Hello, hello! I hope all who celebrated had an excellent time over the holiday season.
For us, this year the holidays felt nice and long, because we had several small get-togethers with friends and family, rather than one big party. So, this spread the festivities out over a few weeks.
If you’d like to see, here’s a little look at what we got up to …
The fun began with an evening of dinner and a movie with Meghan.
We started with some “Mushroom, Goats Cheese, Feta and Puff Pastry Appetizers” that I made. (I ended up making these twice over the holidays, hoping to get a photo in daylight to accompany the recipe that I’ll be sharing soon. With the gloomy skies and the sun going down at around 5, I failed on getting a good shot though, so I guess I’ll have to make them again!)
Nick made Sheppard’s Pie and a green salad for dinner.
^ Meghan brought over some decadently delicious chocolate treats from Godiva. ^
The movie we watched was Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak”. After we’d seen the wonderful exhibition of the movie director’s collection at the art gallery, in the show “At Home With Monsters”, and really enjoying the displays that included props and costumes from this movie, we simply had to see it, so I borrowed it from the library.
It’s a beautiful looking movie, which I see has just been added to Canadian Netflix, so if you’re a subscriber, no need for a library copy. I look forward to watching it again.
Another evening, Chops and Leslie came over for dinner.
^ There’s one of the little stockings I crocheted (and posted about here), containing a lipstick and some gloss. ^
^ Jägermeister toast. ^
Nick made Cheese Fondue, using Swiss and Gruyere cheeses. There were cubes of French bread for dipping, and an assortment of pickles on the side. He also made a Moroccan Brown Rice and Chickpea salad.
I’d forgotten to discuss dessert plans with Leslie, so we both ended up making something. She brought a great Coconut and Chocolate Cheesecake, and I’d made Chocolate Crepes and Sauce (following this recipe, which enclosed some peppermint ice cream.
^ We ended up having a bit of each. ^
Leslie also brought us some gorgeous short-bread cookies, which I somehow forgot to get a picture of :( They were good while they lasted!
As has happened in many parts of the world, we’ve had extremely cold weather here in Toronto, so going outside has been kept to a minimum. That said, I did get out to see another movie with Meghan — Sophia Coppola’s version of “The Beguiled”, at the TIFF Theatre. Afterwards, we had a lovely warm cocktail in the cafe restaurant there, which was made with chai tea and Amaretto.
^ Having a warm cocktail at Canteen in the TIFF building. ^
^ Shop windows on Queen Street West ^
Unfortunately, after that, I got sick so had to miss a lunch and shopping date with my friend Julie, and a trip to the theatre to see The Lorax with my friend Stella. I was sad about that, but it leaves something to look forward to, as we will reschedule!
Then, it was Nick’s birthday. We’d already been out to celebrate the occasion earlier, when we went to see the excellent Austra concert at The Velvet Underground (written about in this post), so on the actual day of his birthday, we stayed home and he cooked. This was totally his choice, as I offered to take him out for dinner, but the man loves cooking so who was I to argue. I helped out as much as I could, and kept him company in the kitchen!
^ Nick’s birthday presents, plus and IOU for his choice of footwear at Doc Martens. ^
^ Reusing the gift topper from this tutorial. ^
He was interested in trying to prepare a new-ish kind of steak that we’d seen discussed in this Jamie Olive video. From what I understand, butchers only recently began offering that particular cut of beef in a steak format, and chefs are all over it. It’s a relatively inexpensive cut, that is delicious when cooked properly. So, Nick was keen to give it a go.
It turned out very nicely, prepared exactly as Jamie suggests in the video, except he used a sprig of fresh oregano rather than thyme and added some sauteed mushrooms and whole black peppercorns to the sauce at the end. He made thinly cut frits to go with it.
^ Since this was a special occasion, we picked the wine from the Vintages section of the LCBO, this French red, Xavier Vignon Arcane XV Le Diable 2015, which went perfectly with the meal. ^
Christmas Eve was spent sharing a bottle of Prosecco (we enjoyed this one, Ruffino) and some Tourtiere. It was Nick’s first attempt at making this French Canadian traditional holiday dish, but I grew up with it. His version turned out very nicely, so I imagine it will become an annual dish for us.
After dinner, we opened our gifts.
When he gave me the first package I was to open, Nick said that it might make me sad, but he had to get it when he found it. (He got it at Valhalla on Queen West — that’s “his” shop, a place he’s been going to for years, to get me gifts and cards, that I’m not “allowed” to go to.
^ The sleeping cat pillow, that looks so much like our dearly loved and recently departed Eddie, was created by New York artist Shannon Broder. Her Etsy shop BroderPress, is here.^
Here are some of our decorations …
^ I described how to make this “Ornament Display Wall Hanging” in this post. It’s 5 years old now, and still in use all year long, hung with some vintage crystal pendants a friend gave me. At Christmas I just add some ornaments to the crystal. ^
^ I got this silver-plated trivet, festooned with cherubs, in a mixed lot from an estate sale. It seemed too pretty to hide under hot pots on the table, so I’ve hung it on the wall and decorated it with a few vintage trimmings. ^
^ My cousin Lisa and her little girl Delilah made me this beautiful ballerina ornament, which we received in the mail along with a beeswax pillar candle and some homemade gingerbread cookes. So much love. ^
Later on Christmas Eve, we watched a movie that I’d just given Nick — Brian de Palma’s 1974 cult classic, “Phantom of the Paradise”.
It was a good find, which I got at “Sonic Boom” on Spadina. We’d been recently talking about it, after seeing the actual mask that’s in the movie on display at the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at the art gallery. (My photo of the mask is here, if you’d like to see). Nick had watched this movie twice in a row at a review theatre, when he was fourteen, and hadn’t seen it since. While he liked it enough to watch it twice back-to-back, he hadn’t really understood it back then, so was very pleased that I’d managed to get him a copy.
I was pretty happy while paying for it at Sonic Boom, because it was the last one in the store and possibly the only one for sale in Toronto. After seeing what I was buying, the guy at the counter asked if I’d seen the mask at the gallery, commenting that it was the best part of the whole exhibit. If Nick had been there, he would have agreed!
I’d never seen the movie before and now am also a fan.
Christmas Day was spent with family at my sister and brother-in-law’s place. Unfortunately my parents weren’t able to make it at the last minute, due to very bad weather, which was too bad. They had a houseful as it was though, and pulled it off with cool calmness and a cheerful demeanor.
^ Me and my cat-nephew Frankie. ^
^ Our gracious hosts. ^
We’d not been able to see our friend Andrea before Christmas, so we were happy to get together with her afterwards, when she came over for dinner.
^ It did my heart good to see her wearing the cowl I crocheted for her birthday (seen in this post, with instructions. ^
There were some celebratory Spanish Coffees!
We had that second batch of “Mushroom, Goats Cheese, Feta and Puff Pastry Appetizers” that I mentioned at the beginning, and a bowl of Nick’s homemade ravioli.
^ I just can’t look at this picture without smiling. ^
After dinner, we got cozy and watched a couple of movies, chosen because Andrea had never seen either. She has introduced us to so many good movies, that it was nice to be able to introduce her to a couple of gems. We began with “Phantom of the Opera” and then watched “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Excellent fun!
And that wraps up Christmas! I’ll share our New Years’ Eve in the next post.
[Aside: Further proof that this man loves cooking … as I’ve been typing this, I’ve been hearing the “squeak, squeak, squeak” of Nick’s hand-cranked pasta machine coming from the kitchen, as he makes more ravioli!]
Wishing you a very happy 2018! Thank you for reading this, and for all the visits you’ve made to my site. Your online company is appreciated.