Category Archives: Entertaining

Getting Ready for Twelfth Night: The Mantel

The turquoise and green Christmas decorations are giving way to greens and burnt oranges to welcome the arrival of the Magi and their gifts to the Christ child.

Three Kings bring gifts to the Christ child.

Three Kings bring gifts to the Christ child.

I wanted to highlight them on our mantel. Any bona fide eastern king would be traveling with camels and so we definitely have camels.

Carved wooden camels

Carved wooden camels

In my stash of vases and pottery I found a lovely Oriental vase with some lovely coordinating colors featuring a peacock.

The peacock vase lends a feeling of the Orient from when the Wise Men came.

The peacock vase lends a feeling of the Orient from whence the Wise Men came.

I asked my friend if I could have some dried grasses from his yard because they look like feathers and  give the whole arrangement height.

Dried grasses add height and interest to the mantel.

Dried grasses add height and interest to the mantel.

Then for a little glitz I added some green ribbon and candles.

Ribbon and crystal candle holders add a bit of sparkle.

Ribbon and crystal candle holders add a bit of sparkle.

And glass balls.

Glass balls in brown and orange and silver ball-shaped candle holders add some interest.

Glass balls in brown and orange and silver ball-shaped candle holders add some interest.

The mantle is decorated for our Twelfth Night celebration.  Next is the dining room.

We'll light the candles on Twelfth Night being careful not to ignite the grasses.

We’ll light the candles on Twelfth Night being careful not to ignite the grasses.

Happy New Year!

What’s new at your house?

12 Drummers Drumming

We’re having a Twelfth Night Celebration. And we needed a quick invitation. I could have featured a big “12″.

I could have cut the invitation in the shape of a 12.

I could have cut the invitation in the shape of a 12.

I knew the 12th Night celebration on January 5th (12 days after Christmas if Christmas is Day 1) precedes Epiphany celebrated on January 6.  Epiphany is the day Christians recognize the arrival of the Kings who followed a star to find the Christ.

The Adoration of the Magi by Albrecht Durer

The Adoration of the Magi by Albrecht Durer

I looked up some information about Twelfth Night and found out that once upon a time Christmas was the beginning of the celebration and lasted for twelve days — instead of beginning six weeks before and fizzling out the day after. How it came to be twelve days is a long and mysterious story but one thing is certain: the feast of Christmas is the beginning, and January 5th is the 12th night. .

The back of the 5.5" by 8" card tells some of the 12th Night story.

The back of the 5.5″ by 8″ card tells some of the 12th Night story.

That still leaves me without a theme for the invitation and, therefore, for the party.  My research led me to the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on which a gift is given for each of the 12 days.  The 12th day’s gift is “12 drummers drumming.”

Cool green drum

Cool green drum

Now that’s a theme.  So I printed up some invitations on grey card stock with a drum image suggesting partyers bring a drum of some sort with them: tambourines, tom toms, bongos, etc.

Time, place, theme and purpose are all included on the front of the invitation.

Time, place, theme and purpose are all included on the front of the invitation.

As usual some invitations will go out in emails, some will be hand-delivered and some mailed in the traditional way. It ought to be a noisy time.

Do you theme parties?  Where do you get your inspiration?

December Joy Party: The Menu

I told you here that we were planning a holiday party. We try to serve easy-on-us, tried-and-true food that our guests will also enjoy.

The dining room table set for a buffet.

The dining room table set for a buffet.

Some things are a little chi-chi and some more down-home. (Come to think of it that could also describe our friends.)

  • Cappuccino, Coffee, Tea, Glade Fizz

    Cappuccino is a specialty of The Glade.

    Cappuccino is a specialty of The Glade.

  • Salad with walnuts, dried cranberries and cheese, homemade dressing
  • Soup – Chicken vegetable

    A tile triviet awaits a steaming pot of soup.

    A tile trivet awaits a steaming pot of soup.

  • Spinach in fillo
  • Homemade croutons
  • Pasta salad with pesto mayonnaise and shrimp
  • Pickles
  • Crème Brulée and Coffee pots de crème

    Creme brulee is a spectacle that draws people into the kitchen.

    Creme brulee is a spectacle that draws people into the kitchen.

When people ask me what they can bring I always say “you don’t have to bring anything” in a way that conveys “and I really mean it”. But my friends are a group of people who can’t arrive empty-handed so I’m pretty much counting on them to provide some of the party food.

They brought:

  • an almond pound cake
  • a Jewish apple cake
  • Cookies, cookies and cookies
  • a fruit tart
  • marinated shrimp
  • and a poinsettia (which we did not eat).

I try to make all the food elements in advance and choose things that need no during-the-party preparation so I can relax and mingle with the guests.

An easy but elegant decoration is a length or two of glitzy ribbon that runs the length of the table.

An easy but elegant decoration is a length or two of glitzy ribbon that runs the length of the table.

