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November 29, 2016

Our (In-Progress) Holiday Home Tour + 30% Off Pillows & Throws Today

Today I'm going to take you on a little tour of our in-progress decorating in our home.  I'm making an effort to not be a decorated-in-a-day person for Christmas this year, as I like to keep adding layers each week/day as we get closer to Christmas.   We'll display Emma's "artwork" as she creates it, add more fresh greens in a week or two, string more lights when the mood strikes, and just take our time enjoying the process. This year I'm in the mood to do lots of old fashioned homemade crafty projects with Emma (popcorn stringing, gingerbread ornaments, cranberries & oranges, pinecone garlands...) and we'll look forward to working on those little by little each week. 

In this little tour, you'll notice a lot of pillows and throws : )   In fact, it might feel like the entire house is decked out - but really, it is just to the credit of pillows.   They are the first thing I do each season (along with the tree) and they add instant warmth and coziness.  So, in celebration of our first layer of holiday decorating, I'm offering 30% off all Pillows & Throws today.  The pillows are perfect for your own home and the throws make great gifts.

We put the lights up right before Thanksgiving (so we could switch them on that night after the feast!) which is why you still see a giant pumpkin and "signs" welcoming everyone to Thanksgiving...

I'm in the mood for big and full greens this year - the more wild, unruly and natural the better.   Our tree follows suit, as well.

I love how this 30" frasier fir wreath has taken over the entire door.

Ignore the string of light from the tree straight to the outlet... still rounding up extension cords.

Pillows :  Clay Velvet, Large Snowflake Hooked & Leaf Block Print Rectangle

Pillows :  Clay VelvetLarge Snowflake Hooked & Leaf Block Print Rectangle

I love this cozy view.  This year I have lots of layers of color, not just red.  I love the deep green of the "Family Tree" Hooked Pillow, the warm Amber Velvet and the colorful hooked stockings.

Pillows & Throws (Left to Right) :  Heathered Grey & Cream Throw, Amber Velvet Pillow, Family Tree Hooked Pillow.

This is my absolute favorite cozy corner in the house.  I picked up that tree top at the florists and strung some darling star wire lights on it.  It took 3 minutes and makes this little corner sparkle - my kind of christmas decorating.

Pillow : Classic Navajo Embroidered Pillow ($48, $60),  Amber Velvet Pillow, Chocolate Cable Knit Throw ($120 $140)

I picked up those red stockings at our favorite local antique store.  I'm not sure they are actually old, but I love the long simple lines and old fashioned feel it gives the mantle.  I'm sure they would be so simple to make.

Pillows : Hooked Snowflake Lumbar, Clay Velvet, Slate Wreath Block Print 

Pillows : Hooked Snowflake LumbarClay VelvetSlate Wreath Block Print 

Paperwhites time!

Again, the power of pillows.  Just adding these two Navajo Embroidered Pillows has transformed our room into a cozy Christmasy feeling space.

I love how this little pillow made a very pink girly room into a festive spot.  

These gold stars are up all year long, but they feel especially festive this time of year.

Notice, no photos of the floor... covered in toys : )

My office/mudroom gets the a tiny little Starflake Pillow and the whole room feels festive.

Can't wait to make these Nativity cookie cutters.  For now, I love that they are my kitchen Nativity set.

Love these twins on our french doors!

(photo from last year)

If you are new here, you can visit this link to see my Christmas Kitchen Tour from last year to see more of our kitchen.  It looks similar this year... but just not as clean so I didn't photograph : )

Love these star twinklers.

The tiny tree has moved to the kitchen corner... just love it so much that I move to wherever I am.

Happy Decking the Halls and taking your time to enjoy making your home sparkle with your loves : )

November 21, 2016

Sharing Bountiful Baskets | Fig Preserves & Goat Cheese | Fall Burrata Platter

This year I hosted another "Thanksgiving Basket" party with my friends, a tradition I started and shared last year.  I've added some photos from this year's party and a couple of appetizer recipes that I made from the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Cooking for Jeffery.  These would both be great appetizers to add to your Thanksgiving menu - both so easy and very seasonal.  And, oh my goodness, the fig preserves.  So. Good.  

