This year we aren’t hosting Christmas for the first time in a looooong time. We are going to enjoy the day stress free at my brother’s house this year, which I am kind of relieved to not have to plan and host a big dinner. Aaaaahhhh! That said, I love to decorate the table for Christmas and come up with fun place card holders for the table. I always do something simple and pretty inexpensive…usually it involves my husband going out and picking some evergreen branches for me from some trees outside 🙂 Last year was one of my favorite tablescapes with skinny pine tree branches stuck in left over pieces of wood from what we cut off from our Christmas tree. My husband drilled a hole in the middle of the small stumps so the branches slid right in. It was simple, free and easy. I wish I had some pictures, but I sadly forgot to take any.
BUT, the other dressing for the table were these fun place cards (Click here for the free download!!). You can type in the names of your guests in the PDF or just leave it blank and write them in yourself. You choose! Click here for the free font if it doesn’t show on your computer. Enjoy!
I just finished up an evening with long time girlfriends. It’s our second annual gathering to wrap presents for an adopted family and I have to say, it’s something that I am so thankful we started last year and hope we continue for many years to come. I’m also wondering why we didn’t start it sooner?! Thank you Kelsey for kick starting us! It’s the least we can do for those in need, especially when we all pool our resources together and buy gifts for a family that needs a little extra help over the holidays.
Not only does it feel good to wrap presents for others, but it’s a great excuse for us to all gather together when our lives are so busy with our own families and children and activities. We get to chat, drink wine, and nibble while we wrap the gifts. I wish we could do this more often, but I will take what I can get!
A humble offering of soup seemed right for the occasion (plus I’ve been on a soup kick these last few weeks…tomato, pesto vegetable with orzo, cream of broccoli and potato leek), so I made a roasted butternut squash and parsnip soup topped with creme fraiche and parsley. Super easy…ahem…here is the tip that makes it so easy…buy the precut squash from your supermarket!!! Just throw your squash, parsnips and onion on a pan with some parchment paper and olive oil to roast and you have pretty much finished the bulk of the work. Shazzam!
Here’s the recipe for the Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup…and scroll down for the Tomato Soup recipe from an earlier instagram post too!
Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup
- 4 Cups cubed butternut squash (approx. 1.5″)
- 3 peeled and cubed parsnips
- 2 medium onions cut in large chunks
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried mustard
- pinch of cayenne
- salt and pepper to taste
- drizzle of cream or half and half
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the chopped vegetables on a parchment lined sheet pan tossed with a few tablespoons of olive oil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until soft. Place roasted vegetables in a large pot and add vegetable stock. Heat to a low boil and add remaining ingredients. Then using a stick blender (my preferred method), blend the soup until smooth. Serve and top with creme fraiche and parsley.
* You can easily substitute other vegetables for the parsnips, such as carrots, potatoes, etc.
Fresh Tomato Soup
- 1 slice onion
- 4 whole cloves of garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
- drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- drizzle of cream or half and half
- In a stockpot, over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic cloves for 8-10 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Add the chopped basil. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food processor or use a stick blender (my preferred method) and blend until smooth.
- In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar, salt, balsamic, cream and adjust to taste.
The Christmas season is now official with Thanksgiving under wraps. Our feasting day was wonderful, but I am personally excited to be in full holiday mode! The house is decorated, tree is trimmed and now it’s time to start thinking Christmas cards (oiye!).
If you need a quick greeting and no time to go to the store, I just posted this cute little number on my Etsy site as an instant download. Click, print, and mail!
Also, here are a few pics of our Christmas tree hunting excursion. It was a fabulous day in the northwest and was one of my favorite times we’ve had thus far picking out our tree. But you can see my little peeps were having a stand-off with Santa They wanted that candy cane, but didn’t want to talk to him 🙂
Two little reindeer peering through the woods! Can you believe the light that was shining through? It almost looks as if I Photoshopped them in, but this is oh na-tur-al!