Sideboard Display

December 31, 2008

sideboardThis is my sideboard in the dining room. I put some small cranberry ornaments in a pedestal bowl which Mr. MarthaAndMe bought for me for Valentine’s Day. I love displaying ornaments in other ways and feel very Martha-ish when I do. I’m not wild about the teapots, but they are the only Christmas ones I have, so for now they will have to do.

Our dining room is quite small, so this small little chest is tucked in a corner, right next to the sliding glass doors to the deck (you see the drapes behind it a little).

We have a chair rail around the room. The top half is a cornflower blue. The bottom half has been painted again and again and I can’t get the right color. I’ve even taken things in to be color matched and it’s never right. I hate the color – it’s too bubble gum for me. I really want a nice cranberry color, but I can’t find one.  Well, maybe in the new year I will.


A Teacup Collection

December 30, 2008

teacupsThis is my Christmas teacup collection. When I was a child, each year my grandmother gave me one for my birthday. You can imagine how I felt as an 8 year old, opening a china teacup. But now I’m glad I have the collection. Some of them have been broken and glued back together. I also am constantly looking for more that are not red, since most of the rooms in my house use pink or cranberry at Christmas, not red.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. As always, we will be having a fondue party. This year, I’m going to make Martha’s version, from her site. I just got back from the grocery store where I bought everything we need.  If I can locate my Season’s Eatings special issue magazine, I want to make the onion dip with the potato slices for dipping. Somehow the magazine is missing at the moment. If you have the recipe, would you email it to me? I’m tearing my hair out here trying to find it.


Tree Toppers

December 29, 2008

In the post-Christmas shopping madness, I came across these:

tree-topsThey were clearance priced and then 50% off the clearance price, so I think I walked away with all of this for under $15.  The green trees in the front are glass which is painted on the inside with sparkly stuff.

Next year, I want to put together a tabletop display somewhere with the tree toppers (and maybe I’ll run across some more before then). How would you display these? I don’t think the green glass trees and tree toppers go together, so they probably will be separate. Any ideas?


Sweet Holidays

December 27, 2008

box-candyHere is one of the boxes of Martha’s candy I’m giving away this season. I’m using Martha’s boxes, which I found at Walmart. I think I got the last package the store had, back in early December and I’ve never seen them again, so I think they sold like hot cakes.


Continuing the Celebration

December 26, 2008

snowman2I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. This is a busy weekend for us with family gatherings, shopping/returning trips, and lots of time needed for reclaiming the house after the hurricaine that is Christmas.  I do almost envy Martha her spa trip, which she said she and her daughter were taking over the holiday!

This is our snowman that looks like a penguin. A wind storm came and blew his hat away soon after the photo.


Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

fourdogs_adjusted


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips

December 23, 2008

On page 74 of December Living, Lucinda Scala Quinn has a wonderful looking meal. Since I’m not hosting any holiday events, I won’t have a chance to make the main course, but I decided to give one of the sides a try. The roasted brussels sprouts (I don’t know about you, but I’ve called these “brussel sprouts” not “brussels sprouts”) with parsnips sounded yummy.

I must confess I am the only person in my house who liked brussel sprouts. Mr. MarthaAndMe will choke some down if necessary, but only under duress. The kids won’t touch them. I also like parsnips, but I usually roast them with carrots and rutabagas, so this was a new one for me.

I do like roasting winter vegetables. I think it gives it a nice flavor and sometimes I get so sick of boiling vegetables. I usually add balsamic vinegar when I roast them, although this recipe only called for oil and salt and pepper, so I followed the instructions.

brus-parsThis cooked quite quickly since you cook it at 450 degrees (which always poses the danger of burning it). It had a nice taste. I forgot to add the pecans, but didn’t miss them. I will definitely roast brussel sprouts again.


A Tale of Gingerbread

December 22, 2008

ging-houseEvery year I buy a gingerbread house kit and we decorate it (if you’re going to buy a kit, look for the ones that come with the plastic tray with the channels in it – this way you can assemble the house and decorate it right away since the channels keep the walls up). This year, I didn’t buy one, planning instead to make my own. That’s what Martha would do after all. Well, here we are just a few days before Christmas and I never got around to it. I did actually find and print out the recipe on Martha’s site, but I was discouraged by the fact that the template made 5 tiny gingerbread huts instead of one big house.ginghouseq

The great gingerbread debacle of ’08 came to a head the other night when the children complained about us not having one and how much they wanted to do it. Sigh. So Mr. MarthaAndMe made a quick stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond and grabbed a kit.

