Christmas Gift Status Report

Key Jabba figure lost head within 24 hours of Santa delivering gift.

Jabba head lost within 24 hours of Santa delivering gift.

December 25

2:30 am: Miss Priss arrives in our room and announces, “It’s Christmas!”

2:32 am: The Room Mom replies, “It won’t be Christmas for 3 more hours.” Miss Priss climbs into bed and repeats that she can’t sleep every 30 minutes until 4:30 am, then falls asleep until 6:40 am.

6:40 am: It is officially Christmas. Santa brings Jabba’s Lego palace with unique Jabba figure to my son, Mr. Star Wars. Santa brings a new American Girl doll with table, chairs, and the beautiful Depression glass birthday set to Miss Priss.

7:40 am: Christmas finished.

1:20 pm: First Christmas casualty– American Girl vase breaks. Tears.

1:30 pm: The Room Mom glues vase back together.

2:00 pm: The Room Mom naps.

american girl broken vase

December 26

11:00 am: Trip to Michael’s Crafts so work on American Girl doll food can begin.

2:00 pm: Mr. Star Wars wants to show his new Jabba Lego figure to the neighbors. This one-of-a-kind figure can only be purchased with the complete palace ($119.99). The Room Mom barely listens as Mr. Star Wars heads out the door because she is so engrossed in American Girl doll food.

3:00 pm: Jabba’s head discovered missing (oxymoron?) somewhere between the neighbor’s front door and our driveway. Assets– It is a big Lego piece. Liabilities– Jabba’s head is brown and green, the exact color of the lawn. Search begins.

4:30 pm: Search for Jabba’s head ends for the day due to lack of light.

7:00 pm: New Darth Vader Lego mini figure discovered missing.

8:00 pm: The Room Mom makes a margarita and tries not to think of the damaged toy sets that were new and perfect mere hours ago.

December 27

9:00 am: Mr. Star Wars continues the search for Jabba’s head. It rained during the night but is now sunny, so we hope Jabba will be easy to spot. Mr. Star Wars wears a new pair of Christmas pants and very carefully searches our yard and the neighbor’s yard on hands and knees in the wet grass.

chewed slide whistle

10:00 am: Dog eats wooden slide whistle Santa left in Miss Priss’ stocking. Work on the Playmobil Future Planet set begins. The Room Mom starts a load of laundry.

10:30 am: Dog chews Future Planet Playmobil man. The Room Mom saves man, but plastic Playmobil goggles lost. Dog’s reaction to the “Drop!” command improving.

Playmobil Future Planet Figure

December 28:

11:28: Kids head outside to ride EZ Rollers. The Room Mom stands at the edge of the driveway and notices a puddle of water sitting in a green plastic cup. Jabba’s head recovered!

Jabba the Hut Lego Head

1:00 pm: All boxes broken down and ready for garbage pick up. The Room Mom considers possible loose toy pieces in garbage pile.

December 29

11:30 am: Damage Assessment

  • One broken vase– repaired
  • One important Lego piece lost– recovered
  • One new pair of pants covered in dirt– laundered
  • One Darth Vader Mini Figure MIA– still unaccounted for
  • One wooden slide whistle eaten– thrown away **bonus** very noisy toy
  • One Playmobil man chewed– saved with minimal bite marks
  • Dog response to “Drop!” command– improving

Overall, minimal casualties and maximum gift enjoyment.

12:30 pm: The Room Mom begins working on a blog post to assure herself that she is not the only one who goes crazy over the missing and damaged tiny pieces of her children’s toys. The children, by the way, bypass the missing and damaged pieces and instantly create other ways to continue playing with the toys.


