Christmas Tablescape 2015

Christmas Tablescape 2015

I have been absent this past week and I missed you!  Last week, everyone in my house came down with a stomach bug and it all started with my youngest.  We thought it was an isolated incident and then a day later my other son started with the same symptoms, then my husband and last but not least – moi.  I was already feeling like I was falling behind on so many things, but the flu doesn’t care about to-do lists and Christmas.  The flu is heartless.

I didn’t want this week to end without wishing you all the best holidays ever!  In a few days we will have our home full of family and friends and we will be hosting our usual Christmas breakfast.  I already went grocery shopping and the table is set.  I just have to pace myself with the cooking and the prep work, and of course I have to clean the house.  I never give the house a thorough cleaning before Christmas, I just keep it relatively clean and I focus on the bathrooms and the areas that guests will be using.  After Christmas, when the tree comes down, that’s when I will break out the cleaning gloves.

I did want to share with you one more thing before I take a little Christmas break, and that is my table setting for the breakfast.  Below is a picture taken from my living room, which leads to the dining room.  I do enjoy having a formal dining room, although our daily meals are always around our kitchen table.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

 

The living room is always decorated in a pretty neutral palette and I like to use the same colors in the dining room.  This year it was gold, green and white.  The little deer are from Target and I purchased them last year.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

I collect napkin rings and napkins but I rarely buy any holiday-specific ones so that I can use them year-round.  Plus, all these items take up space and it’s not worth it to me if I can only use them once a year.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

As always, I like to bring in another texture and this really casual, woven placemat does the trick.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

The centerpiece was not really a centerpiece at all.  I placed little trees (none truly matched the other) along the center of the table, the deer as if walking through the table and finally, a set of ball ornaments in rose gold scattered throughout.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

This year I had an extra garland (the one I usually use in the buffet) and I placed it on the lamp.  I didn’t have to secure it, as the curves hug the garland in place.  It’s funny because I was walking around the house looking for a place to use the garland so that I wouldn’t have to store it back in the garage.  #ResourcefulAndLazy   I liked how it turned out so much that I may do this every year.

Christmas Tablescape 2015

I hope you enjoyed all the tablescapes that I shared this year.  I really enjoyed putting them together and sharing them with you.

I hope that we all feel well in time for Christmas day!  Enjoy every minute, my friends!

 

 

 

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

I think this is one of the most beautiful and elegant desserts I know of.  It is perfect for Valentine’s Day, if you make it in the heart mold, in the holidays because of its vibrant red color, or simply when friends are coming over for a casual dinner.  I first saw this recipe when Ina Garten made it on her show (that woman has skills!).   After we visited France 2 years ago, I started making all sorts of french food which surprisingly is pretty simple to make – at least the dishes I attempt to make are.  I wanted to come up with a good Coeur a la creme (heart with cream) recipe that included orange flavors and of course a delicious topping of raspberry sauce.  Most recipes are made with cream cheese but I decided to also add mascarpone to make it even more flavorful and creamy.

Ingredients:

4 oz creme cheese

8 oz mascarpone

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 1/4 cup of heavy cream

1/4 sour cream or creme fraiche

2 teaspoons of grated orange zest

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For sauce:

1 Cup of fresh strawberries (plus more for serving)

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Cup of raspberry jam (or strawberry jam)

2 tablespoons of cointreau

 

Note: This dessert needs to drain overnight in the refrigerator.  The cream cheese and mascarpone should be room temperature before using in the recipe.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

For this recipe you will need either an actual coeur a la creme dish (that I just added to my Amazon shop) or a sieve lined with cheesecloth will do.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

First let’s go ahead and prep our mold – whether the dish or the sieve.  Place the dish on top of a plate so that it can drain overnight and collect the liquid.  If using a sieve, place it on a bowl that keeps it leveled so that it can drain into the bowl overnight.  Line the dish or the sieve with a few sheets of cheese cloth.  There will be excess cloth on the outside of the mold and that’s perfect.  Later you will fill with the mixture and fold excess cloth over the top.

First we are going to make the actual coeur a la creme.  To a mixer, add the mascarpone cheese and the cream cheese and blend on medium-low.  Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and beat for a few minutes until incorporated.  Then add the heavy cream, sour cream, orange zest and vanilla and beat until it has soft peaks.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

Place the cream mixture into the lined mold (you may have leftover) and press a little on the sides so that it takes the shape of the heart.  Now fold the edges of the cheesecloth over the mold and cover the mixture.  Allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator.

While the coeur is in the fridge, let’s work on the sauce.  The sauce is almost exactly as Ina makes it, except I added cointreu to accentuate the orange flavor inside the creme filling.  I also strain my sauce to get rid of the raspberry seeds.

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water inside a pot.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes.  The raspberries will quickly soften and create a beautiful sauce.  Turn off the heat and add the jam and the cointreau to the sauce.  Allow to cool slightly and place inside a food processor and mix until smooth.

I take it a step further and strain the sauce, so that I don’t have any of the raspberry seeds in the sauce.  Of course, this part is optional.  Place the sauce inside the refrigerator.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

The next morning you can un-mold the coeur onto a plate and discard the liquid that drained over the night.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

Pour the sauce around the plate and drizzle some on top, along with fresh raspberries.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

Isn’t it a beautiful dessert?  I hope that you try it soon.  Feel free to pin the below image so that you can easily find it when you are ready.  It will be perfect for the holidays or you can wait to try it for Valentine’s Day.  I wouldn’t/couldn’t wait though.

What is your favorite dessert to make when you have dinner guests?

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Sauce

 

~ This posts contains links, one is a affiliate link.  Affiliate links don’t affect what you pay for the item, so you don’t pay more by purchasing through the link.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

Earlier this week I shared my Christmas Home Tour and promised details about my tree later in the week, so here it is.

I am actually joining a group of 25 bloggers who will be sharing their Christmas tree style with you – all week-long.  If you are following the blog hop from Blue I Style, welcome!  The “My Home Style – Christmas Edition” blog hop is hosted by Stephanie of Casa Watkins so stop by to see her beautiful tree as well!  We will all be describing the style that we choose for our tree and telling you how and where you can achieve a similar look.  Of course, if your tree is already up, you can just enjoy sitting back and checking out everyone’s tree.  That’s what I will be doing!

