Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Oaklyn Holiday Light Show

I once again went right into cookie-baking after breakfast. I started with the biscotti. This is a little different than the hard cookies many of you dunk into hot drinks. I roll mine into candy cane and wreath shapes and cover them in colored sugar, and I only bake them once. They're very buttery and rich, but quite tasty. (Though it's not called for in the recipe, I give them added flavor with a little real almond extract.) They came out beautifully, just brown enough on the sides, even though I could not find the pastry brush anywhere and had to dunk the tops in egg white instead.

Put on Christmas In Connecticut while I baked. In this 1944 romantic comedy, Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwick) is a popular food and home columnist who writes about her farm and family in Connecticut. Trouble is, she's a city girl can't boil water. She gets all the recipes from her Hungarian friend who owns a restaurant Felix (S.K Sakall). When her boss (Sydney Greenstreet) invites a handsome soldier (Dennis Morgan) to Christmas at her farm, she ends up borrowing the homestead that belongs to a boring architect who wants to marry her. She's not particularly interested in him...especially after she discovers that the soldier is handsome and good-natured. After a lot of shenanigans involving switched babies, roaming cows, and local dances, she finally learns that honesty really is the best policy, especially when love is concerned. Cute tale with Greenstreet and Sakall especially good as the very different bosses.

Also did the short included with my DVD copy, the Oscar-winning 1941 short A Star In the East. J. Carrol Naish is Tony, the Italian owner of a hotel and cafe in the desert. He's feeling grouchy on Christmas Eve because his customers are all giving him trouble. He doesn't think there's any good left in people. It takes the arrival of a young Hispanic couple who are expecting and a wayfarer who insists otherwise to show Tony that there is good in the hearts of all at Christmas.

Tossed on a Scooby Doo, Where are You? winter-related episode as I cleaned up and got ready to go. "That's Snow Ghost" takes the Mystery Inc kids to a dilapidated ski resort near an old logging mill. There's a ghost that's been roaming around, terrorizing visitors. An old Asian man thinks he's the cause, but the kids find a far less fantastical reason for the ghost to want people out of the area.

Headed out as soon as I finished the dishes. It was cloudy and gray, but not rainy. The wind made it much cooler than it has been, though still not as cold as it should be at this time of the year.

It was around 12:30 when I finally hit Friendly's for lunch. I guess the weather scared people off. There were only a few older couples and parents with adult children enjoying lunch. I admired their cute bows and mini-stockings with the staff's names on them while eating the five-dollar Fried Chicken Wrap and fries  and the tasty and very minty Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with hot fudge sauce and a pile of whipped cream on top the size of a small mountain.

The Haddon Township Library was even quieter than Friendly's. There wasn't a whole lot for me to do. I mainly shelved audio books and CDs and the few DVDs. I actually got all the kids' titles in; only three adult titles didn't fit. I didn't take anything out. I don't know if I'll have the time next week to return anything, and I have plenty of holiday movies at home to watch anyway.

Thriftway was next on the list. I had to pick up some things I needed for baking. I'll be using the coconut and maraschino cherries tomorrow for the cherry-coconut bars. I used the last of the sugar on the biscotti. The eggs had gone up to $3.09, but I didn't feel like stopping at WaWa. They were dead, too. The only reason there were lines up front was they only had two registers open.

I was in by 2:30 and had begun to work on the Merry Christmas Molasses Cookies by quarter after 3. These are some of my most-requested cookies. The original Merry Christmas Cookies recipe in the Betty Crocker Cooky Book calls for honey and lemon flavoring. I prefer the variant that uses molasses, brown sugar, and spices - it's more like crisp gingerbread. They are cut-out cookies, though, and while I enjoy sprinkling them with colored sugar and rolling them out, they do take a while to make. That and the shortening in them that makes them very rich is why I only do them once a year.

(Oh, and I did find the pastry brush, after a half-hour's worth of searching. It was right in the drawer where it was supposed to be, hiding under a stack of icing bags.)

Ran An American Christmas Carol while the cookies were baking and as I had chicken soup for dinner. This TV movie from the late 70's has Henry Winkler in ten pounds of aging makeup as Benedict Slade, a miserly man who repossesses the treasures of half the New England town he lives in and fires his clerk on Christmas Eve. He finally learns a lesson in holiday charity from three ghosts who resemble the town's residents, with help from a radio that keeps playing the music of the past or the future. Ok version of A Christmas Carol; Winkler is better than you might think as the Scrooge character.

I decided I need to walk off all the cookies and crispy chicken and ice cream I ate today, so after dinner, I went for my annual walk around the neighborhood to look at the lights. The trend in lights this year is a floodlight that causes whatever it illuminates to resemble a field of beautiful multi-colored stars. I saw it at many homes tonight, including at least one down the street from me. I strolled down to the neighborhood behind Kendall Boulevard and the Oaklyn School. One house had nothing but elegant gold and white lights on its bushes and tree. Another had all-red lights. Still another wrapped the columns on its front walkway with a dazzling rainbow string. I didn't see as many cute inflatables this year as I have in previous years. One house did have two Peanuts-themed inflatables, one their Christmas pageant in a snow globe, the other Linus, Lucy, Chuck, and Snoopy by a tree. There was a really cute one with a shivering snowman popping out of an igloo at another house. (Though I can't imagine how he's been cold, given the warm weather lately!)

As I was walking, I realized it's been a while since I've really touched base with anyone in the family. I started by calling the Cape May side. I got Dad-Bill. He and Mom had just come back from Christmas shopping at the big box stores in Mays Landing, outside of Atlantic City. Dad said they were fine; Mom was upstairs wrapping presents.

Finished the night with a little bit of writing. Lisa falls asleep before she has a chance to warn Scott that Barnaby is up to something. She tells Alan about it the next morning. Before they have a chance to tell Scott, Barnaby and the cops show up with a warrant for his arrest for stealing Maple's sheep and toys from the toy factory.

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