Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Sparkle

Still on a Christmas high, enjoying the seasonal cheer, even when shopping. Shopping at a Target on the weekend was a civilized experience (granted, it was before noon, when things tend to take a turn for the worse).

In addition to purchasing a gift card while there, I bought a couple of candles, the Method brand. Yes, the company that brought wallet-friendly, environmentally correct cleaning supplies does it again, offering fragrant, affordable candles. The store carried 'gingerbread spice' ones, just in time, so I was suckered into buying a pair. Mmm, mmm, good! That homey, holiday scent, on the cheap...

In the past, I've been wary of candles, because they're a leading cause of fires, which is why I insist on candles that are enclosed in jars or tin.

Earlier this year, my aunt related a story of how her daughter's house almost caught fire when one of her [admittedly large, open] candles flames shot out of control, a vivid warning to me on the potential dangers of this source of beauty.

Of course, Method's candles are soy (read: nonpetroleum), which are all the rage in the candle/gift world. Web sites wax effusive (pun intended) over the 'superior fragrance throw' of candlewax from the oil of the humble bean, glycine max.

It's good news when a popular category of products can be transitioned, almost en masse, from being polluting, petroleum-produced health hazards, to non-petroleum, non-polluting, less-wasteful pleasantries. This welcome development is one small step away from petroleum, which, has of late, been showing a mini-creep upwards in price at the pump. Considering the events in the Mideast as of late, you had to see that upward tick, and more gas price instability, coming...

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

This being World AIDS Day, the one message that everyone should take away is: Get tested, because it can happen to anyone, anywhere...(Hey, if superstar Obama can do it, anyone can!)

More Christmas Merriment...

I've been getting in the holiday spirit greatly, as of late...the other elves at work decorated the office yesterday, and it brought everyone's spirits up to see the display this morning!

Of course, I had to go into my Martha Stewart mode, and go to Whole Foods before work to pick up some seasonal accoutrements...They call that store 'Whole Paycheck' not just because of the price of much (but not all) of the merchandise, but because the variety of products will have you spending that paycheck before you know it! For instance, not only did it have the tempting tiny rosemary and stone pine trees, but garlands, just waiting to be picked up and given new homes. Which I promptly did, for one of them. I took the garland apart, and put parts of it in various areas of the office, so that there could be a fresh pine smell throughout, because the office tree is artificial.

Now, I couldn't stop there, of course. I had to find a jar or tin-enclosed candle, preferably soy, to impart a spicy, holiday aroma. Although I didn't find a candle with the exact name 'gingerbread,' I did find a nice facsimile, a cinnamon/almond scented soy candle from Pacifica, for $13. (All the candles that Whole Foods sells are soy, instead of parafin, according to a sales associate.) That one candle made the entire office smell even better, with the scent wafting up multiple floors! Next on my personal holiday list: a candle wick trimmer, which is recommended to keep candles burning clean, as you are supposed to trim candle wicks after putting out the flame. Even spilling a little candle wax after putting out the candle didn't faze me, because the wax wasn't extremely hot, but it gave my finger a nice cinnamon fragrance.

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My attitude toward holiday leftovers is very relaxed (most of them now being gone), even though I had much food left over, much was eaten and given away on Thanksgiving, as well. While I've tried (and enjoyed) specific recipes for leftovers in the past, such as turkeyless tetrazzini, I mostly have a new attitude toward leftovers.

I like to have the first dinner after the big feast as a mini-feast, with the fancy plates and decor, to keep it special, but because it's just the immediate family, it's relaxing, too.

After that, I like to eat the leftovers in any way, shape, or form. I might microwave part of one dish to eat for lunch one day, such as the green bean casserole, and, for the morning, microwave some macaroni and cheese for breakfast.

My least favorite holiday food is mashed potatoes, not only because it's relatively ordinary compared to other feast foods, but because it's my least favorite form of the spud, being pure mush, more or less. This time, I patted most of the leftover mashed potatoes into two patties, heated some oil in a cast iron skillet, and fried them into crispy, golden brown potato pancakes. (Eaten with gravy, of course.) Umm, umm, good!

Homemade cranberry sauce, which, if you make it yourself, you have tons left over (thankfully!), is so versatile, being like a jam or conserve. Post-feast, I like to eat some as a quick breakfast or dessert, often layered with applesauce and ground nutmeg, served like a parfait. However, my favorite way of eating cranberry sauce is with fresh chopped apple or pear on top. Yum!

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I have yet to begin my Christmas baking yet, but I'm keeping gingerbread in mind, both in cake form and cookies. It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to all the baking and warmth, blah, blah, blah...