Let the decorating (and baking) begin!

World, it is now December, which means I grant that the following are acceptable for the next 30 days: snow (just the sparkly fluffy stuff please), Christmas music (even the Chipmunks or dogs barking are cute once), trees covered with twinkling lights, pine-scented anything, and general glittery festive-ness. You’re welcome.

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Most important of all, it is acceptable for this month only to buy sugar in 15 pound bags and load up my fridge with far more butter than has a right to be there. Oh yes, baking season is on.

So far I’ve got my usual cookie recipes together for my annual cookie day, and each year I try to find at least two or three new cookie recipes to try. The past few years, I’ve found that the new cookies fall into a pattern of at least one other biscotti, one cookie with lots of spices, and one that somehow involves citrus or coffee.

I have a few rules with my Christmas cookies though–no special tools required (this rules out anything requiring cookie cutters or cookie presses–unless I had my dad’s pizzelle iron) and once they come out of the oven, they need no additional attention (in other words, nothing that requires frosting).

These are my standbys, if you’re curious. Recipes for at least two of these will be coming, I promise.

Almond-anise biscotti
Pecan tassies
Rugelach
Chocolate snowballs
Jam thumbprints
Grasshopper bars
Peanut butter blossoms
Raspberry meringue bars
Chocolate-raspberry nonpariels
(Plus my usual marshmallows and hot chocolate mix, but they aren’t cookies, so they don’t count)

What are your baking plans this month? Any cookie favorites, or recipes you’d recommend? Is your house already filled to the brim with color and lights, are you like me and wait until December, or do you put it off til the very last minute?

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Figuring out fall–and printing photos

Fall always seems to catch me off guard. I feel it coming weeks ahead so I make pies, I eat apples, I can things in jars…and then it’s 40 degrees and my brain freezes and all I can think to cook are pork chops and potatoes and eggs–not all at the same time, mind you, but I’m in withdrawal from fresh greens and raw vegetables and dinners that take under 20 minutes to put together and eat while it’s still light outside. I’m struggling with my usual fall cooking inspiration, trying to figure out what my body wants other than to simply start hibernating. In the meantime, though, I found another really cool art project. Maybe I’ll actually hang some of the art I’ve made this summer soon!

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Clockwise from top: black and white image with an inkjet, color copy with an inkjet, color image on a laserjet

While I’m dealing with the change to fall, every store I walk into seems hellbent on insisting that Christmas is right around the corner. I will fight them until December 1, but if you’re the type to think that far ahead, this project would make a great Christmas gift–it’s easy to make very personal but it’s also inexpensive if you want to make several to give to friends and family.

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More easy (and cheap) art

I think the idea of “making art” is intimidating to a lot of people—myself included, as I’ve said before. But I just couldn’t take looking at the big, bare wall in my living room any longer, and I am too cheap to spend the exorbitant amount that it would cost to buy a piece to fill the space. And so, necessity, invention, etc.IMG_0014 (12)

This project is even easier than the gelatin prints, and it’s infinitely customizable: any size, any style, to fit any space that just needs a little pick-me-up. Continue reading

Flower power

I’m lucky enough to come from a long line of green thumbs–my mom, aunts, and Grandma all grow beautiful flowers. Unfortunately my small, shady porch doesn’t lend itself to growing flowers for cutting, so for now I just try to treat myself to a bunch at the farmers market when I can afford it.

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