Friday Five: Christmas Eve

1) If you had to build a Christmas tree with just items around your house, what would definitely be part of it?

Books, of course. I’ve built one of these before, and posted about it earlier this month. But here’s another photo.

2) What’s your favorite holiday to decorate for?

Halloween. The decorations are fun, and it’s so low pressure. No time to do more than put a pumpkin on your front step? Nobody minds. Want to go all out, with animatronic figures and a programmable light show? That’s good too.

3) What are you best at baking?

I cannot possibly choose one thing. I love baking, and don’t do nearly as much as I’d like, especially since my son left for college. I still bake bread often, and love to experiment with bread recipes and make up my own. I do cakes and pies, sometimes with spectacular results — especially my cakes shaped like bunnies or trains or turkeys. (Again, I don’t do those nearly as much as I did when my son was little.) But one of my very favorites is cookies. In particular, there are two Italian cookie recipes that are traditional in my family: Chocolate Pepper Cookies (yes, they include pepper and other spices among the 30 or so other ingredients they require) and Italian Wedding Cookies. (If you’re envisioning Mexican Wedding Cookies, don’t. These anisette-flavored babies don’t look or taste anything like the Mexican ones.)

4) What memorable gift do you still appreciate?

My birthday is a little before Christmas, and it can be hard to remember what was a Christmas present and what was a birthday present. This one might have been for my birthday. One year, my husband gave me a Bird Library. (It was my idea, but he ordered and installed it.) My cousin makes these library-themed bird feeders, and I really wanted one. The birds love it. Alexandria is a reading kind of city — the number-one bookish city in the U.S., according to We’re so into books that even the birds are literate. The squirrels, not so much, but they keep trying.

5) What would be a good reindeer name? Guido the Italian Reindeer.

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