Hope Santa brings you everything you want. Really. Everything.
Merry Christmas, y’all!
Life with kids, made better.
I’m ready for 2012. New Year, new outlook, and some pretty new stuff, too.
Loving this beautiful watercolor calendar from Linda & Harriet.
Feeling it for this funky print tunic from Tanvi Kedia.
I want to smell like this Moulinette Soeurs Eau de Parfum in Arabelle — a mix of magnolia (!), night-blooming jasmine, and vanilla orchid.
How happy are these Claudia Pearson Four Seasons Tea Towels? VERY.
I need The Graces Candle, to burn on a side table in my living room, with the lights way down low.
And this purple frock looks ripe for a party, doesn’t it?
Or maybe holiday drinks at The Standard Hotel? I’ve got a table booked.
Here’s to keeping things merry and bright, people.
Oh. And pretty!
Remember how we were talking about repurposing the Bonne Maman jars? A while back? No? Well, check it out here.
Anyhoo, we had about eight Bonne Maman jam jars that we deemed too pretty to recycle this year. And over the months, we’ve used them to store leftovers, or to hold a little homemade something that we are passing along.
So this year, in addition to contributing to the teacher’s gift money that the class parents collected, we decided to make some of the famously addictive peanut clusters, and some of the fabulous Union Square Cafe Bar Nut Mix, and pass them along to the women who work so hard with our kids in school.
This picture does not do the cuteness justice, but to give you the idea:
I slapped a little handwritten label on them and tied a bow around the jars, and put them in gift bags.
We had a few people more to give to than we had jars available. They got these cute little gift bags (and some scored Rich Roll Cookies — see your copy of The Joy of Cooking for the recipe):
And off we traipsed to school!
Last year, we saw a full-length version of the Nutcracker and, while it was truly beautiful, keeping small bodies still that long was a challenge. This year, we’re going for an abridged version — “The Colonial Nutcracker” at The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College. Running at about an hour, the show is recommended for ages 4 and up. Sunday afternoon at 2pm. Tix bought. See you there!
Think we’ll be squeezing in our photo opp with Santa beforehand at ABC Carpet & Home. And while we’re in the city, we’ll try to grab one (or more) of the amazing-sounding special holiday cookies Mommy Poppins wrote about this week. There are 7 spots in Manhattan and in Brooklyn worth checking out, including a Momofuku Milk Bar booth at the Union Square holiday market.
Our busy Sunday means I won’t get to take the kids to the Bell House, but if you’re free, you should. The Suzi Shelton Band will be there for a Rockin’ Holiday Party — expect music, craft projects with Brooklyn Design Lab, and treats from Little Buddy Biscuit Company. The fun starts at 11:30am.
Also on my wish list of weekend events I probably won’t get to make…. The first weekend of the Holiday Market at The Maker’s Market — helloooo, awesome gifts. Saturday and Sunday, 11am — 5pm.
Saturday’s a little less busy, so I’m hoping we can drop by the Kids’ Holiday Craft Party at Etsy Labs in DUMBO (thanks to Cool Mom Picks for the tip.) There will be craft projects for all ages — including a chance for kids to make their own ornaments — plus snacks and music. 3 — 5pm.
And, not that I’ve done my Christmas shopping yet or anything — !!! — but I was looking around the web this week for wrapping ideas and inspiration. I found some over at Babble, where their Family Style bloggers put together a nifty slide show on unusual gift wrapping tips & tricks. Below is one idea on how to turn your kid’s artwork into cute wrapping paper of various sizes.
You won’t be a bit surprised to hear that Martha Stewart has some pretty swell gift wrapping tricks, too. Pretty, pretty. Crafty, crafty.
Get inspired, mama!
I’m starting to sweat the shopping season a bit (how am I going to shop local if I’m never home?) as we get closer to Christmas. At this time of year, my head is spinning thinking of all the possible gifts for the kids out there. I’m always looking for ideas. Here are some of my favorite finds for this year.
What I like about it: This year, the subject is our planet. There’s a fact-a-day, trivia and monthly craft experiments, not to mention the plain happiness of a six-year-old being able to tell me the day of the week.
Next up, a gift that will put the kids in the mind of traveling (thanks, Cool Mom Picks for bringing this to our attention!).
Little Passports lets your kid “get to know” other countries by following the adventures of two children as they travel the world. Your child will get mail (oh, yeah) from his new friends describing their adventures, plus souvenirs from the places they have been. And there’s a world map included as well.
