Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 12 Cards of Christmas

Just a heads up- when I get married and have kids, I'm totally gonna be the person that sends out Christmas photos of her color-coordinated family to any and everyone.  It's just cheesy enough to be delightful and you'll never convince me otherwise.  Now, since I can't dazzle the world with my adorable children just yet, I'll have to stick to dazzling them with my superior stationary-picking skills (totally the same thing, right?).  I searched high and low and I'll tell you what- if these aren't the most smile-inducing Christmas cards you've ever seen then I give up.    

1. Winter Foliage Cards, Rifle Paper Co. $95 for 25 personalized cards  2. Happy and Delightful Holiday Cards, Sugar Paper $34 for 10  3. Season's Greetings Mosaic, Egg Press $5  4. Christmas Gram, Etsy $3.75  5. Merry & Bright Card, Etsy $4.81  6. Illustrated Vintage Holiday Cards, Rifle Paper Co. $85 for 25 personalized cards  7. Kaleidoscope Christmas Card, Egg Press $3.50  8. Holiday Octopus, Paper Source $12.50 for 10  9. The Merriest Set, Etsy $18 for 6  10. Tis the Season Christmas Card, Etsy $9 for 10  11. 'Tis the Season Card, Rifle Paper Co $4  12. Peace Love & Joy Letterpress Cards, Hour of Nine $18 for 8

Mirror, Mirror

Nashville has a lot of great things going for it, but one thing it does not have is an H&M.  Some days that seems more tragic than others...for example, the day I saw this dress I'm pretty sure I said a few not nice words.  I adore everything about this look, especially the fact that it's ladylike to the max.  Anyone lucky enough to see it in person or *gasp* buy it?  Is it as gorgeous as it looks?  Inquiring minds need to know...

1. Organic Hemp and Silk Dress, H&M $80  2. Aphrodite Gold Plated Tree Branch Necklace, Net-A-Porter $1,995  3. Bella Golden Shadow Earrings, Swarovski $75  4. Pave Hinge Bangle, Michael Kors $95  5. 1960 Nicole Glasses, House of Harlow $125  6. Faux Ponyskin Panel Lady Bag, Topshop £35  7. Laminated Heel Sandal, Zara $89
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Get It Together: Merry and Monochromatic

1. Gilded Grasscloth Pillow Cover, West Elm $39  2. Oji Masanori Kami Mug, Mjolk $75  3. Curled Paper Pine, Anthropologie $128  4. Ellery Chair, West Elm $499-$599
Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Ornament Round-up

It seems the Christmas fairy paid my house a visit over the weekend!  My tree is up, our stockings are hung by the fire with care, the garland is strung and the Christmas music is on a full time rotation.  The most wonderful time of the year?  Yeah, I think so.  My roommate and I went on a last minute field trip to Target and came home with brand new ornaments to match the vibe of our re-designed living room.  I'm a big fan to say the least- my favorites are as follows:

Pretty, right?  I love the way things came together, but if I'd planned more (and budgeted less) I might have picked up a few of these gems, too.  

1. Astro Ornament, CB2 $2.95  2.  Madera Christmas Bauble, Zara Home £9.99 set of 2  3. Glitter Mermaid Holiday Ornament, Paper Source $7.95  4. Ram Greeting Ornament, Jayson Home & Garden $15  5. Fireside Feelings Ornament, Anthropologie $28  6. Rustic Bell Ornament, Crate & Barrel $11.95 set of 6  7. Candy Orb Ornament, Anthropologie $14

Design Musings

Friday, November 25, 2011

Working For The Weekend

Hey party people- how did yesterday go?  Our Thanksgiving feast was a blast and a half!  We ate like kings (turkey, Italian sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, homemade gnocchi with butter sage sauce, orzo and wild rice salad, green bean bundles, stuffed winter squash, green salad, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, chocolate eclair, and a few other odds and ends.  In case you were wondering about the menu).  We filled our plates, emptied our plates, played Family Feud on my Grandmother's iPad (true story), napped, talked, laughed, watched Elf, played Wii, ate some more, ooh-ed and ahh-ed at how adorable my cousin's son, Blake, is (highlight of the day- when he rubbed his pregnant Mom's belly and said to his unborn sister "hey my favorite girl"), and finished the night with our annual Thanksgiving viewing of The Godfather.  It was perfect.  Anything you want to share about your Thanksgiving?  I sure would love to hear it!  Hope your weekend goes swimmingly.  Good luck to all you Black Friday-ers.  Enjoy this weekend's links!

Not sure what to do with all those leftovers?  Sounds like a job for Aunt Martha.

Black Friday preparedness.  This is serious stuff, folks.

A few of the best deals around.

By the way, don't you go getting scammed.

If you can afford this, I'm coming to your house this Christmas.

 Gift selecting brilliance unlike anything I've ver seen.

Not really sure who can keep up with this level of organization, but it might be fun (for someone else) to try.

A few of my favorite guys singing their first original Christmas song.  Let's all download it.

Comprehensive to say the least.

And it begins...
Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Foodie Files

I snapped out of my food coma just long enough to share one of my favorite dishes from today- stuffed winter squash.  Today was seriously amazing...can't wait to share a little bit about it tomorrow...but I've got about ten minutes left in my day before I pass out completely, so I'm gonna get right to this recipe.  Hope your day was spectacular!

