Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
December 21, 2011
Hello again! I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. I’m writing this in between packing sessions for my upcoming vacation. Mario, Avery and I will be spending Christmas in St. Martin this year! This is the first year we are not spending Christmas in New York. Usually, we head out to the Hamptons for the week and decorate the whole house. I cook big Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. While it’s going to be an adjustment to be somewhere warm for Christmas, I know it will be great. The Singers are very busy and I’m looking forward to all three of us being able to kick back and relax together.
I still wanted to enjoy as much Christmas in New York as I could, so I found myself taking long lunch breaks to walk around and see all the windows and of course the famous Rockefeller Center tree. I decorated our NYC home weeks ago so we had some time to enjoy it before we take off. I tend to mill around the house playing Christmas music everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas while I tweak and trim the tree. I use many classic decorating tips, such as wreath on the door and tree in the living room, I like to get a bit creative as well.
I have some sturdy decorative vases on one of my window sills that I fill every year with woodsy mixed greens. I usually browse around the Flower District in Manhattan for seasonal white pine, but at this time of year you’ll find that nearly every florist carries an assortment of Christmas greens. The trick is to pick branches that are both tall enough (about 30 inches) and full enough to hold some of your ornaments. This year I tried adding some cedar branches with the white pine to fill out the vases some more and the mix of the two leaves is just extraordinary. The additional greenery around the house is so festive, and a great way to spread your shimmery ornaments out beyond the tree.
I always purchase a few poinsettias bouquets to spread about the house. Red is one of my favorite colors – as you can see, I decorate my home with a lot of red and gold, so Christmas red fits just perfectly with my décor.
My extra tree trimmings become the perfect center piece for the dining room table. Pine cones are one of my holiday table décor staples; I lightly paint the pinecones with gold or silver and lay them out on the table. I also place a few of my larger more special ornaments on top of the cedar.
If there is a time to indulge a little it’s definitely Christmas! I love making cookies this time of year. The best thing about sugar cookies is you can make them as festive as you want with different cookie cutter and toppings. I personally keep mine simple with some red and green crystals. See my favorite recipe below.
Christmas Butter Sugar Cookies, Makes about 36 cookies,
-16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (very soft to touch)
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more the work surface
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-heat over 350 degrees F
-beat the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer on medium high until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla. Reduce mixer to speed low.
-Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and add it slowly to the butter mixture, mixing until just incorporated (dough will be stiff). Divide dough into 2 rounds balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
-Roll the dough on a floured surface (also dust with flour the rolling pin) to 1/4 till 1/4 inch think. Cut into shapes and place onto baking sheets.
-Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar crystals. The scraps can be combined and rolled out again.
-Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks.
I decided to bake an early batch of cookies and while their delicious aroma fills up my home, I sat down and looked through all of the holiday photos you sent me. Here are some of my favorites!
I hope you all enjoy the holidays year and prepare for a fantastic 2012! I promise to share photos of our trip and can’t wait to hear all of your Christmas and New Year stories!