Montana: Iced Oatmeal cookies are Santa’s favorite

The choice for Montana’s best cookie was easy–Iced Oatmeal Cookies.  What attracted me to this specific recipe was the icing (which reminds me of the classic Archway Iced Oatmeal cookies we bought when I was younger) and the direction in the recipe requiring the oats to be milled in a food processor.

If you haven’t been following our 2017 challenge, Jeremy and I are baking our way through the 50 states in search of the best Christmas cookies to present to our friends.  My last cookie was a winner, Mississippi Praline Macaroons.  The pecans in baked meringue were like eating nutty toasted marshmallows–a treat for me.    Michigan,  South Carolina,  Indiana,  New JerseyAlaska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Alabama.

The cookies started off well, with the food processor and the oats.  Like other recipes that have tripped me up, there was a footnote that I read at the end of the recipe–milling the oats too long makes a flour, which makes the entire cookie more soft.  I think that the very soft cookie was not my overall objective–I would have liked the end result to have some chewy/crunchiness.

I took the cookies to my nephew’s graduation party, and the plate was empty when I left.  I loved the icing, and the cookies looked very pretty.  Next time, I will not mill the oats at all to keep the traditional texture.  The link will take you to the website with really nice photos and step by step directions.Oatmealcookiedrying

Prep time, 15 mins
Cook time, 12 mins
Total time, 27 mins
Serves: 2 dozen
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk

 

 

Podcast #68- Happy 5th Birthday!

bday-cakePodcast #68- Happy 5th Birthday!

Celebrating our 5th Birthday!

Natalie and I are back!  We met for our annual Christmas Eve podcast and discussed many important issues. Listen to hear about our 2106 entries and results from the Festival of Trees (spoiler- we’re now multiple award winning tree designers). We also discuss our recent Christmas adventures and what the future holds for our site. We have challenged ourselves to be more engaged in sharing our Christmas joy in 2017.  Listen to the whole podcast to hear our plans for next year- it’s going to be good!

Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

candy cane hearts

Podcast #67- 316 Days to Go!

Click here to listen to our latest podcast- Catching up for 2015!

We try to get back on track this week and collect our thoughts for 2015 podcasting.  Natalie and Jeremy discuss thoughts about holiday bargains, the 2014 Christmas wrap up, and lots and lots of craft ideas!
Snowmen, winter and snow days off from school also feature prominently in our chat leading up to Valentine’s Day 2015.  Listen in for all the details.

Save the sand dunes by recycling your tree

The most depressing day is just 12 hours away.  Roger and I have agreed that Christmas must be boxed up and put away tomorrow.  (According to some, it’s bad luck that I have waited this long.)

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On Wednesday, I clipped the notice in The Frederick News Post about the Frederick tree recycling program.  Residents have until January 26 to give their tree back to Mother Nature.  Locally, trees will most likely be processed into mulch, but then, I learned that trees are used for other environmental benefits.  This infographic tells the story of a tree’s possible afterlife.

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One of the four possibilities includes erosion prevention/shoreline stabilization.  Do we do that in Maryland? I couldn’t find a specific program in Maryland, but there was a great article about how New Jersey was using trees for shoreline stabilization after Hurricane Sandy.

This is a good video describing the Canadian National Park program that recycles trees to help stabilize shore areas.

I’m curious about whether our readers, who are also lucky enough to live along the coast, have a Christmas tree shoreline stabilization program in their communities?

 

 

What’s the cost of those 12 Days of Christmas?

12 Days D3I had a little extra time while working with a group of kids today. To finish up our time, groups were challenged to see who could list all the gifts of the classic song Twelve Days of Christmas first.  Funny enough none of the groups got the list just right- not sure about the ducks and the chickens that were suggested- HA! After reviewing all the correct gifts for each of the days, the groups were challenged to guess what the cost of the gifts might be.  Following a WILD set of guesses we went to the web and found this little gem: The PNC Christmas Price Index.

