Baking Holiday Sugar Cookies

The Christmas holiday season is a perfect time to make Sugar Cookies with festive toppings!

Most bakers know that holiday Sugar Cookies are made with cutouts using chilled cookie dough that has been rolled out. Most of us who have made the cut-out Sugar Cookies know they are fun cookies to make but they take some planning and quite a chunk of time since the cookies are made with chilled dough and lots of rolling. This Holiday Sugar Cookie recipe is different —  the cookie dough is pressed and can be used right after mixing!

These cookies are not only easy to make but they’re an easy alternative to the traditional cut-out sugar cookies. Made with butter, they are rich and so delicious!

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (and extra sugar(s) to sugar the tops)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until somewhat light and fluffy.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, then mix the ingredients together. In a small cup, fork-blend the 2 eggs with the vanilla.  Add egg mixture into the bowl of cookie dough and stir ingredients together well, scraping sides, until the dough is thoroughly blended.

Pinch off small, spoon-sized clumps of cookie dough — these clumps of cookie dough will become 1 1/2-inch balls of dough. With each pinched clump of dough, hand roll lightly in the palms of your hands, then drop each of them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, about an inch apart.

To flatten the rolled cookie dough balls, use a glass that has been lightly greased on the bottom. Once the glass bottom has been greased, dip it in the sugar(s) and press each roll of dough to flatten. Repeat this process for each cookie ball until they have all been flattened and sugared on top.  Note: I use a small plate to hold my coconut butter for greasing and another small plate or two for the sugar topping(s). If making holiday cookies with festive sugars and other toppings, you will need to clean the greased glass each time you switch sugar toppings.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375-degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the edges just begin to turn a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to sit for a minute or more to firm up. Then transfer the cookies to cooking racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen delicious Sugar Cookies.

Days

More often than not, my early mornings include some type of verse or short story. A book of poetry, a verse of Scripture, a quotation, or a passage from a book can provide an inspirational thought or image.  Sometimes, these passages are written down, perhaps memorized, then reflected on throughout the day. On occasion, these passages are transferred to the small books of collected words I have gathered together. Today I share one such poem entitled Days, by Billy Collins.

 

Nearby orchard

DAYS

Each one is a gift, no doubt,

mysteriously placed in your waking hand

or set upon your forehead

moments before you open your eyes.

 

Today begins cold and bright,

the ground heavy with snow

and the thick masonry of ice,

the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

 

Through the calm eye of the window

everything is in its place

but so precariously

this day might be resting somehow

 

on the one before it,

all the days of the past stacked high

like the impossible tower of dishes

entertainers used to build on stage.

 

No wonder you find yourself

perched on the top of a tall ladder

hoping to add one more.

Just another Wednesday,

 

you whisper,

then holding your breath,

place this cup on yesterday’s saucer

without the slightest clink.

~Billy Collins~

Homeschooling

Most days find me at the dining room table with books piled high around me with my granddaughter sitting next to me, learning. Our dining room has become our classroom.

After too many missteps and problems with the government school system, her Daddy (my son) and I decided to remove her from the government schools. In Virginia, there are 4 options to legally remove a school-aged child from their indoctrination process. We used 2 options and provided certificates, the curriculum, and also provided the County with the name of the online school we opted to use this year. We have chosen the Calvert School because of its time-honored, traditional and rigorous methodology. We are not disappointed. In fact, we are very satisfied and as happy as can be!

So I now teach my granddaughter here at our homestead, right in the dining room, where her lessons are one-on-one. We have educational games, discussions, writing sessions, art, enrichment activities, and more. She’s been on a few field trips, too.

She is not only getting a fantastic chance to learn more, she is learning the subject areas deeper and more efficiently. She already knows this and she absolutely loves being homeschooled. Her Daddy is a single parent and we have always been his ‘back up’ and the caregivers when needed. When Daddy gets days off from work, he pitches in.

Here, she is safe and loved and the center of my attention. We are always learning something. Yesterday, after the Reading lesson, we listened to salsa music so that she knew what style of music she was reading about.

Doing Math

If there is any part of a lesson that she struggles with, we focus on it until she understands what is being taught. Only then do we move on.  She gets it. She had a few intense weeks at first because she needed to get up-to-grade-level after being subjected to government-run schools. But she is now exceeding the expectations in all subject matter and the homeschooling process is clearly the best solution for her.

