“Remember to say ‘Rabbit'”

Easter candy

That’s what our family says on the last evening of every month. It’s a little-publicized tradition that seems to have English roots, but which has been passed down in my mother’s family. What happened was, on the first day of every month when we woke up, or anytime after midnight, the first word we spoke had to be the word “Rabbit”. If you remembered and did it, you were supposed to be able to expect a gift that month, from somewhere. You had to be able to creatively look for it and recognize it when you got it, a great exercise in practicing gratitude.

Now not everyone played along. My dad would purposely say, “Turkey,” “Squirrel,” or other various and sundry animals. It didn’t seem to affect his gift-getting one way or the other, but as a lover of staid traditions, I have carried it on in my own family. The kids and I make an honest effort to remind each other to say it each month. (My husband follows in the footsteps of my dad. What’s with you guys anyway?)

Don’t laugh, but this is what we do on New Year’s Eve. We count down, saying “Five, four, three, two, one, RABBIT, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Who couldn’t use a gift in the long, cold month of January, y’know?

Well, whether you subscribe to help from bunnies or not, I wish all my fans, friends, and readers of the Eagle’s Quill a most healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year 2014. The Eagle’s Quill is now one year old and I appreciate all your support.I have some exciting posts planned for 2014 as we explore books, writing, and musings together.

The Old Cookie Press

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Ah, Christmas cookies, I could eat ’em all year. I have several good recipes and sometimes pick different ones to make each year, but one that I ALWAYS make is the one that uses my vintage 1950s Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press. It first belonged to my mother who used it every Christmas. When she stopped making cookies as much as I do, she gave it to me, and I treasure it.

Just like when I was a child, every year we have pink and green cookies shaped like Christmas trees, camels, pinwheels, and sunbursts. The recipe, included with the press, makes a lot of cookies, and it’s a good thing, because those little bite-sized morsels just pop in your mouth so quickly and easily.

Of course, they make electric cookie presses now, but to me, that wouldn’t be as fun. Putting some muscle power into twisting that handle and forcing out cookie dough brings a little old-fashioned Americana to our Christmas baking activities.

There are some interesting cookie tips with my press, which is still in its original box. The hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs hark back to the days when ladies card clubs were popular. For me, the hearts make good Valentine cookies, and the clubs serve as shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’re lucky enough to have a cookie press, here is our recipe.

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. almond extract

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Green and red food coloring

Cream shortening and sugar well. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Divide dough in half. Tint one half green, and the other half red. Fill cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with nonpareils and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

The Great Christmas Card Contest

ID-100154717Although we love Christmas, my family doesn’t have a lot of unique traditions. But here’s one that we’ve done for years, and it never gets old. I guess it’s actually a New Year’s Day tradition. We display our Christmas cards as they arrive throughout December, and then on January 1, the day we put away all of the holiday decorations, we hold a Christmas card judging. Everyone in the family gets to vote. The way it works is, the cards are all laid out and each is assigned a letter, A,B,C, etc. Each person in the family has a ballot and votes for their first, second, and third favorite cards. When the votes are tallied, cards are given three points for each first-place vote, two points for each second-place vote, and one point for each third-place vote. Then all the cards are ranked according to how many points they have.

It is entirely possible that a card that didn’t get any first-place votes can still win the grand prize, say, if everyone voted it second place, it would get more points than a card which was rated number one by only one person. It’s not very scientific, but it’s created a lot of fun for us as we challenge extended family to get their entry mailed as soon as possible. And when grandparents send money in their card we tease them about trying to bribe us and influence the results! ID-10051962

Each of our family members has different tastes. I like cards with Victorian-era pictures, and cozy fireplace scenes. But I’m usually outvoted by my sons and their taste for cartoonish designs. It is fun to see what everyone’s first, second, and third-place choices are afterwards.

It’s a good way to have some simple fun. You can even offer a prize if you want to. If you find, as we are, that less people are sending cards these days, you might want to put the word out that anyone who sends you a card for your contest will get a card from you in return.

Let’s keep the Christmas card-sending tradition alive!

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