Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Gingerbread Houses 2011

So? How’s that relaxing in-between week going? I’ve had a chance to read just a few blogs and it looks like lots of you are reading, resting and making plans for the new year. As it should be! We’re managing to lie around and play with Christmas toys a little, but mostly it’s been busy. Today will be the third (and last!) day of painting in MeMum’s kitchen — you may remember that I did the cabinets a long time ago, but the ceiling, walls and trim were never done. Finally, we’ll have that big job out of the way.

I’ve also had time to weed through the many pictures of the annual gingerbread competition. We had a wonderful time again this year with lots of laughs. I’d like to congratulate my cute little family this year — we didn’t have one. single. collapsed house. WooHoo! They’re becoming real pros at the construction. There were lots of groovy little details too — several of which I don’t have good pictures of because you have to remember to take them before the roofs go on the houses.

Gingerbread Houses

So, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly ( ;-) ) present to you the Houses of 2011:

Team 1:  SweetiePie and CuteNiece1. Santa’s Workshop.  SweetiePie is a real pro with the icing and this house was adorable.  They have Mr. and Mrs. Claus out front and a super cute elf workshop to the side of the house.  All the elves were at their stations working away.  (The icing on the bottom right pictures says “Elves enter here —>”)  I loved this happy cheerful house!

Gingerbread Houses

Team 2:  CuteNiece2, CuteNephew, and BigDaddy.  With BigDaddy on the team, we knew it was going to be pretty funny.  They decided to do TheFirstChild and SweetiePie’s future house.  The house where they have a bunch of children.  The house that is falling apart.  The front door is off of the hinges, the roof is cracking and one of the unruly children has started a fire at one of the corners of the roof.  CuteNephew very cleverly carved the burned portion of the roof and then held it over the stove to get the charred look.  The other unruly children are climbing on the roof and have crashed the family car into a tree.  The created a pretty cute interior too — there’s a beautiful striped carpet and big screen tv (bottom right picture).  And, of course, TheFirstChild is parked on the sofa watching that tv.

Gingerbread Houses

Team 3:  TheManoftheHouse and TheSecondChild.  This was the team that started the trend into irreverent houses five years ago when they made a frat house.  They decided they should finally clean up their act and make a church.  Being an all-male team, they were a little spare on the frosting, but they had some clever touches.  We all wanted to know why the people were squished behind the bench.  Don’t be silly — they’re kneeling and praying.  I love the little bell in the steeple!

Gingerbread Houses

Team 4:  MyDadLovesMeBestSister and CrazyBIL. CrazyBIL is a physical therapist so they made a model of his clinic.  The small touches to their clinic were SO cute.  They had workout tools everywhere — I loved the dumbbells and the pile of broken crutches behind the clinic.  They also included a parking lot to one side of the clinic, and my very favorite touch, an outdoor yoga class (middle picture) to the other side of the clinic. Their proudest touch was the lighted candle inside — CrazyBIL created an open chimney so that the candle smoke could escape.  Unfortunately, after awhile, the gingerbread started to get soft so we had to blow the candle out to avoid a cave-in.

Gingerbread Houses

Team5:  TheFirstChild and Me.  We stumbled around trying to think of something that would have most of it’s contents outside of the house.  We finally settled on a tree farm.  Which sent TheFirstChild (and the rest of us) into fits of laughter remembering an old high school tree farm joke.  So, we iced up the house and planted trees everywhere.  Then popped in a few tree-shopping families (one with a candy cane sled).

Gingerbread Houses

Great fun again this year!  We held our traditional vote.  Can you guess the winner?

Team 4′s Physical Therapy Clinic came in third, only lagging by one vote.  Then Team 1′s Santa Workshop and Team 5′s Christmas Tree Farm tied for first.  So we had a run-off.

Ta-Dah!:

Gingerbread Houses

Go Team 5!!!  We only beat Team 1 by a vote and I really think their frosting work was superior.  Plus, I think we won due to all the memories and laughter this house generated.

So, that’s it for this year.  I can’t believe how quickly the year has passed.  I probably won’t get back here for a few days so I’d like to wish all of you a Very Happy New Year!  Stay Safe and Have Fun!!!

XOXO,
Anna

Merry Christmas!

Ohmygosh!  It’s pure crazy-ness here in ThimbleannaLand.  TheFirstChild and SweetiePie just left to go spend Christmas with her family and it’s been a whirlwind while they were here.  A FUN, happy whirlwind.  We crammed their Christmas, baking, shopping, and the Gingerbread House Competition all into one day.  We were up until 4 a.m. this morning — now for a 10 minute breather to enjoy the traditional Christmas Eve breakfast:

Holidays

‘Tis the season and I loooooove Christmas cookies and Candy!  It was all going so well this week.  I thought I was on top of it — no sewing planned this year.  But it always happens.  A few extra minutes in the schedule and I start thinking.  And I can’t help myself.  And when I saw THIS fantastic post, I knew the fish hook had pierced my lips and I was a goner.  I needed another little gift, so I used my extra time this week (and then some!) to make some potholders.

Holidays

I do love me some grommets!  I wish I could have hand stitched these — that’s what I love most about the original pillow inspiration.  But these potholders have that thermal insulation fabric in them and there’s no way my little fingers could have handled that.

Holidays

That Amy is a genius!  I haven’t had time to read blogs this week, but when I was scrolling through her blog to find the post that matches these potholders, I saw some new stuff.  I can’t wait to have time to catch up on all my reading.

Holidays

DingDing! Time for round two. Must run again — full schedule ahead! I’m betting most of you are really busy too, but I just want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa is Very Very good to you! See you on the other side!

