Holiday Table Centerpieces

If you’re holding the big holiday meal this season, you probably have an image in mind of the entire family gathered around a perfectly set and decorated table. But what do you have in mind for your table centerpiece? Centerpieces are often the perfect finishing touch that provides the focal point of the table and gives your guests something to look at other than their meal. A good centerpiece can cement a decorating theme or provide something to think and talk about around the table. If you’re stuck for holiday table centerpiece ideas, consider one of these to help get you started.

Holiday Themed Ideas

Sometimes you want your centerpiece to be reflective of the holiday itself. There are many wonderful representations that go along with the holidays, regardless of how you choose to celebrate them. Choosing a holiday-themed image for the focus of your centerpiece can give you a good jumping off point to get the piece done. Some ideas that can be expanded on to make a personal and unique centerpiece include:

  • Angels
  • Bells
  • Candles
  • Christmas Trees
  • Elves
  • Ornaments
  • Poinsettias
  • Reindeer
  • Santa
  • Sleigh
  • Snow Scenes
  • Stars

Color Themes

Sometimes a centerpiece doesn’t have to have a particular image; it can be a group of flowers, presents, ornaments, or random items that all have similar colors. These colors can be further reflected in the dishes, napkins, and tablecloth you use to create a cohesive color theme on the table. And while many people think of traditional holiday colors like green, red, white, and silver, in recent years there have been many other popular colors associated with the holidays that may be perfect to include, such as:

  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Lime Green
  • Lavender
  • Gold

Setting the Scene

Remember that your centerpiece doesn’t have to be a single object; it can be a grouping or a scattering of different items that all tie together in some way. Pick your theme first to let the design follow along behind it, and impress everyone this holiday season with a perfectly decorated table.

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Country-Themed Holiday Decorating

No matter what type of architectural design you have, it’s usually possible to incorporate at least some amount of Country charm into it, even if it’s just for the holidays. If you love the cozy casualness of Country style, consider decorating your home for the holidays using a few of these tricks.

Mismatched Charm

One of the things that make Country decorating so popular and comfortable is the way that different materials, prints, and colors can all come together into one cohesive look. The same remains true with Country decorating for the holidays; you don’t have to purchase everything from one store or coordinate your colors, prints, and decorations together. Consider mixing some poinsettia prints with some plaids, incorporating throw pillows in traditional holiday colors in a variety of different textures, and working toward an overall theme of comfort and welcome, rather than a single polished look for a room.

Remember that comfort is the goal; you want your guests to feel welcome and comfortable in your home during the holidays, so consider how each accent makes you feel, rather than how it looks in the space.

Homemade Accents

One of the ways that Country style can be reflected for the holidays is with a little homemade charm. Even if you aren’t particularly crafty, there are often kits that can help you pull something together on your own. While these pieces aren’t perfect, they have that slightly off beat style that fits in well with Country homes. Things to make and display in your home include:

  • Wreaths
  • Swags
  • Topiaries
  • Gingerbread houses
  • Wall hangings
  • Ornaments

Bring the Outdoors In

Remember to incorporate as many accents from the surrounding “countryside” as you can. This includes pine swags and branches, pinecones, bittersweet vines and berries, birch logs, holly, and mistletoe. Arrange them throughout your home, mixing them in with other items like candles, topiaries, wall hangings, and purchased items to set the scene and make the whole house seem welcoming and ready for the first frost.

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We Hope Your Thanksgiving Is Wonderful!

We are thankful for each of you!

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At What Height in the Shower Should I Install a Border?

A decorative border installed in your shower can be a fun way to add a little extra color and detail to the design. Many people opt to choose a simple field tile for their showers and then install a border of decorative glass or stone to dress up the space. If you’re only installing a single border, however, and not creating a design with stripes or other decorations, it can be a tough decision to figure out exactly where the border should go. There are a few tricks you can use, however, to ensure that your border ends up in the perfect position in every shower.

Continuing A Line

If you are running the same field and border tile around the perimeter of the bathroom, just continue the border and the chair rail right through the shower at the same height with the field tile extending above it. This makes the bathroom seem larger, and creates an unbroken design that simplifies the room.

