Seasonal Decor: Crazy For Crackers

Every year I find there is one item I tend to use over and over in seasonal designs. This year it looks like Christmas crackers are the winner. I didn’t start out to use them but have been finding them EVERYWHERE and they fit into each project in a different way.

If you are not familiar with this tradition brought over from the United Kingdom here are a few of the “stories” behind them:

“They were first made in about 1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper), and one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half….” {via Why Christmas }

“Eventually Tom perfected his chemical explosion to create a ‘pop’ caused by friction when the wrapping was broken This eventually became the snap and the cracker was born. The trade jumped at Tom Smith’s latest novelty, and he was snowed under with orders. Very quickly he began to refine his product – he dropped the sweet and the ‘bon bon’ name, calling his new crackers Cosaques, but he kept the motto and added a surprise gift….” { via Tom Smith Crackers }

Hosts and guests love the paper hats inside of most crackers which always makes for great conversation AND those festive pictures!

I have used them as a fun Placecard Holder for a formal dinner table. { also see the Pinecone Placecard Holder idea?}. An Appealing Plan Christmas Cracker Placecard Holder Tip

Or as an accent to a buffet side table.

An Appealing Plan Christmas Cracker Decor Tip 2

And as decoration down the center of a dining table.

An Appealing Plan Christmas Cracker Decor Tip 1

Pick them up at your local store or on-line and let us know where you use them this year!

{Stuck on how to decorate your holiday table? Consider Tablscape design by An Appealing Plan! Contact us today to be ready for your gathering….more}

In the News: A Naturally Thankful Season {article published in Impart Magazine}



No matter what part of the country you live in, for most Americans, Fall is a time filled with images of harvest, abundance, cool weather, and gathering with family and close ones. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the 2012 Fall Season officially begins on September 22nd  and ends on the Winter Solstice December 21st but no one day most embodies the season more than Thanksgiving Day, or weekend if you are luck, filled with family, friends, laughter, sharing memories, and of course plentiful food. Preparing your home for that one day, however, can be overwhelming if you attempt to menu plan, shop, decorate, set the table and cook all in a matter of the three days prior to the big feast… Read the Full Article Here {written by Krayl Funch}

Topics covered in the full article include:

“Start At The beginning” : Creating a Seasonal Entranceway

“Bring it Inside”: Bring the outside in to celebrate nature

“Before the Big Feast”: Reduce stress by preparing in advance

Read the Full Article Here


Or view recent posts on related topics:

Make a Grand Entrance This Season / Fall Entertaining & Tablescapes

{Please contact us if you are interested in working with someone to help plan & coordinate your holiday gathering.  In-person & Virtual Services available}

Bay Scallops Gratin #SundaySupper

Bay Scallops Gratin


  • 6 tablespoons LAND O LAKES®. Olive Oil & Sea Salt butter, at room temperature
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 pound fresh bay scallops
  • Lemon, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven.

Pat the cleaned scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

The original recipe came from Bare Foot Contessa and I adapted it with the addition of the LAND O LAKES®. Olive Oil & Sea Salt butter by reducing the original salt and olive oil amounts. The recipe didn’t specify type of parsley to use, I selected flat leaf parsley, but you may get a brighter flavor by using curly instead, next time I will try it and perhaps add chopped fresh tomatoes at the table.

I will tell you with out a doubt, the Olive Oil & Sea Salt butter with chopped parsley on the warm crusty french bread was to die for. I could eat the whole loaf on my own, but had to share with the man sitting next to me…

“What is your favorite Recipe made with Butter?” Comment below to win a coupon for LAND O LAKES®. Olive Oil & Sea Salt

enjoy ~ xo krayl

Join us this week for Simple and Fresh Summer Recipes #SundaySupper. We’ll share these fabulous recipes and want you to share yours with us!  The fun starts at 3pm EST and lasts all afternoon until dinner time and sometimes beyond.  All you have to do is follow the hashtag #sundaysupper on twitter or follow along on TweetChat.  Our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board will be filled with wonderful Simple and Fresh Summer Recipes. There is always room Around the Family Table for you.


