A Quietly Merry Christmas Week

So how was your Christmas?

For me, it was the nicest Christmas I have had in a long time. There was a LOT of great food and wine, a lot of great discussion, a couple of great sleep-ins, a lot of laughs. There was also a lot of sniffling and coughing.

You guessed it – another cold.

But this one hasn’t been quite as bad as the previous two, so I’m hoping this means that my immune system is improving somewhat. I guess it also means I still have some work to do in the “self-care” department.

Anyway. It did not affect my quiet Christmas spirit. So here’s how we celebrated.

I actually did not take as many pictures as I intended over the holidays, and the ones that I did take are of food – Quelle Surprise. Some of it I even cooked myself. Yes folks, Christmas miracles do happen.

My friend Sharon was down from Toronto, and she treated us to a lovely pre-Christmas Dinner at Kitchen 76 at Two Sisters Vineyards.


I adore a well done charcuterie board. This one had a lovely presentation with a great selection of cured meats, cheese, and olives. The crostini at Kitchen 76 are always perfect – a little bit of crunch, but still chewy. It sounds like a simple thing to do, but trust me, it’s something I still have to perfect. The artichoke hearts were a treat too.


This time I went for pure pasta indulgence. I love big pasta with a hearty meat sauce, so the rigatoni with bolognese was delightful. I justified this because I was supposed to do a 20K pre-Christmas run the following day. Carb loading, you know.


Sharon went for the lamb, Mom went for chicken. And my sweetie-pie went for the Salsicce pizza, his favourite.


Sharon and I also had the 2010 Merlot, which is a beautiful wine. Just beautiful.


We skipped dessert as we were all nicely full by this point. So instead of a dessert shot, here is a classic “Ken and Jo trying to take yet another selfie”.


My phone is full of shots like this. I don’t know why we are so selfie-challenged. A goal for 2016.

The next morning I was meeting Karen for an early 20k run. I woke up exhausted and achey and couldn’t figure out why…. Now I know it was nasty cold #3 beginning to descend on me. I went anyway and muddled through 10 instead of 20k – I thought something was better than nothing, and with the prospect of several days of non-stop eating ahead of me, figured I should. After that, Sharon and I did a bit of Christmas Eve wine tasting. As it turned out, it was a great day to go. Many wineries were closing early, but we managed to get to three. Crowds were minimal, which is always a bonus in my book. I think I’ll plan on that every year.

Christmas Eve was full of cheese, chocolates, samosas (one of my favourite foods, and a MUST on the holidays), Ken’s tourtière, Poinsettia cocktails, and delicious goodies from Scratch Bakery.

Christmas Day I woke up with my lovely, melodic Peppermint Patty Cold of Death voice. I was feeling a little sorry for myself, until I remembered what awaited me for breakfast. We’re trying to work on some new breakfast possibilities for Highbrook, and this recipe was glorious.


Delicious, decadent, divine, Croque Madame. Goodness gracious this was so good –  probably my favourite of all the holiday treats. If we add this to the Highbrook menu, guests are in for one amazing breakfast.


I couldn’t resist another shot of cheesy gooeyness.

After that, I set up on the couch, in front of the tree with a book. Had a fire in the fireplace, a little nap, and a pot of tea to nurse my cold. That is, until we started up the Poinsettia cocktails again. It was a nice, cozy, low-key Christmas, which really is my favourite of all. And remember my ambivalence about turkey dinner? Well, I’m still ambivalent.


Now, don’t get me wrong, for turkey this was good. The recipe came from one of my Rachael Ray cookbooks, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe online. The turkey breast was done in a Parmigiano gravy, which I thought would be a nice twist. It was, but I don’t think I’ll rush off to do it again. I’m just not a turkey gal I guess. Mushroom risotto and green beans were served with it.

Somehow we ended up talking WAY past my usual bedtime. Even with my squeaky voice, I managed to join in. Had a blissful ten hour (?????) sleep, and then we went to see a movie at the Shaw Festival Film Series. Testament of Youth was playing, and it was beautifully done. A very, very moving story of World War One based on the memoirs of Vera Brittain. You can watch the trailer here – just make sure you have some kleenex handy.

The Shaw Festival runs their Film Series every Saturday until February 20th. They also have a documentary series, Friday evenings at 6 beginning this Friday, January 1st. I have attended some of the films for the last two years, and they have all been quite good.

I finished up the Christmas Week Festivities with doing one of my favourite things ever.


The amazing Boxing Day Sale at the Book Outlet. As you can see I have three bags full. I guess I am the Baa-Baa Black Sheep of book buying. What can I say, it’s my weakness. But when you can get 50 % off books that are already at bargain prices, how can you lose? With the 50% discount, this batch cost me $75. I had a $40 gift card, so I only spent $35 on masses of books. Nothing could possibly make me happier.

Don’t worry though, the sale goes on until Thursday the 31st at 4pm – so if you are a fellow bibliophile, there’s still time to get your fix. You just might see me there for round two.

It was a great Christmas Week, exactly what I wanted. With all the good rest, good food, and good wine, I am hoping this cold is on its way out too.

What did you get up to over Christmas?