A Message of Christmas

Christmas Pageant

We received the most wonderful Christmas card tonight that captures the Christmas spirit for me.

It reads as follows:

Give.

Hope.

Have a cookie.  (Or three.)

Sing songs that make you happy.

Help others.

Believe.

Put love in all you do…

What great words not only for Christmas but all year long.

From our family to yours, we wish you a blessed Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!

From my Kitchen to Yours…

I’m in the mood to mix up the Holiday Extravaganza.  After all, the holidays are not just about shopping and most importantly all of the religious traditions, but also they are about cooking and then eating…yum…

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love my Kitchen and I love to cook.  I’m not usually much of a baker, but every Christmas I bake over 1,000 cookies and then put together beautiful gift boxes with ribbons and tags to give to all of my friends.  And yes, if you have read my earlier blogs, I also decorate two trees and most of the house.  I know, I know… I guess I am a bit OCD.  But I really love Christmas.

I made the first batch on Sunday – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies for a Caroling event at our Trinity Church, Southport.  I displayed some of these on this wonderful handled plate I picked up in Tuscany while on our honeymoon several years ago.  It looks like Christmas without going over the top!

Since several people asked for the recipe, I am posting it below.  I guess they were that good.  I loved Alan’s (our Music Director) Gingerbread Cake myself, but… for you cookie lovers out there, here is my family’s friend, Philippa Weller’s semi-famous cookie recipe.

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups Quaker Oatmeal (not instant)

1 cup chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet, but your choice)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy

Add eggs and vanilla and beat well

Add flour, baking soda and cinnamon and mix well

Stir in oats and chocolate chips, mix well

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet

Makes about 4 dozen

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…

The great Holiday Extravaganza continued…

I love the Pottery Barn Teen catalog.  Was there anything even halfway this cool when I was that age?  I’m talking about the time before Ipods, youTube and Twitter…  I had a blast choosing these fun designs for your teen girl.

Under $50

Furlicious Pillow Cover from Pottery Barn

What could be more fun than a fuzzy wuzzy pillow?  Personally, I have all the fuzziness I need with my cat, but this is a very fun look.

Under $100

Painted Dot Hair Dryer by Pottery Barn

Have you ever noticed how boring the design of your hair dryer is?  I might even want to get up in the morning, if I were blow drying my hair with this…hmmm…which to choose?  Pink or green?

Sky’s the Limit

iChair from Pottery Barn

Alright, so truth be told, my husband has a chair like this, but he’s an overgrown teen.  Well, really he’s just very into music, but sorry teens, Rolling Stones and the Who are his vibe…  As a teen, hiding away in my rooms with the tunes cranking was a great escape … some things don’t change.

Alright, who has a teen boy who can weigh in with some great ideas for my next blog?

It’s Not Just Your Grandmother’s China

At last, the long-awaited post about the ‘Choose Your Destination’ event, where I presented ‘It’s Not Just Your Grandmother’s China’.  Lauren Nason of Axa Advisors, Alison Held of Health Direction and I were speakers at the Gallery of Kitchens in Westport, CT.

For the talk, I brought my inherited pieces of china and some new items bought in the stores.   I love to take something old, your great aunt’s favorite china perhaps, that has been languishing in your basement and update it with some fun current tabletop items.  And we don’t even have to break your budget.

Formal Dining Setting

The first setting is a more formal setting for Dinner. The “old” items are Benardaud’s Grenadiers – a  traditional pattern with just a touch of whimsy.  I added a gold sequin place mat from Pier One and a Red Ruffle charger and dessert plate from Crate and Barrel.  The stemware is our wedding Waterford and an old family Cranberry glass mixed in with a new gold crackle glass cup from Pier One.  The floral arrangement is silk (really I would never have believed silk flowers could be this gorgeous!) from Bea Schriver Florals.

Holiday Breakfast Setting

In the next vignette, I took the same china and changed some of the accessories for a more informal breakfast party. I used a Crate and Barrel ornament as a napkin holder for the blanket-stitched napkin (love these from Pier One!).  Now, your breakfast guest has a little gift to take home.   I changed the placemat and the candles as well.  The snowflake candles from Crate and Barrel are so pretty that I bought some for my fireplace mantel.  Finally, I used the Bernardaud coffee mug instead of tea cups.  Does any one really use tea cups any more?  If you are buying china, buy the pieces you are going to use!  And do use them, don’t let them gather dust in the cabinet.

Hanukkah Place Setting

Finally, I created a Hanukkah place setting.  I mixed silver and gold, mostly out of necessity as my grandma’s blue plates have gold.  If you mix metals, just make it obvious that you are doing it – I say why not!  I love these blue and silver martini glasses I picked up a few years ago in a little shop on Greenwich Avenue.  All of the accessories except the hostess gifts – dreidel and the menorah ornament  from Crate and Barrel – are from Pier One.  The blue and white ball “ornaments” are candies.  The best surprise of the evening was that one of the gentlemen guessed that the candle arrangement is placed on a mirrored perfume tray from a ladies bath.  Look around your home for accessories, you never know what you will find.  I added some glass beads, like you use in the bottom of a vase and nestled the eight candles in between – a modern day twist on a menorah.

