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broodings from the burrow

December 7, 2022

virtual advent tour 2022: day 7
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2022

Today marks the end of the first week of December, which probably means that those of us who are hoping to get things mailed should start hopping to it.

In addition, it’s one of the Advent days I look forward to most in D.C. — the Washington Post‘s Food section releases their new Christmas cookie recipes for the year!

We grew up making Christmas cookies — and eating those family and friends made every year. Like most people, I have cookies I associate with the holidays, even if there’s nothing stopping me from making them any other time of the year. Peanut butter blossoms, for instance. And spritz cookies if you make them in non-Christmassy shapes. But in my brain they’re seasonal cookies.

Christmas Cookies

Because most of our Christmas recipes are beloved hand-me-downs from family and dear friends, I don’t often add new recipes to the repertoire. But I love to peruse newspaper food sections and baking books and foodie blogs and bookmark recipes and imagine Someday and What If?

But this year, with no day job to get in my way and with pre-holiday plans few and far between, I’m thinking, Maybe This Year and What’s Stopping Me? After all, many of those beloved family recipes would have come from women’s magazines.

I’ve got cookie cutters I’ve never used and a bunch of decorations I bought in 2020 when the pandemic meant we did Christmas on our own for the first time ever. That year, I needed the traditional recipes. But this year, I’m thinking it’s time to add in some new things, as a metaphor for what I’m looking for in the other aspects of my life. There’s at least four pounds of sugar, five pounds of flour, and two pounds of butter in my kitchen.

I’m ready! (And I’ll share later in the Virtual Advent Tour if I find any winners!)

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe you make each December or a new one you’re excited to bust out this year? We’ve still got plenty of open dates that you could grab!

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December 6, 2022

virtual advent tour 2022: day 6
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2022

Happy St. Nicholas Day! I hope you survived Krampusnacht unscathed and that you awoke this morning (or, come home later today) to find your shoes full of goodies.

Today, we get to do some touring! Raidergirl3 at an adventure in reading is the blogger who’s participated most in the Virtual Advent Tour, having joined in its inaugural year, back when Marg and Kailana were running it. That’s how we met, and I joined her on the tour the following December.

Today, she shares some Christmas memories with us, both from her personal life and of her Virtual Advent Tour posts through the years. I hope you check out both.

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top ten holiday reads i’d like to get to this season
posted by soe 1:57 am

Since this week is a freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl I thought I’d share some holiday books I’m hoping to read this season.

But first, if you haven’t been reading this year’s Virtual Advent Tour, make sure you check out fellow bibliophile raidergirl3’s post for today. Want to join in the fun? We’d love some additional participants, and you can do things like share a book or film review, a recipe, or favorite tradition. Sign-ups are here.

Now, here’s my holiday list, all of which I own, are checked out from the library, or I reasonably expect will come in from holds:

  1. The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox (grown-up The Parent Trap meets professional holiday baking)
  2. Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan
  3. Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
  4. Deck the Donuts by Ginger Bolton
  5. Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
  6. Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds
  7. The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park
  8. The Usual Santas edited by Peter Lovesey
  9. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
  10. The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore

How about you? Do you have any seasonal reading planned?

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December 5, 2022

virtual advent tour 2022: day 5
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2022

Welcome back to the fifth day of the Virtual Advent Tour.

Every year, in the first week after Thanksgiving, I head downtown to Macy’s to check out their holiday windows. Some years, they are amazing and other years, they’re … a little less wondrous.




This year falls into the latter category with an apparent tie-in with the Toys-R-Us brand. The toy store giant faded this millennium, ultimately declaring bankruptcy five years ago. However, Christmas is a time for miracles (and capitalism-driven nostalgia) because the brand now operates seasonally out of Macy’s toy sections.




So, if you were at one point or another a Toys-R-Us kid, get you to your local Macy’s for an Instagram opportunity with Geoffrey the Giraffe.


Would you like to share some of the holiday sights near your home? Sign up for a date and the Virtual Advent Tour will make a stop.

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December 4, 2022

virtual advent tour 2022: day 4
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2022

Welcome back to the fourth day of the Virtual Advent Tour. Tonight is our annual tree-trimming party, so please enjoy this classic holiday post, first published eight years ago and no less relevant today than in years past (although we are maybe in slightly better shape than usual):

How to Throw a (Christmas) Party

My tree-trimming party is due to start in ten hours. I am exhausted, but the state of the Burrow suggests I ought not to be.

Here’s roughly how we got to where we are:

1. Set the date of the party sufficiently in advance. (Mine has been the second Sunday after Thanksgiving since I started throwing them for my college interns and my friends the year after I graduated college myself. Twenty-six years is considered sufficient.)

2. Invite guests early enough so that can fit your event into a busy holiday season. If you have essentially reserved a date for yourself for more than two decades, this can be slightly closer to the event … such as when repeat guests start asking when the invitation is going to arrive.

3. Begin to clean your home. Depending how often this occurs at other times of the year, it may be necessary to place this higher in your timeline. In my case, I ought to have started the day after my last party.

