Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Joyeux Noel!

Vintage French Girls Magazine

Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel!

(Yes, I will be hitting the after Christmas sales tomorrow!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walkers' Nonsuch Toffee

Walkers' Original Creamy Toffee

Don't you love Christmas candy treats?

Looking back one of my favorite Christmas memories was going to Christmas Eve at my Grandma Margaret's (1910-1988) house and having her Christmas candy treats. I only recall her making candy at Christmas time so it was always special. I wish now I had helped her make it so I could have kept her Christmas candy tradition going.

I do have a little Christmas candy tradition of my own with English toffee. We discovered real English toffee travelling to England. Some years I make my own toffee for Christmas from a Martha Stewart recipe. Other years (like this year) I buy packaged English toffee.

Walkers Toffee
(complete with it's own hammer!)

One of my favorite English brands is Walkers' Nonsuch Toffee. They have been making delicious toffee in a little shop in Stoke-on-Trent for over 100 years. It is still a family run business, too!

My nephews love breaking the toffee with the little hammer that comes in the Toffee Break gift pack! The Toffee Break pack features four toffee flavors: original creamy, Brazil nut, famous treacle and fruit and nut. We love them all!

Walkers' Toffee Break Gift Pack

If you are like me this year and don't have time to make Christmas candy, give Walkers Toffee a try. It is available online at most British food companies. I have found it before at Cost Plus World Market and this year at Home Goods.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Traditions!

Our Little Spode Christmas Tree

Did you know that decorating and "lighting" up a Christmas tree is an old German tradition?

German Christmas traditions became popular in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Queen Victoria was almost entirely German descent and was raised with German Christmas traditions. It is her husband though, Prince Albert who is credited with popularizing decorating Christmas trees in England, a tradition he brought from his native German homeland.

In my family growing up, it was always a big outing going to the Christmas tree lot to pick out our tree. Our trees varied through the years but our decorations never did. My Mom saved every ornament my sister and I ever made. Our Christmas trees were always decorated with home-made ornaments, family vintage ornaments, garland and candy canes.

I love Christmas ornaments. I started collecting them way back in high school. I have many different types from country to tea-theme Victorian ones. I used to love decorating different theme trees with them. It's hard to confess but this year the ornaments are still in boxes and I put up a pre-decorated Spode Tree from FTD.

Pre-decorated trees do seem a bit commercial, I know. I really do feel like I am cheating especially since I am a designer putting up a pre-decorated tree. It does however bring convenience and a spirit of Christmas to our little home for my husband and me.

Anthropologie's Christmas Tree

So if you are looking for a designer-inspired creative Christmas tree don't come looking at our house this year. Maybe next year?

For a real head stopper tree though, check out Anthropolgie's idea of a Christmas tree. At least, there are some designers out there still getting creative!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss Dior Cherie

Take me to Paris!
Ooh, la, la..this ad makes me want to go to Paris!

Yesterday while at the hair salon I spotted this adorable ad for Miss Dior Cherie in Vogue magazine. Any view of Paris... always catches my eye!

The ad's rooftop view is similar to the view my husband and I once shared on at the rooftop cafe at the Parisian department store La Samaritaine. We had our very first Croque-Monsieurs enjoying this same spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. Sadly this landmark department store and restaurant have been closed for years now for security reasons.

So Chic! So French!

Then last night I saw the Miss Dior Cherie television commercial. It is so French and adorable. The beautiful young woman is seen prancing around Paris to a catchie French tune Moi je joue sung by Brigitte Bardot. The commercial makes me want to go to Paris even more!

The ad campaign is clever, cute and catchie. No wonder. It is directed by Sofia Coppola!

As for Miss Dior Cherie, it is a new perfume by Dior. If you ask me, I think this darling new ad campaign is going to sell a lot more than just perfume. It is probably going to sell a few airline tickets to Paris, too!

Available at Nordstrom, Macy's and Sephora.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Walkers Miniature Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat Tarts
Perfect for a Holiday Tea Party!

I love British Christmas traditions. For years, I have saved traditional English recipes for Christmastime baking and teatime. One of my favorite magazines to pick up during the holiday season is the BBC's Good Food December issue.

Living in sunny California it is hard to think about Christmas baking when it is warm and sunny outside. When our weather does turn cold it is often, too, late to turn out proper English treats. Most traditional English recipes like fruitcake, puddings and mincemeat need proper time to age. "Stir Up Sunday" was a few weeks ago which is the traditional day to start your Christmas puddings. Of course, I missed it!

Last month my knitting friend Ruth in Oklahoma told me that she was making mincemeat for pies for the holiday season. She has her Grandmother's handed-down recipe and makes mincemeat every year with her Mother. I love that. Inspired by Ruth's baking, I recently purchased Walkers Miniature Mincemeat tarts for the holidays. 

Walkers Luxury Miniature Mincemeat Tarts

So if you're like me and would like a taste of an English Christmas but ran out of time to bake, check out the wonderful range of packaged goodies from Walkers. If you are a fan of Scottish are sure to recognize their packaging!

Walkers Mincemeat Tarts are baked in a village in the Scottish Highlands. Their mincemeat recipe is a combination of apples, currants, sultanas, candied citrus peels & spices...and they really taste homemade!

Happy Holidays!