Every family has its holiday traditions, and one of my favorites is making Christmas cookies. When I was a little girl, I loved to help my mom mix the dough, roll it into balls, and then press them and sprinkle them with red and green sugar, but the best part has - and I suspect always will be - licking the beater. I remember a fellow Girl Scout cross-stitching a design that read, "The joy of cooking is licking the spoon;" truer words have never been written, in my opinion. One of the joys of having daughters is getting to share this tradition with them. it seems they have the same taste that I do for cookie dough!
Here's our family recipe for Cookie Press Sugar Cookies:
1 c. butter, softened
1 2/3 c. sugar (plus a little extra for pressing the cookies)
3 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking POWDER (not soda - made this mistake once and the cookies were dreadful!)
3/4 tsp. salt
red and green colored sugar (sanding sugar is best - the smaller granules work better than larger ones)
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder; sift; add to butter mixture.
Roll small balls of dough and place 2" apart on non-stick cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper - easy clean up).
Butter a cookie press (or spray with Pam) and then dip into extra granulated sugar; press balls down until about 1/8" thick, dipping press into sugar after each use. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
Cool; store in airtight container; enjoy!
Perhaps The Sound of Music is on my mind from the live telecast last week, but I've had a song running through my head all morning - ironically, it's one of the songs from the film that wasn't even in this latest TV version. It's one Maria sings to herself when she's trying to work up the courage to face a new challenge, even though she's scared and feels out of her depth.
Undoubtedly this song is on my mind because of a discussion with some of my new colleagues from work yesterday. We had reached the last day of our intensive five (six!) week long training program called Go90X that is designed to get us out of our comfort zones , and we were all sharing our thoughts on what we've discovered about ourselves during the whole process. Again and again, the subject of self-doubt and a lack of confidence kept coming up - and how while this is something many of us struggle with, we have been surprised by how unwarranted those doubts have proven to be once we barreled through them.
Even when I was a professional actress, promoting myself in the business sense didn't come naturally to me. I always felt that if I could just get in the room in front of the right people, I would more than have the goods - it was the getting in the room part that was daunting. I still struggle with putting myself out there at times - I've never enjoyed pushy salespeople and find that to be a huge turn-off, and I don't ever want to be perceived as such. But I've learned that there is a difference between being pushy and simply letting people know that I have something to offer of value.
In the words of Oscar Hammerstein, " Let them bring on all their problems - I'll do better than my best. I have confidence they'll put me to the test, but I'll make them see I have confidence in me." Making people aware of what I am and what I do for a living is something I can control; whether or not they choose to use my services is something I can't. And I'm okay with that.
And now, "I Have Confidence" - have a listen!
You can't have a blog called, "A Few of My Favorite Things," and NOT talk about tonight's TV presentation of The Sound of Music Live! , right? This is just too perfect to pass up!
If you are unaware, tonight on NBC a version of the stage production (different from the movie!) starring Carrie Underwood will be performed - LIVE! I adore live theatre, and I am fascinated to see how this event plays out. Most of the supporting cast is made up of Broadway veterans and/or Tony Award winners, and the risky aspect is too good for a live theatre fan to miss. Who's with me?
For those who like a little snark with their viewing experience (and most theatre people love a little snark now and then), there's even a drinking game floating around online - send me an email and I'll send you the link!
She's Back!!!!! I'm talking about Holly, my family's Elf on the Shelf. This is our second year of having an Elf, and Holly has become a much-loved part of the holiday season around our house - at least for the kids. Me? I have mixed feelings, and I think I'm not alone.
Did you know that there are countless boards on Pinterest devoted to Elf on the Shelf ideas? There are photos of elves fishing for goldfish crackers with candy canes instead of rods, elves making snow angels out of flour, elves making crafts like paper snowflakes, and elves toasting mini-marshmallows over a candle flame. (There are also naughty, adult-themed Elf boards - I'll let you use your imagination, but Barbie has quite a relationship with various Elves.)
I've heard of moms using planning calendars to map out this year's Elf exploits months in advance, but personally, it's more than I can handle to simply make sure Holly moves from one place to another every night, let alone create elaborate scenarios for her to enact. This year, after she failed to change locations three days in a row, "she" wrote my kids a note that said she was saving her energy because it's exhausting having to make that journey to the North Pole every night - I figure that will cover me the next time I forget to move her. I'm not really sure why people choose to have their elves make all sorts of mischief, particularly when the Elf's job is to report back to Santa - I want my Elf to set a good example, not give the girls ideas on how they can best misbehave!
Our kids love to write notes to Holly and eagerly wait for her to respond. Last year, after a day of particularly poor behavioral choices, one daughter wrote Holly a note asking if she was on the Naughty or Nice List; Holly wrote back and said she was on the Naughty List but still had time to turn things around and gave her a list of things she needed to accomplish - this was far more effective at getting her to adjust her attitude than anything I had ever tried before! That's about as creative as I think i care to get with Holly, and I'm okay with that.
How about you? Any fun Elf-realted stories to tell?