"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Gifts of Friendship

 I think one of the best things about Christmas is hauling out the ornaments and all of the memories they bring on.  It's a flood of forgotten moments, people and places suddenly made real once more.
Some of our ornaments have been gifts from friends, others I've bought for fifty cents at Canadian Tire (like that sparkly green reindeer), and then there are the Rascal-produced ornaments (such as the clay tree below).
 We've actually decorated our tree twice: the first time with blue lights which just didn't look quite right.    Did you know there's been a run on white lights this December?  Huge aisles of them were recalled back to the manufacturer and you can't buy them anywhere for any price.
 Little Rascal gave up the lights she had used to decorate her room to help the cause.

 We went to a gingerbread party last night and this was the hostess gift I brought for my friend:
Linen towel for glass polishing and a scrubber.
 Also I brought booze:
 My friends really rallied around me this year and I'm so thankful.  There were some hard times in 2015, some illness in our family that really knocked us on our butts.  Health is everything as I'm sure I don't need to tell you.
Friendship and kindness are also everything.  In this life it's the relationships we build and what we give to others with our own hearts that truly matters most.
Gingerbread house pieces ready to be built.

Have you ever seen so much candy in your life?

Little Rascal's gingerbread house.
 Back at home we're ready for our big Christmas Eve party: 22 for dinner!
 I normally don't buy poinsettia plants but I couldn't resist the dark green leaves on this one.  I found the brass planter on ebay: check out those feet.

I have the presents wrapped and ready for Christmas morning.  Now that our Rascals are older we have fewer gifts so it didn't take me long.
 I'm so excited about my solution for serving the Christmas Eve dinner: chafing dishes baby!
This is the 4 quart for the lemon sole.
I also bought the 6 quart size for the roast beef.
 Care for some piggy cookies?
 We just baked a batch and I have to say it always surprises me how many cookies the recipe produces. We're practically a piggy cookie factory over here.

 PIGGY COOKIES

1/2 cup butter
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbs. white sugar
MIX WELL
Add in 4 eggs, one at a time,  mixing well
Add 1 tsp Cinnamon
Add 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
Add 6Tbs grated orange rind
Add the grated rinds of 2 lemons
Beat in 4 to 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time.
You want a stiffer dough, when the consistency looks ready for rolling you're done.
I typically use 4.5 cups with another half cup on the rolling surface.
(Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is.  Keep an eye on them, you want them golden brown, they are almost a crunchy cookie.)
 Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies!
When they are fully cooled make an icing with confectioner's sugar and lemon juice, mixed as you go to the right consistency for spreading.  Don't forget to tint the icing a light pink!

MERRY CHRISTMAS
Merry Christmas and thank you for your friendship in 2015.
Love to all of you Tooties!
xoxDani

57 comments:

  1. Oh it's all so lovely and homely at your end, we don't have any Christmas baubles, it's another one of those things that we seem to have forgotten about, I always just use what I forage outside but I do now wish we had started collecting them years ago, I love mish mash trees. I'd have made myself quiet sick at that gingerbread party, I spy smarties, I'd have been cramming in handfuls.

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    1. Tabs I'm going to start sending you some ornaments and just wait you'll have piles before you know it. I always scan the shops after Christmas too for our own collection because they are sold off for pennies, they can't wait to get them cleared out.
      The candy was quite something. The kids ate loads of it and then they were all in a sugar coma, we wondered why they were so quiet until we found them all lying around like zombies in front of a Christmas special on the tv, it was so funny. You would have been in good company! XO

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  2. Merry Christmas to you too! Piggy cookies:). Never heard of them, how delightful.

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    1. Lisa try them they smell like Christmas. I hope yours is very happy XO

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  3. Merry Christmas! I had no idea about the white light shortage! I happened to change my mind toward colored lights this year anyway. I shall call it intuition. My unusual Christmas continues as there was a familial world war that erupted last night. I was in a foul mood until I found myself eavesdropping on two adorable children at the grocery this morning. They were discussing Santa logistics and prime spots to look for him. One bedroom was better than another because "there was more sky out the window". It was so adorable and sweet and got me right back into Christmas mode. Came home and turned on Christmas music and sent out a nasty Yuletide group text to my family that I'm not dealing with their shit. Everyone exchanged halfhearted text apologies. I'll take it.
    I wouldn't have ever known it was a hard year for you until Janet's moving "how are you" post. It's easy to assume a blog author's life is all their blog shows. And though brass candelabras and covetable ranges are indeed wonderful, I'm most impressed by your chin-up view of the world.