At Eye Level

If you are only tiling the shower, consider moving the border up to around eye level. This accomplishes a few things:

  • It places the border where it is most noticeable
  • It breaks the shower up at a higher point, which makes the walls appear taller
  • It emphasizes the border as the sole decoration in the shower, rather than leaving the viewer to expect the tile to change shape or direction above it

If your shower has a few different users and they are different heights, split the difference between the two tallest users and install the border at this height. While this isn’t perfect, it does accomplish the later two points, which helps make the shower look larger and more polished than if the border were installed lower down. If you are unsure, consider running a piece of blue tape around the shower at the level you are considering so you can see for yourself what a border would look like at that level.  The consultants at Levi’s 4 Floors are happy to help with these decisions.  Feel free to ask!

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Preparing for Thanksgiving Leftovers – Healthy Dishes – Turkey Cobb Salad for 2 No Bleu!

It’s time! We are ready yet again to over indulge in a Thanksgiving feast. Yes, moderation is important in general, but life is short so go ahead and live a little for one day. The key to minimizing caloric impact is to get right back to smart nutrition the next day. Start preparing now by saving this recipe to help utilize your Thanksgiving leftovers after the big day.

Use some of that leftover turkey to whip up a post holiday Cobb Salad. Not usually a fan of Cobb’s? We’ve changed it up a bit by eliminating bleu cheese in favor of feta, because a lot of people miss on out delicious Cobb Salads due to distaste for bleu cheese. The ingredients in this variation are also based on what’s amply available in the produce section at this time of year. You could say this recipe is all about being in the moment.

Servings: Two people

List of Ingredients:

3/4 cup (4 oz) shredded leftover turkey

1 romaine heart, cross cut

1/3 head Bibb lettuce, cross cut

1/3 (small) head radicchio, chopped

½ teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon tarragon

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper

½ medium avocado, firm but ripe, diced, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper

½ large peeled carrot, grated

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salad dressing – Champagne Caper OR Dijon Garlic

In a large bowl toss all of the lettuces with the half of the parsley and tarragon (1/4 teaspoon each.) Add 1 tablespoon of salad dressing and toss again. We recommend doing this in a container with a lid so you can thoroughly coat the lettuce with dressing. Split the contents of the bowl and place the ingredients on two plates.

Then toss the turkey with half of the chives (1/2 tablespoon) and 1 teaspoon of salad dressing. Place it on top of the lettuces on each plate. Toss chopped eggs with ½ teaspoon of salad dressing. Place it alongside the turkey. Toss the grated carrot with the rest of the parsley and tarragon and 1/2 tablespoon of salad dressing. Lay them along the other side of turkey, and then follow by doing the same with avocado next to the carrots. Top everything with feta cheese and the remaining chives.  Drizzle with additional salad dressing to taste and serve.

This recipe is perfect for maintaining your weight, meeting your daily fiber needs, avoiding gluten (if necessary,) and using up all that turkey in your fridge. Enjoy!

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How to preserve autumn leaves as keepsakes or for your DIY projects

Autumn leaves are among nature’s most beautiful keepsakes. We get so much enjoyment from them. Watching them change colors, seeing their splendor in long expanses of trees, and trying to catch them as they flutter to the ground. After you’ve caught a few favorites you can preserve them using a very simple method. You may even have learned how to do this back in elementary school. If so, enjoy the trip down memory lane!

  1. Set up the ironing board.  Make sure to protect the board with an old sheet or kitchen towel., Using an old iron, turn the iron to low heat. Don’t use steam or mist for any part of this process.
  2. Lay a paper towel on the ironing board. Place the leaves on the paper towel and cover them with another paper towel.
  3. Remove the moisture from the leaves. While moving the iron continuously, iron over the top paper towel. Use two new paper towels and turn the leaves over. Iron again.
  4. Discard paper towels, and place a piece of wax paper on the ironing board. Ensure the waxed side of the paper faces the leaves. Set the leaves on the wax paper and cover with a second sheet.
  5. Iron over the surface of the wax paper. Be sure to apply steady, even pressure.
  6. Lift and remove the top piece of wax paper, and then peel and remove the rest of the wax paper from both sides of the leaf. The leaf is now protected by a wax coating
  7. If you want to frame or archive the leaf, you can also opt to leave it pressed between inside the wax paper.
Make sure to supervise children near a hot iron and never leave the iron flat on the ironing board.  Your memories of fall and this fun activity can last all year long!  
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Halloween Party Games — Witches Broom Balloon Race

Tired of pin the tail on the donkey? Try this energetic game for kids. It’s incredibly easy to set up, and it amuses all who are present in the room! It’s much harder than it sounds when you explain it to the kids, so everyone is soon belly laughing when it starts to go awry. The fact that it’s so challenging also allows for the kids to have long lasting fun. 

