One of my favorite things about entertaining is planning all of the little details, from recipes to flowers and tableware. This past weekend we entertained ten friends and I chose simple arrangements of hydrangeas and roses.
I keep these lemonade bottles out on the sideboard so guests can serve themselves. However, I love the labels so they do double duty as decor.
This coming weekend we are hosting friends for dinner followed by game night. The menu is simple and comforting, with chicken pot pies as the entree. I prepare the pie crust and filling ahead of time and before our friends arrive, I assemble them in these lion's head bowls so they are ready to pop in the oven.
Since we will be entertaining friends a few weekends in a row this month, I added a little welcome message to our chalkboard.
On a side note, I read a tip online about how to make fresh cut hydrangeas last longer and it really does work. You just dip the cut stems into Alum (a crystalline powder found in the spice aisle) before placing them into the water. The arrangements I made last Thursday, now in my studio, are still looking fresh today.
Lemonade Bottles - World Market | Flowers - Fresh Market (great prices!)
With an abundance of herbs in the garden, I thought I'd add a little bundle to our luncheon place cards. I chose fresh thyme, as it's my favorite and I'm serving lemon thyme pasta.
I almost chose lemon verbena, which I grow in my garden, simply because it smells so wonderful.
Kept the table setting simple with a folded towel for a napkin, topped with the place card.
To attach the herbs, I punched two small holes with an 1/8" punch in the center of the card, threaded a piece of jute twine through, and tied the bundle.
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Tomorrow evening we're hosting a fondue party followed by a game night. I saw these chevron paper placemats on one of the holiday blog tours and knew they would be perfect for the event.
I've owned a set of these white fondue plates for years, but they were originally purchased from Crate & Barrel. As for the recipes, my favorite fondue cookbook is "Fondue" by Rick Rodgers. The Classic Swiss Three-Cheese Fondue and the Original Toberlone Fondue for dessert are among my absolute favorites.
For placecards, I used a white ink pen to write the names of our guests on the paper runner.
I have two fondue pots which I'll place down the center of the table. I own the Le Creuset pots which I highly recommend. The cast iron coated pot is ideal for the cheese and chocolate fondues as metal can often scorch. If you're lucky enough, like we are, to live near a Le Crueset Outlet you can find these for half the price of retail.
I'll try and take some photos in the evening once all of the candles and fondue pots are glowing, (sometimes our guests are camera shy). Enjoying fondue with friends always makes for a fun evening. It's easy to make and keeps your guests lingering at the table enjoying great conversation and a delicious feast.
Whether you're having six people join you for Thanksgiving dinner, or sixteen, I think it's always nice to make place cards. It shows your friends and family you especially thought of them and it allows everyone to quickly find their place at the table so you can enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving feast.
For our placecards this year, I saved the grandest of my acorn caps to create a velvet acorn for each guest. I have never seen acorn caps this large before, but I'm smitten. Each guest's acorn is a different autumn color. I chose chocolate brown script on ivory card stock, which was cut and shaped into a simple tent form.
For the favor bags, I hand-stamped small muslin bags which will be placed on the guest's plate next to their velvet acorn.
Inside the favor bags are milk chocolate caramel leaves wrapped in gold foil, by Lake Champlain Chocolates.
We have so much to be thankful for this year and I can't wait to have our girls home to celebrate next week. Now I'm off to plan the menu and make a very long grocery list.
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A quick EAB Designs shop update: Thank you so much for all of your personalized burlap stocking orders. Our ordering queue is filled for this year. Our preserved boxwood wreaths are very popular and I'm and working day and night to create more for you. I will let you know once they are available again for purchase. The Pemberley Collection will be featuring a holiday sale, so stay tuned for more information on that.
When entertaining, sometimes I enjoy spending lots of time in the kitchen preparing complicated recipes and other times I like to prepare a simple but equally delicious menu. This weeked it was all about keeping it simple, preparing everything in advance and having nothing to do once my guests arrive.
I always set the table the evening before, including setting out any platters or serving pieces I'll be using. Simple white dishes and a row of tea lights was all I needed.
Dessert was prepared the day before, individual sized chocolate ganache cakes. I remove them from the fridge at the same time I serve the entree so they'll be at room temperature for serving.
Just use your favorite chocolate cake recipe. From two 9" layers, I cut 8 little rounds with a biscuit cutter. You can stack them for four larger sized desserts, or keep them as single layers. The ganache takes only a few minutes to make and then I just spoon it over the top of the cakes. Ganache recipe can be found here. The little candied violets can be found at baking supply stores. I always keeps an assortment on hand for adding to cupcakes or desserts.
The left over pieces from the cake can be eaten straight away (chef's treat), or wrapped and placed in the freezer. In the future, when you're in need of a quick dessert you can whip up some vanilla pudding and use the saved cake pieces to make a trifle.
For the first course I served an iceberg wedge salad. The day before I clean and quarter the head of iceberg, fry some turkey bacon and dice it, and prepare the dressing. Everything goes in the fridge, ready to serve. While my guests are enjoying an appetizer, I quickly seed and dice a few tomatoes to place over the salad. Dressing recipe can be found here.