Charlie, on the other hand, was making cappuccini, playing the piano and burning the tops of crème brulée.

Charlie played seasonal tunes while groups and soloists joined in.

Charlie played seasonal tunes while groups and soloists joined in.

He was all the entertainment in many ways.  Each guest also did their part to make the party sparkle.

Do your guests take their role in making a party successful seriously? Or do they sit on the sofa and sulk?

I’m linked to
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Check, Check and Check

So we decked the halls

The Holy Family surrounded by lights.

The Holy Family surrounded by lights.

and the doorways

All the doors are similarly dressed to welcome guests.

All the doors are similarly dressed to welcome guests.

and the mantel

Blue and green ribbon finished off the Christ mantel.

Fresh flowers and blue and green ribbon finished off the Christ mantel.

and etc. CHECK!

Even the top of the piano got some glitz.

Even the top of the piano got some glitz.

We sent out the invitations. CHECK!

The invitations are on their way to partyers.

The invitations are on their way to partyers.

We cooked. CHECK!

Large pot of soup will satiate many guests.

Large pot of soup will satiate many guests.

Then the people arrived. There were 20 of us in our little house spread among the living room and dining room.

Antique yellowware bowl with flowers and small clay version of the Holy Family.

Antique yellowware bowl with flowers and small clay version of the Holy Family.

We told how we got our names, we ate and  we sang and sang and sang thanks to my darling husband Charlie, the gifted piano player.

Charlie playing a gig.

Charlie playing a gig.

I just love parties (especially when I know everyone).  Don’t you?

What’s your party mojo this season?

I’m linked to

More Greening

Earlier this week I showed you the arrangement of greens and herbs I created for the mantle at The Glade which, by the way, smells heavenly due to the fresh rosemary.

Green arrangement from plants found in our yard.

Green arrangement from plants found in our yard.

I gathered together 2 more containers and some additional items to make more Christmas decorations.

A crystal bowl with some glass Christmas balls on picks and a hairpin flower frog.

A crystal bowl with some glass Christmas balls on picks and a hairpin flower frog.

At the same time I worked on the earlier mantle decoration, I made two additional arrangements with the same elements (pine, boxwood, rosemary, sage, and garlic chive seedheads) with the intention of using them at our holiday party.

Clipped pine boughs low on the bowl and dried seedheads standing vertically in clumps.

Clipped pine boughs low in the bowl and dried seedheads standing vertically in clumps.

One was in an oblong cut crystal bowl which is destined to be the centerpiece of the buffet table.

The stems are held in the bowl with a hairpin flower frog.

The stems are held in the bowl with a hairpin flower frog.

The other is in a yellowware bowl to sit on the coffee table that Charlie inherited from his grandmother.

Inherited vintage yelloware dough bowl

Inherited vintage yellowware dough bowl

After arranging the greens and dried flowers I popped in some small vintage glass balls in green, aqua and blue.

This arrangement featuring fragrant rosemary is ultimately destined for the buffet table.

This arrangement featuring fragrant rosemary is ultimately destined for the buffet table.

The arrangements were a little sparse at  first because I intended to fill them in with some colorful flowers. How about some soft green carnations ($2) and pink ombre roses ($13 for 18 stems) to liven up the spectacle?

I cut the stems and put them in a bucket of water overnight is a cool dark place (the bibliotheque).

I cut the stems and put them in a bucket of water overnight is a cool dark place (the bibliotheque).

I waited until the end of the week to pick them up and insert them.

I added a fistful of pale green carnations.

I added a fistful of pale green carnations.

At this point I added water to the heretofore dry arrangements.

6 roses brighten the bouquet

6 roses brighten the bouquet

One for the dining room and one for the living room.

How do you jazz up your buffet table?

Ramping Up for a Party

Over the past few years Charlie and I have been considering how the make The Glade a friendlier place for us as we age and how to accomodate friends who are not as mobile as they once were.  As our holiday party approaches we thought we’d give greater access a dry run by temporarily ramping one of our entrance doors.

There are 2 steps up to get into the back door.

There are 2 steps up to get into the back door.

At first it was going to be the front door but with more consideration Charlie decided to make the kitchen door more accessible by building a series of platforms and ramps. So this week with some scrap wood from a local building project Charlie started building a ramp.

The ramp is a plywood sheet on tapered 2 by 6 stock.

The ramp is a plywood sheet on tapered 2 by 6 stock.

First he built a ramp up to the back landing.

A platform on the landing is necessary to made the threshhold accessible.

A platform on the landing is necessary to made the threshhold accessible.

Then he realized that there would still be an issue getting up to the threshhold.

A platform at the back door makes a smooth transition.

A platform at the back door makes a smooth transition.

He built a platform on the landing level with the threshhold.

The platform and the ramp need a peice to link them together.

