Posts Tagged 'holidays'

Currently Obsessed with…. Christmas Pretties

I’m ready for 2012. New Year, new outlook, and some pretty new stuff, too.

Loving this beautiful watercolor calendar from Linda & Harriet.

Linda & Harriet Watercolor Calendar 2012

Note the date: Summer...!

Feeling it for this funky print tunic from Tanvi Kedia.

Tanvi Kedia tunic

I want to smell like this Moulinette Soeurs Eau de Parfum in Arabelle — a mix of magnolia (!), night-blooming jasmine, and vanilla orchid.

Moulinette Soeurs Eau de Parfum

How happy are these Claudia Pearson Four Seasons Tea Towels? VERY.

Claudia Pearson four-seasons-tea-towels

Want to guess which one's my favorite? Hint: It's not winter.

I need The Graces Candle, to burn on a side table in my living room, with the lights way down low.

C_P_Candle_The_GracesAnd this purple frock looks ripe for a party, doesn’t it?

autumn days asymmetrical dress

Or maybe holiday drinks at The Standard Hotel? I’ve got a table booked.

Boom Boom Room The Standard Hotel

(photo: Dan Nguyen)

Here’s to keeping things merry and bright, people.

Oh. And pretty!

December 17 – 18: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Laduree+maccarrons

{photo via Peony / Melbourne}

Merry Almost-Christmas!

Holy crap, it’s almost here.

On my mind:

Good news — someone ELSE is cleaning my house this morning! And if you live in New York City, they can be cleaning yours, too. And you can pay with a credit card, no need to make sure you have cash on hand. And you can book online and they won’t cancel on you at the last minute. Call MyClean.

I don’t think I can make it through the holiday without some beautiful, perfect macarons from Laduree, now in NYC — must try to make it there this week, despite the fact that a friend went and had to wait in line an hour…. I’m thinking this can be avoided if I get there when they open — 9am Monday through Saturday, 10am on Sunday.

Speaking of cookies, I want to make these SmitKit gingersnaps.

And speaking of NYC, did you hear Gwyneth + Goop launched the first of their city guides this week, and of course it was NYC? Buy it as the app store.

Have fun buying, wrapping, baking, and eating!

It’ll be time for the fat man to come to town before you know it.

{photo: Peony / Melbourne}

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Prep

gingerbread cake, photo by Lisa Hubbard

This ginger-y, lemon-y cake = holiday goodness. (photo by Lisa Hubbard)

Things are moving into full swing around here now that it’s December:

* the Christmas cards are here and ready to be addressed.

* the tree is en route in the mail (yep, we order it for delivery to our home).

* the kids have been to see Santa at Macy’s (surprisingly manageable, really).

* the stockings and decorations, including Groovy Dancing Santa, have been unearthed from the depths of the storage space (thanks, babe!).

* I’m getting ready to make a personalized Santa video for the kids via PNP, Portable North Pole. We did this last year and it *blew* their minds. (It is very cool.)

* and the holiday bake-fest is on.

So far we’ve made:

* dark chocolate almond clusters with sea salt

* chocolate chip cookies with sea salt (both salty finds via This Homemade Life). Couldn’t decide which chips would be best to use, so I divided the batter into three batches and tried semi-sweet, milk, and butterscotch. After serious methodical sampling — hey, somebody had to do it — I have to say I liked the milk chocolate the best. The salt is a great foil for the sweeter chocolate.

* this super-awesome gingerbread cake with lemon curd and whipped cream. Made the house smell great! And the kids loved it. Via the December Bon Appetit.

Happy Holiday Prep, mamas!

Related:

Cutest Christmas Tree Skirts for 2011

7 Recipes for a Perfect Holiday Trifle

Cute Paperless Holiday E-Cards

 

7 Recipes for a Perfect Holiday Trifle

Grand Raspberry Trifle

Grand Raspberry Trifle / Martha Stewart Living

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!

Thanks, Helen!

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.

Raspberry and Lemongrass Trifle

Cranberry Cognac Trifle

Almond Sherry Christmas Trifle

Poached Pear and Raspberry Trifle

Easy Holiday Trifle

Grand Raspberry Trifle (pictured)

Related:

Our “Trip” to England, Complete with Super-Fast Mini Pear and Raspberry Trifles

Shiny Brite Guide to the Best Hostess Gifts

‘Tis the season to celebrate! And chances are, you are doing plenty of party-hopping, with or without the kids in tow. That means you need hostess gifts in hand!

Here are some of of the things I plan to give (and hope to get):

I love these Star Wars Heroes & Villains Pancake Molds from Williams-Sonoma for hosts with a young family. For $19.95, parents can serve up pure pleasure in the morning. For another $10-$13, you could throw in a pancake mix!

Star Wars Pancake Molds, $19.95 @ Williams-Sonoma

Food gifts make great hostess gifts, especially if the gift is something your hosts can use right away, or at a later party. A gift pack from Stonewall Kitchen is just the thing if you are one of those organized parents who have time to plan ahead and place an order.

Chutney Collection, $20 @ Stonewall Kitchen

And if you’re like me, short on time and long on good will, you can head over to your local grocer and make your own gift pack with artisan jams, sauces, and fancy crackers. Pop it in a bag and voilà!

One of our favorite cookbooks this season is (in case you missed it), How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa. Wrapped up with a bow, this makes a lovely gift for your host to pour over after you leave.

