this year i told my husband that we should start a Christmas tradition. he said, in his ever present sarcasm, “we have one. i buy the tree and you decorate it.”
i’m not too convinced that that’s a tradition as much as a routine, but okay, dear! but what is a tradition is spending time with our family. lots of food and lots of laughter and good times to be had.
i have to admit that i was pretty dang tired on Christmas eve and Christmas because i had spent the days (and nights) before making a ridiculous amount of caramels and plenty jewelry to give as gifts to my family and friends. next year i’ll start much earlier. i usually do, but i guess this year i wanted to feel a little fire under my butt. or something like that.
and once the fire started, i couldn’t stop!! let me just say, there’s nothing like putting on some music (thank you, pandora!!) and gettin’ your creative thang on.
the kick-off to our Christmas happened where it always does, at my pop and stepmama’s on Christmas eve. this year we did a dollar store exchange which was pretty cool. well, it was cool to open your gift. it wasn’t, however, all that fun trying to find ONE GIFT for each person at the dollar store. it was my stepmama’s idea. i told her next year, i’m just making stuff.
on Christmas we were off to my mother-in-law’s early where her two small children were crazy excited about their new toys and i watched as my sis-in-law nearly passed out from blowing up a sumo bumper bopper. i jest, but i was a bit concerned that she’d eventually need oxygen. that evening, we headed to spend the evening with my mama, grandma and a host of other folks. i have to say, my grandma, bless her heart, gave us the most memorable gift ever…
and it’s RED!!! haha!! we all got a good laugh from this one, even though i think it was meant to be a totally serious gift. i asked my grandma, “but why red? my bathroom isn’t red??” she said, “look over there at that Christmas tree…everything goes with red.”
well, true that grandma.
anyway, i hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas!!!
first let me just say that pinterest will have you believing you can do anything. anything. so my crazy butt got the idea from the many pins i saw there and pinned onto my sweet sweetness board to make caramels as Christmas gifts for my family.
what an adventure it’s been.
i had three (well, really sorta four) different recipes i chose to use. you can find them here:
and woowee, i had some serious mishaps. with my first attempt to make the soft and chewy caramels, my candy didn’t look caramel colored and wasn’t really candy at all. i should’ve just cubed it and used it for coffee, but instead i dumped it and pressed on to create caramel success!
i straight burned my next attempt. see how dark the sugar is? yeah, that sucka started smoking in no time. at first i was all yaaaaaay, it looks amber, you know, like caramel and then the smoke. so yeah, ding ding…time for round three!
then finally, i had real actual caramel. say whaaaat? i did it!! i watched the pot and the candy thermometer like a hawk and afterwards i was high-fiving myself ready to put sugar daddy out of business.
this pretty slab that was supposed to be soft and chewy cooled, but honey, it was as hard as a frickin’ brick. seriously, i almost broke my hand trying to cut this stuff. it tastes pretty good, however, i wouldn’t suggest that anyone actually try to chew it.
it’d probably snatch a crown out. and any loose teeth you may have. but anyway… i had to keep it moving.
for my next attempt i ventured onto the coconut caramels. and it was instant success! yaaaaaaay, me!!! it’s tasty too. by the way, i don’t know if it’s supposed to be spotty like that, but whatever. tastes like caramel to me.
the coconut batch, which uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream, wasn’t as hard as the first successful batch, but it was still quite a challenge to cut. i had my handy dandy tropical traditions gold label virgin coconut oil nearby to grease the knife so that it wouldn’t stick to the candy as the recipe suggested. i also used this oil to grease my pans before pouring in the caramel mixture.
it was rough but i finally got that stuff cut. my palm was red and swollen, y’all. red and swollen. *whew* it was a doozy.
maybe because i have sucky knives.
next up was the vanilla caramels with sea salt which uses honey instead of corn syrup. these puppies came out really, really soft. and to be honest, i’m on the fence about the flavor. i’m not really a huge honey fan, but hey, someone else might like them, right?
so after all of my tries to get this candy the right color and consistency and taste i’ve determined that i will probably never attempt to make caramels again. it’s too much like chemistry and well, i got a d in chemistry (but a’s and b’s in everything else!!!) in high school.
one recipe writer gave a particular temperature to cook the caramel at and then she mentioned that she probably needed to cook at that temp because she lived at a high altitude. what?? and should i even get into the comments i read under the recipes about humidity and making candy while it’s raining outside?
it’s that time of year again when my hands get itchy and my head starts swirling with ideas of stuff to make for folks in my family for Christmas. i’ve handcrafted gifts for years (typically ’cause i’m broke) and every year it’s something new. last year i made jewelry and bath scrubs. one year i made cookies (tons and tons of daggone cookies that i called “dutch’s dozen”), one year it was painted goods and paper mache things, then there was the year i handmade books and another when i made soaps. it’s something i enjoy doing, although i’m not always sure how well my handmade goods will go over on the receiving end. haha!!
