A holiday house tour

By this afternoon, we will be officially on holidays. Danny will have tidied his desk, picked up an excited Noah from school, and we’ll have welcomed them home with hugs and back thumps.  Two whole weeks of vacation begins!

We have snow on the ground and the Christmas cards are in the mail. Apparently a major snowstorm is on it’s way, but we have enough tourtiere and cookies in the freezer to weather the weather, whatever the weather. My refrigerator is packed with cream for eggnog, fresh apple cider for hot spiced cider and other staples as we’re hosting my sister, my brother in law, and their three dogs for the holidays and I like to be prepared!

For a little change, today’s post is a mini tour of our main floor and a few of my favorite holiday decorations. I tend to keep things very simple, and use a lot of natural elements when I decorate. I don’t like to buy a lot of things and prefer to work with what I have on hand, like my centerpiece of candles in used jam jars.

It’s rustic and homey, and suits our homestead just fine.

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From the kitchen: a simple centerpiece of tea lights in jam jars

Last weekend I hosted my annual holiday cookie swap where ten of my friends descended into my kitchen laden with over a thousand cookies. There’s a reason they call it the most wonderful time of the year – cookie parties, right?

Anyway, I’m not planning to share the details of the event as I have in the past,  however, I wanted to quickly show you my simple centerpiece for the table. I’m all about natural decorating for the holidays, using items already around the house or found in nature, and this centerpiece fit the bill perfectly.

I raided my jar cupboard and set out nearly every empty jar I had on a (homemade) burlap runner. I set tea light into the jars, tossed a few pine cones around them, and in a few minutes, my centerpiece was finished.

Hit the jump for more images and a short list of items needed to make your own warm, festive centerpiece.

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My cookbook gift guide & Bite this Book 2012 recap

In my opinion, the gift of a cookbook – to yourself or anyone – is about the best present to unwrap on Christmas morning. Today’s recommended gift guide is a collection of cookbooks that were all featured in my monthly Bite this Book feature.

This is not a ‘best of’ list, by any means, but these are the ones I can vouch for, believe in, and cook from. I have cracked their covers and spilled flour on them. I’ve left them stacked up on the kitchen counter, within arms reach because of recipes between their pages that are calling me.

These are the books I am gifting to a bunch of my girlfriends – the vegetarian, the novice home canner, the new mom, the dessert queen, and the gluten-free girls. Ready to see my picks? Pour yourself a coffee and hit the jump.

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My 20 favorite edible gifts (Recipe: Maple Spice Candied Nuts)

Today we interrupt our Home for the Holidays week of giveaways to bring you some personal favorites. We the editors of the six SLM channels are dishing on everything we love about Christmas – songs, books, handmade gifts and more.

It’s probably no surprise that I love to bake, package, and give away edible gifts, and so in this post I’m highlighting a handful of my favorites for your inspiration!

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4 tips for welcoming vegetarians to the holiday table (Veggie Pot Pie)

Written by Jan of Family Bites.

For me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are about coming together around the table to share a special meal with those you love. I’m sure it’s the same for most of you, and I’m certain you’d agree that when it comes to holiday entertaining, most celebration menus lend themselves to focusing on the meaty main dish. And for good reason too. What’s not to love about a turkey roasted to golden perfection, bacon-wrapped anything, and glazed hams? Turns out a lot, if you happen to be a vegetarian.

Meat-laden meals are great if you’re an omnivore, but are certainly less than appealing if you happen to be a veggie eater. All too often, those who opt for a plant-based diet leave a special occasion dinner feeling as though they’ve consumed nothing more than an assortment of side dishes for their feast. While this wouldn’t bother me (and I’m a meat eater) I know that not all vegetarians feel the same way.

After years of planning holiday parties at a catering company, I would often hear from 1) meat-free guests who wished there had been a main course for them to enjoy at the dinner/party they were invited to, and 2) hostesses who felt fatigued by trying to plan a menu that was welcoming and delicious for all, including those who eat a plant-based diet. In fact, when it came to planning Christmas parties, the number one question I received before the holidays was “what should I serve to my vegetarian guest(s)?”

I eventually came up with a few tips for welcoming herbivores to the holiday feast. Each suggestion is a small way to ensure that what’s being served for dinner can be eaten by whoever is lucky enough to be attendance, regardless of their dietary preference. [Read more…]