This morning, my husband turns to me as he’s getting ready for work, and he says,
“Are you going to do a lot of baking on your holiday?”
And I’m thinking, “Yes, Karen Day. I shall bake all the things on Karen Day. Lovely Victorian Sponge.”
Instead, I tilt my head quizzically and say, “Holiday? Don’t you mean vacation?”
He responds by saying a vacation implies you’re going somewhere and holiday simply refers to time off. I say holiday is a British term and we Americans ONLY vacation.
Quibbles aside, I’ve decided “holiday” is a perfect term for what I’ve got right now, which is oodles of time to myself and a brand new KitchenAid.
I’ve named her Molly.
Recently, I’ve felt a loss in the joy of cooking and baking. The holiday season (note: vastly different some a simple holiday) has been very hectic and stressful, as I’m sure most peoples’ are. My holiday season has included baking for the Great [School Name Redacted] Bake Off. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t really care for the competition. All of my cookies were sturdy but not really flashy. Compared with some of the other cookies (such as the infamously beautifully decorated owl sugar cookies — my word!), they were unexciting. They were tasty, don’t get me wrong. But sort of same-old, I felt. When my first batch did spectacularly badly (two points total, yikes) I felt like I really needed to take it seriously and step up my game. Which I did, resulting in a few more scattered wins, one for best presentation and one for best overall. But the stress of trying to do well really sapped the joy I felt in doing the baking. Mostly, I just wanted to bake a good cookie I would enjoy. The best part was feeding my kids, who, not getting the whole smorgasboard of cookies, showered me in the kind of praise I wanted but didn’t necessarily deserve if looking at the whole table. God I love my kids. They spoil me like crazy.
Then, to top it off, the last week I was at school was insane. I spent all weekend baking and sewing and writing cards and addressing cards. Monday was a snow day, and I literally spent the entire day making homemade handwarmers. I made over 130 individual homemade handwarmers, of which I am immensely proud. They are adorable and useful, which is what I wanted to do this year for my gifts to my coworkers instead of candy. While candy is wonderful and I love making candy (toffee is probably my favorite, though it can go so wrong so quickly), everyone gets inundated by sweets every holiday season, so I was glad to make something you couldn’t eat. Besides the actual projects, I had to prepare for being away on Thursday and Friday and get my 6th graders all the prep material they would need for the break, which involved copying six primary source activities, making six 12-24 question quizzes, a study schedule with tips, and compiling it all in a big fat guide. It is also imminently worth noting that I was on the small side of the review materials given out by 6th and 7th grade teachers. A round of applause for them, because they’re insane and awesome.
Fortunately, the frenzy of activity was ended when I left Flagstaff for early Christmas with my family. My husband works a very normal job and this year he was getting off Christmas, but not Christmas Eve or the day after. All of our family lives in Phoenix, so this means that if we were to go down to do Christmas with them, we would need to drive down and back on Christmas Day itself. No thank you. So instead, we both took off last Thursday and Friday and spent some time with our two sets of parents (and some extended family) for some well-needed rest and relaxation and bonding time.
And also Star Wars.
But really, what kind of lifelong fan would I be if I didn’t combine my love of family with my love of Star Wars?
Anyhow, long story short, but I feel a lot better. I have been doing a lot of reading and eating and lazing around and it has been glorious. Today, the weather outside is frightful but the jam is so delightful. It has been snowing all day. My husband is at work and I have the run of the house to myself. Instead of getting all sad and lonely, I am taking my time to do baking projects I want to do, rather than have to do, helped along by gorgeous Molly.
This morning I made harvest muffins (think morning glory but with a different name, haha). Last night I made whipped cream (and way too much of it) to put on boozy cocoa. This afternoon I’m whipping up a loaf of bread (thank you Kacie) and some three-citrus cranberry jam. I am watching The Great British Baking Show and reading cookbooks and trying to get up the gumption to go to the gym later (we’ll see, we’ll see. I did two hours at the gym yesterday, so I may content myself with some whirlwind cleaning.)
Harvest Muffins — danger, Will Robinson, danger! These muffins will cause you to shovel them while still hot into your mouth, which may result in burned tongues!
Three-Citrus Cranberry Jam — unrepentantly and exquisitely tart, perfect for putting in a turkey sandwich or simply smearing on freshly baked bread.