The {Hand Touched} Days of Christmas


Spiritual, inspirational, lovely and personal ~ these are the words that come to my mind when I think of Christmas! Days filled with church and family, giving thanks for our blessings, exchanging gifts with loved ones, illuminating our small worlds with light ~ I love the celebration we all share in the month of December.

Starting with the first day of December {tomorrow}, you are invited to join me as I count down the days until Christmas with heirloom ideas for a personal, unique and hand touched holiday!

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Seasonal Palette: The Moody Blues

{this lovely image via Greige}

Could you go dark and stormy?

As the first frost settles into the south, I have chosen to celebrate the dark and stormy side of blue. As if lifted from the sky of an ancient oil painting, these atmospheric blues beckon you to light a fire and get cozy. They remind me of the interesting hues you encounter when traveling abroad, dramatic and moody. These atmospheric blues are grabbing my attention in days of late, debuting daily from the hand of a seasoned interior designer in the pages of high gloss. Could it be that these blues are of the color palette to watch?

These rich, dark blues are available to the novice, too! Are you daring enough to go over to the dark side and dive deep into the color spectrum?

These blues are particularly lovely when mixed with worn woods and soft, complex grays. They are perfectly punctuated with crisp whites and fabulous gilded antiques!

{image via All the Best}

{an interesting blue in high gloss from designer Steven Gambrel via Habitually Chic}

{Peacock Blue via Patricia Gray}

{image via The Diversion Project}

{Jeffery Bilhuber}

{Farrow & Ball via The New Victorian Ruralist}

{Robert Goodwin}

{image via House Beautiful}
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Naughty or Nice

This magnificent poison ring features a large central topaz stone that can be unlocked with a key to reveal a tiny secret compartment. The whole ring is covered in decorative engravings, and on each claw holding the topaz there is a tiny bezel set blue sapphire. It has been entirely hand made (including the locking mechanisms). The key to open it comes on a chain to be worn around the neck.

My latest most intriguing find from Metal Couture Jewelry on etsy here.
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The French Kitchen

{Casa Fienile Siena via The Diversion project}
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Ina Garten in Paris

{Ina Garten's Paris Apartment featured in Town & Country, November 2008}

I have the great pleasure of celebrating my birthday every year during the Thanksgiving holiday. The best present I receive each year is the blessing of celebrating with my birthday with my extended family gathered around the table. My mom, sister and I love to cook which brings me to why I am posting about Ina Garten. I adore Ina Garten's simply elegant style. Her cookbooks are my absolute favorites and are my {go to} resource for parties and family gatherings alike. This year at the top of my birthday wish list is Ina's new cookbook "How easy is that?". I love cookbooks and like to read them like a novel. I don't always use recipes when I cook but improvise based on things that inspire me from my reading. It probably has more to do with the fact I don't make lists when I go to the grocery store so when I am shopping, I grab the things that i remember.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Ina Garten and the joie de vivre she shares through her cookbooks and her cooking show. You inspire us all with your stylish, yet simple, culinary philosophy and help us concentrate on what is really important ~ sharing time with our family and friends.
{Twig & Thistle}

I love family traditions and thought this printable Thanksgiving paper chain {DIY} project would make a great holiday tradition. I would love to see this paper chain woven in and around the Thanksgiving table centerpiece. To learn more visit Twig & Thistle.

{Ina Garten's Rosemary Cashews}

I love to have a little something to nibble on for family when they arrive for Thanksgiving. I plan to make Ina's Rosemary Spiced cashews this year from her Paris cookbook. I thought they would be the perfect start to our holiday meal, not too much to spoil the main event.

Rosemary Cashews

1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt, and butter. Thoroughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm.
{Ina Garten table featured in Town & Country}

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Still In Love {after all these years}

{Houston Interior Designer Pam Pierce via Southern Accents}

{Cote de Texas}

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Kitchen Time

{Atlanta Homes Magazine}

Knowing that many of us will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen over the next few days, I thought I would share some of my favorite kitchen images. I look forward to sharing Thanksgiving with my family and love to cook for a crowd. This year, I have asked my mom to write down a few of her favorite recipes. She cooks from memory and we just love all of the family favorites she has made for so many years. She learned from her mother and her mother from....well, you get it! I want my daughter to be able to share with the next generation our family fare. I am a little worried the next generation will be eating take out!

