Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Holding Pattern

If you think of Thanksgiving as the start of "The Holidays" as I do, then this week, as I like to think, is some downtime between the frenzy of month-long festivities and preparations for the late winter holidays and the last big hurrah that closes down the holiday season, New Year's. I can't think yet that it's all over. There's a little more partying left to do.

I thought I wouldn't like reading post-Christmas blog posts about what gifts people gave and received, kind of like my annual childhood post-Christmas morning phone call to my best friend 10 blocks away in which we listed everything we got and planned to come over one or the others' house the next day to play. But actually I'm loving these posts. I guess I'm so nosy that I love to hear what other people got for Christmas, even as an adult.

We had a nice Christmas Eve at the in-laws house. My parents went, too, which is always kind of weird to have both sets of parents together. I don't know why, it just is. Maybe because my parents are so northeast New Jersey and his parents are so rural southern Virginia. But they get along extremely well and accept the differences with grace. They went with us because my negligent busy? faraway? sister and brother were in England and California, respectively. I know California is far but considering my brother was in Iraq this time last year, he could at least have planned his Christmas trip ahead of time when the flight prices were considerably lower and not left our mom without him two Christmases in a row. But he's just starting out out there and all that so whatever. Next year.

MIL overloaded us with gifts as usual and Toddler practically has a whole new wardrobe now complete with new crib sheets and pajamas. Toddler won't be two-and-a-half until late February so he's still a bit lukewarm about receiving presents. I opened most of his for him and he did get excited about some of the stuff but I think most of it was too overwhelming. He did love his new basketball net and sponge ball for the bathtub, though. That's why I was glad we didn't overload him with Santa presents. Or so I thought. We didn't get him that much: a few puzzles, smaller Legos than the ones he has, a set of wooden blocks, a Kipper book and video, Aqua Doodle, Little People airplane, a tiny bike with training wheels, and a Play Doh set. OK, it sounds like a lot when I list it all. But he still has to open some Play Doh and a puzzle. He opened the Aqua Doodle this morning. I guess we didn't have to wrap his stuff this year, but oh well. We didn't wrap his stocking stuffers.

He also got a Leapster TV game system from my parents which he might have to grow into a little and my brother and sister sent him nice packages. Christmas morning we let him take his time opening stuff, then we had banana pancakes of which Toddler ate none. About 2:00, my parents came over and we made filet mignon from Rachael Ray, spinach gratin from Ina Garten, stuffed mushrooms, roasted asparagus, rolls, and a Panetonne bread pudding with amaretto sauce from Giada DeLaurentiis. It was a Food Network feast.

I'm making this post too long.

Here's what I got for Christmas:

This adorable cake plate

This cookie press

This kitchen scale

And my husband and I both got each other a probe meat/oven thermometer with the wire so your temperature shows up on a little screen you can magnet onto your stove and the probe stays in the oven.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah and whatever winter holiday you do.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Christmas Weekend Everyone

OK, I'm sorry but my husband is just sweet. He made this train cake today with Toddler to take to Christmas Eve tomorrow. It's vegan so Toddler and Nephew can eat it since they're allergic to dairy and eggs. It was done in a Williams-Sonoma train pan that I got yesterday in the mail from my best friend in Boston. Yesterday we got a big wrapped box from her and today we got a box of wrapped presents from my sister that she had mailed before she left. She'll be in England for the whole holiday through New Year's. (I think she should have come here for half the time to be home for Christmas but whatever.)

I now have cookies spread around every surface of my kitchen on long sheets of wax paper defrosting to put together my final cookie platters. I already sent a big tin to CA and gave a platter to friends last night. I think I have enough for three or four more. At least this will give me a better gauge on how many platters I can make with 10 batches of cookies.

Christmas Eve tomorrow!! I was pretending I was in the southern hemisphere today, though, as I made sugar cookies in capri pants and flip flops. Sixty-seven degrees! I'm moving to Vermont.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Three Accomplishments as Christmas Approaches

Christmas cards written and mailed, check.
Box of cookies defrosted, packaged, and sent to my brother in California, check.
Now I'm waiting for my Amazon shipment so I can get the CD from it and send a package to Boston. It's late for that, I know.
Then, no more shipping.

