At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decred that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was now obviously pregnant.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The holiday's can be a very stressful and busy time for many of us! So much to think about and do! Presents to buy, halls to deck, cards to get out... events to attend, carols to sing! Our lives can get so crazy it leaves us pondering, "I know the real meaning of Christmas is in all of this somewhere but I am too exhausted to look for it"!
Let's have a dinner party! Are you jumping up and down.... excited and ready to start planning? Or are you filled with anxiety and stress... thinking about all the work involved?
Most of us love to go to a dinner party... and love the idea of a dinner party... but many of us don't lovehosting them.
Let's see if we can change all that! This post is all about making dinner partiesenjoyable and easy... for the hostess... from planning to clean up!
I'm setting a table for a dinner party and sharing lots of tips with you. And I have lots and lotsof tips!!!!! Hope some are helpful to you as you plan your next Great Dinner Party!
I'm sure many of you have really wonderful seasoned tips too! So join in .... please share your best dinner party ideas and tips with us as a comment! I want to hear ALL your brilliantideas!
Planning an easy, doable table was the inspiration for this softcomfortable table.
A dinner party does not mean lots of people, a big fancytable, tons of elaborate food and days or weeks of preparation. This is not your mother's dinner party table.
SG TIP: Plan your dinner party well in advance. Being rushed is hard on a hostess. Put yourplan of action down on paper!
THE GUEST LIST
Invite just a few people over for an easy, yetscrumptiousdinner... and eat in the kitchen!!! People lead busy lives and today we are looking for anintimateand relaxed dining experience! Host a cozy dinner party with a handful of treasured friends.
Today's table is not a "fantasy table" or one that took much time to set. This table is not "staged" for photography... it is real! It is in keeping with the spirit of "an easy and doable table" for an intimate dinner party!
Each place setting is a combination of red and white textures and patterns... with a little touch of organic green to give it a Christmas feel!
The placemats are really napkins. This is a clever trick I use often! We all have so many more napkins than we do placemats, so when napkins work with your table styling just fold them in the center and use them as a placemat!
These red and white napkin placemats have a nice pattern that brings interest to the table.
SG TIP: Buy an easy to clean and iron white tablecloth. This is sure to be your most used tablecloth! By adding great placemats to it you always have a beautiful canvas to set your table!
For this table little Christmas balls are scattered over this snowy tablecloth.
THE PLACE SETTINGS
Red and white is one of my favorite table color schemes! I love it's crisp and cheery feel. Red and white dishes look so jolly on the napkin placemats!
Chargers are a wonderful and easy way to make a big statement on a table! They are an inexpensive and have a big impact!
You don't have to pull out your good china for an intimate dinner party! I LOVE white dishes, and these are my everyday Mikasa Italian Countrysidedishes. Pretty enough for company!!! And food always looks the best when served on white dishes!
Many of my dear readers think I have closets and closets of dishes. Not really. I repeat the same dishes over and over again in fresh ways. This pretty red and white accent plate (HomeGoods) adds lots of panache to the the white dishes I use everyday!
SG TIP: Buy a set of white dinnnerware. They go with everything! To add interest to your table purchase inexpensive accent plates!
SG Tip: The dinnner party table is decorated for Christmas. Yet, none of the dishes are embellished with any Christmas motif. Buy dishes that have great colors and generic patterns. Use the other elements on your table to promote a specific theme!
Red napkin rosettes placed in a small bowl greet each guest! This is a VERY EASY napkin fold... and you don't have to iron the napkins! Real rose leaves are tucked into the bowls too! For a tutorial on this impressing and easy fold, click HERE.
TAKE HOME GIFT
One of my very favorite tips is to put something at each place for your guest to take home. A cookie, a little bag of candies orhomemade jam, an ornament, a little vase of flowers, a treasure from nature... simple andthoughtful.
My guest are sodelightedto carry something home from our evening together.
Each guest will take home the little evergreen wreath that encircles the small white bowls. I will tie a pretty festive ribbon to them and present it to my guests before they go home.
SG TIP: Keep your eyes open for little take-home gifts when you are out and about. Always buy on saleor make them. This should be ajoy to you too and not a financial burden! I just got a mismatched assortment of silver spoons at an consignment shop for $6.00. I'm saving them for a girl's luncheon as a take-home gift tied up in a pretty ribbon. BE CREATIVE!
Use your go-to glasses for a relaxed dinner party! I love any glassware with a stem! I think it brings an chic look to a table. Here are my French Countryside goblets from Mikasa.
I added deep red goblets (Williamsburg, Charter House) to hold wine. These will be taken right off of the table and used before we sit down. I modified the tip below a little for this table. I am using the goblets for my guests before we sit for dinner. Make your table work for you!
SG Tip: Only putwater glasses on your table when serving a casual dinner. Serve yourlibation of choice to your guests as they come in and then they can take their wine glasses to the table. Keeping drinks simple makes things easy and economical.
OTHER TABLE ELEMENTS
Combining different flatware can be a very unexpected surprise! Here I used my vintage flea market silverplate and red handled salad forks. FUN!
