Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Thanksgiving Lineup

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this year!  For the second year in a row, my parents are renting a condo in Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island, and Mike and I are down here for the long weekend.  Last year, I was a mess and so sick that I actually lost weight over Thanksgiving, but this year is going to be different.  I've been taking as much Vitamin C as I can find and washing my hands every 5 minutes.  I WILL eat so much Thanksgiving dinner that I won't be able to move for two days.  My mom has been kind enough to offer to roast the turkey, but we are contributing some of our favorite old and new side dishes for the meal.  Here's our rundown this year:

- Turkey
- Gravy
- Two stuffings - my Nona's Italian style stuffing with tons of parmesan cheese and greens as well as Stove Top for those not as adventurous
- Two cranberry sauces - homemade for all of us and the jello log for Mike
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potato casserole - this recipe from the Pioneer Woman is amazing!
- Butternut squash soup - Mike asked for this addition as a first course this year, and I can never turn down my favorite soup!
- Green beans
- Corn
- Rolls - As another addition this year, I decided to get Callie's biscuits (y'all know they're my favorite!) and I'll just have to heat them up on Thanksgiving!
- Chocolate cream pie
- Toll House pie
- Wine, beer, and holiday punch

Since I'll be eating as much as possible, you know comfort for the day will be key.  I already have my outdoor (for walks around Harbour Town between courses) and indoor (for watching my Panthers play) outfits planned for optimal stretchy-ness and relaxation:
All day: oversized sweater /// leggings /// necklace /// earrings
Outside: booties /// vest
Inside: slippers /// blanket /// book

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simple Open House Entertaining for the Holidays

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #HolidayPairings #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 and older.
When we lived in Connecticut, we were always entertaining.  We had a fantastic dining room and loved having our family and friends over for dinner.  Now, we live in an apartment, and while it has a great open-concept, we don't exactly have a dining room.  We have two chairs and a little table in a corner of the room that we never use (tray tables are where it's at!), and if we ever have people over, we pull the two unmatched chairs from our porch inside.  It's a bit crowded, but it works.  Needless to say, dinner parties are out of the question.  So, what are we to do during the holidays?  An open house is the perfect solution.  Friends and family are given a few hour window to stop in, have a few snacks and drinks, and enjoy each other's company.  My go-tos for holiday entertaining are cheese and charcuterie platters, salads, cookie trays, and wine, of course.  They're all super easy ways to throw a fantastic holiday party.
The first step in throwing the perfect holiday party is obviously making a list.  Regardless of what I put on that list, I know that I can find everything I'm looking for at Walmart.  For this party, I focused on crackers, cheese, and cookies from Pepperidge Farm for my platters; Barilla Pronto Pasta for my caprese salad; and Clos Du Bois Merlot for all of my 21+ guests.  Walmart is definitely my go-to place for holiday entertaining needs and they have the best selection of super premium wine!
For my parties, I like the concept of make-ahead dishes that don't require constant re-warming so that I can enjoy the evening as much as my guests.  I also like to spread the food and drinks around in different spots of the entertaining space so that guests mingle from one spot to another.  This holiday season, I decided to make my dishes even more festive by creating serving platters out of one of this year's biggest trends: chalkboard.  As an added bonus with the chalk markers, I can write little notes to the guests so they know what they're enjoying and can pick exactly what they want.
All you need to do is:
1. Go to your local craft store and buy chalk, chalkboard paint, and pieces of wood in any shape you like.  Since chalkboard is so popular right now, I actually found fantastic ornament shapes already chalkboard-painted to save me from having to do step #2.
2.  If purchasing plain wood, paint the pieces with the paint and let them dry completely.
3. Wash the platters to make sure they are ready to hold food.
4. Start building the platters with different ingredients.  I chose to do an appetizer plate and a dessert plate.  Make sure that you leave room for labeling.  Here are my suggestions for each plate:
After I created and placed my platters (a few for each part of my home), I spooned my caprese pasta salad (a ten minute side dish made with Barilla Pronto Pasta, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and a little Italian salad dressing) into individual cups, uncorked the wine, (poured myself the first glass,) and enjoyed the party with my guests!
To me, holiday entertaining is about having a little something for everything.  Variety in a box like with the Pepperidge Farm Cracker Trio and Pepperidge Farm Cookie Collection make shopping and hosting so easy because of the diversity in one package.  Plus, so many people are familiar with those iconic butterfly-shaped crackers and Milano cookies that they instantly feel at home!

For even more ideas for planning your holiday party and to learn about tasting events near you, visit the Simple Entertaining Hub where you can even find out about tasting and pairing events at Walmart stores near you!

  • Are you hosting a holiday party this year?
  • What is your favorite time-saving party tip?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekend Recap

Raise your hand if you're as excited for Thanksgiving as me?!  This weekend was amazing, but I couldn't help and look forward to one of my favorite holidays coming up in three days.  Luckily, I had a lot to keep me busy...

Friday was my biggest event of the year at work.  We hosted our Golf and Gala out at Kiawah, and it was the perfect 70 degree sunny day!  Both portions of the event were fantastic, there was delicious Lowcountry food, and we raised a lot of money for our kids!
In return for working at the event, my organization paid for Mike and me to spend the weekend at The Sanctuary Hotel out on Kiawah.  It was amazing, just like last year.  I even had a chance to finally meet Chesson at an awesome new wine bar on Kiawah; you're given a card and can dispense any of 48 types of wine by the glass at self-serve machines!
On the way home yesterday, we took my parents and a family friend to our favorite place, the Charleston Tea Plantation!  They loved the tours and we finished our last little bit of Christmas shopping with all of the makings of a Charleston tea basket for Mike's grandma!
Our afternoon was spent shopping for Thanksgiving dishes, watching my Panthers go 10-0 (!!!), and finally spending way too much money at Sephora thanks to winning Pamela's giveaway.  Don't worry, I plan on sharing the love with y'all after Thanksgiving weekend - more info soon ;)

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