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

My style is classic, traditional and timeless.  So timeless that my tree has looked almost the same for years and I am still not tired of it.  Truth is that I have always wanted a fake Christmas tree because they are so much easier to decorate.  However, my husband won’t even hear it because he loves having a fresh tree in the house.  He likes the whole process of picking out the tree with the boys, the scent in the home…all of it.  Granted, I love all that as well,  it’s just the decorating that is more difficult.  You see, with a real tree you have to find the right branch for that perfect ornament, but I have learned to work around that.

Here we are picking out our tree this year.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

After we buy our tree and bring it home, my husband adds the lights and we allow our tree to rest overnight.  Since the branches have been constricted for some time, they need to open up naturally without the weight of ornaments.  Of course the kids don’t like to wait so they put on their santa hats and we start to sort the decorations for the following day.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

I have quite a few boxes of decorations in my garage and they are all labeled by color.  We have flocked our tree in the past and when we do, I like to use silver and blue accents, but my favorite is the vibrant red and green decor.  Every year I will add an ornament or two to our tree.  This year, I added the gold monogram ornament below.  Monogrammed items are my weakness.  That and salted caramel chocolates.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

Use medium and oversized ornaments.

I like to mix up different sized ornaments so the decor looks more dimensional.  I add big ornaments but they need to be plastic, because otherwise the natural tree would not hold them.  As far as color, all the ornaments are gold, red or green.  I found these ornaments on Amazon.com with all three colors.  They are a medium-sized which are great to fill in the tree.  The really large ones are from Bj’s Wholesale Club.  The poinsettia are from everywhere.  Some are picks meant for trees and others are pulled from faux poinsettia plants.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

Beautifully wrapped gifts add a designer look to the tree. 

I wait until Christmas to add the boys’ gifts but I start wrapping all the adult gifts early on so that they can go under the tree right away.  Wrapping paper and cloth ribbon is inexpensive and makes a huge difference to your tree.  So much so that if you don’t have gifts to place under your tree, you can consider wrapping empty boxes just to add color and fullness to the bottom of the tree.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

Mix trendy with traditional ornaments.  

Right now reindeer/antler items are the rage and I purchased a few of those decorations last year in an after-Christmas sale.  I also love “words” on the tree and Target seems to have a few new ones to choose from every year.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

Add metallic colors to pick up on the lights on the tree.

Admittedly, after decorating the tree, there is glitter everywhere but all those gold accents look beautiful once the tree lights are on.  I add gold garland all around the tree and a bunch gold twig picks throughout the empty spaces.

My Home Style Blog Hop: The Christmas Tree

That’s my tree.  Maybe next year my husband will be on board with buying a fake tree.  Actually, that will never happen.  In the meantime I will enjoy my real tree and enjoy the fact that it is a little different shape every year.  Who decorates the tree in your home?  You, the kids or everyone together?

Next up is Amy from My Life From Home and below are all the links to the hop.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  Buying through these affiliate links does not affect the price of the item.  Thank you for your support!

 

Eager for more Christmas Tree styles?
Check out the other Christmas Tree stylings by these amazing bloggers.
Monday:
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:
Friday:

 

My Home for Christmas

Hello friends!  I can tell you that I am officially done decorating my home for the Christmas season, and while I will be picking glitter out of my hair for the next week, I love all the decorations!  During the week I will give you many more details on all the rooms that I decorated (living room, dining room and family room) but for now I wanted to give you a quick tour of my home this Christmas.

I am joining  Hometalk.com and CountryLiving.com in a “Home for Christmas” event featuring lots of creative and talented bloggers.  I am sharing my home tour, but bloggers will be sharing different Christmas projects, so be sure to check out the links below and the hashtag #HomeForChristmas in all your social media.

Christmas Tour Cover

Some people choose a color scheme for the whole house and they bring it into every room.  While I love the idea and the cohesiveness of decorating within one color family, I tend to slowly inject holiday colors into the home.

The first room that I will share with you is my living room.  All the colors in this room are neutral so I only bring in white, gold and silver to decorate.

My Home for Christmas

Last year I shared my Christmas home tour and you may recall a similar setup.  I simply changed around some of the pillows, including this little one that says PEACE that I found on my last Target trip.  I went in for a candle and walked away with a cart full.  Story of my life.

My Home for Christmas

Since the gallery wall in the background is busy, I like to keep all the other surrounding tables decorated simply.  Here I placed a large initial hurricane (a $5.00 score at Marshalls) on top of a mercury class pedestal.

My Home for Christmas

I love these mercury glass ornaments but they are so heavy that I simply cannot place them on my tree.  Instead, I placed them on the same leaf that I used to decorate for fall, and I added greenery for a small pop of color.  To add a little dimension and interest, I placed the leaf on a rustic tree trunk slice.

My Home for Christmas

The opposite side remains almost untouched – those colors match my decor year-round.

My Home for Christmas

You may recall how I decorated my buffet for fall – I considered removing the wreath and adding the same one that I used last year.  After adding the “Merry and Bright” marquis sign and the little tree, I decided that this wreath would also work perfectly for Christmas.  I didn’t even have to pull out the ladder which is great!

My Home for Christmas

On the opposite side, there is a pop of color with the stockings for the whole family.  My kids really get into stocking stuffers so I purchased some big ones last year.

My Home for Christmas

Making another appearance this year is this sweet little tree from last years Christmas home tour, I just changed it’s spot.  It’s tempting to decorate exactly the same way year-after-year, but it’s way more fun to find a new home for decorations.  Sometimes as I am unloading the holiday boxes from the garage, I place something down on a surface meaning to go back to it later.  All of a sudden I look at it and think “I kinda like it there”.  A different perspective on an old decoration.

My Home for Christmas

Since the living room and dining rooms connect, I like to graduate color into the adjacent room.  I purchased 20 feet of fresh garland this year when we bought our tree and they said it should last 30 days – let’s see if it does.  For now, I love how it frames the entrance to the dining room.  I used Command Brand hooks to keep it from damaging the wall.

