merry christmas from the cottage


Greetings everyone! Just a quick post to say Happy Holidays to all. Chad and I are camped out in our little cottage. Now that the leaves have fallen from the trees we have an amazing view of the river. We brought the cat with us for the week — his first non-city trip — and he seems pleased as punch, purring up a storm. (We never did get that Ikea litter box, but rather, the smallest one we saw at PetCo.) I’m baking cookies to share with our helpful neighbors who kindly plowed our driveway. I just made the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ever, and oh my God! The hype is true. With swollen feet and achy hands (I think I’m having pregnancy carpal tunnel), I am so thankful to be taking it easy this week. We’re gonna have some friends over on Saturday for an After-Mas party. I’ll be sure to sure to share any bright tips that come up between now and then. (Which reminds me — does anyone know how to make a solid block of brown sugar soft again?).

I hope you’re all having a wonderful, stress-free holiday. See you in couple of days! — Angela M.

P.S. On our mantle: Birch tubes left over from our wedding, updated for the holidays. The sweet woodcarving Chad commissioned of the two of us. Vases from my grandmother’s house, and yes, a couple of stocking holders from Target.

From our partners

Hi – de-lurking in the hope that I can help you with your brown sugar problem. If you put a slice of bread in a container with the block of brown sugar overnight it will magically soften. Good luck :o)

Put the brick of brown sugar in the microwave for a few seconds, and you should be able to work with it.

You can also grate what you need off the brick.


According to a very old cookbook I have (The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, copyright 1945, renamed in more modern times as The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, I believe), to soften brown sugar you should put it in the oven until it’s heated through. It doesn’t give any more detail than that, though….


If you put the brown sugar in the microwave for 30 seconds, it should soften it. You may need to do this a few times, depending on how hard the sugar is…just make sure it doesn’t melt!

Those cookies really are the best. We make them at our house about two times a month– we’re addicted.

Your mantle looks gorgeous, by the way. Oh to have a country cottage!

Happy Holidays!

re: the brown sugar: you can microwave it for a few seconds in the plastic bag it comes in. It should soften it up in no time.

I need to find a new plow guy so if you have any names/numbers to send me way…it’d be much appreciated!!!

Put brown sugar in small bowl with a wedge of fresh apple.
Cover sugar with dampened paper towel.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds and check to see if the
sugar has softened. Repeat until it is the way you want it.


I want to know: has anyone else found that softened brown sugar becomes hard again really fast? Like, any cookies you bake with it become hard as well? I’ve never tried a softening method that seemed to really work. But I do know those terra cotta tiles that they sell in kitchen sections work REALLY well for preventing it–you soak them in water and place them, with the sugar, in an air-tight container, and the sugar never seems to harden up.


Put a small piece of apple in the container and it will add enough moisture to soften it & keep in soft.