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!

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.

 

 

Wreaths

I have gone back and forth on wreaths.  In my younger days I loved them – they seemed so welcoming!  Then I saw them as too country and not my style at all.

But this week I took a photography class which took us to the most classic and beautiful historic area, Old Town Alexandria.  There were some doors that rekindled my appreciation of wreaths.

 

I just love the loose natural feeling of this wreath.

And this door is perfect with the juxtaposition of yellow door and orange wreath, and black and white bow.

Now wreaths are classic.

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Then I was looking through the Pottery Barn catalog and found these beautiful wreaths.

Live Orange Harvest Wreath

I also like this one.

Live Rustic Coxcomb Wreath

There were several other beautiful ones, but these are my favorites.

Isn’t it funny how you can go back and forth on some decor?

 

 

Our Trip to Italy

Mr. DB and I returned last week from a 10 day trip to Italy, which had been on our someday list for years.  We started serious planning for this trip back in the early summer.
We started in Rome and saw all the usual sites:  the Vatican, the Coliseum and Forum, Trevi Fountain, etc.
But, what charmed me the most were the quaint little towns and villages surrounding Florence.
Tuscany, made famous, of course, by books like Under the Tuscan Sun, does not disappoint.  Around every curve in the road was a breathtaking view of cypresses and wineries and olive orchards.  Each little town looked too perfect to be real.
The narrow, curvy streets were so interesting to wander around – you never knew what awaited you around the corner.  Cashmere shawls and wraps, along with leather goods were plentiful in every town.

Continue reading “Our Trip to Italy”

My Notables

Recently I was reading an article in which the author declared that someone had “great taste”.  I usually think that it is the wealthy who are said to have great taste because they can afford the best of everything.  That certainly helps, doesn’t it?  I then wondered,  is taste something one is born with or can you learn it?  I never got very far along on these musings (I never do) but that’s okay, because The New York Times tackled the subject this week in the article Is Good Taste Teachable?
The good news for most of us not born with impeccable taste is yes and the article covers ways of developing this talent.The same section of the Times had this highly entertaining article about having a good friend who is a professional interior decorator help with decorating your space.

 

Emily Henderson is a spokesperson for the new Frame TV by Samsung.  Watch her video of a greenhouse makeover using the Frame here.  When the Frame TV is off there are multiple choices of art for the screen so that it looks like a framed piece of art.  It solves the problem that every decorator has fretted over for years: how to hide the TV.  It turns out the answer is, in plain sight.

Frame Tv

I am definitely planning to try some of these easy recipes.

And a library that will make every reader jealous!

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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I love soup any time of the year, but especially so as the weather turns cool.  It’s  a meal that is satisfying but one that doesn’t leave you feeling “stuffed”, the leftovers freeze well and it’s healthy.

Continue reading “Chicken Tortilla Soup”

Touches of Fall

Adding seasonal elements to my decor would probably never happen if I didn’t have friends over.  Maybe I would plop a pumpkin here or there, but otherwise, probably nothing.

Luckily, it seems we often have friends over, especially in the early fall.  Everyone is back from summer trips and there is that lull before holiday entertaining kicks in.

That being said, I still prefer to inch my way into full on Fall.

The mantel is a good place to start.  It’s one of the first things anyone sees when they come in the house.
After thinking about it for months I finally bought these sconces at a nearby thrift store.  I couldn’t believe they were still there.  I needed something in that large space.

Simple and symmetrical is working for me right now.


I put together a somewhat fall-ish centerpiece for the dining table.  I use a piece of burlap as my table runner, then put together a simple arrangement of mums and alstroemeria.
I knew some more texture would be needed so I purchased artichokes at the grocery store.  Next, I went out in my backyard looking for some leaves or seeds or something.

I found this:

I am not sure of the name of this shrub since it was part of the landscaping when we bought the house.  Possibly it is a type of pittosporum.  But it has these glossy green leaves all year round.  I use it to fill out arrangements and to add volume to garlands or background for candles, etc.  I love those buds and it seems as if there are more this year than ever before.

My centerpiece for our recent dinner party.

Later I changed it up, bringing in my wooden candle holders and placing the mums in the moscow mule mugs, adding a few ceramic pumpkins.


And the buffet needed a change from the Fourth of July decor that was sitting there, ha!


This base will stay in place, until Thanksgiving probably.  I will make a few additions like mums and a few more pumpkins, but we don’t need much more.
And I have to say that I am glad we have a few weeks, maybe even a month, of summer left.  I don’t want to think about cold weather yet.

Have a great weekend!

Linking with Remodelaholic

Master Bath Renovation is DONE

We had a busy Labor Day weekend attending our nephew’s beach wedding.  This wedding was a small, intimate family affair full of charm and simplicity.

On the way home it occurred to me that a wedding at the beach is the perfect way to end the official part of summer.  You have the beach, you have romance, and there’s a party! I highly recommend it.

Because of taking off for the wedding, I did not have time before now to do a blog post on the master bathroom renovation.

But it was finished last week.  It’s wonderful to have a beautiful and functional bathroom again.  Did I tell you that my shower had not been operational for a year?  Yeah.  Over a year actually.


