Wednesday, December 25, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty-Five

Christmas Day is VERY relaxed in our house...

Christmas Pajamas
Yummy pastries, coffee and mimosas
Presents and stockings
Spending the day together with a holiday movie, a fun LEGO set, a new book or a magazine, and snacking on the leftovers from the Christmas Eve buffet.

Wishing you and your family a lovely day together.  See you in 2020.

Special thanks to Tamy at Chasing MY Life for the BLOGMAS 2019 line-up of topics.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty-Four

It's Christmas Eve and time for just a few quick stops before heading home to prepare for the big day!

First stop is our favorite Norwegian bakery for goodies for Christmas morning breakfast.

Then to Barnes and Noble for a book or a magazine to put under the tree.  Spectra was thrilled that our local store allows well-behaved four-legged friends to visit too.

Home for our Christmas Eve buffet dinner.

Christmas pajamas - so cute!

After Sophia and Spectra headed to bed, it's time for Santa/Mom and Dad to add the rest of the presents under the tree.

And the stockings were hung were propped on the sofa with care.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty-Three

We always have a buffet on Christmas Eve and snack on the leftovers on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve 2019
Baked Ham with Pineapple
Cranberry Jelly
Potato Salad
Chilled Shrimp
Smoked Salmon
Relish Tray of Olives, Cornichons, Baby Beetroot, Marinated Mushrooms, and Pickled Asparagus
Cheese Board with Assorted Crackers
French Bread

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty-Two

We will have a little respite from three solid days of rain that have had people searching for sandbags and pumps to prevent flooding in their houses and basements.  We, fortunately, live on a bit of a rise so we are fine.  Looks like we will get a bit of a break today and tomorrow but then the rain will pick up again.  No snow for us this Christmas.

Partly Cloudy
Scattered Showers
Scattered Showers
Scattered Showers

Saturday, December 21, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty-One

The best presents I could ask for arrived today - my family all at home for Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twenty

Tree #1 - The Family Tree - an assortment of ornaments collected over many years.  Lots of Hallmark, lots of gifts from friends, lots of memories.  It looks like it's leaning but it's my photography skills!

Tree #2 - The Childhood and Collectibles Tree - all of Sophia's baby and daughter ornaments are here as well as the annual ornaments from preschool through graduation and our Disney, Harry Potter, Peanuts, and Christmas Vacation ornaments.

Tree #3 - The Travel Tree - collectibles from around the country and the world.  A lot of them aren't even really ornaments - there's the red and white deckchair from our holidays at the seaside in England, a 747 and the Concorde from our visit to Boeing, Stonewall Jackson, and even Downton Abbey.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Nineteen

2020 Ideas?  This one is easy.

Eat less, move more, drink more (water, of course!), spend less, spread kindness wherever and whenever I can.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Eighteen

Photos are going to tell the story today.

Starbucks holiday beverages are a winter must have - we'll often pick up Starbucks at Target or Barnes and Noble while we're strolling along.  I always ask for an extra (clean) cup for my scrapbook.

Christmas magazines - I love the British editions, I've said before that the style of decorating is different, more cozy, it's hard to describe but I know that browsing through a British Christmas magazine makes me really happy.  I usually buy a couple when we go to Barnes and Noble and I keep them all.  I love to browse through them every year.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

Christmas movies - we watch the same ones each year and love them all.

Not specifically a Christmas movie but you can't go wrong with Disney and lots of snow!

A festive cocktail - this is the Amaretto Cranberry Kiss.

LEGO - great fun for all the family.

Goodies from the British food store - Christmas cake, pudding, mince pies, chocolate, yummy. 
Snow would be wonderful - fingers crossed! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Seventeen

If you're ever stuck for stocking stuffer ideas, Pinterest has lots of pins - for toddlers, kids, teens, men, foodies, techies, you name it and there is an idea list for it.

