I am often amazed and inspired by the home-making abilities of those around me. My sister-in-law stopped by my house and in 2 minutes (with 2 children running around) managed to solve a storage problem that had been lingering for months. (The answer: put the box of bocce balls behind the television!). My boyfriend’s sister-in-law sent us Christmas gifts so beautiful we took pictures of the gift-wrapping before opening the gifts themselves. My sister can whip up a batch of cookies in 20 minutes flat. My parents can, with their powers combined, put together brunch for 30 of our closest relatives with 30 minutes notice.
I’m not there yet. I’m the one with a box of bocce balls sitting by the back door because I don’t know where to put them. I aspire to be able to whip up cookies in 20 minutes flat. I may make my own tortillas, but “from scratch” doesn’t necessarily mean “easily from scratch” or “quickly from scratch.” It’s more like “awkward and messily from scratch.”
As I attempt to grow from messy to graceful, I find inspiration in those around me, including other blogs. Most recently, I’ve begun to enjoy Hallowed Be Thy Home (http://www.hallowedbethyhome.com/), written by the aforementioned gift-wrapper. She shares her wisdom on wreath-making and other projects, as well as tips on green living that can be sustainable, healthy, and supportive of local endeavors.
I am as terrible at wrapping presents as I used to be at cooking. But this year, things are changing.
Two big things have happened so far, and it’s not even Christmas Eve. First, I was allowed to stir the pot of toffee cooking on the stove. (Toffee: boiled sugar and other unhealthy things, poured onto a pan with chocolate melted on top and then hardened outside in the snow. I’d provide the recipe but it’s too dangerous).
Let me rephrase that: I was allowed to stir the boiling vat of candy threatening to scald your hands and stick to your skin with the pain of a thousand darkening grains of sugar. It took two years of cooking and a piece in the New York Times for my mother to allow me within a three-foot vicinity of the pot. (Okay, this might be a bit of embellishment. She probably would have let me do this many years ago if I had shown the interest and caution that it deserves). So, I stirred the toffee. Now all I need is a candy thermometer and I can make it myself. If I have the guts to do it. I’ll keep you posted next year.
The second big thing that happened so far this holiday season: I actually listened to advice. Years ago family attempted to teach me how to wrap gifts neatly. But I, proud of my misshapen and overly taped gifts, refused to listen and placed my gifts under the tree in a big huff.
That being said, some small part of my brain retained the knowledge and this year, while wrapping a large box, I remembered that I could pull the sides out rather than crumpling them in, much like neatly tucking in the sheets of a freshly-made bed. I tried it and found I obtained a crisp fold that required only two pieces of tape, rather than the usual seven per side. I still used three just to be safe.
Stirring toffee and heeding advice about gift-wrapping. I think I’m ready for Christmas.