Silver Bells :: Slow, Simple, Magical

via Etsy

Silver bells

When we think of silver bells we think of the sounds and the songs of the season, horse-drawn carriages, and one particular song that evokes the very essence of the Christmas season.

City sidewalks busy sidewalks .
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Christmas
Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you'll hear

Silver bells silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring a ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle
You'll hear
Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

As with the evergreen, the candy cane, the silver bell is a simple way to add a touch of sparkle and song to your holiday decor... whether to your home, tree, holiday table, or gift wrap, the silver bell adds beauty and the magic to your home in the most simple yet spectacular of ways!

via Lily Pad Cottage

via Lily Pad Cottage

via Nordic House

via Pinterest

via The Idea Room

via Williams Sonoma


Candy canes and peppermints :: The season's perfect slow and simple accoutrement

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

The candy cane and the peppermint stick are quintessentially Christmas. Whether in stick form, cane form or round ball, these red and white sweets with their peppermint flavors have become synonymous with the holidays. Their flavors, simple yet magnificent. Their beauty, simple, understated, classic and celebrated. The iconic red and white colors add instant holiday cheer and spirit wherever they are present. Candy canes add a simple yet wonderful touch to your Christmas decor. Place a few in a glass jar, copper pitcher, silver cup to dress up your home in the simplest of ways. Place peppermints alongside white pillar candles, on pretty plates, decorative trays or silver platters. Add some to a bowl of clementines, pears or apples. Hang them from a tree - it doesn't have to be a Christmas tree. Attach a peppermint stick to an envelope or package, tied with white strings. Place it on top of a napkin with a small branch of pine or sprig of rosemary, for a simple, yet festive place setting. Place a candy cane into a warm mug of hot cocoa... or, do what we love to do here at The Entertaining House, smash them up and bake with them!

We like to crumble them and add them into cookie batter, brownie batter, cake batter and frosting. Melt some chocolate and take a simple butter or sugar cookie, roll it into the chocolate and then dip them into the peppermint pieces. In a rush? In a pinch? You can do this with simple store bought cookies too... But shhh, don't tell anyone, let 'em think you've slaved over them! Roll brownie bites and chocolate truffles in them... Dip marshmallows into chocolate and cover them in the pretty pink shimmery pieces... But our favorite, homemade chocolate bark. So delicious, so simple and a perfect holiday gift for family, hostess or teacher!

via Dreamy Whites

via Bakers Royale

via A Spoonful of Sugar

via Pinterest

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

How to make Christmas Bark.

We actually made two different kinds of bark, Peppermint Bark and Peppermint Joe-Joe Bark. Joe-Joes are Trader Joe's version of the Oreo. And if you've never had the peppermint version you are really missing up on something special! The kids made this the other night and they had so much fun and found it to be so easy that they've decided that this is what they will be making for their teacher gifts this year.

Peppermint Bark

1 package good quality white chocolate chips. We prefer Trader Joe's or Ghirardelli over Nestle.
1 package good quality semi sweet chocolate chips.
1/8 - 1/4 cup crushed candy cane pieces (depending on how you like it)

Make a double boiler by placing a metal mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once the water has started to boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Slowly melt the chocolate and begin folding (gently mixing) the chips into one another as they start to melt. Once the chocolate chips have been fully melted pour them onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet into the fridge or freezer to cool. While the chocolate is setting, wash the bowl out well and dry well. Make sure no water is left in in the bowl as white chocolate is harder to melt and faster to burn. Even a drop of water will prevent the chocolate from melting. When the bowl is absolutely dry replace it on top of the pan. Add the white chocolate and slowly, let it melt, folding it into itself as it does. Remove the pan from the fridge or freezer and pour the tempered white chocolate onto the cool semi sweet chocolate. While the white chocolate is still warm, add the peppermint pieces by gently and evenly sprinkling them to the top of the bark. As the chocolate hardens and sets the peppermint will adhere to the mixture. Return to fridge or freezer until both the dark and the white chocolate are solid. Bring it back to room temperature and then break into pieces... try not to pick at too much while you're at it!

Save the little bits that fall off and place them in a jar. You can reuse them in baking or sprinkle them on top of vanilla ice cream!