An American Girl Buffet

Coocy (Cookie) City Restaurant

Coocy (Cookie) City Restaurant

My daughter, Miss Priss, had an American Girl Christmas. Buried at the bottom of the American Girl gift pile was a book/kit we gave her called Do-it-Yourself Doll Dining. Our kit came with some paper plates, colorful papers, and a book about how to make doll food for American Girl. After one trip to Michael’s for foam sheets and glue dots to get us started, the food project quickly spiraled out of control.

american girl dinner close up

It has been two days since I started doll food production. We have been to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby twice ($85 and counting– with coupons), my kitchen table is buried in doll food materials, and Miss Priss is no longer involved in the process. If you have that crafty obsessive gene like I do, making the food is pretty fun. If you have the do-a-project-with-your-child-for-a-fun-afternoon gene, the ideas are quick and easy as long as you stick with the basic directions. Either way, you– I mean your daughter– can open an American Girl restaurant. Reservations recommended.

american girl restaurant

I included a material list at the end of the post. There is a basic list that can be used to make most of the items. If you want to take it to another level, I added the carried away list. Anything in the directions marked with ** require materials from the carried away list.

Now Serving Breakfast

Croissants, Fried Eggs, Bacon, Toast with Butter, Milk, Cereal

american girl breakfast


  • Cereal: With a hole puncher, punch many foam circles in tan and brown. Punch stars or hearts in pink and light green**. Punch partial holes in white to make moons. Fill plastic bottle cap from a 2-liter soda bottle 2/3 full with Elmer’s glue or white acrylic paint. Add punched pieces of foam and press down lightly. Let dry.
  • Bacon: Using brown foam sheet, cut wavy strips into a bacon shape.
  • Fried Egg: Using white foam sheet, cut a wavy oval to look like a fried egg white. Cut a small yellow circle from the yellow foam sheet (or use the hole puncher). Attach yellow circle to the white piece with a glue dot.
  • Toast: Cut a 1 1/2 in. square from the corkboard. Cut in half diagonally. Cut 2 tiny yellow squares from the yellow foam. Attach yellow square to the corkboard with a glue dot.
  • Cup of Milk: Fill a clear plastic bottle cap or plastic bead storage jar** with Elmer’s glue 3/4 full. Cut straw to a little taller than the bottle cap/jar. Put cut straw into cup while glue is wet. Let drive overnight (or longer). You could also squeeze some white acrylic paint into the bottom of a clear plastic lid or a bead jar. Tip the jar slightly and let the paint run up the sides. Roll the jar until the sides are covered. Stand jar upright and let dry overnight.
  • Croissants: Cut tan foam in long skinny triangles. I tried a few different sizes. I liked about 3/4 inches at the base of the triangle and about 2 inches tall. Put a glue dot on the point (skinny end) of the triangle. From the wide end, roll the foam until the glue dot attaches. Use glue dots to attach finished croissant to a cardboard rectangle or wood rectangle to look like a baking sheet.

Now Serving Lunch

Sandwiches, Pigs in a Blanket, Salad, Ice Water, Fruit Plate, Fruit Dip

american girl lunch

american girl lunch close up

american girl fruit and dip


  • Sandwiches: Follow the directions for toast above. Trace toast triangles on colored foam for sandwich fillers (yellow or orange for a cheese slice, brown for a meat slice, etc.). Take the adhesive backing off the corkboard and add one layer of sandwich filling. Use glue dots to attach other pieces. Use tiny pieces of green tissue or rafia ribbon for lettuce. To top sandwich, remove adhesive backing from the second bread triangle and attach to the top.
  • Salad: Cut small squares of green tissue, green curly ribbon, and green rafia ribbon. Put a pile in a bottle cap or bead storage jar lid. Put a glue dot on 3 mini red pom poms, attach to leaves of lettuce.
  • Pigs in a Blanket**: Paint wood dowels red and let dry. Follow directions for the croissants above. Cut tan foam a little wider than the croissants. When hot dogs are dry, put a glue dot on the skinny point of the triangle and wrap around the hot dog until the glue dot attaches.
  • Ice Water**: Fill bead storage jar or clear bottle cap about 2/3 full with Diamond Glaze. Add clear beads and straw and let dry overnight.
  • Fruit Dip: Fill a metal bottle cap with light pink acrylic paint. Put a small piece of styrofoam packing peanut on top for whipped cream. Let dry overnight or longer.
  • Fruit: The Doll Dining Kit came with stickers that you attach to foam sheet pieces to make the fruit slices. To make grapes, attach glue dots to mini pom poms (purple for red grapes or green for green grapes). Stick pom poms to small sticks to look like a grape bunch.

