Christmas Mantle 2009

The day after Thanksgiving I scurried around in my attic to decorate my Christmas Mantle. The Big Guy went to work and was none the wiser (he was a little cranky about climbing into the attic)! I'd been planning to tweak last year's concept and couldn't wait another minute to get things pulled together.

I layered an artificial white pine wreath (from Tuesday Morning) over the iron work hung above the mantle with an "S" hook:

Filled my apothecary jar with green ball ornaments (from Tuesday Morning) and faux snow:

I nested the angel wings (similar to these Pottery Barn lovelies) into the garland (from Marshall's) and hung the ends from the corners of the iron work with fishing line, then piled scented pine cones in the center:

Added a trio of creamy iron crosses from TJ Maxx:

Many of the items I carried over from last year. The only new items are the crosses and the 3 green Christmas balls, and everything was purchased at local discount stores. See? Inexpensive and beautiful.

This mantle has the spirit of Christmas, but also works for a general winter theme, so it will remain up into February around here.

Do you want to make a pair of Heirloom Wooden Angel Wings for your own home? I've worked out a tutorial just for you!

Here are the steps to create your own set of Angel Wings.

Create a template on a piece of paper (if you can't draw this free hand, don't fret!Go to your local library to borrow a projector. You can find many angel wing shapes on Google to project onto your board).

You will use the same template for both wings but to make a set you will have to flip the template once for a left and a right wing. Trace around the template onto your wood, I used a 20x32 inch length of pine from Lowe's. I could fit two wings onto it.

Cut out your wing shape. I used my pretty red Skil jigsaw/scroll saw combo. Don't be afraid of power tools! You can do it! Just be careful and wear eye protection. This doesn't have to be perfect! You will be sanding later! (That was my pep talk)

Next, I penciled in the rough shapes of feathers along the surface of the wing (just a bunch of half circles) then went over the lines with my Dremel. Using the attachment on the far left of this photo:

The grooves will be rough, but that is the beauty of this project. You want it to look hand carved. And you will be sanding later.

Now, I sanded everything really well with a palm sander, this mouse sander was perfect for getting into all the grooves.

To get the distressed, antique look I painted the wings with an antique white acrylic paint, about 4 thick coats. Sand in between coats with a fine sandpaper to get a nice smooth surface.

Next, brush a medium stain over the whole wing and wipe off. Make sure to get stain down into the grooves to accentuate the feathers. Try to rub a bit of extra stain into the edges to give an authentic antique look.

Make sure to mark you calendars for Friday, December 4th for a Hand Made Christmas Gift Linky Party! I want to see all of the fantastic ideas you have come up with for the season. Want to see mine? Come back tomorrow for a lemony gift idea...hmmmm...stumped?


The Shabby Chic Cottage

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Well, I'm tying up my Thanksgiving loose ends before I begin my Christmas blogging schedule. Here are a few highlights of the day.

I wore my new macaroni necklace (a gift from the munchkin) and an apron most of the day. It occurred to me at one point when I passed a mirror, that this is the quintessential snapshot of motherhood. (In fact, I'm linking this photo to Chatting in the Sky for favorite holiday photos from this year)

I forgot to take a picture of my bird last year before the men tore into it. This year, I was sure to capture all the golden 22 pound glory of it:

I go back and forth about my table settings. I love my wedding china, but it's such a pain to hand wash. I end up using it about every other year.

This year I used it AND put it in the dishwasher. It looks fine! I wonder what I was so worried about? Here is our table set for dinner. Simple white table settings, some candles, and scattered leaves:

Finally, I know some people do all sorts of imaginative things with their Thanksgiving leftovers, but in our family we just like to repeat the meal. We only get some of these dishes once a year, so why not enjoy it twice?

I buy an extra aluminum pan (a regular 9x13 pan works, too) and make little compartments with foil. I stick it in the fridge until the weekend. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of water over the top and reheat at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour then dig in...again!

I will kick off my Christmas posts tomorrow with a look at my Christmas Mantle. I tweaked last year's mantle a bit, so come on back for a look and a tutorial!



Turkey Day Confessions - Feedback Friday

Okay, you all just spent a whoooole day with relatives. Some of them were your own deranged family, some of them were your spouse's deranged family. Okay, maybe some of them were only mildly deranged...

You have kept it bottled up, all the crazy little tidbits you're dying to share but can't because (insert relative here) reads your blog.

