Monday, December 30, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

I asked Santa for a donut pan and he delivered! Yay!


For my first attempt at baked donuts, I tried a cinnamon sugar donut recipe by Ina Gaarten. The recipe was too chewy and not cakey enough for me. I can't wait to try another recipe!


My Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Ingredients
Baking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 doughnut pans well.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the baking pans, filling each one a little more than three-quarters full. Bake for 17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then tap the doughnuts out onto a sheet pan.

For the topping, melt the 8 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch saute pan. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut first in the butter and then in the cinnamon sugar, either on one side or both sides.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chewy Yummy Lemon Cookies

I pinned this recipe a long time ago and have been wanting to make these lemon cookies, but the time was never right. Thank goodness for winter break from work and a lunch gathering at my in-laws house to give me enough reason to make these yummy cookies.

Thanks to LDS Living for this super easy recipe!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen

Ingredients:
½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. 


Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.


Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte (not melty or shiny). Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.



Here are my Lemon Crinkle Cookies along side some gingerbread cookies I made, all plated up and ready for my in-law's luncheon =)


Saturday, December 28, 2013

On the 25th Day of Christmas, Blessings All Around

Christmas morning was, of course, a bit chaotic with our two boys opening gifts and emptying stockings. We did pause to greet each other "Merry Christmas" and to remember, "Jesus is the reason for the season".

Our 5 year old Jelo got what he loves the most, notebooks and books. He received a few versions of the Dude Diary which has endless pages of dude-like writing prompts and drawing suggestions. He also got a few notebooks: a monogrammed one, one with his picture on the cover, a Mickey Mouse one, and even an Angry Birds one. Our Jelo loves writing and storytelling so Santa and his friends got his gifts right.


Our 3 year old DJ loves Mattel Disney Micro Drifters. He collects the mini-cars and was super excited to get the cars that are still missing from his collection. He even got a cool carrying case that doubles as a race track.

Santa brought me a super cute knitted Sanrio cupcake scarf! I got lots of likes on my Instagram post!


The rest of the day was filled with people we love, sharing God's blessings with one another!
Garcia Bros. with Mama Beth

Mama and Papa with Garcia Bros.
The Garcia and the Castano Family
Garcia Bros. opening presents at Lola and Tatay's house with cousin Noah too!
DJ and cousin Jonah
Daddy and Auntie helping open presents
This Christmas season, we are very thankful to our parents for helping care for our boys all year long. With my husband and I both working, we've never had to worry about daycare because our parents were more than willing to take care of our boys for us. They have been selfless and so generous in helping care for our boys. So this Christmas, we pray special blessings for our parents and a BIG THANK YOU for all they do.


Merry Christmas to all my readers! I wish you the love of friends and family as we have been so fortunate to be blessed with everyday of our lives!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On the 23rd and 24th Days of Christmas, Endless Baking and the Reason for the Season

My boys and I enjoy baking! the two days before Christmas was filled with baking in the kitchen! Christmas is a great time to share our love of baking with those we love. Being off from work gives me the time to bake and decorate the cookies with my boys.

We made some sugar cookies, as well as some French Macarons.




In between our batches of cookies, we watched a video shared by some family and friends on Facebook. It's a great reminder of the "reason for the season".


Christmas Eve evening ended with our family attending mass, thanking God for a year of wonderful blessings especially that of the love and happiness of friends and family we are surrounded with all year long, as well as all the material blessings that is more than what we deserve. 

Here are are after church!



Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

On the 22nd Day of Christmas, Children Singing and Gingerbread Houses

We headed over to the San Diego Central Library today to watch a free holiday concert by the San Diego Childrens' Choir. We hadn't had the chance to visit the new library since it opened so this was a great day to do so.


The San Diego Children's Choir put on a great performance. There were a few songs where they encouraged the audience to sing along. It was lots of fun! Pictures weren't allow but I sneaked one...


We explored the library a bit after the concert and of course my boys found the computers in the childrens' area!


The views from the 9th floor are amazing!


Once we got home, we each made our own gingerbread house. 



Which one do you think is best?

Daddy's
DJ's
Mommy's

Jelo's
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the 21st Day of Christmas, Merry Making at Westfield North County

My poor planning this year had my family and I braving the crowds the weekend before Christmas to buy some last minute gifts!

We got to the mall pretty early and was able to grab a parking space pretty easily. Christmas miracle, indeed!

My boys were getting a bit impatient with our shopping until we heard some singing not too far away. The "Merry Makers" of Wesrfield North County mall were singing a few songs to keep the last minute shoppers entertained. My boys were one of the first kids to take a seat to enjoy the show! Of course they had to take a few pictures with their iPads!



When it was time to dance "Santa Style", my little DJ couldn't resist to do a little dancing too!


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Friday, December 20, 2013

On The 20th Day of Christmas, Greetings from Sea World San Diego

I love receiving holiday greetings through "snail mail". In this time of Facebook and email, receiving tangible photos and messages in the mail is a special treat.

