Tag Archives: Christmas

Let’s Talk About Christmas Lists

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas Lists. You see, I’ve always enjoyed the tradition of paging through catalogs around the table after Thanksgiving, each family member attempting to jog memories of all the things they desperately needed throughout the year but can’t seem to remember when the blank yellow pad of paper is in front of them.

Who doesn’t need a new pair of fuzzy LLBean slippers? I could use another blanket for the couch. One can never have enough cable knit throws, can they? Nope. Especially when one lives in a tropical climate. 

let's talk about christmas lists, christmas ideas,

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas lists because my love language is gift giving. I get it from my Nana. And while I love the idea of getting someone something that is written on their Christmas list, there’s an internal struggle I have each year around this time between buying what’s on the list and buying what’s NOT on the list.

Yep. I’m that girl. The girl who wrecks her brain for weeks trying to come up themes for everyone’s gifts, crafty and homemade additions to the gifts or, if the Christmas magic is really with her, the perfect gift for the person who doesn’t necessarily know what the perfect gift is. That, my friends, is the spirit of Christmas if you’re a gift giver at heart. Well, that and the birth of Jesus, but the Magi have that one covered.

And depending on your family and the members in it, you may fall on one side or another when it comes to gift lists, too.

There’s the mom who stuffs her purse with various iterations of other people’s lists but never really manages to end up with anything on hers. It’s ok though. Stick with anything that smells good, feels soft or keeps her warm, preferably in a neutral shade and you’re good to go.

Or the older nephew who unlike any other 9 year-old in town, tells you he doesn’t really need anything this year.

Or the sister who every day leading up to Christmas is very interested in what’s on every other family member’s list yet only manages to list one gift on her own. And a very small one at that.

And if we’re talking about lists, I’d be remiss to not mention the dad who if he’s anything like my dad, Murfs up any holiday with his version of a wish list. You may remember the years he spent asking for a conga drum so he could…

“…jam at some gigs with some cool cats.” 

Or the Father’s Day request for the book, Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised then when I received an email from my dad with the subject line: “Dad’s xmas list add-on” a link that led us here.

Just a houseboat add-on to this year’s list huh, Murf? Let’s not discuss the barriers to gifting the aforementioned item such as loan restrictions, satellite installation for his DVR habit or the simple fact that he still resides in the Midwest. Those things aside, for the past 275 days or so, I’ve been reminded about the houseboat interest via text message and in conversation. The barriers to the now digitally recorded wish list item are endless yet the drive still seems to be there.

The gift of list making is strong with this one.

So I remind you as you open your Christmas presents this year, consider the gift giver’s intention before you scoff at those bracelets you assumed were napkin rings.

After all, as I was told my great-grandfather used to say each time this year,

We all got all too G*d D*mn much. 

Happy Holidays!

 

Love Languages and Christmas Cookies

It’s hard to believe another Christmas is already upon us. A chance to look back on the past year and celebrate your accomplishments. A chance to look forward and make resolutions for the coming year. And a chance to visit that familiar self-induced hell of cookie decorating.

Just kidding. Kind of.

They say people fit into one of five different love languages. That emotionally, they need things like acts of service or words of affirmation to feel loved. And that receiving love is incredibly important to your relationship with others.

What does this have to do with cookie decorating you might ask?

Well they also say that you should tailor your love showing to the specific language of those you with which you have a relationship.

But because I think assuming you like physical touch would be the wrong choice in this scenario, I decided to settle for another year of holiday cookies.

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I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I over-thinned my white icing just in time for Santa’s beard. The result? Santa Dog. Coming soon to a dog park near you.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

I was a little disappointed until the boys and I had our annual Christmas cookie decorating party and the two of them showed me artistic skills I can’t even begin to compete with.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

Look at the depth and layering. The color quality and sparkle. The heavy use of sprinkles.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

I must admit I prefer the boys’ cookies to my own and I have a feeling it has a little to do with the quality time and acts of service involved.

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

 

holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Greetings

Happy Holidays!

I’ll begin this holiday greeting by apologizing for cheating you all out of a printed Christmas card this year. Especially because opening holiday cards and hanging them up is one of my favorite traditions and I may or may not still have all of yours from the past four years in a storage box because recycling them would destroy the memories and I refuse to be a memory destroyer.

Truth is until I got a puppy, I never deemed anything worthy enough of placing on my holiday card. Sure, there was that one year I could have posed next to my Kitchen-Aide, covered in flour and looking war-torn after three days straight of holiday baking. Or the party photos filled with felt antlers and Santa-appliqued sweatshirts from the annual ugly Christmas sweater party, but nothing ever seemed right.

