Monday, November 26, 2018

Squak Mountain Nursery: Ready to Deck the Halls

Bright and Festive. That is how I would describe Squak Mountain Nursery in mid-November. I wanted to take my mother-in-law somewhere local and fun as we prepared for Thanksgiving and the gift shop at Squak Mountain was a great choice. 

The open air nursery shop had beautiful red cyclamen, Christmas tree-like lemon cypress, amaryllis bulbs, handmade holly wreaths and bundles of fresh holly for sale. They also have stacks of fresh greens to swag on a fence, drape on your mantle or create your own wreath.  
The gift shop out back is a wonderland worth visiting. I took this picture to inspire you. The designer touches and selection of unusual ornaments will make you catch your breath. 

#squakmountain #nursery #christmasgreens #issaquah #deckthehalls #designertouches #christmasornaments #giftshop  

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving: Molding Turkey Butter

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family & friends. We had a quiet day of cooking and puttering in the house. We put the tree up and had a beautiful meal.

Do you like my turkey-shaped butter? It is a must-have in my house and one year I couldn't find one in the grocery store, so I vowed to get my own turkey mold when I was in the candy supply store. Now that I live in Seattle (Amazon country), I know that most of you will simply order it online. I have included a link to a chocolate turkey mold similar to mine. You simply soften the butter, press it into the mold and place it into the refrigerator to harden. Unmold onto a pretty plate and Voila!

#happythanksgiving #momentsofdelight #butterturkey #turkeymold #chocolateturkeymold #doityourself #entertaining

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Julefest 2018: Nordic Museum Seattle

The new Nordic Museum in Ballard was hopping this weekend. The beloved holiday event, Julefest was held in the brand new museum for the first time. The building has open walkways upstairs that allow you to look across the expanse and appreciate the walls designed to feel like a grand fjord (above). 
The celebration revolves around Nordic (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland) Christmas traditions. Glogg and sweets, music and fellowship, gifts and handiwork. 
(Norwegian Male Chorus)

The 2-day event was wonderful, but speaking as someone who came on the second day, I was disappointed that the homemade cookies and breads were completely sold out. And I mean tables put away, never to be seen, sold out. This is good news for the event and certainly means it was a success. I hope they are able to bake & sugar even more specialties next year. We did have a chance to "eat like a modern day Viking" at the Freya Cafe and have Danish Dogs on a pretzel bun with mustard and lingonberry jam. Satisfying and delicious on a very busy day.
In the permanent museum, each country had its signature pieces on display. Having loved Swedish clocks since I was a girl with a blue clock in my dollhouse (see below; I keep this tiny treasure in my office now), I loved seeing a beautiful antique Swedish clock given a place of honor.
My mother in law, Kay is in town for Thanksgiving, so Dan and I were both able to take our moms to this fun and lively event. We all bought ornaments (well, not Dan) and admired the bowls and wooden objects featuring the folk art painting style called Rosemaling. There were big thick Norwegian-style ski sweaters for sale and we kicked ourselves for not dressing for the occasion and wearing ones from our own closet. We met a man who knits sweaters to look like each of the Nordic flags. He was wearing one that was bright yellow with blue "Scandinavian cross", which is the flag of Sweden, and hopes to sell them as a vendor next year. 
We had such a nice afternoon admiring the new museum, enjoying the music and shopping for beautiful Nordic treasures. This event got us in the mood for Christmas! God Jul!

#nordicmuseum #newnordic #julefest #seattle #holidaycelebration #christmas #scandinavian #swedish #holidayfun #celebratetheseason #momentsofdelight #freyacafe #ballard #christmasinseattle

Monday, November 19, 2018

Celebrate with a Toast: My Holiday Punch

I can't tell you how happy I am that Chinet now makes stemless plastic wine glasses that are beautiful and can be used for punch. Can you hear the angels singing? I always make punch for parties (I can't wait to make coffee punch with gingerbread spoons next month!) and I dislike using classic plastic party glasses, even when they are beautiful and made by Chinet. I want a rounded,  and sophisticated glass. Now raise a glass and go celebrate the season!

2 Star Christmas Punch

I served this beautiful punch to a crowd twice this year and the ladies drank cup after cup. It is not too sweet and very refreshing. At both parties, people crossed the room to tell me how much they liked the punch. I joked with a neighbor that I had made this recipe years ago and put a "star" next to it. She responded, "Put 2."

