Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cookie Party Lunch

I went all out for my table scape and decorated down the center of the dining room table for my cookie party luncheon.  I wanted to keep things simple and confined to that center space so it would not interfere with my china.  I started off with the glittered reindeer and sleigh filled with champagne and red colored balls, some balls were glittered.  I added pine garlands, snowflakes, scattered small glass mercury balls, cardinals and battery operated twigs.  Little dishes of chocolate truffles were tucked in between the garlands for everyone to enjoy. 
Each place was set with a red charger, vintage china, a fancy hand folded napkin and a holiday cracker.
Here was the fun part, I gave each of my guests a goodie bag tied to their chair with a spatula that was hand painted with paint makers, that had their name and "2014 Baking Babes" written on the handle.  Inside the bag was a porcelain Christmas tea cup, a tea infuser, tea bag coaster and Christmas tea bags.  A little gift to enjoy with their cookies.
 All the bags were $1.00 at the Christmas Tree Shop and were decorated with felt and glitter, I love the glitter!  These are just a small sampling of the ones I purchased.
For lunch, I started with an appetizer - Italian Tuna Platter With Campari Tomatoes, Olive Salad with Feta, Sharp Provolone, Bruschetta and a sliced Baguette.  The main course was Farfalle with Fresh Basil and Roasted Herbed Grape Tomatoes, Pesto Foccacia with Parmigiano, Mixed Spring Greens Salad with Garlic Dressing and for dessert, Cannolis.  We also played some quick fun games with rewards for the most questions answered, and then it was back to work baking all those cookies.  I have already given away 3 cookie trays and still have a bunch left over!  I love the cookie party and I am already thinking about what to do next year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Oh What Fun At The - COOKIE BAKING PARTY 2014!

The Christmas Cookie Baking Party is over and we had so much fun.  Alot of hard work went into making all of our cookies, and I am so proud of all the bakers.  Some of them never baking before, some who bake all the time and the one professional, my niece, who decorated all the cookies while training my daughter in the art of frosting cookies.  We made 23 different kinds cookies, and our cookies turned out beautifully with everyone working together.  It was a long, almost 13 hour undertaking, but we did it, and did it to the sound of Christmas music playing in the background to keep our spirits up.  Here is a peek at how our day went.

First up THE RULES, yes I do have rules!  This is hardcore baking 101.
The ingredients all lined up and ready for choosing.  Over 100 cookie cutters and sprinkles to choose from. My sister and I shopped 'til we dropped to find alot of unique cutters and sprinkles.
 Here comes the fun part - the decorating.  My niece and daughter's beautiful artwork.  My daughter was in training to learn how to frost cookies.  I think she got the hang of it!
 You're a mean one Mr. Grinch! you turned out fabulous and so did the holly.
 A small bit of gingerbread cutouts and the Linzer's are ready to be dusted with sugar.
Stacking them up to be shared.
Sugar cookies and biscotti.
Frosted sugar and butter cookies.
 More cookies waiting to be shared
 Santa's Whiskers with toasted coconut.
COOKIES, COOKIES EVERYWHERE!  Here are 7 of the bakers.  There were 13 bakers in all who worked tirelessly to bake over 2000 cookies to share with family and friends.  A job well done by all!  Enjoy your cookies and your holidays ladies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Few Of My Favorite Things - From Times Gone By

I love Christmas, it's my favorite holiday.  What I love most about it is decorating.  Pulling all my decorations out that have been packed away all year, is like opening gifts on Christmas day for me.  My favorite things from long ago are in those boxes, and bring back memories of people and times gone by.  Having things from my mother and grandmother, always brings back a flash of where that item was in their home.  It's not that I don't think about them all year, because I do, but Christmas memories from childhood are always the best.  Here are few of my favorite Christmas decorations that were theirs and I will cherish them forever.

These trees were my mother's, circa late 1960's  The big tree is an appetizer stand, you stick tooth picks in the little holes on both sides to hold an appetizer, and the smaller trees are salt and pepper shakers.  The china in the back of the trees is mine and I have had it for over 35 years.  The little glittery house was my grandmother's.  There is a big round hole in the back to put lights in it.  She had a table top silver tree and these little houses would sit around the bottom of her tree. She also had a round multi-colored light that was electric, and it turned so the tree would light up in colors. I would have loved to have that tree today, I loved it back then! 
 So, this is the original ELF on the Shelf!  My mother used to hang them from the tree and they would be sitting all over the house.  These demitasse cups and saucers were also hers.  I sit them in my china cabinet every year along with my china.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party Coming To You Soon!

My annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party is approaching fast.  My sister, my niece and I, did a trial run of baking and decorating some sugar cookies for the party to see how they would turn out.  Well let me tell you, my niece is a pro, her decorating skills are top notch, she did a beautiful job!  More pictues to come next week after all the "Baking Babes", as I have named my group of bakers, works diligently baking thousands of cookies to take home for the holidays and share with their families and friends.  Between my sister and I, we have purchased and collected over 150 cookie cutters to use, we will have a wide variety of shapes and sizes to decorate.  And speaking of decorating the cookies, we will also be using over 100 different kinds of sprinkles/jimmies, sugars, shimmers dusts and homemade frosting's.  I think we cornered the market this year with the cutters and sprinkles! 

