Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wreath Cupcakes


    Tearing the last leaf of the huge daily calender - if you are asian you will know what calender that is hanging in my kitchen and you should know me by now, that the kitchen would be the first place i will be when i come downstairs every morning,  made me realised that i had better bid you all 'Auld Lnag Syne". This  Scottish poem, thought to be composed by Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns in 1788, starts with this lyric  - Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind ?  - Of course not, no good or bad acquintance should be forgotten.  Treasure the good ones and move on with the bad ones.  With this in mind, i wish you all 'Happy New Year".

    .


    Ingredients and Method:

    The cupcakes recipe is Here

    The frosting is also There  or the Buttercream which is  Here
    Green and red food colorings
    Cherry/strawberry/raspberry jam
    Glazed Red cherries
    Christmas colors sprinkles

    A silicone cupcake wreath mould



    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Shepherds Returned to Their Flocks

    by Jo Robertson


    I’m not particularly religious, but I've spent a number of years studying various religions and the King James Bible as literature.

    Luke records the miracle of the birth of the Baby and includes the account of the shepherds. You know the story – the long trek to Bethlehem to be taxed, the no-room-in-the-inn scenario, the cave and the manger, the angels and the shepherds.

    Because angels with wings and holy seraphim seem more metaphoric than literal to me, I always found what those shepherds did after visiting the manger more interesting than their actually getting there.

    Ah, thos
    e shepherds! How I loved the them.

    Since the concept of a shepherd and his or her flock has universal application, I was intrigued by what the shepherds did afterwards.

    They returned to their flocks, Luke says.

    And although they told the glorious news and sang praises for God’s gift, they returned to their flocks.

    Interesting.

    They didn’t rush out and build a holy tabernacle. They didn’t write up the story and publish it in the Bethlehem Daily Journal. Nor did th
    ey try to sell their sheep and get a higher fee for them because they’d actually witnessed the babe in the manger.

    Instead the shepherds returned to their flocks.

    They went about the daily business of herding sheep. Sheep are rather dim-witted creatures. They need a shepherd to tend them, guide them, watch over them.

    Let me extend the analogy.

    If we’re all shepherds like those ancient commoners, what or who represents our “flocks”?

    That’s fairly simple.


    Teachers teach students.

    Parents parent children, and often pets.

    Writers write books.

    Presidents preside over governments.

    Grandparents – ah yes, they simply spoil those same children or pets.

    Readers read books.


    And so it goes.

    I've been to the Grotto at Bethlehem, an unassuming sight, but I’m not particularly concerned whether the shepherds visited a real hillside cave and found a new-born child two thousand years ago, or whether it’s a beautifu
    l metaphor.

    What I care about is the message.

    The shepherds returned to their flocks.

    Thinking about those shepherds gives me new resolve to return to my “flock,” whether it’s my family, my career, my church, my hobbies. Or in my case at this juncture in my life – dedication to my writing.

    We’re about to herald a new year – a whole new decade! How cool is that? The thought of an entire decade stretching out before me unblemished by my stupid mistakes is really intriguing. I want to rush out and write something on those pristine years! I want to slough off the old and begin anew!

    What about you, readers? What would you like to focus your energies on? What would you like to rededicate yourself to? If you are the shepherd in your life, what’s the “flock” you’re returning to? What commitments will you make, what renewed purpose?
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Steamed Fish


    Cooking this dish is effortless, the only difficult part is to scale or like me, just remove the skin of the fish.  You can beat Rachael Ray hands down way for preparing your dinner before 30 minutes, if you serving this dish..  The plate of fish is left to steam on top of the rice, in the rice cooker,  as soon as there are no more bubbles on the surface of the rice.  Leave the plate of fish on top, close the lid and forget about it until you are ready to have dinner.  To complete your dinner menu,  a vegetable dish will be good.  Wash and cut up some leafy vegetables, arrange them on a plate and add in a couple of tablespoons of oil, zap in the microwave for 3 - 4 minutes.  Add in a tablespoon of oyster sauce before serving.  Two dishes down, now you need to balance your dinner nutritiously with a meat or tofu dish and a soup like egg drop, miso or hot and sour soup .  This is pretty much the daily action in my kitchen and sometimes when there is no more greens in the fridge, just serve 'kimchi'.



