I do love the chilly part of the year, with the bundling up in cozy sweaters, hats, and tartan plaids. Warm beverages of every description seem much more delicious and downright necessary to a festive and happy existence. Like the rest of the year, we drink and serve coffee and tea daily but now feel the urge to simmer some apple cider on the stove with a few sticks of cinnamon, making the house smell magical or make an evening hot toddy or hot buttered rum. The easiest toddy is simply a little honey or brown sugar stirred into a mug of boiling water to which you add a squirt of lemon or orange and the brown liquor of your choice. I like spiced rum but whiskey or bourbon work perfectly. Feel free to stir with a cinnamon stick or throw in a piece of candied ginger. All us ginger lovers need to check out Rose’s December blog in which she celebrates the warming spice in all its many uses. Here’s a recipe for a batch of rum butter so you can make hot buttered rums whenever the mood strikes: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/hot-buttered-rum-recipe-1943195.ampThe batter lasts all season in the fridge.
At the Lincoln, California, historical museum, where my friend Merlina and I ducked in before our tea reservations, I spotted this adorable Scottie calendar page from 1938. Luckily, he was in the little gift shop of the museum and I was able to take him home. I’ve always had a weakness for Scottie dogs and their white counterparts, West Highland Terriers or Westies, as they’re known. I was gifted with a dear old Scottie toy dog who had seen better days years ago. He’s resided in my china cabinet, behind glass doors, keeping him safe from dust and little fingers. But with the new Scottie in mind, I decided to make them the stars of my holiday display. (See photos of our wonderful afternoon tea at the Tea Nook in Lincoln, at the end of the blog.)
What could be cuter than a whole string of Westies and Scotties made from long-lasting flour and salt craft dough? A staple of children’s craft projects, salt dough is a cheap and easy modeling medium that anyone can do. Salt dough Christmas tree ornaments are a time-honored Mom gift that with a little extra work, could be made into ornaments not only a mother could love. I found a recipe online that uses ground cinnamon for part of the dry ingredients which makes them smell spicy good, too. However, the recipe calls for ¾ CUP of cinnamon which I did not have in stock. Instead, I mixed up a lot of my “elderly" baking spices including allspice, nutmeg, mace, and some cinnamon. It made a lovely, very holiday aroma. If you are making several batches of the spiced dough, Costco would be a great place to purchase large amounts of ground spice.
Salt dough Scotties in the oven, at low temperature. The recipe recommends turning them over during baking. You can see the salt rising to the top, as the recipe predicts. Remember to cut the holes cleanly, if you plan to hang them on the tree.
Here are my Westies and Scotties, sprinkled with the appropriately colored glitters. The Westies have their eyes already glued on. You can buy googly eyes, but I used map pins, with the pin part clipped off with wire cutters. Next, I made the Scotties white map pin eyes. When the eyes were securely glued on, I put narrow plaid ribbon “collars" on them. I am not normally a hot glue gal, but hot glue would have speeded up that process immensely.
I attached the Westies and Scotties to a felted garland and hung it with a strand of red ball fringe and a hand-made felt swag from an art buddy of mine. I love how they look hanging together.
Though it was very fun making Scotties that can be enjoyed from year to year, I felt we needed some sugar cookie dogs that could be eaten with a nice cup of tea or gifted in a sweet cookie tin. My December 2018 blog features Suzi’s sugar cookie recipe which is tasty and reliable. It is my go-to cookie recipe whenever I want a cut-out cookie. You can always bring up our past blogs by searching our website or click here for Suzi’s recipe: http://www.myteaplanner.com/cakes-and-tea---kathleens-blog/archives/12-2018 There are several good holiday cookie recipes there and many, many more on the website.
The Tea Nook, Lincoln, California
My dear friend, Merlina, moved to Lincoln, near Sacramento and found a sweet little tea shop in the historic downtown. We spent a delightful afternoon in early November, savoring the traditional three tiered serving tray filled with scones, freshly made sandwiches, and petite, seasonal pastries. Velvety pumpkin soup in a little tea cup started off our tea meal, alongside a very fresh and light tomato quiche. The food was excellent and served by our hostess who was perfectly attentive and kept our teapots filled. It was such a lovely afternoon, thank you so much, Merlina! It is worth a special journey to have tea in this little jewel. Do make reservations in advance, as it fills up quickly.
- Find The Tea Nook on Facebook and Yelp