Archive for 2008

Über Holiday Décor Tips

Furniture Arrangement for parties and gatherings...
Whether a gathering is 6-60 your furniture arrangements in your public areas need to be redesigned. A formal living room can be arranged to serve as seating for dinner guests. Circular tables and chairs can be added and dressed with layers of coordinating tablecloths, placemats and runners to serve as extra seating for dining guests.

A foyer can host a bar; a family room extended dining, and a formal living room more than one conversation area. A favorite is to use an entry console to host wine or beverage selections, along with stemware and an ice bucket.

Focal points may change away from TV viewing to a glorious blazing fire or brightly lit tree. A definite party faux pas would be guest watch the tube rather than enjoying the company. Redesign your furnishings in a new arrangement with the emphasis away from the entertainment unit by creating a new focal point on the fireplace or tree.

Always take of traffic patterns and how you want your guests to move about your home into consideration. Guest should be able to move about your home freely and easily w/out bumping into chair arms or tables. Removal of a few pieces for the gathering to a storage area frees up space for large amounts of people.

Great Conversation is the pinnacle to any gathering. Here are a few tips to help motivate your revelers....

Champagne flutes hanging from red velvet ribbons from the foyer ceiling. Cut lengths of red velvet ribbon and mount to a ceiling or hang from an entry chandelier. Have a selection of scissors for each guest to ceremonially cut the ribbon upon entry to your home. The foyer serving as the bar area, especially works well with this conversation starter. Take the idea one step further and use the red ribbon as part of the invitation, as a small clue of the surprise ahead.

Baskets filled with Santa hats, red & white boas or scarves and toasty slippers set the stage for a lively party. Adults and children alike all like to “Dress-Up.” For extra fun, have a Polaroid camera or two available for impromptu photo shoots.

Vignettes showcasing antique family photos enjoying a special celebration or mementos such as antique ice skates, sled or ornaments will bring up stories of the past and thread together guests. These vignettes are especially wonderful in areas that guests can mill around or be seated to chat about the past memories.

Fabric & Linens are easy holiday decor. Shop your local fabric store for fresh ideas and trendy prints...

Tablecloths, napkins, placemats, runners and fabric yardage can really help create a dazzling table settings and home decorating. Choose or shop for fabrics that coordinate with your holiday or home’s décor.

Fabric can be tucked into bookcases, rivered on sideboards, topped on armoires or draped on chairs. Don’t be afraid to mix and match textures and colors. Fabric is one of the easiest decorative elements to when hosting a celebration.
The best part about using fabrics is they're compact and easily stored.

The Dining Room should make a real decorative statement in your home, but in many cases, it’s one of the hardest to creatively decorate. Here are a few suggestions to inspire you...
Whether for an intimate family dinner or a huge buffet gathering, a dining room was meant for celebrations and conversation; celebrate this “family” room with a rich, warm colors, conversation making displays, and wow décor that will make every guest want to sit down!

Divine Décor – Wrap wall art in holiday paper, bow and all.
Sprays of evergreens, berries and seasonal picks can halo mirrors, paintings and doorways.
Seasonal China can be hung on walls with plate hangers, easeled within China or curio cabinets or used as a tray for soaps in powder rooms.

China Cabinets can be refreshed to highlight seasonal china, heirloom ornaments, and seasonal floral. Normally mundane cut crystal with glow with a toss of color tinsel, small glass ornaments or a string of garland. Ribbon wrapped silk amaryllis or paper whites look splendid laid along a China cabinet shelf.

Chandeliers can host ornaments on ribbons, ivy, snowflakes and mistletoe. New holiday colored silk chandelier light shades can replace the existing ones, and the chain can be wrapped with fabric. Take it one step further and “wrap” each of the dining room chairs with seasonal fabrics also.

The "Neiman Marcus" Cookie

Easy Gourmet Cooking & Entertainment Show DECEMBER - Seen on cable TV Palos Heights, Palos Park & Orland Park Channel 4
This Urban Legend has been circulating for over 50 years … Neiman-Marcus charged a shopper $250 for its cookie recipe, not the $2.50 - The woman had been expecting to pay. As revenge on the store for refusing to reverse the charge, she now provides the recipe for free and exhorts others to pass it along.

This is a great recipe to share and tell the torrid Tall Tale... Make sure to include the recipe with your cookie gift to pass along the recipe!

Shopping Cart – Recipe can be halved.

2 cups butter

2 cup packed brown sugar

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour

5 cups blended oatmeal**

2 tsp. soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

24 oz. chocolate chips

1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)

3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees - Makes 112 cookies.

** Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Tips & tricks for the Harried Homeowner & Hostess.

A harried homeowner is not a celebrated delight, and most likely not the prettiest sight during the holiday months. The multitude of happenings and holidays that occur from fall right through the New Year can get anyone into a tizzy. Gentle ladies; do not get your Spanx in a bind, with a bit of savvy pre-planning, simplification, and a splash of creativity - Anyone can pull off the holidays without a hitch!