My Home for Christmas

In a few days I will fill you in on more details of the dining room, but it’s basically a lot of layering greens, gold and white.

My Home for Christmas

A little fur on the head chairs and small pillow soften the dark wood colors of the dining room furniture.

My Home for Christmas

So far we have been holding back on color but no more!  The family room is the fun room and our favorite room to hang out.  This isn’t even the “best” spot to put up our tree but we place it here so that we can enjoy it while watching T.V. and hanging out.  In a few days I will also give you all the details from my tree decorating adventures.

P.S. It involves broken ornaments…sigh.

My Home for Christmas

All my pillows are from different stores but they all work together nicely.  The throw and the reindeer pillow are from Target (last year) and the large fur one is from ZGallerie.  I love adding touches of black to anchor all the other colors.

My Home for Christmas

I had to take more than one picture because it’s a rare sight for all my pillows to be on the couch and not part of some “Fort” on the floor.

My Home for Christmas

More pillows – The one in the back is from ZGallerie and the front one (which I love) is from Marshalls.

My Home for Christmas

Almost done with the pillows.  Snowflake pillow is from Target and the beautiful (and personalized) one in the front is from Tiny Prints.   It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

My Home for Christmas

Don’t cut corners!  I love using baskets in corners full of pillows or throws.  Can you believe that the little deer pillow is from the Target dollar section?  Adorable right?

My Home for Christmas

So that’s my home for the holidays, but the fun doesn’t stop here. #HomeForChristmas is full of ideas and I encourage you to check them out by clicking  on the links below.  

Have you done all your Holiday decorating?  Do you do it all in one day or do you space out your decorating?

Home for Christmas

Christmas Eve Tablescape

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SienteGlade #CollectiveBias

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

Christmas Eve for Hispanic households is usually the largest feast they host all year.  That statement definitely rings true with my Cuban family.  In Spanish we call it “Noche Buena”, which translates to “Good Night”, and people from each country serve food that is specific to their culture.  Cubans serve roast pork, white rice, black beans, yucca (cassava) and all the usual Cuban faire.  The pig is usually roasted over coals and it becomes the center of attention at the food table.

In our family, we alternate as to who is hosting this special dinner.  Sometimes it’s us, sometimes my parents or my in-laws.  Everyone adds their special touches and go all out with decorating their home.  When we host it, I cannot fit everyone in my formal table, so we open up plastic tables in the backyard to accommodate everyone.  Granted, I decorate the plastic tables with disposable items because I want my party to be pretty but as practical as possible.  However, I still set my formal table every year.  Those who eat first can sit there or they can eat outside if they prefer.

Because I am incredibly long-winded, I had to say all that just to share with you our table setting for this year!  Since I host a brunch the following day, I wanted this table setting to be easy to take apart, easy to put together and affordable.  All these holiday parties can add up!  $$$

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

I went to Target (I haven’t been there in a while…promise) and I found a ton of items for my table.  I know that you are not surprised!  Most of what I found was from their dollar section.  I found all those little trees for 3.00 a piece.  The whole centerpiece was 21.oo and that’s because I needed 7 trees to fill my large table.  Not too bad, right?

I also purchased those beautiful gold hammered chargers while I was there, but I have also seen the plain gold ones at my local dollar store.  I added simple white plates, a napkin and matching goblet.  Napkins and glasses (especially green and red ones) go on clearance after the holidays so keep an eye out for them.  It’s my favorite time to shop for those items.

Christmas Eve Tablescape

As a finishing touch for my table, I added this Glade® Winter Collection candle, that doubled as the place card holder.  Granted, no one listens to me on this night and they sit wherever they want.  At least the candles have a name and I can gift them to all my aunts before they leave our home.

Christmas Eve Tablescape

 

I would love to purchase a gift for every single person in our family but it’s just not possible.  Some years we have done a gift exchange and that has been fun.  I love that this year my aunts won’t leave empty-handed, since these candles are so affordable.  Also, I love the name – Be at Peace™ ! The scent is Balsam Fir and if that doesn’t evoke holiday joy, I don’t know what does.  Although all that food I mentioned above will also get you smiling! You can see in the pictures that I alternate between the green “Be at Peace™” candle and the red “Cherish the Present™” candle in apple cinnamon for my place settings.  I like the variety and I am sure that there will be some trading involved.  The holidays are about taking moments to reflect on the love and serenity around us – and also taking home your favorite candle!

 

Christmas Eve Tablescape

Just to add a little color, I placed these pillows on the head chair.  Can you believe that the little one was $3.oo at the Target dollar section?!  The one in the back was on clearance ($13.00 I think).  The contrast with the black and the red…so festive!

Christmas Eve Tablescape

My goal with all these table settings and decorations is not impress anyone, I just want to create a home that people feel special and welcome and full (tummy and heart!).  I wish you all lots of joy during this beautiful season!

Christmas Eve Tablescape

Merry Christmas!

For more inspiration, you can visit the Glade® Social Hub here or their Facebook page here.  You can also find special coupon offers by clicking here. 

I invite you to participate in the giveaway below: 

 

Glade Latina Holiday Sweepstakes

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StyleMyHoliday #CollectiveBias

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I love all-things-Christmas – I’ve said it before.  I like the music (although by the end of December, I’m ready for a new CD), the food, mailing and receiving Christmas cards, I like gift-buying and gift-wrapping.  I think that gift wrapping becomes a chore because some of us leave it to the last-minute.  I admit that I don’t wrap my boy’s gifts until a few nights before Christmas.  Mostly because I don’t want them to see my stash of gifts before it’s time.  When I wrap in a hurry, I don’t enjoy it as much.

Today I want to share with you my tips for wrapping gifts and keeping it fun and easy.

Start shopping and wrapping early

The first thing I do is make a list (I know that you are not surprised) of everyone that I am giving a gift to.  I like to take my time and find the perfect gift for everyone but this takes me time.  I honestly struggle with being thoughtful with gifts.  I love to spontaneously gifts things, but when I have to buy something for an occasion, I go blank.  Since I know myself, I will start adding ideas to this list months before Christmas.  If anyone mentions they need new sandals “I take note” if they need a new watch “I take note”.  Like I don’t literally take note in front of them because that’s awkward, I do try to write it down before I forget.

