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Simple Times: Celebrating In Ireland

Hello friends! It’s Rincy again with a little post on the holiday season here in Dublin. I love this time of year, similar to spring, it feels as though there is a secret promise of a new beginning just around the corner. It can either be a frenzied blur of events or the slowest of periods and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had our fair share of both (takeout food and Friends re-runs, I’ve been there done that). But every now and again a funny thing happens in the midst of the chaos of presents, crowds or family politics, there is a moment of contentment. Bliss. Joy. Love. Gratitude. Ever so brief or all at once, it happens.

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Last week, we celebrated our friend Emily’s birthday in the midst of the holiday season. It was an evening full of collaborative efforts, DIY touches and a family whose love is incredibly palpable- it was beautiful to be a part of it. It was without a doubt, one of those moments.

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Emily’s sweet take on the evenings events: “When I moved to Ireland just over five years ago, there were a lot of things that necessitated adjustment: driving on the other side of the road, not being able to buy anything in bulk at the grocery store, those kinds of things. What didn’t take any time at all to adjust to was how the Irish celebrate the Christmas season. They gather, they linger, they spend time around a table or a fireplace. They chat and they sing and time stands still for a few hours. On the day of the dinner party, I pulled my car over by the coast of Dublin Bay and trekked down to the water line. I pulled out a big old piece of driftwood and squeezed it into the back of the car. We suspended it above the table, and from it we hung the most beautiful geometric Christmas ornaments. Candles placed throughout the room twinkled and sparkled. We held hands around the table while my husband prayed grace over the meal. Then we ate, drank wine, shared stories and laughed. Time stopped for a few hours; there were no phones or work. We were right there, together, celebrating exactly the way I’ve learned to in my time in Dublin. Truly present, with nowhere else to be but right there.” – Emily

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Whatever way you choose to spend your holiday, I hope bliss, joy love and gratitude are a plenty. Wishing you a very happy holiday season from Ireland. – Rincy

(Styling: Ciara O’ Halloran, Flowers: Claire Ryan, Cake: Kate Packwood, Photography/text: Rincy Koshy)

Posted in Simple Times on December 19, 2013

Delicious Bites: Pavé aux Chocolat

Hello everyone, would you like an easy recipe for baking this Christmas? It’s Jillian here with a special Christmas Delicious Bites post for you. When Holly asked me to come up with a simple Christmas dessert, I have to say I was stumped. In the Leiboff household, we’re nothing but traditionalists when it comes to our Christmas Day menu. Despite the 32°C heat outside, we always have roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas lunch followed by a traditional steamed plum pudding, well spiced and heavy with fruit and nuts. My work holds a Christmas lunch each year where we’re asked to bring along a dish to share. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I always bring along dessert so today I’m sharing with you a recipe for a favourite dessert of mine, a Pavé aux Chocolat.

pave aux chocolat

It’s almost a family heirloom recipe because my Mum used to make a version of this when I was growing up, which she called Biscotten and it was one of her dinner party staples. Mum used to soak sponge fingers in a mixture of brandy and milk, layered them with a chocolate cream filling then covered the cake with whipped cream. I found this version in an English magazine long ago, wrote it out by hand and it’s been in my recipe box ever since. Pavé aux Chocolat is more about assembly than cooking so it’s easy to put together once the chocolate cream has been made. It’s not a last minute dessert though. You do need to make it the day before it’s served to allow all the flavours to develop and for the sponge fingers to soften. The sponge fingers are lightly soaked first and you might want to do a practice run on a few. Soak the sponge fingers for too long and they’ll be too soggy. Don’t soak them for long enough and they’re too crunchy.

