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December | 2015 | December 2015 – A Grand Journey
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December 2015

Happy New Year!

Family By December 30, 2015 Tags: , , , 3 Comments

I want to wish everyone happiness and success as we head into a new year.

This year (2015) was eventful for me.  After much hemming and hawing, I finally started this blog, my second grandchild (a girl) was born and I lost twenty pounds without too much hoopla (yay!).

We always feel just a little more energized and determined when strarting a new year. I enjoy those hopeful feelings of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Kris over at Nana’s Whimsies has a hilarious post on New Year’s resolutions.  Make sure to read it.  I was still laughing about her list, a day or two later.

Enjoy the New Year…it’s a gift.resized-blue gift2

The post is linked to Grand Social at


The Lego Surprise

Family By December 26, 2015 Tags: , , , , 8 Comments

When our children become adults, it seems harder to find gifts (especially within the established budget) that will delight them. I give it a good effort each year; I like to think I have more victories, than defeats. However, this year my daughter-in-law takes the high honors of presenting my sons (one is 25, the other, her husband, is 30) with a gift that made them act like 12 year old’s, when they opened it.

Nestled back behind the Christmas tree sat a large package wrapped in green paper and a big red bow. My husband, who is in charge of handing out gifts, was given instructions not to give it out. Once the ‘opening gifts’ dust had settled, the wrapping paper had been cleaned up and everyone was settling in with a cup of cocoa, my daughter-in-law gave the approval to have it brought out. Creating even more curiosity, she informed the group it was for my two sons. She then explained the process she went thought to find it, hide it and wrap it, undetected. They tore off the paper to reveal…the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Lego set from the Marvel series. They were thrilled.  Both of them are serious Lego and Avenger fans.  Plans were immediately made to put it together. Although, that process may take a while, the set has almost 3000 pieces! resized-lego3resized-lego2

Boys will grow into men, but Lego boys will ALWAYS be Lego boys!

This post is linked to Grand Social at, Welcome Home Wednesdays at



Cookie Decorating with Kids

Grandkids, Toddlers By December 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , 3 Comments

Here is the scenario. You are trying to decorate dozens of sugar and gingerbread cookies. At your elbow is an enthusiastic toddler-baker that desperately wants to participate. She has the desire, but not the skills. What do you do?

Fail number one: Don’t give them a full bag of icing expecting positive results. Since most young children do not have a good understanding of “don’t squeeze it too hard”, you will end up with a mess. She squeezed the icing bag (too hard), it exploded out of the top and went resized-cookie-dec4everywhere. This picture was taken after we cleaned her up.


Fail number two: Don’t let her take control of a full sprinkle bottle. The first cookie she decorated came out 3-D. The innocent gingerbread angel was buried under 2 inches of blue sprinkles. However, we decided to do what Taylor Swift suggests and just “shake it off!”


The solutions:

Her mom came up with a brilliant idea. Let her paint her cookies. I dug around in my catch-all drawer and found a suitable paint brush. The icing was squeezed into a bowl and she happily went about her work.


Next we provided her with a sprinkle container that had chunkier sprinkles in it. It was the kind that has 6 compartments. She liked opening and closing the different lids and the sprinkles didn’t flow quite as freely. Another way to keep the sprinkles under control is to plug some of the holes in the top of a regular sprinkle container. Tape should work. I suggest hiding the tape underneath the cap, so they can’t see it. We didn’t get a chance to try this one, but I will next time around.

I labeled an empty cardboard box with her name.  When she finished one of her masterpieces, she set it in the box to dry.  Later, she proudly packed them all up to take home.


Our cookie decorating started off a little rocky due to our inexperience. But, with a few adjustments, it ended with a happy, satisfied child, who felt included in the day’s activities. Hopefully, our fails and solutions will help a little in your cookie decorating adventures.

Happy decorating!

This post is linked to The Grand Social over at and the blog hop at


Cherry Christmas Cookies

Recipes By December 20, 2015 Tags: , , , , 3 Comments

These are called Cherry Christmas Cookies only because I make them at Christmas and they are red and white. They actually have more of a scone consistency, than a cookie.  If you want to make them into scones, just form the dough into larger balls and then, of course, call them scones. Whether they are called cookies or scones, they taste delicious.

*Cherries and almonds go well together – if you feel adventuresome, substitute almond extract for the vanilla and then toss in a half cup of chopped almonds.

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Cherry Christmas Cookies (or Scones)

Bake 350 degrees. Recipe makes about 3 dozen small cookies.

  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries (without stems), drained and chopped
  • 2 T. flour

Put chopped cherries into a bowl and toss with the flour. Set aside.

