Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Cookies Recipe

christmas sugar cookie with icing recipe card euroamerican home

We spent the day before Christmas baking cookies from one of Trevor's mom's recipes. Here it is, with metric conversions in the second chart:

3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour milk (1 Tbsp of vinegar in milk)
1 lb butter
1 ½ tsp baking soda
8 cups all purpose flour
Metric Measurements
600 g granulated sugar
3 eggs
240 mL sour milk (1 Tbsp of vinegar in milk)
450 g butter
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1000 g all purpose flour

christmas sugar cookie recipe card euroamerican home
1. In a large bowl, mix sugar and butter.

2. Add eggs, sour milk and baking soda. We forgot to buy sour milk and just used regular milk.

3. Gradually add flour and mix. (Notice how messy flour is, only to spread it all over the floor seconds later.)

4. Chill for several hours. (This included preventing Trevor from eating raw cookie dough.)

5. On a floured surface, knead dough, roll out to ¼ inch thickness.

6. Cut out with cookie cutters. (Carefully consider building an entire dough village out of the shapes. Decide it would take too much time and you just can't wait to taste the cookies.)

7. Place on greased and floured cookies sheet.

8. Bake at 340 F (170 C) for 8-9 minutes. Don't worry if you don't have a thermometer (we didn't). We just took them out when the house smelled unbearably yummy. 

christmas sugar cookie recipe in tray euroamerican home
Please be kind and notice our heads peeking over the tray.
 9. Debate what to do with the extra dough. We tried to have a dough fight, which proved to be quite unsuccessful because all our dough was just too floury. I mean what good is it to have a fight when the dough doesn't stick to the kitchen tile? Obviously this was our addition, Trevor's mom's recipe mentioned no such attempt.

For the icing we used  Martha Stewart's Royal Icing recipe, using 250g of sugar and 1 egg instead of all the fancy schmancy ingredients which Americans take for granted but which are impossible to find here. What Martha doesn't say is flip a coin to decide who gets to lick the spoon and the pot, but you should make sure you check this off your list after all the cookies are iced.

We didn't have any sprinkles for decorating, and we didn't want to buy any especially for this project, so we used some M&M's (ironically bought especially for this project) to make them more colorful. I wouldn't recommend doing this since they're so big and our plan of smashing them and sprinkling them over the icing didn't go so well. But check out the owl-snowman combo in the first picture!

Friday, December 28, 2012

What I learned from Joe Versus the Volcano

On the second day of Christmas my true love made me ... watch Joe Versus the Volcano.

Ok, maybe he didn't exactly make me, he strongly encouraged me. I have the feeling that he's picking up my persuasion methods and applying them for his evil plans. Trevor thinks that Joe Versus the Volcano is the quintessential Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie while I think that nothing beats You've Got Mail in that category. As you can see, we have very philosophical conversations here. 

I enjoyed the movie and I realized that I can learn so many things from it. Here's a bunch:

1. If you step into a puddle first thing in the morning, you are bound to have a bad day.

   or a variation on that:

   If your day is going bad, you're bound to step into a puddle when you get out of the car.

2. If you work in a place you hate, you're sure to be in a windowless office with fluorescent lights.

3. If you want to seduce a girl, make sure you tip a mariachi band to sing at your table.

4. The villain will always carry a duck head cane (preferably made out of gold).

5. There's no escaping quirky salesmen.

6. Make sure you get your best advice from the limo chauffeur (preferably resembling a grandfather figure).

7. If you're going to fish, wear a salmon-pink shirt with a fish pattern. I'm telling you, it's all the rage. That way you will blend in and the fish won't know what hit them.

Tom hanks fish patterned song in joe versus the volcano

8. If you're going to ride out a typhoon, make sure you do it with Meg Ryan.

9. When choosing luggage, make sure it can double as a raft that you can dance on. While you're at it, play the ukulele too. Also, if you're buying fancy luggage, make sure you always buy four pieces.