Peppermint Joe-Joe (or Oreo) Bark

2/3 of a box of Joe-Joes
1 package good quality white chocolate
1 package good quality milk chocolate
1 package good quality semi-sweet chocolate

Directions. Follow same steps as above, only you will have the additional layer of the third type of chocolate. The cookie bits can either be added in between layers or to the top layer. Whichever layer you add them to, be sure to add them to the chocolate while it is still soft. When the bark is made, cool to firm then bring to room temperature and break into pieces! Add the bits that have fallen off to the jar with the peppermint bits!


Welcome December!

I love this month. I think it may be my favorite month of the year. It's merry and bright. It's joyous and happy and filled with magic and wonder, for children of all ages!
Be sure to pop in often as we share tips on decor, fashion and share fabulous recipes!

Let the season inspire you...
Let yourself be inspired by the season!
Lose yourself in all the wonder, merriment, sights and smells!

To me December is about baking and singing and decorating,
Cuddling up with the children and loved ones, sipping warm cups of cocoa by the fire and watching our favorite holiday movies...
It's about picking out the perfect tree, decking the halls,
and wrapping gifts... 
It's about cheer...

I love the smells of ginger and peppermint and pine and warm holiday baking...
I love to hear the carols and sing along
I love to see all the world lit up and dressed up in her glory
I love the spirit on the season and the smiles on the faces
I love the pretty trees,
The pretty packages tied up with strings,
The sparkle of it all,
The magic
And the merriment!

Happy Holidays!

Stylish Notes on Holiday Decor :: All That Glitters is Gold

via Buzzfeed

There's something about a can of spray paint. It's like magic. There's something about a can of gold spray paint. It IS magic. It's amazing how the simplest of items can be so magically transformed. A little paint adds elegance and glamor without any effort at all. I find gold to be dramatic and luxurious and very festive. Gold complements any holiday decor. There's no better or easier way to dress up your home or your holiday table, whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any holiday for that matter, than with the addition of a few simple gold things. If your style is more relaxed look no farther than out your window...

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

I spray painted these pine cones with an antique gold last year. Some were arranged in a large glass bowl, with gold balls of varying sizes, and some were placed on a platter with acorns, also spray painted, and a large pillar candle to dress up a coffee table. I've painted all sorts of shells and twigs and river rocks. The possibilities are endless! And what I love most about spray paint, it's fool proof, mistake proof. Really, try for yourself!

Below are some lovely images to help inspire you.

via Buzzfeed

via Naptime Designs

via Colin Cowie

Now while these taxis may not be the appropriate vehicle for Thanksgiving - I believe these were for a wedding - why not find some small plastic sail boats and paint those gold. What fun for a children's table!

Wonderful Palmetto Life

via Pinterest (original source unknown)

via Design Sponge

The salt and pepper dishes made from oyster shells and some gold paint are absolutely stunning.

With Thanksgiving just a week away, have you started your planning?


Holiday Eye Candy :: Wreaths

Today's post is a visual one...
Christmas Wreaths aren't what they used to be. They're more than a piece of green evergreen twisted into a circle and fitted with a red bow... They've become so much more. They're not all red and green anymore... They're not all made of pine anymore... I have chosen images simple, rustic and some which are more elegant in nature... I hope you enjoy the images below and are inspired to create one of your own... 

via Designmom

Use a pack of dollar store snowflakes for this...
visit Better Homes and Gardens to make this simple wreath!

...with lemons
via Foodista

Love the idea of hanging a fun colored glass ornament wreath to a display case.
Better Homes and Gardens

Wreath & Chalkboard
via Say Yes to Hoboken

via Tumblr

Little finds for Christmas
via Tumblr

Let it snow!
via Dream Weaver

love this!
via Vita Ranukler

via Better Homes and Gardens

chair wreath- great for guest of honor at a shower or party
via Tumblr

Decorating: Holiday Wreaths - Traditional Home®
via Traditional Home

Christmas. beautiful decor.
via Design Chic

Ice and holly berry wreath.
via Tumblr

Here's a toast to a lovely, warm and festive weekend!



It's Official!

via  Desda my Venta

The Holiday Season is now here! I just love this season... I love everything about it!

