Sunday, December 18, 2011

Favorite Things, Part Two

So, my clean kitchen lasted all of 2.8 seconds.

It may return sometime in 2012. We'll see. No promises. : )

There is this memory I have of a Christmas long, long ago, like, way back in the dark ages. When I say dark ages, I mean the early '80's, which to me, feels like lifetimes ago. I am young, not sure what age, but at a time in my life where I don't notice or care much about what I look like, have an obsession with My Little Ponies, or watch anything on t.v. besides cartoons. I'm guessing I'm about my daughters age, because that description fits her to a T. I am at a neighborhood Christmas party, and we are at a house where they have no kids. The house is very tidy, and Christmas decorations are out, breakable, and neatly placed on low surfaces that scream "Look, but don't touch!  The owners of the house are friends of my parents. Back then, we used to do these awesome neighborhood parties where there are appetizers at one house, dinner at another, and desserts at another. I loved it, all that house hopping. It meant for long nights of eating, laughing, and playing with the tight nit neighborhood pals I spent my childhood with. If I remember right, this was one of those parties. On a side table I immediately spy food that contain s-u-g-a-r. I beeline towards it, in particular, towards these brown and tan little bon-bon  numbers I had never seen before. The contrast of colors between the tan and brown are attractive to me, and I pop one in my mouth. It is one of the best things I had ever tasted in my life. I chew it slowly, making sure to coat my tongue so I can savor this happy dance that is happening in my mouth. I taste chocolate. I taste sugar. I taste peanut butter.
 Peanut butter.
 I grew up in a house that did not like peanut butter, so it wasn't around much, and this taste was so exotic.  I can't remember how many I ate, but I was told to stop. Phooey. Reluctantly, I went home later, and said goodbye to the best dessert I had ever had. It wasn't but twenty or so years later that I would suddenly remember that night and crazily track down the recipe and make it. Ever since then, I traditionally make these once a year, at Christmastime. They remind me of that crisp, clear winter night. The cloudless navy sky poked with tiny ivory stars, and the crunch of the frosty grass as we walked the neighborhood. The clean, warm, house of goodies. The low, then loud laughter of  the adults, and the tired, sugar laden kids that knew it was way past their bedtime. It reminds me of being little, and also, of my parents being young.
Here is the recipe of these little Christmas Bon Bons. For the peanut butter, make sure to use a stiffer, not oily peanut butter.  Jiff or Skippy is good, not Adams, or Trader Joe's. These freeze well too. : )


                                                  1  18oz jar of creamy peanut butter

                                                  1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

                                                  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                                  4 cups Powdered Sugar

                                                  2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

                                                  1 Tbsp vegetable shortening  (optional)

               Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper

               In the bowl of a stand up mixer, mix together the peanut butter, softened butter (make sure it is softened all the way or else you will get clumps of butter in your bon bons), vanilla, and powdered sugar. Mix until you just get a stiff dough.

               By hand, shape pieces of dough into small balls, using about 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough, or so. These little guys are very rich, so make them on the smaller side to avoid tummy aches. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet, and refrigerate them for an hour.

             After an hour, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a glass 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup (plus the shortening if you are using. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I don't notice much of a difference when I don't).

                       My friend, and awesome photographer, Sarah, helping me out. Thank You!

            Take out the peanut butter balls from the refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into the top of the ball to pick it up, and dip the ball into the melted chocolate making sure not to dip it all the way. Leave a circle circumference along the top, to make it look like an eye. Return to the waxed paper, chocolate side down, and remove the toothpick. Repeat until all the balls are finished, reheating the chocolate so it is on the thinner side, if needed. Once done, if you don't like the hole the toothpick left, take your finger and carefully smooth out the little belly button. I usually do this to make a smoother looking presentation. Refrigerate for one hour, or until set. Store in the refrigerator or freezer if not immediately devoured by your family.

                                                           Glitter Ornaments

                  Here is an easy craft I saw on good old Pinterest. It is easy, can be messy, but fun.

                       You will need:

                                           Clear glass ornaments with removable tops

                                            Hair Spray




              Remove the top of the ornament.

              Holding it over the sink, take your hairspray and give it a good spray into the glass ornament.  Immediately hold it upside down to make sure and coat all the sides of the inside. Maybe do it again, just to make sure.

              Then, pour in some glitter, and plug the top with your thumb, and give it a good, healthy, shake to distribute the glitter all around the ball.

               After making sure all the inside is glittered, put the top back on the ball.

               Add a ribbon the the top, and voila! You have yourself a glittered ornament!


I love to do this next craft. They were very nice to give away last year as gifts. It is easy, and makes a fine detail, and I love me anything with detail. I also love paper, and paper crafts. When you are searching for paper to use on these, make sure and look for paper with detail that is smaller, so it will look nice on your clothespins.

                                              Clothespin Happiness

                                            Here is what you will need:

                                                        Wood Clothespins

                                                         Mod Podge

                                                         Paint brush

                                                         Glitter (you all know I love it, but this is optional)

                                                         Decorative papers

                  Take your clothespin, and with a pencil lightly trace it onto the wrong side of your decorative paper. Cut out your clothespin shape.


                     Place your cut paper on your clothespin and make any adjustments you need to make it fit perfectly. On a small paper plate, mix together some Mod Podge and a pinch of glitter to make it sparkly. Put a coat of Mod Podge onto your clothespin, making sure to coat the whole surface. Place your decorative paper on top, pushing down gently so it will adhere. Take your glittered Mod Podge mixture and give a generous coat to the top of the paper, but not too thick, or it will bubble.

 Let dry and use these cute little details everywhere in your house.


            Here, I have used my glue gun to glue little magnets to the backs of them so I could use them on my fridge as photo holders. The small magnets can be found at craft stores or home improvement stores.

So there you have it. Crafts and food to keep you busy this week before Christmas. My mind is already starting to look into 2012, and what direction I want my family to take for the next year. The things that are in the forefront are experiences, and memories. Generosity, and helping. Sharing and teaching kindness. Getting to know myself better, and feeling more secure in my skin. Laughing more. Searching more. Being the best parent I can be, mistakes and all. Next year is a blank slate, full of a whole 365 days yet to be written. If you don't mind, tell me what are your hopes and dreams for 2012?

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