Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Holiday Recap

Its here, New Years Eve and were counting down the official end to the 2012 holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and family gatherings, but I also get incredibly stressed out. My husband (who I love very much) is kinda terrible at getting gifts for people. That pretty much leaves me in charge, and I really don't mind most of the time. The last week before Christmas is usually pretty terrible though. Between wrapping, shopping, mailing and worrying that no one will like their gifts, I tend to get a little overwhelmed. This year was a nice relief since we were able to gift out so many of our homemade jams, jellies, and butters. Everyone seemed to really like them too.

I ended up using a really simple design for the labels. Its just recycled card stock, printed out and glued onto  the jars with glue stick. See that sweet Harry Potter-esque font I found? I think it really brings the label together. I had picked up some other supplies such as fabric and bakers twine to make the jars a little more festive, but unfortunately only the neighbors and my Secret Santa's jars got decorated that fancy. A nasty cold right before Christmas kind of wiped me out. Even so, people seemed to really like them so I guess we will be canning again next year.

I figure that since its New Years Eve I had better post some photos of my Christmas decor before they all come down tomorrow.

Our tree turned out really nice this year. For some reason photos of Christmas trees never seem to do them justice. I love real trees, especially the way they make a house smell. For now we have a fake, and I can live with that. I'm hoping once we have kids we can upgrade to the real thing. For the children's sake of course. *Wink *Wink

Our pink and white tree. Why is it that they can't make purple lights that look purple? Some of my favorite ornaments...

A collection of some of the greeting cards we got this year...

Some lovely kitsch reindeer with googly eyes...

And even Bambi got into the holiday spirit, though I'm thinking next year some mistletoe would be nice. Hopefully we'll have the ceiling painted by then too.

I hope that everyone's holiday was as nice as ours and that the New Year brings wonderful things.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Boozing it up for the holidays

*SPOILER ALERT* this post is a DIY Christmas gift, so any relatives who read this blog, DON'T READ UNTIL AFTER X-MAS.

Are they gone? Okay, I think its safe....

I found this tutorial over a month and a half ago on pinterest and knew immediately it was something I wanted to try. Its vodka infused with cranberry and lime. Essentially its Christmas spodie. Yum.

I found the bottles at TJ Maxx, but I imagine you could find them at any craft store as well. I picked up two bags of fresh cranberry from Trader Joes, but found that I needed another half of a bag to fill both bottles. For the Vodka I used Sobieski (inexpensive and very smooth) as well as Wodka, a Polish vodka that we picked up at State Line. We drove to Idaho because the liquor is cheaper there, but they didn't have any Sobieski. I used half a bottle that was sitting in our liquor cabinet and almost the full bottle of Wodka.

The first step is to thoroughly rinse out the cranberries. Then peel limes so that you have nice chunks of rind to give your bottle a pop of color. After peeling the rinds, I decided to reserve some of the juice to pour into the bottles as well.

I spent my Saturday night in front of the television, poking holes in cranberries with a bamboo skewer and slowly filling up the glass bottles.

Lastly, sprinkle some sugar on top and fill with vodka and lime juice. After about 24 hours I had to top off the vodka, as a lot of air seemed to be trapped between the berries.

Four days later... Looking good! Even though I packed them as best I could, the berries tend to float up. Next time I might keep the lime juice and skip the rinds. They ended up turning rather pink with all the cranberry juice and don't have the nice contrast they did when I first put them in. So there you have it, X-Mas Spodie. Nom!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Apple Pie in a Jar

The results are in. I made my first apple pie using our canned filling. The crust is a very simple recipe I found from Taste of Home.

Lots of butter for the crust. Not that healthy but very tasty.

Melted butter and dry ingredients.

Like I said this was a very simple recipe. Quick cooking oats, flour, brown sugar, and butter. I didn't have to go to the store. I tend to keep baking ingredients very well stocked throughout the holidays.

Crust mixture with one cup reserved for topping.

Pie crust ready to go.

The real reason I picked dutch apple pie was that I'm lazy. Rolling out dough has to be one of the most tedious kitchen tasks ever. I'll choose squishing dough into place any day.

The quart sized jars filled the pie crust perfectly.

It looks so pretty! I got a little carried away and added a bit of sanding sugar to make it sparkle.

45 minutes later...

So, not quite as pretty coming out of the oven as it was going in, but it tasted just fine. I'll have to work on getting my crust a little more even as well. Overall it was a success. Yay for apple pie in a jar!