Welcome to the second installment of "Holiday Stuff I Had Every Intention of Posting But Haven't And Now It's February"! Like I said in my last post, while I was clearly not posting stuff during the holidays, I was by no means idle. Two things I really love about Christmas and December holidays are the decorating and the treats.
Holiday decor UPDATE!
I walked you through my inexpensive ways to jazz up your holiday decor. I moved into a new house since then, so my holiday decor was a little different this year.
In our previous home, we did not hang the TV over the fireplace, and thus had tons of space for decorations on the mantle. Not so in this place so I used an extra length of garland wrapped in lights to jazz up the electronics. As always, our bust of Marc Antony is splendidly dressed in a length of holly, Santa hat and red nose. I am also a big fan of using the decor you already have so I kept my collection of blue glass vessels and put sprays of winterberry in them for a lovely contrast. The built-in shelves also got some great decor, but I didn't get pics (sorry!).
My parents at one time were collectors of Department 56 Dickens' Village figures. Now they prefer the North Pole Village for their own Christmas display and I have a few of the Dickens pieces for my own display. The Dept. 56 as well as other similar sets seem to be readily available on Etsy and Ebay. To protect the top of the record player/radio I first laid down a thin white dish cloth and then then craft batting "snow". Each of the houses light up so having it close to an outlet is also nice. It was super fun to listen to my old Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and Muppets Christmas albums on the record player decked out in Dickens.
Once again we bought our lovely Christmas Tree from the awesome folks at Swanson's Nursery in Ballard. Their trees are a little on the pricier side but we enjoy having it up for at least a month and notice a clear quality difference between the trees bought at Swanson's versus other less expensive places. My ornament aesthetic is clearly toward the "Winter Woodland/Cabin Crafty" side as well as the lovely glass balls we have picked up over the years. This year I added gold beaded garland as well as a Gnome tree-topper.
Many of our decorative elements including ornaments, garland and lights were all bought on the cheap and accumulated over the past few years. I have found excellent deals for Christmas stuff at TJ Maxx, Target, Goodwill and Display & Costume (a Seattle-area party/decor/costume store). But nothing makes it feel more like the holidays in my house than COOKIES.
If you aren't from the Pacific Northwest, you may not know about the magic of the FRANGO. Frangos are chocolate truffles developed in the test-kitchens at Seattle department store Frederick & Nelson in 1918. They are delicious and for me and the four generations of my family in Seattle, they are a holiday MUST. Back when Frangos were sold at F&N and later the Bon Marche, they were only available at the holidays, but now that Macy's owns them it's Frango TIme whenever you want! While they are brilliant straight out of the wrapper, I was inspired to incorporate them into my holiday baking after seeing a cooking segment on a local daytime TV show while getting my nails done (like you do).
They used the classic mint Frango in a standard cookie, but I wanted to do something a little more fun. I ended up with a chocolate cookie (Tollhouse recipe) and instead of regular chocolate chips, I chopped up Candy Cane Frangos. I used a large Santoku knife to chop them and ended up using basically the entire box.
Combined the ingredients as specified in the recipe
(see link above)
And mixed the wet and dry components in my stand mixer
(note the BRAND NEW pour shield-- it's pretty amazing)
Then I spooned out the dough onto a cookie sheet and ta-da! What I will say is that due to how much coconut oil is in the Frango chocolates themselves as well as the temp in my kitchen and how much I handled the dough, I did end up with a pretty melty chocolatey mess in the first batch. After which, I placed the dough in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and that helped the melt-factor quite a bit. So as with pie crust, or any other butter-based dough, stick it in the fridge for a bit so the dough can actually cook in the oven rather than melting everywhere. A delicious problem to have.
This concludes my Belated Holiday 2013 (14?) series! Maybe next year I will have my shit together and be able to post this stuff ON TIME. A novel concept. Coming up this season, I will get y'all up to speed on my New Year resolutions (they are many) as well as new homemade body products AND an interview with a fabulous up and coming fashion designer. As always, I love your comments and suggestions so feel free to leave them below, send me an email or find me on Pinterest and Twitter @katiloraine.