A Festive Holiday Punch, & a Merry Christmas to You!

Merry Christmas! Hoping you and your family have a relaxing and restful Christmas break as we celebrate the reason for the season. We are staying close to home for Christmas (no expectation of an early baby but just in case) and are excited to welcome family to our home this week. Here’s to everyone enjoying plenty of sugary sweets, special cuddle time in front of a fire, the magic of twinkling lights and LOTS of family games.

May I take a moment to offer a heartfelt thank you for visiting this site. I am beyond grateful and humbled that you stop in to say hello, especially around this busy, merry time. Thank you for allowing me to share part of what makes me whole.

Before I sign off, a delicious Christmas punch for those family and friends who might be stopping in this week to visit and share a cup of cheer.

Holiday Punch | Christmas Cranberry, Orange & Lavender Cocktail Mocktail | PepperDesignBlog.com

Cranberry, Orange & Lavender Holiday Punch
 
Serves: 20-25
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups whole cranberries
  • A large bunch of lavender sprigs
  • 3 oranges sliced
  • 3 liters cranberry cocktail juice
  • 3 liters blood orange Italian soda (or any other alcoholic or non alcoholic sparkly/bubbly alternative)
  • 3 liters bourbon or whiskey (optional)
  • Ice
Instructions
  1. Simmer sugar, water, 1½ cups whole cranberries, half of lavender sprigs and 2 sliced oranges in a medium saucepan for about 15-20 minutes or until mixture is reduced to a simple syrup (cranberries should be soft and tender). Let cool.
  2. In a large punch bowl, mix ice, cranberry cocktail juice, Italian soda (or alternative) and bourbon/whiskey. Pour in cooled cranberry syrup and stir.
  3. For garnish, bake 1 orange sliced on a bed of foil in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees or until the peel blackens a bit on the edges and the juice caramelizes. Float orange slices, ½ cup cranberries and extra lavender sprigs in the punch bowl.

goodeats_holidaypunch_2_800

This recipe is very similar to the simple syrup handmade gift idea shared here, but on a mass scale to feed a party. The bourbon is optional, we let guests add their own to their liking for our Christmas party this past weekend (and because of all of the pregnant ladies in the house!).

Holiday Punch | Christmas Cranberry, Orange & Lavender Cocktail Mocktail | PepperDesignBlog.com

As an alternate to roasting fruit, you can also try broiling with just a bit of sugar (higher temp and juicier effect). Here’s another tip for creating a sugar-rimmed serving glass with simple syrup.

Speaking of our holiday party this year, did you get a chance to see the sneak peek of setting up? More on the diy table runner, miniature tree centerpiece and party decor over here. Food-wise, we served these EASY two ingredient brown sugar sausage bites, roasted butternut squash & ricotta crostinis and lots of yummy cheeses, fruits, nuts and olives on my new gold tray (which I scooped up in store for less than $13, suddenly the favorite holiday purchase). All other delectables were brought by our awesome guests.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas Party 2014 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Merry Christmas and see you in a few days.

xo Morgan

PS I’m trying out the Easy Recipe plugin for my new Foodie Pro Plugin theme. More to come on that big migration (started the conversation on choosing a hosting site last month) to come.

Handmade Gifts: Leather Bracelets & Necklaces

If you have a Jo-ann’s, Michael’s or craft store near you you are in luck. Here’s one last handmade gift project that can be made with just a few supplies.

Handmade Gifts: Two Step Leather Bracelets | PepperDesignBlog.com

These bracelets are so simple, fresh and easy to make. They look great stacked together or solo loosely peeking out of a winter sweater sleeve. I love that they sort of drape and hang so casually on the wrist.

Handmade Gifts: Two Step Leather Bracelets | PepperDesignBlog.com

They are also super simple to assemble with just a few knots and three sets of supplies: 1mm leather cording (8″ ish per side), a bezel set stone with connectors on each side (that’s those little gold o rings that stick out of each end) OR a ring center piece, and a clasp system (I chose a hook clasp).