The platform and the ramp need a peice to link them together.

Then used the already-built ramp as the first piece of a 3-piece puzzle.

To maintain a consistent slope the intermediate ramp needs to be about 45 inches long.

To maintain a consistent slope the intermediate ramp needs to be about 45 inches long.

Now the only thing left is to connect the landing with the ramp by means of another ramp.

Making the ramp in sections allows it to be easily moved.

Making the ramp in sections allows it to be easily moved.

This may be the tricky part.

How are you handling mobility issues?

Sidebar: I’m expecting to have an operation on my knee in January so this ramp may come in very handy.

The Colors of Christmas 2012

OK, not THE colors but my colors for this Christmas.  For years I have been saying, “This is the last year for red and gold.”

The red and gold ball with white lights had been the rule tradition for decades.

Finally I’m going to change the rut into a groove. The groovy colors I’ve chosen are lime green and aqua with accents of silver. First step in planning is to pin, pin, pin ideas to my newly established Christmas Pinterest board.

Turquoise and lime green Pinspiration

I have determined I’m not buying anything except a couple of cans of spray paint and maybe some neon green rope.

A 75-foot skein of green rope costs about $3.

So I’ll be shopping the house for items that can be used in their natural state or gussied up for Christmas. We already worked on this toy xylophone which only needs a nice bow to make it festive.

These blue glass ornaments were formerly red.

The list of things I’m searching for (off the top of my head) are:

  • glitter
  • a world globe/maps
  • old ornaments
  • tablecloths/napkins
  • wrapping paper/ribbon
  • dishes

Merrileaf cup and saucer

  • cards
  • lights

Formerly multi-colored items will be color sorted.

I’m going to ransack the house with the color scheme in mind.

What’s your Christmas color scheme? Does it change from year to year? Decade to decade?

Let’s Party!

We having a party at The Glade!

The printed invitation will also be attached to an email.

This is a little bit impromptu because we usually have a New Year’s Eve get-together but this year we’ll be tied up doing something new so we wanted to see our friends before the year was out.

Last year’s Tiffany inspired invittation.

The invitations to this fete are inspired by an Oriental rug catalog that came in the mail.

These are just catalog cut-outs of Persian rugs.

The photographs of the various rugs were intricate and beautiful so I cut them out and glued a different one to each printed invitation.

I took all the supplies to Charlie’s piano gigs and finished them while he played.

Some invitations were emailed, some mailed, and some handed personally to the invitee.

The invitations are on their way to potential party-ers.

After the date is determined, the guest list is made and invitations sent out, I’ll spend a little time tweaking a theme for the party,  formulating an ice breaker, and developing a menu. I’m pretty sure the party will include a sing-along of Christmas tunes.

Do you enjoy planning parties?

I’m linked to
The Girl Creative

Homegrown Simplicity with a Curd

It’s no secret that we Charlie has a garden at The Glade.

Charlie’s garden

So when we were invited to a send-off party for our friend in the U.S.Navy who will be shipping out this week, we wanted to take something for the food buffet.

A salade composée of tomatoes and cucumbers with a feta and pesto dressing.

Simple and cool the platter includes sliced fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden with a dressing of pesto, olive oil and feta cheese. (I’m thinking feta is a curd, not just a curd but a Kurdish curd.)

Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes topped with pestoed feta.

Anchors Aweigh and Godspeed! We’ll see you when you return.

What are you counting among your simple blessings?

The Guacamole Kit

Trader Joe’s sells a guacamole kit. It has everything needed to make a fresh bowl of guacamole.

Trader Joe’s Guacamole Kit sells for $3.99.

Included are 2 ripe avocados, 2 plum tomatoes, 1 small white onion, 1 large clove of garlic, 1 jalapeno pepper, and 1 lime.

Contents of Trader Joe’s guacamole kit with instructions.

The instructions (included in each kit) say to finely mince the garlic, onion and pepper, then add the cubed avocado and mash into the diced veg with a fork. Some people like it chunky and some like it smooth so the mashing depends on your own aesthetic.

I like chunky bits in my guacamole. They might have been more finely minced if our electricity had been working and I would have used our veg chopper.

The key to keeping it green (avocado turns brown quickly) is to add the juice of the lime which I squeezed on our super deluxe old-fashioned juicer.

Our citrus fruit juicer: great for limes, lemons, oranges and grapefruit.

I added the diced tomatoes from the kit last and folded them into the mixture. Your could whir the whole this in a blender if you like it smooth. Some folks add cilantro (I’m not a big fan) or salt and pepper. I thought it tasted fine except it was a little tart so I added a sprinkle of sugar.

Guacamole ready for a serving bowl.

I like my guacamole on a tortilla with a little grilled chicken and cheese, or by itself on a chip.  And I think it’s really good for you in a healthy way.

How are you celebrating America’s independence? Enjoy your freedom!