Saturday, December 13, 2014


Middle Eastern lanterns were the inspiration for this Moroccan theme


Once the sun went down and guests began arriving, the house glowed in shimmering colors, it was truly magical.  Here I draped a jewel encrusted, cross tree ornament over the top of the lantern
Every fabulous idea comes from an inspiration, whether in your imagination, something you spotted in a store, in a magazine on television, anywhere!  For me, it usually comes from an item I spot while shopping. 
One great piece can drum up the most fantastical scene, transforming the usual to the awe inspiring unusual.  It can transport you to another time and place; make you feel warm when you are cold, remind you of your childhood or whatever your little heart dreams about.  For years I stuck with my childhood fantasy of a land of candy, so sweet it would give you a toothache just looking at it.  I had visions of sugarplums dancing in my head for as long as I could remember.  It reminded me of my favorite childhood memories, such as Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Candy Land game and the jumbo faux lollipops that would line the path to the Macy’s Santa in New York City. 
Two years ago a pomegranate and a can of gold spray paint inspired me to transform everything from fruit to nuts into a gilded era.  
From jewel toned glassware to Persian rugs, this table is set for a Sultan
But it was last Christmas that was my greatest holiday entertaining accomplishment, allowing my imagination to run rampant, all because of one item of inspiration, a Moroccan lantern.  That one lantern transformed me into a genie of sorts and from that moment on my theme was evident, or shall I say, my wish was my command; A Rockin’ Moroccan Christmas” was born.   There is a bit of irony here though, 99% of Morocco is an Islamic country, which as you may  well know, does not celebrate Christmas. On that note, that is just the type of diverse situation that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Without further delay, I hope you will join me on a magic carpet.
These Marionettes were a Marshalls/Homegoods fab find along with the lanterns, glassware and more!
What and Where?

My initial inspiration came from a Moroccan lantern which I spotted at Marshall’s/Homegood’s.  Any savvy Marshall’s/Homegood’s shopper knows that frequenting the store regularly is a must.  The more lanterns I seemed to buy, the more shipments of lanterns arrived.  I was inspired to mix the glamorous with the rustic, so I killed two birds with one stone scooping up some of the most rustic looking wooden bowls, cheese boards and serving pieces I could find.  I found multi-colored Moroccan glassware and jeweled religious cross tree ornaments.
Above: Rustic wooden serving pieces, mixed with Middle Eastern inspired objects make for an eclectic tablescape

At home, I did a quick sweep of my house, collecting small Persian rugs, pillows and colorful wine glasses. 

The napkins topping frosted gold-trimmed square dinner plates matched the lantern colors, each one a different color around the table.  The same color placemats were alternated as well.  I found matching brass and wooden silverware and brass pineapple napkin rings.  The napkins, rings, plates and placemats all from SteinMart and the silverware from an antique shop.  I purchased a service for 24 including the serving pieces and soup spoons etc for just under a few hundred dollars (a steal!  I see these sets all the time in these shops in large wooden boxes, so keep your eyes peeled!)

I even went as far as to go through my costume jewelry for rustic looking religious medallions and crosses to use as table props and even used an antique oil painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her arms for my dining room fireplace mantle.

Live greens trimmed from local trees adorn my marble mantle.  I used a plastic flower box liner on its side filled with water soaked floral foam.

Live greens trimmed from local trees adorn my marble mantle.  I used a plastic flower box liner on its side filled with water soaked floral foam.

My décor also included live greens and tropical fruits, but they were saved for last, so
 that they wouldn’t spoil too soon. (you can find similar objects at an antique shop or thrift store).

Jewel tones votives and ruby red pomegranates adorn the side board 

Coconut, pomegranate and live greens create an eclectic look


Hors d’ oeuvres
The menu was consistent with my Moroccan/Middle Eastern Theme.  As for my appetizers, I used an oversized, round rustic wooden pizza board and divided it up into sections.  The center was reserved for one of the exotic new lanterns and around it were bowls of; tapenade, fresh hummus, stuffed and plain figs, cheeses, pita, toast, unleavened crackers, grapes in multiple colors, sliced pomegranate, roasted red peppers and olives, all on a bed of extra large lettuce leaves.

I put out small wooden bowls of a variety of nuts and set up a folding table with wooden boards that had sliced meats and cheeses, marinated anchovies, mackerel, sardines, marinated brussel sprouts, stuffed grape leaves and artichoke hearts. 
A bowl of fresh hummus, is strategically nestled within the main appetizer tray surrounded by pita
I propped this circular wooden tray on top of a live pine wreath, added a hot pink silk bow and dried hydrangea, all in keeping with the living room decor

A side of lump crab meat and mango flavored cocktail sauce added an extra touch.
I found this jumbo jar at Marshall's/Homegood's and filled it with colorful ornaments.  The height was necessary to add some dimension to my table.
Cured meat, sun dried tomatoes and crackers on a rustic board, atop layered linnens

Crab cocktail with a mango salsa.  If I could do this over, I would have filled the tray with crushed ice

Main Course

Baby lamb chops marinating

In a roasting pan, coat your (Baby) chops with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lime, salt, pepper, freshly chopped mint, freshly minced garlic and allow them to marinate in the refrigerator.  Under the broiler, these were ready in minutes.


On a foil lined baking sheet, coat the salmon with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.  Broil until ends are crispy.  This is another quickie!


Yet another quick meal, in a roasting pan, soak chicken cubes in a combination of coconut milk and cream of coconut, curry powder, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and moistened sweetened flaked coconut. 

Chop fresh mango cubes and slide both the mango and the chicken onto the skewers.  Place them on a lined baking sheet and place under the broiler, cooks in minutes.

Even my wardrobe was part of the fun.  I selected the brightest dress in my closet, wrapped myself in colorful scarves and was dripping with gold coins and colorful beads, all in effort to have a Moroccan Bazaar feel.
I ransacked my closet for anything with a Middle Eastern Inspiration and came across these beautiful linen and silk scarves 
Into the treasure trove of gold coins and colorful beads I dove!

(supper and dessert)

Light em' up!  Bring the ambiance to the buffet, along with the tropical yet rustic theme

As you can see, this male dominant family enjoyed every last detail and morsel of the evening
This was the most beautiful Christmas thus far.  It was memorable, warm and inviting. 

It brought a big family together, sparked intriguing conversation and in the end was truly a memorable Christmas for all.
  I’m not sure if or when I will run out of ideas, or simply burn out, but for now, I am bursting at the seems with ideas for years to come, so stay tuned.
My husband entertains family tickling the ivories and singing classic Christmas carols

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!



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