Holiday homemade pie…apple and french silk

My contributions to our family gatherings were homemade pies. Luckily they turned out amazing! I always make homemade crust, because it is not that hard and always tastes better than store-bought. Crust is actually an important part of the pie for me; every bite should have a little bit of crust in it!

Blending the butter and sugar for french silk

Blending the butter and sugar for french silk

This is the recipe I follow for french silk. I actually use a paper recipe from my high school french class but it is the same one as online, omitting the booze…haha.

The eggs give the french silk its creamy texture

The eggs give the french silk its creamy texture

I have been really disappointed when I’ve tried other people’s french silk and it is made with pudding or some crap. I make the actual french silk which is so much better and it is just butter, sugar, unsweetened chocolate and eggs. Of course we use real whipping cream. The past two years I’ve added mini candy canes on each slice which is cute and festive. However, if you have leftovers in the fridge the pie will start to taste slightly of peppermint which is gross…so if you decorate it with candy canes make sure you are going to eat it immediately.

French silk whipped into a frenzy

French silk whipped into a frenzy

My brother and his girlfriend requested apple pie and this was the first time I’ve ever made apple pie. I was thrilled with this recipe because it was pretty simple and surprisingly delicious. I don’t normally like fruit pies but I’ve been eating this apple pie.

Peeling the apples took the longest

Peeling the apples took the longest

The most difficult part was peeling all of the apples. I used a snowflake cookie cutter instead of lattice over the top to make it more festive, but once it was baked it didn’t really look much like snowflakes. Also, I forgot to put a pan under the pie while it was baking (of course) so now I get to use oven cleaner, which is always a blast.

Snowflake lattice before baking

Snowflake lattice before baking

I used this recipe by Grandma Ople from AllRecipes. I figured if “Grandma Ople” made it it’s gotta be good.

Pouring the filling over the apple pie before baking

Pouring the filling over the apple pie before baking

I might try to make mini-pies next year (the little six-inchers) so we can have more variety and everyone can have their favorite. I’d like to try the Reese’s peanut butter pie but don’t want to have too many leftovers. Because I would eat them all. No doubt.

The baked apple pie didn't really retain the snowflakes....

The baked apple pie didn’t really retain the look of  snowflakes….

Bones for Christmas

George: “Did we get [daycare lady] a Christmas gift?”

Me: “Yes; we got her a bonus.”

George: “Bon-sus? Like dog bones?”

I love how a three-year-old mind works. I can almost see the connections being forged.

Our visit to see the Canadian Pacific Railroad Holiday Train

We visited the Canadian Pacific Railroad Holiday Train in NE Minneapolis on Thursday. It was the first time we went and it was pretty cool!

George and Dad in front of the train (but you can't really see them)

George and Dad in front of the train (but you can’t really see them)

In front of the holiday train again

In front of the holiday train again

It was relatively warm in comparison to usual temperatures in mid-December, but it was late (8:30 p.m.) and windy so it was actually a bit uncomfortable.

Tree and Santa lit up on the side of the holiday train

Tree and Santa lit up on the side of the holiday train

I took Julius in the car to wait, nurse him and warm up because he was hungry and fussy. George braved the cold because he was so excited for the train.

Christmas tree and mountain lights!

Christmas tree and mountain lights!

We couldn’t get great photos because it was so dark! But it was very cool, George loved it and we’d love to do it again as long as the weather cooperates.

Christmas present lights on the train

Christmas present lights on the train

Our family’s Christmas traditions

This is the best (and busiest) time of year! Both giving to others and seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child are the greatest ways to feel the Christmas spirit. We always do the Angel Tree at church which is a fun selfless activity for George. This year, we are also going to the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and I’ve already got my food shelf donation in the trunk. I found some free Christmas sheet music on the ipad and I’ve been playing piano when I can escape the baby in the evenings.

As in previous years I did our Christmas postcard on Vistaprint.

As in previous years I did our Christmas postcard on Vistaprint.

I usually use a Christmas verse or book line as a generic greeting instead of writing on each postcard

I usually use a Christmas verse or book line as a generic greeting instead of writing on each postcard.

Now that my mom is in an assisted living community, I thought George could walk around and pass out plants to the 50-or-so residents that live there – I called to make sure it was okay and the activities director thought it was a great idea. I called a local garden center and talked to someone about a custom order but after never receiving a call back which pissed me off, so I just ordered plants online from Nature Hills Nursery. Of course I’d rather purchase plants locally and not rely on shipping, but I wasn’t in the mood to beg someone to help me when I was willing to make a large order.

My brother gave me an advent calendar similar to the one we grew up with - unfortunately my mom donated ours (so tragic!)

My brother gave me an advent calendar similar to the one we grew up with – unfortunately my mom donated ours (so tragic!)

I’m not sure if my mom had anxiety about needing to move into assisted living or what, but over the years she has gotten rid of special things, and has given away so many of our special toys, memorable clothing and holiday items that it makes me want to cry. I’ve been mad at her for years for giving away a blue dress with ruffles on it I wore as a child and when she gave away our advent calendar I kind of lost my cool. I’d rather be a hoarder than to give away those special holiday tradition items. Which might explain my obsession with holiday traditions.

I really want to make lefse with my kids but every year is kind of a fail because it is a long process and George wants nothing to do with it.

I really want to make lefse with my kids but so far it is kind of a fail because it is a long process and George wants nothing to do with it.

I bought our annual nativity set on eBay but had to buy the manger separately so it doesn’t fit anyone but Mary, Joseph and Jesus. We had a little porcelain set when I was a kid but it was miniature so it didn’t have as much presence for display as I wanted. Plus, it was chipped and some of the face paint was missing so it’s not really in great shape.

George has fun helping us set up the nativity.

George has fun helping us set up the nativity.

I wrap all of our gifts with the bulk roll of Christmas wrapping paper I bought online for $40. People always rip on me for storing this much wrapping paper but I am not worried about wrapping huge items, or using some of the back of it for drawing paper, and we always wrap the doorway to the downstairs so George has to break through it on Christmas morning.

I am proud of my ream of wrapping paper...

I am proud of my ream of wrapping paper…

I am making diy supersized stockings for George and Julius because I hate how small regular stockings are and the quilted stockings I wanted to buy were not large enough. The funny part of this project is the fabric pieces I’ve pulled together are either from consignment or clothes that we were going to throw away. The woven part is a sweater I cut up, the plaid part is boxers that were too big for Ross, the red parts are consignment fleece and consignment Christmas fabric, and I have a whole different group of fabrics for Julius’ stocking.

This is George's quilted stocking coming together!

This is George’s quilted stocking coming together!

The best Christmas gift I’ve ever created was this pottery clay footprint of George’s foot two months after he was born. I really want to do the same thing for Julius so we have to get our asses there soon.

This is probably my favorite ornament ever.

This is probably my favorite ornament ever.

My work was giving away this huge silver tinsel wreath so I snatched it up. I don’t really feel comfortable making holes on our front door to hang it but I just prop it up on the shelving downstairs and call it a day.

This wreath is a lot bigger than it looks

This wreath is a lot bigger than it looks

Merry Christmas to you….