10 Tips for Hosting & Attending Thanksgiving

This holiday is one of my favorite holidays of the year. As you can probably tell from the last few DBKwords posts I’ve shared, there is just something about this holiday and all of the appreciation that goes with it that just brings out all the good feels.

"give Thanks" Chalkboard decor DIY Chalk Tray give Thanks, Hand drawn pumpkins, wall hanging, thanksgiving decor

That said, if you are the host of the Thanksgiving Soiree, you are likely in panic mode right about now… it is less than 24 hours before your guests will be arriving (and maybe some are coming tonight), and you still have little things to get ready!

Well, let me ease your woes. If you still have to set the table, and add some festive decor around your abode, here are 5 things that are so easy, you can be ready in an hour.

  • Add some festivity to your front door. You likely don’t have time to hang a wreath on the door, but you can easily take some card stock, construction paper, etc., and cut out some leafy shapes, write out “Happy” “Thanks” “Giving” or “Give” “Thanks” on the leaves, (one word per leaf) , attach a string to each leaf, and hang them on the front door. Greeting your guests with something cheerful will get them in the spirit right away. Here is my front door wreath for the season and an idea from That’s My Letter of wooden door tags.
  • Add some festive pumpkins around the house. If you really have zero time to do anything, just grab a handful of mini pumpkins (you can find them everywhere at this time of year). Group them together in a few different areas around the house, and voila. If you have time to do something, check out this doily covered pumpkin from Allyson Baker Design, or this paper pumpkin from Shelterness.
  • Use those mini pumpkins for place-cards  on your Thanksgiving table as well. You can add names, or festive tags, or just put them on top of the salad plates to add a pop of color to your table. Taryn Williford made glitter dipped pumpkins to make for a more glam tablescape, while Jennifer at Celebrating Everyday Life tied ribbons on pumpkins and then wrote on the ribbons.
  • Light Candles. The glow of candlelight adds a nice warmth and ambiance to any space, but make sure on this food filled holiday, you are using basic unscented candles so they don’t interfere with all the smells coming from the kitchen! Get out all your candlesticks and tapers to make this glowing candlestick grouping from Snippet and Ink, if you don’t have a stash of similar candlesticks, then group the pillars you’ve got to create a good focal point like West Elm is showing all together on a tray or cutting board.
  • Don’t forget the food! Take a clear container and fill it up with apples, cranberries or mini pumpkins, as shown on Good Housekeeping. If you are cooking all the food you have on hand for the main event, look outside and use things like leaves or acorns to create layered centerpieces like these ones from Being Better 2Gether. If there were ever a perfect night of hosting to use food as a centerpiece, Thanksgiving is your night!

If you are a guest, there are some things you should remember on Thanksgiving (and well, every event you attend).

  • Manners are key, that turkey make look so good you can’t wait to get your hands on it, but wait your turn and remember to say please and thank you, it goes a long way.
  • Bring a little something for the host. Something as simple as a bottle of wine that can be enjoyed with the meal, or saved for after all the guests leave, is a great gesture that any host will appreciate.
  • Compliments are key. Be sure to offer your host at least one compliment (which should be easy on Thanksgiving). Compliment the decor, the food, his/her ability to be so stylish while cooking up a storm… you name it, a compliment or two will make them feel so appreciated for bringing this all together.
  • Offer to help. There are so many things your host has to stay on top of with cooking alone, be sure to check in to see if you can help with anything from opening more wine to clearing the table, and for the love of all things, please don’t make your host do the dishes by themselves.
  • Respect the hosts Thanksgiving style. Many people will say a special prayer on the holidays when everyone is gathered. Be respectful even if it isn’t your thing, bow your head and go along. Some hosts will want to go around the table and say what you are thankful for. This can feel like a cheesy gesture, but give it some consideration and truly offer up some gratitude before you dive in.

Whatever you are doing this holiday and whomever you are spending it with, I hope you have many blessings to be thankful for, and that you have no trouble finding ways to share your gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Fall Farmers Market Menu + CONTEST

I love the farmers market. Plain and simple–I just love it. I love the friendly people, I love meeting the people in my neighborhood at the market on our park. I look forward to it in the late spring early summer when it gets started and I dread it coming to a close each fall.

