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Sunday
Dec142014

Christmas, Segreto Style!

There are few holidays that inspire more decorating excitement than Christmas! From the shop windows to the fireplace mantle and everywhere in between, I just love seeing what beautiful and unique ways others are celebrating the holiday season!!

 

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Such splendor in this statue draped in cedar and pine boughs with pine cones and ribbon.  This year, I will keep in mind the advice of Emily Thompson, flower designer of the above,"Everything is so maxi-malist at the holidays, there's beauty in being pared down."

Oh Christmas Tree……

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What a beautiful impression these potted Christmas trees make in these antique French Biot jars! Any pot placed just inside an entry or flanking veranda doors with tall, slender spruce trees would be stunningl!! 

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I love this tree for so many reasons! Foregoing the traditional stand and skirt, the pot the tree is planted in becomes a design feature! The ‘frosted’ branches (DIY for less than $10 here!) and use of limited colors looks so vintage. My favorite part? Storing the gifts in these cute metal tubs; keeping them off of the floor and organized by recipient!!!

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When it comes to Christmas décor, you are not limited to boughs of holly alone. Consider wrapping your tree in garlands of grevellea and cedar boughs mixed with Queen Anne's lace, chamomile and bird's nest accents such as this one designed by Emily Thompson.

The Holiday Table…

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Whether a sit down dinner or buffet is on your agenda this year, the holiday table is my favorite part of holiday decorating. Maybe it’s because this is where friends and family gather together to celebrate what Christmas and the Holidays are all about. 

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A beautiful example in layering, this place setting begins with a natural rattan charger. The colored napkin, folded into a rectangle, adds a pop of color between the salad and dinner plates while a petite boxwood wreath completes the stack. A pretty, coordinating ribbon holds the name tag and welcomes guests to the seat they’ll look forward to having!  

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If simple is more your style this year, try stacking the utensils and napkin atop your dishes. In keeping with the basic theme, a natural woven napkin ring accented with branches of winter wheat and berries makes a lovely touch without being too fussy!

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This settings main focus is all about the wrapping! Tied to each guests fork and knife with jute and laid on top of a modest evergreen clipping, this would be an elegant and easy creation for a large gathering. Etsy has great handmade, calligraphy tags like these for $1.50ea!! 

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Another pretty example, mix in a sprig of cinnamon for a place at the table that inspires all of the senses! 

I absolutely adore these standing napkin trees! Topped instead with a handmade snow globe ring (tutorial here!) and you have a table setting and favor sure to impress your guests!! So cute!!!

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For the holiday buffet, stack rolled napkins instead of laying them flat for a pretty ‘tree’ effect! In place of the napkin ring, use fresh greenery tied with florists tape and accented with a miniature ornament adds such a pretty organic touch!

 

The Kids Table …

Christmas is a magical time for all, especially children. Below are some of my favorite ideas for making it extra special!!

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What a wonderful way to make the kids table entertaining! Basic brown paper (you can buy at the paint store) set with festive red and white accents and an activity checklist makes eating apart from the adults more fun than ever!

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How cute is this to fill these dollar store stockings with utensils! Napkins can also be included in each ‘pouch’ for easy toting and use!

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This would be wonderful to include at the place setting for each child! Entertaining them during dinner, they could draw their favorite Christmas scene! At the end of the meal, because they have been perfect angles, they could open their specially wrapped gift!!

I know this isn’t about the Christmas table but I felt this idea was too cute not to share!! These personalized sacks from Santa are straight out of a children’s Christmas dream! Created by London based company Harrow & Green, upgrade from the standard stocking and use this custom sack for years to come!

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For even more Segreto Style Christmas inspiration, check out my pinterest board here! I hope all of you my friends have a wonderful Christmas or holiday season with your family, friends, and loved ones!  I wish you all health, joy, happiness and love during the holidays and in the New year!!

 

For your last minute holiday buys, spend the afternoon at Longoria Collection December 17th! I will be signing copies of Segreto Style from 11am to 2pm and admiring all of their amazing home and beauty selections! I hope to see you there!