Proper Holiday Décor - Decorating your home with continuity & flow...

Decorating with personal objects or what I call them "enrichments," is a way to create a home that truly reflects you. These things are an important expression of which you are - Especially inherited or treasured items. Try to hold yourself in check when out shopping, a few new decorative pieces are fine to add to your collection, but try not to buy the entire collection. Your home should have a common decorative thread. Rather than creating theme rooms, have one common theme which creates continuity and flow through out you whole home.

If your home is on the market, it is important to create a more subdued, universal look for the season. Decorate with creative constraint - keeping in mind that you’re selling square footage and the buyer’s vision of themselves in the home.

2008 Seasonal Trends ...

Shakin’ up the old stuff – Refresh and revitilize what you have, dig through past collections to create a fresh new one, a & swap out a few with something new.

· Old World Metallic – Treasure the past by infusing old with the new.

· Going Green – Nature is your guide.

· Opposites Attract -

Lime Green & Hot Pink
Purple and Yellow/Green
Orange & Turquoise

· Chocolate – Try adding a splash of chocolate to your existing décor.

Savvy pre-planning, simplification, and a splash of creativity go a long way…

1. Know your décor & entertainment style. Make sure to be comfortable in your own home, your budget and your lifestyle. Choose what works best for your home, and what is easy for you – Imaginative trumps flashy every time. No need to keep up with the “Jones’.”

2. A well Stocked Pantry. Stocking your pantry with a few essential items can make entertaining seamless.

- Crackers. Keep an assortment of crackers on hand to serve with cheese or for dipping into sauces.

- Cookie Dough. Buy either a roll or tub of cookie dough. Besides the heavenly scent they make while baking, they always appear to be “home-made.” They can be served on their own, or with a bowl of ice cream or whipped cream.

- Dried pasta. Any gathering wouldn't be complete without pasta; cook according to package directions and then toss with whatever you have on hand, like pesto sauce, veggies, seafood or chicken.

- Lemons and limes. Perk up vegetables, pasta, dips and salads with a squeeze of lemon; serve cocktails with a wedge of lemon or lime.

- Quality olive oil. Re-create the restaurant experience by letting guests dip bread into small bowls of olive oil. You can whisk olive oil with vinegar to create a quick salad dressing, or drizzle it over grilled vegetables just before serving.

- Jars of salsa, tapenade and other dips. Always have these in your pantry for an instant party snack; spread on bread or crackers, or dip chips or raw vegetables.

- Canned or Packaged Tuna. Tossed in pasta or a salad, made into a dip, or served on crackers, this staple makes for a super easy recipe.

FALLing for your Kitchen - Simple Seasonal Updates for the Heart of the Home

The kitchen is the most utilized and meaningful room in a household. It is the hub for family tasks and used for food preparation, household management, and of course entertaining. It is indeed the heart of any home. No matter how many rooms you have dedicated for entertainment, everyone always ends up in the kitchen! With the kids back in school, a cool nip in the air, fall kicks off our major holiday season - in fact, we can celebrate right through the New Year. Now is a great time to get your kitchen “party readied,” and organized for easy maneuvering during the holiday rush, and of course-seasonally updated.

Need a Color Lift? - Pick a wall if daring - pick them all. Paint it a seasonal color - Ben Moore’s Toasted Pecan #1209, Burnt Sienna #1196, or Sherwin William’s Library Pewter SW0038, or Studio Blue-Green SW0047. It’s just paint, and is the easiest and cheapest change you can make.

• Counter Tops - Swap out a tired canister set with a new revision; there are loads to choose from (If you’re not a gourmet cook, store pens, notepads, and takeout menus inside.) They add needed color and design. Large platters on plate stands are good-looking in unused dark corners or grouped on walls. Extra-large clear glass canisters are conversation makers when layered with dried beans, nuts or black, yellow and white dried popcorn. A kitchen must is a sassy new set of dish towels, seasonal kitchen candles, and a hand soap/lotion set in scents of spiced apple, pumpkin or caramel.

• Tell a Story with your Floral - A whimsical floral whether store or home made adds a bit of seasonal flair to any table. Create a mini-container garden by abundantly grouping those adorable “mini” annuals and petite ivy. or a bountiful arrangement with fuax fall veggies, dried pods, leaves and vines.

• Looking Up - Upper cabinet tops or upper shelves seem always to pose a decorating challenge. For a quick and easy change, large seasonally inspired platters, framed art, and garden items such as gazing spheres, or obelisks fill spots fill tired spots.

