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12 Days of Book Blogmas

    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 12 – Merry Merry

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    And so ends the 12 Days of Book Blogmas. Which means that it must be Christmas right about now. But as I have no intention of writing blog posts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day I’ve prepared this just a little bit early. Which means I can’t share what gifts I’ve received on Christmas or Christmas Eve. But I can share a past gift.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for what has been going on these past 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

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    The Best Christmas Gift Ever

    Since I have no idea what I’m getting for Christmas this year I can’t speculate as to whether it will be the best gift ever. But probably not as The Dude and I opted to set a strict budget and I already received the best Christmas gift from him that I could ever hope for.

    I’m kind of fortunate in that I often get some pretty awesome gifts from the love of my life. I’m the worst person to shop for, so it’s not easy. I’m very, very, very, very, very particular. And much of the items I’d love to own are ones that you can’t buy in stores in the days leading up to Christmas because they take weeks or months to ship.

    My most recent favorite gift was from a couple of years ago and it was this 15 inch MacBook Pro I’m currently using to write this post. It was an awesome gift and one that comes in very handy as I use it every single day.

    But my favorite gift of all time from him was from one of the first Christmases we spent together – in California, away from our families, with no money whatsoever. He got me a card and a couple of holiday scratch lotto tickets. But it was the card, filled with every possible thing a young and insecure and desperately worried girl could ever want to hear from the love of her life.

    That, for me, was the best gift ever. And the sentiments in that card – and every card since – are one he keeps on giving every single year of our lives together.

    What was the best holiday gift you’ve ever received?

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 11 – The Night Before

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    Today, on this next-to-last day of the 12 Days of Book Blogmas we’re asked to share a recipe. And while I don’t have any specific to this particular holiday there is a certain cookie recipe that I love, love, love. Of course I haven’t baked them in ages because they are guaranteed to add 5 lbs to me and to anyone I’ve baked them for.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    The Perfect Recipe

    I am not a cook or a baker. But I am pretty good at following recipes. And I used to bake much more frequently than I do now because I loved to collect kitchen gadgets and cookbooks even though I’d use them all only once or twice a year.

    My favorite recipe was a slight modification of a Martha Stewart one. It was for her chocolate chip cookies. (I think this is the recipe I used to follow.)

    Ingredients

    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
    1 cup unsalted and unroasted macadamia nuts – halved or lightly crushed

    Directions

    • Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; beat until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.
    • Using a 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop (about 3 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden around edges but soft in the middle, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
    • NOTE: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

    It’s a super simple recipe. What makes it great is all the butter that Martha uses. They’re best either at room temperature after cooling or refrigerated.

    The cookies are perfectly yummy with the semisweet chocolate chips. I typically make batches of both. I also typically use the large semisweet chocolate chips vs. the small ones – either work just fine. But when the white chocolate and macadamia nuts mix together it creates this caramel-candy-buttery-nutty yumminess when the chips melt and get a little golden brown on the bottom of the cookie. I also prefer to leave them in just a little bit longer to be a bit crunchier around the edges.

    These are not your typical mushy soft-centered cookies that taste like uncooked cookie dough. They are slightly soft with a crispy outside and the all-butter taste of them is to die for.

    But be warned! You may want to eat more than one or two. But they are the kind of cookie that will make you quite ill if you eat more than three. They are that rich.

    What is your favorite recipe?

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 10 – All I Want

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    After yesterday’s “cheery” post I’m so happy for this 10th Day of Book Blogmas. Enough with the bah humbugs. Today I get to share what books I want for Christmas.

    Now, I know that I won’t get any in my non-existent stocking or under my non-existent tree, but I know I’ll be getting a gift card or two that will allow me to buy them for myself.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    Books I Want for Christmas

    Most every book currently released that I want I already own on my Kindle. So it’s always super hard for anyone to buy me a book for Christmas. And the print books that I’d love to own are too expensive or unavailable so they aren’t realistic gift choices. Those would be the Donald M. Grant signed by Stephen King editions of his Dark Tower series. Even the artwork that is currently available for sale right now is upwards of $500. So, yeah, not gonna happen.

    But there are many, many, many books that are coming out in the new year that I can’t wait to own… though, chances are I already have them pre-ordered for my Kindle. But signed, print editions are always a happy (if often temporary) addition to my collection.

    Here are just a few books I’d use that gift card for in a heartbeat:

    Those are just a fraction of the umpteen books I’d love to own.