    Ingredients:

    1 piece of fish steak/fillet
    1 stalk spring onions
    1 heaped teaspoon of Ginger and garlic sauce
    A dash of white pepper(optional)
    Shredded spring onions for garnishing

    Method:

    Scale or remove the skin if you need to.

    Put the stalk of spring onion on to a plate/dish that will fit your rice cooker and place fish steak/fillet on top. 

    Top the fish steak/fillet with the ginger and garlic sauce and when there are no more bubbles on the rice, place prepared plate/dish on top of rice.  Close the rice cooker lid and forget about it until you are ready for dinner.

    Sprinkle a dash of white pepper and garnish with shredded spring onions before serving

    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Ginger And Garlic Sauce


    2009 is ending in three days time and i have made a promise of a good thing and i better keep my promise.  A promise is a promise and whether it is a good thing to others or not, it is a good thing to me, not in the healthy sense(i am not going into this subject about saturated fat - Eat you Die, you do not eat you die, so????) but good in the sense that it aids my cooking when time is the essence.  I love this sauce, a bottle of it is in the fridge, ready for Hainanese Chicken Rice and whatever dishes that have ginger and garlic in the recipe.  A tablespoon is surfficed for 3 cups of rice and 1 teaspoon will do for Steaming a piece of fish - 1/2 lb steak or fillet.

    For Rendered Chicken Fat,  the fat on the chicken has to be accumulated and frozen everytime you cut up a whole chicken.  As soon as you have a sandwich bag full of chicken fat, it is time to render.  Put them in large corningware with a lid and microwave on high until the fat has rendered.




    Ingredients:























    1 1/2 cups Rendered Chicken Fat
    4 ozs/113 g ginger - peeled
    5 ozs/150 gm garlic - peeled
    6 tsp salt
    6 tsp Knorrs Chicken Broth Mix/chicken granules/cubes

    Method:

    Using the food processor, process the ginger and garlic into a paste.

    Pour into a large bowl which is microwave-safe, add in the rendered chicken fat and microwave on high for 3 minutes, one minute at a time and stir.

    Add in salt and Knorrs Chicken Broth Mix.

    Cool before bottling and keep in the fridge.




    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

GIFTS AND AN ON-LINE BOOK

    Giving presents is one of the best parts of Christmas for me. I usually start early thinking about each person I want to gift on my list of family and friends. Since my parents and sister live in Ohio, I know I need to have them finished first so I can mail their gifts off right after Thanksgiving.

    It's great fun to find unique gifts for my parents that they wouldn't think to buy themselves. One year my husband brought home a Leatherman tool for my dad. It's one of those ten tools in one thingys guys love. Well, Daddy has always carried a majorly big pocket knife for as long as I can remember, but this was cool because it had a screw driver and pliers in it, too. So I wrapped it still in its package so the present was odd shaped with lumps. Mom said she kept walking past the living room and there was Daddy holding the present, feeling the lumps and saying, "I wonder what they got me." When Christmas Eve rolled around and he finally got to open it, she said he looked like a kid who just got the key to the toy store. And even though I wasn't there, it still makes me smile to know he got such joy out of that gift! This year he got an electric wine bottle opener. He said, "I've got a bottle of wine to use it on tomorrow, as soon as I figure out the instructions." And I heard the smile in his voice.


    Every year one of my gifts is a tray of baked goods for my co-workers. They always enjoy every cookie I make, but one item stands out in their minds for the next year. I always make Buckeye candy, known simply as Buckeyes. Peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate to resemble the Buckeye nut that grows in my home state of Ohio. These things are addictive and probably have 1/4 or your daily calorie intake, so I ONLY make them at Christmas. One batch=9 dozen. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, the girls at work start asking, "Are you making Buckeye this year?" How could I say no?

    My kids are easy to buy for, not because I know them so well, but because they make me detailed lists, complete with pictures, sizes and where to buy them. The lists are rather large, because they send them to each other as well. While they truly want everything on the list, they don't expect to get everything. According to my daughter, "If people get me something on the list, it will be what I want, but I won't know what it is until I open it, so it's still a surprise." The added benefit for the rest of us is that we spend time talking through the holiday shopping season, calling each other to be sure everyone knows what we already bought off the list. And the girls add their children and significant others to the list, too. Now, my son's list isn't as detailed, but he does give us one and last year I gave everyone one, too.

