Monday, December 17, 2012

My Simplified Holiday UPDATE!

Ok, I wanted to give you a quick update on how my simplified holiday is working out.  The photo above is in my kitchen of my mountain home.  Shawn and I bought this sign probably ten years ago, I thought it was sold with our first mountain cabin, somehow I just came across it last week in one of my storage buildings how serendipitous?!  So glad I found it I love it!

Saturday afternoon I left the store early and went to a wonderful holiday open house.  I have to tell you it was so nice, these are new friends who recently purchased a second home here in the mountains and they have done an amazing job on their new north Georgia getaway...So many clever things!  One of them is quite the cook and the food was outstanding.  Imagine this thick homemade sugar type cookie with sea salt, sprinkled on top...this cookie literally melted in your mouth!!! Or a chocolate chip whoopie pie!! I've been trying to be good but I could have gone crazy!...Sorry…I digress.  Just look at the next three photos!! 
Sugar Cookies (left) Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies! 
Red Velvet Peppermint Brownies & Coconut Cupcakes Love The Display!
Fun Way To Present Crudite
While at the open house I was visiting with some other friends and decided since I was "so prepared" I'd invite some of them over for a drink that evening.  I then realized it would be close to dinner time and they'd need more than a cocktail and some little nibbley things. 

Now you have to understand I am fortunately blessed with some of the most amazingly, smart and talented friends.  They can cook, decorate and more so, the pressure could be there.  But in staying with my whole "keeping it simple" mantra I decided to do just that…I now needed dinner for at least six and had about an hour to do it.

So I called a local restaurant and ordered two large pizzas, some pasta, salad and buttery, garlic rolls.  I came home transferred it into my own casserole dishes popped it into a warm oven.  I lit my candles, turned on the holiday music, set up a buffet style line, opened the bar, (poured myself a nice glass of red wine) and made a quick platter of olives, cheese, crackers, salami, and almonds.  Just in time for their arrival. 

It was so easy and my very gracious guests seemed to have a nice time. (None of them made fun of my "take out" food.  At least not to my face anyway!)

For dessert I served a platter of "bakery bought" cookies and egg nog (it was store bought but we "kicked it up" a bit) and then added nutmeg and cinnamon.  We sat in front of the fire, visited and relaxed.
Serve Egg Nog in a Martini Glass!
I believe that my friends and I realized that the food was not the primary component of our evening but it was the wonderful fellowship instead and that is what we enjoyed the most!  I'm loving my simplified holidays!  Hope you are making the most of yours! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Simplified Holiday Season

I am determined to enjoy the holidays without all of the typical stress.  Last year I was still recovering from my first Achilles repair and I just wanted to get through the holidays.  This year has been full of interesting change and I'm so excited about the holidays and the new year...I feel it is important to celebrate.  So I am trying something different, as I was discussing my thoughts with a customer she suggested that I post it and then let everyone know how it goes!

Instead of trying to have a big holiday party I'm opting to have more casual impromptu gatherings with just a few folks at a time.  I think this will be better because I'll really get to visit with and enjoy my friends. 

Here's my plan and how I'm going to do it: 

This past week I finished my holiday decorating (definitely scaled back from previous years!) But I felt this was as important for me as it is for guests.  I did a very small vintage looking, gold tinsel tree in my in my bedroom.  It’s all new and a little over the top but I’m enjoying it.  In my living room I put up a small pencil tree, I wasn’t going to do it but I have some very special “Chloe” ornaments that I really wanted to display. Outside I went all natural, I used live garland and wreaths, and stuffed the window boxes with various evergreens from my property.

