Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast. . .10/17/11

I know that I promised you all a Thanksgiving tablescape and while this may not be exactly what I (or you) were expecting to see, I am a little strapped for time these days. And since we also don't celebrate Thanksgiving at my home but rather at my in-laws' home, it would have been a little more time consuming to gather up decor, style it and take it all apart. Something I'm very willing to do for you when I have the time :) However, I did take some time to gather a handful of ideas for you all. . .even if they aren't mine, they are a good starting point for you all to create your own fabulous table setting! Starting with a welcoming entryway. . .

The Fall colors here are great not only for Thanksgiving but for all of October and November! Consider changing out an entryway plant for warm colored foliage like here. Some pumpkins add a fun touch. I usually buy white/cream colored pumpkins for around our house since we aren't really Halloween people.
This tabletop is great for a hallway entry table or a dining room buffet. The nice thing about this kind of a decoration is that you can usually reuse most of the items year after year or even put this together and change the contents during different holidays or parties. The photographs add a nice touch. . .maybe have everyone bring a picture of someone or something they are thankful for.
This table top is great but what I love best about this concept is that the centerpiece is so simple and creative - stalks of dried colored corn wrapped in raffia and the table cloth has a Thanksgiving message on it. . .something VERY easy to do. Buy a simple linen tablecloth that fits and can be used over and over again and purchase letter stencils at your local craft store. Stencil it on and voila!
The table top below is super simple! Felt leaves, candles, brown paper and a glue stick are really all you need to take a plain table to charming and creative in less than 20 minutes.
Much like the photograph above this table is fantastic because it is not overly styled. It is simple, creative, appropriate, and warm. Candles make family gatherings more intimate but the corn stalks around the glass hurricanes add the perfect holiday touch.
If you are pressed for time or if table settings are simply not a high priority on your Thanksgiving "To Do" list, this is a great way to style your table. Take a green vegetable like these mini artichokes and place one on each plate. Green raffia around the utensils tie colors together. This is very much something I would do - mostly because I love the chic simplicity of this table setting and the earthy tones. . .PLUS those are my exact breakfast table chairs!!
Here is a closer look at the candlelight and corn stalks centerpiece. Doesn't look too difficult to replicate right ladies? You might need two extra sets of hands but other than that. . .
Another gorgeous and simple centerpiece. You could probably find all of this at your local craft store or any place that sells dried plants.
If I have to even explain how EASY this centerpiece below is then you are not looking closely enough. I love, love, love the tablecloth (which looks like fleece) and those are my wicker chargers!!
Try this one on a cake stand to raise it higher than the rest of the plates and serving pieces on the table.
This vase full of pine cones and acorns can be replicated all the length of the table in varying vase sizes to create a fuller look. I love pine cones because I use them for Thanksgiving and for Christmas!
Who would have ever thought to use baby's breath as a centerpiece for Thanksgiving?? Hmmmm. . .very shabby chic.
This photo below offers a great idea for personalized seating. Paint initials or full names on mini pumpkins or even put a paper name card on a pine cone. . .maybe even write the names on dried leaves placed on the plate.
Another time pressed or headache-free idea. . .white candles and white pumpkins. I love that the napkins are tied with a thin piece of rope. . .nothing complicated or fussy about that.
The idea below is ADORABLE and so creative! Carving out vegetables or even wrapping them around candles ties the meal into the centerpiece. . .make sure to cook the same foods you display though.
This is a super cute idea for place settings. If you have burlap and a sewing machine it would take all of ten minutes to make them. I'd personally ditch the flower, use the name tag tied with rope alone instead.
This is a great idea if you want to do a votive but want to jazz up the presentation. It's a cute idea for placing sporadically around a buffet table as well.
If all else fails and you simply do not have time to do anything - my go to decor are succulents! I LOVE THEM!! Pot them in small glass votive holders or clay pots and place a straight line of them down the center of a table. It will look elegant, earthy and chic I guarantee.
And last but not least, if children are attending your Thanksgiving feast and are not sitting at the "grown ups" table, this is a WONDERFUL and fun idea for them to stay seated and entertained. But here's an additional idea to add to this cute centerpiece: use rolls of brown packaging paper, tape it down to the table and place a bucket of crayons on the table top for the kiddos to play tic-tac-toe make hand-turkeys or draw while they eat and practice their good manners :)
Hope this was sufficient to help you all get started and get creative. Please email photographs of your Thanksgiving tables to thekelleys9305@aol.com. I would really love to see what everyone did!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

California Love. . .10/11/11

My husband and I just returned from another trip to Carmel, California. Yes, we love it there. It's a special place for us because it was one of the places we went to on our honeymoon (well, Pebble Beach technically) but the two are about a mile apart so. . .

