YOU are entering into an oasis of pure revery and  comfort…  your five senses are sublimely heightened as you begin sauntering through this magical and animated dining room…  The lovely banqueting table, IMG_0700set for eight, is dressed with scintillating  textures and sophisticated dinnerware , in a mixture of quill, yet stirring shades, with personalized place cards, creatively tucked into Lilliputian, shimmering silver teapots,  creating a phenomenally welcoming ambiance for an enchanted evening, shared with guests.

The beautifully bedecked, light oak dining table,  embellished with  a crisp, white Batten-burg lace, linen cloth and formal napkins, provides the perfect backdrop for the elaborate vintage silver candelabra , boastfully holding five lit, IFOnly200red taper candles with an inspiring arrangement of while  lilies, soft babies-breath and red roses …  Competing for your attention is the antiquated, heirloom silverware, and the glistening Waterford crystal framing each Lenox china dinner plate…

The aroma of fresh ginger, cinnamon, tart apples and nutmeg fills the room as a scrumptious  dutch apple pie is baking in the oven…Soft melodic tunes fill the room with a soothing, joyous calmness…Is that Michael Buble singing?

The room has a magical, elfin glow…Every tabletop alight with romantic tea light candles and  enlivened votive’s, amidst a cozy fire burning in the hearth… SUDDENLY, YOU WAKE UP, realizing this resplendent vision was only but a dream… What are you feeling right now?

Are you in 7th heaven, thinking of an occasion to celebrate, so you can invite a few friends over and create an awe-inspiring , magical dinner party? Are you looking for  a pen and paper, so you can  begin planning your menu, guest list and motif for your blithesome event?   OR…Do you feel as if you have just had a BAD nightmare, are beginning to sweat profusely ,  and are eminently relieved  when you remind yourself…It is not real… “We are not having a house full of dinner guests… it was just a dream.” 🙂

I have a handful of close friends, (men and women,) who absolutely adore  hosting parties, entertaining and blessing others with their special niche of hospitality…and I also know plenty of people who would rather go to the dentist and get a cavity filled , than attend or be a part of hosting a festive event at their home… 🙂

I was surprised to read  in the New York Times,  that the “dinner party” amongst the wealthy , socialite community,  is now  becoming extinct!  (Not quite sure why,) but I felt a bit wistful as I began the article…I don’t think it was because of all the expense these people go to , or their decadent menus and extravagant decor, (or even their intriguing, galvanizing guests lists,) IFOnly5000 but because dinner parties,  (or any type of a gathering surrounded by delicious food,) brings forth such a wondrous  opportunity for people to meet and mingle. Many a great friendship has begun from a social gathering as well as memories that last a life time. Recollections filled with an abundance of  laughter, excellent cuisine, fabulous conversations and exhilarating entertainment.  It’s hard to understand as for myself, hosting a fete within our home is something I have never fallen out of love with…My husband tells me I “look” for an occasion, (a holiday,  birthday, a  new season or even a small victory) to throw a shindig in our little haven 🙂 (And both of us still love going to gatherings at our friends homes.)


I have always felt thatElegantly lit holiday dinner table with white ribbon gift hosting a gala at our home is a way of expressing our love towards our family or friends…I liken it to a large box, beautifully wrapped…  Inside of this box is a medley of enjoyment, pampering, regale, enchantment, bliss, laughter, a little recreation, camaraderie and  a splendid diversion from the hectic days of the work week that so many of us need…

winterscape40Whenever I go to a ladies luncheon,  an afternoon Tea, birthday celebration or dinner at a friends, I am eminently blessed  by all the “special touches,” the hosts have gone out of their way to create for us, their guests. Whether it is the charming, beautiful and warm ambiance,  the scrumptious menu, the party favors they have so thoughtfully chosen or the cordiality and rapport   between friends… I  hate for the gathering to come to an end.

If you are one that loves to entertain, (or loves being entertained,) 🙂  is there a certain ‘celebratory event’ that is at the top of of your list? Perhaps one that is your least adored to host or attend? 🙂   There are so many special moments in life to CELEBRATE! I love them all…


A Baby shower I think out of all the jubilant events  within our lives, a new life and ‘longed for’  arrival, has to be one of the greatest reasons to PARTY!    Give your “new mom to be”   the center spotlight in your home, pampering her with an abundance of attention, felicitous games, delicious foods and a spectacular cake, to end all cakes… Decorating with a rainbow of pastel colors and the splendorous motif of BABIES would be so much fun!if only 16

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CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENT. Whether from Preschool, Elementary school, High school or College… What a wonderful time of merriment for your GRADUATE! Perhaps  a big bash with a large crowd and a DJ,  or a small gathering with their favorite dance music,  friends and  family…they won’t remember the SIZE of the party… only the honor, attention and love. Give them the acclaim and acknowledgement  they deserve while  adding  a few more “Kodak moments” to their scrapbook of life. 🙂

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Light up  the grill,  turn your outside stereo speakers on high, put on the steaks, burgers, brats-worth and corn on the cob… play some touch football , throw a few frisbee’s. After dinner, enjoy telling a few (not to scary)  ghost stories around the bonfire… What is more  relaxing, and  enjoyable  than a savory meal from the grill and being outdoors with your best friends?
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There is nothing quite like celebrating friendship with our girlfriends, than gathering for an afternoon tea.  A few hours of delicious cuisine, sweet confections, herbal teas, (coffee too) 🙂 and ‘much needed,’ pampering for the soul. Whether inside , during the wintry months, (a Christmas theme is divine,) or outdoors, amidst the spring blooms, blue sky and bright sunshine, an afternoon tea is one of my favorite parties to create and host. if only 20If only 2

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A traditional Christmas drop in for your close friends and family… Does it get any better than this?  The magic of Christmas really does do all the work, as your home is beautifully decked out for the glorious season with its stellar and alluring ambiance.  Everyone is already feeling an abundance of mirth, joy and festivity…sharing delicious cookie recipes, freshly made eggnog and kisses under the mistletoe. 🙂 I think its safe to say, it is one of all of our “all time favorite occasions” to celebrate within our home.


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Perhaps your love for suspense, intrigue, and “drama~drama” inspires you to host a Murder Mystery Dinner for your close friends and family! Setting the stage is exciting, choosing the plot is euphoric and everyone playing their part amidst delicious cuisine, and festive snacks, is something you can’t wait to do each year…if only7if only 60


A Bridal shower for your best friend? Another honor… Marriage  is at the top of my list for a jubilant celebration! Surround the  “bride to be”  with a kaleidoscope of charismatic color, sweet indulgences, exciting games, gifts and an elegant, (to beautiful to cut into,) cake for her parties Grand Finale. 🙂  IFOnly5010


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How about a romantic dinner for those few “couple friends” that  you and your mate are so blessed to have in your life. Bestow  each guest with a stellar meal, candlelight, romantic music and create an evening they will never forget. (How about sharing how you all met your mate and the “moment” you knew you were in love with them. 😉1night

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There is always that relished moment, when your phone rings and it is one of your close siblings or a dear friend from your youth?  They have never been to your part of the country and want to come and stay for a few days?