 

If you get the chance, check out my sweet friend, Karena at her wonderful blog, The Arts by Karena! where she did such a great feature on our new book!! We'd also like to send a big thank you to Chateau Domingue for their wonderful piece on Segreto Style, they have so many beautiful items featured in our pages; take a look here! I can't thank them enough for the gift of her kind words!! 

A perfect gift, purchase Segreto Style for the designl lovers on your list this season through our website here or through Amazon here!! 

To purchase  "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

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Sunday
Dec072014

The Perfect Hostess Gift!

Such a fun time of year with so many wonderful holiday parties and get-togethers!! What do you get that sweet hostess who has planned and prepared to insure that you have a perfect evening?

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A simple and adorable DIY, this serving platter is one part functional and two parts cool. Simply purchase a white ceramic serving tray, and a small container of chalk board paint available at most craft suppliers. Paint the flat surface of the tray and let dry overnight. Viola! Gift with a cute package of chalk and your hostess will be sure to enjoy it for many events to come!

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These herbed olive oils are as delicious as they are pretty! The trick is to start with high quality ingredients. A good extra virgin olive oil is paramount and, typically when choosing, the darker the bottle the better. Fresh herbs from your local farmers market or garden would be ideal, just be sure to give them a good wash and glass containers can be found at the local dollar store or Target.

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Fill the bottles half way with oil, place whole herb inside container, then fill further to desired level. Store in a cool, dark place. When using fresh herbs, the gift has a shelf life for a month, whereas the use of dried herbs will last longer. Adding a sweet ‘thank you’ tag personalizes the gift and adds that ‘made from the heart’ touch.

Pampering the hostess the morning after by giving the family breakfast goodies may just allow her to sleep in!! The above ensemble is by Martha Stewart, but just be creative! Fill a basket with a pretty tea towel or two and include your favorite fresh bakery items, fruit, ground coffee and jam.

 

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A classic hostess gift is the tried and true bottle of wine. Making the gift a bit more special is all in the wrapping!  This petite herb wreath, constructed from twisted thyme stalks and ribbon, dresses up the bottle and gives it that handmade touch! Try wrapping it in a tea towel and tying it with a raffia bound herb sprig; presentation is the key!

  How about the ultimate flower arrangement for your hostess with the mostest? Courtesy of Design Sponge, this bouquet is made special by wrapping it in a kitchen towel and tying it with a wooden spoon. Completed for under $20!! How cute is that?!

Consider giving your hostess the gift of pampering with this DIY vanilla brown sugar scrub. Aside from smelling heavenly, this recipe is the perfect exfoliate for your heels, knees and elbows! Simply follow the recipe here by Stephanie Lynn and place the mixture in a small, air tight jar found anywhere canning supplies are sold. I thought she painted the monogram but they are vinyl decals (quick and easy) she found at Joanne fabrics, with scoops found at Walmart in the kitchen utensil section, $2.00 for a set of three!!!

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I also love the way blogger Julie Blanner wrapped and labeled her handmade scrub with burlap and a tag found at any office supply store. Bonus - this gift can easily be made in bulk! 

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Small counter top herb gardens are a popular and sweet gift to give anyone who likes to entertain!  These are simple and would look great on anyone’s kitchen counter!

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But, if you are feeling very ambitious this stunning wreath, with fresh herbs from rosemary and lavender to sage and thyme, would be quite the gift! As the directions advise, avoiding herbs that wilt quickly, such as mint, parsley, and basil, will result in an herb wreath that can be enjoyed for much longer!

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These concrete tea light holders are unique and simple to make! Take out of molds and wrap in bundles of three.  We made these once out of leftover plaster from various jobs and I use mine all of the time -love!!

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Inscription aside, what a cute thank you!! Take a plain mug and, using a Sharpie, write a thank you note. Then simply bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Finally, fill your mug with goodies, wrap in burlap or a kitchen towel and in just a bit of time you have created a thank you that will be enjoyed for years to come! 

