Lauren Elliott’s Trick to Keeping the Magic in Christmas…

As my area of the world begins to turn into a winter wonderland, coupled with all the shining lights put up around the city. As well as the emergence of the outdoor skating rinks complete with surrounding trees adorned with twinkling lights, and then the ever so tempting Christmas markets popping up everywhere. You know you’ve got yourself another magical Christmas on the way. However, you may have to brace yourself, pull that collar tighter around your neck and be prepared to sing, “Baby. It’s Cold Outside,” instead of one of the beloved Christmas songs.

You see my corner of the world is in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and we’ve rarely had to sing. “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.

Have I told you yet that Christmas is my favorite time of the year? If not, well, let it be known that I’m a six-year-old at heart and love everything about the holidays. I know that for some, it’s a busy stressful time between shopping, social gatherings, decorating, and it leaves you wondering how you’ll manage to get it all done. As the day draws closer you begin to feel frantic and overwhelmed by all the demands and in the end, disappointment settles in because somewhere along the way you lost your Christmas spirit.  So, I’ll let you in on a little trick I learned in how to cope with all that inevitable anxiety that creeps up on us during the holidays. One that might also help you keep the magic of the season alive and well.

I begin to shop for the next Christmas in January, yes you read that right. That’s when the best sales are, and then I continue to shop throughout the year. Whenever I’m out, if something catches my eye that I know someone might like, I pick it up. That way, the added stress of trying to pay for it all in one month disappears, plus it leaves me free of the frenzied shopping hordes in December. My whole month proceeding the big day is open for things I enjoy. One of the traditions I love in December is baking. I’m not a crafty person and stand in awe of those who are, but I do love to create delicious treats for family and friends. With all the exotic recipes, I’ve tried out on them, there is one that has stood the test of many Christmases.  I can’t ever seem to make enough and often find myself back in the kitchen whipping up another batch.

What is this exotic recipe you ask? Funny thing is it’s the simplest recipe of all and one I found completely by accident online one year. It’s my secret weapon after a busy December day, whether it was spent open air skating, sledding or perusing one of the many craft markets. Nothing says cozy comfort like a cup of hot chocolate and one or two of these magical squares.

Magic Cookie Bars

Prep: 10 Min.

Cook: 30 Min.

Yield: 2 dozen bars

Calories: 240/serv


  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 – 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (we like lots in my house)
  • 1 1/3 cup flaked coconut – optional
  • 1 cup chopped nuts – optional


  1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. COMBINE graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with fork.
  3. BAKE 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into bars or diamonds.
  4. For perfectly cut cookie bars, line entire pan with foil, extending foil over edge of pan. Coat lightly with no-stick cooking spray. After bars have baked and cooled, lift up with edges of foil to remove from pan. Cut into bars.


SUBSTITUTE chocolate chips, nuts or coconut: with candy coated pieces, dried cranberries, raisins, mini-marshmallows or butterscotch chips.

From my kitchen to yours—Merry Christmas!

Addie Greyborne loved working with rare books at the Boston Public Library—she even got to play detective, tracking down clues about mysterious old volumes. But she didn’t expect her sleuthing skills to come in so handy in a little seaside town . . .

Addie left some painful memories behind in the big city, including the unsolved murder of her fiancé and her father’s fatal car accident. After an unexpected inheritance from a great aunt, she’s moved to a small New England town founded by her ancestors back in colonial times—and living in spacious Greyborne Manor, on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. Best of all, her aunt also left her countless first editions and other treasures—providing an inventory to start her own store.

But there’s trouble from day one, and not just from the grumpy woman who runs the bakery next door. A car nearly runs Addie down. Someone steals a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Then, Addie’s friend Serena, who owns a nearby tea shop, is arrested—for killing another local merchant. The police seem pretty sure they’ve got the story in hand, but Addie’s not going to let them close the book on this case without a fight . . .