I've come to your rescue, let me have it. Tell me about Aunt Agnes sneaking vodka into her tea, Uncle Leroy's excessive flatulence, your mother-in-law's bossiness, your sister-in-law's spoiled behavior. Whatever you've got.

Here is a safe haven for you to spill your guts, get some relief, and some support. Come on, baby, lay in on me...I can take it!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Girl in the Sticks told all of us about this fantastic recipe during our weekend getaway and we've all been thinking about it ever since.

Marzipan made it for us to sample at our last coffee together and we were hooked! So, this year, try whipping up this new recipe for your guests. So simple and delicious, you will love it!

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie

1 can (15oz) solid pack pumpkin 1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cup eggnog 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

Combine all ingredients, Pour into pie crust

Bake 60-65 min. at 375 until knife in center comes out clean

Martha's Pate Brisee (pie crust), so good!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USA, Le Creuset, Wilton, Bags
by Bloom and Harvard Common Press


T - Day Schedule

You still with me? I'm trying to ease you into things here, and keep you on schedule. It will be much more relaxing in the end...trust me!

This day's schedule is arranged by the count down to dinner (2:00 this year)

Turkey, 3.5 hours

Begin the next 5 things on the list:

Make stuffing (I do not stuff my bird)

Pull out corn pudding and pineapple to come to room temp.

Assemble brie

Pull out appetizers and bloody marys, brie and chili dip in micro.

Make mashed potatoes and keep in crock pot, adding extra milk if they get dry

Okay, we're T minus 1 hour, the minute by minute countdown comes next. Just work it according to what time you want to sit down to eat. This is the order of the menu items arranged by baking time

Grill kielbasi, 1 hour before dinner and counting...

Bake stuffing, 45 min.

Bake corn pudding, 40 min.

Reheat gravy, 40 min.

Reheat mushrooms, 30 min.

Green beans and sweet potato casseroles in oven, 30 min

Pull out turkey and let it rest, 30 min

Bake pineapple, 25 min.

Warm bread

Plate cranberry sauce

Carve Turkey


*Want a fantastic Pumpkin Pie recipe? I'll give it to you tomorrow, but in the meantime go shopping for the following ingredients:

1 can (15oz) solid pack pumpkin
pumpkin pie spice


Thanksgiving Planning, Pulling it all together

Let's go ahead and make our schedule for the week.

Monday: You should have taken your turkey out of the freezer. If you miss this first step you're screwed. Just sayin'. Take the turkey wings out of the freezer, too.


Make gravy (I double the recipe from yesterday)

Clean the house, wash the dishes to be used, polish silver, set the table.

Wednesday - Let's get as much done today as we can, so that tomorrow morning we can put in the turkey and sit down with our friends for a Bloody Mary, shall we?

Saute onions and celery for stuffing (put in fridge for tomorrow)

Inject turkey with brine (1/4 c. salt, 2 T. brown sugar, 1 quart veg stock.)

Make corn pudding (recipe from yesterday)

Make Pilgrim hat cookies

Sautee mushrooms

Assemble pineapple souffle (don't bake)(recipe from yesterday)

Prepare cranberry mixture for brie (recipe from yesterday)

Make jello salad

Make Bloody Marys (Yes!)


No, I didn't forget it was Tutorial Tuesday. Want to make a Pilgrim Hat with your kids? My 3rd grader has to dress in Pilgrim attire for the next 3 days in school, and we were able to whip up this little ditty from Family Fun Magazine in about 20 minutes! (I made a few changes)


2 pieces black paper (we used a black poster board)
7- by 25-inch rectangle
a 13-inch-wide circle
2 1/2- by 25-inch colored paper strip
4 x 3 inch yellow paper square for buckle


To make the hat, wrap the rectangular piece of paper around your child's head and mark with chalk where the edges touch. Remove the paper and use a stapler to attach the ends of the paper at the place you've just marked, forming a tube.

Place the hat top in the center of the 13-inch paper circle (I traced my large frying pan!) and trace around the circumference, leaving about a 3-inch hat brim. Set aside the hat top.

Using chalk, divide the circle into eight pie slices or spokes. Cut along the spokes (but do not cut around the outside of the circle) so that you have eight pointed flaps.

Slip the paper circle over the hat top, leaving the pointed flaps sticking up. Tape them to the hat top (the top of the hat will be open). *I used poster board and found this step most difficult. You will need two hands to slide the brim over the tube. That little rim is stubborn!

