Holiday

Bring on the Christmas!

Posted on December 24, 2012. Filed under: Holiday, Home |

I love Christmas. Who doesn’t? It’s the bestest. Here’s how we decorated our house this year for Jolly St. Nick and Baby Jesus.

You know how I love my table settings. Here’s what we did on the kitchen table:

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The dining room table:

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We have a piano now thanks to Adam’s parents. I decided to do something festive to the top of it:

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It was fairly easy. I bought the trees and mercury votives at Target. Everything else I had:

  1. Votives from our wedding
  2. Red pashmina scarf
  3. Footed dessert bowls with our own acorns and juniper sprigs from the yard
  4. Waterford bowl (wedding present)
  5. Red ornaments

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Here is our tree:

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I don’t get particular about colors or themes on our tree in the den. I’d like to get a tree for our living room next year and have it be the red/gold, or white/gold, or 12 days of Christmas tree. But for the tree in our den where we spend the most time, I don’t want it to have any rules. I want to be able to display sentimental ornaments, things we made as a kid, things our children will make. One of my favorite things about Christmas is decorating the tree and remembering all of the ornaments as you take them out of the box and what they mean to you.

Mason has a few ornaments this year:

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As well as his own stocking…

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We finally got a tree topper after 3 Christmases together…

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Here is our mantle. I decorate it the same every year. I like it and it seems to work.

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There are other little touches throughout our house.

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Adam built me the manger for our nativity scene with scrap wood that he found behind his dad’s shop. It’s already weathered and rustic. It’s perfect.

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And for the grand finale….

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I talked Adam into doing outdoor lights this year. I LOVE IT!

We hope you have a Merry Christmas!

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Fall Table Settings

Posted on November 1, 2012. Filed under: Holiday, Home |

It’s been light years since I’ve posted. Life comes before blog and we’ve been living it up!

We went to California at the end of September, and the onset of fall brings with it a ton of yard work. Don’t worry, there are more posts about our fun coming soon! We’ve also been spending a lot of time with our pooch, Mason Dixon Doodle Dandy. Work has been pretty time consuming lately as well. But I won’t bore you with work stories. Those are no fun.

Fall is my favorite season by far. I like to get new fall décor every year to add to my collection. This year, I purchased some centerpieces and mantel décor at Hobby Lobby. Gotta love the Lobby.

Kitchen Table:

We have a cornucopia! And it’s survived a few weeks on the kitchen table unlike this poor place mat who met his early death at the jaws of a vicious teething Labradoodle.

The funny thing about this was that Mason did not greet me with a shameful face. When I walked in the door, he rushed me with wicker in his mouth. He was SO PROUD of how he re-purposed that place mat. Mason’s too cute to get mad at.

I digress. The cornucopia has survived. Everything else on the table I already had.

Dining Room Table:

I made the table runner last year. The candle wreath and candle are new and also from the Hobby Lobby.

I had the plates. I love these red and white paisley plates from Pier 1. My grandfather got them for me last year for Christmas and they are so versatile. I use them at Christmas and Fourth of July. They are so great. I love plates.

The mantle is pretty also. Forgive the iPhone pictures.

I already had the pedestal vase. It is usually filled with faux lemons, but I replaced them with faux acorns and mini squashes/gourds for fall. Pumpkins and pears with sparkles. Awesome.

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Happy Howl-aween!

Posted on October 31, 2012. Filed under: Dog, Holiday |

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A Christmas Dinnuh Pahhhhteee

Posted on December 8, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday, Home, Purdy Things |

Adam and I had some of our friends over for a Christmas-themed dinner party. I was very excited about decorating for the party, particularly the table setting:

I broke out the fine china for the first time. I think using it a little over a year after you get it is pretty darn good! We had dinner on our new table. The 9 of us crammed in and got real close.

I used silver chargers, china, red napkins and coasters I picked up from Crate&Barrel.

