AlcoHOLidays | Winter Solstice | Yuletide Cheer


Yuletide Cheer cocktail for the Winter SolsticeProviding the world hasn’t ended–or isn’t in the process thereof–I thought I’d stray from the culturally expected norm of Christmas and delve a little into the natural change of seasons that happens this time of year at the Winter Solstice.

The shortest day of the year, this time marks the official beginning of winter even as the days begin to lengthen towards spring once again. These lengthening days support the idea among ancient cultures (and their modern-day adherents) that the sun god is reborn at the solstice and continues to grow until mid-year when they days start to shorten, again. Of course, it’s not a reach to see why Christian leaders back in the day thought this time would also be appropriate to celebrate the birth of another son.

The Yule Log (yule coming from the Norse word for wheel and the idea that the seasons turn in a circle throughout the year) pops up in holiday decorations, still, and lends inspiration for the delicious Buche de Noel dessert; both of which carry on the traditions of the early fire and feasting festival.

For today’s cocktail I wanted something that was both sweet and a little smoky. This is what I came up with:

Yuletide Cheer

2 oz Apple Juice
3/4 oz Tuaca
1/2 oz Ruby Port
cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail glass over ice and shake until nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cinnamon swizzle stick.

A simple drink for a busy season, the port lends the desired smoky quality without being as strong as, say, a scotch would and pairs nicely with the citrus and caramel of the Tuaca. Apple juice makes for a nice base for these two spirits and, with it comprising slightly more than half the drink, keeps the drink from being so high-octane that you’ll regret it in the morning.

The best of holiday wishes to you all.


Tradition With a Twist

Everyday Adventures

I might be a little behind the eight-ball getting my Yuletide mojo working, but I think we’ve got it where it counts, now!

Monday night was the 3 year anniversary of our frantic move into this house. That first year there was barely time to unpack the common areas before Christmas Eve supper with my family, much less put up a real tree, so we went with a small, table-top fake tree that I had in the garage. The next year (aka last year) we bought a real tree and set it up in pretty much the only space we had available, our dining room-cum-library. It worked, but it was a tight squeeze and it blocked the bookcases.

So this year I wasn’t really feeling the real-tree vibe. Or the decorate every inch of the house vibe, for that matter!

Todd took this fairly well, I think, and I dreamed up a compromise that would still let us hang up our festive monkey ornaments (you’d expect nothing less, right?) without sacrificing floor space or getting pine needles everywhere.

While my plan had originally consisted of concentric circles of something (later planned to be embroidery hoops) linked together by chain or ribbon and then painted to serve as our “tree,” at the last minute I had a flash of inspiration that led us on a hunt, one Thursday night, for tomato cages.

With a box of old garland I had in the garage, a little floral tape, some chain, wire, and our existing ornaments I turned a pair of these:

into a pair of these:

(with Todd’s help, of course!) for around $10 (all we bought were the cages, chain, and some s-hooks that didn’t really fit).

It was somewhat inspired by a ceiling-hung inverted Christmas tree that I saw in the Frontgate catalog many years ago–I thought it was fabulous to have the ornaments hanging down, not lost in the branches, while leaving maximum space underneath for presents!

Then, while checking my Google Reader I came across the tuTORIal: DIY Ornament Garland post on and knew it would be perfect for our unused ball ornaments that weren’t going to fit on our hanging trees this year.

It really was a simple project for maximum impact. To keep the ornaments from bumping against the mantle I left my strings a little long, but I’m thinking they need a pretty bow at each end of the garland, especially on the right where the stocking doesn’t cover up the excess the way the left one does. To do it justice I’ll need to pick up some wider ribbon, but it still qualifies as a super-frugal craft since I had everything else on hand.

This is pretty much the extent of our decorations. We’re both pretty okay with a low-key Christmas, and it’ll mean more room to move around in when we have guests over the coming week.

Now, if they’ll just get around to fixing our oven, we’ll be all set for Christmas!

Episode #8: Belated


Better late than never, right, folks?

Just because this episode is holiday-themed, I don’t see why you can’t give it a listen now or any other time of the year you need a bit of twisted Christmas cheer!

On this podcast we have

Cool Yule–Chris Daniels & The Kings
Soulstice–Gentlemen Prefer Bombs
Carol of the Bells–Admiral Twain
Joy–Charlie Crowe
Jingle Thrash–Emily Jones
I Have a Little Dreidel–Rockosaurus Rex
Cumbia de Tannenbaum–Juan Oskar
O Come, O Come Emmanuel–Cat Jahnke
A Cheerful Song–Christian Hoffman
A Pirate Christmas–Tom Smith
Funky Xmas–Modern Science
Drinking Up Christmas–The Dwarves
Regifting for the Holidays–The Alice Project
Don’t Lose Your Mind–The Banana Sessions
Black Patent and Sparkles–Post Orgasmic Trauma
I Tricked Nick–Lynn Julian aka Cookie Cutter Girl
You & Me This Christmas–Deni Bonet
Give Me a Second Chance For Christmas–Candy Butchers
Fruitcake–Lynn Julian aka Cookie Cutter Girl
Santa Claus is Freaking Me Out–Lord Weatherby
Christmas in the Sun–Joel Kopischke
The Fourth But Not-So-Wise Man–Darrell Smith
The Party–8 Ball
Hey Holiday–Atomsplit
Festival of Lights–Alicia Bay Laurel
Christmas! Of Course!–Bill deRome
Christmas Elf Conscription Song–Marc Gunn
Winter Slay Ride–The FuMP/Consortium of Genius
Death By Holiday–The Vanished
Christmas Here on Mars–Bubble
Chiron Beta Prime–Jonathan Coulton

Thank you for listening in 2010 and here’s to an awesome 2011!