Tag: christmas

Merry Christmas {Dec. 25, 2016}

Merry Christmas from the ARWB Team! 

Fa La La La La, SWEET MERCY, it is already Christmas Day and a new year is right around the corner. I want to thank all of you who have jumped in and breathed life into this mission of gathering, growing and connecting here at Arkansas Women Bloggers yet again this year. Seven years ago when this little seed took root, we could have never known that it would become what it is today.

Our community continues to get stronger. Many new faces, many who have continually stepped up to make this a more beautiful, loving group, and many whose life season does not include blogging, but still are a part of this community. We welcome any and all that have a true heart for community and are willing to open up and help one another with true kindness and giving. That is what this Christmas season is about, right? And, we try to keep that going all year long.

Business is booming in the influencer world and those of you who choose to grow as a business in some way, 2017 is going to rock your world. More and more brands are looking to partner with influencers, and yes, there are more and more blogs and social media accounts established every single day. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy, there is room for everyone, so be open to the amazing. Let The Women Bloggers be your training wheels, helping you to learn and keep upright in this busy, ever-changing world, while helping you to refine your message and your goals.

I look back with gratitude for the Lord’s many blessings on my family and this community in the past year. And I look forward to another great year with you.

Remember to exhale, to seek the beauty, the peace and the love that this season is all about. And carry it in your heart all year long.

Stephanie, @TheParkWife

 

The Story Behind A Christmas Carol {Foodie Friday Repost}

 

This is a repost of December 18, 2012

Written by AWB Blogger of the Month, Miss December 2012, Debbie Arnold of Dining with Debbie.

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“Marley was dead, to begin with.…Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

And so begins one of the most beloved of all ghost stories, A Christmas Carol.

Portrait-Of-Charles-Dickens-1812-70One hundred and sixty-nine years ago the author Charles Dickens, was facing increasing financial distress even though he was thought to be at the peak of his career.   The sales of his most recently published work were doing poorly, and he had been told by his publisher that his royalties were likely to be reduced.  The father of multitudes of children and the supporter of a large extended family, Dickens was desperately seeking a solution to his financial woes.

As a child, Dickens’ entire family spent months in debtor’s prison in London because of the fiscal irresponsibility of his father.  At the age of twelve, Dickens went to work in a boot blacking factory six days a week for twelve hours a day in order to help support his family.  These thoughts of a childhood filled with suffering and hardship would haunt him throughout his life and are often seen as a basic theme in his works, including A Christmas Carol.

He needed an idea that would quickly earn him a large amount of money.  But under the stress of his financial woes, he was finding it difficult to write.  He lacked a story, and the fears of his childhood poverty, claimed his thoughts and time.

Out for a nightly walk during which he hoped to clear his head, Dickens found himself in the tenement district near the Thames River.  The streets were strewn with litter and lined with open sewers.  Instead of the elegant ladies and gentlemen of his own neighborhood, there were bawdy streetwalkers, pickpockets and beggars. From this dismal scene he was struck by a flash of inspiration.

Dickens' hand-edited copy.
Dickens’ hand-edited copy.

He would write a Christmas story.  This would not be a story of shepherds, stars, angels or wise men, however.  It would not be a tale of Christmas festivities, trees and tinsel as we know them today.  Instead, as Dickens often did in his works, he created a cry of anger about the poverty and neglect he witnessed among London’s children, about the horrific conditions which the city’s poor were forced to endure, and about the lack of concern by those who  were  in the position to assist but did nothing.  This little novella has been called by some a “sledge hammer” against the ills of industrialism and commercialism.

Indeed, his message of social reform becomes abundantly clear in the character of Christmas Present who introduces us to the poverty stricken boy called Ignorance and the girl who is Want.   Dickens spares no bitterness in his description of these two:  “They are yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish…but prostrate in their humility…Beware them both, but most of all beware of this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”  His message to us is that we as a society must make certain that no child grows up ignorant and lacking in the basic necessities of life.  We are our brother’s keeper.