LAND O LAKES®.Facebook

About LAND O LAKES® Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt: Land O’Lakes is expanding its popular line of half-stick butter with the introduction of LAND O LAKES® Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt. Ree Drummond, better known to her fans as The Pioneer Woman, is helping us explore the delicious flavor of our new Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt. Ree will create blog posts, recipes, and videos that explore how she uses this new butter to enhance simple weeknight meals.

Disclosure: The author received a full-value coupon redeemable for LAND O LAKES® Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt, for recipe development and review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Home Life: Tea Time. Remembering a forgotten ritual.

I lived two years of my childhood in London and grew up with a mother who to this day loves tea time, so how is it possible that yesterday I found my self searching through still unpacked boxes from two years ago for a Tea Pot. Had it really been TWO years since I brewed a full pot of tea and sat to enjoy it? Sure I have had a cup or two here and there {truth be told I am more of a coffee person on a daily basis. Decaf of course.} but not a true “spot of tea”.

Climbing around in the garage and finally finding one of my many tea pots I settled on a pure white version more on the casual side. After all you can’t go two years and jump right into a formal tea-pot. It just didn’t seem right. And for the cup and saucer, a pretty chinoiserie in green and blue.

For the tea ~ Loose Lavender Earl Grey by a great company out of Canada named simply “T”. whose tag line is “find peace in a teacup” A dollop of natural honey and I was ready.

I still had work to do so it wasn’t a official break but, the ritual of preparing the tea; opening up the box of loose leaves and smelling their aroma, boiling the water, pour the water over the leaves, patiently waiting for them to steep, setting out the cup & saucer, selecting the type of honey to pair with the flavor and finally sitting to sip the warm herbal goodness was calming in its own right. You always hear “Its the Little Things in Life” all the time and for me Tea Time is the perfect example. I vow to take a few minutes at least once a week to recreate this simple but incredibly enjoyable ritual. You should try it with me.

Appealing? I say yes. Let me know in the comments what ritual you know you should bring back to your day!

The Foodie In You: Day After Tarts

The past weekend was filled with rushing here, need to be there, make this, bring that and not to mention all the various menu items our bodies are exposed to over the holidays. Although I honestly love every minute of it, the day after Christmas was the first day we had nowhere to be, no decorating to do,  nothing to buy, and nothing on the schedule except for sitting on the couch and staring at our tree and watching movies. But there is still the question as to what should we have to eat?? Something super easy, not too heavy and quick to make.

I first made these “tarts” a few years ago for a brunch and they were a big hit. I changed up the flavors this time ~ Mushroom and Fennel – and they were just as tasty as I remembered.


Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (2 pack makes 4 tarts)

Variety of Chopped Fresh Mushrooms (or your flavor of choice)

     * I was able to find a pack of fresh mushrooms with multiple varieties included. Chop these and heat with butter in pan on stove top till warm – you can also add garlic here if desired.

Caramelized Onions

     *heat onions in a pan on stove top over medium heat with butter and sugar


     *chop fennel into small strips. Heat in pan on stove top over medium heat with butter, salt and pepper

Fresh Herbs to taste {from your kitchen garden of course}

Defrost the pastry sheets and layout on cutting board. Cut in half to create 2 separate tarts. Place ingredients {keep ingredients separate or mix together depending on your taste} on top of pastry, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides. Place in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until edges are brown.

Remove and slice into 5-6 vertical sections. Serve on a rustic cutting board with cocktail napkins. Relax and Enjoy!

Seasonal Containers Greet Visitors at the Door

Golden Evergreens & Pinecones In Seasonal Containers

Clear out your fall containers and give them a seasonal look using greens from your garden or local market.

Using the largest pots you have in groupings, leave about half the dirt inside to hold the various branches in place. I love to mix all kinds of colors and varieties in my containers but use what you have locally. I found these Golden evergreens with pinecones at a roadside stand and they are perfect to dress up the covered entrance of a clients home. Curly Willow and Red Dogwood branches add height, contrast and additional texture.

Now you are ready to greet guests at your holiday cookie bake or a casual gift swap.

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