A peek at my week!
I hold the Christmas season dear, and its magic envelops me in warmth and joy. There are cherished traditions that remain constant—like our annual tradition of watching "The Muppets Christmas Carol," indulging in chocolate delights, savoring roasted chestnuts, relishing smoked salmon, and toasting with gallons of bourbon milk punch and Champagne! 🎄 ✨ 🎄
Yet, the most enchanting moment unfailingly arrives during the drive home from the barn on the night preceding Thanksgiving. Nestled at the base of River Road in the town of Hunting Valley, a magnificent, century-old fir tree stands. Throughout the season, we pay visits to this grand tree, especially on Christmas morning when the world is hushed, save for the timeless carols on the radio.
This majestic tree stretches towards the heavens, soaring at least 75 feet high, bedecked with a splendid tapestry of colored lights. I visit her under the veil of late-night solitude, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. She's often joined by deer families, prompting us to park across the street, where we sit serenely with steaming mugs of cocoa, accompanied by the soothing melodies of the Nutcracker Suite. Her enchanting aroma weaves its spell—a symphony of freshly fallen snow, sweet pine, smoky wood resins, windfall apples, and moonlight. When gentle snowflakes descend around her, I promise you, you've never seen a more exquisite tree.
She embodies the true essence of the season for me, casting her soft radiance on those chilly December nights. I wanted to share her with you, and I captured this photograph just last Wednesday.
In the gentle embrace of life's simple pleasures, may your days be filled with the quiet joy of little treasures, like the sweet indulgence of chocolates or whatever delights your heart. May a deep, passionate zest fill each moment, coloring your world with vibrant experiences. And let us hope, with heartfelt sincerity, for peace to bloom across our world, for abundance to grace every life, and for a spirit of kindness to weave through our every interaction.
Sending you my love and an abundance of delightful treats during this most magical of seasons. Please know that in this season of blessings, I am grateful for the technology that allows us to share such experiences in life.
Thank you, as always, for your readership, love, and support!
Hibernation is a concept that's most often associated with the animal kingdom, a time when creatures retreat to their cozy burrows to endure the harsh winter months. But what if I told you that humans, too, can find real peace and comfort in a form of hibernation that doesn't involve a deep sleep? While we may not enter a physical state of dormancy, there's a powerful need that encourages us to embrace a metaphorical hibernation, and it's infused with all the warmth and comfort you'd expect from the coziest of settings.
In our fast-paced, modern world, we're constantly swept up in the whirlwind of daily life—work, social commitments, and the ceaseless hum of technology. It's a never-ending cycle that can leave us feeling drained and disconnected from ourselves. That's where the beauty of human hibernation comes into play. It doesn't involve retreating into caves, but rather, it invites us to step back, slow down, and embrace moments of stillness and reflection.
Imagine cozy evenings by the fireplace, wrapped in a soft blanket with a steaming cup of herbal tea in hand. The world outside may be bustling, but you've chosen this moment to bask in the gentle glow of candlelight and savor the pages of a cherished book. This is your time—a respite from the daily grind. It's a form of hibernation that nurtures your body and soul, just as animals conserve energy for the winter months.
Last evening, as darkness settled in early, I found myself embracing the longer shadows with a sense of calm. In my cozy corner, I curled up earlier than usual with a beloved book and a warm cup of cocoa. The early nightfall was not a curtain call but an invitation to slow down, to relish the quietude. As I settled in, the world's constant bustle became a distant whisper, allowing me to retreat peacefully into my reading while sipping the comforting warmth of the cocoa. It was a moment of true nourishment for my spirit, not an escape from the world, but a heartfelt appreciation of the simple, serene joys life offers.
These moments of retreat aren't a luxury; they're a necessity. Just as animals hibernate to preserve their strength, we, too, need to honor our innate need for rest and restoration. Through this practice, we can emerge with newfound clarity, resilience, and creativity. It's a practice that deepens our connection with ourselves and the world around us, fostering a sense of inner warmth and tranquility that's as comforting as the coziest of winter nights by the hearth.
Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Heavy Cream and Buttermilk
When the craving for pure, unadulterated comfort strikes, for me there's nothing quite like a steaming bowl of rich and creamy mashed potatoes. I love this utterly indulgent recipe, where each velvety spoonful is a celebration of comfort and flavor. Treat yourself to the ultimate solo feast with these sumptuous, mashed potatoes.
2 large-sized russet potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A pinch of nutmeg (optional, but highly recommended)
Chopped fresh chives, lemon thyme, fried onions or shallots or a drizzle of melted butter for garnish (optional)
Begin by peeling the russet potatoes and cutting them into evenly sized chunks. Uniform pieces ensure even cooking and a consistent, creamy texture.
Place the potato chunks in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Season the water generously with salt to infuse the potatoes with flavor. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the potatoes to simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes or until they are fork-tender and ready to melt in your mouth.
Once the potatoes are perfectly cooked, drain them in a colander. While the potatoes are draining, take a small saucepan and melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Pour in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and let it gently heat with the butter until it's warmed through. You can add a pinch of nutmeg at this stage for an extra layer of flavor.
Transfer the drained potatoes back to the saucepan or a mixing bowl. Now, it's time to mash! You can use a fork, a potato masher, or even a potato ricer for the smoothest consistency. Mash to your heart's content, aiming for utter decadence.
Gradually pour the warm cream, buttermilk, and butter mixture into the mashed potatoes. Embrace the richness as you gently stir to combine. Allow the potatoes to soak up the luxurious creaminess.
Season these mashed potatoes with a pinch of salt and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. To elevate your dish further, consider garnishing with chopped fresh chives and an additional drizzle of melted butter. Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food and they love mix ins! Often I’ll add cheese, dijon mustard and garlic, and for a kick that’s really delightful , Wasabi horseradish! How about leftover gravy or a fried egg? Truly the sky is the limit when it comes to comfort food!
Find your favorite spot, take a seat, and savor each spoonful of these rich and creamy mashed potatoes. This is your time to indulge in a solo feast that's decadent, comforting, and utterly satisfying.
These rich and creamy mashed potatoes offer a solo dining experience like no other. With their decadent combination of butter, cream, buttermilk, and perfectly seasoned potatoes, they are a celebration of pure comfort and flavor. Take this opportunity to treat yourself to a feast that's rich in both taste and self-indulgence. It's a delicious reminder that self-care can be as simple as savoring the pleasure of this kind of homemade, velvety goodness.
Make It Your Own!
As the season of coziness wraps us in its tender embrace, I invite you to make these moments your own. Let the magic of the season inspire you to create your own traditions, to find joy in the small, everyday wonders that life offers. Whether it's a quiet evening curled up with a book, a spontaneous drive to admire the beauty of a decorated tree, or the simple pleasure of savoring a homemade dish, these experiences are yours to cherish and make special in your own way.
Think of your own version of a grand fir tree, a symbol that captures the essence of this time for you. It could be the first snowfall, the laughter of loved ones, or even the serene solitude of a winter's night. Embrace these moments with all your heart, and let them fill you with warmth and peace.
And as you journey through this enchanting season, I encourage you to share your experiences. What traditions do you hold dear? What simple joys light up your winter days? Your stories and rituals are a tapestry of the warmth and beauty that this season embodies. Let's come together in this shared space, exchanging tales and inspirations, creating a community bound by the love of life's simplest yet most profound pleasures.
In this season of giving and gratitude, I am grateful for the connections we forge through our shared experiences and stories. Your engagement and sharing make our community richer, more vibrant. So, as you wrap yourself in the comfort of this season's embrace, I encourage you to share your moments of joy, your unique traditions, and the simple pleasures that make your heart sing. Let's inspire and uplift each other with the beauty of our everyday experiences, creating a tapestry of warmth and joy that extends beyond this magical season.