I mail a Happy Valentine’s Day box to my grandsons in Colorado and North Carolina. I add some Valentine window clings and it is a fun, inexpensive treat from grandma and grandpa. The other children live nearby, so I am able to give them their boxes in person.
Decorated sugar cookies are always a sweet treat that make everyone happy. Here is my recipe Decorated Sugar Cookies
Fix a little treat bag of cookies and deliver to a co-worker, a neighbor, the mailman, or any special person in your life.
I always make cookie trays, candy bags and Chex Mix for everyone to take home. I made double recipes of 10 different kinds of cookies and 30 dozen decorated sugar.
My husband, Bob, helped me cook and we worked on it for 2 days. Our Christmas 2014 menu was simple and had variety to satisfy the adults and children.
Here are some random pictures.
The first picture was the next morning when I was taking out trash. I looked behind me and my 2 yr old grandson, Hudson,was saying “me help” and dragging bags of trash. We are such a lucky family to have so many wonderful blessings.
We all had family traditions for the holidays as we grew up and were able to continue these when we started our own families.
I think as grandparents we are now in a unique situation.
Many of the traditions can’t be carried on for different reasons. Some of our grown children have moved away and not able to get home for the holidays, and with so many blended families there are more schedules to try to accommodate. A few grandparents are lucky enough to have all of your children living in the same city. Another issue is that once our children are married, they need to share the holidays with their in-laws also.
I think the only solution is to try to incorporate some of your most favorite traditions while being flexible to make new ones. I want to share with you some of the things our big family does that seems to work.
My husband and I have a blended family of 8 children along with their spouses/significant others, 13 grandchildren and a few more from their blended families. Talk about difficulty in being able to coordinate schedules!!
Bob and I have our big family Christmas party the 2nd Saturday in December. This allows the children to attend events with their in-laws and still have their own family time on Christmas. I start all of my holiday tasks the weekend after Thanksgiving.
I decorate my house with family in mind. I have a tree upstairs that is decorated with Thomas Kinkade and handmade ornaments from my friend, Linda Bibbo @ L.B. Bear Christmas Ornaments, so this one is just for looking at. The downstairs tree is kid friendly and full of things they like. I add Christmas to every room in the house and outside. I do lots of shopping and baking non stop for 2 weeks.
We are very lucky because we have 2 big rooms downstairs that we can party in. One has the tree, and is where we open presents. The other is a big empty room that I am able to set tables up in to eat. I also make 20 cookie trays for family/friends. I line the trays up on these tables to fill them.
I still do a stocking for each grandchild. They are not stuffed full like the ones Santa does at their house but everyone enjoys this. Here are mine for this year. I did 18 this time.
Little Boys.. hand held stroble light, LED flashlight,stickers
One of the most fun traditions we started with the grandchildren is a game we play. Even the teenagers still laugh and enjoy this. I originally started it to stretch the evening when they open their presents so quickly.
We call it “THE RACING SANTA GAME”
I have a tub that I fill up with small gifts, cash, and gift cards. The prizes have evolved over the years and change to meet what I know they like.
Here are the prizes in this year’s tub.
To play this game, everyone picks out a Santa or Snowman, we set up a short track ,and the little wind up Santas race each other 2 at a time. The winner goes to the tub and gets a prize.. the loser plays the next person. Everyone wins! The poor little wind up Santa does not go too far and the kids are laughing hysterically at them.
These are a few of the traditions we do at our house. I will share some more in another post.
Bob and I just want special memories to come from the holidays at our house.
I have heard of the Pillsbury Bake-off since I was a little girl. My mother always bought the books and we went through them, admired each recipe, but never really thinking that average people made it to this contest.
In 2006 I became interested in entering contests and truly have been very honored to be chosen as a finalist for the Pillsbury Bake-off 3 times. According to the rules for this, a person may only attend 3 times.
Early last year, the contest rules were posted on the Pillsbury web site. There were 4 categories you could enter. I did enter a few recipes in each one. In June, I received an email stating that I was a potential finalist. After a screening process that all finalists go through, I was confirmed as a finalist.
The following months were filled with completing forms, media events, a photo session, hotel and travel arrangements, getting the lists of ingredients and equipment completed and lots of practicing my recipe. My husband was able to attend with me this time so there was also shopping for clothes for both of us. A facebook page was set up for those of us going to the bake-off, some that had been there previously, and ones who hope to get chosen in the future. There is so much support and well wishes from everyone. The excitement just continued to build.
The bakeoff was being held at the Omni Hotel in Nashville Tn this time. Pillsbury treats each and every finalist as royalty. They were so helpful with questions or concerns. Each finalist was given a Visa gift card and a new microwave before we even went. When we arrived, our hotel was beautiful and all of our lodging and meals were covered by Pillsbury. We also received gift bags with gifts from each of the sponsors.
