Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mardi Gras Christmas Tree

Ok so tomorrow I am off for home!!!  Before I left I wanted to share my favorite part of the Christmas holiday this far with you – my tree!  Since I moved to New York I haven’t once taken the time to get a tree for the holidays.  One year I couldn’t go home and I still didn’t put up lights.  Well this year I decided it was time to bring a little bit of home to the North.  While out shopping one day (yes I had become sidetracked from Christmas gift shopping) I saw that Pier 1 had a sale on holiday décor.  I decided what the heck and walked in to see what they had.  Now darlings, if any of you have been to Pier 1 this season you probably saw their pretty red Christmas tree in the front of the store.  It has the words ‘ho ho ho’ on it and is completely covered with the usual red bows and they made it fancy with some feathers and other décor.  Well this was cute to me and I figured I would buy a tree and throw some of these items on it to bring the holiday spirit into my apartment.  Well, as I was walking to get a basket to pay for these ridiculously expensive ornaments (I figured out later that the sale didn’t apply to things on the tree) I saw the tree every person who understands New Orleans would die for – A Mardi Gras themed tree!!!!  So this is when I completely lose my mind and go overboard.  Mind you at this point I hadn’t even purchased a tree!   So here I am in Pier 1, like a kid in Disney putting everything in my basket.  Don’t worry dears, when I got to the register reality started to come back as I looked at the prices on the items I purchased.  I decided that I would buy all of the important elements I needed to make the tree pop and fill in the rest with less expensive ornaments.  I ended up purchasing a few turtledoves, peacock feathers and some Mardi Gras masks (of course the tree would lose the point without them).  I also added some dragon flies for pops of color and they reminded me of how I would see them at home all the time during the summer.  My boyfriend and I went to Wal-Mart that night to purchase a tree to actually put all of this on.  We picked up some purple and blue ornament balls and snowflake shaped Christmas lights while we were there.  As we began decorating I realized what is a Mardi Gras tree without beads!!??  So I went in my closet and dug out my stash of Mardi Gras decorations (yes I decorated for Mardi Gras and not Christmas these past few years).  I added a few beads and it finished off the masterpiece of our tree.  Below is a board with all of the items I purchased from Pier 1 and a few shots of the tree.  I am so in love with it!!!  

Pictures of the actual tree :)

As a child we I used to catch dragon flies while playing outside.

Mardi Gras mask!!! 
We also had a butterfly on the tree that I forgot all about in the corner.

We topped the tree with peacock feathers and a red bird rather than the traditional angel since it's not a traditional tree.

Happy Holiday everyone!!  I plan on doing one more post before Christmas and will take the week off to spend time with family.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bring the {Holiday} Beat Back Friday!!

Hi my darlings!!!!  It’s the last weekend before Christmas.  All my shopping is done and I hope yours is too.  If not my hopes and best wishes are with you going out into those crowds this weekend.  Even more wishes if you need to head to the post office (that place is a zoo).   I plan on staying inside and prepping for my trip home.  I have been putting together my Christmas jam list and wanted to get your input.  I LOVE cooking and opening gifts to a holiday soundtrack in the background.  Below is my list that I have begun, but I want to add more and I have ran out of songs in my head.  The list is a mix of oldies but goodies and new jams (just love that Bieber) so I am open to all suggestions.  Leave me a comment to add to the list and I will def upload it to my Ipod.  Happy Holidays!!!!

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – The Temptations
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Someday At Christmas – Stevie Wonder
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Merry Christmas Baby - Otis Redding
 What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas - The Emotions
Let it Snow – Boys II Men
Give Love on Christmas Day - The Jackson 5
Silent Night – The Temptations
Joy To The World - Whitney Houston
O Holy Night – Celine Dion
Winter Wonderland – Aretha Franklin
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Jackson 5
Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Wish You A Merry Christmas - The Jackson 5
Mistletoe - Justin Bieber
Please Come Home for Christmas – Charles Brown
White Christmas - The Drifters
Sleigh Ride - Ella Fitzgerald
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
This Christmas - Donny Hathaway
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
Frosty the Snowman- The Jackson 5
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Kirk and Blaine of Glee (Sorry I LOVE this show)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Favorite things about Christmas in New Orleans

So I can barely hold my excitement….In less than a week I will be home in New Orleans for Christmas!!! I’m talking good food, a warmer climate and being down in the good ole’ bayou.

1.       Miracle on Fulton Street

Being a belle in the North snow is no longer something that excites me (especially after hearing 10 feet of it feel the night before and I still must commute to work the next day).  But my mom, the original belle gets like a kid in Disneyland when we go here.  There are these ‘snow machines’  that go off every 20 minutes and blow clusters of bubbles (snow in New Orleans is the miracle) and kids (and my mom) get to have a little bit of a white Christmas in New Orleans.

2.      A Cajun Christmas by James Rice

This is such a classic!!  Our teachers would read this to us all the time in elementary school during the holidays.  The author James Rice even came one year and actually read the story to us himself!  How can an alligator named Gaston driving a sleigh ever be forgettable!!??

