December 7, 2015

Things I Love About December ?

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Ah December. How I love thee. There’s a magic in the air all month long, that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the holidays and it’s a beautiful time to be alive. No matter what’s going on, December is always a good time to stop and reflect on the positives (anytime is a good time, but December is especially apt). So why do I kove December so much? Let me count the ways:

01) Baby It’s Cold Outside
I may be a California girl and wnjoy my warm weather, but I love cold weather too. Well, for the most part ;) I love wearing long sleeves, finding cute and warm gloves, breaking out the scarves and enjoying the brisk winds as I walk home. I may not want to stay out in that weather longer than I have to, but I enjoy it while I’m out. And, coming home to a warm house after a day out in the cold is pure bliss.

02) Cozy Nights (and Days)
There is nothing better than flipping on the heat, pulling on some warm clothes l, lighting some scented candles and cuddling into the sofa with a soft blanket, a cup of hot coffee/chai/cocoa and a good book/movie.

03) Fragrance In The Air
December has a scent. Or rather, a series of scents. December is made up of pine and cranberry, cinnamon and nutmeg, brown sugar and chocolate. And walking through the neighborhoods when all of the scents mingle together? Heavenly.

04) Holidays!
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule or something else or a combination of several, December is a holiday month and I love the holidays. I may hate the rudeness of people in stores (hey, I work retail. You always see the worst in people when you work retail) leading up to them, but I love the holidays. I enjoy lighting my Hanukkah candles every night for 8 nights and singing the Hanukkah blessings and I enjoy decorating the tree and stringing up lights.

05) Wrapping Up
I am a sucker for gift wrap. I love wrapping presents and I love the bright colors of the papers, the crinkly tissue papers, snowy winter scenes on boxes and bags, curling ribbons, all of it. I even love when gift tags get stuck to me and I have to play “Is There A Tag On My Ass This Time.” You know what I’m talking about.

06) Reflections and Reminiscing
With the end of the year, December is always a good time to reflect upon ourselves and reminisce over the events of the last year. I try not to make resolutions because I believe you should constantly be changing and trying new things throughout the year and not stick to a list you made on one night. But resolutions or not, definitely perfect time to start thinking of those changes.

07) Musical Inspirations
I think it’s been pretty evident on my blog that I love music (and yes, I’m already putting together a new winter playlist) and December is no exception. While I’m not huge on most Christmas songs, I enjoy some, such as Carol of the Bells. But I always have a December playlist, ready for the days closer to Christmas that include some Christmas hits I love as well as songs about the upcoming winter.

08) Traditions
Traditions are very important to me. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have much family left but just because they are gone or the few members I have aren’t local, doesn’t mean that I can’t follow traditions. And for me, one Christmas Eve tradition is to enjoy some caviar with butter crackers and a glass of champagne while watching a holiday movie. And it’s a tradition I follow every year, either with friends or alone, in honor of my family.

What do you love about December? I’d love to hear/see your list so let me know in a comment!

November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Blessings

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I may have posted my Thanksgiving blessings earlier, but I have to say that I’m so grateful for the fact that Thanksgiving is over – not because I had a bad one. No. I actually had a great Thanksgiving. I’m grateful it’s over because I need a reprieve from the craziness of the holiday and the hectic schedule that I’ve been keeping. The week before Thanksgiving, I worked 5 days and slept a grand total of 41 hours in the whole week. This last week I also worked 5 days, 39 hours and 15 minutes and had a grand total of 43 hours of sleep. I was scheduled to work Thanksgiving day (woohoo double time and a half!) and instead of the 4 hours that I was scheduled, I worked a grand total of 7 hours and 15 minutes. All of my shifts were either 3am or 4am. Which accounts for the little sleep and on Thanksgiving day I worked until 12:15 and still had to cook dinner. Whew. So, now you know why I haven’t been around much to blog or comment. I apologize for that, but that, sadly, is life in a bakery before a holiday!

