Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Treat: Tour of Homes

(l to r, Carolyn, Rhoda, Cheryl) Click all the pics to enlarge & see the details!

What a treat! Even though I didn't do anything special on my actual birthday, Saturday ended up being the fun day & a perfect way to celebrate my birthday...a total girl day of touring 4 homes all decorated for Christmas (the 58th annual tour of homes by the Independent Presbyterian Church).

When we moved to Birmingham two years ago, I only knew 2 people who lived here & that is my friends Carolyn and Cheryl. We met several years ago on a decorating message board & became friends in real life when we all got together periocally in Atlanta & Birmingham to do showhouse tours. We all have a love of decorating & gardening & that has drawn us together. We try to get together as often as possible, which is not nearly enough with everyone's work schedules & life in general, but Saturday was one of those days that came together just perfectly. Cheryl graciously invited us over to her house to start the day with breakfast. Cheryl has a beautiful home & she is a very talented decorator. Her home is truly a showplace & she has it all decked out for the Holidays. Seeing it was a treat itself & breakfast was just the icing on the cake! The bad news is...we found out that no photos were allowed on the tour, but don't be disappointed, Cheryl allowed me to take pics at her house to share with all of you & you are in for a real treat! I only took a fraction of what I could have taken, but you will love these.

Cheryl & her hubby have worked tirelessly on their backyard & it is really a dream come true. I would love to have a backyard & porch like this. She has added many Christmas touches out here on the screened porch as well as out on the patio.
Bombe chest with a baby Christmas tree in an urn....so very garden-y.
Love this little pillow that says "Meet Me Under the Mistletoe". You can get a glimpse in the background of the patio & firepit area.
Here is the brick patio & firepit. She added a beautiful urn with Christmas touches here too.
More little touches of Christmas. She was telling me that she built this wall last summer & worked hard on getting all of this done. Pictures do not even do it justice!
I love this! Christmas balls, greenery, & a bow & pinecones in an iron box...how festive.
Pretty fountain in the backyard.
Screened porch...check out the stocking, I love that fabric.
Breakfast area chandelier...all ribboned for Christmas.
Bowl of ornaments & jewels. I just love everything she has done. Makes me want to go out & buy more stuff!
Morning room off the kitchen...beautiful tree in an urn.
And the diningroom table was set so beautifully. Cheryl has a magical touch with everything!
And check out the fantastic breakfast she made for us...baked Orange Marmelade French Toast, Fresh fruit, sausage, coffee & juice. It was wonderful!
Love these beautiful plates she has & doesn't the food look so yummy sitting here..it was yummy, I had 2 helpings of french toast?! By popular demand, here's the recipe from Cheryl...thank you Cheryl! I know these ladies will love to make this too:
From CookingLight (hee hee!!!)...this is direct from Cheryl's email.

MARMALADE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

3 tablespoon butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) sourdough French bread loaf, cut into 24 (1/2 inch) slices
Cooking Spray
1 (12-ounce) jar orange marmalade
2 3/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 large eggs
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (being a "Southern" gal, I used pecans)

Spread softened butter on one side of each bread slice. Arrange 12 bread slices, buttered side down, slightly overlapping in a single layer in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread marmalade evenly over bread; top with remaining 12 bread slices, buttered side up.

Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through eggs) stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle casserole with walnuts (pecans). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Outside Cheryl's home...an urn filled with Christmas greenery & cheer. Cheryl's entire house is to die for...they have been working for about 2 years on finishing up their basement & I finally got to see it too. Oh. my word! It is gorgeous. Stained concrete floors, media area, pool table, game table, workout room, & office space. They have done all the work themselves & it is truly amazing. I had seen pics of it in progress, but they do not even do it justice. It's fantastic!
We left after breakfast for the home tour & it was a lot of fun. There were 4 homes in the Mountain Brook area of Birmingham, which in case you don't know is the ritzy, old-money part of town. We saw so many pretty homes & got a lot of great ideas for Christmas decorating. This is the only pic I took outside at one of the homes. These homes are gorgeous, inside & out....some of them had the most beautiful patio & outdoor living spaces you can imagine. Most of the homes in Mountain Brook are older homes that have been renovated to the nines.
We went back to the church after we toured the homes. They have tea & dessert set up in their great hall, which is a treat in itself. This is one of the older churches in Birmingham & is so beautiful. Looks like something you would see in England. I took a few pics inside. This is inside the frontdoor, all natural greenery & apples.
They had fresh flowers all down the aisles going to the front of the church. The red was just gorgeous, as you can imagine.
Down front was another huge display of fresh red flowers.
And this was the centerpiece on the table in the great hall. It was a nice ending to a wonderful day...tea & dessert made by loving hands, I'm sure.
Hope you enjoyed! I know you did....I have lots more to share with you of my house too, but after seeing Cheryl's gorgeous decor, mine doesn't look so exciting to me anymore...ha-ha! But, I'll share anyway. Peter & I had a wonderful dinner out last night at a place called Martini's, a recently opened restaurant. The Executive Chef used to be out our way & has opened this new restaurant. In fact, Peter's son (the chef) worked for him last year before moving to NY to go to culinary school.
We've got our Sunday School class coming over tonight for BBQ & fun. We're playing Dirty Santa, so it should be a hoot, that's always a fun game. I may not take pics of it, but you get the idea. Hope ya'll have a great week...enjoy the Christmas season & treasure it with your friends & families.

