Joy to the world!! We should all be as excited about the birth of Christ as these guy are. Jesus Christ left his heavenly throne and became human in the form of a newborn baby, fulfilling God’s will to redeem us and restore us to His family. There is no greater gift! Merry Christmas, indeed!!
The perfect song for Christmas Eve…
There are only two more sleeps ’til Christmas! Before things start to get really crazy around here with all the merrymaking and celebrating, I want to take a moment to reflect on the the little things that have enhanced my holly jolly feelings the past two weeks. Life hasn’t been easy the last few weeks, but my heart is full of joy and gratitude for all the blessings I’ve been enjoying this December.
Small Pleasures: The Second Half of Advent
- Watching Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch with Jay. This version of the Dr. Seuss classic is visually stunning, laugh out funny, and heartwarming. I love everything about it and I think Dr. Seuss would, too.
- Cookies. Baking them. Eating. Sharing them. It’s all good.
- The first annual community Luminary Night. The luminarias turned our neighborhood into a magical wonderland.
- Finding jeans that fit, on the first try. Does this need an explanation?
- Christmas-themed puzzles. I’m enjoying this so much, I wrote a whole post about it here.
- Christmas shopping with my 22.5 year old, married son, Mark. I don’t get to spend as much time with Mark as I’d like so when he asked me to go Christmas shopping with him, I was tickled pink. We hit Target, Ulta, and Barnes and Noble and indulged in some Starbuck’s specialties. I had a blast!
- Hanging out with friends. It’s such a pleasure to catch up with friends while eating good food.
- This Jingle Bells video by Matt Maher. I dare you not to smile while listening to it.
I’m just keeping The Main Thing the main thing today. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the preparations and tangential activities this time of year. We can lose track of why there is a Christmas holiday. This song is a wonderful reminder.
I love sipping a steaming drink when it’s chilly outside, especially if I can do it while siting beside a twinkling Christmas tree. As a matter of fact, I’m sipping a delicious beverage as I write this post. It’s so mellow and satisfying and so easy to make, it would be selfish of me not to share the recipe with you. The base of the beverage is apple cider, which is simmered briefly with fresh orange slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise and whole cloves. The whole process takes approximately 15 minutes, resulting in a spiffed-up cider that will tickle your tongue and warm your soul.
Hot Spiced Apple Cider
- 1 quart fresh apple cider (4 cups)
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 6 whole cloves
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, orange slices, star anise, whole cloves and one cinnamon stick, broken into 2 in. pieces.
- Heat the mixture over medium high heat until just beginning to boil.
- Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the spices and orange slices.
- Pour the cider into four mugs. Add a long cinnamon stick to each mug.
- Serve piping hot.
1. This recipe is easily adaptable to big batches. If you want a gallon of spiced cider, quadruple all ingredients.
2. I have a small sieve that I place over my mug. Then, I ladle from the pot to my mug without removing any of the goodies. This allows all the spices to continue to steep if I’m not serving the whole batch at once.
3. Leftover spiced cider can be stored in the fridge for later. Rewarm on the stove or in the microwave when you are in the mood for more warm appley sweetness.
4. The star anise is pretty but not necessary. If you don’t have any on hand, don’t sweat it. I’ve made this cider many times without star anise and it’s still delish.