5 Ways to Liven Up Your Holiday Break with Blair Books

It’s that magical time of year when most businesses shut down and workers are treated to some, often mandatory, time off. While traditional celebrations are fun, cabin fever can set in for those of us used to being in the office all week. To help avoid any vacation frustration, we present 5 Ways to Liven Up Your Holiday Break with Blair Books:

1. Revisit the Ghosts of Christmases Past

AmericanChristmasesThink your family has some crazy Christmas traditions? Read about what used to pass as appropriate holiday fare in American Christmases: Firsthand Accounts of Holiday Happenings from Early Days to Modern Times by Joanne Martell. The entries range from how the Christmas tree has evolved through history, to how Santa got too close to the candles in 1890, to how firecrackers were once a cherished and much-anticipated stocking stuffer, to Pete the Christmas goose, who laid an egg and was renamed Petrice in time to be wreathed in parsley on a platter. The stories, both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, allow one to reflect on personal memories and long to relive them. (as shared by Debbie Hampton)

2. Start a Sports Debate

ACCBasketballBookFameIs yelling at the TV during ACC basketball games a holiday tradition? Do you have ideas about who should be in the ultimate hall of fame? Dan Collins presents his system and the 78 players in his The ACC Basketball Book of Fame. Compare your own and your family’s rankings and let the discussion begin.

 

3. Bake Something Unexpected and Delicious

WellShutMyMouthNothing against Christmas hams and fruitcake, but they get a bit tiresome after the 3rd or 4th day of repetitious leftovers. Try out a different style of cooking with Tasia Malakasis and Stephanie L. Tyson. Malakasis’ Tasia’s Table (NewSouth Books) offers up creative ways to use goat cheese in a range of delectable dishes while Tyson’s Well, Shut My Mouth!: The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook brings some soul to the table.

Give your family a treat with dishes like the Easiest Devil’s Food Cake in the World and introduce some new culinary traditions to your holidays.

4. Hike the Battlefields

SoGettysburgAt first glance a Civil War battlefield may seem just like a regular field with some scattered monuments, but James and Suzanne Gindlesperger bring these historical sites to life in So You Think You Know Gettysburg? and So You Think You Know Antietam? The Gindelspergers return some humanity to the soldiers who lived and died in the war by providing the reasoning behind each statue’s curios oddities.

Gettysburg National Military Park and Antietam National Military Park are both open throughout the holidays, excluding Christmas Day and New Years Day.

5. Laugh at Yourself…and Others

SWAGDo you feel the urge to bake a pound cake after reading the obituaries? Have you had professional photographs made of your children barefoot and dressed in their Sunday clothes? Are you socially conditioned to believe that tanned fat looks better than white fat?

Then you might be a SWAG (Southern Woman Aging Gracefully), and Melinda Rainey Thompson can relate. Ranging from swimsuit shopping to squirrel battling, from magnolia theft to cemetery etiquette, Thompson’s delightful essays and clever lists in SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully and The SWAG Life reflect the everyday peculiarities of life in the South. Whether you can see yourself or others in her hilarious anecdotes, Thompson will have you doubled over in knowing laughter.

We hope that these suggestions help you make the most of your holidays. Happy Holidays from Blair!

Don’t Forget Those Holiday Tips!

The holidays are a good opportunity to show people in your life that you appreciate them. Whether with gifts, baked goods, kind gestures, or generous tips.

The Boston Evening Post printed the following poem in 1764 to urge subscribers to tip their newsboys at Christmas:

The Boy Weekly Pads the Streets,
With all the freshest News he meets,
His Mistresses and Masters greet,
Christmas and New Year, Days of Joy,
The Harvest of your Carrier Boy,
He hopes you’ll not his Hopes destroy….
His generous patrons may inspire,
By filling up his pockets higher!

AmericanChristmasesThis poem is featured in American Christmases: Firsthand Accounts of Holiday Happenings From Early Days to Modern Times by Joanne Martell, a great book which offers insight into the history of Christmas in America.

So don’t forget all the people who make your life easier and deserve some recognition this holiday season. And always remember…

Blair’s Holiday Celebration

Blair celebrated the holidays today with some delicious desserts and our annual used book exchange.

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Some of Blair’s treats!

Are you ready for all of your upcoming holiday celebrations? Find some quick and easy gifts for everyone in Blair’s Holiday Gift Guide.

WellShutMyMouthWe’ve also got you covered on the baking side with a collection of cookbooks featuring recipes for bakers of all skill levels. For a chocolate fix, try out Stephanie Tyson’s “Easiest Devil’s Food Cake in the World with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing” from Well, Shut My Mouth: The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook.

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Easiest Devil’s Food Cake in the World with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
Makes one 9-inch layer cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour mixture into 2 greased, floured 9-inch cake pans and back for 1/2 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

3 ounces softened cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In a mixer on medium, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Melt the chocolate chips with the butter and allow to cool slightly before adding to the cream cheese mixture. Mix on low until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Thin to a spreading consistency with milk.

To assemble, place a cooled cake top side down on a cake plate. Spread 1/3 of the icing on the cake, top with the other layer top side up, and coat with the remaining frosting.

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Give your sweet tooth something to celebrate this holiday season!