This Year, Let's Give the Gift of Words

So what if there were a present that required no wrapping? no fancy ribbons? no assembling? no mailing? not even the swipe of plastic? And what if there were a present to last a lifetime? a present to explain a life? a present to cradle a legacy? And what if we could secure this gift, right now, this very moment? This year, let's give the Gift of Words, the written, the listened. JUST WRITE: Words jotted a thought or paragraph at a time, the short stories and local color of our lives. JUST LISTEN: Over the holidays, the new year, stories really listened to, even when heard many times before. Merry Christmas, All, Merry Christmas. "SNOW, SNOW. BEAUTIFUL SNOW." By Judy Bridges, writing coach at Red Bird Studio and author of Shut Up & Write! . My mother stands at the window, smiling out at the flaky stuff. I am four years old and already I've acquired the habit from her. Our sing-song voices share the joy, and it's years before I give it any th

Overnight Coffeecake Recipe

My cousin LeAnne’s long-time go-to make-ahead coffeecake recipe and since last year, mine too. I’ve made it a half dozen times, which suggests how easy, adaptable and forgiving LeAnne's recipe is. It takes about 20 minutes to mix up the night before, then throw it in the oven in the morning. Fresh warm coffeecake on Christmas morning? With a crispy streusel topping? Oh, you’re going to be glad you clipped this recipe! COMPLIMENTS! "I love, love, love this recipe ... turned out amazing, and all my brunch guests wanted the recipe! " ~ Collawyer For the record, what follows might sound like an ad for Amazon. But please know, this is NOT a sponsored post! Amazon doesn’t know that I’m writing this. I’ve never seen it written about before and it’s making a major positive difference in my life. I just thought readers would want to know! ~Alanna MY DISCLOSURE PROMISE Still gift shopping? Me too. Time was, my Christmas shopping went a lot like this: “

Christmas Trifle

My family's traditional dessert for Christmas dinner, a show-stopping English trifle. The "recipe" is ever-so-adaptable but here I share our essentials, a good cake (we use panettone), homemade custard, lots of fruit (mostly canned, it's winter!), pillows of whipped cream – and one ingredient I fought against for years but finally adopted as my own, because, well, aren't our mothers always right? To make my dog go instantly still, I rub her shin bone. To make grown men (and women and children) go weak in the knees and instantly silent, I bring out the trifle bowl filled with a messy concoction of cake, custard, fruit and whipped cream. And Jello. Yes, that Jello . My mother insisted that Jello inserted the right coldness and wetness into trifle. A foodie from a young age, I rolled my eyes in protest. One year, I made my own gelatin with Knox powder and fruit juice. Mom rolled her eyes in protest. The year Mom died, in tribute I made our Christmas trifle