Elevate Thanksgiving With Chef Nicole On The Mama Guide

Elevate Thanksgiving With Chef Nicole On The Mama Guide

Elevate Your Thanksgiving Dinner With These Professional Tips From Chef Nicole Studer

Chef Nicole is a cooking genius bringing us her very best tips to elevate your Thanksgiving Dinner! Whether you’re cooking for a few, or a crowd, use these expert tips to bring your inner chef out this year and the many to come. Interviewing her was such a pleasure, if you have questions for her in the future, be sure to let us know and subscribe to see if your questions are featured for her in posts to come! 

1. Charcuterie Boards Are A Must For Guests While You Cook

Chef Nicole: Charcuterie boards are a total crowd pleaser. You can be really creative or just throw a few things together, I like to start with basics and add off of that. I live in a nut free house so I like to put things like nuts on the side. 

Q: What are your favorite items that you can’t live without? Favorite cheese that all our guests will love?

Chef Nicole: My go to is totally a Brie. I love how full of flavor it is, easy to eat and pairs well with all types of crackers and wine. When in doubt, serve familiar foods and crackers that everyone knows. I go with a ripened cheese like Brie, a hard cheese like Parmesan, a soft cheese like Mozzarella, Blue Cheese and a semi-hard one like Gouda. I also like to add a cheese with spice in it like a pepper jack. Always use grapes and apples then just fill in with something seasonal like pears, figs or dried cranberries. 

2. Mashed Potatoes The RIGHT Way

Chef Nicole: I don’t mess around because I LOVE mashed potatoes and I am super critical of them lol.  I recommend warming your milk, butter and or cream in a saute pan over heat before mixing them into your potatoes.That way, when you add them into your already piping hot mashers, you’re not changing the temp or having to reheat them. Another tip for mashers is that sometimes we have too much going on and slightly over cook them. You can still save them by adding in more milk and butter then placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Give them a little cook in the oven to regain that fluffy texture again, instead of a wet mixture mess. 

3. Use Compound Butter For Unbelievable Flavor

Chef Nicole: Compound butter this is where you let butter come to room temperature and throw it in your Kitchenaid or mixer with herbs and seasonings to enhance the flavor of your butter. I usually throw in herbs that go well with my meal, this is something that you can tailor to you and the flavors you like. 

Q: What herbs do you use and what would you use compound butter for?

Chef Nicole: My go to is Rosemary, Sage, diced Shallots, salt and pepper. First I mix the butter then chop my herbs. I love fresh herbs; I believe that fresh is better but for something like this if all you have is dry herbs that is totally usable and no need to stress. Mixing is important for evenly distributing the flavors into your butter. Use your compound butter to rub onto your turkey, this is way better than randomly sprinkling herbs on top because you can get the flavors easily distributed and really into the meat. I also use this on the inside of my turkey!

Photo Credit Logan Lane @Sarahmae’s

4. Speed Up Cooking- Take Out The Turkey’s Spine

Chef Nicole: It’s called Spatchcock Turkey. This is where you remove the spine and lay your turkey flat while cooking, it helps you cook your turkey in half the time. It’s something we do in the cooking world a ton with chicken, but I did it last year on Thanksgiving and my results were amazing. I was able to make it much quicker and easier than stressing about the main course not being ready.

Q: How do you even cut the spine out of the turkey, is this hard?

Chef Nicole: I cut out the spine down the back and only remove the spine with a knife or kitchen scissors. You are sit the turkey on its butt and and start by cutting from the neck towards the end. You can then lay it flat on your baking sheet and cook it for about half the time, measuring the meat with a thermometer for food safety.

5. The Best Holiday Cocktail- Chef Nicole Approved

Chef Nicole: -Holiday Sangria. I love Sangria because it’s pretty much grab your favorite things, throw them into a pitcher with ice and fresh fruit and call it good! You are on your way to happy town lol. This is also nice because you know mamma needs her wine and mostly on the holidays! I just start with red, white or rose. Then you will need some booze, if you go with white or rose wine add a light liquor like vodka. If you go with red wine, traditionally you add Brandy. I also like to add some sparkling water, seltzer or tonic water; this adds a fun bubbly element. Simple syrup goes in to taste for sweetener and then all the fresh fruit you can think of. For holidays I like to add things that are in season like cranberries and citrus like oranges. They are both in season in the fall/winter, perfect for all the holidays!

