Homemade Marshmallows

We made homemade marshmallows around Christmastime a couple years ago, and I wasn't impressed enough to make them a second time. But Abe and Seb, apparently, remembered things differently, so they were asking and asking if we could make them again this year. I said yes, if we could try a different recipe. I think I was out of something last time . . . gelatin? or eggs? . . . so I looked specifically for a recipe that didn't use whatever-it-was. And as I said, they were okay, but not amazing---they were sort of flat and, after a few days, sticky.  This time, unfettered by missing ingredients, I chose this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which promised "springy" marshmallows.

And they were great!  It's a good recipe, not difficult to put together, and just as springy and fluffy  as promised. And they were delicious in hot chocolate. We did try s'mores with some of them, and I didn't think the marshmallows held up that well for s'mores. Maybe it was that we didn't have a good campfire to roast them over, but they never developed that nice crispy shell on the outside---they sort of just got dark brown, and too melty on the inside. So I don't think I'd make them just for s'mores. Maybe for s'mores bars? But I don't know.

I guess to be honest, I don't love marshmallows that much plain anyway. I like them in things (hot chocolate, and s'mores) but I don't think homemade are SO MUCH better as to make them one of those "you-MUST-make-the-homemade-kind" treats. However, as something fun to do with the kids in wintertime, and as something to make your hot chocolate seem extra-special, I guess I might make them again. Am I overselling them? :) Let's just say if you WANT to try homemade marshmallows, I think this recipe is a winner. (And they are so CUTE! Very photogenic; I couldn't stop taking pictures of them.) If you simply want to make some sort of homemade candy that's really much more amazing than the storebought kind, try homemade twix. :)

Still here? Let us proceed. My notes are in italics.

Marshmallows
Recipe from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen

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Good things about Christmas Break

Little Eskimo in her furry hood

I've loved our Christmas Break this year. It was fun to be busy with preparations, and then it was just as much fun to be DONE with everything and just rest for a few days. Ahhh. It has been SO nice to sit around doing (practically) nothing.
Happy train-riders

Worried Santa

Sam got a wood-burner earlier this month and has been going around the house burning designs into any wood object he can find. I love the things he makes.
Penguins

I crocheted a mama penguin. She has an egg tucked inside her, which turns inside-out to become a penguin chick. Because I was making up the pattern as I went, these penguins went through some very interesting iterations.
This is my first attempt. The poor sad baby!  But Daisy loves him anyway (this one went to her), so it's okay.

Here is Malachi coming in all rosy-cheeked to tell me about his adventures sledding---while I sit tucked warm in my bed. Oh how I love having older boys that can take the younger ones out into the freezing world so I don't have to!

Junie gets in on the picture

"FBI warning: if the athority is prospected you can coppy this movie but, if it isint you will be cot! thanks!"

Sebby was making a movie (out of paper . . . yes, it had many pages) and this was the FBI warning "screen."  I love it so much. It has just the right type of meaningless bureaucrat-speak, combined with appropriately dire threats. And the falsely bright "thanks!" at the end for good measure.
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Lussekatter (Saffron Lucia Buns)

I can't believe I've never made these buns before. They are SO good, and the more I ate them, the more I liked them! They're just slightly sweet---not quite like a cinnamon roll. They're soft and fragrant and the pearl sugar adds a delightful crunch on top. I hadn't ever cooked with saffron before and it gives them such a gorgeous color, and flavor. Saffron is expensive, but I found it at World Market for a pretty good price. And having tasted these buns I would buy it again! I think we'll make these every year.

The Swedes (and the Danes) make these for Santa Lucia Day on December 13th. The oldest girl in the family wears a white dress with a red sash, and crown of candles on her head, and serves these to her family. When I was little I wanted to do this so much!
We have a candle crown, but it's too big and heavy for Daisy! And my mom made her this little white dress.
Luckily we had a paper candle crown, too. Much lighter.
She looked so cute.

On to the recipe! I found it on this excellent blog, and there's really no need for me to reproduce it here because he does it so well, except that maybe you wouldn't run across these buns at all otherwise. So I can at least introduce you to the idea of them!
Look at the beautiful yellow of this saffron-infused milk!

Lussekatter
(recipe from here)

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Various people, mostly small ones

A funny hat

They go

Sunset at Temple Square

Junie wrapped in packing material (this was not MY doing)

The Young Women gathered adoringly around Daisy
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California visit

Last month I told the boys we were going to have a quick* visit with Philip and Allison and Benjamin in California, and the first thing they said---I'm not kidding---was "THE HOOVER DAM!!" We had told them we'd visit it next time we drove to California because it was sort of on the way, and they remembered and held us to it. The wrinkle this added to our schedule was that we had to break the drive into two days (usually we plow through in one), which meant staying at a hotel on the way, which was yet another bonus feature for the children. They looove staying in hotels.
*It seemed too quick to us, but for Philip and Allison who had to make quadruple amounts of every meal and listen to children rampaging up and down the stairs and in and out the door every few minutes, it was no doubt quite sufficient.
The hotel had swans in it.

