Friday, November 18, 2011

Stress Free Thanksgiving- Table Setting (Mini Tutorial)

I have been talking about a stress free Thanksgiving on here and what do I do? Stress the hell out! I had a moment about a week ago where I sat and bawled because I realized that I didn't have nice glasses or enough matching silverware. And I'm not just talking just a little cry, I'm talking ugly pregnant lady who can't get her craving kind of crying! I'm sure my kids were waiting for my head to start spinning around. But the strange part was that I started laughing at myself, while still crying, because I knew I was being ridiculous! Oye! So after a talk with my sister-in-law, who talked me down from the ledge, I made a plan and took care of it, as well as a few surprises along the way.

I went to Walmart and got a package of 16 glasses for $9.99. I was super stoked because they're pretty and heavy duty and I have enough for everyone to have a matching glass.
I also got these wine glasses, we aren't sure if they're supposed to be red wine or brandy glasses, but they will do and I have enough for everyone. I got two 4 packs for $5/each, also at Walmart.
Now I was going to make do with the silverware that I have, they aren't the best, but they would work. Then I got a call from my mom saying she has a gift for me. When I was a kid and my mom would entertain, she would get out her nice silverware. It was a set enough for 16, in a fancy box and they are gold plated, not my favorite, but I have so many good memories of family dinners while using the fancy stuff. She gave them to me. Seriously! They have been packed away for a good 15 years and are in great condition. I am so thrilled to have these to share with my family and continue on with the tradition.
Another thing that I realized that I didn't have was a Gravy Boat. Tragic, I know. So I went over to Goodwill's Christmas sale they had last weekend and I found this. I LOVE the detail on this. It's so pretty, very fancy and goes with my colors! I got it for $1.99.
I also was worried about small serving plates. I have the big one, the salad plate, but I wanted another smaller one so everyone could have their own butter slab so we aren't all waiting for the butter to get passed around. I got a set of six of these for $.49 a piece at Goodwill.
Now for a mini tutorial. I have never needed napkin rings before (we are a paper napkin kind of family) but I wanted something to hold the new white napkins I got. So I dug through my craft stuff and remembered that I had a set of about 37 of these basic grapevine circles. Not sure if they are supposed to be napkin rings or what but I am using them for that. Now get your favorite berry garland and snip on enough to wrap around the ring and VOILA! Festive napkin rings.
Here is the place setting of what I'm going to use. I am making a table runner, but we aren't going to have any place mats and I love how warm everything looks together!
Hope you are all having a great week! It's snowing here and I caved and let the kids start watching Christmas movies. I held out longer than I thought I would. I still have a few more recipes to share, show you my table runner, centerpiece, skirt and the kids' table!
Stay Tuned!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stress Free Thanksgiving- Potatoes

I don't know about you but potatoes are my absolute favorite Thanksgiving side dish. I am not a fan of stuffing (Gasp!), cranberry sauce (Gasp!), or green bean casserole (not too big of a gasp as lots of people don't like the green bean casserole.) If the potatoes are good and the rolls are fantastic, everything else for me is great.

Here are a few recipes that I have found that not only you can make a few days in advance, but that they are so good!
Recipe Found Here
I've made these before and they were SOOOO good! Plus, you can make these 2-3 days in advance! You can even make it a month in advance and freeze them! Score!

The Pioneer Woman has some of the BEST recipes out there! Plus, she is a busy woman and most of her recipes are super fast! Here are a few that have been big hits in our house and might be making an appearance on our table this year.
(As I didn't get permission to use her pictures, I'll just put the links on here.)

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin
I've made these before and they were a big hit with my kids! Anything that is smothered in cheese is a hit with them. Yup, I taught them right.

Fluffy New Potatoes
My husband made these a little while ago and they were so good. If you are wanting to break with tradition a bit an have these potatoes, you will be the coolest kid on the block.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

My mother-in-law has made these potatoes for the last few years for Thanksgiving and let me tell you, they are everything that is Thanksgiving! The best part is that you can make it a couple days in advance as well and they are so yummy.