The recipe is pretty flexible as well. I used rum but you could alter the flavour of alcohol used to soak the sponge fingers or skip it entirely. For an alcohol free version you could use some vanilla extract instead of the rum or you soak the sponge fingers in coffee or coconut milk instead. If uncooked eggs are a concern, I’m sure you could leave the egg yolks out of the chocolate cream entirely. The egg yolks add richness to the cream so perhaps you could add 100 mls of cream while melting the chocolate to make it more ganache like or maybe fold 100 g of mascarpone through the filling. I topped the Pavé with some chocolate curls but you could always top the Pavé with a layer of whipped cream just like my Mum used to.

pave aux chocolat

Pavé Au Chocolat: Here’s the recipe for you:

Ingredients:
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate
125 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
125 g (4 oz) sifted icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 tbs Dutch process cocoa, sifted
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup milk
18 – 24 sponge fingers (Savoiardi)

To decorate:

Chocolate curls/whipped cream

Filling

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over hot, not boiling, water or in the microwave. Set to one side and allow the chocolate to cool a little. Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until well combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring them in thoroughly. Gently mix in the melted chocolate. Refrigerate the cream while preparing the sponge fingers.

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat


Preparation

Combine the rum with the milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the lady fingers into the milk mixture and make a row of one-third of the lady fingers down an oblong platter. How many sponge fingers you use is determined by the size of your platter. Cover the lady fingers with a third of the filling. Build up two more layers of lady fingers ending with a layer of chocolate. Refrigerate the cake overnight to allow the flavours to develop. Decorate the top of the cake with chocolate curls or cover with whipped cream if you like. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your family and friends. See you all again in 2014 with some more Delicious Bites. – Jillian

(images/text: Jillian Leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on December 19, 2013

Food In Motion: Christmas Cookies Two Ways

Hello everyone! We are Liz & Jewels with another episode of Food In Motion! Every month on decor8 we want to show you a video with a beautiful recipe that we like. Since we began in March we’ve alternated months, so I take one month and Jewels takes the next… This month we have a special Christmas gift for you! The concept of our blog is that we challenge eachother every week: We cook, style and photograph the same recipe on two continents. Liz in Muenster, Germany and Jewels in Brooklyn, USA. So for this Food in Motion episode we exchanged a christmas cookie recipe and we both made the cookies at the same time! We didn’t know what the other one was up to and were thrilled when we saw eachother’s films! Jewels (and her dog Lola!) made a darker version of the “Almond Sugar Cookies” in Brooklyn, sprinkling them with black and gold sugar (which she had never heard or seen of!) and I called the kids together and had a fun, but also a little bit crazy afternoon, baking a more colorful version of the same cookies in my German home. We’ve combined both very short videos into one below, so please watch it and let us know what you think.

Liz: The kids just loved helping. Putting on aprons, washing hands, kneading the dough, selecting the cookie cutters…. But the best part was decorating them! They just loved the colorful sprinkles and couldn’t wait to use them. It was a little bit tough baking, keeping an eye on the cookies and on the three cuties, but it was worth it and they had tons of fun!

Christmas Cookies

Jewels: My dog Lola volunteered to help my with the baking of the cookies, but I thought that lovely friend Kristen was a better choice. Lola kept a close eye on us though, to make sure we would follow the recipe to the tee. The three of us a had a beautiful, calm afternoon because my husband had taken our baby Clementine out with him. It probably was a bit more quiet than Liz’ kids afternoon, but isn’t it great how one recipe can have two so different outcomes? I made the darker, more “Brooklyn style” version of sugar cookies, but they tasted great and we all loved them. And of course – one moment of not paying attention and Lola got her share of cookies, too. She loved them!

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Almond Sugar Cookies
1 3/4 sticks of cold butter
1/3 cups of sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
3/4 cups ground almonds
1 1/3 cups of flour

Toppings
powdered sugar
colorful sprinkles
or colored sugar

 How To: With an electric mixer, cream butter, salt and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Gradually add the flour and the ground almonds, beat until combined. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Roll out the dough on flour dusted kitchen counter and cut shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before decorating.

We wish all readers around the world wonderful holidays and thank you so much for all your great feedback, inspiration and warm words during our Food in Motion time this year on decor8! See you in 2014!