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Remember is all in the wrapping. This is a wonderful website which sells burlap, ribbons and all sorts of other decorative things to make gifts special and at super reasonable prices!!!

No time for DIY’s....? Here are some fun ideas that any hostess would enjoy. Just personalize the wrapping and your done!!!

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Guest soaps by Lafco which come in a trendy ombre assortment. 

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I love this marble and glass cheese dome! The best part? The set is only $32.00!

If you are drawn to old, I spied some beautiful ones at Backrow Antiques, stunning!

I love these vintage papers disposable placemats.  We sell them at our store but lots of people carry them as well! With 25 sheets to a package, they sell for 29.50!!!

Candles always make the perfect gift.  Also sold at our store the Cashmere scent is our best seller! (Belgian Linen is the runner up) Made from natural soy, they are packaged in recycled materials with a cute box of matches inside the lid. Just $32 for the large, 9oz!

 

All wrapped and ready to be gifted, Segreto Style makes a beautiful present for the hostess with an eye for design. With over 300  pages of full home tours and a complete resource guide, this design reference is as useful as it is beautiful!! To order your own, click here!!

Stop in and shop with us! Available in store, here are some items we think would be great for gifting!! From left to right: PurseN: This jewelry weekenderis is ideal for safely toting your most precious baubles and making sure they remain un-tangled (Lg. $64, Sm. $54), Swing Design: These candy colored, lacquered jewelry boxes are ideal for displaying your treasures! Lined in plush velvet, you can purchase coordinating ones that look so cute stacked ($49- $250), Benton Art & Design tea towels are local to Austin, these hand made designs take gifting to the next level ($34.50ea)! Tizo: Perfect for display and travel, these exceptional time pieces feature hand polished silver and black lacquer casing (Lg. $65, Sm. $62.50)

What should I bring this sweet friend who is hosting us for dinner?! Just look at her table! Stunning!! In the spirit of the season, hop on over to The Enchanted Home where Tina has interviewed her pick of bloggers—(me included!!!) to get us all in the holiday spirit!! I hope to see you all at the Houston Design Center’s 7th annual Deck the Tables where I will be doing a book signing at Charlotte Nail Antiques—see below!!  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday party season! Drive safe and have fun! 

So exicting! Join me this week for a book signing on December 9th at the Deck the Tables Holiday Tabletop Event from 11:00am to 1:45pm. Hosted by Charlotte Nail Antiques, get your copy of Segreto Style signed while exploring the beautiful variety of antique treasures!!

Such a lovely gift to receive, I can't thank my sweet friend, Rie of Portobello Design Blog, enough for her kind review of Segreto Style! Be sure to check it and her other fun blog posts out here!

 

A perfect gift, purchase Segreto Style for your favorite host or hostess this season through our website here or through Amazon here!!

To purchase  "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

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Sunday
Nov302014

My New Staircase Railing & Book Give-a-way!! 

 As you know, my home has been undergoing renovations for many months now is coming together with the instillation of the staircase railing!! The journey selecting the design was so fun that I wanted to take you along!!

 

Years ago, Alba Custom Iron Works created the back staircase in my home. The company, bought by Bill Pena and now named ACI Metalworks, LLC, continues to install the most beautiful iron railings. This amazing home featured in my new book, Segreto Style, was done by Architectural Consultant Sarah West. Look how lovely this staircase is!!!  

To gather information and ideas for my new handrail, I made a trip to the Alba Custom Iron Works shop and was so inspired by what I saw! Specializing in custom metal creations including railings, gates, light fixtures and metal windows, I was astonished to see the range of their artistry and craftsmanship.

I began by looking at the individual features that would be combined to create the perfect railing!  There were so many!! Here is a small sampling of the decorative elements that could be welded onto a post!

Above, an example of a top railing called a lambs tongue. Most top railings are about an inch and a half wide. This a bit weightier at two inches in width.

