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September 30, 2013

Fall Table Setting with Burnt Orange Gourds, Gold Candles & Natural Linens

This is the first of four Fall table settings I'm going to share this week.   I'm using my favorite basics, mixing and matching them with seasonal pumpkins and gourds, then accenting with candles from my Fall Color Collection.

  I love this one - it is a brighter and more colorful table than I typically do.  In years past, I gravitated toward the heirloom pumpkins that come in the pastel colors like white, light blue and green.

 This year I've been drawn to this rich, deep orange color mixed with gold candles.  I'm also in the process or making two different shades of orange linen pillows... coming soon.

The natural linen napkins with the grey and black stripes are the perfect way to bring in a neutral accent to help tone it down a bit. 

I filled the Warm Wood Berry Baskets with mini pumpkins - I also think these would look fabulous all the way down a long table, too... maybe the kids table for Halloween or Thanksgiving?!

As you can see, just outside our dining room table is our porch (one of my favorite things about this house).  I've added orange mums to my rustic Napa Home & Garden pots.

I like the mum a little oversized, planted in a smaller container - I think it gives it an elegant shape.  

Centerpieces don't have to be flowers and they don't have to be complicated.  I use this bowl every season (Match Pewter - a wedding gift... remember it filled with pansies in the spring?) - try to find a good staple piece in your home that you can transform each season. 

I am obsessed with this new round board I got at Nell Hills (a KC favorite).  It was only about $25 and I've already used it in 10 different ways... you'll be seeing a lot of it : )  And, of course, my favorite class candle holders from Target - they hold pillars and tapers.

With all of the bright colors, the plain white plates that I've had for years (Williams-Sonoma Pantry) look great.  The glasses are my favorite from Sur La Table.

Stay tuned this week for more table setting ideas using simple accents and seasonal pumpkins and gourds... such a fun challenge to transform the same things into something different each day.

September 27, 2013

Fall-izing the Blog + Featured Fall Products

I've been Fall-izing!  As you can see, I've updated the header to include some of my favorite produce, colors and products of the season.  We haven't done our official pumpkin patch trip, but we have picked up just a couple at the market in the last couple of weeks.  Emma loves looking at all of the piles of colors each time we go to the grocery store. 

Fall Entertaining Guide (left):
To Fall-ize the blog, I've updated the Fall Entertaining Guide I created last year.  It contains photo links to all of my Fall recipes, table settings and decor ideas.  You'll also be able to find some of these links in the sidebar to the right.  I'll continue to update both of these as I add new recipes this season. 

As I had transitioned to in the past, all of my recipes indexes can also be found in the links on the right, on Pinterest.  It is the easiest way to keep a visual index that is up-to-date... and I know almost everyone is familiar with Pinterest, so it is a natural solution.   Be sure to follow my "Fall" Pinterest Board too, where I'll stash everything that is inspiring me this season.

As I announced last week, I added some new products to my store.  Here are some of my favorite new essentials for Fall :

Warm Wood Berry Baskets

These berry baskets have warmer hues than the typical baskets - they are the perfect little container for packaging fall treats.

One of my favorite ways to use these are as a Breakfast Hostess Gift with Banana Bread, Honey Butter & Coffee Beans.

10 for $10
Tablet + Le Pens

This is the best little gift for yourself - a great way to get organized.

Le Pens have been my favorite for years.  In college I used the navy, but now I'm a fan of the grey.  They are thin and elegant, with a tiny felt tip.  You may have seen them on Martha Stewart's desk.  She's also a huge fan.  In fact, she gave her design editor, Kevin Sharky, an entire case of these grey pens for his new office.

I had the tablets custom printed with a simple label-style header on a natural (just slightly creamy) cardstock.  I love the heavier weight paper because when I tear it off to take the list with me, it doesn't get crumpled and messy.   I designed the size to fit perfectly as a label (similar to my wedding party welcome bag) for my medium cello bags.

The set comes with 1 tablet + 4 le pens for $12.
*Due to high demand, these will not ship until 10/3.

My Everyday Candle in a Mini Latte Bowl

I had these custom poured by a local artisan.  She created this most amazing scent that contains all of my favorite things - red currant, quince and the slightest hint of orange blossom.  I burn this candle in our home on a daily basis - it is so soft and sophisticated.  It is the kind of candle that makes you want to breathe deep and relax into a cozy corner.

