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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Simple Autumn table setting with natural foliage

Simple Autumn table setting with natural foliage

Simple autumn table setting with natural foliage

“Autumn is a time to gather and share good food, wine and cozy spaces with special friends and family”

Autumn, the season after summer and before winter’s rest !!

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. There is always something special about this season that brings with it a mixture of textures and warm colours. It’s a time to gather and share good food, wine and cozy spaces with special friends and family. Dressing your table to entertain friends or family is always a great time to get creative and have some fun.

As you get to know me a little better, you will see that I always plan my table décor around the food I am serving, the people I am entertaining and my home decor. Entertaining is all about planning, the more you can do in advance the less stressful your gathering will be and the more time you can spend with guests.

Maria’s TIP

Where possible, always try and set your table the night before your gathering. This allows you the time to be creative with your table décor and if the decor is not working out you have enough time to change the plan and find an alternative without getting too stressed that you are running out of time.

Wooden paddle

Wooden paddles are very much on trend now and this one became the base to hold my centerpiece. You can very much buy wooden paddles anywhere and even your old bread board can work with this centrepiece. The seasonal foliage of wild berries, greenery, dried grasses, lemons and apples created an earthy natural feel to the table.

Textures & Patterns

Mix and matching different textures, patterns and fabrics adds a little more interest to the table setting.  I used natural linen table runners and damask napkins to compliment the natural elements of the wood of my dining room table.

The placemat

These naturally woven placemats added a stylish, earthy element to the table setting in keeping with my autumn mood.

Maria’s TIP

Natural wooden paddles in varied sizes are brilliant to serve canapé’s or finger food and can be purchased at most home stores and very on trend

To keep the wood from drying out occasionally rub a little cooking oil directly onto the wood with a soft cloth.

A little bit of triviality….

“real damask is actually a type of fabric which uses a variety of weaving techniques (most commonly satin and twill variants) to create areas of different sheen in the cloth. Because the different textures reflect light differently, the patterns show as variations in tone, and sometimes the weave is given even further emphasis by using different colours in the warp and weft. The fact that the pattern is woven into the cloth means that the fabric is always reversible”

 

The organic texture of the placemat and the contrasting elegance of my Saint James fine bone china crockery brought a touch of sophistication to the place setting. The green and golden yellow detail on the crockery helped tie in the overall look as it combined well with the detail on the dinner plates.

It’s all in the detail….

Adding small sprigs of wild flowers to the inside of the napkins created harmony between the centrepiece and the individual place settings. I tied a knot in the damask napkin to give it a chunky yet simple and elegant feel.

A touch of crystal…

I absolutely love crystal in any form, whether it’s glassware, decanters or vases. Having spent many hours browsing antique stores and markets through out the world. Over the years I have created a beautiful selection of glassware that never dates and no matter when used it always adds a touch of style and elegance no matter the occasion. These particular vintage crystal wine glasses I found on my travels to Cape Town, South Africa and I managed to buy a selection of them in different shades.  I chose to use the amber and green ones as they added the perfect finishing touch to my fall table setting with their warm tones.

 

A little bit of trivia…..

Cut glass” is glass that has been decorated entirely by hand by use of rotating wheels. Cuts are made in an otherwise completely smooth surface of the glass by artisans holding and moving the piece against various sized metal or stone wheels, to produce a predetermined pleasing pattern.

The golden yellow hurricane lamps added to the warm tones of the table setting. Notice that I placed the hurricane lamps at the far end of the table near the curtains giving height to the table. It is not always necessary to have all the table accessories in the center of the table especially if you are setting for smaller groups.

I loved creating this simple fall table and hope that you get inspired to take a walk outdoors and find your own natural elements to add to your home decor or table setting. All the elements from the mix of wild foliage in the centerpiece, the elegant crockery, coloured glass and greenery harmonized together to create a table setting that was simple, elegant and inexpensive.  All the elements reflected the warm tones of Autumn with a touch of nature.