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    1. Stephen wasn't that post something, people are really dealing with some stuff. There's a lot of grief in the world, which is why the flip side is so important and if I don't try to live in the moment and see the beauty that is constantly around us I will lose my mind.
      I had a feeling your family was going to have a meltdown. The peacekeeping continues for SAJ! But I think they must be strong personalities so thank goodness they have you to tell them you will not be taking it.
      Kids at Christmas: the best. The youngest at the gingerbread party was five, the BEST age, he was singing and dancing, so excited for Christmas. That's the spirit we need to capture.
      Apparently there was a big recall on the white lights so the stores here are empty of them. But you can buy 900 boxes of blue lights for 70% off. Except they are not the same trust me.
      Thinking of you and I hope you share your Christmas prep with us. Even if it is highly unusual. XOX

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  4. Merry Christmas Dani to you and your family! Popping in to see the pretties, and wish I had those piggy cookies in front of me right now. Love to see your posts and wish you a happy and healthy new year!

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    1. M so great to hear from you, funny I was thinking of you this week and hoping you and your family are well. Maybe you should try those piggy cookies they are fairly easy because the dough is forgiving. Merry Christmas to you and I am wishing you a happy and healthy new year right back XOX

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  5. Very homey, very festive, very tasteful, and very Dani BP!

    Canadian Tire isn't catering the Xmas Eve bash for 22 this year?

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    1. Well G you always have the best suggestions! I think they sell ice cream sandwiches at the Canadian Tire checkout and also individual bags of Lays potato chips. Actually people would probably love it as long as the bar was open too.
      Hope you have a very Merry Christmas G XOX

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  6. Merry Christmas and may 2016 bring your family rosy cheeks, nights filled with sleep, and all the blessings of health. Your blog is always such a treat to open up - and I love those piggy cookies! warmly, Anna#26

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    1. Anna thank you so much and even though you have moved away from #26 you've been such a supportive friend this year. I've appreciated it so much.
      Miss you and I hope the whole family is well, enjoy your Christmas and Happy New Year XOX

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  7. Hi Dani, I think I might try making the piggy cookies this year (but as stars and other shapes). I haven't done any baking yet as I'd just start in on it, that's how little willpower I have! Plan to do some tomorrow in time for the boys' arrival. I'm thinking 350 F for 10-12 minutes?

    Merry Christmas to you and the family!

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    1. Hi Patricia, oh maybe you could get your boys to help, my older daughter did most of it and the youngest has half of them decorated with icing now... I can't believe it I didn't include the baking time! Start at 375 for 10 minutes and then cool down to 350, which I then used as a temperature for all of the batches. They take a bit of time, at least 15 minutes which for me is a good thing because I sometimes forget about cookies and then burn them.
      I'll update the recipe tomorrow.
      You must be so happy to have your boys home, our own son will be home tomorrow and we can't wait to see him. Merry Christmas XOX

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    2. Thanks for the baking update Dani!

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  8. OMG, piggie is what it's all about here. Gluttony has taken over and my tummy is in permanent bloat. Oh well, another week and then I need to find a cleanse/ fast for the new year. I have a pre lighted tree and of course the section right in the middle is not working. Gah! We shal have 10 for dinner...hoping to post my menu soon but I can barely roll my self up to the 'puter.

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    1. BB is it that peppermint bark that got to you? I seem to recall you love it. Cleanse/Fast noooo don't say it. Those pre-lighted trees seem like very good inventions but not if they partially fail. Please post your menu I'd love to see what you'll be cooking. XOX

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  9. Well, it's been a tough year for health issues, and some are not yet resolved. I usually do a silly little verse to include with the Christmas cards - well, actually I'd print the verse on a mailing label and stick it on the back of the card - and this year I just couldn't do it. Well, things seem to be turning around... I hope.

    Love your tree, love the cookies, hope your festivities lift you up.

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    1. Fred I hope things are indeed turning around and that everything resolves as best it can. Really hoping 2016 is a good year for you!
      The tree and cookies do wonders to create that festival atmosphere and we're definitely having fun and enjoying it all, the break from work and school will be good too because it's been such a busy term for everyone. Merry Christmas Fred and thank you XOX

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  10. Oh dear me...white lights in shortage?
    Sad...but not a deal breaker. Switch up the lights blue to white. I prefer white.

    We have some new challenges with our failing Canadian dollar...Love Trudeau though...his cousins are in our circle so we may be biased.
    We went to a party last night and our hostess paid $13 for a head of cauliflower! OUCH!
    Happy Holidays
    XO

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    1. Hostess I know it's a white light crisis!
      Yes the dollar is a challenge and we all will need to adjust, it will definitely affect travel and shopping patterns for Canadians. I think the lower dollar is here to stay.
      ADORE Trudeau and our new government. Loving the optimism and the activism, it's great to see people so engaged and excited about their government again. I'm guessing you know his family through his mother's side? I've heard he's quite a bit like his Grandpa. Trudeau is just a year younger than me and was a friend of a friend when I was in Uni, from what I heard then he is the real deal and even then there was hope that he would be PM one day... we also know someone who works closely with him and she has all the faith in the world in him.
      He is not just energetic he is sincere, it's an exciting time to be a Canadian.
      Food prices are a big worry though I agree most especially for the poor in our country, this could be a big issue in 2016 that's for certain.
      Have a wonderful holiday XOX

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    2. In Canada, there could not be a Donald, could there? Jealous.

