Vin chaud..and Decembers past, chronicles I: trees

Vin chaud definitely has its place in our home during the winter months..which haven’t shown up yet..but I will be ready! It infuses the home with wonderful December flavors and cupping your hand around the glass, sipping slowly, truly brings it home. even in the Southern hemisphere it can be enjoyed for a summer December evening, especially outside; or taken to the beach on a moonlit evening, or by the barbie fire..it can only be good..or better than good..?

Pincée de sel:

  • Serve the mulled wine warm to hot.
  • Peel the orange very thin, so only get the outer skin and not the white which tends to add bitterness.
  • Add or remove spices as your taste dictates.
  • Start with less sugar , you can always add more later if needed.
  • The flavors develop with standing..leave to stand at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.
  • Always pour the hot liquid onto a spoon into glass to prevent cracking.
  • Cut the orange slices into quarters and remove the skin when adding to each glass..it is easier to drink without having an enormous slice of orange suddenly spilling the wine all over your chin! And the small quarters can be eaten after the glass is emptied, wonderfully gorged with the spiced wine.

When I packed up our Loire home in Montlouis a little while back, I came across our photo albums which stretch over years and years. I saw all Christmases past and was excited to realize that I captured them ALL on film or digital. My Christmas photos date back 26 years, to that very first year we became a family. Except for 2003, every Christmas the last 26 years  is on film or digital…the preparations, the decor, our tree and our dinners. Unfortunately my photo albums are in storage, so I can’t show those Christmases.  Maybe next year.

Our tradition had always been to decorate our tree on 1 December… we have a nice dinner by a candle we light every evening with dinner for the whole of December; in gratitude, remembering friends and family and for the love we have for one another. This has never changed, even now that our nest is empty. Our tradition also demands a different tree each year. Some years it was a live tree, some years a fake one, others were handmade, some were dry branches, it depended on the year’s flavor.

I have collected quite a few pieces over the years and I always kept in mind that we have 2 daughters who will one day have to share these decorations, so I saw to it that each of them will have the same of everything..a memory of Christmases in their childhood home. I hope it will give them and their children big pleasure one day to hang these little  decorations on their own trees.

So, here we are; last week of November, but because I love Noël…and because I paged through albums…and because I am a sucker for sentiment and memories…and because we are starting a new chapter in our book of life stories… I want to share snippets of our Christmases-past until Saturday night, when we will see our  2012 tree up and candle lit for December 2012.  ***************************************************

Noël 2004:

This year was the first year we had a dry branch, which had become a favorite in our home. We used only white decorations: a white rose in small vases(which were still unavailable and I had to bribe a florist to sell me some of hers). Large bells and fabric angels completed our tree and a group of snowmen around the base of the tree…oh yes  of course, faerie lights!

To continue the white theme, I added white coloured chocolates and cookies on the table..not a good idea!

**************************************************************

Noël 2005:

This year’s tree was supposed to be an “angel” tree. I added some quotes I wrote on handmade paper, which we still use today..

Some détail on the angels and their quotes..

***************************************************

Noël 2006:

A traditional tree was our choice for this year. I added some old postcards and voilà a very full tree.

..and some détail..small balck and white photographs of our family in small silver frames..still used today. and the cutest little pink angel cards I found in an antique store in Paris.

*******************************************************

Noël 2007:

Dry branches in une vieille jarre, decorated in silver, grey and white. I added rusted wired hearts and crosses. This year’s tree was a bitloaded and  chaotic, but even that is OK, a good memory, because there were always a lot of hands helping, decorating, adding!

..a little détail corner I loved..

*********************************************************

Noël 2008:

Once again, an all white tree, but more modern with large balls of white cotton wool depicting snow and the cutest poilar bears, white baubles and small mirrors catching reflections. Even though it is a fake tree and the whole tree had a modern look, I was very happy with our tree..

..a favorite corner with old books..“La chatte, by Colette”. I somehow always have to add books to the tree..it goes hand in hand, doesn’t it..books and Christmas trees..