This year, I knew that my mom wanted a new watch.  How did I know?  She told me in September “I need a new watch” #StraightShooter.  She has one that she uses everyday for work, but she wanted a sophisticated one for the weekend.  I headed to Dillard’s and went straight for their watch section.  By the way, I don’t go to the mall too often but every time I go I wonder why I don’t go more.  Especially during the week, when the store is quiet and during the holidays when they go all out on the decorating!  The store was in full Christmas style and it was beautiful.  I thought I would even share a picture of that…

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

There were quite a few watches but I decided on this Anne Klein 3-piece box set.  I love how it already has the matching bracelets and how classic this set is.  It is fashionable but not too trendy, so my mom will be able to wear it for a long time.  My mom (and mua) loves rose gold-tone jewelry and she loves sparkle – the Swarovski® crystals add just enough bling, which is exactly what she wants.

I know she will love it!

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

These beautiful watches are packaged in a box that are easy to wrap and as soon as I came home, that’s what I did.  That is what I do when I buy gifts – I wrap them right away and skip the bows so that I can stack the boxes inside a cabinet.  Once my tree is up and ready for gifts, I will add the bows and tags.  In this case, I went ahead and added the bows because I wanted to share with you some easy gift-wrapping tips.

Create a gift wrapping station

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I have shared with you how I organize my gift wrapping cabinet, but before I had that set-up, I had a large bin full of tissue, wrapping paper, bows, tape and a pair of good scissors.  It makes wrapping a lot easier when everything is at hand.

Trim your paper the right size

I love those nice gift wrapping papers that have the grid outline on the inside.  It is so much easier to cut straight using that grid, but in this case I followed the stripe outline which was visible on the underside of the paper.

Always fold the paper over your gift before you cut it, so that you don’t have too much leftover paper around your gift.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

 

Use double-sided tape

I like to use either double-sided tape or invisible tape when wrapping gifts, this way you don’t see as many tape marks.  Of course, that’s just me being picky but well…that’s just me. :-)  Admittedly, when I am wrapping the boy’s gifts, I look like a madwoman and I would use purple tape, if that was handy!

Make sure that the seams are not at the very top, as that will be your main presentation area.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Make sure that the edges are sharp and tucked in.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Add embellishments to the gift wrapping paper

I love adding a thick lace, a paper doilies, a strip of another gift wrap paper or a piece of tissue on top of the gift-wrapped box.  It’s all the textures and layers that make this gift wrap look fancy.

I added tissue paper that I folded lengthwise on top of the gold-striped paper.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I love the two different designs together that are “tied” by the same color.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Use ribbon instead of ready-made bows

I do use ready-made bows when I wrap the boys gifts.  Geez, I feel horrible about the boy’s gifts…  With everyone else’s gift, I like to finish off the wrapping with a ribbon.  It makes such a difference!  I purchase ribbon during the year when it goes on sale and especially after Christmas.  It’s not that expensive and you don’t have to worry about crushed bows.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Add greenery to your gift

As if the pretty ribbon were not enough, this takes it over the top.  It really makes the gift come to life when there is a little sprig of greenery attached to the gift.  I often purchase bowl filler holiday bags and use the greenery for my gift wrapping.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I add a little embellishment to almost all my gifts.  If bought in a large bags, these little sprigs are pennies.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Create your own gift tags

This is the time of the year that I actually use all those punches that I purchased years ago.  Back when I told myself that I would scrapbook our memories weekly….sigh.

It is so easy to create your own gift tag or little gift accent by using punches, like the ones below.

Punches

Or you can print this free printable  that I have created for you…

You can cut it as squares or as an imperfect circle, like me.

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

I then hole punched a little hole and fed a string through the opening, to add my tag.

Gift Wrapping Tag

 

Assign kids a specific gift wrapping color or print

One last tip – I have been doing this for a few years now and it’s one of my favorite tips.  I still write the boys names on their gifts but I will usually pick one to two gift wrapping rolls per boy and tell them on Christmas morning which one is theirs.  This way they all know which their gifts are and they don’t mistakenly open one of the adults gifts.  I would hate for them to open one of those since those are the ones with the invisible tape and all.

I’m kidding.

I hope you all enjoyed these tips.  I think this year I will kick up my wrapping for the boys because this post made me feel super guilty!  Ha!

This is the finished product.  Isn’t she pretty?  

Gift Wrapping for Christmas

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful time of the year already.  What color/colors of gift wrapping papers will you be using this holiday?  Which of the Ann Klein Box Sets is your favorite?

 

 

 

Panettone Bread Pudding

Panettone Bread Pudding 1

I have shared with you all how every year we host a Christmas Day breakfast in our home.  It is a time that I look forward to every year because it is so much fun for the kids and the adults alike.  We basically have an open door policy and our family knows that they don’t have to RSVP, they are just welcome to swing by during the morning…and there will be food and lots of it.

I make a few dishes the night before and I simply re-heat them in the morning.  There are a few items that I will make on the spot, but mostly I like to relax and enjoy the morning with all my loves ones.  I do like to balance out savory and sweet components in my food spread and one of the dishes that always makes it on the table is a bread pudding.  Sometimes I make Ina Garten’s recipe for bread pudding that involves croissants (I love that woman and I love croissants!) and sometimes I like to make my panettone bread pudding because panettone is so perfect for Christmas.

That’s the recipe that I will be sharing with you today but there’s so much more!  You see, I am joining a holiday blog tour full of amazing ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.  My friend Sondra, over at Sondra Lyn at Home is hosting it, and it will be 5 days full of recipes and decor – you don’t want to miss it!  You can find all the links (to the ones that have been published) at the end of this post.   

Home for the Holidays 2015 - SondraLyn at Home

Now back to the bread pudding!  This recipe has evolved over time since I have taken some of my favorite bread pudding recipes and added and taken away, until I absolutely loved the finished product.

These are the ingredients for my favorite Christmas bread pudding:

Ingredients:

1 Panettone

5 Large egg yolks

3 Whole eggs

2 1/2 Cups of whole milk

2 1/2 Cups of half and half

2 Teaspoons of vanilla

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Cup Hazelnuts (optional)

 

Panettone Bread Ingredients

Steps:

Set the oven at 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

Cut the panettone into cubes.

