Friday, December 21, 2012

Time to decorate ... And bake!

Excited yet? We are... Baby Jesus took our son's letter with his present wishes from the window sill and that means a happy Christmas when he rings the bell after supper on December 24! Right?

This is the time we put up our tree (well I should wait until December 24 really!) and bake our Xmas traditional cookies, which mostly all have walnuts in them (chopped, ground... ) to celebrate our favorite fall produce in the Czech Republic.

Our tree is usually eclectic ... Not a theme one, with hand made ornaments (glass, wood or straw).
Like this one...

We have even a high heeled stocking... And some fun ones.

Keeping the decor subtle and nature true ...with only bee wax candles and simple style.

Someone wanted his own tree in his bedroom... Smiles.

Made this vase for our breakfast nook:

And some easy ones for our dining room, starting with empty bowl and basket:

Having time to visit the Heritage Park in Calgary and see the Xmas Train display ...and horse wagon ride.

Also, we made time for our mother-son baking team and made some delicious cookies together! (ate lots too!)

Now, my Czech recipe and my mom's for a wonderful Xmas biscotti is here:

250g icing sugar
250g all-purpose flour
120g chopped walnuts
200g candied orange/ lemon peels
100g dried currants (or raisins)
3 eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Touch of ground cloves and allspice and nutmeg

Mix it all together well, first with a spatula then with our hand, don't over mix, it becomes sticky. And use flour on your hands to shape int 3 equal parts:

Place on buttered and flour dusted baking pan at 325f for about 20-30 min. Do the toothpick test!

Cut into slices while warm or after a day or two, store in a container.
Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 14, 2012

10 days before Christmas!

Hello and happy 10 days till Christmas...(smiles) to all of you!

How are you all getting ready for this magical time? I try not to forget how excited I used to be as a child and with that and more up my sleeve make some serious magic for our 3 year old boy, Radovan. Afterall, he gets Santa (because he is Canadian), he gets baby Jesus (because he is Czech) and he gets all the love there is from us, his parents!

My childhood memory of Christmas time feels like something inside this image:

And here is what I wore (Paul Hardy) to my husband's work party.

Love the long ostrich skirt (I did not end up wearing during Stampede or ever till now) and the snow blue blouson sends a bit of a 20's message with a fun unexpected opening in the back.

I just came across Fashion Isha's post: Holiday Dressing Up!
and it is a great way to shop for a dress!

Doesn't she look beautiful? Adorable how she shows us the underlayer with long sleeve under such delicate dress, perfect for the cold weather we are having, yet still elegant.

So, today I won't show you my Christmas baking yet, can't do that too early! I won't share with you much of the house preparation either, because it is hard to take photos of a very sparkly cleaned house ... big smile overhere....

But during my urge to make our home feel calm and ready for the Christmas tree arrival (we only put it up just few days before Christmas according to the religious tradition), I found some disturbing reading material we have been given over the years by "some" people (often my husband's brother)....

Here those funny (self help) books go:

Oh gosh, I can't believe we did not toss them into trash when we moved last year?
Maybe they help some people ... I don't know ... reading it would only make me sarcastic.
Cleaning done.
Now what?

Shopping downtown Calgary was great, what did we buy? A new Christmas ornament and Armani Silk Foundation!

Kids loved watching everything and certainly the life fish was a hit. Yes that reminds me to get a life carp and put in in our bath tub in the basement ... try to keep it alive and then happily kill it for Christmas dinner. Remember, we are not supposed to eat meat that day, just lovely potato salad and fish. Life Carp is a Czech tradition.

But before we do that, meat is meat!

Back at home, supper called for a perfect polish sausage letcho.

In olive oil, fry 2 large onions till golden.
Add minced garlic (just enough).
Add 3 chopped aubergines and salt.
Cook, fry till soft.

Add 9 cut tomatoes.
Add some sugar and salt and pepper and hungarian sweet paprika.
Add sliced sausage.
Optional - add thyme.

Cover with lid and into the oven for 40 min at 325 F.

When you take it out, add some cilantro and stir.

Serve on pasta or with fresh sourdough bread. Not bad...

Wishing you a relaxing 10 days count down! My son's way to deal with the anxiety of waiting is to enjoy a small chocolate daily from his Advent Chocolate Calendar, have you tried that?
As for myself, I just have chocolate with a glass of wine...