An elegant New Year Celebration at home.

A Kiss at Midnight: A New Year Celebration

 
Spending New Years Eve at home doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate and bring in the new year with style! 
 
We dressed the table in a lovely “Kiss at Midnight” theme complete with silver and gold accents, a clock plate at every place setting to count down to midnight, confetti streamers and of course, Hershey Kisses so that everyone gets a kiss at midnight!


Sparkling Cider or Champagne makes a great centerpiece. The non-alcoholic grape juice or apple juice versions mean you can bring this celebration into New Years Day for a lovely New Years Day brunch, or let the kids stay up late on New Years Eve and toast the new year with their own kid-friendly glass of bubbly! 

Pssst…Want to hear a secret? These lovely clock plates were made right here at home, and you can make them too. It’s just a clock face printed, cut out and placed under a clear glass plate on top of silver charger plates. If you’d like to make these yourself, you can get the free printable below! Also check out some more great custom table settings you can make with clear plates here! (link coming soon)

Make sure you have some Hershey Kisses saved from the Christmas candy stash for your midnight kiss! I put aside some of the red and green ones as well – to find out why, look here!

 

..and just a few photos with only the warm glow of the Christmas lights.

Free Printable to use at your own New Year’s Eve Party. Happy New Year!
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Mardi Gras Celebration – Monte Cristo

This is our biggest Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras celebration yet! 

Though in all fairness, the most we did to celebrate in the past was eat on Mardi Gras paper plates!

This year, aside from the decorating, and the King Cake and watching Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (set in New Orleans and gorgeous!) we also had a yummy Fat Tuesday dinner!

Peggo made AMAZING Monte Cristo sandwiches, and we all loved them!

She followed the recipe from the Blue Bayou restaurant in New Orleans Square in Disneyland (recipe below) and it was seriously dee-lish! 

Though I wasn’t able to capture the entire process/recipe in pictures, I did get a few!

The Monte Cristo is basically just a turkey, ham, and swiss sandwich dipped in batter and fried. It’s served with powdered sugar and some fresh raspberry jam/preserves.

It really doesn’t sound like flavors that would go together, but somehow it really does work!






Here is one in all it’s deep fried glory, fresh out of the pan… 








…before Peggo so artfully cut it on the diagonal, plated it, sprinkled it with powdered sugar and put a little raspberry jam/preserves on the side.

It looked and smelled and tasted divine!

This is all quite a departure from our usually healthy meals — not a steamed veggie to be found here!

Tomorrow we’ll have something extra healthy and nutritious for dinner balance it out…if we can resist that left-over King Cake!

Happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebration Y’all!!

Disneyland Blue Bayou Monte Cristo Sandwich
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
1 egg
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 slices egg bread (challah works well), sliced 1/2-inch thick
8 thin slices ham
8 thin slices turkey
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
3 cups canola oil
Confectioners sugar
Raspberry preserves
 
Directions:
Line a cookie sheet with paper towels; set aside.
Whisk the egg and water together in a mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and whisk thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.
 
On one slice of bread, arrange 2 slices of ham, turkey, and cheese, covering the bread evenly. Place another slice of bread on top and slice each sandwich in half diagonally.
 
Heat oil to between 365 degrees F and 375 degrees F in a 10-inch pan. Do not let the oil reach a higher temperature than this; if the oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down. Dip half of the sandwich into the batter, allowing excess to drain, and very carefully place into the oil.
 
Repeat with the other sandwich half. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place the cooked sandwich on the prepared cookie sheet in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat with the other three sandwiches.
Cook one at a time, and allow the oil to reach the desired temperature between each.
Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve with raspberry preserves on the side.

Read more about our Mardi Gras decorating fun HERE!
Read more about our Mardi Gras King Cake HERE!

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Silver Freak

I’m a silver freak, silver freak, I’m silver freak-ay!

If you’ve spent any time at all here at my blog (THANK YOU!) you’ve probably noticed that I have a bit of an addiction to silver, especially in the baroque style.

If you are wondering how a person can collect baroque silver without going broke (pronounce ‘broke’ as buh-roke, just this one time so it sounds like baroque) I am about to share my silver secrets with you.