The following step is optional, which is to toast the bread in the oven.  If you enjoy a really soft bread pudding, you should skip this step and place the panettone cubes directly into the buttered baking dish.  If you like a little texture in the bread, then go ahead and place the cubes on a sheet tray and then into the pre-heated oven  for 7-1o minutes.  I toasted mine this time, but either way it will be delicious.

 

Panettone Bread
Make the custard mix by whisking together the eggs (whole and yolks) whole milk, half and half, vanilla and sugar.

Panettone Milk

 

Arrange the panettone in the buttered dish and start to ladle the custard over the panettone.

Panettone Mix

 

Sprinkle 1 Cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips over and in between the panettone cubes.

Panettone Chocolate Chips

 

Press down on the dish to make sure that all the panettone is submerged in the custard.  I use the back of a measuring cup to do this.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Panettone Press

 

This is also optional, but if you are a texture fan like me, chop up a cup of hazelnuts for the final topping.

Panettone Hazelnuts

 

Sprinkle over the top.

Place the baking dish inside a larger pan and place about 2 inches of water in the larger pan.  Do this carefully so that you don’t get any water in your dish.

Panettone Bain Marie

 

Cover with aluminum foil and cut a few slits to allow the steam to escape while it’s cooking.

Place inside the oven for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.

Panettone Foil

 

Doesn’t that look crazy delicious?

Allow to cool a bit before serving.  All your hard work will pay off soon…

Panettone Oven Ready

 

For now, just stare at it.  Take pictures of it.  Take a selfie.

Panettone Done

 

Then serve yourself a piece, because you deserve it.

Panettone no sauce

 

Of course, it is delicious on it’s own and you don’t need to add anything to it.  But why stop the indulgence now?  You are on a roll, and you need to take this over the top by adding an amaretto sauce to your bread pudding.  Yes, amaretto sauce…

Panettone no sauce side

#IJustFainted

Panettone with Sauce

#ICan’tEven

Panettone sauce

Making the amaretto sauce is so easy!  I follow a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis and I didn’t change a thing:

1/2 Cup whipping cream

1/2 Cup whole milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

2 Teaspoons of cornstarch.

Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

You can make this a few days before you will serve it.

Panettone with Amaretto

Seriously, this is so delicious and so perfect for Christmas morning.  I hope you try it, I hope you love it!

Ready for more Holiday fun?  Follow the hop that started yesterday and don’t forget to check back every day as the new posts will automatically update everyday at 7am EST/6am CST.

xo,

Maria

Welcome to the 2nd annual Home for the Holidays Blog Tour hosted by Sondra Lyn at Home. Wow, do we ever have a great week of holiday celebration ideas lined up for you!

Join us each day for inspiration from nearly 30 of the today’s finest blogs!

Home for the Holidays 2015 - Sondra Lyn at HomeYou’ll see everything from gorgeous decor to yummy holiday recipes… and everything in between! Here’s a look at what’s coming up this week:

Monday – Holiday Decor

featuring…

Just a Girl and Her Blog | Lilacs & Longhorns | What Meegan Makes

Windgate Lane | Worthing Court

Tuesday – Holiday Recipes

featuring…

Duke Manor Farm | Graceful Order | Rhubarb and Honey

Snappy Gourmet | The Happier Homemaker | Two Thirty-Five Designs

Wednesday – Mantles and Tablescapes

featuring…

Dandelion Patina | {Home-ology} modern vintage | Organize and Decorate Everything

Sondra Lyn at Home | StoneGable | The Everyday Home

Thursday – Holiday Crafts

featuring…

An Extraordinary Day | Cottage at the Crossroads | Making it in the Mountains

Our Southern Home | 2 Bees in a Pod | Two Purple Couches

Friday – Gifts and Wrapping

featuring…

Addison Meadows Lane | DIY180 | Domestically Speaking

My Creative Days | Southern State of Mind | unOriginal Mom

Be sure to check back every day this week to enjoy all the goodies we’ll be sharing with you! Each day’s links will be posted that day and will go live at 7am EST/6am CST, so don’t miss a single day!

Cause we all know…

there’s no place like…

Home for the Holidays!

Monday – Holiday Decor

Tuesday – Holiday Recipes

 


Wednesday – Holiday Mantels and Tablescapes

Thursday – Holiday Crafts

 


Friday – Holiday Gifts and Wrapping


Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

 Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

 

It’s no secret that I love personalized items and anything monogrammed.  If it has a G on it, I’m buying it.
The holidays are the perfect time to gift items that are personalized.  It’s a gift that has been thought of and ordered ahead of time and people appreciate that.  Today I am partnering up with Walmart Photo to show you some beautiful gift ideas – all personalized and even better, some with a same-day turn around!

 

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

Personalized Calendars

Usually, the words personalized and same-day don’t co-exist.  These beautiful calendars are an exception.  Every year I gift my aunt and uncle a calendar with my boys’ pictures.  They have it up in their kitchen year-round and it’s become a tradition to receive a new one for Christmas.  I love them so much and they are amazing with our boys! I chose this really fun and earthy theme calendar because it blended well with my pictures, but you can find more same day calendars here.  Also, they are on Rollback through 1/5/16 so a 8×11 calendar that was $17.47, is now $12. I can’t wait for July….

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
Or November.  Be still my heart….
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

Personalized Ornaments

These are new this year at Walmart.com/photo and available for ordering in-store at the photo kiosk.   They are available in various shapes and I chose the square.  I rarely buy new ornaments anymore but this may be a new tradition as well.
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
Can’t wait to see it up on my big tree!
Personalized Gifts for the Holidays
You can find more ornaments here.

 Personalized Blankets

This blanket is Grandma’s Christmas gift.  You know how it is…if it has a picture of the grandchildren, they will love it!  I used the same picture for a few of these gifts but they will be in different homes so I won’t grow tired of them (the picture, not the boys).   Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

There are so many blankets to choose from and you can browse through the blankets here.  Also, Walmart.com/photo is running a 25% Rollback on all blankets through 1/5/2016.

