December 20, 2011

Aren't you glad I'm exhausted from having lunch with two toddlers? Because otherwise this post would be even longer! (or....the Christmas edition!)

I was going to type this all up yesterday when I was full of energy and stamina.  But then the inexplicable happened.  Our main computer's (laptop) keyboard quietly died.

It died without warning or fanfare.  One minute I was happily clicking away.  Then I stepped away to do some "baking" (more on that in a minute) and when I stepped back twenty minutes later to look up another recipe it wasn't working anymore.  I may have cried.  I know I cursed (long and loud).  And not just for selfish reasons (i.e., blogging, etc) either.

I knew that Man-Child was due home at any minute and would need to work on his 2,000 word paper that was due by midnight tonight - and that he was only half way through.  Luckily, the mouse still worked so I was able to pull the paper over to my Notebook and he was able to work on it for several hours last night (cursing the whole while, I'm sure, since he and Hubby hate to use the Notebook - saying it's too small for their hands).

At any rate, while I was sleeping Hubby pulled off a miracle (I know, right?!  Him?  A techy-genius?).  He looked through the Help section and read that if he did a System Restore he might be able to fix it.  And he did.  (I guess that means I should buy him another Christmas present) Although, I am now looking at that computer with suspicion (mainly because I know what it's been through) and am counting on it to die completely and totally any day now.  But the main thing is, it works.  And Man-Child was able to continue to work on his paper (completing it and getting it turned in around 3:30 pm - a full eight and a half hours before it was due - another miracle) on the "big" computer.

Anyway, on to the real purpose of the post.....remember when I told you how Grinch-y I'd been feeling?  And how Julie pulled me out of it?  And then she demanded asked that I post lots and lots of pictures of Christmas preparations, etc. to document that I was actually in the throes of "the spirit?"

Well, on Sunday, I got all bake-y (no, not BAKED - bake-y.  You know, in the mood to bake?) and made TWO batches of cookies.  White chocolate chip (because I forgot to buy regular chocolate chips) and peanut butter.  Sorry, no pictures - I don't know what happened,  but I totally forgot to take any (sorry, no recipes either.  But they are pretty basic; you can either Google them or ask me and [eventually] I'll send them on).

Around 6:00 pm on Sunday, instead of putting on my pajamas and calling it a day, I picked up my camera and made sure it was set to "night picture" mode and took off down the road.  We have this one neighborhood in town that has the MOST amazing Christmas tree-balls.  It used to be only one house that did them, but then the paper did a human interest story on them and now they are everywhere.  And in that particular neighborhood especially.  The paper even runs a yearly "how to" on how to create your own.

At any rate, in this particular neighborhood the effect is unbelievable.  You just stand at one end of the street and are struck with awe and child-like wonder at how beautiful is is.  And I?  I was determined to catch this on film (well, not really film.  In digital format would be the more proper terminology).  Nevermind the fact that I am NOT a photographer and I do NOT know what I'm doing.

In fact, I'm actually surprised I wasn't confronted or arrested while taking these pictures.  Especially since the "night picture" mode has a REALLY bright flash - which I did not realize until taking the first picture or two - which may or may not have blinded a few drivers going by.  Turns out this is a REALLY busy neighborhood on a Sunday night....sorry to all those blinded drivers!

This guy was a rebel and went with lines instead of balls

This is in a different, quieter neighborhood - but no tree balls -what you see in the sky is actually a street light.

Since I'm not a photographer, I don't think these photos will generate the awe that I felt when standing under them.  So I'll promise you this - if you come visit me during this (or any other) Christmas season, I will take you to this neighborhood and you can experience it yourself.  It truly is magical and brings back that child-like belief that anything is possible.

Yesterday, I REALLY got bake-y.  Except there was no "real" baking involved.  I may or may not have posted these recipes before (hey, I'm not looking for them right now, I'm kinda busy) but I will post (or re-post) them now because they are super easy, super delicious and when you give them to people they will swoon over them and love you forever.  I promise.