The old shower developed a leak that required tiles to be removed in order to repair it.  So we had the leak fixed until we could decide what we wanted to do.
And that took a year.

Let’s take a quick look at where this bathroom began.



What can I say?  It was, and still is, small.  But it’s no longer dated and I have a shower that works.

I knew that I wanted white and I wanted simplicity.  And I am very happy with the way it turned out.








I will probably change that mirror at some point but I have not found anything I love.  
The wall color is Dovetail by Sherwin Williams.


I love the grainy look of these tile floors.  All tile is from The Tileshop.




If you haven’t gotten your fill you can see more about the bathroom reno here and here.

I loved it so much that I started some updating in our other bathroom.  More on that later.


BATHROOM STORAGE

Now that I have a nice new bathroom I want it to stay beautiful (no clutter on the counters!) and function as efficiently as possible. 
Since Mr. DB and I are empty nesters, we each have our own bathroom, which is such a luxury.  I  am able to set up this room to suit only me.

After careful thought, I decided not to have a medicine cabinet in here. I know you don’t see them in beautiful bathrooms these days, but there are some acceptable ones out there.  Ultimately I decided I wanted a beautiful mirror (I have a temporary one while I’m looking).  All the more reason to maximize the space in the vanity.  I found a few ideas on the internet.
I like this idea of placing a corner shelf under the sink in order to use some of that vertical space in this area.  This got me to wondering about other small shelves that could be placed in here.

I found a few good ideas on this website: One Crazy House.  Using the vanity doors keeps you from having to stoop and peer into the dark recesses of the cabinet. This hanging pocket organizer enables you to grab what you need quickly.

This tiered lazy susan is a good use of space as well.

I Heart Organizing is such a good resource for ideas on organizing.  I’m thinking of adding contac paper to the drawers.  It does add something.

I will definitely be using this idea from Martha Stewart of affixing cups to the door for toothbrushes and toothpaste and hairbrushes.  These are the items that always litter my counter!

As I was browsing websites and blogs for ideas I noticed that the blogs had practical, DIY ideas that are easy to adapt to your space while the websites for magazines had pictures of beautiful bathrooms, which often involved a renovation or a carpenter or an extremely skilled DIY person.  I love how blogs keep it real.

Anyway, with these ideas in mind I went off to The Container Store and voila!  I found these acrylic cups (they had lids, which I set aside).  They have a flat side which I attached to the door with Command strips.


I had purchased this organizer for a desk drawer and then never used it. I may change it later but it is doing the job now.

The hairdryer is easy to access on a Command hook on the door.  You can’t see it but I used one of those large cord clips from The Container Store to secure the cord.


My make-up is in these acrylic holders that I used in the old bathroom.  I’m not sure if I will stay with this arrangement but I’m glad to have it out of sight.


And that is my small start to getting things organized in here.  I will live with it for awhile before I make any other adjustments.

While I was at The Container Store I bought a few things to organize under Mr. DB’s sink.  He needed an upgrade.  More on that later.

There has been no word about my shower door, which I am waiting for.  Oh well, it’s not as if I don’t have a place to shower.




BATHROOM RENOVATION, almost done

Our master bathroom renovation is almost done; we are down to the last little bits.
One of those last bits as you can see from the picture is the shower door, or in our case a shower partition.
Our bathroom is so narrow, barely 4 feet wide, that we decided to have a glass partition instead of a door.  I really hope I don’t find water all over the bathroom after my first shower.   I will let you know.

Anyway, this is what we started with:  a 1960 yellow tiled bathroom.


I made a few half attempts at modernizing, meaning I painted the walls.  I then gave up until I could afford the gut job that it needed.
It felt so good when all of that old dated tile was removed.


I chose a long subway tile in gloss white for the shower.  The longer tile adds a nice modern feel.  
And a gray and white penny tile for the shower floor, all grouted in dove gray.  I wasn’t sure whether to go lighter or darker gray.  I ended up going lighter and I’m glad.


I don’t have strong opinions about every little aspect of a renovation.  But there are always one or two things that are must-haves.
In this case, the vanity selection was of utmost importance.  I knew I had to have drawers in the vanity.  Drawers make it so much easier to organize and find your products without standing on your head.
Remember how narrow my bathroom is?  It’s barely 4 feet, which meant the vanity could be no deeper than 18″.  Let me tell you, that really narrows your selection#pun intended.
It took some doing, but my contractor found one, and at Home Depot no less.
Alas, it had a beige countertop#that won’t work.
But we found another vanity with a white countertop in the same size and were able to switch them out.  Yay!


If you remember my before picture the previous vanity had doors enclosing a  cavern of space that was impossible to use efficiently.  Believe me, I tried.

The mirror is okay.  It came with the vanity and I had the contractor put it up until I find something I like better.  I hope it doesn’t take 5 years.
The wall color is Dovetail by Sherwin Williams.  I really love how it makes the white tiles and fixtures stand out.

You can see from the above picture the other details that are waiting to be completed: wall plates, trim by those drawers.

I think I need new towels for my fancy new space!
‘Back next week with the finished space.