    What books would you love to find in your stocking?

    If you leave a comment with your choices I will let Random pick one winner for one of the bookish choices left in the comments (under $25 USD) tomorrow at noon Pacific!

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 9 – Free for All

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    For the 9th Day of Book Blogmas Parajunkee is letting us posting whatever we want to. And in the spirit of being the total Grinch that I am, I thought I’d share five reasons why I hate the holidays.

    For the record, there are probably a bazillion reasons why I love them. But there is that one part of me that just can’t wait for them to end.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    Five Reasons I Hate the Holidays

    For me the holiday season is always a mixed bag. There are things I love so much about it and there are things I don’t. When I was younger it was mostly all positive – presents, snow, decorating, Christmas carols, time off from school, fun family vacations, et cetera. It wasn’t always so blissful, but I’m not about to ramble about my family’s personal dramas with a “woe is me” kind of post.

    As an adult the holidays got much more complicated. There was a time when I lived far away from my family and it made me kind of sad to spend it alone, with just The Dude and no real money to buy any presents. Nowadays I am still pretty far away from most of my family though at least I have enough money to buy some gifts. But there are always things that get in the way of the holidays being merry.

    So in the spirit of that part of me that is totally bah humbug, here are five reasons why I hate the holidays.

    5. Car commercials. Around the holidays the number of car commercials increases to the level where I can’t scan channels without landing on at least five different ones. While buying a car at year-end is probably the best way to get a great deal, I don’t know anyone who has ever received a car for Christmas. I’m sure it happens, but it will never happen in my lifetime for me. Mainly for the fact that I’d never want someone choosing a car for me and saying, “Here ya go!” But after being forced to watch commercial after commercial with some random car with a bow in a snow-filled driveway, I’m all – “Seriously? I’m not buying the whole ‘everyone does it’ message you’re trying to ram down my throat.”

    4. Holiday beverages. I do love a peppermint mocha now and again. But it’s getting to be a bit much for me when I go into a store and can’t get one of my usual favorites because for the holidays it has been temporarily replaced with some random holiday-themed drink. I don’t like pumpkin drinks. I am not partial to anything with chestnuts. These days they have come up with some freaky-deaky combinations that I just can’t wrap my mind around. I look forward to the end of the season when I can have my regular drinks back.

    3. Traveling sucks. The airlines jack up the prices of tickets, they shrink the size of the bags you are allowed to take onboard. The airports are all super crowded, the flights are always delayed, and the people that get stuck at the airport with you are the farthest thing from jolly. Merry effin Christmas to you too, Mr. Grumpy who hit me with your carry on in the face and then took my seat and refused to give it up.

    2. Violence. For some reason the holidays bring out the worst in people. Watching the news during the holidays is one of the most depressing things ever. I’ve often wondered if there were no holidays to get people’s expectations up, would there be so many people so stressed, depressed and angry at this time of year? Would the violence escalate? Would people tear each other apart for taking the last most coveted toy in the toy store? Would they take their lives because spending the holidays alone is just too much? Would they take others’ lives because they covet their perceived happiness?

    1. I never fail to get sick. Everyone is a walking germ carrier around the holidays. The weather, the extensive traveling, the packed shops, the stress, the shopping deadlines that ensure that even those battling the most heinous of illnesses will be out and about, all guarantee that I will get sick. And yes, as I type this, hopped up on Dayquil, looking like Rudolph with my very red nose, I have already succumbed to my second cold/flu of the season. And it won’t be the last. Oh, and yes, at some point I will have to drag my sorry carcass out to the shops to buy those last minute holiday gifts that I must buy.

    Bah-freaking-humbug!

    Are the holidays all fun and festive for you? Or are there one or two things that make you despise them even just a little bit?

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 8 – Deck the Halls

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    This 8th Day of Book Blogmas asks us to show off our style. But since I have zero decorations up this year, my “style” would just be my everyday style. Which isn’t very festive. And aside from an overwhelming number of books, it’s sort of minimalist.

    I could take a picture of the boats outside my window with holiday lights, or my neighbor who even bought a can of fake snow to spray her windows, but that would be cheating.

    Since I get to post a picture of what I wish my house would look like, this post won’t be quite so lame.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    Deck the Halls

    I’m not much into adding holiday decorations to my home. I don’t like lots of color. (Okay, so the same clearly doesn’t apply to my hair colors as of late.) I don’t like lots of anything really. I’m all about less more.

