Monday, November 23, 2015

Portraits in the Playroom

See this happy little stinker?  Mills is in her happy place surrounded by her best stuffed friends and a book. 

That happy place is this elephant saddle filled with stuffed animals in the playroom.  Can you find her in there?  Both of my children feel right at home snuggled up in it with a book.  For a long time, I only had the portrait of JR by the amazing Stella Ehrich hanging on the wall but I felt bad that Mills wasn't represented!  

I'm not quite ready to commission Stella to paint Millie's portrait yet because I want wait until she is four, like JR was in his but, in the meantime, I'm excited to create a bit of a gallery wall in the room with these sweet additions!

The letterpress silhouettes are from Minted and would make the best Christmas Gift!  Aren't they sweet? 

The watercolors were a birthday gift from our wonderful nanny, Kaitlin and were painted by her friend, Kara Tinsley

You might still be asking yourself why we have an elephant saddle in our house?  I love having pieces in my house that have a story and this one certainly does!  The elephant saddle belonged to my father-in-law who received it as a gift after he completed a film in Africa.  It sat in storage for a while and then my husband had it in his bachelor pad before we married.  He had a glass top cut for it and used it as a bar but now it stands filled with stuffed animals as a snuggle spot for our children.  Now that is coming full circle!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Big Momma's Turkey Chili

Looking for an easy way to feed your crew over the holidays?  Look no further! My mother's famous and unbelievably easy Turkey Chili recipe is here.

1 lb ground turkey
3 cans corn (drained)
3 cans kidney beans (drained)
1 large can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 jar of Traditional Ragu (my mother insists that it must be Ragu!)
2 packets of Chili Powder
1 cup diced celery

Sauté the turkey until brown

Dump (yes, dump!) all ingredients into a slow cooker and heat.  

Serve with Fritos, shredded cheese and sour cream!

We typically make this in a slow cooker but you can do it in a dutch oven as well.  Just be sure to stir it often.

Oh, and by the way, if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for friends, check out this monogrammed acrylic cookbook holder!  Pair it with your favorite cookbook, like James Farmer's A Time to Cook or Jacqueline Cavender's As the Spur Stirs, for a perfect present!

Photography by John Cain Sargent and Kelsey Wilson Foster at White Oaks Ranch.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Fall Fireside Gathering

I hope you have plans with your friends and family this Thanksgiving season and I hope they include marshmallows and a fire!  We held a gathering at White Oaks Ranch around the fire pit for all ages and enjoyed the crisp Fall weather we are now enjoying in Texas!  

 We threw on a fire and put together some sips and nibbles and had just tried to relax.

The crisp air was fresh and perfect for a cape and gloves!  I have been waiting for an excuse to pull out these monogrammed gloves from Mark and Graham! 

If you only make one thing from this post, I hope it will be the Warm Citrus Olives.  They were amazing and, by far, the most popular dish.  I served them in Belly-Shaped Saucepan with one of my Halo Home by KSW fringe napkins 

Holiday Cranberry, Orange, Walnut & Goat Cheese Dip was served in a silver dish on a wooden charger from World Market .  I love the charger as a serving tray but it is so versatile.  It can add height to a buffet or serve as a dramatic charger at everyone's place setting for a seated dinner.

These  Savory Cheesecake Bites with Crab, Grapefruit and Avocado were an unexpected twist on our outdoor casual theme but I like that they added something unexpected.

Of course, we treated the drinks with the same care as the menu! 

 A little something for all was offered including this spiced tea which hit the spot!  It is a family recipe that our amazing food stylist, Stephanie Greenwood,  shared with us.

Spiced Tea  - A Greenwood Family Favorite

2 qts. Water
½ tsp to 1 Tb of whole cloves
3 to 6 sticks cinnamon
Place these in a large pan and bring to a boil.  Let them boil for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Add 3 Tb of loose black tea and steep 10 minutes.  Using a strainer, pour liquid into container for the tea.
Add 1 large can of pineapple juice (might be 1 quart and ¼ oz or something), 1 ½ cup of sugar, 1 small can frozen orange juice, a couple of Tbs of real lemon and 3 orange juice cans of water.

Zest 3 Sunkist Lemons and Juice and then add in the Dried Citrus at the end! 

You can add spiced rum to it if you want as well! 

 For those who were wanting something with a bit of a kick, this Grapefruit IPA Twist  did the trick! 

