I need not point out that my blog has taken a bit of a hiatus for the holidays. From late October to the present, there has been so much going on in both the studio and my personal life that something had to give. My blog was one of those “somethings”! I appreciate your extra measure of understanding as I have put my time and energies where they were needed most! The holidays definitely call for a focus towards what is important, and I’ve tried to pay attention to what was significant and essential, letting the others things fall away. Keeping true to my core commitments (both with business and with family) are helping keep my wits about me in demanding days.
Snapshots of the holidays around my home and studio:
A wood log fire burning nearly each day providing warmth and comfort on crisp nights and morns. Victoria, Ian and Coolidge all vie for the spot on the couch in closest proximity to the hearth. Victoria constantly monitors the fire and is quick to go out to the log pile to retrieve another when the flames start to wane.
Pulling out the Christmas dvds and videos & piling in bed together as a family to watch them. I’m a big fan of old classics like Holiday Inn and It’s a Wonderful Life, but we love to mix it up with an annual watching of Scrooged (anything with Bill Murray is whole heartedly embraced by the Soneff clan).
Carols constantly playing from the iTunes library making it undeniably festive. Music plays a huge part in our lives in general, and never is music more central for us than at Christmastime. I’m still smitten with Shawn Colvin’s Holiday Songs and Lullabies; even several years since it’s release it’s my absolute annual favorite! The Jethro Tull Christmas Album gets lots of play around here (for those of you who don’t otherwise know, my husband is quite the Jethro Tull devotee and can play the flute quite like Ian Anderson.) Phil Keaggy’s Majesty and Wonder reflects its title with music that is just that: majestic and wondrous, and is another beloved holiday backdrop. Another one that is too beautiful to be ommitted from this list is A Winter's Solsticev IV from the Windham Hill Artists.
Other random singles that I just can’t stop loving:
The Little Drummer Boy as sung by David Bowie with Bing Crosby (love those harmonies!)
Bela Fleck & the Flecktone's version of White Christmas
Wynton Marsalis’s rendition of Carol of the Bells
Christmas, Why Can't I Find You? (as sung by Cindy Lou Who in the Grinch soundtrack...silly, I suppose, but it is so stirring and sweet)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlin
Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven (still gives me goosebumps)
Gloria by Jewel
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Sixpence None the Richer
Throw a little Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Burl Ives in there for nostalgia’s sake...a listening to of Handel's Messiah...and all is good!
Burning a Yankee Candle tart to add more noticeable holiday presence in the home. (Since our tree is an outdoor one, on the deck behind our picture window in the living room, we don’t get the full benefit of its pine smell. The Yankee Candle “Mistletoe” tart is our very realistic surrogate.)
The daily flow of Christmas cards spilling out of our mailbox. I relish that daily trip to the curb to retrieve them, and then those moments that follow when I reconnect with cherished friends and dear relatives in distant places. These hand penned greetings, the creative cards, and family photos form a precious trove that we cherish each year. (I'm still working on getting our sentiment out....I hope to make that happen before the new year!)
Sipping on hot cherry cider. Yes.... I said *cherry* cider. Mmmmmm! I purchase the cherry cider from Trader Joe's year round, but come this time of year I just give it a quick warm up. The crimson color and the mulled taste make for a mugful of merriment! It's the perfect cure for nights like tonight: coming home from my daughter's nighttime rugby practice. Just holding the mug takes the chill off her icicle hands.
Baking and more baking! The Christmas favorite at our house is my Grandmother Audie Floyd’s Molasses Cookies. I’ll share the recipe here. It’s not a glamorous looking cookie, but it has an old fashioned goodness to it that just tastes like pure Christmas (with credit to it’s blend of molasses, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon!)
3/4 cup of shortening (scant...I use part butter and part margarine)
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of molasses (good measure!)
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt the shortening and add sugar, molasses, and beaten egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
Chill the dough for 20 minutes. Form the dough into 1" balls and roll into sugar. Place onto a greased cookie pan. Bake for approximately 8 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.