Christmas Vignette - No 1

One of my favorite holiday traditions from my childhood is the advent calendar - I remember waking up each morning and racing down to the kitchen to mark the next day on the advent calendar. The holidays always conjure up old memories for me - you too?

I am sure it won't be a surprise to see that the advent calendar is the first of my Christmas vignettes this year. Dec 1st is tomorrow after all!

Last year it hung in our kitchen, alone, without much fan fair. This year I decided to spruce it up a bit.


Who says you need to have an actual mantel to enjoy a greenery swag? Not me!


This is a couple of faux swags combined with a red berry garland to fill it out a bit. All topped off with large, dark red, bows.


I left the tails of the ribbon bows long intentionally as they make a nice backdrop to holiday cards. I'll have to provide a visual for that later! 

Speaking of, I haven't sorted out my cards yet, which is making me feel very behind the times!
Tomorrow I'll be posting a tutorial on how to make my cheats big bows - if you are anything like me, it's taken years to sort out the secret to bow making!

Hope to see you then!

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It's beginning to look...

a lot like Christmas.

Now that Thanksgiving has officially passed and December 1st is right around the corner, it's time to start decorating for Christmas.

I have a hard and fast rule that no Christmas decoration shall be placed within my home until Thanksgiving is over.


So in the meantime, my laundry room has been run over with decorations waiting in the staging area. I am almost bursting at the seams...both in space and patience, I just can not wait any longer. Fortunately, I don't have to.

Tomorrow, I'm planning a post featuring my first Christmas vignette - I hope you check back for it!

Throughout December I'll be posting on everything from more Christmas vignettes, to tips for outdoor planters,  to mantels, to crafts, and baking - stay tuned.
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Saturday's Kitchen: Turkey Enchiladas

Are you looking for something to do with all that left over turkey other than the typical turkey tetrazzini?

Well, this recipe has been bouncing around my family for years and now I am sharing it with you. It's a quick and easy midweek recipe that is sure to please and works with any left over meat.

I think it came from Cooking Light, years ago, but I really can not be sure anymore.

Turkey Enchiladas

Ingredients

Filling
3 c chopped cooked turkey
2 c shredded Monterrey jack cheese w peppers
1/2 c sour cream
1 4.5 oz can chopped green chilis, drained

Sauce
1 8oz sour cream
1 8oz mild green taco sauce

flour tortillas
salsa, avocado, green onion for garnish (optional)


Combine turkey, 1 c cheese, sour cream, and chilis in large bowl and stir to combine.

Combine sour cream and taco sauce in small bowl and mix well. 

Spoon  a small amount of sauce into bottom of casserole. Place a small amount of filling into each tortilla and roll into cigar shape, place in casserole, repeat.

Spoon over remaining sauce. Cover with remaining cheese.

Place in a 350 degree oven and bake 35-40 minutes.

As always, if you try it and like it please do let me know.
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Thanksgiving Table

I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but I am still responsible for the table decor - yeah! And just to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible, I felt the overwhelming desire to have a dress rehearsal.


Not a full blown dress rehearsal, that would be crazy, just a simple setting for four. Way less crazy, right?


I've added a runner, some additional candles and leaves.


 Of course, my placecard holders are included as well. If you'd like a refreshed on how these were created, click here.



Ah, I have to say, I really love this centerpiece. It's not traditional, in the big floral arrangement kind of way, but I like that about it. Plus, the neutral colors will really allow the food to shine.

Well, that's it for me this week. I'll be back for Saturday's Kitchen, which will feature a great recipe for all that leftover turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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Fabric Covered Corkboard with Ribbon Lattice

This past weekend I attempted one of my most challenging projects to date....the fabric covered corkboard with ribbon lattice.

I've actually been putting this project off for quite sometime because I was intimidated by it and I have to say, rightfully so, even with two sets of hands, it really was tricky.


I knew I wanted to give it a tufted look, so I purchased batting and a heavy weight chenille fabric. I planned on using left over ribbon from other various ribbon projects (check them out here and here) in the big girl room as well as buttons remaining from my draft stopper project.

I started by stapling the batting to the center of my corkboard.


Then stapling the fabric to the back of the corkboard.

It's hard to tell how great the chenille looks on the corkboard from this picture, but it really does looks great!

