Merry Christmas

Have a wonderful Christmas. May you love more than you give, and listen more than you speak. Let the warm light of peace blossom sweetly in your soul and have a good laugh in the company of love.

Here is a fun video.

Happy Holidays

English: Four children reading the book How th...

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The calendar is creeping slowly toward Christmas and I find something odd happening. I am beginning to love the Holidays. Now, I have always liked the Holiday season, I’m no Grinch, but I am finding this Holiday to be a magical time.

Maybe it is having a little boy who is just starting to understand the whole Christmas thing. I get to experience, re-experience, the joy of Christmas. Every morning my little guy sits patiently on the floor waiting for me to plug in the lights on the Christmas tree. We bake cookies together and watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (the real one with the cartoons). Then he runs around the house singing the Who songs. Somehow, his unconditional approach to new experiences has caught. So here I am revelling in the magic of fir trees and twinklely lights.

Happy Holidays.

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookie Recipe

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I adapted this family shortbread recipe to be gluten-free to accommodate my friend’s allergy. I am quite happy with the result. The taste is delicious; you can’t tell they are made without wheat. The consistency is a bit different as they spread out a lot and they take less time baking, but overall they are great.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb butter (yes butter)
  • 1 ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cup gluten-free flour substitute (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 1 ½ cup white rice flour (You could increase the proportion of rice flour for a finer textured cookie. I just winged it half and half with the gluten free AP flour.)
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract (C’mon! It is the holidays, use the good stuff.)
  • ½ cup Skor bits.

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Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar with a high speed mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into the whipped butter and sugar. (I sift small batches into the bowl to avoid a flour dust storm. You will have to finish mixing by hand as the batter gets stiffer.)
  5. Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you haven’t used parchment paper before, start! There are no issues with stuck cookies.
  6. Dent the tops of the cookies and add ¼ tsp or so of Skor bits onto the raw dough. You could use any topping you like here. Dark chocolate chips are a nice variation.
  7. Bake at 350 °F for 10-12 minutes.

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Watch them! They are little monsters, raw one minute, burnt the next. They are done when the bottoms are light brown. Let them cool for a few seconds on the sheet before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Holiday Traditions Revisited

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Holiday season is here and no matter what you are celebrating, chances are that you have a bunch of traditions you have adopted from your family. Before I had my son, I pretty much followed the secular Christmas traditions my family had solidified over the years. Now that I am a Mom I get the pleasure and privilege of carving out our own traditions within our small family (with my husband’s input of course). While we are both spiritual, we don’t follow any one religion over another. That puts us in an interesting place that many people share; we don’t go to church, but here we are celebrating a Christian holiday.

We did discuss, briefly, not celebrating Christmas other than attending family events. But, let’s face it, Christmas time is just too much fun. We both grew up knowing the excitement of a Christmas morning, so we could hardly deny our son that same experience. Since we live in a mainly Christian country there is also the backdrop of fitting into society to consider as well, though that definitely played a smaller role in our decision to keep Christmas.

So, if we are not Christian, then what are we really celebrating at Christmas? Both my husband and I do like Jesus’ philosophies and teachings, so that is a pretty nice thing to celebrate. We also like the spirit of generosity that accompanies the Holidays; that being the main time when food banks receive their donations. Giving back to our community is important to us. So, we have the ritual of buying a toy, with the help of our son, to give to the local toy drive. Since our son is small, we bought a small toy to give to him after he put the bigger toy in the bin. I am so proud to say that he didn’t know about the small toy when he happily gave away a LEGO set. What a sweetie. The reason for the small toy for him was to mainly put in place a positive association with giving in his three year old mind. Maybe he is already a generous boy.

As for the rest of the holiday season, what my husband and I really love is visiting with family over some fun board games. I also like putting puzzles together, and I figured one a year is perfect. We did some baking tonight and we will also get a real Christmas tree. Gifts we have decided to keep low key with stockings in the morning and one bigger gift each. The shopping for the big gift will be decided by the rest family, so that we don’t end up with tons of shopping. Although I think the real tradition is the yearly discussion of how much we should buy for each other. Every year we end up deciding to do the same thing. 🙂

A new tradition will be to do our yearly donating on kiva.org as a family. We are basically spending the amount of an extra present each and instead giving it away to a charity.

Everyone will have their own traditions that are right for them. I think the most important thing is to consciously choose what you do and why you are doing it. Even if you don’t change a thing, I think the intent behind our traditions and rituals are very powerful.

How will you be spending your holidays?

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