Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Getting Ready for a New Year

Thank you dear readers for your Christmas wishes.  I hope that you had a blessed holiday season.  I always feel a bit melancholy after Christmas.  Do you ever feel that way?  I'm in the process of putting away the decorations and storing the wrapping and boxes for another year.  I always wonder to myself what will transpire in the coming year before I see these decorations again.

I have wonderful memories from childhood of Christmas.  My Mom and Dad both worked full time but my dear Mom always remembered us and my dear Dad always let me pick our Christmas tree.  Luckily, my children got to grow up with their grandparents at Christmas.  My parents have been gone for many years now and maybe that's why I feel I need to do an extra special job at Christmas time.

We are a small family and I try to be generous with gifts for everyone.  At the same time, they are many times practical gifts that they can use or need.  Maybe I've been reading too many blogs this season, but there are a few out there who really were in a bah hambug mood.  These people were very quick to point out the excesses in Christmas presents.  And excesses in celebrating the holiday.  I don't know why these people are so quick to judge. (they weren't talking about my blog) Those who wish to spend excessively on Christmas are using their own money.  And, that dear friend or relative who invited you as a guest on Christmas day has probably worked at least two days in order to prepare for the Christmas festivities.  Even though you may have not enjoyed it, people need to remember to be thankful.

Don't get me wrong; I grew up in a working class family and we felt we were so blessed as there was nothing we were short of.  But, we lived within our means and money doesn't mean happiness.  With today's world, much of this has changed.  I remember my Mom joining the Christmas Club in January at the bank where she put $10.00 a month into a special account so that when December rolled around she has a nice little nest egg.  

After read so many holiday blogs, I feel that it is wrong to judge someone as to how they wish to celebrate the holidays.  If they want to have the finest food for their Christmas dinner or the expensive gifts for their family, who am I to judge?  It's their money and they have a right to do as they wish.

For my family, I didn't go overboard.  I really enjoyed finding Christmas gifts that my family could use.  And, of course I added a few little extras for fun.  I'm all for being thrifty but not so frugal as to be a Scrooge.  And, I did spend two straight days in the kitchen preparing the holiday meals.  Instead of being ungrateful, I feel people should appreciate the hostess, thank her, even though it may not be your cup of tea.  At least you were invited in share in the festivities at this special time of year.

My Christmas will be boxed up tomorrow and now taken out for another year.  I hope that the year is good to us and to everyone.

I always like the start of something new and the New Year will soon be here.  I found the lovely flower bulbs above today at the grocery store at 75% off; that's my kind of bargain.  Beautiful flowers to bring in the New Year and all the blessings that are to come.

Happy New Year Dear Friends,


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from Lilly My Cat

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born
O night divine!
O night, o night divine!
(lyrics by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847)

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

From my family to your family, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Brune Kager Cookies

Hello dear friends.  The countdown is on . . . are you ready for the festivities?  I hope that wherever you are that winter is being kind to you.  We have had very windy weather down here in southern California.  And, when the sun sets, the chill sets in.  It's a perfect time to sit by the fire, sip a hot cup of tea and enjoy some Christmas cookies.

Being Danish, I look forward to making my Christmas cookies each year.  It's been over 40 years since I bought the little ornament above in Copenhagen.  I love bringing it out each year and putting it in a special place on my tree.

This cookie recipe is so easy to make as you mix up the dough and let it sit for two days in the refrigerator.  It's a new recipe that I tried this year.  I found the recipe here online via The Oregonian.
I followed the recipe as written using dark Karo syrup for the brown baking syrup.  You  may wish to add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients. After you mix the dough, roll it into logs and refrigerate for two days before baking.

This recipe made about 150+ cookies for me.  Do you like the new Emma Bridgewater Christmas plate I bought for myself?  It matches the teacup and saucer that my daughter bought for me last year.  These cookies are flavorful and very crisp.  I had to laugh to myself as they reminded me of poker chips the way they sounded when I put them in the serving plate!  And, no, I don't play poker :) 

There are many different recipes out there for brune kager.  You can search online or maybe you have a much loved cookbook with a recipe you could use.  Here's a small collection of my Scandinavian recipe books.

The brune kager are all tucked away my new cookie tin waiting to make their appearance on Christmas eve.  I just love these new Scandinavian cookie tins that my daughter gave me for my birthday.

Do you have a special holiday recipe that you make each season?  I wish each of you blessings during this special time of year.  And, thank you for visiting with me today.

With my best wishes,


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Neopolitan Christmas Cookies 'a la Lilly

Hi Everyone.  It's me Lilly the cat from Lilly My Cat.  My Mom has been busy baking Christmas cookies and wrapping presents so I'm writing this post today to help her out. I've had my usual busy day of cat napping and eating and I did go hunting in the backyard for a bit today but I don't think it's gecko season right now :(

 Today my Mom made neopolitan cookies.  She told me they remind her of the Brachs coconut candy she used to eat as a child.  Obviously, that was a long time ago.

