November 16th, 2018
Family at the Thanksgiving Table
Simple Thanksgiving Decor
Each year, my sister Anna, volunteers to host Thanksgiving and our family gathers at her home to celebrate the holiday. Anna is a wonderful hostess, I’ve said this many times. She and I are always stealing each other’s ideas and recipes. Unlike me, Anna does things very simply with a relaxed feel but always seems to WOW her guests. She never seems to stress over the details. Even the few times she’s asked me for help, Anna always seems relaxed and at ease while I’m running around stressing over pretty much everything. Nevertheless, we always seem to pull off a great party and when working together, we make a good team.
During this particular celebration, her table was simple with red placemats and a bouquet of fresh flowers. However, she added candlelight as her main decor element, creating a soft, warm, and quiet atmosphere. She used different style and height crystal candleholders which were set on mirror tiles to reflect the light. She also placed some candles in her silver candleholders on the back buffet. Last but not least, she added some votives to bring various levels of height. It looked so beautiful.
This look was very minimal but definitely brought the WOW factor.
Smoked Salmon Appetizers
It’s no secret, our family is ALL ABOUT THE APPETIZERS… Anna always prepares a wonderful appetizer spread that is easy and festive. Above are the smoked salmon appetizers which she serves at practically every function. They are served on small pieces of bread, smothered in plain cream cheese and topped off with a generous slice of smoked salmon. She finishes by sprinkling green onion on top and watches them disappear off the plate in a matter of minutes.
Veggie Plate and Hummus Dip
I’m always in charge of the veggie plates and dip.
Veggie Plate and Basil Hummus
This veggie plate featured my favorite basil hummus which I make for practically EVERY occasion.
I also love bringing my beet hummus which adds a vibrant color to an otherwise boring cracker bowl.
The dinner is typically traditional with turkey, cranberry source, her famous mixed roasted vegetables, and of course, mashed potatoes. Here’s my son and my parents enjoying her delicious buffet.
Last but not least, the dessert always comes from The Smoke House Market, which is a wonderful store in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is affiliated with Annie Gunns, which is a famous steak house in St. Louis, and sells many of their freshly prepared food creations. Their pies are in HIGH DEMAND during the holidays and since my niece worked there, we always had fresh pies for Thanksgiving… with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.
All in all, my sister does a fantastic job with Thanksgiving. And I’m alway impressed with how beautifully and seamlessly she executes this annual celebration.
November 14th, 2018
I truly enjoy working with Mary Tuttle’s, a beautiful home décor and fresh flower retailer in Chesterfield, Missouri. I’ve worked for them for over seven years creating their marketing campaigns and developing their marketing strategies. Walking into their store is like walking into a magazine. Every nook is filled with inspiration on interior design and entertaining.
Each year, they are part of a tabletop event for a local St. Louis publication. This year, they chose to create a holiday table with the centerpiece that didn’t include a Santa, Christmas Wreath, or Christmas Tree. This year, their centerpiece was a bunny. A cute stone bunny that was tied with a burlap bow, wearing a necklace of cranberries, nestled inside a tartan napkin filled punch bowl… and I’m not done yet…sitting on top of a cake plate covered in pine clippings. Yes, that was the centerpiece and it was DIVINE!!!
The tablecloth was a simple burlap and the place settings were all different, with primarily holiday themed Juliska plates in Country Estate Winter Frolic. Even the wine glasses were different which added a casual feel to the table which still looked festive and holiday themed.
I love the new tartan napkins and beautiful napkin rings. And of course, a gold votive at every pacesetting is such a wonderful touch.
So for your holidays this year, step out of the box a bit and bring out those bunnies to create something unique and unforgettable! Oh, and most importantly, if you live in St. Louis, stop by Mary Tuttle’s and get inspired with a lot more creative ideas.
October 31st, 2018
Gold and red Thanksgiving tablescape from Pottery Barn
Today is Halloween and I’m sad because, if you know me, you know that I LOVE everything Halloween! However, I won’t be down for too long because during the holiday season, when one holiday passes, another one is just around the corner!
My focus for the next few weeks is going to be Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about fall… the colors, textures, but most of all, the food! Thanksgiving makes me think of warmth and comfort. I love watching QVC and seeing all the fuzzy blankets, flannel sheets, and pajamas that go on sale. I love the cool crisp air and the fragrance of peoples’ fireplaces burning in the evenings. It’s just a fabulous time of year.
I had a chance to visit Plaza Frontenac, a shopping center in St. Louis, and stop in some of the stores which display beautiful tablesscapes. Here are some of my favorites. Also, I am going to show Christmas tablescapes as well since I know some people like to put out their Christmas china on Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Another Pottery Barn Fall Table Setting
Stunning silver fall table setting from Williams Sonoma
Loving this color combination of black and gold fall table setting
Another beautiful Williams Sonoma fall tablescape
Reindeer, reindeer, reindeer! I can’t help but adore this whimsical reindeer themed place setting from Pottery Barn
Plaid tableware from Pottery Barn. I will always love plaid. It’s one of the most classic and elegant winter patterns. I can definitely see using these plates and mugs even after the holidays.
