Bourbon-Pecan-Gingerbread Cookies for Santa

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I haven’t done much holiday baking this December but did find a new cookie for Santa to sample, Bourbon-Pecan-Gingerbread Cookies! This cookie has a fluffy, muffin-like texture with a bourbon glaze on top!

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I ended up with more cookies than the recipe called for so there’s plenty to share. They’re also large cookies so one is satisfying and plenty to sink your teeth into and enjoy with your afternoon cuppa or morning coffee, ‘tis the season after all :)

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I had a little cookie and tea inspiration from my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar so the cardinals have flown in to join Santa.

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Bourbon-Pecan-Gingerbread Cookies, recipe courtesy Southern Living

 Yield:  Makes about *2 dozen. *I ended up with 3 ½ dozen large cookies.

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Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

*2 teaspoons ground ginger

*1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

*1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

*1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

(*I substituted 5 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice since I had it on hand)

4 cups finely ground toasted pecans

2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons molasses

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 cups toasted pecan halves

BOURBON GLAZE, recipe to follow

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Directions

Stir together first 8 ingredients. Stir together ground pecans and next 7 ingredients in a second bowl. Stir bourbon mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Cover and chill *12 hours. (* The video for this recipe says to chill 6 hours. I chilled my dough 4 hours, long enough to be sure it’s cold enough so the cookies don’t spread when baked.)

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Preheat oven to 350°. Drop level portions of dough 2 inches apart onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, using a 2-oz. ice-cream scoop (about 2 Tbsp.) Place 3 pecans on each cookie.

 Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool; drizzle with Bourbon Glaze.

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BOURBON GLAZE

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

(I made half a recipe; 1 1/2 cups sugar and decreased the amount of bourbon to 2 tablespoons)

Ingredients

6 tablespoons bourbon

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3 teaspoons water

Stir together bourbon and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Stir in water, 1 tsp. at a time, until desired consistency. If you don’t want to use bourbon in the glaze substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla.

You can find a printable recipe from Southern Living, here.

Bourbon-Pecan-Gingerbread Cookies for Santa

Santa/Cardinal Cookie Jar, Teapot and Plates/ HomeGoods, several years ago.

Have you started or finished your holiday baking?

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A Picnic With The Birds

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I’m picnicking with the birds with inspiration and fun provided by my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar.

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Birds of a feather have flocked together and Lenox Winter Song plates and mugs are joining the fun, set on a tree slice charger and plaid throw for a tablecloth.

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A birdhouse is perched in the window box of my Potting Shedalong with magnolia, cedar, spruce, and pine and a tartan ribbon for a little color.

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Birds are nesting in mugs. . .

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And in a vintage red plaid Skotch Jug is serving as a vase for assorted evergreens, red berries.

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And a bird has flown in, delivering a vintage postcard with Merry Christmas wishes!

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A Gingerbread House turned Bird Feeder is providing a buffet of seed, peanut butter, raisins and cereal for this picnic.

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You can find a tutorial on how to build a Gingerbread House Bird Feeder, here.

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Wishing you Happy & Cozy Nesting this Christmas Season!

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A Picnic with the Birds

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Create a Gingerbread House Bird Feeder

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I’m all about feeding the birds!

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I’ve been wheeling my shopping cart past the cute gingerbread house kits in the grocery store since Thanksgiving. I’ve also admired the edible birdhouses at specialty bird seed stores and garden centers, available for sell in December. It occurred to me that I could make an edible feeder using a gingerbread house. More palatable for the birds and my wallet, rather than a wood house base and the $40 – $60 price tag of the edible birdhouse/feeders.

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This would be a fun project in January for the kids and the birds using a gingerbread house kit on sale after Christmas.

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I picked up my gingerbread house kit at the grocery store for $9.99.

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I used a combination of peanut butter and cornmeal as the adhesive for the seed and edible materials to cover the gingerbread house walls and roof. Chex wheat cereal became ‘cedar shakes’ on the roof, trimmed with raisins.