Step 1:
Freeze 2 cups of Cranberry Ginger Ale with 2 cups of fresh cranberries in the bottom of a Bundt mold (make sure the width of the mold will fit into your punch bowl). Tuck 5 whole sage leaves around the edge so that some green will show when un-molded.

When this first layer is frozen, pour in the rest of the 2 liter bottle of Cranberry Ginger Ale. My first section un-molded and floated to the top. That is perfect. Allow to freeze. When you place it in your punch bowl, the ice ring will look like this. 

When prepping for the party, pulverize one bag of fresh frozen raspberries (no liquid or sugar added, just berries) in a food processor and place into punch bowl. Add 1 (12 oz) can of defrosted frozen pink lemonade and 1 (12 oz) can of defrosted cranberry juice concentrate

When your guests are about to arrive, add 2 (2 liter) of regular Ginger Ale. Place ice ring into center. Stir and enjoy!

#seattle #holidaycelebration #christmas #holidayfun #celebratetheseason #momentsofdelight  #christmasinseattle #holidayentertaining #punchrecipes #punch #holidaycocktails #seasonal #ginger  #gingerale #canadadry 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Friendsgiving 2018: A New Life in the Pacific Northwest

How did we get so lucky? That is a question we ask ourselves often since building a house in a new neighborhood on Seattle's East side. 

Our neighbors are a kind and happy group that love to gather and connect. My grandmother always said to me, " You've got to make your own fun."  The fun this neighborhood has cooked up so far (Block Party, Gingerbread House Making, Ladies Night, Cooking Class, Succulent Party) has been part of our successful transition to the West coast. 
A few weeks ago, our neighbors A & A declared that a neighborhood Friendsgiving was in order. They said, "Bring 2 sides, salads or desserts and come have a feast with us in mid-November." They cooked 2 huge turkeys (roasted & deep fried) and the neighbors supplied the rest of the food and chaos. I brought my striped mashed potatoes (it was gone in a flash) and a sheet pan pecan pie.
They managed to provide seating for 30 (!) and the house looked warm and welcoming. Twinkle lights, fresh flowers and food. Again, how could we be so lucky? I hugged ladies from my street. I met husbands that I've only seen through Facebook. I heard stories about moving in, growing up and starting fresh. We had the conversations we needed to make friends and build relationships.

Just before the meal, the host raised a glass and said that he didn't know if we realized it, but he & A had moved into their house 1 year ago that day. Their happy home that was currently brimming with voices and laughter was mostly filled with people they had met within the last year. He thought that it was incredible and so did we. We all silently acknowledged how grateful we were for this same group of people for the very same reasons.  

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Friendsgiving. May these new friendships continue to grow and thrive in the Pacific Northwest. Amen.

#friendsgiving2018 #friendsgiving #thanksgiving #thankful #momentsofdelight #entertaining #turkeyday #newneighbors #pnw 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Slab Pie: Trisha Yearwood's Lemon Pecan Pie

Trisha Yearwood knows how to make a great slab pie. We were invited to a big Friendsgiving Dinner this year in our neighborhood and I thought that pecan pie would be a welcome addition. But when you have a crowd, it just doesn't make sense to set out pies that serve 8. The pieces are too big and it is hard to have enough for everyone. I rationalized that a pecan pie in slab pie form would taste like Thanksgiving while still being manageable.  

I love making pecan pie, but how should I translate a normal recipe into a slab pie that cuts into sturdy pieces? I had enough time to make one practice slab pie. And then I saw the most glorious slab pie on Food Network: Trisha Yearwood's Lemon Pecan Pie

This is my first attempt (above) and it was beautiful! It cut easily, the refrigerator crust was flaky and acceptable and the pie was delicious. Except my husband kept asking me why did I put lemon in it. Fair question. I thought that it was a great pie, but in deference to tradition, I removed all but a whisper of lemon for the second slab pie I made that week.

It baked up perfectly and the guests that tried it, liked it. Hallelujah. Thank you, Trisha, for knowing just what recipe I needed!

#friendsgiving2018 #friendsgivingrecipes #friendsgiving #thanksgiving #pie #slabpie #illbringdessert #pecanpie #lemonpecanpie #entertaining #trishayearwood #neighborhood