Time For Tea and Cookies!

These sugar cookies are a delicate salute to Christmas. Nothing speaks tradition more than cut-out cookies! The hint of citrus keeps this recipe from being anything but dull. These favorite cookies are my mother-in-law’s recipe, which I have treasured since my first Christmas as a wife. The cookies are soft and delicately sweet, and I’m sure you’ll find them to be jolly good! The children and I made this recipe twice this week. They’re so good that the first time we made them, we didn’t even wait to frost them!

Over the years, I have learned that aesthetics don’t improve the taste of sugar cookies. So I brought out the frosting for the children to have their creative way with the shaped cookies while I sat on the kitchen bench and read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.

I’m also sharing with you a delicious spiced tea that is sure to keep you warm and feeling all festive. Not to mention how cozy your house will smell! It makes quite a bit, but it keeps in the fridge for a long time. I make a large stock pot of it, and serve it for two different gatherings warmed up in the crock pot or simmering on the stove.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

  • 1/4 cup shortening

  • 2/3 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 t lemon extract

  • 1 egg

  • 2 2/3 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream the butter and shortening with the sugar with a mixer. Add the sour cream, lemon extract, and the egg until incorporated. Roll out the dough on a well dusted surface (powdered sugar or flour both work well) to 1/4 of an inch thick or less. Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake in the middle rack for 7-8 minutes or until the bottoms have just a hint of gold. Allow the cookies to cook on the pan before handling. Frost the cookies and decorate to your liking!

Winter Spiced Tea

  • 5 cups of water

  • 5 tea bags

  • 1/2 cup honey (sugar works fine)

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • 5 cups apple juice

  • 5 cups cranberry juice

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 star anise

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods

Make an aromatics bundle with the coriander, cloves and cardamom: wrap them in a piece of cheese cloth or a coffee filter tied with food safe cord (butcher twine). If you don’t have a way to make a little bundle, just add all the spices right into the pot (we do it this way most often and serve it with a few seeds that settle at the bottom of the cup). You can use other spices that you might have on hand. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Turn the heat off and add tea bags. Stir in the honey until dissolved and remove tea bags after 5 minutes (when steeped). Add the remaining ingredients including the spice bundle. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon. Enjoy it both warm or cold!

with love. Damaris

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We'll Make Cocoa.

While writing this post, I found out that today is National Hot Chocolate Day. Coincidental?!

Our family loves celebrating these snowy days with mugs of hot cocoa! Making a big pot of homemade hot chocolate is easier than remembering to always be stocked up on those little packets of the powdery mix. I’m sure you’ll agree that homemade hot cocoa is waaaaay better! In just a couple of minutes, you’ll have a rich, comforting cup of hot cocoa goodness waiting for you and everyone else coming in from the cold this winter. This recipe is a sumptuous chocolate treat without the heavy richness that sometimes keeps me finishing other mugs of specialty drinks. Enjoy this classic hot drink that’s the creamiest dreamy hot chocolate with a hint of warmth from a cinnamon stick and splash of real vanilla!

Below is the basic recipe that’s especially kid-friendly, but adding a drop of peppermint extract, a pinch of cayenne, or substituting some of the milk for a flavored coffee creamer makes for a delightful variation. Next time you look out the window, and it’s dreary outside, cheer up! Have yourself a merry little cup of hot cocoa!

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • 2 quarts of whole milk (you can substitute half and half or even heavy cream for 1 or 2 of the 8 cups)

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

  • 2/3 sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla

  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks

In a medium pot, warm all the ingredients while whisking. The cocoa will dissolve completely. No need to bring it to a boil, but keep it on simmer for the cinnamon stick to open up and flavor the hot cocoa. Sometimes, we don’t wait- ha! Ladyfingers, biscotti, or marshmallows make delicious fun additions when serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for days! Just reheat and enjoy ’til it’s gone!

with love. Damaris


Holiday Bucket List

Is anyone else feeling behind on all the holiday stuff? Presents, decor, tree, wreaths, outdoor lights, cards, family pictures, BREATHE! But really, all we have to prepare for this Christmas is our hearts. Daily advent readings are such a cure for all the distressing about to-does! You can find readings for your simplified advent here.