In a larger mixing bowl – cream together:

  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 oz cream cheese (softened)

Then beat in:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. buttermilk (or use 2T. regular milk and ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar)

Stir in:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp.  baking soda

Then gently stir in cherries (the dough will have some red streaks).

* you will also need a small bowl with granulated sugar for rolling.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll in granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart (although they don’t spread much) on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake for 11 -14 minutes. Until the bottoms are lightly golden brown (see picture).  I turn one over to check before taking them out of the oven.  Cool on wire rack.

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Grandma Lessons-The Christmas Tree

Grandkids, Toddlers By December 13, 2015 Tags: , , , , 8 Comments

I’ve changed.  I am not sure exactly when it happened, but it happened.  As a younger mom, raising children, I used to be a bit more uptight about stuff and less patient.  I used to get embarrassed about things much easier.  I was more no nonsense and not always quick to understand.  What happened to me?

I became a grandparent!

People joke about playing with the grandkids and then sending them home.  However, we do have a marvelous opportunity to provide special and memorable experiences to those unique people we call Grandchildren.

Last weekend I put up our Christmas tree.  I was satisfied with just adding twinkle lights and several strings of beads.  But my husband thought I should put on a few ornaments.  I ignored his suggestion, until I found out my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was coming over for the evening. I thought she might like to help me put on a few decorations.

I pulled out the kid durable Christmas ornaments (no breakable bulbs).  I left the hooks in the box, because I didn’t want her sister, who just started crawling, to try to eat any that we might drop.  We sat in front of the tree with the box of ornaments; she wanted to discuss each one as they were unwrapped.  She then took each ornament by its string, went to show grandpa, came back and added it to the tree.  She was delighted when she actually got it to stay on a branch.  I let her put them where she wanted – they ended up on three heavy laden branches.  It was fun.  I enjoyed it and I think she enjoyed it.  The next day, I brought out the hooks and rearranged all the ornaments, so the tree looked more even.


Twenty plus years ago, I did this same thing with my youngest son, when he was three or four.  However, at that time I was dismayed that he wouldn’t listen to me, as he insisted on putting all the ornaments on the same branch. We ended up fussing about it quite a bit.  I was trying to “teach” him the proper way to add the decorations to the tree! After all, it is an important life lesson, he can’t grow up and not know how to properly balance out all the ornaments on his Christmas tree!  Oh, my gosh…how silly is that?  To my embarrassment, he still remembers that event.

The grandma lesson I learned last weekend – Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoying the moment is more important than getting it perfect.

Happy Holidays!

This post linked to Grand Social at and Thursday Favorite Things at

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Easy Almond Snow Ball Cookies

Recipes By December 5, 2015 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

A powdered sugar story:

My husband loves Russian tea cakes (aka Mexican wedding cookies).  Several years ago, my new daughter-in-law, full of excitement and energy, decided to host a Christmas cookie baking day. This has since become an annual event, more on that in another post.  She was very enthusiastic and as she organized the event, the participants were presented with several rules. The one I will discuss here is – Only Christmas Cookies Allowed. Since I usually make Russian tea cakes around Christmas time, my husband, looking forward to his annual allotment, was a bit concerned. Russian tea cakes….Mexican wedding cookies….they don’t sound very Christmas-y.  What to do?  I decided to cleverly rename them Snow Ball Cookies – the renaming worked (meaning they were allowed) and that is what they are now known as in my house (especially around Christmas). No one ever discusses the fact that under the powdery disguise of a snowball cookie lives a Russian tea cake. Ahhh…the things we do for love.


Here is the recipe for Almond  Snow Ball Cookies

I mix my dough by hand. I do not use a mixer because the dough comes out too fine, which makes it harder to form it into balls.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees


  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (plus more in a small bowl used for rolling)
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl –  cream the butter and sugar, add the almond extract and cream together a little more.  Add the flour and salt.  Stir well.  Make sure to scrape all the flour off the bottom of the bowl and incorporate it into the mixture.

Roll dough into balls (I usually get about 2 ½ dozen out of this batch).  Place on parchment covered cookie sheet and bake for about 16-18 minutes.  Gently check the bottom of a cookie to see if it is lightly brown. If it is then they are done.

Let them cool for a minute then gently toss them, one by one, in powdered sugar.  Allow them to set for a few minutes – then toss again.  Tip: after the first power sugar covering but before the second, put another batch of cookies in the oven.resized-snow-cookies3

Once they are completely cooled – store them in an air tight container or freeze them.

*you might as well make a double batch – they are that good.


What special cookies do you make for Christmas?

This post linked to Treasure Box Tuesday at and Creative Muster at