Fall Table Tops That Set the Mood:  How To Do It Yourself

Fall Table Tops That Set the Mood: How To Do It Yourself

 

I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year.  Why do I love it?  Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red.  I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our tree house view that changes daily with different colors.  But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.

The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice!  One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above.  I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane.  The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!

Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting?  How does it make you feel?  I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.

Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun.  But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

MOOD:  Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate?  The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor.  Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting?  Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal.  But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.

The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above.  I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves.  Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?

FOCAL POINT:  It’s important to have a focal point to your table.  And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative.  That’s right!  It’s time to think outside the box.  Take a walk in the woods.  Shop your pantry and cabinets.  Stretch your imagination!!!

Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point.  Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you.  Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.

INDOORS OR OUT:  When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors.  My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends.  Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd.  But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!

Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings!  I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting.  What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!

In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you.  Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together.  Happy Decorating!!!!

 

Front Porch Envy

I have porch envy!  Even though our home has a very cozy, spacious screened-in porch with peaceful views of the lake, I would love to have a front porch.  Not the kind of porch that only has enough space to decorate for the seasons and greet our guests.  But a front porch where you can sit on a hot summer afternoon with a glass of lemonade and greet your neighbors as they pass by.  A front porch that evokes small town life.  Because to me, warm weather bliss starts on your front porch.  It’s a way of life.

Do you have certain feelings that bubble up when you hear the words “front porch”?  Maybe you think cozy, comfortable, welcoming?  What about neighborly and community? There are so many things that make a front porch appealing and bring back memories of days gone by.  But for me, the secret ingredient is to choose your function first.  If you love hosting parties, set up your porch as a second dining room.  If you love to spend the afternoon curled up on a porch swing with a good book, then cozy seating is for you.

Here are my 5 ways to give your porch a country-style update this summer.

Plant flowers in re-purposed vases and containers Before you run out and buy something new, shop your basement, attic, or cabinets.  And then visit flea markets and antique shops where you’ll almost always discover the perfect treasure for your porch.

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Display those unique flea market finds.Here’s an example of a uniquely re-purposed oil can.  Filled with LED string lights, it’s the perfect element to  brighten evenings on your porch.

This colorful front porch is filled with flea market treasures.  Everything about this porch invites you to come sit for a while and enjoy the day.  And, of course, who doesn’t love hydrangeas?

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Use a vintage sign as wall art. This one, though not exactly vintage, was handcrafted and made to look old.  Do you have old wooden tennis rackets or canoe paddles?  Hanging a grouping of old things that are special to you is another way to make your porch your own.

 Add mirrors to reflect light and bring inside elements outdoors. Our outdoor living spaces have become extensions of the inside of our homes.  So adding elements like rugs, lamps, and mirrors make us feel right at home on the porch.

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Add a cozy place for diningWho doesn’t enjoy having morning coffee on the porch watching the day come to life?  Or maybe sitting with family at the end of the day sharing stories.  Do you notice the blue ceiling?  It’s often referred to as Haint Blue, a color to ward off evil spirits, especially in the South.  If you’d like to learn more about it, click on the link to my blog post.

Even though I get a little bit of house and porch envy when I tour a home show or visit my friends, it’s always nice to come back to my very own happy place.  Because… 

If you suffer from House Envy like I do sometimes, and you’d like  help creating your very own Happy Place, I’d love to talk with you.  You can contact me at Randi@randidestefano.com

And…if you leave your name and email in the box on the right, you’ll receive my  newsletter, Life In the Kitchen,  straight to your in box twice a month.   Since I hate SPAM too, I only send design and lifestyle tips that you’ll love.

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana

Like children everywhere, Italian kids look forward to the arrival of the red-suited Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. However, this relatively modern tradition pales in comparison to the anticipation generated by the arrival of an old witch in early January.

On Epiphany Eve, the old, tattered and soot-covered Befana flies around the world on a broomstick and comes down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to children who have been good during the year. For those who have fallen a bit short of model behavior, la Befana will leave lumps of coal. (Realizing that no one can be perfect for a whole year, these days la Befana often leaves a sweet “lump of coal” made from black sugar.)

