Thursday, December 30, 2010

Redbud Terrace Winter Punch

punch

A staple of any holiday party is a good house drink. My husband, Brian, makes an excellent punch for our holiday gatherings that we call “Redbud Terrace Winter Punch.” It’s easy to prepare and it’s always a hit! Try this yummy drink at your next gathering! The recipe is below:

Redbud Terrace Winter Punch

10-12 servings 5 min 5 min prep

1-12 oz can frozen cranberry juice concentrate, almost thawed

1-12 oz. can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, almost thawed

1-12 oz. can frozen limeade concentrate, almost thawed

1- 31/4 cup bottle white wine, chilled

2- 31/4 cup bottles champagne, chilled

1-1ltr. bottle of carbonated water or dub soda, chilled

1 - lemon, sliced

1/2 cup fresh mint

1-12 oz. package strawberries or raspberries, frozen

Combine all in a large punch bowl or if you don't have one, combine it all in a large clean pot and serve it in pitchers. Add the frozen fruit just before serving. The mint can be left in the punch bowl or removed just before serving, but it adds a wonderful flavor so don't leave it out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Holiday Centerpiece

This past weekend, I needed a glam centerpiece for our Holiday Dessert Open House. However, with creating my poinsettia cake and last minute party preparations, I had less than ideal time to create it.

Thankfully, I knew I wanted to use our silver and gold vase as the base of the arrangement; and when I glittered my golden wreath and berries, I also gilded some crepe myrtle branches from our backyard.

So after running downstairs and grabbing the vase and some gilded sticks, I ran outside with a pair of clippers to snip off some evergreen branches from our trees!

Once I placed the evergreen and gilded branches into my vase, I dug into my extra Christmas decorations and pulled out a string of gold beads, some glitter pinecones and some leftover golden apples.

By applying floral wire to the bottom of the pinecones and apples, I was able to insert them in between my branches. As a final touch, I draped the golden beads around the rim of the vase using the floral wire to attach the beads to the bottom of the branches.

While it took me under an hour to create, I think it made a brilliant centerpiece for the table!
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Christmas Dessert Cake

My partner and I had our annual Christmas Dessert Open House party this past weekend. I love decorating a special cake for the party and this year I decided to create a poinsettia cake using fondant

To make the red and green leaves, my husband and I took a handful of fondant and after adding food dye, kneeded the dye into the fondant. (Rub confectionary sugar on your hands to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands)

Once we achieved the desired color, we rolled the icing into thin squares and used a pizza cutter to cut out the leaves. Then using a sharp tool, we traced the vein lines across the top of the leaves being careful not to cut all the way through the leaf.


Once the leaf was complete, we then placed them on a cookie sheet to dry using different items (we used small candles) to hold up different areas of the leaf to add texture. 

To make the center pods simply kneed yellow food dye into a small piece of fondant and roll with your hands.


Once the leaves and pods dried overnight, I then arranged them on top of the cake using lemon buttercream frosting as a glue to hold them in place. To complete the holiday look, I dusted the cake with edible gold dust to add some sparkle and shine!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wintry Wine Accessories!

It’s that time of year again! You have lots of holiday parties to attend and you’re looking for something fun and interesting to give the host.

A great Wine is always a good staple to give to your host, but why not give it a little creative holiday twist.

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I knitted this wintry scarf and hat for our host gift. It was fun to knit and quick to make. I knitted this set over a couple of nights watching some holiday classics…oh Snoopy how I love your Christmas display! 

To knit my scarf and hat set, I used a pair of size 4 needles and a thin white yarn, but you can use any yarn of your choice.

scarf

To create the scarf, I simply cast on 10 stitches then knit one row and purled the next until I had enough rows for my scarf. I then hand-sewed  feather trim on each end (I bought a small white boa at the craft store then cut it up into small pieces).

hat

For the hat, I cast on 5 stitches then knit one row and purled the next decreasing my stitches until I created a triangle shape. Then I hand-sewed the edges together to create my hat. Once I added a small white pom-pom to the tip of my hat and some feather trim around the bottom it was ready to go!

P1010863 copy

Another bottle cover, that I’m particularly proud of, is this cable knit number. You may remember one of my very first posts where I turned Brian’s old Irish sweater into 2 beautiful pillows for our sofa. After creating the pillows, I kept all of the leftover pieces knowing that I could use them in another project someday. Well, today was the day, and I created this chic cover out of that very same sweater simply by sewing up the bottom of the sleeve. I love the cable knit pattern, and it looks truly wintry and beautiful as a wine bottle cover.

