Christmas Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Some of my finished Christmas sugar cookies, December 29, 2022

Yesterday, I had time to make, bake, and frost my favorite sugar cookies – and I also frosted some gingerbread cookies that I bought from the grocery store! I just get so busy with so many things that I have to make time for holiday cooking and baking, and yesterday was a good day for it. Every year, if possible, I like to make my Great Grandmother Bertha (Gould) Babcock’s sugar cookies. It is also a recipe that I have shared on this blog in the past, and will republish it again. These sugar cookies are so sugary and good, and if you have a sweet tooth like I do, you will love them!

Following are some of my steps in making these sugar cookies.

Here, I have rolled out one ball of dough after I’ve chilled the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Here, I made cut-outs of my cookies. For this roll-out, only a few came up with the cookie cutters. I had to pick the others out of the dough because I rolled out the dough too thin and I didn’t put enough flour underneath the dough. I made corrections after this first roll-out, and didn’t have those issues again.

A cookie sheet of cookie dough cut-outs on parchment paper, ready for baking.

Another cookie sheet of baked cookies.

More of my frosted sugar cookies.

Yet another cookie sheet of frosted sugar cookies.

For this go-’round, I made a double batch of these cookies. My son and I just love them, so they go quickly! On doubling all of the ingredients, the recipe made approximately 56 cookies of varying sizes and shapes. I made a lot of Christmas tree cut-outs because they are easiest to frost and decorate. The cookie cutters were my mom’s, and they are from the 1960s or 1970s. They are really great and easy to use, and are much better than the cheap cookie cutters that are out there today.

My son also likes gingerbread cookies, so I buy those from the grocery store. Of course, I could make them, but they are readily available in the store during the holiday season, so I just get them from there. This year, I got two boxes of holiday gingerbread cookies after Christmas for 50% off, and they were a great buy! I frost them using my own homemade frosting since eating that E-Z Icing that comes in the box is more like eating glue – although I’ve never eaten glue, but that frosting is disgusting. Sorry, but we have to enjoy our gingerbread cookies, y’all!

Some frosted gingerbread cookies.

Doing gingerbread cookies the easy way by buying them from the grocery store, on sale after Christmas!

So, I frosted some gingerbread cookies with my own frosting and made my yummy sugar cookies this holiday season. The holidays definitely seem a bit more complete for me, now, after making my favorite holiday sugar cookies. I try to make it an annual tradition; it’s not the same without them!

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Holiday Chocolate Fudge: Satisfying the Sweet Tooth! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Holiday Chocolate Fudge, December 30, 2022

My holidays would not be complete if I did not take time to do some holiday baking and cooking. So, I’m happy that I got to take time out of my busy schedule to do just that this week! For the past couple of days, I’ve been making sugar cookies and chocolate fudge. Yes, while it’s already after Christmas, at least I got a chance to make some of my favorites to satisfy my sweet tooth this holiday season!

First, I’d like to share my holiday chocolate fudge recipe. It’s not something that I actually created, however it was handed down to me from my mom when she got it from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine from sometime in the late 1960s, as I recall. Every year, as long as I can remember while my mom was living, she would make fudge from this recipe, and now, I continue to do the same. The recipe is excellent, and I’ve added my own suggestions to it. If you ever wonder why you put on weight after eating fudge, just look at the recipe and ingredients, and there will be no questions!

To follow, I’m including pictures of the ingredients and materials I use for the fudge, as well as some of the steps in the cooking process.

Here, you will see all of the ingredients I used in making my fudge. Regarding my materials, I like to use a thin metal pot because it heats faster. You also definitely need a candy thermometer, and must follow the directions in the recipe exactly in order for your fudge to turn out perfectly. I also like to use a large metal cooking spoon to stir my mixture over the stove – instead of a wooden spoon. I can’t get a good grip on those wooden spoons, so I prefer a metal spoon. However, I also need heat-proof cooking gloves that I wear while cooking my fudge mixture, otherwise my hands will get burned. Those gloves are amazing!

Here, I have my bowl of mini marshmallows and chocolate morsels ready and positioned in my clean sink for when my boiled fudge mixture is ready for pouring into it. Yes, you always want to have everything clean when you are baking and cooking! And, if you have long hair, be sure to tie it back. Not only will you get hot cooking over the stove, but you will maintain the cleanliness of your ingredients and materials.

Here is my pot before pouring in the evaporated milk. Look at all of that butter and sugar!

Here is my pot with my evaporated milk included.

Here is my pot after about two minutes of cooking. In all, it took about 20-22 minutes for this mixture to reach soft ball stage. Be prepared to stand at your stove while constantly and gently stirring this mixture during that time. Once the mixture reaches jelly stage, it should have a rolling boil, and of course, will only get more intense as you move toward soft ball stage. Again, follow the recipe directions exactly for this delicious fudge!