But(!), before it does come to a close, I love getting inspired by all the farm fresh fall flavors. (Try saying that 5 times fast.) I wanted to share a menu I put together that was inspired by the local goodies I picked up at my local market (which is sadly now closed), and hopefully you can pick up some fresh goodies to do your own farm fresh menu from your local market. We have a few others in neighboring hoods that are still up and running

Fall Farmers Market Menu 1

Savory Bacon & Brussel Sprout Galette. Modified from a sweet galette recipe from Bon Apetite, I used gluten free all purpose flour and walnuts for the crust and replaced the cinnamon with a savor spice blend. For the filling, I used a little spread of ricotta on the base (don’t get carried away here, it’s just to add some depth and because I love ricotta), layered on TONS of shredded sprouts and then snipped a few pieces of bacon over the top. It was so good, it was hard not to eat the whole thing.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 2

Italian White Bean & Kale Soup. I love a good soup in the fall, and it’s especially good if you can dump everything into the crock pot in the morning and come home to dinner. For this recipe, I used white beans, pink kidney beans and great north beans (1 can of each), dumped into the pot with their juices (more flavor) a few cloves of crushed garlic, a diced onion, and corn…now the corn you can use farm fresh if you have access, or canned (drained) or frozen will work just as well. Add either chicken or veggie stock to make sure you have enough liquid in the pot to cover and then some… after all this is a soup. When you get home, add in some hand torn kale and let cook til bright green. When you serve, shred on some fresh parm for extra flavor.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 3

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Cream Sauce & Asparagus. For this dish, I roasted my squash (you can use whatever your fave fall squash is) in the oven with just a drizzle of oil and salt. At the same time I put one head of garlic in the oven to roast (wrapped in foil with the top cut off, and a little oil drizzled on top) with a dish of mushrooms to roast as well. While that was all cooking away I made a rue on the stove as a base to the sauce. Once the mushrooms came out of the oven I added them to the rue with all their juices to really create a sauce. When the squash comes out pour the mushroom heavy super flavorful sauce on top and dive in… it is so good… I could’ve eaten the sauce with a spoon.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 4

Garden Variety Pepper Meatloaf & Smashed Potatoes. For this loaf, I used a bunch of random peppers from the market, more flavor than spice, but get what you like. I diced everything up to the same size including an onion and then mixed with ground turkey, worcestershire sauce, one slice of gf bread (pulsed in the food processor to create crumbs), and an egg. I didn’t have a clean loaf pan, so I used a large baking dish (like 9×12 ish) and it made for a really skinny loaf…the pictures make it l But, because it was so skinny, it was so good. The flavors were amazing..seriously, I want to make all meatloaves in an over-sized pan now.

I only did four dishes, we like to have at least one night of leftovers and one date night every week so for us, four is good… for a fifth, you could always do a huge fall salad with some grilled chicken or fish on top.

Now to the contest portion of the post. See those awesome chalk board placemats pictured in the posts? Well, I won them in a contest a while back, but had been eyeing them up for quite some time before then too. I use them all the time and think it is such a fun way to add interest to your table. You can leave sweet messages for loved ones, use it as shown to let people know what they are about to feast on, or use it to write up your daily to-do list while having your breakfast.

They are fun when you are hosting as well–use them as an alternate to placecards. Or for the holidays, imagine having the kids do hand-traced turkey’s on them for Thanksgiving…how cute would that be?! Or even leaving greetings of gratitude for your guests? Well you are in luck! I pitched the idea to Chalk Lots that we do a little giveaway of their placemats and what my idea was and they so generously offered to supply the placemats, and they came out with a gorgeous new color just in time for you to select your finish when you win!!

To enter, simply follow @designbykrystle and @chalk_lots on Instagram, leave a comment below telling me how you would use your new placemats and what color you would prefer (black licorice or graham cracker) and I will announce a winner on Monday. Please make sure you follow us both on Instagram and leave your account name in your comment for confirmation, contest closes at 11:59pm ET on Sunday.

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The Language of Kindness | Weekend Recap

November is such a great month for so many reasons — my favorite of which is easily all of the gratitude. November and the feelings of Thanksgiving really do provide us all with a month to reflect and give thanks, and that is something I hope no amount of early holiday advertising can erase.

kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain. quote quotes motivation inspiration monday word words Benjamin Moore Caliente AF-290

A little recap on our weekend and life in general:

P & I have been making a big push for our health this year in general, and with all of the food-focused holidays ahead, we thought we would make a push to get ahead of the belly bulge with some cleansing and general modification of our eating habits. This weekend (Friday) we started a cleanse. We opted for a juice cleanse in the form of smoothies so that we could feel like we were getting more substance in our system and not just drinking juice every day.

