9. Simmer this (or this) in a pot on the stove: 3 sprigs evergreen or handful pine needles, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 Tbsp whole cloves, 2 bay leaves, 2 pieces orange rind, and 2 pieces lemon rind.
8. Light some candles and hang some mistletoe. Find a cute someone to help you.
6. Make some paper snowflakes and hang them in the windows.
5. Finish your holiday shopping--here are some ideas.
4. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.
3. Bake some Italian Christmas cookies.
2. Flock your tree.
1. Invite some friends over to share your Winter Wonderland and give a toast to Peace, Love and Joy.
The holidays are a season of entertaining; you'll have to make sure that your guest room is ready for visitors. So, we are serving up some simple tips for making sure you have everything ready for family/friends to come to stay. The perfect guest retreat can be easily set up with these lovely items.
Stylish Curtains: Guests need privacy and an option to sleep in. Curtains offer both.
Fresh flowers, Candles or Scent: Nothing is more welcoming then a delicious smelling room, especially if it is holiday-inspired.
Extra Bedding, Reading Light + Books: It isn't always easy to fall asleep in a new place, so give them extra blankets, the option of books and make sure there's a reading light!
Enjoy the season and the visitors; comfy guests are easy guests. xo
I love to cook. But even I have to admit, Thanksgiving can be daunting. There are so many dishes to make and what the heck is the best way to cook a turkey, anyway? AND if you're a design-lover like me, you have to make sure you're creating complementary table settings that match those fresh-baked delights...
Still, this is one of the best holidays! It's about GRATITUDE and FAMILY and FRIENDSHIP, which makes all the other stuff melt away. Mellow with your wine, a full belly, and friends and family around you. Throw on a crackling fire, and you have the perfect holiday.
To help you enjoy all of the great parts of this holiday (and ease the stress of those tough Thanksgiving tasks) here are some yummy, easy sides that I love to include in my Turkey Day buffet. (I actually love these small bites so much, I ignore the rest of the dinner! But that's a secret.)
1. Tuscan Kale Salad with shaved parmesan, apples, pine nuts and Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette (adapted from Lauren Conrad's recipe here)
for the salad:
- 2 bunches of Tuscan or black kale, cut julienne
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
- 2 granny apples cut into half moons
- 1/2 cup pinenuts
for the vinaigrette (dress the greens about two hours before serving and when ready to serve, toss in the rest of the ingredients--the dressing will tenderize the kale a bit):
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
2. Roasted Candied Yams
- 6 roasted yams (or sweet potatoes) --roasted in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour
- one box of light or dark brown sugar (one pound)
- one stick butter (I know--how can this go wrong?!)
- 1/4 C of orange juice
Combine the sugar, butter and orange juice in a small pan and heat on simmer until the sugar is melted. Peel the yams and slice into thirds, put in a pan, pour over the cooked sugar mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.
3. Sourdough Sage Dressing
- two loaves of sourdough bread, sliced and cubed, and dried out (you can cube it and put it on trays in a cool oven for a day or two to "stale up" or put it into a 250 degree oven for about an hour--keep an eye on it, though.)
- one yellow onion, diced
- one bunch of celery, diced
- one cube of butter
- one bunch of fresh sage, julienned
- 32 ounces of chicken stock
- one tablespoon of Bell Seasoning
- two raw beaten eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt the cube of butter in a pot, add the julienned sage and cook until slightly crisp, being careful not to burn the butter. Add the celery and onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Ladle in the broth, the Bell seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a simmer. Take off the burner and let cool. When cooled, stir in the eggs and then pour mixture over the cubed bread and toss (in a bowl or in the roasting pan). Put the mixture into a roasting pan and place in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until browned and crisp on top.
So now it is up to you. I suggest opening a bottle of bubbly as you start and keeping it all simple. Delegate setting the table to the kids and occupy them with making place cards for all the guests --they can figure out the table arrangements. Good training for when you are old and infirm and its their turn to prepare dinner for you. XO
In California, Fall is finally in the air, making us want to cozy up to the fire and strew pumpkins and gourds all over the porch. Here are some helpful ideas...
We are loving these prints from Philomela*. Adding some fresh items to your decor will not only be refreshing and rejuvenating to your space, they spice up all that upcoming indoor time. Whip up a few new accent pillows and you have got instant Autumn warmth. (If you can't sew, we have people who can!)
If you are hosting a dinner party this fall, or Thanksgiving itself, here are some simple centerpiece ideas that look great and are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Okay, about holiday decor on the porch/at the front door. We need to keep this simple, too. I love a beautifully decorated porch for the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they all seem to roll together too quickly these days. So let's start with these little white pumpkins ~ with or without some complimentary gourds. (You can pick these up at the grocery store at the same time you pick up some milk.)
You can put your pumpkins in a pretty urn or a terra-cotta planter or a modern container. Throw in some moss or leaves if you are feeling extra creative and voilà, instant Fall decor. When the first of December rolls around, trade out pumpkins for poinsettias, red or white ~also available at your grocery store when you pick up more milk ~are you seeing a theme?.
A wreath on the door creates an instant impression of the happy homemaker/Martha Stewart type who obviously has their act together. Even if you don't, you can totally fake it. And the rest of us will be jealous and have another handful of candy corn or glass of Champagne or eggnog and wonder why we aren't as organized as you are. Smoke and mirrors, baby! Consider Etsy your best friend in this case, and magnolia leaves your wreath of choice (because they dry well!). The one pictured comes with an autumn-appropriate bow and on December 1, when you change out your pumpkins, you are going to change out the bow to red or green or gold or silver or whatever--and if you forget, it will still look festive and nobody will be the wiser.
We can't do your gift shopping or your holiday decorating or your cooking for you, but if you keep on this riff of "what can I use at the grocery store or order online?" the holidays can keep to what they are supposed to embody--spookiness, gratitude and goodwill towards our neighbors. So, remember to start where you are. Happy decorating and happy holidays!