it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 

I got Christmas bedding, ya’ll.

(The ‘you-all’ contraction was for emphasis; I’m not a Southerner–despite Andrew’s insistence to the contrary–nor do I say it that often in real life.  It just felt right.)

I have wanted ‘Christmas’ bedding for like, THREE YEARS.  Seriously.  (Currently having second thoughts about admitting that.)

Regardless, truth be told, I have tried for THREE YEARS to snag up some Christmas-themed bedding after said holiday on sale.  Key words: ON SALE.  Well, time after time, I’ve waiting too long and everything–and I mean EVERYTHING–was sold out.

Well, I vowed that THIS YEAR would be different.

And folks, it was, but just barely.

This year, sometime in early November–with coupon in hand and Andrew’s blessing–I put all these items in my online shopping cart…only to gag over the cost and have Andrew’s blessing ripped from my fingers.  No dice.

Weeks pass.  I still want said bedding, but drop the issue thinking–yet again–that perhaps I’ll find something at TJMaxx (nothing) or Marshall’s (nothing) or on sale (let’s not get our hopes up).

And then, just after Thanksgiving ,(after I’m sure I made some comment about said bedding), Andrew said to just go ahead and get it.  Perhaps he was feeling generous.  Perhaps it was because we had another coupon.  Perhaps… who cares?!  I, yet again, began the process of ordering our bedding online, only to find that IT WAS SOLD OUT.

AGAIN.  FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW I WAS STARING AT THE WORDS ‘OUT OF STOCK’ ON THE WEBSITE.

I could have screamed.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure I did.)  Yet again, I thought I’d have to wait until next year.

The rest of the story isn’t nearly as dramatic; a friend gave me the idea to call a local store and see if they had any comforters in stock they could ship me; in fact they did; bonus for using a coupon on half of the bedding items on a phone order and another coupon for the remaining pieces online and bigger bonus for finding a cheaper red blanket at TJMaxx.

The bedding, of course, was the impetus to paint the room green; I’d been planning to paint our room green for years now (we’ve had a blue bedroom for 10 years in both houses and green would match both our existing bedding–from our wedding!–and the new Christmas bedding) and figured this would be the time to do it for maximum impact.

Whew.  All those words for some new blankets and shams and paint.

Mrs. Nye’s Christmas Applesauce

Mrs. Nye’s “Christmas” Applesauce

Mrs. Nye gave me some applesauce once to try and I loved it.  It was pink and slightly sweet with a hint of cinnamon.  I asked her what kind of apples she used and for the recipe; she couldn’t remember what kind of apple she used so she brought one to me and told me to ask at the farmer’s market where she bought them!  Turns out they were Idareds and her secret ingredient was Red Hots candies.  I made this while my friend, Wendy, was visiting during the fall of 2012 and she remarked that it reminded her of Christmas—the slightly red color and hint of cinnamon sweetness from the Red Hots.

1 peck of Idared apples (about 15-20)

2 tbsp Red Hots candies

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Core the apples, cut into wedges, then half them.  Do not peel.  Divide apples into two large stockpots, add a little water and bring to a boil.  Once the apples start to soften, stir to begin mixing with a spoon.  Add 1 tbsp Red Hots to each pot.

Once apples are very soft, transfer in batches into a food mill and process.  Discard skins.  Combine both into one pot, add 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar.

Makes about 8 wide-mouth pint jars (for canning).

Christmas cookies

The other day, I had a baking ‘day’ with Mrs. Nye.  We started at 10:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until 4:30 p.m., so it was quite an endeavor.  We made three batches of cookies–traditional sugar cookies, soft sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies.

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I actually don’t own a single Christmas-themed cookie cutter, and Mrs. Nye has enough to go around, so it worked out nicely.  Growing up, one of my mom’s big things at Christmas was to make lots of Christmas cookies, but we almost never made cut-outs or decorated them.  Her repertoire included those peanut butter-Hershey Kiss ones, the green cornflake/marshmallow ‘holly’ cookies, and some almondy-shortbread things covered in glaze and sprinkles.  And chocolate-covered goodies. LOTS of things got dipped in chocolate over the years: pretzels, Oreos…she even made her own chocolate candies with different flavor extracts.

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So anyway, Christmas cookie-decorating isn’t necessarily a childhood memory of mine, but it sure felt like it when I was with Mrs. Nye in her kitchen!  I can’t believe I missed out on all that decorating fun.

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And of course, the perfectionist in me had high expectations for how my finished cookies would look.  I can’t say any of them could be mistaken for something purchased in a bakery, but I was pretty pleased with myself for using multiple colors and sugars, etc…  And really, any aesthetic value is short-lived; they just end up eaten anyway.

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Merry (almost) Christmas!