My Bedroom Tinsel Tree

Pencil Tree and Mantle
I ran errands one night after work so that I could stock my bar and wine cooler including a couple bottles of Champagne.   I also purchased some other treats including great cheeses, cured meats, Marcona almonds, delicious olives, a few kinds of crackers, as well as some sweets like a new favorite Panettone raisin cake, French truffles, peppermint bark, and some of my special “Holiday Snack Mix” (my recipe is below). I feel like these items along with some great Gatewood Hall provisions (Yes, this a shameless plug) like our Sansaba Peach Pecan Amaretto preserves to pour over cream cheese or pound cake, blood orange curd by Bella Cucina to put in their tiny butter crusts or even some GH black bean salsa will give me plenty of options for some quick and tasty snacks or appetizers.  These items have a long shelf life and besides, who wouldn't love a nice Chartecurie board and a glass of wine?

Wonderful Provisions
I have my iPod loaded with a special holiday mix.  I neatly put all of my holiday magazines, catalogs and Christmas cards in a nice basket complete with pens and stamps, I keep it beside my bed so if I want some holiday inspiration or feel like writing out a few cards I can do it easily.
My Magazine and Holiday Card Basket
I’m burning holiday candles (Available at GH J) and I am even listening to holiday music in my car. 

I’m having a few small, casual and intimate dinners, a few friends for a traditional afternoon high tea, and possibly a nice brunch.  I am also taking advantage of our great restaurants in Blue Ridge.  For our GH team celebration we are going to Cucina Rustica. Or what could be better than meeting a few friends for sliders, Pat’s great brews and some wonderful soup by Polina at Blue Ridge Brewery?  

So here’s how my plan is going so far…The other night I had friends over. We sat in front of the fire (I confess I had the AC on because Mother Nature didn’t cooperate and it was really too warm for a fire!) drank wine, ate Spanish cheese, olives, almonds, pate and French bread.  Then we had a very simple salad, along with a shrimp and pasta dish (more wine!) and then a sampling of fantastic cupcakes and truffles from my girls at the Sweet Shoppe of Blue Ridge.  I have to tell you it was a wonderful and stress-free evening with lots of conversation and laughs.  Exactly what I was hoping for that evening!
Tablescape for Small Dinner Party
I’ll keep you posted on how the rest of the season goes. Wish me luck and most importantly I hope you and your loved ones have a very special holiday season with many, many wonderful memories.

Corky's Holiday Snack Mix

1-  Can (1 LB 2.75 OZ)  Planters Winter Spiced Mixed Nuts
1-  Bag (12 OZ) White Chocolate Chips
2-  Bag (8 OZ or more if you like) Dried Cranberries
1-  Bag (5 OZ) Emerald Brand Glazed Pecan Pie Pecans (Optional but delicious!)

Mix together and store in an air-tight tin or jar!  Enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wonderful Easter Memories

Happy Easter Weekend! I woke up realizing that I am so very fortunate to have such wonderful Easter Memories. If you have read this blog before you have heard me talk about my mother many times and how she loves the holidays! Easter was sure one of them, and like I have said before to this day she decorates like crazy and creates special memories for all of us but, especially now her beloved grandchildren Hunter & Madison! Also to this day I still get some sort of Easter basket or goody from mom!
Growing up I remember going to church (Of course I always had a new outfit!), a very special Easter lunch, but my favorite was waking up to a fabulous basket the Easter Bunny had left! Please don't get me wrong I went to a religious private school so we never forgot the reason for this joyous day we gave up things for lent, we fasted, and ate no meat on Fridays, but on the day of His Resurrection we really celebrated it!
Easter Morning was almost as exciting as expecting Santa Claus! My Easter bunny left a basket filled with all kinds of neat goodies (it wasn't the pre-made kind wrapped in cello) it was very personalized. A couple of times it was hidden at the end of a path of jelly beans (**Note to Easter Bunny put the dog up or the jelly bean trail will be eaten and the overall idea doesn't work very well!) As I got older my basket had more and more practical items and less candy but it was always special for me!

