Annabel's Tried and True Holiday Accents, Recipes, and Tricks! was originally published in Trim Design Co.
The holiday season is truly underway, and while I’m not one to festoon my home in cartoon turkeys or snowmen, I do enjoy the trappings of the season. This week I’m sharing with you my very favorite holiday season traditions, decor tricks, and a few items from my own holiday wish list!
1. Favorite Understated Seasonal Decor: Winter Greenery
Fresh flowers may remind you of spring, but with so many winter plants to choose from you can put your beautiful vases to use year-round! Tree branches make lovely arrangements, especially if the leaves have turned their beautiful autumnal hues! Bittersweet berry branches are another favorite. Eucalyptus smells fantastic and lasts exponentially longer than cut flowers. Plus, those pleasing smells are actually good-for-you essential oils! And unlike most of the scented candles on the market, they’re free of gross toxins like lead and phthalates.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus (seeded, silver dollar, gum tree, and baby blue are some of the more common ones), and you can usually find more than one variety at your local plant nursery, florist, or grocery store. I like to mix different types together for a more interesting arrangement.
2. Favorite (Sweet) Recipe: Mamaw’s Coconut Date Nut Bars
These bars, first perfected by my maternal grandmother, Gwendolyn Glenna Clark, have developed a cult following among our family and friends. Make them at your own risk, because they are impossible to resist and unlike any other dessert bar I’ve ever encountered. You’ll be hooked, I promise.
Mamaw’s Coconut Date Nut Bars
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350
Mix butter and sugar until blended and add flour
Press into bottom of greased, square baking pan (if doubling recipe do not use rectangular pan- they won’t set up in the middle; use two square pans)
Bake 15 mins in 350 degree oven
- 2 well-beaten eggs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 cup dates, chopped (dried dates from baking section NOT fresh Medjool dates)
Mix above ingredients together and spread over first layer.
First layer does NOT need to cool before top layer applied
Be careful applying top layer because bottom layer is soft - spoon topping around the pan and then lightly spread.
Bake 30 mins at 350 (test center to make sure it has set)
Cool until you can turn out and cut into squares. Don’t cool too long or powdered sugar won’t adhere well.
Dust with powdered sugar
Store in airtight container
3. Favorite (Savory) Recipe: Martha Stewart’s Farro Salad with Roasted Grapes and Autumn Greens
I made this the first time as a side for Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house several years ago and it was nutty, earthy, complex, and sweet all at once. Slicing and slow roasting the grapes was tedious and time-consuming and it’s the kind of high maintenance prep work that normally puts me off a recipe, but in this case, it’s so, so worth it. P.S. I sometimes add feta to this dish and it’s a delicious twist.
4. Favorite Christmas Kitsch: My Infamous Inflatable Wreath
My mom sent me this wreath as a gag gift over a decade ago when I was in college down in Florida. It’s tacky in a wonderful, kitschy way and I loved it from the moment I opened the box. A beautiful door wreath is one of my very favorite holiday decorations, and this tacky plastic one makes the perfect tongue-in-cheek foil for the back door. I have continued to hang it on our back door each year, despite an annual passive-aggressive letter from the condo association about the by-laws prohibiting me from hanging anything on the outside of my unit.
I’m generally a pretty good community member, but for Christmas traditions, I take a stand! (I also broke the rules about putting things on the fire escape in order to display my freshly carved jack-o-lantern, so maybe I’m becoming a bit of a rebel.) Speaking of beautiful door wreaths, I’m looking forward to the day when we are in a house and I can rekindle my front door wreath tradition. Here’s the last one I managed to hang (look at those beautiful dried berries!) before being sternly reprimanded:
To wrap things up (pun intended), here’s a round-up of bobbles on my wish-list this season!
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