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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Silver Snowflakes

Many of the fine silver companies make an annual sterling silver snowflake ornament. My mother started collecting them in the 1970's and does a tabletop tree in nothing but sterling. Very lavish!

Last week right before Christmas I popped into one of my favorite thrift stores that I hadn't visited for several months. Lo and behold, there was a case full of silver snowflakes! OOOH! They were very reasonably priced, about a half to a third of what they would be new. Do I pick one or two of my favorites? I glanced around and then saw the sign by the front door - starting the next day EVERYTHING  in the store would be half off! Well, I decided to take the risk and wait one day.

The next morning I made sure I was back at the thrift store before they opened. I was about the fourth person in line. As soon as the doors opened I went straight to the case and scooped up all of the snowflakes! 
Just like in nature, they are all unique and so beautifully made.

This snowflake is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.

Waterford does an annual sterling snowflake which is interesting considering they are known for their crystal.( They also do crystal snowflakes.)

This lacey snowflake is by Lunt silvermiths.
 I love the Celtic knots and Claddagh emblems in this snowflake.
 This icy looking snowflake was made by Gorham.
 Here is the Waterford 2002 snowflake.
 Towle is one of America's finest silversmiths. I particularly like this snowflake because it is embossed on both sides.

 What fun to add these lovely collectibles to my silver and white Christmas tree this year!

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Spoons

Have you heard of Christmas spoons? These Danish dessert sets were made by the A. Michelsen company starting  in 1910. Each set of  spoon and fork is unique representing an aspect of Christmas, or Jul as it is called in Denmark. The spoons are made of sterling silver with gold plated bowls. The handles are designed by a different artist each year and feature  nativities, Santas, flowers, candles, bells, stars, snowflakes etc. done in silver and enamel.   

 My Grandmother Emily traveled all over the world and had a particular fondness for Denmark.  I have no idea when she started collecting these little works of art but she had many of them.

Michelson Danish Christmas Spoons---:

 Each Christmas season she and my grandfather would host a dinner party for my parents and aunts and uncles at the country club. It's a large family, my father is one of 8 children. For dessert they would get to use the Christmas spoons. Finally one year Grandma announced that whatever spoon and fork was at their place setting they would be allowed to take home and keep. Thus began my parents collection. I love to see them each Christmas when Mom puts them on display in the dining room. 

Quite a few years ago while antiquing I came across several sets in a display case. I knew immediately what they were so I bought 5 sets. One each for me, my husband and 3 children.

 Each piece is stamped with JUL and the year it was made.

The detail on them is amazing!

 My collection stops there, but I'm hoping that Mom will one day start giving them away like Grandma Emily did!

You can find Michelsen Christmas spoons on ebay or other auction sites from $50 each and up.

Good Jul!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Messy Bows

Are  you a ribbon hoarder? My kids know that when packages get unwrapped the ribbon always gets saved. But do you have a drawer that looks like this?  
That's the problem, what to do with all of those odds and ends of lovely ribbon?

(In my defense, some of my ribbon is organized.)

The answer is messy bows! I learned this technique a couple of years ago and it changed my life. (Well, at least it cleaned out my ribbony mess.) So here is how to make spectacular ribbon creations for all of your gift giving this holiday season.

Start with a couple of pieces of tissue paper (you know you hoard that as well). Cut it about 4" by 12".

Layer on lengths of random width ribbon anywhere from 4- 12 inches long. You can use both wired and unwired. 

Mix and match your ribbon in like color schemes. 

Next, tie the whole thing in the middle with a bow.

Now scrunch away and fluff up all of those ribbon bits! 

Ta Da! Tie it on your wrapped package and you have an impressive presentation. I think this looks especially fun on a small package. 

This is a great idea for getting kids involved in the wrapping process. So easy and fun to do!

Merry Christmas and Happy gift wrapping!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Transitional Tablescape pt.2

Remember my Thanksgiving tablescape from a few weeks ago? I called it my Transitional Table because I thought it could work for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
Well, no sooner had I posted it than someone wanted to buy all of the dishes!

