The Spirit of Holiday Entertaining

With the holiday season upon us, many are planning special celebrations with family and friends.  Opening your home to share with others is one of the great joys of the season.  However, with so much to do this time of year, sometimes big celebrations can create stress. 

When planning your holiday party, it’s important to minimize the stress so that you can truly enjoy your guest.  You don’t want to run yourself ragged and feel frantic rather than fantastic!  When hosting a holiday celebrations, your spirit will set the mood for a successful celebration.

With these thoughts in mind, today I am sharing ideas that I like to keep in mind when I open my home to share with my family and friends. My hope is that these thoughts will allow you to approach your holiday entertaining with joy and avoid some of the stress that can be overwhelming this time of year. 

  1.  Let Go of Perfection  –   Setting yourself up for perfection will do nothing but create anxiety and stress.  Instead of worrying about creating the “perfect party”, concentrate on the comfort of your guest.  When you put the focus on doing for others, you think less about yourself.  Nothing is more welcoming than a hostess who really cares about the comfort of her guest. 
  2. Set Your Priorities  – Remember often less is more.  Plan for what you know you can handle with grace and ease.  Stick with what you know and are comfortable with.  No need to have a multi-course meal.  Plan a few amazing appetizers instead.  Serving buffet style is simpler than a sit down affair.  Keep it casual and fun!
  3.  Make a list and check it twice!  –  Planning is a key ingredient to successful entertaining.  Begin planning your party preparations as soon as possible.  Try making a manageable daily schedule assigning yourself a small task for each day.  Begin with decorations and nonperishable items that are easy to stock and purchase in advance.  Order items on-line whenever possible to save time.  Shop for grocery items a few days in advance and plan to prepare a few items the night before.  Even better, prepare a few dished you can freeze in advance.   
  4. Delegate Whenever Possible  –  Don’t feel like you have to do every little thing on your own.  Enlist a good friend or your spouse to help.  Consider ordering desserts from a bakery or appetizers from your grocer.  Do not feel like you have to prepare all food items from scratch!
  5. Plan a Beverage Station  –  Consider serving a premixed beverage for your guest like a Sangria or Champagne Punch.  Have these drinks in containers in the frig and ready to go.  Set out glasses and and ice bucket in a convenient location and have guest serve themselves.
  6. Be Ready!  –  Prepare the table and all the decorations the night before.  You can even do fresh flower arrangements a day or two in advance.  Nothing says “Welcome to my home” like having simple fresh flowers and candles burning filling your home with delightful aromas.
  7. Make a time schedule  –  The day of the party, make a time schedule for whatever tasks need to be completed.  Make sure in your schedule you allow yourself some time to relax and refresh!
  8. Relax and Enjoy!  –  Greet your guest with a smile and a hug!  Remember to put the focus on their comfort and enjoy!

True hospitality consists of giving the best of

yourself to your guest.  

–    Eleanor Roosevelt

Wishing you all great joy this holiday season!   –  xxoo Gerri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impromptu Game Day Fun

Between baseball playoffs and football season, October offers the perfect time to bring family and friends together for some easy entertaining.  Even if you are not a huge sports fan, it’s fun to get together with friends and share in the excitement to support your home team.  

Of course the main event will be “the game”, so you will want to keep the menu simple and easy.  Choose food and snacks that can be prepared without too much effort.  To keep it super easy, you can rely on some no cook items such as chicken wings with chips and salsa.  These favorite snacks can be purchased ready made from the store and you are simply “plating” the items.  It can’t get much simpler than that!  

 

If you would like to add a little more pizzazz to the menu, stick with some favorite recipes that are tried and true.  I usually rely on baked beans that can be prepared early and kept warm in the slow cooker.  I also have an easy coleslaw recipe that I have refined over time and can practically prepare in my sleep.    

 

Always try to do as much preparation as you can before your guest arrive.  Once your friends begin to arrive, you want to be free to visit, relax and even watch the game.   

