Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baking, Baking, and More Baking...

It was another busy baking month... and I am "usually" grateful for some help in the kitchen. Amaya LOVES being in the kitchen, so I try to be patient and let her do as much as possible. This month we made Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, two batches of Fudge - one plain and one with walnuts, Caramel Brownies, Christmas Wreath Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Swirl Cookies, and Candy Cane Cookies.

Let the baking begin!

I think we went through 5 pounds of butter this month....that's a lot of butter...

Add the eggs... Amaya has really mastered cracking eggs!

Add the flour... (we still need to work on measurements, but she's getting there.)

BUSTED snitching the dough!

Roll the dough in balls and roll them in sugar.

Decorate with sprinkles!

Ready for the oven!


Later that week, Jen came over to visit us and we put her to work too! She's on winter break from school in California and we've missed her tremendously.

We made a batch of Candy Cane Cookies and I'm so thankful Jen helped... they are kind of a putzy cookie to make. I didn't realize that Steve and my sister, Carol loved them so much, so I'll make them every year from now on.

I also tried a new recipe for these "Swirl Cookies." They aren't as pretty as in the original pictures, but they look festive. Not sure if I'll make these again next year.

The finished product.

For Christmas, I got quite a few baking tools and I can't wait to use them. Amaya and I will have to experiment a little before I do her cake for her birthday... so the baking will continue...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ice Skating

Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamiguchi, Oksana Baiul, Sasha Cohen... make way for Amaya Gatzke! Whenever the Springer's come for Christmas, we try to get out on the ice skating rink. I don't remember when I first started ice skating... probably in elementary school, but I LOVE it and look forward to go at least every year. (We may need to start going a lot more often!) We considered taking Amaya last year, but her feet were too small... this year, she was more than ready!

Lydia and Amaya ready to get on the ice.

Look at those teeny tiny skates!

We got there pretty early, because I wanted to snag one of those walkers to help her out on the ice. But, Amaya wanted to hand on to our hands a couple of times around.

Our arms were gettings sore from holding her up, so we convinced her to try one of the walkers.

Hannah and Annika

Amaya has a pretty good sense of balance and really started to take off!

She fell several times, but had a great attitude about it. That's what the extra padding of the snowpants is for, right?

The boys were going to a late movie, so everyone needed to leave a little early. Amaya and stayed to skate and ended up shutting the place down! I was hoping to at least get 30 minutes out of her, but she skated the entire 2 hours! And she was humming or singing the entire time! Ice skating lessons in her future? Maybe...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Amaya's First Sleep-Over

Since the Springer's are here for the next week, my parents usually have the grandkids sleep-over a couple nights. Tonight the older kids- Joshua, Ben, Jordan, Annika, Hannah, and Lydia planned to spend the night and Amaya really wanted to spend the night too! She admires her older girl cousins and wants to play with them and their American Girl dolls-basically anything they do, she wants to do. She spent the weekend at my parents while Steve and I went to the Black Hills in October for a wedding, so she's pretty comfortable being over there... I was just worried about her falling asleep. The older girls were so sweet and went to "bed" with Amaya until she was almost asleep. This little girl is growing up too fast!!! Amaya was sawing logs when I left my parents, so let's just hope my mom can get a good nights sleep!

Christmas Stockings

Christmas morning, we woke Amaya up and she crawled into bed with us to open up our stockings. She's usually pretty good about waking up, but this morning she was especially excited! Steve's stocking is the one with the moose, Amaya's is the one with the two gingerbread men, and mine is the red one with two green hearts.

Amaya posing with her stocking.

The first gift she opened were skittles - one of her favorite kinds of candy.

She also got a Hello Kitty necklace.

Amaya's very own chapstick (so she doesn't have to borrow mine anymore!)

Purple nail polish!

A kids worship CD.

When she opened this gift, Amaya said, "I hope it's new clothes!"

In Steve's stocking, Amaya and I gave him a bottle of Dr. Pepper, tons of candy, and a Vikings t-shirt.

In my stocking, I had a purple cell phone case!!! (Our Christmas presents to each other were new cell phones... we both wanted an upgrade... and Steve picked out an iPhone for me!)

