Christmas table settings ideas for indoors and outdoors

It was one of my keen readers that asked “when are you going to do a post on table settings for Christmas?” So I thought, that’s a great idea, and so here we are. I decided to do two settings, one indoor for those of you that live in the colder parts of the world at Christmas time and one outdoors for the likes of myself that experience Christmas in summer and normally celebrate with a BBQ. I also wanted to challenge myself and only use what I had around the house to help give you ideas without having to actually buy much at all. Like we know Christmas is a very expensive time of year anyway. The table settings will be a simple affair as I’m not one for lots a jazz and simple is often a lot cheaper.

Christmas table setting in dinning room.png

This blog will be a bit different from my usual approach as I have decided to do mainly photos and explain what I have used for each of the settings. I hope you enjoy and get some great inspiration to help planning your awesome Christmas table setting.

Indoor table setting

As I stated above I am keeping these settings simple and low cost and in fact have just shopped my home for all the items I have used. So I challenge you to do the same, it’s amazing what you can find to use rather than find the need to buy yet more stuff.

Christmas crackers and decorations.png

First up I raided my Christmas decoration stash and decided on the using the Christmas garland as the main centrepiece and use some decoration accessories to add to it. I also had Christmas crackers that are obviously an important part of the Christmas table setting.

Next up was working out the plate setting and the cutlery. The plates are part of of our everyday plates, well to be honest we only have everyday plates now….I am long past keeping something for best or special occasions, I mean it’s everyday a special occasion!!!.

Some time ago we got the big light blue plates from the local Harbour Hospice shop which we got for $20 for the set. They were basically new and from Citta (check out the price per plate!). I did however buy the smaller plates new, from Tony Sly, Raglan Wharf…like OMG I love his stuff and treated myself, like don’t you blame me.

cutlery in silverwear box on dinning table.png

Which brings me onto my cutlery set. In our home we have some very special family pieces and one is the writing bureau from my beautiful Nana Anne . She also gave Pete and I a stunning silver service cutlery set for our wedding present. We keep these pieces together. The cutlery set is certainly something that I would like to use more often, however the pieces have to be hand washed and placed back into the box so it’s a bit of a mission. So I’m sad to say in this case they only come out on special occasions…..and of course Christmas is one of those. I do love fussing around and getting them out and using them.

Christmas plate and silverwear setting on dinning table.png

So if you have always wanted to know how to set a formal table setting well wonder no more. Above is a simple setting, essentially formal. The secret to these setting is the order of the cutlery lines up to the order of the plates and therefore the courses. You just start from the cutlery on the outside and work inwards and the dessert cutlery is a top the plates. There is a very good post at Real Simple.com with all the details on how to set a table. It’s handy to know this, especially when you are at that fancy restaurant and you have to figure out which fork to use! I always just remember….”outside in” .

Christmas place setting with napkin under plate.png

With the place settings I folded up the cloth napkin, again these are ones we use everyday, and placed them under the top plate. It just adds a bit of interest and formality to the setting and is a nice simple design. You will notice that I have done place names, I did this just to show how you could do this if you need to. This is actually helpful if you have a number of people coming. All I did some use some paper envelopes that I had and simply wrote the names on them and placed the flower on the top. Again it was a easy to do and gave a nice aesthetic.

Christmas table setting with candles.png

For the centre piece I used the Christmas garland. I didn’t want to clutter up the garland too much however did need to embellish it it a bit. I took a jute ribbon and wrapped it round losly around the length of it then run a small string of battery run copper lights along the top. In the middle of the table I placed three large church candles and at each end placed decorative silver reindeer. All these items I had in my Christmas decoration stash so I did not need to buy anything more.

Christmas table setting with silver dear.png
Christmas table setting .png

Challenge # 1 done for the insider Christmas table setting now for the outside one.

Outdoor Table setting

The intent of the outdoor setting is for a very casual, more BBQ style with a touch of Christmas. Again challenge was to shop the home and keep it simple.