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    3. Indeed on The Sinclair side...
      I hope that 2016 will be a happy and healthy year for you and your family.

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    4. True Lane that's hard to imagine, but politics here are so different and part of the reason is that we have more than two parties and it is typical for voters to switch parties depending on leaders and political philosophies, where the economy is etc. I have voted for all four parties at different times. We're definitely watching the 2016 vote carefully here!
      Hostess as I thought and how fortunate you are to know them they must be such an interesting family.

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  11. Piggy cookies for Christmas? What fun, and sure to have less calories than Figgy Pudding... Love that sparkling green reindeer. Merry Christmas Dani.

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    1. Patricia yes definitely less calorific! For so many cookies there is surprisingly little butter in the recipe. Thanks so much and I hope your Christmas is wonderful XOX

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  12. Dear Dani, I hope your ills and woes are behind you now. It's good to find you have good friends when things are looking bleak. Enjoy your family Christmas and festivities. You are such an industrious person - the little biscuits look charming. I am going to give them a go. I've got the ingredients to make Nigella's white chocolate and cranberry cookies this morning. The children eat so many biscuits when they're at home that another batch will not go amiss. Love the hotpotch tree decorations, we have the same. And, yes, white lights are definitely the best. XXs

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    1. Sue I've wanted to try that Nigella recipe it looks delicious. I think it is in her Christmas book? You must be looking forward to have those biscuit-mad children at home, I hope you have a really lovely Christmas and thanks so much XOX

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  13. Wonderful feeling being surrounded by friends... Yes health is so important, I know this very well as well! I hope all of you are OK now.
    I have been collecting way too much Xmas ornaments over the years, I am now giving a lot away...
    You biscuits are cute!
    I wish you a wonderful festive time, take good care.
    Steph

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    1. Hi Steph I hope your holiday is peaceful and that you enjoy the time with your family. Thanks so much for your good wishes and your friendship all these years too, Merry Christmas XOX

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  14. Merry Christmas, Dani! I think I have chafing dish envy now ...what a great idea! I'm going to give those cookies a try for New Year's, as we are currently working our way through the old family favourite shortbreads (2 kinds) and beloved chocolate-covered peanut butter balls made from my dear late mother-in-law's recipes. Hope all goes well with your feast preparations : )) xo

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    1. LocalSue it sounds like things are going well at your house and if you are ever in need of a chafing dish you know where to turn. I'm keeping the boxes they came in so I can easily pack them up and lend them to friends, so handy but how often are they really needed? A good item for sharing.
      Today is my cleaning day but it's one step forward two steps back with Scout dragging in all of this mud! The focus on food I'm planning for tomorrow will be much more rewarding. :) Merry Christmas I hope yours is wonderful XOX

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  15. Merry Christmas Dani! Those chafing dishes are wonderful. As, are, of course, those pig cookies!

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    1. Thanks KnitYarns and I hope your day is a good one, might have to report on how the chafing dishes work out! XOX

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  16. Agree with the white lights-- you cannot have a blue, blue Christmas. The only place we have colored lights in on the gantry at the dock, love them there. MLane also made a white light peace sign meant to evoke the Eiffel Tower, got it all wired up, put it on a gate, and lo, it blinks! Oh well. My 6 pots of paper whites are blooming this very week! Vases of winterberries everywhere. I just love being in the house this time of year, gazing at the tree.

    Those piggies! I will try this recipe but perhaps cut in half? The girls and I used to do gingerbread cookies with a similar sized recipe and seeming hundreds of different shapes. Was a whole wonderful Saturday back in the day. Enjoy that Little Rascal!

    I wish you and your family continued health this year; so hard to have a child with any health issue.

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    1. Lane maybe you shouldn't cut them in half, my piggy cookies are now running really low and I had so many, there must be a few cookie monsters living in my house but I think they are also quite addictive!
      Your house just sounds wonderful just now, wishing again you had a blog because I'd love a view of your domestic life. Thanks for the good wishes Lane you are kind XOX

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  17. Dani, So lovely and cozy! How fortunate are your friends to get to decorate these cute houses and be invited for dinner as well. Love the chafing dishes. My grandma had loads of these in silver and they should make a comeback.. So much easier to entertain! I am with you friends are the best gift in life and family. You always have a positive spin here even though you have dealt with crud this year too. Thanks for the lightness and goodness you share with us all. You are a gift! Merry Christmas. xoxo Kim p.s. Lots of white lights here.. I should send some!

