Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Photo Project: Cheer

December seemed to fly by this year, didn't it? Luckily, your photos are helping me savor a last bit of holiday cheer. I took my photo after a dinner with friends in Brooklyn. Nothing like a warm, noisy restaurant on a cold New York night. Here's what you shared:

Lesley took this photo while she and her daughter were packing up reindeer food.

Vanessa of Hey Lady, Grey snapped a pic of a holiday toast.

Rachel of elephantine took this photo during her Christmas spent in L.A.

And Natalie of Natty Michelle shared her Christmasy chalk art.

If you want to share one of your cheerful photos, just leave a link below! I'll announce January's theme on Friday. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Week in Photos

Here are a few photos from our Christmas spent in Savannah. It was relaxing and joyful, packed with good eats, great company and one silly dog. I hope you had a wonderful holiday too!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thoughts of the Week

S'mores inside!

Caramels outside!

We had the TV yule log going at our party last weekend. We should have watched the trailer first.

What to wear for the holidays in addition to your Santa pajamas.

I might need a little sumthin extra in my egg nog.

Learn some carols, people!

Yes, coats can be both puffy and cute.

Who wants to wear a Christmas crown?

Remember to capture some holiday cheer and send it my way!

Oh, and enter the Nespresso giveaway!

We're headed to Savannah this weekend with a quick stop in Charleston first. I'll be making myself scarce next week, spending time with the fam and getting my Christmas on. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

City Scenes

I have a confession. I am the worst when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. I'll even buy a pack with the best of intentions and never send them out. Maybe if I get a set of these cute city cards by Smudge Ink and start working on them now, they'll be ready to mail before Christmas 2014. But really, who am I kidding?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Tasteful Holiday and a Nespresso Giveaway

Update: Denise Konkel is the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Nespresso recently asked me to share what "a tasteful holiday" means to me, and I can't get past the idea of an evening spent at home with a few friends. Don't get me wrong, New York City is all kinds of merry and bright this time of year, but I really treasure a night in without the cold and crowds. I love serving up easy comfort food like a stew, and it's always necessary to have something sweet on hand, like my new favorite vanilla almonds or peppermint meringues.

But what I've found really brings home the coziness and cheer is a holiday drink. It's the perfect way to end an evening. Serve it after dinner when everybody's cozy in the living room, and your guests may never leave. There are so many possibilities this time of year, and I like to cover all my seasonal bases: mulled wine, hot chocolate, apple cider, egg nog, milk punch, and the latest addition to my repertoire, warm, frothy lattes and cappuccinos topped with a little nutmeg.

I've pondered buying an espresso machine before but thought they seemed intimidating, not to mention the amount of counter space required. But I've discovered my solution with Nespresso's Pixie. It's sleek, compact and makes delicious espresso for all my favorite coffee drinks. It's making this tasty time of year even tastier.

Lucky for you, Nespresso is generously offering one SoHo reader the Pixie Aluminum ($229), the Aeroccino milk frother ($99) and an assortment of coffee capsules! Just leave a comment below telling me what "a tasteful holiday" means to you. Leave your comment before 11:59pm ET on Thursday, January 2. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Holiday Gift: Vanilla Almonds

Last year, I gave out bottles of homemade vanilla extract for Christmas. This year, I wanted to make something that required less planning but would still impress, and I landed on these vanilla almonds. (It was also a way to put my vanilla extract surplus to good use.)

These sugary candied almonds are quick and easy to make, and the results are sweet, crunchy and addictive. I used the recipe below and multiplied it by three, which filled up 10 13-ounce jars and left me with some to snack on. Package them up in cute containers with gift tags and baker's twine, and you've got a sweet and simple edible gift.

Vanilla Almonds
Recipe adapted slightly from Kelsey Nixon

1 egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups whole almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract until frothy. Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon to mixture and combine. Add the almonds and stir to coat. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on wax paper and break into clusters.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekend in Photos

It was a full on Christmasy weekend around here. It snowed on Saturday, and we ventured out in it all for the sake of cupcakes. There was online shopping (not finished yet!) and baking and gift-wrapping, and we hosted a potluck dinner with brisket, loads of veggies, homemade chai ice cream sandwiches and mulled wine. It was cozy and calm and so nice to stop and break bread with friends in the midst of the holiday rush.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Scenes

When I was kid, my mom was such a hardcore holiday decorator that she'd even change out the art on the walls to Christmasy scenes. She may have even painted a portrait of Santa. It makes me wonder if I should follow suit and hang some seasonal art. Here are some of my favorite finds from 20x200.

[found here: sledding; brooklyn heights; snowflake; white oaks]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Date Night: Indoor Skydiving in Seattle

While we were in Seattle for Thanksgiving, Jonah and I went on one of our date nights through HowAboutWe, a membership service that sets up dates designed to fit all sorts of interests. You just browse their site and pick the dates you like, they do the rest. So far we've made dumplings and heard Ira Glass talk, so for something completely different, we decided to give indoor skydiving a try.

First of all, I'm a scaredy-cat / major chicken, but Jonah seemed interested in the indoor skydiving date at iFly, so I decided to put on a brave face and give it go. I was anxious beforehand -- seriously, I cannot understand how people leap into the actual sky from actual planes -- but our instructor and everyone we encountered was friendly, professional and super excited, which of course, makes you feel super excited. We had a run-through on how your body should be positioned and hand signals to know so you can make adjustments, then suited up -- jumpsuit, earplugs, goggles and helmet. See how cool we look.

We each got two turns in the flight chamber. My first attempt was not the greatest. I was so concerned with my legs that I forgot to keep my chin up, which makes all the difference. I knew how to correct for my second attempt, which was much more enjoyable and awesome-looking. Random strangers even high-fived me when I was finished. We had so much fun! I can totally understand people going on repeat visits, learning more, improving and getting to do cool tricks. It was just enough adrenalin for my taste, the kind that makes you all happy and giggly. Speaking of giggly, our mid-air photos continue to be a source of amusement for everyone who sees them. I can't wait to force people to watch the DVD.

For our January date, I'm eyeing this at-home couples massage, this brewery tour and this drawing class at the Met. I can't wait for our next big night out. Interested in HowAboutWe? Sign up for free to browse their date options and be sure to use this link to get $50 off your first date!

Our date and this post were made possible by HowAboutWe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mini Frosted Christmas Cookies

Remember those pink and white frosted animal cookies from childhood? Well, here they are -- homemade and with a Christmas twist. Recipe credit goes to Lillie of Butter Me Up, Brooklyn. A side note: I just found out that my husband and Lillie went to middle school together. Small world, right?! I followed her cookie recipe and instructions and just swapped in Christmas cookie cutters and red, green and white candy melts and sprinkles.

They're adorable, crunchy, slightly sweet and addictive -- I think something magic happens between the coat of frosting and the sprinkles. The white cookies ended up being my favorite, but the little green Christmas trees and holly leaves are pretty cute too. They're a great kid-friendly (or nostalgic adult) Christmas cookie and good enough to leave out for Santa.

[recipe found here]


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