2nd Annual Cookie Exchange and Happy Holidays

Christmas at the Peach cabin.

This is my first year participating in Staci Troilo’s cookie exchange. Last year, it looked like fun, and despite being a disaster in the kitchen, I’m joining in. It’s all about the laughter, right?

I used to make elaborate, colorful, and mostly-edible Christmas cookies. That was back in the day when I used wheat and sugar in my recipes. There’s nothing like crafting cookies with wheat – it’s like working with modeling clay.

But those years are long gone. Here’s my recipe for Christmas cookies that won’t send your blood sugar levels through the roof. We did end up eating them all!

Keto Christmas Cookies

Ingredients

3-1/2 cups super fine almond flour (used the blanched flour which is lighter in color)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (this is a natural binder)

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces cream cheese (softened)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)

3/4 cup powdered erythritol sweetener (I use Swerve)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

A variety of food coloring

Instructions

Line cookie sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter until combined. Beat in the sweetener and vanilla. Then beat in the flour mixture until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into six or more lumps of varying sizes (each lump will become a different color). Add a bit of food coloring to each lump and knead it in until the color is even. Tip: don’t overdo the food coloring as light colors look better when baked and they make a good background to decorate.

One at a time, roll out each color on a piece of baking paper to about 1/4″ thick. Cut with your Christmas cookie cutters, and carefully move them to your cookie sheets. (Unlike wheat flour, almond flour is soft and tears easily. Just patch them back together.)

Then hand decorate them with all the colors! This takes forever. But kids can help.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes until barely browned around the edges. Too long in the oven will ruin your colors.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the cookie sheet so they harden up and don’t fall apart. It’s a good idea to have two sheets so you can rotate.

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These are a million times easier to make with a wheat flour sugar cookie recipe, and you can get very elaborate with the decorations. But these are festive, and they’re splendid dipped in coffee or tea.

Don’t forget to stop by Staci Troilo’s blog for links to all the cookie bakers’ recipe posts. There are some wonderfully delicious-looking cookies.

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This is my last post of the year. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season full of love and gratitude, good food and laughter. See you in the new year! Hugs. ❤

Butterflies Bloom: #TankaTuesday

This week’s #TankaTuesday prompt from WordCraft Poetry is to write an ekphrastic poem, a poem inspired by visual art. Reena provided a piece of her artwork for the challenge. My response is a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.

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Butterflies Bloom

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riot of color

wild whimsy overlapping

patterned with daydreams

a mosaic of summer

where neon butterflies bloom

Sacred Ground #Tanka Tuesday

pixabay image

The soil is charmed, morning-cool, and damp from last night’s dew. Droplets of light embroider a rose’s scarlet petals, and the zucchini by the stone wall lifts its giant green hands to catch the midsummer sun. Warmth drips like a fountain. The trees clap their leaves in approval. I don’t wear gloves and my fingernails are caked with dirt. Today, I’ll plant another batch of wrinkled kale and buttery coreopsis. I’ll pick broccoli and make a bouquet of wild daisies to brighten my kitchen sill. The bees hum a symphony. As I brush my fingers on my jeans, the enchantment of the hallowed earth sustains me for another day.

Despair cannot bind
A spirit to hopelessness
A heart to darkness
When rooted in sacred ground
Consecrated by the Earth

 

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A haibun/tanka for Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday.

We had to use synonyms of Hex and Blessed (enchantment and hallowed)

The Red Bridge #Writephoto #Tanka Tuesday

copyright Sue Vincent

I decided to combine Sue Vincent’s beautiful #writephoto prompt (above)

with Colleen Chesebro’s intriguing #photoprompt (below)

photo provided by Vashti Q. Vega, image credit: Balaji Malliswamy

Hmmm…

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Beneath the red bridge

Innocent waterlilies

Bloom with pink brushstrokes

While spring’s fecund beauty hides

A predator’s lustrous eyes

Perception #Tanka Tuesday

Pixabay image by Michael Seibt

Perception

“Cross the bridge.” The crone points her staff to a log spanning a luminous pool.

I squint at the strange collection of creatures impeding my way. I’ve been lost for days in the swamp’s wet greenness, breathing the emerald dew. So many moons that knobby horns sprout from my skull. Vines weave through the fibers of my clothes, and my skin grows iridescent scales in myriad hues of moss. I am hungry despite a bellyful of beetles.

Upon the bridge, a naiad plays her flute, the sound hypnotic though the melody unfurls backward. “Wayward magic,” mutter I, one wary soul who’s encountered these tricksters before. Does this one revel in opposites, mirrored reflections? Which is real, the opposite of whom? Is there any way to know what’s true? My ears droop at the bothersome riddle.

The pipe’s dulcet sound charms a viper, its crescent fangs smiling. Safeguarding or warning? Did the sprite awaken the snake, or does she lull it to sleep? Beneficent or Mischievous? I wrinkle my snout in study. And which of the two covet the poppy? All three could be lethal to me. Beautiful peril, perilous beauty. Or simply a flower?

“How am I to cross?” ask I, my jade whiskers twitching.

The faceless hag shrugs.

choose your poison, child
life implies no guarantees
forsake illusive
dreams of immortality
perception decides the truth

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I had the privilege in September of choosing October’s mid-month photo image for Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday. What fun to finally write for this fairytale image. If you enjoy syllabic poetry, visit her site and check out her fun prompts. Thanks, Colleen.

Empty Space #Tanka Tuesday

 

Rail against despair

When deceit inters the truth

When corruption shrieks

And Narcissus chokes the void

With yowls from a vacant heart

 

For Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge. We had to use synonyms for empty (vacant) and space (void).

Sorry about the politics. I couldn’t help it with those prompts.

Beyond the Light #Writephoto

copyright Sue Vincent

On my last day, the impenetrable rain finally clears, and my hostess suggests a walk. I’d rather stare out the window and wallow in my disappointment. But her enthusiasm won’t be thwarted, and I can’t very well blame her for the weather.

We venture through her back gate. A gray mist stalls between the trees’ black silhouettes, robbing me of a mere glimpse of blue sky. Spring has dawdled, and leafless twigs knit a dark filigree above the crooked boles. Only the mottled grass seems to have noticed the changing season, but it squishes beneath my feet and soaks my shoes.

I shove my hands in my pockets against the chill. “Is spring always this… dreary?”

My hostess chuckles. “It depends on your perspective.” She steps aside and beckons me to stand in her place.

I smile at her attempt at humor and comply. The morning sun casts rainbows in my eyes.

Gift my gloomy heart
Solace from expectations
Where darkness shelters
A new perspective beckons
In dawn’s awakening light

 

A haibun/tanka combo.

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the inspiring #Writephoto prompt.

The Return of the Gnome King – #Tanka Tuesday

The actual gnome tree. About 9′ around.

A Haibun/tanka for Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday challenge. We had to use synonyms for Spring (newborn) and Song (squawk). Okay, maybe a stretch, but here goes:

The Return of the Gnome King

(A True Story)

The Dragon Wood awakens with the returning light. Our meadow greens beneath winter’s withered grass, and spears of horsetail stand at attention, stalwart sentinels lining our path. They await the guardian snails whose slimy pilgrimage to the gnome tree is a slow one. Deer twitch their ears, alert for the gnome king’s return.

We fear not the witch in her uprooted stump. Rusty barbed wire holds her captive, and her mosquito hordes still slumber. Instead, we pause in awe to listen to newborn dragons skritch and squawk from the hollow stumps of ancient firs, this year’s fledglings still too young to fly. We’ll seek them among the moss-wrapped alders when spring’s marsh has dried, but now, other duties demand our attention. With our magic sticks, we must dig for treasure around the gnome tree’s roots.

I stand on the summoning-rock at the edge of the bog. An orange salamander gazes up, eager for my call. “Oh, mighty gnomes,” my voice soars into the forest. “Spring is upon us, and the gnome king has returned. Emerge from your winter home with gold and gems. For many months, the king has protected you and the creatures of the forest. His promise was kept. It is time to pay him tribute. Oh, mighty gnomes, heed my call.”

The gnome king nods his approval. “That was a good one, Grammy.”

“Thank you, my King.”

Dream, my little child
Of dragons, gnomes, and kingdoms
Treasure and witches
Forgive your silly grownups’
Misplaced imaginations

The Mermaid, a zentangle and tanka

weave into my dreams

watery visions of pearls

even as I drown

let me drift with the fishes

charmed by your silvery tail

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Something a little different!

Above is my first zentangle, a drawing I produced while my husband zoned out on Sunday football (borrrring). My effort was inspired by the lovely artist and blogger, Sarah, over at Art Expedition. Her posts are a delight, and I encourage you to visit her… and try a zentangle.

The poem is a tanka, inspired by Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday poetry challenge. We had to use synonyms of Mystery (dream) and Attract (charmed). Colleen’s poetry challenges are huge fun, and she makes it easy to try new forms. Head over for a peek and perhaps give one a try.

Enjoy your creativity!