Dec 27, 2017

New Year's Eve Cocktails - Raspberry Champagne Floats

What I love most about these raspberry pink champagne floats courtesy of The Cookie Rookie is that this incredibly attractive New Year's Eve cocktail has only three ingredients and that includes the garnish! This recipe calls for creamy raspberry sorbet and pink champagne (like Barefoot Pink Moscato) but you could easily substitute other fruit sorbets such as blueberry, mango, orange and strawberry with sparkling white wine instead. Most sorbets are naturally fat free and have fewer calories than ice cream or gelato, but have higher amounts of sugar.

Raspberry Champagne Floats

  • Place 2 to 3 scoops of raspberry sorbet into a large wine glass (I love to chill my glasses first).
  • Pour your favorite champagne or wine over sorbet.
  • Top with fresh raspberries or fruit of your choice.
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Dec 19, 2017

Unforgettable Rustic Bible Verse Sign

This unforgettably lovely rustic Bible verse sign "No longer two but one" was created by a husband and wife on Etsy and is available for $29.99 plus $11.25 shipping (at least to me here in Virginia). This one and many more are all hand stenciled calligraphy, no stencils or vinyl lettering. A short video - click on "learn about their shop and process" and see how beautifully and easily Kaylie creates these breathtaking rustic signs. Their products (welcome, ceremony and directional signs) are in big demand, place your order at least five weeks in advance. Other bible verse inspired signs, many from the Song of Solomon available at Mulberry Market Design:
  • I have found the one my soul loves.
  • We love because He first loved us.
  • Love is patient, love is kind.

Each hand painted sign is unique.  See the differences between the one above and below.

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Dec 6, 2017

Silver Beach Themed Christmas Centerpiece

This beach themed Christmas centerpiece appears enormously expensive but a closer look reveals white and silver ornaments, starfish, a string of faux white pearls, random pieces of rhinestone jewelry, tin foil snowflakes and sprays of freshly picked evergreen. I so wish I could tell you where to find an exquisite white cupcake stand like this. It would be mine as soon as possible - no matter what the cost. Here in Southeastern Virginia, we celebrate our tourist friendly beach in small ways and big (International Sandsculpting Contest at the Neptune Festival each year) but you don't have to live ten or twenty minutes from the oceanfront to appreciate how breathtakingly beautiful this beach themed centerpiece is.

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Dec 2, 2017

Simple Holiday Sugar Scrubs

Today I found these simple DIY holiday sugar scrubs at one of my favorite blogs at Evermine. The peppermint sugar scrub is made with just three ingredients - white sugar, coconut oil and a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Vanilla latte sugar scrub requires an additional one quarter cup of coffee grinds. White sugar acts as a natural exfoliator that increases blood circulation. The results are healthy and glowing skin. These labels and hang tags are available at Evermine - Bonjour Fancy Diamond for the peppermint and Iconic Christmas Fancy Diamond for the vanilla latte. The custom holiday hang tags are $1.00 each and two inch self-sticking circle labels are forty for $17.98. Photo button magnets are 99 cents each.

Peppermint Sugar Scrub
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • a few drops of peppermint essential oil
Vanilla Latte Sugar Scrub
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coffee grinds
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
1.  Put all dry ingredients into a bowl.
2.  Heat up a few scoops of coconut oil (solid in cool weather) in microwave at 15 second intervals until it turns into a liquid form - about 30 to 45 seconds.
3.  Add the liquid coconut oil to the dry ingredients and stir well.
4.  Stir in vanilla extract or peppermint essential oil.
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Nov 26, 2017

Pine Cone Christmas Trees

For anyone who isn't able to make these incredibly lovely pine cone Christmas trees for next to nothing, I wish I could give you the treasure trove that was waiting on the deck for me this very afternoon. The pine cones I love - the pesky needles wedge themselves in the cracks between the wood, making the ten minute chore more like an hour and a half. Amazing evergreen pine trees, some as tall as 150 feet (a fifteen story building) and living up to 1,000 years. These hand dipped pine cones perched in tiny silver terra cotta pots (about 79 cents each) would make affordable winter wedding favors or Christmas mantle holiday décor.

