Holiday Kitchen Chatting Thanksgiving Turkey, Tools, and Tips

Thanksgiving is on the way to a holiday dining table near you, and today we’re holiday kitchen chatting Thanksgiving turkey, tools, and tips.

gorgeous turkey

Better Homes & Gardens

In this pre-Thanksgiving calm before the holiday prep, cook, and serve storm, I’m utilizing my time to gather the roasting pan, carving set, kitchen essentials and necessary information needed to ensure total Thanksgiving turkey success.

Thanksgiving turkeyHerb, Lemon, and Garlic Turkey

How big of a bird will I actually need?

How do I properly defrost the thing?

How long do I cook a Thanksgiving turkey?

To stuff, or not to stuff, that is the question.

You’ve got questions, and this blog post has got answers.

Let’s talk turkey.

From the folks at Delish:

How much turkey do you need?

how-much-turkey-to-you-need-chart

Thawing the Frozen Thanksgiving Turkey

For Refrigerator Thawing:

Place turkey on a tray to eliminate leakage to other areas of refrigerator.

Thaw breast side up, in original unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge (40 degrees F or below).

Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4-5 lbs.

Suggested thawing time for a frozen turkey:

4 to 12 pound turkey:           1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pound turkey:         3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pound turkey:        4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pound turkey:        5 to 6 days

Cold Water Thawing:

Thaw breast side down, in original unopened wrapper.

Cover the turkey completely with cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes.

Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound.

4 to 12 pound turkey:        2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pound turkey:      6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pound turkey:     8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pound turkey:     10 to 12 hours

The good people at Butterball offer cooking calculators and conversion charts for everything Thanksgiving turkey.

Here’s the link: Butterball Calculators and Conversions Chart

The Amazon Echo calls up Alexa the answer machine, now we’re cooking playlists, recipes, and the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line® (connect with the Talk-Line through social media, live chat, texting — even Amazon Alexa).

Amazon Echo (2nd Generation) Alexa-enabled Bluetooth Speaker

Amazon Echo (2nd Generation) Alexa-enabled Bluetooth Speaker

Prep the bird and don’t forget to tie those bad boy turkey legs together with cooking twine.

Taylor Kitchen Twine

Thawed turkey roasting times in a 325 °F regular oven:

6 to 10 pounds:      2 to 3 hours (unstuffed)       –     2¼-3½ hours (stuffed)

10 to 18 pounds:    3 to 3½ hours (unstuffed)   –     3¾-4½ hours (stuffed)

18 to 22 pounds:     3½-4 hours (unstuffed)    –      4½ – 5 hours (stuffed)

22-24 pounds:        4-4½ hours (unstuffed)     –     5-5½ hours (stuffed)

24-30 pounds:        4½-5 hours  (unstuffed)    –      5½-6½ hours (stuffed)

Thawed turkey roasting times in a 325 °F convection oven:

6 to 10 pounds:       1½-2 hours (unstuffed)       –    1¾-2½  hours (stuffed)

10 to 18 pounds:     2 to 2½ hours (unstuffed)   –    2½-3¼ hours (stuffed)

18 to 22 pounds:     2½-3 hours (unstuffed)      –      3¼ hours (stuffed)

22-24 pounds:        3-3½ hours (unstuffed)       –      3¾-4¼ hours (stuffed)

The turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer reaches 170 °F  in breast or stuffing.   

Cuisinart Wireless Meat ThermometerCuisinart Wireless Meat Thermometer 

Use a food thermometer to check the turkey in the thickest part of the breast.

If you stuff the Thanksgiving turkey, the center of the stuffing must also reach 170 degrees F.

Cross contamination between turkey and stuffing is a concern, so just make sure both turkey and stuffing reach 170 degrees F.

Let the turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.

Safe Turkey Prep, Thawing, Stuffing, Cooking, Clean Up Tips:

Always wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food.

Thaw turkeys in the refrigerator, never on the counter.

Don’t wash raw poultry before cooking.  It can spread germs to other areas.

Place stuffing in the turkey just before cooking.

Cook raw poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Wash your counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

Don’t feed your pets raw food. 

Tools and Tips

Kitchen tools that get the job done are just one part of the turkey buying, thawing, prepping, and roasting are essential.

graniteware-oval-roaster-black

Graniteware Oval Roaster

The black graniteware covered roaster speaks holidays to me, but I’m always open to a new trad roasting pan that gets the Thanksgiving turkey roasted to perfection.

Nordic Ware Copper Roaster XL Large

Nordic Ware Copper Roaster XL Large

Cuisinart 8 piece roasting set

Cuisinart 8-Piece Roasting Set

As I source and suggest I just ordered the Cooks 5-qt. Stainless Steel Everything Pan with Gold Finish Handles.

Great look with a great price.

Cooks 5-qt. Stainless Steel Everything Pan with Gold Finish HandlesCooks 5-qt. Stainless Steel Everything Pan with Gold Finish Handles

Oster 18qt Roaster Oven Black CKSTRS18-BSBOster 18qt Roaster Oven Black CKSTRS18-BSB

Time saving culinary companion pieces aka time-saving kitchen tools and gadgets qualify in my recipe book as a sous chef.

