Simple Gift Wrapping & Afternoon Tea

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It’s that time of year again; time for family, shopping, busyness, and lots and lots of sweets! It’s a time of year that is indicative of happiness and merriment, but often times leaves people feeling conflicted. Some of us have lost loved ones, have family that is far away, or maybe there’s something that just makes Christmas too painful. Busyness, it seems, has become our answer for the loneliness. Maybe these are just words from a writer who likes to think (or who would prefer not to think), but Christmas makes me more contemplative than usual. Whatever it is this season, in the midst of all the busyness, don’t be afraid to take some time to be introspective and get with God.

Wrapping presents allows me to slow down and appreciate the last remaining days until Christmas. This time I paired it with a hot cup of black tea for a moment that was cozy and rustic. Although there’s nothing wrong with buying loud and shiny wrapping paper and bows from the store, it’s just not my style. I use brown craft paper with some twine or ribbon, then I stick in a piece of foraged greens and a tag to finish it off. It’s a simple look but it goes a long way – people who receive your gifts will appreciate the personalized touch. There’s no hard and fast rule to this; so feel free to play around with it and see what you like!

If you’re looking for ideas for gift tags, you could buy some from the store, but there are so many free printables available online! I used these black and gold tags and though I found them too late, I also like these handwritten tags. Simply click on the link to download, print out on card stock paper, and cut out using the outline.

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I encourage you to slow down when you wrap this year, if you can. Have a hot cup of tea or listen to Christmas music while you work. Lock the door to your bedroom if you need to shut the kids out. You’re going to have to take the time to wrap anyway, why not enjoy it? At the end of the day nothing else matters than the time we spend with friends and loved ones, and the birth of our savior. So I like to keep things simple – especially when it comes to gift wrapping. Whatever your style is, go for it and most importantly anticipate each day until Christmas!

Cheers!

Adele

Lifestyle Photography | How To Make Your Photos Come Alive

I am a visual artist. Not with a brush or chisel, but with a camera. I mostly capture food scenes, still lifes, and areas of my home. Basically anything that catches my eye and is inspiring to me. I am drawn to the small, quiet scenes at home because they happen in our everyday lives. There is something inspiring about that; a quiet cup of tea, a cozy moment at home, or baking a loaf of bread. Some of them are staged, and some of them I photograph just as they are.

I recently took a class on Skill Share by Marte Marie Forsberg entitled Lifestyle Photography: Capturing Food, Flavors, Conversation. For those of you who don’t know what Skill Share is, it is an online platform where people can teach classes, sometimes for a nominal fee, sometimes for free, and students can watch their videos and get practice with various projects. Besides the class being free, Marte was able to share her experience as a self-taught photographer. If you are at all interested in this topic, you can sign up for free on Skill Share!

Marte suggests coming up with a story behind your picture. Not that you tell that story to your viewers, but it is merely implied. This will make your photos come alive. I find it easier for me to think about what mood or feeling I want to convey. A simple way to achieve this is to use natural light (you should always use natural light). In general, I’m drawn to shadows and the contrast between light and dark; particularly in the winter months when the days are shorter and the light is softer. It just creates a moody scene that is more indicative of the winter months.

You can also use props; something that makes sense in the picture, enhances it, but doesn’t detract from the story. Adding a human element is always a bonus. Reach your hand in the frame and grab a fork or a cup. Your photo now looks lived in, someone is there. What about the food? Does your scene take place before the eating, midway, or after? My favorite is either midway or after; crumbs lying carelessly on the table or a napkin haphazardly thrown on the table, not neatly folded because  someone excused themselves too hurriedly. Someone has been there.

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Marte’s project to the class was Afternoon Tea. Capture what afternoon tea looks like to you in three pictures. Well, I’ve never been a big fan of tea. Not that I don’t like it, I just never got into it much. So I submitted what coffee time looks like to me. These series of pictures you can also find on my coffee and cranberry orange scones post, including a recipe. My coffee time is just like their tea time over in England – a moment to be savored, enjoyed, and slowed down. A soft light poured through the window as we enjoyed our wintery treat. It was just two friends enjoying one another’s company, gathering around scones and coffee – that’s what I wanted to capture, the essence of it all.