No problem, the idea was that this table would be easy to swap out for Christmas. So presto chango - swap out the Ascot Village plates for red transferware and I've got a new look.

 I've got a mismatched set of red transferware, if you look closely each plate is different. Most English potteries made a red transferware with either country scenes, old castles or some chinoiserie.

 I think they look great on the tartan tablecloth.

 I also traded out my monogramed napkins for some Christmas Tree ones and added a bit of sparkle to the centerpiece.

I have a nice collection of tartan tins so I added them to the mix. 

This has been a super fun and super easy table setting to put together!
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Slush

I've been blogging for a few years now and my daughter Megan has decided to start a blog of her own.

She keeps posting about things that I thought "Ooh, I need to share that too!" So here I've asked her to be my first guest blogger. 

This is a recipe that goes way back. My mother in law has made it for years and when we moved across the country I started making it too. It wouldn't be a be family gathering without this tart, sweet refreshing drink. We usually serve it before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as people are gathering. It's also great on the Fourth of July or at a bridal shower. Pick your event! Enjoy! 
(P.S. She halved the recipe, but trust me, you are going to want to make the full amount!)

Hi, I'm Megan from Excel at Home and I'm thrilled to be writing my first guest blog post! A big thank you to Karee (who happens to be my mother) for helping me as I join this world of blogging.

Have you ever had a family tradition that you thought was the same across all families? Like turkey at Thanksgiving; it's what everyone does, right?

I don't remember when I first discovered that not everyone has "slush" at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I do know that I'm still disappointed to find it missing when I visit other people's homes for the holidays.

With Thanksgiving at my house this year, I knew I had to once again teach my in-laws about holiday slush.

My grandmother keeps our slush recipe in her famous family cookbook (the one she gives to the grandchildren when they get married, meaning she refused to give me one until my wedding at age 29). I had a couple problems with this recipe.

First, it makes enough to serve my grandmother's entire family (consisting of 6 children and their spouses, 25 grandchildren and their spouses, and I don't know how many great-grandchildren). In other words, for my group of 10 adults, I really only needed half of the recipe. But the amounts were weird and not easily divided in two.

Also, once upon a time, when my grandmother wrote down this recipe, the grocery stores carried giant 46 ounce cans of pineapple grapefruit juice. At some point in the last 30 or so years, these special mixes became unavailable. So, in order to half the recipe, I needed 12.5 ounces each of pineapple and grapefruit juice. Not the easiest of measurements.

And so I just rounded it to 12 ounces, or 1.5 cups each of the juices. I rounded a couple of the other amounts to make things easier, and there you have it. I hope my in-laws love it as much as I do, but if not, I'll have no problem eating all the slush myself!

This is definitely a make ahead of time recipe, which is fine because it keeps very well in the freezer. Make a syrup of the sugar and water, and mix it all together in a large tupperware or pan. You want something wide enough that you can easily serve from, but tall enough that when you mix it, you won't wind up with more on the floor than in your pan.

I like to let it freeze overnight. Then, at least a day before you serve it, take it out and let it defrost for an hour or so.

Break it up into chunks with a large spoon, and then attack it with a hand mixer. This part is super messy, so wear an apron!

Once it's light and fluffy, return to the freezer. With it whipped, it's easy to serve with an ice cream scoop.

Serve as an appetizer with Sprite or your favorite lemon-lime soda. A wonderful holiday treat!

Holiday Slush

Makes: About 12 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Freeze Time: Overnight


  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


  1. Make a syrup with the sugar and water over medium heat. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large tupperware or pan. Slowly add the syrup. Place in freezer until set, at least 5 hours or overnight.
  3. At least 2 hours before serving, remove from freezer and allow 1 hour to defrost. Break ice apart with a heavy spoon, then whip with handheld mixer until fluffy. Return to freezer.
  4. Serve straight from freezer as appetizer with lemon-lime soda.

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