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43 friends stopped by:

Southern Heart said...

Rhoda, everything at Cheryl's looked so pretty. Everything she does is lovely. You all are lucky to live close to each other! :) The breakfast looked so yummy!
I'm glad that you had such a fun birthday, too! You had an exciting weekend, didn't you?

Thank you for your sweet note on my blog. I think you would definitely be at home, and we would be like sisters!

xoxo, Andrea

justabeachkat said...

Oh what fun! It sounds like the tour would be a good one too. Darn...wish The "B"s were that for that! Cheryl's has done a wonderful job with her decorations and her house is beautiful. That french toast looks soooo good. Did you get the recipe?

Christmas Hugs!
Kat

It's a Mom Thing said...

What a great way to spend the day. And Cheryl's house looks beautiful. Any chance she would share her Orange Marmelade French Toast recipe? That breakfast sure looked delicious! I'm thinking it may be a Christmas morning possibility.

PAT said...

Well I said to myself...that's Cheryl's gorgeous home!! I'm going back to read and take a closer look at the photos. Ya'll look great in the photo.

We ventured out into the ice and found it was pretty easy to get around. Saw some very pretty homes. I took photos in one or two of them. We knew all the homeowners, so that was fun, too! It started raining again at 31 degrees, so we scurried home. Lots of broken branches around town and this is to continue until Tuesday!

Pat

Rosemary said...

Rhoda,
What a great day! Tell Cheryl everything is beautiful at her house. What a nice friend to have.
Please post the recipe for that french toast. I would love to make that.
Glad you had a great birthday!
Rosemary

NAME: CIELO said...

It look you had a marvelous birthday after all. I love every pic. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Cielo

Jen r. said...

Rhoda,
Everything looks so pretty! I did our tour too here and they wouldn't let us do any pictures either :( Thanks for sharing those. It makes me want to run out and add MORE stuff to my chandelier!!! Jen R

Terri and Bob said...

Rhoda, Cheryl's house is lovely but I am sure that even if you think yours doesn't compare... many of us might disagree with you! Please still share!!

Sher's Creative Expressions said...

Rhoda, thank you for sharing Cheryl's beautiful house with us, and thank Cheryl too. It's lovely. She looks like an amazing cook as well. Too bad I don't live down south. . . I'd see if you'd all want an extra friend. My kind of ladies, decorating, creating and touring homes. *sigh* Bliss, I tell ya, pure Bliss.

Blessings,

Sher

ValleyGirl said...

Wow. Oh my... wow. It kind of blows my mind that there are people in this world who live in homes that look like that! All I could think of was what the house and all the beautiful decorations would look like after my kids had been there for a day or two!

Thanks for yet another wonderful tour!! (thanks to your friend too, for allowing you to share her home with us!)

Anonymous said...

All I can say is...I waaaant to live where you live!!!!! Oh why did my parents ever move out of the South?

martha said...

Sounds like you had a nice birthday! Thanks so much for sharing pictures of your friend's home. It is beautiful! I would also like the recipe for the French Toast; it looks great. I hope you share pictures of your home as well; I'm sure it is wonderful! Thanks again!

Classic Charm said...

Rhoda,
Wow...wow....wow....everything looks just lovely..lovely...I really enjoyed my visit here today. You were right, what a TREAT indeed.

Rose

Robyn said...

WOW! That was truly lovely! Thanks for sharing!

debbiekay said...

There's no place like home, There's no place like home, and I sure wish I were there in Cheryl's home..what a gorgeous, amazingly beautiful display of her talents (oh and hubby too). Here in California we don't have anything like those home tours. I think I will move to the South when I retire...won't you (and Cheryl) be my friends???

Thanks for sharing,

Debbie Kay

Katrina said...

Hello, I really enjoyed these photos. The screened porch is a winner!!

BittersweetPunkin said...

Oh how Gorgeous!! I especially love the Patio...wish mine looked like that!! It looks like it was a great day of "Ooohing" and "Aaahing"!
Blessings,
Robin

Deb said...