Now Serving Dinner

Steak, Corn on the Cob, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Orange Juice

american girl dinner


  • Orange Juice: Squeeze some yellow paint into the bottom of a clear plastic lid or a bead jar. Tip the jar slightly and let the paint run up the sides. Roll the jar until the sides are covered. Stand jar upright and let dry overnight.
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs: Cut a long piece of yarn and coil it into a plastic bottle cap (we used a gallon milk jug cap). Squeeze red acrylic paint on top to look like sauce. Punch out brown foam circles with hole puncher. Gently press brown dots on paint before it dries.
  • Corn on the Cob: Cut green crayon pieces that are about 1 1/2 in. long. Knot one end of a piece of twine and thread about 7 beads (or as long as your crayon piece). Make a line of glue on the crayon and holding the beads tight on the string, press the row of beads to the crayon. Once the beads are secure, remove string and repeat around the crayon. I used a hot glue gun**, but hot glue makes crayons melt!
  • Steak: The Doll Dining Kit came with stickers that you attach to brown foam sheets to make the steaks.

Now Serving Take Out


american girl pizza


  • Pizza: Use a drinking glass or other round container to trace a circle on the tan foam sheet. Cut out the crust. Paint the crust with red acrylic paint but leave a little tan showing around the edges. While the paint is wet, sprinkle very short pieces of cream colored yarn around the pizza. Add brown foam circles cut with a hole puncher for pepperoni, small black beads for olives, tiny green pieces of rafia ribbon for green pepper, or any other topping you can create. You may need to attach toppings with glue dots. When pizza dries, cut slices with scissors.
  • Pizza Pan: Trace a circle larger than your pizza on a piece of cardboard. Cover with tin foil.
  • Pizza Box: Comes with the Doll Dining Kit.

Now Serving Dessert

Blueberry Pie, Sponge Cake, Cookies, Petits Fours

american girl dessert scale


  • Cookies: Wrap a 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ cardboard rectangle or wood rectangle in tin foil. Using glue dots, stick 12 small pink foam hearts to foil wrapped tray. Using a heart shaped hole punch, make 12 tiny brown hearts**. With glue dots, stick the brown hearts to the center of the pink hearts. Instead of foam shapes, you could use 12 matching 3-D scrapbook stickers** in heart or flower shapes to the tray.
  • Petits Fours**: Paint 1/2″ wood cubes with acrylic paint and let dry. We did 4 each of white, pink, and purple. After the blocks dry, attach 3-D stickers of your choice to the top. Detach the lid from a mini Altoid tin and wrap the base of the tin with a strip of scrap paper to hold some of the little cakes.
  • Sponge Cake: Trace a circle on a new yellow kitchen sponge. Cut the circle out of the sponge. Draw a line of glue around the middle of the side of the sponge. Hold sponge over a plate and sprinkle red seed beads** on the glue to look like a line of berry filling. You could also draw a red line with a Sharpie marker. Top sponge cake with a 3-D flower sticker**.
  • Blueberry Pie**: Put glue dots around the bottom and sides of a mini tart tin. Press a piece of tan felt into the bottom. Cut the edges, so the felt matches the edges of the tin. Put a blob of glue on the felt at the bottom of the tin. Fill with a wad of tan felt. Dribble glue over the felt and sprinkle with blue seed beads. Add more glue and beads as needed. Cut very thin strips of felt and weave together. I used 5 strips x 4 strips. Lift woven felt strips onto the top of the pie. Trim strip edges and tuck into the sides of the tin. Let dry.
  • Cake Plate**: Paint a wood disc and mini wood spool white (or any color you prefer). You may want 2+ coats of paint. When paint dries, hot glue wood spool to the bottom center of the wood circle.