For the centerpiece, I pulled 3 glass vessels that I already owned from the Christmas decoration stash and put red candles (we already had) in them. I used some footed dessert bowls that we have, stuck a votive in them, and filled them with acorns from the yard! For the final little touch, I took 3 rocks glasses from the cabinet and casually arranged camellia blooms from our Yuletide camellia bushes in the backyard along with some trimmings from our Christmas tree. It was a great way to set a wintery table-scape with things we already had.

I was very happy with the way it turned out. I still love to play house to this day even though I guess it’s for real and not playing. I swap out placemats, napkins, and centerpieces every few weeks for the heck of it. It’s like a mini-makeover that occurs mess-free in less than 10 minutes. Can’t beat that.

Can’t beat a blog post that’s less than 300 words either.

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Thanksgiving Birthday Cake

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday |

Say whaaaaat?!

You read the title right. We have birthdays on or around Thanksgiving in this family. Yep. BirthdayS. Plural. My darling husband and his charming identical twin brother are Thanksgiving babes. They were actually born extremely premature on Thanksgiving morning in a foreign land called Ohio. (They lived in Indiana at the time and were visiting the grandparents for Turkey Day.) And my mother-in-law didn’t know she was having twins! I swear. Their birth story never gets old. Can you imagine going into pre-term labor in a different state on a national holiday knowing that no one at that hospital wants to be there? And then on top of that, there’s a second kid on his way when you only planned for one?!?!?!

This year their birthdays were on Thanksgiving because of the way the calendar fell. Adam says people ask him all the time if his birthday is on Thanksgiving every year. No people. Think about it. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday every year. Is your birthday on a Thursday every year? Yeah, point for the twins.

Adam’s brother, Ryan, decided to visit us for Thanksgiving/Birthdays and we were so glad he could come. Twins kind of need each other on major holidays and especially birthdays. If you are a twin, related to one, or married to one, you understand. We planned to do Thanksgiving and Birthdays all in one with a large dessert spread: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and 2 birthday cakes. All that dessert for 9 people.

My mom made Ryan a caramel coconut pecan cake. It was yummy.

And I made Adam a chocolate raspberry cake, a combination he cannot get enough of.

I just used a Devil’s Food cake mix for the cake. Why fix it if it isn’t broke? Their cake mixes are so good and so easy. Plus, I had a lot of other Turkey Day cooking to accomplish. I think I made up for my shortcut in presentation. The icing is actually chocolate ganache, but I modified it a little.

I started boiling heaving whipping cream in a saucepan and added chopped semi-sweet chocolate squares, taking the sauce off the burner. But it was too rich and not enough. I played with it until I got it the way I wanted by adding more whipping cream, chocolate, a generous helping of sugar and some salt. I put it in a mixing bowl with some plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. I let it set for an hour or so.

The filling was about 4 T of seedless raspberry jam and 6-8 ounces of fresh raspberries. I mixed that together and it went in between the layers.

After the ganache set up, I carefully and artistically poured it over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides. I wiped the excess of the cake plate with a wet dish cloth. Just prior to serving, I arranged extra raspberries (rinsed and dried) on top of the cake. They were drizzled with more ganache and dusted with some white chocolate flakes.

With desserts like we had, I made sure to save room so I could sample them all. Yum!

Here we are post-Thanksgiving feast, pre-Thanksgiving birthday cake:

Anybody else share their birthday with a holiday? Or do you have a birthday that sometimes falls on a holiday like Memorial Day? One of my good friends is supposed to have a baby on Christmas Day! Let’s all say a prayer for her that she delivers a week early so she doesn’t have to be in the hospital on Christmas.

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A Fall Wreath and Other Related Projects

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Hobbies, Holiday, Home |

The DIY in me has emerged. My inner craftiness has been dormant for so long. It’s such a relief to finally let it all out. Now that we have a house where there’s room to store craft supplies and easily display craft projects, there’s no holding this chick back from making pillow covers, table runners, leaf art, and wreaths. So get your glue guns out and your wire cutters ready, because the holidays are upon us (Happy Halloween!) and we’s gots some craftin’ to do!