Christmas Present Source: Google Images
Christmas Present
Source: Google Images

As Dickens’ story unfolded, he became more and more engrossed in the writing of it.   He often found himself weeping and laughing, then weeping and laughing again as he penned his tale.  Dickens was known to have said that the story transformed him.  It seemed to take on a life of its own, and his characters, many of whom were modeled after people he knew, came to life as well.

After only six weeks and just in time for the 1843 Christmas season, Dickens self-published his little book insisting upon a rather lavish design in a salmon and gold binding with hand-colored illustrations by John Leech.  He set the price at five shillings so that almost anyone could afford to purchase it.  The response to the first edition was overwhelming; the initial publication of 6,000 copies sold out within a week.  Unfortunately for Dickens, due to the high cost of production upon which he himself had insisted, he did not realize the profit he had hoped. 

 

In many ways, A Christmas Carol  which has never been out of print, became Dickens’ gift to the world. Its themes are timeless and its message universal:
1.  Spiritual wealth is more important than material wealth.
2.  It is better to give than to receive.
3.  Human beings should treat one another with love and compassion.
4.  A society is responsible for the welfare of all of its citizens.
5.  A human can always grow and change.

Scrooge’s  nephew Fred says it best: “I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Charles Dickens’ name became so synonymous with the modern celebration of Christmas that when he died in 1870, a young London girl asked, “Mr. Dickens dead?  Will Christmas die too?”

“It was always said of Scrooge, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Everyone!”

Plum (Cherry) Pudding

Unlike Mrs. Cratchit of  A Christmas Carol fame, I am not accustomed to the making of a plum pudding.  For the Cratchit family this pudding, which did not contain any plums at all, would have been the highlight of their Christmas dinner.  Typically, plum puddings were dark, moist and full of fruit – somewhat reminiscent of a fruit cake.  They were dark and hard and usually ignited with brandy at serving.  A sprig of holly would often serve as a garnish.

This version adapted from Teacher Created Materials: A Christmas Carol is super simple and a good way to extend the reading of whatever adaptation of the novel you choose to read or watch as a family (You are going to do that, aren’t you?).  The Tiny Tims of your family can be as involved as you allow them to be.

 

Plum (Cherry) Pudding
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Ingredients
  1. 1 14.5 ounce can pitted cherries (bing, preferably), drained and coarsely chopped
  2. ½ cup dried cherries plumped in ½ cup warm water (allow to cool)
  3. ¼ cup apple juice or apple cider
  4. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  7. ¼ cup molasses
  8. 2 eggs
  9. ½ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  10. 1 package quick bread (I used gingerbread.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine eggs, vanilla, molasses , spices and cider. Add in the water and plumped dried cherries and the chopped canned cherries. Stir well to combine.
  3. Stir in the gingerbread mix and nuts.
  4. Pour batter into a 9-inch round (or similar) cake pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Cook for 30 - 35 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.
  5. Cool. Serve as is or topped with whipped cream or tart lemon jelly.
Adapted from Teacher Created Materials
Adapted from Teacher Created Materials
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/
Tart Lemon Jelly
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Ingredients
  1. Tart Lemon Jelly
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  5. 6 – 8 Tablespoons lemon juice
  6. 4 teaspoons lemon peel, finely shredded
  7. 2 Tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar with cornstarch and mix with beaten eggs.
  2. Add lemon juice and peel. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick. (I cook mine in the microwave. Watch it carefully and stir frequently.)
  3. Add the butter and cool. (Or you can just buy a jar of lemon curd!)
Notes
  1. From Calico Cupboards, published by the Benton Junior Auxiliary, 1980
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/
Other suggested holiday reading:
The New Testament
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Inside-Out Grandma by Joan Rothenberg
The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
The Way of the Wolf  by Martin Bell (Barrington Bunny)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Hat by Jan Brett
A Newberry Christmas by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh
A Christmas Treasury selected by Stephanie Nettell
Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Siebold and Vivian Walsh
The Mouse Before Christmas by Michael Garland

Resources:
David Perdue Charles Dickens Page
The Second Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told
Ten Things You Never Knew About A Christmas Carol
BBC History: Charles Dickens
History of A Christmas Carol
Text of A Christmas Carol

Debbie Arnold

 

Arkansas Women Blogger member and co-administrator Debbie Arnold pontificates and eats at Dining With Debbie.  She and her Hubby split their time between Central and Northwest Arkansas.  She loves to cook, develop recipes and have play dates with her two perfect grands.  Mostly, she has play dates with the Perfect Ones.  Twitter: @diningwithdeb  Intagrams : @diningwithdebbie

No Ordinary Tree {Tour of Trees}

By Helen Lampkin

Life doesn’t have to be ordinary” has long been my life mantra – and that has come to include our family Christmas tree!