• Smart Cook Organization - An easy way to organize, is to create stations within your kitchen. Love to bake? Set aside two cabinets and counter space solely used for baking (near the oven of course,) fill with baking essentials such as pans, small appliances, spices and other baking staples. Task clustering such as this will help you to stay on task during the busy holiday rush.

• Get your Party Started - Love to entertain, but don’t have a Butler’s Pantry? Convert your little used desk area into an entertainment station.
-Replace wood panels of upper cabinet with glass, adding lighting, and glass shelves - store glasses and decorative bottles.
-Line desk drawer with felt, and hold bar essentials and serving pieces.
-Add a tension rod with shirred fabric for extra storage to the knee hole space, or find the perfectly sized rolling cart.

• Space Game - Use a Lazy Susan cabinet for a “Party Pantry.” Store food products, Beverages, paper goods. and china that can be used to throw a soiree at moment’s notice. If you’re even luckier to have an unused closet. super size it and linens, vases, and decor all in one neat place.

No matter how large or small your kitchen, whether you’re a gourmet cook or take-out type, every kitchen needs a seasonal boost and should be readied for family, friends and favorite holiday celebrates in style.

Easy Gourmet November Recipes

A monthly cooking and lifestyle show on local Illinois cable Palos Heights Channel 4 or Palos Park Channel 6 - Get great cooking, entertaining and decorating tips.

Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider Mimosas

Give your guest a very special introduction to your holiday celebration with these wonderful cocktails.

Sparkling wine or Champagne
1 table spoon flavored syrup (We used Pumpkin Spice.)
Splash of fresh Apple Cider
Sugared rimmed sparkling wine glasses

Directions for sugar rimmed glasses:
Reserve two saucers. Add ¼ cup of lemon juice to 1 saucer, and one with ½ cup of sugar. Feel free to vary your sugar choices. Try raw sugar for an interesting twist. Dip rim of glass in lemon juice followed by sugar. Let dry overnight before serving.

Quick Pasta Melody

Stock your pantry with a few staple ingredients, a quick visit to your local grocer - And you can whip up a gourmet meal in a flash.

1 bag of gourmet dried pasta
1 9oz. jar of flavored sauce, salsa or topping (We used a Tuscan Artichoke Spread.)
1 Bundle of Asparagus ends removed.
1 Cup other fresh veggies of choice
1 Cup Deli Fresh Roasted Chicken cubed.
1 Tablespoon olive oil for sauté
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to bags directions. As pasta is cooking, heat olive in sauté pan. Chop veggies into bit size pieces and sauté till soft. Add Chicken and heat. Drain pasta, and in a large bowl toss pasta, veggies, chicken and flavored sauce till coated - Plate onto a large serving platter or bowl. Feel free to top with grated cheese & fresh minced parsley.

Filo Crust Cherry Tart

This is such a treat, and can be served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. The filo pastry makes the recipe unusual and will guarantee them coming back for seconds!

2 Can Cherry Pie Filling
1 Package Filo Pastry Sheets
1 Stick of Butter Melted

Heat oven to 350. In a tart pan, coat bottom and sides with butter using a pastry brush. Open package of Filo pastry and place a damp towel over sheets to keep moist. Layer 4-6 layers of Filo pastry sheets, brushing each layer with butter forming a crust. Add 2 cans of filling, and then repeat sheet laying for crust top. Tuck ends over sealing the top crust. Brush will remainder of butter, and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Let cool before serving.

Scratching Your Color Itch

My job as an interior stylist allows me to help you celebrate all aspects of your home. My quest is that you are delighted with the way your home looks and feels each time you walk into it. My goal is that your home has your soul written all over it.

Although your home may seem complete, every few years, we feel the need to make a change, especially when it comes to color. Do not fret over this itch that comes over you.

Our taste in color changes, just like our food tastes change. This is due to emotional and/or cultural maturity. For example, you may travel to France, and just fall in love with the alluring blue/green that your Inn displayed, or the fantastic Comté cheese that you married each night with your evening glass of wine. These cultural experiences may bring a change in taste and the way you want to reflect your living spaces.

Making those changes whether emotional or cultural are good sign, and mirror that you, as a person are evolving, changing and developing. Why not employ that change in a new color palette in one, or all your spaces. Be inspired by a color that you've been attracted to recently - It could it be inspired by a color trend that you've just fallen in love with, or perhaps a new interest in your life; Art collecting, travel, or a hobby. How about that special Inn that you stayed at with that unusual, but stimulating blue/green hue or that perfect buttery ivory color of that yummy cheese you ate? Why not be motivated by those colors and try them out as a new foyer hue, a knobby hand knitted throw on your living room couch, or even soft silky silk panels in your master bedroom?

By taking a new single hue and spreading that color around the house, it becomes a new exciting connecting thread that will visually move you from one space to another. Best of all, you've made a change influenced by something you've come to enjoy, and scratch that itch...