Spring Entertaining

Easter weekend swiftly passed and spring is officially arrived in my book!  Time for open toe shoes, bare legs, sandals, white and cute hats to finish up the most casual or dressy of an outfit!

It’s also a great time to entertain guests; both family and friends.  Between Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, and in our family birthdays galore, there are so many reasons to open up the door!

Looking ahead to a season of hospitality, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips to help you organize your next event with little stress.

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It’s really quite easy to pull together a dinner to welcome spring or celebrate those you love, despite the desire to be just like Martha Stewart!

**First, the menu, which isn’t as difficult as it seems! While you don’t have to go this route, traditional spring meals often include ham, lamb or chicken.  These can be prepared several ways (I love variety) and carved right up for serving.  Spring vegetables include asparagus, fresh leafy greens, artichokes, radishes, avocado, Vidalia onion and broccoli, which should be at their freshest and of course most flavorful time.  Shopping for food that is in season immediately takes a load off of your mind because you aren’t searching for elusive veggies or disappointed in the taste!

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**Speaking from experience, prepare foods your familiar with so that you aren’t upset and fretting over how a new dish has turned out.  Save the experiments for family supper one night.

 **If you are hosting family (and plan to prepare it all), think of and prepare recipes that they know and love … in our house it’s three cheese mac and cheese and roasted green beans on the menu.  Between shopping seasonal and preparing family favorites, your menu should come together fairly fast.

**Knock out most of your prep work and make desserts the day before, leaving just the main course for the day of a gathering.

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**Any dinner you host doesn’t have to be formal; a wonderfully prepared buffet or potluck dinner can be just as elegant.  I always loved the spreads at my aunt and uncle’s house over the years as she ordered everything, from Costco, Sam’s or Honey Baked Ham; laid out a beautiful sfeast and enjoyed the entire day with the family!  Aunt Jean knows how to entertain stress free; let me tell you!

{Sometime’s it is just worth it to let someone else do all the work.}

**Don’t be afraid to delegate; typically guests are more than happy to bring drinks, and appetizer, a side dish, or dessert.  Take a load off of yourself.

**If entertaining families, have games and toys for children to play with, or ask parents to bring their children’s favorites.  This will help entertain little ones and maybe keep them from being bored.

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Grocery store Blue Willow dishes collected in the 1990s are probably my favorite dishes to use!

**Decorating your table is a wonderful and memorable way to make your guests feel welcome. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to set a pretty table.

**Mother’s Day, a birthday dinner, or the Easter holiday is the perfect time to showcase your best dinnerware, glassware, flatware and linens if your desire.  I love to pull out my Noritake china purchase at an auction years ago by my mother-in-law, but I also adore  a basic white plate topped with a fun salad plate. With either choice of plate adding the crystal glassware that belong to Audley’s grandparents is such a special touch.

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Simple white rimmed plates from Pottery Barn match absolutely everything!  Here they are paired with bunny plates from Williams Sonoma.

**For outdoor gatherings and those gathering for the guys, an old fashioned cookout is perfect! With all the variety in paper and plastic products now, setting up a table or theme is as simple as ever.

**Maintain a beautifully simple color scheme.  Spring inspired plates, patterns and a touch of greenery make for an unforgettable table setting.

**Keep the table uncluttered by using a buffet to display and serve drinks, side dishes or desserts.  Decorate it to match the theme of the dining table.

**Bring your home to life with flowers and glowing candles; both of which create a welcoming mood.  Seasonal flowers in April and May include tulips, daffodils, and lilies which bring the beauty of spring inside. Some of these you may be able to cut from your own yard, or you can usually find these popular flowers at your local grocery, very inexpensively!  Candles are plentiful at the Dollar Store or clearance at Target.  I love to buy them when on clearance to put up for later use.

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Table decorated with tea-lights and succulent pots.

 **For an easy springtime table, bring the outside in with greenery such as grass, ivy, fern, or even succulents.  Fresh yellowbell branches from the yard are stunning on a buffet or mantle!

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**Decorating can be done in advance: set the table, arrange the centerpiece and add special touches a day or even two days before.

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The glassware I’ve used here belonged to Audley’s grandparents; the etched flowers fit the season nicely!

It doesn’t take a lot of stress and money to treat your family and friends to a celebrations they will long remember.  Just take on what you know you can handle, use what you have, and make plans to celebrate the spring!

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Savoring Christmas

The house is so very quiet today.

There is no rushing around finding or wrapping the last gifts, planning menus, baking sweet treats or preparing for guests.

Audley has returned to work, Samantha has returned to Tennessee, Michael and MacKenzie have returned to South Carolina, Madeline is delivering pizzas and Bradley is engulfed in any number of college bowl games down in the den.

 

It’s really quiet.  And as I sit here on the sofa, twinkle lights on the tree, listening to a little Dave Koz I’m at peace thinking what a wonderful Christmas holiday it was.

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Almost all of our kiddos plus the grand-dogs

We’ve always traveled for Christmas, but the last couple of years has found us at home for a quiet celebration with just part of our family.  This year we were blessed to have all four of our children and one son-in-law (the other is a police officer who sacrificed his holiday to serve), as well as my parents in for Christmas Day!  It was all so exciting for me.

The dynamic of holidays change as the kiddos get older, head off to college and get married.  It’s not bad, but it is a huge change from being woken up at 6 AM to check out what Santa brought, to sleeping in and casually opening presents around noon.  Instead of toys littering the living room floor it’s tools, clothes and hammocks, and fitness gear.

While some would cry over the changes, it’s still all so beautiful to this mom who savored every moment.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

~Burton Hills~

Watching my son open Peach Bowl tickets that he had no clue he was getting was pretty sweet, too.

Y’all he had tears in his eyes.

