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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tips & tricks for the Harried Homeowner & Hostess.


A harried homeowner is not a celebrated delight, and most likely not the prettiest sight during the holiday months. The multitude of happenings and holidays that occur from fall right through the New Year can get anyone into a tizzy. Gentle ladies; do not get your Spanx in a bind, with a bit of savvy pre-planning, simplification, and a splash of creativity - Anyone can pull off the holidays without a hitch!




Proper Holiday Décor - Decorating your home with continuity & flow...



Decorating with personal objects or what I call them "enrichments," is a way to create a home that truly reflects you. These things are an important expression of which you are - Especially inherited or treasured items. Try to hold yourself in check when out shopping, a few new decorative pieces are fine to add to your collection, but try not to buy the entire collection. Your home should have a common decorative thread. Rather than creating theme rooms, have one common theme which creates continuity and flow through out you whole home.


If your home is on the market, it is important to create a more subdued, universal look for the season. Decorate with creative constraint - keeping in mind that you’re selling square footage and the buyer’s vision of themselves in the home.




2008 Seasonal Trends ...


Shakin’ up the old stuff – Refresh and revitilize what you have, dig through past collections to create a fresh new one, a & swap out a few with something new.



· Old World Metallic – Treasure the past by infusing old with the new.


· Going Green – Nature is your guide.


· Opposites Attract -

Lime Green & Hot Pink
Purple and Yellow/Green
Orange & Turquoise

· Chocolate – Try adding a splash of chocolate to your existing décor.



Savvy pre-planning, simplification, and a splash of creativity go a long way…


1. Know your décor & entertainment style. Make sure to be comfortable in your own home, your budget and your lifestyle. Choose what works best for your home, and what is easy for you – Imaginative trumps flashy every time. No need to keep up with the “Jones’.”

2. A well Stocked Pantry. Stocking your pantry with a few essential items can make entertaining seamless.

- Crackers. Keep an assortment of crackers on hand to serve with cheese or for dipping into sauces.

- Cookie Dough. Buy either a roll or tub of cookie dough. Besides the heavenly scent they make while baking, they always appear to be “home-made.” They can be served on their own, or with a bowl of ice cream or whipped cream.

- Dried pasta. Any gathering wouldn't be complete without pasta; cook according to package directions and then toss with whatever you have on hand, like pesto sauce, veggies, seafood or chicken.

- Lemons and limes. Perk up vegetables, pasta, dips and salads with a squeeze of lemon; serve cocktails with a wedge of lemon or lime.

- Quality olive oil. Re-create the restaurant experience by letting guests dip bread into small bowls of olive oil. You can whisk olive oil with vinegar to create a quick salad dressing, or drizzle it over grilled vegetables just before serving.

- Jars of salsa, tapenade and other dips. Always have these in your pantry for an instant party snack; spread on bread or crackers, or dip chips or raw vegetables.

- Canned or Packaged Tuna. Tossed in pasta or a salad, made into a dip, or served on crackers, this staple makes for a super easy recipe.


FALLing for your Kitchen - Simple Seasonal Updates for the Heart of the Home





The kitchen is the most utilized and meaningful room in a household. It is the hub for family tasks and used for food preparation, household management, and of course entertaining. It is indeed the heart of any home. No matter how many rooms you have dedicated for entertainment, everyone always ends up in the kitchen! With the kids back in school, a cool nip in the air, fall kicks off our major holiday season - in fact, we can celebrate right through the New Year. Now is a great time to get your kitchen “party readied,” and organized for easy maneuvering during the holiday rush, and of course-seasonally updated.

Need a Color Lift? - Pick a wall if daring - pick them all. Paint it a seasonal color - Ben Moore’s Toasted Pecan #1209, Burnt Sienna #1196, or Sherwin William’s Library Pewter SW0038, or Studio Blue-Green SW0047. It’s just paint, and is the easiest and cheapest change you can make.

• Counter Tops - Swap out a tired canister set with a new revision; there are loads to choose from (If you’re not a gourmet cook, store pens, notepads, and takeout menus inside.) They add needed color and design. Large platters on plate stands are good-looking in unused dark corners or grouped on walls. Extra-large clear glass canisters are conversation makers when layered with dried beans, nuts or black, yellow and white dried popcorn. A kitchen must is a sassy new set of dish towels, seasonal kitchen candles, and a hand soap/lotion set in scents of spiced apple, pumpkin or caramel.

