Wednesday, November 26, 2014

a little note . . .



Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, 
chaos into order, 
confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow. 
~ Melody Beattie


Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving,
Suzanne








Tuesday, November 25, 2014

creating Christmas memories with vignettes, our nativity



Sweet Diane, author of An Extraordinary Day, invited me to join in on her 'Creating Christmas Memories with Vignettes" series.  Christmas is such a wonderful time of year to create memories in your home with family and friends through new traditions, and through memorable and meaningful vignettes.




Fall and Christmas are my favorite times of year to decorate our home . . . and although my decor and vignettes change every year, there are a few vignettes that make an appearance every year.

our nativity . . .
These statues are just a few pieces of a very large and comprehensive nativity set/scene that was handed down to me after my grandma passed away.

I grew up admiring this Nativity scene for as long as I can remember. It always found a special place in my grandma's decor every Christmas season.




It's not only special to me because it reminds me of her . . . and the loving way she brought the spirit of Christmas to our family, but because my late uncle hand-painted it for her and gave it to her as a Christmas gift more than 25 years ago. 

I am so very blessed to have it now, as there are more than 30 living grandchildren and great-grandchildren who could have also received it, but it was trusted to me . . . and I care for it greatly.

I proudly display a few pieces every year, and add more to the scene as my little ones grow older. It's found a home nestled under our Christmas tree, on our mantle, and on a table in our entry.

It serves as a beautiful reminder to us of the reason we celebrate this joyous time of year.




I have something special planned for our Nativity scene this year, and can't wait to share it with you in a few weeks. 

Here's a hint . . . It makes for a fun, family activity . . . and a memorable vignette at a holiday party.

Thank you, Diane, for giving me this opportunity to share one of the most meaningful vignettes in my home this time of year. I hope you and your readers come by and visit me through the holiday season for more holiday fun, recipes, and decorating ideas.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season,
Suzanne

photos from 2013


 






LET'S STAY in touch!






Sunday, November 23, 2014

pumpkins & pansies for our Thanksgiving table . . .



Lauren (our youngest) and I ventured South to buy more pansies for our Thanksgiving centerpiece this year.  While selecting our pansy colors, I spotted several rows of kale, purple and white/green . . . and thought that they would look pretty with our pansies, so I bought several heads of white and green kale.

 We bought beautiful Fall colors . . . rich burgundy, orange, and deep purple.





I thought it would be fun to share a small sampling of what our Thanksgiving table will look like this year. 

I took these photos just before potting some of them, so that I could get an idea of which ones needed to be planted in taller pots. I can't wait to see them ALL on our Thanksgiving table with more long-stemmed freckled pumpkins, twinkling tea lights, and formal, white place settings. 

This year's table setting is quite different from years past, as this year's colors are much brighter and cheerier. I'm excited to celebrate this side of Fall on our table.

I plan on planting the pansies and kale in our garden after Thanksgiving, so that we can continue to enjoy them through the holidays. 

How will you be decorating your table this year?









LET'S STAY in touch!






Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria




Monday, November 17, 2014

a Fall favorites wrap up . . .



I typically wait until the day after Thanksgiving to listen to holiday music, but I couldn't resist this year.

So . . . I've been happily decorating and Fall baking to the sounds of Christmas tunes.

Sounds lovely, except that it started stirring an excitement to begin decorating for Christmas and holiday baking.

Friends, we're still in November . . . and haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. So I'm trying hard to enjoy THIS amazing season and all the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells that it brings to us this time of year.

Yes, I'm still listening to holiday music . . . it's so hard not to now; but I thought it would be fun to share a few more Fall favorites to keep us on track (wink!). I hope you enjoy!






My dear friends, the Waren's (thank you!), gave me these beautiful persimmons. They're from their backyard. I can only image how breath-taking their tree is this time of year!

So I'm thinking that these will make for the perfect Persimmon White Chocolate Bread Pudding! Stay tuned for photos and recipe!





Have you seen these darling Cinnamon Whisks?  

I found them at Trader Joe's (99 cents! each) a few weeks ago . . . and bought several of them. 

Their cinnamon scent sure smells like the Holidays. I have them hidden in various rooms in our home. 






I bought these two TALL, slender terracotta pots when I visited J. Woeste (read more about this beautiful nursery here) last weekend.

They're going to make the perfect home for these Paper White bulbs! 




And what is Fall without more amazing Fall baking . . . 

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Cinnamon Crumble Cookie Bars
with Pumpkin Spice glaze

petite Pumpkin Cheesecakes
with a sweet sour cream topping

Pumpkin Butter Streusel Cakes
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .






I bought these 'baseball pumpkins' while visiting Avila Valley Barn on our Annual 'girl's trip' last weekend. I piled them high in a pewter bowl . . . and paired them with one of my bigger lemon cypress. 




