This was a holiday adventure for the bucket list: a trip to a Christmas Tree Farm (plus cookies!).
When the Rustbelt Farmer’s family came over for our traditional pre-historical-home-tour holiday party, they looked around the apartment in shock. “You don’t have a tree?” They stared at me, not blinking. Nope, no tree. In the past, I’ve gussied up a little Norfolk pine with some lights, always with the intention of planting it and paying it forward to Mother Nature.
Inevitably, I’ve always gussied the tree a little too close to our fireplace and cooked the poor dears (sheeeesh). Since Julep doesn’t necessarily need holiday festivities the way a kiddo might (debatable), and since I spend a LOT of time decorating for the holidays as a professional stylist (not debatable), our abode was indeed tree-free. That was, until, this holiday adventure!
I was beginning to think Christmas tree farms were a thing of Hallmark, Hallmark movies or quaint New England towns that feel like Hallmark come to life (or better yet, scenes from Christmas Vacation). Thanks to my friend Theresa, I discovered Christmas tree farms do in fact exist, and more importantly, one does in fact exist nearby(ish). So this was a Christmas adventure for the bucket list!
Theresa rallied a bunch of Christmas Tree Farm enthusiasts in the smartest way possible- over a biscuit brunch. Fueled by bacon, egg, cheese, flaky dough, a sampler of jams and plenty of coffee refills, we formed a wagon team and left the city to follow the trails of her childhood tradition.
And it was everything I hoped!
Naturally, when I find something so quaint and traditional, my mind starts spewing ideas, a million-and-one ways for me to jump ship, throw out my entire career trajectory, and in this case, own my own Christmas Tree Farm. My path-altering Christmas Tree Farm would have a shed for hot chocolate (multiple flavors, made with dark chocolate and local dairy, or vegan peppermint versions like this).
My Christmas Tree Farm would definitely include a doughnut shed with fresh-from-the-fryer cider doughnuts (made with whole grains, naturally- these might be on the menu). There’d also be mulled wine and spiked eggnog to sip and keep warm while combing the grounds for “the one.” There’d probably be a shop with ornaments and gifts, and by now, I’ve just recreated Terrain but more remotely and with more Christmas trees, and somehow, I’d factor in the fluffiest of puppies.
But wouldn’t that be the life?
As we first started exploring the Christmas Tree Farm, our goals were modest- something short and stubby, nothing too grand, but as we traversed hillside, valley and hillside again, our eyes grew bigger.
There were so many tempting, unique trees- like these Seusical ones that were unlike any tree I’d ever seen for sale in a church parking lot parading as a Christmas Tree Farm.
But alas, we went a tad more traditional. We found “the one!”
As you can see, we decided to embrace the Christmas Tree Farm adventure more fully, to give in to the beauty of this tree which scaled to nearly the height of an average-sized woman. Small, chubby, Charlie-Brown trees be damned! We went big-ish!
It turns out trying to saw while practically lying down is really difficult, but I managed to put a few hacks into it.
(obviously our tree required a lot of muscles)
All that Hallmark holiday cheer called for a warm oven, a festive treat, and me trying to explain Santa to my fur child. The apartment was a mix of scents the Yankee Candle Co tries to distill into wax (but they always seem to land on the side of nauseating).
The Douglas Fir’s piney scent and the warm, double chocolate peppermint cookies would have made the Rustbelt Farmer’s family proud. We had finally started to “do” Christmas.
Since we have the tree, we have the hot chocolate (or the spiked eggnog if Santa is feeling festive), and we have the cookies, it only seems right to leave them for Santa. I’m really hoping he’ll bring me a puppy for Julep and a Christmas Tree Farm for me. Now excuse me while I finally decorate that beauty!
Happy Holiday Adventures!
Peppermint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (Egg-Free)
About this Recipe: My enthusiasm for cookies was so intense, I had already started to mix flour and pull out all the chocolate before realizing we didn’t have eggs! There were a few expletives before I went into problem-solving mode / not-wanting-to-leave-the-house mode. I used a flaxseed egg replacer (flaxseed + water), which works really well for cookies- no one will notice. If you prefer eggs, substitute two eggs for the flaxseed mixture.
2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
6 Tablespoons filtered water
2 1/4 cups organic sprouted spelt flour
1 teaspoon pink Himalaya sea salt, plus extra for topping the cookies
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks organic unsalted butter, softened
1 cup organic coconut sugar
1 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 Tablespoon organic vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic peppermint extract
1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa
2 cups good quality, dark chocolate chips (such as Guittard)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix ground flaxseed with the water. Set aside for about ten minutes, until congealed.
In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, both sugars, vanilla, cocoa and the flaxseed mixture.
Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, sprinkle with extra salt, and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.