12 days of Christmas in Style

Welcome to day 1 of my holiday gift guide series.  All my gift suggestions are under $200 Canadian dollars. 

Let’s start things off with my all time favorite gift to give and to receive. 
 
As someone who loves to cook, I fell in love with the names of each of the fragrances.  Orange bloom, mimosa and cardamom, French lime, the list goes on.   The brand is Jo Malone perfume.  Www.jomalone.ca

But who am I kidding I love all of them all.  I had a hard time picking just one, until I learned about Jo Malone’s brilliant concept of Fragrance combining, all about applying a duo of scents to create your own signature and personal statement. Genius! I love the French Lime Blossom and the Peony and Blush Suede combination.  

More than just scenting the body, this brand has many other ways to scent the home in the collection.  I have many scented candles around my home, and will be purchasing the English Pear and Fressia room spray. 

The gift is perfect for:

If you can bear to give this gift away, and chances are you will want to buy something for yourself.  It makes a perfect Hostess gift, corporate gifts. Gifts for Him-yes like the wood sage and sea salt cologne.

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Turkey time

We reached the final day of my 3 tips in 3 days for a stress free dinner party.  

 Today it’s all about you.  Everything from the food you serve down to the decor you use for your table should be a reflection of you.  Pick recipes that fit your personality.  For example I saw a commercial on how to make a beer and bourbon turkey, while this may sound great for some, it was not something that spoke to me.  Similarity when it comes to your table decor, pick colors, fabrics and items that resonate with your style.  Don’t try  and be something/someone you are not.  You will feel uncomfrortable and so will your guests.  You are amazing for throwing this party, and your guests will appreciate all the love and attentiion.  Relax, and enjoy. 

Herb Roasted Turkey
Ingredients

•    1 turkey- 6 kg or 12-16 pounds, thawed if frozen
•    8 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature if possible)
•    Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
•    Several sprig of fresh thyme leaves
•    Couple of sprigs of rosemary leaves, don’t include the stem-too course
•    Grated zest of 1 lemon
•    Course salt (I use sea salt) to season the whole bird
•    1 lemon cut into wedges (use the one you just grated
•    1 orange cut into wedges 

Instructions
1.    Note to self, when using a frozen turkey remove from freezer 2 days before, and let it thaw out in the refrigerator.

2.    When you are ready to roast, remove the turkey from fridge, remove the giblets from inside, and rinse the turkey with cool water, pat dry with paper towels.  Important--allow turkey to rest on a baking sheet for a couple of hours until it comes to room temperature.

3.    Take your butter, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, and rosemary and pulse in food processor until combined.  Add salt and pepper and pulse.  Congrats you just made compound butter, remove and set aside. 

4.    Place turkey in a large roasting pan, breast side up. 

5.    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with rack on lowest level.

6.    Smear your butter all over the turkey, fill the inside with your lemon and orange wedges, then season with salt and pepper.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, (I forgot this step ) and place the bird in the oven and roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F, lid off the roaster. Set your kitchen timer on, because you don’t want to leave the temperature at this level for hours. Yikes.

7.    After 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue cooking for about 2.5 hours, basting turkey-every 30 minutes.  I placed the lid on the roaster.

8.    After the 2.5 hours of cooking, use a meat thermometer and check the thickest part of the turkey to make sure the internal temperature is 175 degrees.  

9.    Last 3-4 minutes-remove the lid from roaster, and increase heat up to 450 degrees and to crisp up the skin.

10.    Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes-covered-before cutting into it.  

 

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Tip 2: How to get your guests to eat less?

Thank you for coming back.  Hope you are finding my tips for a stress free dinner party easy and most of all helpful.  Today, I am talking about how to host a healthier gathering. 

Did you know that research has shown that being able to hear the sounds that your food makes as you chew it, can help you eat less.  It’s called, the ‘crunch effect’.  The researchers from Brigham Young University are talking about the effect that comes from the sound of chewing, chomping and crunching your food.  Bottom line,  when you slow down, chew every bite, take in the taste, the physical appearance of your food and your beautiful ambience, you eat less.  With that in mind, I created this crunchy roasted vegetable salad, try it out and see if your guests are eating less. 