 How much fun is it to set up your guest room with fresh flowers, a bottle of their favorite wine, your luxurious  linens, eiderdown comforters, a box of Sees candy and a freshly scented candle for the season.. I Love all the late night chats in P’J’s, sharing memories of our childhood days, (even though we both remember them ‘ so differently.’ 🙂 There is something so special about having them with you, to share in your daily  life, as your worlds seems so far apart with the geographical distance between you. (Kind of makes you feel all warm and cozy inside…) 🙂
There are so many landmarks within our lives to celebrate and if you are one that adores entertaining, it is such a special gift that only you, with your signature style, can give to the world!
I began thinking …what would SPARK UP the desire for “everyone ” to put their best foot forward and really get excited about planning a menu, table scape and a  memorable  motif, happily creating one of the most unforgettable evenings  of your life… Here is my challenge, (as well as enjoyable endeavor) for you in this vignette…
First off,  WHO would your five dinner guests be? (BTW, your spouse/sweetheart is already included, so they don’t count as your top Five.)
WHY these five in particular?
What would  your MENU be? (Dessert? Appetizers?)
 What would your table-scape presentation and AMBIANCE be? Formal? Casual?
What would you WEAR?
What dinner MUSIC would you play?
Lastly, what would your delightful, creatively wrapped PARTY FAVOR be for each guest? The same bestowal  for everyone or a specialized gift for each celebrity?



Before you begin envisioning your “If only for one night” dream dinner, lets look at  a few thoughts from a diversity of people on “celebrating delicious food,  good friends and convivial spirit.”



“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it. “ ~Author Unknown

“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were. ” ~Author Unknown

“If I were invited to a dinner partyIFOnly5008 with my characters, I wouldn’t show up.”
– Dr. Seuss
“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.” ~  Ina Garten
“At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.” ~ George Carlin
“That’s the secret of entertaining. You
make your guests feel welcome and at home. If you do that honestly, the rest takes care of itself.” ~  Barbara Hall
IFOnly5005“I can get a better grasp of what is going on in the world from one good Washington dinner party, than from all the background information NBC piles on my desk.” ~ Barbara Walters
“My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” ~ Orson Welles
“If more of us valued food andIFonly5017 cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”
~ George Bernard Shaw


“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”~ Cesar Chavez

 For your “IF only for one night” dream dinner , are you a person who loves to create a formal atmosphere, really “Putin-on-the-Ritz,” for your guests, using your fine china, silver, crystal and finding just the right centerpiece with an elaborate pizzazz?


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Or, are you more of a “casual” person, favoring simplicity, home cooking, a cozy , warm and welcoming ambiance?



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What would your “eye catching” centerpiece be on your dining Table?

A colorful, fetching, elaborate,  formal  centerpiece or something  very easy on the eyes, simple and casual? Or perhaps you may choose your centerpiece to be a medley of glistening candles, creating a simple, ethereal  table. Here are few ideas for both formal as well as casual, seasonal centerpieces for your table-scape.

For the magical season of WINTER…

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Spring is in the air with these two elegant and classy, diverse table-scape ideas.

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Summer has never looked more inviting… Its a great time to celebrate with ambrosial food, festive drinks amongst wonderful people.

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Autumns vibrant colors of  nature provide ample ideas for your festive gathering’s table!

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What would you serve? Would you have it catered? Hire a professional chef for the evening? Cook your favorite recipes for your guests? Would it be a Buffet style or formal , sit down or a 5 course meal? How about wine or hordevoires?

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What is your ideal “dinner music?”  Country Western? Pop? R&B? Symphony music, flute and guitar? Perhaps you adore Opera, Piano tunes, romantic melodies or the magical sounds of Mannheim Steamroller…    You can always create a playlist for when your guests are arriving, (with a medley of artists,)  and choose a softer dinner music while dining.



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What would you serve  for dessert?

Something fancy, delectable and memorable,  like Bananas Foster, chocolate suicide cake, chocolate mousse with fresh red raspberry’s, or scrumptious coconut carrot cake? You can never go wrong with freshly baked hot apple pie, a la mode, fresh berries with whipped cream, cheesecake and strawberries or or a good, old fashioned, American favorite, a hot fudge sundae.

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IMHO….You have got to have some candle light going on…a few taper or column candles,  votive’s and tea lights to create a warm, convivial spirit.. and at least one soft scented Yankee candle,(or another brand you enjoy,)  to give your home a delicious fragrance, all night long..

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Have you decided what your Party Favor gift would be at each guests table setting? It can be the smallest thing, to the grandest gift that is within your heart to give them… How would you wrap it?

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I decided to interview a few special people in my life with this same challenge I am giving to you, (as well as myself.) Our  “If only for one night” dream dinner…They all surprised me with things I never knew about them, (especially with who their top five would be.)  I started thinking,  this challenge would be a great “Icebreaker” at any  party to get to know your guests better. 🙂

I know when I envisioned and created  my “If only for one night,” will-o-the-wisp,   It was like a dream..dreams7 I envisioned  what it would feel like, as each guest arrived and entered into our home. How special it would feel to get to meet 5 people I admire and  have received so much joy and smiles from.  Even though it is through our television, my computer,  the radio or the Big Screen,  these five  people have brought my life an abundance of heartfelt emotions,  richness, inspiration, enjoyment and of course LAUGHTER!  Getting to meet them in person and share a meal and evening together was a great “Chimera”… I felt excited, feeling that I could actually bless them, by giving them something no one else could…my cooking, our home embellished with festive colors, warmth and enchantment as well  as sharing how much each of them have touched my life through their amazing talents and giving  hearts. I chose each one of them for a specific reason… It truly was a lot of fun. Some of the people I interviewed asked me; “Susan, can I have more than five guests? Can I do it twice? (They couldn’t decide who they would ask, with a choice of only five and enjoyed the challenge  of creating their  “If only for one night” dream evening.”  🙂

Lets take a look at a  what a few special people, ( with diverse backgrounds,)  chose for there “If only for one night” dinner or gala…(as it can be whatever you imagine it to be…)


#1. Patrick, an incredible high school  Counselor who lives on the coast, in Southern California.

“MY Five dinner guest would be: Brad Pitt, Diane Ravitch, Meryl Streep, Anderson Cooper and Bill Gates. My interest is about Education.”


