Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas!

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Sunshine family wishes you a joyous season and a blessed new year, filled with love, peace and the comfort of everlasting life through the little babe that was born in Bethlehem so long ago! Rejoice, for he still lives in our hearts today!!

I will be taking the next few days to enjoy family, and quiet time with our Lord. I encourage you to do the same! Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WFMW: Receipts in order and Picture Card storage

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer is hosting a Christmas edition of Works for me Wednesday ... go check out all the tips flowing freely from us to you!

Here are two tips I find enormously helpful.

The first one is for my picture card storage for after Christmas. I take all the beautiful Christmas cards with pictures of your children and place them in a small album. Right now, I'm using a "brag book" sized album, which is plenty big enough. I keep it out all year long so I can look through it and see pictures of family and friends. If I get a letter with it, I fold it up and tuck it behind the picture. If I get a 5x7 picture, I'll cut it to fit into the album sleeve, and place the cut piece behind it so I know who it is. Easy peasy!

The second one is receipt organization. A year ago (or so), I purchased a set of Organizing Bags from Lara Gallagher at The Lazy Organizer. First of all, I love the ruggedness of these bags. They are a thick black canvas-like material on the back, and a thick clear plastic on the front with ZIPPERS to keep everything contained! Love it. Anyway, I keep one of the smaller ones in my purse, and all receipts go into the bag (including shipping receipts). I use the "small bag" which is 6x9", and it doesn't have a handle on it (and I like it like that, too!). Someone once asked me (when I did a purse meme one time) how long I expected to keep my purse in order. My answer? Always. If I keep all my receipts in this bag, then it keeps my purse clean for ... well ... purse things! Here are some pictures for you (sorry they are so hazy -- took them with the cell phone in my car this morning -- real live action going on here!):

Hope some of these tips are helpful to you! Have a great week!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes

If you're looking for a "normal post", then you can go HERE. If not, then welcome to my home! BooMama is hosting this year's Christmas Tour of Homes again! Can't wait to see all the cool things others are doing! These are some of the Christmas decorations we put out this year.

Outside lights are a big part of our decorating, but I love to keep it classic with all white/clear lights. Many of our neighbors actually look like they had the stomach flu when placing their lights on their yard, if you know what I mean ... random, no rhyme or reason, no pattern ... but since chaos tends to overwhelm me to the point of a shutdown, we tend to keep it simple around here.

This year, our Christmas budget was cut dramatically. Instead of my normal "pyramid" of gifts (or stacks and stacks), most are just getting one thing... but along with budget cuts, came the need to cut other "frilly" stuff ... like a Christmas tree. The cost of trees is crazy-crazy now a days, but what's Christmas without a tree? Well, last Sunday morning, we opened our front door to go to church, and guess what was sitting on our front stoop? A Christmas tree. With a note wishing us a Merry Christmas. That was an awesome gift... it means so much more to me than the giver will ever know. This year, I put the old "cookie ornaments" back on the tree, as well as "real ornaments." It looked so cute. (It looks way better with the lights on) I love the angel on our tree. She's pretty, yet not too frilly and fancy!

Last year, I had a miniature poinsettia in my snowman bucket. This year, I placed an ivy wreath in it, and it looks so cute!

The last two years, I didn't dare put out my little Christmas village. This year, with much fear and trepidation, I put it out. Hunter loves to touch it. Mommy hates for Hunter to touch it. But, whatcha gonna do? He loves to see the lights on in the windows, and I love to see it sitting in my family room!

Our Jesse Tree goes on a small Christmas Tree. There are more ornaments on it now, but when I took the picture, we were just getting started on it. I have been enjoying it so much.

Finally, our stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that no one will notice the dry-wall bucket of ashes to the left. Because, I certainly didn't when I was taking the picture!! LOL!

Well, that's all folks! Just a few small pictures of decorations at my home. Hope you are enjoying your week leading up to Christmas! Make sure you hop on over to BooMama's and enjoy the many other tours she has set up for you!

