Monthly Archives: December 2012

A home-made Christmas

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A home-made Christmas

“Christmas time is here….” that’s the theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas, I can hear it playing inside my head.  There’s something cozy and comforting about watching Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s Christmas cartoon (that’s older than I am! haha!) while snow falls outside.  The kids love watching it to.  Is it because it makes us think back to simpler times?  Remember the sad little tree that Charlie Brown finds, and the kids give it a bit of love and spruce it up?

I really don’t know why I’m mentioning that cartoon, it just popped into my mind, and seemed to fit (in my mind anyway) with the home-made Christmas idea.  This year I was trying to make a bunch of home-made stuff for Christmas, instead of buying new things.  I keep finding amazing ideas online that I wanted to try, but have run right out of time!!  So I thought I’d post some photos of the things that I did get done because I know it will make me feel better to see the loveliness on my blog, instead of surrounded by the boxes and mess and clutter that are here in my house!!  (No I am not going to post a photo of the mess that surrounds the decorating…that would ruin all the loveliness, even though it would show my real life!)

Our Christmas tree is a “throw and go!” tree, as my son called it: throw the ornaments on and then go away!  I let the kids do most of the decorating with only one box of ornaments….I don’t know why.  I guess I was too exhausted to pull anything else out, and they were happy to do a “candy cane tree”.  (Ok, I did buy something new, those wood & fabric words for a buck each!).  This is the first time we’ve ever had a color-coordinated tree.  So that was nice for a change! ;)denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasHere are some ideas I found online to print out…denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinasAdvent things, denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmasdenna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012Cookie things (for teacher gifts and just for us to eat on a cold winter’s evening), trying out some new recipes….denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasOrnament things,  denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmasdenna's ideas: a home-made Christmas paper tree denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasGift things…..I just had to snap some photos of the presents my daughter wrapped, they are so cute!!  She wrote out all the tags with our names on in English and in Japanese characters!denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas denna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasAnd a few anniversary things, denna's ideas: a home-made Christmas, gingerbread bride and groomdenna's ideas: a home-made ChristmasOur six year old photographer took this 19th anniversary portrait of us, we had just kissed at 19 hours and 19 minutes on the 19th of December for our 19th anniversary!  Now that’s home-made stuff!!

So that’s a few glimpses of our kinda home-made Christmas decorating and traditions and stuff….really, our life is not as together-looking as it seems in this blog…..I just have to mention that so that I don’t feel like I’m lying too much with all the perfect-looking photos.  I have perfection ideals in my head, but just can’t make them work out….so I take photos of the stuff that turns out…and once-in-a-while of the things that don’t turn out!  🙂

Merry Christmas to you!!!

Sugar Plum Snowflake Ballerina Fairies

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Sugar Plum Snowflake Ballerina Fairies

That’s what I’m calling them!  “While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…” mixed with snowflake ballerinas and the nutcracker’s Sugar Plum fairy…make a lovely Chrismas decoration.  I found them on pinterest, of course, and just had to try them out!!  Here’s the blog called Krokotak where I found them and printed out the patterns from, though the original idea came from here, though it’s not in English.

They are fairly easy to make, if you like cutting up paper!  Cut out a ballerina silhouette from cardstock (or 2 pieces of paper glued together).  Make a snowflake from paper.  Cut a slit in the middle of the snowflake and gently pull it onto the ballerina, to make her “tutu”.  Hang them up and watch them pirouette!!

I know, my sugar plum snowflake ballerina fairies are hanging by large clothespins gripping their heads….it wasn’t meant to be, but I was in a rush, and the clothespins hanging on twine have been there since Henry’s bday ( I had photos hanging from them).  So the season changed and now it’s Christmas ornaments and Sugar plum fairies!

The only different thing I did from the original version was to cut out one silhouette from paper printed with that Christmas Mouse story I did the other day…I thought text on a ballerina would add visual interest…and it does.  (no, they are not tatooed fairies!!)  I love watching them “dance” in every little breeze (from the hot air registers) that comes their way!denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinas denna's ideas: sugar plum snowflake ballerinasAfter Christmas (if I ever get the Christmas stuff taken down and packed away) they will make cute hanging ornaments for the girls’ room until winter’s over….still lots of time left!!!

