O, Christmas Tree

As is our tradition, Hubby and I used part of our Thanksgiving weekend to start decorating for Christmas.  Since he’s deep in rehearsals for The Nutcracker, it’s important to get the ball rolling right after Thanksgiving – otherwise, we tend to find ourselves at the end of December without a tree (and sometimes without gifts for anyone).  We started the afternoon with a trip to Bluebeard Coffee for a couple of La Pistola (spicy) hot cocoas before heading to Green Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Edgewood, WA.  The Hubby even consented to listen to one the radio stations in town that plays Christmas music on their regular (non-HD) airwaves.  Since he’s not big on holiday music, that was a big concession for him!
We meandered through the farm, each of us pointing out trees that we thought would be good to bring home.  He turned down my first choice:

BehemouthAND he wouldn’t agree to my second choice – something about our living room not being large enough and not having tall enough ceilings…

How about this one, honey?

When wWho says you can't put a tree in your trunk?e agreed on a 7-foot tree with a side that would work against the wall, I was sure that we should have brought the Hubby’s car, with its kayak racks (the ones we’d secured our tree to last year).  The Hubby was certain that it would fit in the trunk.  And he was right, although I was doubtful when I saw the tree lying on the ground next to the car.  I should never doubt his tetris skills.

Loaded & Ready to RollOnce we’d unloaded the tree, it was time to decorate, right? I learned from holiday movies (okay, and from my parents) that it’s important to check your lights BEFORE putting them on the tree.  It’s good that I learned that lesson ahead of time, because my 19-year-old lights have given up the ghost.  One string of lights didn’t come on when I plugged it in – it only lit up at all after I messed with the fancy late-90s dimmer controls that determined how quickly they flashed.  Even then, less than a third of the bulbs lit up – not enough from my point of view.  The second string of lights did mostly light up, but both are showing some corrosion on the wires, and maybe nearly two decades is enough for the lights to last.

If we’d been super productive today and had headed to the tree farm in the morning, we may have still been able to decorate today.  But we were NOT super productive, and I think we only got to the tree farm an hour before closing.  Also keep in mind: this delay happened after we’d already spent an hour or more troubleshooting Amazon Video to try to figure out why our playback is so choppy when streaming my favorite Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard.  I finally lost patience with the technology and opted to watch on my iPhone.

So the Hubby made a run to the store, returned with all-new lights, and we were able to get that much done tonight.  It’s time to take the small victory of having a lit tree in our living room and call it good for now.  Maybe we’ll enjoy a nice, slow week of decorating for Christmas and stay in a festive spirit the whole way.

Stay tuned for photos once the decorations are done!

Decadent Hot Chocolate

Hubby & I went to our friends’ house Christmas Evening and brought the makings for the decadent hot chocolate recipe I found in the The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  Since the cookbook is 3-ring binder style, I took the hot chocolate page out in preparation to bring it with me, but I apparently set it down as I picked up the grocery bag.  So I knew the ingredients, and I’d glanced at the recipe.  Rather than walking 4 blocks back home to retrieve the recipe, I just went for it.  Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons Hershey’s Dutch-processed/dark chocolate powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • more cream, sugar & vanilla for whipped cream
  • Irish Cream

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, cream, chocolate powder, sugar, & vanilla in a saucepan and heat to boiling on the stove top
  2. After the milk mixture is hot, remove from heat & stir in chocolate chips.  Whisk until melted.
  3. Meanwhile, have one of your friends that you’re hanging out with whip some of the cream for topping.  After the cream forms soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla to taste.
  4. Spoon the hot chocolate into individual mugs and add Irish Cream to your hearts’ content.  Stir and top with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

In the original recipe, the vanilla was added off heat along with the chocolate chips and there was more chocolate powder (2 tablespoons instead of 1).  I’m not sure how much difference it might have made, but I will say that our cocoa was delicious.  It’s definitely a special treat (whole milk and heavy cream = rich cocoa!).  I think I’ll be adding this hot chocolate recipe to my traditional holiday list.  Now I just need to get some Sweet Demitasse Cups and Saucers to serve this in so we don’t all get coronaries!