Fig Preserves & Goat Cheese

Burrata Platter with Prosciutto, Arugula and Butternut Squash

About the project from last year:

Every year our Church hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for members the week before.  This year, I was asked to contribute the centerpieces for each table.  Initially, I thought - easy, I'll just grab some candles from the store, some leftover wheat bundles and call it a day.  I was sort of thinking of it as just one more thing I had to do during the launch of my Holiday product line and just before we were hosting Thanksgiving at our house...  perfect.  

Then I had a moment.  I thought, during the Holiday season I really hate "wasting" money on decorations when it could put it to better use - I wanted the centerpieces to do something besides look pretty.  

My idea was to make a big bountiful basket for each table to serve as the centerpiece, each containing all of the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner (minus the Turkey), and each made for and donated to a family in need after the dinner was over.

These baskets were made not as handout, but as a gift that was joyfully made and given.  I wanted them to have fresh vegetables and fresh herbs, just like I buy for my own family.  The idea was to be that it wasn't just a gift of utility, but of grace and plentiful bounty, that even in struggling times, sharing and experiencing something beautiful is still important.  I wanted each family receiving these baskets to experience the joy of receiving a beautiful gift - not to be thought of as a donation.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 
The plan was for Mike and I to buy and donate all of the supplies for these 24 baskets.  I thought it would be fun to recruit some friends to help assemble the baskets - a party, maybe a little girls night with wine + snacks, to make it fun.

That's when the magic happened.  I send an email to about 15 friends from Church and our neighborhood Mom's group to invite them over for a fun night putting together Thanksgiving baskets.  Within 15 minutes, almost all had replied "Yes, and what can I bring to contribute!"  I made up a shopping list, thinking we'd still be donating a good chunk of the goods.  These women replied back in record time, donating every single item on the list.  It was amazing.

And what's more, they were glad to do it - so very happy to help.  I feel so blessed to have cultivated a group of friends with such large hearts and willing spirits.  These women take care of their own children and families all day long, work jobs, run their households, and exhaust themselves taking care of others, yet they jump at the opportunity to help and take care of someone else.  To think, I almost missed this opportunity by taking the easy way out.

The sweet Fig Preserves (I served warm) paired with tangy goat cheese on crackers or toasts - they are so, so good.  I have a new go-to favorite easy appetizer. 

The recipe from the Barefoot Contessa's book called for fresh figs for this recipe.  So, I made a point of going to the fancy market in my neighborhood that always carries them this time of year... but they were out.  So, I adapted the recipe for dried (preserved) figs... to make Fig Preserves.  Basically, you just have to reconstitute the figs in orange juice for about an hour before to plump them up.  I loved the result, but am still looking forward to trying the recipe with fresh figs... hopefully very soon.

Fig Preserves & Goat Cheese

1 - 14oz package of preserved whole Figs
1 cup of orange juice
2 teaspoons of grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla (or bean paste)
soft goat cheese
crackers or toasts for serving

Cut each preserved fig into 6ths - I did this with my kitchen scissors.  In a medium bowl, place the figs with 1 cup of orange juice, or as mush as it takes to cover them completely.  Let sit an hour, or until plump.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, place orange zest, 1/2 cup of orange juice, sugar and vanilla.  Bring to a simmer, stir.  Add figs.  Cook at full simmer, uncovered for 1 hour until sauce thickens like jammy syrup.

Cool slightly before serving.  I like to serve warm with cold soft goat cheese, crackers and toasted slices of baguette.

Fall Harvest Burrata Platter with Arugula, Prosciutto & Butternut

I added roasted butternut squash to this recipe since the original called for figs, and we were already having the fig preserves.  I also thought it helped to make it more of a meal.  Also, the vinaigrette recipe is my own.

Salad :
4-6 cups of Baby Arugula
1/4 pound of Prosciutto, very thin
Fresh Burrata Cheese (or Fresh Mozzarella)
Roasted Butternut Squash cubes
Toasted Baguette Slices
Vinaigrette :
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of dijon
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 cup of olive oil

Assemble platter with arugula, slices of prosciutto and butternut squash on one side.  On the other side, add cheese & baguette slices.  Drizzle vinaigrette over the cheese and salad.

Photos from last year : 

Here are some of the busy bees buzzing around filling baskets, making sure they were each beautiful. 
There may have even been some competition...

The new farmhouse table piled with potatoes and pie shells.

Mike was out of town so Emma got to join in on the Mom's night.

Here are the baskets set up at the church the next day.

Thank you to all of my dear friends that came together to make a little magic this season.  I'm so honored and blessed from your giving!

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