Monday, December 28, 2015

In between

I love this week in between Christmas and the New Year.  All the crazy pressure is gone and the real relaxing can begin.


At my house we hang out in pajamas, eat left-overs or order Chinese takeout.  We watch movies, make popcorn, and finish off the Christmas cookies.  When the dogs get too rowdy, we take them out for a walk.
A trip to the movie theater to see Star Wars (sooo good!), and lunch afterwards at a local brewery for ribs and craft beer.
 Slowly the kids leave to go back to their jobs and school, and the decorations come down in sections, in between naps and meals. I'm reading, reading, reading as fast as I can.  Katherine by Anya Seton, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which was a nice surprise gift from the husband, since I didn't even know she had a new book out), and a photography book, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
One of my favorite presents was this mug rack I'm using to keep my scissors organized. A fresh new stack of fat quarters sits waiting for inspiration to strike and a mini patchwork project is in the works, just the right size to take up space in the "between" moment.
I hope you all have a great week and very creative New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Friends forever

I made this quilt top way back when.  Time to get it quilted.
All crinkly and washed and ready to be wrapped.  This is going to some friends that we have known for almost 20 years. Our boys grew up together and next year their son will be joining ours at the same university.   Friends forever.  Why have I never made them a quilt before this?

Wishing you all a peaceful and very merry Christmas xxx

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Some Sugar

Hello blogging friends!  It's about time I showed my face around here.  Are you all getting ready for Christmas?  Me too.  A storm just blew through our valley, wind howling through the cracks in the door, stripping trees of the last fall leaves, and pelting the windows with rain.  Inside there is a fire snapping in the hearth, Andy Williams singing The Christmas Song in the background, and cookies in the oven.  I ate 4 while writing this post.  Didn't even think twice about it.

This cookie recipe came from my Grandma, and was a holiday staple in our family. It was probably the first cookie I learned to make as a kid.  It's just not Christmas at my house until the shortbread is baked.
With only four ingredients, it's easy to remember.  Sometimes I make a whole batch of dough, divide it in half, bake one half and freeze the rest.  That way if company is coming, I defrost the dough and pop some in the oven.  Or, I'll just make half the recipe for a quick couple of dozen.  This is not a hefty sugar cookie recipe to be used as a vehicle for gobs of icing and decorations.  It's a delicate shortbread that is good completely naked or with a few sprinkles like I've shown here.  I usually mix a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar with a bit of water to create a glaze of sorts.  I brush this on when the cookies are still slightly warm.  This helps the sprinkles stick to the top of the cookie.

A good batch will crunch around the outside, and still be a bit soft in the center.  You can roll them out and use your favorite holiday cookie cutters, or shape the dough into a 2 inch diameter log, chill for about a half hour in wax paper, then slice into 1/4" rounds.


4 cups of flour
4 tablespoons of cornstarch (secret ingredient that makes them melt in your mouth)
sift the flour and cornstarch together and set aside

1 pound of butter (4 sticks) room temperature
1 cup of sugar
cream these together

Now start working the flour into the butter/sugar mixture.  It takes a while, roll up your sleeves, and use your hands until everything sticks together and makes a nice round of dough.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick and cut out with cookie cutters.
Bake on parchment paper at 325 degrees for at least 10 minutes. All of our ovens are different, so add a few minutes to your baking time if you need to. Take them out when they just start to get light brown around the edges.  If you turn your back on them, they can quickly go from "almost done "to "what-the-heck-just-happened" in a short time. They're sneaky like that.
Decorate as I did above, or just leave 'em alone.  Make sure you have coffee, tea, or a big glass of milk on the side.  Eat at least 4 at once.  No regrets.
Christmas crocheted coasters from here. I used some leftover Cotton Ease and an H hook.  I haven't decided if I'm going to make the basket that goes with them or not.  It does make a cute little set.
I'll have another cookie and think about it.