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Guest Room Welcome Gifts

I had so much fun anticipating a visit from my two granddaughters and my older granddaughter's best friend.  Always trying to make them feel welcome and special, I constructed these gift baskets for about $10 each

A trip to the Dollar Store rewarded me with some fun and unique items I thought they would enjoy.  Each girl received a basket with a brightly colored bandana to make the basket appealing.  Within the bandana-laced basket I inserted coordinating water bottles, with a screw in container at the bottom for ice, M & M's, or whatever they wanted.  I found matching hair brushes, eye masks they could refrigerate and wear to sooth their tired eyes, (after attending a Taylor Swift concert, a much welcomed addition!).  I supplied them with a scrunchy, a toothbrush, and a coordinating bottle of body wash from Bath & Body Works.  And lastly, a custom water bottle label with their name applied in the matching color of their basket.  They were so bright and cheerful.

I knew I had achieved success when Morgan said, "Staying at Grandma's is better than staying at a hotel".  ;-)

I share this with you because I want you to know it doesn't cost a fortune to make someone feel loved and welcome.  

French Inspiration

It is my desire to share with you books that bring me hours (yes hours) of pleasure.  Along with Charles Faudree, my favorite author and illustrator of French Interiors is Betty Lou Phillips.  Her pictures are absolutely incredible.  Because we have traveled all over France, we, like her have fallen in love with everything French, especially interior design and outdoor spaces.

I can pick up any of her books for a visual treat and be transformed to the French countryside without the expense of a costly plane ticket.  Although, I must admit, it does make me want to purchase a ticket to France and be on the next plane to Paris.

Within the pages of her books, I am reminded of the details that make a room or outdoor area uniquely French.  I am in the process of incorporating old and new to update my guest bedroom to include crocheted laces, a monogrammed pillow, fluffy bedding that mingles well with my treasured Angel prints, tapestry, and French furniture.  I will reveal pictures when it is more complete.  I say more complete, because I don't know if a room is ever complete when you dwell in a home for long time.  it's fun to update and edit.    

Below are books by Betty Lou Phillips I have many of them, and the one's I don't have, I have made a goal to purchase. My personal favorite, at this point in time, is Unmistak

Flower Holders Made From Tin Cans

Normally, I'm not that much into the shabby chic look for my home, but I do appreciate it's whimsy and unique appearance.  My sister and I wanted to construct something for my mother's caregivers to express thanks for the care they give our mother.  I had a collection of cans that I knew I wanted to use "some day".  Here's what we did with a few of them.

Because it was May, we decided to fashion these flower containers to resemble traditional May Day Flower Hangers.  We wrapped wired twine around the cans in, up and down, and in an all around fashion.  Then we constructed handles atop the cans connected to the body twine as handles so that they could be hung on door knobs or hooks.  We then attached cotton lace, burlap, ribbons, and bird and butterfly name tags.  The final task was to fill them with roses from my garden. 

Double Delight & Yellow St. Patrick's Roses

The ladies loved them and we were so happy we made them.  Now, we will have to continue to supply them with lovely flowers to make more of their days delightful.

Plastic cups were inserted as to not rust the inside of the cans.  They fit and worked perfectly.

I'd love to know what you think and what kind of artsy-cragty projects you might be up to as summer begins.  I love reading your comments.  Just click on the comment button below and you can share.

Thanks for reading and sharing.  I hope you have a delightful day!

A Delightful Walk Through Peters Canyon

I can't believe that I have lived in this area for over 28 years and have never taken a walk around Peters Canyon Lake which is only about a mile from my house!  This is the most beautiful walk.  My son, Chris, was here for a visit and we took this 2.5 mile walk around the lake.  

I had heard it was a long walk with steep grades and it was on the second half.  It was well worth it!  I think in the future I will walk the scenic west side to the half way point and turn around and walk it back.  The views of the lake, bunnies, and greenery were so delightful.  The day we went it was about 8:30 am on an overcast morning.

I will refrain from commenting further so you can just enjoy the views we encountered.

This hill is a lot steeper than it looks!  Hope you get a chance to walk this pretty path sometime soon.

Hugs, Debbie

Daisies & Birthdays

The table is set and awaits the two birthday girls, Patty & Mary.  We will be going to a Chris Tomlin Concert this night!! 

For those of you who may be interested, the daisy plate is Metlox Sculptured Daisy. The yellow beverage glasses resemble a Fostoria pattern, but I am not sure if that is what they are. The sherbert glasses are a Depression Era pattern. The tablecloth was purchased in Switzerland. The silverware pattern, is Oneida, Louisiana.

Our meal began with a mint marinated fruit salad.  It was cool and refreshing!  I just place about 1/2 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a pan and brought it to a boil.  I then added a couple of drops of spearmint oil to it and marinated the fruit in it for about 1/2 hour.  The mint leave was added to compliment the mint flavor.  

Years ago, my friend Alma served this recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad.  It was delightful and memorable, not to mention healthy!  It's still as great as the first time I made it. I altered it just a little bit. 