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

NOT! Honestly, I don't think God heard my prayers while I was pregnant for a quiet, obedient little girl who likes to sit still and have tea parties, play with dolls, barbies, and read books for hours on end. No. He sure didn't. In his infinite wisdom, God saw fit to give us a little boy instead. An ACTIVE, near-hyper, non-stop boy who loves all things boy-ish, including construction, as well as destruction of ... stuff. MY stuff. OUR stuff. The HOUSE.

Saturday was such a precious, precious day. Hunter was spanked with the paddle no less than 10,468,392 times. Quite literally. It was so precious. And, in the spirit of Christmas, he broke two ornaments, pulled the ribbons off of the lower half of the Christmas tree, ate 2 of the cookie ornaments ... the ones I made last year (gross), spilled powdered sugar all over the kitchen floor, dumped an entire container of salt on the counter, tried to put wood into the fireplace ... in an all ready existing fire (crazy-nut-head!), tried to plug the lights on the tree into the wall, pulled two (or maybe three, we're not sure, but it really doesn't matter) candy canes off of the tree and broke into them, screamed "NO!" and "MINE!" no less than a gazillion times at me ... the list goes on... really, it does ... but I'm sure you're exhausted by now, so I'll let you rest.

Someone please talk me off the ledge.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

It was an exhausting kind of day, and I'm only praying that it's just the "terrible two's" syndrome, and that my child really isn't going to be this bad all his life. At one point, my husband turned to me, paddle in one hand, Hunter in the other hand, eyes wild, hair disheveled, voice frantic, and said to me: "new rule -- no more spankings for Hunter today." Okay, he really wasn't frantic, wild or disheveled, but we were both feeling pretty close to comatose by the time Hunter's bed time rolled around. The words "don't touch the tree" and "don't touch the fire" and "don't touch" and "don't" and "stop" and "no" all have an empty ring in our home (as Hunter flies from the couch to the floor in a drop-sit fashion). True story.

In fact, this day reminds me of friends of ours that live in Ohio. They had three boys, and one of them was a handful. One day, the father (who was in seminary at the time, so mom worked full time while he cared for the boys) came down to find his son had dumped syrup all over the kitchen table and floor, and I think there may have been a few other liquidy substances involved, but I can't remember the story real well. Maybe ketchup. Or mustard. Or both. I think there may have been either sugar, flour or salt involved, too. It's something you just can't wait to come down to see in your kitchen ... and to find out that your precious, angelic child was responsible for "decorating" for you is a joy you soon won't forget. He's even told stories about how he's had to stop the worship service (he's a pastor) and correct his children from the pulpit because they were hanging off the choir balcony (not really, but it was something equally disturbing) while he was preaching.

The saving grace? All of their mischievous sons turned out just fine ... they are now responsible young adults with great jobs. The youngest? Syrup boy? He went into the marines and now has a great job. So there is hope for Hunter, because he is SOOOOO much like syrup boy. And I'm certain all my friends that have grown children at this point are just sitting back and laughing their butts off at me. YES. I said butt. Not fanny. Not hiney. I can say whatever I want on my blog ... because it's MINE. Sue me.

Seriously though... just so you don't think we're completely abusive parents, we only spank for direct disobedience or defiance. The rest of the time, Hunter is placed in time out where he sits in one particular spot and does absolutely nothing until we tell him he can get up (which is usually about 1 minute per year of age). We're very good at explaining what he's done wrong, and he's very good at saying "sowwy," but I tell you ... he's developing a close relationship with the time-out spot! I look forward to the day that I can go to the sink with a dirty glass and turn back around to find my house is still in order. It's simply amazing what one two-year-old can manage to do in seconds with a permanent marker, a crayon, a glass of tea -- ack! How does he FIND these things?

I constantly find myself praying that my child will one day bounce off of couches, climb walls, color with permanent markers, and break things ... for Jesus. Dead serious. I pray that God will use all his wild energies for HIS glory one day. Who knows ... maybe Hunter is in training as we speak to be a youth pastor one day! Nothing would make me prouder.