Sometimes an inspiring photo is right there in front of your lens already, other times you have to convince your audience a little bit more. Maybe the lighting needs adjusted or maybe you need some props and styling in there. Maybe you need to shoot at a different angle. If you don’t get that feeling you’re envisioning after you take the picture don’t worry, continue to troubleshoot until you’ve achieved the proper mood. It’s not easy and it takes practice, but it sure is fun to experiment with!

If you would like to get practice at this, I encourage you to sign up for Marte’s class! Of course you can do it on your own but you will get feedback from Marte and other classmates if you enroll in the class. So go out there and capture afternoon tea or coffee until January 11th and you have a chance to be featured on Marte’s Instagram feed, among other things! Above all, have fun with it and enjoy the scene you’re creating.

An Afternoon Gathering | Coffee and Cranberry Orange Scones

Yesterday I had the pleasure of gathering with a close friend over coffee and scones – an occurrence that is all too rare these days. Nevertheless, it is always a joy seeing this one. Neither time nor distance has managed to sully this friendship. We talked, we laughed, we took time to catch up, and we watched Anchorman 2 (yes, this was a very classy gathering). When all this is over, this thing called life, I know my savior will ask me what I did with my precious time here. If all I can show for it is styled tables and well cooked meals, I am in trouble at best. Relationships are what matter most at the end of the day; because He first loved us. Open up your home, give your time, and do whatever you do best. Whether that’s cooking a meal, brewing some coffee, or otherwise.

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I’ve never been a huge fan of scones, honestly. And I still only like them in moderation (any pastry in moderation, really). My only exposure to scones was at Starbucks where I’m pretty sure they are so hard you can crack a rock with it. No, homemade scones are much different! They come out all warm and fluffy on the inside but still crunchy on the outside. The combination of cranberry and orange is truly a winter treat with some turbinado sugar generously sprinkled on top (or brown sugar if you don’t have turbinado sugar). I wanted something as cozy as coffee and scones to go with cozy conversations and laughter. I think this one fit the bill.

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Recipe | Cranberry Orange Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp cold butter, cubed

1 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp orange zest

3/4 cup dried or fresh cranberries

1 tbsp coarse sugar like turbinado sugar or brown sugar for sprinkling.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For fresh cranberries, soften them up by placing them in a saucepan of water until it is near the boiling point. Quite a few of them will pop open but that is okay. They should mostly stay intact though.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into cubes and work into flour mixture with a pastry blender or use your fingers. The butter should be broken down to where only small pieces are visible. It should resemble a coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, combine the heavy cream, orange zest, and honey; making sure the honey is completely incorporated into the cream. Pour your heavy cream mixture and cranberries into the flour mixture, folding a few times until it forms a dough (if you are using fresh cranberries, be careful you don’t break many of them).

Knead your dough on a floured surface 2 or 3 times (the key to light and fluffy scones is to not knead them too much). Roll out the dough until it is about an inch thick. I used a pizza cutter to cut my dough into triangles (don’t worry if they aren’t the perfect shape. When they puff up in the oven, that will take care of the imperfections).

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve fresh with coffee or tea. Enjoy!

 

*Recipe taken from Inspired Taste

A Recipe | Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Cumin on a Toasted Brioche Bun

Growing up, my family didn’t do much cooking. My mom mostly made recipes handed down from my grandmother; tried and true classics like homemade pizza, chicken pot pie, lasagna, and apple crunch (don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said about the hand-me-down foolproof recipes – but more on that later!). All of these dishes air on the less healthy side of the food spectrum. When my dad started cleaning up his act, running marathons and doing Iron Mans (which are just really long triathlons), well needless to say, he cleaned up his diet too. Though I don’t like to admit it, my affinity for healthy eating is due in large part to him.

For this reason, I’m very fortunate to be drawn to healthy grains and proteins, fruits, and seasonal vegetables. There’s so much I love about the Christmas season, but why did we make it a time to pig out on cookies and cakes?! I love me some sweets as much as the next person, but this girl needs a break. So if you need me, you’ll find me south of the border (The U.S. border for those of you reading from afar).

