Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I really enjoy hosting luncheons for my girlfriends and family. While the holiday stress is already kicking into high gear, you can still make time to create a fun, relaxed lunch for your favorite girlfriends.

My creative side really goes in to overdrive when it comes to planning ladies' luncheons. I am a theme person and pink is my favorite color, so these dessert plates were perfect for my table. Guess where I got them - Dollar Tree! Each plate features a different wrapped gift in pink and green. Yes, they only cost $1.00 each. The white dinner plate underneath has raised snowflakes around the edges and they were also $1.00 at Dollar Tree. For $12.00 I have a beautiful table scape.

In my earlier tips on decorating your tree and home for the holidays, I mentioned not fighting your everyday decor. My dining room is done in pastel colors so these plates blend with items that I already have and make my pastel decor festive for the holidays!

Entertaining can be hectic this time of year, but what better way to show someone that they are special to you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Here is another quick recipe to help you during all of the holiday rush. This recipe was given to me by my good friend Gina. She is a fabulous cook and has given me several recipes that have become my favorites.


Frozen Bread Dough (8 in pkg)
Sliced Pepperoni
Deli Ham
Mozzarella Cheese

Take a jelly roll pan and prepare by spraying with a non-stick cooking spray. Also spray a sheet of saran wrap that is large enough to cover the cookie sheet. Take two loaves of the frozen bread dough and let rise all day on jelly roll pan. After the dough rises, punch down and roll out (use flour) as flat as you can. Now your dough is ready to be filled.

In the center, place deli ham, pepperoni, and cheese – one layer, or any of your favorite meat and cheese toppings.
After filling, take both sides and bring to center. Seal like a pocket.
Bake 350 for 20 – 30 min. Slice.

Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Are you like me where there are some weeks that you are just lucky to have the time to get to a grocery store? As you rush through the aisles grabbing milk, bread and cereal, remember to slow down when you get to the seasonal items. Believe it or not, you can find dollar deals while doing your weekly grocery shopping.
Last week, I was in Kroger hurrying about to get last minute Thanksgiving items. I could not resist stopping on the Christmas aisle. Now, I am not really a fan of plastic dishware, but when I spotted this tray, I had to tap on it to see if it was china. It is plastic but a very classy looking plastic. The price was $1.99. It is a nice size serving tray and it looks like it came out of your Christmas china set.
Kroger had their center aisle loaded with all sort of Christmas items. I especially liked the $1.00 gift bags. As I moved on to the candy, I noticed individually wrapped chocolate snowflake shaped candy. They were a very generous size - as large as a coaster. I have seen similar candies that were in the $5.00-$6.00 range at other stores. Also, I have made candies like these, as I love snowflakes, and they cost considerably more than a $1.00 to make at home.
I was also very surprised to see Christmas shirts at Kroger. There were an assortment of t-shirts and sweat shirts with various Christmas themes ( Christmas trees, candy, snowflakes, etc.) stitched or printed on them. These shirts were a good quality and only $9.99.
My Mom is decorating her tree with poinsettias this year and in the Christmas ornament section, there was a box of white ornaments with pretty red poinsettias painted on them. Each box is priced at only $4.99. Mom added those to her basket. If you are not using a poinsettia theme this year, don't worry, there are many other colors to choose from.
Not enough dollar bargains for you? Well, on your way home from the grocery store, you can always make a quick stop in to your local Dollar tree. There are always bargains there!

Monday, November 26, 2007


What is the hottest trend in Christmas trees for 2007? Here it is - a black Christmas tree. I know it may sound, well . . . like you have a dead or burned tree to decorate, but it really can be quite attractive. No, you will not find one in my house, so don't expect it. My husband has still not recovered from my pink Christmas trees. However, black and white is a popular decorating scheme this year and it can look very classy if you want to get away from the traditional red and green. Most of the black trees have high gloss needles and can be very elegant. The ornaments must be bright and contrasting. I've also seen one decorated with solid white ornaments mixed with white ornaments that have a black flocked design on them. Target also has table linens to match the black and white holiday decor and they are actually quite attractive. I especially loved the black and white beaded table runner.

