November 2007


Following up on yesterday’s series on the holiday decor of the White House and the well-trained (interview) rescue dogs therein , I would just like to provide a wee bit more evidence, for your viewing pleasure, on the cuteness of a certain Miss Beazley. She’s a uniter, not a divider.


cake love wedding cake

Many people freeze the top layer of their wedding cake and eat it one year later for their anniversary. Because we bought our cake from a baker rather than a caterer, we thought it would be easier, tastier and more economical to serve all of our wedding cake at the festivities and buy a small new cake the next year. (As it turned out, I don’t think we could have saved any cake even if we tried. The kids were going crazy for the cakey delicious-ness — one of my fond memories from the reception is the image of my little sister, standing on top of a chair, holding a plate of cake and looking thoroughly satisfied.)

What we did freeze from the wedding reception: a portion o’ shrimp and grits. Last night we got it out of the freezer and ate it … and, shoo-eee, was it ever tasty. Shrimp and grits is my favorite food (aside from cake), and the fine heirloom corn and milling methods from Anson Mills in Columbia, SC, just cannot be beat. Their “slow food” grits have a much more complex flavor and texture than anything you find in the store — it’s like they are homemade oatmeal bread and the stuff in stores is Sunbeam.

Tonight is the night for cake. Yes, my friends, I am getting me some cake love, and I cannot wait. Their strawberries and cream cake is perfection.

(And yes, our anniversary was technically two weeks ago, but I am extending it into a small season of its own — a bit like the 12 days of Christmas.)

white house dogs holiday decorations

Laura Bush had at least five interviews with television talk shows today about the White House Christmas decor. These were mostly fluffy, happy interviews and an opportunity for the administration to get some good press. Laura Bush is the most popular person in the White House by far.

She talked to interviewers about the decorations, food, and the national parks … and avoided questions about Jenna Bush’s wedding (supposedly no plans yet). The White House doggies, Barney and Miss Beazley, made an appearance in at least two of the interviews — but none quite so timely as on the CBS early show! Just as the interviewer was starting to press Mrs. Bush to comment on Hillary Clinton, the dogs magically appeared to introduce a new, more pleasant conversation topic (their furry selves) for the first lady. I can just picture an annoyed press secretary, off screen, pushing the dogs toward them as the interview turned in a direction she wanted to avoid.

(I must say this was an excellent strategy because regardless about how you feel about the Bush administration, you’ve got to give it to them for some cute pups. I mean, just look at Miss Beaz up there with her little bow on her neck! Barney makes a vid every year at Christmas — can’t wait.)

From the White House transcript:

Q There’s a lot of talk about another First Lady, someone else who had to decide Christmas themes — Hillary Clinton, who of course is running for President. And your husband recently said that he thinks she is going to get the Democratic nomination. Do you share that sentiment?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I don’t have any idea. And I really have not watched that many of the debates of the Democrats, so I just don’t have any idea what — who will get it. But we certainly know that she’s been under the pressure of living here.
Look who’s come in to the Christmas tree.
Q Oh, hi.
MRS. BUSH: It’s Miss Beazley.
Q Hi, Miss Beazley.
MRS. BUSH: Miss Beazley.
Q Are you going to smile for the camera? Wow, Miss Beazley has serious timing there.
MRS. BUSH: I know it.
Q That’s great.
MRS. BUSH: And here comes Barney. (Laughter.)
Q And here’s Barney. Can you guys get a shot, because we love this.
MRS. BUSH: Miss Beazley and Barney, and they love to —
Q Do they follow you everywhere?
MRS. BUSH: Well, no, they don’t follow me anywhere, but they do come around whenever they can. (Laughter.) They love balls, and so they’re very interested in the ornaments on the tree.
Q Well, these are very fragile, so we’ll keep them away from that. Mrs. Bush, Merry Christmas again.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much, Hannah.
Q And thanks for bringing us into your lovely home.

Laura Bush noted in one of her many interviews today that the White House tree has 347 National Park ornaments. So what I want to know is, who were the 44 Scrooge parks that did not participate in the nationwide craft project?

LAURA BUSH: Well, this year our theme is “Holidays in the National Parks.” And it’s — we sent out to each of the 391 national parks a big ball and asked them to decorate them, and they did. We got about 347 back, which I think is great.




Ok, no matter where some elite DC hosts are shopping for their ingredients and pre-fab items for holiday parties, we can still rely on the White House chefs to get crazy in the kitchen with specially-made-from-scratch treats for all those holiday parties, to which we are not invited. Below is the White House’s just-released party menu. delish. I just want to know whose grits they are using. Could it be Wade’s Mill in Virginia? Or my favorite, Anson Mills in South Carolina?


