Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Let There Be Lights

I spent most of a sunny morning beginning the Christmas cookies. Every year, I make five kinds of cookies and give them away as gifts. I did the peanut butter and chocolate chip today. The chocolate chip is the same Oatmeal Chocolate Chip recipe I used for Lauren's batch, only with the red, green, and dark chocolate holiday chips and vanilla instead of peppermint extract. The peanut butter cookies are made with cake mix. I started doing that about four years ago to save flour for the more complicated cookies. They were so tasty, they're now my go-to peanut butter cookie.

Ran animated specials and holiday TV show episodes all morning while I baked. Jack Frost is an odd but charming Rankin-Bass special from 1979. The title character loves covering the world in frost, but not that no one can see him. When he falls in love with a human girl, he asks Father Winter to become human. Jack finds himself not only fighting the nasty Cossack King Kubla Krouse for her hand, but a more conventionally handsome knight as well.

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is the most recent Peanuts holiday special. Re-run wants a dog more than anything else. He's tired of trying to get his strange siblings to play with him, and Snoopy isn't always available. Charlie Brown finally invites Snoopy's brother Spike from the desert to give the little boy a taste of having a pet.

Threw on an episode of Moonlighting while cleaning up the cookies and loading them into tins and bags. "Twas the Episode Before Christmas," and all through the Blue Moon Detective Agency, Maddie is yelling at Dave about his newest brainstorm, the Santa Hotline. Meanwhile, their receptionist Agnes DiPesto has found a baby in her laundry basket. While the duo search for the mother, they argue over the idea of children and parenthood.

Moved off Christmas and back to fairy tales and The Backyardigans while eating a very quick banana muffin lunch. Tyrone thinks he has to "Escape From Fairy Tale Village" when he encounters a wolf (Austin), a witch (Uniqua), and a giant (Pablo) and think they all want to eat him. Actually, they really just want to have him over for dinner. 

Headed out to do the laundry after I was finished eating. They were fairly busy, with several couples around. Good thing my load was tiny. I worked on story notes and listened to talk shows, and was out in less than an hour.

When I got home, I put everything away, then worked on some writing. Vader has arrived in the kitchen, just as Leia freed herself and Han. They all run to hide, but Han and Chewie are weighed down by Threepio the harp, and Vader catches them. But help is on the way...

Started The Flinstones' Christmas Carol while eating leftovers for dinner. Fred's playing Scrooge in a Bedrock production of A Christmas Carol...and he's taking the role way too seriously. He practices day and night, but forgets to buy gifts for his family or pick up Pebbles from daycare. Wilma, who is acting as costume designer and stage manager, is very fed up with her husband. It takes a scary encounter in a closed department store to remind Fred of what really means the most to him.

Went for a walk after dinner. Every year, about two weeks before Christmas, I go out to look at lights. It's a nice way to get out of the apartment and walk off steam and sugar after having spent a lot of the day over a hot oven. 

I love how festive Oaklyn gets. Some houses go all-out, covering pretty much everything on the front lawn in lights. Others go for a creative route, outlining the house and "filling in" with the green and red "star" floodlights. There's the houses that go for themes - I saw a reindeer house, a Santa one, a snowflake one, and a poinsettia one - and the ones that just settle for floodlights. Inflatables aren't as numerous as they used to be, but my favorite of the ones I saw was a very happy T-Rex in a Santa hat who had just opened a bone for Christmas. There were wire sculpture polar bears holding striped balls being guided by Santa and wire reindeer grazing on a lawn. I loved the house that wrapped its porch columns in two long rainbows of lights. Giant wreaths and soft electric candles brighten windows. 

Jumped in the shower when I got home. Since Lauren wasn't due until past 9, I played a little Lego Star Wars after I got out. Jabba has a booth just off the outside area where you can choose "bounty hunter missions" to go on. These are very, very short versions of the blue piece challenges...but instead of having five minutes to look for blue pieces, you have three minutes to search for a certain character in a small area of a round. It's not really very difficult. The only ones I had trouble with were finding two of the Jedi from the prequels. You get gold bricks for completing each missions, likely the last gold bricks you get in the game.

Richard brought my box from Lauren upstairs around noon, but I wanted to wait until she was home to open my presents. She's such a sweet best friend! She gave me a bright yellow floral tote bag, gloves, the softest gray, black, and red plaid scarf I'd ever felt, and a cute apple-themed set of dish towels. I have read the American Girl Caroline Traitor at the Shipyard mystery before, but not in a while, and I don't otherwise have any of Caroline's books. (Not to mention, she was retired last year, and her books are a little harder to find now.) A small basket with a cute elf cover was filled with a candle votive, an elf bell ornament, and lip gloss from Avon. Got Avon hand lotion, too. (All the hand lotion I can use is appreciated. My hands get so chapped in the winter!) Her present for my dolls was an Our Generation tropical-themed sundress in lilac with an orange-red pineapple print. It'll go to Whitney, who is far more girly than laid-back Jessa. 

Lauren's parents gave me 20 dollars in a cute penguin-themed card. Lauren herself gave me a pretty candy-cane card with a recipe for peppermint bark inside. I've never seen a Christmas card with a recipe in it before! I may have to try that sometime in the next few weeks. 

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