No fancy china is needed for this casual gathering.  I use some colorful  melamine plates, bright colored napkins, and plastic cutlery all stored in a tray caddy for easy serving.  

Remember. the idea is to bring together friends and family for an enjoyable fun-filled, easy and relaxed day.  Save the all day cooking for another time.  

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”

–  Leonardo de Vinci

 

 

A hygge state of mind

It’s a dreary winter day complete with a dense fog that has set in and plans to stay awhile.  So how about seizing the moment with a roaring fire and lighting some delightfully scented candles to enjoy the day.

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Apparently this is a concept that the Danish have mastered. They refer to it as hygge, pronounced hue-gah, which translates to cozy,  although it really means so much more.

Even though there have been several books written on the subject,  I only learned about the Danish word hygge recently.  Apparently, Oxford Dictionaries selected “hygge” as one of their Words of the Year for 2016.  I suppose that is why “hygge” is getting so much attention lately.

You see the Danish have incredibly long, cold winters with very few hours of sunlight. However, they embrace their winters by taking pleasure in ordinary everyday things, like a crackling fire, scented candles and cozy blankets with warm socks.  If I had to endure long, cold winters I’m sure I would be craving these things as well!

 

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From what I’ve come to understand, hygge is really a state of mind;  an attitude full of contentment with life. It’s about savoring the moment, relishing simple everyday life experiences, and enjoying time spent with friends and family.  It’s all about embracing the moment and living in the present.

I don’t think you have to be Danish to have hygge in your life.  Life can be hectic and stressful.  It’s important to find ways to step away from the stress and enjoy simple pleasures in your life.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the moment.  This may mean a quiet evening by the fire or it could be spending time reading a good book, listening to music, or pursuing any activity that brings you joy.  It might mean sharing a meal with close family, or using some alone time to soak in a hot bath, or go for a long walk.

Whatever it is that brings peace into your life, I hope you will take some time to embrace the simple pleasures of everyday moments.

Wishing you a very “hyggelig” (enjoyable) day!   xxoo Gerri

 

 

Nature’s Neutral “Greenery”

Between freezing temperatures, buckets full of rain, and howling winds, l think we all could use a little “greenery.”  Pantone’s color of the year has me panting for spring to arrive.  However, while I wait I am going to brighten up my home with pops of green.

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Adding a little green decor will brighten and enliven any space.  It’s simple to add subtle touches of color with accessories such as lamps, pillows, small rugs, or vases.  It doesn’t take much color to bring a little life to a room.  You can add these items in small amounts to try out the color and see if it works for you.

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If your timid about adding green into your home, try adding some natural greenery with flowers and house plants.  A little touch of greenery creates an inviting atmosphere to any space.  In addition,  adding greens from nature brings the outdoors in creating the feeling of warm, spring days even as the winds are howling outside.

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 Green adds personality and peacefulness, while keeping the atmosphere natural, soothing, playful and fresh.  Green has a way of brightening a room that has too much brown making it a delightful complement to a dark leather sofa.

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Green is often known as “Nature’s Neutral” bringing the serenity of nature into our homes and creating a sense of balance and harmony.  Green brings to mind relaxing days spent in lush tropical gardens.  Can you think of a better way to chase the winter blues than by adding a little inspiring green?

So Stay Calm and Go Green!

xxoo  Gerri

Disclaimer:  Images on this post were found via Pinterest.

New Beginnings with Pantone ‘s “Greenery”

It is two weeks into the new year and I am excited about new beginnings and the challenges this year will bring!  Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, “Greenery” expresses this feeling perfectly for me.

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“Greenery symbolizes the reconstruction we see with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”  – Leatrice Eiseman

The year 2016 was a challenging and turbulent year for many of us.  In America, we experienced political upheaval and witnessed horrific violence in our cities and around the world. Personally, I suffered a great loss in my life this year and am eager to move on and restore.  I don’t believe that I am alone in yearning for peace and serenity in this new year. If you desire love and good will towards men, the place to begin is your own home.

