When I first moved into my neighborhood…I looked like this…nope, that is not a beached whale, that is me. Massively pregnant with my first child. The perfect time to move in to a brand new home in a town where you knew no one, and were at least an hour+ ride from family, right?
My husband worked then (and now) 2 hours each way from our home. When I wasn’t trucking myself back and forth to work, I was home quite a bit by myself. I started to get pretty freaked about what I would do if I went into labor, and had to drive myself to the hospital and hang out on my own for a couple of hours until my husband could get there. So…I did what any Italian girl would do…I got cooking…well, since it was Christmas time, I got baking. I was going to make sure that I knew my neighbors. I made up about 15 bags of holiday cookies and treats, and delivered them to the houses in yelling/screaming distance. Included in those bags were today’s recipe – the Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.
The next day, I received a few phone calls – a couple of them were thanking me, and one was a neighbor asking for more fudge (no joke). And she continued to call over the next couple months, to ask if I was making fudge, or if she could pay me to make fudge. I finally learned that you need to learn to teach a man to fish…or in this case, teach a woman to make fudge. I passed on the recipe to her, and even picked up her first round of ingredients. Even though I now know all of my neighbors, I still continue to make them Christmas treats….although it is pared back now to just the Chocolate Peanut Butter fudge. It is SO easy to make and I love that you can freeze it in advance, but don’t tell any of my other neighbors….I don’t want them to think I am too easily replaced!
Neighborhood Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
1 cup Peanut Butter Chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 cup Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Line an 8 inch square tin with foil
2. Place Peanut Butter Chips and 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk in a small, microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1 – 1 1/2 minutes stirring after 1 minute, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth when stirred. Stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla; spread evenly into the pan.
3. Place remaining sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in another small microwave-safe bowl; microwave as above. Spread evenly over peanut butter.
4. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Remove from pan; place on cutting board, peel off foil and cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. If you choose to freeze this, do not cut it first. Wrap the entire batch in plastic wrap, and then place in a freezer bag. When you would like to eat it, thaw within the refrigerator.
One of the funniest things to come out of all our first year holiday deliveries…I did not deliver to one of my (now) dear neighbors, Bill and Cindy. Cindy received a call from one of the other neighbors asking about the treats, and looked all around the exterior of the house, and came up with no treats. We were friends for about a year until one night after enjoying some wine, I was asked the big question…”Why didn’t I get any of your Christmas Cookies?” um what, it was pent-up for a year?!?!? Let me tell you….Cindy will never be left off the holiday treat list again
This weekend, I am excited to be hosting a “Thanks-mas” dinner at my house. What is Thanks-mas?? Well, it is a little holiday we cooked up with some of our friends. We celebrate the holidays with our family, but we wanted to do something special with our friends who are like family to us. I have been busy prepping the meal (we are going with Thanksgiving food, as we all travelled for the holidays and did not get to enjoy leftovers…boo!), and we have all been coming up with fun Christmas activities. So besides getting ready over 34 pounds of Turkey (19 pounder and a 15 pounder), I have been super focused on the Christmas-y drinks to be included, and have tested them out all week (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!). I have 4 to make that night, but my absolute favorite was this Cookie Martini.
While Thursdays are typically our “Celebrating Moms” day, I thought this drink recipe would be perfect to share because, well…Mrs. Clauses always needs a bit of cheer!
Drizzle chocolate sauce on a chilled martini glass (these super cute festive ones came from Pier One last year).
Add 2 ounces White Godiva Vodka, 2 ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1/2 ounce Peppermint Schnapps, and 1/2 ounce milk. Garnish with a miniature candy cane or chocolate shavings (optional – as you can see, I went straight for enjoying, and was not focused on dressing this up too much!).
I hope you enjoy this little cocktail and if you try the Cookie Martini, let me know what you think – I would love to hear your thoughts!
So I mentioned that I had a couple of these – do you want to see more drink recipes this season?
Last year, was the first year that my son really “got” Christmas. By that, I mean he was standing next to my bed at 4:00 in the morning asking if we could go and see Santa delivered what he asked for (it was a modest request of bath toys and cars, which Santa did fulfill).
As it was the first year…I would also like to admit, we went overboard. My husband and I both come from extremely modest backgrounds, and our parents are very practical and reasonable people. We were talking last year in preparation for Christmas, and I don’t know which one of us said it…but we decided that we should “blow our son’s mind” for Christmas, and try to find a ton of things that he would like. We went bonkers (a bounce house set up outside may or may not have been included in this process)…we kept saying to each other that we could not WAIT to see his reaction. We did not have a Christmas like that which we could remember, so we seriously could not wait.
