Our Dining Room at Christmas

We are having some family over for dinner this weekend which is the motivation I needed to  finish putting a few holiday touches in the dining room.  My decorating had stalled  after the initial burst of getting it done early.   Is there such a thing as decorating fatigue?  Yes, I think it’s a thing.

But there is nothing like having company to get me going again.

The greenery on the mirror is new this year.  Having that swag on the top of the mirror does draw your eye to this side of the room.

 

And the centerpiece on the table varies from year to year.  This one is more simple than in the past.  I used faux greenery with some pillars and ornaments.  I  dried the artichokes back in the fall which is pretty simple to do.  You basically just leave fresh artichokes out on a counter and they dry, retaining their shape perfectly.  When the Christmas season rolled around it seemed that they needed to be spray painted gold.  What a budget friendly item they have turned out to be!

My sister gave me this Spode Christmas china.  I look forward to using it every year.  Traditions give us the continuity and unity of the past.  But I do like to update and tweak too.

Honestly I did not have much going on over here on the sideboard.  But I decided it would be a good place to stage my dessert plates.  I usually use this area for wine and side dishes when we have guests over.

The chandelier is always the same.  I found that hanging ornament at TJ Maxx a few years ago and this has always been the perfect spot for it.  I keep those gold spray painted hydrangeas from year to year.

 

And here is another new variation: some greenery and lights on the armoire.  This end of the room is always dark and it finally occurred to me that a few lights up here would remedy the situation.  I might just leave those up year round.  I don’t think it would be weird.

What’s on the menu, you ask?  I am making Jamie Oliver’s recipe for lamb shanks.  It’s really good!

Ten days until Christmas!  Are you ready?

Linking with Remodelaholic.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Preparations

For some reason (am I forgetting something??) I have a little free time these days. But I know the pace will pick up so I decided to get some things done to make my holidays more stress-free.

I hate to admit it, but I am terrible about cleaning out my freezer on a regular schedule.   It has become somewhat of a mess with Mr. DB’s peppers taking up a lot of room, along with some random odds and ends I didn’t want to “waste”.  But I have gotten better at putting a date on the items I freeze which makes it easier to identify and toss old food.  I will probably make a vegetable soup this coming week to get rid of the little bits of frozen vegetables lurking around in the corners.  A good wipe down once it is cleaned out and I am ready to do some cooking and freezing!

Continue reading “Holiday Preparations”

The Lull before the Holidays

I am so proud of myself when I actually do what I know I should.  You know, like exercise, eat healthy, get a jump start on the holidays.  Today we are going to talk about things you can do to make your holiday season much less frantic and more fun.  Here are a few things I plan to do within the next week.  And one I have already done!

This weekend I will be making hot  pepper jelly.  It takes only an afternoon and yields about 5 jars of homemade goodness, ready to be shared.  It’s great for hostess gifts or anyone you like to give a little something.  You can always add crackers and cream cheese in a cute gift bag for a ready made hors d’oeuvre.    I use the recipe in the Sure-jell box.  Imagine giving your hostess something homemade, instead of the usual bottle of wine, or you could do both.

Did you know that quick breads (like banana and pumpkin) last 2-3 months in the freezer?  And cookies also take well to being frozen.  I make my cut-out Christmas cookies in advance and freeze them.  Then I decorate them another day.  Or you can bake your favorite cookies and freeze them for your family’s holiday or as gifts.  I did this one year and my family was so happy to have those cookies they grew up eating.

These ginger cookies are still nice and soft once they defrost from the freezer.

We often take a bottle of wine as a hostess gift also.  I have been wanting to come up with a custom label to put right on the wine bottle.   I had the inspiration to use leftover printable business cards.  I had two sheets left in a box of Avery printable business cards.  When you go to the Avery site they have so many templates, but if you are one of those super creative and original people you can upload your own design.  I had these printed up in 10 minutes.

There are hundreds of templates on the Avery site, including holiday designs.  I decided to go with a basic, but cute, design that can be used for any occasion.

Use your hole punch to put a hole in the corner.  Tie a ribbon or piece of cord and voila!

And yes, the font is customizable – next time I will make it bigger for sure.  It looks custom, but it’s custom for those of us who are design-challenged.

 

 

Make Your Holiday Notebook Now


Since Tom and I are empty nesters, we love it when the family comes home for Christmas.  Our three children live near us, but they (and the spouses of the two that are married) come stay at the house for a few days over Christmas.  It’s so much fun to have everyone under one roof.

As we all know, there are logistics to having 5 extra people for meals over a 3 day period.  I am a sporadically organized person and events like this get me motivated. I don’t want to miss out on the games and conversation because I am stuck in the kitchen! So I did a lot of meal planning and shopping for snacks.  And it mostly worked out, but there is always room for improvement.  I know, you might think because my children are grown and I’ve done this for decades that I would have it down.  But, you forget what you did before, people change, new people come into the family and it’s a whole new ballgame.

After everyone had gone home, as I was cleaning up and putting away, I thought about how it all went.  For me, that led to thoughts of, “next year I will do this differently, or do that exactly the same”.  I have to keep a notebook for these thoughts, because if I don’t write it down, it’s gone forever.  I’m so proud of myself when I actually do these organized things.
My notebook is a 3 ring binder I bought at TJ Maxx.  I like binders since you can add to them in any order you like.  I add a couple of dividers with pockets so that I can add articles that are relevant to entertaining.


And I make dividers.


  
And then I type up a “report” which can have bullets, like “make gumbo on Christmas eve”.  It doesn’t have to be typed though.  It can be a sheet of paper torn out of a composition book.  Put the date at the top, then just jot down what went well and what needs improving.  Trust me, you will thank yourself next year.  

With a big notebook like mine, you can have so many sections besides holidays.  There’s room for dinner parties, birthday parties, houseguests checklists, practically anything event wise.  And it’s so easy to personalize to fit your life.
You’ll have everyone wondering how you stay on your game so consistently. 


  Hopefully, this gives you that little push to start your own entertaining notebook!