Our house will never look like something out of a magazine and we're happy with that! At Christmas, we like to "decorate" with things that are meaningful and have special memories for us. This is our piano which, unfortunately, no one plays anymore so I decorate it with some of my favorite Christmas things.
The framed, limited edition picture hanging on the wall is very special to us because I purchased it years ago as we were becoming more and more disappointed with the overcommercialization of Christmas. Week after week I admired this picture in the store but I wasn't able to afford to purchase it. Finally one of the clerks arranged that I could purchase it through layaway, something they normally did not do. I hope you can see the details in the picture but if not, try clicking on the photo to enlarge it. It's a boy and a girl surrounded by toys gazing into a nativity scene globe.
On the left is the Weihnachtspyramid we purchased when we lived in Germany 20+ years ago. We've set it up every year since then but rarely light the candles. Too afraid we might set the whole thing on fire! I need some advice though, how do you dust one of these? I'm seeing dust and someone has left a very noticeable thumbprint behind. I've tried using a clean, soft paintbrush to get between the little figurines but I invariably break one off and have to glue it back in. Any suggestions?
In the middle you might notice a kind of shabby looking creche. This was the nativity scene my parents owned and I remember my sister and I setting it up under the Christmas tree. I'm sure my parents purchased it secondhand because we rarely bought anything new. The stable is made of cardboard and there are still some wood shavings on the roof but its missing camels for the Wise Men and there is only one shepherd. A puzzler for me, although I think I know the answer, there are three angels?!? Obviously, two belong to something else but they all look like they could be one set. Whenever I see a nativity set for sale at an antique store, I always check if there are camels or shepherds which are the right size for my set but so far, I haven't found any.
And, last, in the very front is the book Take Joy! by Tasha Tudor opened to one of my favorite illustrations. For some reason, I just like the aqua color so much. I didn't know anything about Tasha Tudor until about ten years ago but now have several books about her and her gardens.
I enjoy baking cookies almost anytime of the year but I have several recipes I usually save especially for Christmas time. I've gathered them from magazines, books and friends so as I share them, I'll try to give credit to where its due. Here is the recipe I plan to bake today:
Poppy Seed Hearts
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
In a large bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar and salt until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in poppy seeds.
Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. (If chilled overnight, let dough stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before rolling and cutting.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 1/2-to 3 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutters, cut out the dough. Place cutouts on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool.
Spread or pipe Lemon Frosting onto cookies.
In a medium bowl, beat 6 tablespoons butter, softened, with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, mixing well. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Gradually beat in another 1 cup powdered sugar. If necessary, stir in milk or lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a frosting of spreading or piping consistency.
This recipe is from the Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookies 2006 magazine, P. 103.