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Nov 16, 2017

Breathtaking Thanksgiving Day Tablescapes

Because we're traveling up to Richmond to be with the girls, I still want a breathtakingly beautiful Thanksgiving Day tablescape that will be easy to put together away from the large stash of fall themed tablecloths and décor I keep here at home. Since I'm already making the mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, lemon meringue pie and caramel apple cider cocktails, I don't want to spend a lot of money to decorate the table for just one - although very wonderful - cold November day.

Any type of greenery placed down the center of the table from end to end
makes a beautiful backdrop for white and orange mini pumpkins,
small votive candles and randomly placed nuts.
I love the idea of painting mini pumpkins with a variety of the quick drying acrylic paints
I pick up at Walmart for only fifty cents each. But since we're on our way today (hopefully
with no traffic through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel), I won't be able
to recreate the unconventional but very inviting tablescape shown above.
White and orange candles placed at various heights makes this Thanksgiving table look
elegant and expensive. Notice how this table has a plain tablecloth with plaid
napkins - just the opposite of the table at top. Small woodland animals
create a rustic and whimsical atmosphere.

Nov 12, 2017

Healthy Christmas Tree Appetizer Trays

I'm on the lookout for healthy appetizer trays, ones that don't lean so heavily on crackers, cheese and processed meat like salami (a mysterious collaboration of pork shoulder, pork fatback, salt and sugar - stuffed into a cellulose casing). In fact, my goal has been at least two fruits each and every day which usually includes red grapes and blueberries, called "the King of antioxidant foods." And for those of you that only eat canned pineapple, consider this. A good friend sent me a box of fresh pineapples from Hawaii and they were so fresh and fragrant, you could smell them unopened from down the block. Try one and you'll never go back! These Christmas tree shaped appetizer trays are easy and elegant, healthy options when so many holiday dishes we eat are heavy, starchy and overly sweet.

To keep apple slices from turning brown,
dip them in lemon juice or soak the cut fruit in ginger ale. 
Broccoli and cauliflower are both on the list of the World's Best Super Foods. 
A great appetizer to help you digest a heavier meal
with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.
Admittedly, cheese cubes are heavier and have more calories than fresh fruit. 
Seven cubes of cheddar cheese contains about 120 calories but has lots of calcium,
which is usually lacking in an American diet.
This star fruit makes the perfect tree topper.  Raw broccoli and cauliflower taste best
served with a homemade or store bought Ranch dip.

Nov 3, 2017

Best Selling Memorial Wedding Sign

This vintage inspired memorial wedding sign is available for only ten dollars at a shop on Etsy that I've featured before. The fact that this attractive unframed 8 x 10 print is such a best seller suggests we all remember and deeply cherish those loved ones we have lost. On a day when two people come together joyfully and without reservation to become husband and wife. Promising to be loving and faithful, in sickness and in health. And every other ordinary day, when your late father's favorite song comes on the radio on your way home from a rough day at work.

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Nov 2, 2017

Williams Sonoma Marshmallow Snowmen

Fun hot chocolate marshmallow snowmen courtesy of Williams Sonoma. You can purchase a twelve ounce container of Williams Sonoma hot chocolate mix, made with delicate bittersweet chocolate shavings that melt into milk for a rich and velvety sip. Their European style hot chocolate has been made by the famous Guittard family of northern California for over five generations and it doesn't come cheap. I'm not that fussy about drinking hot chocolate that's been finely ground from the world's best cacao bean. But I would love to serve these charming marshmallow snowman (with chocolate mouth and eyes and nose made of orange icing) - also available from Williams Sonoma in a little clear boxed set for $12.95.

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Oct 20, 2017

How To Display Polaroid Wedding Photos

So many rustic ways to display polaroid wedding photos - but this is my favorite. Not everyone has a polaroid camera laying around but you can pick up the popular one made by Fujifilms at Amazon ($59.00) or Walmart (currently ten dollars less and no shipping) for "the perfect selfie photo every time." The larger the frame the better - even if you have to make your own. Staple twine from side to side, creating rows of charming photos held in place by mini wooden clothespins. The Instax Mini 9 camera (available in cobalt blue, ice blue, flamingo pink, lime green and smokey white) might be your biggest expense but repurpose this photo display idea at birthdays, bridal showers and family reunions.

