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

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

Festive Holiday Salad

My "signature salad" during the holidays, the one that friends both know to expect and request specially. It's loaded with holiday flavors like cranberry and walnut plus slivers of a good blue cheese. It's perfect for carrying to other homes, easily stretching from a single indulgent salad for one or two up to salad for a crowd, either way, no measuring or fuss. Make it at the last minute or make it ahead of time, this easy green salad is extra tasty and festive! Real Food, Fresh & Seasonal. An Annual Tradition During the Holidays. Mere Minutes to the Table. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Potluck & Party Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies

A quick and easy Christmas butter cookie, chewy, colorful and festive. They are just two bites big and taste like the very best sugar cookies – except without the fuss and mess of rolling ! Looking for easy color for your Christmas cookie plate? Get out the butter and let's get to baking! Homemade Sugar Cookies, Made from Scratch. Real Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Budget Friendly. Great for Food Gifts & Cookie Boxes.

Chicken Salad All Dressed Up for Christmas

Chicken salad made special for Christmas, spiced with cardamom, studded with cranberries and brightened with fresh dill, bound together by a light orange-scented dressing. Perfect for a quick sandwich before an school Christmas concert, a light salad to fuel an afternoon of shopping, even tucked into mini tarts for a cookie swap. So will Christmas cards fall to the wayside like hand-written letters and picture postcards from far-away lands? If so, call me in the vanguard for the last time I got to sending Christmas cards was ten years ago even if some years I did harbor good intentions. "January would be a much more sensible month," I'd bargain with myself, "when life isn't so busy." Still, the dog likes the mid-day break, even in winter. "Wanna check the mailbox?" I ask and she usually beats me to the back door, where we take the long way around just to breathe in unfurnaced air and stretch our faces to the low angle of the sun. But