As you’re heading out to your holiday parties, think of what you can create to show your host you care!

Monday, December 13, 2010

All that glitters

afghan 009Brian and I are getting our home ready for our annual Christmas party. Our theme for the decorations is “A Golden Christmas.” As you can imagine, it involves a lot of gold paint and glitter. But, as my Husband says, the only thing that separates a good Christmas from a great Christmas is glitter.

afghan 007 So, while we trimmed the tree with lots of gold ornaments…

afghan 006…and adorned our mantel with gilded garland and reindeer,  I still had a few craft projects up my sleeve to complete the look!

You’ve already read about my gilded globes and this weekend I finished two other projects to complete this year’s theme.

The ideas came to me, while we were relaxing in the living room last week. I looked up at our light and thought it might be fun to add a festive touch of golden berries around the edges of the globe. I also remembered an old grape vine wreath we had in the attic that would look beautiful in our foyer. Since, I already owned the wreath and a garland of red berries, it was just a matter of running to the craft store for some gold paint and glitter.

gold 001 gold 003What we found at the craft store was this easy to use “Brilliant Gold” craft paint by Design Master and gold glitter both in shaker form and in a spray form.

After laying out the garland and wreath, I simply sprayed them with 2 coats of gold paint, a couple of coats of gold glitter spray and then topped it off by sprinkling on the heavier glitter for some extra shine.

gold 004 Once dried and completed the golden touches look beautiful!

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Happy Holidays!
And may your Christmas be merry and golden…um…I mean bright!

cheers

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fun with fur!

Fur is huge right now, and when we were in New York awhile ago, I saw a beautiful fur-trim men’s coat at Bergdorf Goodman that I absolutely loved! Unfortunately, what I didn’t love was the price tag. I didn’t purchase it, but since that day, I’ve kept that coat in the back of my mind.

One day, while perusing the goods at the Georgetown flea market, I discovered a beautiful vintage black fur collar. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I knew I already owned a wool coat that came with a faux blazer collar that buttoned onto the inside of the coat and at $20 for the fur collar I couldn’t pass it up!

After bringing the collar home and studying my coat, I worked out a solution and set off for the fabric store and purchased some black wool felt.

To attach the collar, I cut out a piece of the black felt using my faux blazer collar as a template.

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After cutting out the design, I  hand-sewed the piece of felt to the back of the fur collar, adjusting the height according to how it laid on the front of my coat. Once the collar was finished, I placed the collar onto the coat and cut out the button holes.

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fur_coat 016 When I was finished, I was very pleased with the results! Now, I have a fun, fabulous coat to wear when I’m out and about!

fur_coat 002 fur_coat 004

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Knit Happens

IMG_0105Back in March, I began knitting my first big project…a basket-weave afghan. It was relatively easy to knit and required only a pair of circular needles (I used a size 8), a stitch counter…and of course…lots and lots of yarn.

I finally completed it and love the results. It has certainly come in handy on these chilly DC evenings!

afghan 015 Even the pets love it! It keeps my little pussy nice and warm!

afghan 017 If you’re interested in creating your own basket-weave afghan, e-mail me for the pattern! Just make sure you buy a stitch counter before you begin. It's crucial!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Golden Globes

A couple of years ago, I purchased some mercury glass globes from Crate and Barrel. I love the texture and shine of them and wanted to use them in this year’s holiday decorations. Unfortunately, when we began decorating in a gold theme, I quickly realized that they didn’t quite work.

As I thought about how I could incorporate them, I came upon the idea of adding that touch of gold by applying gold leaf.

After making a trip to the local crafts store, I purchased the items I needed and began my work.

The process was simple and the gold leafing was easy to use.

 ornamental balls 001

  • I began by applying the spray adhesive to the globes then after 15 minutes, I began placing the gold leaf.

ornamental balls 006

  • Once the gold leaf was applied and the adhesive completely dried (24 hours) I then covered each globe with a clear gloss sealer.

IMG00580-20101202-1022 I love the way the globes came out and they look beautiful on our dining room table!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Creative Candlesticks

Thanksgiving day we were invited over to our friend's house for a wonderful feast. Our host, Will of William Winebrenner Interiors, LLC, set a beautiful table full of crystal, china, and of course wonderful friends. However, it was his candlesticks that truly caught my eye.