Other tree trends this year are green trees decorated in copper and teal ornaments. Copper is a very hot color in all home decor. Finish the look with brown feathers on top. This creates a very sophisticated look.

I am a huge fan of spray paint. My picture frames alone have been spray painted 4 different colors! I am known as the Spray Paint Queen in my family. However, even I had not thought to spray paint an artificial Christmas tree. Yes, you can do it and it really looks good. Pick the color that you would like to decorate with - for example, the new teal colors. You will need to have teal tree decorations that range from the very lightest color of teal to the darkest. Spray paint the outer branches lightly with the darkest tone of teal spray paint available. Once dry, layer your teal tree decorations light to dark. Very chic! Also, in keeping with the 2007 black and white trend, if you love white flocked trees, then get your spray paint out. Spray paint your ornaments black and then add silver and gun metal gray elements. This tree is stunning with icicles dripping on it.

Elements from nature are also a hot new look. Start with several tall glass vases. Spray paint branches from your yard using your theme color. Silver or gold are especially attractive. Put several inches of fake snow flakes (available at most stores) in the vases and then place the branches inside the vase. Very easy and cost effective! Along with the natural element trend, here is an idea to jazz up your wrapped packages. Spray paint leaves, twigs, pods, pine cones, etc. a metallic color. Tie or glue on to your wrapped packages. These really add elegance and are free!!

I also saw an idea for your wall area. In your entry way or a wall beside your tree, place one of the new Wall Decals. Here is how they work. Favorite holiday quotes are made into transfers. When completed, these transfers look as though they are printed on your wall. They are very elegantly done with scripted lettering and pretty flourishes. They are also very easy to apply. The transfers are printed on white paper. You place the paper on your wall and rub with a flat stick or burnishing tool. When you peel away the paper, the lettering is left on the wall. The great thing about this is that when the season is over, the lettering is completely removeable. It peels right off! My favorite quote was - "Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, once more." This was placed on the wall beside the Christmas tree. It was so beautiful. What a great way to make family and friends feel special.

Metallic trees are back and they are hotter than ever. I have seen them everywhere and in really bright colors - Teal, Purple, Hot Pink! One tree that was really stunning was a gold metallic tree decorated in green ornaments.

Here are some important tips to remember:

Work with what you have. Don't fight your everyday decor. Contrasting colors can really make a room pop for the holidays.

Accessorize for the holidays with items like curtains, throw rugs and pillows. It takes the room from everyday to holiday with no trouble at all.

Pre-strung garland and pre-lit trees are a great way to save time when decorating.
Finally, relax and enjoy it. After all, it only comes once per year!!!


With all of the shopping, wrapping, decorating and food you have to prepare for the round of parties you will be attending, who has time to cook dinner?!!! You do - and here is how. Make a batch of Crock Pot Potatoe Soup. You will love this recipe.


6 large potatoes, peeled into ½” cubes
1 large onion chopped
3 14oz. cans seasoned chicken broth (I used 1 can of plain & 2 seasoned)
¼ cup butter cubed
1 ½ tsp. salt & pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup Cheddar cheese
3 tbs. chives
Sour Cream

Put first 5 ingredients into crock pot. Cover & cook on High 4 hours or Low 8 hours until tender. Mash coarsely some of the potatoes to thicken. Stir in cream, cheese & chives. Top bowls of soup with bacon and sour cream.

