Winter Sangria with citrus & pomegranate

This year we have two parties leading up to New Year’s, then a blissful clear calendar on the 31st. I’m so looking forward to a non-hyped quiet night in, especially after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The visiting -and feasting- has been wonderful, and I’ve been thrilled to host out-of-town family for a week, but Danny and I are very ready to put our feet up and exhale in a quiet house.

Last year we organized to have baby sitter, then bundled up (why is NYE always freezing?) and had a great evening out with friends, but I’m hesitant to leave Clara this year – or maybe I’m just using her as an excuse to stay in! Either way, we’re staying cozy this New Year’s Eve.

Danny’s stashed a bottle of champagne for midnight and I’m planning fondue for two and mini tourtière hand pies. In the meantime, though, we’ll be sipping on a dark and fruity winter sangria and nibbling maple spiced nuts as the hours count down.

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Merry Christmas from all of us

I lost track of time in the kitchen yesterday, cooking and baking with my visiting sister, while a stream of bright-eyed children, frisky canines, and hungry uncles passed through looking for handouts.

We boiled fresh Maritime lobster and folded it into buttered linguine, simmered a boeuf bourguignon for half a day, whisked together eggnog, and built a gingerbread house! As the snow continued to fall among the trees outside, I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on my many blessings and the joy of the season.

As we’re all whipping around with an apron tied on today, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. We couldn’t let the holidays pass without wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.

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A holiday house tour

By this afternoon, we will be officially on holidays. Danny will have tidied his desk, picked up an excited Noah from school, and we’ll have welcomed them home with hugs and back thumps.  Two whole weeks of vacation begins!

We have snow on the ground and the Christmas cards are in the mail. Apparently a major snowstorm is on it’s way, but we have enough tourtiere and cookies in the freezer to weather the weather, whatever the weather. My refrigerator is packed with cream for eggnog, fresh apple cider for hot spiced cider and other staples as we’re hosting my sister, my brother in law, and their three dogs for the holidays and I like to be prepared!

For a little change, today’s post is a mini tour of our main floor and a few of my favorite holiday decorations. I tend to keep things very simple, and use a lot of natural elements when I decorate. I don’t like to buy a lot of things and prefer to work with what I have on hand, like my centerpiece of candles in used jam jars.

It’s rustic and homey, and suits our homestead just fine.

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From the kitchen: a simple centerpiece of tea lights in jam jars

Last weekend I hosted my annual holiday cookie swap where ten of my friends descended into my kitchen laden with over a thousand cookies. There’s a reason they call it the most wonderful time of the year – cookie parties, right?

Anyway, I’m not planning to share the details of the event as I have in the past,  however, I wanted to quickly show you my simple centerpiece for the table. I’m all about natural decorating for the holidays, using items already around the house or found in nature, and this centerpiece fit the bill perfectly.

I raided my jar cupboard and set out nearly every empty jar I had on a (homemade) burlap runner. I set tea light into the jars, tossed a few pine cones around them, and in a few minutes, my centerpiece was finished.

Hit the jump for more images and a short list of items needed to make your own warm, festive centerpiece.

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My cookbook gift guide & Bite this Book 2012 recap

In my opinion, the gift of a cookbook – to yourself or anyone – is about the best present to unwrap on Christmas morning. Today’s recommended gift guide is a collection of cookbooks that were all featured in my monthly Bite this Book feature.

This is not a ‘best of’ list, by any means, but these are the ones I can vouch for, believe in, and cook from. I have cracked their covers and spilled flour on them. I’ve left them stacked up on the kitchen counter, within arms reach because of recipes between their pages that are calling me.

These are the books I am gifting to a bunch of my girlfriends – the vegetarian, the novice home canner, the new mom, the dessert queen, and the gluten-free girls. Ready to see my picks? Pour yourself a coffee and hit the jump.

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