Merry Christmas Eve, friends. I’m happy to report that Christmas miracles abound.

Mike has December 24, 25, and 26 off from the hospital (yay!!). My mom, dad, brother, and I shared a lovely meal last night at the Zuni Café in San Francisco—our first full Clary reunion in way too long and another reason to cheer for being on the West Coast. And our mercurial dog Denali is getting along astonishingly well with my parents’ 100-pound-plus Bernese Mountain Dogs.

I couldn’t have asked for better gifts. Which is good because we are not exchanging any this year beyond stockings.

While I dodged the usual holiday retail bonanza, I have had to resist the itch to buy a holiday wreath. At Target, I said no. At the hardware store, I said no. At the nursery, I said no. At the Christmas tree lot, I said no. Then, when we lopped off a few bottom branches of our Christmas tree, I realized I could say yes.

This Christmas wreath looks homemade because it is.

I bought some floral wire for $2 from a florist shop in Palo Alto and scavenged for the rest of my materials. Snowberries, toyon (aka “Christmas berry”), and other bits found on a hike. Ribbon from the box my wedding dress arrived in, a winter ball gown on clearance from J. Crew back in 2006. Succulent florets salvaged from when Denali tap-danced on my best aeoniumagain—while in hot pursuit of a squirrel in the backyard, not that I’m bitter about it or anything.

For inspiration, I had an article from Sunset magazine in mind with pointers from Studio Choo, known for their slightly wild and untucked floral arrangements. It’s part of The Prairie Collective, a small shop of treasures on SF’s Divisidero Street that has received a lot of press lately.

And in the spirit of homemade things, I have another tradition I’d like to continue: making this biscotti recipe. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but it’s worth sharing a photo.



If you’re in dire straights trying to think of a last-minute Christmas present, I vouch that these biscotti are a great gift, especially with a pound of your favorite coffee. Here is the recipe from Proud Italian Cook.

Pistachio and Fig Biscotti

Recipe adapted from Proud Italian Cook

1 teaspoon of anise seeds

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

1/2 cup dried figs, cut into 1/4 inch dice with stems removed*

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

With your mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, extracts, and zest, and beat until creamy and light.

Combine dry ingredients together, then add to the butter mixture. Add the figs and the nuts last.

Mix everything on low speed until incorporated then remove dough and divide in half.

Form two 9×2 inch logs, place on parchment lined baking sheet apart from each other, and bake until lightly browned (25 to 30 minutes).

Remove from oven, and let them cool down. You can’t cut them when they’re hot or they’ll crumble. Using a serrated knife, take your time and slowly cut logs into 1/2″ thick slices.

Arrange biscotti on their sides on the baking sheet. Return to oven, and bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes. Turn biscotti over on the other side and bake for another 10-15 minutes more, or until desired crispiness. Cool on racks.

Makes around 20**

* Note: It’s much easier to pulse your figs in a food processor. Just make sure to leave them chunky like the size of a pea, and make sure you snip off the tips of your figs first, as they tend to be really hard and inedible.

** The original recipe says this makes 40 biscotti, but even when I double the batch I never get that many cookies out of it. Doubling the batch is a good idea, by the way. These disappear quickly.