A long time ago, my aunt made me a lovely Christmas wreath to hang on my front door. Sadly, over the years I haven’t taken the best care of it, and it’s gotten more bedraggled than I’d like. Since we moved to a new house I’ve been excited to decorate for the holidays, and updating the wreath was first on my list!
I wasn’t going to waste a perfectly good artificial wreath, but I did strip off all of the decorations and replace them with new gold and red berries, a whole 10-yard spool of red/green/gold plaid ribbon, and just for fun an adorable little owl. Isn’t he cute?
It was a fun project that only took an evening– the hardest part was getting the ribbon to lie just so when all I had to work with was a stapler and some extra twists of floral wire I scavenged from the original wreath. For the record, stapling the ribbon to make little dips/ripples (which I then tucked into the greenery and wired down) was the key to keeping it looking lush and not too stiff.
One problem with the glass walls of the fairy house is that they really don’t provide much purchase for mounting things like curtains, shelves, or other things. Not only that, but anything you do use to mount stuff will show through the glass from the outside, which is never pretty. To combat this (and to fill in some of the bareness of the walls), I decided to add a tree to the inside. The branches “grow” along the walls and provide both cover and a place to hang things from, and the leaves make the whole thing look cozier and less stark.
While I was in Paris for my breadbaking course, I made a point of visiting famous pastry shops (okay, not just famous ones) and picking out the most delectable-looking desserts to enjoy, regardless of cost or calories. After all, it’s not every day one is in Paris and able to experience all of the delicious things the city has to offer! And one of the most important delicious things on my list was the Ispahan macaron at Pierre Herme.
The Ispahan is a dessert made of two pink macaron shells, sandwiching fresh raspberries, lychees, and a rose buttercream. The combination of flavors was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was an exquisitely balanced meld of sweet and floral and fruity, with creamy and crispy and juicy textures in each bite… I just can’t do it justice with mere words. A perfect dessert. This from a woman who usually goes for chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. I knew I had to recreate it here at home.
I’ll get to a perfect reproduction later, but until then I’m just trying to get the general flavor profile right. I decided to start with panna cotta, figuring that it’s light and creamy, doesn’t have egg yolks or butter to disguise the delicate flavors of rose and lychee, and is simple enough that I wouldn’t feel bad about wasting tons of time and effort if it didn’t turn out well.