1. Or an apology with a side of whine.
I very much wanted to blog more than once this week, but with my terrible cold and my getting a new laptop, and the usual third week of Advent rush-around-second-guessing-every-gift-and-returning-things-and-starting-over, I just didn't get to it. I'm sorry.
Remind me to never get a new computer again. Moving pictures, music, email accounts, and bookmarks is a lot like moving house (something else that should not attempted during the third week of Advent). First world problem as the Chef pointed out.
2,3,4. Good Christmas Picture Books
There are many picture books for this season and many of them are not worth your time or money. The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard along with the following titles are a few exceptions. The Baker's Dozen is about generosity and baked goods and having really good illustrations. And if the spirit moves you, you can recreate the St. Nicholas cookies in the story like the other Jessica did here.
Stephen's Feast by Jean Richardson combines the feast of St. Stephen (December 26th) with the story of St. Wenceslaus and again, lovely illustrations. I made the Chef read it, and he had never heard the story of St. Wenceslaus. If you've never paid attention to the umpteen verses of the carol, try to snag a used copy of this out-of-print treasure. Our library system owns it, maybe yours does too.
Simcha Fischer recently posted about Tasha Tudor's books (again with gorgeous illustrations) and that brought to mind my obsession with all things Tasha Tudor, which in turn brought to mind my obsession with all things John S. Goodall. If you like Tasha, you will also enjoy John S. Goodall. So sorry for sending you on another wild goose chase for out-of-print treasures.
Where is the publishing house that wants me to tell them what to re-issue?
John S. Goodall's An Edwardian Christmas is filled with wordless pages of gloriously detailed watercolored paintings. Fans of Downton Abbey and/or Anne of Green Gables will appreciate the glimpses of the "downstairs" life and the puffed sleeves.
What was that? Wordless? Yes. Goodall's books are wordless, which means you can see/tell a different story every time. Other Goodall favorites are Shrewbettina's Birthday and Creepy Castle.
5. DVD recommendations for your holiday viewing pleasure
A Housewifespice Facebook fan messaged me this query yesterday:
Jessica, can you give me a fast list of good dvds to rent for the holidays? my 8 kids here (11mos-17 yrs old) are getting sorta stir crazy and i am not up for an outing. thanks so much.
To which I responded with this stream of consciousness deluge:
Holiday DVDs or other? We really enjoyed the new Amazing Spider-Man, we watch a lot of superhero stuff, Superman, Batman Begins, Elf, Christmas Carol with George C Scott, the new Muppet movie, the new (90s?) Sabrina, the old Sabrina, anything Pixar, the newest Star Trek (one scene to fast forward when he wakes up with a green chick), I'm thinking about watching the old Star Treks with the fam, Apollo 13, Rise of the Planet of the Apes....Really old but good is The Magnificent Seven. Sports, we like Miracle (hockey), Field of Dreams, the Rookie. Not a lot of chick movies here, Sweet Home Alabama, Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow. My kids love the Marx Bros. That's just off the top of my head.
Of course, I forgot to mention that the only thing that everyone loves, toddlers to teens, is Shaun the Sheep. But if she's a faithful reader she must already know that.
6. Our Family's Holiday Must See Movie that you will probably never see
We are leaving Sunday for a week of cousin frenzy in the Lou. We plan to eat, drink, and be merry, hopefully with some movie-going in between. There will probably be the annual showing of the barely viewable VHS copy of my mother's favorite Christmas movie of all time, Little Lord Fauntleroy starring Ricky Schroeder and Alec Guinness.
7. The Very Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe that All Children Love
My senior year of college, my three roommates and I did a Secret Santa/Advent Angel gift exchange. I don't remember who had me, but I got this adorable tiny cookbook of Christmas cookies. Eighteen years later, (gosh that makes me sound like a grown-up, what a poseur am I) I have lost the cookbook but still have the ah-mazing gingerbread cookie recipe that I discovered within its miniscule pages.
My kids are always puzzled by other peoples' gingerbread. It's always too spicy or crispy/crunchy. Ours is deliciously mild and chewy. It pairs best with a hot cup of tea and a reading of The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth. And I have a batch chilling in the refrigerator right now. I buy those itty bitty raisins called currants to decorate them with, and if I'm really ambitious, I might use white icing too.
Without further ado, I present you with
Combine these ingredients:
1 and 2/3 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar (Dark is best, but either is fine.)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
In another bowl, combine these ingredients:
3 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
AND 4 cups flour Do Not Forget to add this as I did when I typed it the first time!
Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients while mixing at low speed, and rubbing your tummy and patting your head.
Divide dough into quarters and refrigerate for an hour or 48.
Roll, cut, add your currants or other bling. Bake at 350 degrees on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 minutes.
Let cool for 2 minutes.
My notes say this recipe makes 10 dozen. I say that depends on the size of your gingerbread man cookie cutter.
Have a blessed Christmas! And here's Jen for more QTs.