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. The story is that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time, so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus.

Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child. On January 6, the first day of Epiphany, Italian children hold their breaths as they search their stockings for a sign that they have been good that year.

The arrival of la Befana is celebrated with traditional Italian foods such as panettone (a Christmas cake) and marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy.

panettone

Article from: http://everybodylovesitalian.com/legend-la-befana

Holiday Gifts from My Lemon Tree: From My Kitchen to Yours

 

lemon tree

This Meyer lemon tree has been cared for, nurtured, and loved by me for almost 10 years.  Growing on the deck from March to November, it loves the sun.  It’s beautiful blossoms fill the air with a delicious citrus aroma.  Some years it bears only a few lemons. Other years it’s a bountiful crop with more lemons than I can possibly use in a season.  And no matter how stressed and busy the holidays might be, I always make time to bake holiday gifts from my lemon tree, and give them to friends and family.  I hope you love it as much as we do.

lemonbowl2

MEYER LEMON BLUEBERRY BREAD

meyerlemonblueberrybread3

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp grated Meyer lemon peel
½ cup milk
1 ½ cup fresh blueberries or frozen, thawed and drained
3 T fresh Meyer lemon juice

meyerlemonblueberrybread4

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter 8×5″ loaf pan. 

Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl.  Using electric mixer, cream butter with 1 cup sugar in large bowl until mixture is light and fluffy. 

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add lemon peel. 

Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. 

Fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring remaining 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Pierce top of hot loaf several times with toothpick.  Pour hot lemon mixture over loaf in pan. 

Cool 30 minutes in pan on rack.  Turn bread out of pan and cool completely on rack.

Makes: one 8″ loaf

Fall Table Settings Set the Mood: How to Do It Yourself

holidaytable1

I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year.  Why do I love it?  Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red.  I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our treehouse view that changes daily with different colors.  But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.

The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice!  One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above.  I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane.  The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!

Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting?  How does it make you feel?  I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.

Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun.  But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

holidaytable2

MOOD:  Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate?  The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor.  Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting?  Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal.  But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.

The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above.  I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves.  Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?

fall table settings

holidaytable4

FOCAL POINT:  It’s important to have a focal point to your table.  And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative.  That’s right!  It’s time to think outside the box.  Take a walk in the woods.  Shop your pantry and cabinets.  Stretch your imagination!!!

Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point.  Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you.  Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.

fall

INDOORS OR OUT:  When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors.  My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends.  Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd.  But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!

Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings!  I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting.  What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!

holidaytable6

In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you.  Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together.  Happy Decorating!!!!

One Yummy Party Popper Recipe: Two Different Versions

Two Different Versions

popper1

Do you ever get tired of taking the same old cheese dips to a party when it’s your turn for appetizers?  I know I do.  Every once in a while it’s nice to test your “recipe following” skills and try something new and interesting.  So when this Party Popper recipe was featured in Southern Living magazine, I just had to try it.  And my jalapeno-loving husband was the first one to give it a big nod of approval!

popper2

PARTY POPPERS

12 medium jalapeno chiles
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 C finely chopped cooked chicken
2 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 T. fresh lime juice
¾ tsp. kosher salt
12 hickory-smoked bacon slices, cut in half
24 tooth picks

popper3

popper4

Directions:

 1.Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut each chile in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes. (Note: be careful not to touch your eyes while doing this)

2. Stir together cream cheese, chicken, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Spoon     1 ½ – 2 tsp chicken mixture into each chile half, spreading to fill cavity.  Wrap each half with a bacon piece, and secure with a wooden pick.  Place poppers on a lightly greased wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

3. Bake in preheated oven until bacon begins to crisp and chiles are softened, about 25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil, and broil until bacon is crisp, 2-3 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6

popper5

The Less Spicy Version

Replace jalapeno peppers with appetizer-sized colored sweet peppers, following the same directions.  Substitute fresh oregano for cilantro.

P.S.  The original version and the less spicy version were both served at a neighborhood cookout and….were gone in a flash!!!!