#WIAW Christmas treats

I usually go a bit nutty over the holidays, baking up a ton of treats to dole out to friends. This year I had #elf4health, and an infant, to keep my baking at bay. But I did whip up some goodies that are share-worthy. But I didn’t snap pictures, so I’m borrowing these from the blogs I found them from. Meh, sorry about that. But their photos are prettier anyway.

My first batch was white chocolate topped chewy gingerbread.

gingerbreadcookie1via

I tried not waiting til the end to add the white chocolate chips, and instead topping them in the beginning. It did not work out well. Do not do that! Follow the directions as is!

White Chocolate Chip Peppermint

white-chocolate-peppermint-MM-cookies2via

I didn’t have white chocolate m&m’s, so I did a cup and a half of white chocolate chips and a full cup peppermint pieces. I also used dark brown sugar instead of light, and an extra half cup flour to increase the chewiness. These were bomb dot com.

I also whipped up two favorites from last year: soft chewy sugar cookies, and peanut butter filled pretzels covered in chocolate.

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This year I made the pretzels with Rold’s Gold tiny twists, which are surprisingly large. Last year I used Costco pretzels, and I think they turned out better.

And finally, I attempted to make an almost flourless chocolate cake for New Year’s Eve. I thought the recipe called for semi-sweet, but it needed bittersweet. I didn’t have any on hand, but I did have a Costco sized bag of chocolate chips, so I used those instead. I was pretty impressed with myself. I totally thought I’d botch the cake, but it was delicious! Now I need to figure out who I can gift half a cake to…

Almost Flourless Cake

What was on your holiday treat menu this year?

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Merry Christmas!

In the past I was a skeptic,

although I really should have only been skeptical of early 90’s fashion…

but this year Mr. Clause brought me a fancy shmancy sewing machine. So I guess now I believe 🙂

Skittles were also exchanged.

Merry Christmas from the whole Spinach and Skittles family!

The original Libb says hi too 🙂

How did you celebrate this year?

p.s. don’t forget to enter the Firebird Chocolate giveaway – it closes tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. (PST)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…well not really. It is dry here in Yakima. Not a speck of snow to speak of. Sigh. But my parents house is decorated with many items from my youth, which make me feel all warm and cozy inside.

Seriously, how cute is this little guy?
German glockenspiel – I really want one for my house – you light the candles and the figures in the center spin around
Santa stocking from when my Grandma taught in Japan, circa 1948
My brother, Jake, was obsessed with nutcrackers when he was a kid. For a while he got one every year for Christmas.
This little house was always filled with candy…not this year. I’m a little upset by this break in tradition.
These dolls are from when my Grandma was teaching in Germany, circa 1950.

Something else that makes me feel warm and cozy inside is a mug of locally roasted (and personalized!) coffee and fresh out of the oven cookies. I’ve never been a fan of snowballs, or Russian tea cakes as they are often called. I think it is because I’ve only ever had them made with walnuts. But they are the hubs favorite Christmas cookie, so I agreed to make him some. And guess what? Made with pecans they are actually quite scrumptious.

Snowballs

yields 30 cookies

Recipe from my mother-in-law

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar *
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups pecans, finely chopped

*Additional powdered sugar for rolling

Directions

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl cream butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour and salt. Add to butter/sugar/vanilla mixture. When thoroughly combined add pecans and distribute evenly.

Roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Space evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Do not brown!

Let cool 2 minutes and roll in powdered sugar.

Once fully cooled, roll in powdered sugar a second time.

Enjoy!

Don’t forget to enter the Firebird Chocolate giveaway – it closes on Monday at 11:59 p.m. (PST)

What holiday treat do others around you love, but you aren’t a fan?

Survey: Holiday Questions

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

He wraps them. My parents actually still wrap presents from Santa and Mrs. Clause. It makes me smile.

Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Growing up we always had colored lights on our house an went back and forth between colored and white lights on our tree. My mom likes white, and my dad likes colored. As a kid I loved colored, especially the bubble lights!

Our house has white icicle lights, which I love. And our tree now is always white, even though the hubs wants colored lights…I’m a bit like Monica when it comes to tree decorating.

(via)

Do you hang mistletoe?

No…although when I was in college we always did.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Why do I have to exclude dessert?

Hmmm…probably mashed potatoes and gravy. I only make them on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Favorite Holiday memory as a child?