For the swank cocktail party (sans children), my go-to hostess gift is a lush floral arrangement that he or she need only admire, and place. There’s no muss, no fuss, no taking time out to find a vase while the doorbell is ringing. Tell your florist what you want to spend, and if possible, pick out the flowers. You don’t have to spend too much to get something pretty. In Brooklyn, the place to go is  Zuzu’s Petals on 5th Avenue in Park Slope.

And if all else fails, in lieu of the predictable bottle of wine, try this gorgeous bottle of Hendrick’s gin tied with a white bow:

 

Hendrick's Gin

 

 

Cutest Non-Traditional Christmas Tree Skirts

**Please note: this post has been updated for 2011 here

We need a Christmas tree skirt. Chrissy found a cute one last year but we didn’t buy it on the spot and now that particular Etsy artisan is nowhere to be found. Damn!

Anyway, we need one. But, yikes — Christmas really brings out the ugly in home decor. A brief search on Etsy and farther afield provided surprisingly limited options — shouldn’t somebody be all over making Christmas decor modern? — but I did find a few possible contenders.

My rules: no plaid, no patchwork, no reindeer, no red.

Here’s what I found:

ruffled linen tree skirt

Ruffled linen tree skirt from ruffledlinens on Etsy, $45.

I like this one because it’s simple. It comes in white, cream, or flax and wouldn’t compete with all of the wild Christmas wrapping paper. From ruffledlinens on Etsy.

burlap tree skirt

Tailored burlap tree skirt from SouthHouseBoutique on Etsy, $79.

Also simple, but a little tailored, too. This skirt is made of burlap (natural jute) and is almost like a heavy linen. I like the trim and curving wrap — both trim and button covers can be customized. From SouthHouseBoutique on Etsy.

eco-felt tree skirt

Eco felt tree skirt from clearlytangled on Etsy, $30.

Color! We have lots of bright colors in our house and if we didn’t decide to go with a super-subdued option, this could be fun. It’s an eco-friendly choice, made of recycled plastic bottles (don’t ask me how), and is supposed to resemble a ballgown (Magnolia would LOVE it.) If blue doesn’t say “Christmas” to you, it comes in other colors, too. From clearlytangled on Etsy.

faux fur tree skirt

Faux-fur tree skirt from West Elm, $69.

Ahhh, soft, warm, plush, faux fur. Suitable for any occasion, right? It’s fun, reminiscent of snow, and you’re not committing to any color palette or pattern. From West Elm.

boxing day tree skirt

Boxing Day tree skirt from Anthropologie, $168.

Enter Anthro for the expensive but oh-so-lovely option. This Boxing Day tree skirt features traditional motifs of birds, stars, poinsettias, dragonflies, and English roses. Unusual, pretty, and possibly just right.

This last idea isn’t really for a tree skirt — it’s a twirly-girly, holiday skirt for girls. But it was too cute not to include! Love the idea of Magnolia skipping a fancy Christmas dress and instead wearing this adorable skirt paired with a red turtleneck and her red Justin Ropers like the picture here. From noahandlilah on Etsy.

holiday skirt

Girl's Holiday Twirl Skirt from noahandlilah on Etsy, $21.

Here we go — let the holiday shopping begin!

November 20 – 21: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

Macaron Parlour

Goodies from Macaron Parlour, who'll be at The (Makers) Market on Sunday.

Holy crap, I cannot *believe* we are staring down the end of November. Thanksgiving next week, and then it’s just a sleigh ride into Christmas. Bur one thing at a time. First, we’ve got to get through the weekend….

Jasper’s been asking me why I don’t have any fun games on my iPhone like other parents do and when I’m going to get some. Now I can! And without any research on my part, thanks to the list of Reader Favorites: 38 iPhone Apps for Kids, from A Child Grows in Brooklyn. Should be valuable in killing the torturous time in between the kids’ swim classes at the Y.

Have you ever stopped by Hula Seventy? Andrea, the woman behind the blog, is a freelance photographer and writer living in Portland, Oregon, and I find her words and images inspiring. Recently, a little post on something Anna Quindlen wrote caught my eye. Although they’re words I’ve read before, they feel so relevant right now as we rush, rush, rush through the daily routine of life with a 6- and 4-year-old: “I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.” Breathe. Try to remember.

This Sunday, I’m hoping to take the kids by The (Makers) Market in the Old American Can Factory, where a “sugar-themed” fair will be going on from 11 am – 5 pm. Look for artisinal treats from P&H Soda Company, Macaron Parlour (pictured above), Petit Paris Patisserie, and more. According to Brooklyn Based, many of the bakers will be taking holiday orders for Thanksgiving, too.

Speaking of, Dinner, A Love Story has been whipping up a yummy Thanksgiving Roll-Out. Of note: DALS’ rules for perfect mashed potatoes and Confetti Brussels Sprouts with Bacon.

I’m not quite ready to go there mentally yet, but when I am (and it will have to be soon), I am totally consulting NYCityMama‘s list of Fun Things to Do for the Holidays All Around New York on Babble. The Bronx Zoo is featuring a “Polar Express” 4-D experience, and I konw one 6-year-old who’d be all over that.

If you missed it, take a look at our Guide to the Best Christmas Cards Online — you could skip searching yourself, and just go with one of our cute picks!

And for kid-gift inspiration — I know I need someone to tell me which toys are hot ’cause I have NO IDEA — check out the Holiday Gift Guide from MOMfinds (Magnolia would love the Mix Pups, weird little accessorizable dogs, a la My Little Pony.)

Happy weekend!


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