Tag Archives: holidays

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

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To all who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!  And if Christmas isn’t your thing I hope you’re still having a wonderful day. :]

I also hope you all enjoy these pictures of our bunnies, Cypress & Pinto, dear readers.  Happy Holidays from our home to yours!

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Warm regards,
Melody

p.s. See you on Thursday for a New Year’s-related recipe!

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Magic Cookie Bars Recipe

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I love the holiday season: the special time with family and friends, the decorations, the music, and the food!  I love that each family celebrates differently, too – unique traditions, meals, recipes.  Now that I’m an adult it’s fun to hold on to old traditions and create new ones.  Before I get to this month’s recipe, here are a few of my favorite holiday-related “ingredients”, typically enjoyed during the month of December:

The smell of fresh Christmas trees – Enough said.
Decorations – I especially love the lights!
The song “Feliz Navidad” – I remember dancing around to this song when I was a kid.  It made me happy, and still does.  The original version by José Feliciano is the best!
Holiday baking – When I was young we had sugar cookies, Magic Cookie Bars (recipe below), and fudge at Christmas.  Yum!  This is one tradition I’ve chosen to carry on.
“Waltz of the Flowers” – When I was eleven and taking ballet, my class performed a dance to this song from Tchaikovsky’s The NutcrackerThe Nutcracker is on my play list every December, and it invokes feelings of both nostalgia and festivity.
Tamales – One of my husband’s family’s traditions is making tamales, and they’re SO good!  Whether you choose a tamal that’s sweet or one that’s savory, they’re corn husk-wrapped goodness.

On to the Recipe…

This month’s recipe is brought to you by my childhood.  My mom found this recipe on a can of sweetened condensed milk when I was very young, and it’s been a must-bake recipe ever since.  These babies are dangerous; I could literally eat a pan all by myself, but they’re also quick, easy, and great for sharing.

Some people make a version of these bars with butterscotch chips as well, which I think is total blasphemy.  Don’t do it!  If you follow the recipe exactly, including the layering order of the last three ingredients, you’ll be very happy with the results.  Everyone who eats them will be, too!

So, without further ado, here is the recipe for Magic Cookie Bars. Simple, but soooooo good!

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Magic Cookie Bars

(Makes 24 bars)
½ cup butter or margarine
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups angel flake coconut – sweetened
1 cup chopped nuts (preferably walnuts)
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  (325 degrees for a glass dish)  In a 13×9-inch baking pan, melt butter.  Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over butter; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs.  Top evenly with remaining ingredients (coconut, then the walnuts, then the chocolate chips); press down gently.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.  Store, loosely covered, at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these cookie bars, and I hope your ingredients for a festive December all come together beautifully.

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in baking, family, life in general, recipes | Also tagged , , , , 6 Comments

Seven Suggestions for a Happier Holiday Season

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The holidays can be exhausting, stressful, and a serious drain on your wallet, but they don’t have to be! These seven suggestions will help you have a more relaxed, mindful, and budget-friendly month of December:

1. Plan Ahead

Grab you calendar and map out your month, if you haven’t already.  Make sure to block out time for the things you must do, the things you want to do, and for some sleep!  Overbooking yourself and/or running around like a headless chicken is a sure-fire way to obliterate the fun and festivity associated with the holidays.

2. Delegate

If you’re like me you may be reluctant to ask for help, but I encourage you to work past that.  Divide the holiday-related tasks among the able members of your household.  What fun will the holidays be if you’re too exhausted to enjoy them?

3. Make your Lists & Check Them Twice

Really examine the lists you’re making. Are you sending holiday cards to people out of precedent and habit, though your relationship has run its course?  Consider shaving a few people off your card and gift list if you realize the ties that bind have loosened over the years.  You’ll save both time and money.

4. Simplify & Scale Back a Bit

Speaking of time and money, put some additional thought into how you plan to spend your time and money this month.  For example, are you going to exhaust yourself making six different types of cookies when three would be more than enough? Will you acquire debt and spend more on gifts than you can afford, instead of coming up with something simpler and more affordable?

5. Savor the Special Things That December Brings

Try to slow down and enjoy the moment without rushing on to the next thing. Easier said than done, I know, but this one is well worth it.  Savor the heady scent of the pine trees in the Christmas tree lot.  Pause and listen to the carolers in the plaza instead of just rushing past them on the way to another store, and enjoy the smiles and laughter of your family and friends as they draw near.

6. Think Green & Save Even More Green

Save money and natural resources by using newsprint, brown paper grocery bags, or other re-used materials to wrap your gifts this year.  Spruce the packages up with ribbon or twine and a nice gift tag.  Recycled wrapping materials can be earth-friendly and aesthetically appealing!  The gift shown in the photo above was wrapped with newspaper, inexpensive red curling ribbon, a re-usable bell, and a tag purchased in bulk from an office supply store.

7. Do Something to Help Brighten the Holidays of Those in Need

If you’re in a position to help those less fortunate, please do.  Whether you donate food to a food bank or spend time serving food at a soup kitchen, I believe the spirit of giving is often at its purest when we give to those we may not know personally.

Whatever holiday you may celebrate, and wherever you may live, I hope the rest of your December is happy, healthy, fun, and festive.  Please keep an eye out for my next recipe, dear readers, which will be posted on December 9th.  This recipe, should you choose to make it, will provide some quick and easy treats to share with those you hold dear…

Warm regards,
Melody

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