Sunday, December 5, 2010


I am not sure why I love Christmastime so much. But, I do. I can't help myself. It has always bothered me, the people who grinch, because "no one is coming over." Is there not something to be said for personal enjoyment?

Personally, I am enjoying...

I chopped down a tree today. A tree off my own land. With my own saw. With my own hands.

I enjoyed this.

Even if no other soul comes over and sees this little transplanted living room tree of mine, I am enjoying it.

When I was a kid, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my dad, sister and I always went to chop down a tree. We'd wander through the neatly tended rows at a tree farm by Glenwood, Iowa. It was tradition, this father/daughter bonding time. It was time for my dad to convince us that we needed a bigger, not that one, he'd say, pointing at a pine standing well over his head...BIGGER! And, we'd be egged on by his Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor style grunts. Erica and I would join in. This is probably why my mom didn't come with, all this grunting. One year in particular, this all got out of hand. "Yes, THAT one!", we grunted in unison. It would fit in our 100 year old farm house living room, no sweat.

My mom laughed at us.

We sweat.

We cut off a good bottom 4 feet of that tree. No exaggeration.

Lights were always my dad's job. "The man's job," three Block women chorused in agreement. There were always moments when I could see the frown of frustration. But every year he did it, he put the lights on the tree. This year, I was the man. Well, I was the only person, man or woman -- good thing one saw my own frowns of frustration strung along, multi-colored -- but never mind about that.

I now sit, in enjoyment...of many things...

As I was trying to string my tree with lights, I also decided I would try to bake some muffins. Gluten free baking is a tricky thing. Hit or miss. Finicky. Especially, at altitude. I never expect baking to actually turn out. I've learned to go in to anything involving "alternative flours" with low -- very low -- expectations.

And since I have these expectations, I decided, that what the heck, I'd tweak this a bit. I used an all-purpose gluten free flour (I've never had that substitution actually work before), unsweetened fresh cranberries, and I decided to add in some Meyer lemon zest. I adore Meyer lemons. They are around for only a few weeks in the late fall or early winter, a month if I'm lucky, and then they are gone. Last week, across a Sunflower Market aisle, I saw the first Meyers of this season -- my pulse joke.

I'm enjoying this...very much...


  1. I heartily agree that a festive tree shall always grace our home in the month of December.
    What I remember about tree cutting in hills of Iowa is how the farmers were so trusting. There would be a note on the door or a box in the field stating "All trees are $10.00 leave cask or check in box". Our family coming from the big crime ridden city of Omaha felt as if we had gone back in time when we moved across the river to Iowa, to a simpler way of life.
    The muffins look good, nice texture. You will have to send me the recipe. Enjoy your festive tree and home.

  2. Yes! I remember that too -- they did it with eggs as well. And of course, there was the "we'll open when we feel like it" thing on the stores on Main Street Malvern. Drove Papa nuts.

  3. Hey, I heard on tv this morning that Godfather's Pizza has gulten free pizza now. Sounds like every precaution is taken to keep it completely separated...didn't know if you have a Godfather's Pizza place in your area or not. If not, I have a feeling you already know how to make your own. Your muffins look yummy! Sharon

  4. You keep mentioning Meyer Lemons and it is making me want them badly. I am hoping that they are available around here somewhere this fall. I'll be sad if they aren't.

  5. They will be. My little market doesn't usually have them, but Whole Foods always a last resort. And I noticed last year they didn't appear until almost Thanksgiving, which is unusual. Must have been something up with the crop that year.