Mmm, the boots have absolutely nothing to do with this piece.
except for Hank - who is giving a little bit of consideration as to whether or not she might want a pair of cowboy boots. This is just my way of voting "yes."
Now. Moving right along . . . .
Recently I blogged at my place, Meanderings and Muses, about people who say they hate Christmas.
I shared my own feelings about Christmas, and about how I think people who hate it might want to consider walking away from some of the things they hate. Consider starting their own traditions that don't include those things that they find upsetting. Things like the rank commercialization and the whole "too much" thing. When did Christmas become so much about all the "stuff?!" And why do children need to have 46 beezillion gifts under the tree?!
There are years I have had to walk away from some of it. Some years there just hasn't been much money. Some years I was on my own and frankly, didn't feel there was much to celebrate. And sometimes, it's just too much.
Is it any wonder this time of the year is so hard for so many? And believe me - I do know that for many it's not simply a case of disliking Christmas and some of the commercialism. I know full well about Christmas depression and the seriousness of it. It's debilitating and scary. It affects many. And my weak little take on how to get through the holidays with a speck of sanity left is in no way meant to sound dismissive towards those who suffer what is clearly more than "Holiday Frustration."
First of all, I'm certainly not proposing anyone walk away from "all" holiday traditions. But if there are things happening that overwhelm you or bring up bad memories, why shouldn't you toss those aside?
Take the holiday season to teach children "your" values - not what society pushes us into. The season is about enjoying life and the blessings we have - don't be manipulated into doing things you don't want to do just because someone else says it's the way it should be done. Not all of us want a cooking crafting bonanza kind of holiday and prefer to keep it simple.
I think many of our time honored Christmas traditions are grand. The old fashioned ones that I grew up with. I love 'em and they're dear to my heart.
But some years, even those are too much.
Like decorating our home for the holidays. I love decorating of any kind, so holidays are the perfect excuse for me to just go kinda nuts.
I'm a lousy gardener, which makes me kinda sad, so I leave the little bit of landscaping we do to Donald.
But I can do fun "Tablescapes!"
And Christmas Tablescapes are THE most fun!
IF I'm in the mood.
Some years, the Santas just stay in their box under the bed.
And it's okay.
Most years, Christmas makes an early arrival at our house. I start sneaking the Santas and a few other decorations in around Thanksgiving. A lot of the things I use to decorate with have been with us for a very long time - and many show their age, which makes me love them all the more. They're ragtag and dusty, which is sorta how I feel a lot of times, so I feel a special fondness for them.
Which is why I understand completely that there are some years they don't really want to come out and play. So they don't.
And it's okay.
I love watching the lights on a Christmas tree. Sometimes if I can't sleep, I'll just wander into the sunroom and sit in the dark watching the lights twinkle.
I enjoy our old Christmas ornaments - the ones we brought into our marriage with us, along with the ones we've picked up together on trips.
I also like finding ridiculously silly things to hang on the tree.
But some years, if the mood isn't there for a tree - we just don't put one up. If things are too busy and either of us is feeling a bit stressed, the last thing we want to do is add to the stress by doing something that is supposed to be fun. And you know, it's okay.
Another Christmas tradition I love is baking.
And I love love love baking with my mini-bundt pans. The first round of baking has begun.
Using one of my favorite cookbooks, Bibb Jordan's "The Pound Cake Cookbook."
It's a teeny little cookbook full of the best pound cake recipes you'll find. Fruit pound cakes, chocolate pound cakes, old-fashioned pound cakes, outrageously inspired pound cakes, a cheese savory pound cake and special miniature pound cakes. yum.
I made several "Bittersweet & Orange Bundt-lette Pound Cakes"
And the baking was fun. But, same as the tree. There have been years when I just did not want to bake. It just wan't fitting in with all those other things. So I didn't. And it was okay.
My wish for each of you is for a Happy Holiday Season - whatever it is you celebrate, I hope you celebrate it in a joyous, joyful manner. In a way that makes you and yours happy and leaves you with a feeling of grace. May it be a holiday filled with traditions, old and new, of your choosing, and one of peace.
My wish also includes this - if you or someone you love starts feeling the pressures that many feel this time of year - the feelings of loneliness, sadness, or hopelessness - reach out. There's no shame in asking for help.
My gift to each of you is Bibb Jordan's scrumptious recipe for these little mini bundts. If my name were Santa, I would deliver some to you, but, well - it's not. So I share this recipe along with a "Ho, Ho, Ho!"
Bittersweet & Orange Bundt-lette Pound Cakes
Makes 14 - 16 mini pound cakes
Pam or Baker's Joy
1 1/2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup Crisco
3 cups of sugar
5 large eggs (room temperature)
3 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of milk (room temperature)
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (nuggets or chopped - your choice)
1 Tablespoon of finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of orange extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray Bundt-lette pans with Pam or Baker's Joy. (this non-stick cooking spray is needed. The traditional method of buttering and flouring the individual molds does not work well).
Cream together the butter and Crisco on high speed until lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and tehn continue beating for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter, blend well, then add 1/2 cup of the milk, blending well again. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk.
Fold in the chocolate, zest, and extracts.
Fill the Bundt-lette molds with the batter, coming to within 1/2-inch from the top. If they're over-filled they will over-flow.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes,or until tested done.
Note: The Bundt-lettes may not brown on the top, but when turned out of the pan, they will be a golden color and look like miniature pound cakes.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
And now, Reds, want to share one of your favorite holiday traditions or recipes??
And by the way - Harley sends his best!