Christmas Traditions: The Nutcracker Ballet

Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutcracker. (I took my youngest son once, but he loudly complained that there was too much dancing.)

We go to a matinee in the city and eat lunch at a fancy hotel before we go. We dress for the occasion. This year, I'm thinking of wearing my tulle skirt because if the ballerinas can wear it, then so can I.

I love the National Ballet's production of the Nutcracker because the Sugar Plum Fairy comes out of a giant Fabergé egg! I love Fabergé, so this is just about the best thing ever.

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If you cannot get your ballet fix live, Hallmark's A Nutcracker Christmas is cute. It's highly implausible, but that's part of its charm.


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Do you have any holiday traditions you look forward to year after year?

Last Minute Gifts: Putti Fine Furnishings

Long before Stepford, when I was in Toronto, I lived around the corner from Putti Fine Furnishings. This was the prettiest store in town and always had lovely things for sale. They now have an online store and expedited delivery so if you are still lallygagging with your Christmas List, get on over there already. 




They sell Cire Trudon candles, which are everything.  My favourite are the Madeleine Taper Candles in pink or black.


This Gold Glass Cherub Ornament would brighten up someone's Christmas tree. 

They have a gorgeous selection of goods from Designers Guild that would be perfect for someone on the Nice list. This Alexandria Amethyst Wallet is very pretty. 




Ditto for this Christian Lacroix pillow.




Happy shopping! 

Xx



Christmas Traditions: Christmas Cakes

First off, this guy.




Are y'all following Fozzie the Fluffy Frenchie? The IG feed will give you all the feels. Teddy is super jealous.



Speaking of strong feelings: I hate fruitcake.

That's not entirely true. I like a very light fruitcake, absolutely soaked in rum. It's hard to find.

I like other desserts a lot more. I love Italian pastries at Christmas. Give me a cannoli over fruitcake any day of the week. We are lucky to have a gorgeous Italian bakery and deli not that far from where we live. So I can feast on this and this and this.






Also, rum balls.

I've made The Philly Crean Cheese Rum Ball since high school, when I made it with 1/4 bottle of overproof rum.

(Thanks, Patricia, for pointing out the Kraft online recipe weirdness. I've scanned my original cutout from the 1980s and added it here. I go heavier on the rum than suggested...)




They were runny but very popular.

Isn't this sign perfect?



You can just buy a cake whenever you want. Isn't being an adult awesome?

What is your dessert preference over the holidays?

XO

The Best of Online Gifts: Wolf and Badger

OK, lambs. Tick tock. If you've not completed your Christmas gift shopping yet, you need to get on that, or on December 23 you will be at some mall wrestling with someone over the last Taylor Swift perfume gift set.

While clicking around the web with my one good eye, I happened upon Wolf and Badger. I once wrote a book called Engage the Fox about anthropomorphized animals to teach business strategy so you know I'm all over the name. They have beautifully curated goods that are ethically made by independent designers. They have shops in London and New York and ship around the world.



Look at these Bee Tassel Earrings. They'd be fabulous for a holiday party.






This Santa Maria Silk Cushion is striking.

I love a smart notebook like this Pocket Notebook from Sloane.




I adore coin earrings. I had a pair in the 80s and think they are due for a comeback. These Malachite Coin Earrings are lovely.

Are you all done shopping or are you taking your chances at the mall this year?

Xx

Christmas Traditions: O Christmas Tree


As far as I'm concerned, this is how one should get a Christmas Tree.


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(Honestly, are Sarah Vickers and Kiel James Patrick not the cutest? They are serious couple goals. And their new baby is everything.)

Because we have a new puppy, we have a disaster of a tree.

Behold the Teddy Zone...

It just might be the saddest tree in the world. It's fake and, since Teddy likes to use the bottom branches as a launching pad to the top, the bottom of the tree is all bent. The ornaments have been moved to the top half of the tree and the whole things looks terrible. I think we might go out and get a real tree, which has been a tradition of ours for years. My children and I have even volunteered at a charity tree lot in the past, since we are so wedded to the concept of real. I have a plan to put one on the porch outside so we can manage our puppy and our allergies.

I'm feeling a little maligned here...

But even if we don't get a second tree, we can always go to a tree farm. Because everyone knows it's more about the drive and the hot chocolate than it is about the tree. As long as I get sap all over my good winter jacket and have some mini marshmallows, I don't even need a tree. Mind you, the drive home will not be as fun without going 2 miles an hour and having someone monitor the sunroof to make sure the tree is still there!

Do you cut your own tree, go to a tree lot, or pull the tree out of the box in the basement?

XO




Christmas Traditions: Charitable Gifts from the Heart

Ok, are these guys not the cutest?


They are leaning like they've had a little too much eggnog at the Christmas luncheon, no?

