The always cheerful duo of Danielle Butt and Judy Stirling welcome the holidays with style, humour, and a whole bunch of glitter and glam!
While Judy Stirling, wife of Herald president Scott Stirling, spends much of her time with family in California, this glorious grandmother of four with strong, proud Italian and Russian roots, shares that when it comes to Christmas, her heart is firmly placed in Newfoundland.
In fact, the dresses Stirling donned for this year’s cookbook photo shoot didn’t come all the way from Tinsel Town, but from came from a local downtown store, Sooley Designs. “Megan Sooley creates masterpieces from the little pink store down on Water Street,” she said.
All things NL are amazing according to Stirling, particularly around Christmas time.
‘‘I’ve become an island type of a gal at heart over the years. I love the Newfoundland spirit. I love Mummers. I just love Newfoundland at Christmas because it’s so cosy and everybody’s so darn happy. Actually, come to think of it, it’s like Christmas all year round in Newfoundland. Everyone is always so friendly,” she shares.
Speaking of friendly, Stirling is sharing the cover this year with treasured confidant – and sometimes partner in just-for-fun crime – NTV’s own Danielle Butt. Stirling says there’s no one better to partner with when it comes to Christmas, food, entertaining and fun. Over the years the two have become quite close.
“Well, Danielle and I, we like to just get in the car and go on little road trips. We find places to eat, or stores to visit, or we just take a look around little places outside of the city. And she and I, we just laugh a lot and we really have fun.”
Friends & family
Butt, who has recently become a grandmother herself, sparkles when the two women get together.
“Judy is just filled with spirit and spunk. It’s contagious. You can’t help but have fun, no matter what we do together,” Butt shares.
The two also share a love of cooking and entertaining their friends and family, and part of that passion works its way into their many road trips.
‘‘There is always side-of-the-road berry picking excursions or walks along the beach that we enjoy together. I love to collect any kind of seashells or heart shaped rocks. These items make it to my table, or into some display,” Stirling adds.
Butt can attest to Stirling’s collection of Newfoundland beach finds, joking the trip home always takes longer because the vehicle weighs so much more.
King of Christmas
Stirling laughs. So, who is the cook when the two get together?
“Whenever I go to Danielle’s, she’s always got some food on the go. So, mostly I’m eating what she’s already cooked. But we do our annual cookie exchange together in Newfoundland. And she’s come over and we’ve made scones or other fun stuff together.”
Butt says she does cook, but it’s her father who is the king of the family kitchen come Christmastime.
“Dad and his brother Clyde were always great cooks. With all the years they spent in the Lions Club and the Curling Club, they’re known for cooking for 400 people at a time. So when they cook for our family at Christmas, it’s usually around 30 of us, so that’s nothing for them to handle.”
Her Uncle Clyde, she shares, cooks “a few ducks” while her father does the traditional turkey dinner.
“It seems there’s just so much food. When I go home for Christmas, Dad will have stuffed squid, smoked salmon, baked beans, salt fish and brewis. So much food. And Mom’s Christmas cakes. Mom makes like 30 Christmas cakes for her family and friends,” Butt laughs, adding; “you can smell Christmas before you get in the door.”
As for Stirling and her traditions, she’s all about making lasting memories.
“Christmas is everything. Christmas is my big celebration. The whole year is about preparing for a big party, a big Christmas gala.”
Stirling invites her children of course. Daughter Lydia McLaughlin along with her husband Doug and their three children, Stirling, Maverick and Roman. There’s also son Jesse, his wife Amanda and their daughter Olivia as well as son Geoffrey who flies from Arizona to join in the celebrations each year. But it’s pretty much an open invitation for anyone willing to share the spirit of the season.
“There isn’t a square inch of this house that doesn’t have some kind of Christmas decoration. Yeah, I go nuts,” she says with a hearty chuckle.
All things that glitter
Butt can give her friend a run for her money when it comes to decorating for the holidays. “One Christmas, I had 22 trees fully decorated in my house,” she says, eyes all a sparkle.
Stirling, who says she feels blessed every day of her life, is known to add sparkle and confetti to many of the occasions she’s involved with. The former actress, who met her husband while playing a green goddess for a film he was producing in San Francisco, says her love of tiaras and all things that glitter, came from that blessed encounter.
“They painted my face green and I had a triangle on my forehead. That’s why I wear crowns. That’s why I like glitter and confetti. It’s a continuation of the celebration.”
Stirling has a ritual she likes to partake in whenever showering someone with her version of fairy dust.
“The saying goes, ‘Shimmer of hope, Shine of belief, Glisten of happiness, Beauty of peace and a Pinch of humor.’ And then I like to pinch a person. It’s just spreading love. That’s what the fairy dust is about. And then the confetti is an extension of that. I think it is beautiful.”
While Butt doesn’t cover anything in confetti or glitter, she is on board when it comes to decorating for the holidays.
“If you come over to my house, it’s like something out of a magazine when I finish decorating. It’s over the top. I love decorations and I love the sparkle. And I love the warm glow of the Christmas lights.”
Butt, who hosts OZFM’s Jigs & Reels each week, is also a Santa’s little helper around the NTV studio.
“I help Santa write letters back to children who send their letters into NTV. I’m lucky that I get to see all the cute pictures of the kids and work with Santa when he comes into the studio to read the ‘Letters to Santa’ segments. That’s always a lot of fun.”
Santa is coming to town
Butt also hosts the Downtown St. John’s Christmas Parade. “Christmas starts for me with ‘Letters to Santa’, but the parade is always a great way to kick off the Christmas season.”
Christmas is all about children, Stirling adds with a smile. Speaking of children, Stirling offers a little grandmotherly advice to her friend.
“Do what you are already doing, just savour the moment. Be in the moment. It’s so much fun. Kids are just magical little creatures that are direct from angel land. I just love being around them and they love being around me. Mostly, because I give them sugar. Don’t tell my kids I said that.”
Butt laughs. “Judy is just all Christmas spirit. She radiates joy. The sparkle from Judy’s smile says Christmas. I love that.”
Stirling smiles back at her friend. “Is it time for confetti?”
Isn’t it always?!