Monday, December 17, 2012

Reindeer love.

Saturday we took a trip to the North Pole, ok it was really Swanson's Nursery in North Seattle but it was cold and wintery and if the rain was actually snow you wouldn't have know the difference.  It was festive.


There were beautiful views of Christmas around every corner and.......


...... a little magic in the air.   We made the trip to Swanson's to see Santa's little helpers, Dasher and Blitzen.

That's Blitzen above.

We arrived as they were having breakfast.


I was smitten as soon as I spotted them.

"Up on the rooftop click, click click..."

They were so cute and sweet.


After a breakfast of alfalfa and hay they settled down for a little nap.

Dasher is on the left and Blitzen is on the right.

Resting up for their big trip in just a few days.



....someone found the Mistletoe,  I better go ♥.

Wishing you a lovely day! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Baked Chocolate Donuts.

This morning I made these Baked Chocolate Donuts, they were easy and delicious and caused quite a reaction from my facebook friends. 


I topped them with flaked coconut, cocoa nibs, crushed candy cane, and slivered almonds.  I'd say any topping would be great whatever you have on hand.


They were rich and chocolate-y and went perfect with a cup of hot coffee.


...and they were too good not to share, at least the recipe.  Although I did leave two at the doorstep of a friend who commented on my facebook photo, she lives just a few doors away.

I bought my baked donut pan from Marshall's for less than $10.00.
Enjoy your weekend!

A winter day at Pike Place Market.

Last Sunday was grey and wet and typical Seattle winter weather.  I had a bit of holiday shopping to do and I headed into the city for some inspiration.  I have never been shy about coming into Seattle alone, it's a quick 20 minute trip and the streets are easy to navigate.


The market was beautiful, not too busy and little touches of Christmas everywhere you looked. 


Everything looks delicious and all the colors seemed even more vibrant with the pale grey skies overhead.



There are cities that receive more rainfall than Seattle but I still think we win the prize for the most overcast days. 


Flowers, fruit, fish, bakeries, cheese shops, and artisans of all types fill these halls and create a very fun shopping experience.




And I just love Seattle's Big Wheel, a little whimsey on the waterfront, and a little color on a winter day.


Just a few hours later I was home, happy to leave the grey outside and warm up with a cup of peppermint tea.


Have  lovely day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Figgy Pudding ~ Caroling Fundraiser

I have a long list of events I like to take part of during the month of December.  I may not make it to all of them but I really try to take part in as much as I can.

Last Friday we joined friends to go to the Great Figgy Pudding caroling competition and fundraiser.  This event was started 26 years ago and consists of dozens of groups of carolers singing their hearts out to raise money for the Pike Place Market Senior Center and Food Bank.


We have attended Figgy Pudding in the past and really enjoyed it.   The city is all dressed for the holidays, kids are lined up to ride the carousel and the sweet sound of Christmas carols are swirling all around.


Behold the stunning Bon Marche star, which is now technically the Macy's star, that has been displayed each Christmas season in downtown Seattle since 1957. 


Although the air was cold we were very all happy the rain held off so we could enjoy this festive night.


I spy a Santa hat or two or three or twenty.


The fundraising winners were the Starbucks Chorus who brought in over $30K this year and a grand total of the past 16 years of over $330K.  They were wonderful and mentioned they had just made their National appearance on Good Morning America earlier in the week.


There were bouffants and elf shoes and funny carolers and soulful carolers and we enjoyed them all.


I love a city that takes it's holidays seriously.  


Do you have a holiday bucket list?  What events do you like to participate in around the holidays?
Leave a comment with five things you are hoping to partake in this month.  I will go first.

1. Go Christmas shopping at Pike Place Market.
2. Attend the Garden d'Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.
3. Have a cocktail in the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel.
4. Go to Swanson's Nursery in Seattle to see live reindeer.
5. Take a drive to the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA to play in the snow.

Go ahead leave a comment, you know you want to and in January I am going to start having give-a ways for a random commenter so this will be good practice.
Have a lovely day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cookie Exchange 2012

Oh how I love December.  The halls they have been decked,


...the ladies have come out of storage,


...the village is up,


and the stocking are out,


It's a scramble from Thanksgiving to my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange, but I love it.

