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I hope everyone is safe and sound and enjoying a cozy winter. Today is Boxing Day, or in the States, simply the day after Christmas, and I’ve been sitting here wrapped up in a cozy afghan and reflecting on the holiday and the year.
It’s been a challenging year for everyone, I’m sure, myself included, but we’re almost into 2021 with hope in sight since the release of two vaccines to fight COVID-19.
Because of the pandemic, we couldn’t travel to see family as we normally would have done, so instead, we made the best of it at home here in snowy Pittsburgh. I’m actually grateful that we had a white Christmas this year, with Christmas Eve bringing a few inches of ice and snow and making things look pretty for a while, at least until they got salted and slushed up by snow plows.
I’m grateful for snow plows, too, by the way.
Since I’ve been working like crazy this year, I took off some time around the holidays, and my husband has off the week between Christmas and New Year, so we have been getting some much needed relaxation. I haven’t been crafting quite as much as I usually do, due to some end-of-year projects I had to complete, but now that I’m on a break, I’ve been taking a breather and doing some things I don’t always do. Namely: coloring, cooking, and baking. I also did finally start a crochet project for myself, but I’ll save that for another post.
For coloring, I have a few coloring books I’ve had set aside for a while, and I found my colored pencils and markers, too. But there’s another way I like to color that may sound a bit unconventional: an app I used to use a long time ago and just reacquainted myself with called Happy Color. And it’s so fun! It’s totally free and there are a lot of designs to choose from. Better yet, if you follow their Facebook page, they often have free bonus pics as well. I use the ad-supported free version, but I believe there is a paid version to remove ads if you prefer. Here is a small sampling of what I’ve done the past few days:
If you like coloring on an app, I highly recommend it!
For cooking and baking, my husband requested steak for Christmas dinner, so that’s what we did. He seasoned and cooked the steaks beautifully. I made a couple of tiny baked potatoes, and my neighbor gave us a plateful of her homemade pierogies. I also made a green bean casserole that was delicious!
I also made some Christmas cookies and a cake. My family usually bakes together around the holidays, so I decided there was no reason why I couldn’t do that by myself this year. I turned on the Christmas tunes in the kitchen and got to work making three types of cookies:
- Snowballs — a nut, flour and sugar mixture that’s baked, then rolled in powdered sugar. I used walnuts in mine, but many people use pecans
- Italian wedding cookies — a rolled dough that you let cool completely after baking, then ice with a glaze made from powdered sugar, a flavoring extract, and milk — I added a tiny bit of lemon extract to my icing, then decorated with nonpareils. You are supposed to flavor the dough with an extract, too; I used vanilla, but I also like anise or almond. I like to use vanilla in the cookie dough and something else in the icing, but you can experiment
- Peanut butter blossom cookies — a traditional peanut butter cookie rolled in granulated sugar before baking, and then when you take them out of the oven, you immediately plop a Hershey’s kiss into the center and let them cool thoroughly so the cookie hardens and holds the kiss in
I delivered bags of cookies to some of my neighbors, which was fun. They’re almost always feeding or gifting us something (see above about a plateful of pierogis), so I wanted to return the kindness they’ve shown us. Bonus is that while my husband and I got to eat some cookies, we didn’t have an over abundance of them because I gave away a bunch.
And finally, I baked a box mix cake for our Christmas dessert. Nothing fancy, but it was fun icing and decorating it. Here are some photos of the baking:
And there you have it! I had a lot of fun doing these things I don’t normally do. It’s been a wonderful holiday, sadness about pandemic restrictions aside!
More later about some holiday crafting I did. The super-secret project I referred to in a past post has been delivered, so I can finally reveal what it was.
Stay warm and safe out there!