DAY 11 || Perfect Christmas Morning Breakfast

Cranberry Christmas Torte

Ho Ho Ho! Santa is so close you can almost hear him! Which means, our time is running thin. I am sharing with y'all today a recipe that has been in our family for as long as I can remember that bodes well as a hostess gift or special family delicacy. It is SO easy, SO quick, SO delicious and SO comforting! It is the perfect treat to have around during the holidays to be enjoyed in the morning or with your afternoon coffee or even as dessert. The ingredients are mostly items you already have in your fridge or pantry... In no time, you could be sticking your fork into this yummy golden crust!




Ingredient List

2 c raw cranberries
1/2 c chopped nuts
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c butter
1 c flour
1 tsp almond extrat
2 eggs








Butter a pie dish and add:
2 cups washed, raw cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Beat together and pour over cranberry mixture:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp. almond extract
2 beaten eggs

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes





In the words of my favorite chef, Ina Garten, "How easy is that?!" Baking it for this long will leave the middle slightly moist so that when you reheat in the oven you won't over bake the torte. I recommend zapping a piece in the microwave for 30 seconds or reheating the torte at 325 for 15 minutes whenever your ready to nosh on this little slice of heaven.

This Cranberry Christmas Torte is perfect to bring as a gift to your host or to compliment your family's savory breakfast dishes. Whomever you share this special treat with will be so glad you did!

Merry Christmas Eve to all of you!


Day 5 || Give the Gift of Love

The best gifts we can give during the holidays are those that reflect the messages of the season: light over darkness, love over hate, grace over unforgiveness and joy over sorrow. 

Here at Gracious Garlands we felt called to connect our mission of spreading joy throughout the community to an organization founded in love,  Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN.  We hope you'll join us in this effort!

Still thinking about what to give those you love? Or maybe you have a little more that you feel you can give to others this holiday? We have the perfect idea for a gift that is as simple as a few clicks yet incredibly involved and meaningful. Scroll down for examples of what different monetary amounts can provide for these women... a little goes such a long way!!

Founded in 1977 by Rev. Becca Stevens under the name Magdalene, Thistle Farms is a community of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. Thistle Farms manages an inmate program and a two-year residential program that offers housing, medical care, therapy, education and job training without charging women or receiving government funding. The women of Thistle Farms have developed practical ways we can love one another without prejudice or judgment. 

Many people like to know what good their donations are providing. Here is a list of common costs that women at Thistle Farms encounter and how your donations can greatly help!

Weekly food costs - $30 / woman

GED Exam - $30 / woman

Entrance lab tests - $35 / woman

One hour of individual therapy - $45 / woman

Weekly living expenses allowance - $45 / woman

Entrance physical examination - $50 /woman

Dental Exam - $75 / woman

Dedicated/specialized therapeutic group facilitator - $50

One month bus pass $60 / woman

Month supply medication - $60 / woman

Clothing upon entry - $100 / woman

Vision Assessment / Glasses - $150 / woman

There is an option to choose to give these donations in honor of a loved one, and Thistle Farms will notify them of this extremely loving gift. You can click here to be taken to our donation page and then, click on donate to give to Thistle Farms today! 

Thistle Farms believes that in the end love is the most powerful force for change in the world. And, we couldn't agree more!

Joy to the World!


DAY 4 || The Ultimate Holiday Treat

DAY 4 || Peppermint Puppy Chow

Aren't we always looking for simple, yet delicious recipes to compliment our busy lives? During the holiday rush, it seems there's never enough time to decorate the house, cook for arriving guests, pack the tree with beautifully wrapped presents or throw together yummy treats for teachers, neighbors and good friends. I have for you a quick and addicting holiday recipe that saves you both time and money: Peppermint Puppy Chow from Sally's Baking Addiction. 

This recipe calls for only 4 ingredients and can be thrown together in less than 5 minutes. Here's what you need:

10oz White Chocolate

5 cups Rice Chex Cereal

1 cup Crushed Candy Canes

1 cup Powdered Sugar


In a large bowl, measure out 5 cups of Chex Cereal. Melt the white chocolate according to package instructions. Pour melted white chocolate into large bowl with Chex. Fold gently until white chocolate covers Chex. Next, fold in crushed candy canes. Measure out 1 cup powdered sugar and pour into a large zip-lock bag or tupperware container with lid.  Next, the fun part! Pour the white chocolate, peppermint Chex into the bag or container. Close container and SHAKE! Shake until sugar dispersed evenly.

This fun, satisfying treat will keep for up to 2 weeks when stored at room temperature and will make about 3-4 goodie bags to give as presents. However, I recommend making a batch for your family or Santa to share around the tree! If you don't, you may not have any left to gift to others!


Post- Holiday Tip: Make this sweet delight with those left over candy canes for your New Year's Day football watching parties or after the holidays!!

Happy Snacking!


Favorite Bites for a Busy Day

I know most of us feel there are not enough hours in the day, especially when the holidays roll around. This time constraint we often feel was a huge inspiration for the birth of GG. We wanted to create a product that was not only the best quality you could find and the most beautiful but also, the most accessible. With Gracious Garlands, you can pick up or have delivered (and have set up) your wreaths, trees, garlands, bows, other holiday decor and gifts-- all in ONE place! We are dedicated to increasing the time you have to enjoy the holidays with friends and family and decreasing your stress! That's why this year, for the first time, we are offering to not only deliver your tree but also, your other items. 

Today, I want to share with you two go-to, healthy and energizing recipes I turn to on those busy days: feta, avocado toast and power-up bites.


Feta Avocado Toast

Feta Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is all the rave these days and I finally know why. It's as savory as an omelette but ready in half of the time and with a portion of the mess. This recipe is made of four ingredients, including the bread! 