    This year my list was simple, I wanted an iPod. They went in together and that's what I got, mostly. Big Smile!!! But I also had a special gift from one of my daughters. We'd been talking about the stalemate I seem to be in with the publishing world. She caught me on the rare self-pitying days I get about the "good rejections" (isn't that an oxymoron?) that I keep getting. Those items that hack me off, but others pat me on the head and say, "It just means you're real close to selling."

    Anyway, my daughter said, "Why don't you publish it on the internet?"

    "Oh dear, I don't want to self publish. I want to be paid for my work. I want to be recognized for the effort. I want a book contract."

    "Mom, I meant serialize it on a blog, like fan fiction. A chapter at a time, like Dickens did when he was a struggling writer."

    (Now the girl had my attention.)

    So after some more chat about how to format it, how to add pictures, how to market it, I asked her, "Would you format this and get it started for me as a Christmas present?"

    Soooooooooo two weeks ago we launched "THE ROCKYMOUNTAIN ROMANCE SERIES" on blogspot. Here's the link: http://rockymountainromance.blogspot.com/

    It's actually a series of stories I wrote a long time ago just as the market for American Historical tanked. REFUGE is the first book about a woman with a life threatening secret who becomes a mail-order bride to a man who's been burned by a woman who kept secrets from him. Every Monday we'll post the next chapter, but anyone coming to the blog, can click on the side bar to pick up the previous chapters and catch up quick!

    One of the challenges has been illustrating it. We started out with color pictures, but quickly realized black and white gave it a more period feel, since it is a historical after all. But it's been fun finding pictures of who I think might make the best hero and heroine and all the secondary characters!

    Why did I decide to do this after my arguments about self publishing?

    1. As I said earlier the market for American Historicals is almost non-existant, but I believe there are readers out there who are craving something different in the historical romance genre. Something west of England. Something with grit and spunk.

    2. Self promotion. I'm hoping my writing will draw in more readers, maybe even an edtior looking for something different to read on the net, who might like to read more and even be willing to take a chance to bring back the American Historical Romance market. Someone brave!

    3. Stories are meant to be told. Once they're written, they need to be read by others. They're meant to be shared.

    So, my friends, my gift to you and anyone you choose to share this with is a FREE on line book, one chapter at a time for the next year! And yes, you can feel free to comment on the blog and tell me what you think.Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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To Be Read


    by Beth

    My To-Be-Read pile has somehow grown into a To-Be-Read hill. It's gone from three separate piles (one romance, one nonfiction and one for non-romance fiction) to four piles (I went on a buying spree and had to make a pile for my paranormal YAs and urban fantasy books *g*) I know quite a few of you can relate to my multiplying books, or perhaps your own TBR piles are more like mountains. Either way, all I know is that at the beginning of 2009 I had a goal of reading more and keeping my TBR pile manageable.

    Well, I did read more than I have in the past few years. I also bought more books. Many, MANY more books. Which is how I discovered a few new-to-me authors who are now on my Auto-Buy list including Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians YA series, and Kristan Higgins who writes fabulous romantic comedies.

    One thing I've noticed about my current TBR piles is that there are many more books by authors I haven't read before. To be honest, I'm not sure why that is, all I know is that I'm anxious to get through every story in the hopes of transferring even more books from the TBR pile to my Keeper Shelves *g*

    Here are the books by New-To-Me authors I plan on reading next month:

    Evermore - Alyson Noel

    The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

    Prime Time - Hank Phillippi Ryan

    The Blue Zone - Andrew Gross

    Highland Scandal - Julia London

    She Thinks Her Ex Is Sexy - Joanne Rock

    Start Me Up - Victoria Dahl

    Outcast - Joan Johnston

    Kiss of Midnight - Lara Adrian

    Nightwalker - Jocelynn Drake

    Soul Magic - Jennifer Lyon

    My Favorite Witch - Lisa Plumley

    Night's Cold Kiss - Tracey O'Hara

    Servant: The Kindred - L.L. Foster

    Have you read any of the books listed above? Are there any you'd recommend move to the top of my TBR pile? What does your TBR pile look like? Did you discover any new authors in 2009?