Finally, the very friend I mentioned above sent me this link: Solid Rock. The first thing I have to say is: If he's now a Christian, then Praise God for Alice Cooper's salvation. I know that heaven was rejoicing and celebrating something FIERCE when satan was robbed of this child of God. The next thing I have to say ... I still get a creepy feeling when I look at pictures of him saved or not saved! Please note: I'm not judging him, nor am I saying he really is or isn't a Christian -- I don't personally know him, nor do I know his true heart. I'm just commenting on the creepy feeling I get when I look at his pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thanks Tank

This has been a long month ... and we're only on the 13th ... so I thought I'd share some things I'm thankful for ... as a sort of reality check for me, if you know what I mean. Head on over to visit Pam at Without Fear for more Thursday Thanks Tank.

1. My husband recently took over the finances, paying bills, balancing checkbooks, etc. At first, I resisted. Now, I'm thankful. I know how hard it is to do, and I'm thankful that I don't have to do it anymore. I find relief in knowing he's taking care of it all -- and he's doing a great job at it. Yes, it has been tight, tight, tight. No, I can't go out and get a Mocha Peppermint when I want. No, I can't just charge a Christmas gift to our family account. But at the same time -- Yes -- my husband is being fiscally responsible, and that blesses me more than words can say.

2. I'm thankful for what little extra money we have in our bank account. So many people have nothing... praise God for what we do have.

3. I'm thankful for obedience and blessings through continued and faithful tithing. We tithe our full tithe, and it is hard ... it really is -- especially when our realestate taxes have gone up AGAIN, causing our mortgage to go up ... AGAIN. This week, my husband wrote in the memo line: "God, help us get through the week." And you know what? He has. He provides for us on a continuous basis -- maybe not in a monetary fashion, but we know he is always there, making sure we're okay!

4. I am thankful for the challenge of Christmas shopping on a small budget. It has taught me to appreciate many, MANY things... especially the home-made kind.

5. I'm thankful for the loving kindness our savior bestows on me on a daily basis.

6. I'm thankful for children that will sing "Twinkle Twinkle" with passion in their hearts.

7. I'm thankful for our church's "Bring Your Gifts" service. We had a wonderful evening of fellowship, song, stories, poems, and scripture. It was wonderful to slow down and savor the moment.

8. I'm thankful for girlfriends. They bring cheer, joy, and happiness (yes, I MEANT to be redundant) to my life. I love them so much, and I especially love doing little things for them.

9. I'm thankful that my one of my bestest-girlfriends said to me "I really need to find religion" the other day. Because I was able to say to her, "let's talk!" I pray for her and her family every day, and I see God's hand moving in her life!

10. I am thankful for family.

11. I am thankful for my Kisses of Sunshine -- Hunter and my husband -- the loves of my life.

So there you have it. A small sample of the many things I'm thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Can't Believe I Really Said That!!

Today, I received an email from my dear friend Molly. She has started an on-line Bible-Study Forum, where we will be studying the book Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

To say that I was excited to join this forum is an understatement. Molly's statement on one of her posts really tugged at my heart. She said:

"To know that I love the Lord but that I've tended to put other things first as of late, well it’s more than a bit embarrassing.

I want my passion back!

I’m in need of a personal revival."

When I saw that, I thought to my self: "Yeah. I need that too. I have passion, but I have also started to put other things first." I had made up my mind ... I would join in on the study. I was so excited. I called our bookstore and ordered the book. A week or so later, they called me to tell me the book was in... and to this very moment ... that is where it remains. At the store.

In fact, last night, Molly sent out an email to see what we all thought about continuing the study in January when we all slow down with our personal lives ... and this is actually what I emailed her ... and frankly ... I'm horrified that I even typed these very words. I said to her:

"I would love it if we could begin in January. I am so overwhelmed right now... Sadly, I don't think I could give it 100%, and I really think it deserves 100%!! I know that's sad, and it's a bad excuse (the holidays) but it's all I can do right now. I still haven't even had a free moment to go pick the book up!"

