11.03.2017

November . . . What is left and what has come?

Walking through my farmers market I felt a jolt as I saw a fresh basket of pomegranates.  I adore them.  Not only do I love to eat them but I love to decorate with them as well.  I find them so lovely and definitely signal the start of the holiday season.

Above was the result of a stroll through my garden today.  The past few days we have had an Indian summer.  The temps have been in the 70's, so unlike normal temperatures for November.  I selected a few roses left on my bushes.  I picked a hydrangea bloom and a Limelight Hydrangea bloom.  The colors of sage and rose are perfectly married on these sweet lasting flowers.    Juniper berries are in full and plump with blue berries.  The Winterberries have changed from orange to crimson red.  They are so vibrant and it's green leaves are the perfect backdrop to showcase their beauty.





10.29.2017

Harvest Barn Dinner Party

Every time I am about to entertain my mind immediately goes to the old Ellen Degeneres show where she was throwing an Autumn dinner party and was obsessed with Martha Stewart.  As she is trying to recreate Martha's party with menu and decor, her oven malfunctions and she is forced to use the oven at a friends apartment and my favorite scene is as she's rushing down the stairs carrying her Cornish hens, they all slip off her tray and bounce down he stairs before her.  Priceless.

A lesson to be learned.  Any time your trying to make something perfect, proceed with caution and beware of obstacles and malfunction to your master plan.

Alert:  This post will be long and I'm included all my photos so you might want to have a bathroom break now and possibly fetch a snack or a cup of tea or coffee.


My preparations began the day before as I went flower shopping.  I had found these lovely boxes at Michaels that had the words Thankful on them.  I thought they were befitting with the theme.

 I kept the flowers in buckets with room temperature water and kept them in my dark downstairs bathroom until I could make the arrangements.
 I am not a florist nor do I believe I am a great flower arranger.  I will say I love flowers so much that I am not afraid to try and I'm definitely a good copier.

I was very pleased with how the arrangements came out.  I also made apple butter the night before.  The recipe was from one of our favorite places,  Blackberry Farm .  I had purchased one of the cookbooks during one of our stays.  The recipe was in there.  

  I began taking inventory of what I had.  From plates, glasses, silverware to candlesticks and plate chargers.  I needed 24 of everything.  It was going to be challenging.  

 I rented the tablecloths and napkins, tables and chairs but then everything else was ours.  Bought more burners and sternos from the party store as well as  the pretty coffee cups that are disposable and still pretty to use.

 Even though it was buffet style I wanted to make each table independent.  I had baked bread that I made on each breadboard with butter and olive oil with fresh rosemary.  There was a basket of homemade cornbread at each setting along with sparking water and regular bottles to make things easier for each guest.  We had coffee, tea and hot cider station along with wine and beer at another.
 My son's mother in law, my in-law Karen who is my own version of Martha Stewart, did my place settings.  She has a gift for making tablescapes beautiful.  Sure paper plates would have been easier but I firmly believe that good food should be savored on good plates and somehow having a piece of beef tenderloin with a plastic fork and knife somehow looses it's appeal for me.
I wanted to bring out the Autumn Hues with the gold candlesticks and orange and Sienna touches. 
As I baked all the desserts my husband checked all our barn lights and made sure all the lights were in good condition and working.  He even added a few more strands.  We had left them since the wedding and agreed they were good to have for casual entertaining.  

 Above Ground Zero.  Below, Magical.

 I had placed an order for olive branches for the table centerpieces.  They came out perfect.  I had a few extra and I so we hung them from the support columns.  Since Olive branches are always associated with friendships and peace I thought they would be ideal.

 Everything looks magical with lights.  No matter how simple the structure, lights give everything a romantic glow.

I went to bed that night a little after midnight with the hopes that the day to follow would be lovely.  

When morning came, so did the sun and warmer temperatures.  It was Indian summer at its best.  Rob was quick to work outside while I was checking off items on my lists. (yes lists, I'm a list fanatic) Everything seemed to be going well and at 1:30pm  I was right on schedule.  The guests were due to arriveAll appeared to be flowing along.  Notice I'm using the word appeared.  

