Tag: Christmas

And a Healthy New Year, Of Course (or, Who You Calling a Ho?)

We had so much food.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  It wasn’t Christmas dinner.  It was the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  There was crostini with roasted tomatoes and mozzarella, and the best pepper dip this side of Harry & David.  There was turkey, 

Two Weeks to Go

I’ve gotta dash, so no time for musing about the kiddos today.  Especially when one of them just started scream-crying from her crib for attention.  That redhead, man.  She’s a spitfire. But before I run, shall I give you a joke? Q:  Did you hear 

It’s Called Christmas Biscotti. Because it’s Christmas, That’s Why

I keep telling myself that I’m not going to be one of those people (i.e., every adult with a family in America) who gets stressed out over the holidays.  Nooo, I keep thinking.  This is the most wonderful time of the year!  Carols and jingle bells and balsam-and-cedar-scented candles, dagnabit!  I WILL be happy.

But.  Too much to do.  I’m sullen, overtired, and cranky that we ran out of clean washcloths and I’ve a mountain of laundry to wash.  I dried my hair once this week.  Once.  I won’t tell you how many times I’ve washed it.

No, more than that.  Don’t be gross.

Thursday, I dropped SK off at preschool and raced home (not raced, not raced.  I mean, I drove the speed limit, Officer.  Please put that ticket book away) to throw together some biscotti for a get-together with friends later that afternoon (it’s really book club, but since I haven’t read a single selection since August because I’ve been settling for the likes of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s book in those last quiet moments before bed at night, well…).  I also remembered I had to defrost the chicken and fold the laundry and vacuum the living room and order those gifts and exactly how long does this biscotti take to make?!  Are you JOKING ME??

But I made it, with 30 seconds to spare before we had to leave to pick up Saoirse.  And the best part, the very best part, was watching Quinn walk around the kitchen, giggling, licking the spatula from the mixer bowl.  Oh, don’t give me your lectures about salmonella and why in the world was my toddler walking around with what’s essentially a flat stick near her mouth.  I haven’t the time.

She was having a blast.  Somehow there was flour in her hair.  She kept saying “Nyum! Nyum! Nyum!” It was adorable and sweet and for a moment–just a quick second–time slowed down enough for me to get down on the floor with her, laughing, and have a toddler-sized conversation.

I think she still had the flour in her hair when we left to pick up Saoirse.  Ah, well.  You know me.  I don’t get tense about this kind of stuff.

Oh, here’s the recipe.  I got it from some Better Homes & Gardens holiday magazine I picked up at the grocery store a couple of years ago because it had cookies all over the cover and I was hungry.  If you’re a fellow coffee fanatic and want to eat something mid-morning as an excuse to have another cup of coffee, well, here you go.  And no, I didn’t include more photos.  What do you think I am, a food blogger?   I’m just trying to be nice.  Sheesh.

Christmas Biscotti                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         adapted from Better Homes & Gardens: Christmas Cookies, 2009

1/3 c. butter, softened

2/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. black rum (or rum flavoring, I suppose)

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. fine orange zest

½ c. pistachios, chopped

½ c. dried cranberries, chopped

½ c. dried apricots, chopped

(Note: I usually go a little more generously on the fruits/nuts, just because I’m crazy like that.)

for powdered sugar icing:

Stir 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 1-2 tbs. milk in a small bowl until icing is easy to drizzle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and rum until combined. Gradually beat in the flour.  Stir in orange zest, pistachios, cranberries, and apricots.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide dough into three portions.  Using well-floured hands, shape each portion into an 8-inch-long loaf. Place loaves 3 to 4 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten loaves slightly to 2 inches wide.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and tops are cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Transfer baked loaves to a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices.  Place slices, cut sides down, on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Turn slices over; bake for 8 to 10 minutes more or until dry and crisp (but not overly brown).  Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.  Drizzle with powdered sugar icing; let icing dry.  Eat mass quantities with espresso roast coffee while pretending you’ll save some for friends.

Dag, I Wrote One Anyway

When you go to to type your own blog’s website into your web browser because it’s Monday, and you usually post on Mondays, but you accidentally type in another, much more popular blog into your browser–and when it takes you a second to realize, as 

Fa La La La–(yawn)–Where Was I?

David took the day off, and was taking advantage of this gorgeous trick-you-into-thinking-it’s-May air to hang Christmas lights along the roofline of our house.  Because nothing says “Oh Holy Night” like 67-degree temperatures and, well, November.  But last year he did the same task on 

Santa, Could You Fit That Living Room Set in My Stocking?

So, David and I feel that it’s our responsibility as parents to try to raise our girls with faith and some solid core values.  We thought we were doing a decent enough job for this stage in the child-rearing game:  taking SK to mass, saying Grace before meals and prayers before bed, discussing some basics of God and Jesus, etc. here and there.  We thought, okay, we’re on the right track.  We’re raising these girls the way we should.

But if our little foray into holiday preparations is telling me anything, we’re failing miserably. 

Two little scenarios have occurred recently to make me think that we need to up the ante on the whole reason-for-the-Christmas-season conversations with our dear Saoirse.  The first clue was when, last week, Saoirse and I were eating lunch while paging through a new holiday catalog that had arrived that day.  At one point, Saoirse gestured at the catalog and asked me if “Santa Claus lives in there.”  Whoo, boy, I thought.  Thaaat’s not good.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  And he lives in Pottery Barn Kids.

Strike two occurred a few days later.  We asked Saoirse if she could name baby Jesus’ mother.   Now, we’ve been over this a billion times, so I smiled proudly in anticipation, waiting for Saoirse’s answer.  Do you know what she said?  “Gram.”  Gram?!  Are you kidding me?  I mean, my mom is definitely a good person and all, but “Gram??”  Maybe she was taking this whole Jesus-is-our-brother thing a little too literally.  I dunno.

So that’s going to be our mission this month: to try to redirect the focus from the getting (oh, but it’s so much fun to shop!) to the reflecting.  As excited as I am for that magical moment Christmas morning when Saoirse first sees that Santa Claus has, indeed, come all the way from Pottery Barn to visit our house, and as manic as I’ve been the last few days shopping online for toys and books and all the fun goodies parents get to give their young children, Saoirse’s been a good reminder that I need to rein in the buybuybuy impulse and focus on the peace/charity/love aspect of the holiday.  So I’ll try to stay away from toysrus.com (and Land of Nod and Pottery Barn and Amazon…oh, this is gonna be hard).  And we made sure to finally get an advent calendar, which is currently winging its way to our house.  Hopefully this will help redirect our focus.  I’m putting the nativity scene front and center in the living room this year, and hopefully, by Christmas Eve, Saoirse will have remembered that, in fact, Mary is the mother of God.  I’ll just have to make sure to keep all pictures of Gram on the other side of the room for awhile.