6. The Best Thanksgiving Dessert To Serve?

Q: One Last question, what is the best and easiest dessert to serve as a chef on Thanksgiving?

Chef Nicole: Pumpkin Pie all the way! With more whipped cream than pie!

The Mama Guide approves that dessert!

Meet Chef Nicole:

Chef Nicole (left) lives In Portland OR with her beautiful wife Kellie and two pups, Ariel the Basset Hound and Oakley the Toy Aussie. Nicole is inspired in the kitchen by teaching. She likes to bring the love of cooking and flavor through her dishes. She enjoys helping people understand cooking on a whole new level and getting them excited to create meals that they love. Nicole wants to show people that cooking can be easy instead of intimidating. Most of all, she loves to show her strengths and heart though the meals she serves.

Follow Nicole on Instagram @chefcolie

12 Tips For Stunning Tablescapes

12 Tips For Stunning Tablescapes

12 Must Know Tips For Stunning Tablescapes

Tables are the heart of our homes, where we gather for meals, dine with our family and friends, and are the true anchor of any festive day. With these simple easy-to-follow tips your tablescape will be an effortless success throughout all the seasons and many days to come. Plus, learn these affordable tips to wow your guests, on a family friendly budget, too!

This post is sponsored by my dear friends at Decocrated- My favorite home decor subscription box that send beautiful pieces right to your front door every single season. Many of their pieces are in each of the photos! Head to Decocrated.com and use code CHELSEY10 to get $10 off your first purchase.

1. Always Use Fresh Greenery

Adding fresh greens to your napkins, bowls, baskets and more bring life to your table. Our favorites are Eucalyptus, or even Baby’s Breath! You don’t have to spend a ton to elevate your table like expensive bouquets, we find some of the best greenery in the filler section of grocery florals. Check out Whole Foods for $5 bunches to fill your spread. 

2. Don’t Skip The Sweets

Whether you’re serving up a hot pie, a beautiful cake, or even just some apples in a basket, NEVER skip the sweets. Get creative with candy dishes and more, but something inviting makes every table complete. It’s will draw everyone in to make the most of the moments we spend together, and really set the mood! – A sweet one that is. 

3. Add Height For Interest

When your table feels bare, or missing that special element, check to make sure you have elements with height! Stack trays and more for a layered look, rich in depth! Get creative with your pieces, what can you stack and combine?

PRO TIP: Avoid blocking conversations by moving your centerpiece to the corner of the table and let it flow outward from there. Grab this tray in the 2019 Decocrated Winter Box.

4. Use Artwork

Artwork like signage elevates your tablescapes. Pull pieces from around the home like this one above, or find perfect pieces from thrift stores and more! In a pinch? Frame some 5×7 prints that match the color scheme for your table to add an elegant touch. 

5. Invest In Staples

Invest in staples that will stand the test of time, and seamlessly transition you through seasons. We recommend using neutrals that work well with any color scheme. Think napkins, runners, plates, chargers, and trays like this one from the Decocrated 2019 Winter Box. You can rearrange them effortlessly and no one will be the wiser! Don’t believe us? Scroll back up and see for yourself!

6. Make It Easy Grab

Be the best hostess by leaving must haves within arms reach. Straws, cups, napkins and more. You’ll save yourself a ton of time while hosting, plus it really pulls the table together. Don’t forget, set the table with ready-grab snacks too! This will really set the table as your anchor to draw everyone together and keep conversation flowing. 

7. Always Incorporate Linens

Never skimp on the linens, be it table runners, napkins, or even a pillow! Take a peek in the corner at the pillow from the Decocrated box (always a great source for quality fabric items that warm up every space). The rule should follow you throughout your entire home, you can never have too many cozy items, but don’t forget the tables! Use these to make your dining room especially inviting.

8. Ribbons & Ties Go Far

Use inexpensive ribbons and strings to pull together a wow-worthy table for any holiday or season. This is our favorite for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Incorporate the whole look by using the same textile throughout the table. Don’t only wrap your napkins, wrap faux presents like above, tie bread baskets and more with the same strings! For $2.99 and under, you have the perfect accessory. 

9. Set Your Table & Keep It Set

Keep your table set, even days you’re not having guests! Keeping silverware and plates ready to go not only sets the mood, extends your decor, but also makes the home feel elevated and upscale. Yes, regardless of your home size or value, keeping your tablescape will bring out the fancy for everyone! Have fun with simple napkin folds to take you through the season, just wash up and place back that night (or tomorrow morning if the kids keep you busy because they’re going wild and don’t want to sleep.) 

