December 8, 2017

christmas is mysterious

Please don't laugh at me like my husband has been doing, every time I mention this idea......

I've been telling Andrew all this season how CHRISTMAS IS MYSTERIOUS, and he thinks that's the weirdest thing ever. Behold:

Andrew: "If someone asked me to define Christmas, 'mysterious' is the last word I would choose."

Me: "But PRESENTS. Little mysteries in a box!"

Andrew: 'guffaws heartily' "Not for you, because you keep buying presents for yourself."

(He does have a small point there.)

I've ALWAYS thought Christmas was mysterious. What is more mysterious than trying to feel your presents in the dark when you're 8 years old, only to discover that your dad slept under the tree, trying to discourage you from getting into your presents, and hearing him snore, and then spending at least 45 minutes trying to slowly back crawl out of the room so as not to awaken him?????

Actually that was more of a nightmare than a mystery.

I am telling you. For me, who at age 47, still totally believes in fairies, and magic, and is scared of the dark, and is convinced that if I arrange my furniture in just the right way, I'll totally nail that whole Feng Shui thing -- Christmas for me is about magic, ghosts, wrapping paper that looks like it might be found in an old attic, and MINCEMEAT. (omg once I discovered mince pies at age 28, I realized I had discovered mystery as a FLAVOR. It makes you think you've time traveled to Victorian England. And bless her little heart, my daughter shares my deep passion for mincemeat tarts as well.)

The Solstice? Mysterious.
Advent everything? Mysterious.
Yule logs and old winter rituals? Mysterious!

'A Christmas Carol'?? My favorite story OF ALL TIME. In any season. GHOSTS. Ghosts are mysterious!!

The secrecy, the hiding of presents, the lights in the dark, stockings filling themselves....I don't know why my husband keeps laughing at me. Christmas is full of mystery. My version of Christmas anyway. Another yearly mystery - will I, or will I not get super amazingly sick? That's always a fun one.

So I have put together a wee little list of things that lend themselves to my Mysterious Christmas Theory. Let's talk about them:

Anthropologie has these Starry Night Incense Kits right now. Normally I'm not a fan of incense. Believe me, growing up in Hawaii, I smelled A LOT OF INCENSE. But I'm very intrigued by the Black Balsam scent and maybe the Fireside?? (a review said it smelled like a smoky barbecue. No thanks.) But look at the packaging! Gorgeous!

Ok. Sigh. Let's talk about the NEW NIGEL SLATER CHRISTMAS BOOK. Friends who read my blog a lot know that Nigel is my cookbook boyfriend, even though I believe he's happily settled with his partner James. IT MATTERS NOT. Oh how I love my Nigel. I read, and re-read, his books nearly every day of my life. I'm not joking. Nigel's way with words evokes mystery, and all the cozy vibes I associate with how I like to cook, and his stories....I just LOVE NIGEL'S BOOKS SO MUCH, and.....

He just came out with a Christmas book. 'The Christmas Chronicles.' A winter book. Full of recipes and stories. His idea of Christmas and winter is exactly how I think it should be: "reading ghost stories with a glass of sloe gin" (make mine a sherry) "the scent of fir and spruce", "beeswax candles with shadows dancing on the ceiling."

Amazon says it's packed with "feasts, folktales, myths and memoir" and how he's written about everything you need to enjoy through the winter months. Friends - I FREAKED OUT when I saw this book was out. It's the ONLY thing I want for Christmas. THE ONLY THING.

And guess what? It hasn't been released in the U.S. yet! Only the U.K. version with metric measurements is available! I AM DEVASTATED. So Andrew and I are trying to decide - do I wait until the U.S. release?? Whenever that might be?? Or do I ask/demand that Andrew get it for me, with a kitchen scale and metric measuring spoons to go along with the book? Andrew thinks that's a lot of work for a book. But I kinda need a kitchen scale anyway. OH NIGEL YOU BREAK MY HEART.

Moving onto candy. I recently tried this Reber dark chocolate and marzipan candy from World Market, and it is indeed mysterious and wonderful, and I'm going to buy myself an entire box. FABULOUS. There's a version with pistachio cream filling that I've yet to try, and I really want that too.

