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October 30, 2017

This Week's Plan : Anniversary Pasta + Our Halloween Menu

Halloween is here!  Our pumpkins don't look quite this good this year - they are half eaten and a little rotten from the warm temperatures.  But when the fog machine is one and it is dark, they will be perfect for the spooky night we have planned.  Our menu is below.

But before Halloween, we'll celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary tonight.  We loved our wedding so much and I love looking back at photos each year.  So much good has happened in the last seven years!  

Every year, we make our favorite meal inspired by our honeymoon.  When we were in Italy, we fell in love with homemade pasta with truffles.  So, before the Halloween candy and bowls of chili the next day, we'll squeeze this gourmet meal in by candlelight on my favorite powder blue plates (favorite wedding gifts that matched our wedding)  :)

Our Wedding in Seaside
Our Honeymoon in Italy

For Halloween, we'll stick with the classics.  I'll make a big batch of chili + Fritos, sour cream and cheddar for toppings.

There must also be something to graze on - Spinach Dip.  Along with chips, I'll have veggies for the kids to dip, since there will be so much candy...

These Martha Stewart Monster Brownies are still on the menu.  Emma and I are making them after school today + decorating the backyard.

We made our Sugar Cookies last week and they are in the freezer - I'll get them out in the morning so they are perfectly thawed.

Happy Halloween, All!

October 28, 2017

Bite-Sized S'mores in the Oven | Easy Fall Dessert

Last fall I attended a party at Darcy Miller's home (editor of Martha Stewart Weddings) for the book launch of Peter Callahan's new book, Bite by Bite.  The entire cookbook is artfully created mini ideas for food.  One of the desserts served at the party were these little bite-size s'mores.  I've always loved s'mores, but there is something about these one bite, open-faced s'mores that are sooooo great.  They are not messy and they are so easy to make - they are ready in 45 seconds!

I made these mini s'mores as part of my Pumpkin Harvest Fall Entertaining class.  After a big filling bowl of butternut and beef chili and a cheddar jalapeno scone, these were the perfect tiny little sweet bite to end the class.

This isn't really a recipe, but more of a list of very simple instructions.

Cut the graham crackers into 1-inch squares (basically, 1 graham cut into 8ths).  Use a serrated bread knife to cut - it makes it very easy without too much breakage.

Cut small pieces of chocolate to fit on top of the graham pieces.

Line them up on a baking sheet.

Sorry, not pic of the last step!  Just cut a marshmallow into thirds with a hot, wet serrated knife and place them on top of the chocolate.

Put them in the oven under the broiler for 30-45 seconds.  Depending on your oven... watch them carefully, they will burn very quickly!

October 26, 2017

Chili Mac Soup with Hidden Secret Vegetables

No one loves a big bowl of hot chili on a autumn day more than me.  I feel like we don't actually have it more than a couple of times a year because, well, it is just not very healthy.  We don't eat healthy that often, but we do try to get a good balance.

What I like about chili is the spice, the warmth, the meatiness.  It is just so satisfying.  However, it is rather heavy.  I decided that I might try to lighten it up a bit, but keep all of the spicy, meatiness.

I started with a basic chili recipe, but added carrots (that I sautéed with the onion at the beginning) and shredded Brussels sprouts (at the end like you would do with cabbage in a vegetable soup).  The result was delicious.  It was so satisfying, but had more nutrition - which made me feel better about stocking our freezer with leftovers for lunch.  

Chili Soup with Hidden Secret Vegetables

1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 pounds of ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cans of kidney beans
sea salt and cracked pepper
10-12 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1/2 pound of small shell pasta
1/4 cup cream

In a large pot, saute the onion and carrot for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add beef and brown.  Add chili powder, pepper flakes and cumin and saute for 1 minute.   Add tomatoes with their juice and beans. Reduce the heat, taste for seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Add the Brussels sprouts in and continue to simmer.  Before serving, bring to a rolling simmer and add pasta. Cook pasta for 5 minutes, then reduce heat before serving.  I don't like to add the pasta too far in advance before serving, or it can get mushy.  Add the cream to finish.

Thanksgiving Greens | Layers of Patterns & Pumpkins

Not all of us are orange, gold and red people : )  I do tend to embrace those rich colors this time of year, but my heart always sits with tonal neutrals.  I was so drawn to the green pumpkins at the patch this year - maybe because this has been such a strange weather year and everything is still so green around here?  Whatever it is, this table scheme is right up my alley.  It feels cozy and fall-ish, in an entirely new and unexpected way.

Do you know what else I like about this setting?  Take away the pumpkins and you have a great start to a beautiful table for Christmas, too : )  These linens with some hurricanes going down the center, maybe some blooming paperwhites would be a perfect holiday table.