Christmas candles and holy hock in outside table centrepiece.png

To add a Christmas theme to the centre piece I just laid out a length of jute ribbon (wide) and used that like a table runner. I placed the centre piece on top. All I did here was take the existing outdoors tray and place the decorative candles and holy onto the tray. You will see in my previous Christmas decoration posts how I have done this before.

One thing that I did was to use what I thought could serve as a double purpose was that of citronella candles. Most of us that eat outside a bit have these as they work really well. I just used ones that I already had. If you don’t have any I totally recommend getting some. You can pick them up from most hardware, garden centres and home stores. I have found, locally, that The Warehouse has a good selection at great prices


knife and fork tied around napkin for table setting.png

To achieve a more casual style I used our everyday cutlery and took the napkin (hospice shop finds) and tied them up with string, garden twine in this case. I also used our plan white plates, (easy to replace if one breaks). The other option is to simple stack the plates up and bundle the cutlery together so everyone can just help themselves. The main thing to think about for outside use is the chance of something being dropped and broken. So maybe you could also use some of your plastic picnic wear, there are some really gorgeous outdoor dinning wear, great selection here from Kmart

Bottles of sparkling wine in tin bucket outside party.png

The old outdoor fridge is essential for the perfect outdoor Christmas dinning, and you don’t need some flash outdoor mini fridge. We just use this tin container (another hospice find) and fill it up with ice and it keeps the beves nice and cold.

IMG_3900.JPG

That’s it folks , my inside and outside Christmas table settings , hope you got some inspiration for your Christmas day…..remember to check around your home to see what you have to make a great table scape.

For more inspiration follow me on Pinterest as I have Christmas board set up where you can see even more ideas.

If you want to follow me on my other social media channels just click on the links below;

Want to stay in touch and get more ideas and tips just sign up to my regular newsletter below;

Stay tidy!

Tidying with Tania blog post sign off | Tidying with Tania.png


















How I organised my new pantry

It was late March when we finally moved back into the renovated kitchen, I simply just put things into the new pantry in a similar way that I organised my old pantry. I figured that in the coming weeks I'd get things sorted and reorganised for the new pantry. Well it's now August and I still standing staring at my new pantry working out how I want to organise it. So I set myself the challenge of getting this pantry organised by the end of August.

Pantry_lifestyle.png

 

Situation

In my situation I had a number of different things scattered all around the kitchen that I wanted to bring into one place, such as drink bottles, cooking equipment, food storage containers, cook books etc. This means that at the moment I'm all over the kitchen getting bits and pieces and it feels very disorganised to me. The other issue is that our old pantry was a walk in pantry and our new one is different. We now have a bench top pantry along with three drawers and a corner cupboard. In fact there is a lot more space now however it is used in a different way. Added to this Pete and I have finally adjusted to cooking for two rather than four, so what we now have in our pantry and cupboards is different to what we had in the old pantry. The challenge I had was how to work out the best way to house everything that I wanted together in the new pantry.

To be honest I have struggled with this organisation job, many a time I have been found just standing and staring at the new pantry, trying to figure out the best way to organise everything.   

Sometimes it just takes time to get things right and it can be a bit of a process of working out what works best for you. So let me take you through how I went about this organisation mission. 

Inspiration

As my regular readers know I love to use Pinterest to get ideas, it's a fabulous "visual google". I have a board all about Kitchen and Pantry Organisation in which I have got lots of great idea content. Fair to say that I have spent a wee bit of time searching through #pantryorganisation pins and got lots of inspiration.....like some of those pantries are off the charts!!! however I would question how practical they actually are. 

For me I love getting inspiration that helps to make things more functional at the same time as looking gorgeous darling!

I have been inspired to try and use as much glass jars for storage as possible.  In my old pantry, below, I got rid of a lot of old plastic containers, however as you can see in the picture below there are a few still to change over.

old_pantry.png

 

The main goal for the new pantry was to get everything in one place and make it really accessible. I do like to see as much of my pantry items as it's a really good way to be on top of what to buy.