I finished Number the Stars, again by Lois Lowry. It's about two young girls who are best friends in Denmark during World War II, one is Jewish, one is not. When the Nazis come to take away the Jewish family, the other family helps them as much as they can. It was another one I couldn't put down and I learned things about WWII in Denmark that I hadn't known before.

Now I'm into A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin, another childhood favorite. I know I read and loved this one, but I can't remember if I read any others in the trilogy or "cycle."

I'm still thinking of simultaneously starting Galileo's Daughter because it truly is from my stacks prior to the start of the From the Stacks Challenge and for some reason I'm being a stickler with myself and not including the YA books I've been reading for the challenge. It's not that I'm against switching out titles I'd listed for the challenge, but I guess they should really be from the stacks in my house and not the library.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Too Warm for Christmas

I'm sitting home all day waiting for our new laptop. UPS said they would deliver it today between 8 am and 7 pm. I was so appreciative of the specificity they were able to give me. (I know the drivers are swamped this time of year. I'm not really complaining because I'm getting a laptop!)

Anyway, it is warm. So warm! It's in the mid-60s and supposed to reach low to mid 70s by Tuesday. (I just raked the leaves from around the bottom of the mailbox post and found tiny daffodil sprouts starting to come up!!) Finally, after midweek next week, the temperatures will start to creep back down toward something a tad more seasonable. This time of year in central Virginia it's typically in the mid 40s. But this fascinating weather map shows the likelihood of a white Christmas in different parts of the country. Suggested reasons for the decrease in snow in December for most of the country are global warming plus our emergence from the Little Ice Age the Earth has been in for about 300 years. The caption for the map (for those who didn't look at it) says that Dickens' A Christmas Carol took place in very snowy conditions, whereas today it is very unlikely to have a white Christmas in England.

I really need to look more into this Little Ice Age thing. It's mentioned in The Short History of Nearly Everything that I recently read, but with so much else in that book, Bryson couldn't really go into it. But as I recall, traditionally throughout the long history of the world, Antarctica and the northern Arctic region were not known to be solid ice caps as we're used to today. So with this natural emergence from an ice age coupled with unnatural global warming, what the heck is going to happen to our weather?


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Darn That Old Organic Nature of Reading

Well, folks, I hate to say it, but I might be bailing on the From the Stacks Winter Challenge. This is not a definite, but I don't think I'll be able to finish three more books from my shelves before January 30 in light of my current distraction, which is less becoming a distraction and turning into my new obsession--Young Adult novels. I just finished The Giver by Lois Lowry which was published too late for me to have read it at true YA age, 1993, the year I graduated high school. I could not put it down. I was riveted. I recounted the whole thing to my husband as I read. I started almost crying as I told him the ending. Need I say Toddler and I are going to the bookstore today to get Gathering Blue and Messenger, books related to The Giver? I also have Number the Stars from the library by her and I still want to get to A Wizard of Earthsea for a reread. I want to be disciplined but I have to go where the reading wind takes me.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Or, These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
for my first post of the

So I've been trying to decide on what to post about for the 2006 G.I.F.T. Challenge hosted by Carl V.. I need to write about two tried-and-true Christmas experiences and two new ones. New to me so far has been the movie The Polar Express which I've now seen two-and-a-half times because it's on TV almost every night. But I don't feel very moved to post about it. It's a cute movie once you get used to the strangely robotic animated people and Tom Hanks playing almost everyone. It must have been cool in the theater because there are so many scenes where you feel like you're on a rollercoaster. But anyway, I thought for one of my "old" posts, I'd do just a little montage of some of my favorite things. So here they are:

Favorite Ornament:

The Bookworm

Favorite Decoration:


Favorite Tradition:

Baking Christmas Cookies

This is not an old tradition but one I started myself. My mom never made Christmas cookies and we just left out for Santa whatever we had, Chips Ahoy, Oreos . . . But I love baking and I'm quite taken with Christmas cookies. I just ordered a Christmas cookie book by Rose Levy Beranbaum who wrote The Cake Bible and I'm very excited about it. Hmm, maybe I should have saved my new cookie tradition for a post about something new. So far I've made vegan sugar cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip toffee cookies, tea cakes, Mormon molasses spice cookies, rugelach, pfefferneusse, and German chocolate cookies. And there'll be more to come.

