SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 70

Seasons greetings! Thanks very much for stopping in today for Sundays With Celia Vol 70. Wow, such a busy time of year with Christmas only 9 days away! Are you ready?

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Looking Back On Sunday

This week on the blog I showed you how to make a 12 Days Of Christmas Countdown Calendar. Too late to make one this year for yourself but why not “Pin It” to your Pinterest Page to make next year!

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN CALENDAR | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Holiday Decor On Sunday

I have gotten better and better at the holidays as the years pass. Practice makes perfect, although I am far from perfect. I guess I have just learned to be a bit more organized, to get an earlier start, and to not stress out as much as I did when I was younger. This year I decided to go a little bit minimalistic and simplistic with my Christmas decor, less fancy and more rustic.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I purchased these awesome living ivy wreaths at Trader Joes and placed them in the many urns I have around my house, which helped to make things really easy.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

If you recall, for my son’s wedding these same urns were filled with flowers

AMAZING DIY WEDDING FLOWERS ON A BUDGET | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

then for Fall/Thanksgiving I filled them with my DIY Cloth Pumpkins.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Trader Joes Ivy wreaths even came complete with tiny LED lights. I love um!

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And so I have this tradition that every year I buy about a bazillion Official White House Historical Society Christmas Ornaments and I give them to family and favorite friends. My collection dates back to the early 1980s, and I usually dedicate a small tree to nothing more than my White House Ornaments. But this year I decided not to do that and instead featured the 2018 ornament, WHICH I LOVE, and I think is one of the most beautiful EVER, inside one of my Ivy Wreaths.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And remember this trio of baskets from the wedding?

AMAZING DIY WEDDING FLOWERS ON A BUDGET | www.AfterOrangeCounty.comSUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Well, instead of the very tall and very decorated Christmas tree I usually do, this year I decided to use the baskets from my son’s wedding and place 3 smaller trees, graduated in size, inside them, decorate them only in lights and a tree topper and call it good.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

A Progressive Holiday Dinner Party

I hosted an intimate dinner party on Friday night. It was a little challenging because we started off at our friend Dave’s house for champagne and delicious appetizers first. So that meant I had to plan food that could be totally made ahead and held while we were away, then be ready to serve when we arrived home.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So here’s what I did….

We began with a yummy Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup that was delicious and warm on a cold, Lake Arrowhead, wintery night. I love the festive red color of this soup for the holidays. I got the yummy recipe here, from a favorite food Blogger, Love and Lemons. I made the soup earlier in the day, then kept it warm in my warming drawer while we were off having cocktails.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup from Love & Lemons | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Image Via

In keeping with the red holiday food theme, next I served an Arugula and Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts that I made ahead and held in the fridge. The recipe comes from Williams Sonoma here.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Arugula & Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts from Williams Sonoma | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I struggled with what to serve for the Main Course and finally decided to serve my own recipe for Shepard’s Pie. Two of the dinner guests were the owners of our wonderful hometown winery, Sycamore Ranch Vineyard and Winery, and she was raised in England. So, I decided she’d appreciate a warm and comforting dish from Merry Ole’ England.

Shepard's Pie Recipe | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Finally for dessert I made a Yule Log or Buche de Noel. I wanted to make those cool little meringue mushrooms to decorate my log, but alas, I ran out of time.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Yule Log / Buche de Noel | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Our Son’s Feast of the 7 Fishes Holiday Dinner Party

Today our DC dwelling son is hosting a holiday dinner party that is a tradition in Italy called the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Christmas Decor | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

He remembers going to our next-door neighbors house every Christmas Eve for a fabulous 7 Fishes Dinner which we all enjoyed so much, and now miss since they moved away. So this year he decided to do his own 7 Fishes Dinner. He shared his menu with me which is a variation on the theme with 7 Courses, but in his case, not all of them involve fish. But look at his fabulous menu…

First Course

Tuna with Lemon, Olive Oil & Basil Sauce

Second Course

Shrimp & Flounder in a Butter, Garlic, Parsley, Red Pepper & Lemon Zest Sauce

Third Course

Pasta in a Toasted Walnut Cream Sauce

Fourth Course

Sorbet Topped with Champagne

Fifth Course

Brisket over Polenta with Horseradish Gremolata

Sixth Course

Mixed Herb Salad with Radishes, Slivered Fennel & Pickled Red Onion

Seventh Course

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Sisterly Love At Christmas

Yesterday I got together with my college sorority sisters for our annual holiday luncheon. There is a group of about a dozen of us that were in college at the same time, and we have done this holiday get-together for decades. It is such a wonderful tradition that is very meaningful to all of us. We have shared marriages, the births of our babies, divorces in some cases, illnesses, losses, and now grandchildren. What a gift! 