I have boxes and bags of ornaments and decor sprawled out over my entire kitchen... I'm ready! Are you?

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving... that your bellies are full and you all had a lovely day with friends and loved ones. It's time to switch gears again and get our bells on!

I have a fairly busy day tomorrow. My children are with their father and I was hoping to magically transform this place overnight but alas, it will take a little longer... I hope to have a good bit done before the children get back on Saturday morning.

Maybe the images below will inspire me! I love decorating with nature and combining it with what I already have. We lost a lot of branches from our pines when Sandy hit our town. I pulled all the boughs and branches together, and all the pine cones that had fallen as well, and piled them over by the side of the house. I bought some spray paint for the pine cones... We shall see what I will come up with!

I also prefer simple and non-fussy ... it should reflect my lifestyle.

via Confessions of a Plate Addict

via Ett Rott Monogram

tie gingham ribbon bows and jingle bells on white lights - so pretty!
via Living Home

Christmas Entry
via My Home Ideas

in the kitchen....
via Roomzar/HGTV

Red berries
via Pinterest

Ribbon Garland BHG
via Better Homes and Gardens

Simple Bay Leaf Garland via bhg
via Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive

peppermint & antique silver
via Good Housekeeping

love the leaves and the ornaments
via Traditional Home

simple & sweet
via Pinterest

Are you inspired?
Are you ready?



it's a wrap!

I love the look of many packages together tied up with strings... especially when all the packages are uniform in color, style or theme. In the days before I had children I took such care to wrap each gift meticulously, with love and attention. The packages beneath my tree were less statements that there were gifts within, but seemed instead to be an extension of the tree and my holiday decor. Admittedly now, with never enough time to wrap, and three little ones who always get too much, wrapping has become more of a chore than a pleasant activity. These days it's more of a race against the clock in attempt to get everything done and hidden, and remove all evidence, before the children return. One day, I would like my tree to look as though it did before I had to rush... when I had the time to sit and wrap and relax at the end of the day with a glass or wine or warm cup of tea... when wrapping was fun and not a chore! Until then, I can still borrow from some of the clever ideas below!

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Have you finished your wrapping yet? Have you even started?


This garland idea is for the birds!

I snapped this picture at my children's school this afternoon. My children attend a progressive and environmentally friendly school. I loved the idea and the look of this simple yet beautiful garland. How fun for  the children to decorate for the holidays while helping out our local wildlife! Made by stringing together some oat cereal (like Cheerios) on a long string together with cranberries and other dried fruit this lovely garland will help feed all the wonderful birds on the school's campus. I think this would be fun to try at home too!

Since sewing needles are required to get the cranberries on to the string, mothers or caretakers will need to help our littlest crafters.


Handmade for The Holidays: Simply Spectacular Ornaments

We've always been creative around here and the holidays are no exception. For years the children and I have baked goodies, for ourselves as well as for others. We have made wrapping paper, gifts and we have made ornaments. I think I like making the ornaments the best. They serve as a piece of family history. I have selected some ornaments that I have seen over the past few months to share with you. I tried to find the simplest ones around so that they would not be too hard for children. But some were so pretty I simply couldn't leave them out. The ornaments at the end of this piece are the ones that my children have made over the years. My kids are done with school on the 16th... that's next Friday! We are always looking for festive things to keep us busy that week. I love working with glass balls as well as the Styrofoam ones. They're inexpensive and the end results are nothing less than spectacular!

                Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Here, some yarn or twine is a simple way to add some pop to a glass ornament. Try adding some in color, all sorts of different colors!

                Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Simple burlap cut into strips, glued on with a glue gun will give your ornaments a country chic feel.

                                                            Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Not exactly simple to make, but spectacular nonetheless! Some pearl beads and a hot glue gun would delight any pearl lovin' gal!

                Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This ornament has a rustic elegance to it. A Styrofoam ball, some twine and a glue gun is all you will need. (I'd keep this project away from younger kids, however!)

                 Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Some old newspaper, Mod Podge and glitter on foam balls make a newsworthy ornament!

                                  Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Eddie Ross divined up these country-like ornaments using old shirts. Annie get your Glue Gun! I just love this idea!