I don’t really know why, but I have been craving a black bean burger lately. Maybe it’s because of all the sugary, seasonal eats. Or maybe I’m wanting to escape to a warmer climate where I can sip cocktails on the beach. Either way, I’ll follow my taste buds. There’s a local restaurant that serves up a killer black bean burger! I get it almost every time we go in. It is drizzled with some kind of sauce and topped with melted cheese. Add to that a simple side salad and a nice IPA to finish it off! This is my own recreation of that dish, a nostalgia of warm, summer days, and all things south of the border!

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Black bean burgers are delicious, nutritious, and very easy to make. When I thought about how I wanted my burger to taste, I knew I wanted a classic black bean burger with a little bit of kick. I didn’t want it to overpower the burger, but to complement it in a pleasing way. Cumin is essential to a black bean burger. Just trust me on this one. Whatever else you throw in there, make sure cumin is in there too. Cumin has kind of an earthy taste that lends itself very well to the black beans. I think anything else would have been too spicy.

And then there’s the cilantro. Oh I love me some cilantro. Perfect in any Mexican dish like guacamole or a Mexican quinoa dish I make which I will share later! Too much cilantro and it’s overpowering but just right and it’s a wonderful kick to add to any dish. That’s the role cilantro plays in this black bean burger.

To complete this south of the border inspired burger, place on a toasted brioche bun (any type of bun will do but the brioche seemed like a heartier option) and melt some swiss cheese or cheese of your choice. I added a simple side salad with kale and thinly sliced radishes. Not pictured: Rockmill’s Witbier Ale brewed with spices. I don’t think it technically goes but it was a gift from a friend and anything from Rockmill is good any time of the year. Besides, we aren’t as picky as those winos ; ).

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Recipe |  Black Bean Burger with Cumin and Cilantro

Makes 2 burgers

Ingredients:

1 can black beans

1 egg

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mash up the black beans with a fork or potato masher. You want most of the beans to be mashed with a few whole beans throughout. Add in the bread crumbs, egg, cumin, cilantro, and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Form into a patty (note: these patties do not expand like a hamburger, so make it the size you want it) and place on a skillet – I used my cast iron skillet with a little cooking spray. Cook on medium heat until both sides are browned. Place your cheese on top and cover to melt; 1-2 minutes. If you want to toast your bread, rub some butter on both the top and bottom of your bread and place in the warm cast iron skillet (making sure it doesn’t burn) to get a toasty brown color.

Serve with a simple salad and a cold beer! Enjoy!

A Recipe | Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Galette With Thyme and Goat Cheese

As the cold weather sets in, I’m hunkering down for the winter. I don’t much care for the cold, but I do like to be cozy in the midst of it. By all rights, I should be tucked away in a cabin writing away the remainder of my life. But I digress. My thoughts have turned to all things Christmas – putting up the tree, decorating, doing countless DIY projects, working with real pine and florals, and figuring out what I’m going to buy (or make) for the special people in my life.

My thoughts turn to food too during this time of year not only because it is our daily sustenance, but also because it is an exciting time in the culinary world. My mind drifts off to warm and hearty soups and stews, beans and lentils, or roasted butternut and acorn squash. Buying seasonally from a farmer’s market is truly a beautiful thing. Even if you choose to buy seasonal at the grocery store in a sea of “variety” well, that’s beautiful too – if not more so. Seasonality livens us, sustains us, makes us whole.

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A galette is a rustic french pastry that is both simple and classic. The nice thing about galettes is the combination of ingredients and flavors is truly endless. Create a savory galette like this one, or a sweet one with apples, pears, or cranberries – whatever suits your fancy. This was my first savory galette, including my first recipe I developed on my own – that tantalizing but scary plunge every cook knows they must take sooner or later. I must say I think it turned out very well for my first round.

