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Chocolate Crackles waiting to be eaten.

A few years ago my wonderful sister gave me a copy of Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookies. This magazine special issue has since been given an honored place on my kitchen cookbook shelf. There has not been a single recipe I’ve tried that failed to thrill, nor have I found a single recipe that requires shortening (butter is so much healthier).

Today’s links are some of my favorite recipes from this magazine:

  • Chocolate Crackles. These are like a brownie shaped like a cookie. I would make these every week if I had a hummingbird’s metabolism, but as it is I have to save these for a once in a while treat.
  • Anise Drops. These have a deep licorice flavor and a surprising texture.
  • Lime Meltaways. I didn’t make these this year, but I include them every once in a while. The light lime taste is a nice counterpoint to the heavy spices of many holiday cookies.
  • Snickerdoodles. It’s not Christmas at the Homestead without snickerdoodles.
  • Black and White. These are an area specialty, with every deli in the tri-state area offering up their own interpretation of the classic black and white.
  • Earl Grey Tea Cookies. Hubby starts every day with a cup of earl grey. These cookies use that unique tea to create a distinct flavor.
  • Rum Balls. Hands down my favorite (outside of the family sugar cookie, that is).
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This month’s link will be holiday themed, much like our lives. Gifts to buy, gifts to make, treats the share…that sort of wonderful stuff.

For this week’s links, I’ve gathered up some of my favorites from Etsy. For those of you not familiar with Etsy, it’s like Ebay for handmade goods. Since I prefer to give handmade and unique gifts, I do a lot of my holiday shopping through this site. These are just a few of the thousands of amazing things you can find on Etsy. But be warned: it is wise to shop early if you want to give these things away. Many of the Etsy vendors are smaller businesses, and they can be a tad slow, so don’t rely on this for last minute shopping. The good news is that many of the vendors tell you right on their front page what date you should order by to be sure to have your item in time.

This has been one of those weeks that was great for productivity but bad for blogging! Work seems to be back at a steady pace, which is welcome. I’ve also been busy with volunteer work as a youth soccer coach and also mentoring the local intermediate school’s Future City Competition team. The Vanilla Ale is fermenting away like mad, and the Chocolate Stout was also started in a mad rush one evening. I wish I could say that I’ll be getting some rest this weekend…but there’s three soccer games to attend and a house to decorate for Halloween.

Even through all the madness, I found a few gems for this week’s compost bin:

  • So Rude: “When was the last time you did something that inconvenienced 200 people.” I may have taken precious time from my life to gripe about shopping cart rudeness, but at least cluttering up Costco’s parking lot isn’t directly putting other people in danger like the behavior documented in this short film. Something about driving in Manhattan (especially Manhattan, beyond most other cities) causes people to drive like aggressive maniacs. I know that most of us living in and near the big apple are always in a rush, but there is no place any of us need to be so important that it’s worth risking the safety of others.
  • World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale. Mindblowing stuff. I’d explain it, but words fail. You just have to watch it.
  • Follow The Glow. Great blog post about focusing on what’s truly important in your life. For me, my children, my garden, preparing good meals, and encouraging others to think towards the future are glow points.

Sorry for the relative silence this week! Work has been busy, for a change, leaving me with little time for play. The house is a wreck, the laundry is piling up, and the kids are wondering when Mom is going to cook something wonderful. Fortunately, next week is shaping up to be a bit lighter, so I’ll have more time for fun. We’ll be bottling the Cape Cod Red and hopefully starting a new brew this weekend, and then it’s time to start getting the house ready for Halloween.

I haven’t had much of a chance to poke around the internet, but I managed to find a few offerings for this week:

  • The Awakening. Imagine how lovely a place the world could be if we all experienced an awakening while still young enough to use the knowledge to craft our lives wisely.
  • TED Talks: Rory Sutherland. Life Lessons from an Ad Man. Brilliant presentation on how we can avoid getting bored with the stuff we already have.
  • National Engineer’s Week Future City Competition. The 8th grade gifted and talented kids from my local school district are competing in the Future City Competition for the first time this year. I learned about it this week when we attended the G&T Open House for Thing 1, and I volunteered to mentor the team as an Urban Planner. I will be meeting with he kids for the first time today, and I am so ridiculously excited.

This week has sure been a hectic one at the Homestead. The kids have been given new chore charts to motivate them to get their homework, music practice, and extra learning tasks done daily. I have had a busier then normal work week, and I’ve also worked hard to keep the blog posts flowing.

Despite the hectic pace of the week, I did manage to find a few things of interest to share with you:

  • Great Vegetarians From History. Thing 1 has been dealing with a little teasing this year about her vegetarian diet from a new girl in school. The other kids quickly squashed the new girl–they’ve been around our vegetarian daughter for 4 years now, so her diet is nothing odd to them. But she was a little rattled, and we’ve since spent some time talking about the many great people who also choose to not eat meat.
  • Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities. As an urban planner, I found this talk fascinating.
  • Less is More-The Half Christmas Tree. Treehugger seems to think this is a good idea, but I think it’s crud. Real trees are better than fake, both environmentally and for the ambience they provide. Either have a tree, or don’t, but half a tree seems like a lame compromise.
  • Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Just as soon as I can find an appropriate occasion, I’m making these wonderful looking treats.
  • Dealing with Difficult People. Sometimes when I am testifying at a planning or zoning board hearing, I run up against the “What’s Her Problem?” person. These people, sometimes board members, sometimes members of the public, really push my buttons. The temptation to fight fire with fire is enormous, but the results would be bad for both my self and my clients. I am always on the lookout for tips on how to better control my reaction to these difficult people, because while I cannot control their behavior, I must control mine.
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About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.