Putting Together an Easy Thanksgiving Celebration

The final countdown to Thanksgiving has arrived; we’re down to just six days! This is our second Thanksgiving celebration this year as we enjoyed a feast of fine proportions last month when our Marine was home on leave. I’m very much looking forward to doing it all again and seeing my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews!

I don’t know how your plans are going, but there have been a flurry of text messages between my sisters, momma and myself as we finalize the menu and plans for Thursday. Momma has already decided we are using her Blue Willow on the table which is by far her favorite china.

We seem to stress too much over holiday celebrations, so today I thought it would be timely to share some ideas for a gathering that’s relaxed and lively as we celebrate the end of the autumn season from harvest fruits scattered across the table to organizing your time so you enjoy the relaxed feeling Thanksgiving Day should truly have!

Putting Together an Easy Thanksgiving Celebration / ohfiddledeedee.com

THE TABLETOP:

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest, so besides cooking with autumn’s bounty, decorate the table with it too! Lay a tablecloth or placemats out that coordinates with your dishes, then add pumpkins, leaves, dried Indian corn. Grocery store flowers really add to the festive atmosphere of the day and won’t cost you a lot of money. Round off your centerpiece with candles. Seriously, who doesn’t love candlelight?! Besides keeping the decor seasonal and simple, you can set the table (or tables) a couple of days in advance and have that knocked off your to-do list!

If you desire to use paper plates, by all means set them out! If you prefer china, use it! Here in our home I have a set of Thanksgiving china that adorns the table every year. They are mostly white and neutral in color which allows me to coordinate with my plain white dishes for serving the meal.

I plan out the dishes I need for serving in advance so I’m not rushing around Thanksgiving morning like a mad woman looking for everything. Things like gravy boats, deviled egg trays, and soup tureens aren’t everyday pieces so it helps to be organized.

GETTING READY:

Having a perfectly prepped dinner allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your family. Six days out should see your menu completed, grocery list made and a trip to the store imminent. If you don’t want to find yourself in a madhouse or unable to find ingredients, head to the market as soon as possible.

*Make a list. Seriously, sit down with a note pad to write your menu, who is bringing what, your grocery list, and what must be done around the house. It takes 30 minutes. Make the lists and put them where you see them.

{Then, use them.}

*Allow plenty of time for your turkey to safely thaw out. I have a 20 pound bird that will land in my refrigerator tonight to begin thawing.

*Most pies can be baked a couple of days in advance so take advantage of that; it takes a couple hours to prepare bourbon pecan and pumpkin pies. Having them out of the way is a huge help come Thanksgiving Day.

*If you are ordering any part of your dinner (Honeybaked Ham is my friend), order at least two weeks ahead of time and pick up early the day before so that you miss the heaviest of crowds.

*Have all of your ingredients measured, chopped and placed in prep bowls before you begin cooking. By taking care of as much as possible beforehand, you’ll leave plenty of time to visit with family and friends.

*Prepare a soup a day in advance or put together a fruit and cheese board for everyone to snack on while the turkey is in the oven.

*Offer a range of beverages to compliment the meal. Besides tea and soda, consider serving a spiced cider or flavored tea.

*On Thanksgiving Day plan to start cooking early – your turkey needs 3-4 hours (maybe more) in the oven, plus an additional half hour to rest before carving. If you are using stuffing in your bird, cook it before the turkey so that the bird has time to cook.

It doesn’t take much to put on a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. Just don’t let the little things stress you out. Taking a couple of evenings beforehand to knock out prep will make the day so much easier, and I hope I’ve given you some ideas to get you started!

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2019 Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse

Last week I was invited out to the 2019 Atlanta Designer Showhouse for media day. Each year Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine puts on this event as a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and this years home is just amazing!

Instead of a new build, the home was a remodel of a 1950’s era saltbox in Sandy Springs taken on by Harrison Design and decorated by some of Atlanta’s most talented designers! They proved you can do absolutely fantastic things with a remodel!

Besides showcasing the interiors of this home, the talented designers of each room also decorated for Christmas! Room after room of elegant interior and holiday inspiration awaits as you wander through each room.