When I begin to feel the overwhelm, I try to see it all thought the eyes of a child. When our hearts are full of wonder, it’s easier to delight in the small things – we enjoy what we already have and are more ready to share it with the loved ones that surround us! When we celebrate the simple things, we can find rest and even recharge during the holiday hullabaloo. Since I’m a list-maker extraordinaire, I’m sharing today our Christmas bucket list! We plan to enjoy these favorite activities during the school/work break of the holidays. Most of these we do every year and anticipate them for weeks, but some activities are new additions which may well become a special tradition. Here it goes… our holiday bucket list:

  1. playing board games with a mug of hot chocolate

  2. sleeping “under” the tree

  3. baking wheels of brie

  4. making bread loaves for all the neighbors on our road

  5. going to Panera for coffee and bagels

  6. making chocolate bread pudding

  7. trying our hand at a lattice apple pie

  8. eating croissants and chocolate for breakfast

  9. watching special Christmas movies

  10. baking and frosting cut-out sugar cookies (recipe in an upcoming post!)

  11. Cracker Barrel brunch and sitting by the fire to play checkers with Dad

  12. making monkey bread

  13. Christmas caroling at neighbors’

  14. making cream puffs

  15. taking the kids treasure hunting at a nearby antique mall

  16. enjoying huge cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning

There you have it! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

with love. Damaris


Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day!

I don’t make cookies often really, but these frosted eggnog cookies were the favorite ones I made last Christmas, so they’re making an encore! Everyone in Nathan’s office was very pleased, and the ladies at the gathering I took them to, raved about the eggnog addition. They are so easy and ever so soft! The fresh nutmeg is warming and the eggnog makes these cookies festive. Much lighter than the traditional sugar cookie, these are fluffy and have a very tender crumb. They are perfect for the holidays. You’ll be smitten by these cookies even if you’re not an eggnog lover. The frosting is incredible, and the dough is foolproof – never bakes flat. I’m sharing my favorite recipe which uses yogurt instead of extra butter. Doesn’t that mean we can eat these cookies for breakfast? hah!

Frosted Eggnog Cookies

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 tablespoons yogurt (plain/vanilla/Greek yogurt)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup eggnog

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg yolks

2 1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground makes a big difference)

Frosting: 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons eggnog

Freshly ground nutmeg to sprinkle over the frosted cookies (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl, cream the butter, yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks. Mix well and add the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined (not overbeating it!). On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased), drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to a cool surface immediately to allow cookies to cool. Mix powdered sugar and eggnog in a small bowl and dip the cookies face down into the frosting. It makes 48 small cookies.

with love. Damaris


Family Currents

Do you have an artist in the family? A couple of our children love to draw, color, make sketches and even comics. The stay up at night with a little flashlight shedding enough light for them to see their masterpiece! But we have a couple younger children that are intimidated by the process and often give up before they really try their hand at it. That’s where this book comes in! A friend from our homeschool group had it with her a couple of weeks ago, and I knew it would make a difference in the way my kids approached the little sketches and drawings. It simplifies the pictures and also gives a step by step. I would love to own the whole series, because it’s an amazing tool for drawing with younger kids.


Yesterday, we went to the most charming general store! I had been there years ago, and it was fun to take the whole family! They also had an antiques tent sale with beautiful furniture. If you’re in the area, they’re hosting a huge Fall Festival this weekend.


On a recent visit to Aldi, we picked up these tea biscuits called Spekulatius. They are a crisp butter cookie with a hint of spice. There is a print on the front which is mostly hard to decipher. The days have been cooler this week, and the change in temperatures calls for afternoon tea. We’re enjoy dunking our little German biscuits into hot cups of herbal tea and talking or listening to the audio Bible. It has been a wonderful reset for the second half of the day!

with love, Damaris