Holiday Treats and Surprises

Yet another holiday has come and about to pass. These annual rituals give the human life meaning, structure, creating connections, eat and laugh together.

Across three countries we share what we cooked and baked.

Surprise Christmas Eve dinner: crab legs!! why not surprise your guests with something non-conventional and oh so easy to make 😉
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2981.jpg

Beet, Arugula, Orange… salad:
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2980.jpg

Skinka! That’s Swedish ham:
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2991.jpg

Klicha; a sweet bread very similar to Challah
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2988.jpg

Mmmm… apple filled tart:
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2989.jpg

Saffron cookies anyone???
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2990.jpg

Zaatar bread, fresh out of the oven
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1c/43864304/files/2014/12/img_2992.jpg

So enjoy yourself and the loved ones, life is about our connections and making memories. We wish everyone in the world peace, love and again PEACE!!

Holiday Gifting Edition

20131110-094133.jpg
We decided to share with you some of our favorite Holiday Gifting ideas. This is usually a wonderful time of the year but also possibly the most stressful – as many try to shop for gifts and worry about giving/not giving.

Giving starts with true care and knowing the people you are giving to. Some of the best things we received were not material gifts at all. Last year, one of the best gifts I received was a lavender eye pillow made by my good friend using lavender from her garden and stitching the pillow herself.

With a few ideas we hope to reduce your stress and make this a great year of giving:

1. Hosting a dinner or potluck
What can be more cozy and fun – we are social creatures. Giving from your time and opening your home to your friends is a great gift in itself.

2. Hand Made
Never gets old to make some of the gifts you are giving. In the process of it, you will even figure out who you care enough to handmade something for or not. We made ceramic owls this year for our nearest and dearest ones; some as desk ornaments an some hanging. See a few examples here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaBote

3. Care Baskets
This a new one for us. This year we are making care baskets filled with easy goodies to give for friends in need. Here are some of the items: gas card, crackers, cheese, fruits, home made cookies,… give practical things that will help them stretch their budget.

For more ideas, we have compiled some of our favorite sites:

For the Artist
Give a gift certificate to a local art studio.

art supplies:
http://www.dickblick.com/

prints and other:
http://fab.com

For the Foodie
Give a gift certificate for a local cooking class.

http://fab.com

http://chefscatalog.com

For the Humanitarian
First, if you can, give to legitimate charities in your city.

Second, do global good, give to legitimate charities that help humanity globally.

For the Fashion Lover

http://fab.com

http://shopbop.com/ci/4/lp/holiday-gift-guide.html

For the Person who has Everything
Surprise them and give them a hug!

Quality always wins over quantity, both for gifts and friends. Giving is not about giving a lot of stuff, it’s in giving meaningfully.
Happy giving!

20131110-094149.jpg

The Art of Cards

20121225-222322.jpg
As I received a few holiday cards, I could not help but admire how some cards were so thoughtfully crafted. I was surprised only because at this digital age where people break up via texting – we don’t expect to really receive cards. Grateful that I still know people who care to handwrite a lovely card.

Pictured above is a card that I just received, hand made by a friend; a simple stitch across the card and few snow flakes. This is the kind of card I will keep for a few years. I admit I occasionally write cards these days – but it’s due to being more selective. No need to send cards to people who will not care. That is a waste of good energy only to get sucked into a black hole. One of the paper companies I admire is the Winged Wheel. Just love their process, design, service, and quality. Wish I had more reasons to write cards so I would keep buying their paper works of art.

I hope you also received at least a few cute and thoughtful cards this season.

Holiday Treats: Mandel Bollar

20121222-195711.jpg
Mandel Bollar, a Swedish favorite cookie is perfect for this time of year. So easy to make, delicious to eat, and looks great. Reminds me of snow and represents the magic of the season (pictured above the peanut butter cups). Here is the recipe – make it and enjoy it with your loved ones!

  • 200 grams mandelmasa (sweet almond paste
  • 200 grams butter (room temperature, soft)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg white to brush on top
  • almond flakes to roll the balls in
  • Mash the butter until it is smooth. Grate the almond paste (medium sized side of grate). Mix the two ingredients, add the flour and mix further. Roll the dough as a log – chill in the fridge for an hour. Cut the log into 40 equal pieces – roll into balls. Brush the tops with egg yolk, and roll in almond flakes.

    Preheat oven to 175 degrees and bake the almond balls for only 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

    Bon Appetit!

    Holiday Surprises – make some real memories!

    20121216-111121.jpg
    This holiday season make some real time with people you really care about. That is the best gift you can give yourself. I baked the above dessert with my dear friend Melanie – and even took this picture together. We surprised ourselves at what a good time we had. Truly being in each other’s presence, baking and laughing, sharing stories from 2012. So stop running around from store to store to buy more stuff that probably you or others don’t need. Spend that time to connect with people in your life – and I don’t mean messaging them on facebook. I chose to bake since its an activity we both love – choose your own activity, whatever that is. What we all really need is to make real memories that nourish our inner being.

    So go ahead give yourself a gift of time and a real memory this holiday!

    (Recipe coming soon – Graham Cracker Almond Coconut Delight)