Right after Dahlias, Peonies have to be one of my favorite flowers. I can’t quite explain why this particular flower is so enchanting (to many). Perhaps it is the pleasure in watching them begin as a very tiny bud and just continue to open and open, their petals like soft feathers on a bird. There are numerous and beautiful varieties of peonies,  and it is really hard to say which one is more mesmerizing than the other. Incidentally, I’ve never met a single person who didn’t like Peonies and most people seem to ADORE them. They are something special indeed.

Peonies, Ilex berry with hot cocoa and marshmallows: life’s simple pleasures.

I splurged last week and bought this 3 stem bunch of Pink Peonies, along with some Ilex berry. It worked decidedly well together in my green vase. I was even thrilled when an old friend of mine (and famed Pastry Chef ) sent me this image (below) to me in a text.

It’s news to me (because I don’t have an Iphone) that there is a very cool phone application called Flipboard that appears to pull information from social networks you subscribe to and catalog them in what looks like a cute little magazine. Correct me if I’m wrong. Anyhow, I posted the original image of the peonies and ilex berry on my twitter account and it ended up on said Flipboard. Very neat and slightly amusing as my name is listed first (and before another famed Pastry Chef David Lebovitz ).

A few days after the peonies began to open, I casually picked some beautiful leaves from a tree and added them to the existing arrangement.

Completely takes on a fresh new feel.
And these leaves by the way are just incredible. The weather has been very flip floppy, so the leaves on many trees are still changing colors. I am particularly fond of these and what ever tree they derived from.

I decided to display a few of them this way.

I was also out of cheese…


“Dating back centuries before Christ, cultures brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the winter solstice, which occurs in the northern hemisphere between December 21st and 22nd. Although the specific practices were different in each country and culture, the symbolization was generally the same: to celebrate the return of life at the beginning of winter’s decline.”-  read more about the History of the Christmas Tree .

In lieu of purchasing an evergreen tree, either big, medium or small, I decided to out source ‘my tree’ by walking a short distance to the side of my house. I picked up the Ilex berry at the store and added a few snipping of the wild red berries I picked down the street. The greens are random as they come and are quite hearty. It was not only until after that I realized I had just selected my holiday ‘tree’. I initially was just gathering greens to fill my vase and then it became quite a serendipitous moment.

As much as I love the smell of evergreen, I don’t love the shedding..but that really isn’t the reason I didn’t go out and purchase a ‘traditional’ Christmas tree this year. I tend to lean toward the more non-traditional ways of celebrating (the season) and alternative ways to bring fresh greens indoors while still maintaining the symbolism behind said greens.

A few weeks ago my step-sister and her husband, invited me over to her house to partake in quite a festive night of decorating their very large Christmas tree with my two young nephews. It was an absolute joy and delight to help them unpack their special Christmas ornaments and watch them be boosted up to hang these precious decorations. After the tree was decked we sat down, enjoyed cups of eggnog and watched a Charlie Brown Christmas. It was the first time I had watched this iconic special in quite some time. It was so refreshing to be reminded about the true spirit of Christmas, as at times it can be easy to forget. Amazing that a Charlie Brown Christmas aired in 1965, and even way back then the premise was about “the over-commercialization of Christmas” and well, the enlightenment of Charlie Brown, so to speak. Or rather, how Charlie Brown discovered the true meaning of Christmas.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'”

“…And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

It is truly an animated classic worth watching again each year. Preferably enjoyed in the company of family, and friends with a warm cup of kindness and cheer. It is also a time of reflection and appreciation. Appreciate and give thanks.

Happy Holidays!