I don't know who enjoyed this hammered copper tub of Vintage Style Sodas from World Market more, the children of the adults!   Not only were they delicious but they sparked some fun conversations too!  They are sold in a twelve pack that makes a fun gift too!

 But, of course, the highlight of the afternoon was roasting marshmallow.  We put our own citrus twist on the marshmallows after they were roasted by adding a slice of citrus and drizzling them in Annie B's Baking Caramel.  It was so good!

 I swear that I didn't ask my children to stand like this.  It just happened and, thank God, the camera was near by!  What a precious moment I will always remember and cherish.  

Big Thanks to the fabulous team who helped put this together!  
Assisted by Kathy Short
Photographer: Kelsey Foster Wilson
Photography Assistant: Rachel Strum
Food Stylist: Stephanie Greenwood
Food Stylists Assistant: Amanda Mobley

This post was created in partnership with Sunkist Growers and products were provided by World Market, Both are brands that I love!  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's Spode Sale Time Again!

Last year about this time, I posted about a major sale on Spode!  Much of it is 75% off!  I didn't want you to miss the sale this year so I'm making sure that you are among the first to know that it is back!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

La Bella Vita

I don't know why I was waiting for an excuse to have a group of friends over this month!  It was so easy to whip together and fun to do.  I need to keep "La Bella Vita" in mind at all times.  It is a great reminder that friends, family and fun are really the most important part of life! I get wrapped up in my busy days and forget to soak in the good times!  That is why this get together was so special to me.  

My friends at Frangelico gave me the excuse I was looking for.  I was thrilled when they asked if Justin and I would host a little something at our house so that a small group could taste some of their signature cocktails and enjoy a nice relaxed evening together.

When they told us that Giada was their brand ambassador, we were inspired to bring a little bit of the Italian life into our Texas home.  

We covered our dining table in wooden boards and connected them with bunches of plump delicious grapes and mounds of antipasto treats for our guests to nibble on.  Of course we provided plates for those who wanted them but does anything suit La Bella Vita lifestyle more than savory finger foods?

We also set up an olive oil bar with varieties of olive oil and crostini. 

"I love incorporating the fresh ingredients I'm using in my cooking as decorations for the table."  - Giada  

Well, that was easy to do and so pretty!  Sprigs of Rosemary were mixed in with other greenery all over the house and it smelled so subtle but beautiful.  

We also added lemons and limes into our decor for pops of color against our white flowers and overflowing greenery.

We filled little Le Creuset Stoneware Mini Round Cocottes with pasta and passed them around the party.

We served some delicious cocktails using Frangelico.  I learned a lot because I always thought of Frangelico as an "after dinner drink" but these were amazing!  

Our friend Doug said that the Frangelico Old Fashioned was the best he had ever had - and it was so much fun to make!  Just stir 1oz Frangelico, 1oz Wild Turkey Bourbon, 1/4oz Triple Sec, 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters in a stirring glass and pour over ice.  Garnish it with a flamed orange peel.

If you have ever read this blog before, you probably know that I have been preaching about the punch bowl!  It is back and if you are serving a large group, this Italian Holiday Punch is a good choice!  
2 Parts Frangelico
3 Parts Pomegranate Juice
2 Parts Skyy Infusions Costal Cranberry
1 Part Lime Juice
1/2 Part Orange Juice
1/2 Part Honey Solution
Mix all ingredients together in a large serving bowl or pitcher.  Serve in an ice-filled glass.  Garnish with clove-stuffed orange slices.

I love a guest book alternative, like this gratitude jar from Wisteria.  Isn't it darling?  It comes with all of these beautiful papers and we asked each of our guests to write a little something they were grateful for and pop it in the jar.  I'm going to keep it in my home as a reminder for all that we have to be grateful for.

Party favor bags included her Giada's new cookbook and a bottle of Frangelico.

We expected rain but it turned out to be a beautiful night!  We added some flowers and candles to our tables out side and I was happy that people lingered out!

Flowers by Hope Hill Designs
Photography  by John Cain Sargent
Citrus provided by Sunkist Growers
Big Huge Thanks to Swell

Big thanks for reading about our evening celebrating La Bella Vita! 

This post is in partnership with Frangelico, a brand I love. All opinions here are my own. Thank you for supporting the affiliate posts who make this blog possible.