The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we look forward to a day of eating, relaxing and spending time with loved ones. It’s also the perfect time to count your blessings, and reinstate the awesome power of gratitude.

Scientific studies, including those by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have shown that people who cultivate gratitude lead more happy, joyful, energetic lives. The deeper we appreciate, the more we move from a state of fear (or not having enough) to a state of expansion and love.

So how can we practice expressing gratitude into our daily lives? An effective way to do this is by keeping a daily gratitude journal, and documenting your appreciation. We all have a general, off the top of our head, list of things we are thankful for.

For instance, mine would start off like this:

  1. Husband
  2. Parents
  3. Siblings
  4. Friends
  5. Job

But the stand alone exercise of making an itemized list is not enough to feel the paramount influence of gratitude. It is much more compelling to be specific; pick one thing you are grateful for and write five, detailed sentences about it.

For instance, I am grateful for my husband Ryan because:

  1. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn’t have to understand me, but he always supports me and truly cares about me.
  2. He balances me out with his calm demeanor, and satisfaction with life as it is in this moment today.
  3. He is genuinely a good person. I value his character, morals and convictions, and how he treats others.
  4. He is funny and makes me laugh.
  5. I love being wrapped up in his arms, it makes me feel secure, loved, and warm.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Try doing this exercise every day for a month and see the immense power that gratitude can bring into your life!

DIY Wine Bottle Floral Toppers

WineFloral1

Wine is an easy gift to keep in the house for last minute visits to friends and family. Creating a floral wine topper is a creative way to give your bottle more presence, and make it stand out from the others. These also make great wedding or party favors.

Choose to gift your personal favorite wine, for an added touch of thoughtfulness. I love this yummy (and inexpensive at about $12) Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s made in Colchagua Valley, Chile, by winemaker Sergio Hormazabal. This rich red wine is a mix of black currant, mocha and chocolate notes – an exceptional match with full-flavored cheeses, pastas, steaks and chocolate.

Go to a local craft store, like Michaels or AC Moore, and select an assortment of silk flowers and ribbon to create your toppers. Be open to experimenting with other items in the flower aisle, like faux fruits, olives, branches and leaves.

Tie the ribbon around the neck of the wine bottle in a double knot to secure it. Use a hot glue gun to arrange and adhere your floral pieces to the ribbon.

Let it dry and, Voila! You have a beautiful gift to present.

Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

Found on brit.co

Found on brit.co

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones, give thanks, and enjoy an abundance of food and drink. Why not take the party up a notch by creating a tablescape that reflects these ideas of harvest and bounty. You can set a beautiful table by concentrating on things like color schemes, a particular group of seasonable flowers or gourds, or objects like candles and lanterns.

We’ve found gorgeous table decor ideas to help you create an amazing tablescape for entertaining your guests this holiday.

Found on blog.potterybarnkids.com

Found on blog.potterybarnkids.com

This rustic table design brings the outdoors in, featuring a neutral backdrop with pops of green and orange.

Found on eclecticallyvintage.com

Found on eclecticallyvintage.com

Have fun with kraft paper and chalk in this DIY kid-friendly tablescape. Take it a step further by leaving chalk pieces on the table and inviting guests to write down what they are thankful for.

Found on liagriffith.com

Found on liagriffith.com

Instead of the typical orange color scheme this holiday, try something unexpected but equally seasonably appropriate, with an elegant plum colored table. We love how it is paired here with metallic accents. So glamorous and chic!

Found on blog.williams-sonoma.com

Found on blog.williams-sonoma.com

With well thought out plating, why not let the dishes serve as the centerpiece! No need for extra frills when the turkey looks this good. Just pair the decadent serving trays, with beautiful linen backdrops and beautiful china at each place setting.

Found on familyholiday.net

Found on familyholiday.net

Play with different styles of pumpkins and gourds, paired with cut pieces of wood for an outdoorsy look and feel. I love the elegant look of these white pumpkins in tablescapes, and the wood chargers look especially rustic.

Found on allthingsheartandhome.com

Found on allthingsheartandhome.com

Who say’s your centerpiece can’t be edible? Luscious grapes in green and red combinations can serve an easy and bountiful way to spice up your table decor.

Found on morgankofron.com

Found on morgankofron.com

Make your guests think you hired a florist with this easy DIY planter. Just get an old wine crate and fill it with greens and seasonable produce. Take it a step further by scattering the table with tealight candles for ambiance.