Things can get mighty hectic in the holiday kitchen, and a cook is only as good as the kitchen gadgets, tools and accessories he or she uses.

Emile Henry Artisan Deep Ruffled Pie DishEmile Henry Artisan Deep Ruffled Pie Dish

Anchor Hocking Laurel 9.5" Rosewater Pie PanAnchor Hocking Laurel 9.5″ Rosewater Pie Pan

Historic-Farmhouse-Litchfield-Shines-After-Brightening-Restoration-cupboard

Connecticut Cottages & Gardens

A well-stocked and organized holiday pantry becomes the star of the kitchen show everyday of the week, but it’s especially popular at holiday hosting time.

pantry-storage-containers Lock & Lock canisters from QVC are my go-to storage containers to store sweet potato puree to cornbread to chocolate walnut fudge.

Lock & Lock 4 piece Tall Canister Storage SetLock & Lock 4 piece Tall Canister Storage Set

 

Aluminum Bundt PanAluminum Bundt Pan

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

Choose dishes and recipes you’ve met and mastered to prevent a cooking-baking meltdown.

If your dying to try that new dish you saw in a cookbook, on social media, or on a cooking show, prepare it a week or so out to get the hang of it.

Nordic Ware Autumn Wreath Bundt® Pan

BakerEze 6 Pc Copper Nonstick Bakeware Set, Muffin Cake & Cookie Pans

BakerEze 6 Pc Copper Nonstick Bakeware Set, Muffin Cake & Cookie Pans

 

Lodge 7 Quart Oval Dutch Oven - Oyster WhiteLodge 7 Quart Oval Dutch Oven – Oyster White

Pots, pans, Dutch ovens, and cocottes with high performance cook and serve capability add a kick to your kitchen style.

Staub Ceramic 16-oz Petite Artichoke Cocotte - BasilStaub Ceramic 16-oz Petite Artichoke Cocotte – Basil

 

Lodge 5 Quart Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch OvenLodge 5 Quart Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

Take an inventory of the dishes that have to be cooked on Thanksgiving day and the total prep to stove to oven to table time.

Allow ten extra minutes per recipe to help rule out any issues.

Circulon Elementum Hard-Anodized Nonstick Covered Straining Saucepan, 3-Quart, Oyster GrayCirculon Elementum Nonstick Covered Straining 3-Quart Saucepan

silicone-spatula-set

Plymouth Silicone Spatula Set

Select by Calphalon 12" Cast Iron Round Skillet

Select by Calphalon 12″ Cast Iron Round Skillet

Instant Pot Duo 6qt 7-in-1 Pressure CookerInstant Pot Duo 6qt 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker

The Pioneer Woman Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 Frontier Rose 6-Quart Programable Multi-CookerThe Pioneer Woman Instant Pot 6-Quart Programmable Multi-Cooker

Corningware 12 Piece Mixed Bakeware SetCorningware 12 Piece Mixed Bakeware Set

copper measuring cups

Thyme & Table 4-Piece Copper Measuring Cup Set

Thyme & Table 4-Piece Copper Measuring Cup Set

Carbon Loft Owen Rolling Kitchen IslandCarbon Loft Owen Rolling Kitchen Island

Denmark 4-Piece Ceramic Mixing Bowl Set in GreyDenmark 4-Piece Ceramic Mixing Bowl Set in Grey

mixing-bowls-hobnailTabletops Gallery Hobnail 4-pc. Mixing Bowl Set

 

red-kitchen-aid-mixer

KitchenAid Ultra Power 5-Speed Hand Mixer

 

Wilton Bake It Better Non-Stick Baking Pan Set, 3-PieceWilton Bake It Better Non-Stick Baking Pan Set, 3-Piece

Wilton Bake It Better Copper Oven Crisper BasketWilton Bake It Better Copper Oven Crisper Basket

Sing it with me, friends.

♫ I can mash potato, I can mash potato ♫

Starfrit Rotato Express Electric PeelerStarfrit Rotato Express Electric Peeler

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

Mashed potatoes will stay warm for an hour or so in a slow cooker set to low.

Emeril Lagasse Balloon whisk

Emeril Lagasse, Stainless Steel, Heavy Duty 11 inch, Balloon Whisk

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

If you slightly scorch the gravy, don’t panic.

Add 1 teaspoon of smooth peanut butter until the burnt flavor is gone.

You may need to add more peanut butter.  Do so 1 teaspoon at a time.

Aladdin Heritage Vacuum Bottle 24oz, PlaidAladdin Heritage Vacuum Bottle 24oz, Plaid

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

Use a vacuum bottle (Thermos) to keep the gravy warm and free up another stove burner.  

BLACK+DECKER ComfortGrip 9 Inch Electric KnifeBLACK+DECKER  9 Inch Electric Knife

 

Thyme & Table Gold Chef Knife Set, 3 PieceThyme & Table Gold Chef Knife Set, 3 Piece

open-refrigerator-House-BeautifulHouse Beautiful

Holiday in the Kitchen tip:

Cut up vegetables such as green onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and root vegetables ahead of time and store in the refrigerator in air tight containers.