Tip 2: for table decor I suggest using items that you have around your home and repurposing.  For example, I used these candle holders from Halloween and reintroduced them here.  I really like the darker colors, mixed in with the white pumkins. 

 

Roasted Veg Salad
½ head of cauliflower
1 sweet potatoes
1 bag of mixed greens salad
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Dried cranberries
Sunflower seeds or I used toasted corn
Feta cheese (optional)

Dressing
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
¼ teaspoon of salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions
1.    Preheat over to 425 degrees.
2.    Place vegetables in a bowl, add and toss olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
3.    Roast for 30-40 minutes, until veggies are  cooked through and browned. 
4.    Remove from oven and allow to cool
5.    Place salad in bowl, pour and toss dressing
6.    Arrange roasted veggies on top and garnish with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and feta cheese

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3 Tips in 3 days for a stress free holiday-table decor and recipes.

I love getting ready for the holidays, and I seem to enjoy it more when I am well prepared.  Planning has always been my secret weapon.  With the proper plan in place I am more likely to execute my goals—dinner goals that is.  This year I wanted to share three of my homemade dishes, plus three helpful tips for getting your table décor ready. 

When we lived in Chicago, thanksgiving was my favorite holiday.  Now that we are back, living in Canada I still carry on the tradition of celebrating this American holiday. I remember that one of the challenges for me was finding a tablescape style that I could easily adjust into two looks—Thanksgiving and Christmas—.  Tip 1: Use a style that can be easily modified to carry over into Christmas.  In this style I used silver and mercury gold (vase and candle holders),  from Pottery barn https://www.potterybarn.com/products/chippy-gold-candle-holders/?pkey=e%7Cgold%2Bmercury%2Bglass%2Bvases%7C94%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C48%7C%7C17&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCHwith a few small changes you can turn this look into a Christmas style in no time.  I also used this blue/silver tablecloth from Williams Sonoma, but this white one would look stunning,

http://www.williams-sonoma.ca/alba-jacquard-tablecloth

Similarily, I also wanted to ‘perfect’ my homemade recipes.  Thanksgiving was a great time to introduce new recipes and see what my guests thought.  I would take their suggestions, improve the dish and make it even better for the my Christmas dinner party.  Here is my roasted garlic mashed potato recipe that I’m sure your guests will enjoy.

Roasted garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes
8 medium size potatoes
2-3 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of garlic butter (see recipe below)

Ingredients-for garlic butter
6 garlic cloves unpeeled
1 stick of unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon fresher ground pepper
Pinch of sal1.    

Heat oven 0r toaster oven to 400 degrees.
2.    Place garlic cloves in a dish sprinkle with salt and pepper
3.    Cover dish with foil and back for approximately 30 minutes, until cloves are soft.  Set aside and allow to cool.
4.    Place the butter in a bowl and mash with fork or wooden spoon.  Gently squeeze out garlic from their peals and add to butter, mix into butter.

Mashed Potatoes
1.    Peal and cut potatoes into cubes, add to pot of water.  Boil the potatoes, until they are soft but not mushy.  Drain potatoes, add milk, and 2 tablespoons of your  garlic butter.  Mash with a potato masher, or electric mixer, add salt and pepper.  Enjoy.

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The Simple Things

Today is my Father’s 77th birthday, and I really didn’t have anything planned.  After all it is a Monday, and the kids have activities after school.  But, last night it occurred to me that every birthday we get to spend with my parents is a blessing.  So with that in mind we adjusted and rearranged our schedules to make this evening extra special, for a man who always goes out of his way for all of us.  

I picked a tweed plaid wool table runner that resembles his dapper and tailored style.  My Father loves to look nice.  The matching plaid napkins also remind me of his cravats or ties.  

I then placed a long wooden cutting board on top of the runner and will using it for decoration as well as serving and placing food on the table.  The menu is rustic and cozy, perfect for this chilly fall day. A leek and potato soup, broccoli salad, braised short ribs with a cauliflower mash, and finally for dessert birthday cake.

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Apple Spice Cocktail

One of my favorite ways to welcome guests to our home is with a drink.  For the kids, I have apple cider in these gorgeous copper mugs, and some sweet treats.  For the adults I have this fall inspired cocktail.  I like to set up with bar cart in the dining room and invite my guests to help themselves. 