This beautiful railing has simple posts mixed in with a decorative element. Becoming overwhelmed with all of the choices, Bill referred me to King Architectural Metals, a vendor for staircase railing parts.

 

If you go to the website and shop by concepts it brings you to their catalog which is filled with hundreds of drawings of staircases; providing you a visual of how mixing different elements would look! From clean-lined to contemporary to traditional, they have examples of them all!!!Above is the collection I chose but constructed in a much simpler repeat. I liked the balustrade to the far left with one decorative element inserted every fourth post while the rest remained simply round or plain.

I also like the gentle curve of the end of this staircase railing different from a big curly cue or a straight lambs tongue feature. 

While their office was finalizing the specifications, plant manager Jose took me on a tour!! With an endless display of custom orders, they had so many stunning light fixtures and lanterns all of which were completely unique!! From ornate lanterns to candelabras, there was a style to appeal to every aesthetic!  

I loved being able to see the process in which each custom piece was created! Before any work begins the item is drawn to scale, then the metal is hewn and welded together by expert craftsmen.


Once constructed, the metal is sanded and primed a deep red, then painted and customized with a finish.

While Bill was at my house he noticed something I'd noticed over time -  my front two windows were rotting! Those sprinkler heads over the past 28 years had sprayed water onto the frames and, although we had bondoed them over the years, I didn’t want to take the risk of my new wood floors being ruined by water getting in!!! I have always loved what metal windows have brought to a room! Shown above, these windows were installed in a home we completed the finishes for with designer Bret Duhan of Boxwood Interiors. They are painted in a light color rather than the traditional dark tones you often see-- stunning!!! 

While I was at his shop, Bill showed me all the metal windows he was currently making. In Houston, with all of the humidity and heat, it is crucial these windows are made correctly or they can rot from the inside out! Make sure that you use a heavy gauge steel or solid steal for construction. They should be properly primed twice for insurance and painted with an appropriate all weather paint. Insulated glass is a much better option and, if installing your own glass, make sure they are experts with the glazing or sealing of them.

 

The new design will be thinner in profile and have less mullion bars-from 35 down to 15! 

Here is my railing mid-construction! It is so incredible to be able to watch the progress!

It seems just like Christmas at my house with the new staircase railing being installed!!!! Although I loved the steel raw, without any coating, Bill could not guarantee it wouldn't rust by simply applying a sealant. So, after it's completely installed, my Segreto team will have to do their magic to soften its appearance through paint.

Creating the slight curve where the staircase bends was a difficult detail for both Goodchild Builders and ACI Metalworks to construct but I feel it was a crucial element in Ken Newberry’s design!! I also love the slight curve at the end of the stairs and how the rounded top cap appears seamless!

For me, a black plain metal railing although beautiful, reads a bit like sprayed patio furniture.  Applying glazes softens and adds sophistication to the staircase railings giving them a furniture feel. For my finish, I put a gray and umber wash on top to tone down the black and soften the staircase.  I then added gold to the top of the handrail and on the decorative elements of the spindles, enhancing them in a worn fashion while warming up the coolness of the gray glaze.

What a change!!!  I hope I love it as much furnished as I do just bare!!!!  Thank you so much Goodchild Builders, Ken Newberry and ACI Metalworks for transforning a space I always felt was awkward to one I adore!!! 

Had to show you the before and afters again!!  Everyone did an exceptional job and I am so appreciative to all!!!  I am so exited to be that much closer to completing the renovations in my home! Dont forget the Berings Free give-a-way is still on!!!

All you need to do is make your way over to Bering's Hardware Facebook page and give them a ‘Like’ to be entered to win a signed copy of Segreto Style!!! The contest starts in honor of small business Saturday and will run through midnight, December 4th which happens to be the evening of the Season of Style Event!!!

I hope to see you all there!  To see some of Ellie's tablescapes scroll down to the blog below!!! Till next week!!!!

 

For inspiration on all of your home renovations, purchase Segreto Style  here or through Amazon here!!