The next step was to lay out the ribbon and attach to the corkboard. Seems easy enough. Unfortunately, not so much. In fact, I was so frustrated during this stage that I completely forgot to take pictures! Very unlike me.

Anyway...we tried several patterns and color combinations until we settled on just the right look. When we went to attach the ribbon (I was using a staple gun), it would shift and the entire pattern would be ruined. We must have re-stapled each ribbon and intersection at least 5 times. But we got there in the end...it isn't perfect, but close enough.


As a finishing touch, we added multicolored buttons at each ribbon intersection. These were hot glued on top of the staples. We also added a final ribbon around the entire perimeter of the corkboard, which was attached with fabric glue.


Special thanks to my mom, who was in town visiting for the weekend and probably hadn't planned on spending 4 hours covering a corkboard! I really couldn't have done it without her!



There she is all decked out and in place in the big girl room.

Phew, another project done, meaning we are that much closer to the big reveal.

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Saturday's Kitchen: Pumpkin Roll

This Saturday, I am featuring a family favorite recipe - the pumpkin roll.

Traditionally, in our family, my Aunt Linda makes one every Christmas. It wouldn't be the holidays without it!

But I got to thinking, why don't we enjoy the pumpkin roll for Thanksgiving as well? It's a great alternative to your traditional pumpkin pie.

So, this year, I'll be making one to travel with me for Thanksgiving!

Ingredients
cake:
3 eggs
1 c sugar
3/4 c flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2/3 c pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking soda

filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1 c confection sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbs butter

Directions
cake:
Beat the eggs until light and fluffy, add all other cake ingredients and mix well. pour into a well greased or wax papered jelly roll pan (15x10). Bake 15 minutes in a 350F oven.
Turn out onto a tea towel that has been dusted with confection sugar, dust top of cake with more confection sugar. Roll into towel and allow to cool.

filling: combine all ingredients and mix well. once cake has cooled, unroll and frost evenly. Roll up, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

As always, if you try it and like it, please do let me know.

Happy Holidays!
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Simple Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Take a peek at my simple Thanksgiving centerpiece.


He lives in our breakfast room, anchors the table, and welcomes all.


A large hurricane filled with grape vines and leaves, sitting in a white bowl lined with burlap and filled with gold dusted pine cones, leaves and glimmering pears.



Beautiful textures come together to make for a subtle but lovely display.


And adds just a touch of bling for the most festive of occasions.

Who knew a centerpiece could say so much without saying anything at all!

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Chalkboard Chargers

Doesn't it feel like everything is chalkboard these days?!? I mean, Pottery Barn is selling chalkboard rocks for crying out loud!

Well, I can't help but be influenced by this trend and am jumping on the bandwagon with Chalkboard Chargers.


I first saw this idea on Tatertots and Jello and thought it would make a great gift, especially for that hard to shop for person on your list!

A brief play by play on how to make your own:

Prime with a plastic loving primer (if your chargers are plastic). Let dry (20 min).

Spray with chalkboard paint. I used 2 coats. Let dry completely (24 hours).

Rub all over with chalk and wipe clean - they are ready to go!
Minus the waiting time, this is another really quick and easy project.

Think of the possibilities:




Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, good grades, first visit from the tooth fairy, first solo bike ride, and the list goes on and on.


A quick and easy way to celebrate even the smallest of occasions!



This time of year, chargers can be found just about anywhere and there are plenty of deals to be had - I've seen them as low as $1 a piece! Making them another great candidate for the perfect hostess gift!

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Gearing up for Guests

Do you have a guestroom that rarely gets used? I do. And it's that time of year to get her ready again!

In fact, my guestroom is on the list for a makeover, so it's never looking quite right. I definitely need to bring out the reinforcements when someone comes to stay.


Here are a couple easy steps to welcome guests into your home this holiday season.
1. Clean - give your room a good cleaning and airing out, if possible. After all, nothing says welcome to my home quite like spiderwebs, dust and neglect! I kid, I kid.

2. Personal Touches - personal touches are what make a house a home and we want our guests to feel like they are at home, only better, right? So place reading materials next to the bed, a water glass, some fresh flowers, you get the idea.


3. Extra Bedding - Sleeping well is key to having a happy guest. You never know what will make someone else comfortable when they are sleeping so have extra bedding like, pillows and blankets available.

