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Advent Calendar: Day 12

December 12, 2009

It’s my day to participate in the Advent Calendar hosted by Kelly and Marg!

I love Christmas, and how December slowly leads up to it. :) I haven’t been a Christian for many years, but there are so many more secular traditions around the holiday that make me happy. Santa’s so fun, whether it’s in my parents’ collection (there are ten various Santas staring at me in the living room right now) or in traditional poems like “Twas the Night Before Christmas” or in us all hanging up stockings in front of our fireplace. It’s also great to drive around at night and see houses decorated with Christmas lights, whether classy or tacky! And Christmas trees are my favourite. I love decorating one with the family, unwrapping all of the same ornaments year after year, bringing back memories. I love having a tree softly glowing in the corner, and that feeling when it’s late at night and I’m the only one awake, curled up with reading with just a lamp on and the fireplace and Christmas tree. It’s so warm and cozy. And of course I love presents! ;)

When December rolls around, I get really excited for three things: cookies, carols, and hot chocolate! So I thought I’d share two recipes and two songs with you. :)

Even though I’m no longer a Christian, I love many of the traditional, religious carols for their beauty. And one of my favourite lesser-known ones is “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Here one of my favourite singers, Sarah McLachlan, is singing it live:

As far as the peppier, secular Christmas songs go, those are great too! And the one that can always get me out of my seat is “Jingle Bell Rock” (I know, it’s not exactly un-famous). Here it is in Bobby Helm’s original recording:

Now for those recipes! I often make lots of cookies during Christmas, but there’s one type that I always have to make: chocolate chip cookies. Why? Well, there’s Santa’s favourite, so we always put out a plate of them with a glass of milk, as well as a big bowl of water and plate of baby carrots for the reindeer! Here’s the classic recipe, which in our family’s opinion is always the best:
Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

Combine dry ingredients. In seperate bowl, beat butter, both sugar’s, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop on an ungreased baking sheet [the original recipe recommends using a tablespoon, but my mom and I prefer to make much bigger cookies! -Eva]

Bake 9-11 minutes until golden brown. Best enjoyed gooey and warm straight out of the oven!

Hot chocolate is really easy to make from powdered cocoa, and in my opinion it’s much more delicious. :) I always make this recipe during Dewey’s read-a-thons too, and it’s so pretty and warming!

Basic Hot Chocolate

  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1/3c cocoa powder [I prefer darker chocolate, so that’s my minimum ratio-sometimes I add a bit more cocoa powder! If you’re a milk chocolate fan, decrease to 1/4c.]
  • 1/3c water
  • 4c milk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and water: whisk until thoroughly combined in a large saucepan (you’ll be adding the milk later). Add a dash or two of salt. Bring to a low boil on the stove top, whisking often. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat. Whisk in the milk and vanilla, then slowly reheat, making sure not to bring it to a boil.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2009 2:23 pm

    It’s hard to beat good old Nestle’s Tollhouse cookies, isnt’ it? I love your tradition of reading by the christmas lights. That sounds like a cozy idea that I will try this year!

  2. December 12, 2009 2:43 pm

    I agree with Kathleen … reading by the Christmas lights sounds so cozy. And LOVE those Nestle’s Tollhouse cookies! They are still the best.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Advent Eva :o)

    • December 13, 2009 2:36 pm

      Merry Christmas and Happy Advent to you too! :)

  3. December 12, 2009 3:16 pm

    i love sarah mclachlan! i’ve been a fan since seventh grade,haha. they are reforming lilith fair this summer. :)

    i also love hot chocolate this time of year. and hot tea. and cookies and cupcakes. right now i am hooked on isa moscowitz’s vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with no icing. so so delicious!

    • December 13, 2009 2:37 pm

      Awesome! I love that Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book, although now that I’m allergic to gluten I have to figure out how to adapt them.

      • December 24, 2009 12:35 am

        she does have a recipe for gluten free vanilla cupcakes on page 46. she also gives a little advice on page 8 for experimenting with the recipes to make them gluten free.

