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October 2009
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December 2009

November 2009

Candy Wreath

It's time to get out those Christmas decorations if you haven't already!  I love all kinds of decorations and color schemes for Christmas.  One of my favorites is using candy to decorate.  Especially gumdrops.  I have a little gumdrop tree that I love to display.  Here is an easy way to craft a gumdrop wreath:

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Start with a six inch styrofoam wreath, 1 bag of gumdrops and toothpicks broken in half.  Insert one end of toothpick into gumdrop, then attach other end to wreath.  Continue until you have covered the wreath.  Voila!


(photo from parents.com


Christmas Party Plans

We are having a Christmas party next month at our house and I have been looking for ideas of how to decorate the dining table/kitchen area.  My family room will be decorated with what I am calling a "gilded christmas".  Remember last year I was having trouble using my old decorations with our new terra cotta wall?  Well this year I've decided to use new gold, copper, and brown decorations.  I think they will look great with our wall. 

I would like to do something with more color in the kitchen/dining area.  I'm hung up on the red and aqua combo I've been seeing lately.  I love these two colors together and think they are so fun to use for Christmas parties and decorations.  Here are a few ideas I've gathered so far...

My main inspiration came from Kim at The TomKat Studio's Little Snowflake Invitations.  Kim is so talented and I always love all of her designs.  I can't wait to see the rest of this collection!

Little snowflake invitation

Too cute right?!  Check out Kim's inspiration board for the Little Snowflake party here!

A beautiful table below incorporating red and aqua.  Love the little red birds.

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Plates from Hostess Jo I'll use:

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Glass stickers...

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Cocktail napkins...

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Stay tuned to see everything come together!
  
 


Holiday Punch

If you are entertaining anytime over the holidays here is a great punch to serve your guests.  I like serving punches or sangria versus having a bar because you can serve a crowd without spending a fortune on several different kinds of alcohol, mixes, etc.  With its frozen cranberries, oranges and champagne this one is sure to please everyone.

AJ's Christmas Punch

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Serves 10

Ice (in block form if possible, if not, large chunks)
4 oz. Cointreau
4 oz. brandy
2 oranges, cut into wedges
1 cup frozen cranberries (optional)
2 bottles chilled champagne

1. Add ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under half way.
2. Add Cointreau and brandy. Using a ladle or long spoon, stir briefly.
3. Add orange slices and cranberries (if using) and then pour in the champagne.
4. Stir 12 times and let sit for a minute, so the ingredients can get acquainted.

(photo and recipe from fineliving.com)
 


Thanksgiving Table Inspiration

I just love this natural Thanksgiving table scape from Real Simple!

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The bright greens just pop against the browns and white.  Not your traditional Thanksgiving palette but just as beautiful.

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With a few twigs, twine and greenery, you have a natural and lovely Thanksgiving table.  I think the twig bundles as place card holders are my favorite part!

This look would also work well for a fall dinner party or fall shower.

Go here for the how-to.
 


Thanksgiving Potluck

This Friday is our group of friends' Thanksgiving potluck.  The hosts are cooking the turkey and we are bringing side dishes.  After searching for a tasty side dish, I've decided on this one.  It's easy, I can make it the night before and it sounds delish!

Au Gratin Potato Casserole

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Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1  (32-ounce) package frozen Southern-style hash browns
  • 1  (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 2  cups  (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1  (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1  small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2  cups  crushed cornflakes cereal
  • 1/4  cup  melted butter

Make it

Stir together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

Spoon potato mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with crushed cornflakes, and drizzle evenly with butter.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Note: For testing purposes only, we used Ore-Ida Southern Style Hash Browns.

After reading the reviews, I'm going to add some garlic and swap the cornflakes for Ritz crackers.  I'm also going to swap the cream of mushroom for cream of chicken because some friends don't care for mushrooms.  What casseroles are you cooking up for Thanksgiving?  Send me a link!

(recipe and photo from myrecipes.com)
 


Pilgrim's Hat Pot

Here is an easy way to transform a regular terra cotta pot into a pilgrim's hat for a festive Thanksgiving centerpiece!  So cute.

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Materials:

Oak tag
8"-wide terra-cotta pot
Scissors or craft knife
Mini glue gun
Terra-cotta spray (we used American Accents)
28" x 2" brown velvet ribbon or fabric
Metallic gold paper

Instructions:

Cut approximately 15"-diam circle from oak tag using a compass or bowl for guide.

Turn terra-cotta pot upside down, center on oak tag circle and trace.

Cut out inner circle 1⁄2" smaller in diameter than pot opening.

Make small slits about every 1⁄2" around the inner circle.

Cut a line between inner and outer circles. Overlap and glue back together to form beveled hat brim.

Fold down inner circle slits and glue to inside of pot.

Paint pot and brim with terra-cotta spray. Let dry.

Glue ribbon or fabric band around pot.

Cut buckle shape from gold paper backed with oak tag and glue to hat band

 

(photo and how-to from womansday.com)
 


White Hot Chocolate

How do you feel about white chocolate?  A lot of people I know are not huge fans.  I happen to LOVE it!  I will definitely be trying this recipe for white hot chocolate.  What a great twist on the traditional.

White Hot Chocolate

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Ingredients

  • 3  cups half-and-half or light cream*
  • 3/4  cup vanilla-flavor baking pieces or vanilla-flavor candy coating, chopped
  •   3 inches stick cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4  teaspoon almond extract
  •   Slivers of vanilla-flavor candy coating (optional)
  •   Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions

1. Combine 1/4 cup of the half-and-half or light cream, vanilla baking pieces or chopped candy coating, stick cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan; whisk over low heat until vanilla baking pieces or candy is melted. Remove stick cinnamon.

2. Add remaining half-and-half or light cream. Whisk until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Serve warm in cups or mugs; top with slivers of vanilla-flavor candy coating and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Makes 5 (6-ounce) servings.

*Note: To reduce fat, you may substitute low-fat milk or evaporated fat-free milk for the half-and-half.

Tip: To create the foamy layer on top, blend some of the hot chocolate mixture in a blender container until frothy, and add to each serving.

(photo and recipe from bhg.com)
 


Festive Fruit Centerpiece

I love the look of this citrus fruit centerpiece with the addition of the shiny ornaments.  It's perfect for the holiday season!  BONUS-it's easy and inexpensive too.

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What you need:


• Metal tiered tray
• Florist foam, soaked
• Lemons
• Limes
• Clementines
• Blood oranges
• Sphagnum moss
• Florist pins 

Use one third of the florist foam on the top tier and the remaining on the bottom one.  Cover the florist foam with moss, secure with florist pins.  Pierce the fruit with the picks and then secure them to the foam.  The day of your gathering, slice a couple of pieces of fruit for the display.

This would also be pretty in a glass bowl or on a cake stand if you don't want to work with the florist foam.

(photo from myhomeideas.com)