Favorite Song and Music:
The Little Drummer Boy (especially the version by Bob Seeger on A Very Special Christmas II.)
Look here for all the Very Special Christmas CDs available. They're awesome.
I'm also really liking my Harry Connick, Jr., CD.

Favorite Treat or Dessert: I said Christmas cookies on the holiday meme that went around but now I'm changing it to Balocco Panettone that is sold at some food stores and World Market.

Favorite Things I Miss:
When I was an elementary school teacher I loved the holiday shows where the kids would learn the songs in music class and then we had to make time each day so they could practice in the classroom. We also had to make a prop as a class. Also I just loved doing all the different art projects and reading books about different religions and the holidays celebrated at this time of year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

YA Craving Intensifies

So after One L, I needed something a little lighter and something I thought I'd finish fairly quickly. Then I ended up standing next to the YA books while checking out books with Toddler at the library the other day and grabbed a few. One of which was the old favorite A Wrinkle in Time. I hadn't read this in maybe 20 years. Oh my god, 31-20=11? Really?! No worries, I still don't feel old.

I was surprised at how little I remembered from this book. I vaguely remembered the characters and their names, the Murry family, Charles Wallace, Meg. I didn't remember their friend Calvin or the dog Fortinbras or much else about the story. Let's just say I was riveted and couldn't put it down. The plot was fast-moving and intense, the writing descriptive, the characters realistic and the character development--wow. I had no idea YA books could do what they do. At first I was a little annoyed with Meg as a character (as I'm sure I was not when reading this as a kid), but by the end, L'Engle has her step up to the plate, take personal responsibility and stop waiting for everyone to do things for her, and, of course, she succeeds in her mission. I was so proud. :)

And the jolt this has given my imagination was exactly what I needed. I almost feel revitalized, I might say. The last book to ignite my inner fire (or maybe it just appeased the latent fantasy nerd within) was Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and the other two in the trilogy to which I recently referred in a post. Now I can't wait to revisit the old Earthsea Trilogy (also referenced below).

At first the plan was only to read this one and then move on in my exploration or revisitation of YA novels, but now I'm hooked again and might have to read A Wind in the Door next or soon anyway. I know I read that one and A Swiftly Tilting Planet as a kid, but I'm not sure if I ever made it to Many Waters.

Note: And I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up my ordered copy of Of Plymouth Plantation and ended up buying The Giver by Lois Lowry and Redwall by Brian Jacques. And one issue of the magazine Archaeology.

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A Note on One L

I finished my second From the Stacks Challenge book, One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School, by Scott Turow (author of Presumed Innocent). Although I don't imagine many people would be much interested in this book, I'll post a little bit anyway just because it was part of the challenge. I didn't really love it, but I didn't dislike it. As far as literary nonfiction goes, a favorite genre of mine, it pretty much fits the bill. It's nonfiction, personally experienced with no hiding of the author in the narrative, reflections on the author's experiences, written with a sense of story as similar to fiction rather than an onslaught of facts like a textbook. The book is made up of journal entries Turow wrote while in his first year of Harvard Law School interspersed with commentary he added in a year later. He attended his first year of school in 1975 so it's a little dated at times, but mostly it still works. Although he puts in a disclaimer at the beginning about how much he likes the law school itself and it proud to have gone there, he spends the rest of the book saying how stressful and horrible it is. He gives an interesting critique of the American law school system in general and it sure doesn't sound fun. It's a highly competitive, antagonistic, and dehumanizing environment for which he gives good suggestions on how to make it more practical and compassionate for up-and-coming attorneys. In 1999, I almost went to law school (took LSAT, applied, was accepted, paid money for seat in the class) then backed out and I'm glad I did. It wouldn't have been right for me, but the book was interesting nonetheless.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

YA Craving

While I'm diligently working away at the From the Stacks Challenge, and I have finished two books so far, I did pay a visit to the library today. But the visit was supposed to be just for Toddler. Heading to the children's room, that's it. By the way, we now go to the new library which rocks. It's all fresh and new and modern with a bunch of nice meeting rooms, a huge children's room, lots and lots of computers, and even a cafe in the front lobby. Anyway, so we go into the children's room and Toddler does some puzzles and jogs around while I find him nine new books. Then he's ready to go and climbs up on the stepstool in front of the self-checkout computer thing. So I'm about to pile our books up to check out and there next to the computer are four racks of YA paperbacks. I haven't read YA in a while (I think my last one was Lyddie by Katherine Paterson and the Below the Root Trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder--I'm crazy for Below the Root, by the way. Did anyone ever play the Windham Classics computer game in the 80s?)

