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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Field Trip: The Morgan Library, New York, NY

It's been awhile but I have some pictures to share with you of a field trip! This trip was to New York City where I met up with 2 girlfriends to kick off the holiday social season. We converged on The Morgan Library & Museum from 3 different directions - that's Carol arriving, above!

 Today, The Morgan Library & Museum is a complex of buildings of differing styles and periods covering half a city block and housing the collection of JP Morgan. The most influential financier in this country's history, Pierpont Morgan was also a voracious collector.

As early as 1890 Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints. He bought on an astonishing scale in virtually every medium including art objects and ancient artifacts. Above is the original library room with it's floor to ceiling books and 3 tiers of catwalks in elegant cast iron. I LOVE this room!

Built between 1902 and 1906 "Mr. Morgan's library." was an intimate palazzo-like structure designed by Charles Follen McKim to the east of JP's New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. The gorgeous vaulted, painted and gilded ceiling of the rotunda - the library's original main entrance - is a captivating in contrast to all the heavy, dark appointments throughout the library.

As the collection grew so did the library. First an annex (1928) and then 60 years later, the mid-nineteenth-century residence were added to the complex. In 1991 a garden court was built to unite all three buildings in the complex. The Renzo Piano design integrates the three landmark buildings with three intimately scaled new pavilions constructed of steel-and-glass panels to create an accessible, inviting setting. The diversity of the architecture mirrors to me the charmingly disjointed character of the art and artifact collection on display. Where the books, manuscripts, letters and drawings naturally present a cohesive display, the "decorations" seem more personal, more collected and less curated.

The Morgan Library also has a wonderful cafe in the garden court with seasonal menus and a lovely gift shop. For more information on one of New York's lesser known gems, visit The Morgan Library's website.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On The Way, Week 35

{1} Foggy Winter Morning, Chester, NY {2} Turkey, Cheddar, Cranberry Panini, Whispering Hills, NY {3} Mom and Dad's Vintage Christmas Decorations {4} The Grumpy Cat,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Kid On The Blog, December 2012: Sally J Shim

You may or may not know that for the past 18 months or so I have been dreaming fantasizing about opening a little business. When I've least expected it I've been ambushed by this need to indulge my creative self, to be my own boss, to escape from the irritation of constantly being subject to someone (everyone) who knows better. With all of that swirling around in my heart and soul, late last year, I was challenged to develop a business plan to seed this idea. What I came up with is very much like what sallyjshim is all about. Now, I never saw sallyjshim when I started. But what she and I - and many others as it turns out - have invisioned is a marketable marriage of graphic design, packaging, handcrafting and fine paper goods with a little Martha Stewart (of course) sprinkled in. So my shop hasn't gone very far but sallyjshim has a lovely blog, and so many beautiful things to see. Visit, browse, get to know her and her charming family. Just promise me when Le Shop de Joanne opens, you'll come on by and visit me too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On The Way, Week 34

{1} Yao Ming, Brakewell Steel {2} Morning Snow, Airmont, NY {3} Ladies Lunch, NYC {4} Christmas Decorations, Upper Saddle River, NJ {5} The Book Vault, Morgan Library {6} Meeting Friends, NYC