This is a picture of the hotel as we drove up to it.
Looking out our window in downtown Nashville
When we arrived to register, the hallway was filled with excited people, the Doughboy, and a wall of the finalists recipes on a silk screen.
We then attended an orientation and a sneak peek at the grand ballroom that had been transformed into the contest site with 100 mini kitchens.
Group picture of the 100 Finalists
Next came a reception with our sponsor grocery store. Mine was Kroger. They gave each of us a card with a gift card enclosed. Afterwards was a dinner in another room that had been transformed with different stations for foods, drinks, and a live band playing country music. This was so much fun and a great time to connect with old friends as well as meeting new ones.
The next morning was breakfast and the actual bakeoff!!
The finalists were led into the room by a girl playing the fiddle and the Doughboy!!! A live band was playing country music inside. We danced our way around the room to our assigned kitchen units. The hostess for the event was celebrity Chef Carla Hall from ‘THE CHEW’. PLEASE NOTE THE FIRST FINALIST COMING IN….. she is a wonderful lady 89 years young!! So this goes to show you are NEVER too old to pursue your dreams and as grandparents….you can do this too.
We cooked and baked our hearts out, sampled each others recipes and talked to media, sponsors, bloggers and other invited guests. It was a whirlwind of fun and crazy activity.
We had a few free hours that day so my husband and I walked around Nashville. It was such a beautiful, clean town with so many interesting things to see.
The evening concluded with a Blue Carpet walk and pictures with the Golden Statue of the Doughboy, another very fancy dinner, and then the awards. For the first time in the history of the bake-off, America is helping to chose the 1 million dollar winner. The judges chose the 4 category winners and they were placed on the Pillsbury Facebook page for voting. The winner was announced on The Chew on December 3, 2014. I am so happy to say that one of my friends, Beth Royals won the million dollars!! She is such an awesome lady and so deserving.
I was not one of the category winners but this whole experience was nothing but a win!! I have met so many people that are now a part of my life and true friends.
This post was linked to Grand Social on Grandma’s Briefs.
It is hard to believe that 2014 is going so fast. Fall is one of our family’s favorite times of the year. We are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where the seasons change and we get to see the real beauty of what God has created around us.
The grandchildren are very busy with their fall sports; football, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Fall baking has been in full swing in my kitchen. The men are getting ready for hunting season. There are the Halloween parties, campfires, and trips to the local pumpkin patches and farms.
Grandpa Bob likes to get into the seasonal fun too.
Working hard gathering just the right things to decorate with at Butchers Family Farm.
He always decorates the front of our house by himself.
The toyroom is an area between 4 walls where special memories are made. You watch your grandchildren grow, share secrets, give hugs and sometimes break up fights.
As a grandparent, I feel it is very important to have a space in your home that is designated for the grandchildren. Depending on the space available, the toyroom may be just a section of a room or it could be a whole room. My own grandchildren area has changed over the years.
When my first grandson was born, I purchased a baby bed, a swing, and some baby toys. I set this up in a guest bedroom. After a year, our needs changed so I converted the room to a toyroom with the baby furniture in it. We soon added more grandchildren so, again, I changed the room. I put a toddler bed, a baby bed, and a twin bed plus the toys, into a different guest bedroom. The children loved playing in there when they came to visit. After about 3 years, I started working from home so one of the bedrooms needed to be converted to an office.
The “toyroom/playroom” was now moved to an extra bedroom we have in our basement. It has been here for about 10 years and has provided many hours of fun.
Creating a space for your grandchildren does not have to involve a lot of expense. I painted the walls, added some inexpensive curtains, painted some shelving units, purchased paper posters, and added plastic covers over the electric receptacles. I decided to set my toyroom up in zones for different activities.
I went to a store that sells used children items, Once Upon A Child, and found this kitchen set with a washer/dryer and ironing board for only $35 total!!!! It is a heavy plastic and the children of all ages, boys and girls, have loved playing with it. This was my favorite purchase. I like it better then the new ones which are just one unit. I purchased the table and chairs new. One of my daughters had a long wooden table she was not using so she gave that to me. I painted it, bought some small chairs, and created an arts/craft center.
I bought some plastic tubs on sale to keep toys organized. I did buy some new toys over the years, but in the beginning, my own children and family members donated toys that the kids no longer played with. Amazingly, the children loved playing with the recycled toys because they were at my house. You could also pick up items at garage sales but I would clean them very well and make sure there are no safety issues.
My favorite toys are the old fashioned ones like the Fisher Price pull toys…the puppy with the wagging tail, red ball on the end, and the telephone with the eyes that roll. The children really enjoy these priceless toys. (my puppy with red ball on tail, telephone, and the popcorn pull toy have gone home with some of the children over the years).
