A Fireside Chat with Zola

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We sat down recently to chat with Zola and learned all “merry” of things holiday related:

Do you go “all out” with your holiday decorating?
I used to. Now I do what I call “holiday lite.” That means I still decorate the mantel, one tall, thin tree, one buffet in the living room, the countertop in the TV room and the bar, as well as the dining room table. And believe me, for me, that’s lite!

Your Favorite Christmas Moment:
I love the morning of Christmas Eve. That’s when I get to just chill with a warm beverage and sit in front of my tree and just take it all in. I look at the gift wrapping I’ve done, admire the decorations on the tree and just soak up a warm fire. It’s my “me” time at Christmas.

What do you do for gift wrapping?
That’s one thing I still go all out on. Each year, my gifts have a theme color. This year is silver, black and white. I wrap all gifts so they match/coordinate and then I go nuts on the bows. My husband wraps my gifts and turns them over to me for the big bow job.

Your Favorite Christmas Food:
I still look forward to mashed potatoes. This is one of the few times a year I eat an adult-sized portion. So carb-laden! But now I don’t feel guilty when I make my recipe and load them with butter and cream. I hear sour cream is a great addition too. I might try that this year. And caramelized leeks! BIG YUM!

Caramelized Leek Mashed Potatoes – YUM!


Do you make Christmas cookies?
I have. It’s not a thing that was a must in my family though. We used to do this thing where we made chocolate peanut clusters and we’d keep them chilled in the attic behind my parents’ bedroom. My little brother and I would sneak in the attic for an extra treat. I also liked them cuz when I was a tiny child and had no cooking skills, I could still “help” make them. (My other siblings just handed me a wooden spoon to hold and I thought I was helping.)

If I had an extra hour in my day today, I would:
Go to the zoo. Even in winter, I love to stroll through the zoo and in Chicago, the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo is free. I take all the little kiddies that visit us to the zoo.

Favorite Holiday Movie:
My favorite holiday movie is actually one that is a tad on the adult side. You would not want to watch it with the little kiddies. It’s “Love Actually.” That scene with Hugh Grant dancing gets me every time. I actually ran into Hugh Grant once. Really! Literally! We were visiting London and went to a play. During intermission, I decided to go to the ladies room. I had to part a big, velvet curtain to get into the hallway. As I stepped out Hugh Grant came running in and smacked right into me. “So sorry” came out of both of us and that was it.

When I got back from the ladies room I spied him in the crowd sitting about 4 rows in front of us. He was sitting next to his lady-friend at the time, Elizabeth Hurley – the model. The odd thing is she was sitting in the theatre in a grey sweatsuit! A bit casual for legitimate theatre, I’d say.

The movie is heartwarming and my husband and I watch it every year. There are few spicy scenes in it though and I think it has an adult rating.

If you want to know what I watch with the kiddies it’s “Home Alone.” The paint can in the head just kills me – and almost kills the burglar. I love to listen to my husband laugh at scenes he’s literally seen dozens of times.

Favorite Christmas Song:
This one brings tears to my eyes and fond memories every time: Bing Crosby singing White Christmas is the tune. It HAS to be the Bing version though. You remember that part of the song where Bing whistles? Well, my dad could whistle that part perfectly and always did it in perfect pitch. I was so impressed as a little kid. Second place would be Feliz Navidad. That’s cuz I took Spanish, can sing the words and actually know what they mean!