 Family Christmas Tree

Years ago (c. 1970’s), my father-in-law (a not so ordinary kind of guy that we loved to the moon and back) always purchased “live“ trees for the Christmas holiday.  The day after Christmas the tree would be planted along the edge of his pond, all of which are still there today.

The holiday came when my husband and I decided we wanted to keep the tradition his dad started alive and the tree too! 

First we bought only traditional looking Christmas trees: noble fir, Fat Albert spruce, and once a white pine.

White Pine Planting

But my son and son-in-law made me promise to not do white pine again because it turned out to be a “grinch” to plant!  Let’s just say we all needed a cup of eggnog after that incident.

Our home has several trees that we have planted from Christmases past.  The last three years we went out on a limb and chose a Blue Atlas Cedar.  If you’re not familiar with this variety – trust me – it’s definitely not your ordinary Christmas tree! 

IMG_7377

 

Fat Albert Spruce

Blue Atlas Cedar 

A little like “Whoville” of Dr. Seuss fame, the Blue Atlas when dressed in holiday finery brings a delightful smile to all.  Its slender and winsome nature brings some challenges in decorating, but if you’re an adventurous soul, you’re up for the challenge! 

Bringing in the tree can be daunting, so enlist helpers!

Bringing in the Tree

Before Dressing the Tree

Dressed Tree

 

A few tips I’ve learned along the way: 

  • Plan to have the live tree inside your home no longer than three weeks.  (make Dec. 26th your planting date-don’t forget to water the tree well when planting)
  • Dig the planting hole before Christmas!
  • Live trees come in a large buckets or root ball.  Place a waterproof pad under to protect your flooring.
  • Water smaller amounts every 3-4 days the entire time it is in your house.
  • There is always a risk that the tree will go into shock once planted.  Don’t assume it’s a goner.  I’ve had more than one lose every single needle, only to have them all reappear come Spring.

The trees are now starting to become like members in the family.  You know what I mean, some short, some tall, some a littler fuller than others.  Some a little prickly, some soft and flexible. But we love each of them for all their unique qualities!

Last year’s tree had so much personality in his shape we named him “the giving tree” because of his long willowy arms that seemed to want to reach out and give us a welcoming hug!

Giving Tree

 

I still see that in him when I see him in his special place in our yard.

Giving Tree in Fall

 

Whether it be inspiration from my father in law, Dr. Seuss, or the love for family, I encourage you to step out of the ordinary, do something different, embrace going green, create new family traditions, and start planting beautiful memories along the way!

 

From my table to yours,
helen

Helen's headshotHelen Lampkin, woman of faith, devoted wife, mother and grandmother, lives an inspired “no ordinary” life based on the words found in Colossians 3:23 – “do all things wholeheartedly to the Lord.” This inspiration is at the heart of all she does and has led her to become an entrepreneur, artist, adventurous cook, recipe developer/writer, journaler, and blogger. Find Helen online at Helen’s Table, Instagram:@helenstable, Pinterest, Twitter, My Brother’s Salsa, and No Ordinary Broom.

Handmade Ornament Exchange Linky

 2014 ornament exchange

 

This is our third year hosting a Handmade Ornament exchange amongst our members. Participants are each assigned a secret pal and then make a handmade ornament to send to them. We encourage participants to then blog about the ornament they received and link back to their partner’s blog.

Today we invite all who participated to link their blog posts related to the exchange. I have already seen a few of the ornaments and they are amazing. We have a very talented group of ladies so you will want to check out each of these posts!

