Christmas Joys & Gluten Free Baking!

The sights, smells and sounds of Christmas are all around our little home. My most favorite time of year to pull out old family treasures and truly enjoy them. I thought it would be fun to post some of  the most special traditions that my family is enjoying this season. Some new and some old…

What I am decorating…the tree.

This precious little gem has adorned my family’s tree since I was about 5 years old. One holiday season when I was very young, my dear parents bought up a bunch of these ceramic ornaments. They were plain and unpainted, the color of plaster. My sweet Mom and Dad hand painted each one. This Santa is probably my most favorite ornament of all time. I can still remember watching my Daddy paint his twinkling blue eyes and snowy white beard. These little decorations were given to me by my mother several years ago. I am so grateful to have them! They are connected to such warm memories of time spent together with my parents. Isn’t that what makes the season so special? Time spent with loved ones.  They even let me paint a few of them myself, in my own five year old free style. =) They are special parents to be sure.  I hope to share a few more of these little treasures during the holiday season. 
Another favorite is this quaint little Jack Frost. He was given to me around the age of 12! Sent via the mail by a wonderful pen pal friend whom I had never met at the time! We are still friends to this very day and stay in touch via the wonderful invention of Facebook. (Good to know that the old FB serves a positive purpose, amidst all of the negativity in this grouchy old world.) I just love the little maple leaf  tinged with glittery icicles as he paints with his pot of glittery frost…
So special…sweet, sweet memories. 
Next is an adorable little ornament that was sent to me just this past week by a wonderful blogging friend. A pretty little hand crafted pillow ornament with dainty pink roses gracing the front. She has been such a blessing to me. I adore her wonderful blogs The Enchanting Rose and Roses of Worth. If I have an especially busy week, which is always the case in recent days…I make a bee line for her lovely blogs and enjoy a respite from everyday cares. She is a truly special lady, full of grace and wisdom. Be sure to visit with her there. I am always inspired by all that she shares. 
(If you are reading this dear Stephanie…thank you ever so much for your care and friendship.) 

What I am listening to…

 This wonderful reproduction of the old record players, belonged to my late grandmother. It is my mother’s now, but being the sweet Momma that she is, she is letting me borrow it. I also have the very large holiday record collection that belonged to my Mom and Dad. My most favorite record in the whole stack is this very old Jim Reeves Record entitled the Twelve Songs of Christmas.

Nothing takes me back to my childhood faster than Jim Reeves and his soothing voice. He had a way with music…didn’t matter what song he was singing…it just sounded like “Home.” I adore this old record…it has pen & ink markings made by my mother when she was a bored young woman. LOL She colored in the RCA phonograph. =) I think that it makes it even more special. I love his rendition of Silver Bells. This record is the soundtrack to every holiday season for me. If by some strange stroke of bad luck, you have never heard of Jim Reeves…google him and have a listen….or go here….Jim Reeves ~ Silent Night.

What I am reading….or should I say rereading?!

 Little Women holds a very special place in my heart. My sweet little grandmother who is long gone, was the giver of the most spectacular and heart felt presents that I have ever had the privilege of receiving. She often gave me books. She bought me many of the Illustrated Junior Library Collection. These beautiful hardcover books are collectible quality. They are unabridged and complete. This particular title is my very favorite. The illustrations by Louis Jambor are gorgeous. My poor camera can NOT do them justice. But I love nothing more than to curl up on the sofa by the fire during the holidays and read Little Women. When I read this particular copy…it is as if my dear little grandmother is home for the holidays. =)

What I am loving….

 My darling husband bought me an early Christmas present. It arrived today on my doorstep. A brand new Kitchen Aid mixer. I think I am in love! (And not only with the mixer…if you know what I mean. Ha ha!) Thank goodness for thoughtful hubbies.  I have been using a $15 hand held mixer for almost 25 years. He thought it was high time I upgraded. =) Although that little hand mixer pulled through many a holiday baking session. I must confess, I won’t miss it. 

 Our new favorite treat is this delicious Manatee Gourmet Caribbean Delight Hazelnut Coffee. I love the fact that when you buy a bag, you support Manatee rescue. =) It’s like a little Christmas gift to God’s creation as well as to ourselves. It smells like heaven and tastes even better. I am putting my Cheshire Cat to good use this fall season. 

What I am baking….”Soft & Chewy Ginger Cookies”

 I am enjoying traveling down new avenues in the kitchen with my gluten and dairy free diet. I was especially missing my Christmas ginger cookies. So I did a search for gluten free ginger snaps and this is the recipe I found…Soft & Chewy Ginger Cookies By Texanerin Baking Thanks so much Erin for sharing this lovely recipe. It made my holidays! 

