I am fortunate enough to have a very large family. Both my mother and father were previously married and each had two children when they met, got married, and had me. Therefore, I have three older sisters and one older brother. Each one has their own family, which gives me 7 nieces and nephews (and one soon to be nephew)! (And that's just on my side... Fabian also has a brother and sister and 7 nieces and nephews).
With such large families, holidays could potential be very expensive. So, my family decided a few years back to only do presents for the children and stocking stuffers and one dirty Santa gift for the adults.
If you are not familiar with the game, let me explain... A price range is decided upon by the players, host, etc. Then, each person buys a present in the range and brings it wrapped to the party. Each person draws a number out of a hat. The person who receives #1, picks a gift and opens it. #2 then decides to either "steal" #1's gift or to open another wrapped present. This continues until all players have a gift in their hand. *NOTE* Each gift can only be stolen twice. The third person to have the gift gets to keep it! At the end #1 gets to decide if he/she would like to steal a gift (but can only steal gift that have not been stolen more than once).
We have have a ton of fun playing this game and are sure you will also.
You can also theme this game (i.e. ornament parties, wine parties [personal favorite], etc).
We have instituted two rules concerning stocking stuffers: #1 They MUST be useful. #2 They have to be $5 or more. (Both of which we waive occasionally- Weren't rules made to be broken?)
So, you ask, "Why are we talking about Christmas when it is blistering hot out?"
Because, now is the perfect time to begin working on or buying Christmas gifts (or stocking stuffers in my case)!
I have begun working on some stuffers (as of yesterday). I am very excited about mine this year. I am incorporating a newly improved skill to create something that I think will be pretty useful for my family members. AND I must admit they are kind of pretty! I'm making crocheted potholders for stocking stuffers this year. (So, all family members who follow: Put in your order for what color you'd like!)
*A personal thank you to Karen Z. for the great idea, along with all the yarn she gifted me!*
Since we are talking about Christmas, and because I keep my house on about 50 in the summer... I thought I would bake something for breakfast this morning. I had a bit of a craving for carrot cake, but decided to put a spin on my favorite recipe (CARROT CAKE III, which you can find at http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/carrot-cake-iii/Detail.aspx ), and make it into muffins!
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (organic) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large grated carrots
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Cream Cheese Glaze
1/4 cup butter
1/4 pound cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350
First, you mix your brown sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs, cinnamon, salt, baking soda & powder. Then you put your yogurt and carrots in the blender and set it to grate.
After that, you will mix in the yogurt/carrot mixture. Lastly, you will add your nuts, then flour.
You will then fill your greased muffin pan (or ramekins), and bake for about 30 minutes. After they have cooled you can add the cream cheese glaze.
Combine soften cream cheese and soften butter. Then, add confectioners' sugar.