I love a good cookie tin. I haven't made them since my parents moved to Thailand a few years ago (I did make some macarons and lemon curd sandwich cookies etc. one year in Bangkok, but they were sweaty little things because of the humidity).
I've been testing the Milk Bar crew's family recipes for a cookie week on Taste. The recipes are wonderful and working with Christina inspired me to take up holiday baking again, despite the fact that I'm not going home. I'm keeping a variety of raw doughs in the fridge/freezer and taking freshly baked cookies to everyone I visit!
My brother and I had advent calendars from Sainsbury's, or wherever. I remember an elaborately wreathed townhouse, 25 little cartoon animals, a white, Scandinavian landscape. The outside changed each December but the inside was consistently filled with disgusting little chocolates shaped like rabbits or elves or Santas with horrifically smooth, melty faces. The mystery shapes (of such poor quality it was anyone's guess what they were meant to be) were our favorites!
Today we launched an advent calendar on Taste (except we're anticipating the advent of 2012, not baby Jesus). L's black and white ink drawings fill with watercolors each day.
And I think I got excited about this project because of this passage in Light Years, which I keep going back to:
Viri was making an Advent calendar. He was late, as usual; a week of December had already passed. He had made a whole city, the sky dark as velvet cushions, stars cut with a razor blade, smoke rising from chimneys and vanishing in the night, a city that was a compendium of hidden courtyards, balconies, eaves. It was a city like Bath, like Prague, a city glimpsed through a keyhole, streets that had stairways, domes like the sun. Every window opened, so it seemed, and within was a picture.
Nedra had given him an envelopeful, but there were others he had found himself. Some were actual rooms. There were animals sitting in chairs, birds, canal boats, moles and foxes, insects, Boticelli's. Each one was put carefully in place and in secret--the children were not allowed to come near--and the elaborate facade of the city glued over it.
There were details that only Franca and Danny would recognize--the names on street signs, curtains within certain windows, the number on a house. It was their life he was constructing, with its unique carapace, its paths, delights, a life of muted colors, of logic, surprise. One entered it as one enters a foreign country; it was strange, bewildering, there were things one instantly loved.
excerpted from Light Years by James Salter