If you missed the ornament exchange this year be sure to check back next October when we do sign-ups for the 4th annual exchange.

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Christmas Tree Scrapbook {Tour of Trees}

By Brittney Lee

I love Christmas trees. There is something magical about the twinkling lights and festive ornaments. Some of my favorite trees are the beautifully decorated ones that have coordinating ornaments. Each year I admire them in the department stores or at friend’s houses. However, I’ve never wanted to make my tree into a designer tree.  Instead, we have what I call a scrapbook tree.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember adding a special ornament every year, and often the ornaments had special meaning for that particular year.  I’ve carried that tradition into my adulthood with my own family.  Our tree is a sort of scrapbook with ornaments marking the events of our family- both big and small. Our tree is like looking at a family photo album.

scrapbook tree

There are memories hanging on the branches – memories from friends, milestones, hobbies, vacations. Sure, we have some velvet bows and sparkly glass bulbs…but most of our decorations are sentimental.

We mark our lives with ornaments for our Christmas tree. 

Our memory book tree started with our very first family ornament – an engagement ornament.

engagement ornament

Then we had a custom ornament made to commemorate our wedding and wedding party.

wedding party  ornament

We have special ornaments from our honeymoon in Maui; an ornament given to us by our realtor for our first Christmas in our home; an ornament for our dog, Mikey; and a carved nativity from a vacation to Mexico.

ornaments collage(1)

We have ornaments that mark our hobbies and interests, including my husband’s RC car and my blogging ornament.

I try to add at least one special ornament each year. This year we have two special ornaments – one commemorating our vacation to Lake Fort Smith where we kayaked together for the first time, and the other is a police officer as my husband took a job with the police department this year.

2014 ornaments

To some, my tree might look shabby chic and disordered. But to me, it’s a walk down memory lane that I get to go down when I put up the tree, when I watch the lights twinkle, and when I take it down.  I can’t wait to have children some day and tell them about every special ornament on our tree.  Someday we may have to have TWO trees to hold all the special ornaments.  But either way, I wouldn’t trade these sentimental ornaments for anything.

christmas tree at night

razorback-britt-headshotBrittney is on a mission to be better every day. She blogs her journey at Razorback Britt, where she writes about fitness, faith, cooking, fashion, weekend adventures, and more. She has done some truly remarkable things – she built a house and only got into two fights with her husband, and she once won an electric slide contest. 

Jerusalem Greer: On Christmas Morning {Foodie Friday}

By Jerusalem Jackson Greer of The Adventures of Jolly Goode Gal

Jerusalem shares special memories of food and family on Christmas morning.

 Waiting to eat Jerusalmen

When I was less than a year old, my father left the U.S. Air Force in order to finish his college education and then to attend seminary. As far back as I can remember, my father has been a Southern Baptist pastor in some capacity, and during my middle childhood years, it was his only vocation; but at heart he is an introverted poet, scholar, and musician, and he never sought the role of senior pastor of a mega-church, never climbed the church leadership ladder. This also meant that our bank account did not climb any ladders, either. For herself, my mother chose to be a stay-at-home mother as her vocation, homeschooling all four of us for a large chunk of our education and creating an amazing environment for creativity. But even though this was what she wanted, what she chose—it was still work, and even though she wasn’t bringing in a paycheck, she still had financial responsibilities. So, the task to find ways to stretch one paycheck as far and as wide as the Atlantic Ocean fell to her. 

Despite our cheese-and-crackers budget, we always had gifts under the tree—maybe not many, but there was always something lovely: something my mother had stayed up and sewn through the night; something she had saved pennies or Green Stamps to purchase. Once, during the Cabbage Patch Kid phase, she even took a night sewing class in order to make me an extra-large soft-headed Cabbage Patch knockoff doll, just what I had wished for (curiously I had wanted only a boy doll and that Christmas I got two—one my mother made and one off-brand doll that my grandmother bought me. Talk about foreshadowing!). Even my father, who loves to shop for gifts almost as much as his father, got in on the thrifty gift-giving, and my most favorite gifts from him were always things that were given with more thought than cash. 

