Posted by Caren Crane Dec 18 2012, 12:13 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, angels, Caren Crane, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas trees, cookie recipe, date cookies, easy date drop cookies, prizes, stars
Every year, I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree. It’s artificial, so it’s just a matter of removing and sorting limbs, fluffing them out and sticking them in the pole. But still, it’s a wonderful time for me. I love the lights and all my ornaments: the shiny, the sentimental, the store-bought, the handmade. They are all special and beloved. When the lights are on the tree – and I think there were 8 strands this year – and the poor thing groans with snowmen, Santas, bells, angels, doves, crosses, candy canes, mice (which, for some reason, we have lots of on the tree!) and reindeer, I am blissfully happy.
I love to stare at the lighted tree, thinking of wonderful (or sad) Christmases past. Even the melancholy memories are sad in a way I cherish. What can I say? I was a melancholy, sentimental child and have grown to believe we can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness (as Gotye told us Somebody I Used To Know). I have spent countless hours staring at a lighted Christmas tree, often in a darkened room, enjoying every happy (or sad) moment. Christmas would not be the same without my tree.
But. This year, I find myself with no tree topper. Since the tree in question is artificial, we have only a bare branch sticking straight up at the top. The benighted branch has been bent over on itself to accomodate various toppers over the years. And there have been toppers. All beloved in their day. All tossed aside when the new kid came to town.
First there was a STAR. No lights, no shiny bits. Just a gold star with a conic base. It was my first tree topper and I enjoyed it for years. It happily adorned the top of the live trees I bought when my son was little (despite the fact that I was allergic to them all). Then the top of the artificial tree we bought when it became apparent that the baby (my second child, older daughter) was allergic as well. Eventually I grew restless, though, and was eventually lured by…
The ANGEL. The angel was sweet and, well, angelic. She had lovely blond hair, rosy cheeks, a flowing white gown (covering a conic base, of course). She was slightly shinier than the star but, alas, she could not hold my affections forever. She lacked…color. I’m afraid I was after something a bit more spicy than my angel tree topper provided. Several years ago I was shopping in one of those Christmas stores that pop up like mushrooms at the mall in what used to be a shoe store or a card shop. At the Christmas store, I found the greatest tree topper of all time…
The SHINY, LIGHTED STAR WITH REFLECTORS! Oh, how I loved the shiny, lighted star with reflectors! It dazzled the eyes at the top of my tree, practically blinding in its Christmasy glory. Stare at that puppy too long and you’d come away with singed retinas. It really gave our tree some extra pizazz, a little KA-POW! for the holidays. Alas and alack! The star was, perhaps, a bit ambitious in all its shininess. It was, for all its handsome reflectivity, cheaply made. It stopped lighting up after 3 years and no tweaking, bulb replacing, cussing or fiddling would make it light up again.
This year, I gave up on the shiny, lighted star with reflectors and threw it in the garbage can. Which left me with no tree topper at all. The top of my tree is a bare, bent limb so far this year. But I feel the newly-sprouted Christmas store at the mall calling to me. What I need, though, is to approach my purchase with a cool head and a firm idea of what I want before I get there.
So tell me, Banditas and Buddies, what adorns the top of your tree? Have you been faithful to a single topper or have you been seduced by a series of increasingly-flashy toppers as I have? And what would you recommend for the Crane tree topper, to augment our panoply of ornamental goodness? Help a sister decide!
And never forget, we are deep in the throes of the 12 Bandita Days Of Christmas! Every day, the cabana boys are pulling the name of a lucky commenter to win Bandita treasures. On Christmas Day, there will be a HUGE grand prize awarded, including books from Banditas and favorite authors like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, Deb Marlowe, Marquita Valentine, Lydia Dare (who are all friends of mine, btw, and sweethearts!). So check back each day and keep on commenting!
And while you’re thinking, enjoy these
EASY DATE DROP COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. water or buttermilk
3-3/4 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. chopped, pitted dates
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cream the sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and add them alternately with the water or buttermilk. Boil the filling ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. Drop a spoonful of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Top with a slightly smaller spoonful of filling and then top that with about half the amount of dough you used on the bottom layer. Bake for 8 – 10 min. Let cool on a wire rack.
Yummy and they look like you worked really hard on them!
Posted by Christie Kelley Dec 17 2012, 1:01 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, Christie Kelley, cookie recipe, cookies, Kringlas, prizes
While Trish admitted to having a Christmas decoration addiction, which I share, I have to admit to another Christmas related addiction. My name is Christie and I’m addicted to making Christmas cookies. I have no excuse. My kids only asked me to make three kinds of cookies, but I couldn’t stop at that.
So far, I have made chocolate chip cookies, mint M&M cookies, brownies with Andes Mints on top, two batches of pumpkin bars (the first batch didn’t make the Christmas cut and went to my son’s friends), and eggnog cookies. I still have the ginger snaps and the sugar cookies to get done this week. Now, if I didn’t work a full time job, plus have another writing contract to finish and have a 15-year-old part time, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But it is!
Of course, I will give a bunch of these away as presents to people I work with and my critique partners. But there is no reason I can’t just give them a card and a small present. It is what most people do.
I must pause for a minute to take another batch of eggnog cookies out of the oven.
Okay, I’m back now…did you miss me? The next batch is in the oven and I already put the powdered sugar on the finished batch. See what I mean? Even as I write this blog, I’m still making cookies. Even as I cleaned my house yesterday, I was baking cookies. This is out of hand!
But in case you share my addiction, here’s my eggnog cookie recipe:
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
¾ cup unsalted butter (not shortening or margarine)
1 cup eggnog
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until softened. Add sugar and egg, beat until fluffy. Alternate the dd dry ingredients and eggnog. Chill 4 hours. Roll teaspoons of dough into pencil-like strips about 8 inches long and ½ inch thick. On an ungreased cookie sheet, form pretzel shape. This is how they’re supposed to be done. Personally, I roll them into balls and put them on the cookies sheet. The pretzel thing is a lot of work.
Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and nutmeg.
They are delicious.
So now, ‘fess up. How many other Christmas cookies addicts do we have here? I’m sure I’m not the only one. Any ideas on how to stop myself. Do I want to stop myself?
In the spirit of Christmas and giving, I’m giving away an e-copy of Bewitching the Duke to one lucky commenter.
Check back tomorrow night to see if you’ve won! The fabulous Caren Crane will be here tomorrow so stop by and see what’s on her mind! In fact, come back every day between now & Christmas for your chance to win prizes, books and gifties leading up to a HUGE GRAND PRIZE of books and goodies on Christmas Day!!