                                      image courtesy The Entertaining House

Made by the children and myself these three ornaments were created using origami paper cut into strips and pasted on to a foam ornament with loads of Mod Podge!

                                      image courtesy The Entertaining House

                             image courtesy The Entertaining House

This ornament holds a special place in my heart. Made by Rebecca, a huge Madeline fan, at age 5, this ornament was to resemble the dress Madeline wore under her blue cloak!

                                     Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This is the ornament the children made last Christmas. A simple idea and a magnificent result. I cannot remember which child made this one, though I believe it was Christopher's. He was 9 at the time. Here we took a glass ornament and squeezed a small amount of tempera or acrylic paint into the ornament. We used three complimentary colors for each piece. Once the colors were in we just shook them so that the color evenly covered the inside of the ball. As long as the ornament doesn't break, the colors will remain true, intact and won't fade. We did let them dry overnight before placing the metal piece back on top.

                                     Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                     Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

A true gift of the sea. This glass ornament is filled with sand and sea glass from our summers in Maine. We needed only a small funnel to get the sand in. Important to note, sand is heavy and too much (as we have here) will make the ornament too heavy to hang on the tree. This one was displayed elsewhere.

I hope this has inspired you to get crafty with your children. You'll create the most magnificent memories, and if you do these yearly as we do, you'll find yourself chronicling special aspects of your lives as a family.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful day!



Ornaments: They're not just for trees anymore!

I'm wild on decorating with glass, metal, even plastic ornaments. They're so simple and so lovely and pack such a wow factor. I have been collecting them over the years. Except for a few remaining antique ornaments that have managed to survive the years without breaking, most of them are fairly new and all of them were inexpensive. I tend to shop for ornaments and things of that nature when Christmas is over when you can claim a bargain extraordinaire! I happened across some beautiful glass balls from Pottery Barn about 15 years ago, miraculously all 12 are still in tact. (I knock on wood as I type this!) I have boxes from the Christmas Tree Shops, buckets from Target and tubs from TJs. I hang the ornaments from chandeliers, place them in pitchers and arrange them in platters. There is no easier way to add an elegant yet relaxed Christmas touch to your home.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

image courtesy The Entertaining House

The chandelier is still unfinished and awaiting some ornaments... or maybe some elegant bows instead? I'll play around tomorrow and keep you posted!



Homemade Advent Calendars

My kids love and look forward to their advent calendars every year. I want to do something a little different this year and am toying with the idea of making my own. I love the idea of filling little boxes with inexpensive little goodies - chocolate coins, chapstick tubes, silly little nothings really,  but I also like the idea of creating an advent calender with fun Christmas related things to do - go on a Christmas lights drive, put on Christmas carols,  write letters to Santa, bake cookies... things of that nature, or maybe even create a little scavenger hunt. As usual I am looking for ideas that are simple and easy to create.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Simple and lovely... simply lovely!

I think I like this idea!



A Thanksgiving message inspired by the river...

I love river rocks... I love the way they look and I love the way they feel in my open hand, against my skin... smooth and cool to the touch. Perhaps it is because they come from the river, and water has calming powers, that I find them so soothing. Their natural, organic beauty compliments any interior. I have seen many river rocks used as name cards, place holders, conduits of thoughts or well wishes and short inspirational messages. I love the way these rocks look nestled together in a large glass bowl in varying shades of the color gray, in their various shapes and sizes. And so I had a thought, wouldn't they make a lovely home for a simple Thanksgiving message? Perhaps each year guests and family members add something new allowing the collection to grow in both size and meaning.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest


What are some of the things you are thankful for?



Make your house a home for the (Thanksgiving) holidays...

Now that Halloween is over I switch into holiday mode. I simply love the holidays. I love the festivities and the spirit of happiness that the holidays bring. As we gather family and friends near and dear to us and hunker down in front of the fire place with glasses of warmed mulled wine, or mulled cider for the children, we take moments here and there to slow down... the air outside is crisp and energizing. Inside, we gather together for warmth and company. Once again we open our homes and hearts to those who mean the world to us. We prepare our homes, kitchens and bellies for the delicious treats the cooler weather brings us... Stove tops simmer with the aroma of apple pie, pumpkin breads, turkeys...  fireplaces crackle and the sounds of laughter can be heard round the house.