Here is a repeat picture of my finished fudge. I like to use glass pie dishes rather than metal cake tins. In this picture, note that the fudge on the left is smoother while the fudge on the right is somewhat more lumpy. This is because I had only the pie dish on the left prepared in advance of the fudge being done, and I had not recalled that the recipe made enough for two pie dishes. So, in the midst of pouring the fudge into one pie dish, I realized I needed another one. I had to set down my mixture for about one minute while I scrambled to get another pie dish, quickly wash it, and grease it, and then put my heat-proof cooking gloves back on. By then, the mixture was already setting, and so, it is a bit more lumpy and mealy than the other pie dish. It will turn out okay, but will not be quite as smooth in texture as the first pour. As Emeril always says, you can eat your mistakes!

There you have it! This is an absolutely delicious chocolate fudge. Also, if you noticed, I did not include the walnuts. I have always included chopped walnuts in the past, but can no longer eat nuts, so they are absent this year. This will be the first year that our fudge is a bit of a different texture and taste, but will still hit the spot! Just don’t eat too much all at once – ooh, I can imagine that heady sugar rush already – phew!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Winter Holiday Evergreen Tree in Sweden – These are the types of Christmases I remember, growing up in Western New York’s Snow Belt (Retrieved December 22, 2022 from https://sweden.se/culture/celebrations/christmas)

It is already that time of the year – the most wonderful time of the year! While I like summer and all of the sunshine here in Georgia, the holiday season and Christmas are really my favorite time of year. Christmas brings to mind many happy memories, occasions, events, gatherings, reunions, gifts, and experiences. I am a person who enjoys experiences most of all, and those experiences that include memories of beloved family and friends are the best of all for me.

I remember Christmases of old, growing up in Western New York State in the Snow Belt, filled with family, food, shopping, gifts, skiing, snowmobiling, and, of course, attending church services, giving thanks to God for His love and all He has provided. I remember music, songs, laughter, and youth that has flown by so fast that even my own son is now a young man.

In my own childhood, I also recall so many Christmas seasons when my dad would string the colorful Christmas lights on the bushes and decorate the front yard with Santa, his sleigh, and reindeer that he handcrafted and handpainted. One year, he won a monetary award for having the best Christmas decorations in our community.

I remember bundling up as if we lived in the Arctic; making snowmen, women, and children; fashioning snow angels; eating icicles; decorating Mom’s yummy Christmas cookies while sneaking spoonfuls of frosting; and getting frostbite on my hand one bitterly cold evening that I went snowmobiling. I remember the hot onion soup with mozzarella that my mom used to make to warm my brother and I after returning home from skiing. Wow, those were the days, and of course, while they were not all great, I choose to hold onto those happy memories of old times.

Times are different now, and while still good, the holidays and Christmas are “smaller” and more compact for me now. My family, consisting of my son and I, already held our Christmas this year so that we could incorporate other plans on the actual day of Christmas. It was our first Christmas with ‘only’ each other, reflecting the changes in both of our lives, while keeping in mind that our love for each other will always be strong, holding us closely and dearly.

I wish you all a happy holiday season, regardless of the faith you may or may not hold, or the holiday that you may or may not celebrate. I would like to remind everyone to cherish the memories and good times with family and friends, and always hold those wonderful, yet fleeting “experiences” in your hearts. I like to believe that God generally places good people in our lives to help us and support us, and I hope and pray the same for you. Merry Christmas!

Holiday Sugar Cookies and Recipe

Holiday sugar cookies I made, December 2020

I hope everyone has had some time to relax and enjoy the holiday season. It has been nice to have a few days to spend with family and be grateful for our health, safety, and welfare.

My Great Grandmother Bertha’s Recipe for Sugar Cookies

During the holidays, I did some baking, including sugar cookies from my Great Grandmother Bertha’s recipe, which I’ve included here. Feel free to use and copy the recipe as you like.

More of my holiday sugar cookies, December 2020

Frosted and decorated with your favorite icing and candies, these cookies are so yum! You can also double the ingredients to make a double batch, and the cookies turn out great. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Holiday Image (Retrieved from Happymerrychristmaswishesz.com, December 20, 2015)

Holiday Image (Retrieved from Happymerrychristmaswishesz.com, December 20, 2015)

‘Tis the season for happy holiday wishes!  Those of you who are Christian, may you enjoy a merry Christmas.  May you enjoy happy holidays regardless of what faith you may or may not practice.

“Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Pointsettia, December 2013

Pointsettia, December 2013

I would like to wish everyone the joy and blessings of the holiday season, and a happy and healthy new year.  Merry Christmas to those who observe the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Happy holidays to those who observe other religious celebrations.