Apple spice cocktail
Ingredients-per cocktail
-1 oz fireball cinnamon whisky
-3/4 oz Calvados-an apple flavored French brandy
-2 oz apple cider
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Garnish with thin slice of apple or a cinnamon stick

Directions:
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with some ice. Shake and pour into glass.

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Why you need a Tablescape stylist

Transitioning your home from summer to fall can be bitter sweet.  But with the right decor you will be able to 'wow' every guest that walks through your home.

This season calls for something unique, besides you’re done with the same pumpkin orange decor.  You want something different this year.  You want something that is completely custom-memorable, and gorgeous to all the senses.   But wait, you have no idea where to begin, and you certainly don’t have the time to rummage through your collection of china or start shopping for new items. 

The perfect solution-- hire the services of a Tablescapes in Style to create a beautiful setting that will impress and inspire your guests. As your stylists I come to your home and help you decide everything related to your table décor.   I can suggest my own curated stock of items to use, and help you pick out items you already have around your home to make the table feel like your own.  Now doesn’t that sound AMAZING?  

After I style your table, you will feel relaxed, and ready to open your doors to family and friends. The best part is you can take all the credit.  No one has to know that the Tablescape fairy was here.

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Pumpkin Spice Coffee

The kids are back at school, and that means I am back to full time work.  To kick off the season I decided to make my own pumpkin spice coffee.

As an avid coffee drinker I know a thing or two about a great quality brew. I usually make my coffee and head straight to my laptop and begin working. Today, I am getting my business ready for its first Bridal show.  I am very excited, and have a lot to accomplish before the big day.  But before I head over to my to-do list, first coffee. 

 

Ingredients

2 cups brewed coffee

1 teaspoon pumpkin purée

pinch of ground cinnamon

pinch of ground pumpkin spice

warm milk

Directions: Simmer on medium/low heat brewed coffee, add pumpkin purée, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.  Allow ingredients to dissolve and come together.  Pour your new beverage and the warm milk in your favorite mug and enjoy.

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Back to School-with a twist

I decided to surprise my kids with a back to school table that was different from what they were expecting.  Which meant that I was not going to decorate the table with school supplies, apples for the teacher, or school buses.  A natutical theme emergered, along with an end of summer flower-the sunflower-and a surf n' turf menu.  

The Back to School twist came in the form of 'goals' I asked my kids to think about for themselves.  This year I want my kids to stretch a little further, and take more risks.  I asked them to think about what they would like to improve upon in terms of physical fitness, mental fitness, and attitudes.  They each took a few minutes to write down their goals.  As a family we then discussed 'how' they can go about taking small action steps towards their goals.

I truly beleive that setting goals that feel right is the first step toward living a meaningful life.   My kids are all school age, so talking to them about how to set goals, the importance of goals, and how to achieve goals was appropriate. Plus the nautical tablescape set a playful vibe.   In my opinion, it's never too early to start talking to your kids about ways in which they can take control of their actions, dreams and attitudes.  It brings families together, and allows everyone to have a turn sharing their goals, or in case of my youngest child, helps him to start thinking about the things he would like to work on. 

I encourage you to take few moments around you dinner table and talk to your kids about goals, and ways in which they can be the best version of themselves.  

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2 Salads to Serve this Summer

Welcome to my Canada day salad recipe station.

You want your guests raving over your food and decor, am I right? That's why I wanted to create recipes there were obviously easy and something you can make them the night before, refrigerate and serve the day of you celebrations.  It's easy and most importantly delicious. 

Oh Canada Pototao Salad
Ingredients
3 pounds of golden baby potatoes

Dressing
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 teaspoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
Pepper

Directions
Boil potatoes for 10 minutes until you can poke a fork into them.  Drain potatoes, and allow them to cool before cutting them in half.  In mason jar add the ingredients for the dressing, shake well and pour over the potatoes and enjoy. 

Corn Salad
For this recipe I used fresh summer corn on the cob.  I just know you will enjoy the flavors of this sweet savoury dish. 

Ingredients
8 ears of corn husked and cleaned
1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup of julienned fresh basil
2 tablespoons of chopped chives 

Dressing
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon of salt and pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the corn for approximately 4-5 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool.  When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob.  Toss the kernels in a large boil, in a mason jar add the ingredients to the dressing, shake well and pour over corn kernels

 

Beer and Barbecue Tablescape

Father’s Day is a great time to pull out your picnic basket and set an inviting table for Dad.  It’s easy, it's inviting and most of all Dad will love the special attention, leaving him bright memories in his heart.

