Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Inspiration Books

It might be a little late in the season to be gathering inspiration, but not for me. I'm still very much in the process of planning and creating and I know I'll be gathering inspiration right up to Christmas day! Actually, with working full time and all, planning is very much what I'm doing--much more than actually creating or accomplishing anything!

Everyday Food--these little magazines are a great resource for cookies of all kinds, little gift loaves, baked goods for a holiday breakfast, and holiday dinners too. I love how each issue is very seasonal, subtly so, but a nod to the specific month's holiday is always there. My favorite Christmas cookie from Everyday Food that I make every year is here.

Christmas from the Heart of the Home--I loved the Susan Branch cookbooks in the nineties, and I still like to go through her Christmas book around this time of year. Her illustrations are very charming, and in addition to lots of recipes, she also tells little anecdotes and personal stories, lists ways to package cookies, things to do on Christmas and things like that. My favorite rustic Christmas coffee cake with apples and cranberries comes from this book.

McCall's Cookie Collection--circa 1965! My mom let me take this one. I think it is a grocery store cheapie she picked up back in the day. I love all the wonderful cookie inspiration not to mention the charming 60's style illustrations and the very retro looking cookie photography. My absolute favorite is the recipe for "Betsy McCall's Ginger Cut-Out Cookies" where they show a doll rolling out the dough and baking the cookies. Good stuff, people.

Afternoon Delights--more great cookie recipes with lovely lovely photos. The blondies are fantastic and a family favorite. So is the crumb-topped coffee cake.

Holiday Treats--the version I have is all the holidays bound together. Love it. I don't see that one on Amazon, though, so I linked to the Christmas Treats book. This one is not just recipes, though there are recipes, but lots of crafts and gift ideas and lots of them appropriate to make with children. Again, the photos and projects are my taste--simple and beautiful, not overly sweet or overdone. I turn to this book for inspiration for every holiday. I don't think I've actually made anything yet, but I want to. Especially as the boys get older and we have just a bit more time.

Martha Stewart Kids Magazine--no longer published, but great inspiration. Unfortunately, I got rid of most of mine in a fit of cleaning, but I do have one Christmas issue left. Great gift ideas to make with kids and ideas for handmade decorations.

The Winter Solstice--I love this book but still have not gotten time to really sit and go through it. I'm packing it in my bag today to read during my lunch. It has lots of background on solstice and Christmas traditions, a section on the history of Santa Claus, solstice animals, and some ideas for things to do. Definitely making time to look more through this one today.

I can't believe it is Friday already and next week we have a short week and then it will be the holidays! I have so much to do--so much! And I have no idea when I will accomplish it, but I'm going to be mellow and try to make a great Christmas for everyone and ditch any ideas of it being perfect. I know already I won't get everything done--it will be exciting to see how it all turns out.


Melissa said...

I have 14 of those M.S. Kids magazines, I wish they still made that one!

Sarah said...

Ooh, thanks for the great book recommendations!

bigbucketgirl said...

What a wonderful blog you have...i'm having a little rest from cleaning out the pantry with my 2yr old(!!!) and reading your words and seeing your photos has recharged my batteries! Back to it....
(Oh i shall visit again soon when i can walk in and out without climbing a mountain of groceries and baking tins! That will be my reward!)

coffeechris said...

Mary Beth,
Just wanted to thank you for your blog, got linked by another blog (can't remember which one now, as I got so absorbed, sure you can relate). I wanted you to know you made my world a better place, thanks. Quick clicked on your profile -- we have the same two favorite books! My son is getting big now and I even re-read Anne Lamont's Operating Instructions - it brings me back to all our phase s I love. Blessed advent season to you and family

Lina said...

Mmmmm cookie recipes! I especially like the look of the Everyday Food recipe you like. Not sure if I can get those mini peanut butter cups here though but my children would LOVE these.

Susan94 said...

Love Susan Branch. I have her website saved as one of my "Favorites". Do you have her little Christmas Joy book? If not, I recommend that. It has tons of little recipes (I made many things fromit) and stories and her beautiful drawings.

Suzanne said...

I just made the peanut butter kiss cookies--oh yeah, a good thing! I wish MS still had the KIDS book too.