Friday, October 23, 2009

What's YOUR favorite cookie?

USA Today has a sidebar feature called Snapshots where they'll give a cute little graphic and some kind of statistical data.  The other day, they featured a survey on cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies I guess it should come as no surprise that the chocolate chip cookie was the favorite--by a whopping 53%.  Yeah, I like chocolate chip cookies, and prefer the homemade variety (of which there seem to be about a million variations).  For my money, the very best recipe comes right off the Nestles morsels package.  Yup, the good old Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie.  If I'm making chocolate chip cookies (which I do only about every other year), there's no reason to try another recipe.  This one comes out perfect every time.  (No lie!)

Peanut butter cookies Next up, was the peanut butter cookie at 16%.  I happen to have the perfect recipe for that one, too.  It was given to me by a friend of my parents.  I must have been ten at the time, so for her to take the time to write out that recipe and give it to me meant a lot.  And the fact that I'm still making that version (mumble, mumble, mumble) years later, is a testament to the quality of that recipe.

Oatmeal cookies I was disappointed that my favorite cookie, oatmeal (no mention of raisins and walnuts) came in at #3 with 15% of the vote.  Oddly enough, I don't have a favorite version of this recipe.  For years I made the version listed in my Betty Crocker cookbook (okay, mostly I ate the raw cookie dough--but those days are long gone), but it's not the best.  I've never really found the ultimate oatmeal cookie recipe, but I have discovered that commercially made oatmeal cookies are generally horrible, and any homemade oatmeal cookie recipe is bound to be infinitely better. (And if you've got a great recipe, please share it.)

Shortbread Next up on the list:  sugar and/or shortbread with 11% of the vote.  I love shortbread, and have made a sugar cookies, but must admit not often.  (I think because I may have singed the shortbread.)

Oreo What I found amazing was that the "other" category was only 5%.  Does that mean that Oreos are NOT America's favorite cookie?  (Does Nabisco know this?)

What's YOUR favorite cookie?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Christmas Goody Basket

Rhinestonestocking One of the most fun gifts to give (and get) is a gift basket.  Not one of those assembled in some factory in China, but one that is put together with items selected just for you.

As is happens, I just LOVE to assemble these kinds of gift baskets.  Unfortunately, my "give-to Christmas List" has gotten smaller over the years.  (Bummer.)  But already I've started accumulating things for someone special on my Christmas list.  In fact, in no time, I've accumulated enough for at least two baskets.


I can't tell you how much fun I've had on my hunt for cool stuff, and I can't wait to see the look on my friend's face when she gets her Christmas goody basket.

What would you like to see in such a basket?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A card for every occasion

I can't be the only person around who is appalled at the cost of greeting cards.  What used to cost a dollar or so, now costs at least $4 to wish your friends or loved ones a Happy Birthday, Anniversary, Thank You, or just to send a Thinking Of You card.

Jlawson card Okay, I admit it, I'm cheap.  Apparently, a lot o f other people fee that way, too, because I now get (and give) many electronic cards.  I've got a subscription to Jacquie Lawson's online greetings.  They're wonderful animated cards that feature flowers, animals, and nature.  Just wonderful.

 Thank you cardBut there are still occasions when I want to send a REAL greeting card.  The cards I send out the most are Thank You cards.  I get the majority of them at yard sales and most of them are blank cards,  You name it, I probably have a blank card on it.  Flowers, cats, dogs, fairies, I must have 200-300 blank cards.  (It's always tough to choose.)  But for Birthday Cards, I usually make them myself. 

I have to admit, I love to receive "made-it-myself cards."  My sister in law makes gorgeous cards.  She must have one of those little die cut machines.  She makes all her cards and it must take hours.  She uses different papers, textures, and rubber stamps with embossing ink.  I always anticipate the cards she sends for holidays and birthdays.

My brother has a computer program that lets him make cards.  He recently made a thank you card for someone and wondered if he was going to look "cheap" with his DIY effort.  But the words he wrote were from the heart and the card was lovely.

Margaritaville I'm not real "crafty," so my cards aren't all that elaborate, and I mostly give them to my immediate family.  My husband set up a template in Abobe Illustrator, and I can choose the graphics and wording myself. That means the cards I make I can personalize.  I like to use my own photography (like this picture I used for this year's Father's Day Card.)  And I get a lot of pleasure putting these cards together.  Usually, it takes between 20-40 minutes to pull one off.  (Mostly because I don't do it often enough and forget how to use the program.)

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a card freak.  I save them.  In fact, I have every birthday card I've received since age eight.  I keep holiday cards.  My favorite Christmas card is from my Grandfather, who's been gone more than 25 years now.  Every year, I take out the last card he sent me and put it up with the current year's holiday greetings.  I look at his handwriting and I miss him, but because I have that card--he's still with me. 

Maybe I'm a nut to hang onto these cards, but they don't take up that much room, and it's nice to revisit those happy occasions when someone thought of me.