Basically it is four days of smoothies, one for each meal and then we can have tea, coconut water and water in between to stay hydrated. The portion sizes of the smoothies are actually really large, so we haven’t felt hungry. The first day was okay the second day was miserable — I was a complete mess and I wanted to cheat so badly, but I didn’t. I figured this is something we wanted to do together and if P was in and doing okay I was going to keep plugging along… I went to bed early and woke up yesterday feeling so much better. Sunday was almost too easy with the smoothies, our energy was back up, things were good.

Today is the last day of smoothies and after this we are going to be transitioning back to whole foods, heavy on the produce with vegetarian proteins easing towards lean proteins (like chicken and fish) and I want to do some more research on processed foods and what choices would be better than others as well for this next phase. Does anyone know anything about tofu and where it falls here?

Smoothie CleanseFrom a work perspective, P worked the whole weekend, and I worked my regular Friday plus a consult in the evening, Saturday plus some materials shopping in the afternoon, and Sunday we took B for a walk, watched Inside Out, I ran errands, did a floor plan and put together the base lines for a scheme on a new project.

Then when P’s shift (and the Giants’ game) ended, we went for a long walk around the park to enjoy this beautiful night! (And to kick some butt on our weekend Fitbit challenges-my family all has them and they are a bit obsessed — in a good way — about doing the weekly and weekend competitions.)

So, all said and done, a few things I’m thankful for? I am so appreciative for my hubby, someone who is there on this journey to help support me during every aspect of our life from fitness to careers and so much more. I am grateful for my mom who raised us to have such a strong knowledge of being healthy and fit, not skinny. I am thankful for following my heart into the crazy world of design as I know I am so fortunate to have a career that I am passionate about. And I’m thankful for Brantley who provides us unconditional love, always.

How was your weekend? Does this time of year make you thankful for anything? Today’s quote graphic is a great quote from Mark Twain on the language of kindness and I think it is so true… kindness is everything. (Graphic background is on Benjamin Moore’s Caliente AF-290..such a beautiful shade of red for the fall season!)

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Craving A Little Fall Decor

I know, I know, I heavily pushed back the fall season when it was new and people were celebrating it the day after Labor Day. I was all #SummerForever! But let’s be real, we would all die if there was really summer forever (die or move to a desert state). Fall is a very welcome season of fresh air, but because I so heavily pushed back on the season, and because life has been a little hectic on the to-do list side of things, my house doesn’t seem ready for fall at all!

I am really wanting to spice up our space! So here are some fall spaces I’m inspired by right now… maybe this weekend I can find some ways to implement some fall flavor into our home.

Fall Decor Inspo Neutral

Inspo from the Liz Marie Blog.

Fall Decor Inspo Neutral

Inspo from A Diamond In The Stuff.

Fall Decor Inspo Neutral

Inspo from Opulent Cottage.

Fall Decor Inspo Neutral

Inspo from Sarah Hearts.

Fall Decor Inspo Neutral

Inspo from Dear Lillie.

I think I see a pattern in the fall decor I’m liking… lots of neutrals and whites and words of thanks. All of the inspiration pictures are linked with where I found them and they are all worth a visit if you have time to check them out, the spaces they are shared with are all quite lovely and you might just find some fall decor ideas of your own to run with!

What are you up to this weekend? Are you all decked out for fall yet?

Surefire Signs of Fall [In My Shopping Cart]

Some of the things that signal the change of seasons are that the air crisps up and gets cooler, the leaves have started to change and fall, and there are pumpkins everywhere. Pumpkin-flavored things, pumpkin decor things, actual pumpkins, you name it, add pumpkin to it, and I’m sure it is out there in the world somewhere.

For me though, I’m noticing a shift of what I’m shopping for. Here’s a look at my shopping cart right now:

Shirts, dresses & shirt-dresses that are sure to become wardrobe staples throughout the season and the years:

Wardrobe Staples-Fall 2015

Light layers, in all the capes, blanket scarves, ponchos and all things army green:

Light Layers-Fall 2015

Booties (duh-I love booties):

Best Booties Fall 2015

And of course, some new nail polish colors to keep me feeling warm as the weather cools down:

Fall Nail Polish 2015

What’s in your shopping cart right now? Do you find a drastic shift in what you are shopping for as the seasons change and the weather temps begin dropping? More Importantly, which of these shopping cart pieces should I pull the trigger on first?!

This post is not sponsored, just a round-up of fun fall fashion items I wanted to share! I hope you enjoy! Sources for each section clockwise from top left: Shirts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); Layers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6); Booties (1, 2, 3, 4, 56); Polishes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Aint No Stoppin’

This quote is the simplest truth. Nobody is holding you back except for you.