We start to think about our homes again as we prepare to entertain. We strive to make them inviting, comfortable, adding warm holiday touches here and there. This is the time of year I start to adorn my home, perhaps because I spend more time inside... perhaps because I bring friends and family inside... perhaps simply because I enjoy it so... perhaps because the children enjoy it so.

I'm always looking for new and fresh ideas that make a statement but are simple to create. I don't have much spare time these days for long-winded projects. I like to decorate my home in a way that is sophisticated, warm and simple. Below are some wonderful, unique and creative ideas that will not take up much of your time to get it holiday ready.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

I simply love the idea of collecting several old cheese graters and grouping them together with some dried flowers or pine cones and turning them into lovely luminaries. How simple and yet how elegant!

One cannot get much more simple than finding some branches fruited with lovely red berries, placing them in a vase filling it with water and adding a simple white candle!

Dress up your outdoor hurricanes with candles, pumpkins, gourds and anything else that nature can bring you -- twigs, acorns, pine cones... Instant holiday curb appeal!

A bit more labor-intensive, but simple none the less... dip some acorns in metalic paint and glitter to dress up  simple white candles.

Pine cones and ribbon ... hang these on your front door, from a simple wrought-iron chandelier, or perhaps on the back of a chair. This is a simple, non-fussy way to bring in the holiday.

I simply love glass ornaments. I think they should stay out all year. In fact, I have bright pastel colored ornaments in a trifle bowl in my daughter's bedroom and they stay out year round! They evoke a feeling of festivity. I absolutely love this ornamental wreath and I think this idea is genius! The elegance of simple ornaments in non traditional colors is a perfect way prepare your home for Thanksgiving.

And finally, some fall leaves glued onto a large letter make a perfect, simple, welcome!

I know it's still a bit early, but I am just about ready to put on the holiday music!
Are you excited for the holidays?


Holiday Decorating Taken to New Heights

I am so behind in my Christmas decorating this year. I usually have most everything out and in place the day after Thanksgiving. I have done nothing so far. Nothing. Nothing at all. A big fat zilch, zip, zero. I've been working on various projects and have just started a new job that I adore. It's been a remarkable adjustment returning to work after being home with the children for 12 years. I was not sure I would like it but I do. I love it! I am having a hard time adjusting to the fact that I am with the children less and wish that I was not so exhausted at the end of the day but I do find myself quickly acclimating and my energy levels fast returning. I have my sights set on something large and fabulous and I will fill you all in when the time is right.

Meanwhile I must focus on the task at hand. Christmas. Advent calendars are now out. More will come out later while I make dinner and oversee the children and their homework. I took to the internet for inspiration and the following images, while stunning made me chuckle and wonder aloud... do any of these designers have young children?

Don't forget to participate in the Preppy Plaid Photo contest to win 2 tickets to the Tartans & Tidings Holiday Event! (Click on T&T Logo on the sidebar for details!)

Get Crafty on this Magnificent Monday

I know most of you loathe Mondays. Mondays are a drag. The workweek must start anew, the weekend is over and the crazy rat-race rush is upon us again. I love Mondays. I really do. I view them as mini Springtimes with glorious chances to start a new... wonderful chances to accomplish something new... Perhaps you should look at Mondays as I do. It's all about attitude, after all.

Luckily for those of you who disagree with me about the first day in the workweek this happens to be a short one. You are in for your lucky break.

But regardless what your thoughts are on Mondays I want you to try something new. It's crafty and creative and perfect prep for your holidays.

Aren't these ornaments created by design genius Eddie Ross clever and fun and completely fabulous?! Do you know what they are made from? Recycled flannel shirts! I love them so. They are festive and casual and a bit rustic and I can picture them in my family room on a coffee table beside the fire!

Simply cut bits of old fabric into strips and paste them, with a glue like Mod Podge, onto a cardboard ornament ball. I love that this project involves some recycling as I love turning old into new. To really get into the holiday season pour yourself a glass of something lovely... some eggnog, mulled wine, even a cup of your favorite tea. Put on the carols and invite the kids to join you!