Declutter

OK this is fancy way of saying pull everything out of the space and sort it out!. So that is just what I did, got everything out of the pantry as well as the items I had elsewhere in the kitchen that I wanted to house in the pantry.

Once I had everything out on the bench tops I was able to go through and sort out what we actually needed and still used. This is also a good time to check the expiry dates and get rid of anything that has expired.

Lastly I took advantage to give the pantry shelves, all the drawers and corner cupboard a clean. TIP: a simple clean up of a space can make it look a lot better and nicer to be in. 

Decluttering_pantry.png

 

categorise

After sorting through all the items and getting rid of the unused and expired items, I categorised them. This is a really good way to help you work out how you want to store them when you put everything back. I also changed out my plastic containers to jars. I found that I have these main categories;

  • Baking items
  • Cereals and grains
  • Mixers, spices, seeds and nuts
  • Cooking stocks and seasonings
  • Tinned goods and jars
  • Snacks and spreads
  • Potatoes and onions

I also had non food items that I wanted to store in the pantry area;

  • Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  • Water bottles and lunch containers
  • Baking tins
  • Food containers

So I've decluttered, cleaned and categorised everything, now the mission was to work out where to place them in the pantry. This is all about setting up good systems so you can keep your pantry organised all the time. And not just a one off burst of cleaning and sorting then back to a big mess again.

Ok so how I do this in any space, is to work out what you use and how often, this will guide you to where and when you need to have the items and how easy it is to get to them. TIP: if it's not easy to get to, your system will not work and you'll get a mess pretty quickly.

Storage and system

In my pantry I have the spaces for storage spread out between the shelves in the bench top pantry, three drawers below the bench and the corner cupboard which has two large shelves. The best access is the bench top shelves so I decided that I needed to put the items that we reach for daily on the first two shelves. In regards to the non food items I had already worked out the they are best housed in the corner cupboard as we only access these once a week or so.

Then lastly the three drawers which are deep and wide and really accessible. The thing with the drawers is that you need to be able to see the items easily by looking down not straight ahead or up as in the pantry and I had the perfect solution for that, label the top of the jars.

benchtop_pantry.png

So here is the system I decided on

Bench top pantry

  1. Top shelf - Baking goods
  2. Middle shelf - Tinned goods and jars
  3. Bottom shelf - Spreads and snacks, Cereals and grains

Corner Cupboard

  1. Top shelf - Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  2. Bottom shelf - Lunch containers, baking tins, potatoes and onions
pantry_corner_cupboard.png

 

Drawers

  1. Top drawer-  Spices, seeds and nuts 
  2. Middle drawer - Cooking stocks and seasonings
  3. Bottom drawer - Food containers
spices_mixers_pantry_drawer.png
Label_lids_pantry_drawers.png
food_containers.png

 

The actual bench top houses our smoothie machine, toaster (Pete loves his toast!) and the grotty old microwave, which still works fine and no sense in replacing just coz it looks ugly.  What I did do though is put a tray on the top of the microwave and placed my two most used cookbooks there for easy reach!  

The true test of the kitchen pantry organisation is how the rest of the family like it and work with it. For me that's Pete, it's got to work for him too, so each time through the process of organising I'd check with him and reorganise. There were a few things I changed thanks to his suggestion. I'd totally recommend that you involve the members of your family in this process, this will really make it work well.

I am very pleased to say that this new pantry layout and system is working really well and best of all I have everything in the same area which is what I wanted. It's  really simply, decluttered and easy to use, hmmm just given myself a pat on the back!!

Before I sign off here are a couple of tips;

TIP 1 - Figure out your solution

When you are wanting to organise a space, take time to think through these questions

  1. What the situtation?
  2. What's the problem with it?
  3. Why is it a problem? 
  4. What do I need to fix the problem?

TIP 2 - Donate

If you have any tinned goods or dried goods that you are not using any more, donate them (as long as within expiry date). Most local supermarkets have a donation box.

