Christmas at the Porter House

The holiday season means many different things to many different people. As an Agnostic married to an Atheist, and with all of our local relatives being of the Jehovah’s Witness persuasion (and therefore not celebrating at all), we’ve come to make the holiday season fun and meaningful in our own way.

We may not go crazy with gifts, attend mass, or have family to gather and celebrate with.. and we may be scrooges with the vast majority of holiday music… but we’ve developed our own traditions:

We enjoy the annual viewing of Santa’s Slay – which, really, has got to be the greatest holiday movie ever!.

We start brewing a batch of holiday wine. Last year, it was a gorgeous fruity mead, flavored with the peels of holiday “Cuties” oranges. This year, we used more Cuties peels to flavor a big bastard 5 gallon batch of cranberry wine. Yum! (*hic!*)

… and then there’s the tree. No, we may not celebrate the holiday season in any traditional ways, but we figure we’re close enough to pagan to be able to sorta co-op THAT part of the holiday. Or at least that’s our excuse 🙂

Our fully “decorated” tree, as it appears
on Christmas day!

Many people take a lot of pride in the final appearance of their Christmas tree. We do too, but our “final” is a bit different. Like many people, the decoration of our tree is a family event, with lots of help from the kids. Instead of taking place over the course of a few hours, ours takes place over the course of the whole holiday season.

Oh… and our kids have four legs and claws! Click through for photos of Christmas as it happens here at our house… be forewarned: cuteness overload ahead! (more…)

Holiday Cookies – Noelles

When I was a little kid, my favorite thing about the holidays wasn’t Santa, the music, or the tree. While other kids mostly looked forward to the gifts… I looked forward to my aunt making my favorite cookies.

She made them every year, as part of a larger, varied cookie tray. I honestly couldn’t tell you what else was on that tray, as my favorites – “Noelles” – always grabbed my attention in a very moth-to-the-candle sort of way. The presentation of that cookie tray, in my warped memory, involved a light shining down from the heavens, with angels singing the “Hallelujah” chorus.

These cookies were only made once a year, and in insane numbers. Baggies of them were frozen, for us to raid later on. So, so good. Mmmm. I think my eyes are actually glazing over at the thought right now…

Anyway, when I was writing “The Spirited Baker“, I knew that I had to include a variation of those favorite cookies from my childhood. In keeping with the theme of The Spirited Baker, these are flavored with a small amount of Amaretto, rather than the almond extract used in the original recipe.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Also, if you’re looking to fill out your own cookie tray with even more show-stopping yummies that will leaving your competitors in your dust .. um.. your friends and family feeling fat, happy, and in awe of your prowess, you should also try my “Sweet Ecstasy Cookies“. Insanely addictive!