When these two gentlemen greet you at the door of Casa Hyder/Smith you know you are in for a great time, their annual Christmas Tree Trimming Party was not an exception. I have been after Greg Hyder since I began nenasnotes to join me with his stories, all of a sudden he became shy and kept putting me off. I finally said, “you are off the hook”! A sigh of relief from him and then he thought better of it and said: “how about coming to our Tree Trimming Party and documenting it!” Why not indeed! I have known Greg for years and Jim for just about as long. I worked with Greg when I was still at Saks and he was always very generous with chefs from The Peninsula Chicago, where he is Director of Style and Community Relations, when I had events that featured the top chefs in Chicago, in addition he never said no to door prizes for special shows and events. We have had many too many glasses of wine together, obviously both our sign of a good friendship! Silly us!!!
Well, all I can say is when someone tells you they are obsessed with something believe them! There isn’t a square inch of their exquisite home that isn’t decorated to the nines. It is extraordinary, to say the least. Let me take you through it, at least a little bit of it. The scale is something else. The tree is gigantic, I have no idea how they got it up three flights of stairs.
Picking out the perfect tree at Gethsemane Garden Center
Lights on and the ornament placement begins….each area of the tree has its own themed ornaments, let’s look at some of them, there are hundreds! Many collected on their trips and many are family traditions.
And, of course, a Cubs section!!!! Our hosts are avid Cubs fans!
Some baubles were held aside for the party guests, remember the theme of the day was a tree trimming party!!!! We were told if their placement didn’t meet with Mr. Hyder’s approval off they would come (after the party!) Pictured are Tim Emond, Becca Smith (Jim’s daughter), Julie Machmon and Jean Antoniou.
On to the Santas….
The custom-made Cubs Santa next to the fireplace….glorious!!!!
The crystal chandelier is festooned with red ribbon and the bobeche are filled with cranberries rather than drippings of candle wax, finished with a huge ornament.
Another chandelier looking from the hall into the living room.
The hall from the living room into the rest of the home.
Santa has forgotten his hat on the bed…
Jim’s painting over the chest in the bedroom, it is only displayed during the Christmas season, another takes its place the rest of the year. I was quite taken with this painting. Obviously a talented artist.
Another wall in the bedroom, I love icons and have done a post on them.
One of the bathrooms, of course, in its festive attire!
How about a couple of wreaths…..
In the dining room..
And inside the backdoor in the kitchen….
The back bedroom with its African theme gets in the holiday spirit!
The drinks tables…special Christmas Mimosas, yummy!
The tree in the corner of the dining room with more treasured memories
Oh, and did I mention food……my oh my what a spread. Top photo the sweets table (I suggested a cookie exchange next year they were so good!!!!!) Bottom the baked ham, cheeses., paté, relishes and on and on and on……(I got a goodie bag, yay!!!!)
Jim, Nena, and Greg in front of the tree (still wasn’t finished the tinsel had yet to be placed piece by piece by piece!) that rivals the one in The Walnut Room and this one is alive!!!!! Thank you so much, my friends, for allowing me to share your Christmas story with my readers, I am most grateful!
The soup served was worthy of my having two cups, here is the recipe beyond fabulous but then so was the entire afternoon…
FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX
GREG AND JIM’S CREAM OF PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CURRY
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
32 ounces (4 cups) canned pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste
2 cups heavy cream
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish
Melt butter in 6 or 8-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes until translucent. Add curry powder and cook for 2 more minutes. Add chicken stock, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; blend in cream. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Adjust to desired consistency with a roux (equal parts melted butter and flour) or a whitewash (flour and water). If too thin, cook an additional 10 minutes to cook out the starch. If too thick, add more cream. Adjust flavor with seasonings.
Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy. Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with chives or parsley.