Now. Time for the positives and the happy parts.

After a long day at work, I rushed home, showered and started on dinner. After I cracked open a bottle of champagne and drinking half a glass first … hey. It’s been stressful and champagne is good. I played my Cinnamon & Cloves playlist while cooking, because music while cooking/baking for me is a must and away we went!

There were only three of us and I wanted to do something different so instead of turkey, I made three Cornish Game Hens that I glazed with a brown sugar & spicy mustard glaze. To go with the hens, I made a Sausage & Herb Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole and Corns & Peas in Tarragon Butter. My roommate’s mother (who had come down from Mount Vernon to enjoy the holiday with us) brought Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes and her amazing Cranberry Salad made with cranberries, blueberries, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. And my roommate Rachel had picked up a Sweet Potato side dish for her and her mom (yeah I’m the weirdo who dislikes sweet potatoes). Everything was so good. We ate til we were stuffed. We talked. We laughed. We relaxed. i drank a second glass of champagne and they polished off a bottle of wine. And then … it was dessert time.

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I decided to do something a little bit differently this year. As I’ve stated before, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin. So I definitely didn’t want any pumpkin pie. And I’m not really big on pies anyway. So I made a Carrot Orange Spice cake with Orange Spice Cream Cheese Frosting and topped with Candied Pecans. It was DELICIOUS. Decadent and sweet without being heavy. The perfect addition and everyone agreed. In fact they both said that that should be my Thanksgiving dessert every year. So it looks like I started a new Thanksgiving tradition, without even meaning to! But seriously, I’m NOT a fan of carrot cake but even I like this cake. No. Strike that. Love this cake. Rachel and I finished it yesterday and I was incredibly sad. I guess that means it’s time to make a new one!

I had to crash early, not just because I was tired, but because I had to work at 4am on Black Friday so I chatted for a few more minutes and then headed off to bed so they could have some mother/daughter time and I could relax a little before sleep.

It may have been a low-key (for the most part) Thanksgiving, but I wouldn’t have traded it for another. It was everything that I wanted. And unlike last year, there were no tears and no anger. No one took me for granted. No one acted like an asshole and made rude comments after I worked all day and the cooked dinner. No one was mean in anyway. It was honestly the best Thanksgiving that I’ve had since my mom passed. And that makes me happy. Yes. I missed her. Yes. I wished I could have my family back. But I can’t and I finally had a wonderful holiday despite that. I proved to myself it’s possible to miss someone you love dearly and STILL have a wonderful time.

I don’t really do Black Friday shopping. I despise the crowds and I can’t stand how horrible most people become when they start shopping. I don’t need to deal with the shoving and pushing and rudeness. So since I did have to work, I checked out the movies and that was about it. I will say that I did manage to buy 13 new movies … and only 1 is a gift. Oops!

I’d love to hear all about your Thanksgiving! Do you have any family traditions? did you do anything differently this year? Buy anything fun on Black Friday? Tell me all about it in the comments!

November 17, 2015

Ignorance + 6 Things That Piss Me Off

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My heart hurts. The events of the last weekend have shocked me in several different ways. The pain and the loss that has been caused. And then the reactions of those on social media … I almost want to delete and remove myself but at the same time, social media does do a lot of good. It’s like a co-worker said a few days ago, my faith in humanity is wavering daily. We’re not that far away from Thanksgiving or Christmas. The time of year when people are supposed to be thankful for what we have and practicing goodwill towards men. And yet, all I see is hate. I present to you, the six things I just find repugnant:

01) The Starbucks Red Cups Issue: I am so tired of hearing about this shitty “war on Christmas” propaganda that I’m seeing. At least I’m learning who to delete on Facebook on Twitter … There is no “war on Christmas” just because there is a minimalist red cup. If your decorative coffee cup (that you’re just going to throw away anyway) is what defines your Christmas, then honey, you have bigger issues to tackle than this made-up war.

