The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

This is really my most favoritest Christmas movie, EVER. I wish I had it on dvd, but is only available on vhs, and even then it is hard to find. Watch in order!

Holidays in Hand

Have you missed me? Just a little? Well, anyway...

I've missed being here. But I've actually been hard at work....wait for it....WORKING!! I know, crazy, right?

I've been writing articles like crazy. Both for my local newspaper and for Demand Studios. I should actually be working right now, but I thought I would stop in and let you know what's been going on.

I signed up for this great scrapbooking class at called Holidays in Hand. You can keep an eye on my progress by checking out my other blog NVScrapper - Holidays in Hand.

Boy Scouts. I probably don't need to say more, but I will. We are doing a crazy big fundraiser, and each time we need to show up somewhere, someone is sick or at another function and can't be there, and we end up with two scouts. On top of that, even though we've had high hopes for this fundraiser, we have had one problem after another. First, our product was delivered almost a full week after our first scheduled table-top fundraiser, then we were missing product from the delivery, and by the way--two of the cases of product were damaged beyond belief. Steven and I are going door to door today after school to see what we can sell. We have one more scheduled fundraiser on Wednesday. Hopefully all those last minute shoppers will stop and support us, because after that it is up to the boys to get out and sell.

Well, did you know this week is Thanksgiving? We've been going through cookbooks here trying to come up with the perfect Thanksgiving Dinner. I think it's going to be awesome.

Those are the big things. With a lot of little things thrown in there. Cookie swap comes to mind. Homework. Oh, yeah, my writing work. Here, there, everywhere...

Muppet Christmas Carol - Scrooge

I am really getting into the Holiday spirit. And since Christmas is my favorite, I just have to share my favorite Christmas movie. Every song in this movie is awesome, but I do love this one.

It's a Cookie Swap!

Yay! The holidays are here and I am working on our 2nd annual cookie swap. We are at a high this year with 13 people participating. We will have a potluck dinner and swap out cookies. We don't really have a lot of rules--just a "step it up" rule. That means, you can make chocolate chip cookies, but if you do--step it up. Make them really special.

Robin over at RobinsWeb has some handy tips to host your own cookie swap:

Important Cookie Exchange Planning Tips!
1) Send the invitations out a month before the party. Everyone's calendar fills up fast in December! I hold my Maryland party on Sunday afternoon. All the dads can watch the kids from the sofa in front of the football game. (Except my husband, he has to the leave the house and entertain the kids, he traditionally takes them to the movies.) The California ladies prefer a week-end evening. For your first exchange, take a poll and see what your attendees prefer.

2) Tell everyone to bake their cookies at least three days in advance. The biggest reason for no-shows is that they didn't have time to bake their cookies. This is the busiest time of year. Don't be upset if people that rsvp and say they are coming don't show up. I always invite way more than I expect to show. The average number that usually shows up for me is anywhere between 13-20. One year I had 23 confirmed and only 12 showed up. Usually two or three days before the exchange I say to myself "If this wasn't my party, I probably wouldn't go, I'm too busy!"

Another reason to bake the cookies early is so that they can "dry out" a bit. A freshly baked cookie is not a good cookie to transport. When we're swapping, we're piling different types of cookies on top of each other and the fresh ones crumble terribly, especially if it's a fragile cookie to begin with. After the cookies have been baked, they should sit out all night on a rack to cool and loose their moisture, with a piece of wax paper over them. Then you can put them into a cookie tin, with wax paper under and over them and between the layers.
I'm keeping my list here, so it's easy for everyone to find. You can ignore this part if you aren't part of my swap. :)

