Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday, if you saw some of my Currently posts on Instagram, I caught a little Christmas spirit. I got out my tree, untangled some lights, lit a cinnamon and evergreen candle, and even listened to my first few Christmas tunes. For the first time this year, I baked a batch of Christmas cookies! Actually, there isn’t truly anything “Christmasy” about them, except that I (almost only) bake them around Christmas.

There are a few cookie recipes that my mom always made during the holiday season. She made them for us, for family members, for neighbors, for friends, for teachers, you name it. I’ll share the recipes here on the blog throughout the season, so that you can consume more than your fair share of cookies over the next two months, just like my family does!

Here are the ones I made yesterday:

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These are called Cherry Shortbread Cookies. They are from a Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookie cookbook from, oh, 1990 or so. My mom’s edition is so well-used that the binding has broken, and I’m using photocopies out of a 3-ring binder. There is a whole section for shortbread, a whole section for holiday cookies, and so on… let me just say, they’re delicious. I’ve tried a LOT of them, and rarely have been disappointed.

The recipe calls for 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, well drained, 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and red food coloring if you’d like your cookie to be vibrantly colored. Mix the flour and sugar, add the butter and mix on low until the mixture looks like fine crumbs, then add the drained cherries until it looks like dough. Make one-inch balls (with your hands of course, and expect them to turn pink), then flatten them on an ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper) about 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (till they are slightly firm and edges are golden) on 325 degrees. I do it all in my Kitchen-Aid mixer, so I don’t even use a bowl!

I always leave out the nutmeg because I don’t really like it (in anything, not just these cookies). But I typically double, and sometimes triple, the recipe because it doesn’t make too many. So because I was already doubling yesterday, I decided to go out on a limb and try something new… I’ve been baking a lot with almond meal, and I know it’s not a great flour-to-almond-meal substitution. It’s very moist, so typically you need a little less of whatever the liquid is. Because there isn’t a “liquid” in the recipe, I knew I couldn’t straight sub. But I wanted them to be a little healthier, so I used 1/2 cup almond meal, and 3/4 cup (plus one tablespoon to thicken it) flour. That way it was a little less worthless gluten. They actually turned out tasting BETTER! I was truly surprised. In the picture above, you can see the ones on the right have specks… those are the almond meal specks!

So now the fun part… my sister-in-law is hosting a cookie swap in a few weeks, and I want to have a new thing or two that I can bring to the table. What are your favorite cookie recipes? Can you comment with the recipe or a link to it? I can’t wait to see what YOUR holiday cookie favorites are!

Currently

This week’s edition of Currently is on INSTAGRAM! If you already follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a big fan… If you don’t yet, follow me (@whitneymaeve) to see what I’m currently up to! If you want to link up, add your link at Hannah’s Joyful Life and use the hashtag #currently on Instagram.

In the mean time, here’s a couple of photos of the kiddos from Halloween…

Three little rodents... and we didn't even plan it! Mama Deer holding her little field mouse, Rafaella and Master Splinter, and April O'Neil interviewing Mickey Mouse!
Three little rodents… and we didn’t even plan it! Mama Deer holding her little field mouse, Rafaella and Master Splinter, and April O’Neil interviewing Mickey Mouse!
It's hard to get all four of them looking and smiling, so this one might be the best! At least no one is crying!
It’s hard to get all four of them looking and smiling, so this one might be the best! At least no one is crying!

After we got a few pictures of the kiddos dressed up, we had dinner together, and then we all went out to Hubby’s gig. It was a night of being silly and dancing. What fun!

What did you do for Halloween?

And don’t forget to link up to tell me what you’re currently up to!

Mountains or Molehills?

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I seriously love my family. Hubby and I have the best families on the planet. I’m sure yours is great, but… mine’s better.

Today, my sisters-in-law and I met our mother-in-law to plan out the holidays, everyone’s travel plans, and some dates we will all be together. Not only did we have a fun time at lunch, but decided to go shopping together! We then had so much fun shopping that when we needed to head home, we did so with the idea we’d get the brothers and our kids to have dinner together! So we packed up our families and met for dinner. Six adults, a toddler and three babies. It was a lot. We ate a lot. We spilled a lot. We laughed a lot. It was just a lot.

I had a choice at dinner tonight. I could have been stressed about the fact that in the first ten minutes, water, wine and green beans were all spilled. I could have been annoyed that J would only eat if he was sitting in my lap (aka if I was unable to eat). I could have been frustrated that right when I was able to eat a few bites, EK needed to go potty. But in fact, I chose fun. It was fun to pass the kids around the table, help ourselves to everyone else’s food, and make a big mess (for which we tipped generously, promise). I chose to be excited that my daughter told me she needed to go potty instead of peeing in her diaper! That was a miracle in itself!