PRO TIP: If you have little ones, remember, involving them in cleaning and setting the table is fun! Don’t worry about it getting messed up, have fun teaching them how to learn wonderful things like where spoons or forks go, how to fold for their fine motor skills. Make it a fun family routine. 

10. Repurpose Misc. Items

Dig into your china cabinet for this one! Repurpose old items like antique baby cups, teacups and more for a unique look. Random keepsakes give your settings more life, and are great conversation pieces. Use them for garnishing stations, to hold seasonal items like cinnamon sticks, and more!

11. Layer Up In Details

Add layers to your tablescape for a dramatic look. Use multiple napkins to give your plates an elegant touch. Use multiple garlands down the table to give depth and interest, a string of lights warms up any setting. Layer sizes of decor, with larger, medium and smaller pieces. Don’t forget the finishing little (and affordable) details for each season like candy canes strewn across the runner. 

PRO TIP: Start with larger items, then add your garland, and finish by filling in spaces with your smaller pieces up front. Check around the table to be sure everything can be seen to know if your placement is just right. 

12. Use A Cohesive Color Scheme

Pick a color scheme and stick with it, this is the easiest way to guide your tables. Don’t forget to check the hues from those colors or greenery too! This is a perfect example of sticking to cool colored greenery and blues to keep a merry flow. Use at least three colors and make sure it ties in with the theme you’re going for. 

These beautiful trees are available in the Winter Decocrated Box 

The Happy Place

The Happy Place

Happy Place Popup Museum – Boston Edition

What Is Happy Place

So there’s this cool movement in big cities like LA and NYC that are making their way across America, basically pop-up museums that are fun and selfie central. When I say fun I mean for adults and kids alike. This gumballs above with my little Mary has been spotted across multiple influencer accounts, for good reason. What more fun in this generation than a place full of picture taking- memory making central. Let me tell you, vanity aside, we had a BLAST. Cookies, kisses, rubber duckies galore. Welcome to Happy Place! A fun spot to take the family, explore exciting rooms, and just feel good. 

Let me tell you, with kids from teens to toddlers, it can be hard to find a place so fun that has the whole family smiling!

Ok. Let’s dive in, I’ll be honest, this is a very visual share. Lots of fun pictures to see, not much to explain. Except… we quickly learned that we’re not allowed to stand on the cushions. Sorry Happy Place! Let’s roll. 


Flip Your Frown & Your Photo

Each room is a new experience, a place to make you smile, filled with staff happy to take a photo or assist. Even the least friendly staff are drowned out by the people around you happily waiting in line to make their own memories. I won’t say who, but one of our family members entered, eh, not-so-glee. They left with a smile too. This was the upside down room, the photo is flipped of course. It’s a wonderful place to play upon your imagination, and let your inner- child out. 

Jump For Joy

One of our favorite rooms for both adults and kids, was the leap into the pot of gold (or ball pit) that was just amazing. When was the last time you got to jump into a big pot of gold? The staff are all amazing at every stop helping you to take photos, whether you’re using your DSLR camera, or your mobile phone; they’ve got you covered!


Back Yard Finale

Now, we didn’t want to spoil all of the rooms, but the final area is a must spill! The last room features a back yard with a lemon-aid stand where you can buy something to quench your thirst and grab some popcorn before you go. There’s even a giant bubble you enter with flying confetti! The treats will cost you extra but they’re worth the fun. From bubble gum, cookies, ball pits and more, The Happy Place is a must visit that won’t disappoint! 


Final Tips Before You Go


  • Buy your tickets before you go. Peak times may cost more.
  • Find parking before you go, some of the locations do not have parking in the facility they are using.
  • Don’t stand on the pieces, be aware of the signage that . 
  • Pick a spot in the back of the line if you can, you’ll get more time to explore the rooms without being rushed from people behind you.
  • Have fun! This is one of the best experiences we have ever had. 