• Tell a Story with your Floral - A whimsical floral whether store or home made adds a bit of seasonal flair to any table. Create a mini-container garden by abundantly grouping those adorable “mini” annuals and petite ivy. or a bountiful arrangement with fuax fall veggies, dried pods, leaves and vines.

• Looking Up - Upper cabinet tops or upper shelves seem always to pose a decorating challenge. For a quick and easy change, large seasonally inspired platters, framed art, and garden items such as gazing spheres, or obelisks fill spots fill tired spots.

• Smart Cook Organization - An easy way to organize, is to create stations within your kitchen. Love to bake? Set aside two cabinets and counter space solely used for baking (near the oven of course,) fill with baking essentials such as pans, small appliances, spices and other baking staples. Task clustering such as this will help you to stay on task during the busy holiday rush.

• Get your Party Started - Love to entertain, but don’t have a Butler’s Pantry? Convert your little used desk area into an entertainment station.
-Replace wood panels of upper cabinet with glass, adding lighting, and glass shelves - store glasses and decorative bottles.
-Line desk drawer with felt, and hold bar essentials and serving pieces.
-Add a tension rod with shirred fabric for extra storage to the knee hole space, or find the perfectly sized rolling cart.

• Space Game - Use a Lazy Susan cabinet for a “Party Pantry.” Store food products, Beverages, paper goods. and china that can be used to throw a soiree at moment’s notice. If you’re even luckier to have an unused closet. super size it and linens, vases, and decor all in one neat place.

No matter how large or small your kitchen, whether you’re a gourmet cook or take-out type, every kitchen needs a seasonal boost and should be readied for family, friends and favorite holiday celebrates in style.


Easy Gourmet November Recipes



A monthly cooking and lifestyle show on local Illinois cable Palos Heights Channel 4 or Palos Park Channel 6 - Get great cooking, entertaining and decorating tips.





Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider Mimosas

Give your guest a very special introduction to your holiday celebration with these wonderful cocktails.

Sparkling wine or Champagne
1 table spoon flavored syrup (We used Pumpkin Spice.)
Splash of fresh Apple Cider
Sugared rimmed sparkling wine glasses


Directions for sugar rimmed glasses:
Reserve two saucers. Add ¼ cup of lemon juice to 1 saucer, and one with ½ cup of sugar. Feel free to vary your sugar choices. Try raw sugar for an interesting twist. Dip rim of glass in lemon juice followed by sugar. Let dry overnight before serving.

Quick Pasta Melody

Stock your pantry with a few staple ingredients, a quick visit to your local grocer - And you can whip up a gourmet meal in a flash.


Ingredients:
1 bag of gourmet dried pasta
1 9oz. jar of flavored sauce, salsa or topping (We used a Tuscan Artichoke Spread.)
1 Bundle of Asparagus ends removed.
1 Cup other fresh veggies of choice
1 Cup Deli Fresh Roasted Chicken cubed.
1 Tablespoon olive oil for sauté
Salt & Pepper to taste


Directions:
Cook pasta according to bags directions. As pasta is cooking, heat olive in sauté pan. Chop veggies into bit size pieces and sauté till soft. Add Chicken and heat. Drain pasta, and in a large bowl toss pasta, veggies, chicken and flavored sauce till coated - Plate onto a large serving platter or bowl. Feel free to top with grated cheese & fresh minced parsley.


Filo Crust Cherry Tart

This is such a treat, and can be served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. The filo pastry makes the recipe unusual and will guarantee them coming back for seconds!


Ingredients:
2 Can Cherry Pie Filling
1 Package Filo Pastry Sheets
1 Stick of Butter Melted
Sugar


Directions:
Heat oven to 350. In a tart pan, coat bottom and sides with butter using a pastry brush. Open package of Filo pastry and place a damp towel over sheets to keep moist. Layer 4-6 layers of Filo pastry sheets, brushing each layer with butter forming a crust. Add 2 cans of filling, and then repeat sheet laying for crust top. Tuck ends over sealing the top crust. Brush will remainder of butter, and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Let cool before serving.
 
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