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.

christmas-kids

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.

twinkle-light-christmas-dining-room

simple-christmas-centerpiece

skinny-tree

christmas-eve

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

christmas-dining-room

christmas-pizzas

christmas-day-family

We also all take in a movie together.

Go see the Greatest Showman.

maxresdefault

Really.

01-the-greatest-showman-hugh-jackman-vogue-september-issue-2017

Go.

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

family-bonding

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

~Peg Bracken~

I loved cooking with my girls.

christmas-eve-cookies

And I loved watching my kiddos spend time together.

decorating-sugar-cookies

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

santa-cookies

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

And I’m also savoring the quiet!

post-christmas-relaxation

I hope your holiday was blessed and memorable as well!

Signature

A Thanksgiving Timeline

The excitement of the holidays is upon us and I am relishing every moment!  This year not only will we travel to see my family, we will also be hosting my mother and father-in-law here for a Thanksgiving celebration!  There is so much to do, but I love the busyness of the season.  Sometimes it’s challenging not to let that busyness consume me and take me away from the things that really matter.

Whether you travel or host for Thanksgiving, the short weekend that comes along with it can often create for a little extra chaos in our already busy lives.  It’s a long weekend, but oftentimes not quite long enough accomplish all we want, plus enjoy the time with family or friends as well.

Why plan a holiday celebration if you can’t experience the joy that goes with it?

And, if there is no joy in what you are doing, your gratitude will often slip away as well!

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with Praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!”~Psalm 100:4 

DSC_0590 (1)

Being the control freak planner and organizer that I am, my family knows when November begins I’m attached to my planner and lists so that I can do what needs to be dome as the wife and mom, but still have fun as well.

While we do not host a big meal every year, I have a lot of cooking on my agenda (I am totally the Queen of Turkey roasting in our family), and make some pretty good deserts as well!   I’ve learned over the years, that the key to stress-free entertaining (and traveling with food to prepare) is to plan ahead.

DSC_0611

Don’t let a lack of organization and unnecessary stress steal your joy and rob you of a memorable and fun day with family. As wives, mothers and even grandmothers our mood often sets the mood for the entire home whether we intend for it to or not.  The Enemy loves to attack us in the sneakiest of ways and I think a stressed out wife is the most horrible of attacks!

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice & be glad in it.”

Psalm118:24

Besides living in the Word, preparing and planning ahead is a great way to help prevent that unwanted attack from happening! By doing much of the prep work in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the company of your family and friends on the day of the feast!

DSC_0601 (1)

Here’s my simple timeline for Thanksgiving (& other major holidays) planning:

1 to 2 Weeks before Thanksgiving (This would be now y’all):

*Confirm the number of guests you are planning to cook for, whether at home or away.  Then plan your menu.

*Make arrangements for your turkey.  If you want a fresh one, order ahead.  I won’t go   into detail, but trust me, order early so that it is ready when you want to put it in the  oven.  Go ahead and pick up your frozen turkey early as well so that you aren’t searching feverishly for one large enough to feed 15 people two days before.

*Plan your table settings, serving dishes and decorations. If you want china, use your china.  If you prefer paper plates by all means use them and don’t apologize!

*Read through your recipes to determine the food and items you will need for cooking.  This is perfect to accomplish while watching Hallmark Channel movies in the evening.

*Make your shopping and to-do lists.

*Shop for nonperishable food items, plus anything else you need for cooking and setting the table.

DSC_0617

A Few Days Before Thanksgiving:

*If you are planning to brine your turkey (which I am this year), prepare the brine, cover and refrigerate.  Do not add the turkey yet.

*Prepare any food that can be done ahead of time, such as pie crusts and cranberry sauce.

*If your turkey is frozen, place it in the refrigerator to thaw.

DSC_0606

The Day Before Thanksgiving:

*Complete any shopping for food that you have left.

*Make plans to pick up your turkey if your ordered one fresh.

*If you are brining your turkey, place it in the brine and refrigerate.

*Prepare any dishes that can be made in advance, such as cornbread for dressing, soup and pies.

*Chop vegetables for the side dishes (if you have preteens and teenagers, this is a perfect opportunity for bonding in the kitchen), then refrigerate in covered bowls or Ziploc bags.

*Set the table.  This is also a great project for kids; give them a diagram of how to set a table properly and you have a learning experience as well!

DSC_0593

Thanksgiving Day:

*Prepare and stuff (I use fresh fruit & veggies in mine) the turkey for roasting and put in the oven at the determined time. Remember most turkeys take several hours to cook.

*Peel and cut potatoes (if you are using them for a side dish); place in cold water and refrigerate.

*Prepare the dressing and other side dishes.

*While the turkey roasts, you can make mashed potatoes; while the bird rests, make your gravy and finish (or reheat) any side dishes.

*Carve the turkey and call your guests to the table!

*And most of all, enjoy your Thanksgiving!

DSC_0587

Besides being easy to follow, the best part about this timeline is that there are several opportunities to delegate.  Use those to your advantage.  When you start to feel overwhelmed, step back, take a deep breath and regain your focus.  This is a holiday about family and remember THAT is the most important part of the day, even if you drop the turkey!