throughout the years i’ve always come up with my own ideas, but geesh, who needs to do that anymore with the internet?? and with pinterest? geez louise, i never need to come up with an idea of my own again!
but listen, if you’re interested in handmaking a few gifts this Christmas season, i’ve found some really cool and mostly pretty easy diy tutorials to get you rockin’ & rollin’. these are the ones that have piqued my curiosity. a lot of them, as i mentioned before, i’ve done before but there’s always a different way to do a thing so i’m always open for new ideas!
everyone loves sweets, right? so get in the kitchen and get ‘er done! my plan this year is to make caramels. i sure hope they come out tasty! if you’re ready to jump in the kitchen too, check out these recipes.
i’ve always enjoyed creating things and i’ve collected quite a few supplies over the years. so when i found myself just a wee bit broke this past christmas i decided to pull out my box ‘o junk, put on my lil’ thinkin’ cap and get busy.
in the past i’ve done paintings, made handmade books and soaps as gifts. for dutch’s first christmas i even had the crazy idea of baking everyone in my family a dozen cookies and smacked “dutch’s dozen” labels on them. can i just say i didn’t want to see another chocolate chip cookie for a long while after that little baking adventure?
with my funds on the super low this year and since i already had a bunch of beads, wire and other findings i decided the theme for the year would be jewelry. and i made lots.
this here is just a small sampling of my supplies and things i made.
we don’t do santa. never have. dutch is 5 and we’ve always told him that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. yes, we celebrate by decorating a Christmas tree and yes, we exchange gifts, but we’ve always told him that we buy his gifts.
but now he’s convinced otherwise. it seems one of his classmates has convinced him that there is indeed a santa claus. that santa will visit and leave toys, blah, blah, blah…
“he’s going to come down our chimney!”
i said, “ummmm, no, actually, he’s not. in fact, dutch, look at our fireplace, does it look like a man could fit in there?”
he looked at me and thought for a second and said, “santa could.”
my husband even jumped in and said, “buddy, we buy your gifts. there’s no such thing as santa.”
dutch still decided to believe his 5-year-old classmate over us. he said, “dad, there IS a santa…”
then my husband said, “look, i’m 32…”
that’s when i cut in and said, “uhhhhh, honey, actually, you’re not.”
my husband stood there and thought about it and dutch said, “yeah, dad, you’re 33.”
so i guess if dad doesn’t even know how old he is, he really must not know about santa.
as a child i believed he existed for a few years, but by the time i turned about 5 i knew that he couldn’t come down my chimney to bring loads of gifts because we didn’t have a chimney. we lived in a high-rise apartment building. so was santa landing on the building, coming to my apartment by way of the elevator and then coming through the front door? and honey, clearly there was no way he was fitting his reindeer and sleigh on our balcony.
something was smelling mighty fishy about this santa claus.
then around the same time i started questioning these things in my mind my pop just flat out told me: there’s no such thing as santa claus. what was more important was to understand the real reason of celebrating Christmas, you know, the birth of Jesus Christ. something folks tend to forget about, but that’s another story.
i’m glad my pop had that talk with me because it actually cleared up a lot of confusion that i had about the santa dude anyway. i had always wondered how he fit into the whole baby Jesus story. was santa one of the wise men who brought baby Jesus gifts? the talk straightened all that out.
was i traumatized when my pop told me that santa didn’t really exist? no. i knew the toys would keep coming so it didn’t really matter who brought them. and you know, to a little girl that’s pretty much all that mattered. my pop even came up with a nickname for santa-the fat fake. isn’t that hilarious? my pop’s hilarious. okay, you might not think that’s hilarious, but i do.
i’ve told numerous people about the talk about santa my pop had with me as a child and their response is generally always along the lines of “oh, you’re father is mean…” or “what a grinch.” oh okay, my pop’s a mean grinch because he refused to lie to me. okay, i get it.
as much as i don’t give in to the whole santa thing, i think the new idea of banning santa from saying “ho ho ho” and having him say “ha ha ha” instead is just insane. in case you haven’t heard, a recruitment firm called westaff in australia supplies santas to malls and various places across the country and has recently told its santa trainees not to say “ho ho ho.” why? because “ho” is the slang term in the u.s. for prostitute. yeah, it’s ridiculous, but at the same time it is pretty funny… ha ha ha!!
okay, you’re probably not laughing at this point because you love santa, and that’s cool. but tell me the cartoon below isn’t funny…