Homemade Irish Cream

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Homemade Irish Cream - The Wholesome Handbook
Last Christmas was one for the books. I wasn’t working much, so all of my energy went into indulging my every holiday whim. I wove boughs of evergreen through the bookshelves. I wrapped gifts in cheesecloth and velvet ribbon. I crafted an advent calendar full of daily festive activities. I made a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner for two that took me days to plan and put together — roasted whole duck rubbed with spices, fingerling potatoes and purple carrots fried in duck fat, fluffy rolls from scratch, steamed oysters, traditional butter tarts. I’m not gonna lie. It was pretty fantastic.

This Christmas is more than a little different. There’s a disturbing lack of snow on the ground, I’m up to my nose with wonderful clients and exciting projects, our Christmas tree is… imperfect (in a fetching, Charlie Brownish sort of way!), and I’m not even close to being done with my shopping. But I took a little time over the weekend to whip up some homemade Irish cream, and let me tell you, this stuff makes me feel like Bing Crosby himself is about to rise from the grave and serenade Eartha Kitt and I with old Christmas standards while we lounge on a fur rug in front of a roaring fireplace in a haunted chateau nestled in the French alps.

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Elegy for a Tree

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The Wholesome Handbook - Elegy for a Tree

All day, the buzzing of a chainsaw.

Outside the window, there was a man in the box of a white bucket truck, wearing a fluorescent orange vest with silver reflectors down the shoulders and slim alien-eye sunglasses. The man was hoisted up into the sky, and he was slicing the branches off of the grand old tree next door. One by one, they fell to the ground in a sickening whoosh, early autumn leaves and sawdust erupting into the air on impact, like confetti from a cannon.

The little blue house next door, home of the tree, has been empty for a whole year. The last tenants had a ratty old hammock that they strung up between the branches of that tree. Jackrabbits would nap between the roots. The neighbourhood cats, illegally outdoors, would watch with hunter’s anxiety as the squirrels darted up and around the trunk, chattering incessantly about whatever squirrels talk about. Crows would gather on the branches, noble and noisy, surveying the alleyway below.

The sky looks naked now. The light in my living room is different.

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Surviving the World With a Tender Heart

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Surviving the World With a Tender Heart - The Wholesome Handbook

I’m sensitive.

I have a heart that breaks every single day. I frequently suffer from sensory overload – I get anxious in crowds, in cars. I hate bars and parties. I’m easily spooked and easily offended. Cereal commercials make me cry.

I am also intuitive, empathetic, passionate, and poetic. I see beauty in humble places. The smallest things manage to take my breath away in wonder and awe. I am easily moved and quick to love.

There is a lot of shame surrounding sensitivity. We don’t exactly live in a culture that celebrates those of us who walk a softer, more complicated path. But I happen to think that we are badass warriors, blessed with a deeper understanding of joy, pain, sorrow, and beauty. We are so significantly affected by people, places, and other stimuli because we understand the implications, the repercussions, the rich complexity behind every minor detail.

It’s tough out there for those of us who feel deeply. It took me 26 years to figure out what I needed to not merely survive, but to thrive as a sensitive person. Of course, I wholly believe that you’ve got this – but if you’re ever in need of a little respite, it helps to remember a few simple things.


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