Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas Preparation - Organizing

I'm taking a break from working. I woke up this morning about 5:30, four hours after I went to sleep. I tried to sleep some more but it just wasn't meant to be. So, I got up and started working on things around the house.

It's a cloudy day, with occasional sprinkles. Supposedly it's going to turn very cold and snow later today but at the moment I have my front and back doors open, airing out the house.

I just finished cleaning under the cabinets beside my fridge. It was a mess. A can of pop had leaked and made an ugly dried brown puddle that I couldn't see until I got down there to work.

I'm also putting out glue traps all over the house since it's the time of year mice want to get inside. I have a very simple theory on such things - they can be anywhere on the planet except where I live. If they get in my house they're going to die.

I realize some people like to catch them and turn them loose - there's really no point - you might as well just live with them. Taking them out to the country and turning them loose just means they'll be in someone else's house. I just cannot stand the nasty, disease carrying things. So, I try hard to make sure if one gets it he doesn't get far before he runs into a glue trap.

Anyway, I put out fresh traps all over the house every fall so I've been doing that the last couple of weeks. The one I pulled out from under the cabinet - blissfully - had nothing on it but dust. I just don't want to take a chance on having one get in and be running all over my stuff. Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em.

I've got the Christmas tree bag drug into the house - as far as the kitchen. Later today I'm going to start bringing things up from the basement. I've got just a bit more tidying up of clutter to do in the living room and I'll be ready to focus my attention on Christmas.

With only a couple of closets and two wardrobes downstairs, I've got everything organized. I just want to enjoy the holidays right now and I'll get back to that afterwards. But, I'm pleased with my progress.

The upstairs is trashed, and what is up there is stuff that requires a very slow process of going through it, as well as what's left downstairs, but it can be done. It's mostly paper stuff and no one can do that except me. I am amazed when I get going on it that I can get through quite a bit of stuff. At this point just getting everything to the room where it belongs would be an accomplishment. I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

Well... I'm off to go work some more...

Gingerbread Cake for Creative Sisterhood

This is a cake recipe I made for Creative Sisterhood the other night. I love bundt cakes. I'm not sure exactly why, other than I like not having icing interferring with the flavors of the cake itself. I did serve this with lemon curd on the side.

Gingerbread Cake

from Allrecipes, Submitted by USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson

2 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened until easily spreadable
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup molasses

1 Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a metal or disposable foil 9-by-13-inch pan. Whisk dry ingredients and
spices in a large bowl. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.
2 Beat softened butter into dry ingredients, first on low, then medium, until mixture forms pebble-sized pieces. Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture and beat on low until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat on medium speed until batter is just smooth. Add the sugar; beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into cake pan.
3 Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan perimeter and turn cake onto rack. Let cool.

Gardening Continues

Today I got outside and cleaned up the flower bed and planted some of the bulbs I bought recently. I planted daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. I still have tons more to plant, but got weary of doing it this afternoon. I may have over purchased. The smell of mint is strong in the flower bed. It hasn't completely died out.

It was a beautiful day today, but we're supposed to get snow tomorrow so thought I'd better take advantage of the day. I cut back some of the perennials, but left a few that haven't quite died out. I figure the snow will take care of that if we really get it.

I also got the Christmas tree base set up and got the tree out of the shed. I drug the bag up to the back door but will probably have to bring it in the house in pieces.

I took a very long bath tonight, and read and thought. I'm in a contemplative mood lately and will be posting more about that here over the next few days and/or weeks. Things are shifting in my life, that's for sure.

It has been a very quiet day for me. I went to Roy's for lunch and they were swamped with people visiting for the holidays. I popped into the hardware store briefly and got home to meet with a gentleman about doing some work on my house. Other than those interactions, I have been alone with myself and my thoughts. I don't think my phone has even rung today.

I did go get groceries after midnight. I didn't want to wait until tomorrow, when everyone realizes we might get a dusting of snow and descends on the stores as if we will never get another shipment of food. I was out of yogurt and apples. That's my signal to go to the grocery store. I bought a pomegranate tonight. For some reason they're very decadent to me, maybe because we only get them for a brief time each year.

Well, I must get some rest. I have a very full day ahead tomorrow. I want to make more progress on Christmas decorating and finish my Christmas letter.