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December 31, 2015

New Years Eve Dinner Menu | Seared Filets, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Orange Braised Parsnips, Balsamic Brussels & Chocolate Ganache Tart

As I was sitting down to write my menu and shopping list this morning, I thought I might as well share it with you, too!  This is going to be short and sweet - just what we're planning for tonight's New Years Eve dinner at home with my two favorite people.  I've promised Emma a day of "party planning" and decorating.  We'll be making a flower arrangement, some party hats and homemade confetti for our big celebration (that is likely to happen at 9pm).  She's planning to wear her fanciest dress and Mike and I are opening a bottle of wine from our honeymoon in Italy - everyone is very excited.

Hope you are planning a festive night - either in or out!

Here is what we'll be making today and enjoying tonight :

*The only thing not listed here is a simple Butter Lettuce Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, pickled onions, cherry tomatoes and a toasted Goat Cheese topped Toast.  I'll post it soon - it has been my go-to salad for entertaining this holiday season!


Lobster Mac & Cheese 
(with lobster for us, without for Emma - her request)


Seared Filets
(the best way to prepare delicious steaks at home!  so easy.)



Parsnips & Carrots 
This post leads to the post from a Valentine's Dinner we hosted a couple of years ago featuring recipes from Barefoot Contessa's book, Foolproof.  They are orange braised carrots and parsnips with shallots and thyme.  I'm embracing all things citrus this month - fresh citrus always sounds so good after holiday richness.


Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
This is also from the same post and Barefoot Cookbook.

Chocolate Ganache Tarts

This was the dessert from the same post (sorry for being a broken record, but it was such a good inspiration for this dinner!).

Here is a link that shares the link for the recipe for the cupcake version of this cake and my milk chocolate glaze - recipe is the same for the cake.


I'll try to post on Instagram throughout the day as we create our flowers, the table, DIY party supplies and the dinner!  Follow me on Insta, here.

Have a great day preparing for your festive evening!

December 23, 2015

Gingerbread House Cookies on Martha Stewart.com


I was excited to see my Gingerbread-House cookies on MarthaStewart.com today!  Here is the article, if you'd like to see it.

I hope everyone is enjoying these last days before Christmas.  We have been baking, wrapping and lounging - three of my favorite things : )

Happy Christmas!

December 11, 2015

Holiday Table Setting & Menu | Real Entertaining | 30-50% Off Linen



Last night we hosted our first Holiday Dinner party - so I finally had a chance to set a pretty Christmas table.  It was such a fun night with friends, I'm so glad I have these pre-party table photos to remember it!  Our menu is below.

Table Linens including these Linen Napkins and Tablecloths (in this size and a larger) are now 30-50% off + Free Shipping.  Shop the entire collection >

I used :

-Tuscany Red & Cream 54" Square Tablecloth

A mixture of :

-Tuscany Red & Cream Napkins
-Provencal Red & Natural Napkins

-Hand-Dipped Taper Candles in Ivory
-Brown & White Square Transferware Planters
-Laurel Wreath Placecards





I used a piece of floral foam in each plater and then covered with cedar and fir clippings.


Menu :

Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Truffle Fries
Cabernet & Thyme Mushrooms
French Green Beans
...
Chocolate Molten Cakes
Poached Pears




 Shop the entire Linen collection >

December 07, 2015

Gingerbread House Cookies | Decorating Tips | Restocked!

I've just restocked the Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Set for the third (and final!) time.   The nice "shapers" in Nebraska have worked double-time over the weekend to get them here!  

I guess I'm not the only one who loves the idea of creating a charming Gingerbread village without having to construct any houses... which is much harder than you might think : )


I've just restocked the Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Set for the third (and final!) time.   The nice "shapers" in Nebraska have worked double-time over the weekend to get them here!  

I guess I'm not the only one who loves the idea of creating a charming Gingerbread village without having to construct any houses... which is much harder than you might think : )

In this post, I'll walk you through how I decorated these, but the possibilities are endless.  We plan to have them for Emma's birthday for the girls to decorate, but will make them out of sugar cookie dough and have pink and sparkly glitters to use as decorations.  