Mushrooms have been used a lot in savory dishes, especially galettes; and with good reason. Mushrooms have many health benefits and give off incredible flavor when cooked. Sauté them in a little butter or olive oil, or grill them (I think I can taste it now). I could eat cooked mushrooms by themselves, but it’s the accompaniment of herbs and cheeses in this galette that takes it to the next level. Add to that the caramelized onions and you get a note of sweetness. I had debated between ricotta and goat cheese for this but I’m glad I went with the goat cheese. The tartness of the goat cheese lends for an earthy finish to this rustic galette. This is a recipe you can turn to on those cold, winter nights, for a morning brunch, or simply because you want to use up some ingredients in your kitchen. Whatever it is, throw it into a galette and hope for the best. I did. Enjoy!

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Recipe: Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Galette With Thyme and Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

For the crust

1 cup of flour

5 1/3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water, or more as needed

For the filling

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. Crimini mushrooms

2 medium shallots, cut lengthwise and caramelized

1/2 tablespoon thyme

2 tablespoons goat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine ingredients for the pastry and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, start caramelizing the onions. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a 9 inch skillet. Caramelize the onions until they are translucent and golden in color, about 15 minutes. Once they are done, set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp butter in the same skillet. Add garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms have softened, toss in the thyme to warm. Take off the heat and combine with onions.

Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out. Spoon in your mushroom and onion mixture in the center, leaving about a 2 inch margin on the sides. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Roll up sides of pastry holding the mixture inside, but leaving the middle exposed.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

How To Find Inspiration in Everyday Life

As a blogger, I feel my main job is to conjure up inspiration. Not only because it nourishes my soul, but because I know it’s beneficial to you all as well. Inspiration is sorely lacking in our culture due to its fast pace and cookie cutter routine. Occasionally we’ll catch glimpses of the sun and then it’s back into the clouds; work, emails, holidays, take the kids to school, etc. Needless to say, I find myself there sometimes – I’m there now. Being in the business of inspiration these days is hard. But I’m only human. Life isn’t one long Kinfolk magazine or Pinterest board, no matter how hard you try. Life gets real. If your tank runs on empty for a few days or a week, that’s okay. You’ll pick it up again soon enough. So how can you find daily inspiration in the midst of life’s chaos without going overboard?

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Let inspiration come to you

True inspiration presents itself when we least expect it (I feel like that must be a quote from somewhere). In other words, I think it should come about organically. It will come across authentic and true when it isn’t forced. You don’t want to get to the point where you are spinning your wheels, forcing you to throw in the towel. Unfortunately, inspiration doesn’t abide by your calendar and neither does life sometimes. I swear I made homemade pasta last night without a pasta roller and it was amazing but I was rushing to get it done and could not get pictures! Sometimes we just have to accept how things play out. (More on that homemade pasta later!) Appreciate those inspiring sunsets, baked goods, homemade pasta, and gathered friends for what they are. And appreciate those times when you feel no inspiration at all, because it’s perfectly normal. You’ll be happier and more content in the process.

Get to the heart of what inspires you

Why do you do what you do? For me, I post recipes and DIY tutorials because it represents a life of simplicity and of slowing down. If you are to be intentional about something, you must find the motivation behind why you’re doing it; it is the key driver to all that you do.

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Inspiration comes in big and small packages

There’s a common misconception that in order for something to be inspiring, it must be a burst of light, great epiphany type of moment. My favorite inspiring moments are the ones that are so small, only I can see it. Like it’s a well kept secret only I can understand. Just the other day as I was leaving work, in the hills behind the shop I saw an albino deer silhouetted against the dark green trees. It was a beautiful sight (and I would have captured it with my camera had it not been so far away!). Sometimes it’s not about trying to capture the moment but savoring the moment with awe and reverence (but that’s besides the point, had to say it though). I stood there, the cool, crisp air whispering through the trees and I relished the quiet of that moment, actually happy that I couldn’t document it.