Step 1: cut two pieces of 8″ leather cording and create a lark’s head knot on either side of center stone/piece (steps 1-4).
Step 2: create a standard knot to secure clasp system in place (steps 5-7). The knot shown below will leave you with the ends of the cording facing back towards the center piece, which creates a cleaner finish.

Handmade Gifts: Two Step Leather Bracelets | PepperDesignBlog.com

The centered stones can be found in most beading sections at any craft store, I purchased several of mine from Etsy as well: green chrysoprase (that pretty translucent green), red jade (the round red stone above), a turquoise stone, and gold flat circles.

I was initially inspired on this little jewelry kick by my friend Cassie over at Kent Heartstrings. She led a Kreative class back in November where we made a series of handmade leather statement necklaces (mine below) and it was such an easy and fun project! Head over to her website for the full tutorials.

Handmade Gifts: Two Step Leather Necklaces | PepperDesignBlog.com

Perfect stocking stuffer or under-the-tree surprise for mom, sister, best friend…

Happy creating :). And happy two days until Christmas!

More diy jewelry ideas (wooden bauble necklaces, cloth bead & leather cording statement necklaces) and four more last-minute semi-diy gifts!

Our Home for the Holidays, 2014

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Striped Red & White Knitted Stockings | PepperDesignBlog.com

We hosted a little Christmas party this weekend and I took advantage of the opportunity to take a few photos while our house was in a festive (and clean!) state. It turned out to be such a lovely night – cranberry & lavender mocktails & cocktails were served, Ella Fitzgerald was playing in the background, and a seriously awesome white elephant exchange was had. I almost ended up with a belly dancing kit (stolen from the pregnant lady though).

First a little tour of our home. Soon I hope to post a few shots from the party, too. Plus snippets of the tablescape that we prepped for food and drinks. This post is brought to you by Shutterfly & Tiny Prints with whom I partnered for several of the ideas I’m sharing today :). PS those striped red and white stockings above? I made those guys this year (thanks to several long car trips and my knitting needles). I’m not sure it’s a tutorial-worthy project because I really pieced them together, but they make me so incredibly happy every time I look at them. Hoping to finish the 3rd one before Christmas day!

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Pink, Gold & Eucalyptus Mantel | PepperDesignBlog.com

I had the most fun I’ve ever had decorating this year because I had the BEST little helper. Liv was so into Christmas decorations and every night following Thanksgiving asked eagerly what we could ‘decorate’ that evening. I’m on to pouf and cranberry garland to keep her little active and creative hands busy.

To mix things up just a little bit, I added eucalyptus leaves (faux from West Elm from the summer) to our traditional pine garland strands (originally from Ikea). I love, love eucalyptus and have kept a dried bunch of it on our buffet for as long as I can remember. The faux version looks so very real and doesn’t fall apart when brittle and dry. Bonus.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Pink, Gold & Eucalyptus Mantel | PepperDesignBlog.com

For me, garland + twinkle lights is the simplest, most perfect way to create a cozy Christmas atmosphere. So that combination went everywhere. The gold candle diy project can be found here and the gold glitter trees were found at Jo-ann’s.

For the couch and Liv’s little rocker (see top photo above), two Christmas pillows (one handmade ‘merry’ pillow made by me and one customized ‘joy’ pillow from Shutterfly). A new herringbone throw blanket (with a monogram) helps to create that cozy, just-curl-up-and-watch-a-movie corner on the sectional.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | PepperDesignBlog.com

You can see the start of the party buffet along the back there (with one of my little helpers).

Another favorite for me is our oversized paper star ornaments (from World Market or Pier 1 so long ago) that we hang in our dining room. I try to fill them with Christmas lights so that they light up the space in their own way.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Giant Paper Star Ornaments | PepperDesignBlog.com

A few more pics of the dining room table before appetizers were added (the party was an appetizer and dessert potluck so with the exception of a few hors d’oveurves,  I just made room for all of the yummy food that friends brought over).

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Miniature Tree Party Tablescape | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Tiny Tree Scape | PepperDesignBlog.com

Oh, those miniature trees!

