Christmas Eve Dinner with a Touch of Vintage Style & Traditional Food

Christmas Eve Dinner with a Touch of Vintage Style & Traditional Food

In my home country of Portugal our Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve….

“The best gift around the Christmas tree is the presence of family wrapped in love”

An intimate Christmas dinner for four…

I was born in Covilha, Portugal and whenever I go back to this small town at the foot of the Sierra de Estrela mountains I always feel rooted to my Portuguese heritage. In keeping with my heritage, Christmas has always been a time where we gather together to celebrate with Portuguese traditional food and folklore stories that date back to when my parents where children in this region. Our traditional meal consists of a Prawn Bisque, followed by Cod Fish that can be made in various methods, a meat dish and then a variation of traditional Portuguese desserts.

  • The log fireplace inspired the richness of the colour I used to create the table decor and place settings for our Christmas dinner. Their home is richly decorated with ornate furniture pieces and a stunning crystal chandelier that hangs in the centre of the room adding opulence.
  • By layering a white lace table cloth over a red linen one, created a vintage feel to the table.
  • Layering Mom’s delicate vintage porcelain crockery that she has had for over 50 years from www.vistaalegre.pt in white with navy blue and gold etching added to the vintage feel.
  • My DIY wreath was used for the centerpiece with added Christmas greenery, red berries and mistletow. TIP: I sprayed the red berries with a gloss plant spray to give a shinny finish to the greenery.
  • Using gold spotted ribbon to tie around the linen napkins and inserting a sprig of greenery and mistletoe added a festive feel to the place setting.

 

In Portugal our celebrations begin on Christmas eve and prezzies are opened at Midnight….

The Food…

Prawn bisque (Sopa de marisco)

Cod fish (Bacalau)

Leg of lamb (Perna de borrego assado no forno)

The Dessert…

The Kings Cake (Bolo de rei)

Farofias (unable to translate)

Fresh strawberries and Coconut tart (Morangos e Tart de Coco)

 

The table detail…..

Christmas madness is over and with a few days left of 2017 I am looking forward to embracing winter with its calmness.

Wishing all my followers a fabulous 2018 filled with loads of blessings !!!

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Quick & Easy Christmas Wreath centrepiece idea…

Quick & Easy Christmas Wreath centrepiece idea…

Simple Christmas wreath using natural elements

“Let your imagination create the magic of Christmas in your home……”

Ready for Christmas?? Still thinking of what to do for a centrepiece…

There is no better time of the year than Christmas, it’s a time to make memories and share special moments at home with family and friends. Having a plan makes for a more cheerful and less stressful holiday season, so I hope you enjoy my homemade wreath idea as much as I enjoyed creating it!

You will need….

  • You can either buy a simple wreath and add the moss yourself or get one already complete with moss. I love finding ways to make DIY a little easier and less time consuming. My local nursery www.gigagarden.com had a number of fabulous wreaths to choose from in various sizes and shapes.
  • 2 large bunches of fresh greenery
  • Natural decor of your choice to bunch together as focal points
  • Florist wire
  • Bamboo Christmas balls
  • White Spray paint

The wreath....

Entwine the florist wire around the wreath in order to thread the Christmas greenery onto the wreath easily and this prevents the elements form falling off.

Adding greenery....

Use any form of Christmas greenery of your choice. I loved this hardy greenery as it added a lovely texture and it was easy to thread through the florist wire and retained its shape well.

Adding natural elements.....

To create focal points on the wreath I bunched various natural elements that I had in my DIY box and then added cinnamon sticks, acorns and dried leaves to give an organic feel.

Would love you to share your Christmas centrepiece ideas with me…

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Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilising Greenery From The Garden

Nothing beats the feeling of going into my garden, shears in hand and looking for a piece of foliage that will create a centre piece or focal point in my home

With the cost of flowers, it is far more cost effective to use greenery or foliage, it lasts longer and stays evergreen.  If you do not have access to a garden then greenery is easily obtainable from your local flower seller or even a friend’s garden. The look and feel comes from the container you use and how you place the leaves.  Don’t forget the rule, less is more! Greenery lasts forever, some up until 10 weeks or longer, saving you loads of money.  No matter where I am in the world, staying in a hotel, apartment or villa my first notion is to pick some form of greenery or foliage from a nearby park and arrange it in my living space.

5 various forms of greenery and how to use them as centerpieces or focal points in a home:

TROPICAL GREENERY

Tropical greenery can create a breezy vibe indoors. In fact, many floral shops carry tropical leaves such as monstera (delicious monsters), fiddle leaves or split leaves regardless of the season. These leaves can last for about 3 to 4 months and create a simple but elegant statement in your home or dining room table.  Definitely a plant with fringe benefits.

