Melissa and Jen are hosting an around-the-blogosphere holiday party - click on the image above to head over to Jen's blog and see who's participating - I hear there are over 80 blogs you can visit to see Christmas trees, holiday decorations, fav recipes and drink ideas to make it a jolly holiday!
My middle child helped me choose the tree this year - I blogged about our tree earlier in December, about trying to get it decorated... but it's all ready for Christmas now
Some of my favorite ornaments are related in some way to cookies. This gingerbread girl is actually made from sand paper, pompoms and foam pieces - I went into my daughter's first grade class and made them with the kids (way back when.) The fun part was rubbing the Cinnamon stick on the sand paper to make them smell delicious. The kids then had a little baggie with decorative bling that they could use any way they chose.
Baking Christmas cookies is one of my favorite holiday happenings - I like to do it as often as possible during the month! Yesterday we baked chocolate chip cookies; today we've got oatmeal and roll-out sugar cookies on the agenda. Tomorrow: snickerdoodles!
I found a great sugar cookie recipe a few years ago, in the Penzey Spice Catalog! Easy because you don't have to refrigerate it before rolling, and they always come out well.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 ts baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter & sugar. Add egg & vanilla. Mix until well blended. Add flour and baking powder and blend well. Form dough into smooth ball. Roll on lightly floured surface to 1/4" thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake 6 minutes (they shouldn't brown at all.) Remove, cool & decorate with colored frosting.
Vanilla Frosting Recipe:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp butter
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients until smooth. Separate into smaller bowls to add food coloring.
Drinks are another fun part of the holidays - when my parents owned an Inn in Vermont, I'd go home over the holiday break and work for them. I served breakfast, washed dishes, and tended bar at night. I can't even count the number of mugs of hot chocolate I must have served over the years... with and without peppermint schnapps!
One of my suggestions during the very first holiday week soon became an Inn staple: Hot Spiced Cider. We set up a coffee burner on one end of the bar, and the pot of cider would not only stay warm but fill the whole bar with the scent of simmering Cinnamon. Mmmm.
Lots of places serve hot cider with rum. We had a secret ingredient... Apple Jack whiskey.
Grey Bonnet Inn Hot Spiced Cider
Heat 8 cups of apple cider with 4 whole Cinnamon sticks and half an orange, cut into slices. Let simmer for at least half an hour, to allow the flavors to mingle. For each mug of cider, pour 1 shot spiced rum (like Captain Morgan) and 1 shot Apple Jack whiskey in the cup, then fill with hot cider. Garnish with an extra long Cinnamon stick as a stirrer and a wheel of orange hanging from the rim.
And remember... Be Jolly By Golly! Happy Holidays!