Nicholas and the Christmas Mice

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Nicholas and the Christmas Mice

Here is the story I wrote of Nicholas and the Christmas Mice, to go along with a new tradition of Christmas Mice Mischief.

Listen, my children and you will hear an interesting (if not completely accurate) tale from the long ago…

Once upon a time, far far away in a little village called Patara, there lived a man named Nicholas.  He lived alone, for his parents had passed away from a terrible sickness when he was younger.  They had left him a home and plenty of wealth for him to have an easy life.  Nicholas decided that he wanted to obey Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” so he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God.  Wherever he went he helped out both people and creatures.

He couldn’t bear to see anyone in pain without helping out.  Even the smallest little animals were helped.  One time he saved a mouse from a mangy cat who was playing with the little mouse like a ball of yarn.  Another day he pulled a small mouse out of a washtub where the little thing was drowning in the soap suds.  Once a trap had captured a young mouseling by the hind leg and Nicholas set it free.  And one cold winter night a starving mouse crept in to warm himself by Nicholas’ fire and scavenge for crumbs and he didn’t have the heart to sweep it back out into the cold, so he let it stay.

Needless to say, these little creatures were forever grateful to Nicholas for saving them from certain death.  They refused to leave him and settled into his home, determined to help him and cheer him up and be his family.

The little mice quickly caught on that Nicholas had some secrets!  He had been helping out the people in his community.  Using his inheritance, he tried to do good wherever he could, but didn’t want to let anyone know that it came from his hand.  The little mice would watch as he put on his cloak with a furry hood and quietly leave the house in the dark and damp of the night, not even lighting a candle to see by.

At his return, right before the sunrise, the little mice would blink open their eyes at the squeak of the door, and peek out from their cozy beds.  At first they wondered what Nicholas was up to in the dead of night.

Then one day he let them in on his secret doings, for he needed their help.  He explained in a modest way how he was trying to help his neighbors, and how he didn’t want anyone to find out who the secret helper was.  Down the road aways was the small cabin of a poor fisherman and his three daughters.  They were so poor that the fisherman feared that no one would want to marry his daughters and that they would become sad old maids.

Nicholas wanted to share some of his gold coins with the fisherman so that his three daughters could have lovely weddings to fine young men.  The problem was that Nicholas couldn’t figure out a way of getting the gold coins into the fisherman’s hut at night, because the little home was always guarded by an old but fierce and loyal dog who wouldn’t let anyone near his master’s home.

The little mice pleaded to be allowed to help.  “It will be a dangerous mission, but worthy of your courage and generosity, my dear little mice,” said Nicholas.  His jolly face beamed down at the four of them, pleased to have company on this lonely midnight adventure.

The small group of mice climbed onto Nicholas’ shoulder and nestled close in his furry cloak as they set off into the dark night.  Nicholas had the gold coins in a small sack which he held tightly, but every now and then the mice could hear a faint jingle as the coins clinked together, as there were several of them in the sack. Before long, they were nearing the fisherman’s cabin and Nicholas slowed his pace.

“I will go to the other side of the house,” whispered Nicholas, “in order to distract the watch dog.  When you hear him barking at me, you must quickly make a dash for that window which is slightly open and somehow get the coins inside.  Can you do it my little friends?”  The little mice squeaked with agreement and excitement!  There was nothing they loved better than an adventure!

Nicholas carefully set them down on a tree stump and handed them the gold coins, then turned to the corner of the cabin.  The old watch dog sprang to life and started in chase of the shadowy figure.  Their hearts beating like little drums in a parade, the mice ran, clutching the coins in their tiny paws.  Up the side of the rough wooden house and onto the windowsill they climbed in a flash!  There was just enough room to squeeze through the crack where the shutters stood slightly open.  They could hear the barking of the dog getting louder and knew that it would be only moments until the fisherman woke and saw the midnight visitors.

Hardly daring to breathe, much less squeak, the mice glanced around for the safest spot in which to place the coins.  Not far from the windowsill was a small fireplace and by the glowing of the last embers, they could see that by the hearth there was a sewing basket, a pile of aprons and some long fuzzy stockings hanging from some pegs in the wall so they could dry out by the  heat of the now sleepy fire.  The sewing basket, they winked at each other!  Quickly creeping to the edge of the window ledge, each little mouse hefted a gold coin and aimed for the safe-looking sewing basket.  Most of them had good aim, and 3 gold coins plopped into the sewing basket, but the fourth went spinning off the side and plunked down into the ladies’ stocking and slithered down into the toe!