    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter Wonderland

    by Nancy

    We had a gray Christmas, not a white one, with rain most of the day yesterday. Not quite the ambiance we've been trained to expect. As the dh said, "No one wrote a song dreaming of a wet Christmas." And Charles Dickens didn't write about rain in A Christmas Carol. We would've liked just a bit of the white stuff--a few flurries, perhaps, though the boy believes "snow when [he's] out of school is wasted snow."

    I imagine those of you looking at anything from multiple inches to a couple of feet of snow may wonder if I know what I'm saying, especially if the snow canceled your travel plans. And I do understand that snow presents anything from an inconvenience to a confounded nuisance to a danger. Yet snow has always had a mystique here in the central Carolinas, probably because we have it so seldom. I've had snow on the brain lately, in part because of my new fixation with the Times of London website, which featured snow so heavily this past week (including the Dickens article in the link above), and because of the nasty storm crippling the central US this week. However, I actually got the idea for this blog while watching the dh's favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story, yesterday afternoon.

    At the end of the movie, the parents sit in the darkened living room with light coming only from the tree lights and from streetlights shining through falling snow outside. And they comment on the beauty of the scene. It struck me then, obvious though this may have been to others, that it isn't really the snow that's beautiful, at least not for me. It's what light does to snow and vice-versa.

    Light shining through or reflecting off snow gives it a fairyland sheen. The snow covers the bumps and rough spots of the ground underneath, diffusing the light so everything glistens as though it had a magical coating. The shadows become more obvious than they would be on grass, and there's an aura of magic about the whole thing. At least for those of us who don't live with in week in and week out. I suspect this is all a matter of perspective, but I did enjoy looking at photos of snowy scenes from around the world.


    Ice is dangerous--ask anyone. We've had ice storms here that brought down limbs on power lines and roofs and caused terrible hardships. Black ice caused a horrible bus crash in Cornwall last week. Yet seeing the sun shine through that ice coating a limb gives it a silvery, ethereal beauty made all the stronger because it's fleeting. That very sunlight that creates the beauty will soon destroy it.

    Snow used to be a "get out of school free" card. Around here, we know we don't understand how to drive in snow, so most of us try not to. Yet there are always people who have to. For them, I'm sure, the snow is not so much a beauty as a nuisance. When I had to drive to work on snow-over-ice, I didn't love it so much. Still, I fondly remember sledding down a slick street with my friends in high school. No one else was out, and I worked up my courage by starting halfway down the hill and then going progressively higher. Because my companions were lifelong friends, nobody gave me any grief about being afraid of speed.

    What about you? Is snow a blessing or a bane to you? Or both?

    In the spirit of Boxing Day, I'm boxing up and sending to one commenter a duplicate soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl I somehow acquired. It's still in the packaging, but I don't have the receipt, so it's offered unused but "as is." I also have a signed copy of Warrior's Lady donated by Gerri Russell and a copy (not signed) of Don't Bargain with the Devil donated by Sabrina Jeffries.

    This is my last blog post of 2009, so Happy Boxing Day and best wishes for a healthy, happy 2010!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bandita Booty!!!!

    LIGHTEN THE HOLIDAYS WITH BANDITA BOOTY !!

    by Donna MacMeans

    Congratulations to:

    Louisa Cornell who won her choice of a book and the rooster cookie cutters and cookie mix

    and Silvia who wins her choice of a book

    Please contact me at http://www.donnamacmeans.com/ for contact information

    and a Huge MERRY CHRISTMAS to all the Banditas and Bandita Buddies!!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Berlinerkranzer


    My inspiration to bake cookies this year came as i have a buddy who loves cookies and she came with her recipe books of cookies.  We decided to make these Norwegian wreath cookies aka Berlinerkranzer.   These are decorative holiday cookies adding quite a bright, colorful aromatic touch to your plate of cookies. They are delicious and buttery although we could not pronounced Berlinerkranzer and named it " funny sounding cookie".  Thank you Tien His for the recipe and i had a great fun baking with you.





