Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prepping and fluffing for the festive season...swags, soup and cranberry relish.

We are getting ready for Christmas here in The Humble Bungalow.

I love using things found in nature...greenery, pine cones and plants.
A white amaryllis sits on the dining room table almost ready to bloom and paper whites are growing on a bed of river rocks in a clear vase on the window sill in the kitchen.

Friends met up last weekend to make door swags from greenery and pine cones.

I made a big batch of Mulligatawny Soup to serve for lunch at the swag party.

It's a hearty soup, served up in my friend's arts and crafts Roycroft china bowls.
One bowl of this soup fills you up and I had no room for dessert...
I bought the soup base at The Root Cellar and you can order the Cowichan Valley Soup base  here.

Mr. HB and I have hosted our family's Christmas dinner here in our small and cozy Humble Bungalow for the past 30 years...
When everyone is here we need to spill out into other rooms as our living room is so tiny...
our family have been very gracious and are quite tolerant coming here to celebrate considering ours is the smallest of all of the houses.
I am very grateful that they have opted to join us and make our Christmas celebration, a family affair.

We are cooking an organic turkey and will serve a whipped potato bake, green peas, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and sister brings a yam dish and mom brings some buns.
I make a cranberry dish ahead of time as we like to have it on hand for the feast and then after for turkey sandwiches. This recipe can be made a week in advance so I am sharing it with you now...

Cranberry Relish

1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple chopped
grated zest and juice of one orange and one lemon
3/4 cups raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook cranberries and sugar with 1 cup of water over low heat for 5 minutes until the skin of the berries pop open.
Add the apple, zest and juices and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the raisins and nuts. Stir and let cool, then refrigerate.
I like to use a silver dish that has been in our family for years to serve this looks lovely in a crystal bowl.

It also makes a great gift for a busy hostess.

I was tempted by this sweet little snowman cookie at Starbucks.
I resisted though and enjoyed a skinny egg nog latte...
isn't that an oxymoron?
Skinny and egg nog latte together in the same sentence?

I am not very talented when it comes to "decorating" cookies...
I am in awe of Martha Stewart and others who can make cookies look like works of art.

Do you celebrate Christmas?
What are your traditions?

Our neighbourhood has a food drive and carolers go door to door.
The children pull wagons and we fill them up with food for the food bank.

Another neighbour bakes dozens and dozens of cookies and opens up their house for all to attend...
one year they had a gingerbread village set up on the dining room table and a toy train ran through the village!

I went for a refreshing 5K walk along the seafront this afternoon.
I stopped by on my way home to have tea with Mom,
 she was making shortbread so we sat down with out tea and sampled a few pieces...
they were delicious and she even sent me home with a few pieces to share with Mr. HB.


  1. What a beautiful place to walk! It's cold and grey here, but I have been walking at dusk and enjoying the Christmas lights as they come on :-)

    1. It is a nice walk as there is always something to look at but if the storms are too strong there is a danger of logs flying over the seawall so barricades are set up so cars and people do not get in harms way.

  2. Ooh, I love the Mitchell Soup bases! I love that I can add more veggies/protein as I like. I miss my walks along the water - that shot of Ross Bay looks gorgeous. Hope you are doing well, L!

    1. Mitchell's make a great soup and I like that it makes enough for a crowd.
      I am doing fine I hope you are as well.
      I haven't been doing much thrift shopping lately as I am focused on things for friends and the grandchildren...and the Paris itinerary and research seems to be taking a lot of my time!

  3. Always so lovely to visit here … and get glimpses into your beautiful life my dear!

    What a great idea to have a swag party and create with friends! I absolutely love this idea … and wondering if it isn't to late to implement here!

    Thank you for sharing your home here, for all to enjoy!

    Sending big holiday hugs!


    1. I think you've got lots of time to make a might even be better to wait a bit if the weather is warmer where you live then the greens stay fresher you have been super busy hostessing!
      Take care,

  4. mmm Mulligitawny ! I love it , beautiful swags.I love what you serve for Christmas dinner , I seem to go way overboard on all the side dishes. Maybe time to simplify it a bit. What do you serve for dessert ? mERRY Christmas to you and your family. Donna

    1. I see nothing wrong with going overboard with side dishes.
      The more the merrier...

  5. Your decorations look lovely, natural is always best!
    We too always have a family Christmas at home.
    So much more like "The Old Days", now that we have our little Granddaughter.
    We all believe in Santa again!
    Susan. x

    1. The joys of having grandchildren are numerous and it is so wonderful to see the world through the eyes of a youngster!

