On My Mind

 Monday Author: Susanne Skinner

But no matter where we are, the internet is here for us, with information we might have missed. You’ve been busy too, so I’ve created a holiday summary to jump start your planning.I am on the road again – three cities in ten days with not a lot of sit-down time for blogging. In fact, the plane is my new office. But no matter where we are, the internet is here for us, with information we might have missed. You’ve been busy too, so I’ve created a holiday summary to jump start your planning.

2015 is winding itself down. Let’s start enjoying the holiday vibe; getting together with friends and sharing the joys of the season. It’s time to put our party pants on and see what the Internet of Things recommends. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Christmas is a state of mind. It’s the perfect time to pull out all the stops and do a little entertaining. It’s all about the cookies and the decorations. I’m not over the top, but I love the inspiration that comes from a combination of Pinterest, Food Network and family traditions.

There is a trend towards keeping things simple and delicious, and on the internet everything has instructions and pictures to help us get it right. Here are my suggestions for getting this year’s festivities off to a great start.

There is a trend towards keeping things simple and delicious, and on the internet everything has instructions and pictures to help us get it right.  Here are my suggestions for getting this year’s festivities off to a great start. Kick things off with an old fashioned cocktail.

The Jack Frost Cocktail is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to drink. It’s fruity, with a base of pineapple and curacao, and looks amazing as a welcoming beverage when you’re hosting. If fruity drinks aren’t your thing, try this Pomegranate Cosmo from my BFF Ina Garten. Its tangy and tart, has a gorgeous red color and pomegranates are in season. 

Just for Christmas Cooking

Some of my recipes — especially the cookies — are only made at Christmas.

Everyone has a favorite holiday cookie and this is one of mine. I have been making these for over thirty years. The recipe was shared by a boyfriend’s mom.  They aren’t hard to make, and once you start eating them you can’t stop. Use unsalted European butter for the best flavor.

Thanks to Gladys (and the internet) for sharing her amazing Butter Pecan Cookies. I slice them very thin and overbake them just a little to get them extra crispy.  Another December regular on our cookie tray is Dorie Greenspan’s intensely chocolate World Peace Cookies. Seriously good. I confess I make these all year long.

One of our favorite restaurants is just over the border in Rhode Island. New England is a small space, so when I say over the border, I mean a thirty minute drive. Al Forno is the epicurean brain child of two amazing chefs — Johanne Killeen & George Germon.

A signature dish from their Cucina Simpatica cookbook is this Rosemary Chicken, which has never disappointed me as a main course. It’s not only plate-licking good; your house will smell amazing.  Fresh rosemary puts it over the top.

Winter Wonderland

A decorating idea I love originally came from a magazine. I purchased a large brandy snifter at a flea market for 50 cents, waiting for inspiration to strike. When I saw this winter scene idea I bought a bag of fake snow at the craft store and 10 minutes later it was done. That’s how easy it is. I have seen variations on this theme using a glass domed cake server and round glass bowls. All of them are genius.

Another simple decoration takes advantage of the outdoors.  A vase filled with pine branches is fragrant and seasonal. If you have fresh red berries available add them in, if not, a quick trip to the craft store will net you some artificial ones.

Peace on Earth

Put yourself in the zone with these two classics. Peace on Earth with Bing Crosby and David Bowie is everyone’s heartfelt wish this season.  Stevie Wonder sings Someday at Christmas echoing our hopes for this world so torn by hate and violence.Put yourself in the zone with these two classics. Peace on Earth with Bing Crosby and David Bowie is everyone’s heartfelt wish this season. Stevie Wonder sings Someday at Christmas echoing our hopes for this world so torn by hate and violence.

My new favorite group is Pentatonix, with beautiful a capella harmonies pulling us into the spirit of holiday music with new riffs on the classics. They will make your evening mellow.

For some New Year’s inspiration listen to the magical voice of Andra Day. There is courage in these words—let’s all enter 2016 with a resolve to stand a little taller in everything we do.

And finally, pull out your old copy of The Snowman and remind yourself why you love this movie. It’s thirty minutes of magical animation that will renew your inner child.

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