Lots of the silver in my silver collection is from…
The Dollar Store. 

*GASP*  

Yes, $1.00 silver trays (like the ones pictured here) can really brighten up a table or sideboard.


The more ornate and antique pieces are the best ones though, both for the beauty and history of each antique piece. 

When you find a heavily tarnished piece of silver at a yard sale, thrift shop, antique fair or Savers, its like finding buried treasure.

Covered in tarnish it looks awful, and nobody seems to want it. It’s almost always priced to move. 

I scored my silver tea set at an antique fair for $25 bucks because the dealer didn’t want to waste his time polishing it.

I brought it home, polished it and had it appraised. It’s worth $250.00 – $300.00 – making it by far the most pricey piece in my collection at $25 or $250!

I would love to report that I sold it for a tidy profit, but I fell in love with it and can’t bear to part with it!






Our silver charger plates that appear in our more formal place settings were a gift, and as tacky as this sounds, I know the exact price, because I put them on my list when I saw them on sale for $19.99 for a set of 4(almost 20 years ago)

Sadly these seem to have been discontinued, and I can’t find them anywhere if we should ever need replacements or to expand the set.




My silver flatware is a subject that really excites me (I told you I was a silver freak). 

One day I was window shopping online at places I could NEVER afford when I discovered the most beautiful silver pattern I had ever seen in my life. 

It’s called Wallace Grand Baroque and it is solid silver and GORGEOUS. It is also priced so far out of the realm of possibilities for me that I wouldn’t even dream of collecting it.

Here I present to you, Wallace Grand Baroque:



At the time of this posting, service for 12 is listed at a whopping $12,000.00.

That was not a typo – Twelve THOUSAND dollars.









Is your heart broken? So was mine, but…take a look my silverware set: This very similar design is Baroque by Godinger (sometimes referred to as 20th Century Baroque).
At the time of this posting, service for 12 is listed at $235.00.

That isn’t ‘cheap’ for flatware, but it’s certainly better than $12,000!

This set is silver plate, not solid silver, but it is every bit as beautiful and a fraction of the price.

Still too pricey at $235.00? 

That’s what I thought too, so I hunted ebay like a jungle cat, waiting in the shadows for the right moment to pounce. A lot of hunting, some ebay gift cards and cashback on my purchase and this set was in our house and on our table (after lengthy polishing sessions) for just about $5.44. 

Yep, not a typo again. Service for 12 listed for $56.00 with shipping included, minus $50 ebay gift cards for watching commercials and 1% cash back (yes, I will blog about how I did this).

This silverware Caddy came home with me for only $1.59 at savers ($1.99 with 20% discount). 

It was discolored and awful looking, but I could see right through that! A little bit of elbow grease and it is dazzling.


Savers is definitely my new favorite place to hunt. Some of the prices are terrible, like when I find the exact item sold at Dollar Tree priced at $1.99, but other times the prices are insanely awesome – and that is when I pounce.

It really does feel like treasure hunting. You never know what you’ll find!



Treasures like silver-plate candlesticks and chafing dishes are almong some of the most common silver items found at Savers – usually for just a few dollars.




Little accents and precious heirloom collectibles in silver also bring that personal touch to the table. 
Items like these salt and pepper shakers in the shape of vintage Christmas ornaments and rhinestone embellished napkin rings.

To me, the silver is like jewelry for the house. It completes any look and adds sparkle and warmth. I love the heirloom aspect of silver that feels like holidays, home and celebrations. Bring out the good silver and celebrate every day!

With that, I’ll leave you with a close up of my silverware pattern that makes me swoon. I’m a silver freak, silver freak, I’m silver freak-ay.



If you are wondering what I use to remove tarnish – it’s “Wright’s Silver Cream” and I have linked to it below. It’s not the scary smelly kind that you need gloves for. It’s a pink cream that comes with it’s own sponge and we LOVE it. 

Quick Tip: If it dries out, do NOT throw it away! Just add a bit of water and it is as good as new!

 

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Valentines Day Celebration

 

Wow, these winter holidays seem to be one after another with very little time between!

