Friday, December 23, 2011

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

A couple of days ago, a lovely elf delivered a beautiful package to my house…

plate 4

I couldn’t wait till Christmas to see what was inside…

plate 2

A beautiful plate designed and created by Oded & Pam Ravek, the amazingly talented couple behind OR DESIGN glassworks.

plate 3

A huge thank you to Oded, Pam, and Ariela the delivery elf for this fabulous Christmas gift :-) I’ll treasure it always!

plate 1

Oded & Pam recently traveled to Arad, Israel where their work is now on display at the Glass Art Museum Arad. One of the pieces is this charming platter called Winter Wonder. It was inspired by their daughter’s love of elephants and the magical moment of a child’s first snowfall.

WINTER-WONDER.-by-OR-DESIGN-glassworks-2011.-All-Rights-Reserved Winter-Wonder-Glass-Art-Platter.-Photo-by-Pamela-Ravek-c.-OR-DESIGN-glassworks-2010.-All-Rights-Reserved Wheeeeeee!

To learn about the creative process behind Oded & Pam’s glasswork and see more of their amazing pieces, click here to read the interview I did with them last spring. And be sure to check out their website and blog for even more pictures and information about their work.

Just a few more sleeps till Christmas… I can’t show you too many pictures of my decorations because I’m in the midst of a makeover that I’m going to share with you in the new year. But here are a few, starting with the snowflake tree in the family room (it has a few non-snowflake ornaments too)…

xmas 1

A few close-ups from last year…

tree side close RS

tree purple ball 2 RS

tree white ball close RS

The treasure tree in the loft…

xmas 2

And the white tree in the dining room…

white tree

Each tree has a ceramic Santa that my mom and I made years ago…

tree santa 2

And I decorated the white tree with lots of the glitter balls I made, as well as some handmade ornaments I bought in Budapest last Christmas.

buda 1  buda 2buda 3  buda 4xmas 4buda 5

You can read about my trip here, here, here, here, here, and here. If you’ve never been to Budapest, I highly recommend adding it to your list of places to see. The architecture is beautiful, the food is delicious (be prepared to gain about 10 pounds!), and even though Hungarian is impossible to understand, it’s relatively easy to find your way around because lots of Hungarians in Budapest speak English.

market wine 2

The dining room dressed up for Christmas…

dr xmas 2

One of my mini trees has a coastal flair this Christmas…

mini tree 2

Balls from the dollar store hung from a curtain rod…

balls on rod

I love these snowmen – the colours change from red to green to blue to purple.

snowmen

My take on a peacock wreath…

silver wreath

Outdoor tree decorated with dollar store ornaments…

tree porch

And a little more Christmas baking – we went to a friend’s Christmas party last weekend. She’s gluten free, so rather than making the trifle I usually bring to her parties, I found this recipe for a flourless chocolate cake. One thing I’ve discovered about flourless food – gluten free doesn’t mean calorie free! There’s a whack of butter and sugar and chocolate in this baby, but it’s totally worth it because it’s soooooooooo good! It’s uber-rich & decadent, so you just need a small piece to get big chocolate flavour.

xmas 5

And that, my blog friends, is all for now – I’m taking a blog break over the holidays. I’ll be back in January with more makeovers, more DIY projects, and maybe a surprise or two :-)

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and everything else festive…

family 6

See you in 2012!

sig christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Mother Nature is really messing around with the weather this year. It’s December 20th in Ottawa, and there’s not a flake of snow to be seen. It rained yesterday, it’s sunny & cold today, and it’s not looking very promising for a white Christmas this year. A big BOOOO to you, M.N.! Not that I want to be buried under multiple feet of snow, but some white fluffy stuff would really help boost the Christmas spirit. So I thought I’d try to kick my Christmas mojo up a few notches with pretty pictures of white Christmases. Hope they lift your Christmas spirit too…

Pinned ImageImage via favim.com

Pinned ImageImage via The Style Files

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Pinned ImageImages via Oaxacaborn via Lantliv (photographer Frederikke Heiberg)

Pinned ImageImage via Marcus Design

Pinned ImageImage via BHG

Pinned Image Image via 79 ideas

Pinned Image Image via I’m All Amazed

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Image via La Maison d’Anna G.

Pinned Image Image via Zsa Zsa Bellagio

Pinned ImageImage via Alexandra Grablewski Photography

Pinned ImageImage via Decor de Provence

Pinned ImageImage via Squidoo

Pinned ImageImage via The Essence of the Good Life

Pinned ImageImage via Christmas Wallpapers

Pinned ImageImage via Weekday Carnival

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Image via Chic Coles

Come on Mother Nature, bring us a little bit of snow for Christmas!

sig christmas

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bake-N-Blog Holiday Edition, Part 2: Party On!