Farberware 12 Inch by 18 Inch Hardwood Drip Trench Cutting BoardFarberware Hardwood Drip Trench Cutting Board

 

Godinger 5-Pc. Hammered Copper Storage Bowl SetGodinger 5-Pc. Hammered Copper Storage Bowl Set

The countdown to Thanksgiving turkey times is on, here’s hoping this in the holiday kitchen chat offers the information and source suggestions  needed to ensure total Thanksgiving turkey success.

Relax.

Turn up the music.

Enjoy the day!

Love your style!

Gathering Around The Simple Yet Elegant Thanksgiving Table

The time of year for gathering around the simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table with family and friends who are family is upon us.  The plan is to place the emphasis on the gathering, the feasting, and generating a feels like home ambiance.

 

cozy

Cozy welcomes family, friends, tradition, and style home, and is the requisite for our home for the holidays celebrations.

house-pencil-sketch-home-for-the-holidays

In keeping with the spirit of the home for the holidays feel,  I’m suggesting these distressed metal houses as a super cute decor addition for the holiday table, sideboard, or bar cart.

 

Better Homes & Gardens Galvanized House Candle Holder Lantern

Better Homes & Gardens Galvanized House Candle Holder Lantern

 

Distressed Metal House

Holiday Time Distressed Metal House Table-Top Christmas Decoration

Battery operated candles (I source faux candles and battery operated lights with safety in mind) or a strand of LED fairy string lights placed inside illuminates holiday style and brings the look home.

batter operated string lights

Decor items that easily make the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas decoration have a longer shelf life, decoratively speaking.

Around our house, Thanksgiving day officially signals the holidays have arrived, and I believe in taking full decorating advantage of the relatively short decorating season.

For that express reason I ordered the Holiday Time Winter Frost flocked un-lit wreath from Walmart to “spruce” up the foyer for Thanksgiving into Christmas.

Holiday Time Winter Frost Flocked Un-Lit Wreath, 24"Holiday Time Winter Frost Flocked Un-Lit Wreath, 24″

foyer-bench-with-wreath

Peggy Upholstered Bench

Loosely wrap decorative ribbon in earthy fall tones around the wreath in an over and under pattern for a simple yet elegant effect.

 

wreath ribbon assortment

 

Dear Santa,

I’m still in the making up my mind phase of deciding which one of these upholstered benches to place on my Christmas list.

Cozy throw pillows optional.

foyer-benches-2019

Toulouse Wagner Upholstered Bench
Hadrien Wood Bench
Maysonet Wood Bench

winter pillows 1

Better Homes & Gardens Feather Filled Solid Faux Fur Decorative Throw Pillow
Better Homes & Gardens, Fringe & Textured Decorative Throw Pillow
Better Homes & Gardens Decorative Deer Throw Pillow
Down Filled Pom Pom Moroccan Throw Pillow 

Simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table ideas that are affordable, polished, and visually commanding set a lovely holiday tone and table.

dried-protea-flowers

Dried Protea Flowers – Birch Roll with Jute Tie

Take a glass vase from the dollar store, wrap it in birch bark, and fill it with a bouquet of dried Protea flowers.

 

fairytale-pumpkin-7

Place groupings of small gourds or pumpkins to the left and right of the vase.

Simple.

Elegant.

Gorgeous!

candle-decoration-fall-1

Take a glass cylinder vase, jar, or trifle bowl and fill with moss, pecans, walnuts, or sweet gum balls.

Drop in a battery operated pillar candle.

Fall leaves add fall color(s).

Easy peasy.

Serving Suggestions:

 

International Adventure 20-pc. Silverware Set

International Adventure 20-pc. Silverware Set

A Target run and 19.99 + tax gets you this International Adventure 20-pc. silverware set.

Hobster Pressed Glass Coolers, 16 oz.Hobster Pressed Glass Coolers, 16 oz.

Swing by Dollar Tree if your Thanksgiving table is in need of new, replacement, or extra glasses.

Tradition dictates these beverage glasses making an appearance in most every holiday table post.

Why?

  1. I own them.
  2. I love them.
  3. At $1 each, you simply can’t beat the price.

Live Edge Dakota Wooden Serving BowlLive Edge Dakota Wooden Serving Bowl

Thanksgiving feast your eyes upon the newest addition to the holiday sideboard.

Simple Yet Elegant Thanksgiving Table

Dave and I made a quick fall getaway trip up to Bossier City a couple of weeks ago for fun and a visit to Antique Shoppes At 1100 Barksdale.

Among treasures found was this vintage soup tureen.  For less than the cost of two tall specialty coffees,  I secured a lovely serving piece to adorn the sideboard.

“What recipe will fill the tureen on Thanksgiving day?” you may ask.

Autumn Squash Soup (in the taste style of Panera Bread)

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

2 pounds (l large) butternut squash, peeled,  seeded, and chopped into cubes

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (easier to use and flavor packed)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon fine black pepper (or to taste)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup apple juice

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

2  Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

½ cup heavy cream (Greek yogurt or half-n-half may be substituted)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Peel squash removing seeds.  Cut peeled butternut squash into chunks and place on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over squash chunks and season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 450°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Using a potato masher, mash the roasted squash cubes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or soup pot heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onions to heated oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes soft and translucent.  Stir in minced garlic.

