Decking the Halls 2015

Central Park Arsenal

Central Park Arsenal

Time again for the wreath exhibit at the Central Park Arsenal, a building I had never ventured into until, two years ago, a friend mentioned the wreath show.

This year’s group gets a B- as opposed to the A+ of years past.  Some wreaths are fun, some, like a nicely executed drawing of weeds, fine as drawings go but only wreath-like in that there’s a curved line at the top and some just plain dull. My votes for Best in Show go to a wreath fashioned from NYC condoms condom wreathand Holiday Spirits, made of miniature liquor bottles and cleverly cut up beer cans.

holiday spirits

The wreath I hang on my own front door must be a good fifteen years old. Made of twisted branches with some bling intertwined, a red bird and holiday bow, it’s become a tradition. I’m also fond of the wreaths around the necks of the Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, (Patience on the south; Fortitude on the north.)

Patience, all dolled up for the holidays

Patience, all dolled up for the holidays

A few fun factoids about these guys: They were originally known as Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after NYPL founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. For the past several years, P and F went wreath-less because of vandalization. Wreaths only returned in 2014, made of marble-safe, marine-grade plywood, fake foliage and no metal. New Yorkers and visitors are glad to have the decorations back; as someone said, without them it was like Rockefeller Center without the tree.

For your own ho ho hoing, here is an ultra-simple recipe for:

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels (courtesy of The Baker Chick)


28 Pretzel Rods

16 oz Dark or Milk Chocolate (dark works better and, for what it’s worth, tastes better, too.)

Chopped Candy Bars, Sprinkles, Mini M&Ms etc

1 cup white chocolate chips

  1. Line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper or a Sil-pat. (a  thingy that keeps whatever you put on it from sticking.)
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate 60 seconds. Remove and stir, and then warm in microwave for 15 second increments until it is smooth.
  3. Start dipping the pretzels right away, using a spoon to bring the chocolate up to where you want and letting it drip down. Set rods on the cookie sheet.
  4. Allow the chocolate to become slightly solid before placing the candy/toppings on or they slide to the side. (Dip 4-5 pretzels, wait a few minutes and then start topping. There is a good 5-7 minute window where the chocolate will still be soft enough to press the toppings in.)
  5. Place each candy piece by hand because rolling or sprinkling won’t work and will end up with a sticky candy-glob mess.
  6. If the melted chocolate in the bowl has started to harden, give it 15 more seconds to get it melted again.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the pretzel rods/toppings.
  8. Melt white chocolate (the same way chips were melted) and drizzle over the pretzels with a spoon.
  9. Place the tray in the freezer to quickly harden the chocolate and then wrap or store.

If you trim a tree, you could hand these out during the process. Or,  pass with or instead of dessert.  Or just eat them yourself. Messy but good.  Happy holidays!


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