BB button 3a OK all you bakers, today is the day to show the world your Christmas culinary creations – yes, it’s time for Bake-N-Blog Holiday Edition, Part 2! In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here’s what Bake-N-Blog: Holiday Edition is about in a nutshell: Each blogger who signed up for Bake-N-Blog selected a Christmas cookie to make (from the Internet or a cookbook or an old family recipe), whipped up a batch of the cookies, taste-tested them (isn’t that the whole point of baking?!), and today everyone is blogging about their cookies. It’s a great way for everyone to try out a new recipe, and maybe some of them will be great new additions to our Christmas baking repertoires :-)

All participants are linking to their Bake-N-Blog posts at the end of this post or leaving a link in the comments section. Be sure to make the rounds and check them all out.

This time around, I’m doing my BNB post a bit differently from last year’s BNB post. That’s mainly because I was so busy chatting while I was baking that I forgot to take “in progress” pictures. Bad me! But it’s not my fault – I was baking with a couple of friends and my cousin and my cousin’s daughter and, well, you know how it is when a bunch of girls get together ;-) But this is going to work out great for YOU, because I’m going to share LOTS of recipes with you instead of just one!

So let’s get out the KitchenAids…

kitchenaids

And let’s get baking! Starting with Chewy Lemon Snowdrops:

lemon

You had me at chewy. Or was it lemon. Either way, I had to try out these cookies because I love chewy cookies and lemon :-) Plus don’t they look pretty all dressed up in powdered sugar for Christmas? Unfortunately, they’re not as chewy as I was expecting, and they need more lemon juice to give them more lemony kick. I’m going to try this recipe for chewy lemon cookies from Patent & the Pantry.

Pistachio Christmas Ribbon Bars (I doubled the recipe & added white chocolate chips). Not my favourite,  but not too bad. I should have put the jam on thicker to give it more raspberry flavour. And using salted butter might be better (the recipe called for unsalted).

pistachio

Dreamy Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares. Fast & easy to make – only four ingredients and no baking required. Kind of on the sweet side – but then, the ingredients are butter, marshmallows, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips!

marshmallows

My gluten free friend Rona (she’s not gluten free, she eats gluten free food) made these Gluten Free Raspberry Coconut-Almond Bars. They’re good, but there’s a lot of coconut oil in them. Rona thinks the bottom should have been baked longer so they’d be easier to cut. She also thinks they’d be good as tarts instead of bars to eliminate the need to cut them altogether :-)

rasp almond

And she made gluten free Chocolate Peppermint cookies. Even non-gluten free people thought these cookies were delicious. No link for these ones, but the recipe is at the end of this post.

choc peppermint

My cousin Lynn chose Chewy Chocolate Eatmore Bars:

choc krispies

And Black Forest Crinkle Cookies:

black forest

We had a small technical difficulty with the Black Forest Crinkle Cookies. You know what they say about too many cooks… yep, one of us (I’m not naming names) put three eggs in the mixer instead of two. But that’s because another one of us gave one of us a bowl with three eggs in it, so logically, one of us assumed that all three eggs were supposed to go into the batter (we doubled the recipe). We had to add some extra flour to make the batter less sticky, but we couldn’t get it to the point of being roll-able. So instead, we plopped the batter onto the cookie sheets, and they came out great anyway :-) Not sure if it was the extra egg that made the batter too thin to roll into balls, but keep it in mind if you decide to make these cookies.

Sandy made Crunchy Sesame Cookies:

sesame

And Ginger-Lemon Pinwheel Cookies:

ginger

The sesame cookies have an unexpected taste, and the pinwheels are a nice combination of flavours with the ginger & lemon. Sandy added a teaspoon (or maybe it was a tablespoon) of lemon juice to the lemon  dough to give it more lemony flavour.

And there you have it, nine recipes for the price of one :-) It was a fun day of baking, and after dividing all the cookies between us, we all have a nice selection of Christmas cookies for the holidays :-)

cookies

Here’s the recipe for the Chocolate Peppermint cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - yield 30-36 cookies

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 large egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup mini choc chips

  1. Preheat to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  2. Sift together sugar and cocoa & set aside.
  3. In the bowl of electric mixer, combine egg white and salt. Set mixer speed to high and beat till soft peaks form. Add sugar-cocoa mixture, 1 Tbsp at a time, till thoroughly combined. Set speed to low. Mix in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Add chocolate chips and mix until thoroughly combined. Dough will have the consistency of thick frosting.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, shape dough into 1" mounds and drop onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2" apart. Bake till tops are shiny and faintly cracked, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on cookie sheets placed on wire racks.
  5. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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If you’re participating in BNB, leave a comment with your link and I’ll add it to the list below. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else baked :-)

  1. Kate @ manningroad – Cheat’s Pudding Truffles
  2. Carissa @ The Fabulous Design File – Vegan Coconut Sugar Cookies
  3. Barbara @ hodge:podge – Teddy Bear Paws