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Inspiration is everywhere

If you live in say, Europe, New England, the Pacific Northwest, or Tennessee (to name a few) you most likely don’t suffer from a lack of inspiration where you live. But I live in Ohio. Lancaster, Ohio to be exact. Where’s that? Yeah, that’s usually what most people say. It’s right between Columbus and Athens. Columbus – Buckeye central also home of the Short North and the North Market. Athens – hippie central that is home to Donkey Coffee, Casa Nueva, and Ohio University (an incredibly beautiful campus) where I graduated from college.

But there’s not much I can say about Lancaster. We have a Chipotle, a Starbucks, and a nice bike path that people can get mugged on. But I’m learning to appreciate where I’m at. It’s true, I’d rather be in an idyllic location like Europe or Tennessee in the states tucked away in a cabin writing out the remainder of my days. But there is uniqueness waiting to be found around every corner, interpreted, and brought to life.

So how do you find inspiration in your everyday life? You let it come to you and you let life happen. Don’t think about it so much and it will come easy. Appreciate where you’re at in life and make the most of it. Document, create, bake, photograph, live.

A Tribute to Bluegrass

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I want to take this time to toast a long-forgotten American pastime: bluegrass. As I was waiting for my next post inspiration, I realized I was listening to it (specifically, I was listening to the Tillers who are fantastic by the way). Listening to bluegrass just sort of makes you forget all your problems for the moment. The banjo and the fiddle transport you to a familiar yet unknown world. It’s a time that often gets overlooked but is rich in cultural history. I think about the old American West where times were simpler but drought, famine, and disaster was abundant. They needed songs to lift their spirits as we do today.

My taste in music has changed a lot over time, as is the case for most people. I remember as a young girl listening to the Spice Girls and N’Sync (don’t judge me, it was the 90s). Then it was R&B and hip hop during the junior high and early high school years (I realize I’m being very vulnerable with you right now). Later, I began listening to heavier stuff, you know the kind where they scream a lot? From there it mellowed out a lot and I began listening to indie / folk music like the Avett Brothers, Alexi Murdoch, and the Album Leaf to name a few. Now, it’s bluegrass.

I owe my love of bluegrass to Andrew and his talented musician friends who decided to get together and start something different. At first, I was skeptical. So was Andrew for a little while. Like I said, my taste in music has changed dramatically. I never dreamed bluegrass would be at the forefront. I will say I think bluegrass is an acquired taste – like coffee or beer. But after attending numerous practices and show upon show, it began to grow on me.

I know very little about bluegrass and its roots (only because I haven’t yet taken the time to do some research). With my limited knowledge I do know of some big names like Bill Monroe and John Hartford. But nestled here in the Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio, we enjoy local bands, local friends, and local venues.

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I would have to say besides the music, my favorite part to this has been the friendships. Bluegrass brings people together. There’s a certain amount of camaraderie in the crowd when we throw all our preconceived notions aside and dance (or maybe that’s the beer, could be ;))!

Most of all, I like bluegrass because it’s simple. And musically, it’s good listening. None of this vulgar bump and grind stuff and maybe my dog died so I’m going to sing a sad song about it. We’re singing about the good ol’ days, a train going down the tracks, or the hills of Tennessee. It’s simple and it’s wholesome. For a girl who would love nothing more than to be shut up in a cabin with her thoughts and a pen and paper (and maybe a hot tub for added luxury), it works. Bluegrass fits in just fine with the simple life.

If you want to know more about this band I started talking about earlier, they are called the Hocking River String Band. Originating out of the Hocking Hills area, they are excellent musicians who know how to put on a good show! I’ve never danced my hardest with any other band! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. It starts to feel like a family after a while. You can visit their Facebook page, or search for them on instagram (hockingriverstringband). You can also find their music on iTunes and Spotify!

The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!
The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!

If you live in Ohio and you’re in the Columbus, OH or Athens, OH areas, Hocking River String Band hosts a bluegrass festival in the Hocking Hills. The Duck Creek Log Jam festival is one of the most laid back festivals I’ve been to. Camp out for the weekend and you can expect good music, good food, a relaxing atmosphere, and beer that is always flowing. If you want to know more or want to reserve your spot for the spring campout you can visit their official page.

So here’s to you bluegrass! May you never lose that spark of simplicity and authenticity!