I have to say one of the most special and best ever Easter Baskets was about fourteen years ago when Shawn and I were surprised by the Easter Bunny (aka: Corky this particular year) with our beloved and cherished Dachshund puppy Chloe! My good friend Scott and I drove to somewhere near Alabama on Good Friday and met Chloe and her mother and it was love at first sight! When Shawn come home I said "You just missed the Easter Bunny and look what he left", and there she was this tiny little baby nearly asleep in an Easter basket! Scott and I were kind of worried because she had slept the entire ride home, I even stopped at a vet on the way home and said is there anything wrong with this puppy? She is so sleepy, he laughed and said to just wait until she wakes up...and he was right. When she woke up she was WIDE OPEN! To this day that girl plays hard and sleeps hard (some of you have witnessed the sleep hard part behind the counter of the store!) I can't begin to tell you how much that little dog has meant to Shawn and I, we are those crazy dog people who love her more than you can imagine! Sorry I digress...!

The point of this post is that not only is spring such a celebration in itself, enjoy this special weekend of "Newness" whatever your faith or dogma is. Create a special memory for yourself or a special loved one or even a total stranger! Make someone a special personalized Easter basket or home made card, go outside and cut some budding branches (I love dogwoods or azaleas now!) and make a pretty arrangement, call a friend you haven't talked to in awhile just to catch up. Remind yourself...What is your favorite Easter memory?

Finally- of course if you need help creating a special Easter basket come down to one of our stores "Our Bunnies" can help! Heck just stop in have a few jelly beans and say hi!

Happy -Spring Happy Easter! I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tangerine Tango Named 2012 Color of the Year

You may remember back in September I did a post on the Pantone Institute, they are the originator of the Pantone Matching System (PMS) and I wrote about their Spring 2012 color predictions. Well every year in January they pick one color that they believe will be the color of the year! Kind of like waiting on the groundhog we always look forward to their big news because we are usually preparing for the January Atlanta Market so we want to be aware of any big new trends.
Drum roll please....
The Color of the year 2012 is... TANGO TANGERINE

According to the official announcement, the deep red-orange color is intended to give us all a big boost of energy; a recharge and a refresh. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Institute tells us more about the choice for 2012:

Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it. Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

With the latest recognition, tangerine tango becomes a slightly more elite spoke in the world's color wheel, joining, in addition to 2011's honeysuckle, such hallowed hues as turquoise (2010), mimosa (2009), blue iris (2008), chili pepper (2007), sand dollar (2006), blue turquoise (2005), tigerlily (2004), aqua sky (2003), true red (2002) fuchsia rose (2001) and cerulean (2000).

Pantone states that, pop culture, fashion and finance all influenced the conclusion that Tangerine Tango represents tempered optimism and a move to better times ahead. Over the past several years, orange has grown in popularity and acceptance among designers and consumers alike.

But unlike in years past, Thursday's announcement of the radiant, reddish orange's rising-star status came with an unprecedented level of merchandising in place, including messenger bags, coffee mugs, journals, coffee mugs and even wedding attire, all imbued with the soon-to-be hot hue. Look for Tangerine Tango and similar shades of orange to appear on everything from bicycles to handbags, chairs to china. Cheerful yet sophisticated, it's a color that spells style. Think Hermes and you get the picture.

Perhaps most noteworthy was the announcement of Pantone's collaboration with Sephora on a first-ever, limited-edition Color of the Year beauty collection, which will include eye shadow, lipstick, lip gloss, nail polish and accessories. It is scheduled to hit Sephora stores in March.

Now honestly I find that people either love the orange color-way or hate it... there doesn't seem to be an in-between. I must say that I am finding that I like it much more than I used to. It really is "fresh" and I think cheerful for the spring and summer especially. It also coordinates with many more colors than one would imagine. I love it with white and dark army green for that "preppy" look.

While we don't suggest that you run out and paint your entire house a Tangerine Tango hue, we do think it is fun to watch and follow trends. Maybe you can infuse just a little into your home or wardrobe?

Come into our Blue Ridge location and check our our Inspiration Vignette, hopefully we can inspire you to open up to the possibilities!! Orange you glad we told you? (couldn't resist!)