Monday, 16 December 2013

Cute as a Button Shortbread Cookies

Christmas is next week!  I am feeling really excited and not stressed at all this year.  I've been enjoying decorating and baking and going to Christmas concerts and parties.  I don't have a stand by, make every year, Christmas baking recipe yet, but I'm working on it.  My husband loves shortbread.  I don't mind it but it's not irresistible to me.  But that's OK, then I can keep my fingers out of the cookie jar.  I wanted to try something a little more fun for the ones that I would be sharing.  Here's what I came up with...

I used a standard shortbread recipe

2 cups butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cream together butter and icing sugar
  • Combine flour and cornstarch - add to butter and mix until smooth without over-mixing
  • Add vanilla while mixing
  • Divide dough into 2 equal portions
  • Using Wilton Icing Color, add the desired color to each section and knead in until blended
  • Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and chill for 30 min (can be frozen and used at a later time)
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300 F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  • Between 2 sheets of parchment, roll out the first color until about 1/4 inch thick (if your dough is over chilled, you might have to let it rest at room temp for a while or you will hurt yourself trying to roll it out)
  • Using a larger circle cutter (mine was about 3") cut out 12 rounds and place on cookie sheet

  • Using a smaller circle cutter (about 2") cut out the middles and place on a separate sheet
  • Put the first tray back in the fridge while you roll out your second color and cut out the shapes
  • If your rings crack like mine did you can gently press them back together before baking
  • Put the opposite color center in each ring
  • Using a straw, poke out 2 (or 4) holes in each middle
  • I kept one sheet in the fridge as I worked so they are chilled when they go in the oven and won't spread out
  • Bake at 300 F for 12 min (Don't over bake)
  • Allow to rest on cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to a cooling rack

 This made 5 dozen with a few to taste.

I think I'll add this to the annual baking list.  They could be done in any color combo and used for any occasion; baby shower perhaps?

With a Bushel and a Peck of Christmas Baking,


Monday, 2 December 2013

No Perfect Pictures

My son is in Grade 1.  I had a bit of a hard time with him going to school every day.  To be honest, it's a little easier when he's gone, just one less variable.  But I do miss him and I feel like my days of being the major influence in his life are dwindling.  If he hasn't learned it yet then when will I have a chance to teach him?  Today is a day off school.  So far it has been chalk full of teachable moments.  Although challenging, I am just bursting with praise to God that I still have the opportunities to speak into my son's young life.  I pray and hope that what has transpired today impacts him in a lasting way.

It started off with him hitting his sister.  Dad stepped in with the discipline and told him he wouldn't get his colouring supplies back until he was being more kind.  He felt remorseful for a time but then made another bad choice.  The older 2 had been reading a kid's story book Bible together and having a great time.  My daughter was saying "Jesus is awesome" and my son saying "reading the Bible is so fun!"  But in no time, the little sister became implicated and my son lashed out.  How quickly they/we stray.  After being sent to his room for a time, he prayed for forgiveness and self control.  This led to an enthusiastic idea to write the fruits of the Spirit down so they don't forget.  He got out the papers and markers (with permission), and included his sisters.  It was all going well; pictures of fruit accompanied by words; until he made a mistake.  He crumpled it up and threw it in the garbage.  At this point it had been a really careful and nice picture and the mistake was minor.

The connection to God just came so seamlessly.  "God doesn't expect you to be perfect, and I don't expect your picture to be perfect.  God loves you the way you are and he never crumples you up and throws you in the garbage".  This was a long process of reitterating the same idea until he finally came around to cutting off the mistake.  It was still crumpled but had potential.  I told him he had to finish it and I would hang it on the wall as planned.  I told him he had to learn perseverence (finishing something without quiting).

When it was finally coloured, I hung it up as promised, and told him I loved the picture just like God loved him.  He said that he thought the mistake was too big and I said that there is no mistake too big for God to forgive.  He was very upset at this time and hard to console, but I took the time to pray with him for peace.  He was very concerned that God lets bad things happen.  Again the teachable moment came: that God doesn't want us to do things perfectly by ourselves, otherwise we wouldn't need Him.  God wants us to rely on him and trust him.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

This message came through loud and clear to me today.  Even as a write this, my son is moping about, feeling contrite, but I think it's OK.  I keep telling him that he is in control of his choices, to have a good attitude, to choose to be kind, to choose to trust God.  Even as I say this I know that without the Holy Spirit, our own efforts are futile, but to pray and contemplate the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, can keep your mind on track.  If I had taken a different approach today, to let him throw out his picture and move on with the day, I might have missed this opportunity to teach him and bond with him.  He's at an age where we can communicate on a deeper level and this is exciting to me. I hope and pray that the times he is home, I can connect with him, to make up for all the time that he is away.

With a Bushel and a Peck of Gladness,


Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Birch Wood Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and December 1, which makes it a full 24 days till Christmas.  I am so excited for Advent this year as we are trying to establish family traditions surrounding it; for counting down and contemplating.  Last year was the first year I really made point to not only count down the days with the kids with their Candy Calendar, but read daily devotions and focused on the meaning of the season. 

This year for my 30th birthday my husband gave me a book by Ann Voskamp called "The Greatest Gift".  This was 2 weeks ago, and I had never heard of Ann Voskamp.  Wow, where had I been?  Rural Canadian mom of 6 turns New York Times best seller.  I'm impressed.  Read some of her blog, A Holy Experience, and I'm inspired. 

However, beyond the author is the story of the Jesse Tree, which I had never heard of.  It is another way to mark the days of Advent and see how the entire Bible has been leading to the coming of Christ.  It is made up of daily readings and ornaments and I am excited to begin this journey and share it with my family.  Ann had offered free printable ornaments on her website with a code found in the book (sorry, can't share).  But I thought, if this is something I am going to do every year (because it seemed that cool to me) then I want an ornament I can keep. 

I've been really in to birch wood lately, and I had some from a tree we cut down.  I asked my husband (and he so sweetly obliged), to cut a log in to 25 disks.  I then printed the 2x2" symbols on card stock, and Modge Podged them to the wood.  I also wrote the corresponding Bible verse with each one as an added reminder of the association behind the symbol.  I used red ribbon to make a hanger as the Word is connected by a Scarlet cord. 

Today I read the first devotional with my family, it is so beautifully written. My son in Grade 1 had heard about the Jesse Tree in school (love Christian school!) and he hung the first ornament on the bottom and we will work our way up to Christ. 

Here I have all 25 displayed temporarily.  I decided to use my actual Christmas tree as our Jesse Tree as I think the ornaments are beautiful, meaningful and will fill up the tree nicely.  I'll come back and post a finished picture at the end of the month. 

Continuing with my affinity for birch wood, my husband broke out the tools again by drilling holes into this log to make an advent candle holder.  I hadn't found anything I liked online or in stores, and this was simple enough yet visually impactful to me. 

And finally, nothing to do with Advent, but I used some more birch logs, and some thrift store finds, to make this display for my front step. 

This Advent I am going to try to focus on Peace and Thankfulness and not get caught up in the busy or buying.  I love Ann Voskamp's line, "put space in the pace of the season and find peace."  Remembering to be thankful for what we already have and for what is sure to come; to have high expectations for the coming of Jesus over what comes in wrapping and bows. 

With a Barrel and a Heap of Waiting,