10. The laws of physics do not apply when you are married.

11. If the guy who narrates Unsolved Mysteries gives you a diagnosis, it's probably wrong.

12. If you're going to jump into a volcano, make sure you're dressed for prom.

13. Make sure you watch this movie with someone who constantly shouts at you: It's a metaphor! like so:

Mickey (the pragmatic): This is silly! That's impossible! THIS IS AGAINST THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!

Trevor (the idealist): It's a METAPHOR!!!

If my newly acquired wisdom does not convince you to watch this movie, maybe the clever opening scene will.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

We're in full Christmas preparation mode here, mildly interrupted by Christmas procrastination.

We want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. With this occasion in mind, we have some pretty cute cards/wallpapers for you to download. I came up with the idea, then Trevor did the drawing by hand and the editing.

This one's for the tea lovers.

Happy holidays tea lovers green Christmas card EuroAmerican Home

Happy holidays tea lovers orange Christmas card EuroAmerican Home

Happy holidays tea lovers purple red Christmas card EuroAmerican Home

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baking Peanut Butter Blossoms - in Metric

Baking adventure #1 was a complete success! With a few lessons learned, tomorrow we will embark on baking adventure #2 - sugar cookies with icing.

For adventure #1, we made Peanut Butter Blossoms with Hershey's Kisses. Take a look at the success and don't forget to wipe up the drool. Now, the recipe is available all over the place, but if you are too lazy to look it up, I've included it here with a few tips we picked up. Also, we had to convert the ingredients for European kitchens so if you are using metric, that is also listed. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossoms hershey kisses cookies

Peanut Butter Blossoms
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs (or just whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
½ cup sugar, for rolling
1 bags Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Metric Conversion
200 g butter, softened
350 g creamy peanut butter
215 ml sugar (340 g)
215 ml packed brown sugar (350 g)
2 eggs (or just whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
745 ml flour (420 g)
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
½ cup sugar for rolling
1 bags Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 190 C degrees.
Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth.
Add sugars and blend until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
Stir in vanilla.
Add flour, baking soda and salt, just mixing until combined, then add in milk.
Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes (if you are patient enough).

Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
Lay on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 5-7 minutes.
Remove from oven and push Kiss down into the middle of each cookie.
Return to oven and bake for 2-3 more minutes.
Remove and let cool completely.

Some tips:

If you don't have brown sugar, just double the regular sugar.

Don't turn the oven too hot. It will burn the bottoms of the cookies, and the tips of the Kisses.

You can use this recipe to make cookie cutter shapes, just let them cool a little on the sheet before you remove them so they can stiffen. They also cook a little faster since they are thinner, so don't put them on the same tray as the blossoms.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Remembering Christmases past

Remembering Christmases past EuroAmerican Home
10 Ways to make your Christmas less stressful

5 Hacks to beat the holiday rush

7 Amazing presents under $100

8 Tips to survive Christmas travel


I read all these headlines and can't help but wonder: is this what Christmas is all about? Why has it become a holiday in which we hunt for deals and elbow fellow shoppers in our rush to get the perfect present?

I remember celebrating Christmas growing up, but I can barely remember a few of the presents that I received.

I remember that my parents used to decorate the Christmas tree while I was asleep. When I was a baby, up until the age 5 I think, it was Santa that brought the Christmas tree together with the presents on December 24th. I thought Santa was a pretty cool dude, because we lived on the fourth floor and he would fly up to the window (always the window!), come inside without a noise and put the Christmas tree on a cabinet. We would always have a short tree because the apartment was so small but I thought it was the most beautiful tree in the world.

I remember that we didn't take down the tree until my birthday, way into January. It would be all dry and shedding needles, but it had to stay up. It was a family tradition.

I remember how Santa always brought some oranges and bananas, which were so hard to find back then. My mom would spread them on newspapers on top of the wardrobe because they needed to ripen. I remember chocolate bars being wrapped in paper, not in plastic. We used to hang chocolate candy in the tree and I used to steal the candy from inside and leave the wrapper on, then puff it out a bit to create the illusion that there was still candy inside.