Gingerbread House Bird Feeder

I read that peanut butter by itself can cause birds to choke so I mixed it cornmeal to give it some texture and grit. I’m not sure whether this is true or not, but I added it to the peanut butter just to be safe, since cornmeal is also an ingredient in most bird treats. I microwaved the peanut butter mixture to make it easier to spread on the gingerbread. Crackers become edible windows and doors and then I filled it around them with seed.

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I kept the gingerbread side walls plain and made Chex window panes, sprinkled with seed trim.

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The gingerbread house kit comes with royal icing as the ‘glue’ to set the foundation and hold the walls together. Since my gingerbread house was going to be an outside feeder, I used hot glue instead and ran a bead between the walls and in the tracks of the building tray to give it more stability. Also, hopefully to prevent the squirrels and raccoons from running away with it like they did my edible bird seed treats.

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After I attached the roof panels, I made a ‘ridge vent’ with a layer of Chex cereal roof tiles to span the seam of where the two roof sections met, and then attached the chimney.

Gingerbread House Kit Bird Feeder

I sprinkled the white plastic building tray with seed to camouflage it and attract the birds, but you set the house out any additional seed.

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You can make this gingerbread house bird feeder as fancy or as simple as you want, using a combination of seed, popcorn, pretzels, crackers, nuts or dried fruit. Set it outside and wait for your feathered friends to enjoy their edible house and treat!

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Foodie Friday

Putting Out The Wise Men and Shopping Wisely

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With Christmas around the corner, I’m putting out the Wise Men and Shopping Wisely!

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And winging my way through December with a little fun and inspiration from my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar!

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 My Potting Shed is an owl habitat for Christmas and a little tabletop fun!

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A jute runner provides a foundation for wood slice chargers and a snowy white dish stack, topped with an owl plate.

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Antique white owl salad plates, bowls and mugs were at Walmart (Better Homes and Gardens collection) in October, a hoot for $2.98 each!

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And snowy owl napkin rings from HomeGoods were a wise find at $5.99 for a set of 4.

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Since birds of a feather flock together, owl ornaments have flown in to join the dishes.

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Some are nesting in snowy white goblets. . .

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And others are looking down from chippy finial perches.

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Owl Christmas gift tags were found at a local shop, available online, here.

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‘Tis the Season for cookies and I’ve been spotting several varieties of owl cookies on Pinterest. These are quick and easy to make with your favorite sugar cookie or shortbread recipe!

Easy Owl Sugar Cookies

 Whoooo doesn’t love a quick & easy cookie at Christmas?

 I used chocolate chips for the eyes, an almond for the beak and a 3-inch round cookie cutter for these owl sugar cookies.

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I used a sugar cookie recipe from The Kitchn with a hint of almond flavor. If you’re looking for a good sugar cookie recipe that is firm, buttery, easy to work with and good for cut out shapes, I recommend it.

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Cut out the round shape for the owl. Pinch off and roll two balls for the eyes, flatten them and add a chocolate chip in the center. Add an almond for the owl beak and make some score lines for the wings/ feathers. I used the tines of a fork the feet. Bake according to your sugar cookie or shortbread directions. My cookies baked in 10 minutes.

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Dust with powdered sugar for snowy owls. You can use a brush to remove the sugar from the eyes and beak.

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Shopping Wisely Table Details:

Owl Plates, Bowl, Mug/ Better Homes & Gardens, Walmart, this fall

Square Plate /  Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard

 Dinner Plate / Mikasa French Countryside

Jute Runner & Flatware / Pottery Barn

 Goblets / Kohl’s, several years ago

 Napkins / Pottery Barn & Pier 1

Napkin Rings / HomeGoods

Wood Slice Chargers / Bed, Bath & Beyond

Owl Christmas Gift Tags / Cavallini Papers

Assorted Owl Ornaments / Target, Pier 1, Walmart, Cracker Barrel

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Are you finished with your shopping with Santa on his way?

I’m hoping owl my shopping :) will be wrapped up this week!

