Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Oh, Kaye" is being a lazy girl today - but has all the best intentions

Dear Reds,

I hope you'll forgive me for being the laziest person you know.

Today's my day to post at Jungle Red.

I think you know by now how much I adore the Reds, and how much I love having an opportunity to play and post here once a month.


I've tried writing this piece a dozen times, and well, I just can't.

Suffice to say, some days are better than others right now.


Here's the piece I posted right here in December, 2012.  (I can't believe it's been that long, honestly.  Can you?! And I can't believe the Reds are still putting up with me!)

This piece seems as appropriate this year as it did back then, if not more so.  At least for me.

I hope you'll read it, enjoy it, and take the words to heart.

And, I'm sending all of you some huge holiday hugs, my friends!


"Oh, Kaye!" Holidays and The Spirit of Things

Mmm, the boots have absolutely nothing to do with this piece.

Ignore them.

except for Hank - who is (or was back when this was first written) 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."  (Did you get the boots, Hank??)

Now.  Moving right along . . . .

Recently I blogged at my place, Meanderings and Muses, about people who say they hate Christmas.  They're pretty adamant about it too.

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.

and you know what?

it's okay to just walk away.

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, so don't go getting all defensive on me, okay?   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 fun for me.

IF I'm in the mood.

Some years, the Santas just stay in their box under the bed.

And it's okay.

They don't seem to suffer from that extra year's worth of sleep one bit.

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 and 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 wasn'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 and 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!  

Note:  Harley has decided to have a giveaway.  If you're interested in entering a drawing for Harley's book, "My Name is Harley and This is My Story"  just click "right here" 


Joan Emerson said...

Thanks for reminding us about the mini-Bundt cake recipe . . . it is so delicious.

Traditions in our family? Choosing angels from the Angel Tree, the Christmas Eve midnight candlelight service, sharing the day with family.

There are many “family recipes” that are part of our holiday . . . My mom used to make these special candy cane cookies for us when we were children and we have always continued that tradition because they always make the Little Ones smile.

Candy Cane Cookies

Sift together 1-1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground salt

Cream together 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup Confectioner’s sugar . . .
Add one egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix well; stir in the flour mixture

Divide the dough half . . . set aside one half

Divide the remaining half in half again
Add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to one portion of the dough
Add 2-3 drops of green food coloring to the other portion of the dough
Mix well to color the dough evenly

Make candy canes
Measure one teaspoon of the uncolored dough, roll into a four-inch long rope
Repeat using either the red or green dough

Take the two ropes and loosely twist them together

Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top to form candy cane shape

Bake eight to ten minutes at 375 degrees

Kaye Barley said...

Mornin' Joan - Candy Cane Cookies - How fun! adding your recipe to my Holiday Baking File, and I thank you.

Hallie Ephron said...

Hi, Kaye - so happy to see this and your thoughts on the season.
Christmas traditions in or family? We're minimalist, but last few years maple walnut raisin sticky buns for breakfast. I Google for a recipe.

Kaye Barley said...

Mornin' Hallie! Walnut raisin sticky buns. Man - Don Barley would love some of those, I'll Google. Minimalist, honestly, is sounding better and better to me as the years go by, Hallie. In so many ways.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, such fun to read! Christmas traditions? Champagne and oysters Rockefeller--even as a little girl, that was our holiday treat. (Appetizers, right? NOT in the morning, of course.) And I never open anything before Christmas morning.

Boots. Nope, I did not get the cowboy boots. I am still wanting red ones, I have to admit. The time will come…xxoo

Do people have trees yet? I BOUGHT holiday cards. Okay, then, step one. PLENTY of time. zoo

Holiday baking. Hmm. Might have to try that..

Happy SUnday, everyone!

FChurch said...

Thanks for the post, Kaye. Harley, especially, just made my day! What a sweetheart with his Christmas bowtie!

