is not about how perfectly clean our houses are, or a perfect meal...it's more about being open to having people in our homes, and making them feel like you are focused on them, and not just your stuff. right? i hope so anyway! i like to pay attention to the details of the house and the meal, but it doesn't always come together perfectly, so a lot of times, i have to just roll with it. and to be honest, i don't want anything about our gathering to be pretentious. tomorrow night, we'll have friends and family in our home for our 3rd or 4th annual Christmas party. the first year was on the lake and it was a small intimate dinner party for 10. it's grown, and it's no longer a dinner party. it's now more of an open house with people coming and going and our house stuffed to capacity. the guest list has grown every year, as we continue to make more friends and focus more on our relationships. not that more are necessarily better, we just have found that each year we seem to meet more and more great people! my parents always had lots of social gatherings at our home when i was growing up, so i guess it's natural that i'm fairly comfortable with it too. i really don't stress much at all. maybe i should be stressing a little more. i've really relaxed my standards. part of that could be due to the fact that i have people over pretty much daily with the photography business. i think the thing i love the most about having a Christmas party, is that we are able to see people we only see once a year, plus, i get to hear about our friend's plans for the holidays and share in their excitement about what there kids are excited about and who will be home for Christmas, etc. i think since a lot of the people we have over have small children, it's a good break for them right before the big day, to get away and catch up and have a little adult time.
i wrapped quite a few gifts last night and love the way they look under the tree. i picked up this gorgeous black and white flocked paper on clearance at hallmark this summer and i love the richness it adds to the overall look. i love a pretty wrapped package!
i'm really sorry if my Christmas posts have become super redundant-BUT, i guess it just shows that i am sincere about what i love! so i adore getting the mail and deliveries each day through the holidays. the cards we have received this year have been so amazing! i love them-
seeing how so many of our friends families are growing, and how each of the children are growing and changing, is always a delight.
i kept the front door really simple this year. i may add a bow...but i haven't found the right ribbon yet. i guess it's a little late now. but i still really like the simplicity.
so on to my list. and if you're tired of my lists, i don't blame you! this one is at least a little different. no more talk of gifts! ha!
the *b* list (if anyone cares!) of favorite holiday foods and treats.
1. fudge if there's anything my family "expects" from me during the holidays, it's fudge. i make it every year and have for as long as i've been on my own. if there is anything key to making great fudge, i think it would be these two things: a foolproof recipe and a candy thermometer. i've finally made it so many times, that when i broke my candy thermometer a couple of years ago, i haven't replaced it. but if you've never made it before, or never had success, that is key. i won't even bother typing up my fudge recipe, because i just use the "fantasy fudge" recipe on the kraft marshmallow cream jar. one other thing that is important, is to use good quality chocolate...don't buy the store brand, go for the chocolate made by expert chocolatiers. and make sure to use semi-sweet, not milk chocolate.
2. red waldorf astoria cake this is probably my family's favorite tradition of all. i've written about it plenty of times. definitely a family favorite. here's the recipe. the only thing i do differently, is i use butter instead of shortening. so tasty! i garnish the cake plate (mygram's fostoria) with fresh holly. simple.
3. Mediterranean bites this is a recipe i got years ago when i worked at carey cottage. so easy, so yummy, just as good room temp as hot. i'll be serving these on saturday night. always a hit at parties.
this recipe is pretty vague, but the main idea is to end up with a spreadable consistency.
about one cup of shredded real parmesan cheese (not the powdery stuff!)
a handful of diced green onions
one can of drained black olives (i like to squish them with my clean hands, rather than dice them. this is what the girls at the cottage did and it really does make a difference in how the flavor comes out)i substitute a can of artichokes for one batch.
a heaping tablespoon of mayo to hold it all together. just keep adding until the consistency is like a thick paste to spread onto halved english muffins. pop the muffins under the broiler until it's golden and bubbly. let them sit for a minute and then cut them into quarters. they're pretty rich, so they serve quite a few.
4. shrimp cocktail simple, but lighter and full of protein. i love to use mycocktail compotes too!
5. pot roast or tenderloinhonestly either one goes over great on Christmas eve. if we don't have a huge crowd i do tenderloin, but it gets pricey if there are over 10 people. if i do a pot roast, i usually buy the rolled rump roast. delish.
6. dipped strawberries nothing fancy. simple, but pretty and yummy.
my repertoire doesn't seem to change much over the years....but i guess if it works, why change it? i do like to add new recipes, so if anyone has a favorite you are willing to share, i'd love it!
a couple of other things i wanted to mention today. as many of you know, my bagel friends and i have a cause that we really believe in, it's the jdrf (juvenile diabetes research foundation). right now, you can help this worthy cause and get a cool one of a kind stamp (designed by our own becca sutton) too! ALL of the proceeds go to jdrf, through the generosity of it kit studio. just click on the link and get yours!
another really random thing. i miss blueprint. remember the cover last year, with the pink Christmas tree? i miss it! it was always so inspiring. with my obsession with magazines, i hate to lose good ones!
i think that covers it for today :)