When you have a choice between being frustrated, and giving in to the situation and making the best of it, making the right choice can be tough. I’m a high-strung person by nature (sorry, everyone) so I can make big deals out of basically anything. But it’s my constant goal – and sometimes struggle – to “Let It Go” (forgive the reference). I need lots of reminders, and I ask for a lot of help. My family bears with me in the midst of my sometimes-OCD. But I like myself more, and I’m sure everyone else does, too, if I can give in to the crazy and fun, instead of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Happy Halloween!

Since today is Halloween, but I haven’t dressed my kids up yet, here are a few photos from Halloweens past… Enjoy!

Not a great photo, but one of my favorite costumes ever. The first year we were married, Hubby and I were the Incredibles. Stay tuned to see it again in a year or two, plus the kids!

Not a great photo, but one of my favorite costumes ever. The first year we were married, Hubby and I were the Incredibles. Stay tuned to see it again in a year or two, plus the kids!

 

Here's a shot of Hubby's whole costume!Here’s a shot of Hubby’s whole costume! That’s a proud moment of making those costumes ourselves!

Lady Gaga was one of my most fun costumes, and the only thing I bought was the wig!

Lady Gaga was one of my most fun costumes, and the only thing I bought was the wig!

The year I was pregnant I was just growing out of my clothes, so I wanted something silly. Reverse Cowgirl it was! Kelly (on the right here, and on the right in the one above) and I always get pictures together!The year I was pregnant I was just growing out of my clothes, so I wanted something silly. Reverse Cowgirl it was! Kelly (on the right here, and on the right in the one above) and I always get pictures together!

Ella Kate's first Halloween - Photo cred. Sophie Van ZandtElla Kate’s first Halloween – and you can hardly find her, haha!
Photo cred. Sophie Van Zandt

Last year, Hubby was Sully and EK was Boo. I ran out of time before turning my belly into Mike... but my two loves looked great!Last year, Hubby was Sully and EK was Boo. I ran out of time before turning my belly into Mike… but my two loves looked great, and EK had fun at our church’s Trunk or Treat event. That’s where we’re headed tonight, so you’ll see pictures soon!

What are you dressing up as this year? What are your kids going to be? How many Elsas have you seen?!

I have a quick temper.

I’ve been trying to be a better mommy to my two year old. We work on sharing, letters and numbers, using the potty, and being nice to others (including me). But sometimes, she’s a drama queen. Sometimes, she can be manipulating. I know- that sounds crazy to have a manipulating two year old, but it’s the truth. She knows how to get what she wants from me and from daddy. And that frustrates me. She’s so smart and great at communicating and behaves so well! So when she’s upset or hurt or frustrated and can’t tell me, she just starts doing weird stuff. I don’t know why, so I tell her to stop. She cries. I get frustrated. She cries more, then I cry. Sometimes it’s a nasty situation in a short number of minutes.

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I was talking through this with Hubby’s mom, and she totally commiserated. She also gave me some advice. My frustration has a root somewhere deeper. It could be jealousy (“I want my Daddy!” when she’s with me and not him) or perfectionism (she isn’t perfect, however totally awesome she might be most of the time). It could be that I’m too quick-tempered (I know already that I am). It could be a plethora of extenuating circumstances that have stressed me out and out me on edge before EK has even entered the picture.

There is an element of a generational curse that I am trying not to inherit. I have a quick temper, like my parents before me. I know for a fact that I cannot overcome it myself – I need God’s help to get past it and relax and move on. Hubby’s mom gave me four R’s to help remember a good process to squelch that temper as it comes on…

Recognize it as sin.

Repent and ask for forgiveness.

Receive the forgiveness. Not just ask for it. Fully receive it.

Take responsibility for it, and be able to call it down.

Then, the next time the quick temper bubbles up in me, I can go through the steps more quickly. I can recognize it before it actually happens, repent, receive forgiveness, and take the responsibility for it. Then it’s easier to move on, without the temper (and the words/actions that would follow). Praise Jesus for the opportunity to lay our sins at his feet, and have them washed away!

Do you have a vice that just keeps pecking away at you, no matter how much you try to control it? What do you do to get past it?

Currently

Linking up this week with Hannah at Joyful Life for another edition of Currently – a quick, easy update on you life, right at this moment. Join our community!

