Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

Keep your ears open for a soon to be Christmas classic by Nina, "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Butt Cheeks."

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Leave a plate of these for Santa and he'll probably leave you a few extra gifts as a thank-you.
I typically double this recipe, making about 4-5 dozen, depending how big you make them.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 stick butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. molasses

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 c. granulated sugar (or “In The Raw” sugar for more sparkly cookies!)

  1. In medium bowl mix together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder.

  1. With an electric mixer beat butter until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar and beat until combined. Add molasses and beat until combined.

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in 1 1/2 tsp. boiling (or really hot) water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
  1. Heat oven to 325. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dad's Christmas Star

My Awesome Dad, Harold Haugen.

My Awesome Husband, Clayton.

My dad under the tarp which covers the generator, adding gas to light the star.

A view from where the star is...don't slip!

We made it!

Me, thoroughly winded from the climb.

Ahhh! Let there be light!

A view of the star from the other side of the valley where I live...see that tiny dot of light above all the others?

Six years ago, my dad had this idea to build a giant Christmas star out of pine, attach light bulbs to it and haul it up the mountain behind my parents' home where he would mount it and light it each night through the Christmas season with a generator.

Not only did he have this crazy idea, but he followed through with it. Now every year after Thanksgiving, he and my husband and brother climb the slope with the big slats of wood, piece by piece, then carry the heavy generator up as well. Then they assemble it on the side of a rocky cliff and pin down a thick tarp to keep snow off of the generator.

My dad hikes the very steep mountain face every night at 5 pm to light the star, from December 10-January 1, and over the years has attracted a lot of company on his hikes. Youth groups have gone up with him, several friends and neighbors, complete strangers, and family members, of course. He has rarely hiked it alone. It has become a great tradition in the community where he lives, and he often finds thank you notes and treats that people leave up there for him to find. Needless to say, my parents now have a nice collection of star-shaped tree ornaments too, as thank you gifts from random people.

What I love about my dad is that he didn't do this for fact for a few years hardly anybody knew it was him doing it. He is just one of those people who likes to do awesome things and spread the Christmas spirit, and would rather remain anonymous.

But now I don't think he can be secret about it anymore...look for him on KSL news, and in The Deseret News!

Thanks for our Christmas Star, Dad. I love you.

Sorry these pictures are crappy, I was using my phone since I didn't want to risk slipping with my big camera! The last picture was taken by my husband, only not with a phone. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Magic Reindeer Food

Look what we got from some elves in the North Pole! They left it on our door step. On the back of each packet is a label that says:

Sprinkle this in your yard on Christmas Eve night.

The light of the moon will make it sparkle bright.

As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam,

This will guide them to your home!

{It's easy to make your own reindeer food...just combine some rolled oats and a pinch of glitter or colored sugar. Reindeer love it. They always stomp all over the spots where we sprinkle it. Wink, wink.}

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ollie's Ski Trip

Just in case you need one more little treasure for Christmas this year, here is another beautiful vintage Swedish book, Ollie's Ski Trip, by Elsa Beskow.

Ollie waits and waits for the snow to come so he can use his new skis. What a surprise when he meets Jack Frost in the forest and is escorted to the King of Winter's palace! My kids, even my big ten-year-old boy, listened carefully to every word and studied each detailed illustration.

Hurry and order before it's too late! {Or just ask Santa for it, of course.}

Also, look for this. I promise you'll think it's so cute!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is traditional Norwegian Christmas bread, or Julekake {say it with me: yool-ka-keh}. I've never attempted making this before, but this week I was really craving it so I gave it a go. It's a little bit of Christmas in my mouth! I love it toasted with butter. Christmas is not complete for me without it!

I had no idea where to buy citron, so I left it out. My mom told me she has found citron locally at The Store in Holladay {what a creative name for a store, huh? It's for real.}.

So here's my recipe:

3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 pkg. yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 c. warm water
2 eggs, beaten
5 c. flour, sifted
2 tsp. cardamom
1 1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. citron

In small saucepan, heat milk just until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove from head. Add sugar, butter and salt. Stir until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl, stir until smooth. Add raisins and citron. Stir in enough of remaining flour (2 1/2-3 c.) to make a soft dough. Cover with towel; let rest 10 min. Knead with a dough hook in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or so, until smooth. Place in lightly greased bowl, turn to bring up greased side. Cover with towel; let rise in a warm place (a slightly preheated oven, turned off, about 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk. Punch down, divide in half. Shape each have into a round loaf, and place them together on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double in bulk again, about 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves 20 minutes, then place piece of foil over top of each loaf, bake 25 min. longer, or until deep brown. Cool on racks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Is Next Week?

