Mr. Pants drew this picture (disappointed with his first two stars, he asked me to do the rest, but quickly finished them himself when I said Santa would be much happier with stars he'd made himself) and dictated his wish list:
***a bicycle ("that camouflages itself so that it blends in wherever you are and no one will be able to see me"; helmet that does the same)
***a remote control car
***a big car with a bathroom on it that you use for trips
***ice cream gift cards
***a machine that sucks gold out of the ground
***a metal detector
***a paper snowflake
Delivered from a fetal position on the floor after choosing his Christmas pajamas for bed:
"Mommy, I'm sad it's not Christmas. I just want it to be Christmas. You know, actually, when it's warm outside and I look happy and there aren't any tears running down my face... Really I'm sad because it's not Christmas."
We had some amazing neighbors growing up who had a family mission to deliver warm homemade sticky buns to all their nearby friends on Christmas morning. We'd be opening presents and hear a knock at the back door and their sweet little daughter (now quite grown up and accomplished, but still sweet) would be standing there wearing a Santa hat and holding out a tinfoil package of warm gooey sweet yeasty goodness.
I missed them (the buns, I mean, but also the neighbors, of course) when I moved away and started making them for our Christmas breakfast (I haven't been ambitious enough to deliver them to anyone else, though) years ago. You should have seen the look of horror on the family faces when I couldn't find the recipe this Christmas Eve! I found a similar recipe online and changed it to be more like what I thought I remembered (and reduce the sugar because I hate too sweet; these are still plenty sweet) and also to work in a little inspiration (cardamom!) and this is what I came up with.
(I know it's way past Christmas, but I don't want to lose my notes on this one! You could always make them for a birthday or Mother's Day or...)
Because-It's-Only-Once-A-Year Sticky Buns
(adapted from Real Deal Sticky Buns by Patricia Talorico)
Gooey Nutty Topping:
Spiced Sugar Filling:
You can make these the night before and keep them in the fridge. I was worried they would over-rise that way, but they didn't!
For the dough: Melt the butter and warm the milk in the microwave until quite hot, but not scalding (hotter than for regular yeast). Dissolve the salt and sugar in the liquid and slowly pour in the eggs while stirring. Mix the flour and yeast in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture in parts to the liquid until you have a wet dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes, adding more flour if necessary. Use a stand mixer if you have one! The dough will end up firm but still a little sticky. Don't add too much flour and dry it out.
Let the dough rise for close to 2 hours.
While the dough rises, line a 9X13 inch pan with baker's parchment (or greased foil, just something to line the pan makes the final step a lot easier). Make the gooey topping by melting the butter and sugar and honey together. Pour it over the bottom of the pan (you'll turn the whole thing upside down after it's baked). Sprinkle the nuts into the topping.
Roll out the dough into a BIG rectangle. The original recipe said 15X12 inches, but I think I did closer to 15X13. HERE IS MY BEST TIP FOR ROLLING OUT YEAST DOUGH (good for pizza, too): do NOT punch down the dough and knead it after it has risen. It will get very elastic and incredibly hard to roll out. Just gently lift or dump the dough onto your rolling surface (flour that to prevent sticking) and start rolling right away. You'll be squishing out the air, but in the process making a thin sheet like you want.
Spread the very soft butter all over the sheet of dough, leaving one side (one of the long sides) unbuttered so you can have a hope of making it stick to itself later. Sprinkle the spiced sugar evenly over the butter and roll the whole thing up from the long side that did get buttered to the long side that didn't get buttered. Try to gently pinch the seam together, but don't worry about it too much.
Now lay the roll so the seam is down and slice it into rolls, about 1 inch thick. Arrange these slices flat in the pan on top of the sugar goo and cover with plastic wrap.
You can let them rise less than an hour and bake, but I did the overnight method and that worked great - put the pan straight in the fridge (no rising first) and they should be perfect in the morning. Just let them come to room temperature (or close) before you bake them.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until they look/feel/test done. Let the whole pan cool for 5 or 10 minutes (but not much longer! they have to still be warm!) before putting your serving dish/pan over it and turning the whole thing upside down. Then carefully remove the parchment/foil and replace any errant pecan bits.
For my mother and grandmother this year, I made needle-felted birds and Mr. Pants greatly enjoyed helping me make little "nests" to attach them to. (Basically, we put small mulch bits in an old ziploc bag and poured a lot of white Elmer's glue in the bag and mushed it all up and then put clumps of it in a mini muffin tin lined with plastic wrap and I tried to make them kind of cup-like and then we waited for them to dry.)
Grandmamma got this sweet little bluebird and MarMar got a robin which I didn't get a good picture of (I can tell you it turned out with a slightly feisty expression, though).
Also, I keep forgetting to point you at my friend Amy Suardi's blog, Frugal Mama, where I have my first-ever ad! (for Cross It Off!) I've been tremendously impressed to see Amy build her blog up over the past few years and now she's going to be selling ad space and had the wonderful and generous idea to offer the first month of ads for free to long time followers. Thanks, Amy!
We're having a nice holed-up kind of post-Christmas week. Mr. Pants is loving his bike and his Legos and Shmoogie will hopefully soon be loving her new antibiotics. :) I'm mostly tip-tapping away at the computer on Version 2.0 of Cross It Off! while Mr. Right juggles the kids. Hoping to have that ready before classes start in a few weeks... I'll keep you posted. :)
In the meantime, I'll be posting a few Christmas handmade items for the sake of the record. Hope you enjoy! (There's a fabulous recipe coming down the pike, don't miss that!)