02) The War on Christmas: This is sort of a continuation but also, not really. While everyone is complaining about not being able to find the perfect set of twinkle lights or the perfect wreath among the 6 aisles of Christmas stuff that most stores have now, I have been unable to find ANYTHING for Hanukkah. Not true. I found two, count them, TWO boxes of $10 18 count Hanukkah candles on one shelf at work. Oh and Hanukkah cards. That’s all. And Hanukkah is closer than Christmas. When I inquired about where I might be able to find some locally, several people replied “LOL tons of stuff on Amazon.” I know that. And I do buy stuff from Amazon. But why should I HAVE to? Where is the Hanukkah aisle? Or for that matter, the Yule aisle? Or the Kwanzaa aisle? I may buy Christmas presents and I may have a tree because it was tradition; I had a Catholic step-father. But I was born Jewish and I celebrate Hanukkah every year.

03) Reactions to Terrorist Attacks: What happened in Paris is horrible. It hurts in the most horrible of ways, just like 9/11 did. Even worse is that I have a friend in Paris (someone I hold dear to my heart) and I was going crazy at work trying to figure out if he was okay. When I snuck onto Facebook during my shift and saw that he has updated his status to safe, I cried. What makes me sick is that Paris, Russia and Lebanon all had terrorist attacks in the last week, all supposedly done by ISIS, and no one is mentioning the other two attacks. Outrage is perfectly natural. Be outraged at what happened. Be ANGRY! Be hurt and saddened. But feel all those emotions for all the attacks and not just one.

04) Blocking the Syrian Refugees: This one … just boggles my mind. I see all these people saying how ISIS needs to be stopped and how horrible the war in Syria is, but then they post and talk about how the borders (of several different countries) should be closed to the refugees. Wait, what? You’re saying bomb ISIS and stop the war but who cares about the people fleeing? Um, no. It doesn’t work that way. It can’t work that way. By the way? The last of the Syrian Jews were rescued last week. A 3000 year old community has ended. But we shouldn’t help them or anyone else from Syria? I can’t speak for other countries. But the US was born from immigrants. Why are we ignoring that fact?

05) Treating People in Retail Like Crap: The other day I literally had a lady stand in my bakery and raise her voice at me because we didn’t have mincemeat pies in stock yet for her Christmas party this week. Let that sink in for a second. It’s not even Thanksgiving and she is screaming about a Christmas party this week. Two days later I had a man sneer at me after I told him apologetically that we were out of french bread, and then after seeing my Star of David, he called me an Arab and walked away. I’m Jewish and an American, born and raised. Not an Arab. My co-worker had someone call her a bitch because the woman needed a cake in 30 minutes and A) we require 24 hours notice and B) we were busy and short-handed. We are people. Yes. We are paid to work and help you but guess what. We’re not paid to handle your abuse. Standing there name-calling and screaming at us IS abuse. And this happens at every store and year-round. And it’s getting worse.

06) The Politics Battle: I actually dislike politics. I follow enough to make educated decisions so that I can vote for the things that I think should change or happen. I try and stay out of political discussions because I know that my opinions aren’t the majority among many of the people I know and because I’d rather find other things to discuss. But I am very passionate about my beliefs and opinions, just like everyone else should me. My problem isn’t what you believe in. I really don’t care. I may not agree, but at least you have that opinion. My problem is with the people who are vocal about what they think is wrong and don’t vote. The way I look at it is, if you stand by and do nothing to try and change it (which is what a vote does) then you have no right to complain about how things are going. If you refuse to register and make a decision, you don’t deserve the right to state your opinion. At that point, your opinion is irrelevant. You made the choice to forfeit your opinion.

I understand that not everyone will agree with me on these subjects, and that is perfectly okay. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t agree. But these are all things that have been building in my head, and I needed to get them out. If you’d like to comment, I’d love to hear them and if you’d prefer not to, I’ll understand :)