Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

I am excited to ring in a new year this evening.  Every year on New Year's Eve, I like to spend the day getting the house in order, tidying up some of the Christmas messes that still linger, and getting my house nice so I can start the new year off with a tidy home.

I am also packing away some of the Christmas decor, not all of it, but some, so we can make that transition back into our everyday decor.  I had to take a picture of the elves in my office, they look like they are marching off somewhere, maybe back to the North Pole?  I have been collecting these cast iron elves from a Crate and Barrel Company for the last few years, I just love all the new colors they keep bringing out.

Besides tidying, I have cooked up some fun treats for our New Years Celebration.

We are having Bacon Wrapped Dates- I kept seeing these and they looked so yummy, I have sampled a few and they are very tasty.  I am keeping it simple, just a plain whole date, wrapped with half a piece of bacon, and baked on a cooling rack set into a baking pan, at 350 F. until bacon is crisp.

We are also having a crescent wrapped baked brie served with apples and grapes and little toasts made from sliced baguette.  I found the recipe at Pillsbury's website - Crescent-Wrapped Brie , I took the advice of a comment on the recipe to add a few tablespoons of brown sugar and some little bits of sliced butter along with some dried cranberries to the top of the brie before wrapping it.  It is cooling and I can't wait to try it.

New years eve is the perfect time to play some fun family games - we love Apples to Apples and one of my favorite family games Blokus.  Apples to Apples is fun for a crowd and gets people laughing, and Blockus is a four player strategy game, very easy to learn and play, I would highly recommend Blokus.  We also like to pull out classics like Yahtzee and Clue.

Here are my Amazon affiliate links for these games.

We always keep our eye on the clock, and turn on the TV to watch the ball drop.  At the stroke of Midnight we pull out our metal noise clackers, and step out on our patio to make some noise, and listen to everyone in town making all of their noises.

Then we toast the new year with sparkling cider, this year we will be toasting in my favorite green goblets that I thrifted years ago, I love these goblets.

I always enjoy starting a new year!  I hope everyone has a wonderful evening, and a very Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Transparency Craft

Today was a nice quiet day.  After all of the festivities over the last two days, and visiting with all of my family, which I very much enjoyed, this introverted gal needed a peaceful day at home.  So after a nice relaxing morning, I decided to work on a craft that I have wanted to try for quite some time- making a paper transparency.

So, I went online and searched for some winter stencil images, and settled on an angel and a snowflake.  I printed them out, then gathered my supplies-  Black and Dark Blue cardstock, glue sticks, scissors, craft knife, and cutting mat.  First I carefully cut out my snowflake.  Then, carefully using a glue stick, glued it down to my blue cardstock, like this.

Then I put the paper on top of my cutting mat, and carefully cut it out with my craft knife.

Carefully cut around the entire snowflake, until you can remove the entire snowflake.

Then using glue stick or a thin layer of standard glue, glue down a small sheet of kite paper to cover the snowflake.  You could use tissue paper, but the kite paper is stronger, and will be less likely to tear.

Here is what it looks like from the front.  Fold the sides of the paper so it can stand, and round off the top of the paper if desired.

Then you can set the transparency in front of a battery operated candle or a lamp.  You can also leave it flat and hang it on the window using double stick tape.

I made another one in the shape of an angel with dark yellow kite paper.  I love the way these turned out.  I can't wait to make more!  They look really pretty with the light coming through the lamp in the evening when the lights are low.

I think for a window transparency, I would cut out the image from a stack of two sheets of cardstock, then sandwich the kite paper between, so the image would  look nice from both the front and back, I will have to try that project next time.

I found this craft idea in two of my favorite craft books, that I have had since the kids were little.  The Christmas Craft Book by Thomas Berger, and the book called All Year Round, full of crafts and activities for the entire year.

I found my kite paper from an eBay store called Hedgehogfarms.

Tonight the weather is cold and rainy, we still have not seen a snowflake yet this season, often we don't get snow in the valley until January.  I think an evening of board games and popcorn might be in order.  I enjoy spending this extra time with the kids during school break.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Today we enjoyed a very nice Christmas celebration.