This post is brought to you via Pinterest inspiration, or shall I say Pinspiration? Sounds sweaty…

Materials:

  1. Grapevine wreath or similar
  2. 2 yards of burlap
  3. Wooden letter of your choosing
  4. Paint for wooden letter
  5. Glitter spray paint
  6. Wheat or straw or something earthy
  7. Ribbon in a fall color scheme
  8. Fake flowers
  9. Beaded wire
  10. Floral wire
  11. Scissors

I got all my materials at Michaels except for the burlap. I purchased that at Hancocks. By the way, my Hancocks Fabrics has some lights out in their sign for the letters H, A, and N. It makes for an interesting store front… I’m so immature sometimes.

This wreath is fairly simple. I cut out 4” wide strips of burlap and accordion folded them. I placed them on the wreath form to figure out how many strips I needed. I needed 4. I still had a little bit of a gap, but that’s okay because that’s where I put my flowers.

Once I accordion folded a strip, I stuck some floral wire through it and secured both ends to the wreath, spreading out the burlap to the desired length and volume. I did this for all of the strips.

When it came to my flower bundle, I gathered the blooms into a compact bouquet and wrapped floral wire around the stems as close to the blooms as possible. I used wire cutters to cut off the excess stems. I used floral wire to secure the bouquet in the lower left portion of my wreath.

For the wheat and the beaded wire, I experimented around with different arrangements until I found something I liked. Then, I cut everything to the proper length and used… you guessed it… floral wire to secure in place. The great thing about the burlap is that it can hide all the ends of your decorations if you position them underneath the folds.

I painted my letter with two coats of bright orange paint and let it dry. Then, I took it outside on some newspaper and sprayed it with 2 light coats of gold glitter spray paint. I won’t lie. It was fun. Who doesn’t like glitter? Who doesn’t like spray paint? Whoever decided to combine them is a genius and sounds like a really fun person. I let it dry overnight. The next day I used my fall ribbon (which I got on sale in the Christmas section – go figure) to secure the letter in the middle of the wreath by tying it underneath the burlap at the top of the wreath.

And here is my version:

Me likey. The sparkly orange S really stands out from the street. One of these days I’m going to get a spotlight we can put in the yard so it’s easier to see the wreaths I hang up around the holidays.

And just for kicks, here is the table runner I whipped up last week:

I set the table all pretty for these pictures. Believe me, it’s not always like that.  The runner is double-sided in case you didn’t catch that. Fall leaves are on one side, gobbling turkeys on the other. Yay me!

Oh! And some cupcakes I made for all of our work colleagues:

Mummies!

Happy fall! Happy Halloween! Can you tell it’s my favorite time of the year?

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The Cure for the Uncommon Cold

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday | Tags: , |

I never thought that I’d be much of a tea drinker, but then again, coffee used to be disgusting and now a giant cup is a crucial morning ritual – after hitting the snooze at least 5 times. (My husband hates this. My alarm clock habits are a recurring conflict.) I digress. This Southern girl (yes, capital Southern) from Atlanta is freezing her tush off this winter. Temperatures the past ten days exceeded the 30s once and factoring in wind chill, this morning’s temperature felt like 3 degrees. That’s right: 3. It snowed this weekend too. I only remember seeing snow before Christmas once. Those weather people who are seldom accurate are warning us Atlantans that we better “double-sweater” it for the next few weeks. Great.