I received a pleasant surprise from my friends from Sea World in the mail today. A beautiful glass penguin ornament and a cute card with greetings from their PR staff. The ornament is a great addition to our tree!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

On the 19th Day of Christmas, Signing Mrs. Claus and Candy Canes

Thanks to Joann Woolley, Signing Mrs. Claus,  for a wonderful time at Kid Ventures this evening! My kids, and their cousins, had so much fun learning some sign language, dancing to Hullabaloo, and endless play in Kid Ventures!



My handsome sons and nephews with Mrs. Claus
On the way home from visiting with Mrs. Claus, I realized we hadn't prepared holiday cards for Jelo's kindergarten class. Panic set in. I bought candy cane and put this card together at home. Thank goodness for color printers. The card is supposed to look like the boys are holding the candy cane. I didn't turn out as well as I had envisioned it in my head. I'm sure the kids will like it- there is candy attached to it.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On the 17th Day of Christmas, Annual Christmas Luncheon at Work

One of the highlights of the Christmas Season is our annual luncheon in the counseling center at my work.

Our secretaries create a wonderful tablescape, unique each year. They transform our student work area into a space ready to celebrate! They also make catering arrangements with Souplantation which we all look forward to!



This year I was surprised to find hand made wreaths with cute decor for each of us! Even the little snowmen, all the way down to the tiny knitted hat, was handmade by our secretaries! They are so creative!


We use www.elfster.com to help with our secret santa gift exchange. Starting December 1st, we surprise each other with small gifts with the "big gift" reveal during our luncheon. I got exactly what I wanted, Costco size bix of Keurig k-cups! Best day ever!!!!


Today, I'm reminded of the blessing of working with the most awesome counselors and support staff. These people are my family away from home!



Monday, December 16, 2013

On the 16th Day of Christmas, A Mad Dash to Get My Christmas Cards Done

These days of Christmas are just flying by and I realized I'm running out of time to get my Christmas cards done.

7PM I ordered some photo prints from Walgreens and used the 5DOLLAR50 code to get 50 prints for only $5! Awesome deal! In a hour they were done and hubby went to pick them up.


While I was waiting for him to come home, I wrote up a quick family newsletter to insert into our cards. I had to trim the paper inserts a bit so they fit into the cards.

I had bought a few boxes of cards last year in my annual after-Christmas visit to Target so they were ready to go!

So, as soon as hubby came home, I started to stuff envelopes. The pictures didn't fit quite right into the window in the cards so I had to trim those as well. Pictures into the little window, sign the inside the card "Love, the Garcia's", insert the newsletter, seal, label, and stamp!

Thank goodness for my mailing labels I save year after year. I make a few adjustments of family and friends who have moved. For the most part, the list pretty much stays the same.

Its 10:54PM and I'm finally done. Hubby just needs to drop them all in the mailbox tomorrow.

That all took a lot longer than I had planned....Phew....
The chaos of my Christmas card task!

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

On the 15th Day of Christmas, Christmas Lights in San Diego

One of the things our family loves to do is visit the local neighborhoods with wonderful light displays. We had a late start tonight so we were only able to drive through two of our favorite Christmas light displays in San Diego.

Our first stop was Christmas Card Lane which is in the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood of San Diego. There are dozens of homes decorated with huge "Christmas Card" cutouts in their yards. From famous comic book characters, movie scenes, cartoons, and more, the themes of each house is unique! You can find Christmas Card Lane starting on Oviedo Street which is off Black Mtn. Rd. Christmas Card Lane includes Twin Trails, Carmel Mtn. Rd.,Ellingham St., Renato St., Oviedo St., Twin Trails Dr., Barrymore St., Totherham Ave., Talca Ave., Talca Ct., Allenbrook Way, Davenport Ave., Amber Sky Ln. The displays are available the 2nd week of December until the 31st from 6 to 10 pm. 

Here is our video of favorite displays from Christmas Card Lane:

Our second stop tonight was Candy Cane Lane in Poway, CA, which is about 10 minutes away from Christmas Card Lane. This neighborhood, open Dec. 3 through Jan.1, 6 to 9 pm, has a few cul-de-sacs with homes brightly decorated in thousands of lights. Some of the homes are completely covered in lights! There is definitely a "wow" factor here! Candy Cane Lane is on Hickory Court and Hickory Street - off Twin Peaks Road and Silverset St. It also includes Butterwood Ct. and Rockrose Ct. Named "Candy Cane Lane", the entire cul-de-sac is lit up. 

Here is our quick video of Candy Cane Lane:


Where are your favorite Christmas light displays in San Diego?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On the 14th Day of Christmas, Baking Sugar Cookies With My Boys!

My boys have been bugging me to make cookies for weeks now so today I finally gave in!

With the perfect sugar cookie recipe from All Recipe, here are my boys in action!



Here are the final products!
My boys made cookies for their cousins!


The boys want to make some more "special" cookies for Santa's visit! These took pretty special to me! =)

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