As I was putting the beef tenderloin in the oven and working on my other entree and sides my husbands walked inside and went right to the bathroom.  I said a few words to him as I was cutting some onions and realized he wasn't responding.  When I stopped what I was doing to look towards the mudroom bathroom I saw him.   He was standing holding on to his eye.  There was blood down his sweatshirt and on his forehead.  I screamed and asked what happened.  He lifted his hand away from his eye and all I saw was blood and a swollen almost unrecognizable eye similar to most pay per view boxing match outcomes.  He had been on the ladder putting lights up when the ladder started to fall back and he said he jumped off and was fine until the ladder flipped over and the leg hit him and cut his eye and eyebrow.  I started to cry and I won't lie, I got a bit frantic.  Said we are going to the ER but he kept saying that he was okay.  We immediately got ice.  He washed off some of the blood and then took a pack of peas and placed it over the eye.  After a few minutes the blood stopped.  We could see that the eyebrow had been cut.  But the eyelid and under eye was blown up and purple.  
I wanted to cancel and called Karen to tell her about what had happened.  She proceeded to tell me that she hadn't called me because she had just fell in front of the supermarket and at first thought she broke her ankle but realized it was sprained.  She was elevating it with some ice.  

That's it!  I thought.  I am cancelling.  I was a mess.  My husband continued to assure me that he was fine, just bruised and that the bleeding had stopped completely.  I walked outside with him following him around unsure of his truthfulness about his eye and whether or not he was okay to host a barn party for 24 people.  Yikes!  Did Martha? Ina? Carolyne? Or Mary Carol ever have catastrophic events like these before entertaining?  

After about an hour I could see that he was indeed okay and Karen was able to walk around and we agreed we were okay to move forward with the dinner party.  It rattled me and I could focus afterwards.  I almost burnt the tenderloin, didn't get to the shower until 540pm.  What time were the guests arriving?  6?  I wasn't able to take time with my hair and just rushed through to return to the kitchen.  In the meantime my oldest and his wife had come with the baby and were helping my husband transport food to the burners in the barn.  Because I had almost burnt the tenderloin the drippings had all dried.  As I ran down stairs Karen surprised me in the kitchen.  She had been creating a gravy with what little was left in the roaster pan.  She is the gravy queen after all.  She saved me.  She also plated the salad for me I'm the barn as she limped along.  I actually tied a velcro ice pack to her ankle.  So after a few more minutes of doing last minute things on my list, we were good to go.  So I won't tell you but show you.  After all of that, the evening was a success.  



















 Below my poor hubby covering his eye.
 Below our beloved priests and monsignor from our parish.
 They truly made our evening a blessed occasion.








 Below we were laughing because Robby chose to hide his eye behind Monsignor for the photo.  How lucky was I in the middle of all these wonderful men of God.

 Below Karen and I, at the end of the night taking a selfie.
 Can you see part of me below?  I cut myself out.  My husband took this photo.  I came out awful.  He blamed it on his eye but truth be told he hates taking photos.  LOL
 Below hanging from the ceiling is a beautiful gift from Mary Carol.  She had them in her daughters wedding and sent me one to use for my son's wedding.  I treasure and use it often as I treasure her.


 Dancing to Cheek to Cheek.  I played two cd's that are now at the top of my list.  I ordered them on Amazon and they came in a day.

A must have for any dinner party.  
Sneaking in a dance with "The Honorable Judge Singley"






So at the end of the evening, after weeks of preparing and planning, our Harvest Barn Party was a success after all.  Karen's ankle was better after icing it for hours and Rob's eye still looked like Rocky's after he fought Apollo Creed, but all happened the way it was meant to be.  I am please and thankful to have had such a beautiful night with the people that I love and that have altered and changed my life.  Above all I'm thankful to God that he spared my husbands eye and he was looking out for us all.  Thank you to my husband, the love of my life who always finds ways to add more lights and making everything appear magical.






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