By the beginning of November I was already itching for Christmas. It's like this every year. As soon as the stores have the decorations on the shelves, which gets earlier every year, I get excited. When Thanksgiving was approaching I was already calculating where the tree could fit and be out of reach from Jules, thinking about things to do when Claire and Tessa come to visit, thinking about having a holiday party, planning the holiday crafts,baking, and gifting. I've uploaded nearly 15 hours of holiday music to keep on shuffle throughout the season. Crazy? Yes, definitely. A fun way to spend our days this month? Big Time.
Winter, even as mild as it is here (It was 60 degrees on the first of December!) brings out the homebody in me. I've been organizing, cleaning, and purging all over the house. If we don't use it, out it goes. If it needs to be fixed/replaced/re-purposed I put it on my To Do list and get to work. I've been learning how to use essential oils, figuring out how to cook with dried beans, working on some new crafting projects, and doing puzzles now that the big table is out to use. Cooler weather means I can get cooking in the kitchen again. With summer days topping out at 100 degrees I try use the oven as little as possible for most of the year here in Virginia. Now stews and chili's linger through the afternoon on the stove top, I roast tray after tray of vegetables - especially parsnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and carrots, and now I'm making bread.
There is whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread in the oven as I type this. Soon it will be ready for our breakfast in the morning. A book came out not long ago about a new, incredibly easy, and quick way to make homemade bread all the time. You make big batches, the dough keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks, and it requires NO kneading. It is the most amazing thing ever. I've been making whole wheat bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and sandwich bread. I'm going to try baguettes next to go with all the pasta we eat.
Jules isn't getting much for Christmas since he has so much stuff that is still new to him from his birthday. With the economy where it is we're trying to be extra smart with our money this year. I picked up a little wooden fire truck at the local green children's store, and a few other used wooden toys at some consignment shops out at the beach. I'm trying to limit the plastic, not eliminate it - just keep it to a minimum, and I've found some great deals that way. Lot's of puzzles, blocks, little wooden vehicles, and tons and tons of books. This kid has a seriously large library of mostly second hand/free books. The libraries around here have yearly book sales and give a ways, one even has a bookstore that is open when the library is open. Thrift stores and consignment shops are another excellent place to look. Not only does it save us a ton of money but I feel a lot better about our environmental impact, and life is simpler in many ways.
I'm making several gifts, as well as new ornaments for the tree out of things I already have here at home. It's a great way to change it up a bit with no investment. I found this awesome video online on how to make a 3D snow flake that I'm going to try out tomorrow. I think Jules would love to look at them hanging from the ceiling, and it's something I can make with things from around the house.
I love the holidays. I love the cooking and the baking, the making and the partaking. It's my all-time favorite time of year.