She said the dough is so easy to make and then she divides it in three sections and flavors/colors each section.  The pink dough is flavored with almond extract, the brown dough with cocoa and the white dough has chopped walnuts.

After she finishes making the dough, she puts each layer of dough in a metal loaf pan with a plastic liner.  Just push each layer of dough down, one upon the other.  Then, you need to refrigerate this dough for about 4 hours or more.  After it has set, she sliced the dough in three parts lengthwise and then slices across each of these.  Ummm, my cat vocabulary is having a hard time trying to explain what she did, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I'm sure you get the idea of how it works.  Here they are after they have been baked.  I think they came out so pretty.  Too bad they aren't flavored with pink salmon, white fish and brown beef for my gourmet cat taste.  You can find the recipe for these fun cookies at the bottom of the page.

Do you like the look of this Christmas tree with it's twinkling lights?  It's my sister Heidi's tree and unfortunately, I haven't been to visit her at her home yet.  I'd love to snuggle up under this tree for my evening cat nap.  Maybe she will invite me over?  I need to be a good kitty since Santa will soon be arriving.

My Mom sends her best wishes to each of you.  And, I send you my meows and best wishes to all my little cat friends in blogland.

Meows from

Pat's Neopolitan Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
red food coloring
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup chopped nuts

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add in egg and vanilla.  Add in flour, cornstach, salt and baking powder and mix well.  Divide dough into three equal parts (approximately 1 cup each).

For the first dough, add in almond extract and a couple of drops of red food coloring.  Blend until well mixed.

For the second dough, add in cocoa and blend well.

For the third dough, add in chopped nuts.

Prepare a metal loaf pan, 9" x 5" with plastic wrap.  Place the cocoa dough in the bottom of the pan and flatten dough until it is even.  Place white/walnut dough on top of cocoa dough, keeping the surface flat.  Add the pink dough last and flatten until it is smooth.  Cover with more plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for approximately 4 hours or more.

Remove dough from loan pan and slice the dough lengthwise into three pieces.  Then cut across each long piece of dough  (about 15 slices out of each lengthwise piece of dough).  Place cut slices on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom.

Immediately remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a wire rack.  Store in a closed container. 



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Another Egyptian Christmas Cookie Recipe ~ Sablee ~

Imagine yourself being raised in a large village in upper Egypt. You and your family's life evolves very much around the Coptic Church calendar.  On November 25th of this year (old calendar), the Copts began their nativity fast which means that all animal products are avoided (fish and seafood are OK).  The fast will end with the glorious Feast of the Nativity on January 7th; the birth of our Lord.

Copts have a lot of traditional Christmas foods and today I will share with you another recipe that is popular for the holidays.  I love baking Christmas cookies and this particular recipe is so dear to my heart.  My dear, dear friend Vivian gave it to me during the first Christmas I was married.  She had gotten this recipe from her sister-in-law, Zaizaf, who was an excellent baker.  Both Vivian and Zaizaf were raised in upper Egypt as was my husband.  The ingredients are very simple.

Recipe for Egyptian Sablee:
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla powder (use extract if you wish)
1 1/2 cups Crisco (vegetable shortening)
Little water if needed
Apricot jam for filling

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and vanilla powder together.  Cut in the shortening until it resembles small pieces like the photo above.  At this point, you may add 1 tablespoon cold water and mix dough just until it comes together.  Please do not knead or overwork the dough :)

 Just mix the dough until it looks like above.  Now you are ready for the fun part of cutting out the dough.

Flour the board and take a small fist of dough and roll it out; not too thin and not too thick.  Cut into your desired shapes (round is the traditional shape).  Place cut out dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.

You will have some scraps left over so take those scraps of dough and add a small piece of fresh dough and roll out again and cut out the shapes.  Keep repeating this until all the dough is used up.  By using the scraps along with fresh dough each time, your cookies will not become tough.

Just remember to cut out the middle of half of the cookies you are making.  You will be sandwiching these two cookies together with the cut out on top.  My recipe makes approximately 40 cookies so that means 40 whole and 40 with cut out tops!  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 8 to 9 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a rack.

I usually bake these ahead of time and store them in a tight container without the jam filling.  When I'm ready to serve them, I add a small spoonful of jam and sandwich them together and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar over the top before serving.  As to the jam, I used some raspberry jam that my son brought me from Ukraine but the traditional jam to use is apricot.  I'll be filling the remainder with apricot as the apricot jam is dry versus the watery raspberry!

From you photo above, you can see the mix of traditions in my house as the little tablecloth with the nisseman is from Denmark and the cookies are Egyptian!  Fun time for the holidays . . .

