Dec 29, 2012

What We've Been Up To This Holiday

The Wisconsin string art I made for my husband, in its new home on top of a bookcase
I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas/White Anglo Saxon Winter Privilege Night (anyone else on here a Schmidt fan?). We really did. My husband has had the entire week off and we've been making the most of this time together; he starts his new job Jan. 2, and it will be back to rare sightings as he works hard to prove himself. 

In the days before Christmas I was hurrying to finish illustrating this book that I wrote for my daughter. It's about a raccoon who's unfairly accused of stealing an egg. In order to clear his name, he has find the real culprit with the help of his friends: fox and squirrel. Lucy was pretty delighted with the book, though she solved the mystery much earlier than I thought:

I also once again made a Yule Log for our Christmas Eve celebration with friends. It's made with chocolate cake, chocolate mousses, and chocolate ganache. The mushrooms you see are made of meringue and cocoa. It's an amazing dessert, worth writing about. But there's always a point in making it when I scream, "I'm NEVER doing this again!" and everybody in my family runs away as fast as they can. It requires so many steps — like a whole day of prep, baking, whisking and assembling, and the crucial rolling of the mousse-topped cake is a difficult task I always mess up. I'll probably make it again next year. That's how good it is.

On the eve of Christmas Eve, we went to our friends' apartment for a little party. It was a little late to bring along a kid, but I campaigned hard for us all to brave the bus ride to Washington Heights. And it was an amazing night thanks to our friends, performers both, who are so generous with their talents. My four-year-old was ready to join the circus after a night spent spinning plates, juggling, and watching our friends perform their hilarious faux hypnotism act. Matt also made everyone pipe cleaner mustaches: 

It's so worth breaking routine for making memories with friends.

On Christmas Eve we went to our good friends'  apartment in Inwood, where we ate some traditionally American dishes as well as Dominican food, and — of course — the Buche de Noel (Yule Log) cake. We sang carols, cuddled their baby, and tried to keep the excited energy to a manageable level for these two:

Soul sisters
 My kid was the most gracious gift-getter this Christmas. Everything was amazing. All of it was her favorite. She was all smiles for the entire day, no tantrums, no whining. A Christmas miracle:

Yesterday we went skating at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was definitely weird for this Canadian to ice-skate in the shadow of the elevated 1 train. There were more people hanging on the boards than I have ever seen. But at $13/person I can understand why our neighbors here in the Bronx aren't making skating a regular winter activity. It was more than we could afford, but we did it anyway, and it was so worth it. Lucy took to it like a true (half) Canadian. 

I haven't sewn a thing these past few weeks, which causes me a little guilt, but there's an alleged blizzard coming our way today, so I may take a few hours to get deep into the new class I started before the holidays hit. It's Kenneth King's "Jeanius" class, which is all about how to reverse-engineer your fave jeans/pants. 

I've been watching the videos, trying to figure out what jeans to use for this project. I don't actually have a pair that I like, which is definitely a requisite for finding an item to copy. Fortunately, before Christmas I shopped for some new clothes, and found this perfect pair of tuxedo-style cropped cigarette pants (I don't yet have a pic, or else I would show you what I mean by that description). 

They're by W118 Walter Baker, which is not a brand I have ever heard of, but they are divine. I'm pear-shaped but they magically balance out my frame a great deal. I feel really good in them. They're not jeans, obviously, but the method Kenneth King teaches in the Jeanius class can be employed in copying pretty much anything, I think.   

That's the update from here. I hope your holidays have been just as fun!


  1. Ok, that yule log looks awesome! I also love that you illustrated a book for your daughter. My grandmother used to write and illustrate books for me when I was a child. And they are some of my favorite memories. What a great keepsake.

  2. sounds like you had a great christmas! i've made that cake before, and yes it is amazing. the kids beg for it every year, but i remember the blood sweat and tears that goes into it and just make cookies, caramels, and truffles instead. maybe next year... the book looks super adorable, what a great idea!

  3. Sounds like you had a great week! I'm so glad! I don't even want to talk about how amazing the book and the Yule log look-- OK, they look amazing. It's cool that you guys are starting your own traditions here in NYC.

  4. I always make a bûche de Noël! The trick to rolling is using a long ruler/straight edge and parchment paper.


    This past year was by far my most decorated and had the best looking meringue mushrooms.

    1. WOW! Your logs are amazing. My dinner partners requested lots of meringue mushrooms this year, which is why mine looked like it was suffering a major fungal growth overload. I think the other trick is not over-baking the cake. If it's dry at all (which I think mine was this year), it cracks too easily. I have about a 50% success rate with rolling. I would love to see your ruler technique!



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