Made from Scratch | Make Your Own Holiday Wreath

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all prepared for today’s festivities! There’s nothing more warm or comforting than spending quality time with the people we love. Even though I love Thanksgiving, I’m really looking forward to Christmas! And if there’s one thing I despise most during the Christmas season, it’s tacky and fake decorations. There is so much beauty in the natural world and it is just waiting to be discovered. You could pay around $20 for a pre-made wreath that doesn’t look that great anyway, or a couple bucks for a wreath you can make yourself. All you need is a wire or wooden frame, some scissors, and twine. Most of all you need some greenery. Real pine is free and it’s beautiful. The only downside is the needles fall off like crazy after a while. So, if you want your wreath to last until next season, you can do fake pine. You’ll still save money by doing it yourself.

Other than saving money, why would anyone want to make their own wreath? Nobody has time for that. Just go to the store and buy one, right? Well, it’s all about being more connected to our surroundings and appreciating what goes into making a product. Convenience has become our alma mater in the United States, particularly. The truth is someone somewhere had to take the time to make that wreath. And we take their handiwork for granted as we snatch up that product before someone else has the chance to get it. Although I don’t make everything myself, I do try as much as possible to take the load off others.

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The beauty of wreath making is the possibilities of how you want it to look are truly endless! A few weeks ago, I made a simple foraged pine wreath with some dried flowers I stuck in for embellishment. But I knew I wanted to expand on that. This time I did an off-set wreath with blue spruce and holly berries. I also did a wreath with Italian Ruscus I had leftover from my gathering. The only greenery that cost me anything was the Italian Ruscus; everything else was foraged.

Something else kinda cool is hydrangea wreaths. The bunches of hydrangea create a lush and beautiful wreath. Since hydrangea can range from brown to green to pink in color, you may want to spray paint it to give it an even color. Or, you can let it keep its natural color. After that, you can decorate with pine cones or berries if you’d like.

And once you start doing wreaths, you’ll want to do other natural decor too like garlands and swags, and maybe a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one (trust me, that’s all on my list for this season).

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My main point out of all of this (other than to show you pretty wreaths) is to demonstrate that the Christmas season can be less hectic if you choose it to be. Foraging and making things from scratch forces you to slow down. You can’t do this stuff well in a hurry. I know as I was making these, I appreciated the nature God provides and the ability to work with my hands to create something beautiful.

It’s not about being like Martha Stewart as my dad so lovingly puts it (although she does have a lot of good ideas). It’s about getting back to our roots and living how we were meant to live; in touch with our surroundings and working with our hands. We’ve become so desensitized by our modern culture that we no longer appreciate where something came from, how it was made, etc. It’s time to turn the tides on that. You can make a difference just by choosing to make something from scratch instead of buying it from a store.

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your “made from scratch” Christmas! What are some of your favorite wreath designs?

Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone!

Cheers! – Adele

A Thanksgiving Gathering – Part 1

If you’ve been following along in my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been preparing for a Thanksgiving gathering! Well, it’s over now and I wanted to share with you all how it went! It went surprisingly well!! I only say that because this was my first time hosting a gathering. I did all the cooking, cleaning, styling, decorating, and planning. Let me tell you, it’s not easy but it’s rewarding and fun when you’re around people who care about you!

I did a lot of preparation in advance. The table decor was simple, so I had that out of the way early. I made my own linen napkins which saved me some money too. Flowers of the Good Earth was able to supply me with the florals. I used Italian Ruscus which looked great on a Thanksgiving table! Since my table was simple, I could focus more on other things.

I didn’t grow up in a cooking family, per say. My mom mainly cooked my grandma’s recipes that were handed down to her. When she does cook it is few and far between. I started learning how to cook surprisingly with my boyfriend, Andrew. When we started dating we began cooking a lot of meals together. And my love for cooking grew from there.

I’m not a food connoisseur by any means. That’s why I was mainly stressing over the food. I wanted everything to taste good, I wanted everything to get done on time, and I didn’t want to poison my guests with the turkey! Needless to say, everything got done ahead of schedule, the food tasted great, and we didn’t have to order pizza (a win in my book)!