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After doing a little research on Pantone’s color “Greenery”, I discovered that green, the color of nature, symbolizes growth, harmony and freshness.  Green offers a great healing power and also produces a calming effect.  Green is associated with tranquility and calmness.  Green not only restores depleted energy, but also cultivates a sense of well-being.  Green promotes a love of nature, as well as a love of family, friends, pets, and the home.  Hmmm, I think I could use these things in my life.  In my opinion Pantone couldn’t have chosen a more perfect color for the new year!

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Now I admit, I am not one to want to include a green velvet sofa in my home.  I probably won’t be painting any rooms green either.  However, adding a little “Greenery” in the form of candles, pillows, ceramics, or plants just might what’s needed to freshen a space and give it new life.

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”  – Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Wishing you all much joy, peace, and serenity in 2017!   xxoo Gerri

Gratitude for My Home

If nature is my happy place, then home is my sanctuary!

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On Sunday, temperatures dropped to a chilly 37 degrees.  Since we hadn’t turned the heat on in the house, it was a bit cool inside when we first awoke.  Although it turned out to a be a simply gorgeous day with the sun shining bright, we did light the fire to help take the chill  out of the house.  Our first fire of the season.

There is something about having a fire going that makes you just want to relax and stay close.  We kept the fire going all day, not because it was terribly cold outside, but because it was so nice to have the cozy ambiance of the fire going again. We didn’t leave the house at all, except to walk the dogs of course.  That’s an event that can’t be missed or our schnauzer will definitely let us know about it!

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To me, these are the best kind of days.  The weather was cool, but gorgeous. We puttered around the house, I cooked! and my son stopped by for dinner.  It was a great day to shut out the rest of the world and simply enjoy being at home together.

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These kind of days remind me of why my home is so special to me.  I need that break from the real world to relax and spend time with the people who are most important to me. My home is not a place of grandeur with everything in it’s place, although I do try to keep it tidy.  It ‘s a cozy place to gather with family and friends, to share a meal and conversation, and on a chilly day we can gather around the fire.

This week we will be hosting Thanksgiving in our home.  We will be breaking bread with a collection of family and friends, some that we have known forever,  some that we have yet to meet.  It will not be a quiet day, but a day filled with joy and laughter, sharing and relishing the time we have to spend together.

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In a world filled with stress and negativity, I’m grateful to have the sanctuary of my home to retreat to.  It gives me a place to slow down and savor a quiet day with just my husband. On other days we open our home to share with others and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this.

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It’s easy to allow the stress and negativity to take over your life.  However if you stop and pause and allow yourself to embrace gratitude for your blessings, it does help to relieve the stress and anxiety that we all face in our everyday lives.

I’m wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving and hope that you will face the day with gratitude in you hearts!  xxoo Gerri

The Story of a Piano

Recently, I acquired this beautiful Mason & Hamlin piano.  It originally belonged to my grandmother and was given to my mother so that I could take lessons.  It has now come to live in my home.

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We believe it was purchased in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.  We had to have it completely restored – all new wooden keys.  The needle point cover on the bench was actually done by my grandmother.  I have thought about creating some kind of covering to protect it, but that is still just an idea that I am playing with in my head.

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When the piano arrived in my home, just before Christmas, I really didn’t have a good spot for it.  My home is completely furnished.  When something new comes in, something old has to leave.  So, we moved a large China hutch to make room for it in the Dining Room/ Foyer.  I tossed a few framed pictures on it and there it sat, totally neglected of style.

One of the great things about blogging and following other blogs is the inspiration that you find from others.   A favorite blog that I follow is the lovely lizmarieblog.  She has a beautiful farmhouse that she is restoring.  I love and admire her quintessential farmhouse style.  She recently posted about painting her piano white.  You can read all about that here.  It looks amazing in her home, but I know I could never paint this piano. I am not at all opposed to painting old furniture, it just wouldn’t be right in this case. However,  she did inspire me to accept what I have and to get busy and make it work in our house.  Thank you for your inspiration Liz Marie.