    I have tried out those pretty blue fairy lights wrapped around my porch when I lived back east. I even tried a small live Christmas tree on my porch, with a single strand of white fairy lights. But I had nowhere to plant the tree after the holiday and spent months trying to take care of him before realizing that he was doomed. I vowed never again to get a live or cut tree.

    Even with my small Shabby Chic feather tree, it was all about matching the colors of the tree. So my ornaments were vintage mercury glass ornaments, all in shades of pink. Yeah.

    But if I had to add one decoration to my home to celebrate, it would be this one, which I found on my search of the web. I’m not sure who to give credit to, but I did see it on a design inspiration website called Beacont.

    Christmas Tree

    I would also probably add some kind of spotlight in a light blue or pink or purple to make it really sparkle. And of course I’d add a star to the top of this glass or plexiglass tree. And yes, there would be presents beneath.

    But that would be it. That would be my ideal holiday decoration and I have just the spot in my living room for it.

    How festive does your home get during the holidays? Do you like to decorate or over-decorate to show your holiday spirit?

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 7 – Tell a Tale

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    Day 7 is all about sharing holiday traditions. As I come from a family that never really had those in any consistent way, I never really developed my own.

    Though there are a few things that The Dude and I typically like to do on Christmas. If we keep doing it for enough years in a row, I suppose that eventually they will be traditions.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    Holiday Traditions

    My family is sort of scattered all over the country, so it’s rare that I get to spend the holidays with them. It’s the worst time of year to travel – weather, crowds, cost – so The Dude and I typically spend Christmas all by our lonesome.

    And as I usually have to work in the days leading up to the holiday and the days following it, we don’t really go anywhere for Christmas. Though the thought of spending Christmas in Vegas sounds kind of fun.

    Typically, on Christmas morning I always wake up super early. We don’t usually have a tree – though at one point I had a pink feather tree that was super cute – but we do leave prezzies out the night before. And as I love presents, I usually find myself awake and anxious to find out what those presents are.

    A few hours later The Dude wakes up, we make coffee and breakfast and start opening our gifts. As they typically involve something technology-related that requires setup of some kind, that usually distracts us for what remains of the morning.

    Then we call our families in the early afternoon to wish them a happy holiday.

    But our “tradition” is to go to the movies and go out to dinner – preferably for Chinese food, though we can’t seem to find any restaurants in LA open on Christmas. Boo. So lately we’ve been stuffing our faces with popcorn and calling that a meal.

    Last year my mom’s visit broke our tradition as she showed up at the train station at around 7 a.m. on Christmas morning. This year she’s flying in, in the evening, so at least we’ll have part of our Christmas tradition in tact.

    If I had my own boat I know exactly what I’d be doing. Maybe someday that will be our tradition. A girl can dream.

    How do you spend your holidays? What are your holiday traditions?

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    12 Days of Book Blogmas: Day 6 – Stocking Stuffers

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    It’s the 6th Day of Book Blogmas and Parajunkee is making us share some of our favorite holiday reads that would make the perfect stocking stuffers. Or if we aren’t the sort to read holiday-themed books we can share some books we think are awesome to read during the holidays.

    I’m part of that latter group. I can’t remember the last book I read that was specifically centered around Christmas, New Years, or any of the other winter holidays. I seem to recall jokingly starting to write a short story last winter that had a winter theme to it pursuant to a conversation I had with our generous Blogmas host. But actually reading any holiday-themed books? None that I can recall.

    I may have a few recommends, however.

    If you haven’t heard of this awesome holiday event, be sure to check out Parajunkee’s blog post for more details. And for just a quick peek at the schedule for the next 12 days, here’s the amazing graphic she designed.

    blogmas_list


    Stocking Stuffers

    Really any book by a favorite author is great to receive in one’s stocking. Though, maybe putting books in a stocking on a mantel above a lit fire is not the way to go.

    Anyway… The holidays can be such a hectic time of year for anyone. Reading books that hold the promise of adventure – or epic adventure – or romance, are ones that I think make great holiday reads.

    Here are a few that come to mind…

    A stocking filled with paranormal romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, high fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia, contemporary fiction, or even those stories set in a post-apocalyptic world are all great holiday reads. Anything that gives you a few minutes to a few hours to escape the stress of shopping, family, and the year-end stuffs at work is the perfect holiday read.

    What do you like to read during the holidays?

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