Getting in the Spirit with Gingerbread Bears and Powdered Balls

This weekend, in an effort to try to bring some much-needed Christmas spirit into my house, I decided to do some holiday baking. That usually does the trick–along with snow, christmas tree decorating and holiday music. Since those three just weren’t cutting it, I decided to go with baking.

Round one was friday night and involved Gingerbread Bears. (Bears being the only stencils I had) I had bought a box of gingerbread mix from Trader Joes (cheating, I know!) and set to work in my mother’s large kitchen. Can I tell you how much easier it is to make things when I have about 5 million countertops?! That little teensy kitchen in my last apartment just doesn’t compare. I’m thinking my next apartment needs a gourmet kitchen. I’d never use it, but it needs one.

Once we got to the part of rolling out the dough we realized we had a problem: my mothers two rolling pins were missing. As in, she took them both to the lakehouse and left them there for the winter. Never fear, my mother had a genius idea. Let’s use a wine bottle! Coming from a family of Italian vinos, it wasn’t hard to find a bottle (or ten.)

My mother demonstrating how we are rolling out the dough:

That’s a Yellowtail Cabernet by the way.

The little bears WERE really ridiculously cute and really fun to make.

Once they were all baked, the fun really began. My mom and I made some frosting ourselves and added some food coloring for some festive colors. Unfortunately the red was more pink but I rolled with it.

My favorite was the hula dancer. The bear spoke to me and told me to put a grass skirt on it and a bikini top, who was I to deny it?

They all came out ridiculously cute, if you ask me.

Saturday night I brought a plate of these to my friend Steph and Joe’s house out near Detroit. I’m pretty poor this holiday season and what better way to spread joy than through gingerbread yumminess?

I hadn’t seen these two since Vegas and it was really nice to catch up with them over tacos and The Hangover.  I shared stories of Europe and we talked about everything that had gone on in our lives since we last saw each other. And Steph and I may have drooled openly about Bradley Cooper in his black suit.

Luckily, the cookies were a success! I was really happy with TJ’s mix, it was spicy and just all around very yummy. Even my frosting came out not so bad! (I was a little wary of my powdered sugar and milk combo)

Sunday I was determined to get some christmas shopping done so I headed out with my dad into town but unfortunately came back empty handed. During another shopping trip I managed to pick up a book for my dad and a raging longing for a cat that I saw at the adoption center at Petco but still nothing for my mom. Sigh. I have five days left right?

My mom and I set about on our second round of cookies after a nice walk in the woods with my dogs and a yummy meatloaf dinner (I could get used to living at home. Mom’s home-cooked meals are SO much better than anything I could make!). We decided on two Martha Stewart mixes: sugar cookies and nutballs.

Once again we pulled out a bottle of wine to roll out the cookie dough (this time it was a Pinot Grigio) and I set to work decorating them once they were baked. Again, we made our own frosting and this time added some Almond extract for added flavor. I’m not a fan of almond but shh don’t tell my mom.

It was a messy process. We got a little lazy and decided not to put the frosting in ziploc bags like we had with the gingerbread bears. I was literally using the whisk and the spoons to create my little masterpieces. VERY sloppy.

But they came out cute and they were oh so yummy!

Next up were the nutballs. My mom was pretty much in charge of those but I got the really fun  job of powdering them with sugar. By the way, I should never be trusted with this job. I got it ALL OVER ME, despite my wearing an apron. By the end of it I looked as if I’d dumped the bowl on myself. I rock at baking.

The balls, pre-powder.

This was like, pre-mess. When the powdered sugar was still IN the bowl. I wish I had a picture of me after the explosion but I didn’t want to risk my mom yelling at me for being incompetent in the kitchen (which she does regularly).

All sugared up.

It was overall a very nice weekend and I definitely found a little bit of christmas spirit, even if it’s not one hundred percent here and I couldn’t bring myself to decorate the tree. There are five more days left to get in the mood.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

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