Did I really say that? "I don't think I can give it 100%?" Have I put Christ on the back burner, because I'm "busy with all my holiday preparations?" You know the ones ... because you're probably wrapped up in them too, but for heaven's sake ... it IS HIS BIRTHDAY we are celebrating! You would think I would be able to sit down each night for a half hour to an hour to study this book!

So this admission that I made to Molly earlier today has been bothering me all day long. Yes, I do study the word and do my daily devotion... but in order to grow, and be all I can be for Christ, it involves in-depth study... more than just a 15 minute devotion. It involves pulling out resource books, asking questions, thinking things through, and more importantly, praying things through.

It seems that this blogger is in serious need of a priority adjustment!

Are you feeling that "holiday pinch?" Are you juggling your priorities, while managing to make quality time with our Savior? Or are you making quality time for our Savior and then juggling all the other things?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's a Belated Birthday!!!

Yesterday was Jenn's Birthday (from A Good Cup of Coffee)!

Happy Belated Birthday, Jenn!

Make sure you stop by and wish her a happy day!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Yikes! Too Much TO DO!!

Is anyone else feeling like there is so much to do, yet so little time to do it in??? Yeah. I'm right there with you!!!

I still have to decide on a picture (that means, actually get a good one) for our Christmas cards, then actually purchase them, write our Christmas letter (my mind is drawing a blank!), mail them, deep-clean my house, catch up on laundry, do a little baking, and finish up our Christmas shopping and wrapping -- all while working full time. I know everyone else out there in blogland has the same thing on their plates, so trust me when I say... I KNOW HOW YOU ALL FEEL!!! Oh, and did I mention that I'm super busy at work, and haven't had a chance to read hardly any of my fav blogs??? I'm a wee bit depressed over that!

Last night, I spent 2 hours making my first no-sew blanket. It turned out so stinking cute!!! It was Curious George polar Fleece fabric on one side and red on the other. Once I got into the swing of things, it went smoothly... except ... I have 5 to 6 more blankets to do.

I also have about 12 bracelets/necklaces to put together. The creative part of my brain is seriously cramping!!! So are my fingers and back.

But all in all, I would say, I have less crafts to do than Barbara, who will be doing crafts from here until the last minute before Christmas Day... she'll be the one passed out under the tree with sequins, glitter, glue, and paint all over her. That woman has got some kind of energy! Love you Barbara!!! Wish I could have HALF your energy... and for the record, my husband said we're not allowed to play together. I think he thinks we'll spend too much money at the craft stores, and too much time gluing, sewing, and putting stuff together!

So, because my brain is pretty much MUSH, and because I really have nothing better to say, I'm leaving you all with this list of questions that my Pastorman's wife emailed me... if you want to play along, just let me know in the comments section.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends.

Okay, here's the blog-version of what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE! Just copy the questions and paste into your blog post. Change all the answers so they apply to you, then post it. Let me know if you do, and I'll come over and read your answers.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, but preferably wrapping paper (1 pattern per person)

2. Real tree or artificial? Real

3. When do you put up your tree? First weekend in Dec., but not this year

4. When do you take the tree down? Anytime from Jan. 2-15th!!

5. Do you like eggnog? Love it -- with nutmeg sprinkled on top -- YUM!

6. Favorite gift rec'd as a child? Drum set

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a children's version. I'm working on saving enough for an adult version.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My father and my sister's husband (if you're reading, sis ... he's getting a boat load of purchased as well as homemade chocolate things)

9. Easiest to buy for? My son

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't think I've ever had a "worst" Christmas gift at all.

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Both -- mail to friends and family, email to internet friends

12. Favorite Christmas movie? Anything on the Hallmark channel during Christmas time

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? A little before Thanksgiving, but the bulk of it is usually after Thanksgiving

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. I don't have the nerve to! Actually, that's not true. We have a family tradition ... one year, I got my sister-in-law a nice set of Sapphire earring jackets for her pearls (or something like that). I stuck them in the toe of her stocking, then I bought these plastic gaudy gold earrings (that looked like the tops of a pineapple) from a street vendor. She hated them, but thought it was her real gift. So now, we just re-wrap that and pass it on from person to person. It's a fun recycling thing we do.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Beef -- it's what's for dinner (along with shitake mushroom bread pudding -- it's stuffing consistency, not dessert consistency)

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear, always

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night sung by John Barry

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Both -- we alternate each year

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? No -- not all -- only Dasher, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Rudolph (those are names, right?)