The big family gift that first Christmas in Juneau was a videocassette recorder. Months before Christmas, my parents had purchased and hidden it in my father’s office at the church. During those weeks leading up to Christmas, Daddy secretly videotaped television shows and movies for each of us, wrapping up the videotapes and putting them under the tree, so that come Christmas morning my three siblings and I would each have something special to watch. My tape was filled with the PBS Anne of Green Gables series, based on the books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and within five minutes of viewing I knew had found a bosom buddy for life in Anne. I am sure there were many things on my Christmas wish list that year that I was convinced I needed, that I spent nights dreaming of and hoping for. But I have no idea what they were, and chances are I will never remember, but I will remember Anne of Green Gables forever—she became a huge part of my identity. As dramatic as it sounds to say, I would not be who I am today if it had not been for Anne, and I have my daddy and his thrifty thoughtfulness to thank for that.

 I wonder now, a parent myself, trying to scrimp and save in preparation for Christmas gifts and decorations, staying up late to put the final stitches in a gift, juggling the electric bill with the boys’ wish lists, if my parents ever second-guessed their choices. If they ever felt that homespun gifts and home-taped videos were second-rate gifts. If they ever wondered if they had made the right choices, traveled the right path. I wonder those things about myself all the time—isn’t that part of parenting? The never knowing if you are getting it right? You hope you are, you want to desperately, but you never know for sure. “Please Lord, just let the good stuff stick,” I pray.

 I take some solace in the fact that despite how I acted then, what matters now, what has stayed with me all these years about our family’s Christmas, was not when or how our tree was set up, or what presents I didn’t get, or how odd the gifts I did get might have turned out to be. What I am grateful for now, even as I put my own children’s inadequate gifts under the tree, is that regardless of whatever was not enough, what was always in full supply on Christmas Day was my parents’ love and presence. Come Christmas morning our home was full of merriment, laughter, and kisses; there was always hot food on the table, a dry roof over our heads, plenty of books to read, and music to dance to. We had each other, despite whatever other brokenness our lives encountered.

 Christmas morning can cause a hiccup to menu planning if your big meal is later in the day, and especially if the budget is tighter than normal. Here are two easy recipes that will make any crowd happy, won’t break the bank, but will feel indulgent and can be eaten at everyone’s convenience throughout the morning.

 Since I was a little girl, my mother has made the most wonderful hot chocolate mix, even when the budget was especially tight. It was always one of our little luxuries.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories are of sitting underneath our family Christmas tree, giggling and sharing cups of cocoa with my childhood friend Tracy. To this day I can still lure friends over for a visit with the promise of a hot cup of Mrs. Jackson’s Cocoa.  The recipe will make quite a bit of cocoa, and like Mrs. Jackson , you can give jars and repurposed coffee canisters of it away as gifts throughout the holidays (the mix will stay fresh for many months if stored in an airtight container. )

 

Mrs. Jackson's Hot Cocoa
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Ingredients
  1. Directions
In a very large bowl, mix together the following ingredients
  1. 2 25.6-ounce boxes of nonfat dry milk
  2. 1 16-ounce jar of nondairy creamer
  3. 3 16-ounce cans of quick chocolate drink mix
  4. 2 8-ounce cans of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa
  5. 1 2-pound bag of confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix all together and store in an airtight container.
  2. To serve in a standard 8-ounce mug: Measure 1/3 cup of the mix into mug, fill with hot water, stirring thoroughly for a few seconds.
  3. Top with fresh whipped cream and sprinkles.
Notes
  1. (You may not find these items packaged in these exact amounts. Use a measuring cup or weight scale to get the amounts you need.)
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/
Crepe Bar
The very first time I ever had a crepe was at my friend Carrie’s house around the age of sixteen. I watched in awe as her mother flipped paper thin pancake after paper thin pancake Crepes are a great Christmas morning treat because family members can add toppings according to their taste – be it savory or sweet! 
Ingredients
2 cups flour
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt (I love fine sea salt for this recipe)
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions
Mix ingredients together in a blender; mixture will be very thin. Cook these in a non-stick skillet or a crepe pan that has been lightly greased, on medium heat.

