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November 18, 2009

Comfort food and Christmas, which is only 37 days away....

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Roast beef, mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.

That was the dinner I made for a weekend get-together I had with Amber and Jennifer. They are two of my favorite people on the planet, it was so much fun to have them over to my new place. We had dinner and drank champagne and made Christmas cards all crafty-style, with glitter and paper and cuttings from magazines and little scraps of ribbons.

I wanted to have the apartment all decorated for Christmas but I got mired in work and only got a few things up, but it was enough to be festive. There's my sequin tree I got at Target a few years ago sitting on the kitchen bar:

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My Burke table and chairs fit in this space but I haven't been able to part with my Target table so I have two tables, which is silly. For now.

My tree is put together but not decorated yet:
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Frankie kept trying to sit inside the tree which is why there is a big hump in the side there. Then she started chewing on one branch (not the lights, just the faux greenery) and at some point she managed to scoot the tree over enough to unplug it. Cats.

Here she is decorating the tree with her body:

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When I look at that picture I laugh. She is so determined. I have never seen anyone so single-minded in their need to sit inside a tree that is way too small for them. It's like watching a twisted episode of Wild Animal Kingdom. One morning I suspect I will come downstairs and the entire thing will be knocked over and she will be nested inside and totally happy with her efforts.

This little pile of Paris was in the bin with the tree base, but I haven't unpacked the other ornaments yet:

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The only new Christmas decor I've bought this year are these two little Eiffel towers:

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Apparently I like Paris.

And I put the wreath on the door but there is no picture because I don't want you knocking on my door unexpectedly. It's nothing personal, you understand, don't you? (The hermit's creed: Call before you come over, email before you call, think twice before you email.) It's nothing fancy anyway, it's the same wreath I bought on a shopping expedition with Jen back a few years ago and it's held up pretty well. I'm the first person in the building to have Christmassy stuff up on the door and I probably made a few people panic with my exuberance and earliness. This makes me secretly sadistically pleased, especially after so many years of me wanting to opt out of Christmas and feeling like I was surrounded by Holiday Cheer Freaks. Lo, and the tables do turn!

This was the first time I'd had anyone over, well, aside from the maintenance people who banged around on the rooftop patio trying to fix the leak. That doesn't really count as entertaining. So it was lovely to have my friends see my new place finally, even if it isn't all put together yet. It's about 50% done I think. I knew I had to work over the weekend, too, so instead of cooking a big meal the day of the get-together I made a pot roast in the crock pot and slow cooked it forever.

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Makes me hungry to look at this picture.

Of course the only and best side dish for a good slow-cooked roast is a big pile of mashed potatoes. I love the look of red potatoes mashed with the skins but prefer the texture of russet potatoes so I mix them, half Idaho Russets, half baby reds. I am apparently a connoisseur of the potato, who knew. And to add color to the plate I sauteed some carrots and zucchini in olive oil and lemon zest (I squeezed some lemon juice in there, too, it makes everything better.) You can make the roast the day before and let it cook that whole time and the sides are easy to prepare. It was simple but comforting. And I realized that while I make pot roast pretty regularly, it's not something most people I know make for themselves so it's kind of a treat, a little bit of home cooking in the big city.

Jen brought a bottle of very good cava and these lovely yellow tulips:

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They balance out the fireplace mantle until I can find another orchid I like. Fresh flowers are such a nice touch and here the cats can't eat them. (I did have the tulips on the bar in the kitchen until Soba started in on a leaf and they moved immediately to the mantle, which is not on the cat radar for some reason. Weirdos.)

Speaking of the wise and venerable Sobakowa...

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She's living art, situated there between a pile of paintings I haven't hung yet and the Christmas tree. She likes to survey the surroundings from time to time.

I found the little wooden bowl I wanted to put in the living room and filled it with yarn and aluminum needles (to discourage the Bob from eating of yet another pair of bamboo knitting needles.) (Until writing this I did not realize how much of my decorating efforts involve keeping my cats from eating the whole house down to a nub. Funny.) I'm making another entrelac scarf, the perfect TV-watching project, you can do just a square at a time if you want. I love the way Noro looks wrapped into big, fat balls of yarn and I love the way it knits up like magic. It makes me happy to walk into my living room and see the bowl of knitting right there, and it's so pretty, too.

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Notice the mysterious dark ghost Soba stealthily running through the background.

And that's my little living room tour, hope you enjoyed the sparkle tree and dinner and the big fat cat ornament!

Posted by laurie at November 18, 2009 11:50 AM