Christmas Decorating So Far

I thought I would share a little of my decorating so far.  I noticed as I was decorating this year that doing less might require more effort than doing more.  It certainly requires more thought and discernment.

I mentioned earlier that my mantel looked unfinished.  To fix that I brought out some mercury glass containers and filled them with greenery from my yard.  That seemed to do it.  What do you think?

I experimented with various options but many seemed just too much.

And now, on to the tree, which is kind of the centerpiece of the whole shebang.  This is the view from our front entry hall.

It took me a few years to decide that I didn’t have to put up all of the homemade Christmas decorations from back in the day.

And here is the view from the kitchen.

I like to set up little vignettes to display some of my quirky finds, like this caroling Santa.  I’m sure he must have been part of a set, but he was all by himself when I found him.

He’s just singing his heart out.  Kosher salt makes good snow, in case you are wondering.

On this table which is the second part of our front hallway that leads into the family room I added a few more reindeer. Those spikey looking items are my dried artichokes which I spray painted gold.  Have you ever noticed you can spray paint just about anything gold and it becomes a Christmas decoration.  Cheap decor you can throw away!

I am still working on my dining room.  I hope I will see you back here for the rest of the tour  next week!

 

Christmas Decorating

It’s early December  and I already feel like I am  behind on everything Christmas.  Partly, well mostly, it’s because I am comparing myself to other more organized types whose house is decorated and shopping is finished.  Well, my house is partly decorated, but the shopping has not started.

However, I was excited to start decorating in the living room because I purchased this new reindeer.  Something new  is often a motivator for me.   He adds a slight modern vibe to my traditional decor and I wanted to see how he would fit in.  Just fine I think.

I’ve never been one of those people who go overboard on Christmas.  With a small house, it would be overpowering.  But I do like a festive atmosphere so each year I try to find that balance.  It seems to always come down to balance doesn’t it?  Not only in decorating but other areas of life also.

The plant is called a “frosty fern” and I found it at the grocery store.  I like to tuck moss around the top of houseplants so that you aren’t looking at dirt.

Then across the room on my console table I added a few more natural elements.  This area needed a little more something so I added some dried berries in a julep cup.

I also collected some magnolia leaves.  They are so plentiful here in Virginia, neighbors and friends willingly share their bounty.

I place them in water to prolong that rich glossiness.  As you probably know magnolia leaves dry well and are still beautiful in arrangements.

My mother-in-law needlepointed this Santa picture for us.  Sometimes I put it by my front door, but this year I thought this corner needed some extra color.

 

I am still working on my mantel.  I was going for simplicity, but this seems a tad sparse.

 It’s good to get started.  I hope to have a full house tour later in the week.

Great Ideas for Leftover Turkey

There have been years where I had little to no leftover turkey, and that was very disappointing because I look forward to the leftovers almost as much as the actual feast.  When I am faced with no leftovers I resolve to buy an extra turkey next year.  Here are a couple of reasons I love my leftover turkey.

One of my favorite recipes is for Turkey Gumbo.  I have tried several variations over the years, but  my favorite is one that I have adapted from America’s Test Kitchens.  I love their roux and the flavor baseit gives the gumbo.  In my turkey version I use turkey (or chicken) stock and turkey instead of shrimp.  Additionally, I use a little less stock, more like a quart which is half what the recipe calls for.  Otherwise it is too much liquid for me.  Also, add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.  Find the recipe here.

Another favorite meal for my leftovers is  Turkey Pot Pie, which remains a favorite for my family.  I use this recipe, although I don’t usually add potatoes.  What a bonus that you can make two pies and freeze one (or send one home with your adult son).

If you don’t want to make the usual turkey sandwich (using dressing, cranberry sauce, etc.) you can perk it up with other additions.  I love adding avocado slices to ours for that extra creaminess and flavor.  Bacon is an obvious go-to.  And for the spread try a remoulade like this one.

Do you have some favorite recipes for leftover turkey?  I’d love to see some new ideas.

A Relaxing Thanksgiving

This year will be the first in awhile that I have not hosted Thanksgiving.  Is it okay to say I am thankful for not hosting?  Don’t get me wrong.  I have usually enjoyed putting on a big celebration and having family and friends around the table.  There is a lot of satisfaction to planning and pulling off an event like Thanksgiving.

But it’s also nice to have a year off.

Because I did not have to have my dining room in Thanksgiving mode I was able to bring in just a little Christmas.  Just a little.

Just adding a few gold leafed magnolia leaves and my red wine goblets there is a touch of the season awaiting  around the corner.

But I am keeping the wheat and the pumpkins  a little bit longer.  I worry that if I get the Christmas decor out too early I will be tired of it long before Christmas Day.

With a few colorful branches on my table, I haven’t jumped ahead too quickly.

 

Do you sneak a few Christmas decor items in before Thanksgiving?  It kind of helps if you can get an early start on things, doesn’t it?

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Thanksgiving Links: From Roasting the Turkey to Decorating the Table

When you have hosted as many Thanksgiving dinners as I have, it is easy to get stuck in a rut and do the same things you always do.  However, I have found that  a little creative boost helps me get more enthused about the process, the work that is involved in making a memorable day for everyone.   That’s when I sit down at my computer to find inspiration and ideas that spice up my usual dinner.

These two links were so thorough that I didn’t need to go any further.  I hope they help you too!

The New York Times has an entire section of helpful tips for the novice and the experienced cook  here.  From How to Roast a Turkey to How to Plan the Menu, you will find a comprehensive guide for your Thanksgiving meal.  Even though I have hosted Thanksgiving more times than I can count, I  am always interested in new ideas for recipes and tips for making the preparations  go more smoothly.

This article had so many ideas for making your table festive.  From simple to elaborate you will find something you like.

Happy Planning!

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”

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!