Crepes can be served as a savory or sweet dish, depending on how you fill or top them. My favorite crepes are filled with a creamy chicken mixture and served over a bed of sticky rice.
On Christmas morning, try creating a “crepe bar” by putting out lots of different fillings and toppings. Let each person create his or her own unique savory or sweet crepe at their own speed. Keep crepes warm in a low temp oven or crock-pot (make sure to coat the bottom and sides of your crock-pot with butter if you go this route.)
Some filling ideas for the crepe bar are:
Ricotta cheese
Shredded cheese
Plain or vanilla yogurt
Fresh fruit, sliced thinly
Shredded chicken
Sautéed mushrooms
Sour cream
Maple syrup
Nutella® spread
Butter
Powdered sugar
Fruit jam

Serious Headshot by Whitney Loibner

“Juggling songs of praise with cries for help. Her words and works inspire..” – Publishers Weekly 

Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, former pastor, nest-fluffer, urban farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons in a 1940s cottage in Central Arkansas at the crossroads of beauty and mess with an ever-changing rotation of pets, including a hen house full of chickens and a Hungarian Sheep Dog mutt. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life.  She blogs about all of this and more at http://jerusalemgreer.com

Narrative and recipes excerpted from A Homemade Year:The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

©2013 by Jerusalem Jackson Greer, images by Judea Jackson
©Portrait image by Whitney Loibner

Used by permission of Paraclete Press, www.paracletepress.com

 

#Virtual Cookie Swap for Foodie Friday {Christmas Tree Cookies}

By Tiffany of Life Of A Lost Muse

Welcome to our #ARWB #Virtual Cookie Swap hosted by Tiffany.  Be sure to add your favorite cookie posts to our Linky.  Which new ones will you try?

finished product

Today, I want to share with you a recipe that I sometimes make with my goddaughter.  They’re simple to make so it’s a perfect activity to make with kids.  They’re also really colorful and super tasty; it’s a win-win.

 
Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

You’ll Need:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tube of icing (your choice of color)
your choice of food colorings
(optional: various colors of sugar sprinkles)

collage

 

How to:

Cream sugar and butter together in a large bowl Beat in eggs and oil.  In a separate bowl, mix the cream of tartar, baking soda, powdered sugar, salt and flour together.
Add the dry ingredient mixture to the butter/sugar mix then stir in the vanilla extract.

Next, split up the dough into sections  depending on how many colors you want to make. I usually do at least 5 so that there’s some variation but you’re welcome to do more or less as you see fit.

Blend the food coloring into your separated bowls until you’ve gotten the color you want.

Proceed to roll each color into 8-10 balls of dough, decreasing the size as you go.Flatten your dough balls into circles and then sprinkle with granulated sugar or coordinating sugar sprinkles.

Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many stars as you’ll need to top your cookie trees.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, starting with the largest cookies first and decreasing the cooking time as the cookie sizes get smaller.

Remove cookies from baking pan and cool on wax paper.  Once the cookies are cool, stack them starting with the largest on bottom, graduating to the smallest size on the top, adding a small circle of frosting between each layer to hold them in place.

Finish the cookie trees by topping them with a star and lightly dust with powdered sugar so that they resemble snowy trees.

I’ve created a printable recipe card so that you can take this recipe with you, if you like. Just right click and save, then print your desired size.

sugar cookie christmas trees recipe card

  

headshot

 

 Tiffany blogs at Life Of A Lost Muse.  She shares posts dedicated to things that inspire, lovely photos, creative drawings, tasty recipes, affordable fashion, and blogger love, travel, entertainment, fun tutorials and  decor.  You can find her at there or at her other blog, Fashion In  the Forest.

 

Now, let’s LINK UP ladies!

 



Wassail, wassail all over the town! {Foodie Friday}

“Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown…” Ok, I’ll stop. In case you’re wondering, those are the words from the traditional English Gloucestershire Wassail song. Come on, indulge me, you’ve got a minute to explore that link and the background on wassail!