No time to waste!  The fisherman gave a groan and was dragging himself from his bed as the four little mice whisked back through the open window.  Just in time too, for Nicholas appeared at that moment and held out his hand hurriedly to the mice.  They jumped and clutched his hand as he ran off, away from the grouchy dog.

Safe and sound back home, Nicholas could tell from the bright eyes and happy grins of the mice that their mission had been accomplished!  He chuckled at their excitement and suggested that everyone go to sleep before the sun rose, but the little mice were already busy planning their next midnight adventure!!

And so that helper of children, grown-ups, sailors and animals, himself had help!  He took care of the little band of mice, and they in turn helped him.  His busy days and nights were livened by the antics of the friendly little mice.  When they weren’t helping him on his missions, they were bound to be up to some mischief in his house!!  There was no keeping them still!

Their favorite time of year was near Christmas, when Nicholas would set up a small nativity scene and read to them the story of that very First Christmas.  The little mice would snuggle up to hear the story and gaze with wonder on the manger.  Then soon they would be off on another “helpful adventure,” doing their part to spread cheer and love and kindness.  Through the years, the little band of mice grew and had their own little families, but they were always faithful to the ideals of their human friend and taught their mouselings the joy of giving and helping.  If you ever spot a helpful little mouse in your house, forgive the mischief it might cause and remember that we can all be helpful and bring joy, no matter how large or small we might be!denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!

Christmas Mouse Mischief: a new Christmas tradition

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Christmas Mouse Mischief: a new Christmas tradition

There’s a furry critter creeping about our house!!  He gets into mischief every night!  He does a lot of things that the Elf on the Shelf does…makes messes, gets into things, eats candy, watches movies, even opens some presents!!

We’re starting a new little Christmas tradition this year at our house….the cute little Christmas Mouse!

(to my kids: you are not allowed to read this next part!)  I have been seeing the Elf on the Shelf everywhere in my digital world lately…have you seen him?  A little red elf with big mischievous eyes who gets into trouble while the kids are sleeping.  From what I gather, he’s kind of a spy sent from Santa to see if the kids are being good.  So I like the idea of all the fun mischief, but not so much the spying part.  And so I decided to “invent” our own little mischief maker(s).  I sewed him up out of felt, doing some online research to make his outfit, and came up with a story to introduce him to the kids…it’s called Nicholas and the Christmas Mice.  My plans were to make a few more mice, but maybe they’ll visit next year!

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“Needless to say, these little creatures were forever grateful to Nicholas for saving them from certain death.  They refused to leave him and settled into his home, determined to help him and cheer him up and be his family.

The little mice quickly caught on that Nicholas has some secrets!  He had been helping out the people in his community.  Using his inheritance, he tried to do good wherever he could, but didn’t want to let anyone know that it came from his hand.  The little mice would watch as he put on his cloak with a furry hood and quietly leave the house in the dark and damp of the night, not even lighting a candle to see by.

At his return, right before the sunrise, the little mice would blink open their eyes at the squeak of the door, and peek out from their cozy beds.  At first they wondered what Nicholas was up to in the dead of night.

Then one day he let them in on his secret doings, for he needed their help.  He explained in a modest way how he was trying to help his neighbors, and how he didn’t want anyone to find out who the secret helper was.  Down the road aways was the small cabin of a poor fisherman and his three daughters.  They were so poor that the fisherman feared that no one would want to marry his daughters and that they would become sad old maids.

Nicholas wanted to share some of his gold coins with the fisherman so that his three daughters could have lovely weddings to fine young men.  The problem was that Nicholas couldn’t figure out a way of getting the gold coins into the fisherman’s hut at night, because the little home was always guarded by an old but fierce and loyal dog who wouldn’t let anyone near his master’s home.

The little mice pleaded to be allowed to help.  “It will be a dangerous mission, but worthy of your courage and generosity, my dear little mice,” said Nicholas.  His jolly face beamed down at the four of them, pleased to have company on this lonely midnight adventure…”

So that’s how we started off our new tradition.  I read the story at night, then told that kids that if they happened to see a mouse around the house in the morning, they should just look and not touch, and clean up any messes!!