Holiday Buffet Reception

An Assortment of Artisanal and Local Cheeses served with a Bountiful Display of Crackers, Winter Fruits and Spiced Nuts
Chilled Gulf Shrimp Cocktail served with Cocktail Sauce and Remoulade
Bourbon-Glazed Virginia Ham served with Cheesy Stone-Ground Grits
Crispy Chicken-Fried Steak Fingers with Creamed Pan Drippings
Roasted Lamb Chops with Rosemary Sea Salt with Mission Fig Chutney and Mint Jelly
Fruitwood Smoked Copper River Salmon served with Fresh Potato Pancakes and Traditional Garnitures
Maryland Crab Cakes with Lemon Caper Sauce
Orzo Salad with Roasted Artichokes, Tomatoes and Olives with Feta Cheese Vinaigrette
Homemade Tamales with Roasted Poblanos and Vidalia Onions with Black Beans and Tomatillo Sauce
White and Green Asparagus and French Green Bean Tier with Garlic Aioli

Holiday Reception Desserts

Barney and Miss Beazley Cookies (Chocolate-Dipped with Gold Collars)
Decorated Animal Cookies (Grizzly Bear, Elk, Fox, Wolf, Eagle, Mountain Lion, Moose, Road Runner, Buffalo, Coyote, Deer)
Park Trees and Leaves Cookies (Gold Magnolia Leaf, Pine Cone, Acorn, Oak Leaf, Aspen Leaf, Elm Leaf)
Maple Cookies
Park Service Indian Head Cookies
Long-Stemmed Fresh Strawberries
Orange-Spiced Infusion with Mixed Tropical Fruits and Berries
Chocolate Truffles with Forest Flavors (Honey, Maple, Huckleberry)
Chocolate Mice
Log Cabin Cake (Chocolate Dolly Sin Cake, Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)
Lemon Meringue Sequoia Cake Tree
Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Yule Log – Bûche de Noël
Brioche Bread Pudding
Walnut Pound Dundee Cake
Gingerbread Crown Cake
Mackintosh Apple and Sun-Dried Cherry Cobbler

OK, for all those interested in the DC social scene, I have the scoop on the holiday food and decor at the White House. Today Laura Bush announced the White House 2007 holiday theme: “Holiday in the National Parks.”

This is what the White House has to say about it:Holiday decorations include a model of North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras Lighthouse welcoming visitors in the East Foyer; paintings depicting Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park and Utah’s Zion National Park “perfectly situated” in the niches of the Cross Hall; a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty National Memorial in the Grand Foyer; and the Gingerbread White House featuring the Bush family pets along with creatures found in our national parks. (Are the Bush family pets attacking a bear in the gingerbread scene? Or chasing some endangered butterflies?)

The official White House Christmas Tree, an 18-foot Fraser fir from Mistletoe Meadows Christmas Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina, is adorned with ornaments representing America’s national parks.  Each ornament reflects the diversity of our national landscapes and the many wonderful and unique treasures found from sea to shining sea.



  • Large model of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina
  • Nine festive evergreen wreaths accented by gold pine cones
  • Six panels featuring photos of presidents and first families celebrating Christmas at the White House and visiting America’s national parks
  • Christmas cards from ten presidential administrations
  • Original artwork of this year’s White House Christmas card, holiday reception invitation, and holiday tour booklet



 Ground Floor Corridor:

  • Terra cotta model of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota
  • Hand-painted model of Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona

 Vermeil Room:

  • Mantel adorned with green garland, gold pine cones and glass birds



  • Green garland on mantel accented by gold pine cones and gold leaves
  • Miniature Christmas trees decorated with gold leaves




Cross Hall and Grand Foyer:

  • Three-foot model of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New Jersey
  • Oil paintings by Adrian Martinez depicting Hopi Point in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, and a waterfall rushing into the Virgin River in Utah’s Zion National Park
  • Eight snow-covered Christmas trees dotted with gold lights, and gold birds and butterflies
  • Green garlands with gold pine cones, gold leaves, and gold lights adorn the doorways

 East Room:

  • Green garlands accented with gold lights, gold leaves, and gold pine cones grace the mantles and doorways
  • The traditional crèche, made in Italy in the 18th century, which has been displayed in the East Room since 1967
  • Two sixteen-foot Christmas trees trimmed with glass ornaments, gold globes, gold birds, gold leaves, and gold lights

 Green Room:

  • The mantle is draped in green garlands laden with gold blown-glass acorns and gold pine cones
  • Side tables arranged with small Christmas trees decorated with ornamental birds and birds’ nests


Blue Room:

  • The official White House Christmas tree is an eighteen-foot Fraser fir presented to Mrs. Bush by Joe Freeman and Linda Jones of Mistletoe Meadows Christmas Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina
  • The tree is decorated with 347 ornaments hand-created by artists whose designs represent America’s national parks, memorials, seashores historic sites and monuments

Red Room:

  • Mantel is adorned by green garland filled with gold seashells emblematic of America’s national seashores
  • Cranberry tree, a White House tradition dating back to 1975, sits on a side table


State Dining Room:

  • Sconces adorned with mixed greenery, gold ribbons, and gold pine cones
  • Mantle framed by green garland with gold leaves, gold lights, and gold pine cones
  • Gingerbread White House
    • Based on the original blueprints created by architect James Hoban
    • 40¾  inches north to south
    • Took nearly three months to create
    • Contains a gingerbread foundation and has a white chocolate exterior
    • Created with more than 300 pounds of white chocolate and gingerbread
    • Features the Bush family pets along with creatures found in our national parks


Yesterday, walking the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, I wore: tank top, shorts, flip-flops, sunglasses and carried our digital camera in my purse.

Today, walking from the bus to work in Washington, DC, I wore: lined wool trousers, sweater, socks, closed-toe shoes, coat, scarf, gloves, hat (not entirely necessary), and carried my blackberry in purse, although not yet turned on because I could not quite face it.

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