Celebrating

Be inspired by crafts, recipes, decorations and more to celebrate life’s holidays and occasions.

Tie Up Spring Decorating with Scarves

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014

The other day I met a business associate for coffee, and on my way back to my car I popped into Charming Charlie just to see what’s new. They were having a “2 for $20″ deal on most scarves. That got my creative juices flowing! I love to decorate with scarves.

I found one that is gray, black and raspberry in a trendy suzani print–perfect for the living room.

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I styled it with apothecary jars from Urban Home and Cost Plus World Market.

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I also turned the fun Stockholm bowl ($20 from Ikea) into a candle sconce by placing it on a plate holder and just setting a pillar in front. (It looks awesome at night!)

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I still needed a second scarf for my “deal” at Charming Charlie. I looked around and almost gave up, but then I found a botanical print in hues of lime and aqua and I thought it would be great to wear.

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But when I got home, I happened to set it down on the table in the foyer (when I was putting the other scarf on the console!) and thought – wait a minute! This looks great right here.

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It looks great with the Bosphorus bowl from Pottery Barn, layered with river rock and moss, plus some spring branches and a rabbit ready for Easter.

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So maybe I’ll wear the scarf someday. But for now it’s a great spring look.

Scarves make a great table runner or a topper for a decorator round table. More ways to use them in your decor:

  • Tie two square scarves together and use as a decorative pillow cover.
  • Use the scarf as a wall hanging, attaching it with 3M strips or, if it has fringe, tie the fringe to a few nails or hooks in the wall.
  • Cotton bandanas can be used as napkins for a casual meal.
  • Drape scarves over chairs, benches, or sofas — anywhere you need softness, pattern and color.
  • Tuck a couple of scarves into your suitcase to liven up your hotel room.

Why not raid your scarf collection with a new perspective and see what might look fabulous in your home? Have fun with it.

That’s a wrap!

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Answer to a Holiday Entertaining Question

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013

 © John Saunders – Fotolia.com

© John Saunders – Fotolia.com

Just in time for holiday parties, a reader sent in a frequently asked, and sometimes tricky, question about entertaining. AM in Michigan writes:

Q.:

I’m tentatively planning appetizers for an “around the world party” – how many different apps. should I have for 4 adults (and 1 child)?  One adult has a severe food allergy (no dairy, and no most kinds of meat), so I want a least a couple options for him, but I do like cheese so I want other things as well.

A.:

What a great theme!!

A great rule of thumb for a cocktail party is, “make 3, buy 3.” So 6 different apps gives a good variety while not being overwhelming for either the hostess or the guests. Plan at least 4 pieces of each app per guest – more for the options that your allergy guest can consume, since he will have fewer options.

Hope this helps!! Enjoy the party!

If you ever have a question about party planning, home decorating, gift giving or smart living, please post your questions on the Facebook page.

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Easy Christmas Snack: A Merry Mix Up

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013

Easy Christmas Snack recipe

Putting together your own snacks mixes takes just a few minutes, and you have complete control over the ingredients. Substitute dried fruit and nuts of your choice, add cereal pieces … it is all up to you! This seasonally–minded mix is perfect as a festive nibbler for those holiday parties. It pairs well with everything from hot mulled cider to sparkling wine!

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. bag of pretzels (use the square waffle-like pretzels; they catch more chocolate)
6 T. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ c. cinnamon sugar* (see below)
1 c. white chocolate chips or melting disks
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. shelled pistachio nuts

Directions:

1. Pour the pretzels into a large microwave-safe bowl. (I divided them into two large mixing bowls.)

2. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the pretzels. (Divide the butter mixture evenly if you’re using more than one bowl for the pretzels.) Gently stir the pretzels until they are completely coated with the butter mixture.

3. Microwave the pretzels on high power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave for another 45 seconds.

4. Pour the pretzels onto a parchment-lined tray in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with the reserved cinnamon sugar. (If you have any leftover cinnamon sugar, save it in an airtight container and sprinkle it on toast or oatmeal.) Allow the pretzels to cool completely.