What I like about it: It’s a fun way for kids to learn about other countries, geography, history and culture. You choose your subscription base (3 months, 6 months, 12 months) and pay as you go or pay up front.
And while the kids have their traveling shoes on, how about sleeping bags under the tree? Our kids are at the age where they are begging for sleep-overs, either with each other, or with friends.
We’ve put this selection into the care of our trusted GFT (Grandma from Texas), but this pair from Garnet Hill would make a snuggly gift.
What I like about sleeping bags: Seems time to give up the “I’m scared” make-shift pallet on the floor. And I figure sleep-over season is coming soon!
What I like about it: Well, rainbows are nice, right? And this one can double as a nightlight (and maybe keep kids from getting out of bed?).
Now, for books, a crowd-pleaser would be this full-color box set of The Little House series.
What I like about it: Something for everyone in here! Pa is shooting bears and smoking meat. Laura and Mary are playing with their dolls and helping Ma around the farm. And of course, it gives kids a glimpse of our country at a young age, and shows them that things weren’t always as easy as they are now.
Finally, don’t all kids love to borrow your phone and camera whenever they can? How about saving those expensive gadgets and getting them one of their own. This Kidizoom Plus camera from Vtech allows budding photographers to freeze frame the world.
What I like about it: The big handles on this camera say it’s small-hand friendly. Kids can personalize photos by adding items like frames and hats. Apparently, there is some way to hook the camera to the TV to showcase your young ‘uns work. Games included (could this be something for long car rides?) as well.
Full disclosure, I’m buying one and hoping to use it to cut down on the “what’s next to unwrap?” moments at Christmas. Take a picture, it lasts longer.
It’s the holidays! Which means it’s time for impressive desserts, like trifles and Christmas pudding. I broke out Nigella Lawson‘s How to Be a Domestic Goddess for info and inspiration. But when I read the first line of the section — “I came to trifle relatively late in life, which is probably just as well.” — I knew I needed guidance from another source.
So I turned to our British friend, Helen — smart, funny, and never without an opinion, I knew she could help explain the various layers of complicated feelings around this traditional English dessert. Here’s what she had to say — plus, of course, some recipes.
So, trifles — what’s the deal? Why are they such popular Christmas desserts in England?
They’re impressive — trifle counts as an “occasion” dessert, but it’s easier than a Christmas pudding.
Christmas pudding is very involved?
Oh, God, yes! It takes months! You have let it stew in alcohol for ages. My family would buy one that came in a ceramic basin and you’d boil it for hours and then put in coins and charms and whoever finds them has good luck. Then when you serve it, you douse it in brandy and flame it. I don’t think people make their own anymore.
I know you’re not really a fan of trifle, and Nigella doesn’t seem to be, either. Why not?
That’s where class comes in. It’s so British! In nice homes, you would never have it, you’d have Christmas pudding. When you say trifle, it means — common. I never grew up with them. It’s not a posh thing to do. People like Nigella would think of horrible dry cake soaked in cheap sherry and layered with red Jell-o, mandarin oranges, or pineapple — things from a can — and bright yellow custard. Then topped with candied cherries and maybe sliced almonds.
But made with good, fresh ingredients, a trifle could be nice, right?
Yes, and they look good because of the layering. And a trifle is quick to make even though it’s best to let the boozy cake soak overnight. But you need a real trifle bowl — a large glass dish with deep sides. That’s the essence of it all. It can involve any kind of cake, but lady fingers are often used in England. Pound cake works, too. Then you pour alcohol over, add jam and fruit, and put whipped cream on top.
Nigella‘s Easy Holiday Trifle – with dried apricots, pistachios, and Greek yogurt — seems to be popular….
I don’t know, dried apricots — seems like chewiness might be an issue! It’s about texture — you want it to be soft. Something light and soft — like raspberries — may be better. You want to avoid a really “solid” feeling — trifle should be an antidote to Christmas pudding, which is dense. And make the alcohol nice alcohol!
Alcohol, by the way, may be traditional, but isn’t mandatory. There are tons of recipe variations out there. And, sans alcohol, the kids are bound to love it — cake + custard + fruit and whipped cream = way kid-friendly.
Here are a few that sound worth trying if you’re feeling in the trifle way this holiday season.
Grand Raspberry Trifle (pictured)