Here’s a peak at the beauty this home boasts, beginning with an exterior before and after!

BEFORE:

Via Harrison Design

AFTER:

This 5,500 square foot, five bedroom home with limestone foundations now boasts an office tower, keeping room (butlers pantry), a dreamy and totally enviable kitchen, new master suite addition and open floor plan with plenty of space for entertaining year round. The exposed beams, marble counters, spiral staircase and amazing bathrooms make this a dream home for sure, but at the same time a home that is warm and welcoming.

Enjoy a glimpse of this fabulous home!

Entry into the house

FRONT/SIDE PORCH:

The original entry is now a beautiful covered side porch, perfect for dining or lounging.

Sigh…. THE DREAMY KITCHEN:

Sitting area off the kitchen… part of the open concept

DINING ROOM:

LAUNDRY ROOM:

DOWNSTAIRS BATH (just one of them; this one includes a built in foot bath in it own space!):

HOSPITALITY LOUNGE:

MASTER SUITE ADDITION:

Shower and tub together with the tub being drawn from the ceiling!

Those Views!!

 

UPSTAIRS SPACES:

There is so much more to this home than what I shared, but you must visit the Homes for the Holidays Showhouse for yourself to catch it!

 

The Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2019 Home for the Holidays Showhouse is presented by Harrison Design and The O’Donnell Group, produced by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The home is located at 4825 Woodvale Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, and runs now through December 8, 2019. Advance admission is $33. Tickets at the door are $35. Parking is available along Woodvale Drive Northwest with a shuttle running daily. Find more information at atlantaholidayhome.com.

Celebrating Galentine’s Day

Do you remember filling out Valentine’s cards when you were little? You would go through the entire box to find the prettiest cards for your best friends, the least “lovey” card for the annoying boy next to you, and ask your mom to remind you again why you had to even give a card to the meanie who stole your special pencil right off your desk!?!

I think I just dated myself here….

Those were the good old days; the ones when how much you spent or who you were celebrating Valentine’s Day with didn’t matter. It was about friendship, camaraderie, and simple little things that have long passed as our lives grew complicated.

Now our lives are consumed with family, work, and oftentimes loneliness. As adults we’ve twisted what Valentine’s Day was all about and so many made it a day to hate instead of remembering what’s its for….… LOVE!

Not necessarily romantic love, but friendship …. Philia : an affectionate, platonic type of love that makes you crave friendship with someone. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or what stage you are in life, we all need Philia in our lives!

So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with brunch with a sweet girl friend?!

Galentine’s Day, as the social media world refers to it, is a day for celebrating those special friendships; the friends you would sort through the entire card box looking for the best one to give. It’s an intimate time to catch up on life’s hardships and beauties, laugh together, share a meal if you choose, and make a mess while making your own chocolate dipped strawberries!

Earlier this week I enjoyed having my sweet friend, as well as fellow blogger, Tammie (Talking With Tami ), over for a little Galentine’s Day brunch.

It was so relaxing as we made our own dessert together, and caught up on the projects, busyness and even stresses in our lives! We prayed together over our meal which just strengthens bonds with those around you.

It was so fun to set a themed table with the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, and pull together a super easy (but very filling) menu to let Tammie know how special she is and have her feel welcome in our home.

What was on the menu?

Mixed Fruit

A fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing

Quiche

and Chocolate dipped strawberries we made together

That’s it; simple and understated. Quiche is the quintessential brunch dish; you generally have many of the ingredients on hand. I’ll attach the full recipe for you, but you need to gather together eggs, fresh veggies (I used spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic), bacon, heavy cream, cheese, and a pie crust.

Click here for my recipe for Simple Quiche

Believe it or not, quiche pairs well with a salad, and you can’t go wrong with fruit. I think so many times we get caught up in going BIG that we forget the simple things often speak the loudest. The purpose of celebrating girl friends is not to stress us out, but to foster friendship and build stronger relationships!

Take some time out to reconnect with the ladies in your life. Celebrate your uniqueness and embrace your differences! God puts people in our lives for a reason. Embrace them and treasure the simple moments, even when life tries to get in the way.

Happy Galentine’s Day y’all!

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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