The next morning, this is what we found:denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!A little someone had found the scissors and made a mess creating tiny snowflakes!  The next morning….denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!He had “opened” some presents, then stayed up all night watching the new movies, with his little bucket of popcorn!COne of the kids was not pleased at all that a mouse had opened a present, and felt that this might ruin Christmas…but then someone else explained to the Mouse what proper behaviour is and was sure that he wouldn’t repeat the offense.  It helped that the kids noticed that there was a present with each of  their names on it…something new to watch together!  The mouse hasn’t opened any more presents….he has only done some things like:denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!graffiti our calendar and find and new friend…(that’s how we found out his first name is Squeako!  His second name, so Tassy informed us after chatting with him, is Jalapeño!)…denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!play with some vehicle toys in the night…denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!brought some more mice friends and tried to cook something…. (toy food)denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house! denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house! denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house! denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!climb around a new planet and have a few adventures….denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house! denna's ideas: new tradition, the Christmas mouse in the house!He’s been up to something every night, but he likes to sleep during the day.  The kids made a little box home for him to sleep in while he’s not having nocturnal adventures and to use while he’s visting us…denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!We have been having lots of fun with Squeako Jalapeño!  He’s quite quiet and looks serious, but his little deeds give us something to look forward to in the dark early hours before getting ready for school!  (and when I say dark and early, I mean really dark and really early!)denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!denna's ideas: a new tradition, the Christmas Mouse in the House!You find out in the story that Nicholas and the Christmas mice lived in a village called Patara.  It was once a part of Greece, then later belonged to Turkey, thus his little vest and hat! (the scarf appeared because his neck is too thin and liable to get chilly!) 🙂

So we welcome little Squeako, and maybe someday he’ll be joined by some brothers and sisters, to liven up the countdown to Christmas in the dark and snowy days of our Canadian winters.

Happy 19/19th Anniversary!

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Happy 19/19th Anniversary!

Yes, it’s a happy anniversary to us!  Nineteen years ago on December 19th, we were legally married!!  I know that that might sound a bit strange, especially those who remember that I’ve said that we were married on Christmas Day! 🙂  Well, we were legally married on the 19th!  In Guatemala City, nineteen years ago, it was the norm to have your legal “civil” wedding up to a week before your church wedding, it wasn’t done together as they do now and as is done in North America.  We first had to be married by a lawyer….then later at our church by our Pastor.  So I was legally married to Henry on the 19th, but we weren’t “man and wife” until married at church, before God and our family and friends! 😉  It was so weird to have the lawyers at work tease me about being Mrs. Henry when I felt like I wasn’t married yet!

Another interesting thing was that we had to “publish the banns” as they would say (in the olden olden days!).  Three weeks before the legal wedding, our engagement had to be published 3 times in the local newspaper…..just in case anyone wanted to officially object to our matrimonial intentions!

On the 19th, we were outside the City at a beautiful country estate surrounded by friends and family and balloons and flowers.  The bride wore black and white!  (a suit with a super cool blouse! 😉 )  We stood under an archway of balloons while the lawyer read through the laws that govern marriage in Guatemala.  He also read through a list of our families, to make sure that there were no relatives in common.  My English and German family names were quite the tongue twisters, not to mention my birthplace in Saskatchewan!  The signing of the documents came next and our friends and family signed as witnesses.  And then my mother-in-law made a lovely presentation of a basket with her housekeys in it to me, to signify that I was now a part of their family (it was so sweet!).  A delicious reception followed, al fresco, under the thatched “rancho” out by the swimming pool.

As we were driving home to the city (each to our respective house, I clarify) that evening, the “Luces Campero” were starting in the distance….the huge fireworks display set off for Christmas each year by Pollo Campero!

One week later we did the church wedding with veil and white gown and hundreds of red velvet cupcakes!  And more fireworks….then we drove off into the sunset…..to McDonalds!!!  and our honeymoon 🙂  and the rest of our lives (together).

