oh, december

December 21, 2015

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Oh, December. It’s so hard to write a blog post in you. I’m itching to write about how my 14-year-old doesn’t like to read. Which isn’t entirely true–he reads all the time, just not in my traditional definition of reading. It would be fun to tease it apart here, but no one wants to read posts about 14-year-olds who don’t like to read in December. People want photos of trees and wreathes and cookies.

I’m not sure how I feel about jumping into that game. It makes me think back to when I first started blogging, and occasionally wrote crafty posts because I couldn’t figure out what kind of blogger I was, and people go nuts over photos of cinnamon rolls and pretty yarn.

I’m still not sure what kind of blogger I am. Am I a homeschooling blogger? A writer-blogger? A blogger who doesn’t even like the word blog but keeps rambling here anyway because it’s fun to see who shows up and reads?

Anyway, there’s a huge silver tip hunkered in my family room, and clicking on those lights puts me in a mood to cook and craft like the best of those crafty-foodie bloggers. So, what the heck? Let’s go.



I made a wreath! Actually, I make a wreath every year, and some garlands too, and it’s one of those traditions that I swear at myself for because why did I ever add one more let’s-pretend-I’m Martha thing to my December to-do list? But then I turn on Pandora’s indie holiday channel and start snipping greens and wrapping twine and am glad to be slowing down and using my hands and not thinking so much. I thought I’d written a little tutorial for how I make wreaths back when I sometimes thought I was a crafty blogger, but a google search says I did not. Here’s how I learned to do it years ago from a Sunset magazine article: I cut long strips from an old green t-shirt and tied them together to make a single long strip. Then I wrapped that strip round and round a grapevine wreath base and tied the ends together. With that wrapped base, I simply have to tuck little snips of greens into the wraps and twigs, and they mostly stay! After Christmas, I hang the wreath in my garden shed (rather handsomely) until the next December (when I’m swearing at myself and my Martha-pretending), whereupon I take it to the compost can, quickly pluck out last year’s dried snippings and have a fresh base, ready to go.


My husband made cookies! Isn’t it nice how I get to post his productivity as if it’s my own? I must share this recipe, though, because it’s a keeper. Chocolate crunch shortbread. Shortbread! Cocoa nibs! Bittersweet chocolate! Flaky salt! Made by a husband! And utterly irresistible. I’m always searching for a third cookie to go with the annual gingerbread tiles and almond and chocolate chunk biscotti, and it looks like I’ve finally found it. Thank you, husband who reads the Wall Street Journal and is willing to whip up cookies while his wife futzes with greens for hours.


I have a few friends who make Christmas gifts, so I always try too, stressing out about how I should have started in October and managing to pull off something at the last minute. This year was homemade deodorant because what says friendship like hey, I think you could use some deodorant? Yes, it’s an odd Christmas gift, but I made it for my friends because I love this stuff! Natural deodorants don’t work for me, and I won’t use the chemical ones. (Once, at a Sherman Alexie reading, Alexie teased a young woman in the audience who had asked him a question, saying something along the lines of, “I can tell you’re a left-leaning graduate student with a slight stink about you because you use Tom’s deodorant.” Snort.) This recipe really works, with no slight stink. And it includes a small amount of beeswax, which meant I got to add a little love from my hives to the recipe.


I also used my beeswax to make this spoon butter, to throw in with the deodorant. I love this stuff too, but it does call into question the kind of person I am, gifting my friends with shiny jars of deodorant and spoon butter.


So there you go, dear readers. A real December post with actual craft and recipe links for your last-minute needs. Of course, this very post will dog me in a few weeks, when I realize that it’s January and I have to write another one in order to remove that damned Christmas tree loitering on my home page. But for now I wish you sparkly lights and loved ones and weird gifts from friends who adore you to bits.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsten December 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

You could write about anything, Patricia, and I’d want to read it. I just love the way you write. And I also love your wreath! You are multi-talented! Happy Christmas to you and all your family. And I look forward to reading more from you in 2016. X


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:46 am

You are always so good to me, Kirsten. Happy Christmas to you and yours–and especially those adorable kids of yours!


Carrie Pomeroy December 21, 2015 at 11:07 am

Loved the photos and craftiness, but you’ve piqued my interest in the topic that’s really on your mind. My kids’ book-reading has dropped off a lot this year, and it concerns me, too.