Measure the paper band so that it fits around the hat. Staple it to size and slide over outside of the hat to cover the folded-over flaps you taped.

Here are the steps in the following photos:

Pilgrim hat, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

**Meet me back here tomorrow for your Thanksgiving Day schedule**



Thanksgiving Prep.

I need to interrupt the regularly scheduled programming for this special announcement...


Okay, then, where were we ... oh, yes...

As far as I'm concerned, there is just too much Christmas going on in blogland. Let's not forget about Thanksgiving! We have to plan, and cook, and EAT, people!

I pull out my plan from the last year to build on for the next. Where do I keep it? In my roasting pan, of course!

Let's review our Thanksgiving Menu 2009:

Brie with cranberries and pecans

Chili cheese dip (soften block of cream cheese, top with a can of chili and cup of cheddar, microwave, done!)

Veggie sticks and fruit

Bloody Mary cocktails (sorry, it's a secret recipe, the Big Guy won't give it up)

Turkey (*See Note)

Mashed Potatoes (make ahead and put in crock pot the day of)

Fresh Kielbasi (this is Pittsburgh, it's a part of every holiday meal, I don't know why)

Pineapple Souffle (it goes with the kielbasi - salty/sweet)

Green Bean Casserole (Amy)

Sweet Potatoes (Mom)

Sauteed Mushrooms (Mom) (sauteed in white wine, butter, salt, and pepper)

Stuffing (traditional onion, celery, sage stuffing)

Gravy (see recipe below)

Corn Pudding

Cranberry sauce (smooth and chunky)

Pumpkin Pie and "Delight" (Sheri)

Pilgrim Hat cookies for kids

Jello Salad (Grammy must have this)

Make Ahead Gravy (Woman's Day magazine, 2003)

4 turkey wings (3-4 lbs)

8 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup chopped carrots

1/2 tsp thyme3

/4 cup flour2

Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Roast wings in roasting pan in a single layer with onions scattered on top for 1 1/4 hours or until browned.Transfer wings and onions to large pot. Add 1 cup of water to roasting pan to loosen any brown bits then add to pot with 6 cups of broth, carrots, and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

Remove wings and strain broth into a saucepan, pressing the veggies to extract all the juice. Skim fat from the top, or put in fridge overnight to pull solids off top.

Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups of broth.Bring broth in saucepan to a boil and whisk in flour mixture. Boil 4-5 minutes to thicken, then stir in butter and pepper.

*I have experimented over the years, and this is the best turkey...but, you know me, I have to put my own twist on things. I make about 1/3 of the batch of brine, leave my turkey (always a Butterball) in the original wrapper, and inject the brine into the turkey with a meat injector through the wrapper the night before.
In the morning I unwrap and proceed with the recipe.*

Serenity Now Thanksgiving Recipe Round Up


Unusual Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes - Feedback Friday

The Big Guy's family has certain unusual items that make their way into every holiday meal. I'm not sure why, but no matter the occasion, there is always kielbasi, sauteed mushrooms, and pineapple souffle. Easter? Ham and kielbasi. Christmas? Brisket and kielbasi. Thanksgiving? Turkey and kielbasi. Strange, I know.

What is Pineapple Souffle, you ask? Just the yummiest little side dish EVER for any salty meat, like ham or ... kielbasi!

Patti's Pineapple Souffle:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 slices white bread, cubed (I use stale Italian bread)
1 can crushed pineapple (I use the kind in syrup)

Combine ingredients in casserole and bake 350 for 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

So, we're weird...how 'bout you?

Are there any strange or unusual dishes that are traditional in your family for the Thanksgiving meal?

Let me have it!



Thanksgiving Place Cards / Wine Charms

Last year I shared a tutorial for Personalized Wine Charms for the Thanksgiving table.

They are cute and reusable and made with shrinky dinks...what's not to love? But, I am realistic here, people. Not everyone has shrinky dink plastic just lying around. Not everyone plans ahead for cute little touches before every. single. event. like I do.

No, it takes all kinds and this little tutorial is just for you. Quick, easy, FREE wine charms / place cards for your Thanksgiving guests.


Got leaves?
Got string?
Got a sharpie?

Yep. I knew you would...

Write 'em and tie 'em.

See? Now that's cute.

ps (no shrinky dinks were harmed in the making of this tutorial!)


