Friday, December 28, 2007

And a Merry Christmas was had by all...

We had a wonderful Christmas! My favorite thing about Christmas is just getting together with family. Good food, good fun and good cheer. And the look on the boys' faces when they received their gift from us -- absolutely priceless.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Anna Griffin

I just *love* her style. I first discovered her about 10 years ago when I was browsing through one of my favorite stationary stores. Sifting through all of the goodies in the store, Anna Griffin's style really stood out. The colors, the prints, the old-world-meets-new themes - I loved them all. And still do. As luck would have it, I was in Michael's today and came across an Anna Griffin Christmas themed scrapbook page kit. They were already marked down, so I indulged and bought 4. I'm thinking that I'll turn most of them in to cards and gift tags -- but one kit may actually be turned into scrapbook pages. We'll see.

I love this clever creation!

I first saw this in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Mom and I fell in love with the photo (there's were chartreuse bulbs with sparkling glitter in the same color and fresh white flowers and berries) and decided we *had* to make these! Wouldn't you know it, our clever PTA president saw the photo, too, and created her own version. I love it! Receiving one of my own only fueled the fire -- we're definitely making these! Not just for Christmas, either. As you can see from the photo, this arrangement isn't really 'Christmas' themed, so you could really create them for a variety of holidays or occassions.

Uncle Kevin's Christmas Tie

I'm not exactly sure who loves it more - P and D who gave the tie to Uncle Kevin for his birthday, or Uncle Kevin who wore it proudly to the Christmas luncheon at work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Food Network Junkies

We met Michael Chiarello last night! Both Kevin and I are total Food Network junkies. We have our favorites, and Michael Chiarello is among them. He was making an appearance last night at his NapaStyle store in Pasadena. We popped in to say hello and have him sign his 'At Home with Michael Chiarello' cookbook for us.

I'm pleased to report that he is as warm and genuine in person as he appears to be on his show. He greeted everyone warmly, told wonderful stories and was so kind and gracious to all. And, of course, this would be the one night we forgot to bring our camera. Arrrg!

For those of you out there who share our passion for Michael's style of cooking (not to mention lifestyle), you'll be pleased to know that he will be opening a new store in Napa in June (perfect - we'll be there in July!), and a new restaurant in Napa in September (perfect - yet another reason to go back!).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Of parties and gingerbread houses...

A successful caroling party does not always have to include caroling. It must, however, include good food, good company and good cheer. And a gingerbread house doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mmmmm - CAKE!

One of my favorite things in all the world is a delicious coffee cake. This one fits the bill. It's a buttermilk cinnamon streusel cake; it's light and buttery and ohhhh, so delicious! I'd love to say that I made it - but I didn't. We sampled it yesterday while we were out shopping for the party and we both instantly knew we had to buy one. It even came all wrapped up in the cellophane and bow! ...but the pedestal is ours.

Party Preparations

Tonight is our annual Christmas caroling party. It's a fairly casual affair - everyone gathers here about 5:00 p.m., then we head off on foot to sing Christmas songs as we walk around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we all gather back at the house for libations, chili, cornbread and desserts. With the exception of a quick vacuum around the house, we're all ready for our guests to arrive. Here is a cute little coffee table arrangement I made yesterday for the party tonight...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

6-Hour Throw

Why is it this 6-hour throw never takes me 6 hours? Then again, it might...if I ever had 6 hours where I could just sit and knit. But, of course, that never seems to happen! Anyway - it's finished. A gift for my father in law and his wife for Christmas. Now, it's neatly packaged and ready to be shipped this weekend. I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed knitting it!

Christmas Music

Driving in to work this morning, I heard the funniest story about Christmas music. One of the NPR reporters drove 1,000 miles at Thanksgiving to visit family. He brought with him a total of 21 CDs - all of them Christmas music - for the drive. The story is hilarious! Read it here:

I have a confession: I love Chrismtas music! I always have. In fact, my favorite Christmas album of all time is 'That Holiday Feeling!' by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

It's just not Christmas without Steve and Eydie. I'd miss them terribly if we couldn't share our holiday together.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pretty Packages all Dressed Up for Christmas

Today I began wrapping Christmas gifts. I enjoy wrapping gifts. When possible, I like to wrap them in something useful - a pretty doily, a tea towel, maybe a set of napkins. That doesn't always happen, but it's nice when it does.

Fire Station

Our town recently renovated the firestation headquarters. While it looked nice before, it's even more beautiful now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pepperberries and Winter Roses

I love the color of these beautiful pink berries...

And this delicate white rose.

The 19th Annual Cookie Bake-Off

It's hard to believe that we've been doing this for 19 years, but there you have it. For the past 19 years, my sister and I (hi Deb!) have been getting together on a Saturday before Christmast to make dozens and dozens of cookies. And I do mean dozens. Today's count came in at 32 dozen. Oatmeal coconut macroons, molasses crinkles, peppermint shortbread, decorated sugar cookies and, of course, the old standbys, chocolate chip.

The first cookie bake we didn't quite know what we were in for. We took our time making dough in the morning, then we took a break and went to lunch, did a little shopping...and by 3:00 p.m. we still had yet to bake a single cookie. Now, 19 years later, we're much more experienced and have it down to a science. No shopping, a quick sandwich at home...and we were finished today by 3:00 p.m. Wow! What a difference 19 years makes!

Getting started -- everything lined up, ready, set, go!

Ready for the oven...

Mmmmm. The sweet smell of cookies baking.

Molasses crinkles. YUM!

The decorations...

...and decorators!

And finally, the end results.

Now all I need is a nice cup of tea.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Birthday and Christmas Parade

Yesterday was my birthday. Kevin asked what I'd like to do to celebrate and I said that I wanted to go to our little town's Christmas parade. He made reservations at a nice restaurant in town known for it's fabulous food. A table by the front window, please! It was wonderful. The short walk in to town was a bit chilly, with a heavy rain storm predicted for later in the evening, but we were nice and toasty all bundled up. The food was delicious, the company delightful and the parade charming. Parade participants ran the gamut from cub scout and brownie troops, to school bands, to tractors and vintage cars. I love our little town! I can't think of a more lovely place to live. Or a more wonderful man to share my life with. Thank you, Kevin, for making my birthday so special.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What is Christmas?

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." -- Agnes M. Pharo

Tonight I'm working on finishing up our Christmas cards. I found the sweetest little cards with a little vintage snowman vignette. Inside, along with personal warm wishes, I'm handwriting this lovely quote.

Late Afternoon Light on Fall Foliage

The view from the garden room window. Just lovely!

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I love poinsettias. They're so delicate and so pretty. I know they have a huge variety of poinsettia's, but I'm something of a traditionalist: my favorite is still the classic in bright, beautiful red. The redder, the better! I found this beauty at Target. It's in it's own little planter with an asparagus fern tossed in for a little feathery green. It's now housed on the front porch ready to greet friends and family for the holiday season.