4. Bathroom - A fully stocked bathroom can go a long way to making your guests feel like they are at home. I always seem to forget at least one item when I am traveling, so I try to have extra soap, shampoo, towels, toilet paper, etc on hand for my guests.



5. Food - It's always nice to have a little something on hand for a snack or light meal, especially if your guests have been traveling a ways to see you. I'll be making a batch of my favorite Fall soup, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook.

Um, soup!

Here's to a happy holiday season for you and your guests!

Tomorrow, I'll be back with another hostess gift idea. Hope to see you then!
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Raspberry Chocolate Sauce

This year I'm not hosting either of the big holidays - meaning I'll be needing plenty of hostess gifts!

I love to give a homemade gift when possible. This year I wanted to give something canned, seeing as I have just learned this age-old skill, but was hoping for something a bit different than jam. We already have a great jam maker in this family!

Chocolate and Raspberries - YUM!


I scoured the Internet looking for interesting possibilities and when I ran across a recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Sauce on Canning Jars Etc blog, I knew I had found a winner.

This recipe is so easy and really quick. Not to mention, tasty!!!



Add the raspberries, chocolate, lemon juice and pectin to a pot and bring to boil over high heat. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil; boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary.


Add the sauce to freshly sterilized jars, apply lids and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Done!


This Raspberry Chocolate Sauce has a strong raspberry flavor and sweet chocolaty finish. We tried it over vanilla ice cream and it was sinful!

A nice hostess gift and a great alternative to jam!

I'll be bringing you several hostess gift ideas in the run up to the holidays. As well as loads of holiday decorating ideas and tips. 
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Holiday Sparkly Placecard Holders

You may have noticed that this Thanksgiving I'm loving all things sparkly and pear.


So when I saw these little ornaments at HomeGoods, 9 for $5.99, I bought them straight away and went home to brainstorm what I would do with them. It didn't take long to come up with an inexpensive transformation that will last the whole holiday season - place card holders!

I snipped off the ribbon hangers and set to work with my wire. I used 20 gauge permanently colored copper wire. Here's how I made the wire holders for the place cards:

Three fingers of wire,

wrap around the top two fingers twice,

snip off the excess and twist the wires together - done!
Easy.


Insert into the top near the stem. I didn't even have to use hot glue to secure it.

And repeat until complete!

This was such a quick, easy and inexpensive project - I wish I had bought more. And I love how they look on the table - definitely adds a bit of sparkle for any holiday table.


Holiday sparkle

You're also catching a peak at my Thanksgiving centerpiece - more about that as the holiday quickly approaches!

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Saturday's Kitchen: Pissaladiere

Pissaladiere is a Provincial pizza with caramelized onion, anchovies and olives. On first inspection, it might seem a bit odd, but if you haven't sampled this before I highly recommend giving it a try!

There are loads of recipes for this type of pizza, but I have used Barefoot Contessa's, from the Barefoot in Paris cookbook, several times and had a lot of success with it. The dough recipe is really easy and turns out wonderfully.


Ingredients


For the topping (makes 1 pissaladiere):
1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 whole cloves garlic


For the dough (makes 2 pissaladieres)
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 envelopes dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt


To assemble each pissaladiere:
Cornmeal, for baking
12 to 18 anchovy fillets
12 French black olives, preferably oil-cured, pitted


Directions


For the topping, heat the olive oil in a very large saute pan and cook the onions, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic over low heat for 45 minutes, until the onions are sweet and cooked but not browned. Toss the onions from time to time. After 30 minutes, take out the garlic, chop it roughly, and add it back to the onions.


Meanwhile, for the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it's at least 100 degrees F when you add the yeast.) Add 3 cups of the flour, then the salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Mix the dough on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, until smooth, sprinkling it with flour to keep it from sticking to the bowl. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.


Divide the dough into 2 equal parts, rolling each 1 into a smooth ball. If you're only making 1 pissaladiere, place 1 ball on a baking sheet and cover it loosely with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. (If you're not using the other dough, wrap it well and refrigerate or freeze it for the next time.) Roll the dough lightly with a rolling pin, then stretch it to a 10 by 15-inch rectangle and place it on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.


Spoon the onion topping onto the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Artfully arrange the anchovies and olives on top, brush the edge of the dough with olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp. Serve hot on a cutting board.

This pizza is so versatile - I've served it as a light dinner, a first course, or even for lunch.

As always, if you try it and like it, do let me know.

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