Yule

Holly & Jolly

Friday night was the holiday party for Michael’s work. This year it was a 1920’s theme! People were encouraged to come in costume and there was going to be a costume contest. Most people showed up in costumes. It was so cool and I LOVE the 1920’s costumes. Unfortunately, they don’t really make 1920’s flapper outfits in maternity sizes…so…I went with a simple black dress and some jewelry that could pass for the theme. I loved the outfits that the ladies were all wearing. I wish I could have gotten some photos to share with you guys. It was pretty impressive. I love theme parties, especially this era.

The party was held at the Secret Society Ballroom, in NE Portland. It was such a cool place! I bet it would be a fun place to have a wedding. I’m not sure why this place wasn’t on our radar when we were doing our search. It was cool that they were able to get this location for the party.

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It was an open bar (bummer for me) but I enjoyed my cranberry juice and tonic water drinks all night. The themed menu sounded delicious. Had I been able to, I would have tried one of each! They all sound tasty.

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There was some food…antipasti type stuff, salads, bread, orzo salad, Greek appetizers, and a few different kinds of pasta dishes. There was also a DJ doing swing music and swing music mixed with like techno…? It was odd but fun!

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There was also a photo-booth! Fun! I still regret that Michael and I never actually made it to our own photo-booth during our wedding. That would have been fun. Anyways, here are our photos:

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It was a good kick-off to the holiday season.

Sunday we decorated our tree. We actually got the Christmas tree Saturday afternoon, in the pouring rain of course because this is Portland, but I wanted it to dry out a bit before we decorated so we did that Sunday.

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I like the small trees. I brought out the decorations and put up some of my favorites. Pretty much 90% of the Christmas decor I have I’ve bought on mega-clearance after Christmas each year. I love that I have so much and barely spent anything on it! The tree skirt I bought for 90% off a few years ago (I think it was like $5!) and every ornament I have was probably less than a dollar or two. Clearance is awesome!

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Sur la Table often has really nice, expensive ornaments for less than $4 in their after Christmas clearance, FYI.  This ornament was one I bought in Maui on our honeymoon:

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And Bella hung her ornament:

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It’s nice to finally get into the holiday spirit! Wow this time next year we’ll be doing ALL the Christmas stuff with the little one. Crazy.

And for your viewing pleasure, check this out: 36 Cats Crashing Nativity Scenes.

Christmas Cranberry Bread

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My office had a holiday potluck recently and I made some cranberry bread to take with me. I’d discovered a recipe on pinterest for an amazing looking cranberry pistachio bread and wanted to make it but it was really involved. More than I wanted to do on a Thursday night at 8pm. So I found a similar recipe that was a little more simple. Here it is:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Category: alcohol, Baking, calories, Christmas, Cooking, Dessert, Dinner, Dinner Party, Dogs, Family, food, Food update, Friends, Holiday Foods, Holidays, Low Calorie Recipes, Memories, Michael, Portland, Portland activities, recipes, Weekend Update, Yule

Servings: 12-16 servings

From: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cranberry-pistachio-bread/5a7637ac-2edc-4d58-8bf4-8ac68367d2bd

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 8x4-inch loaf pan. In large bowl with wooden spoon, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat in oil, 1/3 cup cider and eggs until smooth. Stir in apple, cranberries and 1/3 cup pistachios. Spoon and spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough of the 2 to 3 teaspoons cider for desired glaze consistency. Spread over top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pistachios.

Nutrition Facts

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Serves

Amount Per Serving
Calories Around 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Sugars
Protein
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45071

I mixed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer (I love this thing) and then poured it into the mini loaf pan that I have. Using that instead of a regular sized pan I got 3 loaves of the bread out of it. The only change I made to the recipe was using the Splenda Blend instead of regular sugar.

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Using the Splenda blend I got calories down to around 135 each slice. I baked the bread for less time than the recipe called because the loaves were smaller. The recipe called for a glaze, as well. I skipped that for a few reasons. It was late in the evening and I didn’t want to do it and I honestly don’t think glazes or frosting add a lot to a recipe except for calories!

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How was the bread? It was really good! It was dense, not dry but dense. I think next time I make this I’d use plain Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil, and maybe a little applesauce. I liked the mild flavor. There was a touch of sweetness from the cranberries and apple chunks but it was mild. It would be a great recipe for someone trying to watch their sugar intake.

Since I made the mini loaves, I had an extra one that I ended up taking to a friend’s house for her holiday party.

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Every few years she throws a house warming/holiday party and then we all go and walk along Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane is a short residential street in SE Portland that gets all decked out for Christmas. It’s actually a requirement for the homeowners to decorate!

Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area.

It’s a fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really necessary to do it every single year, we generally go every other year or so. So I took a loaf of cranberry bread and a bottle of wine to Sam’s house and we all hung out, eating (she made these turkey meatballs with a BBQ sriracha sauce that was amazing) and drinking before walking down to Peacock Lane.

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We had a great time at the party and then a bunch of us walked down to Peacock Lane. With Bella! It was raining pretty hard but we still had a good time (and got totally soaked).

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Bella did a great job! There were so many people that I think she was overwhelmed and so she didn’t bark at anyone. It was great!

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My cousin Anna and her friend came to the party and they walked Peacock Lane with us. It was fun! We chatted, they snuck a little adult beverage in non-see through cups and shared with us as we tromped around in the pouring rain looking at Christmas lights. 🙂

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I’m so proud of Bella! She’s really growing up. She’s not freaked out by strangers as much anymore and I’m excited to be able to take her more places and not worry about her being scared of everything that moves. Anyways, we went back to Sam’s house after walking Peacock Lane, soaked through and through, said our goodbyes and called it a night. All of us were very very soaked. My jacket is still drying out.