I knew our menu was going to involve grilled steak and chicken, with that I decided to go with a “Beer and Barbecue” theme.  

The black and white tablecloth was the right backdrop for the table, pairing nicely with the black and the white polkadot salad plates.  I added two white table runners to make it look like designated place settings.  The table needed a pop of colour, so the red roses worked nicely.  

My own Father and my husband are huge soccer fans, so the Croatian soccer jersey causally draped over the chair was the right amount of detail without going over board on the checkers.  And finally trophies for a playful touch.

If you won't host, who will?

Maybe hosting is a lot of work, but the enjoyment of the event is more than worth the effort.

When I decided to put style and love into my tablescapes,  my life stated  to change in ways I never imagined.  For the longest time I held back on making holiday’s special.   Hosting dinner parties seemed like too much effort, and the thought of not knowing how to decorate my table, or what to make for dinner seemed overwhelming.  One of my greatest joy’s is connecting with people over food, but I use to get all nervous about the details.  So instead of hosting and having people over, we would eat out at a restaurants, which was fine but it felt so impersonal and didn’t feel special.

So what changed? 

I decided I wanted to put some effort, and style into my holiday celebration. When I did this,our whole dining experience exploded to a whole new level. Enjoyment and excitement exuded from each of us.    Style doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, but it does need to be planned and intentional.   I can tell you what I know to be true, a tablescape dressed in style is your hearts expression of love and attention, a signaling beacon for connection.

Through my work as a tablescape stylist, I help  women host beautiful dinner experiences, so that they feel connected with those who matter most to them. If you need help with your next event be sure to reach out to me, maryannskaro@att.net 

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Connection, or Connected, it's your Choice.

Nestled right next to you is your constant companion and business lifeline; your phone is constantly buzzing, sending alerts and reminders to pay attention to your business. You always oblige, answering all your phone calls, responding promptly to texts and always deliver your best work. Your days are moving quickly, and you are accomplishing more than ever before. But when it comes to connecting with your family you feel like you fall short. With a busy work day, often the last thing on your mind at 5:00p.m. is preparing dinner with your family. Instead you decide to grab something to eat in the car while waiting for your child(ren)to finish soccer practice. 

 

If this description sounds eerily like you, be assured it’s not because I’m stalking you. I know what your days look like because I have been there myself. I used to prepare snacks or easy-to-grab meals and eat them while driving my kids to their after-school activities. While the food filled us up, it left us feeling unsatisfied and empty; there was something missing. It was connection and real conversation. The easy back and forth about how we were all feeling and how we experienced our days. This was a vitalmissing link. I decided it was time to make an effort and intentionally block time in my calendar for family dinners at home. Here is how it started for me and is something that you can implement as well.

1) Using the calendar feature on your phone as you do for all important must-not-miss meetings and appointments, schedule one night in your busy week and block that time to have dinner at home with your family.

2) The night before, decide ‘what’ you want to have for dinner. Now, take it a step further and envision how you will serve this meal, like plates you will use to serve around your table, special napkins or glassware to complement the theme of the meal. Something as simple as ‘Taco Tuesday’ is made more special by the addition of bright orange or yellow napkins and some fiesta-type music. Perhaps you even stop off and buy a bouquet of fowers to arrange as a centerpiece.

3) The meal does not need to be homemade, with all the modern day conveniences it’s easy to grab a healthy pre-made meal at the grocery store. However, when you do bring your food home arrange it in beautiful plates or platters.  Do not leave the food in its take out container. Using your ‘good’ china, linen table clothes and special napkins will make it clear that you’ve made an effort for the family and the are important ‘guests.’

Implementing these easy steps for great connection and conversation with those that matter most in your life shouldn't be a chore, rather let it be a moment to remember. Your family deserves to be treated as well as guests and setting a beautiful table – at least once each week – lets them know you care. For tips to make everyone feel comfortable and valued at your table, subscribe to my bi-monthly offering of information at www.tablescapesinstyle.com.