Anyway, there's so much to love about Carmel Valley. Aside from the beautiful landscape and weather, there's so much beauty and dedication to local artisans. I love the fresh fruit and vegetables, the local wines from vineyards only miles away, the locally owned and run restaurants, the mom-and-pop feel of the town and it's charming architecture. Here are some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes I found at the neighborhood market. We were there for cheese, bread and wine but still. . .at least I stopped to admire the healthy fare ;)
This sweet cottage below is a prime example of Carmel's cottagey feel. . .I can best explain it this way: Carmel looks like where the Hobbits would live :)
An unassuming and quaint passage way between streets leads to a quiet and private little coffee shop and eatery.
The Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach - this is where we stayed on our honeymoon. It is GORGEOUS!!
Never ceases to amaze me how vibrant and alive the plants and flowers are here despite the cool and balmy weather. Must be the California soil?!
These trees at Pebble Beach are absolutely stunning. It's like nature's artwork. I love the smooth texture and the perfect gray color of the trunks.
A typical Pebble Beach Cypress tree - they are sometimes referred to as "ghost trees" or "witch trees".
. . .and they are big enough to sit inside of. . .
Here's my hubby and I at Mission Ranch - a lodge and restaurant opened by my crush, Clint Eastwood. . .don't judge me for his age. . .the heart wants what the heart wants ;)
A beautiful landscape to enjoy while sipping cocktails and eating fabulous food!
The weather was perfect and we were joined by wonderful friends that we had a FABULOUS time with!
A gorgeous sunset. . .
I had to photograph these succulents. They were on steroids I swear!! You can't tell but they were the size of my head!!
Maybe this is a better image. . .
One of the golf courses at Pebble Beach. The lawn really is that intense green color. . .it's gorgeous.
An ENORMOUS antique wine holder at Georis Winery in Carmel Valley.
On the way out to Big Sur we stopped at this ranch and sipped drinks in the river. . .it was ICE cold!!
A view from Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur. This place was incredible. . .and incredibly expensive.
California = LOVE :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

M.I.A. . .10/9/11

A sweet friend emailed me yesterday and said she'd checked La Vie Abondante only to find the same post at the top of the page that she'd seen last time she popped in to the site. "Where have you been??" she asked. Wellllllll, to answer her question, and maybe yours, let me respond with my own question: where have I NOT been?! I've been home, in California, in the throes of testing a four-year old for private schools, and basically on the metaphorical treadmill that is my day to day life.

Do you ever just feel like your life is moving at an incredibly high pace and speed around you and you either jump on the treadmill and run at that pace or you'll get run over? I do. In fact, lately I've been a "version" of myself; me but 90 miles-per-hour me. Ya feelin' me ladies? If it's not carpool, it's swim lessons, or Tae Kwon Do, or a board meeting, or a church event or activity, or a birthday party, or an appointment, or Gymboree, or working, or cleaning, or cooking, and so on and so on. From kids to social commitments with friends and family it just never seems to slow down even for a second and for me, it's exhausting. The worst part is that somehow despite the fact that I'm always moving, my list of things to do is somehow getting longer not shorter; I'm riddled with guilt over the many things I can't accommodate (including more individual time with my kids) and in a total inexplicably disappointing twist, moving around all day doesn't actually make you thinner?! I even proposed (in all seriousness) the other day to my husband that we just end it all and move to the countryside. "I'd be happy with my kids playing on a swing set outside, throwing rocks in a pond and waiting for a school bus next to a dirt road, what'ya say?" Girls, I really really meant it - especially the last part because no matter how crazed I get, I'll never be the mom who home schools - I'd come unglued! My husband looked like he was almost on board with my suggestion but that could have been my hopeful thinking because he quickly shot that down. So, with that said, I'm in it. I'm so very in it.

I'm on the treadmill and I'm running and two things dawned on me the moment I realized this is how it is: 1) This is a season. My life won't always look like this(I hope) but right now I have small children and there's a very exasperating pace that comes with this stage of life that I have to accept; 2) If it's for my kids I'll run even faster and even harder and at the end of the day being the mom that lives her life for her kids isn't something I want to change about myself. So, there it is. That's where I've been - making lemonade out of lemons and before you think I'm nuts let me add that not even for a second does it escape me that I am incredibly fortunate and blessed. I'll never not be grateful for health, family, friends and the very real presence of a loving and gracious God that I feel every day of my life.