Can’t Catch Me… 6

December 17, 2014

…I’m the gingerbread person of questionable nutrition but nonetheless a delicious breakfast choice.

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After promising myself last month that I’d be spare with my Christmas baking, that others around me would also be making tasty and waist-thickening treats and then delivering them to my kitchen, I have, once again, failed. December, apparently, is filled with broken promises, and they taste like gingerbread (and mince pies and shortbread and never mind). But there are kids in the house! Kids love gingerbread cookies, right? Well, the one kid that’s on solid food does, anyway.

So I’m backing up my decision with the fact that three-year-olds love crafts, especially ones that involve decorating and eating said crafts. And crafts that are Christmas-inspired, well. Just call me Martha. [I’ll be honest. As a parent, there is a much greater chance I’ll participate in/oversee crafting of edibles than non-edibles. It’s craft and snack in one! Why would I waste my time on cardboard or glitter?]

Ahem. And so.

I’ve found a recipe that makes dark, seductive cookies that are not too sweet and go well with any amount of icing–or none at all. The recipe calls for the normal rolling out of the dough on a floured surface but I tried to make things easier and less messy by doing the old wax paper sheet trick. It ended up being more time-consuming and annoying than rolling out with flour because the dough was fairly sticky and soft. I resorted to putting the sheets of dough between wax paper (with cookies cut out but not removed yet) in the freezer to firm them up and still it was a tense situation at times. So you can decide which avenue you take there.

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Gingerbread People

Adapted from this recipe

 

Ingredients

3  cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2  teaspoons ground ginger  (or more; some like it hot)

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground coriander seed

6  tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1  large egg

1/2 cup molasses

2  teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

 

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two or three cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and cloves until well blended.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand if you are very strong) beat first butter and brown sugar, and then egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until fully incorporated. Gradually add dry ingredients until blended and smooth.

Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for an hour or more.

Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use more flour to avoid sticking. Cut out your shapes with cookie cutters to suit your holiday inclinations.

Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart on the cookie sheets and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how soft/crunchy you want them. Let cool on a rack before decorating with abandon.

 

XO

Ria

6 Comments

Sweet Little Something 1

December 13, 2014

Here we are again, weekend! We like to celebrate another seven days well-lived with a photo each. Feel free to post a comment, haiku or anything at all. We love hearing from you! Love H & R

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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1 Comment

Genius idea #752 – The Alphabet Photo-book 8

December 10, 2014

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I’m prone to ideas for projects that will take a lot of time to complete. Ideas so full of good intentions they should have their own girl guide badges. Projects that before I even begin I start wondering “Why?! Why am I doing this?” This one, an alphabet photo-book, was no exception. Here’s what happened (cue crazed moment of ENTHUSIASM FOR LIFE):

 

Hey! I could make a special photo-book of our holiday for the girls!

 

Yeah? Sounds simple enough.

 

I could print one copy each, for them, and one for Matt and I to keep!

 

The thinking with exclamation marks is worrying me.

 

Perhaps I could make it a bit different..?

 

Uh oh. 

 

I know! I could make it an ALPHABET photo-book!

 

Here we go.

 

Photos for each letter of the alphabet! And a little rhyme to match!

 

Please someone tranquilize this woman.

 

[Read more →]

8 Comments

Sweet Little Something 2

December 6, 2014

Here we are again, weekend! We like to celebrate another seven days well-lived with a photo each. Feel free to post a comment, haiku or anything at all. We love hearing from you! Love H & R

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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2 Comments

The Warm Blanket 3

December 3, 2014

And by that I mean: how to console oneself on a job well failed. When I think about screwing up something royally, just doing a really good job of doing badly, I want to comfort myself with a blanket on a couch and maybe a cup of tea. Okay, and chocolate. Mmm. But the failing–this is what I want to talk about.

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I recently came across this compilation of seven writers’ views of and experiences with failure (well worth a read). But this subject is painful, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone is immune to the sting of failure. As a writer, I know keenly what literary failure feels like, both in the form of rejection letters and my own inner critic’s harsh admonishments. And even beyond writing, I know my life has been shaped in no small degree by failure, especially those experiences where I took the failure personally and made it about me. Those times might have led to my being less likely to try something again or put myself out there. Because if there’s one thing I know about myself (and most people), it’s that I like to succeed. Like, really prefer it. It means acceptance and relief and the illusion of importance. Failure just makes me squirm and feel like a no-good nobody.

But.

What if failure is all there is? What if success is just a fantasy, a drug that ups the ante each time you go there, so you can never actually reach the heights you’re striving for? I’m going to admit something here. I had this strange feeling when my first book came out. Of course I was delighted and excited and proud and grateful. I’d worked hard. But I also felt restless and unsatisfied. There was failure in that success. Because, as many writers will say, a book is never finished, never perfect, and just because it’s published doesn’t mean you are truly happy with it. Maybe this makes me seem ungracious, but hear me out. My creative goals have never been only as big as the book I am writing. They have always been as big as, well, the universe–and that is ever-expanding. My first book, my fifth or tenth book will always be steps towards something, and that something is always moving away from me. It’s not something I will ever catch. So, I am always going to fail to achieve it. Sad, ain’t it?

Maybe the thing to do is to shift the focus, the goal, from being that uncatchable something to the steps along the way. Or maybe it’s just to stop shining my success-finding-light on anything. Because isn’t that innately problematic?

So I really want to know: what are your experiences with failure? How do you measure it against success and still feel human at the end of the day? Strategies, game-plans, tips–these are what I need. Because a supportive community is a safety net against failure, isn’t it?

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Forgive the gratuitous rainbow. I’m sorry. It was an itch I had to scratch. ‘Cause you know what’s on that warm blanket I’m wrapped in with my chocolate and tea? Yup. Lots and lots of rainbows.

XO

Ria

3 Comments