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broodings from the burrow

December 15, 2017

virtual advent 2017: day 15
posted by soe 5:30 am

virtual advent tour

Welcome to the third week of the Virtual Advent Tour!

Today, the tour returns to the other bipedal member of my household, Rudi at Random Duck. He’s got some Christmas-related trivia for you so that you can wow your friends and loved ones at parties and holiday meals.

See you back here tomorrow!

Category: christmas/holiday season. There is/are 1 Comment.

winter weather, hundreds of tubas, and ben franklin
posted by soe 2:40 am

This was a week chock full of beautiful things, so I’m cheating by sharing three things and three photos. Hey, my blog, my rules!


1. It snowed on Saturday pretty much all day long, but never really stuck to roadways or sidewalks, which meant we got to enjoy it without having to do any shoveling, which is really the most you can ask for from snow. There have also been some conversational snow flurries during the work week.

Dog in Christmas Sweater

2. Our friends Susan and Phillip invited us to join them for the free tuba Christmas concert at the Kennedy Center. Since this is now a ticketed event, it was really nice of them to offer to pick up the tickets while Rudi and I were still at our respective offices. Plus, while Rudi (who missed last year’s concert when the change was first made) questioned the moving of the concert out of the great hall and into one of the theaters, his face when he saw tuba players (tubaists? tubers?) not only on the stage but also ringing the room on the balconies was full of joy.

Winter Flavor Tasting at Ice Cream Jubilee

3. Lin-Manuel Miranda announced today he’s giving us a year of “Hamildrops,” new Hamilton-themed content to come out once a month! December’s, which has provided the theme music for tonight’s blog writing, is “Ben Franklin’s Song,” performed by The Decemberists (whose lead singer, Colin Meloy, penned the melody). Should swearing be outside your comfort zone (in which case I might imagine Hamilton to be so as well, but your mileage may vary), there is also apparently a clean version, but I can’t imagine a better, more cathartic chorus than “Do you know who the fuck I am? I am Poor Richard’s Almanack-writing Benjamin fucking Franklin!?”

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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December 14, 2017

virtual advent 2017: day 14
posted by soe 5:30 am

virtual advent tour

Welcome to Day 14 of the Virtual Advent Tour. There are ten shopping days left after today, so I know how I’ll be spending part of this evening.

Do you have a few people you still need gifts for? If they eat eggs and flour (or if you have satisfactory substitutes for those ingredients in your own kitchen), may I recommend whipping up a few loaves of my grandmother’s cranberry quick bread? You can totally get them going prior to watching the Christmas specials on tv tonight. And if you bake a loaf for yourself, you can snack on that during The Great American Baking Show.

Technically, it’s cranberry nut bread, but since Mum is allergic to nuts, they were never included in the loaves Gramma made for us. I’ll include that option in case you like nuts in your baked goods.

Cranberry [Nut] Bread

Sift together:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, mix together:

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 Tbsp melted shortening
  • 2 Tbsp hot water (I use hot tap water, probably about the same temperature as I wash dishes in.)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (You could juice an orange and I have on occasion, but if you’ve got a carton of juice in the fridge, go with that for ease and speed.)

Stir together but don’t beat (emphasis Gramma’s) the dry and wet ingredients.

Fold in:

  • 1 cup (washed) cranberries


  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, but walnuts pair nicely if you decide to go that route)

Bake in greased bread pan at 325°F for 1 hour.

These instructions assume you will pop the bread out of the pan and present it that way. Allow it to cool and then wrap it first in plastic wrap (the orange juice makes the loaf a little sticky, and this helps keep things tidier) and then in tin foil for storage. Slap a label and a bow on it and you’re ready to gift. (I assume you could alternatively get a disposable aluminum loaf pan and hand it off in that if you so desire, but that feels like more work, rather than less.)

To serve, cut a generous slice (hunk, my grandfather would have said) of bread and slather it with butter. Pair it with a hot cup of tea.

I had forgotten how easy this recipe is. I’ll need to pick up some o.j., but I bought a bag of cranberries last weekend without realizing why I needed them.

See you back here tomorrow!

Category: arts,christmas/holiday season. There is/are 2 Comments.

December 13, 2017

virtual advent 2017: day 13
posted by soe 5:30 am

virtual advent tour

Today kicks off the second half of the Advent season. There’s still plenty of time to go! In addition to being the second night of Hanukkah, it’s also Saint Lucia Day, celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and other countries by having a young girl or woman wearing a candle-bedecked wreath on her head distribute saffron pastries or other baked goods in festivities tied to the seasonal rejuvenation of the light (Saint Lucy is the patron saint of light).

Behind today’s Virtual Advent Tour door we welcome Elise from Lovely Yarn Escapes. She provides us with some quick-knit Christmas gifts, as well as pointing us to recipes for two of the traditional cookies she makes for her family.

Finally, here are the answers to Monday’s carol quiz: (more…)

Category: christmas/holiday season. There is/are 3 Comments.

December 12, 2017

virtual advent 2017: day 12
posted by soe 5:30 am

virtual advent tour

Today is the 12th day of December, the first night of Hanukkah, and the end of the first half of the Advent season. That’s hard to believe and painful to think about that final item, so let’s just move along, shall we?

Behind today’s calendar door is a post from Kat of As Kat Knits. She shares memories of reading to her children at Christmas when they were small and some favorite books from those days.

Also, in case folks still want to play yesterday’s Christmas music trivia game (because Rudi tells me it was too hard), I’m going to give it one more day before publishing the correct order. (And just so you all know, I came up with the list of songs and then tried my own hand at guessing before looking up the answers. I only got a quarter of them right.) So stop back tomorrow for answers and a post from a new host!

Category: christmas/holiday season. There is/are 1 Comment.

top ten tuesday: bookish settings to visit
posted by soe 1:48 am

I’ve never understood the desire to share a best-of reading (or listening or watching or whatever) list before the very last opportunity to add to it. There is still nearly three weeks left in the year, which leaves me enough time to read ten more books that could supplant those leading my pack right now.

Which is the long way of saying I won’t be doing today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic until the end of the month. So, instead, I’ll share my responses to last week’s topic at The Broke and the Bookish, which asked which bookish settings would you like to visit?

  • The Weasleys’ Burrow: I nicknamed our apartment after it. (Also, Hogwarts. Also, Diagon Alley. Also, Hogsmeade.)
  • Book World in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.
  • Prince Edward Island, based on the Anne books (and raidergirl3’s photos and descriptions).
  • The eponymous Secret Garden.
  • Wild Cat Island from Swallows and Amazons.
  • Guernsey.
  • The Night Circus (Even if I’d have to buy some black & white clothes to wear).
  • The Polar Express.
  • Queens Museum of Art (to see the miniature version of New York City)
  • Rivendell. Or maybe Lothlorian. Or maybe just the Shire.

On a related note, I own a book called Storybook Travels, which offers 30 real itineraries for favorite children’s books, including A Bear Called Paddington, Eloise, and The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

How about you? What bookish places would you like to step into?

Category: books. There is/are 3 Comments.