Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Accomplishments

Over at decor8 (one of my favorite design blogs), there was a suggestion recently that rather than taking this time to wistfully plan what we'll do better and sigh over another year gone, we take this time to celebrate our accomplishments. I like this idea a lot, because it reminds me that small things are worth noting and applauding. I may not have finished my dissertation, written a novel, or gotten a dream job in the last year, but it wasn't barren of accomplishment either.

So without further ado, here's what I did in 2011:

Paid off my car
Was a bridesmaid at Amelia's beautiful wedding
Got rid of nearly all my junk
Found work in the midst of an economic crisis
Started my blog
Began painting again
Made my own Christmas cards
Planted bulbs for sping

When I put it like that, 2011 wasn't a bad year at all. What did you do last year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Displays, or a Study in the Dynamic

It's time for a return to the horrors of Sophie's photography, for which I'm sure you're all exactly as grateful as you should be! Behold:

This picture represents our main holiday decorating endeavor this year. You will notice, no tree is involved. Now I'm as big a fan of the Christmas tree as anyone, but you have to admit, it can often feel very stagnant as you dutifully place the same silver balls, glass pickle, and so forth, year after year, trying to make it feel fresh.

That's where the holiday display comes in. This picture was inspired by a Martha Stewart spread of a Scandanavian-themed mantle. Hence we used light woods, antlers and fresh greenery--all very organic. The silver accents then stood out and brightened everything up. And the presents in the background make it clear that this is more than a winter themed table, it's our holiday focal point.

Lights, greenery, silver...why this has a lot of elements of our old friend the Christmas tree, but it feels a lot fresher and more dynamic. Best of all, we didn't have to buy a thing for it--everything in this photo was stashed here and there around the house.

How are you making holiday decorating fresh this year?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mother's Turkey Soup

Every year, for the holiday season, my mother makes this wonderful soup of leftovers, and every year, I like it far better than the meal that preceded it. It is the most forgiving soup imaginable. Everything in the ingredients list below, saving the turkey, is a suggestion rather than an imperative. Whatever vegetables or sides you have cooked for your meal will go wonderfully into the pot, although I will admit that the cranberries are perhaps my favorite part as they add a lovely tart sweetness. Please note that the ingredients below such as yams are pre-cooked.

Mother's Turkey Soup

2 cups turkey drippings
4-5 cups water
Turkey carcass split in half and its meat (assuming you have not cleanly picked the bones), turkey wings and meat, etc
2 cups stuffing
1/2-3/4 cup cranberry sauce
1-2 cups yams
1 cup green bean casserole
1 cup mashed potatoes

Boil drippings, water, and carcass 2-3 hours. Remove carcass and strip of its meat. Return meat to the stock. Add remaining ingredients for 30-45 minutes. Allow to sit perhaps a quarter of an hour to blend flavors. You may wish to skim fat from the top of the soup.