For the main course, I served a beef stew which is placed in the oven hours before your guests arrive. All you have to do is plate it and serve with a loaf of crunchy french bread. So comforting on a chilly fall evening. There are numerous recipes for the "no peek" slow cooking beef stew on the web. Just pick one with your favorite ingredients and spices. Couldn't be easier.
When entertaining, I love to mix simple floral bouquets with seasonal decor for a warm and inviting tablescape. For this weekend's dinner, I purchased a small bunch of chartreuse mums and white roses to make a few petite arrangements for the table.
The bouquets, placed in a vintage cream & sugar set, were mixed in amongst miniature white pumpkins I had on hand. Candle light is always nice, so I never forget to add tea lights.
Inspired by the cream and chartreuse flowers, today I made felted acorns to add to our fall decor. They are a quick and easy project and would make a wonderful gift for your guests to take home.
Acorn Caps - Sticks and Things on Etsy (Ethan, an 8 year old collects and sorts the acorn caps to earn money. My packing slip contained a little hand written thank you note from him - so adorable!)
Flowers - If you're looking to purchase roses, my go to source is always Trader Joe's or Fresh Market. I can always find beautiful roses anywhere from $4 - $10 for a dozen.
Vintage Cream & Sugar Set - purchased from Wayside Treasures on Etsy
Just purchased twelve new dinner plates from Restoration Hardware. Was super excited they offer a large 12 1/4" size. Got them home only to discover they don't clear the dishwasher blade! Sadly, back to the store they must go. While disappointed I will have to opt for the standard 11" size, the style and color are exactly what I was searching for. Off now to break the news to sweet Mr. E that he will have to haul them back through the mall to exchange them - they sure are heavy! (By the way, RH's tableware is 20% off through July 13th - love that!)
I love meringue, whether piled high on top of a pie, or piped into delicious airy cookies. From the first bite of my mom's lemon meringue pie, I was hooked. With lots of fresh berries available at the market, now is a perfect time to whip up a pavlova. Your friends will think you're a talented pastry chef, but secretly you'll know just how easy it was to prepare. Here are a few helpful tips.
Always use the freshest eggs you can, as they whip up better.
For those of you who follow me on facebook, this little ceramic egg dish was one of my purchases from Fishs Eddy during my recent trip to NYC. A perfect place to rest your eggs while they come to room temperature.
Stainless steel or glass bowls are best for whipping the egg whites - avoid plastic.
You can mound, or pipe the egg whites onto your parchment paper. I prefer to pipe them, after drawing circles with a pencil on the reverse side of the paper as a guide. I pipe along the outside of the circle, fill in the middle and then make a top outside row so I have a well to spoon the berries into. (Like little nests.)
I use a large star tip and a No. 14 size pastry bag. By the way, if you're looking for the best pastry tube set to use for frosting cupcakes, or piping meringues, cookie or pastry dough, this is the set to purchase. I use mine all the time.
Plan ahead as the meringues take 1 1/2 hours to bake and an additional 2 hours to rest in the oven. They can be baked the day before and kept in an air tight container.
There are many recipes available on the web. I like to use this one for the basic meringue. For my berry topping I create a raspberry sauce by bringing to a boil 1/2 pint of raspberries, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam & 1 tbsp water. After boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for a few more minutes, then puree. You can top the meringue with sweetened whipped cream, or for a lighter version, just spoon on a bit of the the sauce and top with assorted fresh berries. Almost too pretty to eat!
When flowers from the garden are in abundance, I love incorporating them into petite bouquets which serve not only as place cards for our guests, but also as gifts to bring home at the end of the evening.
I love white ink on kraft colored card stock. If you're happy with your handwriting skills, you can simply cut a tag from your cardstock and write the guests names on it. For those who prefer to use their computer, simply insert a box with the colored background you prefer (in this case kraft color), insert a text box with your guest's name, change the font color to white, and print. From there you can proceed with cutting your tags out.
Punch a whole through the end of the tag and attach a bit of jute string, or ribbon, and tuck the ends into the bouquet.
I look for end of season sales, or clearance items throughout the year, to stock up on little vases for the bouquets. Tea light candle holders also work great and are an inexpensive alternative.
One of my favorite things about entertaining in the fall is dining by candlelight. For tomorrow evening's dinner, I made these apple votives to place down the center of the table.
They are super quick to put together and you may already have all of the supplies on hand.
For this project you'll need: peat pots (available from your local nursery); fresh apples; jute twine or string of your choice (to tie the leaves to the pots); moss; tea light candles; fall leaves from your backyard; and it's super handy to have a melon baller on hand to carve out the apples.
Helpful tips: Fill the peat pot with crunched paper first so you just need to add moss to the top. To prepare your votives the day before, rub lemon juice over the carved apple and place in the fridge until ready to use. When carving the hole for the tea light, start with the melon baller, and then neatly finish edges with a pairing knife.
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We love to entertain in the fall and often have friends over for dinner. For those weekends when I have a little less time to prepare, it's great to have a few things stashed away in the freezer that I've previously made and can be baked fresh at a moment's notice. French gougères, or cheese puffs, are so easy to make, incredibly delicious and your friends will think you spent hours preparing them.
I appreciate all things creative and am inspired by the smallest of details. Here is where I love to share projects, designs and favorite things. ~ (more)
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