5. Microwave the white chocolate morsels or disks in a microwave-safe bowl on high power in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment, until almost completely melted. Stir until it’s completely melted.

6. Using a tablespoon, drizzle the melted chocolate generously on the pretzels. Top immediately with the cranberries and pistachios, so the toppings stick to the chocolate. When cool, break into pieces and pile into a serving bowl or divide to use as favors or gifts.

*To make the cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 c. granulated sugar and 1 t. cinnamon in a small bowl.

Gift ideas:

  • Make it a party favor: package the mix in clear cellophane bags tied with a festive ribbon and a Christmas poem or verse.
  • Package the mix in mason jars; use scrapbook paper to make labels; top it with a bow.
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Create a Thanksgiving Cocktail

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013

One of the secrets of effortless hostessing is to create a signature cocktail for your party. This reduces the amount of mixers and liquor that you have to purchase, helps reinforce a party’s theme, and makes it easier to mix and serve beverages.

This cocktail combines the flavors of fall in a rich and creamy, slightly spicy concoction. I call it the “Chai Thanks-a-Latte.” Get it??

 

Chai Thanks-a-Latte Chai Cocktail

1 c. Chai Cream Liqueur
1/2 c. vanilla vodka
1/2 c. half and half, cream, or milk
Cinnamon sugar (optional)

 

Combine the liquid ingredients over ice in a large cocktail shaker and shake well to blend. (Alternatively, mix the cocktail in a pitcher and shake/strain individual servings as needed.) Strain into martini glasses rimmed with cinnamon sugar if desired. Serves 4.

Note: This recipe may be easily converted to single servings; simply use a 2:1:1 shot ratio for the ingredients. So, for every 2 shots of Chai Cream Liquer, for example, use 1 shot of vodka and 1 shot of cream.

To make cinnamon sugar, combine ½ c. granulated sugar with 1 T. cinnamon. Spread a layer of sugar on a saucer or luncheon plate. Rub the rim of a martini glass with a lemon peel, an apple wedge or dip in water. Immediately coat the rim with the sugar.

Any leftover cinnamon sugar may be stored in an airtight container and used in tea, on cereal and grapefruit, or broiled on toast.

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Entertaining Essentials: The Pantry

Posted by on Nov 3, 2013

Snack bar

Keep hungry holiday guests happy by giving them something to nibble on while you finish dinner or set out heartier snacks. Create a “snack bar” on the kitchen counter or coffee table. Arrange a variety of covered candy jars and vintage nut and candy dishes on a tray.

With the holiday season drawing near, I’m continuing my series of posts on entertaining essentials: those indispensable items that every home entertainer needs to make any gathering look and feel effortless. Previous entries in this series include setting up the essential bar and essential utensils for the home chef.

Today it’s time for the goodies! Whether you plan to bake up a storm or you have unplanned visitors arrive for a quick holiday chat, keeping these items on hand will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends, and less time running to the market or searching the cupboards at the last minute.

For baking:

Tips: Keep nuts in a zipper bag in the freezer; they’ll keep longer. Keep baking supplies together on a shelf or in a basket or bin, so everything is in one place when you’re ready to bake.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Brown sugar (light)
  • Light corn syrup
  • Evaporated milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking (bittersweet) chocolate bars
  • Semisweet chocolate morsels
  • White chocolate morsels
  • Vanilla extract
  • Honey
  • Pecans (unsalted)
  • Walnuts (unsalted)
  • Pumpkin
  • Fruit pie filling
  • Refrigerated pie crusts
  • Butter or margarine
  • Eggs

For impromptu entertaining:

  • Salted or seasoned nuts (pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios)
  • Snack mix
  • Water crackers
  • Flavored crackers
  • Cheese straws
  • Assorted olives
  • Tapenade or other spreads
  • Smoked salmon
  • Imported butter cookies
  • One box of assorted frozen puff pastry appetizers
  • Cheeses
  • One or two bottles of wine

 

With a selection of these items in your pantry, freezer and fridge, you will be on your way to less stressed holidays. Check what you already have on hand, and add any remaining items to your shop-ping list. Make sure to replenish items as you use them over the season.

