Sunday, November 27, 2005

Half a Tree Is Better Than None

Back in my single days of oh, two months or so ago, I never bothered putting up a Christmas tree in my apartment. (Of course, two months ago it was still September, and that's way too early. But that's beside the point.) I spend more time in my office than in my living room, no matter what time of year it is. Since I spend Christmas Eve with my parents, why go through the hassle of putting up a tree, decorating it, and taking it down several weeks later? I wasn't a complete Grinch; I put up some Christmas decorations, like lights along the bookshelves and stockings by the balcony. Once I even tried to string lights and ornaments on my ficus tree, but Mr. Ficus didn't seem to appreciate it. (He doesn't like it when I take the pruning shears to him either, but if I don't, he'd take over the living room.) Anyway, now that I have a husband living with me, we want to make our home more, well, homey. (Not to be confused with homely.) So today we temporarily ceased the 2005 Holiday Bakeathon to go to Walmart, since we need tins to ship out all these cookies anyway.

We picked a nice big tree with the idea that it should be big enough to work in a house, since we hope to have our own house by this time next year. We dragged it upstairs and started to assemble it when we realized it was too wide to fit in the tiny space we'd allocated for it, and there's not enough room here to move things around to accomodate the tree. So we compromised; we squeezed the tree into a corner and only put on enough branches to cover the "public" area. The floor doesn't seem to be quite level in that corner, and with all the weight on one side, we had to use both a counterweight and some yarn tied around a fixture to keep the tree from toppling over. This is in keeping with all of the misadventures Eugene and I seem to get ourselves into, so I find the whole thing hilarious. But we put some lights and the few ornaments I have on the half-a-tree, and suddenly it seems as Christmasy as a whole tree. We're not done decorating yet; Eugene has some ornaments at his parents' house he plans to bring over, and we might get some others to fill things out. At least we don't have to decorate the back of the tree! When it's done, I'll post a picture; I'm too lazy now.

Eugene and I should be done with our baking in the next couple of days. Here's the recap of what I've made so far:

Peanut Butter Blossoms--Very good.
Lemon Slice Cookies--One of my favorites. The dough was a little dry this year, but they still turned out well.
Choco-Mint Snaps--Another of my favorites. Usually they're pretty moist, but this year they seemed dry. I wonder what I did wrong.
Pfeffernusse--I'm German; I have to make these! They were good.
Sugar Cookies--I'm a sucker for frosting, but these were still good even plain. Once we get some larger bins so I can store them properly, I plan to make buttercream frosting from scratch and decorate them. Ummm, frosting....
Chocolate Florentines--These were a disappointment. They're supposed to be sandwich cookies with a chocolate layer. I always make them too big, and I lost two trays' worth when the cookies wouldn't come off the foil. Next time I try these, I should use the parchment paper Eugene swears by. By the time I sandwiched these, I only had fourteen left. Oh well.
Lemon Madelines--This is the only batch I still have to make. I'll probably do them this week, since Eugene has taken over the kitchen to bake biscotti. He'll have to add his own baking report.

Despite all of this baking, I managed to catch up on the crits I owe on OWW. (Sue has graciously suggested I skip reviewing her latest novel, since I've seen it before and need more time to work on my own stuff.) I even had time to chat with Sue. And yes, I'm writing too. Haven't done much with anything in the Lennon's Line saga recently, but I'm making progress with Day. I'm working on the final scene of Chapter Two, where I introduce Jenna. I think she's coming across as more sympathetic with some of the changes I've made to her situation. The chapter as a whole doesn't have enough descriptive "texture" yet. I can tell a good book by the details that make the world vivid, and this draft doesn't have enough of them yet. It's as if trying to juggle description along with character, plot, and dialogue is still too many balls for me to handle. :( I must work more on this; I have an idea for a short story that might help me work on description. Still need to thrash out the plot and characters, though. Anyway, I hope to get another chapter of Day up on the workshop soon, though with all the holiday prep still to do, who knows how long it will take?

And on that note, I should shut up and write. If this was my novel, I'd be very happy with all the words I'd written today. May the Muse be with me, please!

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