Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There’s only splendor for the sight

Today was gray, but not terribly cold and I had a lot to do inside. I got up before sunrise because I wanted to get it all done, but take it slow. Vacuuming, dusting, and getting the guest rooms ready for my sons when they come home was first on the list. Wrapping the rest of the presents later on made me realize how few I really have, but I’m telling myself that it’s the quality, not the quantity that matters.

I made a batch of sugar cookies, then baked them and let them cool before applying royal icing and sugar sparkles. And all the while, I took it easy – trying not to overdo it. The Christmas music helped, although I’m not a huge fan of Michael Buble (but it’s the only CD in the house that I could find).

I took some photos, too, in between wondering where all my Christmas CD’s were hiding.


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The bureau in the dining room.


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The bookcase shelves in the living room.


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I’m not a huge fan of Yankee candles either, but they are the only thing that fits this cute little glass lamp shade. Ok, let me rephrase that. I like Yankee candles just fine, especially their fall and winter scents. But when it comes to Christmas candles, I prefer Votivo.

Geez, I sound like an elitist. But if you smelled Votivo’s holiday collection, you would understand completely. And that’s the name of that.


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My royal icing job is a tad sloppy but I prefer it to the hyper-neat. I have the best sugar cookie recipe – one that I’ve been using it since the 70’s. It’s from the Betty Crocker cookbook.


1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix thoroughly butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend flour with baking soda and cream of tartar using a whisk, then gradually add to butter & sugar mixture until dough forms. Cover and chill 2-3 hours.

Heat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. Roll each half about 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into desired shapes. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper) and bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown on edges.

TIP – Freeze the cookie shapes for about 8 minutes before putting them into the oven. This avoids spreading, and they’ll retain their crisp edges. I also sift the confectioners’ sugar before adding to the butter.

Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1969


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I love the beauty of bare branches.

Last night I watched ‘The Bishop’s Wife’, and the night before, ‘The Family Stone’. I’m running out of holiday flicks and might do a Back to the Future marathon instead. I love those movies.


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I’m thinking of entering this one in the holiday bokeh thing at PW’s. I love this little tree. Got the brushes from French Kiss. They were a free download on their FB page.

Tomorrow I pick up my son at the train station in Philadelphia and then we’ll have lunch with my niece, Emily. Fun ~

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my little corner of the world. Means much to see you here. Enjoy your days ~

123 Signature[5]

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There's only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!


Kim said...

Beautiful holiday scenes and lovely cookies! I love the tradition of old recipes. Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with your son and family.

Lili said...

LOVE your bokeh Christmas tree Kate! The bare branches are very beautiful too. The anticipation of family coming, baking cookies and all the holiday traditions while listening to Christmas music and burning scented candles makes cleaning actually enjoyable, doesn't it?! Enjoy, enjoy! xo ~Lili

Kerri Farley said...

Ahhhhh that tree, that tree .... definitely enter that tree .... You WILL WIN!! (or at least you should)

Wonderful post my friend! Hoping you have a wonderful time with your family :)

Chrissykat said...

I love Michael Buble'. I love sugar cookies. And I love your little tree.

Deb said...

your cookies look great.....enjoy your sons visiting...

Ellen said...

What a warm holiday home you have!

I'm so jealous that your house is clean - mine is in desperate need of a vacuuming and dusting - tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll clean it tomorrow.....

JaneK said...

soooooo that is how you keep cookies from spreading!! I never knew why everyone elses cookies were so neat; a domestic goddess I am NOT

thanks for sharing....

Hilary said...

I went over to check out Votivo...and was smitten immediately.......I LOVE clove candles, and they have a clementine clove........but is that LITTLE VOTIVE candle really $30????
It looks so little. Yikes.

Caroline said...

I am dying over here...totally in love with all of your photos. That last one especially!!!

beth said...

i think your cookies look perfect and if i lived down the lane from you, i'd be up in a flash, somehow distract you and run off with like a dozen of them :)

i bet you're thrilled to have your boys home for a few days.....and i bet they're equally as happy !

oh, and in case you didn't know....your home looks so warm and inviting.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

It all looks and sounds so perfect.

Can't wait until next Tuesday in Wilmington.

Jeanne Walker said...

Oh, yes, entire that photo of the's a winner!

You sure are put me to shame! Can I have a cookie, please? I said 'please'!

jgrimsley said...


Dawson Cattle Company said...

i love our photos! they are amazing. and i would be willing to eat those cookies any day.