Just bought myself  Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog tea. (are you laughing Andrew? I am always delighted with my gifts, even when I buy them for myself) - I had to get one extra thing to get a special deal on an order I was getting for my aunt OK? Anyway, doesn't that sound mysterious? I've always wanted to try a London Fog tea drink - Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and lavender. The tea is earl grey black tea and oolong and vanilla and  lavender. I'm so excited to try.

This candle from Terrain looks pretty and smells like sage and cedar. It also comes in a rosewood and berry fragrance. Candles are mysterious. Most smell like crap, but sometimes you happen upon something lovely and subtle.

One last thing and then I'll leave you to cry some more about the Nigel Slater book. 'Round the Christmas Fire - Festive Stories' by a variety of authors, just looks so delightful and charming! Christmas mystery dosn't always have to be dark - it can also be festive and fun. There are scary stories, stories of feasts and food, funny stories about wacky relatives, and thoughts on gift giving and the Christmas season. I would love love love to read this with a cozy blanket on me and a slice of gingerbread. GINGERBREAD IS MYSTERIOUS TOO!

Byeeeeeee. This might be the longest post I've ever written.


  1. Ha! I love this post! My favorite in a long time. Your dialogue with your husband cracks me up. I buy gifts for myself, too, but because my husband WANTS me too. He is CLUELESS about gifts. Just not his thing. ;) I'm so happy you told me about Nigel Slater! I can't wait to check out his stuff, I haven't even heard of him. Yikes. I think Christmas as mysterious is perfectly reasonable. :) Amy@hearthridgereflections

    1. Ooooooooh. Go start checking out Nigel's books from the library! You will LOVE. I envy you your first experience reading his books! So glad you liked the post, ha ha ha. I love bickering with my sweet husband and then putting it online, he appreciates that so so much.

  2. I think I see your point. There are certainly elements of mystery about Christmas. I have a childhood memory of wandering through a Christmas tree lot that was set up sort of like a forest. My family were the only people there, and we were all sort of spread out and I was by myself amongst the trees and the snow was falling and it just felt magical and has stayed with me all these years. I think that experience could very well be described as mysterious and fairytale-ish.

    1. Yes! You get it! Mysterious and fairy tales! When I was little, my parents took me skiing and riding on the chairlifts on a really grey snowy day was like being INSIDE The Nutcracker. It made a huge impression upon me.

  3. guuuurrrrrrrrrrrl. you KNOW i am dying to get my hands on that nigel slater christmas. i say wait for the US release. i have so many uk versions of cookbooks bc i couldn't wait and i consistently have to cross reference whenever i cook from them. if i were smarter i would just go through it and pencil in my own conversions but i ain't got time for that. and if i were smarter still i would write them in as i USE THEM. but noooo. anyway...wait. as for the have to buy palo santo sticks. they don't burn like incense...i use them like sage. i.e. i hold it and walk around the house smoking out the rooms (mysterious!) and then it goes out. but the scent is forest and smoke without the cloying smoke smell. once the actual smoke dissipates you are left with a lovely, subtle woodsy scent. i also believe it transcends seasons. in smells like christmas when it's christmas, summer when it's summer. etc... and re: candles. have you ever gone into a store that sells cire trudon candles? they are pricey but perhaps the most mysterious candles out there. (longest comment i've ever written anywhere)

    1. aaaaaaaaaaaah, i will TOTALLY look into those sticks, and check out the candles if I can - I haven't seen or heard of either of those. Anthropologie has some smudging spray and I showed Andrew and he laughed and laughed.

      I know. I know you're right. It'll just be an exercise in frustration if I get the UK version. #@$!&%*.

      As someone who writes small novellas on other people's blog comments, I love and appreciate the length of your words and you've proven my theory - that the best info comes from reading the comments section of blogs. #truth

  4. Just read about your little home on the web over on Arlene Gidding's blog, and now you have me wanting to check out Nigel's new book! Looking forward to poking around your little home here soon!


    1. Oh how fun Katie!! Thanks so much for coming on over!

  5. Very informative post! Thank you very much for sharing.