More Articles You’ll Love

Delicious Cranberry-Orange Moscow Mule Recipe 

Delicious Cranberry-Orange Moscow Mule Recipe 

Wow Worthy Tablescapes

Easy Holiday Cranberry Orange Moscow Mule Recipe

Easy Holiday Cranberry Orange Moscow Mule Recipe

Easy Holiday Cranberry Orange

Moscow Mule Recipe

Moscow mules are a staple for our holiday parties, because they’re easy, enjoyed by everyone, and they are always a party hit. Whether you’re throwing a quick little dinner party, or make a big batch for a crowd, here’s how to make a smash at your next gathering! Plus, no fuss hosting tips to make your drink serving a breeze. Let’s go!


Stress Free Tips For Serving Your Holiday Mules

Garnish glasses before guests arrive


– Set up an easy refill station


Get creative, display garnishes in ways that serve as decor


Make The Most Of Self Serve Stations

The best gatherings are spent socializing and enjoying each other’s company. You can balance being a good host but enjoying the party as well by creating beautiful self serve stations. They’re fun instead of lazy. Get creative by using misc. items that tie in with your decor, such as teacups and those antiques you have stashed away. Monogrammed pieces from the past make the perfect addition to hold those neatly sliced garnishes. 

More Reading For You:

Stress Free Holday Table Decorating

Easy Rules To Follow- How To Decorate Shelves and Built Ins

Easy Rules To Follow- How To Decorate Shelves and Built Ins

How To Decorate Built In Bookshelves

The other day I walked into our Den, a gorgeous room with beams running across the ceiling, full of light and adorned with windows that remind me of a seaside home. Want to guess what we use it for? A kids room, and for the Christmas tree once a year. Since moving in two years ago, we have been designing rooms one at a time but completely neglected the Den. On either side of these large curved windows are two built in bookshelves. It really is our in-home library for storage purposes. However, I couldn’t believe that it hadn’t donned on me to do anything with these beautiful book shelves! So, in comes Decocrated.

Decocrated is an amazing home decor subscription box that send seasonal boxes of curated one of a kind seasonal decor. The pieces are hand crafted and help keep my home beautiful throughout the year. Meaning- I have lots of pieces to play around with! Let’s get to it. ((Use code CHELSEY10 for $10 off your first box.))


The Before


Obviously this little shelf had loads of potential. I have this habit of constantly moving things around until I find the perfect look I love, so the final style will probably change through the year. That’s because it sometimes takes me a moment to find the perfect balance between design and function. Plus, I tend to get new pieces all the time and really just love to play around with decor.  



1-2-3   1-2-3   

If you look at any styled area, I will repeat this until it is engraved into your brain, style is complimented by odd numbers. Ish. That means that you can group items in threes, fives, etc, for a cohesive design. That also means grouping of like-type pieces look best in threes.  This rule is flexible because like the pumpkin sitting on top of the books above, the books are grouped in three, but additional items can be placed in because the shelves are also separated into threes. 


Contrasting Pieces 

When you see beautifully designed shelves you might think, how did they know all these pieces go together? Or, I would have never thought to place those together. However, there are actually rules that can help you do just the same! The first rule, add contrast! I personally love to introduce black into my decor because it gives a space depth, and helps me mix together both antiques with modern pieces. You may choose to add a bright and vibrant color instead, but never discount a good dose of black, because it truly is timeless. 


Function Is Key


 The common mistake I see with spaces and decor is neglecting to use a space for function. It can be pretty AND be a highly functioning space as well. The last thing you want to do is create a ton of spaces that are unusable in your home. Think about the adjoining spaces, can you make it a designated usable space? Given that the nearby windows are low to the ground, I turned the space into a reading nook full of pillows to create that cozy vibe. These pillows are actually from the Decocrated Summer & Fall boxes.

You can also add baskets to your shelving to hide items we don’t want on display, but that you need for everyday use, like keys, remotes, baby toys etc. 


Diagonal Patterns


Signage This is another trick I use to make sure my shelving is organized and pleasing to the eye, and it has to do with how we look at areas. You want the eye to dance across the area, without seeing obvious patterns. Look at the greenery in this space for example, it moves from the top right, to the center middle, and down to the right again at the bottom. The black pieces flow from the top left diagonally to the bottom right.

How many patterns can you find in this built in? Use this trick with common elements such as woods, papers, metallic pieces and greenery to ensure the design flows just right.


