Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Next Year Everyone Is Getting Gift Cards

On Day 3 of our snowed-in icepocalypse, I decided to work on our presents for the wonderful teachers in our kids' lives. In the past we've done a gift card to somewhere like Starbucks or a favorite ice cream place- somewhere a small denomination will actually get you something. But even at only $10 each, those cards add up when each kid has multiple teachers, so this year, in the spirit of having more time than money on my partially unpaid leave, I turned to the internet.

Oh, the internet. Filled with lies about prep time and impossibly perfect pictures of food I can't recreate, but I googled a few things like "homemade teacher gifts" and found this Santa Hat Party Mix. It looked so cute and doable and actually tasty and fun to eat. And sure it involved candy discs, something I've never used before, and maybe even I could tell those bugle hats were going to be more of a pain in the ass than the blog post implied, but I had a whole afternoon and my car was iced in place in my driveway- let's do this!


Four hours later, I decided I should have spent the $50 on gift cards. Red melting chocolate was smeared on my fingers, my back hurt, and the Frank Sinatra holiday station that had been cheerfully bursting forth from my Pandora app was starting to get on my nerves. The base of the mix was pretty easy, but the red bugles (the whole damn point of the mix) were my nemesis.


First I had to sort through 2 bags of them to find a sufficient number that were whole and sufficiently santa-hat-shaped. Then they had to be dipped in the melted chocolate, then dried, then I cut off any extraneous strings or flat chunks of dried chocolate that interfered with my precious hat shape. Then the chocolate had to be re-melted and everything re-dipped to ring the bottom in white non-pereils. Then dried. Then the chocolate had to be melted AGAIN and the tops of the hats re-dipped to attach the little marshmallow.


But they are cute. I put the mix in pint-sized Mason Jars (such a cliche at this point, but I thought they worked well here) and added m&m's and a carefully counted out number of precious hats.


I cut out some Christmas paper to put on the top, tied a ribbon around the neck, and (later) added a tag to each with the teacher's name on it.


I made 6 and had some leftover that is currently in the freezer waiting to wow the masses at our family reunion/gathering happening at the lake house on the 23rd. It might hurt me to watch them be eaten, but I can only encase them in plastic and admire them for so long.

While I made chocolate art (and Claire helped, kind of), the boys were working very hard on the Christmas lights.

Cora wore fleece and took a long nap.


After I finished and had cleaned all the bowls we own for the fifth time, I had to make dinner- even if I'd been tempted to break our scheduled menu and eat out (and oh, I WAS), I sadly re-remembered that we were iced in and couldn't go anywhere. So I made this Spasagna and it was fantastic. It also unfortunately involved using another large mixing bowl I had to clean, but it was worth it- very tasty and even better for lunch the next day. It'll be added to our regular rotation.

As long as we're talking about food, our menu for the week:

Sunday: Crockpot pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, homestyle mac and cheese, cold broccoli sadad.
Monday: OUT! The ice finally melted enough to drive a car and we headed to Gloria's for chips and queso and a margarita for mama (and other more substantive food too, but it was mostly about queso and my margarita).
Tuesday: Out again (oops). Claire had a dance recital at 5 and we stopped for half-price burgers at our favorite University place on the way home.
Wednesday: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad- a family favorite, quinoa topped with chopped grilled chicken, black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cheddar cheese, and dressing (BBQ sauce and Ranch for the Ranch lovers in my house; BBQ sauce and a bit of Italian dressing for me).
Thursday: Chili (mom's recipe), cornbread.
Friday: Pasta with tomato cream sauce.
Saturday: We're doing sugar cookies that day, so I'm sure we'll be ordering pizza at the end of that extravaganza and then it's all homemade food till Christmas.


  1. LOL. Never trust cute DIY baking projects from the internet. ;) They are always harder than they look. This year, I bought Body Shop gift sets on sale (30% off, so $14/teacher). I was very pleased with myself.

  2. The bugle hats look lovely though! I take it you've somehow managed to resist Pinterest?

  3. I know it's all said and done, but one way to keep the chocolate all melty is to put it in a container in the crockpot with water around it. That's what we do when we make fondue :) They look lovely though! Any those DIY craft pintrest liars are all the same with their just add a bit of that and pipe this on there and then perfection...riiiight...

  4. Cora has already changed so much!

  5. thought of you when I saw this:
    your gifts look lovely!

  6. My friend who is a teacher received no fewer than nine Starbucks gift cards from her students this Christmas. Your gift, though more work, was at least original.