"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 28, 2016

Santa's Workshop

 We spent the weekend setting up the house for Christmas even though it's not even December yet.  We've never sourced our greenery and tree so early but this year I really think we need a long festive season.  I won't be sorry to say goodbye to 2016 and I'd like to see it out properly.

 We bought this little Norfolk pine, is it not cute?  I wanted to find a smaller tree to decorate with  these painted eggs we bought in Prague in 2008.  I added some glittery red stars because red and glitter just looks like Santa.
Christmas Cactus

Hanukkah pillow.
 Our tree is a fir that is predicted to last 35 days, we'll see.  It's a bit risky to bring one into the heated house so early but hopefully if I keep it hydrated it won't look too sad by the 25th.


 I started some Christmas baking this weekend with Nigella's vanilla cake cooked in a bundt tin.  I've been looking for one simple cake recipe that smells and tastes delicious and is easy to whip up with ingredients found in the pantry.
Nigella's Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake
 This one seems to be a winner, it's a pound cake really, the link to the recipe is just above.
The only change I made was to substitute baking powder for the baking soda.
I hope your week is off to a brilliant start.  I'll be wrapping gifts and baking cookies like mad.  Any tips for Christmas music?  The only thing missing from my Santa's Workshop is the soundtrack.
xoxDani

26 comments:

  1. Looking fabulous! It is early to buy your tree but I'm feeling the same temptation. I switched mine to a 20 gallon basin a few years ago and that helps so much. I might just get mine early too.
    As for music, I love the Frank Sinatra album but you have to cut this one Christmas Seals PSA out of it. I think it's about tuberculosis. That ones pretty standard so you probably have that. My absolute favorite Christmas song is the Jack Jones version of Sleighride. One that mixes it up a little is Herb Alpert's Christmas album, love that one. The Johnny Mathis Christmas Album is my favorite because it's my moms favorite because it was my grandma's favorite. I also love the Ryan Coniff album because it's exactly what you want nostalgic Christmas music to sound like, it is delightfully hokey. And then of course the classic A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector is another favorite. These are all pretty generic I'm sorry but there were a few that were recent discoveries to me. It's funny with Christmas music how some of it is so mainstream but if not a part of ones family lore it remains undiscovered!

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    1. Stephen Andrew thank you for those suggestions and I don't have any of those albums and they don't sound generic at all. I just had to get our tree sorted, I always wait too long because I try to organize all of my rascal kids into a tree event which is increasingly difficult to do. So we went and sourced it on Saturday even though my hubs thinks it will likely be a dry sad stick by Christmas. I like to take the tree down on the 26th though so fingers crossed, 20 gallons would help enormously, I have a tiny basin holding up the tree so I'll have to water it at least once a day.
      Really this year has been not the best for many people, we lost my mother-in-law and my Grandma Jean, the matriarchs of each family. Santa this year will be KEY. xx

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    2. Couldn't agree more! So sorry it's been such a year of loss for your family. As you may know the morning has turned hideous here in Ohio and I'm just beside myself but wanted to correct that the album is Ray Coniff not Ryan. Enjoy them! I loveeee Christmas music.

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    3. Stephen Andrew what a terrible morning in Ohio. On days like this the world seems ill.
      Thanks for taking the time to come back and correct that fortunately Amazon had led me in the right direction, I ordered Jack Jones, Herb Alpert, the Ray Coniff and Phil Spector. SAJ Christmas playlist, thank you Darling xx

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  2. This year I decided to get a tree - it might not get decorated but it's a start. some say to spray water to keep it nice and healthy but it depends on the air too depending on the weather and the amount of snow especially in your region. I like Bing crosby carols...I won't be cooking this year either so I will concentrate on gifts! xx

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    1. Naomi it makes sense to give it a spray. Even if you don't decorate it isn't it lovely to have such a fresh bit of green in the house! I love buying and wrapping gifts even if my wrapping skills are not so good. Bing Crosby, it wouldn't be Christmas without him and I think I'm missing that cd too so thanks. xx