Fast-forward to this year and I am now acutely aware that we are soon-to-be a family of two and have zero photos of ourselves. So while we decided to wait until the New Year to send out cards, I couldn’t NOT spread glad tidings to you, electronically or otherwise. Because what is Christmas, if not a time to dress your pet up in a human-sized flannel and make him pose for you in front of the tree. (Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Target, but if you are reading this Target, this post could totally be sponsored by you)

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Thanksgiving replay

Happy Thanksgiving week! In honor of the upcoming holiday and because I just realized that the post I was going to share with you today is nearly identical to the one I wrote exactly one year ago today, I’m re-posting it for your enjoyment. Because what is Thanksgiving than a chance to eat the exact same thing you did the year before (cranberry salsa), watch the same football teams play each other and re-invigorate that same nauseous feeling you have every time you go overboard on stuffing. Without further ado:

Originally published on November 25, 2014. Edited for relocating purposes.

OMG it’s Thanksgiving week y’all!

I know. I can hardly believe it either.

I can hardly believe it because we’ve been experiencing full-on Christmastime weather here in Chicago summertime weather here in Florida. Saturday was the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, complete with 14 degree wind chills and boughs of frozen holly. Sunday was unseasonably lovely, complete with 80 degree temps and neighbors sweating while decking their halls.

As a staunch no Christmas cheer before Thanksgiving is here supporter, I must admit this weather is throwing me for a loop. Our rapid decline super cheery warm sunny weird November temps has me ever-so-close to NOT decking my halls. Pair that with an especially tempting out of context holiday collection from Target and I nearly broke my own cardinal red rule this season don’t know if I’ll ever get into the spirit this year.

I may even have purchased a pillow from the above collection new pair of sandals this weekend and tucked it away for later decorating wore them the next day.

What a difference a year makes

 

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So I invite you to join me in slowing down on the Christmas craziness. There’s plenty of time for finding the perfect palm tree. Weeks and weeks until you finally pick the last piece of glitter sand out of your hair. Let’s not be too rushed to miss the reason we gather together this week and stuff our bellies. After all, we’ve got Pilgrims to thank!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer you the most welcomed holiday recipe you will ever bring. On a buffet full of taupes, tans and cocoas, this red gem stands out not only in color, but in taste. I invite you to share it as an appetizer before your Thanksgiving feast, or carry it through your holiday parties into the New Year.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

It’s fresh. It’s sweet. It’s tangy. It’s your go-to contribution for potlucks all season long. Special shout out to my cousin Lindsey for bringing this on Christmas Day a few years ago. It’s really become the gift that keeps on giving.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

Holiday Cranberry Salsa 

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red pepper, seeded
  • 1/2 med red onion
  • 1/2-3/4 C sugar
  • 1/3 C apple juice
  • 1 jalapeno
  • zest of 1 lime (plus a little juice)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1/4 C)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Rough chop apples, peppers and onions. In a food processor, chop fresh cranberries. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add apple, peppers and onion to food processor. Chop until finely diced. Add to cranberries in bowl. Finally, chop cilantro. Add sugar, apple juice, lime zest and lime juice. Add cilantro and salt to taste.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

The sugar will start to pull out the liquid in the cranberries and so be sure to give it a few hours to sit. Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer, as a relish on turkey or over cream cheese with crackers.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. What a great time to be thankful for all we have been given this year.

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Da Fam, Da Bears, Da Treats!

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In the holiday spirit

Before you start reading go ahead and click that little button above this sentence and join me in grooving to some Brenda Lee on this snowy Monday morning. Oh and try not to picture Kevin McCallister as you listen. If you are any generation near me, or have kids in any generation near me you’ll appreciate this reference. If not, just enjoy the music gosh darn it.

Can you tell I’ve been drinking the holiday kool-aid punch? I hope you have been too. After all, we can’t let a few Black Friday maulings ruin the holiday season for us now can we?

This weekend I finally got a chance to do a little decorating and celebrating for the upcoming holiday. I say little because I’ve made the practical-yet-saddening decision to not get a real Christmas tree this year.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy

Finn’s photo above sums up my feelings towards the decision.

But in reality, he’s ultimately behind the decision. All 80 pounds of him.

I may still change my mind on the decision.

Don’t worry this isn’t a Lebron-style special on the decision.

I’m just sad because I love little more than to get myself covered in glitter and sap while decorating a real Christmas tree. But there’s just not enough room this year. So instead I decorated my baby tree and turned my bookshelf into a mantle, complete with DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Did I just throw out the D-I-Y? Don’t break out in hives folks, these are very simple DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step one. Get a box.

Just kidding. Step one is to buy those cute mini stockings from Target. Stockings are usually way too pricey for what you are getting (a giant sock) but these are only $3.00 so there’s really no excuse not to buy them.