We all spent Christmas Eve getting our gifts wrapped, and preparing for Christmas day.  This year I kept our gifts simple, and I wanted to reflect that simplicity with simple wrapping.  I have always wanted to wrap with Kraft paper, tissue paper, jute, twine and simple ribbons.  I love the way our packages looked, and I had fun wrapping them.

I love giving books as gifts, and chose to wrap some of them in white tissue with jute.

For the packages under the tree I used red plaid kraft paper, red snowflake Kraft paper, and brown postal wrap, with jute, twine, red velvet, and a few gold ribbons and bows.  I also used these cute little gnome tags that I purchased last year, and was eager to use.

I loved the way the red and brown gifts looked under the tree.

Before the Sarah and Joseph went to bed, we lit the Christmas Nativity pyramid, and enjoyed watching it spin around with the lights turned off, so we could enjoy the candle glow.

Santa left Sarah a basket full of beautiful yarns and some new knitting supplies, and he left Joseph with a tool box with some nice starter tools, work gloves, and a pretty cool Tomahawk Axe.  We all had a great time in the morning opening our gifts.

After gifts, we headed off to church and had a nice time saying hi to everyone, and singing ( I still have Go Tell it on the Mountain stuck in my head, I just love that song).  Then we went to My hubby's parent's house for the day, and had a nice Christmas lunch and a fun time socializing and playing games.  When we came home I made our traditional Christmas dinner of Duck a l'orange with all the trimmings.

We enjoyed our Christmas Dinner while watching Shirley Temple's Heidi.  I really enjoy this movie every winter.

Here is my Amazon Affiliate Link for Heidi, such a nice family film.

Tomorrow we will have another day of Christmas festivities, as we head off to my Mother's house, and spend the day with my Mom, my sister and her family, and my Grandma. We will have have fun exchanging gifts, and the kids will have fun seeing some of their cousins.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and will continue to enjoy more celebrating throughout the week.
December 25th marks the First day of the 12 days of Christmas, so we still have 11 days to go :)  Here is a link to Wikipedia's interesting article about the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I will leave you with a little bit of "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

Down in a lowly manger
Our humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation,
That blessed Christmas morn:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011 - Part 2 - Gingerbread Boys, Sugar Cookies, Cherry Date Balls & More

Today I finished up baking the majority of my Christmas cookies, I have sent boxes out the door and have a few more to deliver.

I'll start with Cherry Date Balls, a delicious Christmas treat.  My mother found this recipe when I was a child and made them every year. Originally they were called Date Nut Balls, because of my tree nut allergies, I have omitted the nuts from this recipe, use butter instead of margarine and I doubled the original recipe (because they are so good you need more) and have renamed them Cherry Date Balls.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup butter
3 cups chopped dates
1 cup drained and chopped maraschino cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 cups Crispy Rice Cereal
(If you are not allergic to tree nuts you could also add 2 cups of chopped pecans as the original recipe included add to the recipe along with the cereal)

In a large saucepan, combine butter, dates, cherries and sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes a smooth, soft paste.  Remove from heat and mix in crispy rice cereal.  Mix Thoroughly.

Portion using a cookie scooper (slightly smaller than an ice cream scooper) or rounded tablespoon onto wax paper or pan spray coated baking sheet.  Like below-

Then comes the tricky part, turning them all into nice round balls, while they are still warm without burning your hands- careful sugar gets HOT!  I spray cooking spray onto my hands, and a spoon, I scoop up a pile into the spoon and turn it around in the spoon pressing it into a ball shape, that way, if it is too hot the spoon can hold it.  For the most part they cool pretty quickly to a temperature that is easy to work with, but you do have to work quickly so they don't cool too much before you get them all shaped into balls.  I let them cool on the wax paper completely before packing them in their container.

I put them in mini cupcake papers on the cookie trays, these would also be a real treat to serve at a Christmas buffet.

Every year I make Spritz- these are an easy cookie as long as you have a cookie press.  I just use the recipe that came with my Cookie Press that I bought at a Pampered Chef party years ago.

Classic Spritz
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks) softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
Color sugar sprinkles

Mix Butter and sugar until creamy, then mix in egg and vanilla, beat well, then mix in flour one cup at a time.  Put this soft dough into your cookie press and press the dough onto baking parchment lined cookie sheets, sprinkle with sugar, then bake at 375 F. for about 10 minutes until firm but not brown.  I use food color to dye mine pink and green, they add nice color to the cookie trays, and are a nice simple butter cookie.

Next I finally got to my cookie doughs that had been chilling in the fridge.  Roll out cookies are the most time consuming cookies, but they are well worth the effort, because they taste so great, and we all have fun frosting them.

For my Christmas Sugar Cookies I use a recipe passed down to me from my mother, these are the same cookies I enjoyed as a child, and a little different than the standard sugar cookie, they are called Soft Sugar Cookies.  Here is the recipe:

Soft Sugar Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Add to the thoroughly mixed wet ingredients:
5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Mix until thoroughly combined.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or at least half a day.  I sometimes make mine an entire day in advance.

Then prepare a surface to roll out your cookies with flour, and roll out about 1/8- 1/4 of an inch thick, and cut with your favorite cookie cutters.  I bake mine on baking parchment lined cookie sheets at 400 F. for 7-8 minutes until lightly browned on bottom and slightly browned on edges.

Here they are cooling on racks.

When they are all baked and cooled I make up bowls of frosting from powdered sugar a few tablespoons of shortening and milk until it reaches a nice spreading consistency, and divide it into four bowls and dye it with food coloring.  Then I set out sprinkles with our bowls of frosting on the table and we all have fun frosting our very yummy sugar cookies.

Our next must have cookies are our Gingerbread cutouts- I love Gingerbread, it is one of my favorite flavors.  Again this is a recipe straight from my childhood, passed down from my mother, who, by the way, made these so beautifully, she perfectly crafted her gingerbread people to the delight of our friends and family who received plates of her cookies every Christmas.

Here is our old fashioned Gingerbread Cookies recipe-

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup molasses
2/3 cups cold water
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix shortening, sugar & Molasses, stir in water.  Blend all dry ingredients, mix into wet ingredients.  When thoroughly mixed, wrap dough in plastic and chill overnight.  Roll dough out thick (recipe says 1/2 inch, I make mine a little thinner like a tiny thicker than 1/4 inch) on a lightly floured surface.  Cut with cookie cutters, place on greased cookie sheet ( I use baking parchment).  Bake at 350 F.  for about 14 minutes or until no imprint remains when toughed lightly.

Here are my cookies all rolled out and cut ready to bake.

When they are done baking I put them in a container with a few slices of white bread to soften over night- these cookies taste better with age, so if you can leave them for a couple days before frosting, even better, the spices tend to blossom more.  I can never wait that long, so I give them overnight, then, I make up an icing, again with powdered sugar (2 lbs), a few tablespoons of shortening, and milk I make this a little thicker than a spreadable icing, then separate it to four different bowls to add food color.  Some years I get out frosting tips, but this year, I went the quicker route, and spooned each color of frosting into a gallon sized freezer bag, down into one corner, seal up the bag after getting out the air, then make a tiny tiny snip out of the corner, and  it works great to ice cookies, and of course is so easy to clean up.  Again, I set out the frosting and gather the family, and have fun decorating out gingerbread cutouts.

One of my hubby's favorite cookies are these lemon bars, so I make a pan every year.  I found this recipe from a Pillsbury Cookbook awhile back- here is the link to the recipe at Pillsbury.  Sunburst Lemon Bars Recipe.  Easy, and very lemony lemon bars with a wonderful buttery crust!

