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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On The Way, Week 37

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A World Full of Christmas

Christmas preparations began in earnest last week. This is what is looked like.

First I finally got to the nitty gritty of making my cards. I chose a concept I had in my files from a few years back and, last month when I was sequestered in my studio for 2 days while the floors went in downstairs, I finalized the materials and techniques. So now it was time to get to it. I have to thank Martha Stewart for her crappy glue that globbed and dripped, never flattened out and at one point had the cap fall off while I was applying it. They're not as technically well done as I like - but they're out!

The first of my 3 trees went up. I've had both my mini trees for so many years that they're showing definite signs of wear - but somehow I don't care. I normally obsess over stuff like that but I guess the tradition of them kind of means something to me. Anyway this one has always gone in the master bedroom. I use all my folk-style ornaments, mostly because I think these wood, twig, tin, felt and clay treasures need to have some calm and quiet around them to really shine!

After some ca-razy upheaval at work, my company hosted their annual holiday luncheon this week. I came dressed to party but I didn't attend. I didn't really feel like all the festivities while I stressed about the new work load. This is shot of the colorful entry with the lighted Christmas tree peeking through at left.

The next tree up is this Charlie-Brown version that goes in the spare room/office/studio/guest room! This used to be in my office back before I worked in the Christmas industry. Lately it has moved around my various apartments. Since I bought my condo it has been in this room which I decorated for my Mom who L-O-V-E-S-loves anything with the American flag. So the tree, of course, features all types of patriotic ornaments, from a blown glass flag to a tin Uncle Sam hat!

I've been threatening for a few years to get back to making my Big Box O' Cookies. Well I finally did it. Here's the first few batches (Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate-Coffee-Vanilla Ribbons, Lemon Shortbread Bars) and still to come are Gingerbread Men, Raspberry Sugar Stars, Cinnamon Twists and Chocolate Almond Snowballs!

And it wouldn't be Christmas without my Santas on display. This on the mantel is the largest bunch but I have them in groupings throughout the house. There are angels in my bedroom, white-robed Pere Noels in the hall and a mini group of fine, hand-carved figures on the side table. I think I love these almost as much as I love my collected big tree. Almost.

There's more to come...wrapping, cooking, the twinkling windows, garlands and of course the main event - the living room tree. Check back - it's a busy time!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On The Way, Week 36

{1} Feather Tree, Lounge {2} Making Christmas Cards, Studio {3} Mini Patriotic Tree, Studio {4} Colorful Entry and Christmas Tree, Montvale, NJ {5} Through Patterned Glass, NYC