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel on family tree, star on Jesse Tree

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both, depending on which family we're with

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Busy-ness (I'm a PRIME example) and commercialism

23. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? Just homemade ornaments, cookie ornaments, pom-poms, and other kid-friendly stuff

24. What did you leave for Santa? When I was little, milk and cookies and a carrot for Rudolph, now, nothing ... we're not teaching Hunter about that

Your turn!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WFMW: Quick "Bare-Pantry-Leftover" Meals

This week, Shannon's Works for me Wednesday is THEMED! Yay ... love those ... because I don't have to scour my brain for ideas! Today, it's the WFMW: What Do I Fix? Edition. When you've had a hectic day, everyone is tired, hungry, and you don't feel well, but still have to fix dinner on whatever is in the pantry... here are a couple easy suggestions (one that I make, and one that my husband made just last night). Usually, we are using leftover veggies, or veggies that weren't fully used in another recipe (like half of an onion, or half of a red pepper, or an extra un-cooked steak).

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pasta

This is a take-off of the "hay and straw" pasta dish (which is another fast and easy dish to fix). I love this, because it's so fast and easy, and you can toss in whatever you want! I usually will add whatever I have in the fridge (mushrooms, onions, etc.), but if you don't like something on the list, just replace it with something you do like. The key is the spaghetti, cream, and the Parmesan cheese. As long as you keep those three things on the list, you can change everything else. It looks like a lot of steps, but once you read through it and familiarize yourself with the recipe and the instructions, you'll find that it goes a lot faster than you think. I usually have dinner (serve with a side salad and bread) on the table in 15 minutes.

Spaghetti (enough for your family)
2 frozen chicken breasts, sliced into strips
olive oil (for cooking chicken strips)
salt / pepper (to taste)
1/2 onion, sliced thinly (or chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced (use garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic)
4 slices bacon
6 fresh mushrooms (optional), cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons real butter
1/2 bag frozen peas and carrots
1 - 2 cups heavy cream (depending on how much spaghetti you make)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or more, depending on how much spaghetti you make)

My mouth is watering already.

Begin by placing a large pot of water on to boil. Add a mound of salt to the water (about a quarter-sized mound is perfect). When the water comes to a rolling boil, cook spaghetti according to package directions. For a quick meal, angel-hair only takes like 6-8 minutes. For the thick spaghetti (which I adore), it will take 12 minutes.

In a medium-sized frying pan, cook bacon until crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain, then crumble. To the bacon drippings, pour enough oil into the pan to coat the bottom and keep the chicken from sticking. Add the chicken to the hot pan, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook thoroughly, and remove from pan -- set aside. To the same pan, add the 2 tablespoons of butter, and toss in the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and frozen veggies. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions are soft, tender, and caramelized. Add the chicken and crumbled bacon. Cook until heated through. Everything should be done right around the same time the pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the cooked pasta and put back into the pot. Add the chicken mixture, the Parmesan cheese and the heavy cream slowly. Stir pasta well. Add enough cream that it coats the pasta and mixes well with the Parm cheese so it makes a thick sauce. Adding more whipping cream will make it creamier, adding more Parmesan cheese will thicken it. I usually do not go by measurements here, but rather, eyeball it. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it wont need much, but it will need it, because the cream is not salty).

Steak and Noodles

I had to work late last night, and I came home to a delicious meal that my husband "threw together" from stuff in the pantry. He didn't have exact measurements, so he kind of just eyeballed it, too. You can substitute the peppers and onions for the frozen stir fry vegetables.