I choose these particular five guests, BECAUSE: ( IN ORDER of photos)  Brad Pitt has a great heart and has a lot of influence in the Media. Diane Ravitch is very well known in the field of Education and has studied trends in this particular field and she’s leaning toward public schools…although at one time,  she was an advocate for charter schools.   Meryl Streep is just a person I really like. Anderson Cooper has an investigative mind and influence in the news world. Bill Gates has the money to finance ideas and he’s leaning toward charter schools.



Broiled scallops wrapped in figs or bacon as an appetizer,  a fresh made tomato soup from a local restaurant, (that I love),  broiled salmon in a mustard-dill sauce with asparagus lightly broiled with garlic, and a creme Brulee for dessert, that has a hint of lavender. Fresh roasted bean coffee would be served in the living room by the fireplace with dessert. Wine served  upon request.



My patina would be a bit on the formal side. I would use my  formal china along with red taper candles.    My Table would be set with a white lace linen from Slovenia, linen napkins, crystal Waterford candle holders, Wedgwood china, crystal water and wine glasses.

 I WOULD WEAR something casual and comfortable, my khakis and a nice, light yellow sweater, made out of a soft wool. IN MY HOME…no one can wear any shoes. 🙂



The melodic music of  Eva Cassidy as well as Contemporary Jazz music and  Jazz singers.



My  special gift to each guest would be a book of poetry or the book , “The smartest kids in the world.” Maybe a different book for each guest.


#2. KIT!  A great Website designer who lives in Delaware  🙂IFOnly5025


“My top  five would be: Tom Clancy, Bill Cosby, Condoleezza  Rice, Mrs. Ronald Regan and Justin Timberlake.”

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I chose these dinner guests BECAUSE: Author Tom Clancy has such a wonderful background, has done an abundance of research and has a very interesting story to tell. Bill Cosby is extremely intelligent with such a diverse background. I would love to hear about his insights on people, his life and the world. Condoleezza Rice is a strong woman who has survived in the political world. She has a great perspective on the government, our leaders and other countries. Mrs. Regan is a woman who has served at a high level in politics, has a great perspective about the TRUTHS that have taken place in our country as well as the truth about what is happening in our country today. Justin Timberlake is very down to earth in his approach to respecting people, extremely intelligent and talented on many levels and doesn’t act like he’s rich and famous.



I would serve Coho salmon, steamed in a white wine and dill sauce, served over  brown rice with sweet peas, steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and for dessert, a flour-less chocolate tart with fresh strawberries.



MY AMBIANCEwould be very casual…with a autumn motif, our blue and white china, water glasses, a medley of fall, linen napkins,  and a few candles. Very simple.

I WOULD WEAR my black jeans with a long sleeve shirt, very comfortable and relaxed.


Dinner Music?


“There’s going to be some changes made” DVD with Bruce Hornsby and friends.


Party Favor?


Lastly, my gift to each guest? A very nice picture frame.  I would bring out my  camera that takes instant photos..I would ask each of my guest to have a photo taken with me…and ask each of them to sign their name…  They  would each take home a photo of themselves with me, and I would have 5 treasured photos of myself with each guest. Great memories to last a life time of this special and memorable  evening.


only110#3 Ellie.  A beautiful lady, happily living in Delaware after a fascinating career at the Patton office in Washington DC.

“MY GUESTS OF HONOR WOULD BE, Charles Krauthammer , George W. Bush, Reverend Billy Graham, Ben Carson and Donald Trump.”

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 Charles Krauthammer, (famous on Fox news,) holds many degrees and is greatly  studied in Politics.I admire and respect his opinions and think he is awesome. George W. Bush is just a very classy man!  Reverend Billy Graham I have always looked up to him as a true Christian who loves the Lord.  Ben Carson, is the top Brain Surgeon at Jon Hopkins in Baltimore. His life story is amazing. His mother is his hero.  He came from a poor family and his mother brought him up with love and taught him that just because your poor does not mean you will fail in life. Donald Trump, I would ask him what stock to buy. 🙂

MY Menu?


I would serve a traditional American meal.  Roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and salad with cheesecake for desert. Coffee and wine upon request.


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I would like to set a casual table but elegant too.  A beautiful linen table cloth with matching napkins, water and wine glasses as well as a baronial service plate. For my centerpiece, I would chose a colorful, welcoming fresh flower arrangement  that is the perfect height, (not to tall) so we can all see one another across the table. 🙂


I would wear a long sleeved,  black dress with stockings and a pair of low heels, accented with just a touch of gold jewelry.

Dinner Music?

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Nothing with a vocalist, just quiet, calming music, maybe a CD of piano music, bass and violin.

Party Favor?


It  would be something with the names of the guest’s and the date, maybe a gold key chain.


IFonly500Gin. A lovely, creative, artistic lady who lives in the Midwest.

MY FIVE SPECIAL GUESTS? Reverend Billy Graham, Presidents; Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George Bush SR.



Billy Graham has counseled all of the presidents of The United States and would have a great input on what is happening in our country today. I would invite the four previous presidents, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George Bush SR. to have an informative  discussion, ( with their much appreciated  opinions) on where we are at now as a country , the White House, economy and foreign policy.



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For my guests appetizer, I would serve a homemade Oxtail soup with sour cream. For dinner, Beef Stroganoff, A Bib lettuce salad with mushrooms, orange slices and almonds, with a sweet vinaigrette, along with hot croissants and butter. I would serve either a nice bottle of Merlot or a rich, red Zinfandel. For dessert , a chocolate mousse cake with an amaretto sour cream sauce, served with champagne or a glass of  sherry.



My patina would be formal. An Irish linen table cloth with napkins, my Crown Emerald Green China, green crystal goblets, tall, white taper candles, a flower arrangement of blush pink roses with white iris’s, and champagne and sherry glasses for each guests choice of  an after dinner drink with dessert.

I WOULD WEAR a cashmere sweater with a long black skirt.

Dinner Music?


George Winston Piano melodies… soothing and enchanting.

Party favors?

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Each guest would receive a different, beautifully photographed, coffee-table book about the White House.


I-97 #5. Sir Grantham!



My top five… Patrick, Cheryl, Ellie, and Susan and Kit. (We are “celebrities” in his eyes.) 🙂


I would ask these special guests to my dinner party because Patrick ‘actually gets down on the floor and plays with me for longer than 10 minutes.’ Cheryl , when she spent the night, stays awake with me in the middle of the night, talks to me and pets me…(so I don’t feel lonely, when Kit and Susan are sleeping.)  Ellie, because she always gives me treats…ham bones, beef bones, bacon strips, “you name it.” …and last but not least, Susan and Kit because THEY ARE MY HEART &  HOME!



Grilled Porter house steaks for everyone, but I  get ALL the bones!