When In Doubt  

If you ever find yourself stuck, do yourself a favor and pull all of your pieces off the shelf, or even out of a room before beginning. This is one of my biggest tips because it is important because we get caught up on what is already there. Instead, take pieces out, maybe you only need half of the items you have. You can always find new homes around the house for decor you no longer need, or maybe you find that you just need a little more! Focus on adding pieces one at a time and I guarantee you will have a better time with the design altogether. Still stuck? Send me an email and our team is happy to help you get your space to one you’ll love. Email me personally at Chelsey@themamaguide.com or find us on Instagram @TheMamaGuideOfficial .

10 Stunning Fall & Halloween Front Porch Decor Inspirations

10 Stunning Fall & Halloween Front Porch Decor Inspirations

10 Stunning Fall & Halloween Front Porch Decor Inspirations

It’s here, Fall is here! I think fall is always a favorite because it’s cozy. It is just warm enough to not be miserable, but just chilly enough to snuggle up and enjoy the beautiful vibrant colors that mums and the trees give us each season. It’s actually one of my favorite reasons for moving to New England. Driving becomes a magical show with orange, red, and yellow trees alike. Don’t you think? 

This fall, I am especially in love because I am surrounded by gorgeous porches, like TO DIE FOR porches and antique homes stripped from magazines it seems. I just had to stop, snap, and share. These won’t be the last photos you see, so be sure to subscribe for more decor inspiration! Anyways, let’s get to the inspo. 

The Antique Pumpkin Stack

The simple elegance of stacked pumpkins make a towering statement. Perched inside an urn, this is the best example of the important of height in decor. Dried sunflowers compliment the piece with an aged nature to match. You almost miss the Ash tree branch in the back which gives depth to the porch. Against the shuttered antique doors, this simple piece makes the age of the home more charming, the neglected paint is almost romantic. I captured this photo in Salem, MA. One of my personal favorite towns in New England.

Doortop Pumpkins Rows

The most charming New England trend is popping up across the east, with rows of pumpkins above the door. This is the perfect compliment to typical bare-faced colonial homes. Often, without much space for decor, a perfect way to add cozy and charm. 

Salem’s Famous 136 1/2 Derby Street

You won’t want to miss this famous little alley house perched behind the floral shop. The spook filled yard screams Halloween at the beginning of each Fall. What else would we expect in Salem? Each year the yard changes with fresh ghoulish scenes. You won’t find sprawling mums, but you will get all the holiday feels. 


Farmhouse Neutral


Pumpkins arent for everyone this fall, and farmhouse trends are still rolling into homes. This bright and cheery small entrance makes quite the punch with bright greens and autumn colored pops. A flower box and a well placed wreath can always go a long way. 



Let Us Spell It Out For You

You can’t really go wrong with the classics, whether you stack, bunch, or pile them. This adorably addressed home keeps Fall simple, and let’s their porch shine. The simplicity echoes into the white scape and framed perfectly pruned greens. It proves that it doesn’t take a lot to make the neighbors stop and stare.  

Sunflower Sunshine Glow 

What better way to come home than to this glowing, warm entry? The soft yellow illuminates the golden tones of these timeless doors, balanced by the beautifully pieced sunflower wreath. 

Simple Statement 

Often times an already pleasing design needs little change to make an impact on the season. This year we see plenty of organic-based wreaths from cotton to barley. This is a tamed version that lets the original design stand true.  

Trick Or Treat Signs  

Signage is a great way to insert a welcoming or playful feel to any entryway. This one happens to be mine! Find the tutorial for the signs HERE and the wreath HERE. I was inspired by the colors mums give us every season and chose these flowers on my wreath to match. Signs are easy to make and easy to see from the road, a great piece your neighbors will gush over. 

Yearly Blooms To Love  

Not only is this perfectly pruned yard gush worthy, it’s actually my favorite in all of New England. The benefit on planting those fall mums we keep drooling over, is that they return every year. Just like tulips, plant yours this fall and enjoy them year and year again. This yard is down the way from our home, and passing it is always a delight. 

Crisp Cape Feel  

Though this darling facade is not in the cape, it’s seaside location mirrors the homes that are. Simple garland adorns the entrance with matching pumpkin decor on each side. The window boxes are picture perfect packed with color to contrast. Personally, I’d love to walk this sidewalk to home every day, what about you? 


All In The Details

This Fall shoot is just the beginning, I can’t wait to share more of what I love in New England. Just a few years here has been the most beautiful adventure, from jaw-dropping seasons to renovating our new home. Be sure to subscribe for future updates and follow me on Instagram for more home inspiration. 

Xo Chelsey