I had them poured in a mini latte bowl (from Anthropologie) that can be used after the candle is gone.  I love anything with a double use.  This is my Everyday candle, but I'm also going to introduce a new scent each season - if you get each candle, you can create your own little collection of mini latte bowls.  They are perfect for everything from individual desserts to holding dijon on a buffet.

Natural Linen Napkins with Grey & Black Stripes

These are my favorite new essential for fall.  The natural linen is such a beautiful color - especially with the grey and black stripes.  I'm loving them on my table right now... they give it just enough of a cozy, rustic element that I love for Autumn.  Don't be afraid to use them - they soften beautifully after washing.  I've included a photo of the tea towels (made in the same material) after being washed, and before being ironed.  Of course, you can press them each time, but I love the soft, casual look straight from the dryer.

Set of 4 100% linen napkins, $32.

Fall Color Collection of 12" Taper Candles

I picked these colors just for Fall - warm and natural colors that go great with the season's pumpkins and gourds.

These Taper Candles are so special.  The quality and craftsmanship is unmatched.  I first learned about Creative Candles from years of browsing through Martha Stewart Living - beautiful tables set with these stunning candles in the most sophisticated colors.  It turns out that these candles beloved by Martha are handmade in a 50-year-old factory 1 mile from my house!

Each candle comes with a strip of beeswax to be used to help fit the candles in any holder and holds them perfectly straight.

Set of 2 packaged in a clear & brown box, $10.50

Natural Linen Tea Towels

In our home, I love to change out little accessories and accents with the change of the seasons.  Tea towels are my favorite way to add a seasonal touch to my kitchen.  The natural linen of these towels is such a beautiful color for Fall - especially with the grey and black stripes.  I'm loving them in my kitchen right now... they give it just enough of a cozy, rustic element that I love for Autumn.
Don't be afraid to use them - they soften beautifully after washing.  I've included a photo of them after being washed, and before being ironed.  Of course, you can press them each time, but I love the soft, casual look straight from the dryer.

Set of 2 100% linen towels, $24.
*Due to high demand, these will not ship until October 4th.

Today, I took the morning and put together four different table settings using various combinations of my Fall products mixed with different shapes and colors of pumpkins and gourds.  I'll be sharing them over the next couple of days to help inspire your Fall Table Settings.  Here is a sneak peak of how our table is set right now.

September 18, 2013

Braised Short Ribs | Cozy Sunday Supper at Our House

This past Sunday was the first true Fall-feeling morning.  It started off a little rainy and dreary - a perfect morning for us to drink coffee on the porch in our pj's before church.  I love to fix a big dinner on Sundays... preferably one that simmers on the stove (or in the oven) all day so it fills the house with the most amazing aromas.

This is how our table is set most Sunday nights for dinner, with the addition of a high chair, of course.  And, there is not always wine.  A lot of the time there is, but not all of the time.   I usually keep some sort of bountiful seasonal display on our table so when we set down for dinner it feels special.

Did I mention I made an apple pie, too?  The house smelled out of this world.

I set the table using the new Natural Linen Napkins from my store (4 for $32).  These are my favorite new essential for Fall.  I have a set of matching tea towels available, as well.   The natural linen is such a beautiful color - especially with the grey and black stripes.  I'm loving them on my table right now... they give it just enough of a cozy, rustic element that I love for Autumn.  Don't be afraid to use them - they soften beautifully after washing.

And while I set the table...

Mike and Emma play - this is the "couch house" they built for Emma's babies.  Sunday is their day to play together and I get to spend the day in the kitchen.

Of course, she's always available to help me in the kitchen if I should need her assistance.

Here is our table - set for three.  Since Emma was 10 months old, we have sat at the table every night with Emma in hopes that she would learn to sit through dinner with us... we're still working on it. 

The candles used on the table are my favorite for fall - 12" Tapers in Edgartown Sand.

Dinner is served.   Can you smell it?  Simmering beef, rosemary, wine, thyme....

Oh, it was so good.  I created the recipe by combining some of my favorites from Martha Stewart and The Barefoot, of course.  It was completely divine.  I can not tell you how delicious the vegetables were - they had absorbed all of the flavors from the herbs and wine... served with mashed potatoes, no less.