Egg Noodles (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
1 steak, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, chopped or minced
red peppers cut into strips
green peppers cut into strips
onion cut into thin strips
leftover brown (beef) gravy (we had 1/2 jar in the fridge)
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix or Beef Onion soup mix
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce (I think that's how much he used)

Begin by placing a large pot of water on to boil. Add a mound of salt to the water (about a quarter-sized mound is perfect). When the water comes to a rolling boil, cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large (family-sized) pan, add a little bit of oil, and the steak. Cook until done. Add the garlic and vegetables and continue to cook until tender. Add the gravy, the soup mix, and soy sauce. Add enough water to make a nice sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until ready to serve. Serve over pasta.

You can also add broccoli, carrots, or anything else that floats your boat!

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Little "Q & A" and Some Yummy Recipes

Today, I'm going to answer a gazillion questions that I've been asked, but haven't gotten around to. The topics are: Caesar Salad Dressing, Christmas Cookie Ornaments; and Cookie Recipes. If you've asked a burning question that I've missed, leave me a comment and I'll get to it right away! Sorry this post is long, so if you want to get right to the cookie recipes, go to the bottom.

Recently, I participated in Works for me Wednesday and posted about "Safe Eggs," and I included my recipe for homemade Caesar Salad Dressing. The following questions/comments were posted, and I thought I'd address each of them:

Stacey from Just Me and my Guys commented:

"I can't eat the Caesar salad because I can't seem to get past the fact that they have anchovies in them! Got any ideas for that??"

Why, yes Stacey ... I have a couple ideas. Try using anchovy paste. I promise it doesn't have a strong fish flavor at all, and it's not as salty and oily. They sell it in a tube, and I usually find it around the Italian imported foods. If you're worried about the strong fish flavor, then reduce the amount by half, and finger-taste-test it (dip your finger in it) after you process it to see how it tastes. If you're really, REALLY worried about it, then try the recipe without the anchovy paste, just be sure to add salt. Hope that helps.

Amanda (no blog address) commented:

Why not use whole anchovies if you're going for a true Caesar? They really don't taste "fishy," if that's your concern. But I applaud you for using anchovy paste! Bravo!

Thank you for the applause, but it's not necessary. Actually, I chose not to use the whole anchovy for several reasons: I find them to be very, VERY salty (stiff, in fact, from so much salt); I find them to be very greasy when packed in oil; I do find them to be very strong in flavor. I find that if I use anchovy paste, my 2 year old is more likely to eat it, my husband doesn't balk at the fishy taste, and I'm satisfied with the important "body of flavor" that anchovy paste really does add to the dressing. It's one of those "flavor layering" things, I guess.

And finally, "K" (no blog address) commented:

"If I use these eggs can I go back to eating raw cookie dough again?"

(she's referring to using pasteurized eggs)

Well, "K" ... I just don't see why not! If they are safe for a raw-egg dressing, then in my book, they are safe for cookie dough! Woot! Dig in, girl!

Last week, I participated in Momrn2's Christmas Traditions carnival (check it out -- there are a couple new participants that have been added). I posted several new and older traditions that my family enjoys. And guess what??? I got a few questions from that post, too.

Momrn2 from My Quiet Corner said:

"...I think you need to post instructions and recipes on how to make your cookie ornaments. If you already have I missed it somehow!

What a fantastic idea!"

Well, I purchased extra large, gargantuan, beautiful cookie cutters from -- made a large-batch sugar cookie dough from a recipe they sent with my beautiful cookie cutters (recipe follows). I didn't change a thing, either. I just followed their recipe. I decorated the cookies using items sells -- they have everything you need, and they also show samples of decorated cookies when you hover your mouse over the actual cookie cutter. I used things like the White Cookie Icing in a bottle (similar to an Elmer's glue bottle) by Wilton. It dried ROCK HARD (no offense, Wilton), and worked beautifully. I also used various sanding sugars, edible glitters, Luster Dust, and other decorating items from -- I whole-heartedly recommend visiting their site!! (Actual cookie recipes courtesy of Copper Gifts at bottom of this post)

Carey from Sunny Days at the Beach commented:

" a question about your homemade ornaments...from long do they last? Do they last for years? Can you share the applesauce recipe?"

