Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Little Holiday Cheer with my Girlfriends

Last night, I hosted a Christmas gathering for my favorite girls, the Romancing the Home gang!  I tried to make it a simple meal, charcuterie and cheeses and a great hearty soup!  My friend, Mariterese,  sent me her Wild Rice Soup recipe to prepare for the party.  I made the soup in the morning and put it in the slow cooker on the warm setting.  As a finishing touch,  I added a little sherry to the pot  (per Mariterese's instructions!) when the girls arrived.

As I had prepared my mom's apple cake the night before, all I had to make was a lemon pie.  Easy, breezy recipe from my mother in law in the 70's-  6.5 oz. can thawed frozen lemonade, 1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk and a tub of Cool Whip.  Mix together and pour into a graham cracker crust.
My favorite part is the garnishing, so I added mint, lime slices and pomegranate arils to make it festive.  Completed the complete pie in 20 minutes and put it in the frig.

Light and airy, a perfect dessert after a hearty meal. 

Had to run to Twigs to pick up flowers- look at these ruffled roses that she used! 

Next a little bit more fluffing- add the boxes to the table scape on the kitchen table.

Find Rudolph in the basement and bring him out for the season.
  I love this little deer with his red nose and fur collar!

Fluff the wreath on the mirror.

Find a Santa that can ride this wooden horse for the season!  The horse needed some
holiday pizzazz-

And in the midst of all of this, my new dining room chairs arrived around 11 am! 
Black leather and gilded frames-
can't wait to enjoy them- but later- I have a party to get ready for in just a few hours.

Start staging my cart in front of the fireplace for the charcuterie and cheese course.  I pull out
3 silver stumps from year's past and decide to use them as the risers.

Brought some of these votives home from the last Romancing the Home sale-
love the way they look when lit.

Start layering in the cheeses and meats, along with pickles, olives and breads.

Light the candles.

Turn on all the Christmas lights and it's time to party!

It is now Wednesday morning.  The dishes are washed and put away. The kitchen is cleaned up!
I have time to sit in my new chairs.  I pull out my new tartan Ralph Lauren chargers
(a lavish, wonderful gift from a friend!!!!!) and ponder how I am going to set
my Christmas table.  Black and gold and Tartan! Plus a few rhinestones-   I can't wait!
Here is Mariterese's Wild Rice Soup Recipe!  It is a wonderful soup- hearty and flavorful.
I found this recipe great because I could make it ahead and keep it warm in the slow cooker.
I doubled the recipe for the party of 12 and had plenty of leftover soup. 
 My husband can't wait for dinner tonight!

 Wild Rice Soup

1/2 c wild rice

1 LB bacon

3/4 c chopped celery

1 c chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 Pepper

2 -14 oz cans chicken broth

1pkg sliced mushrooms

3 cans Campbell cream of mushroom soup


Wash & boil wild rice according to the package directions.

Fry bacon till crisp

Save 3-4T bacon fat to sauté veggies and saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms.

Add soups to veggies.  Add rice and bacon

Cook low heat for about one hour.

Add sherry to taste at least 3 T


The wild rice is measured before cooking I usually use one packet of wild rice. Cook according to instructions on back of box-set aside

And - I do 1cup celery and 2yellow peppers or orange or red and orange for the holiday!! Just sauté veggies until onion is translucent add mushrooms all in the bacon fat. Add soup broth  and cooked rice and cook for at least one hour salt / black pepper and then add sherry towards the end as much as you like

I like the sherry taste it finishes the dish so I add at least 3-4 T

It's yummy!!    MT

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Decor- More Memories

It's my third full  day of decorating for the Holidays and I am getting down to the little details.  I am still finding treasures in boxes in the basement and finding spots for them.
As I take out each one, it is a trip down memory lane. 
One of the first elves that I ever purchased- from Neimans in the 80's.  I still love him and this year he is going on the French basket on the back door.  I tuck in a few stars of vintage velvet and tinsel to make him comfy.  They were purchased many years ago at Simply Posh, a favorite shop that was located  in Geneva, Illinois.  Wish they were still there- I miss the special finds from that store.
My girlfriends, Marlene and Jill, and I would make our annual shopping trip out there always to find
special Christmas décor.  I sure do miss those days.

