Sunday, January 12, 2014

Season's Greetings and Eatings

"I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of a familiar turn it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending."
(Fred Rogers)

Below is a photo-heavy, text-brief recap of my past month, from early December through early January. Christmas lights, gingerbread cookies, a child's excitement opening presents... The familiar scenes, scents, and comforts of the holiday season are some of my favorite things.

Christmas Craft Potluck Party

One of the highlights of my holiday season was also the very first Christmas-related event on my calendar. On Sunday, December 8, I hosted a small Christmas Craft Potluck gathering -- similar to the previous year's "Autumn Craft Party" -- and along with 4 girlfriends, made felt ornaments, holiday gift tags, and cards (for a list of craft supplies, please see the bottom of this post).

A Christmas crafternoon
Making coffee punch and white "Christmas" sangria
Coffee punch with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream
Cranberry & rosemary white "Christmas" sangria
Stuffing gingerbread cookies with Jacques Torres chocolate
Chocolate-stuffed gingerbread cookies
Making pistachio-cranberry white chocolate bark
Pistachio & cranberry white chocolate bark
Potluck lasagna, cookies, and lemon tart
Supplies and templates for holiday felt ornaments
Seasonal stamps, ink pads, and magazines for inspiration
Gift tags, cards and envelopes, and embellishments
Festive and glittery foam stickers
Some favorite creations by friends, including a bacon ornament

Holiday Hoops

Like last year, this past December, my husband and I went to see the University of Michigan men's basketball team play in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational game in our neighborhood at Barclays Center. We met up with some friends to watch the winning game against Stanford on Saturday, December 21.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

For a work holiday luncheon, I made an easy dessert called Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight, which consists of a layer of chocolate chip cookie, topped with a mixture of cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and whipped cream, topped with a mixture of chocolate and vanilla pudding, topped with more whipped cream, and sprinkled with chopped mixed nuts and dark chocolate.

Layers of cookie, cream cheese frosting, pudding, whipped cream...
Chocolate chip cookie delight, sprinkled with chopped nuts and dark chocolate

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, Sam and I went to my home church's candlelight service. We took the train from NYC to Westchester, stopped by my parents' house to borrow their car, and drove it back to Brooklyn that night, to return the next morning for Christmas.

Christmas Eve candlelight service

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, we went back to my parents' house and spent the day there with my family, including my sister and her family, and my brother. We didn't open presents until after dinner in the evening, and I was impressed that my 4-year-old nephew Peter was able to leave them alone all day.

Before we left our apartment, I found a gift for me from Santa!
Presents I wrapped last-minute for my family
Christmas dinner, and my cranberry, pecan, and rum baked brie
Opening Christmas presents

The Metropolitan Opera

I went to 2 operas in December: Puccini's Tosca, with my friends Robyn and Christine, on Friday, December 20; and Mozart's The Magic Flute with Sam, on Saturday, December 28. I'm looking forward to returning to Lincoln Center this season for Puccini's La Bohème.

At Lincoln Center for Puccini's Tosca
Sam's music note cufflinks at dinner before Mozart's The Magic Flute

Have Yourself a Cozy Tartan Christmas (and Other Decor)

I ordered an adorable wool plaid mitten and scarf garland from Oh This Nose! on Etsy, which turned into my holiday home decor, along with a felt plaid "Merry Christmas" Threshold garland I bought at Target. In addition to those and my Christmas tree, I had just a few other simple Christmas-y touches, including cinnamon berry potpourri I got at Barnes & Noble.

Holiday Greeting Cards

I always love sending and receiving holiday greetings, whether in the form of paper cards or e-cards, and finding out what friends and their families have been up to.

Handmade cards from our nephews and nieces
Hands down the best card we got, and it was made at my craft party
Wall of Christmas cards
Our holiday greetings to you

New Year's Eve at Home 

We stayed in on New Year's Eve, and had a quiet night at home in front of the TV. Although I can't remember the last time I was home on New Year's Eve, I'm really not that keen on going out to the parties; I prefer smaller, more intimate celebrations.

Right before Christmas, we also celebrated my mother's birthday (and it was my puppy niece Emma's 10 birthday). Since we rang in 2014, we celebrated Sam's birthday with dinner at Scalini Fedeli (where I had my birthday dinner in 2011), drinks with friends at La Biblioteca and Whiskey Blue, and dinner and dessert with my family. Birthday shout-out to both Christines!

{Craft supplies: Buffalo Snow; Celebrate It Tempo Wire-Edge Ribbon in Gold; Crafts Beautiful Christmas Special 2013 felt ornament templates; Creatology Foam Glitter Stickers; Creatology 10 mm Pom-Poms in Green and Red; DMC Mercerized Cotton Tatting Thread in Ecru and Red; DMC Size 28 Tapestry Needles; Felt in Antique, Pirate, Red, and Walnut; Jolee's Boutique Snowflake Embellishments; Recollections Poinsettia Dimensional Stickers; Recollections Wreath Dimensional Stickers; Stamps in Handwritten and Manger Scene / Invitations: Paperless Post Knit Mitten}