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For dessert: Pear and Frangipane Tart

 

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The decor and food aside, it’s all about the company of people. That’s why we gather. We gather for the friendships and the conversations – it just happens to be around food! And honestly, all my stressing disappeared when my friends started arriving. It didn’t matter if things didn’t get done on time, or something wasn’t absolutely perfect, they supported this endeavor and that meant the world to me!

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My friend Jon made a sign for my blog!

Menu

Starter

Warm Quinoa Salad with Broccoli and Acorn Squash, Tossed in a Lemon Vinaigrette

Main Dish

Oven Roasted Turkey

Sides

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Wild Mushroom and Brioche Stuffing

Autumn Roasted Root Vegetables (Carrots and Beets)

Dessert

Pear and Frangipane Tart Topped with Brown Sugar and Pine Nuts

 

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your next gathering – whether that’s for Thanksgiving,

Christmas, or any other time of the year! Getting together with friends and people who care about you is what it’s all about. The biggest thing is not to stress too much and do lots of planning ahead of time! You will thank yourself and your guests will enjoy themselves more. Don’t worry if something isn’t absolutely perfect because if you’re with people who care about you, does it really matter anyway? Besides, perfection is not what we’re about.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a lot of pictures because I was running around doing things. My dear friend Sarah took the majority of the pictures so be on the lookout for part 2! If you want to see all that led up to this, you can check out the archives. I have some tips, DIY tutorials, and general inspiration for you!

Until next time – happy gathering!

A Thanksgiving Gathering: Styling a Simple Table

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If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a series of Thanksgiving posts – tips and tricks to get you prepared for your dinner. It’s all leading up to a gathering I’m hosting which is… this Saturday (oh boy!). You can look through the archives or my latest posts to find the series! This will be the last post of the series until, of course, the gathering! And then I can show you all how it went! I don’t know when I will have time to get the post on the gathering up so I wanted to give you some inspiration on how to style your table before turkey day!

There are so many ways to style a table. Some are elaborate and some are simple. I am more drawn to the simple side. It is easy on your wallet, but looks really elegant and tasteful at the same time. When the decor is simple, we can focus more on the food (and I need to focus on the food!), the people we have over, and the conversations that are born. It also means a poor girl can pull off a fabulous table!

Entertaining is new to me. And I’ll be honest, it’s a little scary. Will the food turn out alright? Will people have a good time? Growing up my parents never really entertained – nothing this elaborate and certainly not for Thanksgiving. It was just the 4 of us, the table filled with food with every inch that could be spared. The house toasty warm from the fireplace and the smell of turkey permeating every room. We walk into the kitchen after what seems like an endless amount of waiting and feast our eyes on the food. So it was about the food and being together. And it is no different now.

Although the table at the gathering won’t look exactly like this, I wanted to give you some idea of what it will look like. I have been inspired by a simple style that a lot of other stylists and bloggers have taken to. I really love the simple greenery going down the center. I think it gives the decor an earthy feel. If you don’t want a swag, you can do flowers in vases if you’d like. Or no florals, it’s up to you! I am using Italian Ruscus for my centerpiece but it would be just as easy to forage some pine too! It also helps that I work at a flower shop so I get a discount!

The candles are elegant and yet simple. Nothing too fancy. The linen napkins I made myself. I folded them, wrapped them in twine, and stuck a piece of greenery in the center. Again, it’s a simple and rustic look and can be achieved at a low cost. Bonus: buy linen when it’s on sale or there’s a big sale going on in the store! At Joann’s I had a 60% off coupon and I got a third yard for half off! If you want to know how to make your own linen napkins too, you can view my post on it here.

Almost everything I either got at a discount, secondhand, or a thrift store. Entertaining simply and on a budget can be done! I can’t wait to show you the actual gathering, but this will have to do for now! I hope this gave you some inspiration for your Thanksgiving gathering! Especially if you want to go simple this year!

Next, I will show you the highlights of the gathering so be sure not to miss that!

How do you decorate for Thanksgiving on a budget? I would love to hear from you!