TIP 2 - Move to refillables (reduce your waste)

Also think about using refillables, (bring in your own containers) we are moving away as much as we can from plastic and packaging, it's a work in progress and I could and will do a post on this. Here in my neighbourhood there are a couple of really good stores that provide great options for refillables, GoodFor is now located in Takapuna and has stores in Parnell and Ponsonby and The Source Bulk Foods NZ is located in Milford as well as Kumeu. There is also the long standing Bin Inn, which Pete and I used a lot when the kids were young and money was tight and it was not fashionable to be refilling.....funny how times change...however I totally support all ways to increase reuse, recycle and refill ...I mean our children's, children are depending on it!

So that's me done, hope you found some good ideas and tips and as always I'd love to here from you about your pantry organisation.

I will be doing more posts about other areas in the kitchen that I organise and will certainly be doing more about my reuse, recycle and refill journey, so make sure that you stay tuned by signing up to my newsletter, love to have you join us.

Happy tidying!

Post_sign_off.png

Fridge Organisation - French Door

It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I "organise" my fridge.  Now most people would actually ask what do you mean by fridge organisation? as it's not really something a normal person would do.  However there is some method to my madness and having an organised fridge can actually save you money by reducing food waste and encourage you to see and eat what's in your fridge.  I have always had an organised fridge, which essentially means that I would have "homes" in the fridge for certain items. Thanks to Instagram, people are sharing how they organise their fridges and well it's gone a bit crazy with how people do this. If you are interested in some of ideas, just check out my kitchen organisation Pinterest board where I have shared some great pins on Fridge organisation.

fridge_organisation.png

 

fridge Organisation

Unlike some of those amazingly organised, and even food colour coordinated fridges, my fridge organisation is based only around functionality and if it looks nice in the process that's an added bonus. 

I think it's pretty universal that we all actually use a fridge in a similar way in regards organisation, i.e milk always goes in the side door, along with condiments . Fruit and veges go in the food crisper, meat on the bottom shelf, leftovers and diary in the middle and drinks and ready to eats on the top. 

Prior to our new french door fridge, we had a single left opening fridge which was smaller than what we have now. However it had to cater for more people than our big new french door. To help get everything in,  I used to corral like items together into plastic trays/containers.

The best organisation of the fridge that worked for us as a family was the use of lunch containers. As an example for my son, he had his own lunch container which had his ham and cheese and other sandwich and lunch snack items that he could just grab and quickly make his lunch. Also having a container/tray to put in leftovers from meals was great as they were easy to find and stopped the old "container of rotting food buried at the back of the fridge" issue.

Changing use

As empty nesters we no longer have to cater for our hungry kids, so what we need to store in the fridge has change somewhat. And what is rather crazy is that we now have a much bigger fridge....go figure!!! Pete said we don't need a fridge that size and I said well sorry honey but it's what I want in the new kitchen and that's that really...poor Pete he knew he was not going to win that one and certainly not come between a chick and her new French door fridge....with ice making for her GnT's.

We have been using the new fridge for about 3 months and it's perfect, although initially seemed big, now manages to get filled up. I just love the way it opens up fully so you have easy access to everything. French doors on a fridge...like who would have thought that was a going to be a great design feature.  Our fridge has so many great features which I could go on about however this post is actually about how to organise a fridge regardless of which brand it is. However If you are interested to know more about the specifics of he fridge just check it out here

As I said we have been using the fridge for approximately 3 months which has given me plenty of time to work out how we want to best organise it and get the best functionality from the fridge.  So let me take you through the steps on how I went about organising the new fridge. I'll provide links to the containers that I have used. For my northern hemisphere readers I will link to Amazon and to my fellow Kiwis I've linked to Kmart. 

Ready_to_eat_storage.png

 

    1. Research

To get a good idea of the best way to organise a fridge there are some guidelines that can be helpful to get you started. I don't follow these exactly, however they are a good rule of thumb on the best way to store different food products safely in the fridge. 

