Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Wreaths - Inspiration & an Easy DIY

williamsburg wreaths

Ever since I was in elementary school, I loved taking a trip to Colonial Williamsburg (CW) around the holidays for two very important things that have created traditions lasting all these years:  gingerbread & Christmas wreaths.  I figure I can't be the only one who loves their decorations, so up today are my favorite wreaths from this years pilgrimage, along with a few tips to create your own.

CW was restored and continues to be maintained as a historic site thanks the the Rockefeller family.  Yeah those Rockefellers - with the big tree in New York.  They must have a thing for evergreens.  Back in the 1700s, the homes in the town weren't decorated with greens & natural ingredients like these wreaths.  That tradition started in the 1930's as a way to attract visitors to the site.  And now that I've ruined all the illusion....

Consider this your warning that there are entirely too many pictures in this post.  Disclaimer: I don't care.  There were too many ideas on these wreaths to leave any out - trust me, I skipped over more than a few handfuls of excellent ones!  I'll highlight in the captions why I love each one.  

This one is unique with it's partially exposed wreath, but it keeps to the symmetry principle.  The deconstructed pinecones into "flowers" is my favorite part!

This one is unique with it's partially exposed wreath, but it keeps to the symmetry principle.  The deconstructed pinecones into "flowers" is my favorite part!

This wreath was HUGE and actually displayed at the top of a barn.  It was completely covered with flowers and flower pods - no fruit here!

This wreath was HUGE and actually displayed at the top of a barn.  It was completely covered with flowers and flower pods - no fruit here!

These two wreaths both are made of completely dried out materials - corn on the right, and okra pods, pomegranates, & sunflowers on the left.  Just as beautiful as the greenery wreaths but you don't have to worry about them drying out in the sun or dying before Christmas.

These two wreaths both are made of completely dried out materials - corn on the right, and okra pods, pomegranates, & sunflowers on the left.  Just as beautiful as the greenery wreaths but you don't have to worry about them drying out in the sun or dying before Christmas.

I adore this one and it's simplicity - magnolia leaves, pinecones, and it looked to me like dried thyme.  Or maybe lavender.  Either way - awesome. I love the look made by combining the front & backs of the leaves to give extra dimension.

I adore this one and it's simplicity - magnolia leaves, pinecones, and it looked to me like dried thyme.  Or maybe lavender.  Either way - awesome. I love the look made by combining the front & backs of the leaves to give extra dimension.

I've entitled this one 'Oranges 3 Ways"- whole, dried whole, and sliced.  Or maybe it should be the circular cornucopia. Apples, oranges, limes, lemons, walnuts.  All I know is it's beautiful!

I've entitled this one 'Oranges 3 Ways"- whole, dried whole, and sliced.  Or maybe it should be the circular cornucopia. Apples, oranges, limes, lemons, walnuts.  All I know is it's beautiful!

Seriously - don't you just love the mind that created this one?  It's on a styrofoam form, so super easy to attach the flowers and insert the dried okra pods and flower stocks.  It's almost a star if you use your imagination.  

Seriously - don't you just love the mind that created this one?  It's on a styrofoam form, so super easy to attach the flowers and insert the dried okra pods and flower stocks.  It's almost a star if you use your imagination.  

This was on display for purchase in the garden shop at CW.  I love the flowers they chose - a very un-Christmasy feel - which is a great reminder that natural ingredient wreaths aren't just for Christmas!

This was on display for purchase in the garden shop at CW.  I love the flowers they chose - a very un-Christmasy feel - which is a great reminder that natural ingredient wreaths aren't just for Christmas!

Another magnolia wreath (I'm partial to the name of course!) for good measure - I love the simplicity of it!

Another magnolia wreath (I'm partial to the name of course!) for good measure - I love the simplicity of it!

For years I've had aspirations of drying out fruit myself and making my own wreath.  And finally this year I woke up, realized I don't have unlimited time, and IT'S OK TO CUT CORNERS.  Can I get an amen on that one?  I can still do-it-myself if I buy all the parts and put it together.  Don't make something harder than it has to be!

So here was my first (not nearly as beautiful as CW's, but made with as much heart!) attempt at a natural wreath.

I bought dried limes and orange slices last year during my visit to use in my wreath - you can see the lineup of products they have in their garden shop to take home and use to DIY your own!  I bought red peppers and cotton to use with my leftover fruits in next years wreath.

That green book 'Colonial Williamsburg Decorate for Christmas' has lots of tips on drying your own fruits and constructing your own wreaths.  A great tool if you plan to make your own!

That green book 'Colonial Williamsburg Decorate for Christmas' has lots of tips on drying your own fruits and constructing your own wreaths.  A great tool if you plan to make your own!

If you ever get a chance to visit CW around the holidays, be sure you take the Christmas Decorations walking tour.  It takes about an hour and you get to see the finest wreaths that year, including those that won in various categories.  It's worth the extra ticket (PS - they usually sell out so reserve a time before you leave home)!

Happy wreath making - I'd love to see if you make your own - comment with a link to your picture or email it to me & I'll update the post to share your great examples!

Tupelo Honey Cafe

I'm still processing all that took place at the Allume conference last month in Greenville, South Carolina.  Eventually I promise to post about it, but what I am fully prepared to write about is food.  Especially southern food.  You need to know I have an affinity for a good hearty Southern breakfast.  Bacon. Grits.  Need a girl ask for more?  Ok, maybe chipped beef gravy.  There is no better breakfast in my book.  Why do you care?  Because enter one of my favorite all time places for a hearty Southern breakfast with a modern twist - Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Tupelo Honey Cafe
Tupelo Honey Cafe

The original restaurant is in Asheville, NC and we tested it out last winter on a weekend trip to the Biltmore.  On a very cold, windy morning, we waited over an hour to get a teeny-tiny table.  Let's not leave out the biggest detail that it had snowed the day before.  Not only was it freezing cold, but there was salt covering the roads that was lovingly being blown into my eyes as we wandered outside the restaurant.  My contacts have never hated me so much.  The food was even better than I had expected and more times than I should admit I regretted not picking up their cookbook there and then.

Tupelo Honey Greenville
Tupelo Honey Greenville

So when I realized one had since opened in Greenville within walking distance of the hotel, it was on.  Not only was I coming home cookbook toting, but I was getting up early to avoid the line.  It's not an old location, but it has plenty of charm.  Old screen doors and windows serve as wall panels and decor.  My favorite part was the panels above the open kitchen that displayed the sites around Greenville.  I love that they embrace their roots.  Cause that's what Southerners do ya'll.

Tupelo Honey Greenville
Tupelo Honey Greenville

There's so much more to this place than the few plates we've tried, but here's the skinny on our favorites from that morning.

Goat cheese grits Tupelo Honey Cafe
Goat cheese grits Tupelo Honey Cafe

Shut my mouth.  Hopefully with a spoon of this in it.  Goat cheese grits.  Though my old faithful will always be Georgia Ice Cream (aka grits with cheese) that I top with crumbled bacon, these are a close second.  The tang from the cheese is just enough to wake up your tastebuds.  I picked up goat cheese to make these this week (thank goodness for that cookbook!).

Tupelo Honey hashbrowns
Tupelo Honey hashbrowns

Andy loves him some hash browns.  But he doesn't share my love of grits.  Bless his heart, he thinks Splenda or sugar belongs in grits.   He's a work in progress but I'm working on him.  He might not be Southern born, but he will be Southern bred if its the last thing I do.  But back to the potatoes, these were seasoned amazingly, and the cut of them makes it a bit more special.

Tupelo Honey Chicken and Biscuits
Tupelo Honey Chicken and Biscuits

Chicken and biscuits.  Bread.  Gravy.  Fried anything.  There's nothing more I can say.  The portions are huge, so we split this and got a side of bacon to cover all our protein sources in one meal. Y-U-M.

Tupelo Honey Cafe biscuits
Tupelo Honey Cafe biscuits

I probably should have started with these monster biscuits they bring to every table.  How on earth you can make them so tall and cooked to perfection all the way through is beyond me.  But with honey & their blueberry compote?  Count this as a warning that if you down this whole thing before you meal, you may not eat much else.

Tupelo Honey Menu
Tupelo Honey Menu

Take a peek at a quick shot from the menu.  It's not your typical ingredients (I mean crab in eggs?), but everything I've tasted has been wonderful and all the things I stalk on the tables around me look tasty too.  You do that too right?  Or am I really that nosy?

They are well known for their special sweet potato pancakes which I tried in Asheville.  And for good reason because they are awesome.  But getting a double stack?  Bad idea, unless you are known as the pancake eating champion at your local Waffle House.  Because these things are probably 12 inches across.

Just come hungry.  And be prepared to wait.  But just know it's worth it.  Have you been before?  What recipe should I try out next from the cookbook?

Au Revoir Europe!

Today ends my 31 day stretch of writing and I'm celebrating.  Not with tricks or treats, but hopefully with an early bedtime.  I started The Nester's 31 day challenge in an attempt to be more disciplined in writing.  To be honest, writing two or three times a week is going to feel like cake.  And that's exactly what I was hoping for. As much as I've loved writing about our London & Paris trip, I'm ready to get back to the everyday stories, crafts, and cooking.  Mostly because I completely missed the month of October.  Fall is my favorite season, yet I have bought no pumpkin, carved no Jack-O-Lanterns, eaten no candy corn, and pulled out nary a fall decoration bin from the garage.  And I'm slowly becoming ok with that….for this year at least.  Because instead I became a better writer & got to spend time remembering the making of memories with this guy.

IMG_8783
IMG_8783

I love traveling & seeing new places, so I'm sure there will be "Best Of" posts from future trips.    But 31 days about one trip?  I can promise you never again.  So hopefully you had a laugh or learned something in the last month of posts.  But today I want to thank you for reading & sticking with me in uncharted travel blogging territory.

And in honor of your faithfulness I'll give you something to look forward to …..

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be49e0c3c308ccb09ffe753c13c042eb

You may have seen this beauty floating around Pinterest from the blog 'Tatertots & Jello'.  I'll be making & tutorial-ing my version of this number next week.

Happy Halloween!