I’m easy… just throw a red check table cloth on the floor, we’ll use dad’s china plates and for my centerpiece, a bright, fire engine red, (highlighted with white rawhide bones,) doggy biscuit holder.


I I-98AM WEARING my fur coat as my red sweater is way to small for me now!



My Dinner music?


Its always a toss up between my two favorite CD’s…maybe everyone will stay long enough for me to play both!

MY parting Gift?


I would give each of my guests a choice of something special to remember me buy. 🙂

Susanhat Susan… The blog writer… who is hoping that you are enjoying this ” IF, Only for one night,” vignette. 🙂


My Five  guests would be, T.D Jakes, Justin Timberlake, (No I did not copy Kit,) Tyler Perry, (and he can come as Medea if he would like to,) Usher and Denzel Washington.


I would invite T.D. Jakes for his beautiful spirit and love for the Lord, (as well as his keeping Justin and Usher in line,) 🙂 (Just joshing.)  Justin Timberlake because he is funny, exceedingly talented and a GREAT  dancer and musician. (I secretly hope he and Usher will sing a few  duets and teach us some great dance steps after dinner.)  Tyler Perry / Medea because I think he is a brilliant man, producer, actor and is tremendously  entertaining, as well as hilarious.  In hearing about his challenging life as a child and witnessing what he has done with his life, I am very impressed and inspired!  Usher, because he too is a great singer, dancer and has a big heart. He seems to be a genuinely NICE person, (in watching him as a judge on The Voice.) Lastly, My all time favorite actor is Denzel...his  biography is endless and I  would love to hear about  all the people he has met and worked with as well as his views on life.

My Menu?

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I would serve my BBQ pulled pork nachos for an appetizer…For the entree, A Caesar salad, Prime Rib (Medium rare) with  creamy horseradish sauce, baked potato, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, pumpernickel bread with fresh butter (stars) 🙂   and homemade coconut carrot cake for dessert with coffee. Wine upon request!


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I would serve a formal dinner with my antique china, lace tablecloth, crystal water and wine glasses, if any of my guests would like a glass of wine, candle light everywhere, 🙂 and dessert and coffee served in the living room, (where Justin and Usher will be entertaining us, (and maybe Medea too) 🙂

I would wear my long black velvet dress with black pumps, pearl earrings and necklace to match.


Dinner Music?

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Dinner music? While everyone is arriving and we are having appetizers, I’d have a  play-list on with a little Bebe Winan gospel-contemporary Christian music,  and Justin and Usher, (clean) tunes playing…while we are dining, I’d switch to Victoria Secrets London symphony orchestra melodic CD..

Party Favor?


A digital camera.. I would place their gift on their salad plate and have everyone open it at the same time…(I would have my own camera already out…) and invite everyone to take as many photos as they want during the evening…(I know I will be a camera hog the entire night.) 🙂 Its true what they say…  “A picture says a thousand words and the memories it brings,  lasts a lifetime.”

I hope you have enjoyed spending some time thinking about what your evening would be like with the famous and renowned people you chose to invite…celebrity1 Did it surprise you at all when you decided who your top five would be? Did your choices surprise others? It definitely gives you an insight into your life as well as reveals what you are  interested in, during this season of your life. (Politics? Americas’ future? Input on where Education is going within our country? A hunger for knowledge in areas of interest within your life from someone who is an expertise ?  A desire to learn more about human nature, ones travels and experiences? Or perhaps, to just be entertained, laugh abundantly and dance? 🙂

My last challenge to you… Keep  the dinner you have planned for your five renowned celebrities within your heart. ( All of  the decor ideas, presentation, menu, music, lighting, gifts,)  and invite Five of your favorite people in this entire world, and bestow upon  them the very same evening…  If some of your favorite people live out of state, plan the party for next year , or better yet, Christmas 2014…give them time to save up for their airfare, or long road trip.  🙂  Take some time to plan who those five people would be… after all, they are the real stars of your life:) (Sounds corny, I know, but you know its true!) 🙂


And always keep dreaming , for our dreams really can and often do, come true. 🙂


PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

Set Your Lilliputian Watches, and “Don’t be late.”

You are invited to a ‘day of fun, a tea pot full of laughter, a cup full of craziness, ambrosial cuisine and an abundance of childlike joy.’


There are so many delightful occasion’s to host a Tea for your friends or family! For instance, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, a celebration of the seasons, a farewell gathering, a promotion at work, a graduation and Valentines day. You really don’t have to have an occasion…perhaps it’s  your hearts  desire to  create a blessed day of pampering for those you love most in life.  There are also a myriad of Tea-themes…Your creative motif for your gathering could be fairytale stories, enchanted Tea’s, classic movies, your favorite TV show or famous novellas. The list goes on and on… Giving a Tea for your loved ones is actually a duel gift…it is a bestowal to them, as it gives  each guest an entire afternoon of beauty, blissfulness, delicious cuisine, savory teas, sweet treats, serene music, an abundance of fun, reverie and wondrous fellowship. For you, the hostess, you are blessed to heaven and back by doing this “fun, labor of love,” for the people you care most about! 🙂

You have heard it said that, “A picture paints a thousand words.” Here are a few beautifully photographed types of  Tea’s and their ‘themes’ to put away in your ” Ideas for giving a Tea” notebook. 🙂

This High Tea is a wondrous festivity that guests at the Ritz Carlton Hotel are blessed with.  If you do not feel up to “doing all the ‘fun work,’ ” as I call it, then going to a stellar and Five Star hotel Tea is an ideal way to still enjoy the charms  and utterly show-stopping ambiance of an afternoon filled with delightful indulgence.    ritz1

There are an abundance of Tea houses, (just like Coffee houses,) that will pamper and treat you like a princess…They even supply the winsome  ‘tea hats‘ for you. 🙂 This Tea is for little girls…it is so precious! (I love all the bright colors, animated hats and the layers, textures and brightly printed fabrics on the engaging tables. ) 🙂


This is what you would call a Royal and Formal tea in the 18th century… Both men and women attended, dressed in their “Sunday Best” as they enjoyed finger sandwiches, a delicious array of teas from the orient and sweet confections.

 by Madeleine Jeanne Lemaire

I am just guessing here, but this afternoon Tea theme looks like a celebration of the battle for ‘suffrage’ after  the women’s struggle for 72 years to vote was WON…known as the Flapper days, it was a time in our country, (like the Cindy Lauper song says,)  where girls really did  ‘just want to have fun.’  🙂


In my opinion, there is nothing more convivial than the theme of  a “CHRISTMAS Tea.” There is already so much beauty, lush color and merriment of the season itself, that creating a Tea during this time is pure magic.  A Very Romantic time of the year…


