Ye Old Bacon Shoppe and Other Holiday Festivities

Because everyone needs a bacon store as part of their holiday village display, right? And while we’re on the subject, here are a few others we think someone really ought to manufacture….

Last but not least, here’s our favorite gingerbread display of 2011. A trio of very San Francisco victorian row houses as seen at the California Academy of Sciences cafe in Golden Gate Park. As a fun detail, some of the aquarium’s most famous inhabitants – Claude the albino alligator, a family of African penguins, and Lemon Drop the yellow python – are featured in the display. You can’t quite see it in the picture, but the roofs of these houses are shingled in banana chips and almond slices which is a pretty cool trick.

And just for fun, a link to 3 inspired and extremely nifty gingerbread creations from a great blog called Off the (Meat) Hook. These will definitely make you smile: Jetson’s-esque “Gingerbread on the Moon“, “The Gingerbread Casbah” & “Gingerbread Christmas Cabana“. [PS: She’s a former pastry chef and she shares some excellent gingerbread-house recipes and how-tos which I’m going to bookmark for next year.]

Happy Holidays!

XOXO, Simran and Stacie!

Holiday Wreath With Dried Citrus, Pepper Berries and Lavender

This year a big bag of clementines inspired me to try my hand at something new… a homemade holiday wreath. This project turned out to be much easier than I imagined and is a fun one to do with a friend or older kids. No floral arranging experience required!

With citrus as my inspiration, I started by drying thin citrus slices in a low oven (1/8″ slices, 170 degrees n a cookie sheet for 6-8 hours or until totally dry – or use a dehydrator is you have one). From there it was just a matter of gathering other festive looking materials (cedar boughs, pink pepper berries, dried lavender from my friend Rachel’s garden) and a few simple floral supplies (a wireframe wreath form and floral wire which you can find at any craft store). You’ll also need some gardening shears to trim the branches. You could easily assemble all the materials you need for $5-$10 dollars per wreath especially if you raid your kitchen pantry, garden and/or gift wrapping supplies — and you can keep reusing the wireframe form from season to season.

With materials assembled, the actual wreath-making was quite easy and only took an hour or two from start to finish which made it a fantastic project to do with a friend over a cup of coffee. No big secrets here:

  1. Trim heavier branches from your cedar boughs so you are left with thin to medium branches that are very pliable.
  2. Tuck the branches around the wireframe and secure them here and there with floral wire. My wiring was really clumsy. Luckily, the cedar branches do a fabulous job of hiding any ugly handiwork.
  3. Overlap the branches and keep adding more greenery until you have a nice, even wreath with the fullness that you prefer.
  4. I would suggest taking some time to experiment with the layout of your embellishments before diving in and attaching them to the wreath.
  5. Once you are happy with your design just attach your embellishments with floral wire. If needed, you can use hot glue for heavier or harder to secure items. Light items, like the lavender, didn’t require any wiring at all. We just left a 3-4 inch stem and tucked the flowers in.

Given our damp, costal air, this particular wreath is probably best suited for indoor display (besides which you’ll love the way it will make your house smell), but you could certainly choose more weather proof items (cinnamon sticks, holly, pine cones) if you are planning to make a wreath for your front door.

This craft is sure to put you in the holiday spirit, so pour some eggnog or mulled wine and have a wreath making party!