White salt and pepper shakers are always aclassic! These are Mikasa Italian Countryside.
A couple of cake pedestals and a little bowl make up the structure for this festive centerpiece!
I pulled out the Christmas ornaments, pinecones and greens. Arranging 6 grocery store roses with the Christmas elements produced a centerpiece that looked like it took an hour to create it... nope, only 5 minutes!
I love the formality that $5.99 worth of roses can give this centerpiece. Inexpensive and easy... now that's my kind of centerpiece! And this centerpiece gives a big design nod to the red rosette napkins!
SG TIP: You can use this centerpiece over and over again. Just fill it with seasonal decor. Eggs and nests in spring, small vases of florals in the summer. Little pumpkins and mums in the Fall. Snowflakes and pinecones in the winter. I can think of so many themes to use with this centerpiece!
The table is ready and waiting for your guests. Fill you home with music and pour yourself your favorite libation... but in moderation!
SG TIP: make time to spend 15 minutes relaxing before dinnerguests arrive! It will make such a difference in you ability to be a calm and gracioushost or hostess!
It is hard to enjoy your dinner guests when you are slaving in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals! Careful planning goes a long way in making asmoothdinner party... one that a hostess can also enjoy!
Choose the memu wisely. Avoid recipes that take you away from your guests to prepare and cook for any great length of time.
SG TIP: Plan ahead, prepare ahead, cook ahead~ thedinner party is a time to be with your guests not in your kitchen all night!
DINNER PARTY MENU
Chicken A La King In Puffed Pastry
look for an upcoming post
Roasted Asparagus With Lemon
Ice Box Cake
look for upcoming post
QUICK STONEGABLE TIPS FOR EASY CLEAN-UP
~CLEAN UP AS YOU GO... clean off counter tops, oven spills etc. Have a clean and workable kitchen by the time your guests arrive.
~Do not do dishes or load the dishwasher while entertaining dinner guests... concentrate on them
Best SG Tip:~ Clear the table and put dishes, flatware, glasses and pot and pans in separate plastic dish pans filled with hot sudsy water. Stow them away in a laundry room, garage or out-of-sight area. They will soak and be practically clean when it's time for them to be washed
~Choose dishes that can be put in the dishwasher
~ Collect all centerpiece items that need to be put away in a plastic dish pan or two. It is so much easier to carry the dishpan from place to place putting items away
~ When guests leave put all the table linens and any dish cloths and towel right in the washer and begin the soak cycle
I hope this post has inspired you to host a DINNER PARTY!
Warning: This is a long post! Grab a drink and settle in...
You have been VERY VERY patient and kindly persistent!
Last week I posted a Thanksgiving buffet on the kitchen island and had so many comments about getting a "peek" at the new kitchen. I knew I could not keep my dear readers waiting any longer.
Here is look at StoneGable's FRESHENED UP Farmhouse Kitchen...
After cleaning up the Thanksgiving buffet I thought this would be a good time to show-and-tell. The Christmas sleigh will soon be dropped on the kitchen and all the decorations might make it hard to focus on the re-do!
The inspiration for my new, fresh decor is StoneGable itself.
StoneGable is a farmhouse inspired home. We live here in the bucolic countryside of Lancaster County Pa.
I am on a new mission these days!
I want to take my home back to it's farmhouse roots... that is, with a twist (there is always a twist when I am involved)... to play to thestrength of my beloved StoneGable.
What better place to make an earnest start than the heart of the home... StoneGable's kitchen!
There were many elements that we did not need to change. I really loved my original kitchen, it just needed some updating. So after a year of research and planning we began the journey to reclaim StoneGable's farmhouse style!
I envision a kitchen.. and eventually a home... that is warm and inviting but calmer, sleeker... more simple and less fussy...infused with my own personal style. All elements keeping an upscale farmhouse feel.
Thankfully StoneGable's kitchen did not need a total renovation! Just a healthy face-lift! After al,l I have used it very hard over the last 17 years!
We had just painted the walls Benjamin Moore Springfield Tan earlier this year so we stayed with that color.
Here are a couple of BEFORE photos...
(The old kitchen table and chairs were already removed in this photo. We were waiting for our new table to be built.)
The original kitchen was built in my garage. My builder's father was a custom cabinet maker and he built my cabinets from scratch! When my powder room sink was being installed 17 years ago, the plumber said that he had not seen a kitchen built like this in 35 years.
Keeping most of my cabinets was a MUST! And the few we had to replace were built the same as the originals. All drawers were retro fitted with easy-glide closures.
The cabinetry and woodwork was repainted as they were originally, with Benjamin Moore Atrium White oil based paint. At first the cabinets were to be glazed... but after much thought I decided against it... opting for a fresh pure white cabinet.
The top cabinetry has recessed panel fronts and the bottom cabinets are a beaded board. The original appliance garage was removed adding more counter space.
The top of the cabinets is the perfect spot to display my pitcher collection. We also added the crown molding.
