{A Quick Look Back} 2014 Winter Solstice Celebration

ABCDdesign-event-of-the-yearBrass-Barcart-Red-Tulips-Black-Mirror-Wall-Snow-Globe-CollectionSquare-Christmas-Wreath-on-a-Matte-Black-WallSnow-Globe-CollectionSnowglobe-Collection-Red-Berries-and-BookcaseTypically I start Holiday Bakery Week in Connecticut. On Monday morning, I preheat the oven while I drop the Mr at the train to New York City. It’s still dark, but I don’t bother going home. I sit in the parking lot and wait for the grocery store to open. I go home and bake from 8am-8pm for the entire rest of the week. This year my baking days were cut by two, but I don’t think our party guests noticed any significant difference in the amount of cookies I produced.Homemade-Christmas-CookiesI woke up on Monday that week in New York City after completing my holiday shopping and gift wrapping. I made a quick run up to the NYC flower market before I headed to The Country House. I also had to stop at the cabinet makers to put down a deposit for the New Old Stone House Kitchen and Butler’s Pantry.Setting-the-tone-for-a-partyThat “quick stop” ended up being a 90 minute meeting where we discussed the knitty gritty design details. Aside from confirming the design that I wanted, I also picked hinges, crown and base details. By the time I picked up 20lbs of Flour, 20lbs of Sugar, 10lbs of Butter, 6 bags of Walnuts, 2 bags of Confectioners and Light Brown Sugar I needed to get started – the sun was about to set.Hunt-Country-Furniture-Custom-Kitchen-CabinetsI figured I had to make the tabletop arrangements sometime, so I might as well finish up my decorating and start baking early Tuesday. Earlier on Monday at the flower market I decided this would be the year of the red berry. I arranged the branches (without greenery) in polished brass flower containers I picked up from Jamali that morning. These were seriously the easiest arrangements, EVER! And quite striking, if I may say so myself. Want to add dramatic impact to a flower arrangement? Limit yourself to one flower/branch. Just be sure you have an abundance.Neutral-living-room-with-Red-Berries-in-a-Brass-ContainerTauren-the-Christmas-PoodleRed-Berries-in-Brass-Containerscandle-sticks-with-greeneryThe Mr gave me an early Christmas Prize, one that I had asked for. A Standard Poodle Cookie Cutter. I started making them black -just like Tauren Poodle- wearing colorful Christmas Sweaters, but as they came out of the oven I realized that folks may find black cookies off-putting, like they are charred/burned/or taste like licorice. Grandmas-Sugar-Cookie-RecipeDo you know people do that? (Apply a flavor to the cookie depending upon the color.) For some reason with the sugar cookies if I make it pink or yellow people will say “I like the lemon flavored ones the best!” Meanwhile, the flavor is vanilla, no matter the color. I find it strange how very much the visual appearance will effect the eating experience. To my surprise, there wasn’t one black cookie left at the end of the night!Dog-Cut-Out-Cookies-in-Christmas-Sweaterscut-out-cookiesNeedless to say, I with my black cookie worry I pulled away from Poodles in sweaters and started making mini-stars, this year in red, gold, and green. Those colors became a predominant theme for me this year. I started the season by placing my amber pickling jars on the kitchen counter topped with my bulb “trees” from when we first got married. As I started arranging the cookie bar, I brought out my red, green and amber cake pedestals and footed green bowl.Christmas-Cookies-for-DaysI had put a few Turquoise sweaters on my black Poodle cookies earlier in the week. I decided to pull the Turquoise cake plate out too. All of a sudden the color palette united and my heart was beating fast in anticipation of the pretty making that I was creating in my kitchen. THIS feeling is just one of the reasons why I love to throw a party. I love sharing good food and plentiful libations in a visually pleasing environment. (I swear it makes everything taste better!)
Pol-Roger-ChampagneSt-Lucias-Day-Party-2014Rum-Cookies-in-a-Crystal-BowlIn a way, it is like performance art. Setting the scene (each year making it different from the last) followed by the act of preparation in the baking, creating the display the day of, thinking about lighting and how it will set the tone for the evening. I was buzzing with anticipation, and eager to share this environment I created. And then (of course) there is the party throwing! It is a delight to watch everyone dig in, enjoy themselves and eagerly fill their cookie boxes and tins with tissue and baked goods. This time with friends is what makes memories.Party-at-ABCDdesigns-HouseBTW: this year I bought my wrapping paper, gift boxes and tins at A Cooks Companion. (I also got my dusting sugars there too. They have EVERY color in the rainbow, including black!) After the next few weeks I plan to bring all my knives in for sharpening. I just love this little independently owned cooking supply store!Until-next-year