December 3 – Install outdoor lights on evergreens

We were right on track for once. Today my husband borrowed a very tall ladder from a neighbor and wrapped lights around the large birch tree in our front yard. It looks great, and was accomplished in part with the help of our son and his girlfriend, although I believe most of their help consisted of providing instruction and mocking the work .

I also got a jump start on baking today, making the dough for the brown butter spoon cookies and the dough for the Kranz cake, which is a babka-like cake. The dough for the Kranz cake has to rest overnight, so I’ll finish baking tomorrow.

December 4 – Mail holiday cards

I have a stack of cards that I’ve started, but not for holiday greetings, these are for a birthday party for my husband’s 50th. Unfortunately I need his help setting up the printer so I can print the actual invites but at least I’ve begun addressing them. Here’s hoping we can get that done soon.

I made the Kranz cake, it looks incredible. It was fun to make too because of the different steps. We’ll have to try it this weekend, it made two loaves. I cut one in half and froze the other whole for Christmas.

kranz steps

I also made the spoon cookies and I think they will taste especially brown buttery because I let the dough sit overnight and then I’ll wait a day or two to freeze them.

December 5 – Organize gift wrapping supplies

I usually bring the wrapping paper, ribbon and gift bags up a little later in the month. I think Martha has a room dedicated to this task, or at least a very attractive cubby. Ours are kept in plastic tubs and cardboard boxes, and it takes over the dining room table. While the cat enjoys a table covered in wrapping paper and miscellaneous scraps I can’t say it’s my favorite part of the holiday. I do however like wrapping presents, and it’s much more pleasant to wrap them by the fire, with some music playing. I’ll probably wait for my daughter to come home, I like wrapping presents with her.

December 7 – Place stakes along driveway for snowplows

I haven’t heard anything about snow but of course, it’s inevitable. My husband does the snow blowing and we’ve never needed stakes although once he did veer a bit into a garden.

December 8 – Fertilize orchids in the greenhouse

It’s funny, I tore out a page from Town & Country a few weeks ago because it showed a whole bunch of orchids, they were breathtaking. I have an orchid that needs to be repotted and fed and is struggling. It used to bloom routinely but now looks very sad. Today I bought a small, purple orchid at Trader Joe’s, it’s the cutest orchid and was only $5. I hope it does well. I’d love to have more.

I did a little more menu planning for Christmas Dinner, I’m pretty excited about it.

December 9 – Craft ornaments with Jude and Truman

I cleaned the oven, following Martha’s recommendation from last week and I think it’s actually really smart to clean it after Thanksgiving and before all the baking I do for December. I opened a few windows and set a window fan to vent outside, the smell is always terrible and I didn’t want to poison the cat or dog. I am pleased to report that we all survived. Even better – I finally got the glass door clean, I wiped it with another round of baking soda paste and can now see through it!

I cleaned the oven after making a double batch of peppermint brownies, and while doing laundry. It sounds very house-wifey doesn’t it. Still, it was a satisfying day even if we didn’t make any ornaments.

December 10 – Decorate for the holidays with Jude and Truman

We put the tree up. It smells good. I discovered I don’t like the lights but as you know they go on first, and it was too late to do anything about it, especially since the other lights are outside. So the tree has this odd neon green glow to it this year, which probably looks really awesome if you are looking into our house from across the street. Let’s just say it’s not as attractive if you’re sitting in the same room.

We also tried the Kranz cake. It’s interesting, it has lemon zest in it which adds a savory fruity element, and the bread isn’t all that sweet despite the sugar syrup that it’s practically drowned in. I’m not sure I like it, I think I do. I’ll have to try it again.

I finalized the menu for Christmas, I think it’s going to be delicious. Now on to planning for my husband’s birthday!

This week’s tip from Martha: Cocktail Party Hors d’Oeuvres