Thursday, December 20, 2012


When I was deciding what to give Wesley's teachers, I tried to think through something they would all want that was also affordable. I know they probably get lots of things that they appreciate, but then they're stuck finding a home for yet another mug or what-have-you. So, I knew I wanted to give something that would get used up. I thought homemade cocoa and marshamallows would be unique... Who doesn't like cocoa during the supposedly cold winter months??
Alton Brown provided the Cocoa Recipe and Smitten Kitchen provided the Marshmallow Recipe.
The directions for the marshmallows were deceptively simple and {with wonderful help from Brad} they came together in a snap. I am still a little mystified to think that *we* made actual marshmallows...
kind of gross beginnings...
Brad's first task was to oil and sugar our pan. He did it with his usual level of perfection and precision:

Then we waited *and waited* for our sugary syrup to come to the magical temperature.

They really started to look marhsmallowy after we whipped up the egg whites. The mixture turned white and fluffy right before my eyes.

Brad poured the goo into the expertly prepared pan.
The next day, we had mugfuls of perfect hot cocoa
(mine needed more stirring)
Brad tried one toasted and happily reported it tasted just like a toasted marshmallow.

We also learned that the Chewbaca Mug likes marshamllows.

Peppermint Crisps

I had been brainstorming what type of cookies to make for the Cookie Exchange. I don't know why, but I'm never content just to make some chocolate chip ones. I had several options printed out and showed them to Brad. He headed out to buy supplies and brought home all the things he could remember. He couldn't find Min Extract, but found Peppermint Extract. I had wanted to make THESE. But that didn't work out. Instead, I gave Peppermint Crisps a try.
The first step is to make Peppermint Sugar Syrup. It smelled amazing, but made my eyes sting and even Brad thought it was a little strong. After you melt your sugar and everything together, you pour it out on parchment paper to solidify. I think it was a little too humid for this step. Mine stayed sticky and a little pliable.
So after an hour or so of waiting, I threw it in my food processor. I tried it in my mini processor, but it didn't handle it too well so I had to break out the big processor. It probably did not as well as it could have because it was a little gumy, but it made peppermint sugar eventually.
Meanwhile, I copped up all that chocolate. We just used jumbo hershey bars. Since it was humid, it kept melting to my fingers, but that was a tasty problem to have ;)

 It was beautiful seeing the milk and dark chocolate melted together.

I stirred in the peppermint sugar and cooconut, then smeared it onto my parchment paper. I must admit, I was disappointed at how little it made...
There wasn't enough for me to cut it up with a cookie cutter because so much would have been wasted. Instead, I used a knife and made squares. It was delicious the day I made it, but within a few days, they sort of lost their yumminess. All in all, it was a bit too complex with too little results for me to consider making them again.

Christmas Tree Skirt

It's finally Christmas time and I have been dying all year to make a tree skirt I spotted on Pinterest! Instructions are found HERE.
I gathered my supplies and my instructions and set to work.
I opted to lay out my muslin in layers and then I cut several strips at once. So, once I had cut as far as I could reach, I scooted the fabric forward and continued. This was much quicker than cutting one strip the full length and then cutting the next and so on. Here's a picture in case that description didn't make perfect sense:

I will say, the directions said to cut 2" strips, but I measured and mine look much smaller than theirs.
Also, the directions say to put the line of hot glue about an inch and a half above the previous row. I would say, don't measure and instead lay each strip over the last one to decide where you need glue. the second row, I put the glue in using a rough measurement, but when I stuck the fabric on it left a gap. I later cut short strips and filled in a few gaps so it wasn't a big deal. See:
It took several nights of working in short bursts, but I got it finished. I was really impressed with the final result!

It is sort of too big for our tree, but I assured Brad that one day we might get a bigger tree ;)

It really is beautiful even though the background kitchen chaos sort of detracts. I'll have a separate post about WHY our kitchen was a mess. Stay tuned.

Also, how do you like the deco mesh on the tree this year?
Looks SO much better and more finished than in years past.

Here's a close up without the kitchen chaos...

And, you know, it really makes me laugh to think how long I spent on that tree skirt.
If I had only know that it wouldn't matter once we finished wrapping all our gifts....