Christmas morning came, and he opened up one present…the bath toys, and was thrilled. He opened up the next present…cars, and was ecstatic, and got right to playing. We kept telling him about the rest of the presents, we would encourage him to look at them, and he finally said to us, at the wise age of 3…”but I didn’t ask for anything else, why would Santa bring me all of that?” As the credit card bills appeared in January, and some of the toys sat collecting dust, my husband and I wondered, just why exactly DID Santa do that? This was not a mommy brain moment, but more of a mommy/daddy lapse in judgement.
All over, we see people buying, buying, and buying. Pictures of Black Friday Shopping Mobs, people filling up their shopping carts to the brim..it is a great feeling to give someone a gift they love, but, when is enough really enough? With last year’s big lesson learned for us, we are scaling back big time this year. My son’s list for Santa was limited again this year…Rex from Toy Story and superhero toys…he also made up a list for his sister…a cradle for her dolls and superhero toys. (yes, I find the second one a bit suspicious as well). They will receive a couple of extras including a picture book that I am pulling together with millions of pictures that I take for my son, a baby doll blanket that I am crocheting for my daughter, and tickets to a local event that we will go to as a family.
We are fortunate to have the choice whether we should go a little overboard or not, we know that this is not the same for everyone. We are incorporating “doing good for others” into our mantra every day. The toy that may bring my son a couple of minutes of joy would bring another child endless hours of fun and entertainment. We are focusing on the fun that Christmas brings – driving around to see all the beautiful lights, going to the town tree lighting, reading the cards that come in the mail (and no, my card is still not done yet), and visiting with family and friends. Not to sound hokey – but we are trying to focus on the “Reason for the Season” and not getting too caught up in the commercial aspects. We are going to do our best to remember others and focus more on the intangibles.
This year my family is saying, we are enough for the Holidays, and enjoying all that we can…while remaining reasonable and practical parents.
What do you think about Christmas with kids? Do you tend to go overboard, or are you good at restraining yourselves? How do you bring forward the “reason for the season” in your house?
Holidays bring a new meaning to Manic Mondays – at least in my house! In the time leading up to Thanksgiving, I burnt a dinner that was in the oven (hello waste of a freezer meal), slammed my finger in the car door, and got into a little fender bender. With the holiday decorations coming out, the discussions about Santa, Elves and presents started to come from my 4-year-old. My husband and I have mixed up Santa and Elves stories left and right, and I am already feeling a bit overwhelmed!!!
We had a “date night” on Saturday night with some take out Chinese Food, and holiday drinks (get excited for those recipes to be posted!)…and hubby and I got on the same page about all things Christmas, because this year, we have an observant kid, and we don’t want to ruin any of the magic (and more importantly, Mrs. Claus’s sanity). We talked about which items from their wish list Santa should buy, what traditions from past years we wanted to continue, and we capped the night off with a discussion about our Christmas Card (does anyone else get stressed about this like I do!?). I am feeling a million times less stressed about everything, and just plain excited about sharing such a special time of the year with our kids. Ah, date nights are not like they used to be, but my husband still knows the way to my heart!!!
Apparently I am not the only one going a bit manic, as I received a question from an MMB reader, Deirdre, who asked the following…
”When wrapping gifts from Santa–does he use the same gift wrap for the entire family or different for each person, but all the same for each person? I know crazy but I’m so anal, type A. Just curious what others do. My almost 4 yr old watches closely! Is there anything else that I should be thinking of to make sure that he doesn’t catch on?”
For my family… we used special wrapping paper for each child, which they could find easily (my son was Cars, my daughter was Minnie Mouse), and I just wrote their name on the packaging. This year, I will do the same with the wrapping paper, but I am going to order the gift tags from More than a Cupcake, and will be asking for their name to be printed directly on them – I think my son may catch on to my handwriting.
My husband and I do not receive any “Santa Gifts” – we exchange with each other 2 nights before Christmas…we have a special meal, play holiday music, open gifts, and then watch the Classic – Christmas Vacation. We have been doing this for years, and continued it when we had children, so that we could take the time to enjoy the gifts that we selected for each other, but on Christmas, make it all about our munchkins, and getting to watch their faces light up! Santa will fill up Mommy and Daddy’s stockings though!
More importantly – do any MMB readers have any other ideas? Anything else we should be thinking about?!