FullSizeRender (31)

Yesterday at church we listened to a sermon about how sometimes you are making excuses to stay comfortably where you are, even when you know what you could be or should be doing to help move yourself forward.

Sometimes it isn’t clear what we are supposed to be doing in this life, what our purpose is or where we are going, but we can all take a look at what we are doing now and make a decision to move ourselves forward. I love that. We have the power and control to take the reigns in our life and make it happen.

Take that next step forward, what are you waiting for?

PS, the background color on today’s quote is Sherwin-Williams “Harvest” because as much as I’m in denial on the season change, the mornings are getting brisk, and fall will officially be here before the week is over, so I figured I would jump on board and pick a color that eases us in in a soft and subtle golden-orange hue.

My Fall Reading List

I can’t even tell you what the last book I read cover to cover was, and that, my friends, is a bit embarrassing. When I was a kid, I hated reading. These days, I love diving into a good book. In fact, I have a few good books I’ve started in the last year that I just haven’t had time (or made time) to pick up again. Hopefully that will all change this fall as I will make time to put reading back into my rotation of activities.

Jersey City Public Library

I’m thinking we need to go check out our local Jersey City Library and get some library cards. I love libraries. They smell like old books, they are calm and quiet — the perfect place to go to find some peace and take a break from it all while you get lost in a good book.

I wish I could say my fall reading list was a bit more exciting, but I think I really just want to read some women empowerment books, the ones that fall into the “self-help” for business entrepreneurs category.

Here is the list:

  1. #GIRLBOSS. I know I know, I am probably the last of the blogger people with an entrepreneurial mindset to not have read this yet… so I’m going, I’m going.
  2. You Are a Badass. I have followed a few gals that have read this and it seems like a good one to dive into, and let’s face it, I really am a badass, right?? (I think if I have to ask, the answer is probably not.)
  3. Big Magic. I am an Elizabeth Gilbert fan, one of my all time favorite books was Eat, Pray, Love, so how could I pass up her insight on “creative living beyond fear?”

What books are on your list this fall? Anything falling into the more fun fictional category? Maybe I will get to some of those too, but let’s be honest, I really would be happy if I could get to pick up and read through even one of the books on my list!

(Image Credit: NJ.com)

Transitioning to Fall

Fall fashion week is all about the spring season, and my mentality right now is all about holding onto summer. But, whether we like it or not, fall is looming so we might as well begin transitioning.

I’ve been adding cardigan layers back in with my bright, flowing, summery skirts and tees, along with breaking out a few pairs of booties. Cardigans and booties are the perfect layers to add to your wardrobe this time of year. Scarves are also a favorite fall layer to add on, but I am so not ready.

For your home, fall inspires light layers of coziness, all things pumpkin and leaves and at least for us, the transition to sleeping with the windows open at night.

Fall for me is always a good time to declutter — make sure our surfaces are clean and that a gust of wind isn’t going to come in and blow over a pile of papers. It’s a good time to make sure things like window treatments are in order (so you can easily open and close them for day and night), pillows are cozy and you can break out your light-weight cozy blanket to toss over the back of the sofa.

So if you are like me and you need a slower transition to fall, here are some ways you can transition a bit more slowly:

  1. Wash your windows to let all of the sunlight in. If we are really trying to have summer forever, sunlight is key!
  2. Work on decluttering your surfaces. There is nothing like a fresh, clean tabletop to make you feel good about life.
  3. Start considering some of the fun accessories like pillows and blankets for the living room. You don’t need to cover everything in leaves and pumpkins to start to feel a little cozier.
  4. Treat yourself to a new candle. The smells of fall might just convince you that it’s okay that fall is in fact just a week away and remind you why fall is your favorite season. (*It’s my favorite season, but I’m feeling very resistant this year!)
  5. Relax and enjoy your bright, clean and cozy living room!

When October rolls around we can start talking about adding in some pumpkins and leaves.

Mapping Out Your Gallery Wall

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and Labor Day marks the unofficial end (despite the fact that temps here reached 100 today). So, even though summer’s not really over yet, we are all diving head first into fall. Out of the heat, into the fall layers, kids are getting back to school, and our fall projects are lining up.

Gallery Wall 012Gallery Wall 0

For me, things will start to settle down a little bit as every night and weekend won’t be jammed packed with running around (whether for me or for clients), and I should be able to get some projects done around my own house!I need to put the finishing touches on the bedroom still and then take some pictures of that space to share with you all here and I can think of about a dozen other things I’d like to do around the house as well.

