Monday, January 7, 2013

Final Christmas Rundown: Kids' Gifts and Cookies

Kid Gifts

I'm not feeling any inspiration for a post describing the kids' Christmas gifts. THEY seem excited enough about them, thankfully, but I'm just sort of "meh." I guess because I'm not 6? Anyway, the short version is that they got toys, and they like them. I would recommend them to others for purchase, if pressed to comment on that. I know that Finn and Lucy will play with these toys for about 3 more days, and then abandon them in favor of whining at me that they "have no toys" and "want to watch T.V." But so far, they've been pleasantly "into" these toys.

In brief, Lucy got a lot (A LOT) of Disney princess stuff (Santa brought no less than 3 costumes, among other things), and Finn got a new race track (a Nano Speed Turbo set, which is new for us, but I refused to have Santa bring a Hot Wheels set because they are all designed to stick to a wall) and an Imaginext Space Shuttle. They were happy enough for kids that kept finding new things to add to their Christmas Wish Lists as little as two days before Christmas (as if) - I was sure there would be disappointment, but neither one of them brought up anything they wish they had received instead.

There were also other random small things, like new Magic Tree House books, jewelry, Monster Trucks, etc.

OH! I almost forgot that there is ONE kid gift I am excited about. We bought our very first (and hopefully only, for a long time) family gaming system - a Wii. It was our gift to the kids (and ourselves). We got the original one, not that new confusing one they've been advertising lately (WiiU?). We have a Sports and Sports Resort game pack, and we also picked up Just Dance 4. We've all been having a lot of fun with it, more than I thought we would. Lucy's attention for playing is still only about about 2.5 minutes, but Finn can already do a lot of things independently/intuitively, so I'm sure she'll catch on in the next year or so.

Oh oh! I also meant to mention a couple of things we got for nieces/nephews that I would really REALLY recommend. The first is the Richard Scarry Busy Town board game:

I like it so much that I inadvertently got it for my sister Kristin's kids both this year and last year - luckily I had a sneaking suspicion that I had done this, checked (and confirmed), and was able to turn around and give it to my sister Stacey's daughter instead. Busy Town for everyone! It is a cute game that is way less frustrating for kids (and parents) than Chutes and Ladders or Candyland (no going ALL the way back to the beginning for anyone).

I also found a couple of non-traditional "Princess as the strong heroine" books that I gave to my nieces Penny and JoJo, and now I'm thinking they may need to be a birthday gift for Lucy. They are MUCH better/more interesting than the drivel Disney puts out. One book is called The Apple Pip Princess, and the other is The Paper Bag Princess.

Finally, my newest niece, Alexa, is just a year old (ALMOST! A few days and counting!), and she is preceded by two much older brothers. Her house is sadly bereft of girly things. To help her start the battle against the hockey equipment and Nerf guns, we gave her this hilariously adorable Little People Wonder Woman toy:

Is that not one of the cutest things you've ever seen for a 1-year-old?

She also got a Hello Kitty hoodie, because every girl should have one of those.


Since I'm ready to be done with writing about Christmas, I'm going to mash my Christmas cookie report-out onto the bottom of this post. I went nuts on Pinterest, pinning about a dozen different cookie and candy recipes with the intention of making them all. Reality set in, and I had to scale back my plans a bit. But I still managed to make about 6 different types of cookies. They were all good (hard to beat the butter-sugar-flour-vanilla combination), but some were definite keepers. I'm just going to post a link to the original recipe for each one rather than including the recipes themselves here (credit where credit due, yo), but I will make a note if I substantially changed anything.

Roll Out Sugar Cookies: This is my second year making these (pictures from last year are here). They are delicious, and fun for the kids to decorate. For frosting, I just used the recipe on the Dominos confectioner's sugar box. I made a double batch and then used Wilton gel food coloring to make a bunch of different colors. I will definitely continue making these.

Chocolate Roll Out Sugar Cookies: This was my first time making these. The dough was really hard to work with (I chilled it for the required amount of time, but it almost seemed TOO long, because I had a tough time rolling it out), but the cookies tasted awesome, so I'll probably make these again. These were decorated at the same time we did the regular roll out sugar cookies.

Soft Almond Sugar Cookies: These are not roll out cookies; instead, they are formed into balls and then rolled in Turbinado sugar. They were so soft and yummy - another definite keeper.

Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pudding Cookies: These were SO GOOD. This is a recipe where I had to make some substitutions. I couldn't find Devil's Food pudding, so I used regular chocolate pudding. I also searched high and low for the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips the recipe called for, but could not find them anywhere. So instead, I bought a few bars of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Peppermint bark and chopped them up. They worked great, and the cookies turned out to be one of my favorites.

Thumbprint Cookies: I think these were my absolute favorite cookies. I made them with strawberry preserves, apricot preserves, and lemon curd. They were awesome. I may need to double the batch next year.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies: These were almost too rich for me. I guess I prefer a little flour in my cookie (they are flourless, which is great for the gluten-free crowd). Not sure I'll make again.

Peppermint Kiss Sugar Cookies: I think I prefer the version of these cookies that are made with peanut butter cookies and regular Hershey's Kisses. Too minty for me, but the kids loved them. I'm on the fence about making them again.

So there you have it - a rundown on the 6 - no wait, 7 - God, I have a problem - batches of Christmas cookies I made this past year.

These pictures were taken when I was only 3 cookie types in to the baking process. Also, what does it say about me that I wrote much of this post while watching the latest Biggest Loser episode?

I may need an intervention next year.


  1. Cameron LOVES the Busytown game. Just keep in mind it's a big board (puzzle pieces) so it needs a lot of room. I also recommend the Wii game: Disney Princess: My FairyTale Adventure. Cameron has a bit of trouble moving the characters (requires the nunchuck and regular remote) but she is picking it up quickly at 3.5 YO.

  2. What beautiful cookies. . .I'm really impressed (just wish I lived closer, except it's 80 degrees and sunny today). Love to you all, Mimi and Papa