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Tiny Tree Scape | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our nativity scene is usually nestled into the garland on our buffet (we have an adorable kid-friendly set that my friend, Liv’s godmother, made for her last year that she plays with regularly) but for party prep I needed a bit more space for food. DIY gold rimmed marble tile cheese plate featured here.

I made the table runner from a white Ikea runner and spray painted a line (using painter’s tape) down the center. Attempting to mimic this guy.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Miniature Tree Party Tablescape | PepperDesignBlog.com

Liv covered our Christmas tree with every plastic ornament we own (one day we’ll be able to upgrade, but for now the fewer the shards of ornament in the feet the better :)). Our tree was covered in head to toe with red, green, blue gold, pink… the rainbow.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Hand Dipped Ornaments | PepperDesignBlog.com

The one exception to that plastic-only rule were a few dipped ornaments that Liv and I painted together (from Michaels and on sale for $1/each).

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Hand Dipped Ornaments | PepperDesignBlog.com

I usually stock up on wrapping paper early in the season. I love white, gold, shimmery… and paired that this year with TinyPrint’s custom paper (I chose the Perfect Montage layout for each of my designs – the first a black and white version and the second a mix of the girls playing at the beach during our Maui trip. This one is sentimental for so many reasons and is the perfect wrapping for a photo book of the same topic as a gift for my mom. The black and white I love so much because it has played double duty as a coloring book for Liv to customize her wrapped presents, which was my original thinking when desaturating the photos.)

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Gold Wrapping Paper, Shutterfly Custom Wrapping Paper | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Gold Wrapping Paper, Shutterfly Custom Wrapping Paper | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Shutterfly Custom Wrapping Paper for Coloring | PepperDesignBlog.com

The photo book is one of my favorite presents this year. I think that personalized gifts are always amazing and always so treasured. I was really happy to find a bit of time to put together a special book that documented our special family adventure (especially of the girls).

I chose the ‘Everyday Sentiments’ (usually I always opt for blank and start each book from scratch) and was so happy with the simple embellishments that that design offered. They’re perfect for this book. ‘Modern White’ is also a great template.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Shutterfly Photo Book | PepperDesignBlog.com

A few snapshots of the templates you can play with for this book – I dropped the opacity using the Shutterfly tools for the cover and I love that it looks a bit filtered.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Shutterfly Photo Book | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Shutterfly Photo Book | PepperDesignBlog.com

In the kitchen sits the new olive branch wreath.

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

We also moved the fiddle leaf fig to the far corner of the kitchen and it’s a great spot – might have to buy a second for this space permanently. I lined it with a battery operated set of twinkle lights (there’s no plug nearby).

Here’s Liv hard at work painting more wooden ornaments – the perfect wrapped present topper!

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Liv Painting Ornaments | PepperDesignBlog.com

Outside, keeping it simple with just a gold, brass and pink bulb covered wreath for behind the antlers above our fireplace.

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | PepperDesignBlog.com

A simple feather wreath to brighten up the bathroom:

Our Home for the Holidays | Christmas 2014 | Striped Knitted Stockings | PepperDesignBlog.com

I had this adorable set of photos of the girls with the lights from the tree before we strung all of them up and created Thank You cards with a TinyPrints template (Divinely Dotted in Raspberry). Liv has already begun filling out a few to her grandparents, aunts, uncles for thoughtful gifts sent these last few weeks (with requests for opening early – Christmas PJs and what not :)).

Shutterfly Thank You Cards | PepperDesignBlog.com

That’s a shot of the cover of the folded thank you notecard above.

There’s our Christmas home tour this year! Hope you are having a very merry last few days before Christmas. We are feeling very blessed over here.

PS what to do with all of those pretty holiday cards post-Christmas, a great felt Christmas gift for kids, our home for the holidays in 2010 (feels so different to me – but might look awfully similar to everyone else!)

This post was sponsored by Shutterfly and Tiny Prints, thank you for letting me share about the brands that support this site :).

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