I’m hiding in my room today, thanks to a wicked case of poison ivy made worse when I “eat fire,” Luke’s word for where I sit when I’m in the den–so close to the hissing flames my back turns bright crimson and I thirst for a gallon of water. Back here, propped up against a mound of pillows, I’ve got a fir-scented candle and Robert Shaw in my headphones. The twins are baking up a perfect storm in the kitchen, and Sadie’s running loose. (Another reason to hide–if she sees me with my laptop she marches over to shut it. She does not care for screen time–unless it’s her screen time.)
These glad and golden hours are flying fast, my friends. How I wish it all would slow down! And how I’m already mourning what has passed! Last night, Lanier threw a gorgeous, black-tie party for our couples reading group, Notions. As Luke and I pulled ourselves away at midnight and I looked back at the glowing Ruff House from the passenger seat, I sniffled a bit. Did the evening really pass so quickly? From the pear-champagne punch to the roast beef with caramelized shallots to the late-night laughter as guests stood in the hall buttoning coats, how could I not cry when we stepped out into the cold darkness? Such is to be expected. I am the same Laura who, at four, threw a tantrum when the curtain closed on the first play I was taken to, a community theater production of Winnie the Pooh. I was always startling my poor mother. What’s wrong? Didn’t you like it? she wondered. I loved it. But it’s over! I keened.
Over, the worst word in the English language.
Such a silly girl.
But I’ll take the highs–they are so delicious! Funny how during Christmas–and, I suppose, all year round–it’s often the quiet, small things that send me soaring. This week it was sipping a gingerbread latte with daughter Emma, watching a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie with the twins, whipping up a batch of Ina Garten’s chocolate orange mousse–somehow I’d never made mousse before–and taking a cold-weather walk with Sadie and admiring the neighbor’s life-size nativity scene. Baby Jesus! Sadie cried. She loves her baby Jesus sightings.
Here are a few small things on the web worth a peek this week:
Emma’s home from her first semester at college–and her baking blog is back in business! Emma has an uncanny knack for using a recipe for its “bones” and then completely making it her own. Her oatmeal and cacao nib cookies with bittersweet chocolate chips and toasted pecans (and “secret” ingredients maple extract and molasses) are Emma’s Christmas triumph–she’s sending a tin-full to my brother, Brian, and his wife, Jenni, in Kentucky and making gifts of them for friends. And, of course, Emma’s creation will be on the cookie tray at my parents’ house Christmas Eve. Have I not told you about our cookie tray? Since time immemorial, we’ve used an enormous silver platter to display a dozen or so types of homemade treasures to be passed around after Christmas Eve supper. We have a fancier dessert, usually a buche de noel, on Christmas Day, but I’ve always loved the cookie tray best. I used to have the job of arranging The Tray, but that honor was long ago handed to my girls. Check out Emma’s Sugar Dust for the cacao nib cookies (and more).
I doubt you need me to tell you about Anthropologie. But Anthro’s worth a look right now– I’ve noticed they’ve had a number of deep sales this Christmas. I picked up this little number for a song to wear to the Notions dinner.
Paired with cream-colored tights and cranberry mary janes, I think I did alright. Anthropologie is doing 30 percent off clothes, shoes, and accessories right now–“for a limited time,” whatever that means. If you visit, tell them I said hi! (My husband does not love the fact that the clerks at our local store know my name.)
It’s not often very cold in Georgia, so I was delighted when the thermometer dipped into the thirties last night, chilly enough to wear a proper coat (similar) and my black fur muff.
Don’t forget you can follow Golden Hours on Pinterest! I’ve been awfully picky with my Pins — only the best for GH!
Lanier is a podcast princess! Here’s one she did on celebrating home for Refracted Reality along with the wonderful Sarah Clarkson (more on Sarah later). The podcast features an audio version of Lanier’s essay, “In Praise of the House Party,” complete with music and sound effects.
High church fans, don’t miss this Christmas Eve MUST: The annual live stream of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College–airing at 10 a.m. EST. Blast it throughout the house while you wrap, bake, set the evening’s table–whatever you’re doing. From the processional “Once in Royal David’s City” to the “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” descant, the service is sublime.
Check out this rediscovered J.R. Tolkien (!) Christmas poem, “Noel.”
Lanier says she decided to “make it easy” on herself for the Notions meal, entrusting most of the menu to an Everyday Food spread from 2004. “I never do that,” she says, “always preferring to assemble my own recipes and keep things as complicated as possible.” Yep, that sounds about right. I, for one, am glad our hostess went the simple route, taking advantage of the magazine’s accompanying timeline and dividing up the food prep over days, making it all quite manageable. The chocolate cake with peppermint icing was “crazy-easy,” Lanier says, but earned rave reviews. It’s like a brownie, only lighter, or like a torte, only denser. Got that? Here’s the recipe: