Thursday, December 1, 2016

Holiday Home Tour

I hope Thanksgiving left you with a full stomach and a full heart; I hope you shopped 'til you dropped and found some incredible weekend deals; and I hope that your hall-decking is in full swing by now.

It's been a few years since I've really pulled out all the stops with our Christmas decorating. We had a wedding in '14 and a family crisis in '15, so I had really only done the minimum with holiday décor for those years. Truthfully, it was just sad...no tree, few gifts...bah humbug.

But it's 2016, and this elf is back in the spirit! So, I'm inviting you to take a mini home tour with me. Let's get this party started :)




I may as well mention that I love snowflakes, so you're bound to see several of them on the tour. This arrow in the entry hall has become a fun place to hang pretty things. I discovered this last year when I attached a vintage ornament wreath to it for Valentine's Day. Now, one of my favorite snowflake ornaments dangles there and gives guests a little taste of what they'll see inside.


This garland above the kitchen sink has stood in for a window treatment for years. It has almost worn out its welcome, though, and will be replaced with a bamboo shade after the holidays. But, for now, it got a little holiday zhushing with evergreen branches and ornaments.


Heading into our hearth room, you see that this year's décor incorporates my new design color, teal, with the greens that have been staples here for awhile.



Simplicity meets glitz is the theme in here. I do enjoy a bit of glitter at Christmas, as displayed by this silver tinsel tree decorated with gold, teal, and green ball ornaments. A throw pillow adds to both the teal scheme and the snowflake motif.



I decided to keep the mantel clean this year. A simple garland of greenery and topiaries intertwined with tiny lights give just a touch of Christmas without going overboard. Often, my mantel décor is asymmetrical, which I like, although as soon as my paperwhites bloom, I'll place them behind the stocking holders to balance the height of the topiaries and to add a little more natural color.

On Christmas day, a fire will crackle in the fireplace, creating a warm, cozy atmosphere, and my (adult) children will find a few fun surprises in these stockings. I'm not sure who enjoys the tradition more - me or them, haha.



As we head into the living and dining rooms, you can see some of my favorite things. Again, greenery, snowflakes, and the same color scheme flow into these spaces. Each year I drape evergreen boughs through our pendant light above the dining table and hang more sparkly beaded snowflakes. This creates a magical holiday canopy over our family Christmas dinner.


Because there is a lot going on overhead, I chose to keep the centerpiece here less busy. A collection of teal, green, and gold mercury glass votive holders will cast a pretty glow when the candles are lit.


Of course, the star of the show is always the tree, right? I finally broke down this year and bought a pre-lit tree, and boy howdy, did it ever save me hours of light-stringing grief...one of the best investments ever! Our tree is decorated with loads of ball ornaments in gold, silver, champagne, and clear glass. Some are vintage and some are new. There are also icicles, stars, moons, and of course, snowflakes. My family considers this the "designer" tree, and the gifts always get wrapped in coordinating "designer" giftwrap.

We have also often put up the family memory tree in addition to this tree. It has always been a cherished treasure that showcases ornaments the kids made when they were young and others that we picked up on vacations. There are even a few from my husband's and my childhoods (true antiques!) I don't put that tree up every year, but when I do, we all enjoy our walk down memory lane.



Simple bits of greenery, baubles, and snowflakes carry the festive feel into our living room. The coffee table will be another good spot to add paperwhites in a couple of weeks when they (hopefully) bloom in time for Christmas. You may notice the coffee table book "Passage to Cuba." Our son-in-law is from Havana, and we'll be visiting there in January for a few days. We're so excited!


I hope you've enjoyed this little mini tour of our holiday home. It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

Julie


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Monday, November 21, 2016

Easy Holiday Place Setting

The holidays are upon us once again. Bloggers and designers everywhere are buzzing like bees preparing for the festivities - cooking, decorating, shopping, fa la la la la.

In that spirit I, too, am busy planning ahead for our Christmas dinner table. Because we only sit down to a meal with extended family once or twice a year, I like to personalize the table settings as much as possible. Often, I add quotes that reflect each family member's personality. In past years, we've read our quotes aloud as a blessing before the meal.


This year, I'm starting with these simple balsa wood words that I picked up at Michael's. With a quick coat of spray paint, they now coordinate with our décor. These words, alone, make a sweet statement, but I may still find quotes that relate to each of the words to personalize each place setting even more (stay tuned as we get closer to Christmas.)


Snowflakes are my favorite holiday theme. These napkin rings were plain when I bought them, but the embellisher in me just had to bling them up a little! Craft store adornments gave them just the sparkle they needed. I mean, can you have too much glitz at Christmas?


Here are the words for each of the seven of us. These could be taken along as favors after our gathering and reused as gift ties, bookmarks, inspirational desk accessories, etc. It's such a simple and inexpensive way to spread a little extra joy and love, don't you think?

