The holiday season is in full swing, and there are so many sites and sights to see. This is the time of year when treasures, goodies, ideas, and pretty images flood the day in the best possible way. Holiday inspiration is all around.
When I can’t sleep I don’t count sheep, I try to recall the stores and shops that lined the downtown area from when I was a kid. Do you remember shopping downtown at Christmas time? Santa Claus in his red house with white trimmed windows, Christmas lights and tinsel stars strung from store front to store front, and department stores display windows decked out in holiday finery. Lerner Shops, Bakers, JCPenney, W.T. Grant, S. H. Kress & Co., Rexall, Morgan & Lindsey’s…
Stress free holiday entertaining ideas put the merry in a holiday good time. From the planned casual holiday soiree to the not so planned we saw your lights on holiday surprise drop-in, these stock items can cut the stress, welcome guests, ward off the holiday bah humflubug, and make things festive.
Votive candles instantly add that cozy and homey feel to the setting. I don’t know if it’s the warmth they exude or the soft glow, but votive candles create a relaxing atmosphere. Stock up on these home decor and entertaining staples.
Put out the welcome mat. Head off mud, slush and dirt at the door.
Festive need not be expensive. The package sells the product, and a festive presentation impresses the harshest holiday critic. My darling maternal grandmother taught me through her gracious example. She loved Lady Borden Vanilla ice cream- her signature dessert offering. She lived alone, and with single serving sizes not yet on the market, the large container ice cream would often fall victim to freezer burn. What the ice cream lacked in taste was more than made up in serving presentation.
She always served two scoops of Lady Borden Vanilla in a glass sherbet dish accompanied by a sterling silver spoon.
A simple white coffee or decorative holiday mug from the dollar store filled with hot cocoa and garnished with a peppermint stick and marshmallows or red hot apple cider garnished with a cinnamon stick is holiday comfort in a cup!
I recommend preparing this recipe for homemade marshmallows while listening to the ever fitting Christmas classic “A Marshmallow World” performed by the ever cool Dean Martin.
Marshmallows (French Laundry)
3 envelopes of unflavored Knox gelatin
½ cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups corn syrup
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dredging
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and incorporate into mixture. Scrape into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with oiled plastic wrap and spread evenly. (Note: Lightly oil hands and spatula or bowl scraper). After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan.
Let mixture sit for a few hours. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 12 equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef’s knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar.
Yield: 12 large marshmallows
These cookies taste just like….
Girl Scout Thin Mints?
Like the ones my grandmother used to make?
That’s the idea!
These holiday cookies pack a powerful please that give the baker and holiday treat maker a break. Presentation is everything!
Baby, it’s cold outside. I pick up inexpensive fleece throws when I find them on holiday special. This little touch of homey and cozy is a big hit with our guests as we celebrate the holiday moments of our lives.
Tie them up with raffia,
attach a holiday gift tag,
and place them in a basket. The inexpensive fleece throws make a nice holiday “from our home to yours” parting gift.
Hand them out to your guests to ward off the chill while watching a classic holiday movie or hanging out listening to holiday music. Let’s not forget that a holiday playlist queued up and ready to shuffle is always a hit.
Holiday music video #2~
Holiday get-togethers as well as the unexpected drop in visit often turn out to be a stress free and fun time. Stock up, de-stress and enjoy!
I really wanted to title this post “What to do with all the left over fruit that did not make the holiday fruit salad cut” but Holiday Potpourri recipe had a much better ring to it. Apples, oranges, homegrown fresh lemons (thanks, Mrs. JoAnn!) and spices of the season do a house good as they come together over low heat. Our Thanksgiving celebration ushered in the first hint of Christmas with the simple yet perfect scents of the season simmering in the crock pot to welcome family, guest, and delicious memories.
3 apples, sliced
3 oranges, sliced
1 large lemon, sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
6 cups water
Fill stoneware liner with water. Turn setting to high. Slice apples, oranges, and lemon and place in water. Add spices. Continue with setting on high for at least 2 hours. Reduce setting to low, careful to monitor water level. Add water as needed.
I sincerely believe music is the core note of holiday celebrations, and Places In The Home is full holiday celebration mode! I’ll Be Home For Christmas is the core sentiment of our holiday celebrations.
Christmas lights from around the world brought to you by holiday spirit, magnificent talent, skill and style extraordinaire, and historical architectural wonders of the world as seen through the lens of talented photographers.