2 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup crushed walnuts
3/4 cup figs, chopped
1 cup baby Portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 Granny smith apple, chopped
2 small shallot cloves, chopped
2 tbs honey
2 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup sicilian olives, pitted and chopped
3 TBS fresh thyme
2 TBS fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Neatly cut the tops of your squash off and set aside.  Hollow out the insides and, if necessary, cut the bottoms so they're level and squash stands straight up.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix, mix, mix.

Place squash in a large rectangular roasting pan and fill with stuffing, placing whatever is leftover around the squash.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Slice and serve hot to happy, hungry guests.  It's as delicious as it is colorful...I mean, just look at that.  Pretty as a picture!

Happy Thanksgiving!

My pastor preached a killer sermon on gratitude this past of those gems that rings in your ear for awhile.  In fact, on this beautiful Thanksgiving day, I think his main points bear repeating.  
1) Don't let your gratitude be silent.  Tell your friends and family how important they are to you!  2) You can't be thankful for something you think you're entitled to.  The majority of the world couldn't dream of having half the things we take for granted every day.  A little bit of perspective goes a long way.
3) Do your best to look for the blessing in every situation.  It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy.  
Thanksgiving is such an amazing privilege- we get to eat terrific food, spend time with our family and take a moment to focus on all the wonderful things in our lives.  And just so you know, when I count my blessings, you totally make the list (Yes, you.  Right there.  The one reading this.)  Thank you so much for taking the time to travel alongside me on this journey.  I hope today is your best Thanksgiving ever.  Happy eating, friends!

Photo Via: Tumblr
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Table For Twelve: S'more Fun

I've got a little pre-Thansgiving treat for you today.  Presenting....*cue trumpets*...our November Table for Twelve!  Come Black Friday it's all Christmas all the time, so I knew if I didn't sneak this guy in today it would be too late.  I like to think of this particular Table for Twelve as my little "lemonade out of lemons" friend.  Thanks to the incessant rain over the last week, I had to change the date, time and location quite a few times and even tweak the core of the party itself to fit the new parameters.  Originally, I had a backyard bonfire on the docket, complete with popcorn, a full hot chocolate bar and more options for s'mores than you've ever seen.  After the bonfire idea was (repeatedly) rained out, we re-grouped.  Since my Aunt's brand new house (more on that later) has the loveliest covered porch, she graciously allowed us to set up shop there (so that- in the event that it started raining again- I could avoid having a panic attack).  You would think no bonfire would mean no s'mores, but fortunately we don't give up that easily.  Have you ever made a s'more in the oven?  I have.  Just last night actually.  And it was delightful.  So thanks to a few strokes of genius (mostly of my Dad's doing) some much appreciated generosity (I'm looking at you, Aunt Sandi) and the hard work of a few of my best friends (special shout outs to Nina, my right hand gal every step of the way and Courtney who always manages to find a way to help) 'Plan B' ended up coming together after all...just one more thing I have to be thankful for!

First, lets talk marshmallows.  I went on a bit of buying spree and ended up with nine different varieties, figuring they were useful for both s'mores and hot chocolate.  We had your standard fluffy white marshmallows (in small, medium and large), mint chocolate, German chocolate, strawberry, cinnamon bun, and four artisan marshmallows I ordered through Steph's Candy Kitchen (chocolate, chocolate almond, butter rum and lemon).  Out of all the options the chocolate almond was, by and large, the crowd favorite (and, as a side note, not a bad option for a holiday party or special treat).

I kept the graham cracker options pretty limited (just your standard honey grahams) but provided a few choices for the chocolate portion of the s'mores.  I stuck with Ghirardelli and went with their dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate truffle, milk chocolate caramel and, my personal favorite, dark chocolate and sea salt (seriously, scale of 1-10, how badly do you wish you were at this party).  I also put a little Nutella and peanut butter out in case folks wanted to give that a go as well (they did).  Once s'mores were assembled, we Plan B-ed them right into the oven.  Worked great.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how stressful this party must have been for those who don't like making decisions.  There was no shortage of options for the hot chocolate, including flavor (dark chocolate, salted caramel, white chocolate mocha and s'mores), topping (chocolate syrup, caramel syrup and whipped cream) and garnish (cinnamon, peppermint, shredded coconut and- get this- chili powder, crystalized ginger and lavender).  I put heated milk into pitchers and let folks mix their hot chocolate to taste, which worked out quite well.  Since I wanted a uniform look, I went ahead and covered all the packaging.  It didn't take long and added a really nice rustic vibe to the table.  A good move if I don't say so myself.

I used some of the remnants of 'Plan A' to decorate (and since I may try and re-use the idea another time, that's all the details I'm gonna give about that).  It wasn't exactly what I envisioned, but it really did look quite lovely.  Since the party was originally supposed to be the day after my brother got home from tour, I gave it a touch of a 'welcome home' theme.  I wrote a special message to the boys on the popcorn bags and put out a few seasonings I knew they'd love (white cheddar, cinnamon toast, buffalo, kettle corn and sea salt and vinegar).

After all was said and done, our re-imagined party was a resounding success.  My favorite thing about it is that it's so do-able!  Sure, I took the idea to it's extreme (it's what I do, people), but it made for a rather inexpensive, super fun, very memorable evening.  

Oh!  And I forgot to mention!  We got to see the most gorgeous sunset.  Check this out.

Not bad, Plan B.  Not bad at all.  For more information on this party or any other Table for Twelve (Tuscan NightFancy Shmancy Dinner Party, Garden Tea Party, Pool Party,Sugary Sweet Goodbye Party, Picnic in the Park, Royal Wedding, Breakfast at Tiffany's,Valentine's Day) or to find out about Design-Muse's party planning services, contact me here.