I am currently in Chicago for Christmas and reaping the benefits of jet-lag; I am up with lots of energy writing this festive post at 5 am! Needless to say, I will be begging for a pillow at 8 pm but that is besides the point…

I am also writing this post in the very kitchen that inspired it. Since I was little my mother has been the best curator of a beautiful Christmas I have ever known. She decorates no less than 5 trees, each coordinating with the room it sparkles in. Presents beneath each tree are wrapped accordingly. With glitter, perfectly perky bows, and a paper the thickness which is usually reserved for wallpaper, these parcels have tempted my siblings and I since we were little. It doesn’t matter that we are adults now – the perfect packaging still has the same effect. On Christmas morning we linger at each tree and open our presents, rotating to each one until all the presents have been unwrapped. It’s a tradition I completely cherish.

Our dinner table is set with gold rimmed crockery that I still remember picking out when I was little. To me, they hold a sentimental value beyond the beauty that passer-bys admire. These dishes are now set with fortnum & Mason crackers that Mr. Extraordinary and I bring home each year – a nod to how life has evolved to incorporate traditions from my life across the pond.

In this house, there is so much more than fancy ornaments and glittering lights though. There is also constant laughter and a proven, unconditional love.

Smell, unlike the other 4 senses, has the instant ability to stop us in our tracks and bring us back to a place, a moment in time, and a feeling we have possessed. So, it is with this recipe that when it boils on my stove and scents my own London house, I think of of Christmas in Chicago.

Your memories of Christmas may be different than mine, but I have no doubt that this recipe will invoke the same feelings of merry nostalgia.


1-2 large apple, cut into fourths
1-2 large oranges, cut into fourths
5 cinnamon sticks
1-2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger


Fill a crock-pot or a pot on your stove with water. Turn on high heat for approximately 20 minutes then reduce to a simmer. Add water periodically to ensure the mixture doesn’t dry out.

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Fill a clear cellophane bag with the same ingredients. Insert a card with the above directions. Label with your friend or family member’s name. Give the gift and spread the joy!

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As seen on Style Me Pretty Living.

Photos by Kate Nielen Photography.