Christmas truly is a special time of year. A time of preparing, gathering, eating, talking, and celebrating the birth of Christ.

The women in Pete’s family have an annual tradition of baking together for an ENTIRE day! We swap cookies in the end, leaving us with a huge platter of pure Holiday-carb  goodness. Except my sugar cookie roll outs with royal icing. FYI whole wheat flour makes cookies taste like paper pulp. I ate MY bark-like, flat cardboard excuses for cookies, although, I would have eaten a real piece of bark with royal icing on it. But, that’s another story.

We, four generations of women, eat a traditional chicken salad brunch with fruit, pasta sides, buns and croissants, veggies and dip, pickles, chips, wine, and juice. We blast Christmas songs, work on our baking skills (or lack there of, see above), foster relationships, rest, work on cards or small projects.

I look forward to many of the repeated offerings: Oreo balls, spritz, krumekake, roll-outs, something no-bake, something with peanut butter, something with mint, something with ginger, and something new. We definitely take our share of taste tests along the way. If any cookies make it to Christmas it is a miracle.

This year I arranged for Rachel Gray photography to capture some of the days events. She was very kind and professional and she got some great shots. See below.

What baking traditions do you have at Christmas?




This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series "Be" 2012

Hey remember how my word of the year is “BE”? Here’s a post about being loving. sort of. mostly not. oh, just go on and look at the pictures of twinkies and my cute kids, already.


Those of you that follow my Twitter feed will know…I am craving The Baker’s Wife home-made “twinkies”. Can you blame me? Look at them…yum. I wish you could hear me say yum…it’s sounds really desperate.

Loving the improved taste and quality from Hostess to The Baker’s Wife. Also, loving the gas station coffee. Why pay $4 at a cafe when $1.59 gets you 20 oz.? just saying.

I love my friends that shared the baked goods, with my family, on our way to cut down Christmas trees at Hampton Hills.

I love group pictures…it really captures the moment. Goofy faces, blinking eyes, hat hair…I love MN winters.

But, I really love when I can get my kids to smile to get their picture taken…and look at the camera. YES, I do.






This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series "Be" 2012

Rugged Maniac…ever heard of it? Last September my hubs convinced me to enter a 5K mud-run obstacle course called Rugged Maniac. Because he is so charming I said yes. I was not, am not and most likely will never be a “runner” so my acceptance was largely unexpected.

I had never actually been on a run I considered non-mandatory. You know, like The Mile in 8th grade or a short lived work-out jog every Spring just because it’s nice out. (okay maybe that’s a Minnesota thing)

Peter set me up with the Couch to 5K app on my phone. I can’t tell you how much I hated the cheery mechanical voice on my phone chiming, “Get Running!” Every. other. morning. way before normal people should be awake. Actually, normal people are awake before 8 a.m., never-mind.

So I ran, and ran and ran till I wanted to barf…All summer long. Unless, I was tired, too cold or too hungry. But all in all, I learned to be daring.  I dared to run in the heavy humid air on July 4th, I dared to buy real running shoes like “runners” wear, and I dared to say, “Bring It Rugged Maniac!!”

Jess, Pete, Lisa, Tim, John, Carly

If you, like me, never considering running up-hill, crawling in the mud under barbed wire, and racing over high walls with your in-law sibs, exciting. You may want to reconsider! Be daring…Run in the Mud!



Rugged Maniac #2 from Peter McWilliams on Vimeo.

Rugged Maniac Trailer #1 from Peter McWilliams on Vimeo.