I hope you will enjoy these if you make them.  And, as always, thank you for stopping by.  Until next time

My best wishes,


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Advent, Christmas Trees and Wind!

It's a beautiful sunny day here in southern California but boy was it windy these past couple of days!  The Santa Ana winds blew cold and the house felt the cold with very strong wind gusts.  Needless to say, the pool was filled with leaves this morning but it's almost cleaned.  Luckily, that we didn't suffer any damage.

Every year after Christmas, I love to find bargains.  When I got out my Christmas decorations this year, I found I had bought an advent calendar from Barnes and Noble.  As you can see, it's a house and the windows are little drawers that slide out to reveal a surprise.  It took me a bit to put it together and I've filled it with chocolates and other little goodies for my grandson.  He is thrilled with it although I think his dear Mom may think it's too much sugar!  That's what Grandmas are for!

Speaking of my dear daughter, she has been busy creating these beautiful pillows for the holiday season.  She is busier than ever this year with her online store.  I love the bright colors that are perfect for Christmas.

There's a real tree in the family room that was put up the day after Thanksgiving.  Please don't laugh at the two tree toppers!  I'm afraid to plug in the top angel since the wiring is not so good.  So, I decided to just sit her upon the tree to look down.  Lilly insists to sleep under the tree and play with the bright shiny balls.  That's why I placed some of my vintage Christmas balls on the top portion of the tree.  Lilly is sometimes worse than a child. . .

Here's the tree in the living room - it's fake.  It looks the same year after year although it's starting to shed needles.  Maybe it's time to look for a new one.  I think we've had this tree for 20 years now.

As I mentioned, its been cold here especially in the evenings.  Lilly has enjoyed snuggling in her little bed (it amazes me how she stuffs her body in there). 

Now that the decorating is done and the Christmas gifts are almost completed, I will enjoy wrapping the presents and making the Christmas cookies.  My dear brother will be joining us again this year for Christmas so I'll be making some traditional Danish Christmas foods from our childhood.  It should be a fun, family time.

Do you have special traditions for Christmas that you look forward to each year?  I'd love to hear about them.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Wish my best wishes,


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Stunning Sunrise to Start the Day

Hello my friends.  I just wanted to share with you a little bit about my week.  I was called to jury duty and I had to appear on Monday.  The courthouse is about a 25 mile drive from my home and luckily all information regarding parking, etc., was given to me ahead of time.  If you ask my children, I LOVE government offices; maybe because they are run by a strict set of rules and regulations!

The jurors sign in and wait in a huge room.  There is an orientation and then the juror's names are called as needed for each specific court case.  My  name was called for the second case. There was a total of 65 jurors from which 12 were chosen to serve on the jury.

I found the process fascinating!  I had been called twice before for jury duty but never served on a jury.  Once for a small county court and once for Federal court.  But this was the county superior court.  After we were seated in the courtroom, the judge gave us some instructions and then the first group of names (18 names) and those people took their seats in the jury.  They each had to answer a set of questions that were provided. The case involved two subjects; police and drunk driving.  Right from the start, a juror was excused due to her answer to the set of questions.  This question and answer period lasted until the afternoon.  New prospective jurors were added if one of the original 18 juror was excused.  Finally, by 3:45, 12 jurors and two alternates had been chosen.

The exciting part for me was to see the district attorney on one side along with the defense attorney and the defendant on the other side.  It brought to memory watching Dragnet or Perry Mason.  (I believe the modern equivalent would be CSI).  My father was a policeman so maybe that is why I respect and regard law enforcement.

There was an interesting story given by one of the judges during the jury orientation.  She was Russian ethnicity and her mother and grandmother had immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island.  My grandmother immigrated to the US via Ellis Island. This judge went onto say how fortunate and blessed we are to live in this county and exercise our right serve on a jury and to a trial by jury.  She listed how we are a unique nation in that (1) the elected leader of our nation would never change the laws so that he could rule forever, (2) the army would never have a coup against our government and (3) We are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Although I was not chosen to serve on the jury, I received a first hand look at how our country works. And it made me come home with a good feeling.  There's been lots of not so nice things said regarding our past election.  In blogland, I sometimes feel that others have judged or boycotted someone's blog because they don't think the same.  But, we need to remember that we have a right to vote, something that many countries don't have.  We don't live in a dictatorship.  We need to embrace our differences and reach out to our neighbor even though they may think different than us. Lets share and celebrate the things we do have in common!

Oops, I almost forgot - the photos above are of the sunrise this morning.  I was up at 5:00AM thanks to my adorable little grandson who spent the night.  The colors are amazing!  And, better yet, my day is amazing!

Thank you for visiting and I hope that your week is going well wherever you are!

With my best wishes,