One thing I wanted to mention, for those who find the holidays hard--my mom's birthday was Christmas and my dad's New Years' Eve--so you can imagine how hard that first holiday season was without them--not much holiday cheer to go around. A local church held a special service for those in pain, that's the best way I can describe it. It was comforting and healing--to know that our pain was acknowledged and that it was okay to feel it even when everything about us proclaimed "BUY! Celebrate! Party! Rejoice!"

And thanks for the recipes--baking is one tradition we certainly enjoy--old favorites for sure, but something new is always welcome!

Kaye Barley said...

Hank! Red boots - YES, Honey! I am wearing my today to the Watauga County Democrats Christmas party. Perfect for the holidays - go get you some.

Kaye Barley said...

FChurch - your comment about "our pain was acknowledged" resonates loudly.

and I am awfully glad Harley brought a smile - he does tend to do that, doesn't he?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, yes, Kaye..I can picture that! Perfect. Ahh…..xoxooxo

Deborah Crombie said...

Hank, I like your champagne and oysters Rockefeller. Maybe we need to start a new tradition. Except that Rick doesn't like either and this year Kayti, who loves both, is not drinking the champagne... Maybe next year!

I bought our tree on Friday (same tree lot every year--they bring in wonderful fresh trees) and it's up in our dining room but not decorated. Today!

And yesterday we put up our Christmas lights, and we at least talked about ideas for our Christmas card. (We've done our own for close to twenty years, but nowadays they are digital. I try to buy a few real cards for friends who don't have email.)

So those are our three big "must do" things, but I tend to be pretty relaxed about when we actually do them.

Loved the post, Kaye. So glad you put it up again. Thinking of you.

TFJ said...

Thanks, Kaye. This year I am doing "minimalist" and feel just fine about it, even better after having read your post. And, yes, baking always is included, even if it's just granola for myself!


Kaye Barley said...

xxoo to you, Hank!

Debs, I would love to see your home during the holidays - I know it's gorgeous. and thank you, my friend, for all the sweet thoughts you've been sending. Much appreciated.

Tricia - you know, minimalist. Why not?! And if next year you feel like "if it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing," then, why not? Our moods change often. I say go with the flow. Right? (I love homemade granola - got a recipe you'll share?)

Anonymous said...

Kaye is one of the nicest people on this Planet Earth! I want to share her love of life with all my friends! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

Kaye Barley said...

thank you,Thelma. xxoo

Libby Dodd said...

You are a very wish woman
Thanks for re-sharing these important thoughts.

Kathy Reel said...

A great post, Kaye! I think people often won't give themselves permission to do less decorating at Christmas when they feel stressed. They definitely need someone like you to remind them that it's really okay to do less.

This Christmas, my house is finally getting back in order after all the work I've had done this past year, and it's fun to see the decorations out again. And, I've relaxed about putting the ornaments on the tree, actually started this last year. I let the granddaughters do as much as they can while visiting at Thanksgiving, and then I finish it up. My children will tell you that me not stressing about the Christmas tree is a large departure from when they were growing up. I was a bit of a perfectionist about it, and I'm glad those days are over. How much more fun it is to let kids take part and see their delight at finding the places they like on the tree to hang an ornament. It also gives me a chance to tell the girls about the ornaments, like the ones from my childhood and their mom's childhood.

I'm thinking that I might make fudge this year. It was a tradition when my kids were here, making the fudge to set out for Santa. I miss that, so I think I might fit it in this year. As the years go by, it's more about the little comforts and just being together with family than worrying about the decorations.

Thanks, Kaye, for the holiday post and reminding us to take it as we feel it. Oh, and Harley is adorable!

Kaye Barley said...

Thank you, Libby!

And thank you, Kathy. Don't you wish we had realized how very draining being a perfectionist was sooner?! Lordy, I sure do. and I agree - it's those little comforts.

Lynn in Texas said...

Thanks again, Kaye, for the wonderful reminder. Will send you a pic of my Pembroke Corgi, Max, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge a few years ago at age 16, and could have been Best Bros with Harley! We miss him so, especially during the holidays. xo

Atom Nguyen said...

So awesome! What an amazing opportunity - glad you jumped at it. Good luck, have fun (duh) and can't wait to read the RR