Gloucestershire Wassail (on Youtube)

Apparently, my high school years of performing in a Madrigal dinner had quite an effect, and now those around me must also endure it. If you don’t feel like delving in, here’s the gist of it: today’s definition of a madrigal dinner is a multi-course, Medieval-style meal served by costumed performers singing traditional (old English) Christmas carols. (“The boar’s head, in hand bear I…” Ok, sorry – I’ll really stop this time.)

So, why does this matter on foodie Friday? Because wassail (literally “waes hael” or “be you healthy”)  is a foodie tradition you should most definitely explore! Before we go further, though, I need to offer my standard disclaimer from The Food Adventuress: I’m quite horrible at precisely following directions and tend to just do whatever I want in the kitchen and wait to see how it turns out. So, if you’d like a real recipe for wassail, you’d best go elsewhere. Just do a quick search on the Interweb and you’re sure to turn up lots of lovely options. Now, don’t tell my Mom, but here’s what I do:

  1. Grab crock pot a little too late in the day for 6 p.m. wassail readiness.
  2. Have a glass of wine or your relaxing beverage of choice.
  3. Recollect that you were going to make wassail and get back to it.
  4. Fill said crock pot about 2/3 full of apple cider.
  5. Top it off with generous pours* of orange juice (I like pulpey for this!) and pineapple juice.
  6. Add a good amount** of lemon juice and honey.
  7. Start adding spices to your taste. I choose cinnamon (lots!***), ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg and sometimes ginger and allspice depending on my mood/desire to exert myself.
  8. Decorate your wassail. I typically add a cloved orange (sliced or not, per your own desire to exert yourself) and some apple slices from near the core along with a cinnamon stick or two.
  9. Let simmer for several hours and return to your aforementioned beverage.
  10. Serve to standing ovation (or at least a few compliments).

* In this case, generous pours mean probably a cup or two each, but let’s not get too precise.

** Under duress, I would probably estimate that a good amount means half a cup?

*** I’m pretty sure my favorite measurement is “to taste.” That’s what you do here – you won’t mess up!

A couple of notes that will increase your cool factor: first, everybody has a scratchy throat around the holidays. Wassail is the guaranteed fix-it and soother – offer it to everyone who enters your home. Of course, your home smells completely fabulous because you made wassail! Also, I recommend not adding alcohol. Shocking, I know. Wassail is enjoyable by all… the kids and those who abstain should enjoy it as much as everyone else, and anyone who wishes to doctor (ahem) their drink may do so with ease once in the mug.

Finally (insider tip!) just store the wassail outside between servings, assuming it is even mildly chilly at night in your neck of the woods of Arkansas (and beyond). Just slowly warm it up starting a little earlier on subsequent serving days. The wassail gets a little thicker as the spices mull, so just add some more of the juices prior to simmering and the original batch should get you through several servings.

Again, this is all highly unscientific but fairly popular Chez Stephens, and it’s standard fare throughout the month of December from tree-decorating through New Year’s. I hope you’ll try it, and maybe add a few of the old English carols to spice up your holiday tunes as well! Give some background to your family and your kids may be the smartest ones on the block. Mine is definitely the one who knows about wassail, which either makes her incredibly cool or highly nerdy. I’m ok with both.

Happy Wassailing to you!

Beth is the marketing maven and one of the four founding members of Arkansas Women Bloggers, but her real job is as executive director of the Ozark Natural Science Center – a nonprofit field science, environmental education, camp and conference facility in northwest Arkansas. She blogs over at The Little Magpie and The Food Adventuress and finds herself eating far more of her mother’s rum cake around the holidays than she would care to admit.

Please note: all images and links are public domain from the web, and used only to illustrate topics for your personal use.

Retro Wednesday {Even More Christmas}

Welcome to our new feature called ‘Retro Wednesday’.  We know you, the members of ARWB, are busy writing tons of great content for your own websites.  We want you to have the opportunity to share these links with our other readers.  Each Wednesday we will feature several posts from our archives as well as your archives by providing an excerpt and a link to your favorite post from your personal blog.  Sometimes we will have a theme, sometimes we will post a variety of links.  This weeks theme is Christmas! Enjoy!