Well, actually -- I packed all the cookies I made last year (because, frankly ... it was a LOT of work that I didn't want to throw away) in gallon-sized zip lock bags. I pulled them out to peek at them over the weekend, and with the exception of a few beheaded gingerbread people and snowmen, they look beautiful! I'm considering spraying them with Krylon's Acrylic Crystal Clear sealer in Matte to seal in their beauty.

As for the homemade applesauce recipe, I think there was a misunderstanding. I meant to say homemade ornaments with an applesauce and cinnamon recipe. Or maybe I should have said, "homemade cinnamon and applesauce ornaments." Either way, you can find many recipes on line (I linked the one I'll be using above). As for a homemade Applesauce recipe, well -- I don't have one, but Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers has an excellent recipe. I'm sure she'll share it with you!

Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie was also looking for large-batch cookie recipes, so as promised above, here are a few tried and true large batch recipes:

Big Batch Sugar Cookies
Use this basic dough to make any of your favorite shapes.

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (less if making thick cookies)
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix well. Chill in large pancake shapes wrapped in parchment or wax
paper for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees before baking cookies. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mats to prevent cookies from spreading. On surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll dough to approx. 1/8" thick. Use copper cookie cutters dipped in powdered sugar to cut dough into shapes. Bake on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe can
make up to 5 dozen - 4-6" cookies.

Big Batch Royal Icing Recipe
Royal icing is the best for decorated cookies because it sets up so nicely. Cookies can then be used in bouquets or placed in pretty gift bags. Some royal icing doesn't taste good, but by adding flavorings you can make it taste delicious!

3 pounds powdered sugar
4 heaping Tbsp meringue powder
3/4 tsp clear vanilla
3/4 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 tsp almond flavoring

Put 2 lbs of powdered sugar in your mixer bowl. Add the meringue powder. Thoroughly mix the two. Add approximately 1/2 c. warm water or just enough that the frosting is fairly thin. Add the flavorings in the amounts shown or adjust them to your own taste. Add the last pound of powdered sugar and enough water to make the frosting the consistency you want. Divide and color. This icing hardens quickly so keep your containers covered until you are ready to use. For "flow" consistency add warm water a little at a time.

Good "flow" consistency is about the thickness of chocolate syrup.

Outline cookie, flow on icing and allow icing to dry hard before you add the finishing touches.

Chocolate Cutouts
This recipe is great for detailed cookie cutters because the cookies retain the size of the cookie cutter even after baking.

1 & 3/4 cups butter (no substitutions)
2 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon water
4 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa

Cream together: 1-3/4 cups butter, 2 large eggs, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon water.

Gradually: 4-1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup cocoa. Divide dough into 3 balls, wrap in wax paper and chill. When ready to bake cookies, let dough soften slightly, roll out on floured board to 1/4" thick and cut-out with floured copper cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, and then remove. Cool completely and decorate.

Gingerbread Cookies
Copper Gifts made this recipe when they were on the TV show called, Unwrapped on the food network. They used their Large, Giant and HUGE copper cookie cutters.

1 & 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening. Stir in remaining ingredients. Form dough into 1 or 2 pancake shapes, wrap, and store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Roll dough out to 1/4 inch and cut with cookie cutters. Decorate with candy, raisins and icing. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how well done you like your gingerbread cookies).

If making the HUGE cookies (15") from roll dough according to size of cookie cutter. If you are making the HUGE size, use all the dough and roll almost 1/2 inch thick, they recommend rolling dough out between two sheets of Parchment paper. Lightly grease the cutting side of the cookie cutter, remove top piece of parchment paper and cut out HUGE cookie. Remove excess dough from the outer edges of big cookie, then carefully slide cookie and bottom sheet of parchment paper onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how well done you like your gingerbread cookies.

Have fun, and ENJOY!!!