    Ingredients:

    1 cup sugar
    3/4 cup margarine or butter (softened)
    3/4 cup shortening
    2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    2 eggs
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 egg white
    2 tablespoons sugar
    Red candied cherries
    Green candied citron


    Method:


    Mix 1 cup sugar, the margarine/butter, shortening, orange peel and 2 eggs.

    Stir in flour.

    Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into ropes, about 6 inches long, and 1/4 inch in diameter. Form each rope into circle, crossing ends and tucking under. (This shaping method is easier than the traditional method of tying knots).

    Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

    Heat oven to 400 degrees.

    Beat egg white and 2 tablespoons sugar until foamy. Brush over tops of cookies.

    For holly berries: press bits of red candied cherries on center of knot; add little jagged leaves cut from citron.

    Bake until set but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

    Immediately remove from cookie sheet.


    About 6 dozen cookies.



    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Days and Wild Ride Booty!

    We have a winner for Karen Kendall's Take Me For a Ride. Because that post appeared during our 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, the winner also receives the special holiday rooster booty. And the winner is . . .

    Pam P!

    Pam, please send your contact info to Nancy via the link at the top of the blog, with "for Nancy and Karen" in the subject line.

    Congratulations, Pam, and thank you to everyone else for stopping by. We hope you all have a fabulous holiday season!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Christmas Eve--Time to Party?


    by KJ Howe

    With the holiday season upon us, our social calendars are filled with celebratory events for work, family, and friends. Hairdressers are double-booked, red lipstick flies off the shelves, and the stilettos and bling escape the back of our closets. It's time to party!

    Back in the day, a party was just a party, but these days, themed parties are the way to go--the more outrageous, the better. For example, I recently attended a party where everything echoed the Academy Awards...yes, those two "Oscars" sandwiching me stood perfectly still on a stage for over two hours as people traipsed down the red carpet (and were interviewed) on their way in. What fun!

    I'd love to hear about your themed parties, real or imagined, that you might find enjoyable. The commenter with the most entertaining idea (remember, real or imagined!) will win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate. Let your imagination soar!

    I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the Bandits this year and to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Look for that mistletoe!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Bandita Booty!!

    by Anna Sugden

    Lots of prize-winners today - 3 lucky people get a Parisian trinket from Eloisa James.

    Congratulations to:


    Hrdwrkmom aka Dianna
    Margay
    PJ

    And the winner of the extra prize of the Banditas' Twelve Days of Christmas goody is ...

    PJ

    Please send your snail mail details to Anna at Annasugden dot com and I will ensure you get your prizes - remember Eloisa won't be posting hers out until the new year!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Pecan Balls



    Cookies spread joy - they are a pleasure to bake, make your whole house smell great, and put smiles on the faces of people who are eating them.  I am still not used to making giant cookies which is a norm in coffee shops and bakeries here but had to make some large sugar cookies for Renee's school Bakesale - cos a cookie costed a quarter and if they were small, i felt like i had short-changed the kids.  Here are some pictures to share  and the recipe is here.


    The recipe below is a favorite of Tien Hsi, a very dear relative, who will make these cookie for all the Christmases that i have been here.  She shared the recipe with me and i am sharing it with all of you.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love and goodwill to all. But with all the stress and commotion of the season, many of us end up feeling more like Mr. Scrooge than Santa Claus.













    Ingredients:

    1/2 lb butter
    3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
    1/2 lb chopped pecans
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    3 tbsp vanilla extract


    Method:

    Cream butter, add in sugar, flour, pecans and vanilla.

    Chill overnight.

    Shape about the size of a walnut and bake at 300f for 30 minutes.

    Cool and roll in confectioner's sugar while slightly warm.

    Do not grease cookie sheet.


    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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White House Chocolate Chip Cookies


    According to Roland Mesnier, The White House Pastry Chef, these cookies are the ones he baked on an almost daily basis at the White House. So, the President has been eating Chocolate Chip Cookies.  He uses Molasses to make these chocolate chip cookies chewy and it will remain so for more than a day.  It also gives them a more intense brown sugar flavor than Toll House-type cookies. He suggests to bake at 400f and it is for a reason - high heat browns the outside while keeping the inside moist and almost gooey.  Do not overbake or they will overbrown on the outside and dry out on the inside.



