How to Host the Holidays with Grace

Friday, November 9, 2018

I am not, by nature, an organized person. Ive been referred to as a "free spirit" in more settings than one. And Im totally ok with that. However, since becoming an adult and having to do "adulty" things like get a job, for example, Ive found that I have to try to incorporate some structure into my free spirit.

When my nana passed away a few years ago, my family was a little jolted in the way of holidays. She lived about an hour and a half away and we always traveled to her for holiday celebrations. The year she passed, however, I took on the mantle of Thanksgiving and hosted it for my family. Although I have LOVED it, it has not come without its fair share of blood, sweat and, you guessed it, TEARS.

Hosting such a large holiday requires planning and as the years have gone on, Ive come up with a pretty fool proof way to successfully host this beautiful holiday, while simultaneously getting to enjoy it myself. YEP. I said it! You CAN actually enjoy the holiday you are hosting.


Lets get started....

PLAN AHEAD!

I can't stress this enough. The more you can do in the weeks leading up to the holiday, the easier and more stress free it will be. Breaking each task into segments done on different days makes the entire thing much more manageable. I created a little printable for you guys to use as a checklist (its at the end of the post). Its the one I use every year, and has become second nature at this point.

First thing to plan is your menu. Create yourself a Pinterest board, choose the ones that are actual reality (you know what I mean...we pin like we're on The Real Housewives of whatever, when thats just not our reality lol) and then set the plan! If you click here you can check out my Thanksgiving board, to get your juices going!

Print each recipe you're going to use. Then go through, write down all the ingredients on your shopping list (with the amounts you need). I created a shopping list for you to use below, but any old notepaper will do!


ASK FOR HELP!

The first year I hosted thanksgiving I did every single thing myself. And I was DEAD tired. Now I plan out my meal and ask each family to bring something. They love to contribute, and I love to let them!

MAKE DECORATIONS SIMPLE.

A little greenery goes a long way! Bring the outdoors, in! A little pinecones, fresh herbs, and a few tea lights? DONE. You probably have pumpkins leftover, use those! Be creative and for goodness sake USE PINTEREST! How did we ever not?

Rosemary Wreath Place Cards

easy rustic Christmas table decoration ideas place card holders

Menu





MAKE IT SIMPLE.

I use almost all classic, simple, tasteful recipes and they are always a hit. Roast your turkey the old fashioned way. Use your grandmas mashed potatoes recipe. Do what you know you're good at! My mom and I always joke because we tend to try new recipes on very important holidays (she hosts Christmas) and always think what the heck are we doing?! Keep it classic and simple and your guests will be so happy.

Heres a sample menu of mine...

Appetizers: Spinach artichoke dip, meatballs, cranberry goat cheese bites

*PRO TIP: choose apps you can do in the crock pot. I prep them the night before and in the morning simply plug in the crock pots and DONE. Boom.

Turkey: This classic recipe from Ina Garten. You can simply not go wrong with any of her recipes because they all turn to gold.

Mashed Potatoes: My sister brings these because she does it so well! Basically a lot of cream cheese and butter.

Sweet Potatoes: My mama always makes these are they're to die for.

Stuffing: I put this on the list because it is a must. But I use my sweet mamas recipe, and its staying in the family, for now :) The StoveTop recipe is very similar though.

Brussel Sprouts: These.are.the.best.

Hot Rolls: Pilsbury out of the can, duh.

Apple Pie: This one is the one Ive made two years in a row now and is a HIT.

*PRO TIP: get Trader Joes french vanilla ice cream to go with this and its basically heaven.

And last but not least...

MAKE TIME FOR YOU!

The first couple years I hosted Thanksgiving, I was so focused on the crazy dinner and decor prep that I was getting myself ready with like 5 minutes to spare. Now that Ive learned to plan ahead and do some things ahead of time, I leave myself plenty of time for a well deserved hot shower and extra makeup application time ;)

On the subject of saving time...one of my biggest tips, and something I love doing now, is making my Thanksgiving morning breakfast ahead of time. I make these cinnamon rolls a couples days before so they're ready to just take out and bake the morning of. We enjoy them while we watch the parade and its one of my absolute favorite mornings of the entire holiday season.

And don't forget to ENJOY!

Hosting a holiday is such a gift to your family and friends but it doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy it. Follow these tips and you will be able to sit down for dinner, relax during dessert and enjoy your family! Theres so much to be grateful for so ENJOY!



FREE PRINTABLES!




xoxo
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inspire: be brave, sweet mama

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


As I sit here and type, the song "it is well" plays in the background...its 5am. My littles are all sound asleep. My house is dark and quiet and I felt pushed awake to come write. Similar to the nudge Ive been feeling for two years, and ignoring.

Fear.

Fear can be so paralyzing and you don't even realize you're being paralyzed until far into it. I have been researching, and listening to podcasts, and studying bloggers I admire. These, on the outside, all seem like excellent things to do, and are. But Ive been doing that for two years while writing maybe one or two blog posts in between? Thats not "research for my craft" thats a big fat, glorified way to procrastinate; which I happen to be excellent at.

But why?

Unworthy.
Unloved.
Not enough.

These are the lies that play like a record in my head on a daily basis. Again, Im not always acutely aware of them, but when I allow myself to reflect on how I talked to myself that day....truth is, those three thoughts are the underlying theme. Any small critique turns into a huge "unloved". Every time my son, who has special needs in the area of emotional/behavioral health, goes into a rage I hear "not enough". Every time I begin to write and the words don't come I hear "unworthy".

