I have been meaning to start these posts for a while now, but I wasn't sure what direction I wanted them to go. I love reading "lifestyle", non-recipe posts on the blogs I follow; they peek into the blog owner/writer's world past all the baking, cooking, recipe fails and successes and giveaways, and allows one to get to know them better. I love seeing all their photos of travels, decadent foods eaten out at restaurants and other happenings in their lives. Makes you feel like you know them as a friend more than just a blogger online. Maybe this why I hadn't started this post yet - I just wasn't sure what I wanted it to be. I think I will leave it at just that - I don't know what so I will let it just be "Odds and Ends" and cover anything I feel like talking about or sharing and let it go from there.
What finally inspired me was Cassie from Bake Your Day. I love her blog, have been reading it for a while now, and I love her Wednesday Ramblings. There are a few other blogs I read like from How Sweet It is, she posts a regular Tuesday Things on her blog, Julie from The Little Kitchen posts 5 Things, and a few others that I read that have been my inspiration for wanting to do this, but it was Cassie's most recent Wednesday Ramblings that really truly inspired me. She talked about one of her family's Christmas traditions with exchanging ornaments and their meanings behind each one. She shared her most favorite ones and they all had a great story, not to mention super cute too. Hello adorable Kitchen Aid mixer ornament. I think anyone who bakes needs one of those.
So this got me thinking about my family's more unusual ornament tradition. See, it started with my mom and her brother and dad when they were kids. They would try to find the UGLIEST ornament they could, wrap it in a box so no one would expect that gift to be the "ugly" and watch the reaction of the recipient and die with laughter over it. My mom has stories of making resin angel face ornaments and each one weighed like 5lbs and couldn't be broken, an Elvis one that my grandpa tried with all his might to break but couldn't. He couldn't stand Elvis. Sorry Elvis fans. And then the tradition continued on with us as kids and my mom started giving me an " ugly". It was always so much fun to try to guess which gift it was wrapped it. Fast forward to now and we still exchange them. I think someone is on to us though because each year I find at least a good dozen to choose from that are all equally ugly. I always ask the cashier if they think the ornament is ugly and they usually laugh and say " I think its kind of cute" to which my reply is almost always. " damn. I'm going for ugly not cute" then I have to explain why and the cashier ends up laughing hysterically or helps me try to find an even uglier one. My mom has collected so many uglies over the years that she has an " ugly tree" she puts up at Christmas. Its a fake tree, with a strand of red lights, and her collection of ridiculous ornaments, most are from me. I gave her this one a few years back. She didn't think she would ever be able to top it. I actually didn't think it was ugly, but hysterical and pretty outrageous.
So without further adieu, here are a few hanging on my tree..
That fish is HORRIBLE. It wiggles, those eyeballs, just the whole thing is, well, ugly. ha ha. And a frog in a bikini and grass skirt with a towel and shampoo?? Not sure on that exactly.
Yes the flamingo is missing a foot. And has boobs. Really no words for the parrot. And yes that is a loofa. That's more of a joke from my husband's and mine bizarre love for the movie Bad Santa and there is a scene about a loofa and for some reason I had an extra loofa so on the tree it went.
I should have taken a better pic of the cow - it looks like it has a black eye. Yes that says "Merry Fishmas" and the Shark?? That was last years beauty. You might be wondering why a lot of my "uglies" are Hawaiian themed, well it has to do with my Hawaiian obsession and most of our tree has NORMAL beautiful ornaments from Hawaii and we even have leis on it instead of garlands.
Last but not least, and I had to have her in a pic all on her ownI actually freaking love this one. My favorite Christmas song is " I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" by Gayle Peavy. And so I have started to collect hippo ornaments. My friend Julie gave me this one a couple years ago. My mom called her an ugly but I think she is awesome. I mean she's got pink painted toenails. A fur trimmed bikini, pink lipstick and pink eyeshadow, long eyelashes, winking with a santa hat on and her pose is awesome. By far one of my favorite posessions. I can't wait to see what my "ugly" will be this year and I can't wait to give my mom hers. Oh and my sister in law too. She gets one this year. ha ha
Speaking of Christmas holy 11 days away Batman!! We are actually celebrating 2 days late because my husband is working Christmas eve and day so our eve will be the 26th and we will have our day on the 27th. I am used to not always celebrating holidays on the exact day so its ok. Our kids are still really young so they don't know what day it is exactly. I made them an advent calendar this year from an idea I found on Pinterest, and they know that when the cards are all turned around it means SANTA!!!! Speaking of pinterest, my husband hates me for ever discovering it. I am always finding ideas for him to make for our kids. But this year - he actually found an idea and is out in the garage as I type making this for our girls, he is so handy its awesome.
I LOVE to cook on Christmas eve and Christmas day. We don't have anything that we make that's really a tradition that we make every year. Again with our different traditions, but I have been making similar things the past couple years. We have done crab legs before, I have made cioppino, Mexican food, you name we have had it. Last year I made chicken tortilla soup and enchiladas for Christmas eve, cinnamon rolls for breakfast and this amazing recipe from one of our Bobby Flay cookbooks for Christmas dinner. A new mexican spice rubbed pork tenderloin with ancho bourbon sauce and sweet potato tamales. I think I will make that again this year. It was just so good.
For Christmas eve this year I want to make this insanely good looking and sounding recipe from GimmeSomeOven, Carnitas Caldo Soup. With margaritas of course. Probably these ones again from How Sweet Eats. I adore pomegranate and we made them at Thanksgiving and they were oh so good.
For Christmas morning I am still making cinnamon rolls but these from Online Pastry Chef, look too good not to try, so Espresso Pumpkin Butter Sweet Rolls it is.
I also make a cake for Christmas dinner. I have made this cake, which I have adapted from Sunset magazine, in the past, but then I saw THIS from Southern Living and I think I may merge the two. Hello gorgeous snowflake cake.
I am deeply inspired by so many food blogs for so many reasons, which is why I revamped my blog, renamed it and pretty much started fresh. I ran a cupcake blog for 3 years and was less and less inspired to do just cupcakes, I wasn't all that serious about it, and with two kids in diapers at the time ( now I am just down to one who is pretty close to done with diapers YEAH!!) so I have more time now and I wanted to share more than just cupcakes and I want to learn to be a really good food photographer. One blog in particular I really love and look up to the owner is Dine and Dish. Kristen is a mom of 4, very busy and writes and beautifully photographs and incredible blog. I look to her as a blog mentor. She surprised me last week and featured my blog on hers in her "Blog of the week" spot. I am so deeply honored and humbled. So thank you again, Kristen, so much.
What else. I have a notepad here with thoughts written down but I don't think I will get to them all this first post. I don't want it being 5000 words long. ha!
Oh! My good friend Galina, of Creative Galina, is working on my blog header, and logo and those should be up soon. She is super talented and I can't wait to see the magic she is creating.
To watermark or not watermark photos? If my logo isn't too big and looks great I think I may start watermarking my photos.
I also have been working on my recipe index and finally have subcategories up. Looks so much better already. Just need to keep adding new recipes to get all the categories up.
Does your family have any "unusual" holiday traditions? And recipes in particular you are looking forward to making or eating on Christmas?