To purchase  "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

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Friday
Nov282014

The Holiday Table & Bering's Book Give Away! 

Bering's, one of the largest sellers of the Segreto books, has graciously offered to host a Segreto Style book give-a-way in support of Small Business Day and their Season of Style Event, in which I will be signing books and my friend, designer Ellie Bale, will be displaying beautiful holiday table settings using Bering's extensive collection of amazing tableware!

 I can't wait -- setting the table is my favorite part of entertaining!!! Look at the beautiful setting above which Ellie created for the November / December issue of Veranda Magazine!!!! And Juliska is my fav. dinnerware!!

 

As a side note, I have always been in love with these Berry and Thread dishes from Juliska which Berings carries.  They come is blue but I have always coveted the white ones!! When I told my sweet Mom, who is always asking what I'd like to receive for birthdays and Christmases, that they would be a great item which she could add to over the years, I thought my gifts would be taken care of for years to come!! 

So excited that she had found something that I wanted, she appeared at my door the very next day with 16 place settings of all of my grandmother's antique Wedgewood dinnerware!! I am truly appreciative but I realized my Juliska dinnerware dream dishes went poof!!!!

I first met Ellie when I worked with her on the finishes in her own home! Loving her mix of French furnishings and contemporary art, I did a blog post on her home and featured it in Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors! Stunning!!!!

Working on so many projects together since, this lovely home is the first home tour featured in Segreto Style!!! Named 'Welcome Home', it encompasses her design style - comfortable, livable and beautiful!

So you can see why I became so excited when Bering's asked to host an event for us both and coupled it with a book-give-away!!! Ellie, who has set countless tables for her client's big events, and me, who provides the backdrops for these elegant dining spaces!!! Whether you are a new entertainer and want to see how to set a formal table or a consignment one looking for new ideas, Ellie's designs using Berings dishes, will inspire your imagination and solidify your holiday table!

Look how beautiful a formal Christmas affair would be with this setting using a Radko Ornament, Royal Crown Derby Plates and Arte Italica chargers!!!

     

Or Ellie's sparkling gold tabletop complete with Santa welcoming each guest to their plate?! 

The Event......

Look how cute Ellie is!!! The Season of style event is Thursday December 4th, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the 6102 Westheimer location.

And now for the book give-a-way!!!........

All you need to do is make your way over to Bering's Hardware Facebook page and give them a ‘Like’ to be entered to win a signed copy of Segreto Style!!! The contest starts in honor of small business Saturday and will run through midnight, December 4th which happens to be the evening of the Season of Style Event!!!  

 

What else is exciting at Segreto?!!!!!!!!

Definitely an exciting Monday for Segreto Style!! Houston native and star of the hit Bravo TV reality show, Shahs of Sunset, Lilly Ghalichi publicly declared love for this closet we did the finishes in for designer Shelia Lyon!!

 

 Known for her love of glam, we were so thrilled she posted about this beautiful space featured in my new book!!! It got over 25,000 likes and 700 comments!  Amazing!!!

And the most exciting for me........?! My staircase and front entry is done!!!!! Next week, I will take you on a tour from start to finish of my new (hehe it's grand to me!) entrance!!! I hope to see you at the Season of Style Event and good luck in the giveaway which ends December 4th!! Have a great week!! Tis the season!!!

A perfect gift, purchase Segreto Style for the designl lovers on your list this season through our website here or through Amazon here!! 

To purchase  "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

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Sunday
Nov232014

The Thanksgiving Table!

Over the years, it has become an annual traditional to host Thanksgiving at our home. And despite the seemingly endless renovations, this year is no exception. I am blessed to have a Mom and brother who are gifted in the kitchen and are willing to do the bulk of the cooking, leaving me to set the table, provide the wine, make a side dish and desert. So as not to come up short on my end of the bargain, I have been collecting tablescape inspiration and recipes and am excited to share this year’s choices with you!       