We assembled it as tradition dictates. Mr. MarthaAndMe does the actual construction. Each child gets to do a side to his or her specifications. I do some of the front and try to create some kind of uniformity. The dogs wait under the ginghouse2table for pieces of candy to drop.

This year, I followed Martha’s lead and made gumdrop snowmen, like she has on page  53 of December Living. I’m rather proud of mine (Mr. MarthaAndMe says he appears to be French with a beret and scarf) and mini-Martha made a fishing Cyclops.

This gingerbread house isn’t nearly up to Martha’s standards (the kit didn’t come with very much frosting, so the house seems kind of bare to me), but we had fun making it.

My Snowman

My Snowman

Cyclops fisherman

Cyclops fisherman


Holiday Homekeeping

December 21, 2008

Martha has a variety of homekeeping tips on page 136 of December Living.

She suggests we use fabric instead of wrapping paper and recommends making sacks. They’re reusable and can be tied with ribbon. I don’t really like this idea. It’s too homey and country looking for my taste. Somehow handing someone a cloth sack doesn’t feel as nice as handing them a wrapped gift or even a pretty gift bag.

She recommends we get kids involved in decorating, making cookies and drawing pictures. I agree with this. Our kids are definitely involved.  They are each responsible for wrapping the gifts that are from them. They do the cookie decorating and gingerbread house decorating. We also have a tree in the family room that is just theirs and they put their own ornaments on it each year. When they were younger, they would decorate the outsides of envelopes or draw pictures to give people.

Martha suggests looking for alternatives to store bought gift wrap and lists all the tired suggestions of using the comics, a map, sewing patterns, etc. I’m tired of people suggesting this and really I don’t want to get a gift wrapped in newspaper. I think it’s boring and tacky.

A green suggestion in this section is to shred the wrapping paper after the holidays and use it for packing. I like that idea a lot.

The section recommends keeping universal gifts on hand for an unexpected gift situation. I don’t do this. All of our holiday gatherings are planned in advance and I don’t have to worry about someone coming over unexpectedly.

Offering your time instead of a gift is another suggestion here. I like this, but I think it has to be something the person really will use. It’s easy to say you’ll babysit or take your grandmother on an outing, but a lot of times I think the recipients feel awkward about actually redeeming these gifts.

Another tip suggests planning ahead for holiday parties by moving coats around and making space in the fridge. Not a concern here since it looks like we won’t be hosting a single thing at our house this year. A good tip though.

Creative gift cards are another Martha suggestion. She says to buy them from unusual places like bakeries, golf courses, hair salons, etc. I usually give one uncle a gift certificate to a bakery and in the past we’ve given my mother-in-law a hair salon certificate (which I don’t think she liked by the way).  These can be good gifts, but I think you have to really know the person well enough to know what they would be interested in.

The last suggestion is to start a giving folder, where you keep a running list of ideas for gifts. I have a word document on my computer where I do this. It’s a great way to jot down things that come to you through the year which you might forget by December.


Meyer Lemon Lace Tuiles Disaster

December 20, 2008
Batter

Batter

Yesterday I made the batter for the Meyer Lemon Lace Tuiles (page 32 of December Living). It was easy – lemon and orange juice, butter, flour, sugar, and lemon and orange zest (the recipe calls for Meyer lemon juice and zest – not attainable in my neck of the woods, so I just used regular). The recipe says to refrigerate overnight. Check.

Today I got it out and put the batter on the baking sheets as directed – 3 inch circles, 2 inches apart. No problem. I was really excited

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

about this recipe. You bake the batter then you take each cookie and wrap it around the handle of a spoon to make a tube shape. They looked crunchy and wonderful in the photos.

This recipe seemed really simple and I wasn’t worried about it turning out at all.

Silly me. Here is what I took out of the oven:

tuiles3

tuiles4

A total unmitigated disaster. There is nothing here that is usable.  It all ran into each other and did not maintain any shape at all. I threw it all in the trash.

What makes me even more upset is that this is the second batch of lemon cookies I’ve made this year that are worthless. The first ones were from a recipe I ripped out of a magazine in a Land o’ Lakes butter add for Lemon Meltaways. There was clearly a mistake in that recipe because the batter tasted like cornstarch and it cooked into piles of crumbs.

So I am 0 for 2 on my lemon cookie attempt this year. Really, this is why you should just stick with your tried and true family recipes. And from now I will.

Thumbs down on this Martha, very, very disappointing.


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