Reena said...

Your place looks so warm even if it is cold out! Absolutely have to enter that photo!

[I am] The One With the Camera said...

I absolutely adore the bokah tree.

JC said...

I hope you have a nice Holiday !!!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Swooning over these gorgeous holiday captures and all. Love!! Especially that bokeh.. sigh. Merry Christmas, Country Girl, to you and yours!! -Tammy

Karen said...

Love the cookies as you have them decorated, your recipe is similar to mine.

Gorgeous photos, as always - have a great day, kate!

BB said...

Gorgeous... love 'visiting' your place. Especially all gussied up for Christmas!! Can I say how much I adore your cookie bokeh pic? Makes me hungry.

Nellie said...

A wonderful post, Kate, capturing the beauty of the season! I'm a fan of Betty, too, and have found her recipes to be just about foolproof through the years. You really should enter that bokeh at PW's site. It's amazing!

Enjoy your time with family!

Daryl said...

its okay to be elitist .. I am ..

Oh I have a NetFlix streamer to recommend. Its not a Christmas movie, in fact its a Canadian Western, er, Northern and it stars my favorite Canadian actor Paul Gross .. if you remember way back there was a TV series called Due South .. Paul was the lead in that and he also was in the more recent TV series based on Witches of Eastwick . and he wrote/directed/starred in Men With Brooms and right now is on Broadway in Private Lives which sadly is closing and I wont get to see it ..

FIVE sleeps til you are here!

MrsB said...

I have to confess to watching Polar Express 3 times this year - and as many Christmas Carols as I can find. Polar Express creeped my out the first time I saw it - but now I just love it. And I am no kid - a retired lady with no kids at home. I cry every time at the end.

Cait O'Connor said...

Yes a lovely relaxed Christmassy post, thank you.

Gail said...

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Make some memories and take care.

Mental P Mama said...

I am feeling the Christmas spirit coming up at me from my friend to the south! I need to do some bokeh shots....I need to find my camera first.

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

A Merry Christmas to you!!!
What a good tip about freezing the cookies before baking.... mine always spread!
If you ever see a Tyler candle (they have leopard print lids) give one a try... they're my favorites by far. "Mulled Cider" is the perfect holiday scent.

alphabet soup said...

Have a great Christmas with your family Kate and congratulations on four years of consistent blogging and superb photography - my December photo vote goes to the photo of the corner of the box on Dec 20. Very sharp indeed...

Ms Soup

GailO said...

My to do list was just about exactly the same as yours this morning but I managed to get zilch done! I have got to be the biggest procrastinator alive!

Looks like you have gotten into the spirit...and it looks like your home is beautiful!

Wish I could join you in your blogger meet up one of these always sounds like fun.

If I don't get a chance to get back here I wish you good cheer and peace this Holiday!

becky up the hill said...

I pull out my old Betty Crocker and make that same recipe, tho the freezing tip was new to me, thanks! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Merry Christmas~

sharon said...

wow you had a busy morning! the cookies looked delicious!
I had plans to sleep in this morning, but was awaken by a phone call from afghanistan, I'll take that phone call anytime!!
Have fun with your sons this Christmas season!!

Photokismet said...

Beautiful photos - they helped with my slow-growing Christmas spirit. And now on to Votivo!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Low Tide High Style said...

Beautiful pictures as always, the manor looks all ready for the holidays! And yes, enter that last shot, it's gorgeous!!! Thank you for the sugar cookie recipe and the hints, I will give them a go! And I hope you relax and enjoy your family and that you have a very Merry Christmas!

Kat :)

LL Cool Joe said...

Sounds like you had a very busy day even if you did take it calmly! I love the Christmas tree shot.

Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

Mary said...

OMG, that last shot is gorgeous!!! Enter it!

Have a wonderful Christmas, Kate! xoxo

Mary Lou said...

Wonderful visiting with you,Kate. I copied the sugar cookie recipe.
Have a Merry Christmas. said...

I can feel the Christmas joy flowing through your words and pictures. Have a Merry Christmas with your sons!!


mrs mediocrity said...

You should definitely enter that photo, gorgeous!

"Love Actually" is my other favorite holiday movie, I'm going to watch it today while I make pierogies.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday filled with love, peace, and smiles.

Carolynn Anctil said...

I love the Christmas Tree photo - it looks like all pretty baubles.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Lisa said...

Merry Christmas Kate.
Have a wonderful Celebration and Holiday