It is always a challenge this time of the year to decorate the outside areas of the house. I want to take advantage of the mild temperatures we are having this week to get holiday greens, swags, lights and arrangements in place, yet I don’t quite want it to be all Christmas outside when we still haven’t had Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for tomorrow and through the weekend involves our first snow storm and wind so the decision has been made for me to at least get a head start today on Christmas.
This year I am turning to greens, red twigged dogwood stems and birch logs for the basis of my decorations. I like the natural look and they all look right at home in my yard in this part of the country. The snow and cold temperatures do not allow things like magnolia leaves and fruit for outdoor wreathes. I love how they look, but we must be practical here. To bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had a few fall like elements to my evergreen arrangements and display with white pumpkins. Then when Thanksgiving is over, the pumpkins are tossed and all fall foliage is removed and Christmas baubles will appear.
Last week, Neil and I spent a few days in St. Helena in northern California…a lovely, relaxing trip. A nice break between our busy summer and fall schedule this year and the upcoming holidays.
This was the beginning of a particularly beautiful sunset that all happened in just a matter of minutes.
So many restaurants now have their own organic gardens, even if it means growing greens and herbs along with their flowers in the landscape around the building. No wonder things taste for fresh and dishes look so good.
One of favorite wine tasting rooms is on the Frog’s Leap property. I think everything tastes good there because of the setting.
The challenge this week is to make the Thanksgiving fare as lovely as some of the food we had on our vacation.
It seems like I spend a lot of my time getting ready for holidays and events and then cleaning up and putting things away to make way for the next big deal. Well, that is exactly what is going on now. We have had a spectacular fall season, enjoying beautiful weather and even more beautiful fall color. Now it is time to get the yard and garden cleaned up and “put to bed” for the winter and start thinking about decorating outdoors for the winter months. It is so great to have mild temperatures and sunny days for the task at hand.
Today, I am going to take care of the final yard work at the cabin. That usually doesn’t get done because the weather turns cold and it is the last thing on my list so I conveniently put it off to do in the spring. However, I love nothing more than a clean yard ready to pop as soon as the weather is nice, so fall clean up should be a must for me. The lake will be quiet and that beautiful shade of blue that Minnesota lakes are known for this late in the year.
Speaking of getting ready, this is when I start planning decorations and collecting recipes for Thanksgiving. I like to have harvest items incorporated with winter greens for Thanksgiving serving as a transition between the two seasons and keeping Christmas items “at bay” until after Thanksgiving.
For my dining room table I have bundled some small birch logs into a pyramid and tucked in artificial leaves and real bittersweet branches. It will easily transform into a Christmas arrangement by just changing out the leaves and orange berries with greenery and red berry sprigs. I like the fact that it is low and can easily be looked over making conversation with guests across the table comfortable. I am hosting a birthday party next week for a group of friends and it will be a perfect pre-holiday table decor.
Here is a recipe I am planning on using this season. My family really does like all the traditional favorites that they associate with the holidays, but I always try to introduce something new each year that may just have a chance at becoming a new favorite that I can add to my traditional menu. Everyone in my family likes Brussels sprouts…I know…kind of strange. I think they are really going to like this salad. I will do a trial run, perhaps for the birthday dinner coming up next week.
Lemony Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
This salad can be made ahead and will keep in a covered container for a day (more…)