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Monthly Archives: December 2010

One of my favorite things about the holidays is entertaining. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I have such a grand time decorating our reclaimed wood dining table with blooms and preparing a marvelous meal for my cherished friends and family. I’ve been as sick as a dog all week (thanks sinus infection!) and had no time to go and purchase flowers, table settings, etc. Only today was I feeling semi back to normal and thanks to a quick Style File segment on Good Day LA, I knew exactly how I wanted to decorate our table.

Here is the snapshot that inspired me, from Floral Art LA in Venice, CA. As you can see (or maybe not, since I took a picture of the television and it’s a bit blurred), owner Jennifer McGarigle uses deep plum calla lilies and plums to decorate her pristine white table.

I took this idea and re-adjusted it so that it was a budget-friendly plan. First off, calla lilies were nowhere to be found (plus, they’re super pricey!) so I went to Trader Joes and got some beautiful yellow gerber daisies that were on sale for $4.99 per bunch. I bought three. Then, to match their sunshine hues, I picked up three packs of sweet lemons. Sweet, because they were much more vibrant, shiny and glossy than the regular tart lemons on sale. I did buy a white tablecloth in hopes of copying the table I saw on TV but someone stuck a round tablecloth in my packet that was meant for a rectangular table. Grrrr. Too lazy to go back to TJ Maxx to return the product, I settled on using our old runner going down the middle of the table and set out my new round placemats. I also bought two small vases from Trader Joes to hold the floating candles. It took me about 20 minutes to put this entire table setting together. Not bad, eh? Whoever said Christmas decor has to be red/green? I say it should be…whatever is handy and cheap 😀

SCORE! I’m a huge fan of Ann Taylor Loft, which has very contemporary styles for a great price and really fantastic quality. I recently went into the store and picked up a pair of these round-toed boots in smoky grey leather…original price was $198, marked down to $59.99 with an extra 40% off! Can’t get much better than that.

I LOVE Christmas. What do I love about it? Let me count thy reasons: hot chocolate, sweater weather, Christmas music, pine smells, presents, holiday cheer….the list goes ON and ON and ON. Chris is not a xmas tree person. I am. And for the first time in the four years we’ve been together, he has proposed to get a xmas tree this year. One problem. KIHEI, our 11-month old puppy who has already shredded our couch, three pairs of shoes (Chris), two pairs of sandals (me), two sweaters (me), the coffee table, baseboards, carpet, you get the picture. I know for a fact if we got a tree she would have her way with it and it would be pine needles and ornaments across the floor. NO THANKS.

So instead of decorating a tree, I decided to decorate our house modern style. We already had this arrangement of branches sitting in the corner so I dressed it up with some simple white Christmas lights. And I got inspired after a shopping a trip at Crate & Barrel, where they stuck Christmas lights inside glass bowls for a very groovy holiday look. It’s beautiful at night when we turn off the other lights and a soft glow is omitted throughout the house.

What can I say, it’s cheap, easy and dog-proof.

If there is any reason to celebrate with food, I’m on it. Since my boyfriend is half Jewish (but in all honesty he is not super religious), I thought “Hey, let’s make latkes for Hanukkah!” I reached for my new Melissa Clark cookbook and turned to her latke recipe, which I knew was going to be awesome. Her recipe calls for either oil or duck fat but I did a very, very non-Jewish thing and fried our latkes in (gulp) bacon fat. See, whenever Chris or I make bacon, we save the bacon grease/fat in little paper cups and store them in the freezer. I know, disgusting. But OH SO YUMMY when you fry eggs and pretty much anything in it. In addition to that, Chris got me a brand spanking new giant jumbo Cuisinart food processor and I was beyond thrilled to use it for shredding the potato and onion.

Brand New Heirloom Potato Latkes (recipe from Melissa Clark)

2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters

1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into quarters

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chicken fat, duck fat, or vegetable oil, for frying.

1. Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.

2. Working quickly, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the four, salt, baking powder, and pepper and mix until the flour is absorbed.

3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking 3 to 4 latkes at one time. Use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, flip. Cook until the second side is deeply browned, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Makes 16 to 20 latkes. I topped mine with cream cheese, salmon and whitefish caviar. I also topped another latke with ketchup and tabasco. Hey, latkes are kinda like hash browns, right?