Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blanket of White

It snowed!

I love – LOVE – snow. I've yet to outgrow the excitement elicited by a good snowstorm. Last weekend Ocean City received 8 to 10 inches around the island, but some parts of New Jersey - like John up in Cherry Hill - were walloped by almost two feet of snow! There are few things cozier than sitting in a warm house, wrapping Christmas presents and sipping hot cocoa as the winds howl outside and snow falls from a night sky...

I hope we have a few more snowfalls before the end of winter. There's been predictions of this being a pretty crazy winter, snow-wise, but I never quite fall for the hype. Luckily, we decided to go shopping and get some snow shovels and salt just in case last week, which turned out to be a very good thing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookie Crazed!

It's Christmastime, which in the Riley household always translated to cookie time. My mom and I (and my Mema before she passed away) bake thousands of cookies during the holidays, usually starting in late October. We give most of them out as gifts for Christmas - huge cookie platters, little decorative bags and boxes full ... you get the idea.

Since I'm living on my own now, my mom and I bake in our respective abodes and also do some baking days together. We take inventory of what cookies we're each baking so we don't overlap, too.

Last night I realized I'm way behind. I've made eight varieties so far (two with my mom, six on my own): Cranberry Cookies, Turtle Bars, Snickerdoodle Croissant Cookies, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, Zebra Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Kiss Cookies, Sand Tarts and Italian Lemon Cookies. My mom is baking today, but to my knowledge hasn't had the chance to bake any other cookies to date. What this means is that we only have two weeks - two weeks! - to bake dozens of more varieties of cookies.

Tonight I'm doing sugar cookie snowflakes, but some of this batch is going to be for a cookie walk I'm co-organizing next week for the FoodBank. (Come to think of it, I still have to make two other types for that event, too.) Tomorrow I have a birthday cake to make for my friend's 3-year-old. Sunday I'm baking with friends, so that should give me a little more cookies, although not the mass quantities (double, triple batches) that I usually do on my own.

I guess what to do now is make a list of all the cookies I definitely want to bake this year, and then try to come up with some sort of schedule. I know my Mema's Raisin Puffs and my mom's Pecan Cups will make that list. What else? You'll have to just wait and see!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Merry Mixmas!

Since all the little packages are on their way to destinations around the country, I thought I'd post about the early holiday surprises I put together for friends and family this year. This was, in fact, a project I started last Christmas season, but I never got around to finishing them up. Better late then never, though, right?

Anyway, I made Christmas music mixes with some of what I think are the best holiday songs. I tend to lean toward more recent covers, although some of the best classic versions made the list, too.

I bought wintery scrapbooking papers (three types - blue/white snowflake, red snowflake and swirl candies) and made them into CD envelopes, with brads for closures. (That was the part I did last year.) I love how they turned out and kept my template for my future needs of cute CD envelopes. The CDs themselves I decorated with permanent markers, and each one says "Merry Mixmas" and the name of whoever it's for. The envelopes are closed with glittered tags.

I had to decorate the envelopes, too, of course. They all looked similar to the one for Jamie above, and the back of each one had a quote I love from the movie Elf: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" Because, naturally, I imagine everyone's going to be singing along to these mixes. Who can resist singing to Christmas music?

I can't wait until they arrive in everyone's mailboxes! My hope more than anything is that they just spread a bit of Christmas cheer.