Plaid and Santa… Need I say more? Pottery Barn never disappoints.
December 19th, 2016
December 2016 on Better Kansas City
December is always a wonderful time of year… Christmas lights, holiday parties, reuniting with family, seeing old friends, making new friends, lots of opportunities to use the fireplace, holiday cards, egg nog, cake, and food, food, food!!!
I think we can agree, December is a month that may be hazardous to the waistline, so when I was invited to come up with some fun ideas for KCTV’s Channel 5 Better Kansas City, I thought I would develop a gift that was straight from my heart AND kitchen but also a healthy alternative to cookie or hot cocoa mix in a jar.
Soup in A Jar – Great Holiday Gift!
PROTEIN PACKED PEA & LENTIL SOUP:
Hold on to your hats, because this soup packs a massive amount of fiber, protein, and magnesium! So easy, delicious, and super healthy! Substitute the beef bouillon cubes for vegetarian cubes, to turn this soup vegan/vegetarian friendly.
1 Cup Dried Split Peas
1/2 Cup uncooked white rice
1/2 Cup lentils
3 Tbsp Minced Onion
3 Tbsp Dried Parsley
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 beef bouillon squares
1/2 – 1 cup of elbow pasta (pack in a zip lock bag since it will be the last
step in preparation)
1.In a wide mouth 1 quart jar, start layering the peas, rice, and lentils.
Then add the onion, parsley, salt, pepper, bouillon cubes and bagged pasta.
2. Seal with a lid, and place a gift bow on top. Attach a gift card with
ribbon that reads: Add Contents of Jar To 4-5 Quarts of Water. Bring to a boil
and then simmer for 45 minutes, add pasta, simmer for another 15 minutes and enjoy. To elevate this soup recipe, add two stalks of chopped celery, two sliced carrots, 1 cup of shredded cabbage and two cups of diced tomatoes.
VAPOR RUB SHOWER BOMB
3 tablespoons of VapoRub
1 cup of corn starch
Blue and green food coloring (optional)
3 tablespoons of water
1. In a bowl add in the three tablespoons of VapoRub. You can use any variety of VapoRub you wish.
2. Stir in the cup of corn starch. Mix well. You will notice that the
VapoRub takes a little time to soften. Continue to stir until it becomes a
3. Add in the two tablespoons of water. The goal is to make a paste that can
easily be manipulated with your hands, since you will be creating balls out
of it. Once you see that your mixture is thick enough to work with, it may
be a good time to stop. If you pick it up and try to shape it and it falls
apart, it needs a little water. If it can’t hold a shape, it has too much
water, so add more cornstarch.
4. When your mixture is the right consistency, add several drops of green
and blue food coloring. Continue to stir. This step makes the Shower bombs look like they have mint and spearmint in them, a little visual trick. But if you prefer to omit the food coloring, feel free.
5. Once the color is mixed in well, scoop the mixture into your hand. It
will have a play dough feel to it. Knead it into a ball and set on a piece
of wax paper. For a square look, pack the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze. When frozen, cut each rectangle in two to create smaller squares.
6. Place in a freezer for 20-30 minutes and then put in a jar. If this is
a gift, include direction on the gift tag to place directly on the drain of
the bathtub while taking a shower. You don’t want the ball to be floating
in the bathtub water during the shower, since it can make the bathtub slick.
Placing it directly on the drain will make sure that it will melt directly
in the drain.
May 25th, 2015
Brace yourselves, you are about to fall in love!! While I was working on my 30 day salad challenge (that’s right, I’m making a new salad every day for 30 days), I discovered this recipe. Originally, I made it for my Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella Salad. I didn’t add enough olive oil to the recipe initially, so my dressing turned out a bit thick. When I tasted it, I was IN LOVE. I quickly put it on top of some french bread and voila… it was as if it was meant to happen!! Below is the recipe… enjoy!!
4-60z Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp capers (drained)
1-2 garlic cloves
9-10 basil leaves
Combine all ingredients above in a food processor (leave a few basil leaves for garnish) and pulse until well blended. Spoon the mixture on top of french baguette pieces and top off with basil leaves. If the mixture is too thick, add more olive oil until the desired consistency.
November 25th, 2014
If you are hosting your holiday dinner this year, you are in luck, because I am about to encourage you to create something healthy, easy, and beautiful. A crudité platter! For those of you who have never heard the term, a crudité plate is simply a pretty way of saying a vegetable platter. However, it just sounds so much more schnazzy saying “crudités”.
What is a crudité, you may be asking? Wikipedia defines Crudités as traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are sometimes dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauces. Crudités often include celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper strips, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, and asparagus spears; sometimes olives, depending on local custom.
With crudités, its all about the “look”, which makes them a popular draw to the buffet table. But for me, serving raw and cooked vegetables creates a “healthy zone” at my buffet spread, and healthy, is always good at a party!
As you can imagine, few rules apply to vegetable platters, but here are some that you may find useful.