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So, first I shopped my house pulling items from the living room and bedroom.  We have a Chris Hartsfield original watercolor titled “Napa & Vine” hanging over the piano. I wanted to accent the apple greens in the painting with some apple green vases I purchased a few years ago.  I also had a few other decorative items with that color to create the vignettes on top of the piano.

Although I am one of those who is constantly changing and moving things around in my home to keep the ambiance cozy and fresh,  I believe I will be happy with this “quick redo” for quite awhile.  I am pleased to have this piano in my home.  It carries with it so many fond memories and I hope that it will eventually be passed on to my children and grandchildren.

xxoo Gerri

 

Summer Patio Escape!

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Summer’s warmer temperatures and longer days offer the perfect invitation to escape life’s frantic pace in the sanctuary of a backyard oasis.  This is a place to relax in complete privacy away from the hustle and bustle of vacation crowds and enjoy the company of treasured family and friends.  It is peaceful and serene, an ideal spot to escape a too busy world with a cool drink in hand.

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Our backyard entertainment includes watching the birds and squirrels play as the tall pines gently sway in the warm, summer breeze.  There are hummingbirds that chase each other from feeder to hibiscus and then off and away.  Of course, there is always Bear (our dog) and Heisenberg  (our cat) chasing each other around the yard adding a comical element.

Our backyard sanctuary is a favorite place for summer entertaining.  Focusing on simplicity,  this is the perfect spot for relaxed summer entertaining with family and friends.  Here are my tips for creating a simple, summer barbeque.

imageBe ready for those uninvited guests – bugs!  Where I live,  it’s a good idea to fog to minimize mosquito attacks.  It’s also effective to have some bug wipes on hand to offer guests as needed.  Citronella candles are another way of keeping those pesky insects away. Try displaying them in colorful lanterns for a festive feeling.

  1. Make it easy on yourself by making preparations ahead of time.  Summer buffets are excellent, but for a small group, I usually have the table set  and ready to go.
  2. Keep the food simple and light.  I prefer salads I can prepare ahead of time.  This leaves me plenty of time to visit with my guests when they arrive.  Vegetable or fruit trays are another easy option for carefree entertaining.
  3. Fire up the grill.  My husband is a mean grill master and serves up great summer barbeque menu.  Whether you choose chicken, steaks, or your basic hamburger, it’s bound to taste great when you cook it on the grill!
  4. Relax and enjoy!  Keep it simple!  It’s all about spending a special time with family and friends!

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Creativity Starts at Home

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 My home is my haven.  It’s my favorite place to spend my time.  Even when we have been away on a relaxing vacation, I am always happy to come back home.

My home is the place that I share with my favorite people, my family and friends, the people that are nearest and dearest to my heart.  I am passionate about creating an environment where family and friends can come together, relax, enjoy a good meal and pleasent conversation.

I have put alot of time and effort into creating the haven that I want my home to be. It hasn’t happened over night.  It’s not perfect.  It continues to evolve over time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  For me, creativity starts at home, the place where I explore and experiment with ideas that pop into my head.  It’s not unusual for me to take everything ( or almost everything ) out of a room and totally restage it.  Once I’m finished, my home feels refreshed and new again to me.

I have to admit, there are days when I get so frustrated that I would like to call in a professional to make it all perfect.  Then I remember that’s not my goal.  My goal is creating a cozy environment that reflects my stlye (and my husband’s).

I’m not quite sure why I started this blog other than I felt inspired to share ideas and communicate with others who love their homes as I love mine.  Feel free to leave a comment and return as I continue to explore creativity in my home and lifestyle.

Life’s a journey! Enjoy the ride!