Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Her Own Miracle on Ayshire Drive - Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe

[UPDATE: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt is FREE on Kindle December 14-17 - Grab Your Copy Here!]

Chapter Six of The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt began yesterday on the Pix-N-Pens blog. Pop over there today to read Part Two.

Fay Lamb wrote Chapter Seven and you can read Part One of it on her blog today, and Part Two tomorrow.

Fay's favorite Christmas memory reminds me of a movie ...

Fay’s Christmas Memory

Our first Christmas together, my husband, Marc, asked if the boys and I would like to take a drive and look at Christmas lights. My sons were excited as we traveled through Sherwood Park, a neighborhood known for its hospitable holiday spirit.

Most houses were lit up with decorations. Sidewalks were lined with luminaries, music played outside, and the residents waved and called, “Merry Christmas” to the long line of cars weaving through their streets to take it all in.

My husband reached for my hand and smiled back at the two little boys, six and four, that I’d brought into our relationship. “Wouldn’t it be nice to live here one day?”

Warmth still fills my heart as I think about his words. A once confirmed bachelor, Marc never gave much thought to where he would live, but things had changed. He had two sons who needed a good school, and where we lived then was not in the best of districts. We were running out of ploys to keep them in the school nearest to Sherwood Park.

A few months and a limited budget later, Marc and I found ourselves looking at house after house to purchase, but we couldn’t find the one we wanted. Finally, the real estate agent pulled up in front of a house on Ayshire Drive—in Sherwood Park. From the outside, the house was beautiful, but we were a little doubtful that we could afford it.

When our oldest son jumped out of the car, he noticed friends from school playing in the streets around us. His excitement grew, and I was afraid we would have to disappoint him.

Then I went through the house. It was open and spacious. The bathrooms were larger than any I’d seen in a house that size. The boys could share a room or each have their own, although, I knew what that decision would be. I fell in love with the place.

The house was a little pricier than we’d expected, but the real estate agent had some good news for us. The mortgage had a rare, “assumable without qualifying” tag on it, which meant as long as we stayed within our personal budget, we didn’t have to qualify for a larger loan.

While the boys chattered about the new house in the neighborhood where their friends lived, Marc, in his quiet unassuming way, studied our options. He was getting ready to head out of town, and we hadn’t made a decision—or so I thought.

The day he had to leave, I was late getting home and picking up the boys from daycare. We rushed to our apartment, and I was disappointed. Marc’s car was gone. He’d already left for the airport. Deflated, I gathered our belongings and ushered the kids toward the apartment where I found a note taped to the door.

“Your new home is located on Ayshire Drive. I love you, Marc.” He’d signed the contract to purchase the house as a surprise for us.

I cried as I read this love note to me. You see, it wasn’t about the house. Any home would have done for me. In those few little words, my husband showed not only the depth of his love for his wife, he also showed me how much he loved the sons I brought into the marriage.

We lived on Ayshire Drive for seventeen years, making precious family memories there. And each Christmas our family would decorate our home to the hilt, place the luminaries along the drive, and we’d stand outside waving to all the visitors driving through our neighborhood, and I still never cease counting the many blessings that came when God brought Marc Lamb into my life.

[ED. NOTE: I've only known Fay a short time, but she recently revealed her skills as a cook on Mary Anslee Urban's blog. After reading that, I was a little worried about asking her for some recipes ...]

Fay’s Holiday Recipe(s)

I am not an overly ambitious cook. The joke around our house is that I cook only to remind my husband why we eat out so much. Therefore, the recipe I’m about to share comes with a disclaimer and an escape hatch for the not so adventurous. First, let’s get rid of the disclaimer: In no way should the aspiration it took to throw this wondrously delicious masterpiece together be construed as a Fay Lamb original. I most likely found it in one of those magazines that share lots of recipes for those more inclined to spend more than five minutes in the kitchen per day.
Okay, over-zealous holiday cooks, are you ready? Here’s the recipe for Cookie Dough Brownies—a three layer treat of scrumptious dimensions:

You will need:

For the brownies:

2 cups sugar
½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup baking cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the filling:

½ butter-softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour

For the glaze:

1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

Now the fun begins:

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for three minutes. Pour into a greased 13”x9”x2” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes or until brownies test done. (I’ve yet to learn how to give a brownie a test, so good luck on that one). *Cool completely! And there is a reason I use an exclamation point and an asterisk. Warm brownies do not help the glaze set, and when the glaze does not set, and you are carrying your dish to the Christmas party, and you end up wearing chocolate on your pants, it presents some wonderfully funny Christmas memories—for others. Trust me on this one.

Okay, let’s start with that second layer. For the filling, cream the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla. Mix well. Beat in flour. Spread over cooled brownies, chill until firm. *See the asterisk above. Same memories apply.

And finally, that all important chocolaty-glaze goodness: melt chocolate chips and shortening in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Spread over filling. Chill until the chocolate is firm. *Again re-read that asterisk.

This will yield you three dozen Cookie Dough Brownies.

And I did promise an escape hatch for those of you who’ve broken into hives thinking about the measuring, mixing, and mayhem that is bound to happen in your kitchen if you are anything like me. The genius of this recipe belongs solely to my friend Wanda Colebaugh who had me in a fit of laughter one evening as everyone raved about the delicious concoction, and I looked at her and said, “Isn’t this…”

Two boxes of ice cream sandwiches (well frozen)
One bowl of Cool Whip

And, “Didn’t you just …”

Place the ice cream sandwiches side by side, cutting a couple to fit the pan
Layer with Cool Whip
Then stack a second set of ice cream sandwiches side by side over the Cool Whip
And chill

As she waved my laughter away, attempting to keep a straight face, and nodded to our pastor who’d come into the kitchen to compliment the dessert, she was also providing me her answer.

About Fay:

Fay Lamb offers services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is available at all book retailers. Her second release, Stalking Willow, is currently available for pre-order through Write Integrity Press and will be released in May 2013.

Fay has served as secretary for American Christian Fiction Writer’s operating board and as a moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

Fay is the Featured Guest at Magnificent Hope's Christmas Party today, 
so drop by and say hello! 

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