Too Many Cookies!

This Christmas party is over.  It was a total success.  We had between 50 & 60 people visit our open house.  I feared we’d have too much food but the left overs were minimal.  Even the cookies guests brought with them as Christmas offers pretty well got mowed down.

Speaking of mowing sown Christmas cookies, I baked some dark chocolate-pecan cookies that were a major hit.  All my guests were counting the calories in each bite even while making certain they didn’t drop a single crumb!  I got the recipe from the Ghirardelli package:

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 4 dozen cookies
  • 11 1/2 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 3/4 cup(s) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 cup(s) walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions
Heat oven to 375ºF.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: The 11 1/2 ounces of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips can should be substituted with any variety of chip flavor (i.e.- Milk Chocolate Chips, 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, etc.)

Christmas Open House

It is official.  we have set the date for our Christmas open house.  I had better get to baking!  I have tons of goodies to make!

I think I am offering tea (hot & iced), coffee, and spiced cider to drink.  If something else is wanted, our guests will have to bring it with them.  It’s an afternoon party — that’ll do, won’t it?

My goody menu is pretty much Christmas traditional — decorated sugar cookies, banana walnut bread, Thumb Print Cookies, Ginger Bread, fudge, … what else?  NO fruit cake!

And I keep changing my food menu.  Finger foods, or big pots of chili (one spicy, one mild?).  I think veggie trays and cheese trays no matter what.  And probably a fresh fruit tray as well.

This will be the first time we have done any major holiday entertaining since Amoeba and I have been together.  In Hawaii, all the holiday gatherings were potluck joint ventures with our friends.  Amoeba and I are taking this on ourselves.  This house just cries out for a huge party.

Of course this party is going to require a trip to Pier 1.  I need some classy looking serving platters and hors d’oeuvre plates.  The Pier 1 “Tasting Party” set has the perfect pieces — classy, yet understated and they match the dishes I already have.

Pier 1 has long  been one of my favorite shopping places.  It is the first place I thought of when I realized my old table cloth won’t fit my new table.  I’ll also need napkins and napkin rings. At Pier 1, I’ll be able to get a high-end look without paying high-end department store prices.

Another good reason for going to Pier 1 is that I can drop off my Toys for Tots donation with them and they’ll see that it gets delivered.  In addition, Pier 1 is donating one dollar to Toys for Tots for every fan they get on Facebook during November and December.  Pop over now and “like” them.  Every little bit helps.

Speaking of every little bit helping – -does anybody have any hot party foods they think I should serve?  Should I scrap the chili idea and go with fancy finger sandwiches, chicken wings, an assorted appetizers, etc.?  I can’t make up my mind!

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Makin’ Music

There was a band at that birthday party I told you about last week.  They came to the party to play for fun and food because they are friends with the birthday boy.  These guys are all in regular bands, but they have this lose, “volunteer” group who just gets together to jam every now and then.

I did a pretty poor job of taking pictures but it was a small room with 30 or so people packed inside — most of whom were jammed around the buffet table that actually jutted into the band.  The stuffed mushrooms and the steel Guitar player were only inches apart.  The bass guitar player and the macaroni salad were equally close.

I got great photos of the band members who weren’t behind the food.

band

I only know the drummer’s name. Jim plays his harmonica in the praise band at church. I should know the banjo player’s name, but it fell through a hole in my memory. I have been told he can play anything with strings. I have seen him with both the banjo and an acoustic guitar.  The guy playing the electric guitar didn’t make any of the photos, either.

I love the slide guitar.  Since I never got a decent shot of the one at the party, I give you instead a Youtube video — not mine. Sorry.

The regular drummer who usually jams with the group wasn’t able to attend the party so Jim put a drum set together as best he could. His ingenuity is amazing — and it sounded pretty darn good, too.

symbol

The first thing I noticed about Jim’s drum set was the screw driver. I’m not a drummer, but I don’t think that came standard issue …. When I posed that question, Jim pointed out a couple of other things I had missed.

Ingenuity

His bass drum was actually a duct taped cardboard box. That blew me and half the other people in the room away.  We all kept shaking our heads, marveling and asking each other, “Did you notice the drum …?”

Jim

And here’s a close up of Jim playing the harmonica, sans hands, so he could play the drum as well.

A couple of the guitar players in the band are retired pros. The banjo player currently heads his own band and plays an assortment of instruments. Jim is wholly self-taught.  When I was marveling over the drum set, Jim asked me if I had a problem with the music.  I most certainly did not.  These musicians all come together with vastly differing talents and abilities, and equipment of various caliber, and made beautiful music.  If I were asked to name this band, I think I’d be tempted to call them American Ingenuity.

Please Ignore the Walking Carpet

I went to a friend’s house for a birthday party the other night. (His, not mine.) The party was a ton of fun — how could it not be when Ramona and Corey are a ton of fun?  First off, we had a 50th birthday party even though Corey is only 49.  The idea was to get him used to being 50 so next year it won’t come us such a shock.  I must say though that the words Corey used to thank us with were a tad-bit shocking.  LOL!

When I stepped in the front door I automatically took off my shoes and left them by this huge dog bed.  I don’t know why my brain didn’t register that as odd. Ramona and Corey have three tiny little dogs, a Shitzu, a Maltese, and a Pomeranian.  I know from past visits that their dog beds are all in the master bedroom.

Anyway, I guess I was too busy looking around for friends and checking out the buffet table — stuffed mushrooms, yum! — to give two thoughts to the giant puppy mattress in the living room.  That’s why I was so startled about 20 minutes later when a huge chunk of shag carpeting trotted through the room.  Everyone was startled.  Conversation stopped.  We all stared at this humongous flokati rug as it plowed through the crowd, birthday boy in its wake, and shot out the front door.

When Corey and the dog disappeared from view we all turned our eyes toward Ramona.  She said, “That’s Winston. We’re dog sitting. He’s an Old English Sheepdog.” Of course the normal rounds of jokes ensued — “Didn’t look old to me!”  “Are you sure that was a dog?”  “I thought the carpet threw up!” — and the party noise resumed.

Moments later one of the party guest let out a shriek.  She’d just realized she was sitting in Winston’s bed, and she was totally covered in long gray and white hair.  Luckily she was good natured and laughed about it.  She said something I have always known — large dog beds make great floor pillows, but only if they don’t actually belong to large dogs!

Party Animals

We went to yet another party tonight.  Actually, it was an extension of the party we went to last night.  The neighbor guy (our landlord) came yelled at us over the fence that there was still a ton of food left and we really needed to come back and help them finish it.

It got late last night and the birthday girl, Kaila, fell asleep on her cake and never got around to opening her presents.  Tonight was left-overs and presents.  Kaila still didn’t want to open her gifts.  Much to her great grand-mother’s distress, the birthday girl (just one-year-old) was more interested in picking someone’s spilled ice cubes out of the grass and putting them in her mouth.

As the party came to an end and Amoeba and I took our leave, the Neighbor walked us to the gate.  He said the thank you for coming stuff and we said the thank you for having us stuff, then we turned to our own gate.  Neighbor grinned at us and said the same thing he said to everyone else, “Drive safe now, you hear?”  Amoeba assured him we’d try not to crash our sandals on the way home.

I hope our new neighbors will be fun.