The first one to catch my eye was a bunch by Brian Jacques. I remember the whole Redwall series getting popular when I used to work at Barnes & Noble but I see it was published in 1986 so maybe it was popular well before that. I really wanted to read something by him but I couldn't find the first one, Redwall, anywhere so I decided to wait on that. Then I looked at the Avi books but they looked series-oriented, too, so I wanted to check out the website first. I settled on a well-loved copy of A Wrinkle in Time (need I link? I think not.) to re-read since I haven't read this since I was true YA age, the first book of the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula LeGuin, another re-read from the early teen years, although I don't think I ever finished the trilogy, and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I was really looking for The Giver but they didn't have it.

So while I work on Back Bay which is on my extended From the Stacks list, I might have to go off track a little bit and catch up on some YA.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lunch Break Meme

Saw this on Pages Turned

1) My uncle once: looked like Clark Gable to me when I was 11 and in my Gone with the Wind phase, but now, I just think there's a slight resemblance.
2) Never in my life: have I had a Reese's peanut butter cup, Snickers, or Butterfinger (peanut butter, yuck!)
3) When I was five:I won the school Halloween costume contest but was too shy to come to the center of the playground with the principal so everyone could see my costume
4) High school was:sometimes fun, sometimes disturbing, mostly annoying
5) Fire is:pretty to watch when it's contained
6) I once saw:the movie "She-Devil" being filmed in my hometown
7) There’s this woman I know who:is an amateur pilot and professional writer (I'm so jealous
8) Once, at a bar: I got really drunk, danced, and ate pizza (oh, that was more than once)
9) By noon I’m usually: looking forward to Toddler's naptime (but I think he recently officially dropped those naps)
10) Last night: I stayed up until 12:45 am baking rugelach
11) If I only had: a little more free time
12) Next time I go to church:might be when the new baby gets christened
13) What worries me most:things that could happen to Toddler
14) When I turn my head left:I see the whole living room and the Christmas tree
15) When I turn my head right:I see the French doors to the deck
16) You know I'm lying when:I'm a little too adamant about what I'm saying
17) What I miss most about the eighties:being a kid
18) If I were a character written by Shakespeare, I’d be:I haven't read Shakespeare since college
19) By this time next year:I'll have a 3-yr.-old and a 9-mo.-old. Yipes!
20) I have a hard time understanding:my mother
21) You know I like you if:I ask you questions about yourself
22) If I won an award, the first person I’d thank would be:the person that gave it to me is the best answer, courtesy of Pages Turned
23) Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro:interesting, fascinating, who?, old hat
24) Take my advice, never:go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line
25) My ideal breakfast is:homemade apple pancakes with butter and syrup
26) If you visit my hometown, I suggest you go to:Manhattan instead; it's a very short bus or train ride away and way more interesting
27) Why doesn't everyone:stop being snobby
28) If you spend the night at my house:you'll have to sleep on the couch because we're out of bedrooms now
29) I’d stop my wedding:if I just knew it was wrong
30) The world could do without:sensational news
31) My favorite blonde is:Val Kilmer
32) If I do anything well, it’s:read
33) And by the way:it's very windy out right now


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rugelach Snafu

Whereas the reading of One L is going well (especially due to my having to sit at the lab for an hour after drinking the glucose drink they give you when you're pregnant), the making of the rugelach is not. (I'm not using the Martha Stewart recipe I linked to.) I've been having good cookie luck so far, but these are hard. And it also doesn't help when you turn off your oven just before you put your cookies in said oven. Allow me to explain. I was on the phone with M. and toasting pecans and walnuts in a pan at the same time. When the nuts were done, I turned off the stove, moved the pan, and must have also turned off the oven. Without realizing it. So I'm rolling out my rugelach which are sticking like crazy to any surface I try (heavily floured, Silpat, everything). And the dough is so sticky probably because it's not mixed very well since I blew up my Cuisinart food processor this afternoon making the dough. It's kind of small and you have to mix 2 1/4 cups of flour with a whole brick of cream cheese and two sticks of butter. The poor thing couldn't handle it and started whining and smoking and shooting little bits of black rubber onto the countertop. (Toddler, who has always hated the food processor, a.k.a The Loud, now hates it even more.) So then I had to finish combining with two butter knives in a bowl. So anyway, hours later, I'm rolling out the sticky dough, making sticky triangles with jam leaking out, finally get them in the oven and, after checking on them repeatedly, I'm like, why are they not done yet? So I keep setting the timer for a few more minutes. Then, duh, the oven is off, dumbass.