Personalized Gifts for the Holidays

I loved the gifts and I am glad that my family doesn’t keep up with my blog because otherwise this would need a spoiler alert.  All these gifts were affordable and the quality was great. Here is some more info about Walmart Photo gifts:    3,500 Walmart Photo locations nationwide or order online at Walmart.com/photo. Many gifts available for free Same Day pick-up in store. Walmart.com/photo is offering free shipping on all cards + gifts through 12/30/15. Mobile Image Transfer in-store is quick + easy with the Fujifilm Kiosk Photo Transfer App or connect with cable at kiosk. This stationery card from Walmart Photo is the same quality at a lower price. What are your favorite personalized gifts for the holidays? You can follow them here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Be sure to visit Walmart Photo’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts.

5 Tips for a Worry Free Holiday Season

5 Tips for a Worry Free Holiday Season

I love sharing little tips that have made a big impact in my life as far as enjoying the most joyous (and hectic) time of the year…Christmas!  The Holidays do not stress me out at all – as a matter a fact, I love every aspect of Christmas as long as I am not rushed.  I love sitting down and addressing my holiday cards by hand, baking cookies, wrapping gifts…  I enjoy everything unless I feel like I am forced to do it in a rush.  So here is what I do to keep my Christmas merry:

1- Order my holiday cards ahead of time

I usually order my Christmas cards before November ends.  This way I can sit down in peace with some Christmas music (yes, I am that cheesy) and handwrite my envelopes.  I can no longer hand write the actual cards because we send out so many, so I appreciate these pre-printed cards with beautiful messages.  This year I ordered these beautiful foil cards from Tiny Prints.  I love them!

Minted Christmas Cards

They are wonderful!

Minted Christmas Card

I usually set up a little holiday card station and get to work.

Card Station Christmas

I do the same for my Holiday Business Cards, that I also picked up from Tiny Prints.

Christmas Business Cards

2 – Simplify shopping

Shopping can be one the most stressful part of the holidays.  If I can buy it online, I do.  There is no need to make those long lines unless you are absolutely convinced that you are getting a superior deal.  I love the convenience of online shopping!

3 – Stock up on baking supplies

Isn’t it annoying when you are ready to start baking and you think you have all your ingredients ready to go, only to find out there are little bugs in your flour?!  Always buy fresh flour and essentials right before the holidays.  I also like to start baking and freezing scones and cookie rolls.  I will individually wrap my scones in parchment paper and then place them inside a Ziplock bag. I also wrote on the outside the temperature that I am supposed to cook them and for how long.  I do the same with logs of cookies that I can later slice and bake.

Chirstmas scones

4 – Wrap gifts as you go

I wrap all the gifts that are inside boxes as soon as I purchase them.  I skip placing the bow on them so that they can easily stack on top of the other.  I do write the name in a little corner of the gift so that I can later add a bow and a tag.  I really enjoy wrapping gifts when it’s not a marathon.  Although, when it comes to wrapping the boys gifts it’s always a mini-marathon!

Stress Free Christmas

5- Focus on the awesomeness of Christmas

It is so easy to get distracted or stressed out with all of the holiday hustle.  Stop and remind yourself that Christmas only comes around once a year and it’s a really special time with a special meaning – and stress shouldn’t be part of such a beautiful time!

It’s almost Christmas – stay committed to being “present” and aware of all your blessings!

xo, Maria

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias 

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I know what you are thinking…”at least let me finish eating my turkey!”  I know it’s a little early for Christmas decorating, but I wanted to share with you as many ideas as possible before you break out the dusty holiday boxes from the garage.  You know that I love tablescapes and this is the first Christmas table that I share this year.  I usually mix and match items that I already own and maybe add in a little new touch each year.  However, this year I am participating in Big Lots’ National Decorate Your Home for the holidays week by decorating a room in my home.

Big Lots has declared National Decorate Your Home for the Holidays Week as the week of November 16th- 22nd and I chose to concentrate on my dining room.  If you are going to decorate a dining room from scratch, you want to find beautiful and affordable options.

This was my dining room last Christmas.  I did like it, but this year I wanted to make it more colorful and cozy.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Big Lots has everything you need – for inside and outside your home, to get a start on the holiday season.  There was an incredible selection – some items were fun, others more formal, but when I saw their woodland-themed items, I knew those were the ones for my table.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Our dining table is huge and I often struggle to find the right decor that will fill up the space.  I want to share with you how to create a dramatic table setting by filling up your table without emptying the bank.

  1. Unite components instead of purchasing a big centerpiece.

Large centerpieces can be really expensive and then you feel like you have to use it year after year to make it “worth” your investment.  I would rather unite pieces that I can use together or split them up throughout the house if I choose to.  In this case, I purchased 2 pinecone garlands, 2 medium sized candleholders (with attached greenery) and the cutest deer ever to create a long and dramatic centerpiece.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

2.  Keep the decorations low.

It is tempting to use tall items to decorate your table, but then Aunt Suzzie can’t see little Billy across the table.  I mean, maybe she doesn’t want to see Billy and in that case you can totally place a Christmas tree between them – but usually one of the best things about holiday meals is the interaction between family – especially family that we don’t see all the time.  Keep the decor low and instead spread out the items.

And seriously, how sweet is that deer?!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

3.  Mix and match styles in order to tie the room into the decor.

In my kitchen I have a casual table that has marks from doing homework and serving dinners, however my dining room table is fancy and shiny.  When I want to use a casual and warmer theme like this one, I incorporate fancy elements with more casual ones.  In this case a red charger with beading, and a casual woven placemat.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

4 – Skip napkin rings or make your own.

I love napkin rings and I actually collect them, but I admit that those little touches can really add to the cost of your tablescape.  I also love a simple napkin with a sprig of thyme on top of a white plate.  In this case, I am using kitchen towels as napkins and instead of a napkin ring, I am using this set of ornaments that I also found at Big Lots.  The existing loop fits perfectly over the napkin!  Next year I can use them for their intended use – ornaments.  For now, I love the earthiness that they add to the table!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

5 – Not everything has to match.