  6. I wonder if my town does community food drives like that. Somehow they all seem to be more commercial:(

    1. I would be surprised if your community did not have some event helping stock the shelves of the local food bank. There are kiosks set up all over town here accepting donations and the malls have volunteers who wrap gifts in exchange for donations of food or money to the food banks. There seem to be more people, single parents and more recently seniors who are relying on the food bank to make ends meet

  7. What a nice thing that your community does a food drive! Your swag looks wonderful. We don't celebrate Christmas, but sometimes I'll decorate for "Winter Solstice." Some greenery, some white lights and candles. It's just so nice to be festive this time of year.

  8. Beautiful Christmas decor...
    Your soup looks delicious, especially on a cool winter day. Your 5k walk is impressive. Nothing better for health and well being than a brisk walk. I read recently that gardening and walking are most beneficial. I will prepare your cranberry dish. Thank you for the recipe. Your mother is a delight, baking shortbread cookies, sampling them with you and sharing a cup of tea. Nothing better.

    My big tree is standing and decorated. The wreaths are hung. One small tree for the kitchen is fully decorated and lit. My next effort is to decorate the tree for the solarium. Yup, three trees, but only one 7 footer.

    My Christmas dinner tradition was turkey. A few years ago, I adopted the prime rib roast with traditional roast side dishes. My entire family joins us for the day. Wishing you all the joys of Christmas. Best, Susan . .

    1. Sounds like you have your home decked out in festive finery...
      enjoy the holidays and your family feast of roast beef!

  9. Your greenery swags are just the way I like them, with natural bits and a touch of a ribbon. Soup is for supper here tonight, too, along with some home made bread pulled from the freezer since I've been at school all day. I frequent the Root Cellar but have never purchased the soup bases - will have to look for them.
    Decorating is mostly done and most of the cookies are baked. I'm still working on a few sewing projects for gifts, but they'll be done in time. Little by little. Hasn't the rain been something? Glad you didn't get blown away on your walk!

    1. I saw the soups at Save On at the Foul Bay location too so they must stock them in their other locations. The rain has been quite intense!
      Hand made gifts are such a joy to receive. I enjoy seeing what you create on your blog.

  10. Love the swag party! And your Le Creuset is looking just lovely. Your relish recipe is so interesting! So different from mine. If you have extra cranberries, try mine. It's so easy. In a food processor, put one bag of cranberries, one whole (all of it-peel, albedo, and segments), and sugar to taste (about 3/4-1 cup to be realistic). Juss buzz it all together. It's so good and fresh. AND you can make my favorite holiday cocktail, which I call a Drunk Bog. Put a generous scoop (about 1Tsp) in a glass, then splash a very generous pour of gin, and then top with sprite zero or something comparable. Stir, stir, stir. The little chunks of cranberry and orange float in the drink and it turns a pale red. Very festive and SO good.

    1. Your cranberry orange combo sounds yummy...and a cocktail as well.
      We have house guests coming to stay after Xmas and my friend Cheryl loves what we call "a fru fru drink" which usually involves fruit...I'd maybe change up the name a bit and call it a "Stephen Andrew", that way I'll remember who the recipe is from!
      Thank you,

  11. Your swag is beautiful. What a great idea to get together with friends to create door decorations. Your Christmas traditions sound delightful. We host a dinner after Christmas Eve Mass. We have always exchanged small gifts...we decided this year we are only having gifts for the babies.

    The cranberry relish sounds divine. The raisins and nuts take it to a whole new level...for me.

    Enjoy the season, Bonnie

    1. We give mostly hostess type gifts except for the children on our list.
      I quite like focusing on food, friends and family...the grand babies are the stars!
      Best wishes Bonnie.

  12. I've never used a soup base and might give that one a try. Love your swags and the food drive tradition in your neighborhood is lovely.

    1. I think you can make up these soup bases and wrap them in clear cellophane and they would make a great hostess gift.
      Take care and enjoy the holidays with your family Kathy.

  13. The swag is beautiful! I always love the smell of fresh boughs. That soup looks comforting and tasty...I am a big fan of cozy soup nights right now, especially given the stormy weather outside. Thanks for sharing

  14. Ooh the winds have been wicked and the rains seemed so intense...the sun is shining as I type this comment and it is time for me to get out for a walk...perhaps you'll try the Mitchell soup base...please let me know if you like them.

  15. I do so enjoy your posts, look forward to reading them, miss them when you're away. Striving to arrive at that place of peace you mention. I'm almost there LOL.

  16. I love your door swag! What a fun idea to meet up with friends to make them. I think you were wise to pass up that snowman cookie at Starbucks. Those kinds of cookies always look better than they taste. :-)

  17. Our families Christmas traditions start Christmas Eve with family and friends dropping in for fondue. Once everyone departs, my husband, son, and I watch A Christmas Memory. I used to read it aloud; until I found a DVD copy with Truman Capote narrating it.
    Christmas Day, I do our traditional dinner; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, carrots peas, brussels sprouts, and plum pudding.