Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friendly Village

A few years ago, I began collecting Johnson Brothers Friendly Village dinnerware.  I felt like it would be so festive for Christmas with its wintry theme.  Each year, I am challenged with how to put my linens and accessories with it.  I found this rustic setting on the web.  I love this with all the neutrals and pops of red.  Of Course, the fresh flowers and greenery just make the whole thing come alive.

 And then look what we have here.  The very same dinner plates with a white and chocolate setting.  How versatile can one pattern be?  This must be why each year I play with a multitude of options. 

Here is the rustic place setting up close.  Simple.

We are having friends over this coming weekend and I am trying to decide how I want to accessorize my table.  Stay tuned to see what I decide.  

While on the web, I began looking at other place settings and this one caught my eye.  I love the berries around the napkin and the song sheet place card.  So creative.  The red and black look so good together here.

I love the tartan plaid blanket used on this table.  Mixed with the red berries it just screams Christmas.

Are you seeing a theme here with what I like?  It seems that the rustic tables are the ones that draw me in.  There is just something about the warm feel they exude.  After all, entertaining is about making your guests feel you have put a warm blanket on them.

I love this elegant white mixed with the mercury trees and greenery.

While perusing tables, I came across this arrangement with the little skate in the middle.  What a cute idea and look how elegant the whole design comes off.

How cool is this?  I love the berries and green mixed together.  Have you ever made one of these?  Was it worth it?

Want to dream for a minute?  Two of my favorite entertaining books are Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm and Danielle Rollins Soiree, Entertaining with Style.  Lets see what these famed, style mavens have to show us.

I guess you could call this a RED table.  Even the plates are a deep red.  This was designed by Carolyn Roehm.

WOW!  I love the clean look of this. The crisp white with the blue and of course the Narcissus and the greens just put this over the top pretty.  Another design by Carolyne Roehm

This is from Danielle Rollins and can you believe the centerpiece is nothing but carnations?  Who knew they could look so fantastic?!?

Love this napkin!  Combined with the red and white plates, it creates a very fun and festive setting.  Another one by Danielle Rollins

Ok, now this is just precious.  I am not certain of the source for this, but what a super great and easy idea to do yourself.  It might be hard finding small stocking that are this cute, but maybe something to search for in the after Christmas sales.

We are still dreaming aren't we?   Sometimes I wish I could start over and choose a different china pattern or choose more than one.  This Gold Aves really speaks to me.  The possibilities with this would be endless but somehow, I think keeping the accessories simple and elegant would be the ticket.

I guess I got a little carried away looking for inspiration for my Friendly Village pattern.  I will share my creation next week.

Coming up....a recipe for Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fireplace & Flowers

What in the world was I doing before all the Christmas decorating, cooking, shopping and partying?  It seems like forever ago when my brain thought of anything but Christmas.  It dawned on me that I never shared our outdoor fireplace project with you. 

 So let's go back to early Fall.  Here is where it all began.  This is the frame for the patio.

 This is the frame for the walkway and the pad for the Green Egg

 Full view of frame

 The concrete is poured

 It is starting to take shape.  I think the crepe myrtle had bitten the dust.
  Can you visualize it yet?

 Here are the concrete pads that will have mondo grass in between

 I spy a brick wall

 The beginning of the fireplace.  Sorry for the fuzzy photo...what was I doing?

 It was a little messy

 Sparkling dog had to check it out....afterall, this is HER territory!

 A better view

 We are almost finished

 While all the work was going on in the backyard, all this mess was in the front yard.  Can you say UGH!!!

 A whole lot of supplies

 And here it is!!!!!  After months of building and waiting.  I have to say the end result is beyond what we imagined and we look forward to spending many evenings in this area.

Tonight we had a fire and it was heavenly.  This project was long, but we are so happy we did it.  It truly has added another room to our home and certainly improved the backyard.

Now, lets move on to the flower part of this post.  Remember the Hydrangea How To's?  Well lets take a look at my hydrangeas ONE WEEK after the boiling water treatment.

This is the first stem that I showed you....the one that looked pretty good from the get go.  Besides the little bit of browning, this stem looks amazing.  

This is the second stem I showed you...the one that was struggling.  Well, I think it is the mighty engine that could!  It looks better than the best one now.  

Our lesson here is that the boiling water method certainly does work!  

Coming for the holidays.  What are you preparing?  What are your traditions?  Stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2014

O Holy Night

Last night I could not believe that we finally finished ALL of our decorations!  The beautiful song, O Holy night came to mind.  Don't worry, I know the true meaning.  I still could not help but think what a great night it was to be able to move on to the cooking part of Christmas.  I promise I will share some yummy recipes.  I thought I would take you on a tour of our home.

 These are our front doors.  You can see our Christmas Tree and if you look really hard our Nativity on the buffet to the right.
 Here is the archway to our front door.  For the first year ever, we have garland around our front door.  I have no idea why it took us so long to do this.

 These simple wreaths with burlap ribbon are on every window.

 The Sparkling Boys decided it would be a great idea to frame our garage doors with lights.  They were surprised that I liked it.  Of course, Mr. Sparkling would put lights EVERYWHERE if he were in charge.  HA HA.

 These reindeer are pretty and night and day.  They were a new addition last year.

 We have never put lights in our crepe myrtles.  Again, the Sparkling Boys went to town without me knowing what was going on.

 We found this cross years ago and have really loved it.  After our move last year, we could not find it and thought it did not make the move.  Somehow it showed up this year.  Crazy right?  I am glad it did.

 Here is our dining room table with silver and gold. 

 You may remember this cast iron planter from previous posts.  This planter stays but the contents change with the seasons.

 Close up of the trees and reindeer candle holders.

 Mercury balls mixed with the ivy.

 Table and Christmas tree.

 Our side entry door.  Love the burlap and lace.

 Kitchen table arrangement.  Dry Great Northern beans and assorted ornaments.

 The colors are so much fun.

The Sparkling boys were very dismayed at the all neutral, artificial tree in the family room.  We have always had a fresh tree but last year we changed.  When we moved into our new home, we found that it is so open there are not too many corners.  So, we had to put our tree in a wide open space.  The tree needed to be tall but narrow and thus it was easier to find an artificial to meet this bill.

The tree you see above is a REAL, fresh tree.  The Sparkling boys wanted colored lights and all of our SPECIAL ornaments to adorn it.  I have to say, I really like it.

The next few photos are a close up of our Fontanini Nativity.  I began collecting pieces to this set many, many years ago.  I usually add a few new pieces each year but have not done so this year yet. 

Here is a view with the three wise men, their camels and the Shepard and his sheep.

This is the spice market and girl.

The Shepard and his sheep.

Mary's donkey

The Three Wise Men

The Wise Men's camels

Family room Christmas tree...Oh Look!!  Is that a Sparkling Boy in the background???

This ornament had a little bit of a mint green cast to it.

Love the intricate detail of this cross

This ornament reminds me of a globe.  It just takes you to winter.  Love the birds.

Mercury glass looks so pretty on a tree.

WOW!  I am tired just posting these photos.  It took us about two weeks to complete all of these decorations.  We did a little at a time and I am glad we did.  It is festive around here.

Coming up....what happened to those hydrangeas I showed you last week?