I tied a little pom pom scarf I had picked up in Healdsburg, CA around his neck – he was not thrilled. He would have rather played eat the pom pom. (Check it out, he’s sportin’ his boot and everything).

Words could never express how much I love this little guy…  

He’s just so happy in this photo…

We have the first family celebration tonight at my bro’s place. I can’t wait to spoil my niece – being an Aunt is so much fun.

Happy Holidays to you and your families.  Thank you for a wonderful year. I appreciate all of you and am glad to have you in my life through this blog or otherwise.

Much love to you all,

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    • Marci on December 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Your candy pretzel sticks look great! I love how you package them too. Wow for your dining room table.

    • Paul on December 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’m baking right now—currrent confection: Mexican Wedding/Russian Tea cookies. Your pretzel decorating idea is both original and beautiful! (I love the salty and sweet!)

    • Tina on December 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    nom, nom, nom…wishing we were neighbors! 🙂 love ya! have a Merry Christmas!

    • Anneke on December 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Some of the best gingerbread people are the x-rated ones. When we used to get together to bake oodles of cookies for a Jaycee project, we laughed and laughed over the silly ones. I think Adam and Eve Gingerbread were my favorites – strategically placed leaves!

    • Kendra on December 23, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Yum! Yum! You make baking look easy. I was too lazy to bake real “Santa” cookies t his year. I bought pre-made cookies this year (the ones you bake yourself). I know the seasons about over, but do you care to share your sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie recipe? Did you make homemade icing? Love that Higgy! I have two yorkies and it is so hard to get their pictures made. One is hyper and one stays at my feet all the time. lol

    • Rachel on December 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I spy Higgy’s card…..and I spy mine too!! 🙂

    Do you ever sleep??! I can’t imagine how good your house always smells. I say you should have your own tv show!!! Foodiddylicious 🙂

    Merry Christmas Kathleen xoxo

    • Hilly on December 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    That ribbon worked out really well and OH MY GOD, how cute is Higgy?

    • Stephanie on December 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    No….. THANK YOU! I love reading your blog and seeing the photos! I also wish I was a neighbor of yours! Merry Christmas…. here’s to 2011! x

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