Happy Anniversary to US!!Henry and Denna old photos

p.s. speaking of anniversaries….Wordpress kindly reminded me that it’s been a year since I signed up for my blog with them!  A whole year of my sporadic little posts!!  🙂

I’m off now, going to post this and then give my wonderful husband a kiss, right at 19 hours, 19 minutes on the 19th of December for our 19th!!!

What is a Jesse Tree?

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I think the first time I heard about something called a Jesse tree was a couple of years ago…but then I forgot about it.  This year I was looking around online for Christmas ideas and I found some ideas for making your own Jesse tree for a Christmas advent countdown.  When I found Ann Voskamp’s blog, I knew that this was the one I wanted to try for Jesse tree this year…you can find a page of free printable ideas here.  The second item on the list is the one for the Jesse Tree printable ornaments.  Included there you can also find a printable daily reading for each day in December, so I printed it all out.  Each reading corresponds with one ornament.  Here’s the folder I put the printed pages into…(I didn’t print them double-sided, so there are lots….)denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012When I was printing everything out, I messed up a few times, so I had some extra pages that I cut up to “decorate” the folder with.  The ornaments can be printed out in color or black and white….and they are sized like the ones shown above.  I was noticing a few glitches on the colored ornaments, so decided to go with the outlines, and to print them on brown kraft cardstock.  I shrunk them down quite a bit, too to make much smaller ornaments.  I cut around each ornament, not the outside box, and then stuck them with pop up adhesive to punched-out shapes of cardstock.denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012Then, for a primitive, homemade, country krafty kind of look, I tied them with rough twine.  On some of the ornaments I punched holes around the edge and got the kids to sew them with red thread, to make it a little more interactive.  It would have been nice of me to organize the whole thing as a craft for everyone to do…make all the ormanments together…but I knew that that would involve many hours, messes and half finished ornaments….so I did it myself, like the Little Red Hen did.  Except for the red thread…denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012A Jesse tree can be any type or representation of a tree.  We used a small white tree to hang these ornanents on (because I love white sparkly Christmas trees!), along with some of the cinnamon hearts that we made the other day.denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012Later, I found a wooden word that I thought was appropriate in many ways for our little tree….denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012Now, you might still be asking, what exactly is a Jesse tree, since I know I haven’t explained it at all….

I was going to put a bunch of quotes from wikipedia on here to explain it to you, but my computer malfunctioned yesterday and erased all the quotes I had picked out, so maybe that was a sign that I should just put it into my own words and make it sound more simple than the quotes did! 😉

The original idea of the Tree of Jesse started in the 12th century (from what I understood) and it was a way of visually showing the ancestors of Jesus Christ.  Like it was the first family tree idea.  Like a visual aid, you know?  There are several verses in the Bible that mention the idea of a tree, like Isaiah 11:1 ” A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”  It is all connected to Matthew 1:1 which starts out: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham..”  So a tree of Jesse was a symbol to communicate the ancestral line of Jesus in a visual way….showing the different people in his family tree, starting out with Jesse, the father of King David.  In the olden days (like Medieval times and such) this tree was represented in stained glass windows in cathedrals, on tapestries and embroideries and in stone and wood.  An excellent teaching aid for everyone.