And here's a final peak at the theme of this year's Thanksgiving table . . . pumpkins & pansies

This year marks my 4th year hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for our family . . . and I couldn't be more excited or thankful!






LET'S STAY in touch!







Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving dinner . . . at home



I have been so incredibly blessed to host Thanksgiving Dinner in our home the last 3 years.

This year marks my 4th year hosting a completely home-made, traditional dinner for our family and extended family members.




My first year hosting was quite an under-taking . . . and I still remember feeling like I had conquered Mount Everest.  I was exhausted . . . and so very happy . . . all in one!

Four years later, I feel like I've perfected the menu, the timing, and all the preparation that goes into hosting Thanksgiving Dinner.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Thanksgiving Dinner 2011, my first Thanksgiving Dinner
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

The table centerpieces and decor change every year.  


These photos are actually from LAST year's Dinner. I had hoped to share them last November, but December rolled around so fast that I didn't have a chance to. So I thought I would sneak in a few photos before this Thanksgiving.




I love displaying one large, framed menu, or small menus at each place setting. Guests like to know what they'll be eating . . . and it also gives them something to look forward to.





I researched recipes for weeks and weeks before creating my menu, with the goal of preparing and serving (what I felt was) the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

I have a binder dedicated to this very special meal, and it includes . . . .

my shopping list,
recipes with personal notes, 
a day-to-day schedule that starts the Sunday before Thanksgiving Thursday, 
and - of course - an hourly schedule that starts at 7 am on Thanksgiving Day

It might sound intense, but being organized is the key to pulling off a 'successful' Thanksgiving Dinner with little, to no, stress.




My menu was/is completely inspired by recipes from Cook's Illustrated and American's Test Kitchen. They're exceptional recipes and dishes!

The only recipe that's original to me are the home-made bread rolls. Bread baking was passed down to me by my mom shortly after I got married. A recipe and method that she learned from her grandmother shortly after she married my dad more than 45 years ago. It is quite an honor to bake bread for my family on this special day.

I haven't swayed much from my original menu, with the exception of a new dessert that I added last year . . . Pumpkin Cheesecake with a sweet sour cream topping.

And although I still prepare a Classic Herb Roasted Turkey, I baste it in Chardonnay now. A new method that I learned from a dear friend. It involves basting the turkey every 20 minutes during the cooking process. It yields a tender, and slightly sweet turkey. It's amazing!




.     .     .     .     .     .     .
.     .     .     .     .     .     .




I make every. single. dish. from scratch . . . even this amazing Apricot Ginger Cranberry Sauce (photo below). It's a little bit of sweet, spicy, and tart . . . yum! A delicious compliment to turkey and stuffing.

I wish I had photos of all the side dishes to share with you in this post, but I lost many of them a few months ago when my computer crashed (Yikes!). We were able to recover 90% of my photos; but sadly, I lost several from last year's Dinner. 




My hope is to take more photos of this year's Thanksgiving side dishes, so that I can share the recipes (and photos) with you next year.





Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, or attending dinner at someone else's home . . . I send you warm and happy wishes that your day is filled with love, family and friends, and exceptional food.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Suzanne






Thanksgiving,
to be truly Thanksgiving,
is first Thanks,
then giving . . . 




LET'S STAY in touch!









Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

J. Woeste in Los Olivos


J. Woeste is one of my favorite destinations when my mom, sister, and I make our annual "girl's trip" to Central California, where we call Solvang our home base for a long, wonderful weekend.  

~ raven scarecrow! ~


J. Woeste is nestled in the charming town of Los Olivos, a short drive Northeast of Solvang. It's where I buy many of the aged terracotta pots that you seen in my posts. 

I always stock up on them when I visit, and excitedly fill them with beautiful flowers and petite lemon cypress for our home. They not only have an extensive collection, but I love that all their pots are made in Italy!

Although my sights were set on terracotta pots and lemon cypress, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite J. Woeste finds this year . . .




~ TALL, slender terracotta pots . . . LOVE ~


I LOVE this basket weave pot! Isn't it beautiful!?!




And look at these darling 'garden homes' made of metal. They stand approximately two-feet tall . . . and would add a classical touch of whimsy to any garden.





I fell in love with this hand-painted rooster. Isn't she amazing!?
                        Oh! And look at the beautiful pot that she's nestled in!




There were so many Fall and Christmas inspired hand-made garden ornaments like these Christmas trees. They're even prettier in person!





. . . and perhaps one of my favorite finds was this towel holder. I love the charm she adds to my kitchen!




As always, I felt so inspired after our visit and stroll through this beautiful and unique nursery!

You'll see the aged pots that I bought this year filled with Fall-colored pansies running down the center of our Thanksgiving table this year. Stay tuned!



LET'S STAY in touch!







Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria


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