The last cookie I made were Meringues- my kids enjoy these, and they are nice and light.  I use the Martha Stewart recipe - here is the link- Martha Stewart Meringue Recipe.  The recipe link says a pinch of cream of tartar but the recipe I originally had from a Martha Stewart Magazine says 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, I also add vanilla flavoring.  I also don't bother with the star tip, although I have in the past, I just put the meringue into a plastic Ziploc bag and cut out the corner and pipe onto baking parchment.  I also piped on flat mushroom tops and mushroom stems to make mushrooms for my Buche De Noel Cake.  Here are my Meringues.

I had grand plans to make my first rolled cake, Buche De Noel, to have an early Christmas treat and celebrate the first day of Winter.  I'm not quite sure what I did wrong, it may be because I used a boxed mix, it may be because I forgot to add one of the eggs to the cake, I found it when I was cleaning up my mixing bowl after the cake was already in the oven.  I rolled up the cake to cool in a towel like the directions said, but when I unrolled it to fill it with the wonderful Mocha Chocolate frosting I made, it just fell apart.  I attempted to frost it back together, then rolled it up, and transferred it to my serving platter to frost the outside, but me and my daughter, who was watching this crazy experiment of mine, had to start laughing, as I was frosting it it kept flattening and cracking and spreading apart.  I frosted it anyway, and it is a very flat and crazy looking log, I still put on my Mushroom meringues which turned out just fine, and dusted it with powdered sugar for snow.

Here is my sad little Buche De Noel, I will have to go back to the drawing board and try again next year, despite its look, it is very tasty.

I will leave you with a picture of my new little ornament I found on eBay, I love this little wooden mini Santa & House Cutout, such a cute little ornament to add to our shelf.

Tomorrow I will spend the day finishing up last minute Christmas Preparations, and watching more Christmas specials with the kids.  Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!!

Here is the link to my Christmas Cookies 2011 - Part 1 Post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011 - Part 1 - Currants, Pfeffernussen, Spice Pigs & more

Monday I began my yearly Christmas Cookie baking week.  It has been a tradition in my family to bake lots of wonderful Christmas cookies every year.  I make some of the same cookies that my mother and grandmother made when I was a child, and I have added in many other favorites over the years as well.

I always start the first day of baking by mixing up any dough that needs refrigerating, like my gingerbread boys, sugar cookies, snowballs, and refrigerator cookies.  So Monday that is mostly what I did, but I ended the night by making Pfeffernussen.

When I was a child we used to buy Pfeffernussen at the store every Christmas time.  I loved them, so when I saw a recipe for them a few years back I had to add it to my cookie list.  I use the recipe from Martha Stewart- here is a link to the recipe on her website - Pfeffernussen Recipe .  I did make one change, instead of rolling them in powdered sugar I glazed them.  I make snowballs and didn't want two powder covered cookies on my trays, and the kind we bought when I was younger were glazed.  After doing a little research I found out that some recipes call for anise extract either in the glaze or in the dough, I may make another batch and add a very tiny smidgen of anise extract to the glaze, because the ones I had as a child had a taste very similar to anise.  But I may just leave well enough alone, because they taste wonderful as they are.  This is a wonderful spicy cookie.

Here is a picture of my Pfeffernussen half are glazed and half are waiting to be glazed- my glaze was just powdered sugar, water and half a teaspoon of vanilla, I dunked the whole cookie in the bowl of glaze and gently removed it with a fork.

Today I started by baking two of my favorite Currant cookies- every Christmas I stock up on currants!

The first cookie is a Currant Slice and Bake cookie that I found on the back of a Sun Maid Currant box years ago, it has been one of my favorite cookies ever since- and it is sooo easy to make.

Here is the link to the recipe at Sun Maid - Sun Maid Slice and Bake Zante Currant Cookies

Mix 1 cup of softened butter with 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla, beat until light and fluffy, then add 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, mix well then fold in 1 cup of currants.  Shape into two logs, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, chill until firm (I leave mine overnight).  Then slice into 1/4 inch slices - I bake mine on baking parchment at 350 F. for 10-12 minutes.  This makes close to 4 dozen.