My contribution to our luncheon was dessert. I find that the New York Times is a very reliable source for excellent recipes and I happened to find a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars on their website (you may have to subscribe to get the recipe) that I thought would be good because I could cut the cheesecake up into small, individual sized pieces for easy service to a crowd. Not exactly “Bars” but more like “Bites”. Well, they did turn out to be be delicious and were a crowd pleaser.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

An Easy Holiday Appetizer

Last week I was asked to bring an appetizer to a holiday party. Wanting to bring something different I turned to my “Appetizer Pinterest Board” for some fresh ideas. There I found a Pin for “Loaded Hummus” that not only looked delicious and holiday festive, it is also healthy and easy to prepare.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 70 | Loaded Hummus Recipe | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The recipe comes from Taste, Love and Nourish here, where she gives you her recipe for homemade hummus. I decided to take the easy route and purchased the large size, store-bought hummus, and then added the delicious and nutritious toppings. It was so pretty, holiday festive looking and was a BIG hit at the party. I overheard someone say, “Oh, you can just top the hummus with anything you have in your fridge.” BIG NO!! (although of course I didn’t tell her so). The toppings are very specific, mediterranean in nature, and compliment the hummus perfectly, which included:

Cooked Garbanzo Beans

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Chunks of Fresh Red Bell Peppers (the recipe called for canned, I prefer the crunch of fresh)

Pitted Kalamata & Castelvetrano (The Best!!) Olives

Slices of Cherub Tomatoes

Diced Curly Parsley

A Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A Sprinkle of Sumac (A very favorite spice!)

I served it with a basket of Sliced, Warm, Fresh Pita Bread and Pita Chips.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 70 | Loaded Hummus Recipe | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Last Minute Books To Add To Your Christmas Shopping List

Those of you who follow along here regularly know I am a lover of all things British and admit to being a bit of a Royal Watcher. So when I heard the newest Royal, HRH The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, had helped to put together a cookcook entitled: Together | Our Community Cookbook | I had to pick up a copy. In fact, I picked up several copies to give as gifts because it turns out it is a lovely book, with touching stories and delicious looking recipes, and it supports a good cause. Get your copy here.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Together. Our Community Cookbook | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbors. Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normalcy, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen. The women invite you to make their favorite simple dishes—many handed down over generations— from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones. Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family. Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Eggplant Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelized Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.

This stunning charity cookbook is a homage to life, friendship and togetherness. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will help the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking.

The Next book I picked up is a gift for my grandchildren and it’s called, Because of an Acorn. Get your copy here.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | Because of an Acorn | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

As you know I live in a forest and have a number of Oak trees on my property. Every fall the acorns drop all over our property. They drop on our roof with a bang and sometimes startle me. They fall out of the sky onto the driveway, sometimes fall on the roof of my car with a clang, and have even been known to fall on my head on occasion. And every year the acorns burrow into the ground of my garden and many small trees take root. I then have to struggle to pull them out, because in this forest landscape we really do not need a hundred new trees every spring. But these acorns are an important part of the cycle of life here in our forest where the squirrels and birds gather them for food, and when they grow into trees they build their nests in them.

SUNDAYS WITH CELIA VOL 7o | My Lake Arrowhead Home | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I can’t wait to read this enchanting book, with its die-cuts illustrations of the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem, to my grandchildren. Afterward I plan to take them on a walk so we can see for ourselves just how every tree, flower, plant, and animal connect to one another in circles of life, and how the acorns we will find in my yard are just the beginning.

So there you have it: Sundays With Celia Vol 70

Happy Holidays!

Thanks so much for dropping in!

Express Yourself!

No blog post is truly complete without a word from you. I’d be so delighted if you’d leave a comment below.

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  It’s what helps to make this blog possible. Thanks so much for your support.

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