I don't usually shop specifically for stocking stuffers; I tend to put anything that's small in the stocking.  It always seems that we have to take them off the hooks and prop them up on the floor when they get so full.

I think this year we will turn our Target shopping trip into the stocking stuffer shopping trip by picking items that can fit in a stocking.  We'll see how that goes.

I did splurge and buy some cubes of yummy goodies from Sugarfina.  The samples were amazing.  Sophia was quick to let me know that they have an Advent calendar!

Monday, December 16, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Sixteen

This past weekend, we started a new tradition - City Sidewalks.  I thought it would be fun to pick a city each December and spent a weekend, or a few days if it's a flight away, to see a show, do a little shopping, and see the holiday decorations in the city.  This year we stayed close to home and picked Seattle.

We were late leaving our side of the water because of Sophia's schedule and the traffic so we didn't get to our hotel until late on Friday night.  I picked the Sheraton Grand Seattle because it is the location of the 27th Annual Gingerbread Village which is a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  Teams of architects and chefs from the Sheraton collaborate on creating extravagant gingerbread houses.  This year there were five - #ElfLife - the Elves and the Shoemaker, Elf the Movie, Elf on the Shelf, Cookie Elves, and Santa's Workshop.  They were amazing and judging by the crowds, a wonderful fundraiser for the Foundation.

Elf on the Shelf

Cookie Elves

The major department stores opened starting at 9:00am so we got up early-ish and decided to view the gingerbread houses first.  When we got back to the hotel in the afternoon, we saw that we made a wise decision to view the houses early as the line filled the lobby.  The hotel was beautifully decorated and we stopped in front of the large tree in the lobby to snap a photo.

We spent the morning at Nordstrom and in several of the shopping centers in the immediate area where there were a lot of shops we wanted to check out.  The decorations were beautiful.

We went on to Macy's after Nordstrom but it was a very poor second.  I just found out that Macy's is closing in February 2020, it's a shame as it is such a part of downtown Seattle but it's a tough world for retailers these days.

After shopping, we headed down to Pike Place Market and our favorite French bakery, Le Panier.  We love it there, for lunch, or breakfast, dinner, or a quick bite anytime.  We wandered around the market for a little while and then headed back to Nordstrom to pick up a gift for Sophia's roommate who was watching Spectra for the weekend.  After stopping there, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening out.

We wanted to include a show in our City Sidewalks weekend and decided to check out Land of the Sweets;  The Burlesque Nutcracker.  It was very entertaining with wink, wink, nudge, nudge humor, a little like the Benny Hill Show of years past.  It was a dinner show, with the food being provided by Wild Ginger, a wonderful restaurant, and it did not disappoint.  We had shu mai dumplings for our starter and then we selected Mongolian Triple (Lamb) Chops and Angkor Wat Chicken, a spicy, wok-fried chicken.  Both were delicious.

On Sunday morning, it was back to Le Panier for cafe au lait and a pastry and then a quick stop at Nordstrom to pick up a bandana that we were having personalized for Spectra.

The trip home was a lot easier with a quick ferry ride to drop me off at home, and then Sophia was home just as it was getting dark.

Next year, Vancouver or Portland if we decide to stick close to home again, or perhaps San Francisco.  There are a lot of cities on our City Sidewalks list.

Less than ten days until Christmas!  I've really been enjoying BLOGMAS and I appreciate your comments.  I've been keeping the posts short; today's is probably the longest so far so I hope you enjoy reading about our weekend away.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Fifteen

One family recipe that was handed down from my Mum is a baked ham.  We were really not turkey-eaters when I was growing up, it was ham at Thanksgiving and ham at Christmas.  You can use any kind of ham, bone-in or boneless, a whole ham or a spiral sliced one.  I put ours in the oven and bake according to the directions that come with it, and about half an hour before the cooking time should be over, I slather it with a mixture of French's mustard, brown sugar, and Coca Cola.  I've never measured how much, just make a paste with the mustard and brown sugar, and then thin it out with the Coke.  Pour it over the ham, place pineapple slices held in place with cherries on toothpicks all over the surface, and baste regularly.  It's delicious.