{Southern Accents}

Perfection! The dark tile is unexpected and spectacular along with these unusual barstools.

{via Simply Luxurious}

This kitchen is an usual mix of hardworking, commercial design with bespoke charm. I like the subway tile and open shelving along with the yummy blue~ gray island.

Love the symmetry of these two big old doors and the Belgian color palette!
{and iron windows and little kitchen desk with a view}

A dream kitchen with antique culinary pieces and limestone floors...cozy and charming! The natural light and big glass doors that open to a kitchen garden really do it for me!

Old beams and industrial barstools give old world charm to an otherwise modern kitchen.

{Shannon Bowers}

I am in love with Shannon Bowers Swedish inspired kitchen. I would never get tired of this light and graceful kitchen. I also love the antique green lantern!

{via Belgian Pearls}

I thought this circular island was creative, especially surrounded by these bar stools...something I haven't seen before. I can imagine my friends having a glass of wine while I am finishing dinner.

I know this image has been around the blog scene for a while, but for good reason. I love the bongo stools! Do you remember not too long ago when the choices for good looking bar stools were simply non-existent. I was deciding between these and the bench for my kitchen and choice the bench. I love it! There is a lot to love about this kitchen especially the paint colors and that little shelf painted gray in the wee back of this photo!

{Decesare Design Group}

This kitchen has simple, clean lines with fabulous details that add texture and style like those fabulous pendant lights and the Hable construction fabric on those slipcovered bar stools.

I hope you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving in your family kitchen!

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New York Social Diary

I was drinking my morning coffee and catching up on a few of my favorite blogs and came across this lovely post from Ronda Carman of All the Best. She is a contributing writer for the New York Social Diary and her article about visiting Kathryn Ireland's french farmhouse was published today in the NYSD. To read La Castellane and Picnics in Provence click here.
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Gather Around the Table


Have you planned your Thanksgiving table yet? With Thanksgiving only a week away, I am having a little fun around my house planning for the overflow around the kitchen table. My kitchen table is an old french farm table, more narrow than a typical kitchen table. The high backs of these old french chairs help keep the proportions in perspective. I bought them from my friend Chris {hi chris ~ thank you}! She stumbled upon a set of six and offered her current set of 4 to me! They were already covered in this amazing blue linen, an exact match for my kitchen. Some things are just meant to be!

Anyhooo, you know everyone will end up in the kitchen so why not set an interesting table? I haven't started on the dining room table yet but plan to have a more formal table setting in there. Here I have used a Vagabond Vintage throw as the tablecloth. The reverse side { a muted turquoise plaid} is fantastic too. You may remember from that gorgeous stack of textiles from my Spring visit to the High Point Furniture market. They are all one-of-a-kind and are called something that I can't remember but they are named for the tiny handsewn stitch used to connect the front to the back. I am not sure what I will do with it next ~ a throw at the foot of the bed; a tailgate tablecloth or draped over a chair in my den. It is so soft!

I found this incredibly interesting cork stump planter from Randy McManus Flowers in Greensboro. I planted it with simple ferns and gathered some moss from a shaded area in my yard to hide some of the top edges of the planter. I love ferns!

I scattered some leaves from the Japanese maple on my deck and added a few colorful heirloom pumpkins for the picture above. I like the touch of color with the otherwise muted table scape. I am still making adjustments for the final table to debut Thanksgiving Day. The turquoise tinted water glasses are from HomeGoods and the hand hammered scroll flatware is from TJ Maxx. The turquoise dinner napkins with gold beaded fringe are from Pier I Imports. The antler candelabra were a gift from my brother last Christmas. He made them from found, naturally shod antlers.

I love the opportunity to use my collection of brown and white transferware. Here you can see the details of my favorite pattern. It does not have a 'mark'. Brown and white comes in a wide variety of colors and this shade of brown is so yummy! One day, I need to do the research to determine who it is made by. You can also see the party favors. I covered tiny pots of baby tears with burlap and tied them with velvet ribbon and a contrasting paper ribbon in green.

