Friday, December 15, 2017

Settling in


Hello! It's our first day of the school break and the small Bears and I are relaxing at home. The past week was a little crazy, but not too bad. We had music and dance performances and our annual school art show, plus all the prep and shuttling that go along with these events. But we're finished now, and we're ready to settle in for our break. We don't have many plans - we'll stay close to home for the most part, but maybe take a day trip here and there. I still have gift-wrapping to do, but there's plenty of time. I'm really looking forward to watching our Christmas movies and just generally chilling. It's so nice not to have anything you have to do, or places you must be, for a little while.

It's cold out now and we may finally get some snow. We had a couple hours of flurries one day last week, which was pretty to watch. I hope we get "real" snow soon; we never get all that much here, but even a little dusting is nice. Plenty cold, though, and the nights have been very cold and clear. The days are sunny and chilly, which is my favorite. I'm so glad it's winter. It's not always so delightful to me, but after such a weirdly warm autumn it feels nice to be having seasonally-appropriate weather again. I'm always looking for the weather to match the calendar. To me, it feels right, even though winter in the high desert can be challenging. I go through a lot of moisturizer. We buy Aveeno lotion in bulk! Ever since I started getting serious about facial moisturizer a couple of years ago, I've noticed a big difference. If you can smile without feeling your face crack, you're doing okay.

I didn't have as much time as usual for cookie-baking this year, but I did manage to bake three types. I donated a large portion of them to the school for a fundraiser (they package up assortments of donated cookies and sell them at the aforementioned art show), and I'll send some more into the Bear's work with him next week. There won't be many left at home, which is fine with me. I love cookies, don't get me wrong, but I love other holiday goodies - like cheeses - even more, so I'd rather leave room for them.

The plate in the photo above shows the three styles of cookies I made. From the top: Nestle Mint Chocolate Delights (using the Toll House Winter mint-and-dark-chocolate chip mixture); Spritz Cookies (from the Land O'Lakes butter website), and finally, oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries (I used the basic cookie recipe on the back of my canister of oats, and added white chocolate chips and cranberries to give them a more festive look, though these additions ended up being hard to see in the finished cookies).

I make the chocolate-mint cookies every year because we really enjoy them and the batch is pretty huge. The oatmeal cookies came to me when I was looking for another large-batch recipe. And the spritz cookies are all about my eagerness to use the new cookie press I was given for my birthday last month. I've been so excited to try it, and it was everything I hoped it would be! Spritz cookies are fun to make. The press took a little getting used to, but I figured it out. The most important advice I can offer, after making something like seven dozen tiny cookies in an afternoon, is to keep everything cold. I stuck my dough in the fridge as soon as it started seeming too mushy, and I put my baking sheets in the fridge to cool off (after they were almost down to room temperature; I wouldn't do this with a hot sheet) between batches. This helped to keep the dough from spreading when I placed it on the sheets.

I can't wait to make those cookies again next year (or maybe sooner; my kit includes other seasonal press inserts like a butterfly and a flower). I was really on a roll once I got the hang of it. I even had to turn away the US Census worker who rang the doorbell that afternoon to administer my monthly survey (I mentioned here a few months ago that I participate in a long-term household study for the Census). I couldn't leave the kitchen long enough to talk to him and he's not usually inclined to come into the house. He called me later in the day and asked the questions over the phone. He was very understanding; like he said, cookies just have to take precedence sometimes.

Have a good weekend! I hope you're feeling calm and collected. Around here, we're looking forward to having a fire in the fireplace (we had our first of the season last weekend and it was just lovely). I'm looking forward to reading, crochet and maybe continuing a cross-stitch project I briefly started and soon abandoned back in the summer. Otherwise, it's just getting into the spirit and recharging after a busy few weeks. I hope you're doing the same, or soon will be.

14 comments:

  1. Your cookies look delicious, the ones you made with the press look very professional. I remember how busy end of term is when you've got little ones, though I must say that I miss it now that my two are grown.

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  2. Your cookies do look good, Jennifer! Enjoy your relaxing time! :o)

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  3. Cookie baking here today as well. Ricotta, orange and chocolate chip. I also recently discovered Kingston cookies. They seem to be an Australian thing, cookies sandwiched together with ganache. I have the recipe printed off and ready to go. Although like you I'm very fond of cheeses. Glad you have some relaxation ahead of you. Things are looking a bit frenetic here all of a sudden. A load of work that I've been waiting for for two or three weeks was sent to me just before tea today. And I already had quite a bit on. I shall be officially panicking very soon. But at least I will have cookies while I do so. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog today, it was very much appreciated. CJ xx

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  4. Love butter spritz cookies, use to make them every Christmas. Something happened to my cookie press so now I make sugar cookies.

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  5. I would love those mint cookies. I've not seen the Nestle chips and I'm going to look for them.
    I don't make many cookies either. I like some other things better too - like chocolate! :)

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  6. Feeling the relaxing vibe right over here Jen, keep it going. Jo xxx

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  7. The cookies using the cookie press look so pretty. Glad it was fun to use.

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  8. Your cookies look amazing!
    I'm jealous that your kids are on break. We don't start break until Friday. My district shortened the break, which is a real bummer.

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  9. Oh those cookies look great.
    I'd like to start our break now too.. we start ours on Friday.
    Enjoy and Happy Holidays.

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  10. I hope your holidays are going well, Jennifer, and that you're all well in the festive spirit. My children are on school holidays but the two boys have big exams in January so they are meant to be studying through the Christmas break (seems so mean!). I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Sam x

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  11. Gorgeous cookies...so yummy looking! Wishing you and your lovely family a very Merry Christmas Jennifer. xox

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  12. Merry Christmas! Love from Jo xx

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  13. Christmas at yours sounds absolutely lovely. Merry Christmas my friend, have a wonderful time. Xx

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  14. Hey Jennifer,
    A rather belated reply I'm afraid. I expect that those lovely cookies are long gone by now! I hope Christmas was all that you needed it to be. Ours went well. Even though my presence has not been as vocal this year, I have read and enjoyed your blog so much. And continue to value your friendship and support. Happy New Year lovely girl.
    Leanne xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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