Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Inspiration | A Cozy Cottage

I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebrations!  Ours was relaxed and cozy, so even though I hosted I felt full of energy to start getting our Christmas decorations out this weekend.  I'm sticking with my vow to skip fresh greenery inside this year (unless it is in water - vases, tree stand, little pewter pitchers...).  I've tried it ALL and no matter what, fresh greens look great for 1-2 weeks tops and then I start to regret having used them.  I'm not sure if the air is drier in our old home?  But whatever it is, faux is the route I'm going inside when it comes to garlands and wreaths this year. Outside, I'm still using fresh greenery and I will also use real in our dining room but I will wait until the week of Christmas to use inside.   I've decided to embellish the faux garlands with lots of pinecones (real ones!  they don't dry up! ;)).  I've also added a few containers with paperweights (God willing, they will bloom) and tucked a little fresh topiary tree here and there to balance things out.  I will post pictures in a week or so.  In the meantime, I have a treat for you....

Last week I escaped by myself for a couple hours at a favorite bookstore.  I grabbed coffee and HUGE stack of Christmas shelter magazines and savored all the homes while gathering lots of inspiration for this year.  My favorite was the Christmas issue of the Cottage Journal. Excellent from cover to cover.  It was the only magazine I couldn't bear to put back on the shelf.  Every now and then I come across a home that I know will stay with me for many years to come (see here and here for some I still love).  This Alabama home, designed by Bill Ingrim, now has a new owner and I adore what she has done with this sweet 1,700 square foot space.  Here are a few of my favorite shots that were featured in the article.  There are more pictures in the magazine, including a bunk room addition for her grandchildren.  (For the record, I scanned all these images - just like the old days of blogging!!  The time before pinterest!  I couldn't find the images anywhere else online yet.)

^^ wall + trim color: Creamy White, Benjamin Moore.  I love the little touch of gray on the plate racks filled with ironstone, the painted floors (from previous owner) and the built in banquette that almost hides the kitchen counter on the opposite side.  The wreath, paperweights, and mini trees are the perfect Christmas touch, feels festive + cozy without adding clutter. ^^

^^ I adore the table top tree in the blue and white bowl.  you might see this idea again, hint, hint... :) ^^ 

^^ Closet turned butler's pantry, food is stored behind the skirted bottom.  Years ago we turned a large closet in the playroom into a spare pantry - I wish I'd seen this image before because I would have made ours much more charming.^^

^^ My favorite room in the house.  It's perfect. ^^

I was going to do a little before and after so you could compare the new pictures to the old since both have been published, but it's late and I'm going to turn in, so if you are curious, here is a link to Bill Ingrim's version of the same home.   Which do you prefer?

(image source: the Cottage Journal)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

My kitchen is clean and closed for the night, my ingredients are prepped for tomorrow and my schedule is written out, so while Charlie is at basketball practice I thought I'd pop on here and share a few pictures of our table setting, since I had time to capture it my good camera today.  No promises for tomorrow though.  After I publish this post,  I plan to put away my camera. phone and computer for a few days and just be present and enjoy time with the people I love most.  Hey family, did you hear that?  I won't make you pose holding a plate of food! :) You're welcome.  As for my game plan that I published earlier in the week.... Well, I made a few changes... I ended up baking a pumpkin pie and my Mum made the glazed onion relish (we'd each rather make what we ended up making.  Pearl onion peeling isn't my favorite.)  I also ended up buying a whole bird rather than just a breast - it just didn't feel festive enough without a whole bird.  Nevermind we only eat the breast meat and carve it up before going to the table so no one really sees it but me.  Especially now, since I just vowed to stay off Instagram and put my camera away...  I also skipped the gratin.  It was a beautiful day today and after making a few sides I wanted to get outside and bike to the park with my boys.  Otherwise though, I'm right on track. ;)

So with a thankful heart, I hope tomorrow brings you the chance to celebrate and reflect on the things in life for which you are most grateful.  I thank you for reading this blog, whether you leave comments or not, whether you've read from the beginning or just discovered me today.  I'm thankful to be part of such a supportive  and creative community here and on Instagram, you all encourage me more than you know.  Many blessings to all.   xx

^^ I wasn't quite sure how my table would turn out this year but I LOVE it. I had ordered a beautiful set of scalloped antique pewter plates that didn't arrive in time. (They'll be making an appearance for Christmas brunch instead).  This gorgeous blue and white bowl was a birthday gift from Jimmy and I'm so glad it worked for a centerpiece too.  It sits on our table all the time.  It's from Wisteria.)  Flowers are anchored in Oasis. ^^

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu + Game Plan

I did a double take at my calendar this morning, Thanksgiving is next week?  Wait.  What?  I missed a week somewhere.  Between the blogging and instagram community in full deck the halls mode and us just celebrating Charlie's birthday last weekend (he turned 7 in October!), I'm all out of sorts time wise.  Since I'm hosting, I decided to get my thoughts together on what I'm serving and how I'm planning my time. (The new Barefoot Contessa Thanksgiving special yesterday helped!)  I (like everyone else) try to make as much ahead as possible, so the kitchen isn't pure chaos on Thanksgiving day.

Here is my menu and day by day plan...

This Week
1. Order pies (ie. call and tell my mum she is in charge of desserts. ;)) 
2. Order turkey
3. Plan menu (check)
3. Plan table setting, buy new linens or candles if needed. 

1. Grocery store

1. Prepare Cranberry Sauce (this is my favorite recipe)  
2. Prepare apple sauce (Mum's recipe)

1. Flower shopping for table and buffet
2. Last minute forgotten groceries run (inevitable)  - usually Jimmy's job!
3. Start setting table

1. Make Herb and Apple Bread Pudding (recipe
2. Blanch Green Beans, cover and refrigerate 
3. Make glazed onion relish (my recipe
4. Peel and cube butternut squash, refrigerate 
5. Prep potato + fennel gratin (recipe)
6. Set out and label serving dishes in buffet area

1. Several hours before dinner: Prepare turkey (recipe) - making a breast instead of a whole bird this year since there will only be 6 of us!
2.  Prepare gravy (star of my Thanksgiving dinner, recipe)
3. Bake gratin
3.  An hour before dinner: peel and make make mashed potatoes, roast butternut squash (toss with pecans and dried cranberries before serving), finish green beans - warm them up by tossing in pan with olive oil and browned shallots. Warm up apple and herb bread pudding. (This all sounds like a lot, but really it is just putting things in the oven or tossing them in a pan. The only thing requiring minimal work is the mashed potatoes - Charlie's favorite! Uncork wine.
4. About 20 minutes before dinner, light candles and freshen up :)

I'm sure you noticed a theme with the recipes. Ha.  I stick with my girl, Ina, for holidays like Thanksgiving. And if the recipe isn't hers, then it's likely my Mum's.  I should note, I do have two ovens which helps a bit (even though one is teeny tiny) since the gratin, turkey, bread pudding, and butternut squash will overlap in time.  Also, when planning a menu this big I have a wild card, an item that I'd like to make if time is running smoothly and I'm enjoying myself, but I can easily cancel too if needed. In this menu, it's the potato and fennel gratin.  I'd like two potato dishes, but if it doesn't happen it really doesn't alter the menu much.  I will just make it on Friday to have with leftovers instead.  Also, we still need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday and I don't want it to be fast food and take out, so I try to have easy nibbles for those meals so the boys (including Jimmy) can help themselves.  It just isn't fun to be in the midst of prepping a holiday meal then stopping to prepare another.

Enjoy the prep and planning but don't stress the small stuff.  Everyone enjoys the day more when the cook is relaxed and it's not all too perfect.