When Ponny and I were first married we went all out for Christmas. We cut down our own tree and strung it with lights, played Christmas records and hung matching stockings–even one for our cat, Bisou. For the past couple years though, as we’ve gotten busier and the novelty of decorating just for the two of us wore off, we’ve kept our holiday celebrations low key and mostly food-based. This year we have a really good reason for a music and lights kind of Christmas: for the first time, we’re a family of four (I’m counting Bisou in there)!
This year is all about starting our little family’s holiday traditions, and while some will have to wait until Will is older, I have a few in mind that I’ll start this year. First, I plan to start sending Christmas cards. It’s a thoughtful way to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away, as well as a good excuse to get some nice family pictures taken every year. I used Basic Invite to print these cards and the experience couldn’t have been easier. The only reason it took me a while to design my cards is that there were so many modern Christmas cards to pick from and then I had to play with all the fonts and colors (literally 180 colors!).Continue Reading
I made these pink grapefruit bars back around Christmas and meant to post the recipe right away. Then time got away from me, between work and preparing for baby to make his arrival (!), and here we are a month later. I wondered for a moment whether it was too late for this post when I realized grapefruit bars aren’t necessarily a Christmas dessert, or even exclusively a winter one. So, without further delay, I give you pink grapefruit bars! They’re everything I love about lemon bars – the unabashed sweetness, the buttery shortbread crust – but with a milder, more fragrant citrus flavor.Continue Reading
Happy almost 2018, friends! It’s that strange in-between week after Christmas but before the new year where we’re half easing back into everyday life, half hanging onto the holidays because they’re not quite over yet. And thank goodness! Because I have one more festive recipe to share for the season, and it’s perfect for ringing in the new year if champagne isn’t your thing. If you’ve never had a brandy alexander, it’s a smooth and creamy blend of Cognac, Creme dé Cacao and fresh cream shaken with ice until it’s nice and chilly. The combination of strong, spicy Cognac with sweet, chocolatey liqueur is pure bliss and the cream makes it a little more mellow and immensely sippable. I infused the cream with Stash Orange Spice Tea for a kick of citrus that makes this brandy alexander even more perfectly suited for winter-yum! The whole thing is topped off with a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg for extra spice.
Happy December, everyone! I know preparing for the holidays can be a source of stress – everywhere you look, it seems like friends and family are ahead of the game with decorations, party planning, sending cards… It’s enough to make anyone want to just take a big long nap until January is here. So this year, at almost eight months pregnant, I’ve made the decision to only take on a little bit this holiday season, and so far it’s been the most wonderfully relaxed and stress-free one I can remember! We’re hosting just one holiday party at our house and it’s going to be a casual potluck. We’re sitting out far away family gatherings because long car rides make me queasy, so there won’t be the usual running around. Scaling back leaves me with the time, energy and sanity to actually enjoy the holidays this year, and for me that means lots of leisurely baking while listening to Christmas music!
This gingerbread cake is my first bake of the season, and everything about it says holidays. It’s loaded with rich molasses and lots of wintry spices for a dose of nostalgic gingerbread flavor, then coated in silky Stash Chai Spice Tea-infused buttercream. Continue Reading
There’s a steaming mug of spiced cider and a Christmas movie on TV calling my name, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Searching for gifts is my favorite part of the holiday season (tied with the delicious food, cozy time with my family, pretty lights everywhere and old timey music). I love finding the perfect present for someone I love, wrapping it up and placing it under the tree, then seeing their reaction when they open up a unique, heartfelt and useful gift. Every gift idea in this guide checks those requirements, and every purchase supports independent brands and the talented makers behind them.
To get you started on your shopping, these are my picks for a few of the special people in your life: the epicure, the best friend, the homebody, the gentleman and the new mama. I hope this guide makes gift shopping, and supporting small businesses, a little easier this year. Happy holidays!