This year, I candied cranberries for Thanksgiving to add a little pop of color to the pumpkin pie. As I was placing them on the pie, I had the urge to pair them with holly leaf-shaped pie cutouts. I had to remind myself that it was Thanksgiving, not Christmas, and I tucked the idea away for another day.
My mom and I went Christmas shopping the other day and I was wandering around Williams-Sonoma, wondering if it would be unrealistic to stuff an entire suitcase full of things to bring back to Tokyo, when a pretty display of copper cookie cutters caught my eye. And there it was: a big, shiny, copper holly leaf. Mine!
This week was full of Christmas preparations. My mom and I did almost all of our shopping, and I even started wrapping presents TEN DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS! That has to be a record for me. We also decorated the tree (the ornament above is one that I made in first grade), I did some baking, assembled a few gingerbread houses, and worked on a few of my homemade gift projects. All fun things to get into the holiday spirit. My husband arrives in Cleveland tonight, and then I can really feel like it’s Christmas time!”
“Whew. What a whirlwind week. I felt like everything was a priority: shopping! Work projects! Evening engagements! Of course, when EVERYTHING is a priority, nothing ACTUALLY is. I will be spending most of my weekend shopping for gifts and organizing and addressing some more Christmas cards and finding the rest of that tape I put away “in the perfect place!” last year. (Note: whatever that place was, it was NOT perfect since I CANNOT FIND IT.) If you’re also still looking for some easy (but fantastic) last-minute gifts, may I suggest this washi tape set or THIS washi tape set or this set of Field Notebooks? All available on Amazon with Prime Shipping. Easy peasy. ”
* Jonas Peterson is one of my favorite wedding photographers. If you love pretty wedding photos (or amazing travel photos… or gorgeous wildlife photos…) too, check out his recent shoot in Masai Mara, Kenya. I held my breath while scrolling.
Everyone knows about the amazing combination of prosciutto and melon. But what about during the fall and winter, when melons are (understandably) non-existent in the markets? Or if you CAN find melons, they’re pale, rock-hard and inedible? Here is your cold-weather, holiday solution for that famous Italian dish that prefers summertime: just substitute persimmons for the melons.
Without thinking of the swap at all, I asked a coworker what her favorite holiday treats from home were and she mentioned a tasty type of cookie: soft chocolate cookie dough surrounding a minty peppermint patty. WELL. SOLD. I scoured the internet to find a recipe that looked right for my needs and got to work.
We’re not having a Christmas tree this year. If you saw the size of our apartment and the quantity of our belongings, you’d certainly understand. And all right, fine, we’re technically out of town for Christmas. Sure, it makes LOGICAL sense. But what about CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? (If you see me hanging around the decorations in Nordstrom for too long, you’ll know why.)
My goddaughter is a genius. This chocolate and peppermint ice cream sandwich recipe was a group effort between my goddaughter (Angelina), her little sister (Alanna), my mom, Carla and me, but Angelina really deserves the credit for this one. We were hanging out one night when the following conversation happened:
Alanna: Hey Lyssy, can we make ice cream while you’re home?
Me: Sure! What kind?
Me: Yum, ok!
Angelina: Maybe we can take the cream out of Oreos and put the peppermint ice cream inside them instead.
**Stunned silence as we all contemplated her brilliant vision**
Carla: OH. MY. GOD.
Me: Ange, did you just come up with that on your own? Or did you see these somewhere?
Ange: No, I came up with them myself. I was just thinking about Oreos.
“Gah! It’s hard to face the real world after 5 days of serious quality time with one of your favorite people in the whole wide world! Manicures, The Hunger Games, tacos, photo shoots, shopping and Christmas Ale (and port in front of the fireplace, featured in my photo this week!). It was such a fun, crazy and inspirational week.
The timing couldn’t be better, too. Sometimes the hoildays and travel can suck the energy out of you! And Carla is nothing if not energizing and enthusiastic! I should probably call this Weekly Love Letter to Carla, but I just love that girl and am really grateful for the circumstances that allowed me to meet her! If you’re done gagging now, read on for some great inspiration this week.”
“Just before my trip to Ohio, I was lucky enough to meet some favorite folks at an awesome party at Brit+Co sponsored by Chex! We learned how to make several types of Chex Mix Muddy Buddies, decorate gorgeous tins for gifting and style and photograph food. It was such a fun day (AND I got to meet Brit) and I’m so thankful they asked me along.
How do I even mention my wonderful five days with Alyssa in Ohio? Perfection, basically. I mean, every week’s Love Letter could be about how awesome I think Alyssa is, but I try to contain myself. Just imagine several days of getting to hang out with one of your very favorite people who always laughs with you and inspires you and makes everything fantastic. It was that.”
*I love my friend Lila’s roundup of Happy Mail Happy Hour. It was a great night and it’s not just the stationary exchange that’s rad (and BOY is it RAD)- it’s the opportunity to do something you really love surrounded by awesome women. (Thank you, BP, for your organizational excellence, as always.)
* As you probably have noticed, I DIG monograms. Thinking this was made just for me, then: DIY Monogram Wreath.
* Because I can never quite remember, may I present this guide for remembering how to make someone’s last name plural.
We love giving homemade gifts almost as much as we love getting them. Here are some of our favorite food DIYs from the archives that we think would make amazing gifts this holiday season. Alyssa’s planning on giving mason jars of her vanilla bean sugar and Carla’s spiced cashew butter this year. What are some of your favorite food gifts?
“Happy shopping! I’m so jealous of all of you! I’ve been getting Black Friday emails from retailers and I wish I could go hit the malls. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s so much fun as long as you have a good attitude and expect nothing less than complete chaos.
I’m headed back to Ohio for the holidays next week, and Carla is joining me for a few days! I’m so excited to see her and my family. I need some book recommendations for the long flights coming up. Any suggestions? Safe travels to everyone in planes, trains and automobiles this weekend and in the next 5 weeks.”
*10 Cities for Creative People from World of Wanderlust. I’m happy that Tokyo is on this list, because it’s full of inspiration at every turn. But I’m also surprised that San Francisco isn’t on this list, because I think the bay area is full of full of creative, interesting people.
“Did y’all have the best Thanksgiving? I think it was my favorite one ever! This was the first year I haven’t cooked a thing, which was odd and a bit unsettling. The biggest downside? No leftovers! Of anything! I guess it’s not a terrible problem to have since my cookies from the Great Cookie Swap are arriving.
P.S. Did you know Ikea carries party products? The colorful woodland animal theme above was SO cute in store. Tiny Santa hats on each one and it’s a Christmas party in the making! :)”
*I love things. But I ALSO love experiences. This Atlantic article reminds us of how the latter interacts so positively with our happiest moments.
*My friend Will makes Krupnik every year for Christmas and it might be Reason #1 I’m Sad I Don’t Live on the East Coast since you can’t ship it. The delicious drink reminds me of finals and favorite friends and snowy days. Maybe I’ll make my own?