A Celebration of Family: What I Did For Christmas 2019
Welcome back to the blog!!
Happy New Year to you!!! If you're new here...welcome!! My name is Tandy...your gracious hostess!! Yours truly took two weeks off...to simply enjoy the Christmas season off the social media spotlight. I wanted to take the time to learn a few family traditions and to enjoy the season. 2019...was an interesting yet satisfying year to say the least...and I can't wait to see what 2020 will bring!! I have created my visions...and will be acting intentionally across the next twelve months. I feel like for 2020...I want all my social media platforms to have a young, fresh, yet sophisticated vibe to them. We are all growing and changing and want everything that we do...to be reflective of our current phases of consciousness.
The last time I posed to the blog...it was December 13, 2019...a Friday!!! Fri-YAY...because the next day I started Christmas partying!! Saturday...was the first Christmas Party of my personal season. The occasion itself was well warranted. Our family has three sister families that we grew up with. Our former neighbor's son came to Jamaica for a week, from Canada, and the family took the time to celebrate his visit. The occasion was a really nice laid back vibe. There were about twenty people there, an overlap of family, friends and their extensions. What struck me was the fact that there were babies that I'd once held...who were now as tall as, or even bigger than me. I definitely started feeling the inclings of having a family (ladies...the biological clock is realer than real), and I'm finding that all my actions going forward are taking me towards "family". It was just a nice time. There was food, there was laughter, there was family!! This was how...I started my break!!
With our early Christmas party...the new week...meant that my mind was in high Christmas gear. I took time to relax...and by the following weekend (pre-Christmas Sunday), I found the Christmas spirit...to start decorating!!
Living in the Caribbean...I decided that I wanted to fuse Caribbean with the Christmas influences. The world is so culturally diverse...and I didn't want to have a generic Christmas. I wanted a Christmas that was representative of my culture. I think I pulled it off!! The following were my Christmas touches:
1) Dining Room: The first image above, is our decorated dining table. I didn't do too grand a table scape...I focused more on the living room space. We do have Christmas themed glasses, tablecloths and table mats, so I went ahead and set the Christmas table on Sunday. To add a nice touch and create a simple centerpiece...I cut some pine sprigs from the tree in the front yard, and placed them them in a basket. If you all recall this year's obsession with decorated palm trees...I went ahead and cut two palm buds. Interestingly, the palm trees create red and green seeds, which matched my Christmas decor, quite well, as you'll see in the picture! I went ahead, and accented the basket with these pieces...and placed the basket on a white and silver plate to add a more elegant touch.
2) Living Room: I spent most of my Christmas decorating energy in the living room. We spend most of our time there, and I decided that I wanted to decorate the bay window. With respect to the household, we probably haven't had a Christmas tree for a good five or six years. What I do in this instance, is decorate the bay windows, so the house definitely has the essence of Christmas every year!! We have a natural Christmas tree out front...and I took the time to create some pine infused floral arrangements in a larger basket that we have in the house. I'll have all these images on Instagram in a Christmas collage!! The presents were laid on the window...as well as on the coffee table. Thanks to Appleton Rum (they had free lights with the rum this year...hallelu!! The buy rum...get free lights special...must have made many a Christmas this year!! It definitely made mine...because our original lights were's working. I had a blessed Christmas...because these lights the day after put out the floral arrangements!!) I was able to light both the floral arrangements and the bay window thanks to my "gift". For the entire Christmas week...between 7 pm and 9 pm...I'd turn on the lights...and it was a really nice ambience, with the main lights off...and the Christmas jazz playing in the background. It was cozy...and it was home!!
The coffee table decorated was as outlined above. I was feeling Caribbean themed Christmas as mentioned!! We do have holly trees outside and initially I wanted to make a wreath...but when the time came, I didn't really feel like taking the time to find twine and wrap all the elements. As an alternative however...my mind inspired me to cut two bamboo palm plants and simply lay them on the coffee table, as a natural table cloth!! I did cut holly and berry sprigs...and infused them as part of the centerpiece. The full details of my coffee table design will be featured on my Instagram stories ( I did the 360 pan around)...but the overall essence is in image two above. It was very rustic, natural, fresh yet chic. I pretty much just used what natural elements we had in the yard, fused the elements with existing baskets...lights and voila...the house felt like Christmas!! On to the food!!
As mentioned...we went to three Christmas parties this year. At all three events...there was no shortage of the staples...Christmas Cake, Ham, Chicken, Pasta...and Rice and peas, Gungo peas soup!! I am watching my diet...so yes...though I ate a lot (ziti and lasagne come through!!!)...but not to the point of extreme over indulgence. I still worked out three times per week during the holidays. My body nudges me to work out!!
What was unique to my year was my baking flow. This was the first year...I baked by myself!! I decided to bake this year. Interestingly enough...my mum decided she wasn't going to bake...and I decided to take over and use the Christmas Cake mix that we'd had in the pantry. On the Sunday before Christmas...I went ahead and made a "traditional" fruit cake. Using the baseline mix, I'd featured in my Instagram Christmas series... I went ahead...mixed the wet and dry ingredients...added the eggs and butter as outlined...and then customized the cake with soaked fruit and wine that we had in the pantry. I left the cake to cure for a few days, and we ate it on Boxing Day onwards!! For those who've baked fruit cake in the past...once the cake is baked and has cooled...you can actually pour red wine on the cake...and let the wine soak in. The cake will remain moist...and will have a pudding like consistency. And so...Tandy baked her cake!!!
