Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

 Christmas 2014 is in the books. 

 It was a bit strange without any snow this year.  Most years our daughters and families go snowshoeing.  This couldn't happen this year.  In fact today, it looks more like Thanksgiving Day.

Other years we have had plenty of snow.

This year there was no snow or ice.  Even the sun came out briefly.

Everyone had plenty of surprises.  Melissa, our only granddaughter, is into Sherlock so most of her gifts were centered around that theme.  When a fourteen year old appears interested in something, everyone jumps on that idea.

Then there are all the boys and their interests.  Dylan and Sam love Legos and comic books.  They talk about DC and Marvel.  They talk about movies and characters I have never heard of.   Guess what they got?  Yup, items related to comics and legos.

Sam did get outside to play with his new pogo stick.  Six year old Jack got one too.  No snow and mild temperatures made it possible to try them out.  In fact, everyone tried them out.  Well, I didn't and neither did my husband.  I was afraid I would injure myself, and we definitely exceeded the weight limit.

Sam jumped 153 times the last I heard.

Our daughter Heather and grandson Jack trying to jump.

Daughter Sarah and son in law Bret also got in the act.

Next it was time for the two youngest grand boys to try out the Radio Flyer Cyclones they got.  These are also outside toys.  I heard many times about the kids having too many toys.  I figured something to play with outside was a good thing.  The adults didn't fit in these, or they would have certainly tried them out.

We also had some funny gifts.  We bought an old RV last summer.  We thought it would be fun to get out and camp without sleeping in a tent.  It was also important that it had a bathroom.  We haven't used it.  Our daughter thought it would be funny to give us this.

The kit contained state park stickers, games and a campfire cookbook.  Hopefully this will inspire us to hit the road next summer.

Heather even got a NSYNC CD.  It shows her age, but I doubt she cares.

Sarah and family played the mustache game.
Now it's Christmas evening.  Everyone has gone home.  We ate too much, we laughed a lot, we played and had a wonderful day.  I got some fantastic gifts.  As of this moment, I feel that I will never be hungry again.  I imagine in a couple hours I will feel quite different.  I won't be logging my calories in today.  I hope everyone had an equally enjoyable day.  I know some did not, and I hope  their day was pleasant enough.  My heart breaks for them and really can not understand how unfair life is at times.  I pray that some day everyone can experience the fun and joy we felt today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cracker Toffee Bars and Other Goodies

Two years ago when I first started blogging, I posted some of our family's favorite Christmas cookies.  Actually these recipes could be made all year long, but for some reason I only make them at holiday time.

My husband's favorite are Mexican Wedding Cakes.  Recipe in the link above.

My husband likes the Mexican Wedding Cakes, but the recipe I make most often is this one.  They are called Quick and Easy Bars, but they are more like candy.  I renamed them Cracker Toffee Bars.  I usually make more than one batch each Christmas season.

Cracker Toffee Bars

1 sleeve of soda crackers or gluten free baked crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 package (12 oz.) chocolate chips
Chopped nuts as desired

Line a 12 x 15 jelly roll pan with foil.  Grease the foil with butter or oil.
Layer whole soda crackers on the foil.

Then in a saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.
Pour the sugar-butter mixture over the soda crackers and bake in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.
Cool for a few minutes and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.  In a couple minutes the chocolate chips will start to melt.  At that point frost the top by spreading out the chocolate.  Sprinkle with nuts and cool completely.  Peel off the foil and break into pieces. 

This year, however, some members of the family can't have the gluten in the soda crackers.  I printed out a gluten free soda cracker recipe to try, but then I found some baked crackers with sea salt that were gluten free.  I used the same recipe.  They turned out fantastic and no one would know that they don't have any gluten.

While shopping for gluten free crackers,  I saw some gluten free pretzels at the grocery store.  I had seen a video on youtube of a person making some bark with only pretzels, fritos and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Pretzel and Frito Bark
8 oz. pretzels (I used gluten free)
8 oz. corn chips
12 oz. bag of chocolate chips (melted)
To melt put chocolate chips in a saucepan over hot water and stir until melted,
or microwave for a minute, stir and microwave another minute.  Stir until smooth then add in another 4-6 oz. of chocolate chips to temper.  Stir those until melted.  Pour over the pretzels and chips.  I had a problem with that, so I just stirred them all together gently and poured onto a foil lined pan.  Then let them cool until the chocolate is hardened.  Break into pieces.  Sweet and salty, you can't go wrong.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Knit Some Slippers For A Last Minute Gift

It doesn't look like I am going to get one of the gifts I ordered.  I ordered two items from an online store.  I received one of them, but the other was backordered.  I am pretty sure I won't get it in time for Christmas.  I like to keep things even with the kids.   To keep the number of packages equal I decided to make these slippers, just in case.  They won't come close to the original gift, but it's better than nothing.  I took a knitted slipper pattern that I have made before.  I modified it a little.

Slippers (Will fit small adult)
Size can be changed with the number of stitches cast on.

On a size 10 knitting needle cast on (CO) 30 stitches with a double strand of worsted yarn
Knit 1, purl 1 across.
Repeat this ribbing row for 24 rows

I use a row counter to keep track of my rows knitted.

Change to double pointed needles, join and start knitting around for 6 more rounds in the ribbing pattern.  Total of 30 rows from start.

If you would rather not join to form a circle, you could continue to knit flat but then you would have to seam the top of foot and the toe.  

Form the toe with a plain knit stitch.  If you knit flat, you will have to knit across and purl back.  On double pointed needles you knit every round.  It is shown in the white area.  If you prefer to make a plain slipper, the rib stitch can be continued to the end of the toe.

Row 1: k3, k2 tog., k 4, k2 tog., k 4, k2 tog., k 4, k2 tog., k 4, k2 tog. K2=26 stitches
Row 2-8 knit around
Row 9: K2 together around = 13 st.
Row 10: K2 together around plus 1 st. = 7 st.

Thread needle and pull through toe stitches and secure.

Fold in half and sew back heel seam.

Then with 3 double pointed needles or circular needle, pick up 42 stitches around the top of the slipper. This will make the cuff.  Knit 1, purl 1 around and be sure to place a marker to keep track of the rows.
Knit around for 24 rows and bind off.  If you want to do this flat, don't seam the back heel, pick up the stitches and knit cuff.  Then seam the back of heel and cuff.

This is the cuff shown using a 12 inch circular needle.

If you decide to put in a stripe remember the cuff folds over.

To do this stripe,  change color at the marker.  Purl around the whole row in contrasting color.  Slip the marker for the next row resume the rib pattern.  I did this three times before binding off.

After I added some stripes on the top of the cuff, I made some ears, sewed on buttons for eyes, and put on a red mouth.  This is what I got.....a sock monkey.

I need a little work on the mouth.