New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0621Welcome to the fifth day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown. It’s  been nice to take a couple days off of shopping for/making/eating holiday goodies, but the break is over and it’s back to the kitchen for New Year’s. I know, I know — you were just there a few days ago. But listen. My friend Cheryl has the perfect and most delicious recipe for the remaining festivities, whether you’re going to a party and need to take something or hosting a party and need to feed the multitude. It’s good for football munching and open-house buffets. It’s even perfect to give as New Year’s gifts like you said you’d do instead of giving Christmas gifts. (Remember you said that?) Plus, you’ve probably got all the ingredients on hand already, especially if your friend’s civic club was selling pecans this fall and you mistakenly bought six bags and wondered what you’d ever do with them. Now you know. Here’s the recipe, and check back tomorrow for the sixth day in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.

                                                                                                       Spiced Nuts


2 large egg whites

2/3 c. sugar

2 ½ tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning

2 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce

1 tbsp. chili powder

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. salt

6 cups mixed nuts (any combination of untoasted walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios)

¼ c. butter, melted

1/3 c. finely grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with foil or parchment. Grease lightly and set aside. Position a rack in center of oven. In large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating to a loose, meringuelike texture. Beat in Old Bay Seasoning, Worchestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne and salt. Add  nuts and butter and stir well to coat evenly. Add parmesan and mix again. Divide nuts between baking sheets, spreading evenly in a single layer. Roast 30-40 minutes to a golden brown (don’t let nuts darken too much), rotating sheets during cooking for even roasting. Line a work surface with foil or parchment. After removing the nuts from the oven immediately slide onto the foil or parchment. Cool completely. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three weeks. ( I never have put mine in refrigerator.)

Note: My friend Sherry says these are wonderful warmed up. Put them in the oven on 300 degrees for 10 minutes and then at 350 degrees for 5 more minutes.


New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-062Welcome to the fourth day in Cathy’s New Year Countdown. It’s the Monday after Christmas. The stockings are down, the presents are done and the tree looks sort of lonely sitting there all by itself. Post-Christmas blues, anyone? Here’s a trick to pick yourself up out of your holiday funk. Gather together all the January magazine issues you didn’t have time to read before Christmas, brew some good coffee or pour your favorite wine and enjoy some good old-fashioned escapism. You deserve it, and I promise you’ll have a whole new attitude when you’re done. For instance, right now Vogue wants to show me how to dress cheap and chic and Instyle has tips on making the most of what I have (but how do they know what I have?) and dressing slim. Lucky offers 564 ways to step up my style. Southern Living has the coziest comfort food and easy ideas to relax my rooms. And I can “feel calmer now” with Real Simple’s 20 essential organizing lists (although the thought of 20 lists is not calming at all, seems to me) and learn must-try recipes from Hawaii’s star chef with Coastal Living. See, don’t you feel better already? Now, if somebody would just actually do all those things for me, 2009 would be practically perfect. Anyway, check back tomorrow for the fifth day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown.

New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0643For the third day in Cathy’s New Year Countdown, I’m going to give you permission to tackle that one holiday chore you never got around to: Sending out cards. Okay, by “you” I actually mean “me.” I’ve pretty much abandoned snail-mail greetings, yet I keep buying them (“Oh, these are so cute! And they’re 75 percent off!”) and I love getting them. All through December, I keep telling myself — and anyone around who will listen — that I’m going to sit down and send out cards and I can’t go to Wal-Mart or the recycling center or to pick up the dry cleaning because I’ve got to do the cards! But then I end up doing things like reading through the back issues of the Sunday New York Times that pile up or watching reruns of “Whose Wedding is It Anyway?” — you know, important stuff like that. But here’s the thing: It’s still the holidays and you I can still send out cards. And, it’s even better to send them out now because I can answer questions people asked in their cards (“How are the kids?” “Do you like being a grandma?” “Are you still married?”) and, if I get really ambitious, even include some of our Christmas photos. (But probably not since there are still Sunday NY Times to be read. Good idea, though.) And nobody will care if they get holiday cards after Dec. 25. Look at it this way: If you got a holiday card now, would you think “This person obviously is lazy, unorganized and undisciplined and has no idea about the proper order of things” or would you think “Aw, how nice! What a lovely thing to do”??? I rest my case. Come back tomorrow for Day No. 4 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.

New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0642On the second day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown, it’s time to do your part for the economy: Get out there and spend your Christmas money. On yourself. Look, you were good all December. You got everybody everything on their lists and you did it within your budget while ignoring all temptation to treat yourself. You resisted the pull of those luxurious cashmere sweaters that felt so good, those fabulous high-heeled pumps that called out your name, that gorgeous jacket you accidentally tried on. But your job as a giver is done now! It’s over. You did good and everybody’s happy. Time to reward yourself. And, listen, all this talk about sales and bargains and slashed prices are true right now. Go shopping this weekend and I promise you can get about three times the value for your money. Really. I promise. If you don’t believe me, check out Web sites such as and and see for yourself. Actually, Gap’s Web site is one of the best for online shopping. You can bundle orders from Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic for one $7-shipping fee; you can return (most) items to the stores; and right now, with up to 80 percent off on online purchases, Gap and friends are practically giving their things away. Do not miss out. And check back tomorrow for Day No. 3 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown. (I know I was calling this the 12 Days of Christmas Countdown Part 2, but I’m ready to move on.)

New Year Countdown

nolan1All I can say is, wow — having Captain Adorable around for Christmas made it the best holiday ever! Our 9-month-old grandson considered the Dec. 25 festivities further proof that the world is full of fascinating things to touch, squeeze, throw, pinch and put in his mouth. My family had a wonderful Christmas and I hope yours did the same. In fact, it’s still a party around here — well, not right now since I’m the only one up at 5 a.m. and everyone else is sleeping it off. But still. We like to keep the good times going, unlike a former sister-in-law who literally — and I mean absolutely quite literally — began dismantling the tree as soon as the last wrappings were christmas-2008-part-2-0641torn off and everyone was sitting around in a post-present daze. “Can you reach that string of lights?” she’d ask before we’d even had time for that third cup of Christmas morning coffee. Sheesh. I’m not that eager to get back to normal. So let’s keep things rolling with Cathy’s New Year Countdown as we count down the original 12 Days of Christmas to Tweflth Night, or Jan. 6. That seems like a better tradition than packing things up as soon as the stockings are unhung. For Christmas countdown Part 2, I’ll continue holiday-ing with tips, ideas, suggestions and all things festive. Ready? For Day No. 1, here’s my ode to Dec. 26 (after all, why should Dec. 25 have all the fun?):

‘Twas the morning after Christmas

and all through the land,

everyone was still sleeping

except for the band

of bargain-hunting shoppers

determined to find

discounts and sales

that will give them a hand

with next Christmas’s parties

and presents and such

so they can save lots of money

and tell husbands they hadn’t spent much.


Read the rest at my column in today’s TimesDaily, at And check back for Day No. 2 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.