It takes a long time to find the right tree. This year however it did not take long, until we got it home and realized it was not the right tree. The base was too big for the stand, and by the time we cut it down to fit, half the tree was sitting on the drive-way. Oh well, it's still loved in its imperfection.
The trimming of the tree is a serious affair around here. First the lights must be woven through the tree all the way to the base and back out again, then the glass balls must be hung deep in the branches to help reflect the light out, and finally the ornaments placed in just the right spot. Christmas music should be played in the background and spiced tea sipped from the unpacked Christmas mugs. I should write a rule book so the kids don't screw it up when they are off on their own.
A new tradition added this year (that Elsa speaks of as though it has been done for generations), is Chinese take-out on the floor next to the tree on the first night with the tree. Cyrus loves the tree so much, every time he enters the room he points and exclaims "Wook! MisMas Tree!!!!".
I love traditions so much, and the more detail the better. Once I tried to start a tradition called "Pillow Day"; where the last Saturday before Christmas break room-mates were woken up in the middle of the night for a huge pillow fight, secret santa gifts were exchanged and pancakes and bacon eaten before the sunrise, followed by sleep. It was good fun and held for a good 3-4 years.
I'd love to hear about your traditions, please do share.
This was our first Christmas in our new home. And in our family since Christmas is all about cooking, we settled more into our new kitchen, and had our first meals in our new dining room.
As wonderful as this was, it was very bittersweet for me. The last time I shared a meal with my father was two Christmas ago, we sat crammed into the middle of my kitchen, shuffling up and down as things went in and out of the oven. My father tied a ribbon on the door and said he hoped that one day he would be able to give us a dining room for our growing family. With his passing came the wonderful gift of this beautiful home.
I am learning to embrace the sadness along with the joy. The sadness helps me to remember how dearly I loved my father, and how much of my soul he is still a part of.
We have been making lots of yummy things in our new kitchen, and what a pleasure it is. Every year I seem to spend way too much time looking for my recipes, so with this free moment I will archive them and know just where they are next year.
1c raw, ground almonds
1 2/3c flour
powdered sugar with vanilla bean grated into it, in a little tin
Cream butter and sugar, add almonds and flour. Pinch off walnut side piece and shape into crescent. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. Once cooled coat them in powdered sugar.
These cookies are AMAZING and store well if you wait to coat them before eating. Next time I will double the recipe.
1 1/4c brown sugar
1c white sugar
1/2 pound ground raw almonds
4 tbs honey
3c flour (i often end up using just a little bit less)
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and mix well, mix in almonds and honey and finally flour.
Pinch off walnut size piece and flatten slightly, top each cookie with an almond or candied cherry and bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes. These will spread so give them enough room.
These are really tasty too, and get better after a few days. This recipe makes plenty of cookies.
Otherwise known as Christmas Candy. My husband grew up with a tin of this in his stocking every year, so I must cary on this tradition.
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces chocolate (chips work great)
*sprinkle 2/3 of the nuts in a buttered 9x13 dish.
*melt butter, sugar, water and bring to boil stirring constantly.
*leave it alone over medium heat until mixture reaches 300 degrees. (I usually pull it off at 275 because of the brown colour.) Mix in soda and pour into pan over nuts.
*let cool a minute or two and them sprinkle chocolate chips and let them melt. spread chocolate evenly with a fork to give a design and sprinkle with the rest of the nuts.
*once cool break into pieces.
The other cookies are gingerbread cookies frosted with icing sugar, meringue powder and water. They taste O.K. but are really fun to make and look so festive.
The containers are just re-used nut, oatmeal, coffee and tea containers wrapped in paper. Next year I will squirrel away all containers that comes through my home. Feel free to save any you have. I think they add such charm to home made treat gifts.
There is so much more cooking for this here new kitchen. Can't wait to share it with you.
Last year I made a few different kinds bark, but this one was something special. My very good friend Alya was surprised that I made it and even more surprised that I liked it. I know that peppermint bark is the kind of thing that you buy in a tin from the drug store this time of year, but if you use the right ingredients and fill the middle with a peppermint tinted ganache, it becomes something special. If you come by my house I'll give you a taste.
Christmas is now 9 days away and at this point I have made peace with not having a hand-made Christmas. Actually its been kind of (or even really) fun shopping, and I have been putting the pain brush down more and more lately to make room for some Christmas treats. It's nice not having all that pressure to complete big projects with a December 25th deadline, and the house has been the biggest project I've ever taken on. I am not generally easily overwhelmed but this past six months has been CRAZY,in a good kind of way (most of the time).
Just so you know I'm not trying to hide my new house. I'm just waiting for it to be complete for the big reveal. It's just killing my poor mother who lives on the other side of the world, but I'd like to wait for the finishing touches, like light fixtures, switch plates, little bits of trim and paint.
I hope that you are enjoying this time of year as much as I am.
So here are some of the Christmas gifts I am only now getting around to sharing. I just realized that I have a recycled wool theme going.
Elsa's quilt is a combination of sweaters and wool coats (cashmere coats that is). I ended up felting them, cutting them up and then felting them again. The backing is the inside of sweatshirt material from the fabric store and is so soft and cozy. The matching doll inspiration came from this book, and "stuffie" is more loved than anything I've ever made her before.
Cyrus' hat (cashmere of course) came from this pattern, of which I've made overalls, pants, a lined jacket, and am currently working of a simple cashmere sweater, all from recycled wool sweaters.