Alma’s Chinese Chicken Salad

          1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
          1 package toasted slivered almonds
          2 packages Oriental Style Top Ramen Noodles, roken up in hands
          1 can mandarin oranges
          1 ½ whole cabbages, shredded (cut into thin slices)
          2 boneless chicken breasts (grilled boiled)
          (I purchased a broiled chicken at the store and extracted the meat)
          1/2 cup olive oil
          4 tablespoons cider vinegar
          3 tablespoons sugar
          1/2 teaspoon salt


Beat and Chill:

1 package Top Ramen seasoning

1/2 cup olive oil

4 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

In large Mixing bowl Combine:

2 bags of Cabbage



Sesame Seeds

Toasted Almonds

Crush the Top Ramen


Toss and then add mixture over top and toss again.

Janice amazed us with her ability to duplicate Tommy Bahama's Pina Colada Cake! It tasted exactly like the one you would purchase there.  It was out of this world good.  She said you can obtain the recipe for it online. She had to make up her own white chocolate mousse for the frosting. It was spectacular the day after, and the day after that!  My son and husband loved it too.

We had to scoot to get to the concert on time.  We made it!  We had great seats and and even greater worship experience.  Kari Jobe opened for Chris and she was fabulous too.  A message was preached by Loui Giglio from Atlanta.

Can you see Chris Tomlin!  We could, and we could hear him quite well!

The Birthday Girls!

It was a delightful evening in every way! 

Spring Purple & Green Dinner for Six

What a fun dinner this was!  It's the people, not the preparations that make the event.  I found out that our neighbors across the street knew my good friend Shannon's husband. Shannon & Tom's son is a freshman in high school and Sandy is a Counselor at his very high, we invited both couples over for what turned out to be a delightful evening.

These dishes were purchased at  Pier 1 Imports over two years ago. They had never been used until now as there was always some other event that caused them to be edged out.

The contrast of bright lime green and lily purple pleased me very much.  It had just the impact I was hoping for.  Flowers were purchased at my local nursery in hopes that they would compliment the setting.  Dollar Tree bowls were purchased for the pots.  I was so happy they didn't clash with my tablecloth!  Both Sandy and Shannon were able to take one home as a hostess gift.

The pattern is called "Lily".  Yvonne, from my FAVORITE BLOG IN THE WORLD, StoneGable, used them on a table setting of title Mother's Day Luncheon, for a completely different look.  Click here to see her beautiful setting.  If you aren't following her blog, you are missing out on the most visually beautiful and creative treats!

A close up of the napkins shows a Ralph Lauren paisley print napkin enveloped within a deep purple napkin, then secured by a dragonfly napkin ring.  I was fond of this arrangement to kick off spring.

Creamy Chicken Marsala  will now be a favorite offering of mine!  We all loved it.  It was well worth the effort it took to make.  It didn't take that long, it was just a complicated recipe for me to follow. I used six pounded chicken breasts with the same amount of ingredients and it was perfect. I served it with oven-roasted and olive oil, salt & pepper marinated asparagus spears and petite carrots.  OMG!  I would like to have it again tonight!!  I know a recipe is great when my husband raves about it too. :-)

Shannon is amazed that I experiment with recipes on my guests.   Accepting an invitation for a meal at my house means you are a willing volunteer!  Most times everything turns out my delight and surprise!

The grand finale was Mac Charles House Chocolate Cake! There is no better chocolate cake recipe on the planet!  The frosting is like fudge. This has long been a favorite of mine. I acquired the recipe from someone who had purchased it many years ago.  It's top secret.  My husband loves chocolate, so he was a happy guy.  

Because I doubled the recipe for the frosting, I had enough to insert into decorative jars and give chocolate sauce as hostess gifts.  Great warmed and poured over ice cream, or anything!

If you want a menu that is sure to delight, this is definitely one of them.  If you have friends and neighbors like mine, it is guaranteed to be a successful dinner party.

Hope you have a delightful week!  

Hugs, Debbie

Mardi Gras Brunch

Because of how festive, colorful and fun it looks, I have long wanted to host a Mardi Gras party.  As a California girl, I've always been curious about what Mardi Gras in New Orleans was all about.  So, I researched the event and found out so many interesting facts.  If you are curious too, I hope you'll continue to read on.  I invite you to see what I discovered, and, if I have any of my facts wrong, or if you want to add anything, please feel free to correct or enlighten me.

To begin,  I constructed invitations for my Mardi Gras brunch by simply printing three rings of Mardi Gras colors, then glue-dotting three coins and an array of feathers.  By this, I hoped to set the mood for a fun event.  On the envelope I attached a mask with the invitees name written on the mask, and attached a few more feathers. 

It was surprising how super fun this party was!  I always hope my guests and I will have fun when I plan an event. This Mardi Gras Brunch did not disappoint, it was really special, and relaxed.  