Julie

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Turkey Day Tablescape

It's finally feeling like November here in the Midwest, although temps are still a bit above normal and I'm not complaining.  Today it's cool, damp, and overcast, and the leaves are tumbling off the trees, laying carpets of emblazoned color on the ground.

In just over two weeks, we'll be sitting down to that iconic November feast and counting our blessings. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year...I just love the tastes, smells, warmth, and festivity of the season.  And setting a beautiful table is part of creating memorable family traditions.


Turkeys are an obvious theme for the holiday, and I have a small (but growing) collection of them.  There is a large ceramic bird, a clear glass antique candy dish, and another antique ceramic bird with an opening, which I've filled with flowers from our yard.




And turkey votive holders add a personal touch and a little glow to each place setting.  Aren't these cute?  They were the first purchase that started this whole flock :)


I've grounded this vignette with an old European tapestry. It doesn't necessarily say "pilgrim" or "America," but it does add to the timeworn feel, and the colors work well here.  Nor is the capital pedestal a typical Thanksgiving decor piece, but it helps to elevate the larger turkey for visual interest.

Clear acrylic and iron candlesticks add height, and they also echo the clear glass of the turkey candy dish.  



A teal vase with faux olive branches was already part of the dining room decor.  Autumn Joy Sedum and dried hydrangeas tucked into the arrangement pull colors from the turkeys and give the tablescape texture and a natural element.  Foraging from the yard is an easy and inexpensive way to add color and foliage to your centerpieces this time of year.

These versatile drinking glasses in a teal tint have multi-colored hand-painted dots, which also pull from the harvest color scheme.  And plaid napkins in red, green, orange, and butter yellow bring in a masculine, geometric pattern to offset the more feminine china pattern.  Our glass tabletop certainly makes this whole setting sparkle, doesn't it?


If you'd like to see my Thanksgiving decor from previous years, you can find it here, here, here, here, and here.  Wow, is it obvious how much I enjoy this holiday? Haha!

We'll be having a very small group for Thanksgiving dinner this year, which will make for an intimate setting. Luckily, my hubby likes to do the cooking, so my main role is to fluff the house.  Since I have this much completed, it looks like all that's left to do is get my appetite ready!

Are you preparing your table and menu for the big day?

Julie


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Book Club -The Things We Wish Were True


Note:  The theme for the book "The Things We Wish Were True" by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is in no way reflected in the food, decor, and wine I chose for the evening as host for this month's gathering.  One of our members had planned to be moving to Australia shortly after this meeting, so that's why you see boomerangs, Yellow Tail wine, etc.  Funny thing is, by the time the meeting was held, she had made the decision to move to Colorado instead, haha :)  But it was fun putting everything together, anyway.  Our son had actually traveled to Australia with People to People Student Ambassadors when he was in middle school, so it was easy for me to come up with items to decorate with!  Several boomerangs, a hand-painted leather canvas, and a didgeridoo (the painted, wooden black and red tube "thingy", which is a wind instrument used by indigenous Australian people) are just a few of the souvenirs that Sam brought back with him from that special trip.


The food I served was pretty typical for our very casual book club group.  We just love to get together to chat (often not about the book) and enjoy a little wine and some easy appetizers.  Of course, the wine had to be Australian!  Even though Yellow Tail isn't a high-end selection by any stretch of the imagination, most of our members thought it was at least drinkable ;)  


Veggies & hummus and crackers & cheese are always no-fail options for every taste. And have you ever tried Trader Joe's salted pecans?  Oh my word, if you like pecans, these are decadent and absolutely addictive!  I thought the napkins had a hint of Australian style to them.  


I love to serve these Spicy Pretzels from The Cookin' Chicks, which are simple to make and always a crowd-pleaser.  I also served ginger cookies with Pumpkin Dip from Carolina Charm but, unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a good picture of that.  It was delicious and super easy to make!  If you want to see more recipes for non-cooks like myself ;) head on over to my Pinterest boards, "Tasty," "Tasty Holiday," and "Clean Eating."   




Oh yeah, in case you were wondering about the book, it's a story that is set in North Carolina about several families who are intertwined by secrets.  There are old and dear friends, nosy neighbors, new lovers, children, and even a couple of deeply disturbed cast members.  This book is both easy to read and thought-provoking. The characters and setting are relatable and may remind you of long-ago parts of your life.  And a couple of twists and turns will keep you turning the pages.


Book Club is always the highlight of my month!  Here we are trying to capture years worth of friendship and love in a couple of quick iPhone photos before one of us moves on to her new adventure.  These ladies are so special to me.  Aren't girlfriends the best?  Do you belong to a book club?

Julie


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