Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Shopping - Countdown to Christmas - Day 14

On the 14th day of the Countdown to Christmas, we focused on errands and Christmas shopping.


On Monday, I'm going shopping with my mom and she likes to buy five gifts for each person. That's a lot of gifts when you add up children and grandchildren.

Rather than trying to buy a lot in one day and rush through the experience, this year I took the girls out and had them choose things that their grandmother will give them. It seems a bit odd that they know what they will be receiving. However, as they get older their interests in hobbies and tastes in clothing get more specific.

It's also significantly easier on my mom and me when I take her shopping. I not only have to push a wheelchair but also the cart. This has been challenging sometimes when the cart is full and heavy.

So, to start out our day, we first got some errands done. I mailed window stars to customers, deposited a check into the bank, and then we ate a quick lunch at Subway.

We enjoy eating at Subway.

At our first stop, we found some items for each of the girls - including a LEGO set that Olivia has wanted for some time now.

The LEGO set that Olivia picked out.

Sophia found a red jacket that replaces the blue one she has had for quite a while. The blue one will still be great for doing barn chores and caring for the horses; and the red one will be one she wears out in public.

Then we headed to Maurices where Sophia enjoys shopping. She found quite a few things that will be gifts from my mom.

Sophia likes shopping at Maurices, and likes the clothes they have there.

Our last stop was Target where we found a pair of black pants that Olivia likes. She wears the one pair of black pants she has now often. So now Olivia will have another pair that is comfortable and will extend the life of the other pair since she won't be wearing them as frequently.


Advent Reading

Luke 1:46-56 - Mary said, “My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant! From now on all people will call me happy, because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.

"His name is holy; from one generation to another he shows mercy to those who honor him. He has stretched out his mighty arm and scattered the proud with all their plans. He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.

"He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel. He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants forever!”

Mary stayed about three months with Elizabeth and then went back home.


Christmas Joke

Why did Santa start sneezing in the chimney? (He caught a nasty floo!)


Christmas Fact

Today we learned about sugar plums:

We've heard the famous lines from the beginning of Clement Clark Moore's "Twas the Night Before Christmas": " The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads..."

What, exactly, is a sugar plum? A sugar plum is a piece of dragée or comfit candy that is a small round or oval shape. The sweet is made of sugar hardened around a central seed or kernel in successive layers using a process called "panning."

The glossy sugar shells on candies like M&Ms or jelly beans are produced through a similar process: The candy pan is kept in motion over heat, while successive layers of sugar are poured on and allowed to harden. Jawbreakers are made this way, using a sugar crystal as the seed.

Candy Decorations
Candy decorations from the gingerbread house.

Sugar plums or comfits were often made with cardamom seeds or caraway at the center. Almonds were another classic base for sugar plum; the resulting candy would be like Jordan almonds.

Confectionery historian Laura Mason calls comfit-making "one of the most difficult and tedious methods in craft confectionery, requiring specialized equipment, careful heat control, and experience."

Depending on the size of the finished product, a batch could take many days to complete. Not just anybody could make these candies. Until the advent of machine innovations, sugar plums or comfits were a luxury good, most likely to be found in an aristocrat's pocket or between courses at a banquet.

Nowadays, people sometimes refer to a sugar plum as dried fruit. Sugar plums may be made from any combination of dried plums (a.k.a. prunes), dates, apricots, figs, and cherries, but traditional sugar plums may contain none of these.

Sometimes the dried fruit is chopped fine and combined with honey, chopped almonds, and aromatic spices, such as anise seed, fennel seed, caraway seeds, and cardamom. This mixture is then rolled into balls, and then coated in sugar or shredded coconut.

Since we don't have the knowledge or skill to make traditional sugar plums, I found a recipe for fruit-based sugar plums on the Cupcake Project. Although we didn't make sugar plums this year, perhaps some year in the future we will make them.

Sparkly Sugar Plums 
Yield: About 50 teaspoon-sized sugar plums


• 2 cups toasted walnuts, chopped
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon orange zest
• 1 cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
• 1/2 cut pitted dates, finely chopped
• powdered sugar for rolling coating the balls
• plum purple disco dust (this can be purchased from the Layer Cake Shop)


Mix all the ingredients - except the sugar and disco dust - together in a large bowl. Optionally, place the whole mixture in the food processor and process for a few seconds - this will help everything to stick together, especially if you aren't the best at finely chopping.

Form the mixture into teaspoon-sized balls. Then roll the balls in powdered sugar and then roll in disco dust.

Note: If you let the balls sit overnight, the powdered sugar will absorb into the balls and will be less visible.

1 comment:

Rita said...

I didn't know what sugar plums were! I think I'd just buy jaw breakers--LOL! Always loved them. They last for such a long time. :)