I was undecided on which hurricane lamps to use for the final photo shoot.  Which ones you would have used if you were setting this tablescape?  I would really welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

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4 Fabulous Christmas Table Setting Ideas For A Stress Free Holiday Season

4 Fabulous Christmas Table Setting Ideas For A Stress Free Holiday Season

4 Fabulous Christmas Table Setting Ideas For A Stress Free Holiday Season

“The MAGIC of CHRISTMAS never ends and its GREATEST of GIFTS are FAMILY and FRIENDS”

Ready for Christmas??

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 table décor ideas as much as I enjoyed creating them.

A few tips to make the season a little easier to cope with CHOOSE….

  • A colour palette that embraces your mood for the season.
  • Décor that suits the elements in your home so that you create a chilled haven for friends and family.
  • Some simple finger food treats that are quick to make up when friends and family pop in un-expectantly.
  • Beverages that suit the season dependable on your personal choice
  • A few additional gifts for those un-expected moments when you need to give a gift in returns

RICH and OPULENT…..

Combining, plush surfaces with hi-shine GOLD and BRONZES with touches of BLUE creates a luxurious mood. Organza bows and drop crystals that I purchased in strands from our local fabric store and then sewed on gold ribbon to add a hi-shine and glitz to this table setting.

THE TRADITION of RED and GREEN…..

Using natural greenery with fresh red roses set the scene for this Christmas outdoor table setting, giving a joyous yet elegant feel. More detail in

THE SIMPLICITY OF GREEN, WHITE & CRYSTAL….

By using twined natural wreaths on top of silver plate liners gave each place setting an organic yet stylish feel with a touch of simplicity. Simple organza was used to tie each place setting together like a Christmas present, adding to the feel of being in a wintery lush green forest.

Want to know more, ask a question or just comment on my blog please feel free below. You can also share to social media using the icons on the left.

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

Want to know more, ask a question or just comment on my blog please feel free below. You can also share to social media using the icons on the left.

Chic Afrique

Chic Afrique

CHIC AFRIQUE trends and ideas that can add versatility to your entertaining style!!

Africa forever in my heart …

South Africa a place only once lived or visited can only be understood. The unique beat of a “rainbow nation” with its diversity of design and culture can only be understood once experienced. The earthy tones and pattern in this tribal mood board inspired me to write this blog. Africa is bold, colourful & resonates a beat that will forever be in my heart.

Source: www.patterncurator.com

Chic-Afrique..

When decorating or table setting you always need to add your own unique style and personal touch. I love sourcing beautiful fabrics and unique pieces for my home. If like me you are not really good with a sewing machine find a good seamstress and have your tablecloth made up. A truly special friend “Barbara” from my homeland South Africa photographed this vibrant combination of design & texture that resonates “Africa”  

http://en.vogue.fr/fashion/fashion-inspiration/diaporama/fwpe2016-22-trends-from-spring-summer-2016/23054#tendance-mode-printemps-ete-2016-motifs-ethniques

Each piece of tableware in this African styled collection adds an eclectic of mix to this Chic- Afrique table setting. Never be afraid to add quirky & interesting pieces of tableware to your existing crockery collection. I love adding interest when setting a table, it makes for interesting conversation at the dinner table and makes your quests feel truly special.

Ankara” the fabric used in Africa that describes the brightly printed fabric that inspires African fashion. Ankara is not just found in clothes but also on bags, shoes, jewelry and accessories throughout the African continent. 

The Ankara design has changed dramatically since it´s inception as traditional fabric worn by folk in Africa and uniquely made in Africa. Today like most things you can source cheap “knock-off” Ankara pieces. These  are not the same as the authentic Ankara items that you can purchase primarily from African designers.” Source http://www.ankcara.com/new-fashion-trend-what-is-ankara/

As the years go by we are slowly settling into our new lifestyle in Portugal. The high paced life we lived in South Africa is slowly being replaced by an appreciation of all things simple. 

I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to create a new lifestyle in Portugal, with my amazing husband. This move has given me the opportunity to reflect on what makes “Maria” tick. Keep following me, there is a lot more to discover about this 50 something who has now decided that social media is my new way of sharing my lifestyle and passion for simplicity.

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ME and your feedback is always appreciated

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