Get ready for Christmas 2020! (Seriously…)

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I know it sounds absolutely crazy to think about, but trust me: NOW is the time to prepare for the 2020 holiday season. As you clean-up wrapping paper, but away ribbons and decide which bags and boxes you plan to keep, it’s important to keep an eye on the prize: being organized next year. Here are a few things you can do to be prepared:

  1. To organize for 2020, make sure you shop for your holiday essentials over the next few days while they’re on sale. That way you will have them tucked away waiting for you next season! It’s such a wonderful surprise when the occasion arrives to be prepared.
  2. Go through your wrap and decor stash to see what is missing. Restock wrapping paper, ribbon and tags, scissors, tape, washi tape and other festive accouterments.
  3. Dispose of any ragged bits of wrapping paper, rolls that are empty or bags that are torn. Think about investing in a shredder to do the job and limit the trash. After all, shredded paper essentially doubles as confetti!
  4. Organize everything in a tidy box that can be slid into a closet, tucked under a bed, or put away in a basement or attic. In fact, invest in two wrapping boxes: one for the holiday season and one for any other wrapping needs that might arise. This way, you’re not digging through Santa tags and snowman paper when your BFF’s birthday comes along.

Any other holiday organizational tips we should share? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments!

xx Annette

 

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2 Apple Sauce Recipes for Latkes (and anything else!)

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On Monday, I shared my recipe for latkes, and as everyone knows, latkes are even better with toppings. Greek yogurt and sour cream are good additions, but there’s nothing like topping them with apple sauces.

Over the years, I’ve perfected not one but two amazing apple sauce recipes perfect for latkes, and I’m sharing both with you today. Let me know what you think and which one you prefer. Honestly, I think it will be a tough decision to determine the winner!

Wouldn’t this make a lovely hostess gift? Tie some ribbon on the jar and you’re all set.

Traditional Homemade Applesauce
You will need:
– 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
– 4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
– Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
– 3 inches of cinnamon stick
– 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
– Up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt


To prepare:

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels.

Mash with potato masher.  Place in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

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Cranberry Apple Sauce

You will need:
– 8 cups of cranberries
– 8 small or 6 medium apples sliced
– 1/2 cup sugar

To prepare:
In a large sauce pan place cranberries, sliced apple, and sugar.

Simmer on low heat, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for 45 minutes until completely cooked and softened. Press the cooked cranberries and cooked apples with a fork to completely combine. The fruit should have a smooth yet chunky consistency.

Let the applesauce cool. Stored in a closed jar, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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My Latkes Recipe, just in time for Hanukkah!

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Every year my kids look forward to our Hanukkah meal. We light the candles, say a prayer, open little gifts and then sit down together for our traditional meal. I roast free-range chicken, and I make homemade sweet potato + Yukon potato latkes with homemade applesauce. I also usually toss together a sweet and savory salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a meal that incorporates all the flavors while bringing back warm memories from the years we’ve enjoyed this celebration of light together.

If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year, give my yellow and gold latkes recipe a try. Actually, give these a try regardless of your celebrations; everyone loves latkes!

Yellow and Gold Latkes
serves 4 to 6
You will need:

– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal
– 1 small yellow onion diced
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup olive oil
To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce (recipes coming later this week!), sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

xx Annette

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

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It’s never too late for holiday cards

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Hey everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am writing today’s post about one of my favorite traditions: holiday cards.

Growing up, I remember stalking our mailbox waiting for holiday cards to roll in. My favorite cards were the ones that included a letter about what families had been up to. Big dance recitals, address changes, new family members, marriages, and other major life events were meticulously recorded in a friendly letter that my mom would read aloud. While these friends might live far away, it was always fun to hear what they had been up to since the last time we had seen each other.

Now, holiday cards are still one of my favorite traditions. Two have already arrived (those friends are REALLY on top of the game), and I’m anticipating many, many more – even well beyond Christmas.

When we got married, December 1, 2013, I knew I wanted to include our wedding photos on our holiday card which meant waiting several weeks to get the proofs from our photographer, create a card, have them shipped and addressed, and get everything back in the mail. I decided then that instead of worrying about getting Christmas cards out in time, our family would do New Year’s cards instead! It’s worked out perfectly ever since because it’s never too late for holiday cards.

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That year, and nearly every year since, I’ve used Minted for holiday cards. Minted not only offers hundreds of creative designs but their proofing and shipping cannot be beaten. I created my cards on Monday before Thanksgiving, and they arrived at my house on Friday. Needless to say, that was crazy fast, and they’re crazy beautiful.

In honor of those newsletter Christmas cards from my childhood, I created a newsletter of sorts for our cards this year. I added a few of our big life moments from 2019 as well as a little note to our friends and family. I also took advantage of Minted’s return address printing, as well as their matching postage designs. Everything is here and ready to go!

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Since holiday cards can be such an investment, and I wanted a way to cherish the memories year after year, I have Christmas ornaments made using our cards. These are some of my favorite ornaments on our tree, and it’s so fun to look back on our cards throughout the years.

You can have your own ornaments made here, or you can skip the extra step and create a Christmas ornament card via Minted! Either way, I cannot recommend Minted holiday cards enough. They’ve been my go-to place for holiday cards since 2013!

Thank you to Minted for gifting me my cards this year. I love them!

xo Nicole

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Where to Shop for the Holidays this Year:: Hint: SHOP SMALL!

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So many people do holiday gift guides this time of year, but I thought I’d bring you something a little different this year. Instead of what to shop, I’m giving you ideas of where to shop.

Shopping small business is a passion of mine. Many of my closest friends have their own businesses, and as a small business owner myself, I know how hard the grind is. This time of year, it’s especially important to remember our small business partners. These are our friends and neighbors. They are the parents at your kids’ schools. They are the people who walk 10 miles a day at America’s Mart to bring you the best items they can find. And I love each and everyone one of them.

Here are a few of my favorite places that I will be shopping this holiday season. I’d love to hear some of your favorite small businesses in the comments!

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Bernard Cohen Collection 
As you all might know, Bernard Cohen is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He recently launched a pearl jewelry collection that is absolutely stunning. Anyone would be thrilled to unwrap one of his pieces. All orders through December 6 will be 20% off with discount code AJSTYLE at checkout.

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Recently opened at Shops around Lenox in Atlanta, etuHOME is bound to be the next big thing in our area and beyond. I recently hosted a book signing there, and trust me, the space and selections are incredible. In fact, something tells me if you wander through etu, you might find something for yourself, too!

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Minted
If my love for Minted isn’t clear enough, allow me to tell you one more time: Minted is a wonderful place to shop any time of year. As I’ve mentioned, their art selections are unlike any other, and art is always a fantastic gift! It’s personal and thoughtful.

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

Hudson Grace
Ever since I produced this stunning party at Hudson Grace last year for Atlanta Magazine HOME, I’ve had a crush on this unique home store. They have so many awesome goodies, but I especially love their table linens and candles. Oh, and a little birdie told me they have RBG Christmas ornaments. Who doesn’t need one of those?!

By the way, I’d love to invite each of you to join me at America’s Mart in January. I’ll be discussing how small business owners can define their brand, merchandise, and more!

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