Christmas

thinkgreenplainwreath.jpgMost always, I find nature as my inspiration for arrangements and décor, thus green becomes my “MO” for all things fresh, natural, and beautiful. Green is nature’s neutral – found in different hues and shades in every wood, vale, forest and dale! Here are a few tips on “thinking green” for the Holidays and year round decorating as well!

I always like to have a green base to build from when making an arrangement, tablescapes, or even holiday décor. Choose your greenery wisely – it will be your support and skeleton, your contrasting tone, and your “roux” that brings the arrangement together.

Use what is in seasonfor the Holidays, I like the traditional greens like holly, boxwood, cypress, cedar, and magnolia. Add some pizzazz by contrasting shades of green like the dark of the holly and magnolia (use those velvety brown backs as well), lighter green from cypress and blue greens from cedar or junipers.

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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms1Happy Holidays! One of our favorite quick appetizers are these Italian Stuffed Mushrooms. They usually show up on the holiday table because they are so easy to make and serve.

You can even throw them together early in the day and bake them off right as guests are arriving.

Having a hot appetizer that is so easy to make is a godsend on party day. I often double the recipe because they disappear so fast.

I hope you have a great day, have to get back to cooking as I am going to be making my Lobster Bisque, it’s just not Christmas without it.

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coventgarden2There is something very special about visiting London during the holidays. The streets and stores are beautifully decorated and an overall "spirit" of the season is evident throughout the city. No matter where you stroll, there's "Christmas in the air" - whether it's the rows of fresh wreaths hung in Edwardian doorways, the gold holly and red berry garland that decorates Regent Street, the twinkle lights illuminating the posh shopping on Jermyn Street, the musical decorations inspired by the Rolling Stones on Carnaby Street, the Santa Land and Christmas Market in Hyde Park, the enormous fully decorated tree in Trafalgar Square, or the giant red ornaments at Covent Garden.

Of course Victorian London has had a strong role in how we celebrate Christmas today. A visit to the recently renovated The Charles Dickens Museum will remind anyone of the British influence on this festive holiday. As most of us know, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, which was published on December 19, 1843 and is often considered responsible for the revival of Christmas celebrations.

It may surprise some to know that Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870. Apart from adding to the language of Christmas, with "scrooge","bah, humbug!" and all the rest of it, Dickens' book essentially renewed the Christmas tenets of family, good cheer, feasting, gift-giving and charity as well as popularizing the phrase "Merry Christmas!"

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peanut butter fudgeThere's no better time of year to bless the ties that bind. Holidays are about traditions, and the very definition of tradition is "an inherited or customary pattern of thought, belief or action" --- those ideas and rituals, large and small, passed on from generation to generation.

For me, it just isn't Christmas without one good carol singing (in Atlanta, I like to go to jazz vespers at First Congregational Church downtown in early December), without my pink rabbit's foot dangling from a lower branch on my tree and without Mammaw's peanut butter fudge.

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placesetting.jpgEver since reading Rousseau’s On the Origin of Language, the idea of the origin myth has compelled me to wonder at the root of things. I treasure the O.E.D., find it fascinating that Hammer Pants were born out of misread lyrics during development of the U Can’t Touch This video, and relish in the ongoing debate over how the Caesar salad came to be.

As with the Caesar salad, I’m intrigued by things with no definite origin – thereby inviting invention – like how Rousseau posits that language originated with a boy wanting to talk to a girl while collecting water for their respective families.

In this fashion, I’m incited to uncover, or create the origin of one side of my family’s Dungeness Crab Christmas Eve tradition. But first it’ll help if I briefly explain my family, and my relationship to Christmas.

Suffice to say my family fits well into the postmodern framework: fractured, multiple centers, consider any single member and you’ll discover a constellation of relationships. So I’ll leave it at this: a name means as much as a title. I have parents and siblings.

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