(The video flips correctly when you hit play; turn it up for his reaction!)

We’ve started a few of our own Christmas traditions in the last couple of years which include our fully set Christmas table in the dining room.

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Here we lovingly serve up homemade pizzas that everyone has assembled and cooked before.

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We also all take in a movie together.

Go see the Greatest Showman.

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Really.

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Go.

I loved watching my kids (hubby included) play games together.

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“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”

~Peg Bracken~

I loved cooking with my girls.

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And I loved watching my kiddos spend time together.

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Despite time swiftly passing and our babies becoming adults, some things never change, and I truly treasured every moment of our holiday.

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The kids still leave cookies for Santa out…. Apparently he has quite and appetite! 

And I’m also savoring the quiet!

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I hope your holiday was blessed and memorable as well!

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Our Christmas Kitchen

“Ma was busy all day long cooking good things for Christmas. She baked bread and apple pies, and filled the big jar with cookies, Laura and Mary got to lick the spoon.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder~ Christmas in the Big Woods.

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Momma’s cookie cutters and jar; I love that she uses these every year!

The kitchen at Christmastime holds fond memories for me.  I remember as a little girl spending hours in the kitchen with my own momma at Christmas as she baked for family celebrations and church parties.  She would roll out her homemade sugar cookie dough, we would dip the cookie cutters in flour before cutting out the Santa Claus, mittens, and trees, then carefully place M&M’s to make the ornaments or faces.  Sprinkles on cookies were always fun too, but a wee bit messier.  My sister and I would fight to lick the beater, steal a bite of cookie dough, or be the first to “accidentally” break a cookie so that we got to eat one as soon as they were removed from the oven.

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It’s those moments I tried to carry-on with my own girls as they grew up hoping they would treasure the memories. Not only did they learn (and love) their Nana’s sugar cookie recipe, we added a few things of our own:  homemade peanut butter cups. truffles, and peppermint bark.

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I don’t usually decorate much in the kitchen as it is a busy place in our home.  I value my counter space way too much to give it up!

But, with the empty nest on the horizon I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately and decided the kitchen was the perfect place to keep those Christmas memories fresh.

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Since I actually have space on the top of my cabinets, it gave me plenty of area to decorate!

 

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Thinking of so many beautiful Christmases with my children, I used peppermint garland, lollipops,  whimsical Mark Roberts fairies and cute little signs to help set a fun mood in the kitchen.

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Not only did decorating the top of the cabinets leave valuable counter-space open, it draws your eyes up so that the sink full of dirty dishes is not the first thing you see when you enter the room!

{HA!}

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A little coffee bar

Wreaths on the pantry door and windows completed the scene I wanted to set.

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With Madeline home from college from Christmas break I have plenty of reasons to set a pretty table for dinner.

Don’t you just LOVE these dishes with a vintage flair?

These were found at Kroger and I adored them the moment I saw them down an aisle!

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With Christmas Eve upon us, we have so much going on and the kitchen will be buzzing with activity this weekend!

Thank you for stopping by and we wish you a most blessed Christmas Eve!

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Our Christmas Living Room

Deck the halls with boughs of holly

Falalalala … LaLaLa

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We are enjoying the Christmas season here in our new home.  Coming up with new ways to decorate using what you have in a new space that’s a little smaller can often be a challenge.  We left a lot of our decor (I do miss my nutcrackers, santas and toys) in boxes this year for a more subdued space than normal, but we are feeling all festive and bright!

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View as you come up the steps from the foyer

‘Tis the season to be jolly

Falalalala … LaLaLa

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We spend most of our time in the living room in the evenings, which is much smaller than our old house, so we went for a twinkly glow.  It’s warm and cozy.

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While my Pinterest and Instagram feeds are filled with flocked trees, I bucked the trend and kept my traditional green tree.

Have you ever seen snow on a decorated tree in a house, especially in the South?

Why would you flock a tree?  Snow melts inside.

(Totally my opinion y’all)

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Our color scheme in the living room was gold, silver, white and blue.

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Each year I pick up a new keepsake ornament; don’t you just love the beauty of Lenox?

I’ve never used blue in our decorating, so we added little touches here and there.  The addition of blue (and patriotic ornaments for another tree) were the only purchases for my decor this year.

We have 23 years of Christmas decorations, so there is plenty the move around and use in a new way!  I’m not totally sold on the addition of blue (I love traditional red and green), but the glowy affect I wanted is there.

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The glow is quite lovely especially after I dust these hardwood floors. HA!

And it is growing on me as Audley and I relax together in the evenings.

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Cozy & romantic views from the sofa

An elaborate tree topper didn’t fit the mood we were trying to convey, so I borrowed a sweet Santa from my mother’s collection.

{Is borrowing if you might not return it?}

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Simple Santa topper and our Santa we received our very first Christmas married!

For our mantle, I used a small artificial garland, then filling it in with cedar and fir clippings.  A little ribbon, small ornaments and lights, our mantle coordinates with our tree!

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Since I was not pulling out all of the little knick-knacks this year, I added fresh greenery with battery powdered lights.  I liked the simple addition of it, and just one or two accents instead of a plethora of baubles.

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I adore my Mark Roberts fairies and elves scattered through out the entire house!

See the blazing yule before us

Falalalala … LaLaLa

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My favorite view

The evening glow is so warm and welcoming!

And the corgi is quite in agreement…

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Strike the harp and join the chorus

Falalalala … LaLaLa

All of our kiddos will be home for Christmas Day along with our sons-in-law AND my parents, so we wanted to leave space for enjoying each other instead of Christmas absolutely everywhere!

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Sometimes less is more and using what you have in a new way creates an unexpected look.  In our living room this year, that is exactly what I wanted.

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