4. Procrastinate. Allow sufficient time for this. Consider starting a large and detailed and difficult-to-relocate project right in your main party space. You work better under a deadline, after all.

5. Clean some more in a haphazard fashion. Preferably stop one project partway through and leave it behind as if Mr. Clean has been swept through your living space by a hurricane.

6. Take a nap. Make some food. You need to keep up your strength after all.

7. Tackle a small part of the paper you ought to recycle the night before the final recycling is picked up before your party. By small, I mean a handful of envelopes. By night before, I mean 4 a.m.

8. Start to hit a frenzy. Of course you’ll get this all done! There’s plenty of time. By that, I mean two days. Almost.

9. Buy party supplies. In my case, this involves a tree, food, drinks, and paper products. Why does this grocery store not carry half the things you want? Are three bags of chips enough? Where, for the love of all things merry, is the vegan eggnog?!

10. Despair. Is it too late to uninvite all the guests 16 hours before the party is due to start? Or maybe just turn out all the lights and pretend not to be home?

11. Prioritize. A clean bathroom and a clean kitchen are important. People are willing to overlook dust, but they like a clean sink; remember, though, you can still lock yourself in the bathroom to do a spot clean after the first guests arrive.

12. Why have you never noticed all the cat fur and cat litter tracked all over the place? Oh, no, wait. You totally have. You just opted to overlook it.

13. Eat chocolate and drink tea. This will keep your mind off the fact that you have not left yourself enough time to sleep.

14. Stop to write a blog post. Because we all know that helps.

15. Tackle the biggest non-loud projects in the middle of the night. Then you can pretend your tears are from the strain, rather than the knowledge that you will not finish in time.

16. Get some sleep. Two hours is a nice amount for a long day ahead. You wouldn’t want to get groggy.

17. Calculate the time the stores open that sell the things you forgot or couldn’t find. Arrive as they unlock their doors.

18. Give up on prioritizing. Now you are just going to work on moving/hiding/minimizing the mess. Lacking a bedroom door and extensive closet space makes this a challenge.

19. Chuck papers into bags. Make sure you note which bag contains the important/recent papers because inevitably you will need it tomorrow. This stage is not unlike moving apartments, at least for me.

20. Pile everything on your bed.

21. Try to vacuum before your guests arrive. (This will not always happen.)

22. Try to be done cooking before your guests arrive. (This will rarely happen.)

23. Assume that any guest that arrives promptly at the time you’ve said your party begins is interested in helping you clean and cook. Otherwise, why would they be there already?

24. Have an absolutely wonderful time with your guests during your party. These people are your friends and they really don’t care if you forgot to get rid of those cobwebs you just noticed in a dark corner or if they have to eat home-cooked chili out of a chipped bowl … or a (clean) reused takeaway container.

25. After your last guest has left, collapse on your couch and admire your lovely clean party space. Because you’re never going to bed with all that crap on it.

(See you tomorrow sometime on the other side of 24.)

You, too, could share some of your holiday traditions. Sign up for a Virtual Advent Tour slot here.

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December 3, 2022

virtual advent tour 2022: day 3
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2022

Welcome back to third day of the Virtual Advent Tour!

Today, I thought I’d share a short review of Spirited, the new Ryan Reynolds-Will Ferrell film that’s streaming on Apple+ and showing at select movie theaters.

In this musical twist on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Will Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present at an afterlife nonprofit, run by Jacob Marley, dedicated to redeeming a crummy person each year and thereby keeping a sense of good will alive in the world.

While scouting their next target, they stumble across Ryan Reynolds’ character, Clint, a stereotypical p.r. mogul who has made a career out of ruining people. Present sees the potential for broad impact in making Clint their next “star” and pushes Marley to make the decision, even going so far as to threaten to take his retirement — an opportunity to return to the earth as a mortal — if Marley says that Clint’s too far gone to be selected.

After Marley agrees, things quickly devolve, with Clint and Past hooking up and Present having to take a more active role in the haunting. Clint responds by looking to figure out what motivates Present, in order to manipulate him, and mayhem follows.

The show also stars Octavia Spencer as Clint’s number two, but with a conscience; Tracy Morgan as the voice of Christmas Yet to Come; and Sunita Mani as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Ferrell and Reynolds are both adequate, but not stellar, singers, so if you love really well-done musical theater, go in with reasonable expectations. My dad (normally a huge A Christmas Carol fan) thought it was overly long, my mother suggests that there’s so much going on that it will hold up to multiple viewings, and I thought the song lyrics (a Pasek-Paul production — the team behind The Greatest Showman, La La Land, and Dear Evan Hansen) and choreography (by D.C. native Chloé Arnold) were the highlights of the show.

Watch Spirited if you want a family-friendly holiday musical, if you like solid twists on Dickens’ most famous story, or if you enjoy a fun buddy comedy. If you aren’t a huge Will Ferrell fan, this is the more toned down version of him (think less Ron Burgandy and way more Harold Crick from Stranger Than Fiction), and I would table concerns if that’s the only thing holding you back.

Got a holiday book or movie to review? Include your post in our Virtual Advent Tour. We’d love to send additional traffic your way! Sign up here.

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