Now stop stressing about slaving away to peel and mash up your taters the day of Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Embarking on New Territory

This year I have been volunteered to host Thanksgiving. I'm incredibly nervous about it because I have never cooked a turkey in my life! I know, GASP! Because my family is all local and both sets of my kids' grandparents like to see them for the holidays, we always have been the traveling caravan. We usually have 2 meals that day, one at my grandparents and one at my husband's family. It's stressful, especially in timing naps for each kid so that they can last for both houses, we usually have to have two outfits for each of the kids (and a back up just in case for ourselves) for the eminent spills and food plopping on their nice, clean, and freshly pressed clothes. I also usually have to make a dish for each house, so timing that is stressful too as I usually have to make it in advance, cook it at each of the houses as it's too far a distance to each house to cook it ahead of time and have it still be warm when we get there.
This all seems so hectic and sounds like a terrible way to spend a holiday, right? Well, it has become the norm for us, for every holiday, so I'm used to it now. This year, on the other hand, is more stressful and scary for me! My mother-in-law is always the hostess for Thanksgiving, the tables are always so pretty with gorgeous place settings, the nice dishes come out, the nice glasses come out and everything is just so organized. Well, if you've been reading this blog for a while or you know me personally, you know that organization is not a strong suit of mine. So to help me along this journey, I'm going to be doing a small series, mostly so that I get mentally prepared for holiday ahead. I'm going to have recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, so you aren't freaking out the day of, table settings for adults and kids, ideas on stress management, and decorations for your house.

So today, I am going to talk about what I am going to wear. Yup. If I want to be the "Hostess with the Mostest" I need to look the part! I have been looking up ideas for months now and I think I have settled on a great idea. Well, by great I mean in theory it is great, in all actuality, not too sure yet. I have decided to do something a little out of character for myself and try making a High Waisted Pencil Skirt. I've been doing lots of research to see if it's even a good idea for someone of my shape and size to wear something that hugs your hips.
Here's what my research has found:

* Pencil skirts, especially High Waisted Pencil Skirts, are flattering for ALL sizes! You just have to find one that fits properly for your shape and size.

* When finding the perfect skirt, you need to think of how long you want it. If it's too short it will make you look way bigger than you really are and slightly tacky, if it's too long then you will have a hard time walking. Plus, wherever your skirt ends is where the eye is drawn to, so you want it to be a smaller part of your leg like just under the knee or at your calf where it starts to taper down. To find the right length, wear the shoes you want to wear with your skirt (mine are a pair of pumps that I found at Goodwill for $2 and they are brand new!), stand in front of a mirror and put a sheet of fabric on the floor, pull the sheet up until you reach the length that you feel makes your legs look great. I am incredibly knock-kneed so I have to find things that are past the knee or it looks like my legs sprang out from nowhere! I am making mine about 3" below my knees, so the skirt isn't stopping at a wide part of my leg and it's still very flattering to my figure.

* Also, your figure has a lot to do with what type of skirt you get. If you have no hips, you want to look for a skirt with pleats or pockets at the sides to give the illusion of having more there than you really have. If you have big hips, like me, you want to stay FAR FAR away from pockets and pleats. If you have a belly, no pleats in the front either as it will make your tummy look much bigger than it actually is. If you are pear shaped, you carry your weight in your hips and thighs, you want your skirt to be as simple as possible, with no buttons, embellishments or pockets at the front or sides of your skirt.

* Usually for us bigger girls, black, navy or brown are the recommended colors to help minimize your hips, or at least give the illusion of it. But now, the trends are getting more bold and colorful. The thing to look for is the fabric itself. Stay away from shiny fabrics, like satin and taffeta, as it is not very forgiving if you have a bulge in the front because it causes shadows which is the same as having a giant neon sign flashing and saying, "Look at my baby bulge! Yes my baby is almost three years old, but LOOK AT IT!" Look for cotton, cotton blends, linens, wools and other thicker fabrics that give your skirt more structure and won't shift very much. The fabric I bought is a burnt orange linen that I'm really excited about!

Now I also want to show examples of women that are fashion icons of all shapes and sizes rockin' the pencil skirt!