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Growing a Poinsettia from a Cocktail Napkin and a Poinsettia Cocktail!

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‘Tis the Season for Poinsettias!

I’m doing my part for the US economy and I bet you are too, since more than 70 million poinsettias are sold annually within the six-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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With less than 2 weeks until Christmas, {yikes!} I’m trying to Keep Calm and Merry On while scurrying to check off my to-do list.

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Did you know you can use poinsettias as cut flowers in arrangements or vases? The secret is searing the stems. Searing the stems prevents the flowers from drooping, stopping the sap from flowing out the flowers. The easiest way to sear the stems is over a candle flame since you want to sear it as soon as you cut it. The milky sap will boil or bubble under the candle flame, turning the ends black. If you’re removing any large leaves and you see the milky sap appear, you’ll also want to lightly sear the points where the leaves were attached.

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Add your cut stems to tepid water with floral preservative. The poinsettia stems are hollow and will start drinking up water. I cut some stems of a Winter Rose variety of poinsettia to place in some green Ball Heritage Collection Jars for blooms in my Potting Shed.

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I’m winging my way through December with inspiration and the help of my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendaradding a little fun when possible to this busy season between my holiday tasks.

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More shopping to go and I’m just starting to wrap a few gifts.

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I found a fun gift wrap embellishment, a poinsettia in lieu of a bow, blooming from a cocktail napkin!

From Cocktail Napkin to Poinsettia

You can find the beautiful and complete tutorial for growing a poinsettia from a cocktail napkin, here.

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In the spirit of Keep Calm and Merry On,

I have a Poinsettia Cocktail for you!

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And I’m dressing warm for outdoor cocktails, (thanks Jain :) and enjoying some welcome December sunshine!

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A Poinsettia Cocktail is festive and easy to mix and serve for a party, December brunch, or enjoy Christmas Eve! No shaking, stirring, or straining required, mixing right in your glass. The are numerous variations of a Poinsettia Cocktail, but they essentially start with the same ingredients: Champagne or sparkling wine, cranberry juice and a splash of orange liqueur.

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This is the type of cocktail I don’t measure,  but the basic measurements are 1/2 ounce orange liqueur, 3 ounces cranberry juice, and Champagne. Make sure your sparkling wine/Champagne and cranberry juice are chilled, and adjust the ratio of ingredients to your preference.

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I used Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine which is drier than its Italian cousin, Prosecco, and has more bubbles. More Bubbles = More Merry :) Both Cava and Prosecco are more affordable than champagne, just use the sparkling wine of your choice.

Poinsettia Cocktail Advent Fun

For the orange liqueur, I added a splash of Grand Marnier or you can use triple sec.

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Add some frozen cranberries to keep it cool and festive and toss in some orange peel if you like for a decorative garnish!

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Just remember to Keep Calm and Merry On!

Poinsettia Cocktail

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Foodie Friday

A Tree for the Birds & DIY Bird Seed Treats

Advent Fun Bird Seed Treats DIY

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, I’m taking a little time out for some advent fun. I decorated a tree for the birds with bird seed treats, an easy and fun project that kids would enjoy, along with your feathered friends!

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My inspiration took flight from my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar.

 I have to admit the calendar pages are turning faster than I can keep up with and I seem to by flying by the seat of my pants this month :)

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I’m nesting by my Potting Shed with some bird seed treats that I hung on a small potted tree. I added some berries I cut for decoration along with some orange cups, halved and filled with seed.

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Bird seed treats are easy to make and mold into just about any shape. I used an assortment of cookie cutters as molds for these treats. The less elaborate and smaller shapes will hold together better and longer, especially if they are attacked by squirrels :)

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Here’s what you need:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 tbsp. corn syrup

4 cups birdseed

Assorted cookie cutters/molds

Nonstick Spray

Drinking Straws, cut to size

Waxed Paper

Twine/ Ribbon

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Mix flour, water, gelatin and corn syrup in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined. Stir in birdseed, coating the seed with the flour mixture.