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Oct 10, 2017

Wedding Cake with Baby's Breath

Today I found this lovely three tier wedding cake with bits of green fern entwined with baby's breath on one of my favorite blogs at Evermine. Having once owned a small bakery myself and spending many an afternoon - slim metal spatula in hand - trying to get my buttercream as smooth as silk, I love this refreshing new trend of roughly iced wedding cakes. Because you don't need to be a professional to recreate this look. Wedding cake pans on Amazon and elsewhere, about $30 a set. Freeze all of your layers - so much easier to frost! Assemble three frosted tiers with cardboard rounds in between for support. No cake is complete without Wilton's buttercream icing. The recipe recommends you sift the confectioners' sugar, but I never bother, and it comes out light and fluffy every single time.

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Oct 7, 2017

Unforgettable Donut Inspired Wedding Cake

Just how much would it cost to recreate this unforgettable donut inspired wedding cake? My eyes tell me this "cake" has about twelve dozen glazed donuts decorated with lovely bits of baby's breath, Shasta daisies and white carnations. Here in Virginia we have two donut chains - Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts. That means I'm paying either $7.99 a dozen from one or a dollar more from the other. So between ninety five dollars and $107 for just the donuts alone. Compare that to the average price of wedding cakes in America - over $400 - and this donut inspired cake is fun, affordable and a real crowd pleaser.
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Oct 3, 2017

Engraved Glass Heart Ornament

I recently purchased a custom personalized canvas that included my husband's name and mine (Phil and Kathy), the date and location of our wedding (San Pedro, California), the address of our first home and many other details of our sweet and happy life together. The online site is called Personalization Mall and that is where is found this engraved glass heart ornament - now on sale for just $11.25. This polished glass heart measures 3 x 3 1/2 inches and features a delicate beveled edge. Personalize it with your name and his, plus nine other lines that describe all of your favorite places and/or shared activities. As you place these words in the personalization field, you will be able to view the finished product before you confirm your order. And in my case, I moved and changed the words around until it was nothing less than exquisite. A very affordable wedding or anniversary idea, delivered to you in a velvet drawstring bag ready for gift giving.

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Sep 27, 2017

Breathtakingly Beautiful Winter Flower Girls

These winter themed flower girls are just breathtaking with their bohemian style headpieces entwined with fresh spruce and fragrant eucalyptus leaves. Or is it the full tulle skirts and faux white fur jackets that make me wish I had invited this pair to my December wedding so many years ago? A well loved teddy bear takes the place of a basket full of rose petals. It's hard not to fall in love with these two charming girls - tender young nieces of the bride or her groom - in their simple white dresses and loose brown curls.

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Sep 15, 2017

Vintage Storybook Wedding Sign

Every part of this breathtaking storybook wedding sign speaks to me in so many ways. First I can recreate this look without spending a dime. Above the garage is an attic full of weathered vintage books - once read and lingered over in a comfortable lawn chair on Sunday afternoons - worn pages now turning brown and collecting dust. There's every reason to believe I already have twine in the tool box and a trusty black marker to write this sweet and sentimental message. Or maybe I will use "I have found the one my soul loves" from the Song of Solomon, or better yet "You put your arms around me and I am home." Everyone of these so beautiful, maybe I'll just use all three.

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Sep 5, 2017

Personalized Groomsmen Whiskey Glasses

What I love about these personalized whiskey glasses for groomsmen is at the time of this writing, they sell for less than ten dollars each. The bad news is, you'll pay more than that for shipping but there's a good reason for that. These affordable engraved whiskey glasses have straight sides and an extra thick bottom which minimizes the potential for breakage. With a chip-resistant rim by Libbey (making quality glassware since 1892), this glass is backed by a lifetime guarantee. All of the engravings are dishwasher safe with your choice of sixteen different trendy designs. Look for a discounted price on shipping at checkout when ordering a set of these stylish groomsmen glasses from The Engravery.