You can't talk about beautiful curves without thinking of Marilyn Monroe. She is still a trend setter and designers still look to her shape and the way she looked in her clothes for inspiration for modern day fashion.

I love how this skirt looks on America Ferrera. It shows how simple an outfit can be, but the outcome is stunning! A simple black blouse and a grey skirt makes this amazing!

I have been watching "Mad Men" a lot lately, which is probably why I want to make a pencil skirt. Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan, is setting a new standard of GORGEOUS! She is busty, hippy and beautiful! I have to say that I have a little bit of a girl crush on her (in a very straight way). I just think she is stunning and if I had half her confidence I would be one happy camper!

These are examples of how to dress up and down a pencil skirt. These skirts are so versatile that you can wear them year round and at the office or on a date! Love that!

Here is a perfect example of how to break with tradition and think outside the box... or the color palette. This is a gorgeous, show stopping ORANGE skirt that compliments this girls curves so well! I love the band at the top too! If you are making your skirt with a band at the top, put some stiff interfacing in it to give the look of a corset! Easy way to create the illusion on a tiny waist!

Stay tuned for more on my Stress Free Thanksgiving Series!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Giant Costume Post

Another year has gone by with costume making madness. This year I made a total of 4 costumes. Only one was for my family though. Let's get started with the cuteness!

Little Miss Sassy Pants decided to be Rapunzel a long time ago, so I started thinking of how to make it. I used the same format as the Versatile Shirt for the top. Just a tub with sleeves. Add some rick-rack, lace trim and some ribbon and you have a Rapunzel top. I also wanted to make her a tutu to make it extra fufu-ey! (Yes, that is a word)
I just straightened her hair (which makes her look like a teenager :-( ) and she was good to go!

Good thing I have a friend with a bridal shop as this is the dress I cut up to make the top. This dress would've fit her as is....whoever is this small is abnormal! The center piece of the top with the darker purple is from a bridesmaid alteration I did and kept the scrap fabric.
Now, my older sister conned me into making her and her husband's costumes. The only reason I agreed was because she supplied me with an endless amount of Diet Dr. Pepper and came over to help pin and iron seams and cut all the pieces out. Plus she asked me about 3 weeks in advance, which is very out of character for her as she usually calls about 3 days before she needs stuff done. They went as the Princess Bride and the Dread Pirate Roberts. Here is her hubs sporting the shirt I made. She did the sash and head piece (with fabric I had lying around).
And here is Princess Buttercup. The dress weighed about 47lbs as it was that stretchy velour stuff and was a bit of a pain to sew with as it kept shifting. Luckily I have my new machine as it took a fraction of the time to make than it would have with my other machine!
And the newest member of our family was festive as well. Here is baby Emma sporting her new little hair pretty I made for her. She is about 5 hours old in this picture. Baby and mommy are healthy and happy and I have gotten to sniff her squishy baby head a few times and it has been heavenly.

Now, I know that last year I made my son's costume too, but this year, due to all the other projects, and his particular interest in the Transformers, I got a screaming deal on his costume online and had to just buy it. We planned on making his Bumble-Bee costume out of boxes and foam, but decided that he would not be able to walk and that I just didn't have the time. He was very popular with all the little boys out there Trick or Treating. Plus, this is the only Transformer that he can actually say. So, win win.
No, I did not dress our dog up, but I had to share a nice little story with you all. Our dog decided to bust out of this joint and go on an adventure alone. On Friday night we were making pizzas and were in the midst of craziness and all of a sudden we realized that our dog was not inside. We searched everywhere and he was gone from our yard. Plus, it was cold and raining at that time as well. Trying to look for a black dog, in the dark, in the rain is almost impossible. We searched for hours, cried, called his name outside, cried some more. Then my husband decided to go look again, got the flashlight, and was going from the backyard and I heard something knock on the front door. I opened the front door and was greeted with a soaking wet, tired and cold dog that was wagging his tail so hard that his legs were shifting on the ground. We still don't know how he got out, but we are so thankful that he came home safe.
I hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween!


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