Ideas for Simple Christmas Place Settings

Back at the beginning of November, I discussed simple Thanksgiving place settings. We’re now at the end of November, and our thoughts are filled with Christmas. Have you put your tree up yet? Many of us start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, there are many types of get togethers including a brunch with friends, an afternoon tea, a holiday party, Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Eve. If you are having guests for Christmas dinner or a party, you’re probably in the planning mode now. Deciding on the menu and dividing up the dishes among us is what happens in my family. Who brings what.

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Small Budget, Big Home Improvements

We all have a wish list for our homes.  From the moment I walked through the house on a tour before I bought, I was making a checklist of what I liked and what I wanted to change.   Some home improvement means big bucks; other changes can be made on a small budget.   The smart home owners learn what is doable, plan, and make changes as they are able. For large ticket items, plan ahead and save for the upgrade. I made a 10 year plan and budgeted for a roof replacement, flooring change, new sliding patio doors, and a new central a/c. That was achieved over the last decade. Now I’m planning new washer/dryer, a new front door, and some small improvements in the next 4 to 6 years. Let’s talk about common home improvements.

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Poinsettia & Angel Centerpiece

The poinsettia was brought to the United States from Mexico around 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett. An avid gardener and amateur botanist, Poinsett was appointed as the first US Minister to Mexico in 1825. While in Mexico, Poinsett observed this species flowering and sent plants back to his greenhouse in Charleston. Until that time, this species was unknown outside of its native range of Mexico and Guatemala, where it was referred to as flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower). Once introduced to the U.S., it quickly gained the common name poinsettia, but is also known by many other common names including Christmas flower, Christmas star, lobster plant, painted leaf, and Mexican flame leaf.

This species has a reputation for being extremely poisonous. While there is little doubt that the milky latex of poinsettias can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, mucus membranes, or when consumed, to the digestive system, poinsettia is apparently one of the less toxic species of Euphorbia. Of reported human exposure, there were no fatalities.

Source:  The Neighborhood Gardner, University of Florida

Poinsettia is toxic to cats and dogs and causes gastric distress.

For the last few days, I’ve been adding vignettes to my home. Yesterday I arranged a poinsettia plant, a vintage light, and a cloth angel on the dining room table. It’s a farmhouse poinsettia & angel centerpiece.

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Practical Ideas For Better Home Cooking

For some people, cooking is a passion. Like my brother-in-law, they love trying new recipes, experimenting with different flavors, and feeding their friends and family. For many other people cooking is a chore. At times most of us are tired of answering the eternal question “What’s for dinner” At the beginning of November we discussed finding inspiration to cook. The best advice when trying new dishes is to avoid complicated recipes and start small. Perhaps a sheet pan dinner or a slow cooker meal are easy ways to try something new.

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Create a Home That Supports Wellness

We are approaching the end of the year, a perfect time to re-evaluate and renew our lives and homes. Today I want to talk about stress. The holiday season which brings great joy also can bring great stress.  Many of us have so much responsibility, and often we feel overburdened.  We want it all – great home, family time, work, and personal growth.  Of course we do, but can we have it all at once?

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Advent Vignette 2022

I got my first Advent Wreath decades ago. It was a simple metal wreath with faux greenery and four calendar holders marking the four Sundays before Christmas.  Some Advent wreaths have a 5th white candle in the center for Christmas Day. Advent wreaths are an ancient tradition going back as far as Roman times. Today there are various customs according to several liturgical denominations involving the color of the candles and their significance.  On the first Sunday, a candle is lit and a prayer or scripture read. Snuff out the candle. Please don’t blow it out or the hot melted wax might spray. The next Sunday light the first and the second. Have a service and extinguish the candles. I like using LED lights without fear of fire. Each week light in order, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,  until the last Sunday there are four candles burning. The candles do not have to burn down but can burn for your remembrance and be extinguished. If you want a Christmas Day candle, the four candles and a fifth white candle all are burning on Christmas.

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Thanksgiving Rustic Angel Basket

Anthuriums are herbaceous epiphytes native to tropical America, a genus of more than 800 species found in the New World tropics from Mexico to northern Argentina and Uruguay. 

I filled a vintage rustic basket with natural elements like a red anthurium plant, pine cones and pumpkins. For Thanksgiving, I put it on the dining table on a placemat, and I added a vintage angel with 2 small pumpkins in front of the basket.

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