Modern day Christians have taken some of this idea and have joined it with an Advent countdown, and generally use it as a way of teaching children about Jesus and people who were in his family tree.  Ornaments are made to represent each person (though nowadays they don’t necessarily include everyone in the family line), such as a ram for Isaac, an ark for Noah, etc.  The ones we are using also show a rope to represent Rahab (the shady lady who hid the spies) a camel and tent for Abram, and a colorful coat for Joseph of course!  (‘cept ours isn’t very colorful, so I added clothespins!)denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012After we read a scripture about the person of the day, there are a couple of paragraphs by Ann Voskamp to help show us how what we just read has a place on that tree, the tree which shows God’s story from the beginning in Eden to the star over Bethlehem, from Adam to Jesus Christ.  So as we are counting down Advent, which means “coming” we are re-living and thinking about Jesus’ coming to earth in a human form and what that meant to the whole world and what it means to each of us personally.denna's ideas: our Advent candlesMaybe I’m making it seem a lot more organized and peaceful than it is at our house sometimes.  This is the idea of the Jesse Tree.  Does an ornament get put on the tree every night at our house?  No, sometimes it will be 3 at a time, to make up for those crazy December evenings of kids’ concerts and stuff.  Are the kids always sitting around gazing at us with shining eyes as we read each day’s verses and readings, hanging on our every word?  No, not really, but even if they are busy putting together their countdown puzzles or coloring or whatever, I still have the hope that they are listening.  My favorite part of our evening comes after all this: the ornaments on the Jesse tree, the candles lit, the puzzles done, the stories read, when we each take a turn to pray together and I can hear what is in each of our hearts.denna's ideas: our Jesse tree for Advent 2012My notes about a Jesse tree: there are many different resources online, so that if you want to do this idea, you can tailor it to your own family’s needs.  There are versions available for younger children.  This one in particular wouldn’t work so well for younger kids, the wording is fairly poetical and might be lost on them.  There are some places where you find a craft for each ornament that you make with the kids.  I was happy to start out with this one which had the printable ornaments ready to use.  I guess you have to decide how much time and organization you want to put into this project. This Jesse tree devotional from Ann Voskamp (see link at the top of the page) seemed like not too much work for me and  I decided to go for it this year, to see how it works and what we can learn from doing it together.  Maybe next year we’ll do a different version, or invent our own version.  So I guess you’ll really have to ask the kids themselves to find out just how well it worked for us!! 🙂

Peppermint Fredricks a.k.a. the Nutcracker

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Peppermint Fredricks a.k.a. the Nutcracker

This time of year especially, I seem to get the sweet munchies (translation: I feel like eating sweets after meals!)  The other day we were up to “Christmassy” things and it seemed like we really should have a special sweet something to munch on…but I didn’t have any butter or other main ingredients needed for something yummy.

Then I saw this easy little recipe for peppermint patties….only ingredients needed: cream cheese, icing sugar and chocolate chips (and peppermint extract!)  All of which I happened to have.  (I still have a stash of mint and peppermint extract from when I was craving peppermint awhile ago!)  Here’s the blog called She Wears Many Hats, where I found the idea (recipe and how-to) very cute!

In no time at all the cream cheese was beat up with the sugar and extract and we were making little balls and indenting them with a forth of a teaspoon measuring spoon. (Refridgerate for awhile…no baking required!! yay!)      denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksSome we tried rolling in crushed candy cane for a more festive look!  Then melt some chocolate chips and pipe the chocolate into the hollows, easy enough!denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksdenna's ideas: peppermint fredricksLet the chocolate set and ready set go!!  Yum, I thought they were great!  Even our cream-cheese-hater liked them!! (even after being told the “secret ingredient”!)  I thought the recipe yielded plenty….but then I saw that it was supposed to make about triple what we made!!!  So I guess the original recipe peppermint patties are quite tiny….ours were about 2 to 3 bite peppermints, or one large mouthful!

That day the kids unwrapped The Nutcracker storybook and read through it.  There’s something that captures you about that fairy tale!!  None of the kids have seen the ballet, only read this book.  Sure it has the weird and creepy rat king in it, but the underlying story of Fredrick and what happens to him is very interesting!denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksIt seemed like a good time to give the kids their ornaments for this year:denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksA few years ago I had given them larger (dollar store) nutcrackers, and they were great, until they all lost an arm or arms!!  So in their memory, I found these small ones that can hang on the tree!  Here’s one of the armless ones still hanging around…denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksYou have to read the story to find out why the nutcrackers have such staring eyes, wide mouths and big heads…. 😉

So what do nutcrackers and peppermint candies have to do with each other??  In the blog post where I found the how-to for the candies, the lady was saying that she thought that Peppermint Patties were named for someone named Patty….but was surprised to find out that they weren’t named for a person.  Then she suggested that you could name them for anyone, like Peppermint Jorge or something……..so we decided on Peppermint Fredricks (in honor of the nutcracker)!  I guess this is another “sensory memory” to add to our stash of Christmas Memories, peppermint and chocolate and nutcrackers. 🙂denna's ideas: peppermint fredricksOooo boy, just writing about it and seeing the photos makes me want some mOORE!!  I thought they were super yummy!  (a bit rich for little kids, so I had to sacrifice and finish Tassy’s second one for her!)  Hmmm….wonder if there’s any cream cheese in the fridge??…