As my guests arrived, they were greeted by me and the Mardi Gras wreath I constructed for under $15 with Dollar Store gift bows, a pool noodle, taped and wrapped in a purple plastic tablecloth.  I then affixed a glittered Fleur De Les (found at a floral supply store) on the wreath and attached some mask beads and there it was, shiny and welcoming.

Each guest was presented with three strings of beads and a mask to wear upon entering.  We then gathered in the kitchen and partook of Disneyland Mint Juleps prepared by Darlene.  They were exactly like the ones you have in New Orleans Square.  Along with the tasty Mint Juleps, we had authentic Beignets made by Cindy and Loraine.  The rest of us had fun watching them dip the dough in the hot oil and lay them aside for dusting with powdered sugar and consuming.  They were delicious and it was so much fun to sample what they make in New Orleans.

The table was set and ready to celebrate and discover what exactly Mardi Gras is all about.  Below each purple charger there were strips of paper with an interesting Mardi Gras fact to share.

Here's the beignets, and me! It was fun to dress the part. I loved the festive look!! 
The feathers were molting all over the house however :- /

Darlene's Disneyland Mint Juleps...Yummmm!
Click Here For Recipe

Mary Ann is one delightful character. 
 I don't think there is anyone who likes to party more than she and I!

So many elements went into decorating the table, including traditional beads and masks.  One wine bottle serving as a vase was covered in Mardi Gras beads. Each lady was given a black velvet covered head band with feathers and a sequin to wear and take home.

 We learned what the three traditional colors of Mardi Gras stand for:  
Purple stands for justice, green stands for peace, and gold represents power.

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.  It is the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, a Catholic Holiday which begins forty days of fasting during Lent prior to Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras celebrations begin any time after Epiphany, which is the twelfth night after Christmas, when the three kings were said to arrive in Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus.

It has become a huge carnival in places throughout the world absent the original meaning. Or perhaps better said, "Blown out of proportion". In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there is much drunkenness, flashing, and general mayhem as people go a little crazy.  In many respectable Krewes (communities within cities) in New Orleans, people make it a beautiful and colorful celebration.  They celebrate with costumes, masks, and throw beads, toys, colored coins, and various items from their floats to the by-standers.  I learned that by law, people on floats had to wear masks.  I'm told taxi drivers and the locals can tell you where the best parades are.

The colored and imprinted coins are custom designed to each Krewe and usually have an emblem that represents something unique to that Krewe.  Aren't you glad you know that?

 Mary Ann made the delicious Paula Deen Broccoli Salad.  it was amazing!

Talk about coordination!  World Market carries these Mardi Gras colored chips for the celebrations.  That is kicking it up a notch!

Above is an individual crab omelet cooked in a ramekin at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It was topped with Hollandaise sauce and salsa. The Jambalaya was authentic and tasty.  My most amazing discovery of the celebration was the out-of-this-world delicious Muffuletta Sandwich. I found this recipe while searching for recipes on Pinterest.  This sandwich will now be included in many meals in the months and years to come.  I can't tell you how good it is. You MUST try it some time.  Men LOVE it too!  The flavors dance around in your mouth. While this recipe is original to Italy, I read it has become a traditional sandwich at Mardi Gras.

I changed the recipe a bit by using a jar of pickled vegetables including cauliflower, cocktail onion, celery and carrots.  I added a half a cup of Kalamata olives  (be sure to de-pit them first!), 1 cup of green olives with pimentos, 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup virgin olive oil and whisked them on "Chop" mode on my food processor.  The flavors become amazing when you let this mixture set overnight.

The Muffulettas for my brunch were baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, but these are absolutely delicious not baked.  I've had left-over Muffulettas for three days now! 

I get so excited when a layered dessert turns out perfect!  The traditional Mardi Gras colors are layered first with grape Jell-O, then Lemon, then lime.  It was really delicious and very pretty to look at.  I saved the mixture of sugar that fell onto my waxed paper from decorating the rims with frosting and colored sugars, and then place a few pinches atop the whipped cream.  Isn't this fun looking?!  Why yes, it is!

To my delight, Jell-O creations are enjoying a comeback at my parties because people really seem to like Jell-O!  They are simple, but you can make them look so elegant. I am totally into the visual beauty of an event, including the food. The coolness of the Jell-O and whipped cream really adds that feeling a refreshment. The creative embellishments add the grande finale.  What is really great is they are very low cost but look like a really expensive creation.  I like them...a lot!  And so did my guests. :!)

Last, but not least, came the individual King Cakes.  Such a simple recipe.  It isn't authentic, but it was perfect and represented the original well.   The tradition is to make a single larger braided cake. A plastic baby representing Jesus, is hidden within the cake, after it is baked and cooled.  The person who receives the piece with the baby, is supposed to have good luck in the coming year, and GETS to make the King Cake the following year. 
Linda found the baby in her cake!
You can borrow my stuff next year, Linda!  ;-)

Here we all are!  Well, I'm taking the picture.  I believe everyone had a delightful time and I wouldn't hesitate to have a Mardi Gras Party again.  I loved that it was a brunch too, because people had the rest of their day to themselves and clean up was finished with energy.