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Old Friends and New Traditions [Dec. 11th, 2014|07:39 am]
Newport2Newport
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Martha Stewart, I’m not, but I can turn out a plate of gingerbread cookies that taste pretty decent. Way better than they look. It was a cherished family tradition, in fact…until, that is, two adorable little boys grew into fine young men that ventured out into the world to build exciting lives for themselves and forge their own traditions. As kids are wont to do.

Sniff

I don’t begrudge my boys this birthright. Of course not, don’t be silly! We’re transitioning, too—in fact, this is our first Christmas in our new home! As always, our tree is decorated with family heirlooms, old and newer--delicate ornaments on the highest boughs because Toby's made himself a cave among its lower branches.

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I've also strung twinkling lights along the mantle. Hmmm, where to put my music boxes? I'm still pondering. Oh, and did I tell you? Earlier this week, I baked sugar cookies with my little friend Sara.

I’ve always used Betty Crocker’s recipe, but my sister Sheryll suggested I try this one, instead. Ho ho ho, I'm happy that she did! The cookies were tastier, and the dough was easier to work with. Anyway, let’s not bother ourselves with the how-to’s and what-fors, ingredient lists and steps involved in mixing...you can get all that from the link above, HGTV and the Food Network. We'll just focus on the fun stuff, shall we? To wit: time spent with Sara.

We sandwiched the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and flattened it with a rolling pin until it formed a rectangle, 1/8” thick resembled the State of California—a topographical marvel that included high deserts and low plains, a rugged coastline, and fault lines that ran the length and breadth of the dough.

Next step: choosing the just-right cookie cutters from a motley collection of shapes. Yes, I got all misty-eyed when I retrieved from the cupboard these talismans of special holidays past. Dinosaurs, sharks, guitars, angels, teddy bears, unicorns, Santa Claus, hearts and stars and moons, oh my! And more! Sara untangled the giant heart from the rest and held it to her chest. (“This is for my Mommy.”) Sorry, saguaro cactus and Halloween cat. You didn’t make the cut.

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Again and again, we dipped cookie molds into flour and pressed them into dough, twisting them ever so slightly before separating the shape from the surrounding scraps. Roll, press, return the scraps to the refrigerator for chilling and re-rolling.

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Look! We're getting the hang of it!

Before long, the hardwood floors were dusted with snowy-white flour, and the scent of fresh-baked cookies drifted from the cooling racks into the rest of the house.

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Sara spread a thin thick layer of frosting (canned, I confess--don't hate!), and then let loose with all of her creativity.

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Sugar crystals, pearl candies, edible paint, sparkly red and green sprinkles…apply liberally, give the cookies a shake and then add more, pat everything into place, sprinkle an extra dash of glitter for good measure...no such thing as good enough!

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Hours later, we collapsed on the sofa stood back to admire our handiwork. The kitchen was a mess—sparkles, sprinkles, and crumbs everywhere, but behold, this wondrous plate of cookies! Edible art, a feast for all senses.

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There was a taste test, of course...

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And everyone agreed...

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Best cookies ever!

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Yes, there were imperfections. Some cookies were soft in the middle; others were brittle to the point of being fragile. Dark or pale, broken or flawless, didn't matter. This plate of cookies, this baking day...love made visible, all of it. I can’t think of a better gift this in the whole wide world, can you?

Here’s hoping the sweet memories of this day will hold a place in our mental scrapbooks, long after the very last cookie crumb gets eaten.