So, now I just know you’re motivated to get into those boxes in the basement (or china cabinet), dust off the old china and do just a little shopping to create a wonderful holiday table.  Bon appetit!

Ornaments

I love ornaments.  I love unwrapping each one and carefully placing it one the tree, while enjoying the memory that each ornament holds.

When I was a child, each Christmas, my Granny Blackard would send me a new handmade ornament.  Now, I have such joy watching my daughter as she decorates the tree with those.  I think it’s just amazing that my mom saved them for me all of these years.  And it’s such a lovely tradition that I have continued it with my own daughter.  By the time she is grown and off on her own, she will have plenty enough to decorate her own first tree.

I remember so well my very first Christmas tree.  Bev Richard and I were living in the North End of Boston.   On my way home from work, I decided to surprise Bev with a tree.  I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to get a 6 ft. tree home on foot by myself.  I dragged it home and it was sadly bare on one side (oops), but we still loved it!  Because we lived in the Italian section, the largest room in the house was the Kitchen – if you are Italian or married to an Italian (I am the latter) you will know exactly what I am talking about.  So the Kitchen was the only room that would fit the tree.  We covered it in lights and the few ornaments we had.  Then we tied on bows to fill in the gaps.  I wish I could find a photo – just the thought of that tree still makes me smile.

Under $50

Twelve Days of Christmas from Land of Nod

Love this set of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  There is a limited quantity left, so click quickly!

Under $100

Nutcracker Cloissone Set from Pottery Barn

I have a birthday that is far too cl0se to Christmas.  As a child, I was able to pick what we do on that day.  And every year I chose to go to The Nutcracker.  It is perhaps one of my all time favorite childhood memories.  Now, that our daughter is an aspiring ballerina at 4 1/2, we took her to see The Nutcracker this past weekend.  She loved it, of course, and let us know that she wants to be Clara when she’s 12.  I am sure Miss Jeannie (her instructor) will be thrilled!

Sky’s the Limit

Geisha Goose Egg from Gumps

I didn’t even think I would be able to find an ornament that cost more than $100, but handcrafted and trimmed with 14 karat gold and Austrian crystals…well, I could see how this would hit the ‘sky’s the limit’ category.  And of course, if you have been following my blog you will know that I love anything red or Asian…

Hope one of these beautiful ornaments makes it into your home or your friends.  May it bring the memories of smiles and friendship always.  And may your life be filled with Christmas miracles.

The Bar is Open

I took a break from blogging last night, as I was at Gallery of Kitchens in Westport for a fun cocktail party and presentation called  ‘Choose Your Destination’ with Lauren Nason, Alison Held and myself.  Stay tuned for a future blog about it…

Now, that I am in the holiday ‘decorating the table’ mode, I thought it would be fun to share some great items for the bar.

Under $50

Claro Barware from Pottery Barn

I love the clean shape of this barware and in this price range is a great value.   And these glasses can work with contemporary or traditional decor.

Under $100

Cubist Cocktail Set from Red Envelope

Cubist Cocktail Set from Red Envelope

Shaken not stirred…  I can just picture James Bond cradling this glass at an uber-chic cocktail party in a sleek contemporary apartment.

Sky’s the Limit

Elsa Peretti Champagne Cup from Tiffany

Does it get more gorgeous than the sensual lines of an Elsa Peretti anything?  Love how this champagne cup is made of sterling silver and it comes in a blue box to boot.  Now, who doesn’t love receiving the blue box?

No matter your budget – ask some friends over, break out some beautiful barware, put some great tunes on and entertain…

Dinner is Served

In honor of my speaking engagement tomorrow night, Wednesday, December 2nd, tonight’s Holiday Extravaganza post will feature tableware for the holidays.  Lauren Nason of Axa Advisors, asked that I present a topic for holiday decorating at “Choose Your Destination”.  Other featured speakers include Georgette Geller of Axa Advisors and Alison Held of Health Direction.  The evening’s festivities begin at 6pm at the Gallery of Kitchens in Westport, CT.

So a little taste of tomorrow night’s talk.  I love to take something old, your great aunt’s favorite china perhaps, that has been languishing in your basement and update it with some fun current tabletop items.  These don’t even have to break the budget.

Under $50

Picasso Serving Dishes from Pier One

Just picture this bowl or tray filled with gold balls, greens or fresh fruit.  This would make a stunning centerpiece for your holiday table.  This is not your Grandma’s china!  (sorry Grandma…)

Under $100

Gold Chargers from Williams Sonoma

A set of four of these Gold Chargers is less than $100 and would dress up those boring dishes.  The glass bottom makes these very contemporary.

Twelve Days of Christmas Plates from Pottery Barn

There were so many great options in this category that I couldn’t stop at just one.  And let’s face it, I love china so much that I had extra storage cabinets built for mine.   Imagine mixing these great salad/dessert plates in with your everyday white china.  They would dress up your casual table for your Christmas morning breakfast.  Talk about a conversation starter!

Sky’s the Limit

Murano Gold Leaf Decanter and Tumblers from Gumps

I want these.  Need I say more.  This is Murano at its best with a clean contemporary look and just a touch of the classic.  These would dress up any table setting.

So what are you waiting for?  Go dust off the old china and start mixing and matching.  It’s so much fun and will liven up your next party.  Dinner is served…

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