In my opinion, the best parts about cold weather in Georgia are Christmas, fires, and hot beverages. Once Christmas has passed in a few weeks, all I will have left are my fires and hot beverages.  Coffee is great before noon. After that, I will be shaking too much to type. And I refuse to drink decaf. That’s worse for you than the regular stuff. I am also a recovering regular Coca-Cola addict. In college, I used to drink 2 or 3 a day. My teeth hurt just thinking about it. When I was toning up for my wedding, I cut down to a few sodas a week and really started drinking the water. It was tough. I’m pretty sure my body went into withdrawal for a few weeks. Good thing I’m not addicted to anything worse. When you drink the recommended 64 ounces of water a day you feel so much better! You have more energy, your body functions properly, you don’t feel bloated (sorry if that’s too much information), your skin looks great, and you have an excuse to get up from your desk since you will be going to the bathroom about 5 or 6 times  a day. I used to share the same dislike for water that I do with tea: it’s just too boring. But when all you drink from 10:00am on is water, tea becomes much more appealing. Some people claim that tea has more caffeine than coffee, but that is not true. A 5 oz. cup of coffee (which is not enough for me and my morning self) has 80 milligrams of caffeine. Black tea, the most caffeinated tea, has 40 milligrams of caffeine per tea bag – half as much. (Caffeine amounts in tea vary somewhat depending on brew time.) Tea is so healthy for you too! Studies have shown that habitual tea drinkers benefit from a decreased risk of obesity (no calories in tea!), heart attack, or stroke, stronger bones, healthier teeth and gums (unless you add a ton of sugar), a better immune system, and an increased metabolism. Plus, there is something therapeutic about a warm, aromatic cup of tea gripped between your cold hands on a chilly day. And in Atlanta, we have a lot of chilly days ahead of us. The low tonight is 15 degrees, wind chill 4. Brrr!

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Men and Christmas

Posted on December 3, 2010. Filed under: Holiday, Newlywed |

I cannot write a post that neglects to mention Christmas: the magic of twinkling lights and pretty presents, the rigors of shopping and the giddy smell of pine, the tasty treats and the hot apple cider. I love Christmas; probably because I am a traditionalist and Christmas is chock full of tradition. So, naturally, I was surprised to learn that my husband does not share the same intense feelings about Christmas that I do.

The other night as we were drifting off to sleep, I sat up and said, “Honey, we need to decide on a Christmas budget… And that includes décor.”

“Décor?” Adam says.

“Yes, décor. All we have is a wreath and a cookie jar,” I reason. I throw a dollar amount out there for him to ponder. (Believe me, it was practical.)

“That’s the budget for décor?!” Adam exclaims.

“Well, I guess it can include the tree,” I say.

“Fine, but it’s coming out of your Christmas gifts.”

Bah humbug!

And that my friends, is the extent of my husband’s Christmas spirit. Granted, he does want an Advent calendar. I am happy to oblige him. But Adam could really care less about decorating the tree. (I have to lure him with spiked cider or hot toddies.) He doesn’t seem to mind if we have stockings or not, but he did help me pick them out. And without a doubt, he cannot comprehend why the table has to look pretty at all times during the holidays with Christmas-themed linens.

As I reflect on these differences that are coming to light, I feel all right that Adam does not connect with me on this level. If he did, I would be worried. I cannot picture us arguing over napkin rings or the Christmas tree’s color scheme. What I appreciate is the fact that he’s trying. If I need help deciding on stockings or what kind of tinsel to buy, Adam helps me make the decision. When I force him to go holiday shopping, he groans but he jumps right in and is an enormous help. Tonight, he’ll bear the main burden of the tree: on top of his car and carrying it up 3 flights of stairs to our apartment. He’ll clean up the kitchen after I have a holiday baking extravaganza. And I do hope he’ll help me wrap all those Christmas presents.

What I’ve learned is that he may not tear up like I do when the holiday Publix commercials come on the TV; and he may not agonize over our Christmas mantel. That wreath that’s propped up against the wall still waiting to be hung – he’s probably reading this going, “What wreath?” But he does care about making me happy. If lugging an eight foot tree up three flights of stairs in 40-degree weather will make me happy (and it will), Adam will do it. That is a Merry Christmas to me, even if all my presents this year are wreaths, garlands, and stockings.

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