I never had a back splash behind my counters until now. I just never knew what I wanted. Bead board painted the same fresh white as the cabinets delivers the farmhouse feel I love!
Simple oil rubbed bronze hardware replaces the old wooden knobs. I love the cup style pulls for the pull-out drawers.
Notice the corners of all the cabinetry. They have a pretty detailed rounded edge.
Bull nose trim accents the cabinets. This is all original. After 17 years of abuse they were dented and well-loved! My contractor made them look like new!
I have always wanted a double oven. And the plan was to put a double oven next to the big pantry. This is how this area looked BEFORE the re-do....
Unfortunately, I would have had to lose one of my pantry doors and the pretty glass cabinet. So we opted to leave the pantry as is, save the mullioned cabinet and put the microwave in a hide-away cabinet under it. Out of sight, but very accessible.
Lighting the glass cabinet is one of the projects I have yet to complete.
The upside to this compromise are the 3 large drawer gained under the microwave and the styling of that area.
The section of kitchen with the most change would have to be the "cooking area".
This is the BEFORE...
Because I could not put a double oven on the pantry wall, I compromised and put one built-in convection oven under a new gas cook top.
The biggest change to this area is the ventilation system and the pretty new hood that hides it! Before, the only ventilation system was the fan under the microwave. I was always setting off smoke alarms!
The new system is vented to the outside of my home!
And the hood has a pretty shelf that I can decorate... with moderation!
I kept the glass mullioned cabinets. They were originally lit, but we updated the lighting inside too.
This area was originally going to be purely neutrals. But I needed a little color!
I find blues and whites look so fetching with neutrals and give them an upscale kick!
The back splash was a huge decision for me. I wanted something that in 5 years would not look dated and would work with any decor. Hopefully this is understated and a classic.
I like to keep a little area for cooking oils, salt and pepper near my cook top. The covered bowl holds kosher salt and the little chicken has fresh cracked pepper. You can see the soft graining in the soapstone in the image.
Changing the counter tops gave the kitchen a very dramatic look! I have dreamed of soapstone for years! And I am thrilled with them. They are soft looking and very tough. And just so beautiful!!!!!
StoneGable's trough sink was custom made using the same soapstone that graces the kitchen counter tops. It can handle any kitchen clean-up!
The goose neck oil rubbed bronze faucet has a great built-in sprayer!
The dishwasher is hidden behind the "cabinet" just to the right of the sink.
I am trying very hard not to fill the counter space up with vignettes and kitchen wares. Just a couple simple well-placed things here and there!
Big glass jars hold sugar, flour and other goodies! Pretty vintage blue and white cups serve as scoops!
A new pendant lamp with a black and tan checked drum shade hangs over the sink. This pendant was fitted into a recessed light.
No curtains here, just a textural rattan shade.
A vintage colander hangs near the sink ready to be used.
The island was another compromise. We had first hoped to build a whole new island and paint it a different color, probably black. I wanted it to look like a piece of furniture.
However, in the end we decided to keep the island and tweak it. And am I glad I did!
Here is the BEFORE...
And the AFTER...
The island was raised and put on bun feet to look more like a piece of furniture. I am tall so the extra height saves my back!
Bull nose trim was also added to the base of the island. The cabinets on the left and right sides of the island are pull-out trash cans.
The soapstone counter top is 2 feet shorter than the original island (it was huge) making more room to move around the kitchen!
Pretty corbels were added to give a dressed up feel.
A big antique tool box sits on the island.
I do embellish this with seasonal decor... old habits die hard! Right now it is filled with creamy white dishes!
A large tray chandy hangs over the island.
I looked forever for this! And found it a Lowe's! Can you believe it?
It looks like a tray of pillar candles. Using different watt bulbs, gives this the look of real candles!
I wish you could see this in the evening... sooooo pretty!
The stools at my island are a project that I have not finished. Mostly, because I was not sure if I wanted to get new ones or not. These little seats have been a part of my home for 25 years! They are filled with wonderful memories of little squirmy children sitting at the counter!
I think I'm going to keep them, but paint them graphite and antique them a little. Wouldn't a brown and black plaid or buffalo check cover look so smart on them?
The other area that still needs work is my "mudroom"... the hallway that leads to the garage. I have all the decor to make the changes but I just need a little time! I must make an effort to finish this right after Christmas!
And the only new appliance we need is the refrigerator. The one we have is still working great and we have a working frig in the garage as well. When one goes, hopefully soon, we will get a frig that we can customize to look like the rest of the kitchen.
I hope you have enjoyed the little (long) kitchen tour!
Welcome to my blog... and my life. I'm Yvonne... the mother of 4 eautiful twenty-something children and a recent empty nester. I live with Bobby, my wonderful husband, Scamp our spoiled (so cute) dog and Hobbes our rascally cat. I love all things HOME... well...except cleaning the garage and maybe ironing! I am a life-long learner on a constant quest to learn and do something new... especially when it concerns anything domestic !
Living by grace, I strive to be positive and purposeful. I want to live large and love life and all those who cross my path! It is my hope to inspire creative living here at StoneGable!