On a happier note, there is nothing on the Food Network but the boring old Holiday Cake Challenge from last year, so between batches of botched rugelach I can work on reading more.

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Cookie Month: Batch 4

Tea Cakes

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Cookie Month: Batch 3

Mormon Molasses Spice Cookies

There's no stopping me now.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Cookie Month: Batch 2

Oatmeal Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are kind of boring-looking so I didn't try to arrange them for a nice picture. But they are good and most are safely in the freezer now.

On to the next batch!

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Challenge Organization

So I joined the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge hosted by Overdue Books. So far I've finished one book and I'm about halfway through the second. The challenge doesn't end until January 30, so I do have some time, although I did pick some big books for the list. I made a list of more than five that I said I might still choose from, replacing books from my "final" list, so I might have to do that to make the challenge more doable.

But now there is not one but TWO other challenges I'm interested in.
There is the 2007 Winter Classics Challenge from Booklogged at A Reader's Journal. For this, during the months of January and February, you have to read five classics. This I would love to do, but it overlaps with the From the Stacks Challenge. Booklogged allows for overlap but, unfortunately, very few of the books from my Stacks challenge list are classics. So I may have to hold off on that one until I see how I do with the Stacks Challenge, to which I am already committed.

The next upcoming challenge I'm interested in is the TBR Challenge from Mizbooks at Literary Cache. For this challenge, you read a book a month for the whole year from a list of books you've been wanting to read for 6 months or more.

Then there's the Chunkster Challenge from Bookfool. I'm thinking I won't be able to do this one (you can't do them all, can you?).

OK, I'm going to plug away at One L now while my next two batches of cookies are in the oven: Tea Cakes and Moravian Spice Cookies.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Let Cookie Month Begin!

I was going to bake almost every day this month until Christmas, but I'm gaining too much weight with my pregnancy, so I might back off a little. I am going to freeze most that I make anyway and give them away so it's not like I'll be pigging out on cookies all month. So the first ones I've done have come out great. The very first were vegan sugar cookies for Toddler (dairy/egg allergies). They were SOOOO good. The similarity to real sugar cookies is truly amazing; I bet a lot of people couldn't even tell the difference. I'm not sure if I would have if I hadn't made them myself. Funky, if you make cookies this season, this is a great recipe to try. It's from a library discard sent to me by my best friend in Boston called "Allergy Kitchen 2: The Creative Cookie" by James Rudoff, published in 1987. The picture shows all that's left of them, and we baked them yesterday.

Vegan Sugar Cookies
3 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk-free margarine (I use Smart Balance Light)
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons egg substitute, plus 4 tablespoons water (I use Ener-G Egg Replacer, which calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons egg substitute with 2 tablespoons water)
1 tablespoon water
granulated sugar

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cream the margarine. Add the vanilla and sugar, beating well. Beat in 1 teaspoon egg sub and 2 tablespoons water at a time. Add the 1 tablespoon water. Gradually add the sifted flour mixture, beating only until mixed.

Divide the dough in half, wrapping each half in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator 2 or more hours. (I had to freeze mine for a little while.) Work with one half at a time.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and form a ball, flouring all surfaces. Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough to 1/4 inch. Use cookie cutters.

Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake in 400° oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

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Christmas Meme-ories

Haven't posted in awhile because we've been working on this:

and this:

I saw this meme at Carl V.'s and Iliana's and it's just the kind of meme I'm in the mood for.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate, but M. loves egg nog and we just saw the Alton Brown episode that's all about egg nog. We love AB and if we try his recipe, I'll try some again.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Santa wraps

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
white on tree, white on the outside of house; but when I was little in the late 70s and 80s we had colored lights on the tree and outside. The ones on the tree even blinked. Groovy!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Usually the first weekend in December

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Christmas cookies

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
I guess Christmas morning with my parents and brother and sister when we all still believed in Santa: the excitement of going to sleep on Christmas Eve after our annual party with extended family, getting up early, staying in pajamas all day playing with our new stuff, the dinner with grandparents that night

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When I was 8, I was lying in bed on Christmas Eve and my mom went into the closet in my brother's room across the hall from my room (he was a newborn) and pulled out a huge black garbage bag and headed downstairs. I knew then it was full of our "Santa presents."