According to the website the index was started 31 years ago by one of the economists at PNC.  HE wanted to know what the cost would be for one set of each of the gifts listed in the song.  This initial quest for knowledge has become 30 years of looking at the adjustments and cost rise and fall over time. You can see trends in the US economy reflected in the Christmas Price Index.  The site is pretty cool. There is a lot of interesting financial info- you can look at the total price over time, the price of individual gifts over time, and look how things as varied as the internet and fuel cost have affected the prices.  There is a complete separate section of the site the provides educators with ways to use the information to implement some lesson on financial literacy (don’t be surprised in my classes if you see this round about the 22nd and 23rd).

Great CarolThe site also has lots of fun and clever parts to it.  There is a section dedicated to “updating” the song itself since it “has fallen to an all-time low in popularity”. The section is titled The Great Carol Comeback and features cool renditions of the song for each of the 12 gifts.  Future classics like “Milk Bucket Music”, “Golden Ring Orchestra”, “Bird Call Quartet” and “French Hen Hairband”.  Be sure to check out all twelve of the The Great Carol Comeback.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the 2014 price of one set of all gifts is $27,673.21.  Seems fair, right?

Podcast #64- 104 Days to Go!

Beach-Shell-Christmas-TreePodcast #64- 104 Days to Go!
Click here to listen to the newest podcast- Time to Start Again!

Natalie and Jeremy are getting back to work.  After a long nearly 6 month break, it is time to refocus our Christmas spirit. We are excited to get back to sharing all the joys of the season. Today we took to the mobile studio and recorded while on the go (forgive the poor recording quality- a little studio trouble). We discuss our lack of Christmas in recent months and our renewed energy for the Christmas spirit. We talk about elves and trees and make the announcements about our tree themes for the 2014 Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees. Give it a listen and let us know what you think about our tree ideas. Looking forward to getting back to our 2014 structure of KNOW, PLAN, and DO in the coming week.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Wreath a month? That’s a go!

1510784_10202631586058118_442989884_nFor 2014 my focus is to try to be more organized with my posts.  My first each month will be about music and my second each month will be about creating something for this year’s celebrations.  It might be a craft, some type of DIY creation, or a home-made gift.  This time it’s a craft project- specifically a wreath.  When I was very young my mother made a beautiful wreath using just a wreath frame, green yarn, some wooden beads, and a bow.  It is one of my favorite decorations today- and I have LOTS of decorations:)

Prior to Christmas I attempted to make a small version of the wreath to give as a gift for Secret Santa at work. It went pretty well but it took WAY more hours to do that I predicted.  The supplies and directions are simple.

Supplies:
Flat wreath frame- I used styrofoam- light-weight and affordable.
Sturdy dark green yarn
Red decorative bow

1538794_10202631585698109_1138671801_nDirections:
Cut a piece of yarn about 12 inches long.  Use this to determine the size yarn you will need.  Wrap it around the frame and tie it into a small bow.  Cut off the excess yarn.  THis is the length yarn you will need.  Cut about 100-200 pieces this length to start.
Take each piece of yarn and tie it into a small bow on the frame.  Yarn should be close together, nearly overlapping.  The bows should be tied at different spots on the front face of the frame to give it a full bushy appearance.
Continue cutting yarn and tying bows until the entire frame is covered.
Add your decorative bow when finished.  You may want to add other beads or decorative items.

I intend to make a full size wreath this month.  It will go to the Festival of Trees in November as a donation.  This is the first of my  wreath plan for 2014.  I happened upon a post on the Buzzfeed website titled “50 Wreaths You Can Make Out of Anything”.  Of course I had to read more.  There are lots of great ideas in there.  Some are pretty elaborate and time-consuming (#s13, 18, 37, and 50).  Some are quite simple and quick (#s 4, 16, 33, and 36).  Others are pretty weird or just not my thing (#s8, 14, 41, and 44).  But then there are those that are just right!  My first four to make are #s 2/3, 9, 32, and 43.  That will get me to June.  On our next podcast Natalie and I will be discussing some of the wreaths.  Maybe we can each do one a month?  That would give us 24 wreaths created by the Yule Log.  Sounds like the start of a great plan!

