Macadamia-Almond Christmas Cookies

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Macadamia-Almond Christmas Cookies

Total Time: 1 hr
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 30 min
Cook: 20 min

Yield: 4 to 5 dozen cookies


2 cups macadamia nuts

11/2 cups sugar

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon almond extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

2 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

Nonstick cooking spray

48 to 60 red-and-white striped chocolate kiss candies


Put the macadamia nuts in a food processor and process until smooth and buttery (this should measure about 1 cup). Add the sugar, butter and shortening and pulse until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and pulse until blended. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and pulse until just incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to a medium bowl and fold in the white chocolate chips, pistachios and cranberries. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough, roll into balls and space about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (You will need to bake the cookies in batches; be sure to allow the baking sheets to cool in between batches.)

Bake until the bottoms and edges of the cookies are golden brown but the middles are still soft, about 10 minutes. (The cookies will bake a bit after they come out of the oven) Press a chocolate candy kiss into each warm cookie. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Fuller

Thank you, Skeen! xoxo




Winter Solstice

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Winter Solstice
December 21, 2014 in the World (Northern Hemisphere)

Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June.

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the Winter Solstice lasts only an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used as Midwinter or contrastingly the first day of winter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this occurs on the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest.

The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

Where is Winter Solstice?
Worldwide (Northern Hemisphere)

Calendar day; December 21, 2014

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Sunday, the 21st of December, 2014 is the 355th day in 2014 and in the 51st calendar week.

General Events:

Dongzhi Festival
December 21, 2014 in East Asia

Dongzhi Festival is observed on December 21, 2014. The Dongzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) on or around December 22 when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest. The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in.

Where is Dongzhi Festival?
Nationwide East Asia

Yalda 2014
December 21, 2014 in Persia

Yalda takes place on December 21, 2014. Yalda, Shab-e Yalda, “Night of Birth”, or Zayeshmehr, or Shab-e Chelleh is the Persian winter solstice celebration which has been popular since ancient times. Yalda is celebrated on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest night of the year, that is, on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Depending on the shift of the calendar, Yalda is celebrated on or around December 20 or 21 each year. Yalda has a history as long as the religion of Mithraism. The Mithraists believed that this night is the night of the birth of Mithra, Persian angel of light and truth. At the morning of the longest night of the year the Mithra was born. Following the Persian calendar reform of 1925, which pegged some seasonal events to specific days of the calendar, Yalda came to be celebrated on the night before and including the first day of the tenth month. Subject to seasonal drift, this day may sometimes fall a day before or a day after the actual Winter Solstice.

Nationwide Persia

Humbug Day 2014
December 21, 2014 in the World

Humbug Day is celebrated on December 21, 2014. The day allows everyone preparing for Christmas to vent their frustrations. In modern usage, the word “Humbug” is most associated with Ebenezer Scrooge, a character created by Charles Dickens.

His famous reference to Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!”, declaring Christmas to be a fraud, is commonly used in stage and television versions of A Christmas Carol and also appeared frequently in the original book. Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas.

The word Humbug refers to a person or item that tricks, deceives, talks, or behaves in a way that is deceptive, dishonest, false, or insincere, often a hoax or in jest. The term was first described in 1751 as student slang. It is now also often used as an exclamation to mean ‘nonsense’ or ‘gibberish’.

Where is Humbug Day?

Look on the Bright Side Day
December 21, 2014 in the World

Look on the Bright Side Day is observed on December 21, 2014. It is a day to be optimistic: Even if today with the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and it is often cloudy during this season, you should remain optimistic!

Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimized), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state. The concept is typically extended to include the attitude of hope for future conditions unfolding as optimal as well.

A common idiom used to illustrate optimism versus pessimism is a glass with water at the halfway point, where the optimist is said to see the glass as half full, but the pessimist sees the glass as half empty.

Where is Look on the Bright Side Day?

National Flashlight Day
December 21, 2014 in the USA

National Flashlight Day takes place on December 21, 2014. It is held on Winter Solstice, which is the longest night of the year. Therefore a flashlight is a useful tool on this day. A flashlight is a hand-held portable electric-powered light source. Usually the light source is a small incandescent light bulb or light-emitting diode.

The invention of the dry cell and miniature incandescent electric light bulbs made the first battery-powered flashlights possible around 1899. Today flashlights use mostly incandescent lamps or light-emitting diodes and run on disposable or rechargeable batteries. Some are powered by the user turning a crank or shaking the lamp, and some have solar panels to recharge a battery.

In addition to the general-purpose hand-held flashlight, many forms have been adapted for special uses. Head or helmet-mounted flashlights designed for miners and campers leave the hands free. Some flashlights can be used underwater or in flammable atmospheres.

Where is National Flashlight Day?
Nationwide USA

Natural Events:

December New Moon
December 21, 2014 in EST Eastern Standard Time / UTC-05

On December 21, 2014 the moon reaches its minimum brightness. Therefore it is called new moon. In astronomical terminology, the phrase new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth. At this time, the dark (unilluminated) portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye.

The original meaning of the phrase new moon was the first visible crescent of the Moon, after conjunction with the Sun. This takes place over the western horizon in a brief period between sunset and moonset, and therefore the precise time and even the date of the appearance of the new moon by this definition will be influenced by the geographical location of the observer. The astronomical new moon, sometimes known as the dark moon to avoid confusion, occurs by definition at the moment of conjunction in ecliptic longitude with the Sun, when the Moon is invisible from the Earth. This moment is unique and does not depend on location, and under certain circumstances it is coincident with a solar eclipse.

Where is December New Moon?
Eastcoast (North America)
EST Eastern Standard Time / UTC-05

Historical Events on 21st December:

1598 – Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflict a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile; all Spanish cities south of the Biobio river are eventually taken by the Mapuches, and all conquest of Mapuche territories by Europeans practically ceases, until the 1870s “Pacification of Araucania”.

1620 – 103 Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock [OS=Dec 11]

1788 – Hue Tay Son becomes emperor Quang Trung of Vietnam

1898 – Scientists Pierre & Marie Curie discovers radium

1906 – British Parliament pass two important pieces of social legislation: The Trades Disputes Bill, legalizing peaceful picketing, and The Workingmen’s Compensation Act, broadening employers’ liability for accidents

1912 – Denmark, Norway & Sweden declare neutrality in Comende war

1914 – 2,800 African miners strike at the Van Rhyn Deep mines in a bid to redress some of their grievances

1919 – J. Edgar Hoover deports anarchists/feminist Emma Goldman to Russia

1923 – Nepal changes from British protectorate to independent nation

1937 – The first full-length cel animated feature film and the earliest in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre

1946 – Earthquake in South Japan, kills 1,086

1948 – State of Eire (formerly Irish Free State) declares its independence

1962 – US & Cuba accord, releases bay of pigs captive

1975 – Madagascar adopts constitution

1988 – Lockerbie disaster: Pan Am Flight 103 destroyed mid air by a terrorist bomb killing all 258 on board over Scotland

1991 – Soviet Union formally dissolves 11 of 12 republics sign treaty forming Commonwealth of Independent States

1999 – The Spanish Civil Guard intercepts a van loaded with 950 kg of explosives that ETA intended to use to blow up Torre Picasso in Madrid

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