Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making time for the good stuff

I would like to preface this post by saying I love Internet shopping. It is my saving grace this holiday season. Thank you, Amazon.

This past Sunday morning, I was standing on Michigan Avenue and thought to myself, "What the heck am I doing here?"

You could feel the rush of holiday shoppers descending on this shopping destination. I myself had just left church. Taking advantage of my validated parking at a nearby building (that's city living for you - validated parking to attend church), I had three errands to run: Return a pair of pants bought online; buy gloves for Jeremy at Bloomingdale's; and buy a box of thank you notes. I kept my head down and moved quickly.

As most parents I know, Jeremy and I are trying to keep perspective on the holiday season, focusing on the joys of Christmas and spending more time with family and less time on the hustle and bustle of the season.

Last night, we felt the joy. Jack and I made a mess of holiday cookies. Emphasis on the mess. There were sprinkles everywhere but we had the Frank Sinatra holiday station playing on Pandora; Jossie squealing at her toys as the Christmas lights sparkled; and the sweet smells of sugar cookies perfuming the air.

I've shared this recipe before but it's worth sharing again. It's my mom's tried-and-true recipe:

Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar

Mix powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 3/16-inch thick on a lightly flour-covered surgace. Cut dough in desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 7 to 8 minutes (until edges are slightly browned). Frost and decorate as desired.

I did not frost the cookies; I simply used sprinkles because it was easier. I picked up red and green sanding sugar at Williams-Sonoma and was so pleased with the results. If you do have time for frosting, however:

Creamy Decorators' Frosting
Beat 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla extract and about 1 T. water or 1 to 2 T. of half and half until smooth and of spreading consistency. Tint with 2 to 3 drops of food coloring, if desired. Makes enough for 3 to 5 dozen cookies.

This morning, I plugged in the Christmas tree lights and held Jack close as we enjoyed a quiet moment. I asked him what Christmas is about.

"Being nice...," he replied and I felt my heart sing and a tear spring to my eye. " Santa, so I can get presents."

Okay, so maybe there's a bit more work to be done.

And mamas, my BFF turned me on to this website if you do need some quick, good ideas for Christmas gifts. All of these links are my own personal editorial - nothing was sponsored - just me spreading my finds.

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