Happy Holidays and Cookie Baking!

Happy SOLSTICE!! Yay! I love Pacific NW summers but the winters are DARK. Even though I’m not a Wiccan, I love, love, love the winter solstice because it means we’ll get our daylight back. (Rather quickly here, too.)

Happy Hanukkah too for those who celebrated it. I believe that’s over now, but hope yours was a good one. There are like a hundred different celebrations for winter. Probably an attempt to cheer people up in the cold and dark. (Well, at least on the top half of the world!)

My hubby asked for snickerdoodle cookies since I was planning to make chocolate chip cookies for Christmas and he can’t eat chocolate (poor thing). I thought, sure, let me look up the recipe. The list was the usual, flour, sugar, actually lots of sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Then I paused and wrote back to him (chatting over Battle net) ‘What the heck is cream of tartar?’

Those of you who are cooks are probably laughing about now. But I truly thought cream of tartar was some French cream based sauce thing. So when I saw that was an ingredient for, essentially, sugar cookies, I was confused.

Now, I’m no young spring chicken. I’ve seen over fifty winter solstices. I’ve helped my mom bake stuff (ok, I was strong armed into helping and still have an aversion to stirring candy to the whatever crack stage it required.) And I’ve never once had to add cream of tartar to a recipe. Until now.

So, super confused, I Googled it (Oops, sorry trademark violation. I meant I searched using Google). Here’s the long explanation: What is cream of tartar? Basically, it makes egg whites stand up when making meringue, makes angel food cake whiter, can help veggies retain their natural color when cooking, and makes a snickerdoodle more chewy. It’s also a white powder that looks like baking soda but isn’t.

So I feel a bit stupid as well as educated. Go figure!

Other fun bits for the holiday. I put up the mini tree and bought a few new ornaments for it –

A Ripley Work Loader Aliens ornament which sits at the base of the mini tree since it’s a bit too large to hang. (Yep, that’s an Amazon link showing the pretty picture. You can click on it if you really want to buy it. Ripley is awesome!)


And a U.S.S. Franklin ornament with lights. I didn’t plug in the batteries but I bet it looks sweet. This one is small enough to hang on my not quite two foot tree, but it didn’t come with a loop of cord and I was too lazy to find something I could use for that. Oh well, it sits at the base and looks good!

I still have plenty of Star Wars ornaments from last year in case anyone was looking at my blog funny for missing a very obvious component given the movie that just came out. I plan to watch it after New Years. So yes, I still have Star Wars cred!

I have one measly package to wrap because my other surprise is off in la la land. Sorry hubby! I’ll get to that sometime before Christmas. Yep, the procrastinating is strong with this one!

And, that’s all the prep work I’ve got planned for the holidays. Well, aside from cookie baking and fixing food to eat.

If you have any fun stories, feel free to share!

Writing Research

Writing is fun, but it can involve some interesting research. This week’s topics delved into evolution of the first plants and insects and a closer look at trees.

Interesting tidbits from the Wiki: (Ma = million years ago)

530 Ma – The first known 🦂footprints🦂 on land date to 530 Ma, indicating that early animal explorations may have predated the development of terrestrial plants.

430 Ma – The first 🌱plants🌵 came on land, 🌳forests🌴began flourishing in 363 Ma, yet 🌾grasses🌾 didn’t develop until 70 Ma.

407 – 396 Ma – 🐜Insects🦗 came fairly early on in the evolutionary timeline, including 🐝flying insects🐝 (or at least the beginnings of them).

66 Ma – 🦖Dinosaurs🦖 go 💣💥boom🔥!

60 – 55 Ma -🌾Grasses🌾 have a distinct pollen that is easily identified in the fossil record. From that, scientists know that they had a very late start compared to other plant types. In fact, grasses came after the dinosaurs went extinct.

Finally, 🌲pine trees🌲 have male and female pine cones. Some of you might know this already and I am pretty sure I knew at one time, but simply forgot. The males are those skinny little runts at the end of branches that appear lower down. The wind then lifts up their ‘stuff’ to hit the larger female pine cones when they open up. Of course, some pine cones require forest fires to propagate.

So ends the history lesson. Hope you enjoyed it (or at least enjoyed all the emoticons I found to match the topics!)