Add roasted butternut squash, pumpkin puree, broth, apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to pot and stir to incorporate.  Bring to a slight boil.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer.  Allow to simmer for 15 minutes to incorporate flavors.

Remove pot from the heat.  Add the maple syrup and softened cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese is melted.

Use a hand blender to blend mixture until smooth.  If you do not have a hand mixer, carefully transfer mixture to traditional stand blender in two batches. Puree each batch until smooth.  Transfer mixture back to the pot and adjust flavors to taste.

If you feel the soup is too thick, add more broth to reach desired consistency.

Roasted Pepitas Pumpkin Seed Kernels with Sea SaltRoasted Pepitas Pumpkin Seed Kernels with Sea Salt 

Garnish soup with a swirl of heavy cream, half-n-half, or dollop of Greek yogurt and roasted pepitas.

Rounding out the decorative details includes a selection of simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table items easy to find in retail stores, produce sections, and online retailers.
Simple Yet Elegant Thanksgiving Table

velvet ribbon  ||  fresh seasonal fruits  ||  eucalyptus garland
friendly village salad plate  ||  rattan placemats  ||  jade dinnerware
acorn salt & pepper  ||  birch candles  ||  candle holder
ornaments  ||  charger  ||  chip & dip

So many if not all of these items will transition beautifully from Thanksgiving to Christmas decor.

Yesterday I dropped by our local Joann store to pick up two small faux cedar wreaths for a holiday project.

More on that to come.

As soon as I walked through the front doors the aroma of cinnamon filled the air.  To say the scent instantly put me in the holiday mood is an understatement.

I spied a huge display cinnamon scented pine cones, and knew those babies were coming home with me.

cinnamon-scented-pinecones

Pine cones identify with fall, Thanksgiving, winter, and Christmas.

Further tie the season and holidays of cozy together by using pine cone ornaments tied with velvet ribbon as napkin rings.

velvet-ribbon-coffee1

Loop ribbon in your choice of design, texture, and color through the top of an ornament ring.

Tie each ornament around individual dinner napkins, securing in a loose knot.

silver-pinecone-ornaments

Custom napkin rings made their way to the table several holidays ago by way of small oval framed pictures secured with wire ribbon and a tucked in ginkgo leaf.

Here’s the fun part.

Announce to your guests the custom made napkin ring is theirs to take home as a from me to you favor gift.

napkin-ring-framed-oval-print

I hope these simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table decor choices lend ideas and inspiration.

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.”

Wilbur D. Nesbit

love your style

Happy New Year 2019

Ringing out the old year and ringing in Happy New Year 2019 in style with a performance of Auld Lang Syne by the legendary Rod Stewart.

Talk about classic style!

Robert Burns’ Scottish poem written in 1788 and set to a Scots folk melody, Auld Lang Syne is the traditional musical ode to New Year recollecting events over the year, thoughts of old friendships, nostalgia, old times, and days gone by.

As seen in the video, the long standing Scottish tradition is to sing Auld Lang Syne just before the stroke of midnight with everyone sitting or standing in a circle holding hands, arms crossed so their left hand is holding the hand of the person on their right, and their right hand that of the person to their left.

Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians popularized Auld Lang Syne as it became the traditional song of New Year played immediately after the ball drop in Times Square.

Guy-Lombardo

My sister-in-law, a staunch New Year’s traditionalist, rings in the New Year with a Happy New Year phone call to us complete with Guy Lombardo’s version of Auld Lang Syne playing in the background.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
and never brought to mind? 
Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
for auld lang syne, 
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, 
for auld lang syne.

Dave and I wish each of you a very Happy New Year 2019!

May New Year 2019 bring you joy, health, blessings, happiness, good fortune, inspired projects, and beautiful surroundings.

love your style

Merry Christmas 2018

Dave and I wish each of you a bright, blessed and Merry Christmas 2018.

Merry Christmas 2018

May you enjoy the beauty of Christmas in the presence of love, joyous occasion, bountiful blessings, delicious delights, and spectacular style.

We consider it an honor that you choose to spend time at Places In The Home, and we send you love from our home to yours.

signature

Pretty Pictures, Ribbons, and Busy Days Before Christmas

Pretty pictures, ribbons, and busy days before Christmas puts the wonderful in it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Busy times bring happy holiday times, so let’s get this party cracking.

let's-get-this-party-cracking

Is your Christmas list of things to do wrapped up with a big bow on it?  Mine is not as there’s still things to do, presents to wrap (Merry Christmas, fellow present wrapping procrastinators), goodies to bake and box, gifts to deliver, and halls to deck.

norman-rockwell-Christmas

I liken the last few days before Christmas to that of a fabulous performance, building to a crescendo of epic and joyous volume.

Music is an integral part of my daily routine, even more so when it comes to the holiday jingle all the way.  Traditional tunes make the playlist, but discovering new holiday songs and new arrangements of old favorites is a gift all its own.

smooth-jazz

I’m streaming Smooth Jazz JJZ on iHeart radio, loving the holiday songs from Dave Koz, Luther Vandross, Tony Bennett, Joyce Cooling, Rick Braun, Boney James, Gerald Albright, John Tesh, Diana Krall, Mannheim Steamroller, and the incomparable music from my friend, Chris Botti.