We get to enjoy the Valentines decorations until the 14th but then Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year are right after – only days apart on February 17th and 19th!

So little time to plan, prepare and decorate!

Anyway, back to Valentines Day – the decorations are up and the house is looking a bit like a cupid sanctuary.



We went with a white Battenburg lace tablecloth over a red tablecloth, so the red peeks through all the openwork in the lace.

There are red roses and various other sparkling red baubles scattered through the center of the table. 





We chose white China and red cloth napkins with silver charger plates and flatware.

Hearts and roses are all standard Valentine’s decor, but in honor of this blustery winter that just won’t quit, we’ve incorporated some frosty accents. It is a February holiday after all. It lands squarely in the middle of winter, despite what any groundhogs say!

My love for snowflakes is no secret, so I am happy to pull them into any design. This one really tickles me pink.



Sure, Valentines decorations can easily go from elegant and romantic, to gaudy and garish, but – it’s Valentines Day! 

It is supposed to be over the top and flashy and as far as it can go without crossing the line into hopelessly and irrevocably tacky.

So bring on the fancy froo-froo design and let your Valentine’s Day spirit show with sparkly shiny heart, flowers and cupids! 

Especially in a cold and snowy winter, the bright cheery red and sparkle of Valentine decorations really warms the heart.





We haven’t figured out what to serve for the perfect Valentines Day dinner yet, so that plan is still being worked out, (will update blog when we figure it out) but we’ve got breakfast covered with our super-simple heart shaped strawberry’s for breakfast.

Check out how to make them HERE.

We’ve also got some PINK chocolate chip pancakes planned – YUM!





And lets not forget Dessert. Though I certainly wish I had baked these myself, we actually found these delicious cookies at Aldi.  
Shortbread Cookies with Strawberry Fruit Filling and a milk chocolate Base. 

The Strawberry and Cherry versions of this cookie both somehow ended up in our cart and we don’t even have a toddler with grabby hands to blame!







In my dreams, I also have one of these gorgeous baroque silver heart candy dishes at each place setting filled with chocolates and those little pastel candy conversation hearts.

For now that fantasy only exists in my mind and my amazon wish list.




Let’s not forget the tradition of watching the Charlie Brown Holiday Specials. This year, Valentine’s Day Eve, we’ve got a movie date with Snoopy!

Hot buttered popcorn, hot cocoa with whipped cream on top, Hershey’s Kisses in Valentine red foil and the big comfy couch with the fluffy warm blankets! Cuddle party!!



Until next time, Happy Valentines Day! 

May your day be filled with Love and Abundance!




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Last Minute Christmas Decorating and a Flooring Update!

I promised frequent updates on the hardwood flooring restoration project, but unfortunately there have been no updates to report. 

Due to some big-time stressful life events, we decided it would be best for all of us to put this project on hold and avoid adding to our stress. 

We had planned on finishing this project before Thanksgiving, and it is now rapidly approaching Christmas.

Anyone who knows me knows, I LOVE decorating for Christmas. 

I look forward to it all year – I am always trying to extend the season by starting earlier and leaving the decorations up a little longer than most people do. As you can imagine, waiting and waiting until mid-December with no end to the waiting in sight has been torture. 

We felt like we were skipping Christmas by living in an un-decorated work-zone.

So, we moved the furniture back into place and put up the Christmas decorations in a hurry. (♫ because we need a little Christmas, right this very minute…)

We’re referring to the current state of the unfinished floor as ‘charmingly rustic’ – in other words scratched, rough, and discolored wood with a few remnants of 50 year old varnish around the edges.

In certain light (at night) the unfinished hardwood in the dining room doesn’t look all that different from the finished wood in the living room, and the transition is not too terribly noticeable – and it doesn’t take any imagination to envision how it will look when it is done.

In daylight it is a whole different story – but still a huge improvement over the tired old plastic-covered-picture-of-bricks linoleum that wasn’t fooling anyone.

A Christmas decorating home tour will be coming soon (hopefully), with pictures that artfully avoid daylight and/or showing the unsightly areas that are still unfinished.

Until then, here is a taste! Enjoy!

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