LARGE LEAVES create a bold & beautiful statement! To maintain free-flowing conversation at the table, keep your containers low so diners don’t have to duck around the plants to chat.
ALOES & SUCCULENTS, so versatile and last forever – they grow so easily in a little water and look fabulous. Love this edgy look. I absolutely love the texture of an Aloe and its densely clustered appearance giving an edgy, organic look and feel to a room or dinner table.
Smitten with this idea of RE-cycling old tea cups and using them to grow succulants or to create interesting centrepieces. I would use these for a tea party in the garden or even a alfresco evening grouping various teacups and even tea pots together.
Popular succulents –  all types of Aloe plants, cacti, Jade Plant, Maltese Cross, Mother of Pearl Plant, Miniture Palm Trees, Moonstones and Ponytail Palm.

VARIETY OF GREEN LEAVES… leaves are not just green, they come in various shades of green from light to dark, different textures, plain to patterned with acid-yellows, pale translucent greens, mottled grey-blues, etc. The variety is infinite and only limited by your ability to obtain different leaf types.

Last minute gathering – try this for your next easy and simple idea:

Gather an assortment of cylindrical vases in various sizes, along with large leaves in a variety of textures and colour striations. Put a bit of water in the vases and tuck the leaves inside for a natural display with a modern twist.

HERBS & VEGGIES…an ensemble of herbs give off a super fresh smell. My preferences are: lavender, feverfew, chamomile, rosemary,mint (I love their scent) and sometimes basil, cilantro and chives depending on the food I serve. If you want to use use herbs for a formal evening then styling is the key and the vessel needs to be clean lined. My advice is to use one type of herb, compact it in. Rosemary or mint would be my choice as they look awesome when compacted into a container.. Remember to treat them like flowers, herbs wilt if not kept fresh – suggestion keep them refrigerated until just before you need to place them on your table.

The use of  VEGETABLES – artichokes and FRUIT – fresh lemons make for an simple but effective table setting.

Photographs:

DO YOU HAVE ANY TRIED AND TESTED IDEAS – please comment and share with me as I would love to get you’re your thoughts and any suggestions.

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Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

The History and customs of Portugal can be told through the decorative pieces made with a great sense of humour and imagination.

Portuguese Traditional Pottery: Clay and Glass have always been materials used by artisans in Portugal.

The large Portuguese brands that still exist today, were able to maintain themselves afloat independently of the changes in fashion and demand that have occurred in the past decades. The classic brands focused on the most exclusive products, with more elegant designs, as is the case with world-famous Vista Alegre – this particular brand dates back to 1942 and is well known throughout the world for its high quality porcelain, take a look at their site and you will get a better understanding of their most exclusive designs and must have pieces of homeware. www.myvistaalegre.com/pt/. The most “rustic” pieces that began their production focused on the popular masses are easily available in markets all over Portugal.” Caldas da Rainha, just north of Lisbon, is the center of Portuguese pottery due to the abundance of clay deposits. There are so many different designs from the various regions of Portugal each with their own history. I enjoyed these two different sites that give me a little more detail on the various districts and what is distinct about each of them.

www.insideportugaltravel.com/news-a-ideas/6101-portugal-in-clay.html

www.visitar-lisbon.com/en/shopping/ceramics-glass.html offer an in depth view of some of the more “high end” porcelain and pottery made in Portugal.

TRADITIONAL RED CLAY AND HAND PAINTED POTTERY is available in all markets, pottery stores and on the road sides throughout Portugal.

PORTUGUESE TAPAS (called petiscos): Thought I would share a few of my favourite tried and tested recipes that I always serve on my red clay pottery collected from various trips to Portugal.

FRIED PORTUGUESE PRAWNS – a family secret from my mom “Mamma Maria”, I really had to do some convincing for Mum to let me post this recipe!!!!

CHICKPEA & CODFISH COMBO – Having a Portuguese evening at home then this is a must:  Chick pea and codfish traditional Portuguese combo. This recipe mixes both key ingredients in a light dressing, all combined into a salad that can be served together with various other tapas dishes or as a starter to a main course.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1kg Large Prawns
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 tsp good quality olive oil
  • 2 small chillies (more if you like your prawns spicier)
  • The outer skin of one onion
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Salt to taste

 

  1. Boil Prawns for 15/20 minutes together with chilli, salt and the skin of an onion (this gives the prawns colour) – once boiled remove water and allow prawns to dry
  2. In a frying pan, mix the olive oil, garlic and handful of chopped fresh parsley
  3. Allow sauce to saute for a few minutes then add prawns – toss together in the sauce and then add fresh lemon juice to taste
  4. Serve prawns in beautiful Portuguese pottery – bon apetite!!!

