Monday, November 29, 2010

Control the chaos!

You hear it every year, "tis the season to be jolly". 
Is that how you feel, or does this picture represent a truer image of how you really feel?

Do you feel overwhemed by all you have to do?
Shop, wrap, bake, entertain, send cards & greetings.....
It can be too much, but not if you get organized and put together a priority list.

Here are some ideas that may help.

  • If you have gifts to purchase & ship, take care of them first.  If you order a gift on line, then you won't have to worry about the shipping aspect.
  • If you have many small gifts, hostess or thank yous, purchase things that are gender neutral and in a price range that feel is appropriate.  Then put them in a basket to be used throughout the year. This would be a good time to start with that type of item.  Ornaments, boxed sets of cards, bottles of an interesting wine from a small or local vineyard, picture frames that can be personalized for the recipient.  These are all things that would be appreciated by most gift receivers.
Now, on to entertaining.  This is the time of year that most of us entertain in our homes.  There are a few things to remember to make it a success:
  • Every sitting area should have a landing spot for a drink.
  • Set up small conversation areas, and keep spaces open for mingling.
  • Set up stations for food & beverages. Beverages could be on the island, so you are close to ice and water.  Desserts & appetizers are all you need for a gathering.  And you can purchase them at a large discount store in the freezer dept.  Only you will know.  Remember, presentation is everything!
  • Invite a variety of people who may have something in common, but will find it interesting to meet someone new.  It adds spice to an event.
Having guests?  Make them comfortable and part of the family.  Let them join in and give you a hand with whatever events you have planned.  The comraderie is why you have invited them to stay with you. By keeping everything simple and spontaneous, you will be less stressed.  If you forget something, you will be the only one that knows.

Remember what we said, tis the season to be jolly, and only you can control the stress you feel. Take a moment every day to just sit, breathe deep and relax.  This is going to be a great holiday season!     

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Guests for the holidays....

photo from Pottery Barn catalog
here are some tips to make it a pleasant experience for everyone!

   I love having houseguests and enjoy preparing for and spoiling them.  After all, they are people I care about.  Therefore, I try to think of what the things are that would make their stay enjoyable.

Here are some musts in the guest room.
  • The bed: it must have comfortable pillows, nice linens, and a   variety of coverings that might suit their sleeping comfort.
  • Window treatments to block the sunlight if they are late sleepers
  •  A comfy chair, good lighting, and variety of reading material
  •  A tray with bottled water & some late night snacks
  •  Information on things to do around the area
  •  Extra personal items such as toothbrush & shampoo in case they forgot theirs.  It  is very nice to have a separate bathroom for guests, but if that is not possible, a basket with items to be carried in easily is a great idea.
Now, let me tell you what makes a good guest!  Anyone who stays with me more than 2 days is not a guest... They are considered family and treated as such.

I always prepare a fruit and pasta salads that anyone can help themselves to when they are hungry.  There is also a variety of homemade soups in the freezer in individual serving containers.  Just take them out and nuke!  You can also make a sandwich and raid the cookie jar.  In other words, there will be times when you are on your own.

I also appreciate it when someone offers to help clean up a bit, so we have more time to spend together doing fun things.  And let me know what you would like to do.  Your stay will be more pleasant, and it takes some of the burden off of me to decide what to do.

So, as the holidays approach, I am looking forward to seeing you, laughing together & creating great memories!

Monday, November 22, 2010, family & friends

natural elements add casual to formal
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  To me, it starts the season with a gathering around the table.  Every family has their favorite recipes that they share, the guys are always watching a football game while us girls are gettting the last minute sides together to go with the turkey.  The last couple of years my son-in-law and his father have deep fried the turkey.  It has been so moist and delicious.

I love the sharing, of recipes, stories and everyone pitching in to do their part.

This lovely photo shows how you can make your table setting special and fresh.  It combines the 'good dishes, glassware & silver' with things from the garden and some rustic pottery.  Perfect for this holiday.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, and here is the recipe for Shrimp & Grits that I am always asked to share:

Donna's Shrimp & Grits
1# Quaker instant grits
4 cups heavy cream
12 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup butter
3 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar & smoked gouda cheese
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup smoked sausage
5# 70 count cooked shrimp
Combine cream, chicken broth, grits & butter
Barely bring to boil, cook until consistency liked
Add the 3 cups of cheese, onions, sausage, & shrimp
Stir & serve

This recipe keeps well for a buffet, and will serve 20 8 oz bowls!

eat, laugh & love...tis the season!   Enjoy....donna