Actually, it shouldn’t.  The table setting is more interesting with added colors and textures.  Things do have to “go” together but that doesn’t mean they have to be a perfect match.  When I found these mugs at Big Lots, I decided to purchase 4 green and 4 red.  This is what my Christmas morning breakfast table will look like and those sweater mugs are perfect for coffee or hot cocoa!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I added quite a few LED candles to my table.  Some were simple pillars and a few were these sweet little trees.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

In the background of the table you can see this cute little wreath that I picked up when I “thought” I was done with my shopping.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Also, since there is a small table in the corner of the room, I decided to remove the vases that are usually there, and display this lit-tree.  It was one of the first things that I picked up when I got to Big Lots.  I love that twinkle in the corner of the room and I intend to leave it simple and not add decorations.  I also picked up this little sign while I was there.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Talking about signs, I loved all of them!  I picked up another two to add some Christmas touches to my small buffet table.  The “Baby It’s Cold Outside” sign brings clothespins and an attached line, making it perfect to hang a few Christmas cards.   I also found these 3 little trees that really brought the woodsy theme into that dining room corner.

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Up on top of the table are some appetizer plates, utensils and a gold bowl that I decorated with a box of filler from Big Lots.  And of course, another sweet sign!

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

I had a great time purchasing the items for this room and decorating this table.  I absolutely love this time of the year!  I completely transformed my dining room for my Christmas Day Brunch and I know my family will love it!  I was thinking of letting everyone take their mug as a gift.  What do you think?

Christmas Woodland Dining Room

Planning ahead for the holiday season and decorating earlier can mean less stress and more time for the things that matter most!  Join in National Decorate Your Home for the holidays week and transform your home into a Winter Wonderland Nov. 16th- 22nd.

Although styles and assortment vary by store, you can visit biglots.com/christmas to view the Christmas catalog and for ideas, tips, and more inspiration!

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

Yikes, the Home Tour took 3 posts to complete!  There’s a whole lotta Christmas glitter all over this house and I hope that you enjoyed PART 1 and PART 2 of my Christmas Home Tour.

Today, I want to share with you our family room, which is where we always place our Christmas Tree and spend most of our time together.

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

Although my living room is decorated in white, gold and green, I LOVE the vibrant pops of red in the family room!  I can’t decide between the “white” and the “red” Christmas decor so I choose both!

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

By the way, this little kid was trying to get into every shot!  Blogging with toddlers…not for the faint of heart!

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

I can’t keep my little one away from the tree!

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

These are some of my favorite ornaments.

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

I actually love them all!

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

Ok, enough of the tree!

My dad brought me these roses the other day (my dad rocks!) and they were perfect for the end table.

 

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

Love these bright colors!

 

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

I didn’t decorate my kitchen very much, but I did decorate our kitchen table and I added a wreath to the window.

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

I switched out the products in my sink area caddy for some pine scented cleaners.

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

I close with the outside of our home (I would’ve opened with it, except there were Thanksgiving pumpkins out there until a week ago – don’t tell).

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

Remember this pot from my post on Decorating for FALL?  I just switched out the center plant, which I always leave in it’s original plastic pot from the store.  It makes it easier and cleaner to switch out!

 

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

That is all!  Have an amazing holiday everyone!

 

Christmas Home Tour Part 3

 

~ Maria

 

Other related posts are :

Christmas Home Tour 1

Christmas Home Tour 2

Christmas Breakfast for a Crowd

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Christmas Home Tour Part 2

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

It is Christmas this week!  Ahhhh!!  Yes, I am super excited!  I want to enjoy every second and be present in every moment.  Last week, I shared the first part of my Christmas Tour and you can check it out HERE if you missed it.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

This year I added some white touches to my dark dining room furniture.  Draping a throw and adding a pillow to an end chair makes such a difference in the overall feel of the room.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

I stuck with gold and green in this room, just like our living room.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

I love boxwood anything and I use these decorations throughout the year.  I placed one of the trees on a gold pedestal and that elevated the look, literally.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

I placed an ornament on each place setting.  These ornaments are too heavy for our Christmas tree but I am glad that they work here!

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

In a corner that leads to the family room, I have a bookshelf with all my cookbooks which also got a little Christmas color.

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

You can read about my cookbook bookshelf HERE.

 

Christmas Home Tour Part 2

 

In a few days I will share pictures of the rest of the house – I had to break up this post because of all the pictures.  I hope you enjoyed them all!

xo,

Maria

Christmas Home Tour – Part One

 

 

Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

The following weeks will surely be fun and hectic!  Christmas activities, gift buying, wrapping and holiday parties.  It’s the season of giving and I want to share with you some of my favorite hostess gifts for the holiday season.

So hop on over to A Bowl Full of Lemons, where today I am sharing my top picks for hostess gifts!   Today, Toni is also sharing how she decorated her front porch for the holidays!  I seriously don’t get tired of Christmas-related decorating and gift giving!

Holiday Hostess Gifts

 

I hope you enjoy the holidays!  Cheers!

Hostess Gift Idea

~ Maria

A Bowl Full of Lemons – Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

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Stress Free Holiday Tips

Stress Free Holiday Tips

Are we talking about Christmas in October?  Yes, indeed we are.  We know it’s around the corner.  The holidays, a time for joy, family, food, togetherness and a sprinkle of stress.  Is that ok to admit?  The holidays can be a little hectic.  We really want to savor the moments but it’s hard to enjoy gift wrapping, baking, and parties when everything is last minute.  I want to share with you some stress free holiday tips that will help you be in the moment, when the moment comes.

  • My first suggestion, is to order Christmas cards early!  Pictured below are my cards for this year, they are from Tiny Prints.  I normally order my cards in October, which leaves me plenty of time to address and send them out.  Maybe even with a glass of chardonnay and a little music…now were talkin’!