Especially, I would like to recognize and thank my parents and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn, Georgia for all of your help and support to my son and I during the past year.  Thank you so much!

May God bless us all.

“Christmas Lights Strung with Love” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

A Home in my Area that has an Outstanding Christmas Lights Display, Synchronized to Music, December 2012

A Home in my Area that has an Outstanding Christmas Lights Display, Synchronized to Music, December 2012

There are a few homes in my immediate residential area in and around Snellville and Lilburn, Georgia, of which the owners have decked out their residences with amazing and breath-taking displays of Christmas lights.  In past years, there have been two homes, in particular, at which the Christmas lights have been extremely impressive and enjoyable.  Just this year, I located another home that has an outstanding display of Christmas lights, and it tops my list for my immediate residential area. 

Part of a Christmas Lights Display at a Home in my Area, December 2012

Part of a Christmas Lights Display at a Home in my Area, December 2012

I have taken opportunities this year – as in past years – to tour parts of my area to scout out, view, and enjoy homes with Christmas light displays.  Before Christmas, I was able to take my son and family on an outing to enjoy one such Christmas Light Tour.  It was great to view the displays, express our “Ooh” and “Ahhs,” and identify the parts of the displays that we liked the best. 

Another Part of a Christmas Lights Display at a Home in my Area, December 2012

Another Part of a Christmas Lights Display at a Home in my Area, December 2012

That was also an opportunity for my dad to tell my son about the Christmas light displays he fashioned, painted, and made in his younger years when I was just a baby or toddler.  It was good for my dad – and for me and my mom – to tell my son of what we remembered about my dad’s own festive and creative Christmas lights displays.  My dad recalled that for three consecutive years in our small town in Western New York State that he earned the winning cash award for his displays.  He also remembered that the competition was discontinued when it was realized that no one could defeat his artistic craftsmanship.  For that, he is very proud, and he was able to share that pride with my son.

An Impressive Display of Christmas Lights in my Area, December 2012

An Impressive Display of Christmas Lights in my Area, December 2012

Similarly, I can imagine the pride and joy that is felt by those home-owners who adorn their own houses and yards with 100s of Christmas lights.  There are so many lights that fill the darkness that one can see their glow before even arriving in view of the homes.  I have been able to personally express my gratitude and appreciation to two of the three home-owners at which my favorite three Christmas lights displays can be viewed.  The third home-owner is a professional contractor whom I have not yet met, though a number of photos of his displays are included within this article.

Another Festive Display of Christmas Lights in my Local Area, December 2012

Another Festive Display of Christmas Lights in my Local Area, December 2012

While my family has our own small display of Christmas lights that we can view in our back yard from our dining room picture window, we very much appreciate and enjoy everyone’s festive and decorative Christmas lights for the holiday season.  Most especially, we appreciate all of the time, effort, creativity, expense, and love that is invested into the most impressive of all of the Christmas lights displays.  I take the opportunity whenever I can during the holidays to view and enjoy these displays with my son and family.

“Christmas Trees are Filled with Love” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Family's Christmas Tree, December 2012

My Family’s Christmas Tree, December 2012

With the Christmas season in full swing, and with many continuing to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, I began thinking about all of the wonderful, festive, holiday trappings that accompany Christmas.  In particular, I took some time to really look at, admire, appreciate, and contemplate my own Christmas tree and all that is on it.  I viewed with love all of the many ornaments, decorations, and lights that are on the tree.

A Sampling of Christmas ornaments and decorations made by my Son, 2009-2012

A Sampling of Christmas ornaments and decorations made by my Son, 2009-2012

Though there are several ornaments of Lenox fine china on the tree that are of financial value, as well as many glass ornaments that I purchased from Disney World and Hobby Lobby, those that are most valuable to me are the ones created and hand-crafted by my son.  The ornaments made by my son as those that have the most prominent places on the tree, particularly toward the top and in the middle, where all who view the tree and see and enjoy them.

Glass Christmas Ornaments from Hobby Lobby

Glass Christmas Ornaments from Hobby Lobby

During the year when the ornaments and decorations are not being used to remind us of and celebrate Jesus’ birth, they are carefully stored in boxes.  I must say, however, that those with which I take the greatest care are those hand-made ornaments and decorations that my son has made.  Those are the ones that are stored in the most sturdy boxes, signifying their unique and special place of love in my heart.

All of the ornaments, lights, and decorations that adorn the Christmas tree are those that are filled with and/or are a reflection of love – our love for each other, our love for Jesus, and Jesus’ love for us.  Though ornaments and decorations may seem to be simple and perhaps insignificant to many people, for Christmas, they are outward symbols, expressions, and reflections of our love and happiness.  Though we celebrate Jesus’ birth only once per year, it is important to remember His birth, life, teachings, suffering, death, and resurrection for us every day.