Happy Monday to you! XOXO

I (puffy heart) Apothecary Jars for Holiday Decor

I love apothecary jars. I love their varied sizes and shapes. I love that the possibilities of things you can use them for are endless. I love that the possibilities of things that you can place inside them are endless. I love them for the grand appearance they create with minimal effort. I love that the simplicity of them can create such a spectacular effect. If you have no apothecary jars, the same effect can be created using large glass vases and pitchers.

Our budget for our was minimal and I was limited in what I could purchase. (The wine tasting, after all, was a school fundraiser and being funded by the school.) I love to decorate my home by bringing the outdoors inside. Luckily I live in a part of our country where this is always possible. And even when things are no longer in bloom -- or even alive! I can always bring the outside in. I have thousands pine cones and acorns in my back yard. A great paint store is less than 5 minutes away. Oh the magic that can be done when white, gold or silver paint is applied to drying hydrangea, acorns, pine cones, even rocks and sea shells.

I brought my collection of outdoor goodies to school early last week and sent a friend out for some cranberry-colored ribbon and some gold paint. She asked me what I had in mind. I told her that I was not too sure. I had some ideas but no clear vision. Together we would play and create.

We had fun spraying and painting and filling hurricanes and wine decanters and apothecary jars. I can't wait to bring some of these goodies home to my home now that the event is over. What I love most is that these lovely creations will carry me right through to Christmas and New Year's... are you inspired?

Have you ordered your holiday wines and bubblies? Do you have enough glasses to entertain your hosts? Now's the time... don't wait!

Cheers! XOXO

Decorating Organically: Hydrangea, Pinecones + Acorns and Cranberries + Sugar

How does one chair a decorating committee for a wine tasting event on a very small budget? One must be creative and resourceful and look to nature. How can one make an event look elegant and grand on a shoe-string budget? By focusing where the dollars are spent and looking to nature. Recycling is key. Relying on what we have in our homes and friends homes is key. Working with three creative and talented women is key.

We started planning our event around some dried hydrangea. I simply love these dried flowers. They can go with just about anything. We cut flower after flower after flower and set them out to dry. Our hydrangea were a varied lot. Some were greenish, others blueish and others pink and purple. We had a surplus of acorns and pine cones. Add a little gold spray paint and the three make a perfect set.

Gold painted hydrangeas gently placed in a hurricane vase.
A simple cranberry colored ribbon completes the look.

Unpainted hydrangea a gently placed in a hurricane with some acorns, some painted gold and inexpensive,
gold painted apple ornaments. A simple, sheer white ribbon completes the look.

They compliment each other without being too matchy-matchy

Hydrangea, pine cones and a sheer ribbon strategically placed inside the hurricane

An ordinary glass pitcher becomes extraordinary with gold acorns and pine cones of varying sizes.
A simple cranberry colored ribbon completes the look.

Glass wine decanters filled with hydrangea leaves and simple gold balls individually cut from a gold chain --
Just waiting for more ribbon to complete the look!
More challenging was to figure out how to decorate the Bistro tables. The small table-tops make this tricky since their purpose is totally utilitarian. I was told nothing except candles. Candles were wanted and needed. I tried playing around with the flameless variety but they just looked so very tacky. Looking around I saw some small glass votives that had been used on the school property before. I decided to work with those. Inspired by the cranberry and off-white linens that we chose, and limited in budget I looked around my kitchen for some inspiration... something that would go well with the hydrangea and the pine cones and the acorns.
And there it was. Inspiration. On the counter right in front of me. Sugar and cranberries. Sweet. Simple and sophisticated.  We were getting someplace... but we still had further to go...

Sugared cranberries are a fun way to add holiday flare to your home or event

A canning jar gets a whole new look. Cranberries strategically placed on top of white sugar
to simulate the look of freshly fallen snow. Some jewel toned garland adds a nice finishing touch.

Cheap plastic berries get a new look with a thin layer of gold paint and a pretty ribbon

Among the acorns we found these still attached to the stems. We added some gold paint and tied a ribbon around it.

A hot glue gun secured everything into place to dress up the jar.

My strawberry jam jar gets a whole new look!

I love the 3 small white ornaments tied to the orange ribbon but we all agreed it was a little too
Christmassy for an Autumn Evening of Wine and Food!

Our works in progress... more to come!