For more entertaining essential ideas and tips, follow my board on Pinterest here.

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One Stop Holiday Shopping at The Tree Lot

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013

One of my top tips for gift giving is to shop “where” you are. Of course, it helps if where you are has a variety of departments or merchandise!

And that is definitely the case with The Tree Lot at Crate and Barrel, a pop-up shop that opened Oct. 29 at Town Square. The 6,700 square foot space is located just behind Brio, adjacent to the central park.

The Tree Lot is filled with items from Crate and Barrel’s Holiday 2013 collection and features a wide selection of globally sourced, exclusive home decor, gift items, entertaining/tabletop wares, tree trimming essentials and confections. Oh, the confections!!

“This year, we were inspired by the tradition of Christmas tree lots and we wanted to bring the joy and sentiment of that experience with our holiday product and visual display,” said Marta Calle, President and Chief Merchant of Crate and Barrel.

Calle’s Columbian roots bring a fresh, new perspective to Crate and Barrel and that is evident in The Tree Lot, with many rustic textures and ethnic elements from stuffed wool critter tree ornaments to garlands made from sari fabric. One of my personal favorites from the tabletop collection is this ceramic serving tray with a woodgrain texture ($19.95).

 Tray

Tree Trimming

Many ornaments have a handmade quality. The store’s selection includes penguins, deer, dachshunds and foxes along with glittering bells, balls and snowflakes.

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Ornametns

One hot new trend is a tree ring. These oversized rings ($59.95), available in galvanized metal or hand-braided native palm, slip over the tree stand and eliminate the need for a skirt. (Although the store still offers tree skirts as well.)

Rings

Gift Wrap

Customers who purchase rolls of Crate and Barrel wrapping paper ($7.95) may have their purchases wrapped by a store associate at no additional charge. This year’s washi tape craze hits holiday wrapping with a selection of “ribbon tape” ($4.95 to $9.95) from Japan in a variety of widths and designs from a cute mouse to “no peeking.” Wrap your boxes with tape instead of traditional ribbon!

Tape

Confections

I’ve been buying C&B Christmas confections for many years, so I was pleased to see that The Tree Lot has a good selection of this year’s sweet treats, from traditional hard candy to homemade marshmallows from the Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver. (Try the gingerbread marshmallows!) Bourbon balls, peppermint bark, English toffee, organic hot chocolate mix and the popular mini melts are just a few of the tempting offerings.

Hard candy

Marshmallow

Home Accessories

Shoppers at the The Tree Lot will find plenty of holiday home accessories, including an array of bright pillows, cozy throws, vases and  candle holders. The Jingleberry bowl filler ($9.95) caught my eye, and would be perfect mixed in with my usual pinecone display.

Pinecones

Gift Ideas

Many of the items highlighted here would be a wonderful holiday gift (and I’ll put together my top 5 hostess gift ideas in another article), but The Tree Lot has a dedicated display of interesting, unique and downright quirky gift items for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even things for your pets! But what interested me was a stack of Japanese notepads. I thought, why on earth would there be a stack of notepads? Well, I felt the paper and it’s sumptuous — like no paper I’ve ever felt, and it’s graph paper.

Paper

Now, who on my list is a paper aficionado? There has to be someone!

The Tree Lot will be open through Dec. 31. The pop-up concept is a first for Crate and Barrel, who is trying the holiday stores in three other locations that do not have a Crate and Barrel retail store. While there’s no concrete plans to bring a permanent store to Las Vegas, we can cross our fingers that The Tree Lot is a good market test!

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