I love how the greens and tans play with the dull finish silvery pewter pieces.  The Edgartown Sand Taper Candles mimic the stems of the pumpkins and also the Warm Velvet ribbon.  I like to think about three colors when I'm designing a table setting - or a room.  Each finish or color should be repeated 2-3 times for the balance to be right.  Here is the formula for this table : 

Green : Pumpkins & Green Hydrangea Block Print Tablecloth ($36-48) & Napkins ($32)
Tan : Pumpkin Stems, Edgartown Sand Taper Candles ($10.50), Warm Velvet Ribbon
Dark Brown : Spode Woodland Dishes & Wood Furniture (Chairs, Desk)
Pewter : Candle Sticks, Salt & Pepper, Gravy Boat, Flatware

To make 8 place settings, I used 4 Green Hydrangea Block Print Napkins + mixed in 4 Hemstitch Napkins.  I use this trick a lot since I usually don't have more than 4 of each napkin.  The Hemstitch basics helps me to expand my seasonal items.

I added the "H" by hand by making a quick little stitch with embroidery thread.  I sketched an H with a pencil, then did little stitches - so easy and took 5 minutes.  

How charming is this little touch that cost hardly anything and was done by hand.  I really don't have any sewing skills, so don't be afraid to attempt!

I tied the print settings with velvet ribbon and added a sprig of rosemary.

I continued the muted theme with orange and green pumpkins on the sideboard/writing desk in our dining area.  The creamware platters create the perfect tone-on-tone backdrop.

I love these Salt & Pepper.  They are impressively heavy, too.  They would be the ultimate Hostess Gift for someone you really like... and we all know they should be well rewarded - hosting Thanksgiving is Hard!

I added more tonal, comfy touches to make the space more luxurious, too, like these Velvet Cashew Pillows.

The adjacent hearth room is also decked in coordinating Green Hydrangea Block Print & Velvet Pillows.

Shop the Thanksgiving Harvest Collection for more ideas for table settings and cozy ideas for your home this Holiday.

Visit this Gallery of  my Thanksgiving Table Settings for more ideas >

October 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Collection | Acorns, Velvet, Berries, Kids Crafts, Thankful For Placecards & Organizing Tablets

Last year I didn't do a proper Thanksgiving Collection.  It is easy to sort of sweep Thanksgiving in with Fall decor, or just move right on to Christmas - but I LOVE Thanksgiving.  The traditions, the pretty tables, the menu, the schedule of the day, the crisp air, the crackling morning fire, pies baking... all of it.  So this year, I will not move on to Christmas, we will fully celebrate all that is Thanksgiving.  

"We Are Thankful For" Placecards, an Everyday Occasion annual tradition.

Vintage Turkey Prints, $4-6

The New "The Plan" Planning Tablet, 25 sheet tablet, $12

I've been thinking about this concept for a while.  Finally, I've come up with this simple tablet that helps me to get organized for dinner parties, holidays - even home projects.  Here, you can see, I've listed some items to help get me organized for Thanksgiving.  I'll show more examples of how I use this soon!

Is there anything better than a "Kids' Table" at Thanksgiving?

This one set like a bit of a nature hunt + craft table.  Lots to see and touch.

Place settings don't have to be complex - just something simple and special.

Paperwhites are classic Holiday.  They bring a fresh scent and stately life to homes during the winter months.  These bulbs are extra large and a beautiful chestnut color.  They will bloom tall, white blooms.  I begin forcing them indoors in October, then they are the perfect gift for Thanksgiving and Holiday Parties.  They take about 5-7 weeks to bloom.  

I hand-stitched a little "H" on our Hemstitch Napkins.  It took about 5 minutes and gave so much charm to these simple staples.

Pies : )

Mini Leaf & Acorn Cutters easily give a classic pie a new twist.

This collection focuses quite a bit on table settings.  Really, besides making sure your home is cozy and comfortable, setting the table really is the centerpiece for the holiday.  I have created seven individual schemes based on Napkins and Table Linens I have available.  By combining a print with a velvet ribbon, coordinating candle and little sprig of this or that, each scheme is the essence season.

Left : Harvest Berry Napkins + Heirloom Pumpkin Candles + Moss Green Velvet Ribbon

Right : Green Hydrangea + Edgartown Sand Candles. + Warm Velvet Ribbon

Deep Brown Topiary Linens + Rust Candles + Rust Velvet Ribbon

Acorn Linens + Maize Candles + Brown Velvet Ribbon

Beige Topiary Print Linens + Edgartown Sand Candles + Warm Velvet Ribbon

Cream Hydrangea Print Linens + Natural Beeswax Candles + Brown Velvet Ribbons


Classic Stripe Napkins + Falmouth Grey Candles + Rust Velvet Ribbon

Fall Taper Candles

Tea Towels 

Cushion Covers

Acorn Block Print

Tablecloth & Table Runners


Acorn Tea Towels

Acorn Runner (folded in half) on the Kids Table

Green Hydrangea Tablecloth & Table Runners

Moss Green Velvet Ribbon

Plaid Wrap, $30, over the chair for warmth

Browse the entire Thanksgiving Collection, here >

For help planning your Holiday, browse all of my Thanksgiving posts, menus, centerpieces & tables, here > 

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