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    1. Thanks so much Kim, your Grandmother was very clever and in silver, they must have been gorgeous. Loyal friends really make life bearable during the hard times. I think you are a gift and I so look forward to our continued friendship and reading all about life in northern California
      Have a peaceful Christmas XOX

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  18. Merry Christmas--thank you as always for your lovely and inspiring posts.

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    1. Thank you Hexicon! Merry Christmas to you XOX

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  19. Friendship is everything- I'd go mad without mine.

    Happy chrissy and thanks for posting such thoughtful posts.

    We are all sad here because of Hughie but are trying to be happy for the kids x

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    1. FF really what a hard week and there is nothing sadder. The loss of Hughie is just devastating.
      Friends are KEY. Happy Christmas to you it will be so nice with your little guy I bet he's excited XOX

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  20. Merry Christmas Dani. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. Lovely post. You have such a gift for capturing a mood or a festivity. I agree that our friends and health are paramount! The pig cookies look like a lot of fun, which is important too!
    ox, AMW

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    1. AMW thank you. We did have fun baking those cookies because they are so cute and festive, and my daughters enjoy the trick of getting the icing just the right shade of pink... wishing you and your the same! XOX

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  21. It looks so cosy at your place! Love all the Christmas prep and like you I love unwrapping the baubles and the memories that go with them. Even the blown glass butterfly with the broken wing from where my then overenthusiastic 3 year old daughter clipped them flying it around the room. It was her favourite, and reminds me of that time in her life.
    Love the chaffing dishes - so practical, and good luck with the giant feast! And thank you for your gift of friendship. I always love reading your posts, and the best thing about blogging is 'meeting' like minded people from all around the world. Wishing you and the BP family a very Merry Christmas xxx

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    1. Heidi isn't it amazing the memories these things hold? Very precious. I agree blogging communities are the best, meeting friends who are alike in spirit but live in such different and varying places, it's really a gift of modern times.
      Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas too, it's going to be very festive at your house I'm guessing with your children at the ages they are. Enjoy ! Thank you Heidi XOX

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  22. yes - 2015 was an odd year - usually I am saying - it's gone so quick but this year it does feel like Christmas has come at the right time and I am looking forward to 2016. Hope 2016 brings you a reprieve and good health to your loved ones because it really is what matters most! Merry xmas and a happy new year xx

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    1. Naomi thanks so much and yes it really matters the most. I agree Christmas and the New Year are coming at the right time and I'm ready for 2016. Time does seem to fly but this has been a long year in some ways too.
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Naomi XOX

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  23. Merry Christmas, Dani, and so many wishes for a wonderful new year for you and your family!

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    1. ndotbot thanks so much! I am wishing you the same XOX

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  24. Merry Christmas Dani. It's all beginning to look rather festive and cozy at your place, but why am I surprised. I would have been a happy hostess were I to have received your delightful gift.

    Gingerbread making adventures are a thing of children's dreams (children of all ages!). I bet your tree smells marvelous (that is a gingerbread tree-shaped cookie, right?).

    Merry Christmas again Dani and thanks for always publishing the coziest posts in the blogosphere.

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    1. Thank you CD and this is high praise coming from you as I find your blog the epitome of domestic bliss. The house indeed smells delicious right now with the greenery and the spices of the piggy cookies mingling, it's a treat. I hope I can maintain that festive aroma as I begin to cook the various dishes we'll be serving tonight... thank goodness for the powerful vent on the range hood!
      Merry Christmas to you and your family and thanks so much for your generous words CD
      XOX

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  25. Merry Christmas from Dallas Dani! I hope that 2016 is a better year for your family--full of health, love, and everything good. I'm in awe that you will be making dinner for 22. I hope there is no crying in the kitchen (that turn of phrase always makes me laugh). There was almost some crying in MY kitchen this morning as I misread important instructions on a recipe. Thankfully my husband came to the rescue. Our dinner is only for six!

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  26. I haven't been checking in often of late, work is consuming my life at the moment. Our office is closed today and I'm catching up on all things domestic in time for arrival of guests tomorrow. Glad I stopped by your blog. I want to wish you and your family Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016.

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  27. Merry Christmas! I'm playing blog catch up as a relaxing way to ring in the new year. xo

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  28. Such a lovely gift, love practical yet natural things like that. Also loving the tradition of your ornaments. We're realized we have to do a Christmas tree next week. We don't because we leave for NZ, but I miss it.
    Mum's wobbly one is great but not the same.
    Happy new year my friend

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