T H I N K I N G || I’m really consumed by two overwhelming feelings this morning… Thinking about how wonderful it was to have Hubby’s grandparents in town (his dad’s parents live in Hawaii, are 87, and come to town once a year for two weeks) and how relieved I am that life is returning to normal since they are safely back home. Would we love it if they lived here? Absolutely! However, having them in town for only two weeks a year means that our lives revolve around spending as much time with them as possible while they’re here (as it should be!) but that gets exhausting with two kids thrown from their regular schedules and places and planned into extra family events, meals, etc. It’s wonderful, and a lot. We should just get them to move here!! Best of both worlds, right?

D R E A M I N G || This one is an interesting one. I’ll tell you about an actual dream that I had. I was in a group of girlfriends, and several f them announced they were pregnant. So I said I was too. I wasn’t. And that is what I dreamed last night. Ha!

O R G A N I Z I N G || We are still going on the basement/garage. I feel like every time I gain a little bit of ground, I have a few days where I just don’t have a moment to get to work down there until I am way too tired to consider it. One of the next items on my list is to go pick up some of those Rubbermaid (or comparable) bins to store some of the kids’ stuff (read: clothes) that I don’t want to part with, in case Hsu baby #3 (also read: not pregnant) needs them later. Anyone know of a place selling those bins on the cheap?

L A U G H I N G   A T || EK has had some HILARIOUS kid speak recently. Strawberries are “raw-be-yeah”. Applesauce and apple juice are both “applesaucejuice” (it’s a toss up to determine which item she’s asking for). Water and swaddle sound the same. “Tee-tee shoes” is EK speak for “princess shoes”, also known as those plastic dress up shoes from T. J. Maxx. She wants to wear them everywhere and does not appreciate it when I tell her she can’t because she’ll trip.

R E A D I N G || Less and less every day… I know that’s sad, but I’ve been so busy. Hubby and I have both had some family in and out of town, and have been working a lot. Not to mention, you know, keeping house and raising kiddos. Ha. But seriously, I love reading, and I’m always sad when I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like. I’m also a bit sorry (and a tiny bit excited) to say the lapse in reading is also partially due to the return of tv shows in the fall. Gotta catch up with Jess and Nick, right?

What have you been up to? What’s going on in your life currently?

8 Things I Want My Non-Parent Friends to Know

This post also appeared on MyBigJesus.com along with tons of other awesome posts – check them out!

I have lots of non-parent friends. They’re great! I love spending time with them, although sometimes it seems that I don’t get to as often as I’d like. So, non-parents, here’s to you!

1. I still want to hang out. Yes, it might mean you come to me more often than I come to you. Yes, it might mean that I come with one or two little stowaways. Yes, it might take a little more planning. Yes, it might even mean that it’s cut short or cried out by a kid (with me or with someone else). But I still value our relationship. It looks different, but I don’t want it to end.

2. I can still be spontaneous. There’s the odd night that my kids are in bed early, and I am not tired. Yeah, I said it. Sometimes, I want to leave the house at 8:00pm and watch tv with you or catch a late dinner. Give me a break and meet me for a drink, already!

3. I didn’t stop being cool. I still like listening to good music, seeing good movies and eating good food. Why do you assume I only eat chicken nuggets while listening to Raffi?

4. I’m still a woman. Yes, “mommy” is one of my number one defining attributes. However, I’m a wife. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. Most of all, (GASP!) I’m a woman. I love wearing mascara, shopping for shoes, sipping lattes and (insert any other cliche about females here).

5. I don’t think less of you because you aren’t in my shoes. Just because you decided not to have kids, or haven’t found your soul mate doesn’t mean I think any less of you. I have friends in every stage of life; I haven’t limited my hangout group to “parents of young kids”.

6. I like to stay up late! I’m still a night owl; I can function on less sleep sometimes. I’m productive and happy at night after my kids go to bed, so call me up or come over for a chat! Don’t assume I crash at 7:30pm when my kids do, because that’s only sometimes true.

7. I love my kids, but I don’t mind leaving them sometimes. In fact, I think it’s healthy for me to have conversations with other adults, have a meal I don’t have to share, and to peepee in the potty without an audience.

8. I would love it if you hung out with my kids. They’re hilarious. I’m proud of them. I want to show them off in their best light, and I also want you to see their off days, so you have a real picture of who I am through these little lives I have created, shaped, loved and let go. Yeah, it might not be for you right now. It might not be for you ever. But being a parent is fun, crazy, hard and rewarding. It’s who I am. It’s the greatest gift God has ever given me, and I do my best to relish it and share it. Get to know my kids, and you get to know me.

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