I have also added a box spring and mattress from a twin bed I do not use to the room for extra seating. (Also used for jumping)
We have Barbie dolls, Polly Pockets, 35 cabbage patch dolls from my own daughters, stuffed animals, games and lots of baby toys. My teenaged grandson donated an older video game set with the games since he has an updated version. Our 13 grandchildren are between the ages of 2 and 16 years old. When the last one has outgrown the toyroom,we will convert the room into a guest bedroom/apartment type place for them to hang out when they stay.
I hope that you can find a place in your home to convert to this very special place and enjoy the memories.
I LOVE cookies. .. I could be the cookie Monster. Especially when it comes to decorated Sugar Cookies. I have been making these for over 40 years. I made them for my children when they were growing up and now make them for my grandchildren. I try to make them for each occasion during the year and on their birthdays. The children have always loved helping me make these.
I remember baking cookies with my mother from the time I was a very young girl. This is one of the special memories I wanted to create with my own children and grandchildren. One of my grandchildren, a 4 year old who lives in Denver, has even called me to say “Honey,the cookies are gone” That means I need to get a box in the mail! When I visit them we do make cookies too.
I have used this recipe for about 35 years and find it to be fool-proof. You can create these special cookies for any event just by purchasing a cookie cutter or being creative and designing your own cookie shapes. I find most of my cookie cutters at Craft 2000 or www.coppergifts.com. My tips are to use the metal or copper cookie cutters and to use only the best ingredients. I always use my baking stones, they keep the bottoms from becoming too dark and the cookies remain softer. If you do use metal cookie sheets, line with parchment paper. Another good tip I recommend is to use the Wilton Coloring Paste when coloring the icing. I use a toothpick or the end of a small plastic knife to add the coloring to icing bowls. When I am preparing the icing, I divide it out into heavy disposable bowls and use plastic silverware . EASY CLEAN-UP!
Please see a few pictures of some of the cookies I have made and try this great recipe
1 cup butter,softened (Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour for dusting
2 lb bag confectioner sugar
1/3 cup solid shortening (Crisco)
food coloring paste
sprinkles/other decorative candies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. ( I use baking stones)
In a large mixing bowl,stir together the flour,baking powder,and salt. Set aside.
In another large mixing bowl,using an electric mixer on a medium speed ,beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and combine well. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients in 3 parts,beating only enough to combine. Shape dough into a ball,cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place the remaining flour into a small bowl. Sprinkle some of the flour onto a flat work surface. Scoop out about 3 tablespoons of the dough and place on surface. Dip cookie cutters and small rolling pin into the bowl of flour. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out the cookies and place on baking sheets. Continue to cut out all of the cookies, re-rolling the pieces of dough.
Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown around the edges. Remove baking sheets from oven and allow to set 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack.
To make the frosting,place the confectioner sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening and 1/4 cup water. Slowly beat together on the lowest speed of mixer. Add additional water a tablespoon or 2 at a time and increase speed on the mixer. Beat until smooth.
Divide icing into separate small bowls. Using a toothpick or end of a plastic butter knife,add the coloring paste to each bowl. If icing is too thick,add drops of water and stir to desired consistency;if too thin,add small amounts of confectioner sugar. Decorate cookies as desired.
May place icing in pastry bags also to decorate cookies.
Dough may be made a day ahead of time and allow to come to room temperature before cutting the cookies out.
Using a plastic pastry mat makes cutting out the cookies so easy.
Use heavy, disposable bowls and plastic silverware to make clean up a breeze.
GRANDMA HONEY'S HOUSE https://grandmahoneyshouse.com/
My husband and I have been married 28 years and have a blended family that consists of 8 children, their spouses/significant other and at current count…13 grandchildren. Any family gatherings we have are big events.
My name is Pamela Shank but many of my grandchildren call me Grandma Honey or just Honey…they gave me this name.
The role of a grandparent has changed so much through the years and I feel our role is so important right now. There are a lot of tough issues our grandchildren have to face in society now and we need to be there to help them. We can teach them strong values and ethics and they can teach us that crazy thing called modern technology. Everything I know about my cell phone came from a grandchild and I have a lot of funny stories to share on that.
They still need some storybook reading, snuggling and someone to share secrets with. I love to bake and cook and my grandchildren are all interested in learning things in the kitchen. We all have special talents to share with them.
My purpose for this blog is to share this wonderful experience and for us to learn helpful things from each other. I need your help too!!
I do still work full time as an RN but in my free time I love to bake, cook and create recipes to enter in cooking contests. I have won many and have been so lucky to be a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off 3 times!! I will share recipes and contesting information. I want to cover many other issues on this blog but I want to keep it light hearted and warming our hearts.
Please follow along with me and I hope I can give you lots of helpful information in a variety of topics.
Where Everything is Always Made with Love