They also make a great gift from World Vision Canada.

No, you don't get to bring them home, but you can provide them to a family as a source of income and help bring economic resources to people who need them most. (For my American readers, you can visit World Vision USA. UK readers can visit World Vision UK. Australian readers can visit World Vision Australia. Other readers can find the correct links here.)

World Vision also sells tangible fair trade gifts if you want a little something something under the tree. I picked up this adorable Heart on Your Sleeve Sweatshirt from World Vision Canada. Because hearts and tartan are everything.



I'm also loving this heart-shaped cheese board.

Giving from the World Vision catalogue has been a long standing tradition in my family. You can hear me talk about it on today's See Hear Love show. Bonus: the Old Navy gold pants make another appearance. 





In the immortal words of Starbucks, go forth and Give Good. It will make a world of difference this Christmas!

XO

*World Vision is a partner of See Hear Love, where I am a blogger. But I've loved them and supported them long before that!

Feeling the J Crew Love!

OK, J Crew has had some bumps over the years and we all wish we could get in a time machine and go back to the 2005 era of amazing Final Sales. But they've had some cute pieces of late and just like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, I really hope they make it!

Here are some cute pieces to carry you through holiday parties and into the New Year. Most of them are 40% off today with free shipping.



I have an old Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti dress that has a similar vibe to this Starry Tulle Top. I'd love this over jeans for a festive Christmas open house party. It's that fancy/not fancy thing that J. Crew has done so well in the past.



A true teenager of the 1980s, I am still obsessed with velvet hair bows. I used to have one that I sported with Laura Ashley dresses as a teen. So, obviously, I am obsessed with this one.



Is this not the cutest t-shirt? Champagne is always a good idea!



I'm thinking waaaay in advance here, but is this Wrap Skirt in Jacquard Hearts not adorable for Valentine's Day? It would be sweet at a New Year's Eve party too with a simple black t-shirt.

Are you taking advantage of any of the sales to build your winter wardrobe or are you still in the crazy of Christmas gift shopping?

Xx

Kate's Red Dress is Everything



I interrupt my bed rest for a moment to talk about Princess Kate's red dress. First off, thank you so much, Patricia, for telling me about the blog, The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor. It's splendid and will provide excellent reading as the royal wedding approaches. Bonus: they cover royal fashion from all over the world! 

They showed Kate's berry-coloured Elodie Tunic Dress from GOAT and it is everything! The ruffle neck and cuff details: so festive!


Here it is, in a closeup.



So pretty.

Do you have a new holiday frock this season? Are you inspired by Kate's look?

Christmas Gifts for the Person Who Has It All - Day 12

Today is the 12th day of Christmas. According to the carol, it was quite a splendid day filled with drummers, pipers, lords, ladies, maids, swans, geese, golden rings, calling birds, french hens and a partridge in a pear tree*. I do hope Harry and Meghan's wedding encapsulates all of these elements! For such a lavish final day of gift ideas, I wanted a lavish list. I will not be receiving any of these items as my big gift is a new cistern - because we are glamourous like that - but I can enjoy them from afar.



A pair of Theodora Cuffs by Verdura is about as glam as it gets. They are limited edition so if you want to buy someone a set, you'd better get on the phone pronto.




Candice Bergen (yes, that Candice Bergen) will customize your designer tote for a fee that she donates to charity. I am obsessed with her dog paintings on Goyard totes. I'm pretty sure I need Teddy's face on my bag!



Click Bergen Bags to see more and follow her on Instagram.




I've loved the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watches since forever. They are crazy spendy, but are two watches in one (you can see them flip in the little video in the link.) Unfortunately, Santa does not think I've been that good this year...



I'm on a mailing list for Tarquin Bilgen. I have no idea why since I've never had that kind of money to spend on things, but it's such a beautiful list that I love to get it nonetheless. Look at these French Empire Wall Lights from the 1820s. I love lions and gold! If you have £3,950 jingling around in your pocket, they could be yours.



As some readers know, I'm obsessed with the idea of an old farmhouse as a place to stash all of the kids during the holidays once we move into a smaller century home in town. I'm kind of digging this 1750s farmhouse, which scratches the itch for an old place, a place with some land, a barn, and a cute village within stumbling distance. The dining room, pictured above, is everything. Plus, Dutchess County sounds like a place I could hang my hat... One can dream!

Finally is a gift one could give - especially if you are a hockey team or a school or an office. You can help to fill a stable in the developing world to help an entire community. Pretty jewels and watches are lovely, but a meaningful gift that helps someone is the loveliest gift of all.


I've had so much fun pulling together these gift lists as I prepared for my surgery. I'm dipping in and out of social media now, but have to limit my time online until I get the green light from my surgeon. Going forward, I'll focus on some fun Christmas activities to enjoy as we count down to December 25!