****************************************************************

Noël 2009:

This tree is my all time favorite tree..I loved this year’s tree! Fresh moss from my garden in Montlouis, the tree from the Loire, the dry hydrangeas were directly from the garden too..and books, books, books!

..my two favorite crosses that I found in Helsinki..

.a détail corner with silver baubles and grey felt reindeer, also a favorite decoration..

*********************************************************

Noël 2010:

This was one of only two years that we bought a tree..It was also the second time that I felt very very sad at the en of Christmas, when the tree was so dry and triste and it matched my tristesse. I really didn’t like the feeling of taking down decorations from a sad tree.. But while it was there…it was trasitional and pretty.

..with more traditional red and green and gold decorations..

***************************************************************

Noël 2011:

And finally, our first tree from last year at Coin Perdu. We have moved on. Montlouis is in the past. This tree came from our forest and I had our eldest daughter who helped me in searching for it and dragging it back home. The Noël agains the wall was quickly put together by things I found lying around and I added a few stars and mushrooms. I wanted to tell a story with this tree, because it is a tree depicting life here at Coin Perdu..the deer, the forest, the owls..

…these two owl represent the family of owls who loved in the barn and are now in the woods, because we now live in the barn..temporarily!

..and a favorite corner from last year’s tree..

**************************************************************

  •  And to add some new music to your December repertoire...Bach, fifteen classical holiday favorites. Beautiful to listen to, even though it isn’t December and Christmas yet. They can all be found on Deezer if you prefer to listen there..
  • Continuing tomorrow: Quick fleur de sel grissini…and Decembers past, chronicles 11: table decor.

More photos can be seen in my gallery on the sidebar, Joyeux Noël.

à demain alors!

Ronelle

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10 responses

  1. Monique

    Absolument super be.I could never pick a favorite.You keep all?every year?
    I do..but I just keep adding..so the tree is everything:-) There is even z
    A lovely one from you:-)
    Love the book idea:-)
    You photos..are like every inspirational French blog..in one.My favorite:-)

    27/11/2012 at 14:02

  2. Gorgeous Xmas trees! Magical looking.

    I love vin chaud, but it is a beverage that always makes me sleep instantly, so I can only drink it before going to bed! ;-P

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    27/11/2012 at 14:08

  3. Family Christmas memories are so special…I know you enjoyed looking back at the ones you have shared.

    27/11/2012 at 14:23

  4. I will try your vin chaud this winter when my fingers and toes need some help getting warm :) It sounds wonderful and sooo very relaxing.

    What a beautiful round up of your Christmas trees past, Ronelle. I couldn’t pick a favorite either but I do find your nature tree from last year so charming. I love how it tells the story of your surroundings.

    We will put up our tree this next weekend and it will be loaded with the Santa ornaments that I have collected over the past 15-ish years.

    27/11/2012 at 15:53

  5. I love all of the trees. Mine is pretty vintage at this stage with many years of momentos hanging on it. I did add some fluff this year with bows and sparkley branches.

    Eileen

    28/11/2012 at 00:59

  6. Awe, thanks for sharing! I love that your tree is not the same every year but, goes along with the life you are living at that time! All are beautiful!

    28/11/2012 at 02:41

  7. Pingback: Quick fleur de sel grissinis..and Past Decembers, chronicles 2: tables. « Myfrenchkitchen

  8. They are all so beautiful and unique. I think my favorite was 2009 or last year’s, too! So, so wonderful and full of sweet memories for you. I also love the idea of lighting the candle each night – something I think I will do this year as well.

    I will try your vin chaud. Sounds warm and cozy.

    Thanks for sharing. xo

    28/11/2012 at 18:26

  9. Oh Ronelle, how gorgeous! I also have pics of every Christmas going back to 1980, the first year I got a camera. I love that your tree changes every year – and it goes without saying that I am a HUGE fan of vin chaud!!

    30/11/2012 at 01:53

  10. Sandy & Richard

    What great family pictures, everyone enjoying cooking together…how wonderful.
    And if only we could find the odd ruby in our oysters, because thats what they look like, those juicey little pomegranate pieces. I’m about to make your grissini, yum.
    Cheers Sandra

    30/11/2012 at 05:24

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