November 17th, 2018
My friend Rachel has a saying…”It’s not Thanksgiving at Arina’s until the Golden Turkey Appears!”
She’s right, when the golden turkey makes its way to the kitchen, Thanksgiving can officially commence! Of course, I start displaying the golden turkey waaaayyy before Thanksgiving. We change its placement in accordance to the party theme. For cocktail parties, you’ll find it at the bar or appetizer table. For family dinners, we’ll display it on the buffet section of the kitchen. Sometimes, I’ll even place it in odd little nooks just to be funny, it’s a lot like an elf on a shelf except you can touch it, rub it, reposition it, bend it, and pretty much have fun with it! It’s quite the conversation piece.
We acquired this big bird at a garage sale and I probably paid $3 for it. Ironically, it has given us so much entertainment and fun that it has become one of our cherished family pieces. I know my boys will be fighting over who gets the golden turkey (HA! Probably not!).
I guess my point is, consider having one or two fun pieces that you traditionally display during the holidays. In addition to the expensive crystal, fine china, or grandmother’s silver, maybe you too can find yourself a golden turkey!
November 16th, 2018
Family at the Thanksgiving Table
Simple Thanksgiving Decor
Each year, my sister Anna, volunteers to host Thanksgiving and our family gathers at her home to celebrate the holiday. Anna is a wonderful hostess, I’ve said this many times. She and I are always stealing each other’s ideas and recipes. Unlike me, Anna does things very simply with a relaxed feel but always seems to WOW her guests. She never seems to stress over the details. Even the few times she’s asked me for help, Anna always seems relaxed and at ease while I’m running around stressing over pretty much everything. Nevertheless, we always seem to pull off a great party and when working together, we make a good team.
During this particular celebration, her table was simple with red placemats and a bouquet of fresh flowers. However, she added candlelight as her main decor element, creating a soft, warm, and quiet atmosphere. She used different style and height crystal candleholders which were set on mirror tiles to reflect the light. She also placed some candles in her silver candleholders on the back buffet. Last but not least, she added some votives to bring various levels of height. It looked so beautiful.
This look was very minimal but definitely brought the WOW factor.
Smoked Salmon Appetizers
It’s no secret, our family is ALL ABOUT THE APPETIZERS… Anna always prepares a wonderful appetizer spread that is easy and festive. Above are the smoked salmon appetizers which she serves at practically every function. They are served on small pieces of bread, smothered in plain cream cheese and topped off with a generous slice of smoked salmon. She finishes by sprinkling green onion on top and watches them disappear off the plate in a matter of minutes.
Veggie Plate and Hummus Dip
I’m always in charge of the veggie plates and dip.
Veggie Plate and Basil Hummus
This veggie plate featured my favorite basil hummus which I make for practically EVERY occasion.
I also love bringing my beet hummus which adds a vibrant color to an otherwise boring cracker bowl.
The dinner is typically traditional with turkey, cranberry source, her famous mixed roasted vegetables, and of course, mashed potatoes. Here’s my son and my parents enjoying her delicious buffet.
Last but not least, the dessert always comes from The Smoke House Market, which is a wonderful store in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is affiliated with Annie Gunns, which is a famous steak house in St. Louis, and sells many of their freshly prepared food creations. Their pies are in HIGH DEMAND during the holidays and since my niece worked there, we always had fresh pies for Thanksgiving… with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.
All in all, my sister does a fantastic job with Thanksgiving. And I’m alway impressed with how beautifully and seamlessly she executes this annual celebration.
October 31st, 2018
Gold and red Thanksgiving tablescape from Pottery Barn
Today is Halloween and I’m sad because, if you know me, you know that I LOVE everything Halloween! However, I won’t be down for too long because during the holiday season, when one holiday passes, another one is just around the corner!
My focus for the next few weeks is going to be Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about fall… the colors, textures, but most of all, the food! Thanksgiving makes me think of warmth and comfort. I love watching QVC and seeing all the fuzzy blankets, flannel sheets, and pajamas that go on sale. I love the cool crisp air and the fragrance of peoples’ fireplaces burning in the evenings. It’s just a fabulous time of year.
I had a chance to visit Plaza Frontenac, a shopping center in St. Louis, and stop in some of the stores which display beautiful tablesscapes. Here are some of my favorites. Also, I am going to show Christmas tablescapes as well since I know some people like to put out their Christmas china on Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Another Pottery Barn Fall Table Setting
Stunning silver fall table setting from Williams Sonoma
Loving this color combination of black and gold fall table setting
Another beautiful Williams Sonoma fall tablescape
Reindeer, reindeer, reindeer! I can’t help but adore this whimsical reindeer themed place setting from Pottery Barn
Plaid tableware from Pottery Barn. I will always love plaid. It’s one of the most classic and elegant winter patterns. I can definitely see using these plates and mugs even after the holidays.
Plaid and Santa… Need I say more? Pottery Barn never disappoints.
October 12th, 2018
My collection of easy Pin Push Pumpkins.