Hosting a Dinner Party? Bored with your Table Setting? Go to your Drugstore or Stationery Store for Inspiration!

The following ideas and photographs are from Real Simple Magazine.

Sometimes we have a dinner party planned or a gift that needs to be wrapped and we've just run out of inspiration... here are some easy go-to ideas that will serve you well throughout the year.

A real conversation piece. Print out a definition of a word from the dictionary and blow it up 400 times on to copy paper. Use as a place mat. For directions click here.

Please pass the pen and paper. Passing notes has never been more fun!

Plain white paper or contact paper can look simple and elegant when tied with twine.

Colorful duct tape can dress up the plainest of gift boxes.

Get the kids in on the fun! Whether to create holiday cards, invitations,
place cards or add pizazz to presents by using these simple and colorful dot stickers.

Key chains make fun gift tags. And colorful rubber bands are used in lieu of ribbons.

Inexpensive notebooks and pens make for a fun and clever place setting!

Here are a few other fun ideas that I thought of. Do you have any to add to this list?

  • Use a Hello My Name is sticker as a fun place holder.
  • A small box of crayons in the middle of each guest's plate and a roll of brown postal or white craft paper can turn an ordinary dinner party into a playful one!
  • Better than a guest book! Pick up a plain inexpensive white ceramic platter/bowl/charger and give each guest a Sharpie
  • Gift cards. With thanks to the internet letter these days our mailboxes are filled with catalogs, useless fliers and bills. Why not pick out a greeting card for each of your guest and use the envelope as their place setting.

Simply Spectacular. Spectacularly Simple.

If you can't yet think about the holidays or Christmas don't read any further. Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away and Christmas is but 6, so I need to start getting ready. At least I need to start getting ideas. How will I decorate this year? I like to keep things simple. Normally I am more of a minimalist in my decorating style, but Christmas is the exception to my rule. I do love to decorate my rooms so that, as you walk through the house, you can tell that Christmas is really upon us. Christmas awakens all my senses and I like my home to do the same thing. The music is always on. There is always something baking or cooking. There are always the hints of something having been wrapped... perhaps some wrapping paper or ribbon was left out on my desk.

Since I love to bake home made goods for my gifts I really need to get starting on that. I need to make up my lists of ingredients and recipients and ingredients. Baking this time of year brings me such joy!

We had our first taste of snow the other day. On Monday morning many of us in Southeastern Connecticut woke up to a cold, wintry mix of hail, snow, sleet and rain. Normally I'd be a bit irate. I would wake up cursing under my breath... the blasted weather... it's not wintertime yet... But not this time. This time I looked out the window and was giddy! I decided not to wake the kids immediately. It was too slippery to drive to school. We would leave a little later if necessary. I would let the kids sleep in. I made myself another cappuccino and slipped back into bed with my laptop searching for Christmas decorating inspiration. I came across the following images. I found them lovely because they were so simple.  I love decorating with ornaments. So much can be done without demanding too much of your time or too much from your wallet.

The following pictures have been pulled from sights as House Beautiful, Southern Living, and Better Home and Garden.

I love the tress made from the stacked ornaments. A little hot glue cements each  metal ball together. Ribbons are tied in between each ornament. I think I could do without the ribbons, personally. But I can picture quite a few of these on my mantel.

A fresh sprig of evergreen and a few gold balls and you have a lovely and organic place setting.

I think this wreath is actually To. Die. For!

In a large bowl pile up as many ornaments of varied colors and see  how quickly your mood improves!

Simply Spectacularly Gorgeous. I love the red bow. You can't get any easier and Wow, what a statement that makes!

If I could do this I would! Cranberries, sugar and a fabulous flame!

Does it get any better than this? Does it? And how amazingly gorgeous. I will be replicating this, this year!

A pair of children's mittens, some holly and a ribbon. Could there be anything warmer and more inviting on your front door?

Vertical stripes lend themselves to this wonderful rustic Christmas charm.

Ultimate elegance, Ultimate ease!

What I love here, in addition to the creative and clever mantel is that the stockings are not quite lined up and yet there is a feeling of unity.

A few red throws and a blanket. Can it possibly get any easier? And the look is of a complete relaxed elegance.