 

5 Tips to Helping Your Smoothie Look Beautiful

You want your morning smoothie to taste good, and look great!  Let’s be honest, we first eat with our eyes, and if it looks good, chances are you are more likely to enjoy your morning indulgence. 

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Here are five easy ways I make my delicious smoothie look great:

  1. Add color.  I used a slice of orange, and placed it on top of my spinach smoothie.  Colour does wonders for your mood but it also signals an invitation to dig in.
  2. Add texture to your smoothie, this initiates interest.  Here I spread chia seeds on my smoothie.
  3. Add another food group, like granola, sunflower seeds, or coconut flakes, or you can use chopped fruit.
  4. Use a fancy glass.  You can’t see it but I used a glass with a stem.  It makes it look fancy, and oh so pretty.
  5. Use a colouful straw, why?  Because it's fun! 

There you have it, easy ways to make your next morning smoothie look beautiful and inviting to your palate.  If you are interested the recipe to the sunrise smoothie, here it is:

Ingredients

1 banana

½ cup of almond milk

½ orange freshly squeezed 

1 cup of chopped spinach

Directions: place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

 

This smoothie gets me excited for summer as it's coming! My June TableScapes in Style Subscription will be soon released! Take 10% off of your subscription HERE by using code SUMMER. Perfect gift for a friend or someone special in your life as a little surprise or birthday gift! 

A bit of sweet and a bit of savoury

Some moms are all sugar and nice, while others are a bit more salty and earthy, so setting the perfect table to suit your mother's personality is a matter of taste, literally and figuratively.

You are always on the go, checking off you items on your to-do lists; you end your day with a smile of satisfaction but also a sense of relief. You close eyes only to begin planning the next day, but this time your face relaxes as you envision sitting among those who are part of your shared sisterhood of mothers. You are all enjoying yourself around a table that fills all your senses. Before you dig into the tasty food, you notice that the sweet smell of rose petals fills your senses, the warm tones of peach softens your gaze, and the ambiance that your guests bring to your table envelops your heart.

The color palette of peach, coral, cantaloupe and basil are the perfect combination for your Mother’s Day brunch, a coming together of love and appreciation for one another. The sweet and savouy food that is displayed allows your guests to pick and choose whatever delicacy they wish to indulge. After all this day is all about allowing yourself to reach for whatever looks, feels and tastes delicious.     

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Slowing down and coming together doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Too busy to bake? Too stressed to cook? Purchased desserts and easy-to-assemble treats can be as delicious as those you had the time to personally create.

In these pictures, all of the food items were sourced through Loblaw’s and set among everyday dishes. The key: unpackaging and resetting on white plates, stands and trays to show off an array of eye-pleasing colours. Single-colour place settings let the various hues of the food really sing and maintaining a cohesive colour scheme – like the one shown here – ensures that a simply elegant look is achievable. 

Simple is beautiful and easy is alluring in today’s rush/rush world. To get more great ideas on serving up family time in style delivered right to your inbox with detailed instructions every other month - sign up for our subscription here and SAVE 10% off from now until Mother's Day! It's also a perfect gift idea to give for Mother's Day. Subscribe today! 

Welcome...

 Hi everyone, and welcome to my first blog post for TableScapes in Style.

 
 

I am so grateful that you are here.  My entry into creating tablescape styles all started when my family and I lived in Chicago.  

As a Mom of three great kids, and wife to an equally great and busy husband, I started to feel like school, work, activities, and household commitments were pullingus in different directions.  I knew that I wanted to connect more with my family, but it didn’t seem possible.  Life becamebusy.  I felt like my kids were giving me the Coles notes version of their lives.  I wanted to know more about their days, their friendships, their challenges.  I wanted our family to really come together.   I wanted to celebrate, and it started by creating fun tablecapes.  

My family reacted so positively to my tablescapes;  it was as if the beauty and ambiance evoked greater conversation and connection.  I knew that I was on to something special with my tablescapes, and I knew that I wanted to help others create the same connection with their families.  

 
 

When we allowed ourselves to slow down, savor our food, taste each bite, and engage in conversation,, our whole dining experience became more joyful.  

Is this possible for your family?  Of course it is.  With each email subscription I will share tablescapes styles and recipes, but I will also share ways in which greater connection can occur around yourtable.