Springtime is one of the loveliest motifs for an afternoon tea as the weather is so beautiful outside and your home will look stunning and divine with all the lush green grass, chromatic flowers blooming and the aroma of the air is always so refreshing and invigorating! (The color pallet of bright red, pastel green,  rose- pink and creamy whites is beautifully esthetic to the eyes and soul. )


An autumn Tea is still at the top of my list… 🙂 The air is brisk, your fireplace is calling out to be filled with fresh chopped wood to burn, enveloping candles with their dancing, petite flames warm up your every room and the kaleidoscopic colors have taken up residency within your beautiful,cozy haven. Your Tea’s menu can be a little bit heavier, thus you can cook up some great “comfort foods.” 🙂


Summer time Teas… Again, nature is your best friend in your presentation with it’s vivacious colors and the charm that only summer brings… Bright flowers, topiary trees, light menus of  a chicken curry salad, fresh fruit in season, an ethereal lemon cake… you have a bounty of ingredients at your disposal to create an eminently memorable and splendid party for your friends. fall7

A wintry motif for your Tea is also quite engaging and enticing! There is nothing lovelier than ‘winter whites’ festooning your dining table as well as home! Another advantage during this season is that you can  employ your beautiful fireplace and a myriad of lit candles to charm your guests.


A Saint Patty’s Day motif is exceedingly popular… If green is your favorite color, it would be a celebration of pure reverie as you prepare for an afternoon Tea for this happy and joyful occasion.


I just had to show you this St. Patrick’s day cake that I found…. Now is this a  Five Star confection, or what? It’s amazing what the creative mind and God given talent can do. 🙂


An exquisite and delicious work of art!

Lastly, (though the possibilities of imaginative  motifs, are endless…) is a Valentines day Tea.  It’s the most romantic day of the year …The month of February is an exuberantly bright month of color and alluring ambiance as you bedeck your home with Valentine cheer… Red is the perfect hue for your color pallet, mixed with shades of  pinks, roses,  highlighted with adoring, creamy whites.



Your invitation today is to glean some ideas for an afternoon Tea with a “Mad Hatter” theme… mh1This Tea’s sole purpose is to bring forth an abundance of  laughter, fun and craziness with all of your guests, and yes, that means you too! 🙂  It will be a day of bliss, childlike whimsy, appetizing cuisine, imagination and an abundance of bright color!

This is ‘my rendition’ of a “Mad Hatters” afternoon Tea…I know there are many diverse and wonderful versions out there to choose from… I hope that this blog gives you some thoughts to ponder, starts your “creative juices flowing,” and is a foundation to plan your very own “Mad Hatters  Afternoon Tea.”


We are  all familiar with the story about the ‘original Mad Hatter, right out of the Disney produced movie, Alice in Wonderland. This bizarre and quirky character, originated in the brilliant mind of English author  Lewis Carol,when he wrote his novel,” Alice in Wonderland,” in 1865…Later, in the year 1910, it was made into a  British silent film, and of course, since then, become a very popular story that has been made into several American movies.  It’s a tale about a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole and meets a potpourri of eccentric characters…(one of which is the Mad Hatter.) The Mad Hatter is ” forever and unremittingly,” having tea with the March Hare, thus you get the popular motif of a ‘Mad Hatter tea party.’ (I wonder if Mr. Carol knew how influential he would be in the 21st century.) 🙂 This Mad Hatter  ladies Tea  will be a ‘touch of ‘  the magic of  the story of Alice and Wonderland, mixed with enchantment, games, delicious cuisine, and a wealth of laughter, mirth and  FUN!

First things first…

THE DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER!Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

( These quotes are all about laughter and fun…it’s medicine for the soul! ) I can assure you, these are the real gifts you will be giving your guests today! 🙂

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.” ~ Woody Allen

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” ~ Jean Houston

Laughter is an instant vacation.” ~Milton Berle

Mirth is God’s medicine …Everybody ought to bathe in it.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

“Watching a child’s laughter teach a candlesmh60 flame how to dance.”  ~ Dr. Sun Wolf.

“I’ve always thought that a big laugh, is a really loud noise from the soul saying, “Ain’t that the truth!” ~ Quincy Jones

“You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants to.” ~ Stephen King


For this imaginative Mad Hatter afternoon Tea, ask  every lady to arrive in her favorite, creative and colorful hat. (If she does not own a hat, it is all the better as she can create the hat of her dreams.) When you write out your invitations  for your Tea, make sure they know that there will be  a prize for the most creative and eye-catching ‘HAT.’ (Believe me, people are motivated when you have door prizes. 🙂  To get your “creative hat juices” flowing, here are a few ideas.

A beautiful array of stylish, Victorian hats…wd10

lovely, soft and feminine hats….


WOW! These  spectacular hats  are more on the “wild and crazy side.” Very creative!


Fanciful and  dramatically regal…I love the red and purple combination! Very flashy! 🙂


Have fun and create one for yourself as well! 🙂 (Your door prize will be the felicity and laughter that wearing a colorful and blithesome hat will bring you and your guests.) 🙂

You will be a busy lady the day of the party as well as the day before, but it is all a gratifying and blithesome ‘busy.’ 🙂

You already have a theme… Now you want to concentrate on your home and it’s alluring appeal! I personally, would go with a formal table, linen napkins, fine china and a wealth of color… Tall pillar candles in  hurricane glass lamps are stunning, but the important thing to remember is to ‘just have an abundance  of candle light on the table and throughout your home.’ 🙂


It is always fabulously popular and luxurious using a white linen table cloth…make sure you  bring your color onto the table through your flowers, napkins, centerpiece or flowers. (The candles can be bright as well…) I love the rose colored linen napkins with the white, but you can choose your own color pallet, and stay within those colors.  This Tea party can be a little on the “wild and extreme” side. This would make a cute centerpiece with the March Hare motif… Displaying topiary trees is always a novel and lively idea… Don’t be afraid to add some bright color to your trees…cut out some bright colored polka dots for your topiary’s, bedeck them with dried roses or entrancing, motley floral  garlands.


Whatever China or dinnerware  you choose to use for your Tea, will be perfect…This particular pattern is beautiful with a bright color motif. It’s stunning and  generously adds prestige to a regal and formal presentation…


Here are some more decorative table ideas… The rose heart wreath is so romantic and colorful…. it is stirring and poignant with the green and rose china this hostess  has chosen to display.   White upon white is always noble and august. Your party favors atop the napkins and bright flowers will assuredly bring an abundance of color to your blissful table



You can never go wrong with a breathtaking floral arrangement as your centerpiece…These two arrangements are absolutely statuesque.


