Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner and A Bean Pie Recipe

We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for 10 additional family members who I love and can't wait to see.  Preparing a large meal can be stressful.  But since I've hosted before I thought I'd share a few tips to keep your anxiety low and make your dinner a success.

1.  Plan ahead.  As you start planning your menu ask ahead of time if your guests have food allergies or dietary restrictions.  With my father in law being vegan I always prepare a separate meal for him.  I'm fine with it and most importantly I want him to feel included.  My brother doesn't eat celery or onions.  So instead of not making a certain dish, I make a separate smaller serving for him so he can still enjoy dinner.   

2. Prep and freeze what you can.  I plan on making lots of pies and cobblers for dessert.  When apples and pears were on sale I bought a bunch, peeled and sliced them, placed them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  Freezing chopped fresh vegetables will make preparing dinner much easier.

3. Shop thrift stores for serving platters, sets of dishes and glasses.  I love buying second-hand serving platters.  I keep my eyes open for unique serving pieces like deviled-egg trays or lotus bowls for dips.

I used to cringe at the thought of buying drinking glasses from thrift stores.  Then my husband reminded me it's no different than restaurant glassware.  To sanitize them, I just run the dishwasher with a little bleach.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.  While I don't like asking guests to bring cooked food since most are traveling from out of state.  I don't mind asking them to contribute.  Entertaining can be expensive!  A bottle of wine, ice, quality paper plates or utensils can be really helpful.  *Don't serve red wine if you're concerned about spills.

I like to be in charge of planning.  Once my kids wake up I run down a list of simple chores to get them involved.  Which leads me to my next tip...
5. Now is the perfect time to deep clean your house.  You'll be so thankful you did once guests arrive.  Remove cobwebs and clean windows.  Each week tackle a room in your house.  Pay close attention to the areas of your home that will get the most use: bathrooms, guest rooms, the kitchen, family room and carpet.  In addition, have plenty of clean sheets, towels and toilet paper.  I put fresh linens in a small cabinet so guests can easily find them.

6. Make a great first impression by tidying up your front porch.  Dig up dead plants and replace them with whatever you choose.  If your outdoor mat is beginning to look faded now may be a good time to replace it.  Switch your wreath for fall.  My son gets a kick out of using the leaf blower.  I make that his job to clean up the walkway.

Lastly, 7. It doesn't have to be perfect to be a wonderful time.  I can't tell you how many times guests were 10 minutes away and I hadn't even showered yet.  The more I prep and plan ahead the more time I will have to relax, get dressed and curl my hair before company arrives.  I can't wait until my family is together.  I'm looking forward to catching up, playing games, laughing so hard it hurts and eating delicious food.  We all have so much to be thankful for.  Don't stress over small details.  Instead enjoy your family and friends.

For those who have emailed me and asked for my friend's Bean Pie Recipe, he gladly shared!  I hope you enjoy making it as much as we enjoyed eating it!!

Sean's Bean Pie Recipe

1 stick softened butter
4 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups sugar
1 (14 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspon nutmeg
2 tablespoons vanilla
frozen pie crusts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an electric blender(Sean used a Vitamix), blend navy beans.  Then add eggs one at a time.  Add butter, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour and blend for about 3 minutes on medium speed.  Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour mixture into pie crusts.  Bake about one hour, until golden brown.  Recipe makes 2-3 bean pies.  Serve with homemade whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Home Inspiration

 I'm so very happy that fall has arrived!  I made my first bowl of creamy pumpkin-spiced oatmeal, the leaves are changing and I pulled my jacket back out of the closet.
We've been able to enjoy being outdoors again without getting bit by mosquitoes.  My favorite part about the weather change is sitting outside in the morning with a cup of coffee.  

 Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I just sit and enjoy the birds chirping or the squirrels jumping from one tree to another.

 My son had a short fall break from school.  I enjoyed having him home.  As he gets older (15) I really appreciate having one-on-one time with him. 

 We enjoyed a few fun days of snacks outside in the backyard.

 And since I'm always moving things around, I thought I'd share a few fall touches from around the house.

 I don't have the space to store seasonal decor.  I prefer to decorate with natural items that can be thrown away (once they rot) or eaten!

 Fresh flowers and pumpkins keep my entry shelf looking fresh, but simple.

 I added a touch of fall to my kitchen counter with a wooden bowl filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables.

I'm a sucker for new tea towels.  Each season I love to switch out the towels I display.  

The hydrangeas in my yard are displaying their beautiful fall colors.  So naturally I cut a few to display inside.

 If I had to pick a favorite tree, my miniature Ginkgo Biloba would be it!  The leaves turn a beautiful shade of yellow in the fall.

Layering in a couple extra blankets is nice way to make your home feel cozy for fall.  Rather than purchasing seasonal themed decor, I enjoy adding texture and greenery to what I already have.

Decorating for each season doesn't have to be expensive.  Pretty soon we'll be preparing our homes for the holidays.  I hope you'll consider a few of my ideas for a fresh new look!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Headed to the Trash Chair Makeover

I love bringing new life to old things.  This chair was headed to the end of my driveway for trash pickup because my husband couldn't see its potential.  But I liked it too much and couldn't part with it.
You see, we've had this chair for many years.  It's not an antique though.  I purchased it at Ross for under $100.  It was one of the first furniture pieces we purchased new, after receiving only hand-me-downs.  I have pictures with my then toddler son sitting on it.  This chair has sentimental value to me.

But over the years as my taste and style evolved, the chair sat hidden in a closet.  As I hoped to have it reupholstered one day.

Having furniture professionally reupholstered can be expensive.  So I saved up for the total expense!  I also made sure I ordered enough fabric to create a skirt and hide the bowed legs.  I also had the curve on the back cut down.

Although the fabric I received is slightly darker than the swatch I ordered,  I'm so in love with this chair makeover.  

 I value the upholsterer's attention to detail.  Making it worth every penny!