Maybe I do like Christmas after all.

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Every year we buy an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s right around Thanksgiving. Not because we want to get a jump start on Christmas but because we’ve learned the hard way that Trader Joe’s sells out quickly on their advent calendars and it’s a big fat bummer not to have a little chocolates to eat for twenty-five days in December.  This year Bug chose a calendar that has fun little Christmas activities illustrated on each door.

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Guess what? I am a BIG FAT SUCKER when it comes to Christmas activity suggestions. I can not resist their power! Or the guilt trips on all the possible memories I might miss if I don’t follow their suggestion or something… How dare Trader Joe’s suggest that I decorate cookies or make snowflakes or decorate the tree on a certain day?!! Have you seen my schedule? I have no time for such foolery.

But apparently I find time for what I really want to do because we have been jam-packing these early days of December with all kinds of fun Christmas activities.

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We made gingerbread houses, of course. (Also a kit from Trader Joe’s. What can I say? I drink the Kool-Aid.) These are actually pretty easy once you get over the fact that you have to break out the mixer to make the royal icing. I don’t do the baking kind. Since I’ve done these for three years in a row now I don’t even blink twice when the kids ask to make them. Fluffy egg whites? Coming right up! It’s totally worth it for all the fun the kids have squeezing globs of sticky sugar all over pre-made cookies and the hours and hours of uninterrupted fun with very minimal bickering. What to do with the houses afterwards is a little more challenging (eat them vs. keep them forever) but I chalk this activity up as a win because it’s all about the process.

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We bought and decorated our very own tree without any help from dads, grandpas or boyfriends this year. I’m pretty proud of myself on that one. I am woman! I can totally lift a rain-drenched tree into my car (lined with waterproof picnic blanket of course) and then out and up the stairs all by myself! Piece o’ cake!

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We made sugar cookies from a mix. What? You think I’m Martha Stewart and I can make them from scratch? Pshaw!  I probably could but sugar cookie mix is hard enough with the dough constantly getting too soft and sticky to roll so I cut my corners when I can find them. I think I could write a whole poem on how much of a pain in the butt sugar cookie dough is. I have developed a mantra though. It goes like this: Chill for ten minutes.

I’m talking about the dough in the fridge and yourself somewhere else far far away from the dough, preferably in a comfy chair with a beverage of some sort. It’s a very zen-like process once you master the mantra.

I wish I had better photos of the whole messy process because we made A BIG FAT EPIC MESS but you know me. I hate taking photos without natural light and because it’s WINTER and the sun goes down at like three-o’clock or some such nonsense, I’ve got very little to show. The next day however…

Bug played hookie from school (it’s a long story I don’t really feel like going into right now) and we got theses beautiful shots:

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How did we make that groovy, icing with-a-half-life you’re wondering? Two words: Neon Food Coloring. Correction, that’s three words. It’s magical stuff though. It’s actually completely non-toxic and a whole lot better for you than those natural, earthy-looking tie-dyed eggs I made ages ago from silk ties. Funny how that all works out. What you see glowing is not always bad for you. Although…I’m sure that’s up for debate. Anyway, we’re cool with the colors, obviously. These cookies are ART!

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And today we made snowflakes! Well, Bug did. I’m actually supposed to be working today but you know I’ll be whipping out the micro-scissors later. I am a MASTER snowflake maker. Snip snip!

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So who’s bah-humbugging now? Not me! I think Christmas is getting the best of me.

p.s. icing recipe here. It was a bit runny though so we added a ton more powdered sugar than it called for.

Little Hoo Christmas Reading at Once Upon a Storybook

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I just wanted to pop in and share some photos from my Merry Christmas Little Hoo book reading last week. It was really fun and sweet. I love reading to littles who participate. There was one little boy in the audience who answered “Nooooooooooo….” all big-eyed and anticipatory to every “Is it Santa?” question. I wanted to slip him a hundred afterwards for making the whole event so much better but of course I can’t be doing that.

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Here I am all animated and stuff. I can be scary when I’m reading. Especially since I don’t like speaking in front of crowds and of course I was sweating profusely. But you can’t tell and none of the kids seemed too afraid of me.

Then we had some cookies. I signed some books and pretended like I was celebrity. On one book I totally screwed up a word but the lady smiled like it was supposed to be that way. So obviously I’m not a real celebrity because I’m sure that doesn’t fly well with the haters. Or maybe it does. Maybe it’s more fun when authors screw up? I don’t know.

 

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Anyway, it was fun. I signed the wall. I really hope this cute little book store sticks around. It was right out of You’ve Got Mail with it’s little-shop-around-the-block charm. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should definitely visit and let them know I sent you. Make sure they have my books on the shelf too!

I’ll probably be back when my summertime Little Hoo book comes out so if you missed me, you’ll have another chance in June!

 

p.s. Thank you to Deb for taking all these pictures!