Step two is as simple as cutting out shapes or letters and gluing them onto your $3.00 stocking. If you don’t feel comfortable free-handing your letters, you could use stickers, felt shapes or buy them while you are Target. Of course they have twine-wrapped letters to go with your mini-stocking. It’s Target!

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step three. Now here’s where it gets tricky, hang your stockings up.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

But the holidays aren’t just about decorating now are they?

holiday party tablescape, mini christmas tree, holiday punch

Nope. How can we forget the parties.

On Saturday night, one of my former roommates/life partner and friend hosted a holiday dinner for our other former roommates/friends and their now life partners. Are you confused yet?

Christmas tablescape,christmas leggings, Christmas tree

We sipped holiday punch, sat around the fire and had a delicious meal. We don’t get together as much as we used to, so it was really nice to share some laughs. Don’t worry I didn’t wear my Christmas leggings to the party, I just needed another photo to fill the collage. But how sweet are my new reindeer leggings? Surely I will get my money’s worth as it’s not like these are specific to the month of December or anything.

note: I realize this is the longest post ever. Feel free to pause here and come back Wednesday if you need a break. 

Back to the party. I brought a kale, apple and pomegranate salad, the token cranberry salsa and a batch of sweet potato and rosemary biscuits. We didn’t need them of course, but they turned out pretty well for a first-try.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

I knew when I saw these from Two Peas and their Pod that I had to try them out. We had a few leftover so the next night I re-heated them in the oven and they were even tastier the next day.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Biscuits

  • 2 1/4 C  flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 TBL fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 6 TBL unsalted butter
  • 1 C diced roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 C buttermilk

I had a bag of pre-cut sweet potatoes so I just roasted them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes with a little olive oil and rosemary before I made the dough. Once they cooled a bit, I just chopped the potatoes into smaller pieces.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line jelly roll pan with silpat.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add fresh garlic and rosemary. Cut butter in with pastry fork or hands. Fold in sweet potato then add buttermilk. You may need a teaspoon more or less depending on how dry your dough is. It should be sticky and not fall apart.

Once dough is combined, flatten into a circle and divide it in two. Cut each half into triangles and place on prepared pan. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Now grab your biscuit, pour yourself a glass of holiday punch and jam out to some tunes, ya filthy animal.

Gobble, Gobble

OMG it’s Thanksgiving week y’all!

I know. I can hardly believe it either.

I can hardly believe it because we’ve been experiencing full-on Christmastime weather here in Chicago. Saturday was the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, complete with 14 degree wind chills and boughs of frozen holly.

As a staunch no Christmas cheer before Thanksgiving is here supporter, I must admit this weather is throwing me for a loop. Our rapid decline in temps has me ever-so-close to decking my halls. Pair that with an especially tempting holiday collection from Target and I nearly broke my own cardinal red rule this season.

I may even have purchased a pillow from the above collection this weekend and tucked it away for later decorating. That was until this guy pulled it out of hiding.

greater swiss mountain dog, holiday pillow, Target holiday pillow, swissy

At first he looked like the might snuggle it nicely but then I saw a little of myself in him as he thrashed it back and forth, poked a few holes in the top and began chewing it to shreds like one of his other toys.

How can you be mad at him? He’s right. It was too early. Too soon.

So I invite you to join me in slowing down on the Christmas craziness. There’s plenty of time for finding the perfect tree. Weeks and weeks until you finally pick the last piece of glitter out of your hair. Let’s not be too rushed to miss the reason we gather together this week and stuff our bellies. After all, we’ve got Pilgrims to thank!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer you the most welcomed holiday recipe you will ever bring. On a buffet full of taupes, tans and cocoas, this red gem stands out not only in color, but in taste. I invite you to share it as an appetizer before your Thanksgiving feast, or carry it through your holiday parties into the New Year.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

It’s fresh. It’s sweet. It’s tangy. It’s your go-to contribution for potlucks all season long. Special shout out to my cousin Lindsey for bringing this on Christmas Day a few years ago. It’s really become the gift that keeps on giving.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

Holiday Cranberry Salsa 

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red pepper, seeded
  • 1/2 med red onion
  • 1/2-3/4 C sugar
  • 1/3 C apple juice
  • 1 jalapeno
  • zest of 1 lime (plus a little juice)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1/4 C)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Rough chop apples, peppers and onions. In a food processor, chop fresh cranberries. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add apple, peppers and onion to food processor. Chop until finely diced. Add to cranberries in bowl. Finally, chop cilantro. Add sugar, apple juice, lime zest and lime juice. Add cilantro and salt to taste.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

The sugar will start to pull out the liquid in the cranberries and so be sure to give it a few hours to sit. Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer, as a relish on turkey or over cream cheese with crackers.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. What a great time to be thankful for all we have been given this year.

greater swiss mountain dog, holiday pillow, Target holiday pillow, swissy