  1. Whitney — Pomegranate Linzer Cookies
  2. Vicki — Frosted Sugar Cookies
  3. Eva —Chocolate Mint Cookies
  4. Lisa — Chocolate Pinwheels
  5. Julie —Russian Tea Cakes Julie's had to drop out, but I am taking her cookies anyway--feel free to participate!
  6. Victoria —Pepparkakor Cookies
  7. Jocelyn — Rocky Road Candy
  8. April —
  9. Holly —
  10. Kara —
  11. Cindy —
  12. Stacey — Italian Fried Cookies
  13. Mary Beth —Poppy Seed Cookies
  1. Whitney — Salad
  2. Vicki — Penne Rustica
  3. Lisa — Salad
  4. Julie — Garlic Bread
  5. Victoria — Sparkling Grape Juice/Punch
  6. Jocelyn — Cheese & Crackers or Chips & Dip
  7. Carol — Cheese & Crackers or Chips & Dips
  8. April — Bottle of 7-UP or Sprite
  9. Holly — Orange Juice
  10. Kara — Sparkling Grape Juice/Punch
  11. Cindy — Veggie Side Dish
  12. Mary Beth — Garlic Bread

Jelly Making

So, I've been kind of caught up in this whole jelly making thing. You might even call it slightly obsessed. It started out innocently enough...I just wanted to make pomegranate jelly. But then I needed to get creative, so I started looking online for "creative" pomegranate jelly recipes.

And, by the way, there aren't a lot.

So then I started looking at jelly recipes at RecipeZaar. I started by searching "jelly" which gives some 650 results, but not necessarily all jelly recipes. Many of them just have jelly in the title (think PB&J). So then I clicked on one of those jelly recipes and, down at the bottom of the page, clicked on the jellies category. This brought the total down a little to around 250 recipes.

But now that I've browsed hundreds, maybe even thousands of recipes, I've got the bug. The jelly and jam bug. And not for your normal jelly or jam recipe. Nooooooo....I want to make the weird ones. The ones that make people say "What is this again?"

I started with the Pomegranate Wine Jelly. Yep, my own recipe. Because, and pomegranate a jelly...really....I made a bunch of this. I used two different wines that I had in my little wine refrigerator: a pinot grigio (which is my favorite wine, ever) and a white zinfandel (which is the wine for non-wine drinkers). I had a huge bottle of the white zinfandel. It had been in the cupboard for at least two years (for two reasons: I don't really drink white zin--it was a gift--and it was too big to fit in the wine fridge). Both of these jellies are to die for...just the perfect amount of pomegranate zing with a dash of tipsy grape thrown in at the end.

And then I made regular pomegranate jelly. Because my darling son (who is NOT 21) wanted pomegranate jelly for his PB&J's. And toast. So, there you go. It was a necessity.

But then I had one little cup of pomegranate juice left. Just one. Not enough to make another batch of plain pomegranate jelly. And I already had a LOT of pomegranate wine jelly. So I got creative. I'd already bookmarked the (ummm, weird!) recipe for Mountain Dew Jelly. Because I have a couple of friends who are addicted to the stuff. So, I just decided to get a bit creative. And this is the result of that experiment: Pomegranate Mountain Dew Jelly. I did this in pint jars rather than 1/2-pint jars, because, well...I don't have THAT many friends who would dare try it...and I ended up with four jars. And it actually tastes pretty darn good!

And then there is the Tang Jelly (The Drink of Astronauts!). This one is just so out there that I had to try it. See, I have these Boy Scouts...well, one of them in particular just cannot go on a camping trip unless there is tang along. He drinks it hot in the morning. Which I think is gross, but honestly, I remember liking tang as a kid, so I've given him the benefit of the doubt. I made this as Christmas gifts for those homage to him. And I tasted it. It really is pretty good, as a jelly.

And now my son, who thinks Mountain Dew Jelly is probably gross, is stuck on the idea of Dr. Pepper Jelly. And I'm thinking Root Beer Jelly might be a nice addition to our Soda Jelly Collection.

Help me! I'm jelly and I can't get up!

Now I've bookmarked recipes like:The only thing holding me back is the trip to the store to buy more jars and pectin...Oh Lord...