Oh and here is a video that I HAD to share with you. This house is right nearby my house, and we get to drive by it every evening (well, maybe I go about 5 minutes out of my way, but it’s totally worth it)…anyone else feeling festive?! Oh and I KNOW that this video stinks – it is the first time I am trying to share one on here. I promise to improve on shaky hands and not having cars always drive by
We are not quite past Thanksgiving yet, but the commercials are out, the stores are decorated and we are starting to be reminded well that the holidays are quickly approaching. Holiday baking, decorating, gift buying – it is all coming! As we start planning holiday shopping, I feel compelled to share with you one of my experiences from last year. This is not an internet forward or something I overheard in the grocery store, but this holiday shopping scam happened directly to me…
The Sunday before Christmas last year, I had one last trip to the store to make to finish off ALL of my shopping. The list was long, but the chance to have everything done one week before Christmas was motivation enough for me. My then 8 month old daughter and I headed off to a big, well-known store. We went through the store and ticked off every item on my list, and came to the end of our shopping trip. We went to the register to check out, and picked up 8 gift cards. The total value of the gift cards was going to be around $500 in varying amounts both gift recipients and our local women’s shelter.
I was waiting for the cashier, and chattering away with my daughter, the people behind me in line…really anyone…because I had the overwhelming, I conquered the world feeling…I was done with Christmas shopping one week early (Yes, if I say it enough times, I will be motivated to do the same thing this year!!).
The cashier rang up my purchases, and informed me there was an issue with the gift cards, and asked me to grab some new ones. I handed them over and she gave me my total amount. Now…I am not sure if everyone does this, but I add up my purchases in stores as I go along. I am not always on my game, but by my estimation, the amount she was telling me was $200 over what my total should have been. Now, I totally looked the part of a harried, clueless mom. Yoga pants, oversized sweatshirt, and even though I was wearing a hat you could probably still see diaper cream in my hair left over from when I wrestled my daughter into a new diaper and outfit so we could leave the house with at least one of us looking presentable.
My brain went into analyze mode…I knew something wasn’t right, and asked to see the receipt. I immediately counted up all the gift cards, and saw 12 gift cards, instead of 8. I next asked for the gift cards and began matching the serial numbers on the gift cards to those on the receipt (hey, I did my share of time in retail, this was easy!). At this point, the cashier and the woman behind me in line (who originally was going ga-ga over my daughter) was telling me that she was sure things were fine, and a lot of people had to check out…which started the guy behind her saying stuff, and you know how that goes.
I stood my place in line, because I knew something was not right. A manager came over, and escorted me to the guest services counter with the cashier. On the way over, the cashier dropped 2 gift cards, which I picked up and presented to the manager. I was then questioned, because only 10 gift cards could be located…I offered for them to check my bags (which they did….and it was all clear, big surprise). After 10 minutes, I was given the correct cards, and told everything looked okay. I bluntly asked the manager if the cashier was stealing from me.
She had pocketed 4 of my gift cards, and tried to get me to pay for them twice. The store has video cameras on every cashier, so once we went over the whole story, (especially with the 2 gift cards she tried to drop), they were able to figure out what happened.
I felt so incredibly violated. She knew I was an easy target – Christmas hustle, being distracted by a little one, and buying a shopping cart full of items. She was stealing from me. The manager did not immediately believe me that something was wrong as well, and checked MY bags.
I asked the manager what would have happened if I did not realize this before I walked out of the store…I was told that they once it was figured out they would have opened up an investigation and reached out to any customer who was at the register who purchased a gift card through their credit card company. If it was cash, I would have been out of luck.
I was so angry when I imagined our niece, one of my kid’s teachers, or even worse, someone from the shelter, going to the store, getting excited to buy something, and then having a gift card which didn’t work. Then months later, I would have maybe been notified that something was wrong with the purchase.
I called the police and the store’s corporate headquarters. Pretty much, I was told that this can happen, and that was about it. I told the company that I would share this experience with everyone I possibly could so that it did not happen again. Last year, I emailed my friends after this incident happened to warn them…this year, since I have MMB, I want to get the word out to as many people as possible so you could hopefully avoid a similar situation. If you are buying gift cards, please avoid holiday shopping scams by doing the following:
1) Purchase your gift cards separately from the rest of your shopping order so you can easily keep track of the amount of money you are spending
2) Check the amount which is on each card on your receipt before leaving the store
3) Try to buy gift cards using credit cards wherever possible
4) If the store has a gift card reader, do an extra check before you leave the store. Once you walk out…the process becomes more of a nightmare!
I hope this helps make sure that no one else is affected by a holiday shopping scam like this and I hope that everyone has a magical holiday season (especially one where you can finish your holiday shopping early!!!).
Copyright 2012 Mastering Mommy Brain. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPUBLICATION OR REDISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT, TEXT OR IMAGE, IN PART OR IN WHOLE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE AUTHOR.