Wandering into  the foyer, I add a rhinestone Cinderella carriage and fill it with another hand-made
Santa.    This Santa was hand made by a special lady who has since passed away.  I will always treasure it. 

Isn't his face adorable?  When the artist was very ill, her daughter brought me a trunk full of her creations.  While I sold some of them in the store, I simply could not part with many of them.
I think of her every year when I unwrap them- what a talented artist she was! 

                                    Back into the living room, need to work on the coffee table.

I fill a silver tray with a candelabra and silver twigs and then layer in the ornaments and special eggs from another talented artist- Jill Garber from Michigan.  I remember when I spotted her booth at
a Thanksgiving event at Kimball and Bean in Woodstock.  My heart skipped a beat and I knew I had found something special. 

A handmade Santa from Dee Gann.  Many years ago, I gave her vintage trims and dresses and she
created several  one of a kind Santa's for me. 

Tuck in some boxes and ornaments to the table in the living room.

The little white rabbit fur muff- time to come out for Christmas. 
A Kim Seybert stocking on the armoir in the dining room.

Add a little tartan and antlers to the dessert cart that my friend Gale gave me. Found the antlers in
Montana while visiting my children.

 A big silver bowl of  rhinestone twig bushes and silver antlers for the center of the table.
A vintage tartan and velvet ribbon for the stand on the buffet.

A black deer for the side of the hounds tooth box on the buffet.

Another handmade Santa from a Wisconsin artist.

Add some fruits and foodie  ornaments to the bistro shelf on the kitchen island.

One of my favorite ornaments from Hall's Department store in Kansas City. Loved my trips there with my girlfriends.

Another hand-made Santa from Dee Gann- love her faces.

A store purchased resin Santa that I embellished with a crest and  fur trim.

Another moment remembering the Christmas at Hall's in Kansas City.
As I unpack all these memories,  I think back through the years and remember all the special Christmas shows, wonderful boutique stores ( including Romancing the Home) and huge Christmas shops in the department stores with special one of a kind merchandise, I feel  a bit sad.  So much has changed in the retail world in the past 20 years.   I remember walking into Marshall Field's State Street at Christmas for the first time.  It was magic and the Trim the Tree shop was magnificent, along with all the special Tree Top shops that were just set up for the holidays. I remember the Orange Circle at Uncle Tom's in California, Christmas at Nell Hill's in Kansas,  shopping in the good old days on third street in Geneva and getting ready for a Holiday event at Romancing the Home.   I guess it is because of all those magical memories for me, that I go  a bit over board on the Holiday Décor around the house.  I want my kids and grandchildren to remember the magic of the holidays when they are my age- and say to each other- remember when we were little and it was Christmas?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Decorations Underway- Day Two

Today is the second day of decorating for Christmas!

Time to layer on the special ornaments collected throughout the years.

A new addition this year to the family room- very organic and whimsical tree 

And yes, the dogs are still supervising the situation, making sure everything is decorated
to their standards.

And from their high perches on the back of the sofa, they really don't have to move to oversee
the entire operation- just twist their heads to follow me around the room.

 A grouping of natural elements on a tray for the coffee table. 

 Another collection on a tray for the family room.

Family room mantle with greens and cool old frames.  

Back to the living room to add the angels to the display on the sofa table.

Tuck Santa in where I can find room!

Now heading for the dining room-  plop the hat on the stone cherub on the way!

Layering up the buffet with rhinestones and tartan this year.

The old Paris porcelain white and gold tureen works well with the tartans and reds.

Pull out the tartan china and stack it high!

Place the vintage sipping spoons on each saucer- so fun for hot chocolate!

Climb a ladder and get the wreath high on the mirror.

Layer in the snowballs made with styrofoam balls and crystal beads.

Herringbone boxes with rhinestone edges, cloched with mother of pearl serving pieces and
a special rose  ornament that I purchased from Hall's Department Store in Kansas City, a couple of years ago.
Time to start the centerpiece on the table- what to do with antlers and rhinestones?
Tomorrow's project!
And yes- they are both still watching!

Where's my treat for all this work?

Supervising is tough-where are the dog stockings?