Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Kid On The Blog, Jan. 2013

Well. Happy NEW year, folks! It's always a little strange, isn't it, when you write the year for the first few times? It's a new year, a new month and therefore time to check out a new blog. I've realized that many of the sites I "like" and either add to my blog roll or post about in this feature are food blogs. And I'm not much of a food blog fan. Imagine that. I think I am drawn, in some cases, to the personality that shines through. And the look and feel of the photography and graphics. That seems to be the commonality amongst most of my favorite blogs - color, design, voice and vision. This month's choice is no different - except where it is. Because tatertotsandjello is a charming and crafty lifestyle blog. Check out Jen's world, whip up some wall art or stitch up a greeting card or two and enjoy my New Year's gift to you!

Monday, December 31, 2012

A World Full of Christmas, Part 2

Christmas is over but last week was the stretch run and I had a few days off to finish everything up. Though I worked most of the first day it was still nice to hang around the house in pajamas, puttering here, wrapping there, primping the decorations and watching the fire.

In addition to the cookie boxes, I made several food gifts for some special people in my office. Two of the recipes were courtesy of Shutterbean, both really easy to make but quite impressive. Caramelized Onion Jam is very tasty but perhaps should be reserved for the foodies on your list. I love caramelized onions on my pizza (as I told you here) and it's handy to have them pre-made to add great flavor to a panini, mashed potatoes or pasta. The only drawback - the onion smell clinging to everything for days! Herbed Cheese Sticks, made from frozen puff pastry, look great and taste even better. I used raffia ties, natural parchment paper and custom-printed hang tags to give them a unified look. Add a takeout container chock full of fresh-baked cookies and pack it all together in a photo box with natural shred and some tissue paper, tied up with more raffia and a sprig of fresh evergreen. These are great gifts for all kinds of people on your list, especially if the question of how much to spend is awkward or if you don't know the recipient's likes and dislikes very well.

The kitchen got quite a workout this season. I made rich dark chocolate ganache - the base for yummy homemade truffles. I've made these before and finished off the melt-in-your mouth balls with just a dusting of cocoa powder but I wanted to experiment this time with other looks and flavors. I divided the still-liquid ganache into 3 batches and added a different flavored liqueur to each - Amaretto (almond), Chambord (raspberry) and Godiva (dark chocolate). I planned to dip the well-chilled shaped balls in couverture chocolate and sprinkle them with toasted coconut, ground peppermint candies and chopped nuts but they're still a work in progress. I'll keep you posted!

The final touches to this 2012 Christmas season - gifts wrapped in gold and silver, darling little character mugs lining the kitchen shelf, swags on the cupboard doors, a mixed era display in the dining room cum lounge and the main tree, all decked out, resplendent in the cozy firelight - were complete. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and now: Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On The Way, Week 38

{1} Christmas Shopping, Wurtsboro, NY {2}  Homemade Kale Soup and Cheese Straws {3} Snowstorm {4} Ready for Christmas, Whispering Hills

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Theater, Dec. 24th, 2012

The Holiday
My fascination with corny and sappy holiday flicks is not limited to the made-for-tv variety. Over the years I've indulged in a whole slew of newer, theatrically released movies too. The draw for most of these is absolutely first rate art direction - which I suck up like a hungry baby - and much higher wattage star power! One that I now must watch on tv every year is simply called The Holiday. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet are each driven to an impulsive and drastic shakeup and decide to switch their fairy tale homes (and to some extent their lives) for the holiday. Hollywood glammed Diaz finds, after a bout of buyer's remorse, love and a more connected life in small-town England with impossibly sexy Jude Law. A beleaguered Winslow settles right into la-la-land - and Diaz's spectacularly white world - but has a hard time emotionally leaving her complicated love life behind. That is until the 2 men this new life brings, wise old neighbor Eli Whitney and songwriter/funny man Jack Black, help her find her way. Gorgeous scenery, beautiful wardrobe plus some pretty good acting help overcome some pretty awful direction to make this one of my perennial favorites.

Best Line #1 (it's a tie): "I have a cow and I sew. How's that for hard to relate to?"

Best Line #2: "Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On The Way, Week 37

{1} Making Food Gifts {2} Decorations {3} Truffles in the Making {4} Winter Sunrise

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Theater, Dec. 21st, 2012

Miracle On 34th Street
When it comes to holiday movies there are classics and then there are classics. This week I've been too busy to spend my customary 2 to 3 nights immersed in any, old or new. So I decided to spend the time I did have with a true classic, Miracle on 34th Street (the original). I've seen all the traditional Christmas movies many times but while "It's A Wonderful Life" is pleasantly earnest and heartwarming and "White Christmas" (which I also peeked in on this week) is sweet and corny in a particularly old-fashioned way, "34th Street" is so much more. Mostly well acted by a stellar cast, featuring New York City circa 1950 as a main character and with enough wit and charm to keep our interest, this film is fully entertaining. And if you don't find yourself with a bit of a tear when Fred sees Kris sitting so forlornly in the psych ward, or chuckling when Susie's tutelage results in bubble gum all over Kris' exquisite beard, or grinning broadly when Doris and Fred are finally swept into the fantasy in that last scene - well you probably need a little vacation!
Best Line: "Look Doris, someday you're going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile."