Tag Archives: friends

It’s never too late for holiday cards

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Hey everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am writing today’s post about one of my favorite traditions: holiday cards.

Growing up, I remember stalking our mailbox waiting for holiday cards to roll in. My favorite cards were the ones that included a letter about what families had been up to. Big dance recitals, address changes, new family members, marriages, and other major life events were meticulously recorded in a friendly letter that my mom would read aloud. While these friends might live far away, it was always fun to hear what they had been up to since the last time we had seen each other.

Now, holiday cards are still one of my favorite traditions. Two have already arrived (those friends are REALLY on top of the game), and I’m anticipating many, many more – even well beyond Christmas.

When we got married, December 1, 2013, I knew I wanted to include our wedding photos on our holiday card which meant waiting several weeks to get the proofs from our photographer, create a card, have them shipped and addressed, and get everything back in the mail. I decided then that instead of worrying about getting Christmas cards out in time, our family would do New Year’s cards instead! It’s worked out perfectly ever since because it’s never too late for holiday cards.

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That year, and nearly every year since, I’ve used Minted for holiday cards. Minted not only offers hundreds of creative designs but their proofing and shipping cannot be beaten. I created my cards on Monday before Thanksgiving, and they arrived at my house on Friday. Needless to say, that was crazy fast, and they’re crazy beautiful.

In honor of those newsletter Christmas cards from my childhood, I created a newsletter of sorts for our cards this year. I added a few of our big life moments from 2019 as well as a little note to our friends and family. I also took advantage of Minted’s return address printing, as well as their matching postage designs. Everything is here and ready to go!

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Since holiday cards can be such an investment, and I wanted a way to cherish the memories year after year, I have Christmas ornaments made using our cards. These are some of my favorite ornaments on our tree, and it’s so fun to look back on our cards throughout the years.

You can have your own ornaments made here, or you can skip the extra step and create a Christmas ornament card via Minted! Either way, I cannot recommend Minted holiday cards enough. They’ve been my go-to place for holiday cards since 2013!

Thank you to Minted for gifting me my cards this year. I love them!

xo Nicole

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Where to Shop for the Holidays this Year:: Hint: SHOP SMALL!

where to shop this holiday season

So many people do holiday gift guides this time of year, but I thought I’d bring you something a little different this year. Instead of what to shop, I’m giving you ideas of where to shop.

Shopping small business is a passion of mine. Many of my closest friends have their own businesses, and as a small business owner myself, I know how hard the grind is. This time of year, it’s especially important to remember our small business partners. These are our friends and neighbors. They are the parents at your kids’ schools. They are the people who walk 10 miles a day at America’s Mart to bring you the best items they can find. And I love each and everyone one of them.

Here are a few of my favorite places that I will be shopping this holiday season. I’d love to hear some of your favorite small businesses in the comments!

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Bernard Cohen Collection 
As you all might know, Bernard Cohen is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He recently launched a pearl jewelry collection that is absolutely stunning. Anyone would be thrilled to unwrap one of his pieces. All orders through December 6 will be 20% off with discount code AJSTYLE at checkout.

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Recently opened at Shops around Lenox in Atlanta, etuHOME is bound to be the next big thing in our area and beyond. I recently hosted a book signing there, and trust me, the space and selections are incredible. In fact, something tells me if you wander through etu, you might find something for yourself, too!

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Minted
If my love for Minted isn’t clear enough, allow me to tell you one more time: Minted is a wonderful place to shop any time of year. As I’ve mentioned, their art selections are unlike any other, and art is always a fantastic gift! It’s personal and thoughtful.

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

PHOTO BY HEIDI GELDHAUSER

Hudson Grace
Ever since I produced this stunning party at Hudson Grace last year for Atlanta Magazine HOME, I’ve had a crush on this unique home store. They have so many awesome goodies, but I especially love their table linens and candles. Oh, and a little birdie told me they have RBG Christmas ornaments. Who doesn’t need one of those?!

By the way, I’d love to invite each of you to join me at America’s Mart in January. I’ll be discussing how small business owners can define their brand, merchandise, and more!

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Thanksgiving Batch Cocktail:: Pumpkin Monks

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Meet the easiest entertaining trick: self-serve batch cocktails. And there is no better day to give it a try than on Thanksgiving. Let your guests serve their own drinks while you wrap-up dinner in the kitchen. It’s a fun way to kick off a celebration, too!

I have always loved Frangelico; it is a hazelnut liqueur that is traditionally served as an after-dinner digestivo. There is a legend that Frangelico was made by Friars in the Piedmont region of Italy where hazelnuts are abundant, it has a beautiful, nutty flavor profile.

Every year I try to come up with our signature Thanksgiving cocktail, and this one is a palette pleaser and crowd favorite. It’s not too sweet because the citrus notes take care of the sweetness. Plus it has a lovely mouthfeel.

Grab a punch bowl, your favorite coupes and enjoy the flavors of the season.

xx Annette

The Pumpkin Monk:: In Batch
serves 16

You will need:

– A large punch bowl
– 16 oz. Frangelico
– 16 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
– 12 oz. lemon juice
– 8 oz. pumpkin spice syrup

To prepare:
Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl and stir well. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup
*
this makes 1 cup which is 16 servings

You will need:
– 4 teaspoons cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ginger
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 teaspoon allspice
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar

To prepare:
Place in a pot, then bring to a boil and reduce about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Photo Credit: Dane Sponberg

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WOW them with dessert:: make pumpkin bread pudding!

This pumpkin bread pudding is so easy to make and is a great alternative to pumpkin pie. Prepare it ahead of time to wow your guests at the end of the meal.

This pumpkin bread pudding is so easy to make and is a great alternative to pumpkin pie. Since it makes a large batch, you can easily make as much as you need to fit your crowd. Plus, you can alleviate some stress by making the raisin bread ahead of time. Or, simply use a good-quality store bought bread. Your guests will never know the difference, and you’ll be a stress-free hostess.

Assemble this dessert first thing Thanksgiving morning, cover it with foil, and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. You can pull it fresh from the oven and serve it warm. You can also bake it in personal ramekins, so everyone has their own dish. It’s a cute and memorable presentation.

Don’t forget a dollop of fresh whipped cream (or even ice cream), too. Look for this and more recipes plus great entertaining tips in my book Picture Perfect Parties. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Makes 8 servings

You will need:
– 1 cup heavy cream, *milk can be a substitute for cream
– ¾ cup canned solid-pack organic pumpkin
– ½ cup sugar
– 6 large eggs
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
– 6 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old raisin bread
– ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
– 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Whisk together cream, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, salt, and spices in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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The one recipe you must make for Thanksgiving dinner

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Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost upon us? As you start planning your holiday menus, I wanted to share one of my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dishes. It’s become a must-have in our house: kumquat cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey, and no table is complete without it. Cranberry sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (yes, even without using a can!), and this one is equally as easy. Plus, the unexpected citrus flavor is perfection.

This cranberry sauce is especially good once the flavors come together which makes it an ideal complement for leftovers (next-day turkey sandwiches anyone?!) I like to serve mine from a jar; it gives it a wonderful homemade quality and is a pretty look for the table. Let me know if you give it a try and what everyone thinks!

Kumquat Cranberry Sauce
You will need:
– 2  cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– 12 kumquats cut into circle slices (cut the kumquat across to create pinwheel like slices)
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 2 12-ounce bags fresh or frozen cranberries

 

To prepare:

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, kumquat slices and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Simmer 4 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cinnamon, salt and clove and simmer 2 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)

Photo by Stefania Crudeli on Unsplash

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