Thanksgiving Tablescape

November is my favorite month of the year.  The combination of beautiful fall colors, crisp days and the anticipation of upcoming holidays always puts in me a festive mood.  And, of course, there is always Thanksgiving and the fun planning and preparation that goes into the day.  This year I get to host Thanksgiving dinner for some of our family and I am so looking forward to it.  One of my favorite ways to prepare is by decorating my dining room.  This room gets a little neglected at times throughout the year so it's fun to get in there and really make it beautiful for Thanksgiving dinner.

This year I focused on using natural elements, a few white pumpkins and my go to white pillar candles and crystal candle holders.  

Decorating the table can be a bit tricky because you want to leave plenty of room for food and plates.  I like to serve my meal buffet style so that I can leave all of the pretty decor on the table.  To make it easier to clean up I put all of my table decor in a large metal tray.  The tray can easily be picked up and moved to make way for that delicious turkey!

The dining room is all ready for a delicious meal and great family time.  I can't wait!

Get This Look:
Please click image to see more information and pricing on each item!

Brown Silk Hydrangeas

Jute Table Runner

Galvanized Metal Tray

Cream Silk Hydrangeas

Clear Glass Candle Holders
White Pumpkin Dish

Green Silk Hydrangeas

Inspiration For A Living Room Remodel

It's finally spring, and now is the time for spring cleaning and spring dreaming.  I'm talking about dreaming up all of the home improvement projects you are going to get done!  Maybe I'm the only one who loves this kind of dreaming, but let me tell you I have quite the extensive project list.  I have projects that I want to do this week, this month, this year and within the next 10 years.  Those ten year projects are the dreams.  Things that we don't really need but that would just be really fun or nice to do.  One of these dreamy projects is a remodel of our living room.

 Our living room is such a nice room already.  I love the built in shelves and the cozy fire place.  We have already made several updates since we moved in.  First, we replaced old worn out carpet with this beautiful dark Pergo flooring.  We also replaced an outdated white tile around the fireplace with this pretty rustic stone facade.  The major problem I have with this space is that it tends to be very dark.

On the other side of those double doors is a tiny narrow little screened in porch.  While in theory, I like the idea of a screened in porch, the reality is that we hardly ever use it.  We have a large wrap around porch on the front of our house where we spend the majority of our outside time.

So this is where my remodel dreaming comes into play.  My big idea is to remove the wall with these double doors and extend our living room out!  I can just imagine all of the extra light that will let in.  Maybe a big wall of windows like shown in the gorgeous picture below.

pretty sun room beautifully styled | sucker for transom windows and French doors:

I want to give the room the light bright airy feeling of a sun room.  I can just imagine spending time soaking up the sun in this beautiful space.

After the major remodel work is done my plan is to change the decor in the room to match the mood of the space.  I would love to lighten everything up and add some bright yet still calming colors.

You can see in the plan above that I have added a few beachy touches to go along with the sunny theme of the room.  Along with the changes in decor I would also like to brighten the whole room up with a light shade of paint and some nice bright white trim.

I just love to dream and plan changes for each room in my house.  Some of the changes are big things like taking out walls and others are tiny like adding new throw pillows or arranging the furniture.  But no matter what the project is I always start by looking for inspiration.  Of course, Pinterest and Instagram are my very favorite spots to look.  If you need a serious dose of inspiration check out the Pinterest boards and Instagram at Laurel and Wolf, an interior design company with a lovely selections of images that are sure to inspire.

*I designed my inspiration board using the lovely site Project Decor.

Valentine's Decor Inspiration

The first month of 2016 is coming to an end and that means that it is time to start celebrating the month of love!  Valentine's Day is always a bright spot in the middle of winter and a great excuse to bring some bright fun colors into your home.

My kids love to see little signs of holiday decor around the house no matter what the upcoming holiday is!  One of the first places they expect to see new decor is the mantel.  I love to change my mantel for the season.

Pictured above is my Valentine's Day mantel from several years ago.  You can read more about it here.  I like to add the colors of the holiday without bringing in too many hearts and cupids.

Valentines Day Mantel Ideas
A Place For Us

I love this mantel because it is so simple and fun.  The mustache is an adorable touch and I love how the black hearts are an unexpected play on the traditional.

DIY Valentine's day mantel with love art
This next mantel really captures both winter and Valentine's Day perfectly.  I love the white wintry branches and pine cones mixed with the touches of red.

Whimsical Treasures Decor
This one is just so cute!  I love the paper wreath and the adorable "be mine" banner.  I also love how several of these mantels utilize empty frames to draw your focus and tie everything together.

Love Mantle 5
The Diary of Dave's Wife
This last mantel is so cute, it would be perfect for a house like mine filled with kids.  In fact, I think that the kids could easily help create these adorable garlands with paper, cute little puff balls and some ribbon.  It would be a perfect Valentine craft!

Let's all bring a  little color into our winter and start celebrating the ones we love a little early this year!

Recipe Review

I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen during the month of January.  Partly because we just enjoy eating a lot of nice hot meals in the winter and partly because we have decided to go the entire month without eating out.  It has been a fun challenge and easier than expected.  I have missed my Starbucks but I'm getting used to not having it.

During the last few weeks I have tried out a lot of new recipes and I am excited to share my favorites with you here today.  

Let's start with my very favorite.  One night I was really craving Chinese food.  You know the kind that comes in greasy little paper boxes of deliciousness.  Well, we don't have any Chinese restaurants within 40 minutes of our house and we are not eating out this month was time to try my hand and making my own.  I chose three recipes and they were all delicious.  My favorite was this Kung Pao Chicken.

Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.

The only change I made was leaving out the dried peppers.  I didn't want it to be too spicy for my kids.  The finished product was bright, flavorful and the perfect substitute for Chinese take out.

Along with the Kung Pao chicken I also prepared this delicious beef and broccoli and Chow Mein

Beef and Broccoli

Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat - Tastes just like Panda Express except it takes just minutes to whip up and tastes a million times better!

Let's move from dinner to breakfast!  My kids always look forward to a big hot breakfast on Saturday morning.  I usually make them eggs and then add in some sort of muffin, scone or biscuit.  Of course their very favorite is the Saturday mornings that I make cinnamon rolls.  Unfortunately, that tends to take way longer than I want to spend in the kitchen on a Saturday morning.  This recipe for 1 hour cinnamon rolls really solved that problem and the results were fantastic.  Everything you want in a cinnamon roll.

1 Hour Cinnamon Rolls

The final recipe I want to share today is the perfect kid food.  If your kids love chicken nuggets this is a good alternative to fast food.

The BEST Homemade Chicken Strips Ever - Butter With A Side of Bread

This is the best chicken strip recipe I have ever tried and my kids thought it tasted just like their favorite Chick-Filet!

Those are just a few of my favorites, if you head over to my Facebook page I will be sharing a bonus recipe for a delicious dessert, you won't want to miss it!


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