Since I could not have some of the ingredients in her original yummy recipe, I improvised…below is my improvisation and I must say they are super delicious and I was so excited by the result! These are slightly chewy, but still have that pleasant cookie crunch. I LOVE them!

Soft & Chewy Ginger Cookies (Gluten & Dairy Free)
Adapted from Texanerin Baking Blog

yield: approx. 28 cookies

2 cups almond meal flour
1/3 cup flax meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons Allspice
2 teaspoons Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
6 tablespoons of coconut oil melted
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon molasses (I used black strap, unsulphured)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
***(granulated organic sugar) ***keep this separate for rolling cookies in.

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the rest of the ingredients in stand mixer and mix on medium speed.
  • Add dry mix to wet and process just until combined.
  • Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Form dough into 28,  1 1/2″ balls and roll in granulated organic sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 14 minutes and then cool…they do crackle a bit. I love that about them. 

What I am painting!

“Christmas Kitchen” Copyright 2014 Shaggycreations 

Size 4″ x 4″ gallery canvas

A new Christmas original now for sale on Ebay!
This is my very newest Pembroke Welsh Corgi painting, featuring a cozy little Christmas cottage kitchen scene. Momma Corgi is helping her pup make Christmas goodies. There is a Christmas, snowy scene outside the window. Can’t you just smell the apple pie and sugar cookies. =)

“Love & Joy come to you and a Merry Christmas too…and God Bless you and send you a Happy New Year.” 

What I am wishing for you!
A joyous holiday season! I hope your week is filled with light, love and the joy of friends and family! Happy Holidays! 

12 Responses to Christmas Joys & Gluten Free Baking!

  1. What a precious little post here, Valerie!
    So many things going on with you during the Christmas season. All of your ornaments are darling. At first when I saw the one my dear Stephanie did, my first thought was, that looks like something Stephanie would make, and here it was from her. 🙂 Too sweet!
    You are going to LOVE your kitchen aid!!! You will miss the little one but not too much. 🙂
    Jim Reeves… He is one of my all time oldie favorites. I must get him out soon. I'm a little behind this year with decorating and all, but I will get there.
    Sweet blessings to you, Debbie

  2. I enjoyed this post, Valerie! So full of sweet nostalgia and loveliness. I think Christmas brings that out in us. I just saw your little 'bringing home the Christmas tree' corgi painting but don't find it on your Etsy shop. It is so darling, as are all the others, of course. You are going to love the KitchenAid. I've had one like for years and I LOVE it for so many things, especially kneading bread dough. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

  3. Valerie says:

    Dear Judy,
    Thank you so much as always for your sweet comments. I am already in love with my new KitchenAid mixer. =) I don't know why I waited so long to buy one! I am so glad you are enjoying the corgi paintings. I added "Bringing Home the Tree" to my Etsy shop this morning. I have so many more prints that I need to add. So if you see others that you are interested in seeing in the shop, just let me know! I don't seem to be able to find enough hours in the day to do all I would like to lately. Thank you for being such a loyal reader and friend. Holiday Blessings,

  4. Valerie says:

    Dear Sweet Debbie,
    Thank you so much for your visit and your lovely comments. I must confess that I did hide away my faithful little handheld mixer for smaller jobs. 😉 But you are right, I don't think I will miss it much! I so enjoyed your post about your dear grandmothers. It touched my heart. Holiday Blessings,

  5. Looks like you've been busy Valerie! I love the paintings, they are so cute!


  6. what a lovely post! i just love to read here thanks so much for sharing…loves from holland ❤

  7. Stephanie says:

    Hello my sweet friend! Your post was such a delight to read. I can almost hear your pretty Christmas music playing while the Christmas tree lights twinkle and the kitchen is filled with the sweet scents of baking.

    And how exciting about the KitchenAid! I couldn't imagine life in the kitchen without mine 🙂

    Enjoy your day, dear Valerie! Hugs to you!

  8. Valerie says:

    Dear Tania,
    Thank you so much! Yes, December is flying by. =)

  9. Valerie says:

    Dear Cozy Little Space,
    Thank you so much! I'm so happy you enjoy the blog. Sending happy holiday wishes to Holland.

  10. Valerie says:

    Dear Sweet Stephanie
    Thank you so much! I'm so happy you enjoy the blog. Sending happy holiday wishes to Holland.

  11. Empty Nester says:

    Nat King Cole takes me back to my childhood Christmas memories and I always re-read A Christmas Carol EVERY year. Though I do love Little Women as well. Such a great book. Your paintings are wonderful!

  12. Valerie says:

    Dear Pam,
    I love Nat King Cole. Thanks for the reminder! Now I am off to find him on Pandora. =) Thank you so much for your sweet compliment on my art. Hope your weekend was lovely.

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