Hi Rhoda
Happy Belated Birthday!
Thanks for the lovely tour of your friends home. The french toast looks delicious - I am looking forward to returning for the recipe :-}

willzmom said...

I'm trying to get caught up on all my 'visiting'. I hope that you had a wonderful birthday, and what's better than spending it with those you love. Have a wonderful day.

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Wow, Cheryl's home is so beautiful! You should talk her into starting a blog! I would love to see more!

Julie said...

Wow! that was an amazing and beautiful tour! I love the center piece with the pinecones and apples.

Alice said...

Everything at Cheryl's home looks beautiful and festive. It was such a treat to see it all. But I'm still really looking forward to seeing your home in its Christmas finery. I know it must be gorgeous.

Tonja said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics. I especially like the flower arrangements in the church. We are having a tour of homes in Dothan this weekend, I always like to go and see what other folks are doing and gather new ideas.

Niesz Vintage Home said...

Count me in as one of the ones waiting for the french toast recipe. LOL
Yummmmmm.
Kimberly :)

Rosie's Whimsy said...

Beautiful, beautiful photos. I love the bombe chest!

Kari & Kijsa said...

What a lovely and inspiring tour! All her little touches were just right! we felt as though we had our own personal home tour! Sounds like a wonderful day filled with fun, laughter, and memories!

blessings,
kari & kijsa

restyled home said...

What a wonderful pile of hoilday photos...the tour looks like it was truly inspirational!!
Happy belated birthday to you (sorry I'm so late), a Christmas baby you are!!

Linda
xox

Maureen said...

Looks like y'all had a fun day!It's been a while since we all toured Cheryl's home together then moved on to the Southern Accents Holiday home there in B'ham, but I remember how beautiful Cheryl's holiday decor was in person. She is a wonderful hostess as well! Her outdoor spaces are amazing! Glad to see the three of you having fun!!!

Sandi McBride said...

What a grand tour...thanks for sharing...specially the recipe...I've copied it to print. Think I'll serve it for Christmas breakfast

It's a Mom Thing said...

Yea! Thanks for the recipe. I look forward to trying it soon!

Sandy said...

Rhoda, I love the outside Christmas decorations. I've decorated a little on our back patio, but unless you are heading out to the hot tub - no one sees them! (tooooo cooold!):)
Mmmm, can't wait to try the recipe!
Sandy

Cre8Tiva said...

i do wish you would come decorate for me...everything you do is wonderful...hugs, r

The Decorated House said...

Hey Rhoda!
And Hi to Sweet Cheryl and Kee!
That was such a great surprise to come by and see a bit of you all.

Cheryl's house is at the top of my list places to "visit" at this time of year. It is so wonderfully decorated any day of the year, but she does such a fantastic job at Christmastime. She has the perfect touch of not too much while making it really festive.

Thanks Rhoda for sharing your day with us!
Donna

rpm said...

Wow, what a beautiful home and yummy breakfast. Thanks for sharing that. I sure do enjoy the pictures you share with all of us.

joan said...

Your friend's house is so pretty. I wish I had that talent. And that french toast looks way too yummy. Glad you had a nice birt.hday

cityfarmer said...

This looks just a LITTLE more exciting than an ice storm...I'll be "wishin" myself right down to your patio....


take a peek at my 200th post.

Esther Sunday said...

Gosh, Cheryl's home and yard are stunning! Looking foward to more pics! Glad you had such a nice birthday! Love, Esther

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Rhoda,

Thanks so much for the tour. It all looks so beautiful, and there is nothing better than enjoying it with sweet friends.

Special touches for celebrating a very special time. Thanks, dear Rhoda, for including all of us!
xo Lidy

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Wow, such lovely photos! Thanks for sharing them!

xo

NY Mary said...

Cheryl's home is so beautifully decorated. Thank her for allowing you to share it.
I'm salivating over her breakfast too!
Never heard of "dirty santa"...you have to share this! N

cathymac said...

Rhoda-what a beautiful blog! I so enjoyed the home tour article and pictures, and your home is gorgeous, as well!

Vonda said...

Wow Cheryl's place is also beautiful and girl that Marmalade French toast recipe looks divine! I think I'm gonna try it this weekend. Hope you had a wonderful Birthday! So glad you have found such sweet friends but of course I'm not surprised one bit because you are so precious yourself, Rhoda! -V

Bonnie said...

How did I miss this! Cheryl's house is always such a treat to see at Christmas! She is such a great Christmas decorator & I always love seeing her Christmas pics. Thanks for sharing them with us. Great pic of Cheryl, & Kee & you! They are some sweet girls!
Bonnie - Hope ya'll had fun touring the homes.