Known as a time for coming together to enjoy the company of loved ones, Thanksgiving symbolizes so much to so many. Sharing in the abundance of the season and settling in for a day set aside for reflecting on all that we are thankful for, and, in my husband’s case, watching back to back football games, I can’t help but get excited for the weeks to come! 

The Side Dish! 

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Brussel sprouts are one of my favorite dishes and with this holiday twist, these petite leafy greens can be as delicious as any stuffing or mashed potato!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts and Cranberries

  • Serves 4
  • Prep time: 10 min
  • Cook time: 45 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 cup raw California Walnuts, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts and walnuts with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  3. Roasted in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Stir and roast for another 20 - 25 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts start to brown.
  4. Remove from oven, toss with cranberries. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

The Desserts!!!

 

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This year the pear is taking center stage! These miniature pies are actually made with pear halves and look as delicious as they are pretty! Simply cover each half  with a piece of pastry dough and bake on a lined sheet. This particular recipe calls for a sweet and savory combination including walnuts and blue cheese, but you can easily fill them with whatever you’d like! If simpler is better then consider leaving them plain, topped with your favorite ice cream  - still a treat! Check out the recipe and instructions over at Share My Kitchen.

Spotted during the set-up at my sweet client, Monica’s home, these pumpkin shooters were so adorable and perfect for fall entertaining! Monica was kind enough to share her recipe, listed below!!

Pumpkin Pie Shooters (makes about 24)

Crust

Combine the following:

3 cups ground gingersnap cookies

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

 

Pie Filling

1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin 

 

In a heavy saucepan, with no heat, combine gelatin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in condensed milk and beaten eggs, mixing well. Let stand one minute,then place on burner over low heat, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature while you make the whipped topping.

 

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup cold water

2 tsp unflavored gelatin

2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Chill mixing bowl and beaters in freezer for at least 10 minutes before using. 

Place water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to soften 5 minutes.

Dissolve gelatin by microwaving in 30 second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or place in freezer for 5 minutes. Gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to cream.

Remove bowl and beaters from freezer and pour in cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together just until beater marks begin to show.

Add gelatin mixture to cream, pouring in a steady stream while beating constantly. Beat until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembly:

Put 1 tablespoon crust mixture in each shooter glass, and press down with back of spoon. Put cooled Pumpkin Pie mixture in to gallon Ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole (mixture will be very runny). Squeeze pumpkin pie mixture about 1/3 of the way up the shooter glass.  Refrigerate until cool (do not put whipped cream on top of warm pumpkin pie mix).  Place whipped cream in piping bag or Ziploc and pipe a layer of cream on top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  Repeat with a small layer of crust, another layer of pumpkin pie, and a pretty piped topping of whipped cream.  Sprinkle a few crumbs of crust on top.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Finish off with a wooden tasting spoon before serving.  

Choosing the perfect wine!!!

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Providing a red and white choice is always advisable when entertaining guests with varying tastes. The wine should be versatile and capable of being paired with the assortment of dishes being served and food friendly. Rather than overwhelm, they should enhance  the food and not have too much oak or ripeness. To avoid the Thanksgiving slump that often follows a heavy meal, try to choose wines that are lower in alcohol content and brighter on the palette; the acidity will help cut through the heavier flavors!

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Below, courtesy of The Kitchn's master of wine, Mary Gorman-McAdams article Thanksgiving Wine Choosing 101: Helpful Tips and The New York Times wine critic, Eric Asimov's article 'Wine for Thanksgiving: Mixing Without Trying to Match', a wonderful reference list that profiles wine pricing and pairings; from sparkling Chardonnay to spicy Syrah and many in between!
 

Sparkling Wines
NV Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley, $20 - I feel I am always recommending this wine, but truly I think this sparkler represents fantastic value. Roederer Estate is owned by the renowned Champagne house Louis Roederer in Reims. This is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; it has a lively mousse, crisp with attractive orchard and citrus fruit flavors with hints of brioche and biscuit.