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  3. it all looks lovely dani. last year we picked up a fake tree during the after christmas sales so we will be using it this year. maybe next week we'll get started? i'm planning on making that molly katzan zucchini pizza you posted a few months ago. can't wait to taste it. happy holidays to you my dear friend. xo

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    1. Janet that zucchini pizza is one of my favourite recipes from the Moosewood and that's saying something because the whole book is great. I wanted to buy a fake tree because then I could have it up two or three months but MrBP wouldn't budge on that one and I guess I can't always have my way. Happy Holidays to you as well Doll xx

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  4. Well, as you asked, you can't beat the classic Bing, Dean, and Fred Christmas songs (I play them to death during the holidays!). To kick the season off, I just attended a live performance of Handel's Messiah yesterday, another favorite. Oh, and anything Christmas/Winter related songs by Lorena Mckennıt is heaven!

    I hope 2017 fares better for all of us Dani and may your enthusiasm and energy for Christmas and the New Year last throughout the season.

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    1. Thank you CD for those excellent suggestions! I love Handel's Messiah, what a great thing to do to begin the season. Lorena McKennit I will look up too, thank you.
      2016 has been a tough year for many people, nearly everyone I talk to. Thank you CD xx

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  5. I too will be glad to see 2016 out the door, an annus horriibilis in so many ways. I was about to say that "we" put up the tree yesterday, but "I" put it up, as Mr. Hex is in the process of moving out and I'm in the process of adjusting my pronouns. Even though I'm not a practicing Christian seeing the trees and lights is so uplifting this time of year.

    When I was a small child in the early 70s, my parents (in their giant console stereo, the size of a buffet or lowboy) played the Ray Conniff Singers' Christmas carols. These are incredibly cheesy 60s Mad Men easy listening versions of classic carols, flat-out schlock. But it is not Christmas without them!

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  6. Hex it really has been a horrible year for so many people and I'm sorry to hear about this change for you, I hope you are well. I shall be emailing you.
    Oh gosh that Christmas music sounds just the thing I can't wait to get my hands on that CD.
    Take care Doll xx

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  7. Hi Dani, it sounds like you are all set for music by now, but I just wanted to add my favourite Christmas album - it's Vanessa Williams' Christmas Collection from 2003. I love her voice, and my favourite song on it is a duet, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside', (though not technically a Christmas song).

    We will put our (artificial) tree up this week - it stays until 6 January, although I'm debating about keeping it up for the weekend as we are planning to have our holiday brunch then. I love the pomegranates in the bowl - they are one of my favourite fruits, I put the seeds in my morning porridge to counteract the maple syrup and cream that I also add! Nigella's cake sounds delicious, thanks for the link.

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    1. Patricia me too I love pomegranates. First of all they are the perfect shade of red, and also all those vitamins. Thanks for the tip I don't know that cd but I agree her voice is terrific. Have fun putting up your tree! xx

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  8. Well hello!! That cakes looks delicious! So my all time favourite cd that comes out every December 1st is the Vince Giraldi Snoopy Christmas - last year we heard it live with the original drummer from the band and it was marvelous! I have joined a massive sing-a-long Messiah here - 750 people in the chorus and there are rehearsals! I can't tell you how singing (and I am not a singer although in my former life I was - I was a fabulous woman tenor named Concetta with massive chocolate curls that fell right down my backside and I only wore velvet)has gotten me out of the doldrums! Hope you are all well - I have been cross country skiing once but now, alas, the snow has melted and we are back to mud. Anna26 oh, and, we were in Prague in 2008 and I bought glass ornaments!