  • Top shelves  - ready to eat and drink items
  • Middle shelves  - left overs, diary,  eggs
  • Lower shelves - Meats and larger drinks

If you want to see more information about this just check out my Pinterest page which has some good articles to check out. 

In terms of trying to work out which is best to go where for you I would recommend tracking what you have and use in your fridge over a period of time, between shops would be best. As we shop weekly, I tracked our items and use over a  week. This was a great way to decide on how I wanted to organise things in the fridge based on our consumption.

     2. Placement

 Now that I have sussed out what we eat and use in the week, I have a better idea of where things can go in the fridge. To be honest the easiest way to do this is to open the fridge up and map out on a piece of paper where you will locate your items in the fridge. So for our needs,  I decided;

  • Top shelf - lunch items, asian cooking pastes and sauces, drinks 
  • Middle shelf - eggs, space for left overs and dinner prep plus diary products
  • Bottom shelf - wine , meat and "grab" stuff such as margarine and yoghurt
  • Right side door - Soy/Almond Milk - mustards and spreads - spicy sauces - nice cheeses and butter
  • Left side door - Large and small drink bottles - condiments
  • Two crispers - One for vegetables and the other for Fruit
  • Bottom trays for beers

   3. Storage

Now this is the fun part! shopping for the right storage containers for the fridge. So my rule of thumb with storage is always shop the home first, i.e check out what you already have at home that could be useful. As we have recently done a big purge and declutter with the new kitchen I did not have a lot of storage containers that would be suitable for the fridge. Plus I wanted to replace the old plastic containers with resuable glass ones. So shame peeps!!! I had to make a trip to Kmart to get some goodies. However before you race off you need to actually work out what you need and the size of the storage containers. I mapped out roughly in a note book the set up of each shelf and the appropriate container for that, making sure that I measured the size of the space to make sure that I purchased the right size container.

Fridge_storage.png

 

Below are the links for all the storage containers that I purchased. For my Kiwi readers I have given the links to the products that I brought from Kmart and for my US and Northern Hemisphere readers I have sourced the same products in Amazon and provided the links below. 

Kmart

Amazon

Note - there were a lot more choices of product at Amazon, especially with the turntables. 

Putting it all together was not too difficult as I had already worked out where everything was going. I just sorted everything into their containers and spaces and set up the fridge.

So far it is a lot more functional and easy to see everything and best of all everything has its place...which in the organising world is really good.

Just on a last note before I sign off,  I thought it might be of interest to share my weekly lunch prep storage. 

lunch_prep.png

lunch Prep storage

Pete and I both work away from home during the week, so it's really good to be able quickly make up our lunches. I prepare at the start of the week and put the food into small sealed containers and just take what we need on the day for our lunches.

Baby Spinach - Take out of the plastic bag and clean and rinse and place into clear container with a paper towel or light absorbent cloth, this stops the spinach from getting old too quickly.

Grapes - Rinse and take them off the stalks, drain and dry them and place into a clear container.

Grated Carrots - I grate up carrots and just have them stored in a container that I can just take a handful when making lunch salads.

So if you have been thinking about getting your fridge sorted, or just wanted to know what the heck Fridge organisation is, I hope I have helped.

As always love to receive your comments and feedback and your own experiences of organisation.

Take care my friends 

email signature mock up.png

 

Interested in staying in touch and getting really useful hints and tips each fortnight, just pop in your email address below, love to have you join the Tidy's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentines Dinner meal planning on a budget

Pete and I always make sure that we take the time to do something nice on our Wedding Anniversary, and because it falls in February we have our very own Valentine celebration. Every year we make sure that we celebrate in style. The last two years, we have had lovely holidays away to celebrate. So, this year it was going to be at home. None the less, it was still going to be special. I love having a genuine experience with the person who rocks my world.  So this year we decided that we would indulge in a big feast.