Sophia's godmother's sons call it "Auntie Pam's Ham".

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Fourteen

I haven't really baked at Christmas for a number of years - between moving to Virginia without Sophia, and then moving back to Washington without my baking supplies, and now having Vic and Sophia come for Christmas so close to the actual holiday and my working full-time, baking has taken a back seat on the holiday planning schedule.  It doesn't help that we have several amazing bakeries in our area and I have turned to them for cookies and goodies.

If I was going to bake something extra-special for Christmas, it would be a Bûche de Noël (Yule Log).  What's not to love about a dark, decadent cake rolled around chocolate buttercream or some other creamy confection, slathered with chocolate ganche, and then dragging your fork through the ganache to simulate the bark of a tree.  Add some festive decorations, meringue mushrooms perhaps, and voila!  a masterpiece.  I can think of at least five things that can go wrong, dreadfully wrong, in the description above, but I've always wanted to try one and perhaps next year I will.

Sophia and I certainly were drooling over this one at our favorite French bakery in Seattle this weekend, Le Panier.  This one is slightly elevated in its presentation with those tiny macarons on top.  Magnifique!

Friday, December 13, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Thirteen

Travel & Visits - our Christmas in Kettlewell was really the only time that we've traveled for Christmas.  We're pretty much homebodies at Christmas - we have certain things that we do, we enjoy a very relaxed Christmas Day and it's not conducive to going anywhere.  We never traveled at Christmas when I lived at home and I've pretty much stuck to that.

When we moved to Chicago, Vic's aunt wanted us to come to her house for Christmas.  I didn't want to go but I lost that battle and off we went.  It was ok, it was the first time I met that side of the family (apart from Vic's sister) and they were very welcoming and spoiled Sophia rotten.  It was, however, not the kind of Christmas I wanted to repeat so when the plans to go there again the next year fell through, I was not disappointed.

I asked Sophia if she would like to go to Walt Disney World next Christmas.  We haven't been since she was very young and I'd love to see all the decorations for Christmas, but she said no, she wanted to stay home.  So I think that whatever traveling we do in December will be around and not on Christmas.

We have, however, started a new travel tradition this year.  It's called City Sidewalks and it's a weekend or a few days visiting a city to take in a show, stay at a hotel, do some shopping, and see all the decorations.  This year we're sticking close to home and heading to Seattle but I see San Francisco or even New York in future plans.  I'll tell you more about it soon.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Twelve

Christmas Cards, soon to be a thing of the past?  I love to send cards, love to receive them, and this year, I splurged on these beautiful cards from minted.  The paper quality is gorgeous and they have matching envelopes and postage stamps.  I was able to upload our Christmas card list so that the envelopes came pre-addressed, how awesome is that?  The photos don't look the greatest in this scanned copy but they really are lovely in the actual card and excuse that black mark in the top right-hand corner, that's my less than stellar cropping skills!

I've written a Christmas newsletter for the last twenty-five years but this year, I condensed it down to three short paragraphs and it's on the back of the card.  I've kept every Christmas card we have received since Sophia was born and keep them in annual albums along with a legend of who sent each card and how we know them.  They are sort of organized in order - family cards first, then friends from the places we've lived over the years chronologically - California, Saipan, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Washington.  I love to go back to the previous year each December and re-read the cards, newsletters, and look at the photos.  That way, when the new cards come in the mail, I can see how children have grown, what families have new additions, and what new adventures have taken place during the year.

Do you send cards?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

BLOGMAS 2019 - Day Eleven

This is what winter looks like in my neck of the woods, wet.  The porch light is on because about ten minutes after I took this photo, it was pitch black outside.  If we get any snow, it will most likely be after Christmas.