Feast your eyes on these! Pretty AND they taste good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Dance!

I am doing the happy dance this week.  I have the Christmas shopping almost done, a few little things to get.  My annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party is all set to go, and my youngest will be home from studying in Paris in nine days. I can't wait to see her, it's been four long months.  So needless to say, there is a whole lot of hoopla going on around my house this holiday season.  I finally got the tree up, after a harrowing time with the lights, it took me four days to decorate.  Having 3000 lights on a tree and making sure they all work is time consuming, but the job is done and it looks beautiful when it's lit.  I have a small collection of ornaments for my daughter, the world traveller, from places that she has been.  There is a Big Ben from London, a ceramic Irish  Blessing that she brought back from Dublin, and an Eiffel Tower.  She is bringing home an ornament from a trip to Brussels a few weeks ago, I can hardly wait to see that.  When she leaves our home, she will have a nice collection of tree ornaments for her first tree, that I am sure she will add to from the many places she will visit in the future.

Yes there is........!

Friday, December 5, 2014

That's It, I'm Done!

The last part of the house decorating was the kitchen.  I decorate the kitchen with gingerbread boys and girls, what better place for them to be, after all we will be baking them in a few weeks at the cookie party.   A few things I found this year at my favorite decorating store, The Christmas Tree Shop, I used on my windowsill in the kitchen.  That is the focal point, I don't like to use up my counter space for decorating because I will just have to move it.

I found these little, battery operated, gingerbread man lights for $3.99
The bigger gingerbread man lights are colorful and bright, they were $5.99 for a 10 strand of lights.
The hanging gingerbread ornaments were $1.00 each, the felt gingerbread boys my sister bought for me.  The cookie cutters are vintage.  
This is a hand painted snowman on a window screen, bought it many years ago at a craft show.
I love a dirty snowman! Sherpa wool dirty snowman, I have a collection of three different ones.
Over the years I have collected different kinds of Santa's, I always put them out on the foyer table.
This is my first Nutcracker!  Happy decorating if you are not done yet!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The 12 Days Of Christmas

I have spent the last 12 days (OMG! the 12 days of Christmas!) decorating this house.  I need to stop getting caught up in all the minutiae!  Every little thing set up right and detailed, that is why it has taken me 12 days to get this house in shape for the holidays.  It's like putting tinsel on a 100 foot tree strand by strand!  It's looks nice, not great but OK, I can live with it.  I tried and gave it my best shot.  I still have to put the tree up, then I will be done.  Here are more of the things I did this year. 

I added a double wreath to the chandelier in the dining room, attached a double sided bow to the top, I stuck bows and tails in the wreath, and a couple of cardinals are on the branches.  Then I strung big gold, silver and champagne colored balls, some are glittered, from the arms of the lights, along with prisms and champagne colored glittered snowflakes, ah yeah, that took me all day!
I found these champagne colored glittered reindeer decorated with satin bows and pearls, at Marshall's.
I paired them with this iridescent champagne colored metal sleigh from Home Goods.
I switched out the pillow covers in the family room with covers from IKEA - $7.00 each for the red and white ones and $16.99 for the sweater pillow.
Reindeer burlap table runner - $7.99, Christmas Tree Shop.
Plaid fabric looped trees - Large $9.99 and Small $6.99, Christmas Tree Shop.
Glistening tree branch with bird nest - $4.99, King's.
The mantel is finally done, after some minor problems.  I used artificial greens with fresh cedar greens mixed in with berrys and natural pine cones. The garland on the bottom is big jingle bells that are strung on red and ivory cotton ribbon.
Handmade silver glitter bows and organza poinsettia clip on's with jingle bell centers, bought them at Christmas Tree Shop for $1.99 each.  Sequined reindeer on either side are from last year, I added red glittered picks around the neck. Silver glittered pine cones are tucked in the branches of the greens.
Ice crystal branches, $4.99, AC Moore and Glittered light branches, $7.99, Christmas Tree Shop.
 Big, red, metallic star center, $1.99, Christmas Tree Shop.  I love a cloche!  This is a seeded glass one that I found on clearance at Marshall's for $3.00 so I grabbed it.  Red star charger, $1.00, Dollar Tree, the tree is part of my collection of trees, boy and snowman figurine is vintage and is also something I had, as well as the wreath.
This is a Pendelton Pure Virgin Wool Blanket that I put out every Christmas, I love the red plaid.  It came with my Lane cedar chest, that my husband bought me before we were married, so I could store keepsakes from our wedding and then eventually special baby clothing from our kids.  I love this blanket but it is starting to show it's age unfortunately.  It has a small tear that needs to be mended, but after all it has been used for 28 years.