Courtesy of “Mamma Maria” my remarkable motherJ

FLAMED chouriço (in portuguese) using a red clay pottery chouriço dish – chouriço is traditionally flamed with Aquadente *Portuguese Aguardente has several varieties. Aguardente vínica is distilled from wine, either of good quality or undrinkable wines. It is mostly used to fortify wines such as port, or aged to make aguardente velha (old burning water), a kind of brandy. Better known in South Africa as “Fire Water”. Chorizo and most Portuguese products are available in most Everfresh markets – www.everfreshmarkets.co.za

YOU WILL NEED:

250 gr cooked chick peas
2 salted cod steaks
1 “cloved onion”
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 red pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar/can use red wine vinegar if you can’t find sherry vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Large bunch of parsley

If you’re using pre-soaked chick peas and cod go to step 3.

  1. Soak the cod in cold water for 2-3 days (depending on the thickness of the pieces) changing water twice a day. In the last day add the chick peas to the water to soak overnight. Cod fish can be purchased from www.everfreshmarkets.co.za. (In Portugal you can find de-salted cod fish in most stores and I would use canned chick peas which makes this recipe a little easier and quicker)
  2. Boil in fresh water (with a little more salt) with a “cloved onion” (a peeled onion with cloves) and bay leaves. Take off the heat when chick peas are cooked (these take about 45 minutes and should be soft while keeping their shape).
  3. Boil the cod for about 5 minutes (the middle should be practically raw) in the same water as the chick peas and put aside. www.pasto.wordpress.com
  4. Make the dressing in a pestle and mortar. Smashing the garlic cloves with some sea salt, add cumin seeds and crush, then add the olive oil.
  5. Shred the cod into small pieces and mix with the drained chick peas, red pepper and roughly chopped parsley. Toss in the dressing and serve.

Recipe available on www.pasto.wordpress.com an awesome blog on Portugal and Portuguese food.

CONTEMPORTY POTTERY & HANDICRAFT STORES in Lisbon:

A strenuous walk up to the Castelo de St Jorge was not in vain. For a consumer like me, anything that involves a little retail therapy makes exercise all worthwhile.  Discovering all these interesting stores selling handmade ceramics, crafts and beautiful artifacts made my creative senses elate with excitement.
Walking up this quaint winding road to the soft sound of Portuguese fado and house jazz you cannot but take in the beauty of this diverse city – there were people sitting in wine houses eating tapas platters and sipping wine and other tourists meandering in the cobbled streets.  For good handicrafts made by Portuguese artists then these two stores are a must to visit – Nobre Povo – Portuguese Contemporty Handicraft and Azulejo Handmade by us:

THE PRODUCTS FROM BORDALLO PINHEIRO  well known throughout the world and a must to add to any to your homeware collection, even just one or two pieces add a quirkiness to a table – see the many selections of ceramics available on their website www.pt.bordallopinheiro.com and www.ebay.com and so many other on-line stores.

“Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is one of the most influential people of the nineteenth century Portuguese culture, with a remarkable production particularly regarding the areas of humoristic drawing, caricature and ceramic creation. His work represents an unsettling ever timely reality and a fundamental document for political, social, cultural and ideological study of a time period….” Worth a look to find the diverse products sold and to learn a little more about the history of these products www.pt.bordallopinheiro.com

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Enchanting Moroccan Party and Decor Ideas

Enchanting Moroccan Party and Decor Ideas

Enchanting Moroccan Party and Decor Ideas

Join me on a journey of discovery, where Moroccan flavours and the vibrancy of colour, textile and textures enchant the soul.

The history of Portugal reflects a deep Moorish influence and now living in the Algarve it is especially evident in the architecture and food flavours. With a little research I discovered that the Romans established a capital called Olisipo, (now Lisbon) and the Moors’ capital was Xelb (modern day Silves, Algarve). I added the two links below for those of you that like to know a little more about the Moor influence in the Algarve and its history:

http://www.historyinanhour.com/2013/08/24/portugals-moorish-legacy

http://marocmama.com/6-moorish-influences-to-see-and-eat-in-portugal

In 1956 Morocco gained independence from France and this year it is being celebrated on the 18th November.

If you looking for some inspiration to add a little Moroccan or Bohemian flair to your home or table setting, then here are some great artifacts that I discovered by default whilst driving through Albufeira recently. (Albufeira was originally called Baltum by the Romans and then the Moors gave it the name Albufeira, Arabic for Castle of the Seas.) This incredible store called Fantasia Arte (the magic of Morocco) in Guild, Albufeira www.fantasia-arte.com

The wonderful owner of Fantasia-Arte allowed me to take these wonderful photographs that reflect the beauty of Moroccan artifacts. The colours and textures that were in this incredible store made me want to rush off and book a holiday to Morocco to experience it’s culture, food and market shopping.