How will you be setting your table this Thanksgiving?

Best Hostess Gifts $40 and Under

With holidays right around the corner, it is good to stock up on some grab-and-go gifts that you can keep around for last minute gatherings and festivities.

These are a few of my favorite items this season, that any recipient would be happy to receive!

Found on nestfragrances.com/grapefruit-classic-candle

Found on nestfragrances.com/grapefruit-classic-candle

Nest Fragrances: Grapefruit Candle
$35.00

This candle smells absolutely delicious, it is so luxurious I only burn it during special occasions, like having company over. I need to savor every last inch! It is a lovely combination of pink pomelo grapefruit and watery green nuances, blended with lily of the valley and coriander blossom. You have to smell it to believe it.

Buy it here

Found on neimanmarcus.com

Found on neimanmarcus.com

Neiman Marcus Exclusive Chocolate Chip Cookies
$25

I wouldn’t normally think to purchase baked goods at Neiman Marcus, but I got these on a whim at a 50% off after-Christmas sale years ago. I was surprised and delighted by how unbelievably buttery-good they were — and have been addicted since! The gift also comes in a keepsake tin for a pretty presentation that can be reused after the cookies are long gone.

After doing further research on these goodies, I learned that the cookies are so famous, they even have a cute urban myth that is circling about the recipe. Read more about the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie legend here.

Buy it here

Found on 1800flowers.com

Found on 1800flowers.com

White Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant
$39.99

This is an especially thoughtful token to send ahead if you cannot attend an event, or just as nice to bring with you the evening of if you are attending.

However, the key to flowers as a hostess gift is to make it easy and appropriate. For instance, do not bring fresh cut flowers, it’s just a hassle for the homeowners to have to run around finding the proper vase and setting it in water – they already have their hands full. Remember to keep the arrangement simple – you don’t want your host to have to find a way to make a hot pink and lime green centerpiece fit into their entertaining decor. Therefore a neutral colored, planted flower is the best option.

With these guidelines in mind, it is safe to go with an all white arrangement of the stunning Phalaenopsis Orchid. They fit in any setting, and its graceful beauty will radiates your gratefulness for your host’s generosity.

Buy it here

Found on williams-sonoma.com

Found on williams-sonoma.com

Williams-Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows Set
$36.90

During the cold winter holidays, why not warm up your host’s home with a decadent hot chocolate and marshmallow gift set. This is an especially fun treat if the homeowners have children in the family.

Williams-Sonoma’s European-style hot chocolate is produced from shavings of custom-blended Guittard bittersweet and milk chocolates that melt quickly in hot milk to yield a velvety body, rich taste, smooth texture and exquisite aroma. The light-as-air marshmallows are made in traditional copper kettles and enriched with pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla for a delicate, creamy sweetness.

Buy it here

Found on http://livebellavita.blogspot.com

Found on http://livebellavita.blogspot.com

Pasolivo Olive Oils
$29 – $33

A really nice olive oil is a beautiful hostess gift, and they can think of you often as they utilize it in their kitchen and daily cooking. I am a big fan of the oils by Pasolivo in Paso Robles, California, especially the Signature Extra Virgin and Lemon Olive Oil. Choose an oil that is luxurious, meaning nicer than the standard grocery brand, and comes in attractive packaging to pull the gift giving sentiment together.

Buy it here

Found on redenvelope.com

Found on redenvelope.com

Red Envelope: Personalized Kitchen Towel
$20

If your host’s love to cook, this adorable personalized kitchen towel gift will both celebrate and complement their kitchen. You can choose clever copy like “From the Kitchen of Sarah Hudson” or “Hudson’s Eatery” or “Hudson Bar and Grill” – whatever fits the unique personality of the home chef you are buying for.

Buy it here

The All Time Best French Toast Recipe

FrenchToast1

I recently visited Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, NY, and picked up a decadent bottle of 100% all natural maple syrup. The farm started making maple syrup as far back as the late 1930s. To date, the current owners work with several local sugarmakers to blend these exceptional high quality syrups. I bought the Grade A Dark Amber syrup, and it is amazing! I wanted a reason to start drizzling this tantalizing sugar potion immediately, so the first Saturday morning I could I prepared a sweet, leisurely breakfast in bed of French Toast and maple syrup. This recipe serving will make just about 4 hearty slices, a perfect serving for two people.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices, Pepperidge Farm – Farmhouse Hearty White Bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons warm honey, may have to microwave it a touch so that it doesn’t harden once mixed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Hudson-Chatham Maple Syrup (or you maple syrup of choice)

Directions
Mix together eggs, milk, honey, salt and sprinkle of cinnamon in a medium size mixing bowl. Place bread slices into the egg mixture and soak on each side, just about 30 seconds total. Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Transfer two soaked bread slices into skillet, cooking approximately 2 mins on each side. These are best served immediately. Drizzle some of Hudson-Chatham maple syrup to finish it off!