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Comments:
From: beckylevine.com
2014-12-11 04:16 pm (UTC)
Lovely! Looks like such a fun, yummy day!
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 04:36 pm (UTC)
SO much fun, Becky! Thanks for stopping by to join the party. xo
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[User Picture]From: cartazon
2014-12-11 05:27 pm (UTC)
What beautiful (and edible!) memories!
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:15 pm (UTC)
It was so much fun, Stacy! You know already that I'm no culinary genius, nor do I want to be, but I'd study the top chefs of the world if it meant I could spend more time with Sara. :)
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[User Picture]From: jeannineatkins
2014-12-11 10:29 pm (UTC)
What a great story and pictures that only got better. Though I think Sara got the green pink-eyed dino I had my eyes on. My cookie cutters would go well with yours, dinos and angels, but they haven't gotten a workout for a while. I guess I need a Sara in my life. Happy you two have each other.
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:18 pm (UTC)
Cookie cutters are among the cherished objects we'd all do well to put into regular rotation, in my opinion-- if not for the cookies themselves, then for the creativity and belly laughs that baking/decorating them inspires. :)
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[User Picture]From: lorrainemt
2014-12-11 10:45 pm (UTC)
Now that is what Christmas is all about! What joy to see these pictures and get to share in the fun. Those cookies are gorgeous! Lots of love to you and to sweet Sara. <3
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:20 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, 100%. Lots of fa la la la la going on in that kitchen. Wish you could've joined us, Lorraine. I'll bet you're a Cookie Decorator extraordinaire. xo
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[User Picture]From: patty1943
2014-12-11 11:34 pm (UTC)
Just wonderful!
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:21 pm (UTC)
In a word, YES.

*Smiles again at the memories*

Hope you're enjoying your holiday traditions, whatever they might be. xo

Edited at 2014-12-17 12:24 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: writerjenn
2014-12-12 12:17 am (UTC)
That brings back memories of baking with my mom!
We never ate raw dough--the mere thought makes me shudder--but we would eat chocolate chips out of the bag in addition to the ones that went into the cookies.

The cat looks like he's contemplating the ornaments.
Our cat likes sitting under the tree also!
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:24 pm (UTC)
You never ate raw dough? Girl, you don't know what you're missing! (This sugar cookie dough recipe doesn't include raw eggs, so it's safe. See also: YUMMY!)

Sara ate a good amount of frosting and sprinkles, too. Maybe that appeals more to you, ala those chocolate chips?

Yes, there's something about a cat nestled under a Christmas tree that makes a house feel even more cozy. :)
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[User Picture]From: jamarattigan
2014-12-12 12:32 am (UTC)
What a fun post -- you've proven that love and friendship are the best ingredients for sugar cookies. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2014-12-12 01:06 am (UTC)

memory fo life

Sara is a very lucky girl. She will have memories for life becuase you took the time to bake Christmas cookies with her.
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:25 pm (UTC)

Re: memory fo life

As will I...lucky me. <3
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:25 pm (UTC)
It's true, isn't it? You don't have to be a master chef to have figured that one out (whew!).
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[User Picture]From: boreal_owl
2014-12-12 02:06 am (UTC)
Yummy post! Sara is lucky, but so are you. Have a joyous holiday, Melodye!
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:26 pm (UTC)
You're so right, Barb. We are incredibly blessed to have found one another. I hope we never lose touch.
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From: (Anonymous)
2014-12-12 03:42 am (UTC)

Love made visible

I'm not sure who I'm happiest for: you, or sweet Sara! Love made visible? Oh my, yes. Thank you for opening your heart and your kitchen door wide to welcome us in! Precious memories, and extra-sweet photos. <3 xox
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Love made visible

I'm so glad you wanted to join us in our little kitchen escapade. It's this sort of adventure that makes Christmas (every day) merry and bright. And sharing the sweet memories with special friends? Delicious beyond measure.
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[User Picture]From: christine444
2014-12-12 06:39 am (UTC)
That's a sweet memory for Sara (and you). :>) The cookies look beautiful. I remember helping make peanut butter cookies as a youngster (the kind you press with a fork).
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, I remember those! Yum!!! Tell me (I won't tell): Did you eat the dough?
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[User Picture]From: christine444
2014-12-17 02:59 pm (UTC)
No, my mom told me it'd make me sick. She was a smart cookie. :>)
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[User Picture]From: newport2newport
2014-12-17 04:36 pm (UTC)
Ha! I'd venture to say most kids escaped serious illness despite unrestrained dough consumption, but yeah, I guess your mama's right. :)
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