XOXO,
Anna

Busy, Busy

Well Hello — Anyone out there? It seems like everyone is busy prepping for the holidays or playing on Pinterest. So much inspiration to be had over there!

Did you have a nice weekend? It whizzed by here — as always. I had a few work friends over on Friday night for dinner. We had a “Favorite Things” party. Have you heard of them? I read about them one day, after a little blog hopping from this post. It’s based on the Oprah’s Favorite Things shows she did every holiday season. Only we don’t have an Oprah budget. Everyone brings a favorite thing, in the $5 – $10 price range for everyone else at the party. It was lots of fun to learn a little more about each other. Some of the favorite things were Thiorlo Socks (love those things! — purchased on sale to meet the budget), a box of tea and a movie ticket (“we” were her favorite thing, so “we” will all be going to a movie together soon), a Barnes and Noble gift card (books are her favorite thing but she wanted us to choose), a book from a favorite series, and a super cool travel mug.

For my favorite thing, I baked up some of my favorite cookies (as always, credit goes to Ms. Farmhouse!)

Favorite Gifts

and packed them into my favorite obsession — those glass jars that are great for holding most anything. (This size is $7.50 at Wal-Mart — what a bargain!) Anyway, we had a great time and the favorite things were a really fun idea — I think everyone really enjoyed it.

Favorite Gifts

Today was gingerbread making day here in ThimbleannaLand.  There’s a reason they say “slow as molasses”.  It took forever to get the molasses out of those bottles.

Gingerbread Making

If you’ve been a reader here for awhile, you know that we have an annual gingerbread house competition in our family.  I always try to get the gingerbread parts done several days in advance so they can dry out a bit.

Gingerbread Making

Our competition will be on the 23rd this year.  I don’t like having it so close to Christmas, but it’s the only time this year that everyone will be here.  We drew the teams this past weekend.  Should be interesting — it’s kind of funny that, with the exception of SweetiePie, our family of four is together on two teams.

Gingerbread Teams

Go Team 5!!!

I hope you’re getting all of your last minute goodies done. Have a good week!
XOXO,
Anna

Cranberry Christmas Pudding

Ooops, I didn’t mean to be gone for so many days.  It was a busy weekend here — we got MeMum and BigDaddy’s big Christmas tree put up and then I did the decorating here too.  Jane suggested that I needed a good dose of Christmas movies to get me going — instead I’ve been listening to Christmas music while I work.  TheManoftheHouse surprised me with the Christmas CD from that Michael guy.   It’s definitely putting me in the mood.

Isn’t it fun to work around the house, listening to music and think about Christmas?  Christmas past and Christmas traditions.  I love to hear all about what other people do for their traditions too.  You know, stuff like … do you open your gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?  {A little of both}  Big dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?  {Christmas Day}  Turkey, Ham, or Roast Beef?  {Turkey}  And what about those traditions that must be repeated every year … or if you don’t there will be mutiny among the troops?  (I love watching the making of the Christmas Cake and mincemeat pies on so many non-US blogs.  What fun traditions!)

Christmas Pudding

One of our favorite traditions is the Christmas Pudding that MeMum has always prepared for our dessert after our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Day.  We all love it so much that we save it until the end of the day — long after all the dishes are done.  I hated it when I was a child, but I LOVE it now — most of us do love it.  This isn’t a creamy American pudding.  It’s a British kind of steamed pudding — more like our cake.  Served with a “gorgeous sauce” that is fabulous.  The more gorgeous sauce the better.  Drown that pudding in gorgeous sauce!

MeMum has a great steamer pan.  I just have a little pudding mold that MyDadLovesMeBestSister gave me years ago but it works great.  You just have to be able to cover the batter (MeMum’s cake pan doesn’t have a lid so she ties brown craft paper over the top with some twine and it works great).  Here’s a picture of my little cake pan — it’s sitting upside down on our stove.

Christmas Pudding

The cake pan can’t be sitting on the bottom of the steamer pan.  It must be placed on a rack in the steamer.  I don’t have a rack, so I suspended my cake pan in the steamer by using some wire.  It worked just fine, but I really need to get a rack.

Christmas Pudding

Ok, so here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Christmas Pudding

Pudding:

2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Add soda to molasses. Stir in the water and dump in a large bowl. Sift flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Toss cranberries in flour mixture and then add to molasses mixture.  Add nuts, if desired.
Grease small cake pan. Pour pudding mixture into pan and cover — with lid or tie brown paper over top of the pan with some twine. Steam in 2″ water for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. (Check water level every now and then to make sure water hasn’t boiled dry.)

Christmas Pudding

Serve by breaking bits of pudding into a bowl and pouring gorgeous sauce over the top. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. (I didn’t get a picture of the whipped cream — I was scarfing it down before I remembered to take a picture!)

Gorgeous Sauce:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter

Cook sugar, whipping cream and butter over boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve.

Christmas Pudding

Yum, Yum, Yummy — I can’t wait until Christmas Day!
XOXO,
Anna

Oh, Fine.

I guess I can’t avoid the Big C anymore.  We’re well into December by now.  Here is the official start of Christmas 2011 here in ThimbleannaLand:

Soldered Santas

I decided to make some little soldered pendants.  I found this cute Santa on Pinterest.  (Yay, I actually used something I found on Pinterest!)

Soldered Santas

I thought they would make cute gift tie-ons and I love them with the divine twine.  I put Merry Christmas 2011 on the back of each little pendant.

Soldered Santas

But, just so you know, I’m dragging my feet here. I still have pumpkins on the kitchen table. Hopefully I’ll get some decorating done here this weekend. Have a good one!

XOXO,
Anna