Yikes! It just occurred to me that it's true. It always seems like I'll never be ready, but then everything always comes together somehow. The magic of the season, right? Plus, it helps having some cute advent calendars to remind me to get wrapping!

The kids take turns each day taking a chocolate out of the countdown elf and the matchbox (which my sister Cami made for us about 7 years ago, it's been well loved! When each matchbox has been turned around it makes a picture of a snowman.). Sometimes there are fun stickers in there too.

The Thank You Snack

What a cute surprise from Hannah...

She put this all together the other night while I was getting Olivia off to bed. It started after school that day when she colored and cut out the crown. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Nothing," she said. "Do we have a white dress I can use?"

Then I noticed she was flipping through her little tea party cookbook and making a list.

Later she went to the store with Clayton, cooked it all up while I was getting Olivia off to bed, and served it to me with a big smile. "Did you know in Sweden the oldest girl in the family makes food for the mom and dad on Santa Lucia day?" She explained how Santa Lucia day is at Christmas time.

I told her that yes, I knew that, and asked, "Did you learn about that in school?"

"Yeah, a couple years ago," she said.

So then she went to bed, and I enjoyed my little snack while all the kids were drifting off to sleep. Later, Clayton said that she used her own money at the store to pay for the carrot and apple! And I realized why she had been asking for a white dress. She used a white shirt and slip instead!

Thank you Hannah, what a cutie you are!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wee Winter Wonderland

Looking for a fun little craft to occupy the kids while you wrap the presents? Try this one.

Okay, so maybe you will need to help them a bit, but it's quick and simple. We did this tonight with our Cub Scouts and it was a hit {thank goodness, after I spent a stressful afternoon running from one craft store to the next with a screeching one-year-old, and a four-year-old who always needs to pee, tracking down plastic animals and tiny trees...I've gotta stop procrastinating!}.

Lucky for me, I found packets of itty-bitty trees on sale for 99 cents, plus a tube of arctic animals for 5 bucks at Michael's. Perfect! We used paperclips instead of monofilament for hanging, and used tin foil rather than mirrors. Fun.

{photo by Family Fun Magazine}

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

Have you ever heard of Sissel? Let me just say how much I love this woman's voice. She has the voice of an angel. She is also Norwegian, so I feel a certain bond, having heard her music since I was little at my grandparents' house.

I love listening to this concert where she performed with the Tabernacle Choir in December 2006. I was lucky enough to be there at this concert with Clayton. We were in some seats at the very top of the Conference Center and barely made it in. I was so happy to be there. I hope you like it! Search for more of this performance, it is truly amazing.

Purchase the album here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Reading!

Doesn't it sound nice to cuddle up with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a cozy little book? I have some picks just right for the holiday season, and they are perfect gifts for all the little sweeties on your list too.

Let me introduce you to Lisbeth Zwerger, an Austrian illustrator, who is world-renowned for a very good reason. Her watercolors are simply beautiful. Here are a couple that are worth adding to your Christmas book collection, even if you already have other copies of these classics. You and your kids will never get tired of looking at the light, airy paintings that bring these stories to life. Try reading a chapter of A Christmas Carol every night, and read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve (hey, there's a new tradition for you too).

We all know J.R.R. Tolkien for writing The Lord of the Rings, but did you know he was such an amazing and creative dad? I highly recommend Letters from Father Christmas, even for adults. It is a collection of letters that Tolkien wrote to his own children, making them believe that the letters were all the way from the North Pole, with intricate stamps and drawings. Each page of the book contains an envelope with a reproduction of each letter. This book is such a treasure, don't miss out on it. It may even give you some new ideas on how to play Santa!

I'll Be Home For Christmas is another favorite of mine, by Holly Hobbie (yes, the same person who made Holly Hobbie dolls popular in the 70's). This book is part of the Toot and Puddle series, and I particularly love the artwork in this book. The two little pigs are separated on Christmas Eve and wonder how they will celebrate Christmas without one another...but with the help of a certain someone, maybe they can be together after all.

Merry Christmas, and Merry Reading!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The True Meaning

Here's a little something I wanted to share as we are entering the Christmas season. What a beautiful message to help us focus our attention on the Savior at this wonderful time of year.