I remember how my brother and I would fight over the proper way to decorate the tree. I remember his tantrums about the plastic snowflakes. It's funny now.We would listen to carols and my dad would insist that they're not foreign, but traditional. When all was done, we would strike funny poses for the camera using hats as props.

Christmas glitter snowflake decoration EuroAmerican Home

I remember the time we decided to take our first family picture in front of the Christmas tree and how my dad would fret to have it look perfect ("hug your brother!").

I remember the shows we put on at school for our parents and all the poems we had to learn. I can still recite some of them. I remember my mom's watery eyes when I would go in front on the class to recite my poem or play my part.

I remember the snow fights in the school yard and how we would come back from recess soaking wet. It was always "the boys" versus "the girls" and we each had a safe retreat place in opposite corners of the yard. I still remember the feeling of having snow rubbed all over my face.

I remember how happy we were when school was cancelled because of the heavy snow and how we would call each other to spread or confirm the news.

I remember the first time the city put up Christmas lights and how my dad took everyone on a car ride to look at them. And then again the next evening. And then again.

I remember when I got my first stocking, and I was so proud because it was "just like in the movies".

I remember when my brother and I plotted for an hour to throw the dog in a huge pile of snow and he swam out of it in 3 seconds.

I remember all the anticipation of Christmas lunches and the running to-and-fro to finish up the last touches while waiting for guests.

Felt reindeer and angel Christmas decorations EuroAmerican Home

I remember when I wrote personalized limericks for all of my friends in college.

I remember when Sorina and I decided to watch You've Got Mail and eat popcorn sometime in December, as our yearly holiday tradition. We know the lines by heart and say them with Kathleen and Joe (F-O-X, Mr.152 insights into my soul!) One year we watched it in the summer and we felt so guilty.

I remember when my friend Andreea crafted a present for me and called it my Christmas juju. She made hand warmers and a clay decorations. She made a cute tag and there was glitter all over my hands but I loved it.

I remember Ana's post-Christmas wine parties and how much we laughed trying on masks.

I remember when Ana G and I walked all over town a few years ago and took pictures with all of the lights and stayed in the freezing cold just to listen to a carols concert.

I remember when Trevor had his first mulled wine here and I taught him how to say Merry Christmas in my language.

I don't remember the presents or how much they cost. I don't remember the grinches. And I certainly don't remember any stress.

Oh, and I also remember this:

Mickey and Santa in school EuroAmerican Home

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Christmas crafting: Snow-covered felt house

We have a full stash of felt that needs to be put to work and a lot of ideas to turn it into cute little ornaments. What we don't have is a sewing machine. So things are going pretty slow since all the sewing must be done by hand. We made our first felt house and we have 3 other ornaments in the works (meaning glue drying phase).

We cut out the felt and then glued the pieces together. We want the ornaments to be sturdy so we reinforced them by stitching the glued parts.

Then Trevor took the house in his pocket so we could take a picture of it on our walk along the river, because we thought having the house by the river bank would increase the resale value.

Here's the front of the house. What you can't see in this picture is the cute picket fence that we sewed on the back.

snow covered felt house craft

While we were making these crafts I made the mistake of mispronouncing "sew" wrong ONCE and Trevor keeps making fun of me ever since. He shouldn't be the one to laugh since he shies away from pronouncing "lemon" in my language. It's a linguistic battle we have over here.

how to craft and sew with boyfriend

Monday, December 17, 2012

Paper Christmas Trees

One of the things on our December fun list was making felt crafts. Thanks to Trevor's mother, we have a good batch of felt that will be subject to a lot of gluing and stitching. We've already made one very cute felt house but we're still waiting to have a whole set before we show it to you.

I've been collecting patterns on Pinterest for the past 2 months and have been filling up boards which I shrewdly named Winter Crafts and We Can Make This, which is basically an invitation to action akin to "come on self, if others could do this so can you". Notice the use of the pronoun in the first person plural (we), thus implying some external help (or the presence of multiple personalities).

