Tag: life

Christmas cookie, 2017

Decorating butter cookies. Yikes!!!!

Last weekend my granddaughter, hubby, and I decorated cut-out cookies. I think I have the best recipe in the world. I’ll include it at the end of this post.

Anyway, I have a new respect for all of you who do a good job of this. It’s a lot of work and requires a lot of patience. My husband and I have decorated cookies every year but we’ve never really tried to do the fancy stuff, like outlining and “flooding”.  My hands are not very strong so I have a hard time using the pastry bags.

I’m already looking forward to next year so I can continue to hone my decorating-cookies-skills.

Here’s some notes to myself. Maybe you’ll find them useful as well.

  1. Have nothing on the table but the essential supplies.Do not mix up frosting, tint frosting, or fill pastry bags on the table. Do this on the countertop.
  2. Make sure you have enough tips and disposable pastry bags so when inspiration strikes, you are all ready.
  3. Decide in advance which colors will be for outlining and which for flooding. In other words, design your cookies, colors, and designs ahead of time.
  4. Make sure your consistency for outlining and flooding are appropriate for the task, thicker for outlining, thinner for flooding.
  5. Place pastry bags in a glass for filling and tie off tightly at the top.
  6. Outline first and let the frosting harden before flooding. Have lots of cookie sheets available for this.
  7. Take your time!
  8. Keep the area where you are decorating free of clutter at all times. When you start to notice “clutter creep”, take a few minutes and re-organize.
  9. Decorate all the same shapes first.
  10. Have fun!

I have a lot to learn but it was so much fun. Last year my mom helped us. She hated decorating but I loved doing it with her none the less. I miss her this Christmas season.

Anyway, here’s some pics.

Christmas cookies 2017

Christmas cookies 2017

 

My husband’s design. Cute, huh?

Here’s the link to the butter cookie recipe. Be sure the dough is chilled and only work in small batches at a time leaving the rest in the refrigerator. We roll them out on a plastic tablecloth rather than parchment paper as the paper seems to move. Remember, it’s my husband who rolls them out and this is his preference. Also, if you are slow at cutting them out and they have gotten to room temp, put them back in the refrigerator for a few minutes (maybe ten?), to chill them a little. We learned that if you don’t, they have a tendency to puff up a little.

Also, I did not have the butter mixed up really good this time and there were chunks of butter that didn’t get dissolved which caused holes in a couple of the cookies. I usually completely melt the butter because I freeze the dough anyway. This time I didn’t. That was a mistake.

I mix all my cookie doughs about two weeks ahead of when we are going to actually be making them, day one.  Hubby cuts them out and we bake them on one day. That’s day two in the process.

Day three, we outline them. If we put them in the garage, they harden up quickly and we can flood them right away. But if you live in a warm climate, you would probably have to flood them on day four. 

If you’re going to go all fancy on them and add lots of detail, that would be day five.

Anyway, hope this helps. As I said, this is the best recipe ever and the frosting is even better. It’s the corn syrup in the frosting that keeps it shiny.

We have all the steps down to perfection, except for the decorating. But every year we are learning more.

God bless and have a great day.

 

 

Rambo 2017

“Rambo” (our kitten”) almost didn’t make it.

I didn’t post this morning and you will certainly understand why when I tell you what’s been going on.

As you know, we rescued a feral kitty about four months ago. We are not cat-loving people so you can imagine our surprise to find ourselves loving this little guy. He showed up in the woods at our cabin just when I needed him. Having cared for my mom for a number of years and then experiencing that void, it was like God sent him to us. He wasn’t even a month old when we heard his first pathetic little meow. You can read the story here.

Anyway, we had him neutered last Thursday. He was fine for a couple of days. Then we noticed he wasn’t eating very much and finally by Monday, he wasn’t eating at all. We took him to the vet Monday. He didn’t have a temp. The vet had no clue but he gave him a combined shot of b-12 and penicillin. He didn’t get any better. This morning we thought we were losing him. His little midsection was so skinny. Weight loss in a kitten is very serious.

Rambo 2017

So back to the vet. He was dehydrated but still no temp. The vet examined him thoroughly and could find nothing unusual.. But he gave him an IV to hydrate him and then a shot of a long-lasting antibiotic.

Basically, we were told to take him home and hope for the best. He said he could do all kinds of tests and take all kinds of blood but that’s a long road to go when he didn’t have a clue. Would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

So we brought him home. We’ve been in tears on and off since Monday. This morning was the worst. Mostly because much of what the vet said was what I was told when my mom was dying.

It was really hard.

But we are hopeful tonight.

We came home and in about two hours he had eaten a little. A few hours after that, he started playing. He’s not out of the woods yet. We will have blood work drawn in about two weeks as there is a possibility of feline leukemia. We learned there are two types; one is fatal but the other he can live with a long time.

So for this Christmas, we are just going to enjoy him. He’s our little “Christmas miracle.”

Rambo 2017

Hope your day was good and God bless.

ps. Something interesting. Giving a sick cat some honey is a really good idea. Just smear some on your finger and let him lick it. Or you can rub it inside the sides of his mouth. Pure maple syrup is also recommended. Honey is loaded with antibiotics and is vet-approved.

A DIY Dollar Tree Christmas sign

This is another very inexpensive quick craft if you’re in need of a last minute idea. Everything, except the board, is from the dollar tree.

