I hope you all had a wonderful and festive Christmas. December is an especially nutty month for us (and I'm sure all of you, too). We have Mike's birthday on the 7th, Emma's on the 15th + all of the holiday events packed in + a last minute work trip to New York for me... not to mention all of the holiday orders for the store I worked on around the clock to do my best to get everything out on time. It went by in a whirl, but we made a conscious effort to slow down this last week to really enjoy each other.
When I got back from New York at midnight on the 19th, I put myself on an official break from all but fun time with my family - it was fantastic. I feel like I've been pulled 12 different directions for the last 4 months since the store has opened (I'm sure you all can relate!) and it has been such a treat to shut down that side of my brain for just a little while. I hope you've all had the chance to do the same.
The first thing on the agenda for my "break" was to make teacher gifts for Emma's school. So no less than 8 hours after arriving home, Emma and I were in the kitchen making a little holiday cheer in the form of white chocolate dipped pretzel rods.
I love this project because they take 2 minutes to prep (literally, melting chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes) and then you're ready to dip. I gave Emma complete creative control, mixing sprinkles, dipping and re-dipping. The more "creative" they are, the more festive they look. It was a fun, no-stress morning in the kitchen with holiday tunes playing and sprinkles every where.
We did a lot of giving this holiday season - and I'm so glad. Some years, it seems that Christmas sneaks up on us and I feel like we haven't given our fair share. But this year, we were extra generous with tips everywhere we went, I had a huge bundle of toys that Emma helped pick out for a local women's shelter and we did some volunteering. It is never enough, but I'm glad that we made a real effort this year to share.
I always give our teachers some extra money, too. They are such amazing, loving and caring people that give so generously to Emma all year long - and we've all been in a spot in our lives that sometimes, you just need a little extra money for a special present, or an unexpected bill. Most of Emma's teachers are young moms themselves, and I know they appreciate having a little extra to splurge on their little ones... but we can't resist giving a homemade treat, too.
The next day, we had our first snow day! This is Emma discovering the snow that first morning.
She loved it much more than this photo attests. I promise.
Here's a little glimpse of a cold smile as she's sliding sown the hill.
Our dinners have been quick, easy and comforting - like these seared steaks. I have a new appreciation for quick and easy dinners and will be sharing a lot more this month... I'm thinking one pan, less dishes and less time.
I made a simple mushroom sauce (for me, Mike is not a mushroom fan... ugh) garlic, butter, thyme and red wine.
One of the most fun presents I gave this year was a loaf of Poilane bread - recommended by the Barefoot Contessa. It is baked in Paris and then shipped over night. Isn't it gorgeous?
I had it sent to Mike's mom to arrive on Christmas Eve right before we all came over for dinner.
Checking out her presents on Christmas Eve at Mimi's house.
This is Christmas morning at our house. Santa's packages were wrapped just like they were on the Polar Express (movie & book) - Emma's official resource for Christmas this year.
Santa never forgets Mr. Darcy : )
Fast forward 20 minutes... This princess dress was a gift from me, from the Eloise shop at the Plaza in New York.
Christmas isn't complete without a train set : )
Gramp Gramp's firetruck all lit up for Christmas Day! He drove it in the town parade earlier this season.
The girls in their Christmas finery.
I've been cooking up a storm for the last couple of days and have some new recipes to share later today and the rest of the week. We're also planning a fancy schmancy dinner with some friends for New Years - you can follow along on instagram.
It feels good to be back to my cooking and blogging groove - which I'll be doing a lot more of this month. I have some exciting news for the store (announced soon), that will help free up my hands and my mind to help me get back to writing and cooking more.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and enjoyed relaxing and loving on your family.