Here's what they look like rolled into a log.

Here are the Currant Slice and Bakes fresh out of the oven, this is a wonderful light and tasty cookie!

I also use my currants in this English tea cake recipe that I found in my copy of 1001 Cookie Recipes.  I love this cookie book, you can find a cookie for whatever baking ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Here is my Amazon Affiliate link-

This recipe for English Tea Cakes is very simple-
Cream 1 cup shortening with 1 cup sugar, then beat in four eggs one at a time ( I mix mine in all at once), then mix in 1 cup of flour until mixed well then fold in 1 1/2 cups currants.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.   Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly colored on top.  Cool then Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares or little triangles.

Here is the cake ready to go into the oven.

Here is my English tea cake cut into squares- perfect with a cup of tea!!

Next I tackled a roll out cookie- Finnish Spice Cookie Pigs.  I first made Spice Pigs when I saw the idea in a magazine, I lost the recipe and found it a few years back at TLCs website- here is the link- Finnish Spice Cookies .  I don't make these every year, some years I just cut out pigs from my standard gingerbread dough, but this spice cookie is different from gingerbread dough, and has a wonderful spice flavor. Here are my pigs cooling on the rack.

Here they are frosted- the recipe calls for Royal icing, but I prefer an icing made from powdered sugar, a few teaspoons of shortening, half teaspoon vanilla, and milk to thin until it is the right consistency.  I ice all of my cookies using plastic Ziploc freezer bags, just spoon in the icing, and cut a very small tip in the corner, works great every time, and clean up is a breeze!  I love the look of these sweet little pigs, and they taste wonderful!!

 I finished out the night with a batch of classic Snow Balls aka- Russian Tea Cakes.  This is the recipe I grew up enjoying every Christmas.

Russian Tea Cakes-

1 cup Butter (the original recipe called for margarine- but I prefer Butter)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus lots more for rolling cookies in)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla until combined, mix in flour and salt until thoroughly combined.  Chill dough.  Roll dough in 1 inch balls, I bake mine on baking parchment at 400 F. for about 10 minutes- or until set but not brown.  While warm roll in powdered sugar using a spoon because the sugar gets very hot.  I like to store mine with extra powdered sugar poured around the cookies, it helps the sugar stay on nicely.

Here are a few of my snow balls, I always make a double batch, because they go quickly. Yum!

I also have a tray of Fantasy Fudge cooling and waiting to be cut into squares- I use the recipe right off the back of the Marshmallow cream, turns out great every time.

Tomorrow I will be back to work, with my Gingerbread cutouts and Sugar cookie cutouts, I also made some Cherry Date Balls that I will be sharing in my cookie post - part two, along with a few more recipes.  I hope everyone is enjoying this week with all of the baking, and wrapping, and Christmas preparations.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby Jesus Paper Craft, Christmas Appetizers & Italian Sodas

Today was a day full of Christmas fun.  I started my morning teaching my Sunday school class.  I made a fun Baby Jesus paper craft for our lesson, so I thought I would share it.

I started by drawing a tree shape on a sheet of green construction paper folded in half so I could cut out two trees at a time.  I also made two tabs on each side of the tree. Draw a line down the center of the tree, top to bottom.

Then cut the tree in half down the center, like shown. Then fold the tabs under the tree, you will use these tabs to glue the tree down, so it will open up.

 For younger children you could make a single tab on one side of the tree, and not cut the tree in half, like the tree on the left.

The idea is to glue the tree down by the tabs, so it opens up revealing the greatest gift- Baby Jesus.  Baby Jesus in the manger is made by cutting fringe into a circular piece of yellow construction paper to make hay, glue the hay down to brown construction paper and trim it to leave a 1/4 inch brown boarder around the hay to represent the manger.  Then cut out a oval shape for the swaddled Baby Jesus, and a little pink circle for his face, and glue on like shown.  Then glue Baby Jesus under the tree.

I also printed out the verse- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)  We discussed that Jesus was our greatest gift from God, and the eternal salvation that Jesus offers us.