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Spray cookie cutters/molds with nonstick spray. Spoon the birdseed mixture into each mold, making it flat as possible on top, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Using a drinking straw, poke a hole through the center near the top of each birdseed mold, making sure it goes all the way through, leaving the straw in until the mixture is set.

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Leave the birdseed mixture inside the molds for 2 – 3 hours. Remove the birdseed mixture from the molds and gently place them upside down on the waxed paper. Allow them to continue to dry overnight.

BIrd Seed Treats

Using twine or ribbon, carefully thread it through the hole of your treats, tie and hang on a tree branch!

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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We keep our feeders filled year round, but it is especially important when temperatures drop, days are shorter and when there’s snow on the ground.

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Nesting Bike

A bird house, greenery and pine cones, along with a bird ornament have come home to roost in the basket of a vintage Schwinn Breeze, replacing the gourds and pumpkins this fall.

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And a Carruth Studio plaque of a lady feeding the birds is framed by an evergreen wreath.

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Not quite a self-portrait :)

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Hope you’re taking some time out to feather your nest and savor the season!

Advent Calendar Bird Seed Treats

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A Merry Santa Plaid Christmas

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  I’m at the table with some tartan plaid, Santa plates and Christmas greenery and joining Cuisine Kathleen for a Christmas Copycat Table Challenge.

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Nothing says Christmas like a little tartan plaid. Add Santa and you have a Merry Santa Plaid Christmas!

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I’ve been a Back Porch Musing’s fan since I started blogging, oohing & aahing over Pat’s tables and beautiful photos!

Pat’s Santa Plaid Table was my inspiration for the challenge since I had the same Santa plates and napkins and happily found a Royal Stewart Tartan tablecloth while shopping at HomeGoods in November.

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I didn’t have a candleholder like Pat’s for a centerpiece. . .

So I used my lanterns instead. . .

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Filling them with some greenery, apples, oranges, pine cones, and nuts for a centerpiece to enjoy through the holidays.

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I added some woven chargers under the plates to pair with the bronze finish of the lanterns and complement the texture of the pine cones.

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And added some red mercury glass votives for a festive holiday glow at the table.

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I had similar goblets, ruby and crystal. . .

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And the same duo of napkins, a red check and tartan plaid. I used beaded wreath napkin rings that had a touch of plaid ribbon.

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And added a Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard square plate under Santa.

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Wishing you A Merry Santa Plaid Christmas!

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Santa Tartan Christmas Table Details:

Santa Plates, HomeGoods, several years ago

Square Plate/ Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard Dinnerware

Dinner Plate/ Mikasa French Countryside

Flatware / San Remo by Hampton Forge, Horchow

 Goblets / Mikasa French Countryside

Royal Stewart Tartan Tablecloth & Napkins / HomeGoods

Red Check Napkins & Napkin Rings / Pier 1

Red Votives & Chargers / World Market

Santa Tartan Christmas Table

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At the Table: Christmas with Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard

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In this season of red and green, I set a table that’s merry and bright for Christmas with the white dinnerware of Country Cupboard by Pfaltzgraff!

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Red and green checks, berry and pine cone topiaries and sprigs of greenery add to the mix~ all fitting for a Country Cupboard Christmas!

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White dishes provide a blank canvas for the table, easy to mix, match and blend with any color scheme or holiday. A trailing leaf and floral vine provides texture and interest on the white dinnerware of Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard.

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Available in both a traditional round or modern square shape, a subtle antique wash highlights the pattern and relief of the white border of the dinnerware.

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 Berry and pine cone topiaries and fresh cypress and boxwood sprigs, provide some additional red and green, along with shiny red apples. Nuts are sprinkled in with the greenery to add texture, blending with the pine cones and woven chargers.

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And a checked tablecloth and square woven chargers enhance the square shape of the dishes.

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Placemats with a holly and berry embroidered vine trails up the side of the placemats, framing the place settings.

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A 60 ounce pitcher is serving up a topiary to add some height to the table’s centerpiece.

