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Thursday, January 15, 2009

After Christmas Sales--Woohoo!

I recently got a really great deal on some holiday decor during an after-Christmas sale at Stein's Garden & Gifts. I've always had the well-meant desire to go shopping after Christmas and gorge myself on cheap deals on wrapping paper and Christmas ribbon, but somehow, when the holidays are over, I'm so over the holidays, that I can't bear to think about them anymore, much less shop for holiday stuff.

However........last year, E and I bought a new fake Christmas tree to replace the teeny one that I had since my apartment days. Our new tree is 10 feet tall and came pre-lighted. (It's awesome!) Above is a picture of our tree from this year. My old tree, all 5 feet of it, has been languishing in a box in the attic for the last two Christmases. Instead of getting rid of it, I decided that I might put it to use in another room and that I could decorate it differently each year, just for fun.
But how to buy Christmas ornaments for a second tree without spending way too much money on such a useless and un-necessary extravagance???? Why, hit the after-Christmas sales, that's how!!

I didn't get a chance last year to do this, so I decided to try again this year. Then, the whole week following Christmas, I was ill with the dreaded rotovirus, more commonly known as the 'stomach flu'. It was not pleasant or pretty. I feared I had missed all the sweet deals.

But alas! I had not. On a chance, stopping in Stein's to look for a UV lamp 2 1/2 weeks after the holidays, E and I were astonished to see aisle after aisle of Christmas decor, marked down after Christmas, now marked down again, 85% off!! With barely supressed glee, I filled a shopping cart with ornaments for $1.00 and beautiful garlands for $0.74. I decided that my first 'theme' tree for next year will be all in gold, copper and bronze colors, with apple green, so I snapped up anything I could find in those colors.

The result : Plenty of stuff for my second tree next year. According to the original prices, it would have been about $200.00 worth of stuff. My price after markdown for everything: $29.00!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Today's Spotlight On: Christmas Open House

E and I decided to host a Christmas Open House this year, which took place on December 20th. We kept it relatively simple, serving mostly appetizers and Christmas cookies and other goodies.The open house was from 3:00pm until 9:00pm, with friends and family stopping in at their leisure and staying as along as they desired. It was a great time to show off the newly completed redecoration of the formal drawing room.

Pictured above; a 3-tier tray filled with Christmas cookies I made and also home-made walnut fudge. Under the glass covered cake stand, a red velvet cake with vanilla icing.

The sideboard really comes in handy for serving! I had purchased some vintage linens for cheap at an antique store last summer. The white embroidered dresser scarf worked well as a cover on the top of the sideboard to protect the wood from scratches, crumbs or spills. In keeping with the decor of the room, I added sprigs of faux holly berries, which matched the dining room table centerpiece and another garland that was draped across the top of the china cabinet (or breakfront, as my great-aunt calls it!). I also used white paper doilies on the serving plates to match the crisp white of the embroidered dresser scarf.

Another view:


(Above right:) Another antique store find; vintage china dessert plates. I found these at a large antique mall that had many old sets of vintage china, most of them incomplete sets. I found 12 of these pretty plates, which have similar colors to my china and the dining room and I thought they would be of great use as appetizer plates. Best of all, they were 2 for $1.00, so I got all 12 for only $6.00.
I also used heavy paper napkins to make napkin folds called 'buffet servers', which I have the forks tucked into. It's a simple and effective way to allow guests to get both silverware and napkin in one little bundle. It also looks very elegant, even if you are only using paper napkins! I am a big believer in displaying and serving food elegantly. It only adds to the appeal. Quality of food is important, of course, but the way it's displayed is just as important in my opinion.

In keeping with the simple fare, we served coffee, bottled water, soda, wine and a hot Wassail punch for drinks. At left: Bottled water and soda was kept on ice in a galvanized drinks tub I bought from Crate & Barrel.
The vintage silver coffee service has a large sized tray which was perfect for cups and saucers. I used the creamer and sugar bowl from the service, but not the coffee pot. It does not keep coffee very hot, so I used my Krups coffee maker and kept the pot on a warming plate. The silver coffee service has both a coffee pot and a tea pot(which are in the background). I purchased the whole set at an estate sale for only $60. It was black with tarnish when I bought it, but cleaned up beautifully! The hot Wassail punch was served in glass punch cups and kept in a large electric urn (not pictured).

Also on the "menu" but not pictured: fresh fruit, veggie pizza, spinach dip with Cajun pita chips, veggies and dill dip, mini cherry cheesecakes, peanut butter balls and home-made pecan stollen.
The party was excellent and we had a great turn out and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Happy New Year!

The holidays were crazy and then I was sick with a stomach virus for almost a week, so I have not been able to write any interesting posts lately. I promise I will do so very soon.