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Aug 27, 2017

Moisturizing Brown Sugar Scrub

What I love about this brown sugar scrub recipe (from Stephanie at Somewhat Simple) compared to so many others is the addition of Vitamin E oil - an amazing nutrient that fights off wrinkles, neutralizes free radicals and boosts collagen production. What we all desire most - keeping our skin lovely that much longer. Vitamin E can be purchased in capsule form and punctured to release the incredible skin rejuvenating oil for topical application. (A pediatrician advised me this is also a very effective way to reduce scars.) Compare the price of one cup of this easy homemade sugar scrub (sugar is 40 cents per pound and coconut oil about fifty cents per ounce) to what you'll pay ($39.00) for a seven ounce jar of Brown Sugar Body Polish available at Sephora.


Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub Recipe

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Store in a small Mason jar or other airtight container.
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Aug 26, 2017

Irresistible Chocolate Wedding Dessert Idea

This breathtaking chocolate wedding dessert table will appeal to guests of all ages: mini chocolate cupcakes and whoopie pies for the kids, and chocolate cake and macarons for more sophisticated tastes. (I'm on the fence about caramel covered grapes - they seem a little out of place with these decadent chocolate themed desserts.) There's no mystery as to why this display works so well. Every mouthwatering piece of chocolate is presented on a variety of levels: buttercream cupcakes positioned on top of a vintage trunk, Rocky Road Squares on a weathered wooden box, and one and three-tiered cupcake stands in an eye catching variety of silver, metal and glass.

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Must See Bridal Shower Mimosa Bar

This amazing bridal shower Mimosa bar is begging me to fill my glass with ice cold champagne, freshly squeezed orange juice and a little dash of Grand Marnier or tasty Triple Sec. Let's do that before I have to wrap a total stranger in toilet paper - making a flattering sweetheart neckline, a fitted bodice and dramatic full skirt. The finished design of this ten minute wedding dress competition will only look better after a stiff cocktail or two. If you must, bring on the bridal shower Jeopardy, Bingo or "How well do you know the Bride?" But first, Mimosas served in tall champagne flutes with beautiful sliced berries on the rim of each glass.

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Aug 18, 2017

Unforgettable Apple Flavored Cocktail

My thanks to Dan whose blog ("fun food that's also crazy good") includes family dinner recipes, party food and cocktails - from a man's point of view, for sharing this easy apple flavored cocktail that is perfect for late summer or early fall. It's a cider based drink served cold, that will be more than welcome as these hot and humid days linger before and after the kids go back to school. His recipe is for one serving, so up the ingredients to suit your party needs. Smirnoff makes a Kissed Caramel vodka - visit their website for a collection of caramel vodka cocktail recipes. Dan's easy recipe calls for "apple liquor" but I think he means apple liqueur (a light fruit liqueur made with sun-ripened apples).

  • 1 1/2 oz. caramel vodka
  • 1/2 oz. apple liquor
  • 3 oz. cider
1. Put all three ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
2. Strain into a martini glass.
3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and thinly sliced apple.

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Aug 16, 2017

Bride Wears Late Grandma's Beautiful Beaded Gown

Just when I needed a bit of good news. Like Madison Kantzer, I never had a chance to meet my mother's parents or my father's, for that matter. But she had in her mother's possession, an exquisite hand beaded and embroidered dress that once belonged to the grandmother she never knew. She looked like a vision when she wore it to a bar mitzvah over fifty years ago. Amazingly, the three-quarter-sleeve gown needed no alterations at all, just repair to replace a few missing beads. Even the length appears picture perfect - only a slip was added to the mostly sheer ensemble. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story Madison, everyone who reads this will be touched by your tender devotion.