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And I used a Country Cupboard vegetable bowl to elevate a topiary for a make-shift pedestal, thinking outside the bowl :)

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Country Cupboard Latte Mugs are waiting to be filled with a favorite warm beverage and Mikasa French Countryside ruby goblets at a punch of seasonal color, festive for serving beverages for the holidays.

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Country Cupboard Christmas Table Details:

*Dinnerware /  Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard Dinnerware

*Flatware / Pfaltzgraff Windham

 *Goblets / Mikasa French Countryside, Ruby

Berry and Pine Cone Topiaries & Placemats / Target

Tablecloth & Napkins / HomeGoods

Napkin Rings / Pier 1

 Chargers / World Market

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Celebrate the holidays with 20% off one Country Cupboard item

through January 4th with the link below (some exclusions apply): 

http://www.pfaltzgraff.com/source?src=MARYMBLOGPFCC201

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*Lifetime Brands’ products have been provided free of charge in exchange for promotional consideration.

Christmas with Pfaltzgraff Country Cupboard Dinnerware

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Potting Shed: Christmas Sprucing of the Porch

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I’m Sprucing Up the Porch of my Potting Shed and counting the down the days until Christmas with the help of my Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar!

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I started with the back porch of my Potting Shed, since ‘sprucing up the porch’ has been on my ‘to do’ list since her movewith her once hidden back door now visible and embarrassingly naked.

Bluebottle Flowers & Daisies Field

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I found a pair of tall chippy, distressed red shutters to flank the back door at a favorite antique mall this fall.

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Adding a little greenery goes a long way towards holiday decorating when you have access to some pine, cedar and magnolia for decking the halls!

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Hanging a wreath on the back door was the first step and Day 1 of my advent calendar.

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I started with an artificial wreath and added some fresh magnolia, cypress, cedar and fir to soften and add a natural element.

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The wreath is framing a decorative metal half bird cage and home to some pine cones for the season.

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Clip-on bird ornaments flew in to spruce up the porch. . .

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And more ornaments are hanging on a vintage rake.

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Wellies are filled with greenery, pine cones, and red leaves blazing with the last bit of fleeting fall color.

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I trimmed a tree with assorted garden ornaments, grapevine and ribbon.

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Assorted salvaged tools~ a rake, pitch fork and hand fork, join a bird house and nest as a tree topper.

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Jute-wrapped and pine cone-covered birds are nesting in the tree with watering cans and wellies. . .

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And goldenrod gone to seed and dried hydrangeas provide some soft texture and filler.

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Tartan ribbon and plaid ornaments add a bright punch of cheery color.

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Hope you’re enjoying trimming your tree and sprucing your porch!

Christmas Sprucing of the Potting Shed

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Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar

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 The Christmas countdown has begun! With Thanksgiving falling late this year and travelling over the holiday weekend, I feel less prepared than previous years and am still decorating and sorting through boxes to deck the halls.

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I was gifted with an adorable Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar to help me wing my way through December, counting the down the days and for a little nesting fun in my Potting Shed!

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My friend Jain of a quiet lifeNovel Baker and shopping twin :) created and printed an advent calendar for me, after I oohed and aahed over her Seaside Advent Calender she made last year. She made two last year, one for herself she strung on rope in her beach bungalow, and one for a friend designed to hang on a tree. Prepare to be wowed like me when you sea them! She’s enjoying some garden advent fun with a calendar she designed to count down the days this December.

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I decided to string my advent calendar on twine, attaching them with clothespins on my Potting Shed chalkboard door.

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I have 25 days of fun ahead (technically 22) if I can get myself in gear with the activities she has planned for me :)

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My bird Christmas ornaments flew in to join the fun. . .

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The back of each card has an activity for celebrating the Christmas season that I can enjoy in my Potting Shed.

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Like dressing up my ladder. . .

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And sprucing up the porch!

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And enjoying a little bird watching.

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Thank you Jain for my Birds of a Feather Advent fun!

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Are you just starting or are you finished feathering your Christmas nest and ready to enjoy the count down?

Birds of a Feather Advent Calendar

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