After opening stockings we got ready to go to my parent's church and then headed over there for the remainder of the day waiting for Dan and Carol to arrive from Nebraska. I'm not happy with the pictures we took from Christmas, so I need to get a CD of the ones my dad took, but hopefully I'll get those up on the blog soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Homemade Ornaments

One day when Amaya and I were out shopping, we were talking about the reason why we give gifts to the ones we love for Christmas. She said that she wanted to give "her own" presents to her grandparents from "her own money." So, with her hard earned money in hand, we looked around and found some wooden ornaments at Joanne Fabrics that she could paint. She was so excited to pay for them on her own and even more excited to paint them!

Merry Christmas Grandma and Grandpa Horning, Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson, and Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Struckmann!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve with the Hornings

After our Christmas Eve church service, we were invited to celebrate Christmas with Steve's parents. Ruth Ann prepared a delicious FEAST for us - chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, strawberry jello salad, a relish tray, and homemade bread. It was amazing!

Afterwards, we opened up presents... (Amaya's favorite part!)

The Wiggins gave her a set of Polly Pockets...

Grandpa and Grandma Horning gave her another year subscription to Highlights magazine which she loves to receive every month. She also got a Hello Kitty stuffed animal, a Hello Kitty hair brush, and a Princess book.

Steve got a Vikings sweatshirt and a Vikings hat.

I got a gift certificate to Kohl's and a new book by Robin Jones Gunn that I've just started!

Steve's dad wanted a photo album with pictures of Amaya. This was one of my favorite projects to work on. She's changed so much and it's a great way to look back on our favorite memories.

We gave Steve's mom a puzzle, book, and Christmas treats.

This year, Amaya wanted to make some presents for all her grandparents. She used her own money and picked out some wooden ornaments to paint.

Merry Christmas! Thank you for the wonderful evening! We love you so much!

Gingerbread Decorating

On Christmas Eve afternoon (after watching the Vikings), we decorated our Gingerbread House. One of these days, I might have the courage to do one from scratch, but for now... we'll stick with the premade ones.

Steve is the master froster!

Candy Decorations!

Amaya concentrating very hard and decorating with exact precision.

Finished! We used most of the candy, but couldn't find anymore room on the house to put it...

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Weekend is Here!!!

I just wrapped up a wonderful couple of days of work and am more than ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior!

Tomorrow morning, we'll sleep in a little and will decorate a gingerbread house. We've done this every year since Amaya was born and each year she and Steve get more creative! Steve will be watching the Vikings game at noon, so Amaya and I may make another batch of Candy Cane cookies. Our first batch that Amaya and I made with my dear cousin, Jen turned out AMAZING and they are already gone! Then, we'll attend the Christmas eve service at our church. After church, we will celebrate Christmas with Steve's parents! I'm looking forward to a wonderful evening and can't wait for them to open our presents!

On Christmas Day, we'll open up our family presents and stockings in our jammies. My parents invited us to go to church with them in the morning and then have brunch. I'm already thinking about devouring my mom's cinnamon rolls - they melt in your mouth!!! We might watch "A Christmas Story" in the afternoon - this has been a tradition for a few years now. My sister and her family will arrive from Nebraska around dinner time, just in time to enjoy the feast my mom is preparing!! All 17 of us will be together opening presents and having a blast!!! I am so excited!!!

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lefse Making

Lefse is a soft, Norwegian flatbread and one of my many favorite things to make with my mom during the holidays. My mom does all the hard work - peeling the potatoes, running them through the ricer, and rolling out the dough. I'm just the griddle master and lefse flipper.

My mom and Amaya excited to start!

Mom has a special rolling pin with deep grooves in it and a long wooden turning stick to flip the lefse.

The griddle...

Amaya "helped" by giving my mom the dough...

She was more interested in playing in the flour than making lefse....

Amaya had most of the flour on her and on the kitchen floor! (Thank you Mom for letting her experiment and play!)

The finished product!

We like our lefse with butter and white sugar... others are a little more adventurous and spread ligonberry sauce on it! One of my old college friends made it with lutefisk and mashed potatoes... an interesting combination. (Although I've never had lutefisk, so I really shouldn't judge.) How do you like your lefse?