Good morning, friends. I hope it's as beautiful where you are as it is here right now. This is officially the first day of my vacation, as I was actually able to get all of my work done last night, even though I'd been saying that I would day after day after day (anybody see Christmas Do-Over the other night?). I finally really did it, and then, just as I was leaving the house to go to the P.O. last night, Richard-the-mailman pulled up in his mail minivan and took everything for me. It was a Christmas miracle. Is it wrong to tell the postman you love him? He looked slightly alarmed, but, then, he usually does. I said, as he was loading everything in his truck for me, "Don't you hate those ads that say you guys will pick up all the packages from the porch now?" and he said, nicely, "No . . . not at all" as all of the stuffed padded envelopes cascaded out of the truck and fell on the road. Have you ever tried to "stack" those things? We give our mailman a Christmas present every year. Richard, you are getting an extra-special one tomorrow.
The treats above are a present I was finally able to wrap yesterday, too, a belated birthday present for my friend Allyson, who said that all she wanted for her birthday was a child-free trip to the spa. She loves to bake, too (last year I got her one of these Betty Crocker bake-'n'-fill cake pans — don't you love these things?), so I felt these bath bombes shaped like little pastries would be perfect, since she lives in Wisconsin and we don't have the luxury of having lunch and getting manicures together anymore. The treats are by D'lish, whose products I used to carry at Ella Posie. Everyone always loved them. Last night I ran a bath and threw some of my own in, then plopped down to read Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities. What can I say, I'll read almost anything.
Winter-birthday girls, of which I am one, run the risk of people just getting mad at them for being born around Christmas. In Andy's and my two families there are only about sixteen people total, and five of us have birthdays within the one week after new year's. My sis-in-law and I were even born on the same day. I try hard to always get the December-January birthday presents out on time, but I usually flub it myself, which makes me feel terrible. I don't seem to be capable of getting personal gifts there on time and it really makes me mad. The day after the birthday is not the birthday. I think birthdays are really special days. I think they're special no matter how old you are, or even if you claim to not care about them.
There are also a few girlfriends with whom I have exchanged Christmas presents for almost twenty years. These are often my favorite presents to find or make. This one — oh, I am so happy with this one.
And it is perfect for my friend, I think. She has the most beautiful, strawberry-blond-red hair and peaches-'n'-cream complexion. I can just picture her carrying this to a party. I hope she likes it as much as I do. I wish she didn't live so far away and I could give it to her in person. I wish we could bake something together in her kitchen in Chicago while it snows outside. I wish we could take the El downtown and go the Museum of Science and Industry and see the Christmas trees. It kind of makes me cry to think about it. I miss you, Pammy.
I might like to bake something like this for Christmas Eve dessert, maybe with some powdered sugar on top to look like snow. It's from Miette Organic Patisserie, a bakery in San Francisco. I wrote to them quite a while ago to ask permission to use their photo, and they were so kind, inviting me to visit their real-life bakery. How nice is that. Just one more reason to go to San Fran. You must look at their gallery for the most beautiful, simple, dreamy cakes in the world. I think they're exquisite. When I see things like that, it makes me want to be a better baker, and a better person, someone who gets gifts there on time, who makes things infused with all the love I feel and the beauty I see in the person I am baking for, making something for. I think 2007 is going to be a year of cakes for me. I'd like that. I think I'm going to take a cake-decorating class, or maybe my mom can teach me how to do the roses. She is really good at them. If my other sister, who is a pastry chef in South Carolina, was here she could teach me some things. She knows everything about cakes. There is just something special about cakes. I wish I could send them through the mail to the people I miss. There are so many of those people.
But today my local friend Sarah is making me Vietnamese chicken soup for lunch, and then my niece and I are going to build our little graham-cracker cottages. I feel like I will finally have time to be with friends and family, doing simple things, just enjoying each other's company. Counting blessings. I have been so looking forward to this time. It's finally here. Go slow, clock. Go slow. It's gonna take me a while to count them all.