This has become my favorite tradition. The first year I hosted Christmas I declared that making and decorating a gingerbread house was a new tradition. My parents and Grampa appeased me by decorating a gingerbread house that promptly fell apart, the roof slid off and tasted horrible.
The next year we tried again. The year after we did gingerbread people which was much better, no candy involved but still fun. Last year and this year have been, by far, the most fun. Nolan was totally into it.
Here he is making ornaments. I mean, look at his pastry bag precision! For a guy that doesn't always hold a crayon correctly, this is impressive!
He's a pro with the sprinkles too, though by the end of the decorating he went a little overboard with the 'decorating'.
And it got hard to keep the frosting out of the little guys mouth.
It was not difficult to see who ate the blue frosting! After all, Nolan wanted to make Santa blue cookies and that's what he got! Blue cookies with blue frosting. I think Santa enjoyed them! I know someone else who did!
There once was a VERY excited boy named Nolan who couldn't wait for Santa to arrive. He picked out special pjs, carrots and self-decorated cookies to leave for Santa on Christmas eve in hopes that Santa and Rudolph would deliver a blue present for the good boy.
He sat through several Christmas stories before heading to bed, specifically The Night Before Christmas.
And the next morning there was a BIG blue present that appeared in our living room. Nolan was so excited by the size and blue-ness of this present he could hardly contain himself.
Once the blue was removed, he discovered a big workbench with tons of tools and even some 'wood' to craft together to make things. It looks like Santa enjoyed this one before he left it for Nolan.
Nolan tried all the tools, especially the electric drill press and circular saw.
Also impressive was the hand saw and hand drill.
Once Nolan dug into his stocking he found some additional toys such as a head lamp and binoculars that he enjoys thoroughly.
While this was only the beginning of Christmas for this boy, it's fair to say he really loves Christmas and all of his new toys to play with. It was a special day.
This might seem weird to see a picture of this and the title of this blog 'christmas joy' but these pictures really do signify Christmas Joy. You see, my parents enjoy those cooking shows just as much as Dave and I do and they are my parents and I have no problem 'putting them to work' in the kitchen. So when my Mom suggested my Dad would like to make homemade pasta, I took it one step (ok, a few steps) further. I wanted to make homemade ricotta. Here it is, I call it 'Christmas Joy':
Seriously, the ingredients are milk, salt and lemon juice so why not give it a try, right? Aside from cheese cloth, no crazy utensils or products required. And it came out SO delicious, FOR SURE it will be a 'fancy' item we make for years to come.
The pasta, however, didn't come out like the ones we've made in the past, BUT it was still good and fun to make. Especially when eaten with the homemade bread, homemade sauce and homemade ricotta and homemade chicken cutlets we served with this meal (next time maybe I'll make butter too, I have another 'easy' recipe for that).
Nolan was definitely interested in this contraption, the pasta cutter. And he helped make most of the pasta which was really fun! He wouldn't taste the pasta though, which was disappointing, maybe the sauce turned him off. At any rate, this is what I really love about my parents visits, doing crazy stuff in the kitchen, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding. This meal was a little of both, a lot of work but it came together nicely and was really neat to enjoy.
I tried really hard to make all the meals for their visit 'easy' except for this one knowing I'd be putting them to work. They did a great job helping, so did the little guy. THIS is what I love about Christmas! Well, that and Santa!
Nolan has been 'playing' hide and seek for about a year now. He LOVES it. Though he doesn't quite get the 'hide' part of it, he's an excellent seeker. When he hides, he'll yell to you where he is hiding, sometimes he'll say 'in here' and other times he'll say 'I'm in the shower'. If you turn the volume up or listen real closely, when I'm in the hallway you can hear Nolan say 'in here'.
I am really thankful that Nolan is a tough little bird. This kid is kind of amazing. When he is sick he is a bit more fragile, a little (teeny) bit more snuggly, he's calmer, gentler and a good sleeper. Everything this mom could possibly ask for.
So when he agreed to sit like this and let me read him a story I was pretty thrilled. It was the first position I've found that is comfortable for me to read to him. And it's also quite snuggly and cute.
I am certain that the minute he starts feeling better this will not continue to happen but I'll take these moments as they come. Today he started crying because we were outside (45 degrees and sunny in mid December!) and he was too cold and wanted to go inside. Poor thing. I hope he feels better soon, but it's not a terrible thing to be sick and on self-imposed quarantine the week before Christmas. Hopefully that means that he (and all of us) are not sick for Christmas.
So a few days ago Nolan grabbed this box (a christmas gift from my parents) from the corner, took his wooden knife and tried to open it. Do you think he sees me do this often enough? It was just hysterical when I walked into the room and saw him trying to open it with the knife from his vegetable cutting toy. Don't mind his pjs and sweat shirt, he was not feeling well so we allowed sickipoo clothes all day.
Whenever Dave and I split work, I'm the macro worker and he's the micro worker. I don't have patience for the details, I prefer to paint the walls and let him do the trim, I prefer to make the cookies and let others decorate but for some reason I chose this project as what I would bring to a kid's Christmas (er, Holiday) party.
So I stacked up the marshmallows on the sticks. Clearly the 3 marshmallows were too many for a toddler to hold the stick. Maybe I should have gotten larger sticks but when I tried the mini marshmallows, they seemed perfect for a toddler. And I had a lot more mini marshmallows to work with.
I bought all the ingredients a few weeks ahead of time so a few days before the party when I thought about buying treats instead of making these I reconsidered. I had all the items to make them! So instead of letting myself dread this (what now seemed like a MAJOR) task, I just started melting the chocolate. I worked for 1 hour, Nolan helped with the sprinkles until he took a handful of the sprinkles and dumped it on one snowman. Then I declared him done. I dipped them in white chocolate and shook/tapped of the excess. Then I applied a single orange sprinkle (seriously, this wasn't as tedious as I imagined) and shook some edible glitter on them.
Next I melted the red chocolate to make the scarves and then melted some black chocolate for the eyes. Perhaps next year I'll buy those GIANT marshmallows in the summertime and make some that are more snowman-shaped. But for a first go, and coming from me, I'm pretty happy with the results. And they were very easy for toddlers to eat. The larger ones went to work with the hubby for his co-workers.
Well, after getting our lovely tree, in the rain, rearranging some furniture and getting the tree in a stand that we curse every year, we sadly discovered that half of each strand of lights we had were out.
While we sent Dave out for new lights, Nolan discovered the one light that was out (see photo below) and after some wiggling, some plugging in and unplugging, suddenly all the lights worked again!
What an awesome little helper he is! He had so much enthusiasm for decorating the tree, it warmed my heart. Thank goodness this kid loves it as much as I do.
I decorated the house for Christmas this week. One year when I lived by myself I had TONS of people at my house for Christmas and bought something like 8 stockings. We don't need that many anymore so I use them to wrap the fragile items in the Christmas box. And I called them socks instead of stockings.
And I have some Santa hats for the backs of the dining room chairs. They look really cute when they are on the chairs (like never). Here are Nolan and Dave wearing them...
And here's the full ensemble. Oh dear. Despite having an entire BOX of 'decorations' it's mostly stockings and hats for chairs- maybe I can get this kid an actual Santa hat. Oh, and Nolan hijacked two of the snowmen decorations for his room leaving the house looking barren of Christmas cheer. Might need to do some shopping...