3.     Celebration in the Oaks

This is one of the largest light shows in the country.  My parents used to take us on the driving tour – this is when you actually sit in your car and drive through the park while seeing all the beautiful lights.  This way your parents don’t have to worry about you touching things and running off.  I haven’t been in years but this year I am going and this time for a switch I will be bringing my mom instead of her bringing me.  There is also a synthetic ice skating rink which I can’t wait to get on and of course there is a light exhibit to who else but Gaston the alligator ;)

4.       Mom’s Egg Nog 

My mom has a saying about my cooking, “If you know how to make it, then there is no need for me to get your recipe.”  Essentially she is saying, if she can’t cook it I must cook it for her on demand.  I have taken the same approach on her egg nog.  It’s non-alcoholic since she has made it for us since we were kids, but it’s delicious.  My favorite part is that she makes a meringue topping for it which acts like marshmallows would in hot chocolate.  I have already called and told her this is expected to be on the menu when I land.

Have holiday favorites that you would like to share – please spill I love to hear about what others do for the holidays!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Frugalistic Friday Find: Rent the Runway

Happy Friday everyone!!!  Ok so we have all seen the holiday ads with the couple in front of a fireplace or next to a white tree with a white snowy background. You know the ones with the gorgeous and impeccably dressed couple wearing some label you can barely afford to wear on a normal day, much less after swiping your credit card so much from being in the ‘holiday spirit’ and giving mood.  Though after all that giving don’t we all deserve to look fabulous as we open our gifts under the tree....?  

I just recently discovered a site called Rent the Runway which allows you to rent actual looks that were seen on the runway or worn by the Hollywood elite.  They even have began renting the accessories which we all know truly make or break an outfit, so you can be glam from head to toe.  The best part is that you get to choose 2 sizes so if one doesn’t fit you have the chance to still be able to wear the dress for your event.  One of my favs is a one shoulder dress by Pencey, with just enough sparkle and it leaves a shoulder out for the perfect over the shoulder pose for the camera!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Mixology

So every holiday 'hostess with the mostest' has their special something to make their party shine.  Each year I try to keep things lively and give guests something new to ooh and ahh about.  Last year I added sweets to the menu and baked pumpkin pecan chocolate chip cookies (yummy – will give this recipe later).  This year I want to liven the mood with a few new drinks to the cocktail menu.  After a bit of research I have picked my top choices and did a test run on how they would taste.  After a few tweeks for my personal preference I have a few new signature cocktails to add to my mixology lab.

Cherry Gingria

  • 4 ounces of cherry syrup (this ended up being the whole 4 oz bottle I purchased)
  •  ½ a wine glass of gin (yes, I used a regular wine glass as a measurement tool)
  • 20 ounce bottle club soda (I used Schweppes)
  • Glass of red wine (one glass of Robert Mondavi Merlot – I had at home)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Fresh or frozen raspberries (I had frozen)

I used a pitcher so that I could make a batch rather than the 1 drink as per the original recipe made.  Just an FYI ladies, in the kitchen when I am creating, I am like Emeril – I don’t really measure I use ‘a little bit of this’, ‘a few shakes of that,’ and literally a glass – which equals a cup of anything.  When baking I am more precise, but with cooking and mixing I can be more free :).  

Pour the cherry juice and gin into the pitcher and stir.  Next add the club soda.  I added about 12-15 ounces.  I just eye balled it, because you don’t want the mixture too light as this is a sangria, so red is the way to go. Next pour in the red wine of your choice and stir.  I had Merlot on hand so that’s what I used.  Next throw in the cherries and raspberries and violá you are done!

For an extra kick I actually added the cherries and raspberries in and let it sit over night (like a real sangria).  Also, when I serve this for my holiday party I plan on taking a few Bellini tumblers and adding a sugar rim just to make it a little prettier.  Again this was made for my taste.  I have a HUGE sweet tooth.  If you would like it less sweet cut back on the cherry syrup and use more wine and club soda.

Pomecranapple Bellini’s

I always serve a non alcoholic drink that looks fancy as a courtesy to the designated (person who picked the short straw) driver.  They keep us and everyone around us safe and off the road for the holidays and deserve a treat.  So instead of letting them have a simple soda I try to make non-alcoholic cocktail just so they can have something to toast with at the end of the night. This recipe originally comes from Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network but I made a few changes.  It originally used cranberry juice and to me cranberry is a little bitter, so I swapped it out for cran-apple juice and it worked just fine.  So I call these my Pomecranapple Bellini’s (long word I know)  Also, I make this as a batch but I hide the pitcher in the fridge and allow the designated drivers to know where to find it.  Last time I made a designated driver punch bowl and put it out with the rest of the holiday spread it was spiked before the end of the night :).

  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup unsweetened cran-apple juice
  • 1 (25.3 fluid ounces) bottle sparkling water
  • Pitcher or punch bowl (at your own risk)

Add the pomegranate juice and cran-apple juice to pitcher and stir well. Slowly pour in the sparkling water and let chill.

Although the original recipe calls for 1 ½ cup of a simple syrup I only used 1/2 cup because when I changed the cranberry juice for cran-apple it took away a lot of the bitter tang you get and it became sweeter.  

So these are my mixology holiday specials for my party!  Hope you have a chance to try and enjoy!!