Swedish Christmas - in Hawaii!

by Breeze Giannasio

In Sweden and Norway, Christmas entails a long celebration, from the beginning of December all the way through the middle of January. With short days and scarce light, the festivities (and the food) are hugely important.  Well, there's no lack of light here in Hawaii, but we still enjoy all of these Scandinavian traditions in our house on Christmas Eve.

The big feast is called a Julbord, meaning “Christmas Table,” featuring plates upon plates of delicious meats, cheeses, and desserts. We start with Hawaiian pupus, because of course, we are in Hawaii!  Poi, poki, kim chee, etc. But then we turn to cured salmon (gravlax), quickly followed by a light arugula salad with pomegranates, blue cheese and pistachio.  Then come the cold meets, sliced cheese, and pickled cucumbers.  Then we jump into the final savory course which consists of traditional Swedish meatballs, potatoes, and lingonberry sauce.

The feast is followed by traditional desserts of rice porridge with cinnamon (risengryngrot), ginger cookies, and krumkaker.   God Jul! (Merry Christmas and Mele Kalikimaka everyone!)

If you want to experience a real treat, try out Marcus Samulsson's (of Acquavit fame) recipe  for swedish meatballs.  Take a visual preview of some of the spread below.  Skol!


Here and There

by Breeze Giannasio in

Do you think the grass is always greener on the other side?  The shot below of my living room made me a little nostalgic for a warm and cozy holiday experience in DC.  I'm imagining enjoying a classic Old Fashioned with brandied cherries by the fireplace as the snow softly falls outside.  But here I am, home in Hawaii, surrounded instead by the warmth of the Aloha Spirit, enjoying time with family.  Not bad.  Today I'll be on Lanikai beach with old friends.  Perhaps there will be a champagne lilikoi cocktail in my near future... Bloom where you're planted and enjoy this holiday season, all!

Wrap It

by Breeze Giannasio in

Now that I'm home, it's time to open up my suitcase and start wrapping all the goodies I have for everyone.  I'm sticking to kraft paper, vellum and various twines and ribbons this year, but here is a bit of inspiration for all of you with wrapping still left to do.  

God Jul Tidings

by Breeze Giannasio in

There's so much to love about the holidays, but I always swoon over the mixture of warmth, whimsy, nature and the intoxicating medley of cozy vibes that the season brings.

Heavyweights of the Year: Coffee Table Books

by Breeze Giannasio in ,

At a holiday party I attended last night, "book elves" presented every designer with a design-related book to build their studio resource library.  It's such a charming tradition and one for which I'm perennially fond.  I'm a total sucker especially for heavy and inconvenient coffee table books -- I love them except when I actually need to pack and move.  Well, for those looking for holiday recommendations, here are some stunning books put together by a range of architects, designers and decorators that came out in 2012.  It's beautiful eye candy for those interested in design and captivating residential interiors.  One of my favorites is Lars Bolander's Interior Design & Inspiration, which deftly offers a close look at the Swedish antiquarian’s fresh take on Gustavian style. Links to purchase are below.  Enjoy!

The Big Book of Chic (Assouline, $75)  | Timeless Interiors (Gibbs Smith, $40) | Cohler on Design (Monacelli Press, $50) | The Great American House (Rizzoli, $55) | American Decoration: A Sense of Place (Monacelli Press, $50) | Ann Getty: Interior Style (Rizzoli, $55) | American Beauty (Clarkson Potter, $45) | The Collected Home (Clarkson Potter, $45) | Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors (Rizzoli, $75) | Bill Willis (Éditions Jardin Majorelle, $95) | Lars Bolander: Interior Design & Inspiration (teNeues, $95) | A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life ($34) | American Fashion Designers at Home (Assouine, $50)

Charlie Brown Christmas

by Breeze Giannasio in

I was in Annapolis for the weekend and got to catch the hustle and bustle of their holiday festivities, including a Christmas boat parade in which all the locals deck their sails, yachts, dingies, motor boats, what have you, with Christmas lights for a tour around the harbor.  The charming capital of Maryland is usually pretty sleepy, but was bursting at the seams with visitors and locals looking for a reason to come together.  At the end of the day, although I loved all the reindeers and elaborate light displays, my favorite was a little charlie brown christmas tree that wasn't even technically part of the parade.  Simplicity wins the day every time.  Here's to celebrating the scrawny and soulful charlie brown trees out there everywhere.  


The Swedes

by Breeze Giannasio

I had such a lovely day at the House of Sweden yesterday for their annual Christmas bazaar and Santa Lucia procession.  First of all, what didn't I eat?  I had a bonafide smörgåsbord that included those delicious open face sandwiches (shrimp, meatballs, laks, you name it), various meats and cheeses, scrumptious cakes, marizpan and kakar (cookies) and yes, even swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce and fresh whipped cream.  Yum yum.  But in addition to all the tasty treats there were wonderful imported and handcrafted goods.  I came home with my arms full of things like hand carved dala horses, straw ornaments and a brass Santa Lucia crown with old timey hand dipped candles.  My only regret is not buying a little troll and Swedish costume for my little niece Napela.  God jul!  Enjoy a bit of Swedish holiday style.