1. Don’t get caught up in the complexity of the arrangement, sometimes simple is better. All of my crudités platter below are super simple, but still look beautiful.
Color goes a long way. But did you know that you can create beautiful monochromatic vegetable platters? Here are two examples of easy vegetable platters where we went with a white look. It is beautiful and unexpected! Vegetables like cauliflower, endives, white squash, asparagus, cucumbers and even peeled radishes, can easily be incorporated into a white crudités platter. Don’t worry, the vegetables do not have to be stark white… but even a hint of white adds impact.
Don’t be afraid to go with a theme, especially during the holidays. Why not make your vegetable platter look like a Christmas tree or a wreath. If there is anything that brings a smile to your guests’ faces, it will be your fun element you bring to your veggie plate.
Think outside the box when it comes to presentation. Many of us think of veggie platters and crudités as the round plastic trays filled with celery and carrots at the grocery stores. But don’t be afraid to be daring and out of the box. The more creative you get, the more you’ll love putting the platters together.
Last but not least, don’t feel like the round plate is your only option to display your vegetables. There are lots of different serving pieces you can use. Various sized glasses, baskets, Chinese food “to go” boxes, and many more.
Last but not least, enjoy the process of putting a credités platter together. There is NO WRONG way to do it… except not to do it at all!
December 27th, 2013
It was a very special year because my husband and I got to spend a day at the Encore and Wynn hotels in Las Vegas during our Christmas holiday. We let the kids hang out with the grandparents in St. George, Utah for the day and ventured out to Las Vegas (which is only about a 2 hour drive). Our stay at the hotel was spectacular and I’ve also posted photos of the beautiful room décor as well as some of the fun items we found while exploring the hotels. But in this post, I wanted to showcase some of the beautiful holiday decorations which the Wynn is famous for. We also had breakfast at the Wynn buffet and I captured some photos from their dessert bar… yes, the below desserts were all served for breakfast!! Truly, it was eye candy!!!!
December 8th, 2013
I’m loving this Christmas tablescape from Pottery Barn. I especially love how they put the menu in the wine glass. Simple yet so sophisticated!!
November 1st, 2013
Well, it’s that time again!! Time to decorate the mantle, the front porch, the trees, and of course, the dining table! This is THE prime time for creative tablescapes and I always have my cell phone charged and ready to snap that perfect tablescape idea! These tables were photographed at Pottery Barn Kids. I know that whatever they show off at their store, will likely make it into many homes in America. So here are their favorite picks for kids’ tablescape ideas!
Love this kid’s Thanksgiving table! Especially since you can re-use the Halloween pumpkins in the centerpiece.
Who wouldn’t want to sit at this Hanukkah table?!
My kids wait with such anticipation for their Elf On A Shelf , this would be perfect for them.
The santa chair covers are super sweet for this kids’ Christmas table!
December 31st, 2012
Here is a delicious Babka cake I made a few days ago. After doing some research on the MANY different varieties and recipes for this fabulous cake, I found the best recipe on Cooks.com. I also played around with a wonderful recipe in one of my cook books but it used shortening as well as asked that you let the dough rise for 6 hours. I hate shortening and am always short on time!
Note to all who are in a time crunch. This would NOT be the bread/cake for you! This is one of those “old school” European recipes where you have to assume that the people who made this, spent the entire day in the kitchen making a plethora of other food for hours and hours! For instance, you have to knead the dough for 1/2 hour by hand and as I mentioned above, let it rise for 6 hours!
So I cheated a little bit. I found a great recipe on cooks.com which used butter and only required that you let the dough rise for about 2 hours. This recipe also asks you to knead the dough, by hand, for 1/2 hour, but I only did it for about 10 minutes.
The above photo was of my successful Babka Cake. The only thing I did differently was that I used Figs instead of raisins. Next time, I’ll use raisins since I think they will make the cake a bit sweeter.
5-6 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cake yeast (or 1 package of active dry yeast)
1/2 cups warm water (104-115°F)
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 lb. butter
3/4 cups golden raisins or 1 package of figs.
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
In a saucepan, heat milk. Add butter and heat until the butter is melted. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and salt. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
Crumble (or stir) yeast into warm water until yeast is dissolved. Let sit approximately 5 minutes. Add to cooled milk.
Stir in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour and knead dough in bowl (for approximately 1/2 hour if done by hand) until dough no longer sticks to hands. Add raisins and knead into dough.
Note: We used the kneading attachment of an electric mixer for 12 minutes.
Cover with a clean towel and let rise a in warm place, free from draft until doubled (approximately 1 hour).
Punch down dough. Cover and let rise again. Punch down again.
Divide dough in half and put into 2 greased 9×5 inch bread pans or 1 angel food cake pan (without tube) for a large traditional bread.
Mix 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush top of bread with mixture and let rise uncovered in a warm place until doubled.
Bake at 350°F 30-35 minutes for 9×5 inch pans or 40-50 minutes for large pan, or until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
This is a traditional Polish bread recipe that is served during the Easter and Christmas Holidays.