Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Traditions - Christmas Sugar Cookies

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As a child, my Mom made these delicious and buttery sugar cookies every year at Christmas. She'd take out her red Christmas book and flip through the pages to this one recipe. She'd use her hands to mix the dough and when I was old enough, recruited me to mix the dough with my hands. I'd feel the texture between my little fingers and smell the sugar, that is how I identified Christmas.



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I loved her Christmas book. The dust cover is long gone and the spine reads, Take Joy! I used to sit and stare at the illustrations in the book. I dreamed of doing all the Christmas things that they were doing. This book is long out of print but remains a favorite in my heart. This year I liberated the book from her bookshelf so I could make sugar cookies with my girls.



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I gathered all the ingredients and laid them out so Molly could easily combine them. The great thing about about this recipe is that you literally dump all the ingredients in a bowl and start mixing them with your hands. I thought I was smarter than the recipe and tried using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer to mix the dough. That was a mistake! My poor mixer could not handle it and I ended up finishing the job by hand mixing the dough.



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I'm pretty sure the girls and I are going to adopt the tradition of making Christmas Sugar Cookies. As they grow, they too can have the dreaded task of mixing the dough by hand which I hope they eventually learn to love and eventually pass onto their little ones.  


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Christmas Sugar Cookies
by Rebecca Mongrain
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Ingredients (5 dozen cookies)
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 3 Tablespoons milk
  • Nutmeg for dusting cookies
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with hands until smooth. The great thing about this dough is that you can mix, mix, mix without repercussions.
3. Form into a ball, dust with flour and chill throughly. Break into smaller pieces and roll as thin as possible. Dust with granulated sugar and nutmeg. Using cookie cutters or round glasses, cut into shapes.
4. Bake until the top of the cookies are light brown on top, about 10-12 minutes. Place on cookie racks to cool.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Traditions - Advent Calendar Day 14 & 15

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This past weekend, I headed down to San Diego to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday with my best friend who is due to have her first baby any time now (she says she needs three more weeks but ANY TIME NOW!). It was my first weekend away from Maggie and Scott's first weekend alone with the girls. I have to say that everyone did awesome while I was away. I might need to make this a regular thing.

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We stayed at The Westin in downtown San Diego which was quite lovely. Even more awesome was the fact that my Mom gave me some of her points so I was able to book a very nice room. The best part might have been the bed all to myself and that I was able to sleep through the night without interruption for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS! 

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My friend and I hit up the shops after indulging in pancakes for breakfast. Her husband picked us up later and chauffeured us around town. We discovered this place called 85C which supposedly has the best coffee ever and it was really good. Later that night, they took me out for Mexican food and a HUGE margarita. It was nice to be able to drink without worrying about anyone but me. 

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We also checked out the Christmas Lights in Balboa Park before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel for another night of uninterrupted sleep (can you tell that I've been having a lot of interruptions to my sleep?). 

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The next morning we watched Splash on tv and relived some childhood memories before checking out of the hotel and heading to the Hillcrest Farmer's Market. It was a pretty good market though it had nothing on the Ballard Market! It was a bit of a shock to see fresh berries though!

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We finished out the day with some time on the beach before I headed to the airport for my flight home. It was a wonderful weekend and just the way I wanted to spend some of my last days of my 30s. I can't believe that I'll be 40 by the end of the week. That sounds so grown-up and yet, I do not feel like a grown-up. 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Traditions - Advent Calendar Day 11, 12 & 13

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On Day 11 of our Advent Calendar, we visited my Dad's grave and left some flowers before heading out to lunch and a day of remembrance.

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For our twelfth day, we stayed close to house and made Play-doh Snowmen! I think I had more fun with the creations than Molly did.

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She did have fun gathering supplies on our walk home from preschool and loved putting buttons on the snowmen. She directed me in making a few of them too. 

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Today, on Day 13, we headed to the Sheraton Gingerbread House Village which supports the JDRF Northwest Chapter. We had a great time checking out all the beautiful houses and Molly talked about the different ones all the way home. Maggie slept through our adventure. She would be so bummed if she knew what she missed out on. 

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I leave tonight for my first solo trip away from the girls. I'm going to visit my best friend in San Diego and I am so excited for a weekend away. While I'm gone, Scott is going to continue the Advent Fun with the girls. I'm sure they will be having an exciting weekend themselves. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blog Reader Shangri-la, Top 100 Best Book Lists and ME Time round out this Week's Links from Around The Web

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I've been mourning the loss of my favorite blog reader, Bloglines since it imploded a few years ago. I switched to Google Reader and then that disappeared! I tried out a few other readers since then but never found one that I loved, until BlogLovin'. I'd highly suggest checking it out and I'd love for you to follow my blog on BlogLovin'!

I love reading. I love reading books, magazines, blogs, newspaper articles, I love it all so I was excited to see the NYTimes Top 100 books of the Year. I now have a huge list of books that I want to tackle. My wallet is grateful that my library offers so many of these books as e-readers since I'm a bit addicted to my Kindle and with two kids, it is often difficult to browse books at the actual library especially when we are there for library story times and playdates. This article of the best Children's Books of 2014 excites me too since we read to the girls every day and are working to foster a love of books.

Scott takes amazing photos with his iPhone (some of the best photos on this blog have been stolen from him) and I'm constantly inspired by him and others on Instagram who do this. This Ted article provides some really good tips to get great photos with your phone.

Finding Me Time was a true struggle this year. With the birth of Maggie and the death of my Father, I had way more people to care for and responsibilities to deal with but this article helps remind me to find ME TIME and to take ME TIME.

I've been pinning so many "How to Blog" posts on Pinterest as I think forward to 2015 and this blog. I have some ideas and I really want to get back to this space. It's ME TIME and yet I want it to be more. I'm still formulating my ideas but I'd love your input. What would you like to see? What do you like the most about this space?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

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Dear Dad,

Today would have been your 65th birthday. You were aiming so hard for this day. This was to be your official day to retire, your day to really start reaping your rewards after working hard all those long years to support our family and Mom.

It's been a long 4.5 months without you. I'm realizing just how much you did for Mom and the family. You really took on all the responsibilities when Mom got sick and kept everything rolling along.

Today Mom, the kids and I are going to visit your final resting place before enjoying lunch together. Later the entire family is going to gather so we can celebrate you. We'll have a few beers, eat some pizza and watch your grandchildren run around.

Molly misses you so much. We talk about you all the time and I really hope we can keep your memory alive in her. Unfortunately, your other grandchildren are too young to really remember you but I know that they will still know your love. You and Mom made a pretty awesome family. It's now our responsibility to tell your grandchildren stories about you and how much love you had for everyone. We love you, Dad (Poppa)!

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