    Ingredients:

    3 cups plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1/4 cup molasses
    1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
    2 cups(one 12 ozs bag) chocolate chips
    1 cup chopped walnuts

    Method:

    Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the eggs, molasses, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.  Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Then stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow the dough to chill for 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 400f.  Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat pads.

    Drop heaping tablespoons or #40 ice cream scoops of the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, flattening them slightly by hand.  (Balls of dough may be placed next to each other on parchment lined baking sheets, frozen, transferred to zipper-lock plastic freezer bags, and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.  Place frozen cookies on prepared sheets as above, and defrost on the counter for 30 minutes before baking.)

    Bake until just light golden, 8 - 10 muinutes.  Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before using a metal spatula to transfer them to a wire ract to cool completely.  Chocolate Chip Cookies will keep in an airthight container for 2 - 3 days.




    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lighten Up the Holidays!


    by Donna MacMeans

    I imagine by now the gifts are purchased and wrapped, the cookies made and the house decorated - right? Time to kick back and lighten up. Now that the winter soltice has passed, the days are getting longer - did you notice? (grin). Longer days couldn't come a moment too soon for me. I think I'm one of those people who suffer from sunlight deprivation during the winter.

    But I must admit - seeing all the outdoor Christmas lights help. I thought I might share a little history about Christmas lights (what else did you expect for an historical writer?) and some of the lighted homes around my neighborhood. Kudos go to my daughter who hung out the window with the camera as we drove around singing Christmas carols and looking at the lights.


    Back in the 1600s, Christmas trees were lit by small candles secured to the branches by bits of wax. The tree didn't go up until Christmas Eve because it was such a huge fire hazard. I had thought that the tree skirt that wraps around the base of the tree was to hide the unsightly tree stand - but it appears it's main purpose was to protect the floor from the dripping wax of the candles.

    By 1867, a candleholder with a counterweight was used on the trees - but still the threat of fire remained. It wasn't until 1903 that GE introduced a light bulb string for Christmas trees, but they were so darned expensive, the candles prevailed. But over the years, the lights became more economical. These were what my father used to refer to as "hot lights". Although they could be used on a tree, they were better for outdoor decorations as they heated up significantly after burning for any length of time. You can still see these on some outdoor decorations.

    In 1946, the bubble light was introduced. I love bubble lights! My father always set out a minorah decoration (we're not Jewish) and topped it with bubble lights. They were so much fun to watch - the precursors of lava lamps (grin). The cat did love to watch (and swat) those bubbles.

    In 1950, miniature lights were introduced which didn't throw off the heat so they were perfect for the tree. Disneyland decided they were perfect for outdoors as well and decorated the parks with them. What Disney does, the world imitates, so now miniature lights, also known as fairy lights, abound.

    Have you noticed how many homes are decorated just in white lights? Boring, but practical, but still boring. Our house is done in all white lights - but that's because I'm in charge of the inside decorating. If I had my druthers, the house would be a color riot - but I must admit I like this house because of the owners sense of humor. Makes me smile whenever I drive by.


    The next lighting innovation came in 1998 with strings of icicle lights. I love these as well. They're available in all colors. When first introduced, I used to see them hanging from rooflines to simulate the real thing. Now, however, they're used on to decorate trees. Speaking of trees - check this one out. Isn't it beautiful? I hope they don't take down the lights for a long, long time.


    Sometime in this decade, guard deer were introduced. You know - those prefabricated wire deer covered in lights? Apparently every home must have a pair placed on the front lawn - at least in my neighborhood. Here's a pair.

    This year the innovation is LED lights. These last longer and use less power and come in some pretty amazing colors - especially cobalt blue. I expect these will be more and more common and fairy lights will go the way of "hot lights."


    How about you? Do you decorate outside the house? Do you prefer elegant lighting - lots of colors - or something along the lines of Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation? How long do you leave them up? Have you gotten your Christmas shopping done yet? Are you ready for the big day? Don't forget someone will receive one of my books (their choice) and rooster cookie cutters & mix. So let's talk all things Christmas... Oh, and Anna, my daughter took this photo of penguins just for you.
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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