From Entertaining

Christmas buffet centerpiece

It’s Dare to DIY week number two and I’m doing my best to keep the pace.  This week’s challenge was to make something for your holiday table with entertaining in mind.  We generally entertain at least once during the Christmas season and, when we do, it rarely involves a seated dinner.  Due to the layout of our house and the size of the group, we generally set the food out in more of a buffet style.

So, I pulled together a centerpiece that could work for a proper table setting or a buffet.  And since I’m working a bit last minute on this challenge, I used only supplies that I already had on hand.

As I perused my house for inspiration, I spotted my glass hurricane candle holder that has only ever been used with a candle inside and decided to turn in into a cloche of sorts for a mini winter scene.

Inside you’ll find a couple of bottle brush trees, pinecones, blue glass ornaments and some pillow stuffing.

Yes, I remove stuffing from pillows for my craft projects.  You’ll understand why my pillows are a bit flat the next time you come over, right?

I was really wishing I had some mini woodland animals to insert into my display, or a snowman. I couldn’t come up with anything with what I had on hand, but you can imagine that the possibilities are endless.

So, there you have it—a quick, easy and inexpensive way to change up your holiday table decor.  If you’re entertaining this holiday season, be sure to check out the other inspiring Dare to DIY projects (hosted this week by Decor and the Dog)!  And feel free to check out my full buffet vignette  from 2012.

Happy holiday decorating!


Thanksgiving Table: Feather place card

This is an official truth in blogging post.

Truth #1: I purchased pheasant feathers at a craft store to make place cards for my Thanksgiving table.

Truth #2: I did this, in large part, so that I could participate in week two of the Dare to DIY Challenge: Dare to Entertain.

Truth #3: I didn’t actually use the place cards and only made one to share in this post because my dear, sweet husband told me that feathers are disgusting.

But, if for some reason you don’t think feathers are disgusting, you could totally make a fun, cheap and easy place card holder for your next dinner party.  I paired mine with some pussy willow branches and a gourd for a simple fall feel.

To make the place card I used a single feather and attached a hand-cut leaf shape with my name.  I cut the leaf out of a brown paper lunch bag using pinking shears.

Pinking shears are the best.  You’re really not supposed to cut paper with them, but when you’re just making one disgusting feather place card, it should be okay.

Okay, so now that you know I essentially faked this whole blog post, you can head on over to Maybe Matilda to check out all the real Dare to Entertain posts!

Hope you had a lovely, feather-free Thanksgiving!



You can tell we have company coming when I buy bagels.  The nice ones from the bakery.  And cream cheese of the full fat variety.  It’s just that perfect comfort breakfast to offer when we are running out the door to work.  And even if our guests only eat a banana, it still looks like we tried.

Here’s hoping that I don’t eat them all before our guests arrive.  Don’t you just love sesame seeds?

Happy weekend to all of you!

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Brie

It seems like all I am posting these days is recipes, but this one must be shared.  If you like a good appetizer and you like to pretend you have fancy pants like me, then you should make baked brie (and then call it brie en croute if you are really fancy).

You can Google about a gazillion different ways to prepare this, but it’s really so simple that you don’t need a recipe.

All you need is a wheel of brie, some thawed puff pastry dough (you can find it in the freezer section at your grocery store, usually near the frozen desserts/fruit), and something yummy to layer (I chose Stonewall Kitchen’s Strawberry Balsamic Jam).

Roll the puff pastry dough until it is large enough to wrap around your cheese and then layer as shown below.

Once you have your layering complete, just wrap the dough up and around the brie and flip the whole thing over and down onto a well-greased baking sheet or round cake pan.  You can decorate with cut-outs from the leftover dough, or just leave it plain.  Either way, brush the whole wheel with an egg wash (egg wash = 1 beaten egg + 1 TBS water).

Then bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Let the brie sit for about a half-hour before serving with some crackers or crusty bread.  I am getting hungry just thinking about it…

And, as I mentioned before, there are so many variations you could try.  You could use cranberry sauce instead of jam, or go a more savory route with parsley and almonds.  Trust me, you’ll have the fanciest pants at any holiday party if you show up toting this snack.


