Once upon a time there was a writer who was in the midst of writing a manuscript while working a full-time job and caring for an injured dog at Christmas, and just when she didn’t think her to-do list could get any longer, it did. She had to bake for her 20-plus co-workers. She needed something quick, easy and had a high yield because she was short on time. The countdown to Christmas day had begun and she needed her own little baking miracle. Then a flash of inspiration hit and within a couple hours she was packing up the cargo space in her SUV with treats for her co-workers. What saved the day? Cranberry Eggnog Mini-Pound cakes.
That is the year I traded my made-from-scratch pound cake batter for a box mix and it was the best decision I made that holiday season. Billy has major surgery, he’d fractured his jaw and he needed care 24/7. He was droggy from the pain meds, he really couldn’t eat so I had to serve him pureed pumpkin with water (a soup only a pup could love) several times a day to keep him hydrated. And it was Christmas!
I looked through what I had on hand and that’s when the inspiration sparked and I quickly gathered all the ingredients—eggs, vanilla, eggnog, cranberries. I used the eggnog in place of the milk. Add in some chopped cranberries and a plain pound cake became festive. Bake them in pretty molds and they become giftable (is that a real word? probably not but you know what I mean).
I always have a large roll of cellophane on hand and various ribbons stashed away for any occasion. I did have a stack of cake boards that I cut into small discs for the cakes. But that was a little time-consuming so now I just wrap the cakes in the cellophane. If you’re really short on time you can bake one large cake or a couple of loaf cakes according to the directions on the box. I do love the smaller cakes though. They’re just so pretty.
These little cakes showed me that simple sometimes is the best thing we can do. We get so caught up in all the things we think need to be done for the holidays and yet these very easy treats have become one of my most requested desserts and I’m happy to whip up a batch.
Ready for the recipe? There really isn’t one. But here are the basics and don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve made mini-petite cakes and added Bailey’s Vanilla Cinnamon to the batter.
Are you ready to get your spook on? Halloween is just a few weeks away and it’s the perfect time to curl up with a Halloween-themed book. Nightfall is coming earlier, it gets dark here about 7pm and that’s when I usually make a cup of tea, gather the pups on the sofa and settle in with a book. This month I’m reading spooky cozies mysteries. 🙂
Go grab a cup of your choice of hot beverage, dim the lights (but not too dim) and sink into a deliciously spooky cozy mystery.
Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber (A Cookbook Nook Mystery)
Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…
Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.
When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…
Dial Meow for Murder by Bethany Blake (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)
Even an experienced pet sitter like Daphne Templeton can be fooled by animal behavior: how can an adorably tiny fuzz ball named Tinkleston be capable of sudden flying leaps with cat claws bared? But human behavior remains even more mysterious, especially when Tinkleston’s owner is murdered on the night of a gala fundraiser for Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue.
Accompanied by her unflappable basset hound, Socrates, Daphne plans to take charge of Tinks the Terror and leave the crime-solving to handsome detective Jonathan Black. But while luring the prickly Persian out of hiding, she uncovers clues that might take suspicion off her own mother. Maeve Templeton already has a reputation as a killer—in real estate. How far would she go to bag Sylvan Creek’s most coveted property, the Flynt Mansion?
To expose the truth, Daphne finds herself donning a deranged clown costume on an autumnal adventure that might just be crazy enough to work—if it doesn’t get her killed.
The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer by Krista Davis (A Paws & Claws Mystery)
Wagtail, Virginia, the top pet-friendly getaway in the United States, is gearing up for a howling good Halloween—until a spooky murder shakes the town to its core..
Holly Miller doesn’t believe in spirits, but the Sugar Maple Inn is filled with guests who do. The TV series in development, Apparition Apprehenders, has descended on Wagtail’s annual Halloween festivities to investigate supernatural local legends, and Holly has her hands full showing the ghost hunters a scary-fun time.