2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, North Coast, California, $36 - "White from white" - made 100% from Chardonnay grapes, this sparkling wine is beautifully dry, crisp, vibrant and elegant with persistent tiny bubbles. For the past two years, we have enjoyed the 2004 and 2006. This 2007 is still quite young but shows delicious orchard and citrus fruit as well as subtle notes of freshly baked bread and biscuits. It has wonderful racy acidity and very lively mousse.

2007 Domaine Carneros, Brut, California, $20- If Le Rêve is not on the cards, their regular Brut style is fantastic value. It is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lovely floral notes on the nose with hints of freshly baked bread and toast. Crisp, pure and clean on the palate with a creamy mousse and flavors of red apple compote, redcurrants and blood orange.

White Wines

2009 Buty, White Bordeuax Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington, $25- A Bordeaux style blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and a little Muscadelle, This is a very elegant, refined wine, with ample bright, pure fruit flavors with subtle layers of spice and vanilla. Long finish

2007 Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, $13 - Attractive citrusy nose, lemon, lime with notes of apricot, green apple and apple blossoms. Slightly off-dry, it is crisp and refreshing with lots of juicy fruit flavor. Easy drinking and a perfect pleaser for Thanksgiving.

2010 Markham Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $15- I often fing California Sauvignon Blanc wines a little heavy but this one is so juicy, and refreshing. It combines lively, zesty citrus and grassy aromas and flavors with a lovely tropical richness. A great versatile wine for the Thanksgiving table.

2010 Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, Oregon, $18- Inviting fruity, spicy nose with layers of stone fruit, Asian spices, hints of honey and flowers. Juicy with great flavor intensity. Nice minerality, refreshing, rich texture and a smooth long finish with a spicy kick on the end.

Kebel, $18 ; Mosel Riesling Trocken QBA 2012 ; Energetic, refreshing and well textured, with pure, dry herbal and citrus flavors. (Louis/Dresser Selections, New York) 

Red Wines
2010 Dashe "Les Enfants Terrible" Grenache, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, $24 - I was really struck by this wine when I first tasted it. Juicy, refreshing, lively, pure were the first words I wrote down. Packed with vibrant red fruit flavors, spice, hints of toast and vanilla and a wonderful savory earthiness. 

2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant, Santa Cruz (Central Coast), California, $35- I have probably mentioned this wine before. It is a firm favorite and fixture in our house for special occasions. What I particularly love about this wine (and indeed about so many of the Bonny Doon wines) is how they combine new world bright fruit flavor and old world savoriness and minerality. Very attractive aromas and flavors showing ripe black fruit, notes of roasted meat, clove, savory spice. Smooth, structuring tannins and a long finish.

2009 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast, California, $17- Another firm favorite in our house and great value. Great flavor intensity, well structured, supple tannins and vibrant. Lots of blackberry, black plum fruit, notes of smoke, game, clove and spice. Smooth texture and a nice long finish.

Jean-Louis Dutraive,$23, Fleurie Clos de la Grand’Cour Vieilles Vignes 2010,Lively, bright and full of energy, with crunchy fruit flavors. Delicious now. (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.))

Decorating the table!!!!!!!

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And now for my favorite part – decorating the dinner table!! There is something so fun about creating a table scape that can set the mood of the entire meal. I love the idea of using a hollowed out pumpkin as a vase. White and blue pumpkins filled with cool green and cream tones, the look is festive yet unexpected.  

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Although my aesthetic this year is clean and simple, it does not mean that I can’t be true to the season. These white pillar candles placed within cored artichokes, wrapped in green beans and asparagus, and embellished with touches of white flowers and wild strawberries is so beautiful and a cinch to pull together!!   

This gorgeous tablescape utilizes a simple runner of foliage and metallic pears, but my favorite part is the napkins hanging from each place setting. Such a creative way to provide a formal accent in a casual manner!    

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If you want to include a bit of Thanksgivings tried and true décor, consider alternating small pumpkins and white pillar candles atop a painted board. The effect is festive and clean at the same time!

