I have been trying to get this post written and posted for the better part of the afternoon and evening. My poor little laptop has been overwhelmed by both its age and the business of the connection today. What will be, will be and I resolved hours ago that if the post was meant to go up that Divine intervention would help conquer all problems and everything would work out in the end. I also wonder if the Divine Power was personally hoping for a taste of what was being stirred, in the midst of being put together or what had come out of my oven and was cooling on the counter top.
I have been baking for the past few hours after having shopped for more ingredients earlier on today as well as on Thursday. It seems as if the flat smells like a bakery and I suspect that Molly Cat might be on a sugar high since she appears to be able to cover a lot of distance with only a few jumps during which she seemed to be airbourne, her agile little body swooping through the diningroom, on through the front room and down the hallway and back in mere moments. The kitchen is off limits at this point and in order to accomplish this, all counters as well as the cook top have been covered with bowls, canisters and other kitchen paraphernalia leaving no open landing spot for a curious little feline who seems to have a taste for forbidden goodies. Not to say that Molly has been denied any of the treats that she is allowed for a daily indulgence. Fish flavoured treats were placed in her special dish first thing in the morning as is the norm in her daily routine. But, I digress. The preparation of holiday treats is on the agenda for today as well as Monday and perhaps even for a while on Tuesday morning.
I am not a professional baker by any means, but I do enjoy baking certain goodies and packaging them up to be given as presents during the festive season. To be environmentally friendly, plastic storage containers have been purchased so that recipients of the goodies can bring back their containers for refills throughout the upcoming year. This is being done in order to keep my own containers here to hold the contents of my marathon cooking sessions that result from using the PCApproach that I have learned from Julie Anne Rhodes on her web site http://julieannerhodes.com/. For those of those not familiar with Julie Anne's web site, I strongly urge you to cyber hop over and enjoy a good read of her blog and view the video on the homepage as to how spending a few hours cooking one day per week can translate into meals for the entire week and in my case, far beyond. Using this approach, I am baking all the goodies for gifts as well as those that will be served when visitors come for an afternoon of tea and treats through the next few weeks.
At this point, brownies with a chocolate cookie base and rocky road squares are cooling and two bowls of cookie batter are almost ready to be baked off. Toffee brickle cookies as well as the usual chocolate chip cookies are on the agenda; peanut butter cookies and likely some butterscotch brownies will follow, but will likely have to wait until Monday morning. Once everything has been baked, I will divvy them up amongst various containers and pop them into the freezer for safe keeping. By safe keeping, I actually mean that I want to keep temptation at bay and keep myself from nibbling. Truthfully, I have been known to crack open the containers and gnaw on frozen treats when I feel a dire need for something decadent and sweet, but I am hoping that the old adage of "out of sight, out of mind" will prevail and I will forget the existence of these sugar
Visitors are expected on Tuesday evening, the two young gentlemen that I refer to as "my boys" and I suspect the young lady that I think of as the daughter I wished I had. This trio lands in on a regular basis and I would never want to disappoint them with a shortage of treats, both to nibble on while we visit as well as a container or two or more to take home with them. On Tuesday, I plan to bake up a couple of other treats, cinnamon rolls and Black Forest tarts being the likely choices. These items I always feel are best baked on the day that they are to be eaten, hence the delay in making them. Some miniature mincemeat tarts are also planned for a later date when another visitor is expected. I find that those who enjoy mincemeat tarts are diminishing in their numbers, much like those who truly enjoy a nice slice of fruit cake. I also plan to bake up some mincemeat muffins as a take home treat for another friend, which will ensure that the entire jar of mincemeat gets used up and no little leftovers are pushed to the back of the fridge only to acquire that fuzzy coat of green that would surely catch my eye by the start of the new year.
All of this activity does not count as artistic endeavours even though all this baking does take a fair amount of time and energy. But, art is still very much on my mind and new projects dance about in my mind much like sugar plums are said to dance in the dreams of the the younger set who are on Santa alert at this time. I have some blank journals sitting on a shelf in my studio that seem to be whispering to me and suggesting a new way to use them. Author Danny Gregory has written a few books, one entitled Everyday Matters, about drawing each day to make note of happenings much the way you would write in a diary. Quinn McDonald is an advocate of Raw Art Journaling and I am making my way through her book of the same name. So many ideas are floating through my mind right now and I am making notes about these thoughts lest they elude me later when I try to put them into action. I am determined that 2012 is going to be the year that I make major progress in my artistic journey. No more delays, I have to make myself progress and the only way will be to settle down and take what I am doing seriously. Having fun is still mandatory, if I do not have fun while I am working on an artistic project, then maybe I am not meant to be working in that particular medium. I do believe in what I am trying to accomplish, but maybe I am not going about it in the right manner. I think by putting all my thoughts down in a journal using both words and mixed media, then maybe I will find my way and be able to produce a completed version that embodies what I see in my mind and the words that I used to describe or elaborate on what I hoped to achieve. But, despite the importance of art in my life, right now, my focus is on holiday baking. That is not to say that I am neglecting art, but rather, I am taking the time to seriously determine where my focus should be taking me and what elements or materials need to be used.
The kitchen looks like something blew up or that a storm has taken place. Molly is sound asleep on the loveseat and has abandoned all hope of having a sample taste of any of the finished treats. Shortly, the squares will be cut into the appropriate sizes and packaged up, ready to head into the freezer. Cookies are in the oven and will soon be on cooling racks, then on to the freezer. When that has happened, I will be on my way to bed. Getting up early is not an option, it is mandatory as I need to get a number of things done on Monday, picking up a few groceries being a priority as well as making a trip to the post office. So much to do and I will make a determined effort to get as much done as possible. There are a few new recipes to try out and taking some time to work in my studio which still needs that final tidy up before guests are allowed to wander through. I am satisfied with how today played out and know that my guests enjoy an evening of chatter fueled by sugar, chocolate, and more sugar.
I hope everyone is making their way through these last few weeks of holiday pandemonium without too much stress. Life tends to get more than a little out of control at this time of year and we forget that we are supposed to be enjoying not just the food and the festivities, but more importantly, the gathering of family and friends. Try not to stress whether or not your cookies are picture perfect. Your guests will enjoy them even if they are a little lopsided, a tad crisper than intended or however they turn out since the most important thing is that you took the time to bake because you care about who is coming for a visit and are looking forward to the most important part of the evening, that being the companionship of all in attendance.
Have a great week! Find some time to do something you enjoy at this time of year with those you care about the most. The holiday season is all about family and friends getting together to connect and whilst enjoying wonderful treats is part of the season, the time spent with your loved ones takes precedence.