american girl pie and cake

Basic Material List:

  • foam sheets (tan, brown, white, red, orange, yellow, pink, light green)
  • foam shapes (variety pack)
  • thin corkboard on a roll with adhesive back
  • plastic straws
  • bottle caps– any and all  sizes, plastic and metal (I will never throw bottle caps away again)
  • cardboard (shoebox weight cardboard works well)
  • hole puncher
  • Elmer’s glue
  • glue dots (smallest size)
  • acrylic paint (light pink, dark pink, purple, red, white, yellow)
  • 5 mm pom poms (red, green, purple)
  • styrofoam packing peanuts
  • green crumply material (green tissue paper, green rafia ribbon, green curly ribbon)
  • yellow plastic beads, medium sized
  • cream colored yarn
  • light green crayon
  • yellow kitchen sponge

American Girl Cherry Pie

**Carried Away Material List:

  • all of the above
  • serving trays and dishes (we used a mini flower pot saucer, 3″ round beveled mirror, 2″ flat wood discs, 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ cardboard rectangles, mini Altoid tin with lid separated from base)
  • mini wood spools
  • 1/2″ wood cubes
  • plastic bead storage jars with lids
  • star and/or heart hole puncher
  • wood dowel pins, 1/4″ x 1 1/2″
  • clear beads, medium sized
  • glass seed beads (purple, black, blue, red)
  • tan felt
  • 3-D scrapbook stickers (flowers and hearts)
  • Diamond Glaze
  • hot glue gun

My project table (aka my kitchen table)


Hobby Lobby had a great wood piece aisle with all shapes and sizes of wood blocks, spools, flat rectangles and discs, and dowels. They also had mini mirrors in the candle making section, mini baskets in the basket aisle, mini clear acrylic boxes with lids in the craft section, and the seed beads and plastic beads.

Michael’s had the 3-D stickers, foam sheets, glue dots, and the bead storage jars. Hobby Lobby had most of these items too.

american girl croissant tray

The madness continues. Check out the American Girl Sweet Shop and American Girl School Supplies.

The Cookbook Collection

cookbook collection

Part of the Cookbook Collection

After a slow start to my meal planning for the holidays, I got into the groove with the Breakfast Cups. I cooked many of my favorite comfort foods over the past few days. Some of the highlights have been Almond Bacon Cheese Dip, Dill Dip, Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, and my family’s sausage breakfast casserole.

Some of my recipes are family recipes, but many come from key cookbooks that anchor my cookbook library. Below is a list of my most used cookbooks along with the names of the best recipes (in my opinion) from those cookbooks. If you click each cookbook name below, it is linked to an Amazon listing.

What cookbooks do you have that you cannot live without?

The Artful Table

The Artful Table: Great Food from the Dallas Museum of Art League (This is the best cookbook I own. Everything turns out well.)

  • Pork Tenderloin with Red Onion Confit
  • Heavenly Potatoes
  • Country-Fried Chicken Salad (use store bought chicken tenders)
  • Picadillo Sarita
Notice the post it notes marking the most used recipes

You can tell which cookbooks are my favorites by the Post-it notes and other scraps of paper sticking out of the top to mark good recipes.

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

  • Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
  • Turkey Tea Sandwiches
  • Banana Crunch Muffins

Barefoot Contessa Parties

Colorado Collage

  • Carrot Basmati Rice Pilaf
  • Ginger Chicken Kabobs
  • Telluride Tortellini with Chicken

Creme de Colorado

  • Pasta with Broccoli

kansas city junior league

Company’s Coming (out of print– available used)

  • Steak Soup

Beyond Parsley

  • Spaghetti Pie
  • Artichoke Sausage Soup
  • Sugared Bacon

Above and Beyond Parsley

  • Pacific Rim Tenderloin
I find scraps of paper with old party notes in many of my favorite cookbooks.