O’ Christmas Tree

I do love our tree.  It doesn’t have fancy ornaments or matching handmade bows.  It will never win a home interior contest.  But, it is filled with memories and stories and I look forward to adding ornaments each year as our memories and our stories grow. Visit Ting’s Mom to read O’ Christmas Tree today!

 Gingerbread Men

Anita Stafford of Aunt Nubby’s Kitchen shares her Gingerbread Men.  She says. “This Gingerbread Cookie recipe is a favorite at my house. I love the added orange zest in this recipe, and this dough can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for a few days until you’re ready to bake it. You can decorate these any way you like or make them plain – they’ll be a hit either way.”

Garvan Gardens – Hot Springs, AR

Amanda Brown of My Heart’s Desire recently took her family to the holiday light display at Garvan Gardens – Hot Springs, AR.  Check out Amanda’s post and then check out the real thing! The display will be open through December 31st.

Do you have a post on your blog that you would love to share with our readers?  Each Wednesday we are featuring several posts from our archives as well as your archives.  If you would like to submit a post for our Retro Wednesday feature please email a short excerpt (300 characters or less) along with a link to the post, your name, and blog title to Julie@arkansaswomenbloggers.com with “Retro Wednesday” in the subject line.  Please note that we will keep an ongoing list of Retro Wednesday posts and may not be able to notify you regarding the specific day on which your link will appear.  Additionally, if you are interested in submitting original content for our site, check out our Posting Guidelines.

DIY Holiday Canvas {Handmade Holiday}

DIY Holiday Canvas {Handmade Holiday}
By Amanda Brown of My Hearts Desire

Thanks, Arkansas Women Bloggers, for the opportunity to guest post today! If you are new to the Arkansas Women Bloggers site, be sure to register and get to know other bloggers around Arkansas! It has been such a privilege to meet some really fantastic ladies through ARWB!

Today, I am going to show you how I used this Pinterest image as inspiration to make this simple, inexpensive, Christmas tree project that will take you about 30 minutes to create, but gives fabulous results!

Supplies needed:

  • Canvas-I used an 11×14, but any size will work (use coupons at craft stores for great prices)
  • Scrapbook papers for trees, tree trunks,or stars–I made matching trees, but you can use 3 different papers for interest. It doesn’t have to be “Christmas” paper!
  • Scrapbook embellishments (optional,for stars)
  • Mod Podge
  • Mod Podge applicator–spongebrush pictured
  • Ric Rac
  • Stars for treetops–use coordinating paper or other scrapbooking embellishments
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Scissors

Using a ruler, lightly draw a triangle on the scrapbook paper. Trees shown are 9 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches. Use this first tree as a template to cut out the next two.

Cut three mini triangles for tree trunks. Only the bottom of the triangle will show.

Measure and lightly mark the middle of the canvas so you can place your first tree, but do not glue the tree yet!

 

Using a spongebrush, cover the entire surface of canvas with Mod Podge. Then coat the back of your first tree with Mod Podge and place it in the marked spot. Glue the tree trunk under the bottom of the treebefore brushing the entire surface, including tree, with Mod Podge again. Be sure to seal edges of tree.

Repeat this process (ModPodging entire surface) after each tree and trunk.

 Lightly press with your finger to seal the edges to the canvas.

If your paper bubbles, no worries! Magically, these disappear once the Mod Podge dries!

 Next, cut the Ric Rac the exact length of the canvas. Glue it to the canvas using Elmer’sglue.

 Glue paper or other”star” embellishment to tops of the trees, using Mod Podge for paperstars or Elmer’s for 3-dimensional ones.

Hang directly onto the wall,

 

or use a plate stand to display it on a table!

This versatile craft can easily transfer to any Holiday using different paper, shapes, or colors!

Happy Crafting!

 

Amanda is a mom to three kids and has been married to David for 13 years. She has a passionfor cooking, journaling, blogging, authentic relationships, and making her homea “haven.” You will find creative ideas for your home, recipes, and anauthentic place to be yourself at www.myheartsdesireblog.com.