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    1. Anna I can see you as Concetta ;) Oh my gosh Snoopy Christmas of course! Thank you. Wow your chorus sounds like it is quite something, I would love to be there for that. Yes I wonder if we will get much skiing in this winter? Fingers crossed. Were you there in 2008 as well? We were there for 10 days, from the end of April through the beginning of May. Visiting but also looking for signs of MrBP's great-grandparents who had disappeared in 1940. We found them at the Jewish Museum.
      Hope you and the family are well xx

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    2. Oh. The Jewish Museum was the last place we visited in Prague - I can remember it perfectly. I'm glad he found them - but of course, that is bittersweet. My godmother's parents managed to flee Germany just before being arrested - life.

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    3. Anna we wanted to know but then we didn't want to know because it was indeed a horrible outcome. Always suspected, never discussed, not known until we actually visited. Terrible. We cried in the Jewish Museum and the poor volunteer tried to comfort us with hebrew prayers but we didn't know a word.
      Thank heavens for all those who got out in time xx

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  9. Hi Dani, I love that little pine tree, so cute! My husband has also bought our tree. it is sitting in the garden shed right now and we will bring it in next weekend. I thought it was a bit early but like you, I think a lot of people need a bit of cheering up right now as 2016 has been so terrible. As soon as the holidays start, I plan to spend the whole time baking!

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    1. Louise we never ever buy our tree so early, but this year I just had to have it, we all need a cheer-up. It's working, the house looks so festive and with the music going and the baking in the oven things seem very nice. Have fun decorating your tree, I never get tired of that particular activity, xx
      Oh and I'll be posting some new cookie recipes as well as the classic piggy cookies. xx

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  10. Dani, Love your beautiful Christmas touches already! I'd love to get a Christmas Cactus and have it in a pretty gold pot like you. My grandmother always had them. In fact, I still think very fondly of our Christmas's at her home in the late 1960s. She always had gold accents, a beautiful flocked tree (one year it was pink flocked-I loved it!), and holiday music from Elvis, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Bing.

    I took me a while, but a few years back I found the same albums my parents and grandma had and love hearing the same renditions I did growing up, especially Frank's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Now my family loves the Elvis Album, Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Lombardi, Carpenters Christmas, John Lennon, James Taylor, Harry Connick, Beach Boys, Eurythmics, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sarah McLachlan, and a ton of other individual songs. We add to our Christmas playlist each year. Last year our new favorites were the remix of Mel Torme's Christmas Song (Open Fire Mix) and Straight No Chaser's- 12 Days of Christmas.

    So fun thinking about the season and the little joys like the music! Enjoy Dani. xo Kim

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    1. Kim I love reading about your family's music playlist for Christmas, so many good ideas in there for me, thank you. Your grandmother's Christmas sounds super stylish and very California.
      I think we all need a festive Christmas this year, hope yours is off to a wonderful start xx

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  11. Gorgeous tree. I'm with you for getting it out of the house by the 26th. I'm looking forward to a festive holiday season. We really do have to try to usher 2016 out with a bang. I'm so looking forward to a new year.

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    1. Jen some people don't get taking the tree down on the 26th but I can't stand to have it up any longer, it's time to move on at that point.
      Yes Cheers to the New Year! xx

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  12. My favourite Christmas soundtrack is sort of not officially a Christmas one, but feels very Christmassy to me - it's Baroque Duet with Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis on trumpet and I always play it because the typical Christmas carols/ modern tunes feel a bit hackneyed to me after hearing them constantly in the supermarket. That said, I do love listening to the Kings Choir Cambridge Christmas album. It reminds me of walking past in the early evening leading up to Christmas when Mr AV was there studying, and hearing these angelic voices singing from within the chapel with the light shining through the stained glass windows.
    Your tree looks beautiful. Here the real ones are only Pinus Radiata, and not so good for decorating, but I love the smell. We'll buy it this weekend, the kids are excited (I'm already thinking about the fighting and the breakages, so I'm not so excited!).

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    1. Heidi what a lovely image and such a Christmassy one too. Marsalis on trumps say no more I shall be sourcing that. Have fun this weekend, I loved Christmas when the kids were younger but I often wore myself ragged and was an ill mess by the 24th, take care of yourself amidst all of the excitement I know what it's like xx

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