And our Apple Pie (made with cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest) for dessert.  Recipe coming tomorrow.

Short Ribs

serves 4-6

New! Printable Recipes, here.

6 beef short ribs
sea salt & cracked pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
6 carrots, peeled, medium dice
4 celery stalks, medium dice
1 leek, medium dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups of red wine
4 Bay Leaves
4 Rosemary Sprigs
4 Thyme Sprigs
6 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 275.

Heat a large dutch oven on the stove.  Cover short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil to the pan, then sear the short ribs in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side until browned.  Remove short ribs and set them aside to rest.

Add onions and carrots to the same pot - cook on high for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add celery and leek.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook for another minute.  

Pour in red wine and cook for about 5 minutes on high.  Tie together fresh herbs with cotton twine and place them in the pot.  Add beef stock.  Bring entire pot up to a simmer.  Put the short ribs back in the pot then cover and place in the oven.  Cook for 3 hours at 275 degrees.

When finished cooking, place the pot on top of the stove and let it rest for 30 minutes.  

With a ladle, scoop off the broth and place it in a clear glass container (or two) and put it in the refrigerator.  Recover the pot with the ribs and vegetables in the meantime.   Refrigerate the broth for 30 minutes, then go back and skim the fat off of the top.  Pour the remaining broth back into the pot and reheat until it is simmering.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until serving.  

I served our short ribs with mashed potatoes, but a crusty piece of bread would also be fabulous. 


Here is the Pin Strip :

Products used in this post  :

Natural Linen Napkins with Grey & Black Stripes (4 for $32)
Natural Linen Tea Towels with Grey & Black Stripes (2 for $24)
12" Tapers in Edgartown Sand

September 17, 2013

French Onion Soup with Sargento Natural Provolone Cheese

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sargento Foods, Inc.. All opinions are 100% mine.

Each day I plan and prepare a dinner like braised pot roast, spaghetti and homemade meatballs, or grilled vegetable and chicken kebabs.  But when it comes to my own lunch (like most moms I know) too often I find myself eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or macaroni and cheese... or whatever I can find in the fridge.

Recently, I've made a vow to upgrade my lunch.  Because I work from home, it is the only meal that I get the opportunity to actually sit, and enjoy myself without having someone sitting on my lap or dodge spoonfuls of food coming from Emma's high chair... why was I wasting this opportunity to treat myself?
 photo 1bf050ab-3488-4cc1-ac11-a58262cac36a_zpsf75a1da0.jpg
I think most people assume that soups are something that take all day and should simmer on the stove for hours.  Some do, and should, but not all.  French Onion Soup takes only 10 minutes to prepare - just enough time to saute onions until the begin to caramelize, then pour in stock and herbs.  Of course French Onion Soup is only as good as the bubbling cheese topped piece of toast that garnishes it... the absolute best part.   Because the soup is so simple, I recommend using the highest quality ingredients - Natural Beef Broth, Vidalia Onions, Fresh Thyme and a Natural Provolone Cheese like Sargento.
Treat yourself to a "Real Lunch" and take a minute (or 10) to enjoy this fabulous soup.

French Onion Soup

serves 4-6
2 tablespoons of olive oil
6 cups (3-4 onions) of yellow onions (vidalia, if available), halved and sliced
1 cup of red wine (optional)
6 tablespoons of butter
64 oz. of Beef Broth (typically 1 box)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon if dry)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
Sargento Natural Provolone Cheese
crusty french bread

Begin by cooking the onions in the olive oil in a deep pot on medium heat until they begin to caramelize and turn brown in color.  Stir them continuously while they cook to avoid burning.

It should take 7 minutes to caramelize the onions.  Add fresh thyme.

Next add wine and butter.  Cook for 1 minute then add broth, bay leaves, salt and brown sugar.  Bring to a simmer to heat through.  Lower heat.

 photo Provolone_zps54628ccf.jpgMeanwhile, top 4-6 slices of crusty bread with two slices each of Sargento Natural Provelone Cheese.  Place on a baking sheet, then broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and melted. *

To serve, ladle soup into an oven proof bowl.  Top it with a slice of crusty bread and Sargento Natural provolone cheese.  Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the cheese becomes bubbly.
*You can also melt the cheese in the microwave if you do not have an oven available, for example, if you are reheating for lunch at the office.
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