On another note, I am trying to ween myself from the beautiful pictures I find online and share some of my own ideas via my own photography. I REALLY appreciate the recent post from Eddie Ross "Behind the Scenes of a Cover Shoot" where he showed what actually goes into the photography that appears in the magazines. His styling is so lovely on its own but it is also encouraging to see that a lot goes into making it ready for publication. I have a lot to learn!
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The Oyster Roast

{Kiawah Island Oyster Roast; photo from Lord Tierney}

Nothing welcomes fall in the South more than an old fashioned oyster roast! A crisp fall night, old friends, a bonfire, bluejeans and cowboy boots ~ these are a few of my favorite things!

Growing up, one of my neighbors hosted an oyster roast in his backyard. Just about the time of the first frost when the air was crisp and darkness settled in just after 5:00, he would host an oyster roast for all the neighbors. He would drive to the coast to get seafood fresh off the docks and dig a huge pit in the yard to roast the oysters. All the neighborhood kids would stand in line at the grill as he would pop hot clams in our mouths as they opened from the heat. He would roast corn on the grill as well. That was really before Ina Garten and Martha Stewart taught the world about the richness of flavors brought out in vegetables from roasting.
{Image via Coastal Living}
Of course in those early days, I would only watch other people eat the oysters. My first experience with a raw oyster came the summer of my sophomore year in college. I lived at the beach {Hilton Head Island, South Carolina} with several of my college besties. By day we soaked up the sun and by night we all worked at the oyster bar and restaurant ~ hostess, waiter, waitress, bartender ~ me and the college ya-ya's did it all.  A particularly good looking, strappy, down-to-earth, kind of guy shucked oysters. One night he loaded one up on a saltine cracker and topped it with a dab of cocktail sauce and a squirt of lemon. That's all it took!

{photograph from Garden & Gun, The Oyster Roast, October 2008}

Where did I get the inspiration for this post ~ The Oyster Roast?

The most common question I get from friends about blogging is "Where do you come up with the ideas for your posts?" That's an interesting question given that I never have a problem with {ideas}! I think that is why I enjoy blogging so much ~ it gives me an opportunity to share my ideas and release some of the creative energy that is constantly swimming around in my head. Does that make any sense to anyone?

Anyhoo, the inspiration for this post actually came from a quirky thing I purchased last Spring at Metrolina. I mentioned in an earlier post that I would share the details about my quirky Spring found object. I only wish you could have seen my poor husband's face when he opened the door for me after a long day at work and saw me carrying this!

I am intrigued by the latest industrial trend and find the interesting, repurposed old things at South of Market inspiring so when I saw this galvanized steel, New England steamer at the flea market, it was destined to come home with me! The dealer explained to me that the steamer goes directly on top of the fire and that the four stackable interior trays are for different varieties of seafood. Since the oysters need the most heat they would go in the bottom tray. You would fill the other trays with clams, shrimp, other seafood and even corn and stack them in order of cooking time. Of course, that might take a little more culinary expertise than I possess. At the end of the cooking process, all the juices flow through the holes of the steamer down to this bottom tray. You can then drain the juices from this little spout and use them as the base for bouillabaisse or clam chowder. Yum!

I bought the steamer because I thought these trays were so cool!
I didn't actually buy the steamer with the intention of hosting an oyster roast although now I am thinking that would be an exceptionally good use for such a clever flea market find.
{Thanksgiving Centerpiece inspiration from Country Home}
I think one of the steamer trays would be very chic as a centerpiece with stacked pumpkins and bittersweet vine styled like the centerpiece above.

Can you imagine one of my steamer trays stocked with a variety of liquors and bar essentials in a dark manly room on an old library table? I can!

Here is one of my steamer trays styled as a serving tray on my kitchen buffet. I am planting one tomorrow with ferns and paperwhite bulbs as a centerpiece for my kitchen table at Christmas time. You'll have to wait and see how it turns out. To be continued.....

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