DSC_0608

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

Galations 5:22-23

Signature

 

Luncheon for the Girls

Having spent much of my growing up years in the metro area as well as living in the metro a couple of times in our marriage, moving to Atlanta back in March was almost like coming “home” for me.

Home is such a comforting place and a welcoming word.  Just like we want our families to feel comfortable and welcome in our home, I also try to make each person who comes through the door feel the same. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s teenagers or adults, old friends or new, or even the Marine recruiter, I want everyone who crosses our thresh hold to know we love having them in our lives and treasure them.

Earlier this week I was so excited to open our new home to an old friend and fellow blogger, Tami Reed (Talking with Tami) for a luncheon and afternoon of girl chat. Tami is an Atlanta area lifestyle blogger who shares fashion, beauty, film, and travel.  She always has something exciting going on!

talking-with-tami | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Tami checking out a sweet little bird’s nest that we found on the deck with little ones in inside!

It doesn’t matter what stage in life you are, us ladies need good friends!  Tami and I both have sons who will be seniors this year, husbands who travel for work and a desire to enjoy each and everyday so we have a lot in common which always makes for enjoyable moments.

Girls-Luncheon | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

With a little extra time on my hands, I found it fun to set a pretty, yet simple table using my vintage Noritake china and roses from Kroger.

Simple-Girls-Luncheon | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Table-Setting-Girls-Luncheon | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

{You know I love fresh flowers & they don’t have to be expensive!}

Girl-friends-luncheon | fiddle-dee-dee

Orange-Riesling-Chicken | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

The roasted green beans were really good with a touch of the orange-riesling sauce.

On the menu was a flavorful resiling orange chicken (adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe from years ago), roasted green beans, spring greens with herbs, crisp veggies & French vinaigrette, and fresh berries and cream for dessert.

Berry-Bowl | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Simple with few ingredients, delicious and ready in 35 minutes…. the perfect recipe for company dinner!

Click here for the full Chicken in Orange-Riesling Sauce

We really enjoyed the afternoon catching up with each other lives and it just really felt good!

Girl-Friends-Lunch | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

What are some of the things that make you feel “home”?  I would love to hear your ideas!  

Have a fabulous weekend!

Signature

Bright & Cheery Summer Tablescape

We’ve had a lot of rain this summer here in the Southeast.  In fact it hasn’t really seemed like summer much at all.

I’m not complaining as summer’s heat is not something that I enjoy, though the masses of mosquitos do need to go away.

Summer-Tablescape-4|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

After multiple days of dreary rain and storms here in Georgia, and the excitement of Audley being home from working in Savannah, I decided we need a little cheery color to help make Sunday dinner cheery and bright for our little family.

Summer-Tablescape-3|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Our table is always set with the basic plate, fork, napkin, and glass when we eat, but sometimes family dinner deserves to be elevated.  It’s a great reminder to your kids and husband that they are special and even dinner at home calls for pretty and fun from time-to-time!

All the white in the blogosphere right now is pretty, but it’s repetitive and boring.  I love color and try to incorporate lots of it (within reason of course) all through our lifestyle! Color is a sure mood booster!

Summer-Tablescape-2|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

For this colorful tabletop I incorporated lime, red and blue.  I also used items that are kept on-hand for use throughout several seasons or celebrations in a year.  It sure keeps the clutter down when you have items that can be used in a multiple of ways.

The plates are Royal Warwick,  Lochs of Scotland Blue.  I love this vintage patterned plate, how versitle it can be and it can be used in just about every season as well as mixed up with other blue patterns for a unique table setting!   You can see another setting I did back in the fall using the same plates here.

Summer-Tablescape-7|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

I added lime napkins that were found in a shop on St Simons Island secured with BH&G napkin rings.  The red silverware is something I love having as it is useful for themed celebrations from Christmas to Patriotic days and any day in-between!

The cobalt blue glasses are a bright finishing touch to the place-setting.  I found these gems at Steve Mckenzie’s awesome shop in Atlanta.

Summer-Tablescape-6|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Flowers are the perfect accent to any tabletop.  You don’t have to spend a lot if money on them.  I love going to Costco and shopping their flowers as well as hitting up Trader Joe’s or Whole Food’s Market.  Normally I would stick to a short display, because it makes it easier for conversation, but I just love all the color in this arrangement!

Summer-Tablescape|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

We will just remove it when the food is served anyway!

I had never visited an IKEA until we moved to Atlanta, but we have found some fun buys there!  The lime votive candles were a 4 for a $1 purchase, so I stocked up for use throughout a couple of seasons.

Summer-Tablescape-5|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

The red lanterns were just the perfect finishing touch.  These were picked up at a yard sale several years ago and are another of those items I keep around for use through multiple seasons.

Summer-Tablescape-8|Oh-Fiddle-Dee-Dee

On the menu is tarragon lemon chicken with mini potatoes and asparagus.  Simple yet delicious and totally worthy of an elevated table setting!

I would love to hear your favorite ways to set a table!  Are you a fan of the “white” trend or do you just adore color?

Have a fabulous holiday weekend!

signature