First, let me share some of the backstory. I had bought these words from the Dollar Tree as soon as they went on sale. I’m learning that you need to act fast at the Dollar Tree. And, by the way, did you know that not all Dollar Trees are created equal.

By that I mean, they all carry different merchandise. So if you don’t find them store, check another if you can.

Anyway. I had some boards (I’m always scarfing up boards from garage sales, garbage day junk, junk pile at the big box stores. The ones for these projects are from the junk pile at a local big box store. The boards were different lengths, widths, and thicknesses.

I painted them red. Didn’t like them. I painted them white. I didn’t like them. I completely covered them with paper with no wood showing. Didn’t like them. Finally, I came up with black. I spray painted them and before the paint was completely dry, I wiped off some paint. I also distressed the edges with a sander.

I should also mention, that I nailed on picture hangers on the back at each end in case the recipient wants to put them on their wall. But because they are one-inch boards, they will stand up on their own.

Like, this one on top of my hutch.

I painted this one white first, then gold, then sanded off wide swaths of paint. The checked strip down the middle is from a roll of checked paper I found at Hobby Lobby for $1.50. There is a lot of paper on the roll and it’s very heavy. Don’t have any idea how it was meant to be used. I’m sure I’m going to find lots of uses for it.

Christmas sign 2017

 

Ok, back to this one. The plaid down the middle of this one is actually ribbon from the Dollar Tree. I used spray on adhesive for all the boards. These letters had jute hangers on them which I cut off but left the “nubs” on the front otherwise there would be a hole. I cut them off so the words would lay flat.

I already gave my daughter’s her sign so she could use it this summer. Naturally, I didn’t get a good picture of it but hers it totally different. It is painted red, distressed, has bright shiny tape down the middle and has Dollar Tree starts between the words. My husband thought it was the best one because it was so bright.

After this next photo, there is a slideshow that shows various views of the board.

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This really is a quick project once you have all you need and have the boards painted. But even with having to paint and sand the boards, it’s still under an hour. Of course, I painted these boards when it was warmer so they dried quickly. If you’re having to do this in your home,  use craft paint and they will dry just about as fast.

Anyway, these Christmas signs are one of my favorite crafts this year. But I’m going to show you some more this week that I also think are great and they, too, are very inexpensive. I’m probably hanging on to some of them for next year and hoping no one remembers them.

God bless and keep creating. After all, it’s already December!

Christmas organization 2017

A little TOO organized?

Can a person be too organized?

I don’t know but I think you’ll get a kick out of this.

I posted last week about our Thanksgiving weekend, how much fun we had, …..

My daughter and I went shopping. That reminds me, I didn’t tell you about one of my favorite clothing stores on Northville. It’s called “Dear Prudence” and it carries really cute clothes. It’s not cheap though, so I generally only buy items when they are really marked down.

They had an unusual sale. We got there right after it opened because they were selling all the clothes on the marked-down racks for $10.00 apiece. I found a number of great items as did my daughter.

It was lots of fun and customers were offering the items they didn’t want to other women they thought would be interested. It had more like a home clothing party atmosphere.

After that, my daughter and I went for coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops ever. I hadn’t realized my daughter had been carrying a large bag instead of her usual purse. I was soon to find out why.

See if you can figure it out from this picture.

Yep. She had been lugging this notebook around all morning.

I howled.

We should all be so organized. Right?

By the way, she has to be. She works full-time, volunteers for her school and church, and is the mother of two small boys, one of which has special needs. You can read about his story here.

Anyway, hope you are encouraged to get organized. If not, just be like me, and do it by the seat of your pants.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

hugging

Why touch is so important for mental health

Did you know that humans become nearly unrecognizable without touch?

I found this interesting story. “Over two hundred years ago, French scientists spotted a creature resembling a human running through the forests. Once captured, they determined he was 11 years old and had run wild in the forests for much of his childhood. Originally the child, “Victor,” was determined to be an idiot; French physicians and psychiatrists eventually concluded he had been deprived of human physical touch, which had retarded his social and developmental capacities.”

hugging

Fascinating, huh?

Here’s some other things I learned:

  1. Decreased violence. Less touch as a child leads to greater violence. A child left unhugged, unembraced, feels insecure. Think of any child who has a temper tantrum. One of the best ways to calm a child down is to hold them snugly. Why? Because a firm embrace makes them feel loved. It’s just that simple.
  2. Greater trust between individuals. Touch helps to bond people together. Neuroscientist Edmund Ross found that physical touch activates the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, that links to feelings of reward and compassion. A simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka ‘the love hormone.'”
  3. Decreased disease and stronger immune system. Physical touch may also decrease disease. According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina, women who receive more hugs from their partners have lower heart rates and blood pressure: “Hugs strengthen the immune system…
  4. Overall well being. Adults need human touch to thrive. In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.

      6. Less loneliness would add that the more a person is embraced, (hugged, pat on the shoulder, holding hands, etc.) the less lonely they feel even if they are alone.

7.  Older people need touch even more.  A dear friend of mine suggested I hug my mom every time I said good-bye. My mother was not the “touchy-feely” type so I didn’t know if she would be receptive. But by that point, her dementia was getting worse. Not only was she receptive, it did a lot for me as well.  I so wish I had pushed beyond her resistance years before that.

I am thankful for all the embraces I receive but I’m as thankful for all the ones I can give.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of touch to change someone’s day, maybe even save their life.

God bless and have a good day.

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