2017-02-04 02.50.12.jpg

 

We both love to cook together, however we don`t get much quality time during the normal weekly madness to do this.  So to have an excuse to stop and enjoy was perfect. It also helped that eating at home was going to be cheaper as we have some financial goals this year and need to stay on budget.

First things first, decide on the menu, which had to be three courses...because we were going all out. We got all our recipes from a beautiful cook book given to us by our dear friends (you know who you are) called "Feast, Our Food out east". It's filled with delicious recipes from eateries and local people from Gisbourne and the East coast.  I just love the illustrations of the magic that is the East coast and their bounty of cuisine.

After a bit of discussion (like any good marriage)  we came up with the following menu:

The Menu

Entree - Mussel and Bacon soup

Main - The Grill Room's Beef Fillet with Parsnip Puree and Mushroom Dressing

Dessert- Home made Passionfruit Ice Cream and Donuts East Coast style

 

The planning

Now that the menu was sorted, it was just a matter of working out what we needed to buy and when. The fresher the better, so we shopped for most of the fresh produce on the day. We shopped at our local food market, Simply Fresh, it's an excellent local community hub and has fabulous variety of fresh produce from vegetables, fruit to meat, poultry and almost everything in between......and if you spend over $40 you get a free coffee (and the coffees good). 

The rest of the planning was just ensuring that we had everything sorted in the kitchen and pantry all ready to go for the big cooking session. Also, just working through how long it would take to make each course.......you don`t want to still be cooking at 2am !

We actually prepared a couple of dishes, Ice cream and donuts before the evening. Its good to make as much as you can beforehand to reduce the amount of work to do on the night.

The Table Setting

I love decorating the table and making a lovely setting. It took all of my will power to resist going out and buying up a storm on lovely new dinning accessories, glassware, cutlery and so on. The rule was to shop the house. Confession time, I did however manage to find two beautiful big soup bowls from Nest and two gorgeous dark blue dinner plates at our local thrift shop for $2 each. However everything else from the home. 

I layered up the plates so we had a clean plate already for each course and the same for the glasses. The best part was that I got to use my beautiful antique cutlery service (Wedding gift from my Nana). Oh a hint: it's the 'outside in' if you were wondering!  When I was setting them up I realised that I really need to use these a lot more as it seems a shame just to keep such beautiful objects housed away for the occasional use.....I think I have found another goal for the year.! Like I need another one.

As I am not really a fan of Valentine themed decor...., I used the exisiting table runners and placemats as I really like them and the colours went well together.  I was really happy with the end look, not over the top, functional, cheap and my style ...hmm feeling good. 

A bit of splurging was done on some nice flowers from the local florist, she made up a bunch for me for $34. The bunch was a mix of me and Petes favourites.

 

The cooking

This is the part that Pete and I love, sharing the cooking experience, and then sitting down together to enjoy what you have just made together. 

We work to our strengths, Pete's good on the actual cooking part, especially the meat and I am good at getting the all ingredients chopped and ready and making salads. So if you are venturing into the kitchen to cook together it's helpful to work out what each of you will do, best to do what you are good at.......and if you both good at the same thing......well your stuffed!!!! My advise here would be just try not to argue too much and get in each others way.

 

The soup was first up and it was sooo yummy. It was very easy to cook, and the dish meant that we could cook it a bit early and eat it when we were ready, which we did.

And so it continued for each course, taking it slow to allow time to digest, enjoy and cook. I have to say we did consume a bit of wine. It's amazing how much you get through while cooking as well as eating...be warned!!!

Is was about 11pm when we finished up with the dessert and coffee and the homemade Ice cream which was to die for!

Okay, so what about the dishes? We actually cleaned and cleared as we cooked, so there was not a lot left at the end of he night. So it wasn't an issue....and there was no way either of us could face a big mess of dishes at the end of the night. 

It was a fabulous night, lots of fun and it only cost $83, pretty cheap I think for a great night! 

So if you are looking for a low key, romantic and cheap Valentines night I would totally recommend this. 

Enjoy my little love bird!