This morning I have been catching up with some wonderful bloggy friends.
A favorite is an interior designer & freelance writer who divides her time betwwen New York City and East Hampton. She is Tamara Matthews-Stephenson, the warm & friendly proprietor of the incredible blog, Nest!
After enjoying my second cup of coffee and her incredible monthly post for January, I read an editorial that she wrote for
Dan's Paper/ East Hampton magazine where
she offers up her perspective on the holidays & the beginning of the new year.
Thought I would share it with you and wish you all a wonderful weekend.
A Fresh Perspective for the New Year
By Tamara Matthews-Stephenson
With the celebration of the New Year still ringing in my ears, I breathe a sigh of relief that all the frenetic wrapping, cooking, gift giving, tree trimming and celebrating has finally ended. As I finish sweeping up the pine needles, carefully bubble wrapping the ornaments, and putting away the presents that were nestled under the tree, I am happy to be done with the work although a little sad to pack away all that brought us happiness during the holidays. Each year I forge ahead with gusto towards the holiday season as the whirlwind from Thanksgiving to New Year's blows in after Halloween. We hosted a parade of friends and family this year and it was great fun. Rarely do I have time to contemplate the experience because it comes and goes so quickly. This year I add to my list of New Year's resolutions some ideas on how to stave off the "winter blues" in the dreary months ahead by keeping the joy of the season in my home, albeit in a pared-down manner. I hope to capture and preserve that holiday cheer that we enthusiastically embraced only a few short weeks ago because it seems a shame to let all that good energy go to waste.
My first idea for keeping a home infused with good cheer is to keep the music playing. We listen to an eclectic array of music over the holiday season, everything from classic Bing Crosby to Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker." Music brings a sense of calm to our home, the television goes off, and we mill around the house more contently. I could not tolerate another Christmas carol; however, I burned a few CDs of my favorite artists and songs to listen to during our weekends and evenings at home together.
After a visual overload during the holidays, from many decorations to wrapped gifts under the tree, I yearn for some minimalism. I temporarily put away the knick-knacks away from coffee table books to picture frames. Simpler is better, at least for now. The adornments I do keep around me include the potted amaryllis and orchid plants that are still in full bloom from Christmas. Having fresh and potted flowers in the house reminds me that spring is not that far away.
I plan to keep the fireplace roaring and the candles lit just as we had done over the season in order to keep the sparkle and warmth in my home. This year was particularly festive with the large amount of snow blanketing the East End of Long Island, and we were happy to have a white Christmas. We enjoyed the "blizzard of 2009," and the forecast is predicting even more snow in the coming weeks. I have my boots ready. We look forward to enjoying some outdoor activities: the skating rink in East Hampton looks enticing, we have our sleds prepared for Quail Hill and my husband pulled out the shovels from the shed for the next dumping of snow. I hope to embrace the weather rather than become annoyed by the inconveniences it causes. It should be fun to return from the outdoors to relax by the fire, read a book and maybe sip tea or hot chocolate.
I would like to continue entertaining guests for dinner and drinks, but rather than indulge in elaborate, multi-course meals, I will now opt for one-dish dinners that I can make in advance and serve casually in the kitchen. This will avoid excessive time spent cooking and table-setting. In keeping with my other New Year's resolution of lighter, healthier fare, I have tabbed some new recipes in my favorite cookbooks. Using the burgeoning online sources of Twitter and bloggers, I have found several recipes for soups and stews. There is an abundance of simple, healthy recipes to tap into right at your fingertips, literally a typed word away. Some of my favorite sites include: www.latartinegourmande.com, www.thewednesdaychef.com, www.chocolateandzucchini.com and www.smittenkitchen.com. In addition, almost all professional chefs have their own websites as well.
The family members visiting, eating, singing, laughing, bickering and all the other ways in which the guests entertained themselves in our home these holidays taught me something. Along with their messes, they left me with great memories and reminded me that my home is special, largely because of these shared times. For now I will enjoy the quiet lull and cherish those memories, relishing in the newly serene environment I created by keeping some special holiday touches while editing a bit. I hope to carry this cheer all the way up to spring.
Stop by Nest for a visit with Tamara & tell her I said hello!
And find her editorial here at Dan's Hamptons.