But the frights turn real when Holly’s Jack Russell, Trixie, and kitten, Twinkletoes, find a young woman drowned in the Wagtail Springs Hotel’s bathhouse—the spot of the town’s most infamous haunting. The crime scene is eerily similar to the creepy legend, convincing Holly that the death wasn’t just accidental. Now she’ll have to race to catch a flesh-and-blood killer—before someone else in town gives up the ghost…
Grave Errors by Carol Perry (A Witch City Mystery)
For residents of Salem, Massachusetts, the day after Halloween brings empty candy wrappers, sagging pumpkins, and a community-wide identity crisis. That is, until Lee Barrett’s TV production class suggests extending the spooky season with the traditional Mexican celebration Dia de Los Muertos. But when the students discover not all of Salem’s dead are resting in peace, the post-October blues don’t seem so bad after all . . .
As if a series of haunting graveyard visits isn’t disturbing enough, Lee and her policeman boyfriend connect the crime to an unsolved missing person case. Driven by a series of chilling psychic visions, Lee calls on her cleverest allies—including her shrewd cat, O’Ryan—to go underground and dig up the evidence needed to put a lid on a cold case forever . . . before the latest headstone in town has her name on it!
Deadly Brew by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries)
It’s Halloween in Buttercup, Texas, and reporter-turned-farmer Lucy Resnick is up to her ears in more than goats and wayward cows. Not only has her well dried up, but it turns out the old house Lucy recently moved to the farm has a reputation for spooks… and they are disturbingly active. Then a tarot card reading at a local mead winery foretells death… only to have exotic game ranch owner Bug Wharton turn up dead. Cause of death? Murder, by a fatal dose of bee venom. When the dimwitted sheriff fingers local witch and mead winery owner Seraphine Alexandre, Lucy gets involved… and soon discovers that all kinds of things are brewing in Buttercup. And some of them are deadly.
What’s your favorite book to read this time of year? Are you currently reading a Halloween themed cozy that’s not on this list? If so, what is it?
We plan for Christmas all month long and then it’s over in a blink of an eye and then there’s the aftermath to deal with. Leftovers, shredded wrapping paper and boxes that need to be broken down. Oh, the joy of the holidays.
Billy was just pooped out after playing with his new toys.
While Billy and Susie were enjoying there new toys, I admired my gift from Santa. Isn’t it beautiful? I can’t wait to cook in it.
With the holidays done it was time to get back to work on my revisions. About 30 pages left to go and the last chapter to write. Will I finish before the New Year?
I love buying and giving gifts. I kind of think I’m pretty good at finding just the right thing for the right person (or Shih Tzu). Maybe that’s because I’m a shopper (I did major in Fashion Buying) and I love a good hunt. There was a pair of boots I wanted to replace last year and I scoured the internet for days until I found them. Score! But, this post isn’t about my super shopping powers, it’s about giving a perfect gift.
A friend of mine is one of those gals who is doing a bizillion things at the same time while her mind is racing with another bizillion things she should be doing. Living like this 24/7 can be overwhelming and stressful. She doesn’t have any hobbies, she doesn’t take time to read and she doesn’t exercise (all those three things I regularly engage in) so she has no type of stress relief.
Just before Christmas of last year she was very excited because her son got engaged. She was envisioning the wedding, the reception and yes, grandchildren. 🙂 It seemed like that was all she could think about and she mentioned that she should pick up her crocheting again so she could make things for a baby. Yeah, she was getting a little ahead of herself because the wedding isn’t happening until next August and this was at the end of 2014. However, since I was listening (and that’s one of the secrets to giving the perfect gift) I knew exactly what to give her for Christmas.
I went to Lions Yarns website and found a beginner pattern for a hat and scarf set and I printed it out. Then I purchased the yarn that was recommended along with all of the tools the pattern required so that when I gave my friend her gift it would be one complete kit, all she had to do was crochet.
My friend loved gift last year. She was so happy and so surprised. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The surprise? It doesn’t matter how much something costs because the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about a price tag. Right now I’m putting together the her gift for this year and I’m sure she’s going to love it too. So, what about? What’s your awesome gift giving story?