This year my tree is drenched in amber and greens and browns and of course a little leopard.


I start early, the day after Thanksgiving, so I can be completely decorated and ready for my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange held the first Sunday in December. 

I have been hosting this cookie exchange for a few years now and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions.  My friends each bring four dozen "Christmas" cookies to swap and after two hours of brunch and visiting they each return home with four dozen assorted cookies.

This year I made baked french toast from the Pioneer Woman for brunch, it's great because you make it the night before and bake it an hour before you are ready to eat.  I also served champagne, mimosas, coffee, scrambled eggs, apple smoked bacon and fruit.   The baked french toast was a big hit and two of my friends enjoyed it so much they requested the recipe and are making it for Christmas morning.


As my friends started arriving and with the hustle of hosting I set my camera down but I did manage a few cookie photos before we started the swap.

As always we had a lot of delicious cookies: Andes Mint, Lemon Cranberry, Chocolate Peanut Oatmeal, Cherry Almond, Shortbread with jam and coconut,  homemade Thin Mints, Roasted Chestnut Russian Tea Cakes, Shortbread dipped in chocolate and nuts, and Orange Pecan Biscotti with Cardamom Sugar. 



We laughed and caught up over the past year.  We listened to one friend who is planning her daughters wedding next June and chatted with another friend who is planning her daughters first birthday.   It's a wonderful mix of ladies each very different but all coming together to take a little time out of their busy lives to sip champagne and enjoy the small things.

This was my plate.


After the swap and while everyone was enjoying the last sips of coffee, I offered my friends either a set of measuring cups or spoons to take with them.


We had such a nice day and while the cookies are great I love the getting together part so much.



Wishing you all, a month long celebration of December, of toasting to family and friends and bringing more joy into each day. xoxo

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving, near and far.

I woke up on Thanksgiving to this post on my sisters Facebook page,  

"Happy Thanksgiving!!! May your day be filled with great food, amazing family and friends and loads of fun!  This wonderful holiday is a true example that the best things in life aren't things." 

....and in my opinion, truer words have never been spoken.

It's hard being so far away from my family during the year but throw a holiday in and it can really get to a gal.  We make attempts on holidays to visit over the phone, through texts and Facebook messages but its not the same.  It's different.  We are busy, hosting or visiting and the day seems to go by so fast.  I try not to focus on what I am missing and I think of how lucky I am that I have such a wonderful family to miss and friends to celebrate with.

I love that my Mom still hosts the holidays and my brother, sister and their families as well as my Aunt and Uncle join in the celebration.  I love that my Dad needs to extend the already big rectangular table in the dining room so they can all sit together.  I love that they pass my Mom's delicious turkey, Aunt Barbs cardamom rolls, the cranberry sauce with Amaretto and all the other fixins' worthy of a grand feast.  And I love that my niece in Oklahoma made the cutest cookie/candy turkey's for her table this year and is celebrating with her family and her in-laws. 


We have celebrated Thanksgiving with our dear friends since 1995 and sometimes there have been big crowds and sometimes it's just the four of us but it's always wonderful.  One year we celebrated with my sweet cousin when she lived here which was extra special.  She has since moved back to the East coast and has a beautiful family of her own to celebrate with, along with her parents and in-laws. 

It makes me enormously happy knowing that although we are all so scattered and far away, we are all consumed by the same holiday and we are all grateful for what we are blessed with. 


This year was just the four of us, and our two canine friends of course, and it was beautiful.


The sides were delicious, the champagne was chilled...


and the turkey was perfect, yes I said it, the thing cooks should never say but my friends said it first so I am just repeating it.   They actually all agreed, it may just have been the best turkey I have ever made.  Yay!


Oh, and that delicious Cranberry Sauce with Amaretto was passed down to me from the lovely lady in the background, and it's been on our table for the past 17 years.

I dream of a big home only a few times a year and its usually when I envision these types of grand celebrations.   I picture all of my family and dear friends gathered around the same table toasting each other, passing rutabagas, and professing gratitude.   I think of them all playing cards or Apples to Apples until the wee hours of the morning and extending the holiday through the entire weekend.  Oh how fabulous would that celebration be?


We rejoiced this holiday and with grateful hearts, we enjoyed all the blessings in our lives the near ones and the far away ones.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.

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