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2015 Year in Review: Home

2015 Year in Review: Home

Decoration Inspiration: Thanksgiving / Spooky Fireplace / Holiday Decor: A Compromise / Home Office Makeover

My home-related posts this year were…not great. While I enjoy decorating our home, this year was challenging. We moved from a tiny, one-bedroom apartment that I lived in alone half the time, to a much larger two-bedroom apartment.

We have more space than we really need, very little storage, and I’m back to compromising with my husband. Add a tiny budget to that, and I’ve had to get very creative!

This is also the year I discovered Pinterest. It has been both a huge time-waster, and a great way to gather inspiration for future projects. I think it has helped me figure out what my home decor style really is, and I’ve enjoyed all the DIY projects they have on there to make my home amazing on a very, very tight budget!

2015 Year in Review: Home

Maintaining Wooden Cookware / Recent Thrift Store Buys / Thrifty Fall Updates / Easy Green: Potting House Plants

Even though I spent most of 2015 fantasizing about what I would love my future fantasy home to be like, I did also tackle some projects around the house. I learned how to take better care of my stuff, killed a few houseplants, and found some amazing thrift store buys.

I hope that next year I can tackle more DIY projects (I have one already in the works), figure out our storage problems, and since we’re planning on moving again soon, maybe find a place that meets more of our needs (like light…not that it’s easy to find here).

What are your home goals for 2016?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Cooking, Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

The big day is finally here, and I hope you’re all having a very happy Thanksgiving so far! In case you’re curious about what I am taking for Thanksgiving this year, I decided on trying two versions of stuffing – Butternut Squash Stuffing and Vegetable Herb Stuffing. I also baked an Alton Brown Shoo-Fly Pie for dessert, and really hope someone else brings another dessert because in all honesty, I don’t like shoo-fly pie.

I hope everyone is having a great day with family, eating tons of great food, and maybe sneaking in a solid nap this afternoon!

I’ll be back tomorrow to share some of my favorites for the week, if I’m not still in a food coma!

(*If you’re in Washington, don’t forget that Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks will be free to the public tomorrow in an effort to support the #GreenFriday and #OptOutside initiatives! It’ll be a great way to avoid all the Black Friday insanity, and maybe walk off some of that pie we’re all going to eat today!)

What to Take for Thanksgiving

As someone who has never hosted her own Thanksgiving, I’ve gotten very good over the years at figuring out what to bring instead. Some years, I go all out and bake something magnificent, like a lattice-topped apple pie. Some years, especially if I’m eyeballs deep in papers to grade, I’ll pick up something easy that I know everyone will love – like some good wine.

No matter where you are or who you’re celebrating with, if you’re stuck for what to take, here are some great easy (and not so easy) ideas that will taste great, and take a load off your insanely busy hosts!

What to Take for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving_Drink_Snack_Collage

A Signature Cocktail + Coordinating Snack

Your host/hostess isn’t likely to have time at the beginning of their party to serve drinks, let alone cocktails – so offer to handle it for them! While they are putting the finishing touches on dinner, consider bringing a “signature cocktail” to serve to guests as they arrive, and offer up a coordinating snack to tide them over until the everything’s ready.

I suggest keeping it simple with a Cape Cod (cranberry juice, vodka, and a lime wedge) and some trail mix of toasted almonds, dark chocolate chips, and dried cranberries. It’s a nice nod to the traditional cranberry sauce you’ll likely be eating later, and the snack has a little bit of something for everyone.

You can either mix this in a large batch ahead of time, or keep things separate if you think the kiddos will want some juice…without the extra kick.

Thanksgiving_Dessert_Collage

A No-Fuss Dessert

If you’re asked to bring dessert, I suggest bringing something easy and that doesn’t require the use of the host’s oven. There is nothing more annoying than a guest demanding use of the oven while your poor host is trying to cook/eat/relax. Same goes for the freezer, in my opinion.

And please – make it yourself. There are times when store bought desserts are fine, but Thanksgiving isn’t one of those times. If your host spent weeks planning, and days cooking, you can suck it up and spend a couple hours in the kitchen.

If you’re not baking-inclined, give cookies or box-mix cupcakes a try. I enjoy bringing sugar cookies with festive frosting or sprinkles (or both), chocolate chip cookies, or carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. These are especially good ideas for small children, who may not like pumpkin pie (trust me, they exist).