I don’t believe I’ve ever shared with you all how my fan to friend relationship with Chris Botti began.

Chris Botti-1

Dave the Builder and I were on our way to yes, you guessed it.  Las Vegas.

Part of the fun is in the pre trip prep, so before our trips out to America’s Playground I would stream the Las Vegas smooth jazz station (changed format, no longer a listener) to set the mood and the tone.

I learned from listening that the station was sponsoring and promoting an evening of smooth jazz set to air air on the local Vegas PBS station and hosted by Chris Botti.  I checked to see if we would be in town on the night it was set to air, and to my delight it was on arrival night.

Being a regular to Vegas coupled with the fact we would be in town eight nights, as my dad used to say, Vegas does not close.  I knew I wanted to watch the special, so I told Dave I thought I would spend the first evening in, order room service, and take in the show.

Dave confirmed he was not expected to do the same, trying his best to hide his thank goodness glee.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)

We had a small, but unhurried layover at Bush Intercontinental Houston.  Dave popped into a store for something or other, and I walked on down to the gate area.  I was half looking over my shoulder, half checking out our fellow travelers, when I noticed a guy walking by carrying a soft instrument case over his shoulder.

You know how when at first you don’t recognize someone, but after a few minutes you realize hey, that’s _________.  The hey, that’s ________ turned out to be Chris Botti.

When Dave strolled up to the boarding lounge, I asked him if he recognized the guy down at the end of the gate area.

No.  Who is it?

It’s Chris Botti.

Are you sure?

Yes, I’m sure.

Is he on our flight?

It took me less than a second to process the situation and put two and two together.  Smooth jazz American classic trumpeter extraordinaire, staunch supporter of PBS, hosting gig in Vegas this evening- yes, I do believe he is.

The boarding call for first class passengers goes out, and one Mr. Chris Botti heads that way.  When the boarding call for coach passengers rows this through that is announced here we go.

Upon boarding I spot the jazz man sitting in back row left window in first class talking on his phone.   Dave and I settle when fan to friend inspiration hits me.  I retrieve my printed boarding pass from my briefcase, turn it over, and write a note to one Chris Botti.  I spot the flight attendant and motion for him to come see.

“Would you mind giving this note to the blond hair gentleman in the back row left window seat in first class?”

The flight attendant was happy to be a player in my flashback to grammar school note passing caper.  I put in the note my plans to watch the special, and it would be among one of the more special dinner and a show-Welcome to Las Vegas evenings.

Not long after reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendant came by our row with a message.

“The gentleman said to tell you he would meet you in baggage claim at McCarran.”

Excited to say the least, I was looking forward to our impending face to face meeting.  Somewhere between the four corners and the ending of the movie, Dave the Builder announces “here comes Chris Botti.”

Chris came back to meet and greet, and thank me for my support of PBS and the smooth jazz artist community.

We gabbed for several minutes, met again and gabbed some more in baggage claim at McCarran.  Emails, conversations, and concert meetings find us here almost thirteen years later.

I hit the fan to friend jackpot for sure.

Christmas-Menu

Now on to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menu at Places In The Home portion of the show and tell..

Our Christmas Eve traditional come casual, come comfortable, come hungry get together is super laid-back.  The menu is simple comfort food.

The no-fuss plan places me in the middle of the fun instead of in the kitchen all evening.

Been there, done that at Thanksgiving.

hamburger-pattiesWho doesn’t love hamburgers cooked low and slow?  This group surely does, and the requests to “make them like Reed & Bell” is one this cook aims for.

Reed-Bell-Drive-InJohn Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Reed & Bell Drive-In was a hometown hamburger and cold frosted root beer institution.  Reed & Bell hamburger patties had a crisp edge, and the top of the buns were lightly brushed with hamburger grease.

Delicious.

Yes.

Healthy?

Of course not, but see delicious.

Reading this post out loud to Dave, he reminds me Reed & Bell hamburgers ring super close to In-N-Out hamburgers.

They most certainly do, Dave.

Homemade potato salad is the side of choice accompanied by a platter of dills, gherkins, chips, bread and butters, assorted cheeses, red, green (Christmas colors), and sweet onions, sliced tomatoes, and fresh crisp lettuce.

Traditional Christmas Day fare is tradition.  Sliced spiral ham, Southern sweet potato casserole with walnut brown sugar crunch topping, seasoned green beans, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, and yeast rolls.

Traditional favorites of egg nog, fresh apple nut cake, walnut fudge, date nut roll, and almond peanut butter cookies round it out.

Southern-Living-50-years

Christmas came early to me when I received this fabulous surprise present from my darling nephew and niece-in-law.  Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture promises to be a good read and a lovely addition to the coffee table library.

blue-crystal-beads

Shiny and bright.

Christmas-colors

gold-angel

Do you treat yourself to a to me from me Christmas present?

Holy-Mary-Christmas-display

That’s exactly what I did this year when I found the Holy Mary statue at Paul Michael Company.