O Holy Night- Another Christmas Music Post!

Snowy Holy NightHappy 2014!  I am excited to be writing my first post in the new year.  I’ve been trying to come up with an organizational plan for my weekly posts.  I work much better if I have a plan, or perhaps theme, to guide my actions.  So for my first Thursday post each month I am going to focus on music!  No better place to start than with my absolute favorite Christmas song of all time- O Holy Night.  This song has been at the top of all my lists for years.  It is musically sound and even the worst versions can still prove somewhat enjoyable.  But when it’s good, O yeah!

The song originates in France.  It was written by Adolphe Adam in 1847  for the poem Minuit, Chretiens (Midnight, Christians).  The first performance was in a small french church to celebrate the repair of the organ.  The first singer was a well-known opera singer of the day.  The topic of the poem, and thus the song, is the birth of the savior and our redemption as man.  Check out the opening verse and chorus:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
 

St P crecheThe song has always had great success over the last 150+ years.  It has been recorded by world renown singers, bands, choirs, and orchestras.  It is part of many small church repertoire for the holidays.  Notably it is part of history as well.  In 1906 it was the first live performance on the new AM radio program.  That first broadcast version featured voice and violin.  It is truly timeless.  A recording made in 1916 is still being sold today!

One of the things I resolve to do with Christmas music this year is to find new versions of songs I love.  For O Holy Night I discovered a great version through a post on a friend’s Facebook page with a recording of Auld Lang Syne.  It featured three singers from the Broadway show Spider-man singing acapella.  I went a little further with some Youtube searching and discovered the had a recording of O Holy Night.  Not just their version, a great version.  Give it a listen-

This is my new go to favorite for this tune.  (Bonus is that one of the three guys is a JMU alum- Go Dukes!)   As I sit here watching the snow fall on a cold winter night it definitely fills me with the spirit of Christmas!

Countdown begins for Christmas 2014!

COuntdown CalToday the Yule Log begins our countdown to Christmas 2014.  With Christmas 2013 fresh in everyone’s memory, we begin our look forward to next Christmas.  We enter our next cycle of countdown ready to better the experience for all our loyal readers.  We are award-winning tree designers now, so the stakes are high!  We have made plans for this next year and are excited to share with all of you.  There is so much exciting Christmas news and adventures to share.

To help keep you up to date we have set a regular schedule for our blog posts and podcasts.  We will share a new post every Monday and Thursday as we countdown for 2014.  New podcasts will be uploaded on the 12th and the 24th of each month.  Stay tuned as we try to capture more Christmas spirit, attempt to start an app, plan a Christmas in July adventure, and return to the Festival of Trees.  Merry Christmas to all!!

Preparations for the Festival of Trees

Today, Jeremy and I made a mad dash about Frederick to pick up final items for our tree designing on Sunday, November 24.

For the Ever-Green tree, just about everything is ready, except for the crowning touch–the tree topper.  I’ve been thinking about this for some time, but the brilliant plan did not come to me until Roger remembered angels that his mother used to make out of Reader’s Digest magazine.  A quick search of the internet yielded a photo of something similar to his description.

gold angel

The blogger included great descriptions of how to make a Christmas tree and an angel.  They were easy to follow.  The angel is made of approximately 125 folded pages: the majority form her skirt, and the last 25, folded the opposite way, make up her wings.  It took me about an hour to fold all of the pages.  Right now, her body and wooden head ($1.29 at Michael’s Craft store) are spray-painted silver and drying.  I’ll post a photo of my finished product tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’m working on recycled toilet paper roll ornaments.  Sounds kind of gross, but the final product is shaping up much nicer than I imagined.

Sunday decorating–here we come!