And you know what else? I KNOW Im not alone...this mindset, especially amongst women, is an epidemic. And I see it ever so clearly since becoming a stay at home mom.

I have always worked and loved working. When I was a little girl, all my friends talked about just wanting to be a mom when they grew up...and I loved the idea of that but while they were playing house I was dreaming about travel, about what work I would do, what impact Id make as a grown up. I became a mom through foster care in a very "suddenly" and "swirly" sort of way...and by that I mean there was no 9 months to prepare and nest. More of that story in another post...Even after receiving our first placement, I continued to work. Then this last December we took in a sibling set of girls and it was evident I could not balance all the things. So, I relinquished my beloved job to stay home and love on these littles...something I consider an honor and also the hardest thing I have ever done.

With my job no longer distracting me, the lies started to get loud.

Unworthy.
Unloved.
Not enough.

Motherhood is the only work I know of that within one hours time can completely drain you emotionally, spiritually, physically AND mentally. Can I get an amen, mamas?! Throw in the fact that all three of mine come from traumatic backgrounds, 70% of which I will never know the nature of, and boy are the days long.

The littlest one screams when you close the door to the bathroom because her attachment issues are so intense; the middle one does the opposite of everything you say, and with ease, and sometimes a smile, and you know she's testing you to see if you'll love her through it or pass her on to the next "set of parents"; and the oldest, even after four years of structure, love and consistency, continues to throw fits of rage with no trigger or warning you can find.

You know, hypothetically speaking 😏

And the feelings of "I was not made for this" or "I am a failure" are loud.

Sometimes deafening.
Sometimes defeating.
Sometimes overwhelming.

But in those moments, though they seem so far...there is grace. There is peace. There is courage.

If Im being honest, Ive tried all the ways to get courage through this journey...most of them manifest more like trying to "numb the pain"...ie. shopping, having an evening cocktail, even just completely ignoring it. None of those things worked, however, because there is only one way to find courage for something as big as motherhood...through our God.

One of my female heroes and mentors (though she doesn't know me) is Ann Voskamp. I recently read a blog post of hers on bravery and she said, "God gives us courage. As much as we try to summon it, bravery doesn't come from our own will".

And I believe this from the depth of my soul...

But I also believe that we have some part in this. We have to be willing to step into bravery...to have courage, by definition is, "strength in the face of pain". We have so little in us on our own, but when we step into the light, allow Jesus to fill our gaps...THAT, my friends, is bravery.

The very thing that looks like weakness, is often the very thing that is our strength.


Be brave, sweet mama.

YOU ARE WORTHY.
YOU ARE LOVED.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Lift that coffee mug, friend.
*cheers to being brave*

xo

how to: fall floral centerpiece

Friday, October 19, 2018


My absolute favorite season of the year is autumn. Living in Chicago, we are fortunate enough to get to truly experience all four seasons. Usually around mid-September the temps start to drop a little and then by October we're experiencing full on changing of leaves, the days are shorter and the breeze is crisp; to me, this is bliss.

However, as much as I love the fall, incorporating it into my interior decor has always proven to be a challenge to me. I LOVE the autumn colors on the trees but I do not like orange or yellow inside my home. Im a lover of neutral, for sure.

This season, however, Ive been so inspired by the beautiful deep plums and burgundy's paired with crisp white. I think its just beautiful and the rich colors are very autumnal to me, though less traditional.

I decided I wanted to do a centerpiece in my dining room, using these colors. I actually got the idea of this centerpiece from one of my favorite bloggers, Erin, from The Cotton Stem Blog. She and I are very alike though she doesn't know I exist (lol). We have different styles of decor and yet similar tastes, which is very hard to explain. I took her idea and put my own spin on it and love it how it turned out!




I almost never use faux floral. I never understood why anyone would do that when they can happily have fresh flowers! However, Ive since been converted. The idea of being able to use these every year, was very enticing to me. Also, if you dig, you can actually find some that look very realistic!

I did not, by any means, use all of whats pictured here. Its hard for me to imagine it all coming together while I'm at the store...so I chose a bunch of florals that I loved and thought could go together, put it together at home, and then used the ones I knew would fill in the arrangement, the rest are going back :)



This brass vase I got from target. It actually has a base to it, but I just removed the base for this project. I also purchased one of these green foam circles- which is a step you simply cannot skip! It holds everything in place and allows you to build one piece at time.




My suggestion is to choose one larger floral that is the focal point for your piece. You'll work around this piece (or pieces, if you wish) the rest of the time. This large, deep burgundy flower was the focal point I chose, so I started with this. This piece also sets the tone for how high you'd like your arrangement to go, so measure accordingly.





After that first piece was in place I just began to play! I knew I wanted the deep purple ranunculus no matter what, so I used those next. Then I added the pink ones that drape over the edge to incorporate some movement into the centerpiece. I just held up each bunch next to what I had already done and used what I liked! Theres no science to this, friends. Just have some fun!


You'll notice I also took a lot of the greenery off the stems. I wanted the green eucalyptus to set the green tone for my centerpiece and the other greenery looked really fake.









I love how it turned out! We host Thanksgiving at our home each year, and my tablescape this year is one of velvets and rich tones; this is going to go with it beautifully!

Let me know if you try this out! Tag me on Instagram {@herwhimsyblog} Id love to see :)
xo

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