Did you know December 12th is National Poinsettia Day in the US? To celebrate, I’ve got a tutorial for creating a fun candy cane covered vase for a small poinsettia. The poinsettia is a member of the spurge family and is indigenous to Mexico. Its English name originated from the first US minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the US in 1825. In Mexico the plant is called Flor de Noche Buena or Christmas Eve Flower, which is such a pretty name. The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an anti pyretic. Today, the plant is mostly ornamental and beloved around the world. Did you know that the flowers of the poinsettia are really small and grouped in the yellowish center of the colored bracts? That’s right. The bright red “flowers” of the classic poinsettia are actually its leaves. The bracts can also be pink, cream, orange, pale green or marbled. Now let’s get to this fun project!
Tourtière is the traditional Christmas Eve dish in French Canada. A lightly spiced, finely ground pork pie enveloped in a flakey melt-in-your-mouth crust, it is the center of the réveillon, a midnight feast served after Christmas mass. The addition of cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice is what makes this savory pie so unique. Served by generations of Québécois families, it is a memorable tasting experience should you be lucky enough to be served a slice. So beloved, it has spread far beyond the borders of the province of Québec where it originated.
While most college care packages include cookies, mine held sucre à la crème. Sucre à la crème is a rich caramel candy similar to fudge though distinctively different in its grainier and more crumbly texture. Once you taste it, you will never forget how delicious it is. Although enjoyed any time of the year, it is often the star of the sweet offerings at Christmas in French Canadian homes.
Growing up with a French mother who required little help in the kitchen and was an incredible cook, I was most often enlisted to decorate the table. I’ve been playing with dishes ever since and confess to often planning an entire menu around how a dish will look when served! Creating the ambiance of a gathering is still my favorite part of entertaining and what I am known for. For a Christmas Eve Soirée, a sleighride was my theme. This tablescape can easily be used for a Christmas brunch or dinner. The beauty is that it is a make-ahead décor, which we all could use at this busy entertaining season. Continue reading
I did not grow up with anything close to a themed Christmas tree. So why I started putting up a second tree for me evolved from a growing collection of beautiful ornaments relating to the garden gifted over the years or acquired during travel. I felt these interesting ornaments were getting lost in our family tree and did not have relevance to the rest of my family members, all non gardeners! So with already an overflowing to-do list, I actually find tremendous joy in decorating “my” garden tree. Continue reading
There are times in one’s life when you touch another person in a truly magical way. For me, that was Nana. Nana personified the spirit of Christmas. Her German Christmas Eve parties were legendary and people lined up to get in. When Prince Charming proposed to me in late November, Nana threw us a surprise engagement party and asked everyone to bring a love-themed ornament. Those ornaments are still one of my most treasured possessions. So when Nana was hospitalized in a nursing home over Christmas, I knew I had to do more than bring her an amaryllis or pointsettia. Continue reading
I cannot tell a lie: I am not a fan of pointsettias. A pointsettia topiary however, gets my gardener’s heart beating a little faster. I love bringing natural elements in my holiday decor and the lowly pointsettia lends itself perfectly to a Cinderella transformation. Continue reading
When winter’s chill forces the gardener indoors, I get visions of fragrant clusters of paperwhites dancing in my head! Paperwhites are the original “just add water ” plant and they are surprisingly easy to grow. As much as I like to slow time down and savor one holiday before thinking of the next, if you like fresh paperwhites blooming for Christmas, now’s the time to start forcing these beauties. Continue reading