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And this adorable DIY is going to add the perfect touch to my table this year. Small burlap bags accented with a red and orange stripe contains the napkin and cutlery in such a unique way! The hand written tag can be used for sweet reminders of the holidays meaning or can be used as an alternative to place cards with each guests name tied to the bag! Not to mention, they double as a perfect party favor for guests to use year round. You can buy the bags on U-line, but beware the smallest quantity is 100. Currently, we are offering them at the shop for 45 cents a piece!!!

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As diverse as my family is, there are no others I’d rather spend time with on a day intended for togetherness and gratitude. I am thankful for each of you and hope you have a relaxing day full of family friends and thanks! And I'd like to give an extra, big token of my gratitude to talented blogger, Amy Chalmers of Maison Decor  for writing such a wonderful review of the book.--see below!!!! Check out her blog!  Its a daily read of mine!! 

Incredible Painted Finishes! Segreto Style!

I like to think I know a thing or two about painted finishes...I
 have been working on them for years now and am
 always turned on by a nice looking paint job! 
 Some of the nicest finishes are the ones that don't hit your 
over the head, but instead lure you in closer, asking for a second
 glance or the brush of your hand across the loveliness.  
In this category, the painter standing at the 
top of the heap is Leslie Sinclair. 
 She started a decorative painting business 
which is now recognized as the best of the best, 
and lucky for us, she has captured her work in book form.  
Luscious thick glossy pages holding beautiful images 
of real homes by real designers with her amazing painted finishes. 
The book cover alone is a knockout, isn't it? 
 Look at those cabinet doors!  Such fabulousness!
So who is this book for? Its not just for someone like me who 
is totally into painted finishes, not at all. 
Its for people who love beautiful homes, 
great design and tips and ideas on how to copy
 some of these same looks in your homes.
Hundreds of amazing looking homes, all shared in 
these lovely glossy pages.  I adore this huge book! 
 Beautiful kitchens....
 From country style to elegant and posh....
 rustically elegant dining rooms...
 stunning yet approachable.... 
 Over the top glamorous French style...
 Old world manor style....
 with decorating inspiration for all of your rooms!
 So take a trip through some of the most beautiful homes you have ever seen,
and learn how they came to look so amazing at the hand of Segreto.
You will see before and afters and learn what techniques were used 
in each of the rooms.  Leslie shares so much in these pages, it was 
so interesting to read an in depth description and not just a little blurb.
 She divides the homes into their style classifications
 and then the tour begins for each of the homes showcased.
 You will fall in love with this elegant and inspirational book!
I would order one for myself for Christmas, but I already have it 
upon request to write this review as I just adored her first book!
So pull a Secret Santa and order one for yourself :-)
Leslie shares paint colors and paint techniques for those of us interested,
and every page has full blown images of the most current design trends going.
Lots of stenciled walls, tinted plaster walls, cabinetry and furniture 
painted finishes~all of them more gorgeous than the next.
 This large beautiful design book has an interesting story
 that you may not know, and its that Leslie published it herself! 
 So it is a true labor of love, by a small business 
woman who had a vision for sharing her incredible work. 
 I love this part of the behind the 
scenes story, how she just decided to finance and publish it 
and hoped it would appeal to 
readers.  So you will only find it for sale in independent decor shops, 
antique shops and other small businesses who love Leslie's work
 as much as I do.  You won't find it in book shops or the big box stores, 
because it was published by an independent~Leslie!
 Leslie has it available online for purchase with ten dollars shipping, 
which is a good deal, because it is huge and heavy.
So open up the door and the pages to a world filled with beauty.  
Trust me, you will be glad you did. This is one book you
 will love keeping on your coffee table to grab for 
leisurely and pleasurable reading many times over!

To purchase Segreto Style from Leslie's website click here 
She has it on Amazon too, click here
Know that when you do purchase you are 
shopping small from independent businesses 
like Leslie and mine this holiday season.
And thank you for that!
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The perfect holiday hostess gift, bring Segreto Style to dinner!!

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

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