Tangerine and navy Thanksgiving table

I rarely set a real table.  We are lucky if we actually meet at the dinner table with our respective reheated plates.  But Thanksgiving is one of the excuses I like to use to set a real, pretty table.  And it helps that I annually get motivated by the Dare to Entertain challenge of the NewlyWoodwards Dare to DIY series.

You might have seen my failed painted pumpkin effort, and now you can see that I went in a totally different direction for our table…a much more natural direction of tangerines and nuts.  As it turns out, spray paint—even if it looks good—still has a faint toxic smell.  Bummer.  Tangerines smell good, though.

Can you see the mistake I made in setting the table?  I was too lazy to check my own how-to-set-a-table post.  Bonus points to anyone who can comment with my error.

Can I tell you a secret?  I set this table last Sunday, took pictures, and took it all down.  I knew I wouldn’t have time this weekend, so I did my table setting assignment ahead of time so that I could participate in the challenge!  Add some gravy to that crazy.

Now I need to recreate this table setting for Thursday, and for two additional people and two high chairs.  Hmmmm….

To make the tangerine candle holder, I just cut a small circle of the peel off the top, then shoved the candle in.  Very fancy.  I recommend doing this over the sink so that the juice doesn’t come out on your table cloth.

Oh, and it’s been a week, and the tangerines still look decent.  I think they will actually make it until Thursday.

The centerpiece is a simple piece of navy pottery with assorted nuts.

I plan to add some nutcrackers to the table on Thursday, so the centerpiece can be pretty and edible.

Other than the nuts and tangerines, I used what I had on hand.  I started with a gold-tone table cloth, layered with a navy scarf from my closet.  Then I added the gold chargers and the rest speaks for itself!

I whipped up place cards using a brown paper lunch bag and some tooth picks.

Simple, yet effective.  Right?

I was taking these pictures right around 3:30 p.m., which is around the time we expect to have our Thanksgiving feast, so this picture is what our table will look like.  If the sun is out, that is!

Have you made plans for your Thanksgiving table?  If not, you can check out my tables from years past (here and here) and check out the other tables over at NewlyWoodwards!

Happy table setting…


The Thanksgiving Puzzle

Hi.  My name is Erin and I am a total Thanksgiving geek.  I love hanging out with family and eating things like turkey, cranberry sauce and pie, and I love the challenge.


That stuffy picture is from Pinterest.  I would never put a fresh fruit garnish around my turkey, just for the record.

Ever since preparing my first Thanksgiving dinner in 2006 (for my then-future-in-laws) I’ve been addicted to planning and prepping Thanksgiving dinners.  Maybe it’s just me, but there is something so satisfying about orchestrating the series of events that must take place in order for the various elements of The Meal to be set out on the table all at once.

Not that I’ve ever achieved that type of perfection in a Thanksgiving dinner. But I like to try.

Really it’s like one big puzzle.  Just like I use the cover of the box to help solve a puzzle, I use a finished meal to figure out how to get there.  First I determine all the elements of our meal and list all of the ingredients needed to make those elements.  Then I make my game plan by thinking through how and when each element needs to be cooked or prepared, factoring in key things…you know, like that the oven will be in use for most of the day with the turkey and can’t be used for other things.

So, in the coming days, I’ll be making my lists and game plans to prepare the feast that will take place at our house!  And now I present to you…our menu (subject to change)…


Main Meal


  • Gingerbread cake
  • Strawberry rhubarb pie (if I can find any rhubarb)
  • Apple pie
  • Chocolate cream pie (this request came through as I was writing this post!)

We’re so excited to have family here for Thanksgiving (there will be six adults, two babies and two dogs!)  And, obviously, I’m excited to put the big meal together with everyone that will be here to help.  What do you have planned for Thanksgiving?

If you need last-minute menu ideas, you can check this post, and this post…and this post!