First up, I decided to make Almond Bark.  This is without a doubt my number one requested recipe.  Especially at Christmas, as that is the ONLY time I will make it.  Even though it's OH so easy.  All you need is three ingredients.  6 squares (1 pkg) of semi-sweet chocolate, 6 squares (1 pkg) of white chocolate and 1 cup toasted almonds.

First, I usually "toast" the almonds by putting them in a skillet and swishing them around until they are cooked and kind of crispy.

Go ahead and toast some extra - because they are really yummy even not surrounded in chocolate!

Then, I microwave the chocolate (in separate bowls and one at time)

on high for about two minutes or until almost melted

Keep a close eye on it - you do NOT want the chocolate to burn!

stirring halfway through the heating time.  Stir until completely melted.

Add in the almonds (that you haven't eaten) to each bowl of chocolate and stir.  Then alternately spoon melted chocolate onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

Swirl chocolates together with a knife to marbelize.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

Break into pieces.

Then I decided it was time for my infamous fudge.  Now, I can only assume that this stuff is as awesome as everyone tells me because I can't eat it; it's far too sweet for me (sorry only one picture, mainly because they look exactly like the ones above).

All you need for this is 2 packages (8 squares each) of semi-sweet chocolate, one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Of course, you can add nuts if you like.  I don't add them.

Again, microwave the chocolate and milk (per directions above - surprisingly even with all the extra chocolate in the bowl, it still takes about the same amount of time).  Stir the chocolate until completely melted.  Add vanilla (and nuts, if you prefer) and stir.  Start moving quickly because that chocolate starts to set pretty quickly.  Spread into a foil line 8-inch pan.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.  And cut into squares.

Hubby got involved in the cutting of the squares.  One because he was afraid I'd
cut my fingers off and two, because he was ready for me to get out of "his damn kitchen."
While the fudge and the almond bark was setting up, I decided to re-create Spaghetti Westerner's Oreo Balls (or truffles, or whatever).  Rather than bore you with all the details here, I will just tell you to go to her place (again, no pictures because they would look EXACTLY like the ones at her place - plus my hands were pretty gooey).

I have since been informed that these are "KEEPERS" (even though I have yet to add the pretty white chocolate squiggles).

I'm also here to tell you that when she calls the mixture a "horrid brown goo" she is NOT kidding.  It is a gelatinous mess that you are NOT going to want to stick your hands into.  Make sure that someone else is home to turn on the faucet for you....just a word to the wise.

My next task in the business of Christmas spirit is to deliver all these goodies to the intended recipients....before the Man-Child gets his paws into them and I have to start all over again from scratch......

So there you go, Julie.  Lots of pictures.  And my apologies to Momma - because I didn't edit a one of them.


  1. Holy cow that bark looks good!

    I made peanut butter squares this past weekend and they were good.

    Only 4 more sleeps until Christmas Eve!

  2. You did GREAT!!! However, I don't seem to understand how a food can be too sweet. How is that possible?

    I'm not done Christmas shopping, and you know what? It's kinda stressing me out. *sigh*

  3. Pretty cool. I am now in sugar overload, just READING about these treats. They do look good and I hope you are able to get them to their intended recipients. :-)

  4. Pretty cool. I am now in sugar overload, just READING about these treats. They do look good and I hope you are able to get them to their intended recipients. :-)

  5. do you have my address? For some reason this year I am fudge challenged, no matter how I make it the damn stuff wont' set up and we have to eat it with a spoon!

  6. If it's chocolate, I love it. I love it even better when someone else makes it!

  7. Can I just say you lie - because you do eventually send recpies - muffins I know not cookies but you do send them!!

    That all looks lovely but because I'm carrying my usual end of work cold all chocolate is out as I just end up coughing even more!


  8. haha! If you'd gotten "baked" and not "bake-y", I bet you wouldn't have had any almond bark for the picture...teehee...

  9. Thanks for the recipes! They sound and look delicious! I don't need holidays for good sweets!