I loved this segment I did with Better Kansas City on super easy pin push spray-painted pumpkins. I also made them two-sided, which means I made one side Halloween themed and the other was Thanksgiving themed. I also made some universal designs which can be displayed during Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Halloween Rock Stud Pumpkin
This is a black pumpkin which I designed to look like the Valentino “rock-stud” collection. It is a fun and colorful way to bring a little influence of fashion into your pumpkin decor. This was the “Thanksgiving” side, the other side was a Halloween side which had pins made into a web. Check out the previous photo. It’s the black pumpkin on the right.
Halloween side of all the pumpkins.
This is the Halloween Side. Each pumpkin has a Halloween theme. The silver one has a silhouette of a witch on a broom. The white has silver pins saying “Boo” and the black one has the spider web.
Thanksgiving side of the pumpkins
This is the “Thanksgiving” side with the silver pumpkin having a turkey, white pumpkin having a wood-grain theme, the black pumpkin having the “Valentino Rock-Stud” look. I also love my silver and gold thumb-tack pumpkins. Be warned, they take HOURS to create. I started in September pushing in the thumbtacks while watching TV with my husband. They are time consuming but are well worth the time. I also used a real pumpkin stalk as a finishing touch. The stalks last for years and years, so you don’t have to worry about them rotting.
November 25th, 2014
If you are hosting your holiday dinner this year, you are in luck, because I am about to encourage you to create something healthy, easy, and beautiful. A crudité platter! For those of you who have never heard the term, a crudité plate is simply a pretty way of saying a vegetable platter. However, it just sounds so much more schnazzy saying “crudités”.
What is a crudité, you may be asking? Wikipedia defines Crudités as traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are sometimes dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauces. Crudités often include celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper strips, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, and asparagus spears; sometimes olives, depending on local custom.
With crudités, its all about the “look”, which makes them a popular draw to the buffet table. But for me, serving raw and cooked vegetables creates a “healthy zone” at my buffet spread, and healthy, is always good at a party!
As you can imagine, few rules apply to vegetable platters, but here are some that you may find useful.
1. Don’t get caught up in the complexity of the arrangement, sometimes simple is better. All of my crudités platter below are super simple, but still look beautiful.
Color goes a long way. But did you know that you can create beautiful monochromatic vegetable platters? Here are two examples of easy vegetable platters where we went with a white look. It is beautiful and unexpected! Vegetables like cauliflower, endives, white squash, asparagus, cucumbers and even peeled radishes, can easily be incorporated into a white crudités platter. Don’t worry, the vegetables do not have to be stark white… but even a hint of white adds impact.
Don’t be afraid to go with a theme, especially during the holidays. Why not make your vegetable platter look like a Christmas tree or a wreath. If there is anything that brings a smile to your guests’ faces, it will be your fun element you bring to your veggie plate.
Think outside the box when it comes to presentation. Many of us think of veggie platters and crudités as the round plastic trays filled with celery and carrots at the grocery stores. But don’t be afraid to be daring and out of the box. The more creative you get, the more you’ll love putting the platters together.
Last but not least, don’t feel like the round plate is your only option to display your vegetables. There are lots of different serving pieces you can use. Various sized glasses, baskets, Chinese food “to go” boxes, and many more.
Last but not least, enjoy the process of putting a credités platter together. There is NO WRONG way to do it… except not to do it at all!
February 5th, 2014
Today my boys and I had a snow day and decided to make something from my 5th grader’s history text book. there was a recipe for Bannock bread so we thought we would go for it! This was a bread that the pilgrims made during colonial times. Our recipe was made out of cornmeal but there are a number of different kinds which include regular flower and yeast. I have to say, I don’t use cornmeal a lot since we try to limit our carb intake. However, I thought… why not?! It turned out surprisingly good and we coupled the cakes with low-sodium turkey sausages. The boys really liked them and had a very filling lunch on a cold snowy day. We even left a few for my husband who will be enjoying them with the leftover chili from Super Bowl Sunday. Here’s the recipe, in case you are interested! A great bread to make with your kids.
1 cup water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of milk
2 tbsp butter
1) Bring water to a boil.
2) In another bowl, mix cornmeal and salt together. Add boiling water and stir with spoon until smooth. Sir in milk. Let batter sit 5 minutes and then add egg and mix.
3) Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Use a spoon or small ladle to drop the batter on to the pan and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook other side. Serve hot or cold.
September 29th, 2013
I LOVE this pumpkin dip… why? Because I can control how much sugar goes into it and customize it. So many recipes have multiple sweet ingredients which makes the sugar content difficult to gage. With this recipe, I can add as much or as little sugar as I want. Serve the dip with fruit, or even baked tortilla chips sprinkled with cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a winning party dish for any fall party… year after year. You’ll love it!
1/2 cup Canned Pumpkin (you can add less or more, depending on your preference)
1/2 large container of Light and Fit vanilla yogurt
2/3 container of Sugar Free Cool Whip (or any sugar free whipped topping)
1/2 cup of Sugar (this is the part that you can customize based on how sweet you would like it… you can use less or more)
1 tsp of Cinnamon (optional)
Combine all the ingredients and put in a bowl (or a hollowed out small pumpkin), I use sugar free and “light” varieties because I like to see how much sugar I’m putting in the dip. If this doesn’t matter to you, you can get the sugared varieties and skip adding your own sugar. Chill for at least 1 hour and serve with apples or sweet crackers.