On a separate table, either in your dining room, (if it is large enough,) or set out in your living room, create your theme all over again with different decor items…(You can keep it simple.) 🙂

If you are a connoisseur of tea pots like I am, you will have a few to chose from. Perhaps you have a particular tea pot that you love, use that one. Place the tea pot along side your three tiered  cake plates filled with sweet confections…  Here are a few ideas of some easy  and simple things to create for your Tea. Fresh in-season fruits are not only healthy and delicious, but they are very colorful and create a beautiful presentation.  (Especially strawberries, raspberries, red cherries and  fresh pineapple.) Bake some of your favorite cookies, or place some elegant Pepperidge Farm decorative cookies out. Baked scones are delicious, a diversity of flavored  Biscotti or Dove dark chocolates wrapped in the royal,splendid red paper is very esthetic to the eyes… (and a sweet treat for the tummy.) 🙂


Now a days, the “in craze” is mixing and matching your tea cups…You can give each guest a different cup if you like…It’s fun and creative. (If you do not have a set of tea cups for 8-10 ladies, don’t forget, there are plenty of “great finds” at your local thrift stores.


More ideas of the wondrous idea and freedoms of mix and match!  🙂 Don’t you love it?


There are an abundance of ideas for your tiered plate displays…If you don’t have a tiered confections plate, a few trays on the table will look just as nice. If you would like to serve a cake for dessert, you can always display an array of crackers and cheese, healthy fresh vegetables with a delightful dip and some petite, sour cream biscuits with  homemade jam. It’s all up to you!


Another beautiful tea pot…I personally love the chintz china. It’s divine charm is captivating!  Mary Engelbreit has a collection of clever and charmingly  cute tea pots as well…(In fact they fit the Mad Hatter theme perfectly.) Be inspired to dauntlessly place out any special touches you want to add throughout your living room, dining room and the Ladies Room,  (the three rooms your guests will ‘frequent,’) 🙂


This tree is so cute… In this photograph, It is in the front yard  to greet the ladies as they arrive to your wondrous Tea…It would look adorable to fix up a topiary tree in your home that resembles this tree…with your creative touches! I thought these cookies were so cute and befitting for this Tea as well.


Two more ‘March Hare’ rabbits…Both  very chipper and celebratory,  along with another beautiful side tablescape with pastries and decadent strawberries! (I adore all of the spring colors. )


OK…You’ve done your table, your house is looking spectacular at this time… your sweet confections are all baked, ordered from the bakery or have been bought… You need to decide if you want to do individual tea bags for your guests, (just having hot water in your tea pot,) or whether you are going to make one large pot of  Earl Grey, cinnamon apple or whatever delicious tea you would like to serve. Be sure to put sugar and cream out as well.

Your luncheon menu can be made first thing in the morning. My Tea’s always begin at 12:00 noon, leaving me at least half a day to do last minute preparations! My suggestion , (and I will give you the recipe) is a dish that everyone has adored…A Bacon spinach quiche… I bake two for up to 10 guests. Along side of the quiche, I make a large tossed spinach salad with raspberries and pecans. I will give you the recipe for that as well… Those two items along with some hard rolls from the bakery , accompanied by creamy  butter, is plenty for your guests… (You will most likely have some ladies that have seconds, and I always have some quiche leftover for my husband’s dinner that night!) (There is no-way, I am cooking two times the day of my Tea.) 🙂



Heat up your rolls right before serving and toss your salad about 10 minutes before your ladies are seated.

I usually make a homemade cake for my Teas… Knowing the ladies will enjoy that slice of cake on a less “full tummy,”, I fill my three tiered cake stand with fresh fruit, a few chocolates and maybe a few decorative cookies…Nothing to heavy as the guests look forward to  a slice , (or sliver) 🙂  of cake and tea before they have to leave their day of reverie and fun. 🙂

For your Mad Hatter Tea... there are a few cakes that would fit your wild and fun motif… I always make the same cake as it is a winner…It is my Coconut carrot cake with  pecans, topped off with a delicious creme cheese frosting. It has always been “everyone’s favorite.” 🙂

A delicious coconut carrot cake “all dressed up for a Tea.”


A whimsical Mad Hatter’s cake…This looks very daring but delicious! (You could choose your favorite flavors for each of the layers! 🙂


My coconut carrot cake, not dressed up, instead, its serene and simple. 🙂  It looks pretty either way!



Music? It is up to you…for my Teas, I put melodic, easy listening CD’son or make up a playlist on my computer and keep the sound low, just as back ground music.  I would suggest, Josh Grobin, Andrea Bocelli, Piano music by Jim Brickman or the renowned Pavarotti! Don’t forget, You can always check out your favorite CD’s at your local Library.


Every Tea should have some party favors… Nothing extravagant, just  a little something that you, as the hostess, creates and places at their individual table setting. It makes each guest feel very special and coddled. 🙂

With some fancy, sheer decorative fabric, glass votive candle holders, tea light candles, ribbon and fresh coffee beans you can easily create 8-10 of these for your guests. (It is not only attractive to the eyes, but charmingly creative as well.)  A petite tea infuser for two is another lovely gift!


With your sheer material, and small candle holder, you can place a colorful votive candle within each glass and wrap them with the fabric and ribbon… they are adorable and will undoubtedly add a wealth of color to your table.   Another clever idea, and  cunningly creative is a tea bag wrapped in sheer fabric with a tiny  gold teaspoon tied to it with dainty ribbon or gold twine.    All of these are wondrous party favors as well as inexpensive.


You will also need a gift for each lady… These too are not to be expensive or lavish. You will be playing two games during the tea…One is a great party for the time your gathered at the table, and the other game, (The Famous Person ‘Hat’ game,) is a great ice breaker for the first hour of your Tea…(after your guests have arrived, and have their cup of tea and a cookie in hand.) 🙂 There will be one winner for each game and then the rest of your ladies will be delighted that they too will receive a beautifully wrapped gift ‘just for being there.’  🙂

Here are some gift ideas as well as creative ways to wrap them to match your colorful and kaleidoscopic Mad Hatters motif.

Votive candles in pretty packaging is always a welcomed gift as well as  the Victorian style festooned, lovely soaps.


Assorted hand and body lotions as well as a Mad Hatter charm bracelet, (or any motif of a charm bracelet) is an ideal bestowal .


You can never go wrong with soy candles in bright, beautiful colors… Finding creative jars or bottles and filling them with sweet, colorful candies… (M&M’s or  fiery red, cinnamon bears,) is a cordial as well as delicious gift. 🙂


These lovely tokens with the popular Skittle candies or renowned Jelly Belly’s are also another great door prize and gift!


Adorable and inviting mugs for coffee, tea or hot chocolate in the brisk autumn and wintry months, are a lovely gift  as well as a cheerful and perky tea pot!


Creative and motley picture frames are always a blessing and a ‘sure to be used’ gift.   This one is especially alluring with it’s unique design and antiquated look with the  romantic jewelry!


