Sunday, December 25, 2022

Handmade Holidays

Now that it's Christmas I can safely share the ornaments my students made this year. Each of them hand sewed 20 yoyos, which they then stitched together to create a wreath. I try to have the kids hand sew something every year to then give to an adult they care about. I hope the parents appreciate them - my students worked hard!

I actually have seven fifth and sixth graders this year, but two of them were absent the day we took this picture.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours  a peaceful (and warm)
Christmas from Mackinac Island.

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Great Storm

The "Great Storm" of 2022 hit Mackinac just like it hit the rest of the Midwest - with a vengeance. The bridge closed to high profile traffic, the ferry cancelled trips,  the Island lost a few trees and, of course, we got quite a bit of snow. But somehow, on Mackinac, even a blizzard is beautiful...

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Camilla's Antics

The kids have really enjoyed coming in to
school each morning to see what Camilla has been up to.
She brought them a kindness challenge
to work on for the month,

a joke book and a few great "dad" jokes,

she even asked me to read Rosie's Walk
out loud to them. 

After overhearing the kids wonder if she could bring each of them a million bucks, she brought them one million "clucks" instead.

And on our last day of school before vacation,
the day they knew would be her last day with us,
they asked if they could take a picture with her.
How could I say no?

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Due to a few scheduling constraints, my family and I weren't able to get together for our annual Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza. Which, to be honest, was a huge letdown. So much of the fun of that weekend is spending time with a few lovely people I rarely see, and, of course, there are cookies...

Since I couldn't get together with them, I was determined to make cookies myself - so I started early. Of course, I made the family favorites: zimtstern (cinnamon stars), zitronenherzen (lemon hearts), Nurnberger (roll out sugar cookies) spritzgeback (cookies made with a press, Mandlebarge (almond mountains) Scottish shortbread, and springerle (this year with orange essence and dipped in chocolate.)

I also made a few others including Linzer (jam sandwiches), ginger cookies (because we love them), glazed chocolate shortbread cookies (to try out some new cookie stamps), Earl Grey Cookies (because they sounded amazing),  and pretzel turtles (made with Rolo candies.)

Some changes I plan on making for next year:

  1. I reduced the amount of cocoa in the chocolate cookies (as per the recipe's instructions) but I will decrease it even more next year. Instead of adding in flour to offset the decrease in cocoa, I will try using powdered sugar instead - at least for half of the flour. I will probably also add in a small amount of baker's ammonia to see how that changes the texture. They also need to bake for a bit more time than given in the recipe..
  2.  I will add even more tea to the Earl Grey cookies. (I also glazed them with a glaze made from strong tea and powdered sugar.) Next year we are also going to try making a batch with Constant Comment tea.

In case you are wondering why the names of some of the cookies are capitalized: 

I wasn't sure about capitalizing the names of the German cookies with names derived from cities so I Googled what to do, here is the reason  I chose to capitalize them.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Deck the Halls

I have a thing for ceramic Christmas trees, especially vintage ones. Usually I get them out around Thanksgiving, but to keep my husband happy I don't switch them on until after we celebrate Thanksgiving. He thinks they're tacky, but keeps quiet since they make me smile. I'd actually never seen one until we got married. His mom puts two of them out every Christmas and I just loved them. In fact, she got me my very first one - she spotted it at a garage sale and snaped it up for me.

One of my favorite things to do is to find old ones without lights and bases at second hand stores and bring them back to life. The best thing about the base-less trees is they are generally quite cheap. I designed the white base above in Tinkercad, an online kid-friendly CAD program for creating 3D printable objects. I just print the base in the size and color I need, pop in new plastic bulbs, install a light kit and the tree can shine again.

The big green one below looked awful when I bought it. It was covered in grime, half of the bulbs were broken off with ends still glued in the holes, but a 1974 tree with a base for $10.00 was a bargain. My Dremel make short work of the broken bulb ends and the filth washed right off. Now it's my favorite tree. 

This one I actually bought separately. I found the base in with the lamps (for $4.99) at Goodwill and just held onto it. I figured I'd find a tree to go with it someday, and I was right. I think the tree, without any bulbs or the star was $5.00. Now that these trees are becoming much more popular, I rarely see them.

I think I actually like these better than my full size Christmas tree. They are a lot less work to put up and take down and they brighten up some of the darker corners of the house. What decorations are you putting up this year?


Thursday, December 8, 2022


We've got chocolate shortbread (not iced yet),

chocolate coated orange Springerle,

Linzer cookies made with homemade
cranberry-cherry-orange jam,

and traditional Scottish shortbread.
So far...

Monday, December 5, 2022

Camilla Returns

Camilla the Christmas Chicken has returned to my classroom. I'm not really an Elf on the Shelf kind of girl; instead we have a Christmas Chicken. (Currently, all my students celebrate Christmas, but she'll become a Holiday Chicken when needed, and she is going to bring the kids books about Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice.

She's brought treats and a tree so far, and shared an interesting video on chicken communication. Who knew chickens could make over 30 distinct vocalizations!

It makes me smile to see the kids rush over when they get to school to read her newest note. A Christmas Chicken may be weird, but I guarantee none of there other teachers will have done it!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

So Many Cookies!

So many cookies to make. So little time. 

Working full time has been getting in the way of my baking -  which is probably a good thing. I mean, how many different kinds of cookies does one family really need? Really. I'm asking for a friend...