Witches Broom Balloon Race

  1. Purchase orange, purple and black balloons and blow them up. Don’t use helium. Buy enough balloons for each child to have three, in case one pops mid-race.
  2. Purchase “witch” brooms from the holiday section at the store. Make sure they’re kid sized. Preferably not taller than the child using it. Avoid bristly brooms that are designed for actual function because they will pop the balloons. Opt for something like holiday tinsel or yarn brooms. Also purchase witch hats so each child can wear one.
  3. Locate an indoor space that will allow the children enough distance for a race. (This game doesn’t work as well outdoors.)
  4. Put everyone on the starting line and give each child a balloon. Instruct them to sweep the balloon all the way to finish line using their witch broom. This can include going down hallways, up stairs, and so on. (Set rules about not swinging the brooms at each other and being careful about those around you. Otherwise the game can go from witches broom to samurai warrior real fast!)
  5. Sit back and giggle as they discover just how hard this is going to be! The younger they are, the more mystified they’ll be by the challenge.

Make sure to have your camera ready for this game. You don’t want to miss the priceless candid shots you’ll be able to capture. Better yet, take video!

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Snow! On My Floor? What Do I Do First?

Some floors are made to take a large amount of traffic and rough treatment. Other floors are a little more delicate and need more protection. Both types of floors deserve to look their best throughout the year and winter brings with it special considerations.  

If you notice snow on your floor, don’t panic; you can get the snow up easily without harming them or your sanity.

First, remember that it’s not snow that’s harms your floor so much as what often comes with it. Snow is just frozen water after all, and water is easily avoided or removed.  A mat near the front door can serve as a decoration and trap a large amount of snow from boots and shoes.  Choose a door mat that coordinates nicely with your home and a great majority of snow will never see the inside of your house.

Snow is often the conduit for salt, dirt, sand, and grit, all of which can hurt your floor after it’s melted.  If your first line of defense does not catch all the snow, a second indoor mat can be a big help.  Also providing a location for wet boots and shoes can help guests by giving them an out-of-the-way spot to store wet items. 

If any moisture or dirt gets through these barriers, get out the wet dry vac and suck up as much water and snow as you can without agitating the floor. You don’t want to work the sand and grit into your floor where it could do the most damage, so remove the bulk of it to get it up as quickly as you can!

Finally, soak up any remaining moisture without moving solid dirt over the surface of the floor.  After the surface is dry, dirt and salt can be swept up. 

Be sure to ask any questions you may have about winter conditions and your floor!

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Five Finger Foods in Five Minutes

When you’re trying to get ready for guests, the last thing you want to worry about is the prep time for snacks and finger foods. Worrying about snack food shouldn’t be a competing issue as you are preparing dinner! Pull together these fast finger foods in just five minutes. This will leave you plenty of time to sit down and relax before your guests arrive.

Caprese Sticks
Pull these simple, yet elegant and delicious Caprese sticks together in just seconds. Drizzle a little olive oil over grape tomatoes and cherry-sized fresh mozzarella balls. Now thread them both onto skewers, alternating with small basil leaves. Serve on a platter and you’re done.

Seven Layer Dip
Put out a platter of seven layer dip surrounded by a pile of tortilla chips and watch it disappear. Nothing is easier to make! Layer refried beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, more sour cream and guacamole, and top with shredded cheese.

Brie Phyllo Cups
Find a package of readymade Phyllo cups and you’re ready to make an elegant finger food in just minutes. Arrange the cups on a baking sheet and place a slice of brie in each one. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees for five minutes until the brie melts, and you have a warm, savory appetizer.

Cream Cheese Pickle Rolls
Sometimes referred to as Redneck Sushi, these pickle rolls are sure to be a hit with any crowd. Spread a slice of pastrami with cream cheese and set a dill pickle in the center. Roll the whole thing up and then slice into bite sized portions. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Goat Cheese and Pear Crostini
Slice a loaf of fresh French bread into ½-inch slices and place them under a broiler set to high for a minute to toast their tops. Then spread with goat cheese and place a thin slice of fresh pear on top for a mouth watering sweet and savory bite.

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Your Choice — Tell Us Your Favorite!

Would you choose a formal bedroom or one that leans towards a cozy getaway?  Why?

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