Holy Mary statue

dining-table-Christmas

The Canadian Snowbird couple sent pictures of the Christmas cookies they baked together for their holiday game night party.

I admit I am one of those moms who asks her son and daughter-in-law to take and send photos of the little things in their lives.

It’s the little things in their lives that add up to big memories in ours.

gingerbread-cookies

Pretty pictures, ribbons, and busy days before Christmas remind me the present is in the process, and the gift is in the giving.

Pretty Pictures, Pretty Ribbons, Pretty Busy Days Before Christmas

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

love your style

Holiday Gifts For Home and Hostess

Local brick and mortar stores and the holiday sales they offer are calling my name.  As much as I have come to love the convenience and world wide web selections, there is still reason to holiday shop for certain holiday gifts for home and hostess live and in person.

woven-wrap

Better Homes & Gardens

Call me old fashioned but it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I retail with several hundred of my fellow local shoppers.

While I’m away from keyboard in pursuit of thoughtful and impressive gifts, allow me to share with you the holiday gifts for home and hostess currently in my online shopping cart.

leopard-objectLeopard Object

Color, texture, and pattern shines in the holiday gifts for home and hostess spotlight.

Cardinal Leopard Faux Fur Decorative Pillow

Spot accents and accessories in animal print chic are always in season.

snow leopard throwFaux Snow Leopard Fuzzy Throw

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little sparkle, shimmer, and shine.

aqua-wrap

star-cz-earrings

White Cubic Zirconia Sterling Silver Star Drop Earrings

Holiday Gifts For Home and Hostess

Fashion jewelry, a fun faux fur wrap, or a classic fashion piece in seasonal colors as a hostess gift?

Absolutely!

Bijoux-Bar-Clear-Drop-earrings

Bijoux Bar Clear Drop Earrings

‘Tis the season for hosting and attending holiday celebrations, and that means dressing for the occasion in holiday style.  Deck the halls and then bedeck an ear, wrist, or neck in a little sparkle, shimmer, and shine.

Anne Klein cuff bracelet

Anne Klein Crystal Wide Cuff Bracelet

Natasha Accessories Beaded Cuff BraceletNatasha Accessories Beaded Cuff Bracelet

painting red finger nails

Flickr

What’s the first thing holiday guests see when they arrive at your home?

You.

Set your decorate for the holidays meter to dazzle.

The holidays only come around once a year, and I say seize the opportunity to paint the town red, accessorize in fabulous faux fur, and let your holiday style light shine.

faux-fur-wrap-black

Faux Fur Oblong Wrap

red-coat-faux-fur

Coeur de Vague Red Faux-Fur Open Shawl Wrap

A Christmas classic.

Duchess-KateHarper’s BAZAAR – Getty Images Stuart C. Wilson

plaid-tartan-skirt

Joan Rivers Regular Length Holiday Plaid Maxi Skirt

8pc Holiday Plaid Dinnerware Set

Peppermint Square 8pc Holiday Plaid Dinnerware Set

gift wrapped in fabric

Better Homes & Gardens

Nest Fragrances Holiday Classic CandleNEST Holiday Candle

silver-slipperWomen’s Falon Moccasin Slipper – Silver

Upholstered Ottoman

Upholstered Ottoman

My Life In Color Guided Activity Book

My Life In Color Guided Activity Book

Stylish accessories extend to our four-legged friends and family members.

Bow Tie Dog Collar Cat Collar

Lionet Paws Christmas Dog – Cat Collar Bowtie

Rae-Dunn-pet-dishes

Rae Dunn Pet Dishes

PawHut Raised Wicker Plush Faux Fur Pet Sleeping Couch with Cushion - Gray

PawHut Raised Wicker Plush Faux Fur Pet Sleeping Couch with Cushion

It’s the most wonderful gift giving time of the year.  Complete the home for the holidays sentiment with stylish and chic holiday gifts for home and hostess.

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Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Holiday decorating safety tips can come in holiday handy and gift you with peace of mind at this holiday decorating time of year.  There is now a direct link between holiday decorating safety tips and year round electrical safety in general.  We got a big lighting up the holidays shock last week which explains my radio silence last week.

Fire is the one thing I am deathly afraid of.  Let me share with you several situations and events over my lifetime that have caused and stoked this dreaded fear.

When Places In The Home was being built, a group of delinquents neighborhood kids set the entire order of roofing shingles on fire.  The sight, sound, and smell of the roaring pile of burning shingles scared me almost to death and scarred me for life.  I was three years old, I remember the scene vividly to this day, and it’s this event that set a lifelong fear of fire into motion.

When I was five years old, my precious great-grandmother lit her gas stove with a match.  She thought she blew the match out, but she did not.  Prior to lighting the stove, she had emptied a pot of melted hot grease into the garbage can.  You can almost be guaranteed that when a lit match hits hot grease, flame and fire is close behind.  With expert precision and quick hands to rival Drew Brees, Mama Two grabbed the flaming trash can, used her foot to kick open the back door, and ran with can in hand into the backyard where she extinguished the fire with a can lid.  Mama Two innocently marked me for life.