Fifth Avenue~ New York, New York
Mann’s Grauman Chinese Theater~ Hollywood, California
Jackson Square~ New Orleans, Louisiana
Empire State Building~ New York, New York
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele~ Milan, Italy
Shops in Seiffen, Germany
U.S. Capital~ Washington, DC
Caesars Palace~ Las Vegas, Nevada
Auckland, New Zealand
Rockefeller Center~ New York, New York
Melksham, United Kingdom
calle de Alcala~ Madrid, Spain
Champs-Élysées~ Paris, France
Buckingham Palace~ London, England
La Grande Place~ Brussels, Belgium
Fifth Avenue: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Mann’s Grauman Chinese Theater: Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images
For me, Christmas is the most wonderful and elegant time of the year. It’s the time of year when new and heirloom crystal pieces find their way to the holiday tablescape. The colors in the runners are favorites, and I practice the a touch of ebony ensures instant elegance rule.
The search for placemats started back in October. I found a gorgeous set, but the three figure price tag dashed any hopes of a big brown truck bringing them my way. I decided to go in a most cost efficient direction and add the embellishments myself.
My mother called me from the local dollar store to tell me she was sure she had found placemats I could work with.
I was skeptical (very skeptical), but she was right, very right.
Building the tablescape suddenly cleared another decorative hurdle. My bright idea was to attach the napkin to the placemat with highly decorative buttons. That idea was becoming too involved, proving it was time to go in another direction.
I found clear rhinestone buttons at a local bridal shop, selected a grosgrain ribbon in peppermint theme, and sewed the pairing to the ebony placemat.
The ribbon is loosely tied to the dinner napkin, which is folded handkerchief style.
I made the vintage style crystal prism ornaments for our open house at the shop.
They fit in perfectly with the other crystal accessories and make lovely substitutes for traditional place cards.
Oatmeal glass goblets and mirrors from Dollar Tree pair well with my heirloom Waterford salt and pepper shakers.
A deconstructed chandelier provides the prisms to fill the cut glass heart shaped dish. Red and glass ball Christmas tree ornaments with strands of Mardi Gras pearls grace an antique cut glass bowl as the centerpiece.
I am amazed at the beauty of the crystal prism, and the pristine holiday image it creates as the light hits it just right.
Santa’s rosy cheeks and a deck the halls in red grapevine tree- it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas indeed!
Changes, they have come. Holiday home decor editing is in full swing, and there have been quite a few “what was I thinking?” moments in the process. As you may recall, I was thrilled with Lowe’s Black Friday specials and the lovely bonus of free shipping on Thanksgiving Day. I was, and still am, one happy Lowe’s consumer. Let me again stress that in-store pick up is genius! Fresh cut wreaths for $5.00 and vibrant traditional Christmas red poinsettias for .97 got my Black Friday party off to a holiday good start! The wreaths are hung and the poinsettias are in their holiday rightful place.
The poinsettias are the most gorgeous shade of red. We decided this particular shade of red should be referred to as vibrant classic Christmas red.
I am a complete sucker for vintage-style Santa Claus glass ornaments. I bought six of these last year on clearance at Dillard’s.
Papa Noel and a golden Fleur de Lis for the New Orleans in all of us.
Let the holiday home decor decorating continue! Do you have a favorite holiday theme or decoration that you use in your holiday decor?
I officially received the first package of holiday home decor goodness Tuesday afternoon. Why not add one more exciting thing to this particular afternoon? One of our 30+ year old Oak trees in the front yard fell victim during a recent summer lightening storm.
The tree service showed up bright & early to remove the tree, grind the stump, put things back to normal and to beat the bad weather forecasted for later this afternoon.
Between being on the tree removal scene live and in person and peeping out the window when the falling debris chased me inside, I spotted the brown truck before I heard it. It’s usually the other way around but not today. UPS must be braced & ready for the holiday rush. It took 2 UPS guys to bring two highly anticipated packages to the door, and one happy girl to greet them at said door!
Our small town is retail deficient- no Pottery Barn, HomeGoods, or Ballard Designs in sight. Internet shopping exists for people like me, and ’tis the season for it. I swooned over this gravy ladle from Pottery Barn. Hotel silver anything is an accessory I have loved for years. The finish and vintage look is a tad more impressive than pewter, and not as demanding to maintain as sterling.
This is what is on back order and expected to arrive next week. My Thanksgiving tablescape is waiting with open arms.
Speaking of the Thanksgiving tablescape, I find myself in a creative state of mind. Again, ’tis the season. Stay tuned.