At the Christmas gathering on Boxing Day however...we were met with the above cake surprises!!! One of our godmother's who recently moved to Florida...never told my mum that she was here for Christmas. We had planned a gathering at our home...to ensure that her children (who still live in Jamaica) weren't lonely at Christmas. The day of the party came...and the children hadn't shown up by 7 pm. We ate...in "disappointment"...and at 7 30 pm...we heard the car driving into the drive way.
When the car doors opened...all of a sudden we realized that the reason that they were so "late"...was because they had a special surprise visitor with them!! They were actually baking with this visitor...and had been delayed!! Our surprise...Auntie N...came loaded with cakes...and we actually received...four of the above cakes. When the entire family was much younger...this godmother is the one who'd spend the Christmas Eve with us...and she and our mum would mass produce Christmas cakes!! Imagine...the three above...multiplied by five. The two would pool resources...use our kitchen and bake to the nines!! Christmas Eve...might as well have been called Baking Eve!! Yours truly remembers mixing Christmas cake batter....in a large bucket with a wooden spoon...because the mixer couldn't manage all the batter!! One core Christmas memory I have...is literally falling asleep to the two of them baking!! Past eight o clock...I had to leave them...because I didn't want to miss Santa's arrival. (Priorities!!)
With five cakes in the house...you can imagine the current state of affairs. We have two and half cakes left...and I'm pretty sure...they'll last the whole of January!!! I am currently only eating...one slice...every other day to cut back on the calories!! Christmas menus...are pretty calorie rich...and I want to stay fit!!
What about the Sous? Here it is...in it's glory!!
My last 2019 Video was my Christmas Tablescapes video! I had described theoretically in this video...that we normally have for Christmas breakfast at 9 am...before leaving for our annual Christmas dinner with our Auntie V!! We set the table a particular way!! Christmas breakfast in the household...is sous...an Eastern Caribbean soup. Couple with grotto bread...this is a filling breakfast...as you'll soon see!! I finally learned the recipe this year...and I'm proud to say that I made half the soup ( I went out later that day to the movies...so did all the prep for this pre 1 pm and my mum finished up). To make sous...you'll need about:
1) Six packs of cleaned pork trotters. I think it's about 2 pounds of trotters in total that you'll need to feed a family of four.
2) 4-6 large limes
3) Two large cucumbers
4) Two large peppers
5) Salt to season to your liking
6) Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot/Slow Cooker
In the house...we have a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. This dish works best with a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot to facilitate tenderizing the trotters. The trotters were placed in the pressure cooker (no seasoning yet...you just want them to soften). Add water to half the pressure cooker volume, add the cover, weight and then heat to pressure. Once the pressure cooker reaches pressure (the vent indicator will tell you)... let the trotters cook for fifteen minutes. Turn off the heat, allow the pressure cooker to depressurize..., open the lid slightly to let air in, then let the mixture cool to room temperature. Once the mixture is cool...the fat will rise to the surface and solidify, and you can simply skim off the fat, and have your broth and the trotters left in the pot.
While the trotters are cooling...you can juice the limes and set the juice aside in the fridge, and peel and thinly slice your cucumbers. Also place the cucumbers in the fridge. Eventually, when the trotters reach room temperature, the juice, cucumbers, seasonings and pepper are then added to the pressure cooker...and the mixture cooked until the vegetables and meat were thoroughly cooked. When the hot peppers are added, ensure that you cook them whole...so that the flavors...seep into the broth. Remove the peppers (for those who don't like pepper)...before you serve. Add salt as you're cooking...to your taste.
I'd mentioned before that sous is a dish best prepared the day before...so after the final cook down...the soup was allowed to cool to room temperature on the counter top, placed in a smaller fridge friendly pot...and then left in the fridge for Christmas morning!!
On Christmas morning...the table was set...and the pot was placed on the stove...and the soup warmed for breakfast. All we had to do at that point...was enjoy it!! While the soup was warming...yours truly got to slicing our Grotto bread. The best way to describe the bread...is to show you:) I did take pictures as I prepared breakfast!!
Grotto Bread...is a large 5 pound hardo-bread. To best describe the bread...it is like white bread...but thicker and much heavier. It is filling! Three slices...can suffice as a meal in itself with the appropriate toppings! I cut the bread into a third, and then cut the third into slices, and arranged the slices as a flower on a serving plate. The image shows what one serving of the soup and bread look like. The soup was served in our vintage Things Jamaican bowls. With the slices buttered, couple with the sous...there was our Christmas breakfast!!
I deliberately didn't document the three Christmas parties (I just wanted to enjoy time with family)...but took some time during decorating and Christmas breakfast for you to get a feel for what happened in the household as a baseline. I was busy (as I'm sure you all are at Christmas) went out...I went to the movies (Jumanji 3D was everything...although Frozen was pretty full as well)...I went out to the 100 sports bar in Kingston with a friend on New Year's Eve...so was pretty occupied on my break!!
I hope you and your family had a great Christmas and New Year's week!! I had a blast...and am ready to share with you a beautiful 2020!! I'm happy to be back!! The social media break...and time with family was well worth it!! The Christmas was a Christmas of love...and also of the traditional!! On Friday...you'll see...what gifts I got for Christmas!! Santa came of course...and he was kind to me!! We're back on our styling flow!!
I love you for reading!! I hope you didn't miss me...because you were busy with your own Christmas traditions!! Make the most...of what you have!!
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