Will covered each silver candlestick with green moss, then carefully wrapped it using a fine thread. By covering his silver candlesticks, Will created a unique centerpiece that truly stood out and created a beautiful presentation.

When you are setting your table for a dinner party, take a step back from your cupboards and look at your plates, vases, and candlesticks and see what interesting combinations and presentations you can create to make a memorable meal!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy As Pie...


This past weekend, Brian and I decided to have an impromptu dinner party for some friends. While Brian was in charge of making the delicious dinner, I was in charge of the dessert.

I wanted to make a dessert that would be great in taste, but small in preparation; as I had little time to make it. While searching online for a fun dessert, I found this wonderful apple pie recipe that I decided to make and add something of my own to give it some flair and jazz it up. The recipe is below:









Homemade Apple Pie

Recipe for 2 - 9" Double Crust Pie Crust (I purchased my pie dough at the grocery store and simply rolled it into my pie plate and then covered it with the top piece.)

6 cups Granny Smith apple slices, peeled and cored
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg to taste
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup orange flavored dried cranberries*



Directions - How To Make an Apple Pie:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the pie crust bottom and tops leaving enough overhang to fold underneath. Place the bottom pie crust evenly in a 9" pie pan or ceramic pie dish and set aside. Fold the top crust in half and place a towel over it so it doesn't dry out.

In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice. Add sugars, flour and spices if desired, mixing gently.
Fold into prepared pie crust and dot with cold butter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbly. Place a piece of aluminum foil around the rim if the edges start to brown too fast.
Remove to cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Serve Apple Pie à la mode with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 1 double crust apple pie. Serves 8.

*For my pie, I decided to add some orange flavored dried cranberries that I purchased from Trader Joe's. It added a flavorful touch to the pie. 

The pie tasted wonderful. Although, I need some practice pinching my crust...:)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A History of the Home

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's, "At Home: A Short History of Private Life." Bryson is best known for his work, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and his new tome does not disappoint.

In "At Home" Bryson examines the history and development of the home over the ages by taking us on a tour of his English home and investigating the history behind each room as well as examining everyday objects such as the salt and pepper shaker and revealing the colorful past of these everyday staples.

I enjoyed Bryson's quirky sense of curiosity and the way he reveals the purpose and sometimes folly behind our living spaces.

While the text tends to be a little dry, I highly recommend reading this book yourself. Not only is it an interesting read, but it can provide many conversational topics at your next dinner party!

Purchase your copy here!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Dandy Adventure

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A Dandy on the Road and in the Air

When my husband and I were getting married in September, I knew I wanted to give him a special gift that would create some memorable moments for us to cherish.

I wasn’t sure what to get him until a Groupon showed up in my e-mail for a hot air balloon ride in the Shenandoah Valley courtesy of Valley Ballooning. After selecting a November sunset flight to capture the autumn leaves, we prepared for our adventure.

It was a pleasant drive to Woodstock, VA where Don, our pilot, picked us up and drove us to the launching pad. 
balloon 097balloon 001 balloon 042   
After helping him prepare the balloon for lift off, we quickly climbed in the basket and floated off for an exhilarating trip across the countryside.

  balloon 041balloon 068balloon 049     balloon 051   balloon 083 balloon 062   
The flight was really smooth with some good winds (Don told us we were traveling at 12 miles an hour) and we enjoyed viewing all the farming fields and forests float by as we looked down from above. After a fun hour of floating in the sky, we began our descent. Now, this was the part we were nervous about.

Brian and I do not have experience extricating ourselves from a hot air balloon basket. However, we were game and had some confidence in our pilot. He maneuvered us above tree tops, power lines and the occasional roof top and settled on a piece of land no bigger than a dry pond…in fact…I think that’s what it was. So after some careful coaching, Don pulled swiftly on the main rope to let the air escape from the balloon and down we went hitting the ground at 10 miles an hour.
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While it wasn’t the softest of landings, we did make it to ground and freed ourselves of the balloon. It was a perfect day and one that we will not soon forget.
balloon 064 
I highly recommend Don and Valley Ballooning if you want to inject some fun adventure in your lives! I also recommend signing up for Groupon. I always receive a cool idea in my e-mail from them at a discounted rate!

Tell them the Dandy sent you!!
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