Here are some creative wrapping ideas. (Gift bags are also a wondrous way to wrap your door prizes! )




Your first gift will go to the winner of the most creative hat.… (You can hand out voting cards if you like so that all of your guests “have the honor”  of choosing the winner, 🙂  or you can do it yourself.) The second door prize will go to the winner of the “Famous Person Hat Game,) and the third will go to the ” Mystery Word game winner.” If you have invited 8 ladies, then the other five will receive the last gifts, (just because! ) 🙂 Knowing what is underneath the  beautiful and decorative wrapping, you can choose  the gift for each winner and guest, or creatively display theme out on a table and let them choose their own.

The first game, (The famous Hat game,) is actually in the blog called ‘The Famous People game.’ The only thing that changes is that you will put the name tags of famous people who are known to wear hats. Check that game out and apply every rule to this  game. (It is very simple, easy and FUN.) Here are some examples of some renowned “hat”  people. This is such a chimerical game. 🙂

Jackie Kennedy, Fred Astaire, Queen Elizabeth, the famous Santa Claus,  Tim McGraw, Barbara Streisand, Abe Lincoln, Michael Jackson, Clive Owen, Audry Hepburn,  Johnny Depp and Aretha Franklin.

mh21  mh24mh20mh18



I am sure you can think of many more, these are just some ideas. Have fun!

Your second game is best introduced and played when you are all sitting down at the table. It too is in the Game category, called the “Mystery Word game.” It is enormously fun and competitive…You can make the “secret word” part of your theme… Words like “rabbit hole,” “fairytale,”   “blissful,” or the name of the author of Alice in Wonderland, “Lewis.” All the things you need to know are in the blog , again this game is very simple and a lot of fun. It can also can get exceedingly competitive as the ladies begin ‘guessing’ and ‘saying’ all different kinds of words in their sentences, (that they think the ‘mystery word is,’)  so they can WIN the game. 🙂

After you have all eaten until you can’t possibly take another bight, suggest that everyone goes to a more comfortable seat, the living room. 🙂 Have everyone take their tea or coffee and just relax! If it is a wintry day, enjoy the fireplace… Most of the ladies at my Teas stay until they have to journey home to cook dinner for their own gang! 🙂  (5:30 or 6:00 PM.) You? Go and run a hot bubble bath, give your husband quiche for dinner and ask him to clean up the Kitchen. 🙂 (Or if he is to tired from his long day at work, leave the dishes until the morning! )

The most important part of this entire day is that you and your guests have FUN… The games bring  an abundance of mirth and are great ice breakers… Each guest will be going home with a delightful gift,  party favor and a  resplendent memory of a day of being  treated like royalty…They will feel as if they have been pampered at the spa. 🙂 Their soul will be lighter because of how much they laughed…they will think about how (in the beginning,) they were a little shy to wear a ‘big, bright colorful hat,’ but now, they don’t want to take it off! 🙂   You will miss their presence, all the felicity that filled your home and will already be looking for another theme, or occasion to give another Tea. 🙂

In writing this blog, I enjoy sharing with you, my reader, the ideas I have and what has been successful for me in the Tea’s I have given. Remember, this is your Tea...so create it exactly how you would like it to be… I know it will be lovely. 🙂

For your Coconut  carrot cake recipe as well as Raspberry salad and Bacon spinach quiche, go to the “unforgettable recipes” category…The carrot cake is called “Bunny -luscious carrot cake.”

For your two games, go to the”Fabulous party games for every entertaining event,”   category and  you will find “The Famous People game” for your hat  game…it’s the exact game, only your subject is a little different with the hats. The second game is the “Mystery Word game.” Have an absolutely wonderful day and relish this time with your loved ones! 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your scroll over any photo or graphic, it will display where the picture originated from.


Additional Links:
Victoria Magazine
Country Living magazine





Dressing up your porch for the holiday seasons! It’s magical!


After writing my blog, “There are many stories told and memories made on our porches,”  illustrating how meaningful our ‘verandas’ are in our lives, I decided to compose a writing on a variety of wondrous ideas for ‘dressing up” your porch for all the prominent seasons. Decorating is so much fun and it is not only a gift to us and our family but to our friends and neighbors as well.   When we lived in Arizona, we had the cutest cottage home, tucked away in the Historic district, with a wrap around porch. Each autumn season, I created a fall tableau on our porch, with scarecrows, bales of hay, pumpkins, and home made characters amongst an array of motley and bodacious fall foliage.  There were days I would see the cutest little kids outside our home, just staring at the porch, smiling. One day they told me my home was their favorite in the neighborhood… It really touched me that something I loved doing so much, could make someone else so happy! I hope that porches ‘all dressed up for the holidays’ inspires you the whole year through!

It’s winter time. When the nippy autumn squall has become cold and gusty…we know that the coldest months of the year are right around the corner. A-97

Our Porches, the very first ‘impression’ our guests have of our beautiful havens are festooned in a glorious array of wintry and festive Cheer…

A-91A-68A-94C-1C-4natures beauty

 “Winter came to our home one night, Quietly pirouetting on silvery toed slippers of snow, And we were children once again.” ~ Bill Morgan Jr.

“Winter, when the bold branches bid farewell to rainbow leaves.”

Living on the east coast, (originally from Southern California,) I undoubtedly adore the four seasons, winter being one of my all time favorites. For January, after our beloved Christmas is over, it gives me great joy to create a “wintry – wonderland” within my home and on my porch. (I have a delightful collection of snowmen in all sizes and shapes.) One of my largest snowmen stands uprightly on our front porch, along with  his girlfriend, (my snow lady, Bianca. ) She mirthfully sits in a high back, white wooden rocking chair, charming all the people passing by. I have an authentic,’eye catching’  and very treasured sleigh that my brother surprised me with one Christmas in California that  I ‘load up’ with wintry bears adorned in  motley, warm sweaters.They look like they are ‘having the ride of their life!’ 🙂 I always have a wintery wreath hanging on my front porch door that says “welcome.” (You  guessed it, with snowmen!) And you can’t leave out , the most jolly and impressive snowmen of all…snowmen made out of REAL SNOW! They are not only magical and festive, but they are a ‘wondrous memory’ with you and your family as you created these lifelike, happy and charming characters together. 🙂


Light posts with fresh greens are so gracious and add a refined wintry look…they  are quite welcoming and festive. I adore the lighted birdhouse inside the porch…not only is it creative, and one of a kind but it is also enchanting and sublime. (It makes me want to run over to Micheal’s craft store, and buy all the materials to make one right away! ) 🙂 You can never go wrong with an abundance of firs and cedar branches draped upon your bannisters and front door, and of course, a touch of  magic with twinkling white  lights intertwined within the fresh greens.    January holds all of our resolutions, (successful or not, they are heart -felt,)  hopes and dreams for the year ahead and many visions of white fluffy days, creating snow angels, making snowmen, having snowball fights and enjoying an array of delicious comfort foods cooking in our ovens, helping to keep our homes toasty and warm. (And our tummies!)  🙂