Photo christmas cards are my favorite to send and to receive.  I can never bring myself to throw them out after the season is over, so I just file them away with a post-it marking the year.  I also prefer the message to be printed onto the card, this way the only thing I have to do is write the address on the envelope.  This year, I even had our return address pre-printed on the envelope.  I only wrote the recipient address and it was actually fun to write these out, in peace, no rush.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • Another tip is to order gift tag stickers.  What a time saver!  I have so many gift tag stickers, with different themes to use year round.  It already has our name on the sticker and I only have to write the recipient’s name.  This year I will be using the ones with the antlers (how cute are they?) which are also from Tiny Prints.   Erin Condren also makes beautiful ones that I use for holidays or birthday gifts (the ones with the “Enjoy” message).  You never have to worry about the tag falling off because they are stickers.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • Wrap presents ahead of time and create a stash.  I only place the gift tag sticker on the gift and I skip the bow.  This allows me to stack the boxes without the bow getting in the way. When I am ready to bring the gift out, I place a pretty bow on it.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • Have a Christmas Gift List.  Do this in order to avoid last minute shopping because someone just slipped your mind.  Also, keep track of what you are spending.

Here is a FREE CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST PRINTABLE (the one pictured) that can help you track your gifts and spending.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • Stock up on baking items that you will need.  Holiday baking and cooking can be so much fun, so be sure to have the essentials at hand.  Butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and then more butter. :-)

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • If you have kids, this is a good time to sort through their toys and donate items that they no longer need.  My little one plays with most of his toys so I just have to ask myself if he really needs 5 firetrucks.  I make space for the new toys that he will receive.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

  • Choose recipes that are tried and true for any holiday party that you will be having.  It’s already a hectic season and you don’t need to add unnecessary stress over whether a soufflé will rise and hold.  Read here about how I plan for Christmas morning.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

The biggest and most important tip is to go easy on yourself.  Do what you can, order items ahead of time, cook ahead of time but if the soufflé deflates, don’t deflate along with it.  Enjoy your families and friends, enjoy this beautiful time!

Maria 

 

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Breakfast Scones

I wanted to take the time to thank you all for your support of Graceful Order and for your comments, emails, suggestions…all of your time!

This blog has been so much more fun than I ever imagined and I look forward to a new year with new ideas to share with all of you!

Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy this recipe for Cranberry Scones.  The recipe is from Ina Garten and I have modified it very little by adding extra sugar.  These scones are not super sweet, just sweet enough.

I usually make the dough ahead of time, I cut the scones and then freeze them in a single layer with instructions on the bag on how to bake them.  I make the drizzle right before I bake them.

Enjoy!

Chirstmas Scones

  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles (or triangles).

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.  Enjoy!

Love you all!

Maria

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Organizing Christmas Gifts

I love everything about the holidays.

Except the long lines at the market, in the department stores and the post office.

I don’t know what it is about me and waiting in line.  I realize that no one likes waiting in line but…I could have a shopping cart full to the brim and when I see that there is a long line for checkout…I start to ask myself if I really need anything in the cart (besides my toddler).  :-)  Does this ever happen to you?

Now back to what I love.  Back to the merriness of Christmas.  Back to the beauty of giving.

Organizing Christmas Gifts

Back to how to avoid lines.  I avoid the lines by shopping way ahead of time and also shopping online.

I never shop during black Friday unless it is online.  With my fear of lines and crazy mobs at the mall, there is no way that I am leaving the house that day.  Visions of not finding a parking space and women fighting over the last special edition Barbie doll for their little girls, keep me home, with my doors locked.

I am all about saving money but I find that the deals online match most of the deals at the store and even if I get an extra 5% off on black Friday, it’s just not worth it to me.  I need a cup of lavender chamomile just thinking about it.

Whether you are courageous enough to shop black Friday or just shop another time…have you noticed that there is always that ONE gift that drives you back to the mall during Christmas week?

To avoid forgetting that one gift, I started keeping a Christmas list years ago that keeps me on track for purchases and holiday spending.  I created a similar list for all of you to use.

I do realize that I should have thought of this a couple of weeks ago but I have been wrapping gifts like a madwoman and I figured it would still be useful.  You can either use it to check off the gifts that you already purchased and/or see what you still need to buy.

Here is the list:

Graceful Order Christmas Gift List Copy ”

I hope the list will be helpful!

I am excited about our Christmas breakfast and in a couple of days I will share with you my recipe for Cranberry Scones, so stay tuned!

Until then…Happy Wrapping!

Maria

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every Christmas morning we host a pajama breakfast at the house.  Our whole family knows that they are invited to swing by, eat and hang out.  They also know that they are welcome to come in their pajamas.  I really look forward to this day and so do the boys!

Christmas Breakfast

The menu is plentiful but the cooking is really simple because most of all, I want to enjoy my boys opening their gifts.

The night before, I prepare a couple of casseroles and I place them in the fridge.  These casseroles are supposed to be refrigerated so that the flavors can marry.  One is sweet and the other is savory.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the oven, get the casseroles in there and turn on the timer.

My husband buys a ham the day before.  I prepare a fruit platter the night before.  I bake some cookies with the boys the day before and also bring them out to the table.

Christmas Baking

I prefer to buy or make everything myself because that way I know that all the food is laid out on the table and I don’t have to fuss with it again.  If I delegate the dishes, then I constantly have to come back to the table to re-arrange once the guests arrive, I have to re-heat dishes…you get the point.  It may sound easier to delegate but if your goal is to spend time with little kids…consider an easy menu that you can execute yourself.

My husband gets up really early and starts making the hot cocoa and grinding the coffee beans.

Christmas Cocoa

We put both the coffee and the hot cocoa in carafes so that they will stay hot for the duration of the breakfast.  Thermal carafes are a great investment because you wont have to re-heat or make more coffee.  These are pretty inexpensive and you can find them “here“.

I set up this coffee/cocoa station the night before.  Hence the dark cell phone picture!

Christmas Drinks

I sometimes make scones and freeze them in zipper bags with instructions for baking.  If I have any left in the freezer come Christmas morning, then I will bake them but only if I have extra time.  They are delish!  The ones below are cranberry scones.

Chirstmas Scones

Whatever you do, keep it simple.  Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Buy some of your items, they don’t all have to be homemade.  Have a checklist.  Have fun!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

These are my boys opening their gifts…this is my favorite part.  There is no scone that is yummier than this moment.

Christmas Gifts

I love you all!  Remember to give.  Remember to live.

Maria

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6”

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