I also printed out a mini book of the Christmas Story to staple in the front of the book- I will include a link below for the reproducible mini books I use.

We decorated the front of our tree with foil star stickers.  Just a side note- foil star stickers and colored circle blank price stickers, the kind that can be found very inexpensively by the office supplies are probably some of my most used supplies, after paper, glue and scissors.  Kids love these classic foil star stickers, a very useful item for any Mom or teacher. 

Lastly, I printed out the title of our lesson- The Greatest Gift, and glued it down so it would cover the stapled in mini book.

This was a fun lesson, I started out discussing with them gifts in general, and of course, being only a week until Christmas they all got very excited about their Christmas gift wishes, then we discussed that Jesus was our Greatest Gift and then I shared the Christmas story.

Here is my Amazon Affiliate Link for Take Home Bible Stories- they also have it in Old Testament- very great resource!

I also brought in My  Medieval Pop Up Nativity Book to share.

The kids enjoy looking inside this pop-up Nativity.

I also brought a Nativity Moving Music Box Picture- You pull a string on the side, and the wise men, shepherds, and angel all move.  I found this when my kids were little and bought it for them to enjoy, my Sunday school class enjoyed this as well.  Just a fun little novelty to help them remember our story.

After church, I came straight home, and got right to work cooking up appetizers.  My children are teenagers, and in our church's youth group.  Every Christmas they go shopping together as a youth group to buy gifts for their family, then afterward have a party.  This year our Youth Group leaders came up with a great idea to have a "Progressive" Christmas Party, where the youth group would travel to a few different homes throughout the afternoon and evening enjoying Christmas festivities at each home.  

So after the youth shopping trip they all arrived here for gift wrapping, appetizers, and Italian Sodas.  Here are some of the appetizers I made.

These are bell pepper pinwheels, using red and green bell peppers since it is Christmas time.  You can read the recipe in my Tea Sandwich Tutorial Post.

I made the wonderful cheese spread that my sister taught me- Two softened blocks of cream cheese, mixed with chopped up sliced ham probably about 10 pieces, and chopped green onions (I used about 3/4ths of a bunch and included both the white and green parts).  Mix together with electric beaters, transfer to serving bowl, and it can be chilled or served right away, if it is chilled I would set it out about 15 minutes before serving so it softens a bit.  Perfect to spread on Ritz Crackers.

 I made the Mushrooms Pinwheels that I made for Halloween- you can find the recipe in my Halloween 2011 Mushroom Pinwheels Post toward the bottom of the post.  These are quickly becoming one of my favorite appetizers, I am a big mushroom fan.

Of course I had to make a tray of Li'l Smokeys Wraps, and I am glad I did, they were gone within the first 10 minutes, I will have to make more next time, so yummy!

 For a small dessert I used my trusty mini cupcake pan to make a tray of mini Devil's Food Cupcakes, frosted with Cream Cheese Frosting and topped with a slice of cherry and red sprinkles.  

For a fun beverage we made Raspberry Italian Sodas.  Italian Sodas are very easy to make.

You will need your favorite flavor of Italian Soda Syrup- I love Cherry, Pomegranate, and Raspberry for the holidays.  Fill a cup about halfway with ice.

Then pour in syrup about a quarter of an inch in the bottom of the cup, maybe a splash more if you like your soda sweet.

Then add seltzer water leaving about an inch of space left in the cup.

Like this.

Then add a little half and half to the top like about a quarter of an inch at the most, the half and half looks very pretty floating through the seltzer water.

Use a straw to very gently stir the syrup and soda and half and half together, then top with whip cream and enjoy!

We had quite a houseful of youth, I really enjoyed having them all over along with some of the youth group leaders, such a wonderful bunch of people!!  When they were done wrapping their gifts, and enjoying snacks, they all headed off to the next house for more fun, can't wait to hear about it when the kids get home. They will be having a white elephant gift exchange and lots more food and treats and fun.  Perfect way to kick off the final week before Christmas!