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Before my parents moved here, we had our annual Christmas party with my dad's brothers and sister, my grandmother, and the 10 cousins. We always played a card game with two decks: one was dealt out to everyone, and the other one was held by my aunt. She called out a card and if you matched it, you picked a wrapped gift from the pile. Then when there were no more gifts in the pile and your card was called, you had to steal from someone else. When all the cards had been turned in, you opened what you were left with (sometimes nothing.) That would qualify as the only gift I ever opened on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Lights, garlands of red and green beads, and a string of fake candy, then the red balls we call tomatoes, then the little glass balls, then all the other ornaments, usually the Hallmark Keepsake ones last just because they're stored in their original boxes at the bottom of the ornament box.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes, but I haven't done it in a long time. When I was little, my mom took my sister and I to lessons and just regular skating every weekend at Warinanco Park in Elizabeth, NJ. The smell of winter and a big woodburning fireplace mixed with the smell of snack bar fries will always be tied to that place in my mind.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Any book, my skis when I was 17, my ice skates when I was about 11, and maybe my cassettes of Use Your Illusion I and II when I was about 16. Younger than that and, like Iliana, I loved Barbie's and all her accoutrements.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
great excuse for baking cookies, parties, togetherness, family time, decorations, the general feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Christmas cookies! also pie and coffee

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
putting up the Christmas tree, first with my parents and siblings and now with my husband and son

17. What tops your tree?
(copying Carl V. for posting picture)

I like this OK. It was a gift from MIL. I would probably choose something different if I had the chance. But when I was little we had this star with a cutout in the middle of it. In the cutout was a cylinder with a paper roll of little stars in it and when you turned it on, the cylinder rotated, shooting light stars all over the room. Kind of in the vein of a disco ball. Told you we had a groovy tree back in the day.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Both, but I do love the feeling of giving something that someone actually really loves and you can really tell. It's a great feeling.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
The Little Drummer Boy, any version. Remember the ice skating mentioned above? Well, there was this skate guard there named Ken who I had the BIGGEST crush on. I must have been around 10 or 11. He must have been 22 or 23. Every weekend we would hold hands and skate around the rink and while I was doing my lesson, he would skate with my sister. It was totally not creepy or anything. Anyway, I remember him singing this song with me while we skated around. I do like the Bob Seeger version. I just have to say, one song I don't like is that "Baby, It's Cold Outside" one, especially when sung by Regis and Joy Philbin. When Nick and Jessica sang it, it wasn't that bad.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Yuck! I hate peppermint! But I like the way they look as decorations.

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2006 G.I.F.T Challenge Plans

A new challenge proposed by Carl V. of Stainless Steel Droppings:

You have to post on 4 of the following:
Christmas movies
Christmas novels/short stories
Christmas songs
Christmas poems
Christmas traditions
Christmas memories

For whichever 4 things you choose you will post about them. That is where the giving comes in. Giving of yourself for the shared edification and inspiration of others. Your favorite Christmas movie, story, song, etc. may just inspire others to try it out. At the very least we will share in your joy and enthusiasm as you give us a glimpse into who you are by sharing memories, traditions, and favorites.. “Where is the challenge?”, you may ask. The challenge comes in here: two of your 4 choices must either involve something completely new to you or something you haven’t read or watched in an inordinately long amount of time. Take some time to read a Christmas related story or watch a Christmas movie that you’ve wanted to watch for years but never got around to. Seek out a Christmas poem and share it with us. You can post on each thing individually or do one big group post or combine things…do whatever you want to complete the challenge.

But what if this new thing ends up being something I just don’t like? That is okay, just give us an honest review. After all, sometimes lumps of coal do end up in the

So I'm thinking I will post on the movie The Polar Express which I just saw the other night. That was something new. And I'll post on my "A Very Special Christmas" CDs as an old favorite. The other two I'm not sure yet.

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