If 2012 was a roller coaster, it went out with a flurry of activity and a few bumpy spots. However, let’s focus on the merry-making aspects. For the annual tree-trimming party, Sarah and I made a batch of homemade eggnog and a triple batch of Irish cream. As I didn’t provide anything for scale, let me say, that’s a 2.5 gallon container on the right. Once the eggnog has ripened in the fridge for a few weeks in this state, egg whites and whipped cream are added immediately before serving. This was just the storage container. S let me borrow her beautiful punch bowl for the party. The night of the party, more Irish cream was made as I’d given nearly all of this batch away prior. Okay, a few shots ended up in my coffee, here and there. Shrug.

christmas spirits
Irish cream and eggnog, in progress

This was the second year S and I made eggnog for our holiday parties. Pictures from Christmas night 2011 at her place are located here.  I’m the fashionable hand model. As you can see, homemade eggnog is a pretty, fluffy concoction and I highly recommend you give the recipe a try. Needless to say, at my tree trimming, both the Irish cream and the eggnog went fast. Their presence may or may not have led to much merry-making…

Santa and his elves

A friend, dressed as Santa, handed out jock straps which ended up everywhere—over clothing, on heads, decorated on the tree, and attached to the blades of the ceiling fans. The tall people in my life really think they’re funny. Ha. Step stools are awesome.

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012

Post party, I hung the animals’ stockings (wool felt, made last February) and put out a few other holiday items. As the cards began to arrive, armed with a paper punch, ornament hangers, and a moment of crafty inspiration, I displayed cards a bit differently this year. Clever, no?

hanging christmas cards
Christmas cards dangling from a garland of twinkly lights

A special note of thanks to S who came over a few days before the tree-trimming party and hung art on the living room and dining room walls. They’d be embarrassingly bare for a few years. Yes, years.  Again, I’ve been a little busy since 2008. Ironically, that’s also the year I got Sky. Ponders…

Next, I turned my attention to making fruitcake from a very old recipe published by the Olde City Tavern in Philadelphia. It contains over 30 ingredients and not a freaky glow-in-the-dark piece of fruit can be found in this recipe. Fruitcake, a delightfully delicious one, should be more of a ginger carrot cake filled with silvered almonds, dried fruit (cherries, currants, pineapple, crystallized ginger), and candied citrus.

Wildlands' Fruitcake, drizzled in cognac every few days for a month
Wildlands’ Fruitcake, drizzled in cognac every few days for a month

Once out of the oven, I wrapped the little loaves in wax paper and tin foil, opening them once a day to drizzle cognac on top. Within a week, the color of the fruitcake had darkened from a pale brown to a warm deep brown. Ah, the lovely effects of alcohol curing. All told, I made over a dozen fruitcakes, in varying sizes and shapes.  However, before I could get the fruitcake made, I needed to make the recipe’s required candy citrus. This year, I spread my wings a bit and made orange, lemon, and lime by peeling the fruit (use a potato peeler, you’ll thank me), and boiling the fruit in sugar water. If you want the recipe, let me know, I’ll post it.

making candied citrus
Making candied citrus (orange, lemon, and lime)
candied citrus
candied citrus

The candied citrus was yummy to munch on and luckily I had plenty left over to use for MM’s birthday cake and to share with visitors. Lastly, I made a much-beloved Ohio Christmastime treat, buckeyes. A peanut butter truffle dipped in chocolate. Using Nestle’s milk chocolate chips, melted in a double-boiler, I didn’t need to add any wax to the chocolate. Once placed in the fridge, the chocolate hardened perfectly. All told, I made approximately 10 dozen of these little treats, giving them away to a friends. Okay, maybe I saved a few for myself. Grin.

Peanut butter and chocolate buckeyes
Peanut butter and chocolate buckeyes

As I had more free time to myself, not only was I a bit more productive this holiday season, I also had time to relax and be kinder to myself. One of my treats was a nightly dark and stormy or hot toddy. Yum.

black and stormy
Dark and stormy cocktail

Dark and stormy: 2 parts ginger beer (non-alcoholic and NOT ginger ale), 1 part Gosling’s black seal rum, and a lime twist. Err, the lime is missing from the pic above… oops.