Every year we would pile in our van with blankets and hot chocolate and drive around to look at lights. There was one house where a guy would dress up as Santa and dance in the mirror while they blasted Christmas music through outdoor speakers. That was my favorite house…although I’m sure his neighbors hated him.

As I got older I no longer enjoyed this tradition, but I want to steal my nieces for a night so I can start this tradition again 🙂

Snow? Love it or dread it?

Dread it! I love looking at it, and watching it fall from the sky. But I hate walking and driving in it. Although I prefer snow to ice on the roads.

Real tree or fake tree?

Real. We’ve always had a real tree, I love their smell. But I can see the benefits to a fake tree – no pine needles, don’t spend $30-$40 each year, the tree always looks perfect…but none top the smell of a real tree 🙂

From ages 4 to 6 we lived across the street from a little old lady who had a fake tree set up in her basement year round. I used to stop by every so often just to look at her tree. Now that I think of it, that is really odd. But I thought it was really cool at the time!

What is your Favorite Christmas Movie?

Hmmm, that is a toughie. I love Home Alone, Elf, Christmas Vacation and Love Actually. I’m currently watching The Holiday, which is quite fun.

What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

Spending time with family.

What is your favorite Holiday dessert?

We always make “Baby Jesus Birthday” cake – a white cake with white frosting and a glass nativity set on top…but that isn’t my favorite. My dad’s birthday is December 22nd, and we make his mother’s German Chocolate Cake recipe each year. It is delicious, and I associate it with the holidays.


What tops your tree?

Currently a silver star. It isn’t fancy, or special. I think I got it at World Market or Target. But I’ve been on the hunt for a German glass blown topper like the one on my parent’s tree. My grandma and grandpa lived in Germany (my mom was born there too), and they brought back a beautiful tree topper like this one:

(via)

What is your favorite Christmas Song?

That is a hard one! I love Last Christmas by the Beatles, All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey, Jingle Bell Rock (Home Alone soundtrack version), and the John Williams version of Carol of Bells (also on the Home Alone soundtrack).

What do you leave for Santa?

Nothing these days. But as a kid we’d leave cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer.

Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?

We all open one present the night before and save the rest for morning. When we were kids my parents would get a very small tree and we’d keep it in the family room. It was decorated with the kid hand-made ornaments and whatever presents Santa left under it we were allowed to open before our parents woke up (along with our stockings). This helped keep us at bay until around 8 a.m. After my parents woke up we’d rotate around the room as one of us played “Santa” to deliver presents to each person. We also always ate this egg/sausage casserole. We do roughly the same thing now, but there isn’t a small tree 🙂 Maybe when we have kiddos I’ll start that tradition again.

Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall?

Online for sure! I’m a huge fan of the Amazon daily deals.

Question: pick your favorite question from the survey and answer in the comments!

Christmas cleaning = house tour

In the past week I’ve completely cleaned my house 3 times. And I hate cleaning. I really only like cleaning the kitchen. There is something therapeutic about it, and I hate to cook in a dirty kitchen, so it is a win-win. But vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing the toilet, no thanks.

After my parents and libb (live-in-basement brother) departed today my good friend Lindsay and her hubby Matt stopped by on their way back to Seattle.

Lindsay and I completed our Master’s program together at Whitworth University last year. A job offer in the Seattle area took her away from me in August, mere weeks before the hubs and I moved into our first house. Since I gave her and Matt the grand tour of our new(ish) house, I figured I should probably post a photo tour for the rest of you who live far away and have asked to see the house.

Living Room

Rikka says hi 

Dining Room

My mom bought this cute Tin Man piece from Matt’s mom’s gallery last summer at the annual Garland Street Fair.


And the hubs and I purchased this lovely piece at Slight of Hand Cellars in August 09. We FINALLY got it framed this December 😉

Kitchen

I love Christmas cards – my fridge is full of friends 🙂

Upstairs bathroom

Our bedroom

(with Rilo’s “pillowtop mattress” bed) 

Tim got me these lovely paper flowers from anemone for our 2nd Anniversary.

Office

(view from living room)

Let’s head downstairs…

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Family Room

libb’s room


Our house was built in ‘42 and the previous owners finished this bedroom. Meaning there are 2 nicely sized closets. One is mine 🙂

 

2nd bathroom

Not Pictured:

4h bedroom (unfinished)
laundry room

backyard

front of house

Hmmm, now I’m hungry. What to eat, what to eat?