Christmas Baking 2017

Oh The Christmas Baking again this year! Lots of work, but so much fun.

I inherited the Christmas cookie baking disease from my mom. She always baked lots and lots of cookies for Christmas.

I think I used about 10 lbs of butter this year, lots of flour, sugar and for sure lots of Vanilla. Here's some photos from this year. Should have taken more, but I was too busy baking, bagging and getting packages ready to mail and share.

I make a total mess when mixing. I've do all the mixing of the batter in one day so only one cleanup of the mess. The dough is put in bowls and into refrigerator until the next day. They have to sit out for a little while before I'm able to roll into balls and bake. I do bake the Spritz cookies the same day, cause the batter has to be just right to squeeze out of the cookie press.  Of course every baker needs a nice glass of Chardonnay ready and waiting...

7-Up Bundt Mini Cakes
I did buy 2 new pans this year at Walmart so I now have 6 pans. I made 2x the recipe.

Sugar Cookies
These are the best sugar cookies. Just roll into a ball, roll in sugar, flatten with a glass bottom and sprinkle with colored sprinkles. NOTE: took me years to figure out to get an empty sprinkle bottle and put green and red sprinkles in it and mix. That way you get red and green sprinkles all at once. DUH!

Reece’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies
These were not very chewy. Wonderful flavor, but they were a little too crispy. It's not easy to see if they are a little browned edges when the cookie is chocolate! 

Russian Teacakes
Everyone's favorite.

Chex Mix
My favorite. I think I did about 6x the recipe this year. Used three boxes of Corn Chex and 3 boxes of Wheat Chex and all the rest of the stuff. I also used a huge container of peanuts from Sam's Club.

Spritz Cookies
Just always have to include some green trees.

Here they are all bagged up and on my dining room table.

All Wrapped Up!

In The Box Ready for The Bow...Then Ready to Mail.

Here's a link to my first Cookie Baking blog  I wrote a few years past.

Reece’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-2/3 cups REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips (10-oz. pkg.)
1-1/4 cups butter or margarine (2-1/2 sticks) , softened
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 9 minutes. (Do not over bake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.) Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 54 cookies.
PAN RECIPE: Spread batter in greased 15-1/2x10-1/2x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350°F 20 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; cut into bars. About 4 dozen bars.
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES: Prepare CHEWY CHOCOLATE COOKIES as directed; cool. Press small scoop of vanilla ice cream between flat sides of cookies. Wrap and freeze.
-- Increase flour to 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons.
-- Decrease baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon.
-- Decrease sugar to 1-2/3 cups.
-- Add 2 teaspoons water with flour mixture.
-- Bake at 350°F, 7 to 8 minutes. Yield increases to about 6 dozen.
NOTE: Xmas 2017-doubled recipe and added one 11 oz bag of Xmas M&Ms and 14 oz bag of Reece’s Pieces candy instead of the REESE's Peanut Butter Chips.

Source: https://www.hersheys.com/kitchens/en_us/recipes/reeses-chewy-chocolate-cookies-with-peanut-butter-chips.html


Harvey Hurricane

Hurricane Harvey...Just showing some views near my house. Although the water is rising like crazy here, the ditches designed by The Woodlands are working to help the water run off and keep it from flowing into houses. There are so many parts of the Houston area not so  fortunate. Heartbreaking watching all the flooding happening in so many areas. Hoping it will stop raining soon.

 8/27 Saturday Afternoon - Just some rain outside my back yard.
8/26 Saturday Afternoon -  The ditch that runs behind my house.
8/27 Sunday Morning -  Same ditch day later. It's full to overflowing.
8/26 Saturday Afternoon - Here's looking down from the bridge. I was wondering why they did not clean out these things...Found out for sure what happens. See next photo.
8/27 Sunday Morning - That football was sitting about 6 feet below the water  shown below. The water just fills up and flows over the top.
 8/26 Sunday Morning - Lived here 40 years and never before saw the water up to the top of this bridge.
8/26 Saturday Afternoon
8/27 Sunday Morning 
 8/26 Saturday Afternoon - Looking north
8/27 Sunday Morning - Looking North
8/27 Sunday Morning - Looking South - We walked toward that bridge and beyond.

 8/27 Sunday Morning - Beyond the the little bridge above. There is normally no water in these ditches.
8/27 Sunday Morning -  We walked down the path to the larger ditch. Again normally there is no water in this ditch that now looks like a river. Not quite sure where this ditch leads, I'm thinking toward Spring Creek?
8/27 Sunday Morning - The ditch across the street from our house. Water going over the driveway.
 8/27 Sunday Morning - View from driveway above.


Underwater Photography - Summer of 2017

A couple months ago I saw some underwater photos of kids on Instagram. I'm pretty sure the photographers used housing for a full DSLR camera with underwater flash, and some used a GoPro with underwater housing. Both options gave super sharp photos.

I decided to give it  a try to try using the camera I already have. A few years ago, I purchased an inexpensive waterproof case for my little Sony Point and Shoot camera to take on vacation. The Sony is about 7 years old, and I purchased the case on Amazon for about $15. It was the least expensive option to take photos in the water. 

Having willing kiddos to pose has been the best part. All shots were taken at local pools in The Woodlands Texas. Would love to have a better camera to get sharper photos, but...The Best Camera is The One You Have Right Now!

 After several blurred and dark photos, I finally realized that keeping the flash turned on underwater works so much better.

"Hold hands and go down at the same time so I get you both together!" Here's the result...
Yes! Finally got three together! Told them to go under holding on to the side.
It kind of worked!

Played around with changing some of the photos to a Black & White look. 

I think there should be some Jaws music playing for this fun underwater photo! 

She's looking pretty serious about this underwater photography stuff.
This may be my favorite one. 

This is not an underwater photo, but it's pure Super Summer Fun! Got a little practice with my new 85mm 1.8 lens for my Canon 6D. She was so good doing it over and over!
Love taking pool shots. 

Here's the camera I used for the underwater photos. You can buy the case on Amazon. There are other brands and types available. No way would I buy a case for my Canon DSLR and take it under water. My little Sony was just sotred for several years just begging to be used again. Some of the cases offered can be used for cell phones. The instructions that came with my case suggested putting a tissue or two inside the case, seal it up and submerge in water for a while to be sure there are no leaks before using with a camera. Good Advice!

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