The first thing on my list, and something with probably the largest impact is to finish hanging our gallery wall. These pictures are from early Spring of this year when I had one of my friends over to take some pictures for the blog to not only map out my own gallery wall, but to document the process to share with all of you as well. About six weeks after these pictures were taken, we had a few friends over for brunch, and as I had been so busy, I hadn’t made time to get the gallery wall hung at that time. The morning before we were meeting with them, I broke out my notes from this planning session and started to try and get the gallery wall up on the wall. I was able to hang one painting before we needed to head out to meet our friends and I’m ashamed to say that that one painting is still the only one up on the wall.

But then, that’s life, right?! So now I want to share with you the process of mapping out your very own gallery wall, and how I mapped out mine, and then hopefully in a week (or so…) I will be able to share more pictures of my gallery wall completed!!

The process:

  1. First things first, you need to know the size of the space you intend to display your art on, so break out your tape measure and get to measuring. note the width (more important for now), and we will come back to the height later.
  2. Once you know how wide your space is, use your tape measure, some blue painter’s tape and your trusty assistant to mark out the width of your gallery on the floor.
  3. Get all of your frames and pieces of art together in one place so you can see what you have to work with.
  4. Once you have a good visual, start laying the larger pieces into your mapped out space.
  5. Build out from the larger pieces with smaller pieces, keeping in mind your spacing. Each area should use the same spacing so that the pieces group well and look balanced even when using different sized pieces and different styled frames.
  6. Swap out pieces to find the arrangement that you like the best and then take pictures so you can remember what it looks like in case you put it off for 6 months.
  7. Measure the overall height and width of your gallery wall. The center of the overall height of the gallery should sit at 57″ from the floor, placing the gallery at a good viewing level for yourself and your guests.
  8. Measure the spacing between your groupings as well as the spacing from the edges of the tape (your available hanging space) to the edges of the outermost pieces.
  9. Lastly, measure from the overall top of your gallery wall to the top of your central piece or your largest pieces and the overall edge of your gallery wall to the edge of your central piece(s), as you will hang these pieces first.

Once you have your gallery all mapped out, and your measurements determined and noted, you can clean up your mess on the floor and then start mapping out your hanging on the wall. Depending on your overall height of your gallery wall (x) and the measurement you got from the top or bottom to the center of this piece (y), you can determine where the screw will need to go. (x/2) will sit at 57″ from the ground. So if your gallery wall is 40″ tall, then it will span from 37″-77″ in height. Again, I like to break out my handy blue painter’s tape and mark the top and bottom of my gallery wall off so that I can use them as a reference while I’m working through hanging the pieces without having to measure it over and over again.

To begin hanging, I always start with the largest piece that sits most centrally located in the wall, or in my case, I have two large pieces balanced out with several smaller pieces, so I started with the largest piece on the left. Using hanging wire to support the pictures, pull the wire on the back to where it would sit if it were hanging on the wall, and measure from the top of the frame to that point (a). Add this measurement to the measurement that you got from number 9 and jot this down. this is the distance from the top of the gallery wall space to the height you will put the screw in at.

Next you need to use the overall width of your gallery wall, and the width from the edge (again, noted in 9), measure from the edge of the picture to the center (where the screw will go), add these two together and you will have the position of your first screw.

It sounds like a lot of steps, but once you have your first piece hung, you will build out the wall from there. You have all of your spacing measured and noted from mapping out your gallery wall on the floor, so you can easily fill in the wall with the rest of your frames until it is complete!

Is your head spinning yet?? What projects do you have planned out for the fall? Hopefully I can get this project wrapped up soon, with lots of images to document the process so I can share more with you soon.

Images By Lindsay Perry, click to expand.

Motivation Monday {Thanksgiving}

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, and get closer to spending time with loved ones, it is important to remember why we are all getting together. One of the most important parts of Thanksgiving (second to spending quality time with loved ones) is to reflect and give thanks. Whether you feel like extending gratitude to family, friends, employers or just the universe, it is something that should be done.

We are all so blessed, even if it feels like you have less, take a look around and reflect on what you have. Count your blessings and offer up a little thanks.

Try to remember more than just on Thanksgiving, but especially on this day, practice that school-age exercise of listing what you have to be thankful-your heart might just swell a bit and your lips are sure to curve upwards as you embrace all the wonderful things you are so fortunate to have.

I am so thankful for this blog and the little piece of the internet that I can call my own. My readers and clients are such an incredible part of who I am and what I do–I wouldn’t trade this for anything. If you are reading this, thank you so much for following along!