I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas season and are filled with hope and exciting plans for 2017. Jay, the kids, and I enjoyed several parties with our family, friends, and church family as well as hosting our children’s friends for special celebrations. It seems like a good idea to document and share a couple of my last-minute Christmas treats in case somebody else might like to try them…maybe even for Valentine’s Day, which will be here before you know it!
The week before Christmas is when I do a lot of my baking, and my husband’s favorite sugar cookies are a necessity! This year I didn’t get to do a cookie-decorating party and I didn’t even use icing. A simple coating of sugar (homemade colored vanilla sugar is wonderful!) gave them a quick shot of color and made for a very festive, home-style cookie tray. Some cookies were left mostly plain for the purists among us and others were thickly coated with sugar for those who believe more is better.
In case you’re wondering about the teddy bears, the eyes are mini chocolate chips that I placed point down in the dough before baking. The snouts are regular sized white chocolate chips, also placed point down before baking. The white chips browned in the oven, which gave the bears cute little snouts for minimal effort.
I also made biscotti, which are often considered more elegant but are really just as easy, and wrapped some for gift-giving. Some biscotti were bagged up and then bundled with some homemade chai mix into “brown paper packages tied up with string” for gifts.
Other biscotti were individually wrapped in pretzel bags like these to be included in treat bags.
The pretzel bags also came in handy for the dipped pretzel rods I whipped up. It took less than a pound of white candy coating and a 12 ounce bag of pretzel rods to make 26 dipped pretzels, plus some leftover dipped pieces for snacking. I melted the candy coating in the microwave in a tall glass, which made it easier to get most of the rod coated.
Some rods were adorned with colorful sprinkles while the coating was still wet…
…and others were covered in biscotti crumbs for a gourmet treat! Yummy!
I still have pretzel bags and candy coating, so I’ll probably end up making at least the pretzels, if not some biscotti as well, to give away for Valentine’s Day.
Christmas Day fell on a Sunday this year, and I thought it was really sad that some churches closed for the day. I could think of no better way to spend Christmas morning than for my family to worship the Newborn King with our church family. It was such a special, fun, festive service!
But as a pastor’s family, we understand that the Christmas season is a very busy time for church staff members and volunteers and it that requires families to be deliberate about the important teaching that goes on at home rather than at the church facility. A few years ago we started having “Family Day” at some point during the season, usually a few days before Christmas. As much as we love and enjoy spending time with our extended family, this day is for just the four of us; Jay, the two children, and me.
We sleep in and stay in our jammies (or sweats) as long as possible. We have a cozy fire in the fireplace. We watch movies and play games. We indulge in lots of “fun” food. And we just enjoy each others’ company with no outside distractions. It shows the kids that they are a priority during a busy season in their father’s work schedule and gives us a chance to have those important conversations that seem to come up when we have an extended time to spend together.
2016 has been a tumultuous year for many people. My husband accepted a call to pastor a new church and my family moved this year. My country elected a new president. There is a lot of tension and division and uncertainty in the world right now. But don’t worry! Jesus said…
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33 NIV
I wish you every blessing in 2017!
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