I find old party notes in many of my favorite cookbooks. I never throw the notes away, so I can go back and recycle good ideas I may forget.

Southern Living Easy Entertaining

family cookbook

Family Cookbook (Not for sale at the present time)

  • A few years ago I compiled all of our traditional family recipes into a Shutterfly album with family photos. My dad is famous for kitchen pictures. These are the pictures of people caught mid-bite, or people standing in their sweat pants on a holiday morning stirring a pot of some kind (see photo below). There is usually one group photo at the table during a large gathering too. These were the photos I used to “enhance” the family cookbook. I use my family cookbook all of the time. I have all of my favorite recipes in one location and do not have to hunt through every loose piece of paper and recipe card box I own to remember how to make our family’s Christmas Eve egg nog. This makes a great birthday gift, Christmas gift, or Mother’s/Father’s Day gift.
Making Mashed PotatoesThanksgiving 2007

Check me out making mashed potatoes.
Thanksgiving 2006

Cranberry Mojitos

cranberry mojito 2

I am not saying these two things are related, but my houseguests have been here for 3 days, and I mixed up a lot of cocktails last night. I originally found this pin on Pinterest, and I would like to thank the people at We Are Not Martha for one great drink.

I will be testing this holiday cocktail tonight.

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries (1 bag)
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. water
  • lots of mint leaves
  • 5+ limes, squeezed
  • crushed ice
  • light rum
  • club soda

cranberry mojito simple syrup

  • Place cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for about 10 minutes before the berries start bursting. Remove from heat.
  • Once the berry mixture has cooled some, strain the cranberry syrup into a bowl and set the cranberries aside to use as garnish. If you prefer, you can keep the mixture in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight before straining (we couldn’t wait that long).
  • Put about 10 mint leaves and a tablespoon of lime juice in each glass. With the back of a wooden spoon or a muddler mash the mint.
  • Put crushed ice in each glass and pour 2 oz. (~2 shots) of the cranberry syrup and 2 oz. (~2 shots) of rum into each glass.
  • Top off each glass with soda water. Sprinkle some of the saved cranberries on top for garnish.

cranberry mojito close up

 *The original recipe made 2 cocktails (clearly not enough), so my simple syrup recipe above has been altered and makes 5-6 cocktails.
cranberry mojito empty

Breakfast Cups

breakfast cups 2

My holiday houseguests arrived Thursday night (about 5 hours after school let out for Christmas break). I did not make it to the grocery store before they arrived, so I offered a few leftover rosemary nuts and some slices of cranberry bread that I received as a teacher gift for breakfast Friday morning. We did not even have milk for coffee– my husband had to run out to the gas station.

breakfast cup close up

This morning, I actually had breakfast food for my guests after a major trip to the grocery store (courtesy of my husband– I almost considered that a Christmas gift). I served up some Breakfast Cups to the group, and people were not disappointed. I need another quick prep meal for tomorrow morning. Can anybody help a hostess?

breakfast cup filling


  • 1- 10 oz. Can Ro-Tel tomatoes (I use mild version)
  • ½ c. mayo
  • 1 c. grated cheddar and Monterey Jack (or just cheddar)
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 8-10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ small onion chopped
  • 1-2 cans 10 oz. refrigerated flaky layered biscuits (I use Pillsbury Grands Original Flaky Layer Biscuits)

separating biscuits


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together tomatoes, mayo, cheese, basil, bacon, and onion.
  • Separate each biscuit into 3 layers.
  • Press each layer into a lightly greased mini muffin tin and fill with tomato mixture.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

unbaked breakfast cups