Christmas "Valentine"This holiday treat came my way courtesy of a six-year-old neighbor, who brought this “cookie-card”, a Christmas Valentine she had made at school to our holiday dinner, as a hostess gift.

She was a good guest in other ways, too, effusive in her appreciation of our Christmas tree, with its retro ornaments from the 50s and a Chinese good-luck kitty perched underneath the boughs. The cat with a waving hand is said to invite good luck and good fortune. The gilded feline turned out to be a child’s delight, to boot.

My little friend was a trooper at dinnertime, too, downing a bowl of hearty Brazilian salmon stew with the grown-ups (recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes, enthusiastically received by every one at the table, thank you!). Afterwards, she helped me serve up bowls of raspberry mousse and decorate them with mint and chocolate curls.

Our neighborhood launch for Christmas week was a little snowy on the outside, but full of good cheer indoors. It was a lovely way to celebrate the season, made extra special by a Christmas valentine.

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