  • Your favorite piece of bread, toasted
  • 1 small avocado (1/2 of a large) mashed with salt & pepper to taste
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Sriracha sauce drizzled to your heat tolerance

Sriracha can be substituted for a sweeter, milder hot sauce, if you're not someone who loves the heat like us in Texas. If you haven't jumped on the avocado toast train, this quick and filling recipe will surely get you on board!

Power-Up Bites



Power-Up Bites

I am a cookie monster, ask any of my friends, so I'm always looking for a healthy alternative to satisfy my cookie cravings. My Aunt Julie brought these treats to the mountains about 3 years ago and made my world was complete.  These Power-Up Bites are SO delicious that it's hard to believe they are healthy! They are a perfect breakfast for a morning on-the-go or a delightful treat with your afternoon coffee. This recipe is so easy and quick-- leaving you plenty of time to shop on GG for those perfect bows on your mantle!

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir together the following in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 ½ cups organic crunchy peanut butter 
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¾ whole, lightly salted roasted almonds
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup flax seeds
  • ¼ cup wheat germ (I use Bob's Red Mill Wheat Germ)
  • ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds

Dampen hands as you make into balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

These glorious nuggets come out of the oven slightly toasted and in moments, ready to be devoured! These treats are packed full of vitamin E and folic acid from the wheat germ, omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and fiber from flax seeds, protein from peanut butter, and anti-oxidants from oats and dark chocolate. Overloaded with ingredients to lower that Bad Cholesterol (LDL), these Power-Up Bites will give you the energy you need to power through the day while fighting off the effects of stress.

Enjoy a stress-free holiday with these simple, healthy bites and with the help of Gracious Garlands. Click on the Products tab above to start decorating that cozy fireplace where you can enjoy these treats in December!



Awreatha & Her Mini-Me

 Awreatha and Me

Awreatha and Me

Awreatha- that became my mom's nickname around town as her greenery "hobby" transformed into a business, whether she intended for it to or not. After many holiday seasons of admiring the beautiful quality and freshness of the greenery that adorned our home during the holidays, several of our neighbors in Nashville asked my mom if she would bring them wreaths and garlands from North Carolina upon our return from Thanksgiving. What began nearly 20 years ago as bringing a few items back for friends in the back of our 1994 Suburban, grew into a business requiring two of Ryder's largest trucks to deliver our wreaths, garlands and trees to our Gracious Garlands customers. Gracious Garlands became a part of many Nashvillian's Christmas traditions and spread beauty to doorsteps, both tangibly and symbolically; however, it brought no home greater joy than it did ours on Chancery Lane.

I talk about GG as if it is something of the past, which thankfully, contrary to what my parents expected when they moved to North Carolina, it is not! Three years ago, when my parents moved out of our home we lived in for what was my whole life, they assumed Gracious Garlands would fade away as many Christmas traditions do because we no longer had a place to run the seasonal business. Unbeknownst to them, I was heartbroken. Even though Pick-Up Day often fell on my Birthday and took my place of front and center, I always enjoyed when it was GG time. Gracious Garlands meant Birthday season (it seems 90% of my friends have December Birthdays), Christmas around the corner, Amy Grant Albums on repeat, potential snow days, fudge, Christmas lights, and our entire neighborhood smelling like a Christmas tree because of the amount of fresh greens piled in our backyard. Most importantly, Gracious Garlands brought all of those faces I hold dear in my heart to our home to pick up their order and I did not want that guaranteed yearly reunion taken from me.

So, when some of our best friends offered to host GG at their house, I was more than enthusiastic and deepened my involvement with the business. The first year we ran GG from this new location I was finishing up nursing school at Belmont which tremendously aided my efforts to keep GG afloat. Living in Nashville is typically are rarity for me, so the irony of the timing was sublime. Showing my mom my dedication to the life of the business really gave her the ardor she needed to continue on with GG.

This year I've created our website, learned web and graphic design, and been emotionally moved by devastating current events to connect GG to something bigger than itself. I hoped to align GG with an organization whose message is loving others above all else and was lead to the perfect partnership with Thistle Farms. My motivation to keep Gracious Garlands in business and expand our was driven by all that I've mentioned thus far; however, the most meaningful reason is the time GG provides me with Awreatha.

My mom and I now have an annual 10 day, mandatory meeting that involves constant laughter, many "splashes" of wine, coffee, 20 numb fingers from working in the cold, even more coffee, quality time with friends who we call family and eats from all our favorite Nashville spots. We are two peas in a pod that luckily bring different strengths to the GG team. I am grateful for the memories GG has meant to me over the past 20 years, but I am even more excited for the years to come.

Needless to say, I cannot wait until it's time for another Tennessee Christmas!


TGIF! GG Website is LIVE!

'Tis the Season! Can you believe it? It's hard for us to believe fall is in full swing and the holidays are right around the corner. 

We are THRILLED to share with you what GG has been up to in the past 10 months. We have created a beautiful website, added new products and services, grown our ribbon selection, expanded to TWO NEW CITIES, and felt called to partner with the incredible organization, Thistle Farms. 

Gracious Garlands is adding Pick-Up Days in CHARLESTON and ATLANTA!!! We are so excited to share our beautiful products and holiday splendor with more southern cities. Customers in these cities will pre-order their items and pick them up on the designated day. Please spread the good news with your friends by passing our website along. 

To receive updates, recipes, and design inspo from Gracious Garlands, join the GG List here!

Thank you to those who have supported us for over 15 years. We are excited about what the future of Gracious Garlands holds and look forward to spreading joy in new homes and cities!

We will continue to remind you that the greenery & tree order deadline is October 31. All other products and services may be purchased until December.


Elle & Vicki