Learn more about Hudson-Chatham Winery events and products at hudsonchathamwinery.com.

All-White Kitchen Design Inspiration

Found on athomearkansas.com

Found on athomearkansas.com

I love the classic look of an all-white kitchen – it’s clean, fresh and gives the illusion of a bigger space. In fact, with all the color involved in groceries, produce, and food packaging, I prefer everything kitchen related – including table linens, dishes and serveware – to be white in color. This way, home cooking can really pop on the pristine white backdrops.

WhiteKitchen3

I have a small, windowless, galley kitchen, which the previous owner painted overwhelmingly dark colors – deep red walls and dark brown cabinets – it’s just not my style. Since an entire kitchen remodel is out of the budget at the moment, I have the ambitious DIY intentions of painting the cabinets white myself.

To inspire me to take out the paint brushes and brighten up my otherwise dark room, here are some stunning white kitchen designs.

Found on southshoredecoratingblog.com

Found on southshoredecoratingblog.com

WhiteKitchen4

Found on homebunch.com

Found on homebunch.com

Found on southshoredecoratingblog.com

Found on southshoredecoratingblog.com

Found on jamieherzlinger.designshuffle.com

Found on jamieherzlinger.designshuffle.com

Found on instyle.com

Found on instyle.com

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

BrusslesSprouts3

This Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe is my go-to healthy, quick snack or side dish. It’s so easy to make and tasty. For this recipe, and others with so few ingredients, I like to use a really good olive oil. I recently made an amazing trip to Pasolivo’s fresh oil farm in Paso Robles, California and came across the best extra virgin olive oil of my life. I could bathe in this stuff! It doesn’t hurt that the packaging is so beautifully designed that the bottle dubs as a staple kitchen ingredient and stylish room décor.

Learn more about visiting Pasolivo farms at pasolivo.com, and be sure to get your hands on a bottle of the decadent signature extra virgin oil.

BrusslesSprouts1

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

BrusslesSprouts2

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Rinse the brussels sprouts and cut off the hard brown bottoms. Dry well and place in a large gallon-sized ziplock bag. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and shake! This is a no mess way to get all of the brussels sprouts coated well with the mixture. Empty contents onto baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast for 40 minutes, I like them crispy! Sample one when done cooking and add more salt to taste. Enjoy your healthy snack!

BrusslesSprouts3

Make Your Bedroom A Peaceful Sanctuary

A bedroom has multiple responsibilities to consider in the design. It’s usually where you keep your clothes, gather with your significant other, and start and end your day.

Designer: Candice Olson, Photo Credit www.hgtv.com

Found on hgtv.com

The most important role of the bedroom is to induce sleep, and that should be the priority when creating your space. Make sure it reflects whatever relaxes you – for me that means clean lines, subdued colors, and cloud-like linens and bedding. Accessories like room darkening blackout shades, a soothing white noise machine, and scents of lavender, can also help you sleep more soundly.

Photo credit Wayne Windham Architect, http://waynewindhamarchitect.com

Found on waynewindhamarchitect.com

Found on beneathmyheart.net

Found on beneathmyheart.net

On the contrary, mess and chaos can interrupt sleep, so plan to have enough storage space for whatever you are keeping in your room. Don’t leave out physical clutter that can also clutter your mind. As a rule of thumb, I also try to keep work and TV out of the bedroom, so that the body recognizes it as a place to unwind and retreat from electronics and everyday stress.

BedroomSanctuary3

Found on Restoration Hardware

Photo credit Dransfield and Ross, http://www.dransfieldandross.biz

Found on dransfieldandross.biz

Here are some more relaxing bedrooms designs that will inspire you to create your own calming bedroom sanctuary.

Found on housetohome.co.uk

Found on housetohome.co.uk

Found on apollinas.com

Found on apollinas.com

BedroomSanctuary7

Found on zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com

Found on Smith/Firestone Associates

Found on Smith/Firestone Associates