Christmas Cocktail

cranberry margarita poured

Margaritas are my favorite cocktail, and I will try about any version of the classic concoction. We had a bag of fresh cranberries that had been hanging around the refrigerator since Thanksgiving (did I just admit that outloud?), and I knew we wouldn’t use them for anything else, so I gave this cranberry margarita recipe a spin on Christmas Eve.

cranberry jam

Cranberry Jam Ingredients

  • 3/4 c. fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 T. fresh orange juice

Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and 1/4 c. water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy (30 to 40 minutes). Mix in orange zest. Let cool. The jam can be made a few days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Cranberry Margarita Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 t. each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
  • 4 T. cranberry jam (see above)
  • 2 oz. fresh lime juice (and a few wedges)
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila

cranberry margarita rimmed

Directions

  • Mix sugar and spices on a small plate. Rub rims of cocktail glasses with a lime wedge. Dip the glass edge into the sugar mixture. Fill glasses with crushed ice.
  • For 1 cocktail, combine 1/2 oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1 1/2 oz. tequila, and 1 T. cranberry jam in a shaker. Add ice. Cover shaker and shake contents. Strain into prepared cocktail glass.

Notes

  • To make all 4 servings at one time, prepare 4 glasses with the sugared rims. Combine all drink ingredients in a small pitcher, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain the mixed ingredients into another container and keep chilled until ready to serve– or strain straight into the cocktail glasses.
  • You can experiment with the spiced sugar. Try Chinese 5-spice powder or pumpkin spice instead of the spices listed above. I did not follow the amounts exactly but gave a few shakes of each into the sugar.

cranberry margarita

Personalized Christmas Gifts

I kicked off the holiday shopping season with the personalized rubber stamps for Miss Priss’ and Mr. Star Wars’ teachers. Personalized seems to be the theme for me this year. I usually keep a list going all year (yes, I am that OCD) and jot down ideas as people mention things. When holiday shopping season officially starts, I review the list and try to come up with ideas that might apply to several people, so I can order more than one of the same thing. I have a brother and two sisters who all have kids plus TheRoomDad’s family. We try to do a little something for each family group, so the list gets pretty long.

Here are some gift ideas on my “to buy” list this year, and most of them are personalized in some way. That usually means a longer ship time, so I better get on the stick!

Monogrammed Jewelry: I know my tween nieces would love necklaces like this because they keep pinning these types of things. I also think they are great gifts for my mom, sisters, and sisters-in law.

gold-small-discs-double-layer  moon_lola_script_monogram_in_orange_large   4-letter-necklace_20

Monogrammed Scarves: I love all of the color choices for these scarves. I would also do something like this with a pashmina. Find pashminas at a local store and take them to a monogrammer. FYI– This would make a great teacher gift. Classroom temperatures can be difficult to regulate!

monogram-scarf-scarves

Personalized Wrapping Paper: One thing I like about this gift is that it is consumable, so it does not have to be stored for very long.

wrapping paper initials wrapping paper recipe wrapping paper

Mini Photo Books: These books are set up like board books. I think they make great personalized gifts for little people and grandparents to share when visiting.

mini board bookspinhole-press-mini-book-names-faces-photo-baby-toddler

Custom Ornament: My parents have a collection of paintings of all of the houses where they have lived. We moved a lot, so the collection is large. These ornaments reminded me of the paintings. It would be fun to order ornaments with a different house every year.

custom ornament

Fort Kit: This one is not a personalized gift but a DIY gift. Fill a drawstring bag with supplies to build a fort like plain sheets and clothespins. I think this is so clever.

for kit

Anyone else have a successful shopping strategy or great ideas that will work for several people? You could also return to last year’s gift list for a little inspiration.

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.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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

Directions
  • 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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