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:48 am

Yes, I will have to write that post in January, Carrie. Lots to think about; lots to say. Seems like it would make for an interesting conversation here!


Francie December 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm

“… futzes with greens …” You always have at least one phrase in your post that makes me grin all over as I read it.


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:48 am



Dawn Suzette December 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm

You never fail to make me smile, Patricia! I LOVE what you write, whatever the topic!

On that note, I think a tween/teen reading post would be great January follow-up. I could use some insight. While Fionna regularly pushes her library card to the max, Dylan is happy to forgo the library all together!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holidays! xx


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:49 am

Thank you, sweet Dawn. I will make a plan to write about reading here in January so we can chat about it! Happy, happy holidays to all of you!


Jen Lieb December 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I, for one, love to find these tidbits at Wonderfarm. It makes perfect sense to me as a part-time beekeeper, homeschool parent, wanna-be-writer and crafter etc. etc.
The wreathes are really beautiful. I love the tip to use the green t-shirt for the base.
If you have a moment, can you tell me how you made the homemade gift labels. I love them!
Thank you and best wishes for the New Year!


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:54 am

So many things we have in common, Jen! For the labels, I simply printed them out on Kraft paper. I’m a fan of the free typewriter font, “special elite,” which I used here. I didn’t find the best way to adhere those labels though. I tried using rubber cement, putting rubber bands around the containers while it dried, but some of the labels seem to be popping off at the ends, since the paper is thickish. Must work on that.

Happy new year to you too!


Jen Lieb December 22, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Thanks – I will try the font. Hmmm … wonder if there are any self adhesive brown paper labels …


Cathy December 21, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Love the wreath and really love the writing. I look forward to more of it in 2016. Best wishes for a Happy 2016!


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:55 am

Thank you, Cathy. I look forward to seeing you here in 2016. Holiday wishes to you too!


Liz December 21, 2015 at 11:11 pm

I noticed your beautiful wreath the other day. You’re so talented!


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

Aw, thank you, Liz!


CathyT December 22, 2015 at 3:10 am

Beautiful wreath and sweet packaging for your thoughtful gifts but I really want to hear about what your son is reading and your thoughts about this! Joyous New Year!


patricia December 22, 2015 at 7:59 am

Sounds like that’s the consensus here, CathyT! I’m so lucky to have readers like you who share my interests. You make writing here worth it. Happy new year to you and yours!


Nina December 22, 2015 at 12:37 pm

I’m always asking myself that same question- What kind of blogger am I? I always come back to the same answer: just me! I think that works.

Beautifully post to enjoy here!


patricia December 22, 2015 at 9:10 pm

I think you’re right, Nina. Better to be original and not fit into some neat category. That’s what makes people interesting, right?


melissa s. December 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm

I think Martha would be super jealous of your wreath, deodorant AND spoon butter! Happy holidays 🙂


patricia December 22, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Hey, you! I am just giggling away that I have people commenting on deodorant and spoon butter. So weird. Happy holidays, longtime reader! You will always be a little bit like my scarecrow, since you were one of my first commenters ever. 🙂


Lisa December 24, 2015 at 3:21 am

Your blog can be anything you want it to be, right? I think we writers have a way of getting easily pigeon-holed (I guess that’s why people like JK Rowling attempt– unsuccessfully– to use pseudonyms when they exit their normal genre). A friend recently sent me an email saying something like, “I noticed you are writing for a homeschool magazine now. I do hope you can get back to the writing that you really want to do soon.” Ha! I think she meant the writing that *she* really wants me to do. Or perhaps my homeschool writing isn’t quite up to the mark and she’s giving me a not-so-subtle hint that I should go back to what I usually do. Maybe I should look into a pseudonym. Yours could be Martha, by the way. Love that wreath.


patricia December 30, 2015 at 8:11 am

What losers we are for writing about homeschooling! Your friend’s comment is funny and sad at the same time. I’ve had people say versions of the same to me–and like you I think it often is related to what they want to read. For me, homeschooling is the burning story that I feel I need to tell right now. That has nothing to do with what will find the biggest audience, or what people will like best, or… But then again, it is fun to shake things up with deodorant and spoon butter on occasion. Happy 2016, Lisa!


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