Liz & Jewels

(images/video: liz & jewels)

Posted in Food In Motion on December 18, 2013

Holiday Decoration Trends 2013

Do you want to know what some of the hottest Holiday Decoration Trends are for this year? Of course you do! Hello, it’s Gudy visiting today with another trend report, this time for the month of December. To finish off this year with a trend post, what better than to talk about the current five decoration trends of this festive season? I’m going to highlight branches, wreaths and 3 different kinds of trees! Ready?

Unknown Agent Bauer, styling work of Tina Hellberg

1. Branches: There’s a lot more than Christmas trees to decorate now such as lovely branches! When added to large jars and vases, they make a great holiday display! Natural wood, white and black, add a real Scandinavian style and radiates quite a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. If it feels a bit minimalist and you find that you crave more color then just add red berries or colorful ornaments to hang.

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Cathrine Aarsland photography

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Kristina Dam

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2. Mini Trees: I have never seen so many small Christmas trees as this year and I love the idea of putting them in a glass jar and also that you can plant them again after the holidays. Holly had a row of them down the center of her table last year when I visited her home in Hannover, each wrapped in burlap. Stylish yet sustainable – a great way of decorating! Their main characteristic and the trend is that they are not adorned (well, maybe one or two small ornaments!) and just stand as a statement by themselves. You might want to give a little festive twist when displaying them in different jars, ceramic pots, buckets, crates or whatever you feel like.

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_1 Varpunen

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_2 Silje Vaniljeis

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_3 Dreamy whites

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_4 Tyrifryd

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_5 Inspirations Design

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_6 Lily

ChristmasTrends_LittleTrees_7 Coco Lapine Design

stylemeprettytree Style me pretty

3. Faux Trees: Last year we discovered some nice alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree by creating several designs directly on the wall. I have loved observing how so many people get creative and come up with different designs for their faux trees. It’s a nice way too to work with your children and create something together, right? I believe this will be an on-going trend for years to come, there is such a wide possibility of working on designs with different materials, shapes, sizes and colors, don’t you agree?

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_1 Minted via Sweet Paul Magazine

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_2 Free People blog

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_3 101 Woonideen

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_4 Sköna Hem from Helt Enkelt

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_5 Down to the woods

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_6 Silvia Radmakers Styling

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_7 Kotivinkki

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_8 StudioDIY

ChristmasTrends_FauxTrees_9 BijzonderMooi

4. Bottle Brush Trees: If you have the time to create some fun DIY Christmas decorations, this is your trend! You can reproduce these using a very mundane kitchen utensil – the bottle brush! Simple give them a hair cut and dye to resemble a Christmas tree. If you want to make it look even more authentic add some glitter, stars, ornaments or vintage figurines.

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_1 A beautiful mess

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_2 Apartment Therapy (vintage trees)

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_3 Ashley Ann Photography

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_4 Going home to roost

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_5 Going home to roost

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_6 Yvestown

ChristmasTrends_BottleBrushTrees_7 Little lovelies by Allison

5. Wreaths: Is there a hotter trend right now than crafting your own wreath? Use unexpected materials foraging your local farmers market, pluck pictures from a family album, add paper elements or whatever you feel like. These kind of wreaths offer a more personal way to celebrate the season. We have even started to spot oval, drop, heart and square shapes this season!

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Gang and the wool

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Sweet Paul Mag

ChristmasTrends_wreath_3 Stillblog

ChristmasTrends_wreath_4 Bildschoenes

ChristmasTrends_wreath_5 Styling Marie Delice Karlsson & Johanna Flyckt

ChristmasTrends_wreath_6 Weekday Carnival

ChristmasTrends_wreath_7 Dwell Studio

ChristmasTrends_wreath_8 Wild Ridge Design

ChristmasTrends_wreath_9 Thomas J. Story for Sunset

ChristmasTrends_wreath_10 Victor Schrager for Country Living

I have worked this year mainly with several wreath and different natural branches storing my usual ornaments away.What is your favorite trend of these five? Have you seen anything else that might be on raise this season? I have truly enjoyed your thoughts and comments over the past month and wish you a merry and mindful Holiday season. - Warmly, Gudy

(images linked to their sources above.)

Posted in Top Trends on December 16, 2013

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