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broodings from the burrow

December 23, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 23
posted by soe 6:00 am

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In the morning, Rudi and I drive north to my parents. For a week, my living room has been littered with dozens of bags containing unwrapped gifts. Homemade things are not complete. There are also unsent Christmas cards on the table and unused baking ingredients in the kitchen. My life is still filled with Christmas potential, which is good because Christmas-yet-to-come and I are going to have to have a heart-to-heart about what’s possible in the remaining hours leading up to the holiday.

Amidst all that, I threw up the reindeer signal to my dear friend, chick at Blue-Footed Musings, and asked if, amidst her own frenetic to-do list, she had the capacity to write one more blog post. And she, being the lovely woman that she is, pushed her wrapping paper to the side and offered us up the great story behind today’s door. It’s a story of music and family and silliness and tradition and just the sort of thing that we all love to read as the hours tick by until Saint Nick’s arrival.

Her story is a bit of a balm to my soul. Because this year I understand better than ever before that Christmas is ultimately about the people. Even if things aren’t quite done or the gifts are tucked into bags instead of wrapped and bowed, we will be together to open them in the same room, where hugs can be given and laughter won’t be tinged with tears of knowing the right thing sucks.

I know the last few weeks have brought that spectre back into some of your lives, and if you’re once again doing the right, sucky thing to keep your loved ones safe, I tip my Santa hat to you and wish the next few days will be filled with new traditions and adaptations that make the best of the situation. Maybe you, too, could channel your inner opera star for a bit.

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December 22, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 22
posted by soe 6:00 am

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We’ve made it through the last Monday AND Tuesday before Christmas, for better and for worse. Today is my last work day for the year, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to 5 p.m. However, there’s a grant draft and a final meeting and a non-work-related flu shot (they’d run out when I went for my booster shot last week) to get through first.

One of the best parts of office Christmases in the beforetimes is getting to try other people’s favorite holiday treats. My colleague, Alex, used to make peanut butter buckeyes, which I understand are popular in other parts of the country, but which I’d never encountered before. But a non-cook, peanut butter and chocolate cookie recipe (that’s also gluten-free for those of you often shut out of the cookie exchange)? Yes, please!

When she was leaving, Alex shared the recipe with me so I could continue enjoying them. And now I’m sharing them with you:

1 cup peanut butter (I’ve only tried it with creamy)
8 tbsp (one stick) softened, unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (plus up to 1/2 cup additional, as needed)
1 1/2 cups (1 lb) dark chocolate, melted and tempered

  1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together peanut butter, butter, and vanilla.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar slowly until the mixture forms a workable dough. (Add up to 1/2 cup more sugar if necessary.)
  4. Using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, scoop out balls of the mixture. Place the portions on prepared cookie sheet.
  5. Using your hands, roll the portions into round balls ~1 1/4″ in diameter. Return to sheet.
  6. Chill for ~20 minutes.
  7. Using a toothpick, dip each ball into the melted chocolate, leaving a 1/2″ circle of dough uncoated at the top. Place on cookie sheet, remove toothpick and smooth over hole.
  8. Store at room temperature, tightly sealed.

*Note: Add confectioners’ sugar until the mixture can roll it up cleanly between your hands.



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December 21, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 21
posted by soe 6:00 am

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Happy winter! Today is the shortest day of the year, with winter arriving late-morning EST. Let us honor the light found within each one of us.

Last week, I shared the Macy’s windows with you. Today, it’s Rudi’s turn, but with a twist. His are the Macy’s windows in downtown Salt Lake, where their Macy’s used to be a ZCMI. And while Rudi alludes to it a smidge in his introduction, it’s worth noting that ZCMI historically (and that Macy’s today) had the confectioners in their candy department build the windows. I mean those displays were impressive when you thought they were made with plastic & fluff….

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December 20, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 20
posted by soe 6:00 am

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Believe it or not, today is the last full day of autumn (or spring, if you’re reading this south of the equator), with the solstice arriving late tomorrow morning. Today definitely felt more seasonal, with my vest zippered up, fingerless mitts on, and a scarf tucked in.

Behind today’s door is a post from chick at Blue-Footed Musings about Christmas tree ornaments.

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December 19, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 19
posted by soe 6:00 am

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Folks, we’re down to the home stretch, with Christmas now hanging out there at the end of this week. I hope you’re feeling good about things and that Omicron isn’t affecting your plans at all. (I’ve started double-masking in indoor spaces and have decided to give a pass to indoor activities, like the movie sneak preview I was going to attend on Friday, until after I get back from Connecticut. I desperately do not want to miss a second Christmas with my parents and figure these are some small sacrifices in the short-term.)

Speaking of my folks, behind today’s door is another post from my Dear Old Dad, whose got your Christmas dinner trivia question set for you:

Most popular Christmas song the year you were born

I know what you’ve been wondering this week –- Wonder what the most popular Christmas song was the year I was born. Thought that I’d help you out a bit by sharing the name of the website that has the information.

In our house, growing up meant sharing life among six siblings. As the oldest kid I got the best and worst of it all, but at Christmas time, it was always the best. I was the first to get a record player of my own and pretty much first dibs on any 45 that came into the house. I was the first to get the top-selling Christmas record of all time. I can claim no credit for this. It was the collaboration of Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby and a million military men and women all dreaming of a White Christmas. It became and remains the top selling record [single] of all time.

To find out the most popular Christmas song during the year of your birth, simply pick your birth year from the menu at #1 Most Popular Christmas Song by Year generator on playback.fm. Have fun. Merry Christmas.

Thanks, again, DOD! I have to admit I was surprised by mine — a German hit, re-released in English, from an artist whose most recent record had been named after a vegetable. The mid-’70s were a weird time.

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December 18, 2021

virtual advent tour 2021: day 18
posted by soe 6:00 am

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I’ve been watching a lot of Christmas movies this year, many of them following a tried-and-true-but-tired recipe of content. As I was watching tonight’s film (Santa Who? starring Leslie Nielsen), the idea of a Bingo card of tropes occurred to me.

So I created one.

Click through and you’ll be given a playing board. You can either play online or print it out. (If you hate the board you get, instructions for getting a different one are under “Help.” But this only gives me 30 players for free and I’m not sure if that’s by IP address or by card, so maybe don’t keep refreshing over and over again.)

I’d play using the entire 2021 holiday movie season (which I think dates back to late-October), and obviously this is all on your honor and up to your interpretation. Let us know in the comments if you’re already at Bingo or a cover-all today. And remember, you’ve got weeks still to go of the Christmas season, so don’t be deterred if you haven’t had a chance to start watching yet!

And, most of all, have fun!

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