Enjoy your holiday happenings!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I don't know that the retail stores considered it a "Black Friday", but the American Shopper definitely had a good weekend with bargains abounding. However, you do not have to get up at 4 a.m. and fight the crowds to find a bargain.
One of my finds of the year are these Mercury Glass Trees. For two years I have looked longingly at two mercury glass trees in the catalog of a trendy home decorating company. Their mercury trees sale for $29.00 (small tree) and $39.00 (large tree). I refuse to pay that much for items used once a year and despite my best efforts, I never found them on the 1/2 rack on Dec. 26th. So, once again, I received their 2007 catalog and tried to justify buying them yet again. While making my weekly Target run, I make a quick trip down the home decor aisle. Imagine my delight in seeing a mercury glass tree!! I knew the price had to be lower than $29.00, but imagine my surprise to see a price tag of $9.99! Needless to say, I snatched it up. Now you have to love Mercury Glass to appreciate this bargain. My sister shakes her head at my Mercury Glass collection as she does not understand the "shabby chic" look. However, I love Mercury Glass "anything" but cannot justify the high prices. Anything under $10.00 I can and will do! So, I left Target with visions of a Mercury Glass table scape for Christmas.
Several days later, I was in Wal-Mart and decided to check their Christmas Department. The aisles are divided by color and when I reach the end with silver items, there they were - 3 sizes of Mercury Glass Trees! Having memorized the size of the tree in the popular catalog I use as my home trend research guide, I selected the one most like theirs and looked for the price. I could not believe it was only $6.96! You have to love Wal-Mart. Granted, it took a while for the discount stores to catch up, but if you have patience, you can find a bargain.
In the "trendy home catalog", the small tree ($29.00) is on a pedestal. I placed my small tree from Target on a mercury glass pedestal candle base that I already own and you cannot tell that I did not buy it for the pricey home decor store. I will post pictures when I get my Christmas decorating done!
Happy Shopping!!

Friday, November 23, 2007



My favorite shopping experience happens in the Dollar Stores! You may ask why? Well, I love a good bargain - and good bargains abound in the Dollar Stores. However, not all Dollar Stores are equal. I prefer the ones that have a set price for everything in the store - $1.00. My current favorite, and has been for years, is Dollar Tree. My favorite items - centerpieces and favors or take aways. Every guest feels special when they are given a little treat to take home.

The above picture shows purses that I bought at the dollar store for $1.00. I inserted small glass vases filled with water and inserted a flower in each, bought at the grocery store. Next I put pink tulle inside to cover the vase and tied a pink ribbon on the handles. Simple and cheap!
Dollar Stores can really stretch your entertaining budget. As a matter of fact, two major entertaining events are what opened my eyes to the value of a good Dollar Store. The two major events that threw me into a panic, uh, I mean had me planning and shopping were my middle son's graduation and my annual Bunco dinner. The Bunco dinner would involve hosting 12 ladies and I did not have 12 plates that matched. My middle son is the only one of my three children that inherited an appreciation of fine dining and all that goes with it (china, crystal, silver), so I was thrilled when he agreed to a garden party for his College Graduation. However, his guest list would include a large number of family and friends. Guests would be in all of the public rooms of the house and spill over unto our covered back patio which would become the main dining area. Paper plates would spoil the elegant image that I was trying to create. I went to the dollar store to find napkins and other entertaining items and that is where I made my first entertaining discovery - pastel, basket weave edged stoneware plates. I bought 20 for one dollar each! I found another Dollar Tree and bought 10 more. Thus began my love for Dollar Store Entertaining.

I believe in using what you have and often at ladies' lunches I would use my mother's dishes with my grandmother's serving pieces. More than one guest has shown great discomfort at the thought of dining on heirlooms. Now, I sprinkle alot of dollar store finds in with the "good stuff" and guests relax. This is great during family gatherings when children will be guests. My favorite story is when I hosted a gathering complete with my best silver. A guest came to me with a broken dish in hand. She was apologetic and mortified at the thought of breaking a precious family heirloom. I told her that if she paid for it, then all would be forgiven. She quickly agreed and I asked her to leave a dollar on the table! It was hard to convince her that the plate was only $1.00.

While the Dollar Store is a great resource, you must check the merchandise often. It is especially important to go at the beginning of each season. The good stuff goes first and fast