  4. December 12, 2009 3:50 pm

    We always make sugar cookies, and we have traditions involving how we decorate them with the whole family. I really need to put up a tradition post at some point…

    I love trees, but sadly here in San Antonio the trees just aren’t good. In Wisconsin, we always picked out a tree from a tree farm, but here, we just have a plastic tree. :/

    • December 13, 2009 2:37 pm

      We always decorate sugar cookies too, but I’m not a big fan of them, so I didn’t mention them. LOL Since we moved to CO, my parents cut down a tree every year.

  5. December 12, 2009 9:32 pm

    I absolutely loved this post Eva :) This is my first year having a fireplace!! And you’re so right! It’s absolutely magical to read by the lighting of a Christmas tree with the fireplace going. I just love it :) Curled up with a book and a blanket and some cookies and hot chocolate. You really can’t beat that. Hugs to you Eva!! Hope things are going fantastic for you!

    • December 13, 2009 2:38 pm

      Yay for fireplaces! :) Hugs right back Chris!

  6. December 13, 2009 5:41 am

    I am going to have to try those recipies!

    As yet I am Christmas Tree and decorationless but as soon as my freelance contract stops on Wednesday will be getting the house ship shape and Christmassy! I love the hymns even though I am not religious and being married to a catholic I go to midnight mass and just love the songs, it wouldnt be Christmas without them.

    • December 13, 2009 2:38 pm

      We don’t have a Christmas tree yet either, because my parents like to cut one down, and they’ve been out of town and now they have finals (hehe). I was raised Catholic, and I loved midnight mass. :)

  7. December 13, 2009 8:35 am

    Great post, Eva! Thanks for joining in. :) I wish I had a fireplace!

    • December 13, 2009 2:39 pm

      Here in CO, our fireplace comes in handy! Our one in San Antonio was more decorate than anything though. ;)

  8. December 13, 2009 11:09 am

    I love fireplaces in this season, too! And your hot cocoa recipe looks very yummy- I’ll have to try that one :-)

  9. December 14, 2009 7:19 am

    I’m so loving the image in my mind of you sitting wrapped up cozy in a blanket reading by the fireplace with the tree lights twinkling! Seriously, that picture has put a smile on my heart. :)

    And I’m with you, despite no longer being a Christian, I still adore so many of the traditional “religious” songs of Christmas. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you don’t have to follow a faith to appreciate some of the beautiful traditions that follow from them.

    Mmmm…and I can’t wait to try your hot chocolate recipe! :D

    • December 14, 2009 6:01 pm

      >> I’m a firm believer in the idea that you don’t have to follow a faith to appreciate some of the beautiful traditions that follow from them.

      Such a good way to put it Debi! :)

  10. December 14, 2009 3:43 pm

    I love that feeling of having the Christmas tree lights on when everything else is dark and sleepy. For the fourth straight year we don’t have a tree other than our slightly pathetic Norfolk pine (okay, more than slightly) and I do really miss it. When I was a kid and old enough to stay awake, several times after the tree was up I would stay awake, sneak downstairs and turn on the lights and just sit and look at it for a while. Thanks for reminding me! Next year I am going to have a real tree, for sure.

  11. December 14, 2009 5:00 pm

    I meant to post a comment on this yesterday, but the laptop wasn’t working well… anyway. Thanks for the Sarah Maclaughlan O Little Town of Bethlehem. It’s not one of my favorite hymns, but she does it so well. Beautiful.

    Happy Holidays!

    • December 14, 2009 6:02 pm

      Doesn’t she just sing so soulfully? Love her!

  12. December 16, 2009 11:54 am

    I used to always use the Nestle’ Tollhouse recipe, until I discovered the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chips. YUM! My 2nd-favorite chocolate chip cookie ever (the first being the ones my childhood best friend’s sister used to make – the Ghirardelli ones come really close!).

  13. December 16, 2009 2:55 pm

    I too love having a Christmas tree in the corner of the room. January always looks so barren!


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