Focusing on What Matters

I’ll be honest, December started off as kind of a hard month. Normally, I have guild holiday parties to attend, along with our own annual holiday party we usually throw. But, Covid put the kibosh on that. Typically, the time between Thanksgiving and the first weekend in December is a flurry of trying to get the house decorated, food baked, and invites sent out. With no deadline to meet for our party though, we weren’t in any rush to decorate the house. And I’ll be honest, a part of me kind of felt like it was silly to do it because no one else was going to see it. But, Eric loves Christmas and I love having the house decorated, especially our Christmas trees. So, I decided that even if no one else sees it and we’re not having our party – we really needed this.

living room with stockings on the mantel, Christmas tree decorated with red and gold ornaments and lit with white lights, train around the bottom of the tree, Nutcrackers on the mantel

Eric even put his trains out for this first time since we got the boys. And thankfully, they mostly ignored them. Although occasionally Thut would knock it completely off the track as he settled into a nap on the tree skirt making it look like a scene from The Fugitive.

entry way with Christmas tree decorated with silver ornaments and lit with blue lights, angel in top

Since we weren’t having our annual holiday party, but still wanted to enjoy some delicious treats, we came up with a list of what we really wanted. I tried to spread it out over the holidays so we weren’t completely overloaded with desserts.

dark chocolate peppermint bark

I made peppermint bark, which I don’t think I’ve made in several years. I make it with dark chocolate because Eric honestly hates white chocolate.

spiced pecans

I made spiced nuts too. It’s an old Martha Stewart recipe and they are my favorite, so I always want to make them.

bowl of fruit and nuts to be added to the fruitcake batter

The fruitcake I made last year? the year before? was so good that Eric suggested I make that too.

baked fruitcake cooling on a wire rack

It basically has brandy, nuts (I used pecans, I think), dried cranberries, and golden raisins in it. Delicious.

Italian S cookies cooling on a wire rack

Eric also requested Italian S cookies. This was my first time making them and they turned out really good. Of course after I made them he informed me his mom doesn’t make them in this shape. shrug They were still yummy.

pound cake cooling on a wire rack

For Christmas Eve dinner, I typically make some sort of special dessert. I found a recipe for tiramisu that is made with pound cake instead of ladyfingers. Since finding ladyfingers has always been my block for making tiramisu, this sounded like a good option. I made the pound cake a day ahead.

espresso brewing in a red Moka pot on the stove

Eric made espresso for me in his Moka pot. When I was ready to assemble.

tiramisu assembled

I’ll be brutally honest. It wasn’t good. It had a couple of problems. It called for cocoa powder sprinkled over the top. I used wayyyy too much, and since it was unsweetened it was super bitter. The second problem was that the cake didn’t soak up the espresso. The third issue was the filling/topping. It didn’t have the texture I was expecting and we both felt the cake to filling ratio was a bit off.

slice of tiramisu

After tasting it, we doctored it up a little bit. We poked holes into the top and poured more espresso in. That helped a good bit. The other thing we did was make more of the filling/topping and added more of that on top. It still didn’t have the right consistency, but it toned down that unsweetened cocoa powder a good bit. Not sure I will be making this particular recipe again, but I might experiment with a different recipe.

hand holding a glass of wine in front of the red and gold decorated Christmas tree

Christmas Eve dinner was otherwise delicious and we even had wine for the first time in what seems forever. We haven’t spent Christmas Eve/Christmas Day with family in several years, so pandemic aside, we enjoyed our time together and just the two of us celebrating.

hardback A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas on a faux fur background

One of the things that made me insanely happy in December was continuing my love affair with reading. The new book in one of my favorite series is scheduled for release in February of next year, but when they revealed the cover for it I was a bit heartbroken because they’d done away with the beautiful covers I’d come to know and love. Thus began my quest to track down and own the first four books in the series with the original covers. I had originally read these as library books, but I wanted to add them to my own collection. So, I hunted down the first book, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and read it in December. And I fell in love with this series all over again. I’ll talk more about these books in a separate post, but suffice it to say many late nights were spent with my head in this book.

The big thing that happened in December was that I revealed something I’d been working on for the past year. I charted an antique sampler and released the pattern to members of my guild as part a gift for our twentieth anniversary celebration. It was so much work and it taught me a lot, and I admit it was hard to keep it a secret. Such a huge relief though to release Sarah out into the world and I look forward to seeing her come to life with other stitchers’ needles.

slice of fruitcake on a plate with a fork sitting on a lap covered in a red and white quilt

While December really brought home the impact Covid was having on our usual routines and celebrations, there was a lot of goodness to be embraced. Eric and I both took time off of work and enjoyed our time together. If 2020 taught me anything it’s that Eric and I are in this together and when you take away external distractions, it gave us the opportunity to focus on what matters.

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