Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Make Guests Feel at Home during the Holidays

Each year since we lived in San Diego we have served Thanksgiving at our house. Our tables were set in an apartment in California for just the two of us and my sister, for a table full of Marines in our house in Yemen, and for a table crowded with family with high chairs and messy faced babies in New York.

I spent some time today looking back at all of the photos from those Novembers, all the way back to 2002. My taste (both in food and decorating) has changed but what remains is a love for this holiday and the way it brings people special to us to our table.

Here is the cheese log we made in Yemen with cheese I ordered online for the occasion. For some reason this seems so funny to me looking back at it.

Here was our cheese and appetizer setting a few years ago when we served nuts as an accompaniment to the cheese instead of rolling it in them!

As the years passed, the Thanksgiving table and cheese became less of the focus and my photos started to show the faces of the people who joined us saying cheese. My parents have traveled to Switzerland, North Carolina, and now Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with us and I'm so thankful they're able. No holiday decorating, no side dishes or desserts, no place setting matters to me as much as the feeling of having my family spend that time together.

Because we travel to visit family so often, I know how it feels to be a guest in someone's home. Clean and comfortable rooms are great but what always stands out are the little gestures that make them feel relaxed and welcome. Instead of trying to make my home into a hotel, my favorite way to welcome guests is to help them feel like my home is home.

We all know how it feels to need something in the kitchen at someone else's home. If the host is preparing a meal, it can be uneasy to ask them for something. To prevent that in my house, I used these little chalkboard stickers and labeled the most important cabinets in the kitchen!

Labeling doors like the coat closet or the kitchen cabinets to save someone from opening them all in search of one thing is easy, quick, and a nice touch.

Labeling your doors is a way of not just saying 'please help yourself' but actually helping the guests to do so.

No one wants to be the first one awake and not know where to find the coffee!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

G is for Grateful

It was hard not to give in to the temptation to decorate for Christmas this week when I put away all of the Halloween gear but a fall chill in the air and the leaves finally turning put me in the mood for Thanksgiving style around the house.

I had this fall leaves wreath above the door.

Just inside the front door a green and brown vase is filled with fall colors. Even though I don't love fake flowers, this time of year the faux seems to work. 

The foyer table has a horn of plenty pine cones and the same spray painted white branch I've been using around the house since a New York Easter it spent as an egg tree.

I like to stuff the horn of plenty with dinner rolls on the Thanksgiving table but pine cones and gourds work in the meantime. (and I just like saying horn of plenty)

For the mantel, I took away the orange but left the white pumpkins from Halloween. I added the 'Grateful' leaves canvas I made with my son and some sparkly flowers that I've used in the past to decorate a grapevine wreath.

Nearby some paper leaves and a 'Count Your Blessings' pumpkin warm up a corner of the living room bookcase.

There are only a few simple fall items here and there throughout the downstairs, leaving it room to breathe for the next few weeks until I cover every inch of it in Christmas cheer.  But right now the only thing I want decorating the kitchen is the pumpkin bread. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trash to Treat: Candy Corn Pumpkin Stands

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love candy. Halloween is a tempting time for me because it ends up being such an all out treat fest. I decided this year that I wasn't buying candy for trick or treaters until the morning of Halloween because if it's in the house, I'm eating it.

So it's no surprise that when I looked at this black Ikea FNISS trash can, I saw an upside candy corn. Can you see it?

Trash bin upside down plus orange, white, and yellow paint, equals candy corn!

The trash cans were already being used for plant stands so my candy obsession is only partially to blame. Over the summer I bought two for $1.49 each and used them as stands for ferns on either side of the front door. They're just the right height for our entry and much cheaper than any other planter or stand available.

I knew they could double as pumpkin stands for our carved jack-o-lanterns and again as stands for our fall mums.

Because the can is a series of rings that act as a guide, painting the three sections was easy and I rolled it on without taping. 

I'm already planning my red and white striped candy cane Christmas tree bases!