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Aug 8, 2017

Must See Metallic Mason Jars

I must have these metallic Mason jars - especially in rose gold. A friend of mine spray paints everything from furniture to picture frames, tables to trash cans. Things I didn't know wanted or needed to be painted at all. I wish I shared her joy. It turns out there are two brands of metallic spray paint that even I can use to upgrade these beautiful glass jars - especially since I was lucky enough to score ten of these for $1.00 at a local church rummage sale. Rust-Oleum carries a lovely pearl metallic spray paint in Champagne Pink Mist and Sea Green Mist for about $7.00 on Amazon. Krylon carries copper, silver, gold, rose gold and dusty pink. At Walmart, both brands are about two dollars less.

Gold Metallic Mason Jar Centerpiece
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Aug 6, 2017

Enchanting Bohemian Table Setting

I want to eat at this bohemian style table, rub my hands over the soft, weathered wood and breathe in the fragrance of these freshly cut garden roses. It matters not if I dine on Tenderloin of Beef with a Rich Bordelaise Sauce or two beef patties and Big Mac sauce sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. Sitting across and sharing a meal with my loved ones under these tall elegant tapers makes sitting on the sofa watching yet another rerun of Little Women LA seem like a sin. You or I might expect to see such a breathtaking table setting at a bohemian style wedding. Why not try something this enchanting tonight - in the comfort of your own home?

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Aug 5, 2017

Unbelieveable Bundt Cake Pans from Williams Sonoma

I was actually looking for healthy cranberry dessert ideas on Pinterest when I found this breathtakingly beautiful cranberry orange bundt cake from Tutti Dolci. As I was taking in this stunning glazed cake with sugar dusted cranberries, I found Laura's source for these unbelieveable bundt cake pans - Williams Sonoma. There's just no telling how little I paid for the yellow aluminum bundt cake pan that has served me so well for birthdays, birthday showers and afternoon tea. Today I found this vintage pan on eBay for $5.99.  (Williams Sonoma bundt cake pans sell for slightly less than thirty dollars each.) Bigger and better parties call for something more grandiose - a stunning cake pan with perfect sweeping curves that makes a bundt cake even more beautiful with a clear glaze or light dusting of sifted confectioners' sugar.

Williams Sonoma Bundt Cake Pans
Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan 

Aug 3, 2017

DIY Kahlua Wedding Favors

Many thanks to Evermine Blog for instructions on making these Kahlua wedding favors with 4 oz. amber Boston round bottles purchased from Specialty Bottle. You may already have everything you need - white and brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, vodka and instant expresso powder. The instructions are simple - heat the water, sugar and expresso powder in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture has cooled, add the vodka and vanilla extract. Kahlua can also be used as a topping on ice cream, cupcakes and desserts. Here is their homemade Kahlua recipe - a coffee flavored liqueur originally from Mexico - that will be a warm and well-loved winter wedding gift.

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Aug 1, 2017

Exquisite Vintage Frame Centerpiece

This breathtaking gold vintage frame centerpiece with matching candle holder is deceptively expensive looking but is yours to recreate for less than you'd expect. Today at Wayfair I found a beautiful Baroque gold style metallic picture frame - that will easily hold a 4 x 6 photo or piece of white cardstock with a quote like this) for less than four dollars! A velvet easel backing makes it convenient to rest on a stack of books or stand alone. Search online for free fonts - is where I always go - and download a half a dozen of your favorite calligraphy styles. Find cheap wooden candle holders at your local thrift store and spray with gold metallic paint to match your frames.

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Jul 24, 2017

20 Unforgettable Mexican Wedding Ideas

These unforgettable Mexican wedding ideas reflect a refreshing and colorful culture that embraces freedom and taking chances. A deep love of God and devotion to family and well-loved friends. Feeling free to paint your house hot pink or purple - something you won't see here in the United States. One of the more beautiful Mexican wedding traditions involves the selection of padrinos (godfathers) and madrinas (godmothers) who sponsor and support different parts of the wedding including the cake, the rings, the flowers and even the bride's wedding dress. I love the idea that a whole community would get involved in a Mexican themed wedding, and in many towns across Mexico, that is exactly what they eagerly do.

A Mexican style dessert bar would always include polvorones
(a crumbly, shortbread cookie made of flour, sugar, milk and almonds)
and tres leches cupcakes, a sponge cake soaked in condensed milk,
 evaporated milk and heavy cream. 

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