True Life: This year My son asked to make our tree look like Christmas exploded. I made it look like Carnivale in Brazil exploded. It’s intense and he thinks I’m the best mom in the world. *cue the drums…

True Life: There’s a reason I put so many ornaments on my Christmas trees. When I was in first grade my mom bought a 6ft plastic Christmas tree. It wasn’t our first, but it was the first I remember helping her decorate. It had glass and multicolor plastic ornaments, strings of colored lights, and gold garland. I was smitten by that tree.


Years passed and the garland looked like a shaved cat’s tail. Each year several glass ornaments shattered and there were less and less. We were poor, and my mom, a single mother of 2 was too practical to think of replacing ornaments on a tree when money could be spent on essentials, like keeping a roof over our heads and our bellies full.

By the time I was in sixth grade, only 12 of the plastic ornaments remained, 6 to a box. My mom went away to Dominican Republic that December, leaving us under the care of my aunt. My aunt wasn’t into what you call a traditional Christmas, so there were no plans to celebrate Christmas that year. That was also the year my grandmother, who was my anchor, lost half a lung and hovered between life and death. It was a hard year, but it was Christmas. I was determined to bring forth the Christmas spirit and so brought the tree out of the musty closet and put it up by myself.

It was the saddest sight… I mean sad. By then only one string of lights worked, and no matter how hard I tried, those 12 ornaments made the tree look forlorn, barren.

My neighbor and best friend at the time saw my pathetic looking Charlie Brown Christmas tree and invited me to her house. There I helped decorate their tree to the Menudo Christmas soundtrack, sharing their joy of Christmas, something that was sorely lacking in my house that year.

True Life: I made a promise that when I had a family of my own I would always, always, always have beautifully full Christmas trees, sometimes to the point of explosion; that we would listen to cheesy Christmas music and bring the spirit of Christmas into our home no matter how poor, no matter what was happening in our daily lives.

True Life: Shout out to .99 cent stores for helping me keep a promise to my family. All my Christmas decorations are from various .99 cent stores. I had some lean years too… Shout out to cheesy Christmas music. Most of all, shout out to Teresa’s family for teaching me what Christmas was all about. They helped keep the Christmas spirit alive in me.

True life: I’m sorry this blog post started as such a downer.  That must’ve sucked. It’s going to get better…

True Life: I’m going to lift your spirits by giving away some stuff. Because I think you guys are so awesome, and because I just told that saddest story without really meaning to.

Ready?

1. Cuisinart Mini Prep – I own a large food processor, and it aggravates the crap out of me when I lug that heavy mofo onto my counter just to whiz 3 cups worth of something. With a mini food processor I no longer run the risk of a herniated disk and neither will you.

2. Cuisinart CSB-76 SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender – Seriously – A hand blender is a must in every small kitchen, especially for us ladies who HATE washing too many dishes. This is one of the most used tools in my kitchen; from soups, to milkshakes, to sauce, to sofrito – This immersion blender handles it all. AND you can stuff this jammy in a drawer. Can you stuff a blender in a drawer? Didn’t think so…

3. Chef’n Sleeks and Store Pinch Pour Collapsible Measuring cups – Tell me you have a messy baking drawer!  Now tell me you want to do something about said messy drawer. These collapsible baking cups are made of silicone. Easy to use, easy to clean, and best of all crazy easy to store. You are well on your way to that clean baking drawer of your dreams. Just like the one you saw on Pinterest.

4.  Abby Dodge’s The Weekend Baker, Mini Treats and Handheld Sweets, and a signed book plate by the adorable Abby Dodge herself! I own many, many cook books and I’m going to be straight with you – Abby Dodge is the real deal, Holyfield. She’s an award wining international acclaimed baking expert, a contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine, and a cookbook author. She’s got street cred, and if those accolades aren’t enough, she is the NICEST person you will ever meet. I heart her.

How about these books?

The Weekend Baker is a treasure-trove of carefully tested and delicious recipes; recipes that WORK. You aren’t going to find your usual drool worthy photography in this cookbook. It is geared towards the busy baker, the working mother, the chick who doesn’t have time to look at gorgeous photos, who wants to get down in the kitchen and get the job DONE. This book has a make-ahead recipes that come together beautifully and will make you look like a dang rock star. I have baked her double decker brownies so many times it’s embarrassing, and each time I have to tweet her about it. I need her to know, this is how good those brownies are. I’m approaching stalker status.

Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat – This is Abby’s most recent book.  It’s got tons of drool worthy photos, but most important, she’s done it again! Another carefully tested recipe book full of mini treats that will put June Cleaver to shame. Wear your pearls, ladies – It’s going to get real! I made her macarons twice, something I have crazy trouble with and they worked! Both times! That alone is worth the price of admission.

 

And if that is not enough, Abby Dodge was gracious and kind enough to offer the winner of this giveaway a signed book plate! That’s got to be blowing your mind right now, because I’m about to faint! No, really…

Like what I got for ya? Would you like to win all this cool stuff?

OK!

Use the Rafflecopter thing-a-ma-joo-gey and leave a comment on this very blog post! Tell me, what will you bake with all this swag, yo?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on Sunday December 23rd at 11:59 PM and is open to US residents only (Sorry Canada!)

What are you waiting for? GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!!

Love,

Me…

P.S. Legal Mumbo Jumbo – All items for this giveaway were purchased by me, with the exception of the signed book plate which will be provided by Abby Dodge herself. All opinions are my own.

 

 

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