Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Produce Centerpieces

I hosted thanksgiving for the first time this year.  It was really fun.  I got to invite one of my best friends and her husband and they hung out with my family.  Overall, it was a a very successful holiday.

One thing I love about throwing a party is that I get to decorate the house.  So, for Thanksgiving I used fresh produce as the inspiration for the centerpieces and then made a little crafty project for the "Thanks" part of Thanksgiving.

I made these candle holders out of rutabagas and large apples.  Because it was thanksgiving I made them a couple of days in advance and they held up really well in my spare refrigerator in the basement.  Even the apples did not brown noticably.  If you want to be extra sure they don't brown you can always cover the exposed flesh of the apples with a little lemon juice.

The first thing you must do is gather your supplies.  In my case it was apples, rutabagas, votive candles, a large knife, a small pumpkin carving knife (left over from Halloween), and a melon baller.

I used the size of the votive candle as the template for the initial cut with the pumpkin knife.

I then carved out the hole with the melon baller.
You have to really work hard to get the core of the apple out (and I never knew this but rutabagas are hard), but it can be done.

After carving out the whole apple so that the candle fits inside I just stuck the candle in it and put it away for the day of.  Really it was quite simple.

What I love is how beautiful it came out in the end.

Be sure to check back in a day or two for the post on how to put a little "Thanks" in Thanksgiving.

So what did you do for thanksgiving centerpieces, or do you let the food do the talking?

 Where I Party:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving for a Novice

This is my first thanksgiving I am hosting alone.  I once roasted a duck but I really have to credit my roommate for most of the work.

To say I'm nervous is an understatement.  I'm totally afraid I will completely mess it up in some major way.  To allay my fears I have read every thanksgiving related article that has entered my inbox (and I am member to many newsletters, so there were a lot).  I have also researched cooking a turkey and all the sides with every website I love and many I have never heard of.  So now I consider my self an armchair thanksgiving expert.  I have never actually cooked anything on the given day, but I know ALL about it.

As I drink a nice cold martini I will pass this info on to you.  I might even add some links to good articles I have read, although most of it has passed my browser window without being recorded.

Of course my ultimate guide is good old Martha.  I'm planning on using her Herb Rubbed Turkey and accompanying White Wine Gravy.  

Here are five tips I used:

1) Have people bring stuff.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but it really is a great idea.  Why make everything if you have a bunch of people coming over.  Give people some ideas, but if there is a special dish a person wants to bring, let them.  The more food the merrier.  (We will just have to see how this works this year, I really hope I have enough oven space).  

I have family bringing everything from deserts to appetizers.  I plan on making the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and two sides.  That is enough for the day of.

2) Don't do all your shopping in one day!!!  I read this tip and promptly forgot about it.  Then today when I was shopping I realized what a good idea this was.  The store ran out of the stuffing mix I wanted and the shops were crazy today (the Monday before Thanksgiving).  Next time I will buy a bunch of groceries ahead of time so the last minute items are easier and less time consuming.  (It literally took me all day to get everything.)

3) Plan as much ahead of time as you can.  I do this all the time.  Whenever I have a party I always try to plan everything out so it is a little easier.  This year I made a time line starting Monday and working more specifically closer to Turkey Day.  I am not committing to the schedules totally, but it gives me a rough idea of when I want things done.

4) Dust before you vacuum.  This is another thing I did not do.  It is a good idea.  I just started a new job working for a house cleaner and she always works from the ceiling down, it is a good system (more about that in another post).
5) Have fun!  This is one tip I have to remind myself all the time.  At some point in the night you have to just let go and enjoy yourself.  If the host is not having fun no one will be comfortable.

Besides food, I'm really excited about my holiday decorations.  I bought these giant apples and some purple thingies, (rutabagas) and I plan to carve out a space for votive candles.  they will go down the center of the table to light everyone's faces.

 Like this, but with other apples instead of pumpkins (I could not find any small pumpkins anymore).

Then for the holiday tradition I want to start, I have little squares of origami that I people can write things they are thankful for.  The papers get rolled up and put in a bowl.  At the end of the night we can open the rolls and read what everyone wrote.  It should be fun.

I will be sure to take a bunch of pictures (if I'm not too busy cooking) to show you all my ideas next week.  Maybe then it can be archived for next year.

Tell me all about your first time hosting Thanksgiving!  Maybe your stories will help elevate some of my nerves 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New and Shiny!!!

My floors that is.  I created quite a debate when I confided my dismay at whether to get a new floor for my dining room or not on this post.  Many people wrote in and instead of clarifying my thoughts I just got more muddled.  In truth I was not totally convinced of my new floors until I saw them all and shinny now.

The gist of the debate was that the wood floors were original to the house and could be repaired, sanded sealed and all that, so why  install another floor on top?  Many people made this point even after I posted many pictures of the damage made to said floors.

In case you don't feel like heading over to my previous post, here is the damage:

Here is the damage under the radiator.  This radiator leaked for years while the house was rented, the renters never noticed (how I have no idea).

This is where my renter fed and watered his dog.  The damage is deep and pretty disgusting really.

These two show some other damage overall.  But the worst is just the wear and tear on the floors.  They are pine and very soft.  Jeff and I also didn't like how the floorboards are so far apart.  The dirt gets between the boards and the floor is never totally clean.

See how the floors are just worn and see the floor boards?  See how separate?  We didn't like.

Due to some miscalculations (*cough* Jeff messed up his math...*cough*...the math teacher...*cough*) we got floors that were much better than we expected.  We got Santos Mahogany floors that are truly amazing.

Look how clean, shinny and NO CRACKS!  I just love the new floor.  Now I want to do the rest of the house (but it will have to wait until I have a full time job).

I'm seriously very happy with the new floors.  The floors I replaced were really just sub-floors so I'm feeling pretty good about the update on that front.  OK enough justification they are great and everyone should have new floors in their house.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Crafts for the Craft Fair

I have been working in fits and spurts on crafts for the craft fair which I talked about here and here.  (In truth I wish I was making more, but I haven't).  I did have a big day of work last week when I made these.

Five iPod sleeves.

They will fit both the iPod 2 and the original iPod.

These cases are based on the tutorial I made here.  I really has some fun making these.  I did it assembly line style.

I got the idea for the flowers from Pinterest.  They had a great little image that gave me the perfect understanding of how to make them.  I can no longer find this pin, but it was quite simple, just four petals sewn together.

I left the majority of the sleeves without flowers (not everyone loves flowers, I know that).  The grey on grey ones are for more conservative consumers.  I already have a couple of people who are interested in buying these, so that is good.

I think these came out quite well, and I just wanted to show them off to all of you.  I have some more projects coming up for the craft fair on the 19th of November so be sure to check back periodically.  I will try to post more projects.

Tomorrow I am having new wood floors installed in my dining room.  I will post before and after pictures for you.  In truth I'm a bit nervous I won't like the new floor (who does not like the nice new floors?),   after the big online debate that was had on one of my previous posts I'm just not sure if I should have put a new floor in at all, but the wood has been bought and after tomorrow the new floor will be in so there is no going back.

What about you?  Have you ever made a decision and had trouble committing to it?  Am I the only person who is nervous about a new wood floor?  I want to know.

Where I party:
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
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