There is no doubt I look forward to making and eating Christmas cookies, but that can’t even come close to what I most look forward to–spending quality time with my family. We would usually go back home to Hawaii for Christmas, but with a family of four now. . . it’s become impossible. Yes the flights are way overpriced, also the entire time there it feels rushed. And although I dearly miss my family in Hawaii, I feel at ease when spending Christmas right at HOME here in California. Yes home is Hawaii and California for me.
Plus I enjoy the changes that Winter brings. There is something beautiful about the changing of the color of the leaves, then the falling of the leaves, and finally the remaining bare branches. AND of course snow–which we almost never get in the Bay Area, but Lake Tahoe is a few hours away. Again there is a beauty to the snow-capped mountains and a blanket of fluffy white snow covering the ground. But don’t get me wrong, this Hawaii girl still thinks it is cold!
To fill that longing to be with family in Hawaii, we’ve decided to have an annual pre-Christmas party with cousins that live a bit far but within a couple of hours drive, a very dear and close friend, and of course my sister. We all enjoyed the company of each other and had crafts planned out for the kids.
Our cousin J, found a very cute snowman idea on the internet. With a few simple ingredients, oatmeal iced cookies, marshmallows, pretzels, candy melts, and gum drops, Frosty was born! The kids had a blast, even my little ai son who apparently made an “alien” snowman or perhaps a snowman with his head in the snow–you decided.
Here are the other very creative snowmen that the kids made. They did such a great job! How beautiful are these snowmen . . .
The other craft planned that day for the kids was stained glass cookies. I saw a concept of this with some heart-shaped cookies earlier in the year for Valentine’s Day. And although I’ve seen a number of stained glass cookie recipes recently for the holidays, I decided to use the same recipe from Disney’s Family Fun website. They all start with some sugar cookie dough and jolly ranchers candy.
I made the dough the night before and smashed up jolly ranchers candy. Perhaps it was because the dough wasn’t the right temperature that day, but I had problems with rolling it out. We managed to get a few shapes cut out and the kids filled each “open center” with their choice of jolly ranchers candy. And despite the problems I had with the dough it came out very pretty! I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the cookies that day. However, I did have some remaining cookie dough and so I stuck it back in the fridge not happy with it, but with every intention to try again before Christmas . . . and . . . I am happy that I didn’t throw that dough out!
This time around I left the dough out for about 10 minutes. It rolled out just fine! Also, I didn’t roll it out too thin and probably a little more than the 1/4 inch that is stated in the recipe. I also found some smaller cutters for the centers (not quite cookie cutters but ones that are used for veggies for bentos). The key to filling the centers is to ensure that you have just enough candy to fill it up to the brim of the shape, but not too much that it will spill over when baked. Also, watch the time on these cookies. You want them fully baked, but not quite brown. So around eight minutes, check the cookies. Once cooled, I used a bamboo skewer to slowly pierce a small hole to make these cookies into ornaments.
These pics were taken with my brand new camera (Nikon D7000)–an early Christmas present from my hubby. And on top of that, he got me the lens that I always wanted for food photography–105 Nikkor Micro. I know I’ve mentioned him a lot in my posts, but truly he is my biggest supporter and best friend.
He took some of these amazing photos below and I practiced too with my new camera and took some as well.
I am thankful for a lot this holiday season-most importantly my family. We take a family photo every year for Christmas cards to send to family and friend far away. We usually go to a studio and take formal pictures. However, with a new camera and good weather we decided do some natural photos at a nearby park. The little boy who looks like an angel in the photo below was probably our biggest challenge, but we still managed to get a few good shots in.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.