In 1974, my grandmother’s house suffered severe extensive smoke damage throughout from a lightening strike to a television left in front of a window in her kitchen.  The television burned up and through the floor.  My grandmother was on vacation in Florida at the time of the strike.  With no one home to notice, the television smoldered for several days.  Every wall, surface, furnishing and floor was completely covered and caked in soot.  The soot was so thick it measured close to one inch thick inside closed drawers.  Determined to face my fear, I insisted on going with her and my parents to meet the insurance adjuster for the initial walk through.  Horrible sight that only served to exacerbated my fear of fire.

My parents and I were at the original MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on the day before the horrific fire in 1980 that killed 85 people and injured 650.  We were visiting with family who were guests at the hotel.  Thankfully, they all survived the fire.  They have rarely discussed the tragic ordeal with anyone for understandable reasons.  The details they have offered are as awful as one would imagine, and haunt me to this day.  Dave and I have been back to the hotel (now Bally’s) several times since, but I absolutely refuse to stay at the hotel.

My parents were staying at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1981 when an arsonist set fire to the hotel killing 8 and injuring approximately 200.  Tragic details with the less shared with me the better caveat.

Last week, our electrical panel-service-wiring placed a bulls eye right in the center of my fear of fire and plans for the holiday budget.  Two weeks ago I discovered there was no power to the master bedroom sitting and dressing area.  The A/C would come on (welcome to November in Louisiana) but the compressor would not kick on.  I called the electrician, he came out and replaced a breaker in the original and antiquated electrical panel, and power was restored.

service-van

Two weeks to the day same problem arises.  Call the electrician, he comes by that afternoon, and within thirty minutes three electricians, two city utilities supervisors, and one scared to death homeowner stood in our kitchen discussing how soon Dave the Builder and I could vacate the house.

electrical=panel

The electricians and supervisors got straight to the point; “Ma’am, your house is in danger of burning to the ground in its present state.  We are going to pull the electricity panel and the electrical service to your house is being disconnected immediately.”

Fire.

Electrocution.

Arc.

Rewire.

I’m usually strong- the “I’m a willow, I can bend” one in the group however, this was not the case in this particular situation.  I completely lost it in front of all parties present.  I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I cried worse than I did when my daddy died.

Straw, meet camel’s broken back.

I’ll spare you the details of shock, inconvenience, and scrambling to figure out how to pay for the unexpected heavy four figure expense (does anyone really have thousands of dollars stashed and saved for emergency home maintenance repairs).  Dave the Builder is a maintenance master at much, but electrical is not his forte.

My fear is fire.  His is being electrocuted.

I got it together, found the silver lining, peace of mind, and good will toward electrician men.  The new service is in, and power is back up and running, and it’s time to get back to normal (our normal anyhow).  All of this got me to thinking a post about holiday decorating safety tips may be as cathartic to me as it is useful to some.

live-Christmas-tree

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles

Christmas Tree Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

A real live Christmas tree is part of many Deck the Halls Decoristas Christmas tradition.  Safety takes first place over real tree beauty so let’s start there.

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

Christmas Tree Safety – National Fire Protection Association

Placement is key.  Place a live Christmas tree at least three (3) feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, radiators, or candles.

Water a real Christmas tree daily to prevent or at least slow the drying out process.

good

tree-stand

 

bad

Use lights with the label of a recognized testing laboratory approved for indoor use.  A green holographic UL label means indoor use only, whereas lights with a red holographic UL label mean the lights may be used indoors as well as outdoors.

The look is lovely, but never use lit candles to decorate a Christmas tree.

Candle_on_Christmas_tree

Replace lights that are worn, have broken cords, or loose bulb connections.

Do not overload strands connections.  Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord.

Christmas-tree-lightsDomino

When we were kids, one of the neighborhood families left their outdoor decorations on while away.  The way too old and unsafe big bulb Christmas lights decorating one of the Oak trees in their front yard snapped, crackled, popped, and caught fire.

clemco-outfit-big-bulb-Christmas-lights

The fire quickly spread and engulfed the entire home resulting in a total loss.  Don’t second guess decorations or discount warnings.  If your going to be away from home, turn off and unplug your outdoor and your indoor decorations.  Always turn off Christmas tree lights before going to bed.

I don’t want to pour cold water on the holiday parade, but water and electricity do not mix.  Make sure to keep your hands dry and never, ever stand in water when touching holiday decorations or gadgets powered by electricity.

PutAFreezeWinterHolidayFires

NFPA

Warm and cozy times spent round the Christmas tree go perfectly with the holidays.

Kiel-James-Patrick-socks

Kiel James Patrick

For the many who use space heaters as a heat source, there’s a safe way to do so to ensure all is well.

Turn off and unplug space heaters when going to bed. Turn off or unplug space heaters when left unattended.

Use extreme caution to keep the three (3) foot radius around a space heater free of contact with any flammable item, combustible liquids, blankets, sofas, paper, toys, rugs, drapes, and soft goods.

Do not place a space heater on rugs, furniture, or countertops.