There was a bit of a squeaky finish getting Shmoogie's doll ready in time for Christmas, but it did get done. It's a good thing there was a deadline or all the little things that didn't turn out the way I'd hoped would have stalled me out on the whole project.
She was very cute opening the box, saying, "Baby!" and picking her up and giving her a hug...
And then started saying, "Poo poo? Poo poo?" and pulling off all of dolly's clothes.
When she finally got the panties pulled down to her satisfaction, she announced, "Yeah, poo poo."
My big idea with this gift was that Shmoogie loves clothes and I figured she'd love taking them on and off a doll. She definitely got the idea. I think doll got undressed (I believe DiDi was helping with the re-dressing) at least three times on Christmas day.
I hadn't really intended to take a blog holiday and the truth is I'd still have lots to say if I had any time to sit down and write it, but I think the next few days will go smoother if I just throw in the bloggy towel and focus on cleaning and cookie baking and unfinished gift making. :)
I hope you're having a lovely time wherever you are and whatever you're celebrating and that whatever hectic crazy stuff might be happening that it is happy fun hectic crazy stuff. :)
This is what gingersnaps look like if you realize just as two small aproned children are fighting over the four required spice jars that, in fact, you have no molasses and so you look at the clock and think It's too late, but you don't really in your heart of hearts want to give up on having gingersnaps tonight, so when you tell the kids We're going to have to finish these tomorrow, guys, there's no molasses, and the four year old looks like you've just killed the puppy he's never had and begins to cry, you don't really have the fortitude to follow through on giving up on the gingersnaps, so you get everybody into the car and drive through the dark — Dark! Dark, Mommy! says the two year old — to your very favorite grocery store (they are so friendly and there are so few choices!) only to discover after picking up all the other things you've recently run out of (most importantly, your current Christmas crack of choice, the Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows) that your very favorite grocery store has no molasses, never have, never will, so then you pay for what you've got and pack everyone into the car for another stop at the next store over, which does have molasses — big, dark jars of it — and also piles and piles of candy spilling out of huge baskets and barrels in such mass as to warp the space-time continuum enough to nearly swallow up your four year old for good so that while you're in line paying for the three things you are trying to buy you're really not paying attention to the cashier or your bags because your four year old is out of sight and quite close to the candy event horizon and that means that you have not the slightest recollection of that beautiful big dark jar of molasses by the time you get home and get aprons back on the children and start in on the gingersnaps again, adding all the ingredients left out for them on the counter, and you think as you're rolling dough balls for the first batch that they look kind of pale and isn't the dough a little stiff? but maybe they'll darken up as they bake and it's already past bedtime so you pop them in the oven and set the timer and do whatever it is that you do when there is a batch of cookies in the oven and there is dinner and cookie mess all over the kitchen — plus some more groceries to put away and two small children with freshly running noses up past their bedtimes — so the ten minutes slips by and you take the gingersnaps out of the oven and they still look strangely pale and, also, puffy — like little white mushroom caps — and you take a bite and they don't taste bad, but they don't taste sweet, and, actually, that's kind of a bitter aftertaste, isn't it? so you go back to look at the recipe again and that's when you finally realize that you didn't put in the molasses but you can't figure out how you could have forgotten the molasses because you know you unpacked that one small bag and of course you would have put the molasses right next to the mixing bowl so you wouldn't forget it but somehow that's not what happened because there is definitely no molasses jar on the counter now and so you look everywhere you might have put it and you check all the bags and you check the car just to make sure but in the end you have to admit that you just spent an hour and a half on an errand with two sick kids past their bedtime to get molasses to make cookies and somehow came home with no molasses and made the cookies anyway and didn't even notice that there wasn't any molasses and even though this might be an understandable time to cry, it seems more reasonable to silently curse that store that's not your favorite, anyway, even if they do have molasses, and add a bunch more brown sugar to the dough and call it done, so that's what you do and maybe no one will notice that your gingersnaps are oddly pale?
* Someone really ought to be on Santa's naughty list after slicing through both the couch and love seat with my best sewing scissors Saturday night, but we don't really have the stomach for that, so he's only losing scissor privileges for two weeks.
* From the tears and howling, you'd think that was the most unjustly evil punishment any parent ever inflicted on a child.
* He has also asked how we can fix the couch. Remorse? Maybe.
* "The Elves" visited a few days ago, leaving a few small ornaments and chocolates, and now Mr. Pants spends lots of time moving ornaments around and putting toys in our stockings and then announcing with glee, "Look! I think the elves came! They put something in your stocking, Mommy!"
* Christmas animated cartoons from the fifties are disturbing. The sixties were much better.
* I've decided that since it makes me happy, there is no reason not to spend hours making a doll for a two year old who will probably throw up on it at least once.
* I'll stop there because something really must be done about those Michelin arms and legs for that little bitty head...
Some kind of record, I think, but the Christmas cartoon is ready for the copy shop. (Almost. Not absolutely. Nearly absolutely. I'm sure you care.)
Mr. Pants noticed this panel right away, "Who is that?"
"Well, let's see... He's sitting on a chair, next to a nightstand, and it's nighttime, because - see - it's dark... And he's got a box of Cheez-Its in his lap..."
Mr. Pants started smiling...
"And there's a melting ice cream cone on the floor..."