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
2 cups flour 
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients.  In a mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar and molasses.  When creamy, add egg.  Slowly stir in dry ingredients.  Chill dough for 20 minutes. 


Roll out the dough, cut shapes.


Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet, until browned and firm.


For decorating, I used white tiny ball sprinkles, crushed candy canes, snow caps, rosemary sprigs, red hots (cut in half) and raspberry gumdrops.


I used royal icing as my 'glue.'



I cut the snowcaps in half and used them to thatch the roof.


For other roofs, I used royal icing, then put sprinkles on to act as snow.





This house has a "cranberry" wreath and a rosemary bough over the front door.


I cut a slice of the raspberry gum drop, then cut a hole with a straw.


I trimmed off the rosemary until it looked like ever green.


The trees got a dusting of snow, too.



I love how these little red hot halves look like light bulbs!



I would love to see what you create, too!  Please email photos (or share on instagram) and I can share everyone's creativity : )

Shop the entire Holiday Collection, here >


December 04, 2015

Mini Christmas Trees in Planters | Easy DIY Step-by-Step




Since last weekend, I've been adding Christmas touches little by little.  This is our first Holiday season in the new/rebuilt house, so I'm almost starting from scratch.  It takes a bit to find out what feels right where, and how much is too much and what is not enough.  I've already moved pieces around, added wreaths and taken them away.

Since I saw these Transferware Planters ($14-28), I knew I would use them for something, but I just wasn't sure how.  Last month I planted an amaryllis bulb in it... but it hasn't so much as sprouted (the paperwhites, are doing great... who knows!), so I took another route.

Our market has these real  fir tree tops for sale for $15.  They are spindly and filled with tiny pine cones.  I bought one and used it to make three "tree" arrangements in the set of three transferware planters.  I am copying my friend who had similar ones made in the planters by a florist : )

Shop the Transferware Collection, here.  They make a really lovely gift, centerpiece or accent for your home.


I just loved how they turned out.  I'm already earmarking another set so I can do some magnolia leaves, berries and cloved orange arrangements, too... and another set to create some greenery and candle centerpieces (coming next week).


As you can see, I put little strings of battery operated lights on each one, too, and tucked them around in corners of our home - adding a little sparkle.


I started with the largest and used the top of the tree top.


I cut it to the size I wanted, leaving plenty of "trunk" to go into the foam and hold it into place.


I used wet foam in each container and filled it with water.


Make sure the tree trunk goes down into the foam far enough to make it sturdy.


I went outside to my boxwood bushes and took some clippings to cover the foam at the base.   You could also use trimmings from the tree or moss.


I took the leftover tree trimmings and made two more tree shaped arrangements in the smaller containers.


Someone else was crafting, too : )  Gosh, that bottle of blue paint is looking really close to my white couch in this photo!

I really like just green trees and white lights, but you could definitely jazz these up however you'd like!  I am going to make another one for the bedrooms, too.



I found these battery lights at Lowe's.


This is our dining room corner.  I thought I had taken a photo of the little floral on our table, but now I can't find it.  It is little orange spray roses with magnolia and bay leaves - left over from Thanksgiving.



We are having our first holiday party next week, so I will be sharing some details on our new table and a festive table setting that I hope will last the rest of the season.


This little tree is living in the kitchen for now, until I get a bigger tree in here to hold all of our copper cookie cutters as ornaments.



The other tree is living in Mike's office.  I found that Bing albumn a couple of weeks ago when we were hunting for Thanksgiving goodies.




Even a rosemary plant it looking Christmasy in my planter.

Happy Holiday decorating!  I like to do a little at a time and enjoy the process.  We will be doing the last of the yard cleanup for winter this weekend, hanging exterior lights and other touches this weekend.  I will share them on Monday... hopefully : )

Meanwhile, take advantage of new sale items in my Holiday Collection to deck your own halls or prepare for hostess gifting season.

Transferware Planters set of 3, now on sale for $24.50 >

Shop the entire Holiday Collection, here >
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