If you missed the See Hear Love show on Peace yesterday, you can catch it on YouTube. We discuss connecting with God's peace during this crazy holiday season and I wear a side angle of gold pants on national TV and look slightly like a wrapped ham! There is lots of encouraging content and it's worth a view if you are a believer or are curious about faith...



XO

***

* As it turns out, The Twelve Days of Christmas carol is not about filling one's home with people and birds after all, but rather alludes to more spiritual gifts. According to the UK Christmas Carol site, this is what the song really means:

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

That makes a lot more sense. I thought all of those birds seemed a bit much!

Christmas Gifts for the Art Lover - Day 11

If you have a friend who is an art lover, you'll know how hard it is to buy anything for them. If you share their taste, you can pick up a reasonably priced piece at Artspace or Citizen Atelier, but art tends to be a deeply personal thing and hard to buy for others.

Instead, you can gift them an art-themed item that will appeal to the most lofty of tastes.



I adore this teapot by Yinka Shonibare MBE at Artspace.



And this Pony plate by Maurizio Cattelan.



This Louis Bourgeois cup and saucer from MOMA's shop is cute.

For the more traditional art lover, The Metropolitan Museum of Art sells wonderful costume jewelry that is a nod to works of art within the museum.


The black and white pearl earrings are based on Venus in Front of a Mirror, by Peter Paul Rubens. They are a conversation starter, and Princess Diana reportedly owned sets in black and white.





My Go To is a Tim Walker book since I adore his playful photographs. The original edition is out of print but you can pick up Tim Walker Pictures (Alternative edition), which is a slightly smaller version of all of the same prints.

Wishing you an artful shopping experience!

PS: If you live in Canada, you can catch me on YES TV tonight at 8:30pm local time discussing Advent. You can also catch the show at SeeHearLove.com.


Christmas Gifts for the Cook - Day 10

I have a confession to make: I am not a cook. I am not a baker either. I do like to eat, however, which is why I so appreciate my friends better skilled in the culinary arts! Here is a list of gifts I think they'd love. 





Now, I just happen to think that the Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Tartan Round Dutch Oven is everything. It's just so very cute. It's totally worth me purchasing just to heat up my box of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup whenever someone in the house gets sick. And for the real cook, this would be divine. I have a cast-iron dutch oven in Le Creuset's much more boring blue shade and it cooks things up like a dream. And we all know that tartan makes everything even better. 




How adorable is this Snowman Pepper Mill? Doesn't he make you feel cheerful? I'll bet that any cook would love him. 



A lot of cooks seem to be very passionate about their salt. While there seems to be a forever argument about which salt is best, Fleur De Sel De Guérande is always a contender. At $7, it's a nice gift for the gourmet.



Instead of bringing a bottle of wine to your favourite foodie's home (how intimidating to select is that!), bring a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Acetaia Malpighi Balsamo of Modena was named best all-round vinegar by Bon Appetit. Whether your friends like to cook with it, dip bread in it, or pour it over ice cream, this gift is sure to please.

***

Today marks the second Sunday of Advent, a time when we think about Peace. Tomorrow, I'll be appearing on See Hear Love (and on YES TV in Canada at 8:30PM local time) to talk about peace. I hope you'll swing by to watch.

I hope you are having a peaceful season.


Xx

Christmas Gifts for the Après-Ski Set - Day 9

If you have skiiers on your list you might be lost for ideas. Instead of a new helmet or goggles, why not buy them something for after the lifts have closed? Even those who do not ski can après-ski with the best of them. Here are some ski-appropriate gift ideas for the people on your list.




What says ski chalet food more than cheese fondue? This Cheese Fondue Set by Emile Henri is as pretty as it is practical.



Nothing says cozy to Canadians more than Hudson Bay Company Point Blankets and we love this HBC Scottish Cape for sitting by the fire after a hard day on the slopes.



After a day of leg-punishing black diamond runs, there is nothing more soothing than a hot bath infused with mineral salts. AHAVA makes a Muscle Soothing Mineral Bath Salt that's sure to be welcomed.



Alp-n-Rock makes some of the coziest shirts around and their winter-themed crewnecks are lovely and warm and beloved by every skiier I know.




When I first saw quilted ski skirts, I thought they were the silliest thing around. Of course, I thought they were for skiing! But then, I bought one and they are absolutely genius. At the end of the day, you can shed your snow pants, throw this skirt over your long undies, and voila: you look perfect for après-ski! Lots of companies make them, but I love the ones by Skhoop.

Happy ski shopping!


Christmas Traditions: The Nutcracker Ballet

Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutcracker. (I took my youngest son once, but he loudly complained that there was too much dancing...