My Kitchen Window

I started to panic the other day when I realized I haven't finished showing you all my fall decor. Panic because I will be pulling out the Christmas stuff in about 10 days! Yikes!

I change out my mantle with the seasons, just to keep it interesting around here. I don't think I'd be able to live with just one decor all year 'round! I usually cover that here when the seasons change, but I don't often mention my kitchen window.

I change it with the seasons, too. As any mom/cook/dish washer can tell you, that window gets looked at A. Lot.

Part of keeping things fresh, yet still on budget, often requires some imagination. Look outside - there is all the inspiration you need!

Look at the home decor department in any department store. What do they have? Really cool faux natural elements. Cool plastic pine cones, cool carved branches, lovely silver plated leaves...um, hello??? We can all duplicate this by taking a walk outside!

Why are we spending $10 on Pottery Barn Acorns when we can find them outside for FREE? (just place them in a sealed jar and freeze them to kill the crawlies before using them inside).

I promise you, once you start decorating this way, you will never look back. You will be scanning the side of the road each time you drive to the store. You will make a note to pack your clippers and snip that bittersweet the next time you take a walk. It's affordable and rewarding. You can change it up as often as you like and the hubs will look at your bank balance and kiss you.

Here is my kitchen window, decorated for my Thanksgiving guests:

A simple twine and leaf garland decorates the window. Can you tie a knot? Then, you can make this garland. It lies against the swagged curtain like a necklace. All dressed up for the season.

Just thumbtack it to the top of the cabinets. Easy peasy!

Notice the window decor mimics the naked trees outside my window? I have some cool hinge bottles from IKEA I'm holding onto until my Limoncello is finished soaking up all the lemony goodness for Christmas gifts. Why leave these lovely bottles in the cabinet until I'm ready to use them? Line them up, pull off the side of the road to snap off a branch with golden crab apples still clinging to it. Rummage around in your hydrangea bush to find an old blossom, naturally dried to the stem.

In between seasons with no inspiration? The bottles look lovely lined up empty. Nice clean lines feel like a welcome change after all the excess of Christmas. Keep this in mind for January!


How to Transform a Room on the Cheap - Tutorial Tuesday

Okay, I touched on this briefly last week, but this week I'll try to get down to the nitty gritty of our Ski Condo redecorating project.

I finally located my "before" pictures for you. This is not the way it looked when we bought it, some of our own touches are incorporated here and there, but it's largely the same.

Any great redecorating project on the cheap, usually begins with a plan and a great paint color. We began this way,choosing to bring a woodsy/cabin feeling to this tiny, bland condo. We warmed up our place with 2 gallons of Eddie Bauer Cabin Red along the long back wall, and a gallon of Eddie Bauer, Craftsman Bungalow Pecan on the remaining walls.

We replaced many of the previous items from the mantle. The previous owner had lots of votive candles nested on plates of marbles (?) and lots of fake plants. It was puzzling.

I found these awesome Pottery Barn inspired reindeer from LTD for a fraction of the price, brought up an old bear picture from home, some log candle holders from TJMaxx, and a photograph I took in our back yard to cabin it up. A vintage glass mail box (filled with pine cones) and lunch box belonging to The Big Guy's Grandpap also found a home there.

The total for the paint was just under $100 and two weekend's work.

The windows were covered with reversible curtains made from 5 yards each of plaid flannel and an inexpensive burlap, and two wooden curtain rods. Total: $125

I will share the instructions for the curtains soon.

I used the extra fabric to make little covers for the top of the ugly recliners to cozy them up, and to jazz up the vertical blinds. We changed out some of the artwork and incorporated some nature (more on that later).

I replaced the ugly brass lamps with Branch Table Lamps from Target for $39 apiece. Burlap shades tie in with the curtains. (the tree wall art was a steal from Tuesday Morning, for $30, and serves double duty as our ski pass holder!)

Overstock came to our rescue with a solution for replacing this ugly track lighting:

Did you keep up with all the weekend getaway fun at my ski condo last week? If not...don't forget to check it out!

Girl's Getaway Recap

Scrunchy Gathered Scarf Tutorial

Gorgeous Fabric Flower Tutorial

Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole and Custom Gift Tags

Salon Quality Manicure at Home!

Girl's Getaway Field Trip!

Love tutorials? Looking for some new Christmas ideas? Check out my friend Kimba's new e-book, A Very Kimba Christmas! You'll love it...I promise.


Your Skin Fix, December Edition