Fourth Annual Blog Cookie Exchange

Two posts in a week? Yes, I’m working hard to get back on Santa’s Nice list. I hope it works! Welcome to the fourth annual blog cookie exchange party, sponsored by Ms. Susie Fairchild!

Vintagey stockings

Would you like a hot buttered rum? I haven’t actually tried these yet, but I think we may need a drink like this when we head to Minnesota this weekend. Yesterday’s high temperature there was 3 degrees. Recipe is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, and all 19 reviewers gave it 5 stars. It must be good, right?!

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • Bottle dark rum
  • Boiling water

Directions: In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, and serve immediately.

My family has no shortage of traditions. See those stockings up there at the top of the post? I think mine is celebrating its 40th year. My grandma made it, and of course she also made them for my sister and my three cousins. When J.P. and I got married eight years ago, my mom decided that he needed one too. His looks considerably newer than mine, in both fabric and style. And of course, we can’t leave Maggie out. Hers isn’t handmade (it came from Target), but shhhhh . . . don’t tell her!

Here’s what they look like for reals:

The stockings were hung . . .

And I know I’ve written about this tradition before, but I ran across some photos the other day and decided to include them here. When I was in high school, my mom’s side of the family did a “goofy gift” exchange every year. But this wasn’t just any gift exchange—we always had a rule. In 1989, the gift had to be made of wood and it had to cost $5 or less.

Being an avid clarinet player, I had plenty of old reeds lying around. I happened to draw my aunt’s name, and I made her a pair of earrings using the reeds, paper clips, and curly ribbon. She loved them!

Clarinet reed earrings

CB drew my cousin’s name. I think he must’ve been about 10 at the time. Somehow, she got the idea to make him a sign:

His gift from my sister

Moments before he opened it, he proved that it was the perfect gift:

Proving that he deserves the sign

Rather than help him up, we all grabbed our cameras and started snapping. He’s 29 now and has a kid of his own. Where does the time go?

The Folly
Susie asked about our favorite gift to give. Do you remember the show Surprise by Design? It was a reality show where friends/family members would get their loved one to leave the house for the day, and then the show would come in and re-do a room in the house. When the person came home—surprise! Everything was done. Well somehow, my mom and I got the idea to do that for Character Builder and her husband five years ago, and my step-dad began calling it The Folly.

We planned for a couple months, and Mom snuck (is that a word?) over there during the day to measure their basement family room and take photos. We chose paint colors and fabric, and managed to come up with some lamps and a storage cabinet for their movies/video games. Of course, I was living in Pennsylvania, and Mom and CB are in Minnesota. So almost everything was done long-distance. When I arrived in MN a few days before Christmas, we upholstered the cornice boards that my step-dad had made, and we made some Roman shades for the windows.

J.P. and I were staying at CB’s house for the holidays, and I told her that I was getting up early on the 26th to go shopping with a friend. She woke me before she left for work, and as soon as she was gone my BIL loaded the kids in the car to take them to my dad’s house for the day. My mom, step-dad, and aunt arrived, and we started painting. The six of us (including J.P. and BIL) worked like crazy all day long. CB picked up the kids on her way home from work, and was surprised to learn that their dad made them get up “in the sevens” (Alex couldn’t really tell time yet, but his clock radio showed that the hour was 7:00) that morning after she’d told them the night before that they could sleep in.

I think she may have smelled the paint when she walked in the house, but she and the kids were pretty surprised to find a completely new family room when they came downstairs. And you know, I think we probably enjoyed doing the project as much as they enjoyed using the room.

And then they sold the house and moved away. The end! (Well not right away, but they did.)

Gay Apparel
No flashy earrings or gaudy themed socks for me, I’m afraid. But I do have two new sweaters to wear next week! They’re both cashmere, and I got incredible deals on them. One is already waiting for me in Minnesota. If only we could arrive there as quickly as it did! We’re loading up the car on Saturday and heading out for a week with Maggie. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be allowing much of this in the sub-freezing temperatures:


Merry Christmas!


12 Responses to “Fourth Annual Blog Cookie Exchange”

  1. tysgirl Says:

    Have a safe trip and give CB a big hug for me!

  2. kcinnova Says:

    Good for you! I’ll be late to the party – I have to get my defrost/heat/blower motor repaired on my car, or I won’t be going anywhere. Save one of those HBRs for me, please!

    [my grandmother made stockings like those for us, too–my mother bought the kit but failed to repeat the tradition, so a friend of mine made stockings for the boys]

  3. William Says:

    If something is hot and buttered sign me up.

    even better that it has rum.

  4. mainlinemom Says:

    Two posts in a week, OMG! I love your gift of re-doing your sister’s room, I wish someone would do that for me! Have a good trip and I think those drinks sound yummy.

  5. Susie Says:

    Your family is so lovely. I just LOVE what you did for CB.

    And I was happy to find the rum recipe here. I have not had a drop of alcohol since August because it may not mix with some of the meds. But you know what? “It may not” also means “it may!” so I might just find out. For some reason, I am very intrigued by holiday drink recipes this year — both alc. and non. So I will try this one. I think Jif will enjoy it, too.

    Merry Christmas and safe travels to you three. xoxo

  6. Squirl Says:

    That hot buttered rum does sound really good! The stocking tradition is so cool, too. My family never did that. Ichabod’s mother made them stockings when they were little. She still fills them with toys and goodies every year.

    I love what you did for CB, too. That’s such a thoughtful gift.

    Enjoy your trip, and try to stay warm.

  7. certainabsurdity Says:

    I’ve never seen the pictures of the “wood and under $5” gifts before. Does she still have the earrings? We have the stockings too. One of my aunts made them for everyone one year. Now my mom just adds more. Good luck with the drive. Hopefully it will be better than it has been the last couple of days. Make sure you bring wool. It’s freezing here!

  8. The Q Says:

    I would love to see the “before” and “after” pics of the room you guys did for CB.

    Have a very safe and wonderful holiday! Please say “Hi” to CB for me 🙂

  9. JP Says:

    Sharkey failed to mention we were all suffering from the grippe when we performed “the folly.” And then they go and sell the house!!! There will NEVER be a folly 2!!! =)

  10. kalki Says:

    Ooh, I’m definitely trying this rum recipe. Yum!

    Merry Christmas!

  11. UCM Says:

    I was so hoping for a picture of “The Folly.” What a fun family you are. Have a safe trip! Mwah!

  12. shari Says:

    That “Folly” story is about the best thing I’ve ever read about. What a great gift of love!! Now, since you are experienced at planning long-distance room makeovers, if I promise homemade cookies, you want to come out here for the next one, please?

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