The Hoover Dam was a worthwhile stop; very interesting and beautiful. I believe it was all the boys had hoped for. (!)
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Christmastime

I love this time of year. Luminarias.

Advent.

Æbleskiver. Really the very cutest breakfast (or dinner), as I always say.

And soft, stripy pajamas.
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Dot, dot, dot

I love polka dots and I love my little matching girls. They are so close to the same size now that I don't even bother putting Daisy's clothes away when she grows out of them---I just hand them right down to Junie. And they are starting to look more alike as Junie's hair grows. They both go to nursery at church now (different nurseries, though, as we have the second-biggest Primary in the church---or so I heard. :) Over 150 kids!) and they are starting to remind me of each other in their little expressions and mannerisms. Junie is definitely her own woman, though, and I'm just as delighted and baffled by her emerging personality as I am by Daisy's. They are both so funny and unpredictable!
I love the way Junie is standing here; I'm not sure why.
And one more: Daisy ready for church in her Sunday coat.

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Halloween Creatures

I told the children that this year everyone had to wear a Halloween costume we already had. It meant that we had some pant-legs that were a few inches too short (and some that had to be rolled up to make them shorter)---but it also meant we could just get the costumes out on the afternoon of Halloween without doing any preparation at all. Hooray!

Two cute monkeys . . . 

And two cute panda bears. (Here are their predecessors.)
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Random Thoughts, Curmudgeon Edition

I recently passed by a billboard that urged, "Don't let good food go bad!" Stricken to the core by this public-spirited message, I promptly abandoned my previous determination to let the rest of the food in my fridge rot. Thanks, "Food Safety Working Group"!

Speaking of idiotic ad campaigns, I can't help being struck by Bach homes' slogan, "Don't be a chicken: get Bach Bach Bach." Surely anyone could see that if you "get Bach Bach Bach," you ARE being a chicken? And if they didn't want the negative connotation of "chicken," why did they bring it up?

I really can't stand the phrase "little ol' me."

You know what would impress me? Someone who could go through her house selecting which lights she wanted on or off, and then flipping the corresponding light switches in a confident and unerring manner. 4+ years in this house, and it still takes me three tries to get the living room light on every morning.

Sam has sign language interpreters that come to help one of the students in his class at BYU. He was telling me they occasionally appear perplexed. "What were you talking about when they seemed confused?", I asked. "I think it was after I started talking about 'Peter and the Leviathan,'" he said.

It annoys me when a company's slogan purports to speak for its customers. For example, our health insurance website that calls itself "My Cigna," or loyalty programs called "My Rewards" or "My Way" or whatever.  Don't put words in my mouth, especially inane/falsely perky phrases I would never actually use. It's condescending and makes me hate you.

Here's a parenting reality I never anticipated: the perpetual, subconscious awareness that one of your kids might throw up. It can lurk dormant for months at a time, but the second I hear a certain type of throat-clearing/cough coming from the kids' bedroom, or the moment someone starts crying for no reason at the dinner table, this awareness spurs me into instant supersonic action. (Sometimes to no purpose, but better safe than sorry!)

It's funny how quickly something cute (your kids singing songs from "The Sound of Music" around the house) can turn into a sort of never-ending nightmare.

From the great Thomas Sowell: "Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst. In either case, it is usually at the expense of others. In other words, it is the opposite of idealism."
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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

As I believe I've mentioned before, going to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has always been something I've wanted to do, ever since we tried (and failed, due to windy conditions) to see it when I was three years old. I love hot air balloons! When at long last we planned this trip at the correct time of year, I was fully prepared for it to be cancelled due to wind or rain again. But I was hoping, hoping the weather would cooperate! The Friday was rainy and cold, but the Saturday and Sunday were bright and clear and lovely. We were so happy! It was everything we'd hoped, and even better. When the first balloons go up, it's still pretty dark outside, and as they turn on their burners, they light up like floating lanterns in the sky. These first balloons also have little lights floating from their baskets---tiny diamonds below them---see?
Then suddenly the sky starts turning pink, and you walk onto the field and you're surrounded by all these huge, breathing, billowing creatures. They sway uncertainly as they lurch upright, like a genie who's spent too long in his bottle and is feeling rather stiff. I love being in among the balloons. I think they seem friendly, even when they puff fire and make hraaaa! noises at you.
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Fall, Mesa Verde, Tram, Scenery

Who would have thought there would be such lovely Fall colors in New Mexico? Well, anyone who knew anything about the place, obviously. But I was surprised.

More Fall leaves
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