Thursday, December 12, 2013

December Happy

When we moved into this house last year the professor found some old Christmas decorations in the attic. Among them was a collection of vintage Christmas tree light bulbs that I love. They're in a dish on our coffee table now. Every time I look at them I smile. They make me happy.

And, babies in bear suits make me happy. So do Christmas trees tied on top of cars and peppermint hot chocolate and tiny lights. Red and white baker's twine, oranges, candy canes, gingerbread, and sock feet. Pink buds on my Christmas cactus, red bows, lists, and cinnamon toast. Christmas cards in the mailbox, counting down days, Mahalia Jackson's rendition of Silent Night, and Christmas tree smell. These are a few of my favorite December things.

Yesterday, Sister dragged a footstool across the living room and I found her standing on it staring at the Christmas tree. When I asked her what she was doing she replied, "You just never know what you might see." Another December smile.

The boys finish school tomorrow. Happy, happy! I've been scrambling to put teacher's gifts together. This year I told myself I wasn't going to bake myself crazy with my standard bread and jam gifts, so I sliced and dried fruit and contemplated creating bags of simmering spices. In the end, I still baked bread... I guess old habits are hard to break... but I skipped the jam and included little bags of Christmas simmering spices with the loaves. Homemade bread and lovely smells, two happy things.

Christmas Simmering Spices
Thinly slice oranges, apples, lemons, and tangerines. Place in a single layer on a rack set on a cookie sheet and bake at 250, checking and flipping every 20 minutes until mostly dry. Place several slices of each dried fruit in a small plastic bag along with a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf, a Christmas tree sprig, and some whole cloves. Include instructions to simmer in water on low, replenishing water as needed.

The cloves are essential; don't skip those! I didn't have any whole cloves and forgot to buy some so I placed 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves in each little bag.

Hello weekend, you're almost here. More December smiles.