Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sugar Cookie Goodness

Who doesn't love to make and decorate sugar cookies at the holidays? Especially with kids it has become one of our favorite things to do. A few weeks ago Jack and I were shopping and he asked if we could buy a leaf cookie cutter. Why not, right? I generally don't make sugar cookies except for Christmas so to change it up we made some Thanksgiving Leaf Cookies. Imagine the reprimand I received from my husband when I told him I was trying a new recipe and not his mother's beloved sugar cookie recipe. I assured him this was just a trial and I would indeed make 'his' cookies for Christmas. I was pretty delighted with the new ones however I think I'll have to stick with Josh and keep his mother's as my favorite too.  Take your pick or make them both and you decide.


1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softenened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3 cups flour

1. Cream butter and cheese until fluffly; mix well
2. Add egg, salt, vanilla, and almond extract; mix well
3. Add flour, Wrap dough in plastic and chill several hours or overnight.
4. Roll out on floured surface and cut out cookies (keep on the thicker side). Bake on ungreased sheet at 375 degrees until edges begin to barely brown. (about 10 minutes). Cool completely and frost (see below).

a couple of tablespoons butter, softened
a splash of milk (or more)
a touch of fresh lemon juice/or vanilla
a ton of powdered sugar

1. In/with an electric mixer, combine all ingredients; mix until you get the correct consistency (go thinner than you think for expertly frosted cookies ala Martha!)


2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Mix all together adding enough flour to make a soft dough; Knead well
2. Roll out and use cookie cutters to make cookies.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until edges are just slightly brown. Don't overbake.
4. Once cooled, frost and decorate with sprinkles, etc. (I like to use Decorator's Icing with milk and confectioners sugar on these).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Santa Parade GR

We had no plans for the day and were looking forward to a slow morning, each of us taking a run and hanging at the house. I looked at Josh at 8 o'clock and said "Wanna go to the Santa Parade?" Neither of us had ever been in all the years growing up here. "Sure!" So we scrambled to get the kids dressed and fed and jumped in the car. I'm so glad we did! The parade itself was nothing special, but the time making memories with kids was priceless.It turned into one of the busiest Saturdays with all the running around we did, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

For you local folk, here's your history lesson for the day:
The Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Parade held on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving in downtown Grand Rapids, is a tradition of more than 100 years.  The parade serves as the kickoff to the holiday season in West Michigan. 
Dating back to the late 1800s, the parade is an opportunity for local children to get their first look at Santa Claus. 
In the early 1900s, the parade was organized by downtown department stores.  Families from all across the region would make an annual trip to downtown Grand Rapids to watch the parade and then continue the day by shopping at nearby stores. 

As shopping locations began to move away from the city's center to suburban locations, downtown merchants no longer had the ability or desire to continue organizing the parade.  In 1969, the Grand Rapids Jaycees took control of all aspects of the parade.  The Jaycees continue to organize and implement the parade today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Costumes and Candy

Back in August Jack met a little girl at the park and in moments they were bff and she was asking him to come for a sleepover and watch Star Wars - Have most 4 year olds been introduced to Star Wars already cause Jack was clueless as to what she was talking about. Our trip to the park that day opened up a whole new category of toys and obsession. The following weekend Josh watched the movie with Jack (or just parts of it) and for weeks all we heard about was R2 D2 , Luke, Storm Troopers, etc... And then to fuel the fire, my mom pulled out a whole box of action figures from when my brothers were kids. Specifically the three storm trooper figures have been part of everyday play for a while now.
Well, a long story short Jack quickly went from wanting to be an astronaut to insisting on dressing as Luke Skywalker for halloween. Thankfully my cousin's son had the same idea last year so I was able to just borrow a costume. As for Eleanor, all I had to do was make a simple gown and we were set. The buns were my favorite to make, but unfortunately she would only keep them on for moments at a time...bummer, but the pig tails worked well too.
Another fun season of Costumes and Candy!

Pumpkin Art

If you have kids in school you know about the abundance of papers and art projects coming home. I've read and heard many ideas for choosing what to save and display vs. immediate trash but I still haven't quite determined what our system is. I'm ashamed more stuff goes pretty much right to trash than not.
A few weeks ago Jack came home with a craft where he created all the stages of a pumpkin attached to a piece of yarn, ending with a face drawn on a giant pumpkin. (if I was smart I would've at least taken a picture to show you before throwing it away.) So what did we do - when it came time to carve the pumpkins, Josh helped Jack turn his art into a real Jack-O-Lantern.

Jack's is the one on the top

The kids started off very interested but somehow by the end, it was only Josh and I at the table carving pumpkins.