My crafting board used to be called I Can Make This but I changed it when I realized that:

a) haha, riiiiight!!!

b) Trevor joined Pinterest and he's a nosy diy-er himself. The man thinks he joined so he can stalk me online on yet another social network, but what he doesn't know is that the moment he clicked on 'I accept the terms and conditions' he became the execution to my planning, the yin to my yang, the glue to my piece of paper, the www. to my .com.

Last year we only completed a small paper decorations project inspired by something found on Pinterest. By completed I mean I found it, got super excited about it, proceeded to jump up and down on the bed and gather the supplies (not at the same time, mind you, I don't play with scissors), worked about 5 minutes on it together with Trevor and then delegated the entire process to him because I was too busy being in awe of his very focused face, admiring his dimples and stuffing my face with chocolate. When everything was finished (90% by him) I resumed my jumping up and down on the bed and hung the paper decoration in the Christmas tree.

Aren't they cute?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The EuroAmerican Christmas TO DO List

The snow is here, so the Christmas season is in full swing and we are ready! If you are in need of some ideas for things to do to keep your spirit warm, use our list!

Season's Greetings from the EuroAmerican Home!

Things to do at Christmas: a list

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 1 - How to pack for a trip

So the time is finally here! I am actually in the United Club at the airport typing this post!

Of course there was much preparation up to now, so I thought I would share a little of the fun in packing for a trip such as this. Keep in mind, Mickey and I have been planning ahead and bringing her things to America a little at a time. This time, I will return with 2 full suitcases of Mickey's things. Which means I have to pack light while coming over, bring an extra suitcase, and anything else I pack must be left behind or consumed. When I started packing yesterday, the list started like this:

 - Extra suitcase
 - Hershey's Kisses
 - Felt, ribbon, glue (for Christmas Crafts)
 - Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
 - Paperwork for Visa interview
 - Chocolate dipped Christmas Peeps
 - Bottle of wine (for her family)
 - Hot Cocoa packets
 - Extra packaging supplies for return trip
 - Homemade fudge (from my mother)
 - Cell-phone with minutes (for Mickey's trip to the USA)
 - ...and anything I need for the a toothbrush

I'm not even sure that's everything I am bringing, but there wasn't a whole lot of room left for clothes. That extra suitcase filled most of it. Plus I am bringing 2 boxes of cocoa, 2 bags of Kisses and 2 boxes of fudge. Are you sensing a theme?

How to pack for a trip

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 8 - How to spot the pickle

A few days ago I asked Trevor to show me the Christmas ornaments that he has. Shipping my collection will be problematic so I wanted to see if I could rely on his to satisfy my Christmas craving. It turns out that he has some adorable pieces that he collected throughout the years, including a starfish Santa, knitted moccasins, a wooden nutcracker and a Christmas dinosaur (don't ask!).

The first thing that he pulled out of the box was a gherkin. Now I know Trevor likes food but hanging a gherkin seems a little bit random. If anything, I would've expected him to whip out some felt bacon. It turns out that the Christmas tree pickle (weihnachtsgurk) is an old German-American tradition. Trevor takes pride in his German-Welsh heritage.

The tradition says that the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra present or is blessed with good luck in the new year. If the family doesn't have children, the good luck is bestowed upon the first guest to spot it, which is tricky because the gherkin is always green and it blends in the decor.

Even though Americans regard this as a German tradition, the Germans themselves insist that it was the Americans who came up with it at the turn of the 19th century, when magnate F.W. Woolworth first used this "tradition" to jump-start the sale of imported glass ornaments. In other words, a classic case of "I don't want nuthin' to do with your gherkin, you creep" or "I don't vant mein picklehidden". The Germans reverse-imported it from the U.S. after this advertising gimmick worked so well.

You can probably notice that my research was quite thorough because we take our pickles very seriously around here (seriously, we elect them in public office). Academic articles have been written about the renegade pickle controversy, which, frankly, I think should be the title of a Big Bang Theory episode.

When Trevor heard my researched he was stunned:

Trevor: You mean an American capitalist taking advantage of gullible people to make lots of money. That never happens!!!

how to find the christmas tree gherkin pickle in the decorations
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