Mix and match fabrics in deep spicy colours to bring the feel of Morocco to your table or home, a pop of colour always adds warmth to any space.

Tagines are an important part of Moroccan cooking and add colour to your dinner table as the food is served and cooked in the same vessel.

“Many Moroccan dishes take their name from a tagine, the clay or ceramic vessel in which they were traditionally cooked in. Although urban Moroccans may be more inclined to use modern cookware such as pressure cookers when making stews, tagines are still favored by those who appreciate the unique, slow-cooked flavor which the clayware imparts to the food. In addition, tagines remain the cookware of choice in many rural areas as a matter of cultural norms.

The word tagine has two meanings. First, it refers to a type of North African cookware traditionally made of clay or ceramic. The bottom is a wide, shallow circular dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a rounded dome or cone.

Second, the word tagine refers to the succulent, stew-like dish which is slow-cooked in the traditional cookware. Typically, a tagine is a rich stew of meat, poultry or fish, and most often includes vegetables or fruit. Vegetables may also be cooked alone.”

More info and great food recipes can be found in: http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/moroccanfood101/a/Tagines_descrip.htm

Intricately designed lanterns reflect the most amazing light, almost as if the light is dancing and swirling on the walls creating a feeling of magic.

If you wanting to have a Moroccan dinner party at home here are a few ideas to get you started:

Decor:

Needs to be vibrant with different patterns and tones of ruby red, amethyst, purple, sapphire blue, emerald green and amber yellow all add to the Moroccan Theme. Add beautiful bright flowers and loads of candles in Moroccan style lanterns to create ambiance. Use scatter cushions in lush fabrics and if you really want to WOW your guests get some beautiful silk fabrics and drape them from the ceiling to create a Bedouin Tent effect.

 

Food:
Start with mezze platters filled with olives, dips, vegetables and breads. For mains serve either chicken or lamb stew served in a Tagine followed by a simple dessert.

Drinks:

Beer goes really well with Tagine and serve Mint Tea at the end of the meal to settle the richness of the food.

Second, the word tagine refers to the succulent, stew-like dish which is slow-cooked in the traditional cookware. Typically, a tagine is a rich stew of meat, poultry or fish, and most often includes vegetables or fruit. Vegetables may also be cooked alone.”

More info and great food recipes can be found in: http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/moroccanfood101/a/Tagines_descrip.htm

Mint Tea Set that can even be used as a centerpiece on your table

The above Items can be purchased from:

www.lecreuset.co.za

www.mrphome.com/enza/grand-temple-lantern-7202043842

http://www.moroccanhouse.co.za/moroccan-imports.php

 

Hope you enjoyed my Moroccan journey as much as I did. You can find some great Moroccan recipes in the November addition of the South African Food & Home magazine or on line @ www.foodandhome.co.za

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Shades of Blue and White

Shades of Blue and White

Shades Of Blue & White Make For A Simple Table Setting

With great excitement I share my first attempt at my very own photoshoot (I have to add, hubby did have a little hand, great assistant he was)

The dinnerware I found when scratching through my Mum’s kitchen cupboards, have now found a new home at my coastal apartment in the Algarve, Portugal.

A simple cotton murah I bought on the beach became my inspiration for these table setting ideas. (Murah’s are so versatile. I am using mine as a bed throw at the moment, as they are light and cool for the summer)

Let your creativity flow and mix different shades of colour and textures to create interest

I used some Pewter napkin holders that I had bought some time ago from www.zarahome.com.

For an alternative look, I found a few of these turquoise and silver bracelets that were given to me by a good friend, which came in handy to use as napkin holders. Be creative, it’s amazing what you can find in your own home, so don’t rush out and buy new.

 

Option 1

Option 2

Where you place the napkin adds a different look and feel to your place setting

The use of either a rectangular or round placemat gives a different dimension to the setting. If you have a smaller table top then round placemats use up far less space.

Using a pop of colour in the base dinner plate with shells added a lovely coastal feel to my setting.

If you don’t want to use a centerpiece then add a succulent in a glass votive as an accent on the place- setting.

 

LOVED THE MIX OF COLOUR AND TEXTURES and the special touch of the succulent on each place setting for friends to take home as gifts! ENTERTAINING is all about having fun and finding a more relaxed approach. With planning all things are possibleJ

What do you think of the ideas?? Your comments are always appreciated

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