If you have more baking skills, pies are always a big hit. I’ve never made a Pumpkin Pie, mostly because my mom or some other family member always makes them. I have, however, gotten very good at baking Apple Streusel Pie and Alton Brown’s Shoo Fly Pie, which my husband’s family and friends often fight over. This year, I’m tempted to try making Pumpkin Cheesecake – because I like Pumpkin Pie, but I love cheesecake. 

Thanksgiving_Breakfast_Collage

Black Friday Breakfast

Odds are, with all the planning, cooking, entertaining, and cleaning your hosts will be doing on Thanksgiving, breakfast the next morning isn’t even on their radar. If you’re still stumped for what to bring, consider Friday’s breakfast!

As with all things, keep it simple – don’t make them cook another meal the next morning! I suggest Alton Brown’s Granola Bars, Apple Strudel Muffins, Pumpkin Bread, or a nice box of doughnuts or bagels from the local bakery – all of which can easily feed a couple hosts, and however many guests they have staying over if that’s the case. That way, all they have to do is brew some coffee and they’re all set – unless you’re staying with them, then maybe offer to handle that too.

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So there you have it – a bunch of easy (and not so easy) ideas for what to take for Thanksgiving! This year, I’ve been asked to bring homemade stuffing, and my husband asked me to bring the Alton Brown’s Shoo Fly Pie for him (since I don’t think he’s a big Pumpkin Pie fan). I’ve never done my own stuffing before, so that will be a fun experiment!

What are you planning to take this year?

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving Prep

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Happy Friday!

So I dropped the ball pretty hard this week on posting. Two entries never got posted, but honestly it was for good reasons! One reason is I chose to take advantage of the sun being out to do some hiking and thrifting. The other is our apartment complex doing some kind of “mandatory inspection” today, so I spent Wednesday and Thursday tidying up the place (since they said they need access to every nook and cranny of our apartment…for some unknown reason).

I’m stuck at home all day today waiting on this inspection thing, so hopefully I can get more work done to make up for last week!

Until then, enjoy some other things from the internet I’ve been enjoying over the past couple weeks!

      • Goop shared their annual gift guides with readers – which included an under-$50 list that’s perfect for the office Secret Santa (or your own office), and a list with some wacky ideas that are both affordable (like a $55 home vagina steamer, if you like your vagina…steamy) and not so much (who is going to pay $125,000 for a pair of gold dumbells?).
      • Jon Stewart’s retirement was (rather predictably) short-lived – he’s heading over to HBO! It’s still unclear exactly what he’ll be doing, I’m sure whatever it is we’ll all be glued to our televisions.
      • I was admittedly a little bummed when Alexa Chung’s documentary series with British Vogue ended. Apparently I wasn’t alone because Chung announced she’s going to continue the series. If you’ve ever wondered what working in fashion is really like, check these out!
      • Sourdough is something I’m still a bit intimidated by, but this recipe for Sourdough Everything Pretzels from Joy the Baker might get me to try it out!
      • I’ve been on a bit of a “preppy” kick lately, and I’m looking forward to tearing through True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World this weekend! I couldn’t find a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook through our local library (and they’re pricey online), but the book I got is by the same author, and promises to be a great “update” to the original. I can’t wait to dive into it!

Well, now I’m off to wait on our apartment inspection, and getting ready for what I hope will be a nice, relaxing weekend!

Decoration Inspiration: Thanksgiving

Decoration Inspiration: Thanksgiving

(All images taken from my Pinterest page)

Always a guest, never a hostess.

One thing I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid was hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner. I technically did one year, when my mom woke up sick and we all had to pitch in to help her out (I think I was maybe 7 or 8). That’s right – I’ve known how to prep a turkey since I was 7. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the space, budget, or permission to host one.

So until that day comes where I have a dining room and proper kitchen of my own, I spend my time fantasizing about it on Pinterest – and perfecting my apple pie recipe (my go to thing to bring).

If you grew up in the Midwest like I did, you know how corny people get about decorating their homes for Thanksgiving. The amount of orange, yellow, and brown decorations, napkins, and whatnot is sickeningly cheesy. I’ve always been one to rail against the “traditional” stuff, which is probably why I gravitate toward the images above. The decorations are colorful, but muted, and include natural elements that reflect the food being eaten. There will also be no faux turkeys of any kind – only a real one to eat, of course.

When I do get my chance, you know it’s going to be a classy affair, with cloth napkins, candles, and the most amazing apple pie I’ve spent years perfecting.