Before homeschooling, we had enormous difficulties with the government school. There was a serious communication problem with the teachers and the administration. There were big gaps in the learning process and too many subject areas were not being covered. Sometimes, the coverage was nothing more than a summarized effort. Schools are supposed to educate and inspire, not dumb-it-down and spend the day managing the miscreants or demanding conformity. But that’s what schools have become.

At this time, Virginia has not opted into the Common Core curriculum but it’s there. There are no student textbooks in our schools now. All schoolwork is in paper form and is coming from online sources that are not referenced.  (Since when do school systems get away with copying and not providing their reference sources? Since when are they permitted free license to do or not do as expected/legislated?)

Then there was the math issue. Math is changing. It’s being “taught” on a conceptual level — this is known as Singapore Math. That’s the conceptual Common Core math that is being covertly introduced into the Virginia schools without any supportive legislation or parental notification. (Singapore Math came from the Chinese where American educators have determined that if the Chinese children excel in math then Americans can do it to by simply changing the methodology of teaching math. They have never thought about any other socioeconomic, demographic or cultural factors whatsoever. But American kids are going to do as the Chinese kids do. Says the educators….)

By the time we un-enrolled her in Grade 3, she was adding sums via scribbled numerical charts that she was told would “help” figure out answers. In reading, she was placed into Title 1 reading (the Federal program for kids who cannot read) last year and they chose to keep her in Title 1 reading. She hated it for the boring and below-level books she had to read: “See what Carlos did.” or “She ran fast.”  Now those educators will need to find some other unsuspecting family to use for Federal money because we’re done with government schooling. Right now, she is halfway through the first Grade 3 Reading book and she is doing a fantastic job with reading and comprehension. Her stories are about rappelling cliffs, family traditions like quiltmaking and cultural music, and Chinese battles from ancient times.

So the government schools get a big, fat F for failure to educate.  We saw what was happening and when we challenged the school teacher (two different teachers, 2 different years) and then challenged the school administration, we got pathetic excuses and no follow-through. So we fired the schools. We’re done.

From here on, we’re homeschooling. They can’t have this kid to dumb-down. She’s much too smart.

School Day

Staying Warm

So very cold….an Arctic Blast. At Noon the temperature was just 23-degrees.  This is an early reminder of what Winter feels like.

Today is a much-needed ‘day off’ and I am staying warm with wool draped around me. This hooked rug is not far from being finished.

Hit And Miss hooked rug

The rug has taken me about 2 years to get this far but I’ve enjoyed the entire process. It will measure about 3 feet by 5 feet when I have finished it. In the meantime, I get to escape the Arctic Blast by staying warm under the finished portion while I hook thin strips of colorful wool through the rug canvas.

Hit And Miss wool rug in progress

 

 

 

Such A Sensible, Normal, Quiet, Simple Way of Living

Are you there yet?

There is an honest-to-God self-reliance movement across America now — a simpler lifestyle is being pursued by countless families. People are trying to make-it-work while learning to either do without or do-it-smarter in this awful economy. People are redefining and reassessing while trying to find meaning and sensibility from all of the turbulence and chaos. Many realize they just want out, they want to leave the rat race. They want to try living the good life. Chances are, if you are reading this post, you want a simpler lifestyle, too.

For us, living the good life means happiness and personal freedom. We rely on ourselves to provide what is necessary for a basic lifestyle. We grow much of our own foods, we do all of our own repairs. We build it ourselves.  We didn’t create this good life overnight, it was a process that came about through our values, our dedication, and our labors. But through it all, we found that our goals and our determination gave us a better meaning to our life. Along the way, we found our purpose.

Kale from the gardenOur homesteading lifestyle in the country is centered around simplicity and self-reliance. We enjoy the work and the daily chores. We find that routine and solitude offer us both security and comfort, much like an old friend. Routines, chores, and even the pursuit of our hobby interests give us meaning and focus.

Treadle

 “Life is enriched by aspiration and effort, rather than by acquisition and accumulation.”  Helen and Scott Nearing in Living the Good Life

That’s it.  That’s how a sensible, normal, quiet, simple way of living really is.