Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From the Cookbook: Owl Cookies

A Wise Owl

A wise old owl
Sat in an oak.
The more he saw,
The less he spoke.
The less he spoke,
The more he heard.
Why can't we be like
That wise old bird?

~ Edward Hersey Richards

My mouth gets me into trouble.  All the time.  When I was little, my mother called me "frank."  I thought I was being precocious. When my in-laws called me "opinionated," I thought I was just being honest.  And on Sunday, when I offended that grown man at church after telling him what I really thought of his behavior, I thought I was being brave.  

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to "listen" to others, especially BEFORE we speak.  For example, I have student right now who is testing me to my limits.  This person is disrespectful, antagonistic, bull-headed, and sarcastic.  Yep, a teacher's dream.  I hoped I would warm up to them.  I haven't.  A few weeks ago, I arrived at my breaking point.  I penned a stirring rant in my head that would force this student into humble submission after all the misery they have caused me this semester.  I summoned my frankest and most opinionated and bluntest self for the delivery.  

But then (uncharacteristically), I held back.  

I don't know why, but I just couldn't do it.  Instead, I decided to LISTEN to the student for a few days---and not just to their words, but to the "message" behind the words.  I had to sift through heavy shovelings of attitude and sass, but at the bottom of the pile, I found an individual who was scared and lonely and insecure.  They had come from a broken home, they didn't fit in, and they were starved for attention.  I now realize that the hesitancy I felt in speaking to this person was God and a host of heavenly angels clamping my lips shut so that I would learn the virtues of listening FIRST and speaking last.  This realization hasn't made my semester any easier, but it has made it more meaningful.  When this student makes my day a trial, I can see it for what it is instead of what it is not.

As a nod to the wisdom of "listening" as the wise old owl did in the famous nursery rhyme, I have decided to share these adorable little owl cookies with you.

I started with a spiced sugar cookie dough like this one and then started to assemble my little creatures.  

  1. Start by cutting a circle of dough about 1/4 inch thick.  
  2. Next, create two small balls of dough for the eyes.  
  3. Press a chocolate chip with the bottom side up into the center of each of the eyeballs.
  4. Take a whole almond, turn it on its side and press it between the eyeballs.
  5. Finally, take a fork and gently press it twice into the bottom of the circle to create the impression of wings or feet.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cookies are set (not brown).

I will be honest here: I think I would have preferred peanut butter cookie dough for the base.  Without icing, the sugar cookie dough was just too blah.  But holy moly are they cute!

What I suggest you do now is make a batch of these, take them to a neighbor, and then just "listen" to the compliments roll in . . . :)

 Sharing at . . .

Monday, November 11, 2013

From the Book of Life: A Thanksgiving Advent Banner

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've seen it happen all over the blogosphere---where thriving blogs that I know and love just go silent.  Sometimes the blogger will say something about health or family or business opportunities.  Sometimes they just don't say anything at all.  

When Miriam and I started blogging, we never thought we would be "one of them." But a funny thing happens when you load your wagon with a husband and kids and jobs and church and homes and holidays and laundry and life: something inevitably has to fall off the wagon to make room for everything else. Well, Miriam and I decided to keep our husbands and most of our kids, but we had to take the blog off the wagon for a while until everything shifted places and we could squeeze it into the corner. 

Today I finally dug into that little corner of the wagon and found our lovely blog and its readers patiently waiting for us.  Thank you.  We have missed you.

While we probably aren't at full steam yet, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the holiday hullabaloo around these parts.

Here's the thing: I look at November more as an appetizer to December.  My hubby, however, loves Thanksgiving more than any other holiday.  (I surmise that this is because he doesn't have to cook the Thanksgiving meal.  Just a thought.)  So while I've been playing Christmas music and wearing red all month, my husband has been pondering pilgrims and pumpkin pie and wishing everything Christmas would just wait its turn around here.

I don't always understand him, but I love him.  So I did this.  I dug into my fall bins and found some unused sprays of silk fall leaves.  I snipped them off, wrote "Thanksgiving" on the front with some fabric paint, and clipped them to some twine with some mini-clothespins.  The effect isn't quite as stunning as I would have hoped, but the best part is what you DON'T see.

On the back of each of the leaves, I have taped a piece of paper with a Thanksgiving activity written on it.  Here is our line-up:

T - Do a Thanksgiving Mad Lib as a family
H - Write a "thank you" note to your teacher
A- Give a toy or outfit to charity
N - Do a secret service for someone in the family
K- Play "Build a Turkey" with dice as a family
S - Make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies together and share them with another family
G- Say only grateful prayers today
I - Pilgrim Trivia at dinnertime
V - Say "thank you" 10 times today
G - Read a Thanksgiving Book

As much as I hate to say it, I think my husband was on to something.  I'm glad we've paused for a least a moment or two to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving.  Our little advent of gratitude and family togetherness has been nice.  Really nice.  

But so help me, once we've bowed our heads in prayer and tucked into the turkey, I'll be diving headlong into tinsel and ornaments.  After all, you can only keep Thanksgiving on the wagon so long . . .

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