Never use extension cords or multiple plugs with a space heater. 

plugged-into-wall Better Homes & Gardens

Do not cut corners with worn out extension cords or Christmas lights. Never run an extension cord under rugs, carpets, or furniture.

santa-face

Vintage Christmas decorations bring back old memories, and more times than not come with the original wiring.  Check for frayed cords which run a high risk of lighting up the holidays in the call 911, the house in on fire kind of way.

Josh_Young_Holiday

Josh Young- Domino

Practice caution with garlands draped over a fireplace mantle or close to lit candles.

According to National Fire Protection Association, the top 3 days for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.

candles  Pinterest

Do not burn evergreens, pine, gift boxes, or gift wrap in your fireplace.  Dry greens and cardboard act like tender- burning hot and fast.  The flames can quickly flare out of control, cause a flash fire, and send sparks out into a room and/or up the chimney igniting creosote deposits.  Make sure to keep the screen before the fireplace while burning a fire.

fireplace-main-entrance-hall

Wealden Times

Plan for safe indoor and outdoor holiday decorating with these holiday decorating safety tips.  Let’s all have a safe, stylishly decorated, and happy holiday season.

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Thanksgiving Day Simple Solutions and Suggestions

Almost here, never fear Thanksgiving Day simple solutions and suggestions is exactly what we’ve got going for today’s one week until Thanksgiving post.

Are you ready?

trio-of-cheese-ballsGood Housekeeping – Photography: Mike Garten

Simple makes a tasty appetizer plate, and a make ahead recipe for a simple yet impressive appetizer is an absolute appetizer must.

Thanksgiving day is a culinary marathon.

I don’t want to gloss over a step or course, nor do I want to give up one precious minute to the tedious or the trying.

Enter the recipes for a trio of cheese balls that can be refrigerated up to 2 days.

Guess what I’ll be doing the Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving Thursday?

turn-the-music-up-loud

I’ll be in the kitchen with my Now We’re Cooking Thanksgiving playlist turned to holiday volume whipping up a trio of cheese balls for Thanksgiving appetizers.

Everything Cheese Ball

¼ cup sesame seeds

2 tbsp. poppy seeds

2 tbsp. dried onion flakes

2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

¼ tsp. salt

2 8-oz. bricks reduced-fat cream cheese

Savory Dill Cheese Ball

1 8-oz. brick reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill

2 tsp. lemon juice

Spiced Cranberry Cheese Ball

1 8-oz. brick reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

8 oz. goat cheese, softened

¼ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions

“Everything” Cheese Ball: 

Combine sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion flakes, black pepper, and salt.

With mixer, beat cream cheese with 2 tablespoons seasoning mixture. By 2-tablespoon portions, scoop and roll into balls. Roll in remaining seasoning mixture, pressing to coat.

Savory Dill Cheese Ball: 

With mixer, beat cream cheese, feta cheese, dill, and lemon juice. By 2-tablespoon portions, scoop and roll into balls.  Roll in 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill.

Spiced Cranberry Cheese Ball: 

With mixer, beat cream cheese, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and nutmeg. By 2-tablespoon portions, scoop and roll into balls.  Roll in 3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped, pressing to coat.

Refrigerate cheese balls at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.  Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Serve with crackers or bread.

-Good Housekeeping

rustic-coaster

Tree Branch Coasters- Country Living

family cotton napkins sugarboo and coSugarboo & Co.

Give the cocktail crowd something to ponder with these Jane Howard cocktail napkins from Sugarboo & Co.

Thyme-Pear Gravy

Thyme-Pear Gravy

Use an insulated coffee carafe to keep the gravy hot and a burner ready to go for the next dish.

Pre-warm the carafe by filling it with hot tap water allowing to sit for a couple of minutes.

Empty out the hot water and add the gravy.

Thanksgiving Day Simple Solutions and Suggestions

The closest my iPad gets to the kitchen is the accent table in the dining room.

I’m still recovering from the great spill debacle of two years ago when Dave the Builder “cooked” my tablet with a spilled Dr. Pepper.

Amazon Fire 7 with Alexa

Thanksgiving day is stressful enough without the extra worry of liquid vs. tablet.

Tuck your tablet into a Ziploc slider bag to protect it and worry no more.

ziploc-slider-bags-gallon

A scent of the season scented candle is a holiday greet the guests essential.

I don’t depend on pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to carry the weight of the waft throughout the house.

Yankee-Candle-Velvet-Woods

Presentation is key at the holidays.

A vintage ironstone bowl filled with ice and topped with pine cones is natural styling for chilling wine.

wine-on-sideboard

I love the unique styling and look created with a vintage bowl filled with ice and topped with miniature pine cones.

wine-on-ice

Miniature Pinecones

Miniature Pinecones

Tie a loose knot around the neck of a wine bottle with the ribbon material and color of your choice.

Tuck the stem of a pinecone into the knot and- voilà!- a befitting embellishment.

velvet-ribbon

Grab a marker and personalize take home boxes.

Another suggestion is to ask guests to bring their own containers to tote their take home Thanksgiving leftovers in.

take-out-boxes

Continuing the embellishment theme, tie a ribbon around the take home box and adorn with a house or cabin Christmas ornament with a from our house to yours card.

house-ornament-grosgrain-ribbon

As they say, it’s the little things that mean the most.

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