We’ve been busy little people around here, thus the lack of actual updates!

I’ve been stretching out my maternity leave (unpaid Family Medical Leave) by working 20+ hours a week and taking the unpaid leave the rest of the time. While it’s good to have the time with Nora and at least some sort of a paycheck, it does make things a little harried trying to balance what needs to be done at work and at home. Then there’s the stuff I want to do, too … most of the time that gets shunted aside in favor of sitting on my butt on the couch, relaxing with Will while we watch something on Netflix.

One thing I wanted to be sure and do was thank you gifts for Seth’s preschool teachers. I absolutely love them. My mom was a preschool teacher for a while, and I know from her that they love the little gifts from their kids. (Except really, they probably don’t need another candle or coffee mug. But they’ll love every one they get.) I wanted to add gift cards but that just wasn’t in the budget this year – see the aforementioned half-paycheck since this summer. So we baked and melted.

Christmas Tree Cookies
Christmas Tree Cookies

I had seen kits for making cookie Christmas trees out of star-shaped cookies, but I already have three sizes of star cookie cutters. We used this Sugar Cookie recipe from Cooking Light, and it was pretty good. I actually ran out of sugar and had to substitute agave nectar for part of the sugar, so who knows what that did to them. They were still yummy!

We made the frosting in the recipe, put it in a piping bag, and then Will lowered the cookies into the can while I drizzled frosting over each cookie. The frosting did help glue the layers to each other – three of each size cookie, alternating points – but we had a couple of anxious moments when we thought one tree was going to slide into the side of the paintcan container. (Which came from Hobby Lobby and are food-safe, btw.)

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
Hot Chocolate on a Stick

The other, chocolate-y things are Hot Chocolate on a Stick. I’ll warn you about this: reading the very precise directions on tempering chocolate got me stressed out beyond belief. It turns out it wasn’t that bad, and you just suck it up and add some oil or shortening (my mother’s recommendation) if your chocolate gets ugly. Ta da. We used Semi-sweet chocolate and then dipped them in melted white chocolate bits. We put some in candy molds (the shaped ones) and the rest in a mini-muffin tin. I actually liked the muffin tin ones best! And don’t get all “fancy” like I did and think you can pipe in white chocolate first so you can skip the second round of melting and dipping after the chocolate cools. You don’t see the wrecked second batch where the two chocolates separated from each other when I took them out of the molds. Whatever!

The chocolates are delicious, and as I shared on Facebook, make great mochas if you stir them into your coffee with a little milk. We’ll definitely be making these again! Actually, we might be making them tonight to give to some more people …

And yes, Seth helped me with the cookies. That was an adventure in itself, but he does love to cook with us. It’s worth the mess. 🙂