“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentines day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” ~ Author unknown

“Who, being loved, is poor?” ~Oscar Wilde

Valentines day is a colorful, fun day to celebrate and yes, another opportunity to decorate! 🙂 These porches are  bedecked with a classy, yet simple valentines theme and create that ‘feel good’ emotion within. I keep my snowmen up in February, since after all,  it is still winter. I do put hearts on them though! 🙂  I also create a Valentines themed tree and add shimmering hearts intertwined in my garlands upon my hutches.  I love the vivacious and passionate  color of red, so it’s one of my favorite holidays to dress  up the house and porch with. Valentines wreaths and flower baskets are great decor touches to enhance your porches as well. I adore the rose wreath and wouldn’t mind that piece of decor, all year round! 🙂

Ah, finally, Springtime and its array of glorious color has arrived!A-55




“Spring is natures way of saying; “LETS PARTY.” ~ Robin Williams

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”   ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is a season filled to the brim with hope, promises of new life, bright colors and warm, blue skies…(Well, most of spring! ) 🙂 It is a busy time for those of us who love to festoon our havens.  These homes are all so diverse. Nature is the designer of color in the first spring home.. The foliage with it’s many hues of  pinks, reds, and purples is breathtaking , creating an alluring and sightly front porch. The other homes chose a little more inventive and  imaginative decor style,  each host adding their tastes of  spring’s illustrious arrival. I love the garlands, magical rabbits, topiary trees , bright colored eggs and the adorable ceramic bunnies.  Quite unique and a wondrous idea, the porch with the large chalkboard is a ‘keeper’ for future decor ideas. What a portentous  place to wish your neighbors and family a joyous season, no matter the time of the year. (The basket filled with moss, hosting a comfy berth for the  adorable baby chicks is so noble and crafty.) It would be a fun and easy art creation to make with friends.

 “Summer fun has arrived with all it’s many gifts of pleasure, excitement, exploring and the enjoyment of being outdoors in the gorgeous sunshine.




“Summer. A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken.” ~ James Dent

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance.” ~Bern Williams

 It’s time for trips to the beach, walking the Boardwalk, enjoying homemade saltwater taffy, sunbathing, picnics, pool parties, scary thunderstorms, camp outs, bonfires, grilling burgers and steaks with our friends and enjoying the performance of  the renowned,  magical, enchanting and lovely fireflies in our yards as the gloaming hours appear.

Our decorating is a little lighter, a bit more colorful and easy to keep up with as our days are now filled to overflowing with busyness and activities. It’s vacation time. The time for sleep overs for the kids, maintaining our gardens in the sweltering heat  and visiting the farmers markets for fetching hanging baskets and a myriad of flowers for our pots. We begin to  cook lighter, ( preparing more healthy inspired cuisine with our garden vegetables and herbs.) It’s a time for the Peach and Apple festivals, eating an abundance of delectable Cold Stone ice cream cones and enjoying one of the best things ever created in this world….Air conditioning!  (Its for the times you  want to escape the heat and  are already wishing  it was our beloved autumn  or winter again!)  🙂

All of these summer porches evoke fun, playfulness, color and rejuvenation. (Exactly what you want your porch to be after long days away, when your only desire upon arriving home is  to kick off your shoes, grab a cold drink and have a few moments of repose before cooking dinner.)

In the midst of our hot summer months, we can’t forget the eventful and meaningful holiday, Independence day, other wise know as the 4th of July!



“Where Liberty dwells, there is my country.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Liberty is the breath of life to the nations.” ! George Bernard Shaw

It is funny, within our travels and all the people we have met, the 4th of July is either a ‘really big’ celebration and colossal  event in peoples lives, or it is just a  ‘so-so’ affair.   Growing up, it was a time of family gatherings, homemade fried chicken, freshly fried potatoes, Cole slaw, butter beans and layered biscuits. My mom would create a lovely and  festive red, white and blueberry dessert! 🙂 After our tummies were full, we either all piled into our station wagon, (7 kids) and went to a nearby  college auditorium, the cliffs at Coronal Del Mar  beach or watched the extravaganza from our homes, as the firework’s filled the skies with their magical colors and fantastic display of much appreciated technical and artistic skill. All anyone  could hear were a thousand  ‘oohs and awes.’  It was a time of refection, thankfulness for our freedom and counting how many summer vacation days were left  until school started.  🙂  We could hardly wait to get home so my dad would  give us all some sparkler’s to run around the yard with. (They were like magic wands as they fizzled and glowed in the dark.) Now as an adult, I enjoy this holiday but I  have never been a big fan of decorating for it. After seeing some of these porches and observing such great ideas, I think this summer will be different! 🙂  All these porches are very summery yet simple, highlighted with the patriotic colors of red, white and blue! Very beautiful!

FALL IS IN THE AIR! Can you feel it ?

Fall is my  favorite time of the year for decorating…The autumn season is such a welcomed change from the hot summer days and the warm reds, bright  yellows, smoky browns and purples are back in style. The air is brisk, the fire is always burning in the fireplace and for some reason, there is always a great, scary, but not to scary, suspenseful thriller movie on! 🙂 The magnificent and kaleidoscopic fallen leaves blanket the barren ground…its time to get our bread makers out and find that one savored recipe for homemade chili and cornbread. (Hey, with the cooler temperatures, we will burn off those calories off in no time at all! ) 🙂

A-47   A-38A-39


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ` Albert Camus

“Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it and if it were a bird, I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot

I find that out of all the season’s, Autumn and Christmas are the two most popular for house and porch decorating.  When my husband and I lived in Alexandria Virginia, I would take Grantham for walks in our neighborhood every evening around twilight, the famous gloaming hour. 🙂Personal photo of Susan and Graham The air was so crisp, the breeze just perfect upon my cheeks as it’s aroma was that of wood burning in a fire place somewhere close by. The golden streets, (from the sun’s descent,)  were filled with homes that exuded the  very essence of the fall season. It was almost as if each home, tried to outdo the one before it and next to it.) (A little competition going on there  🙂 ) I loved that Graham and I got  daily exercise but mostly, I enjoyed the wonderment I beheld of autumn arriving with all of it’s bounty of gifts.  Some homes were very refined, tailored and classy with large pumpkins amongst bales of hay,  charming scarecrows standing throughout the yard,  soft amber  lights twinkling in the trees as well as around the front porch, (hidden in the grapevine garlands as well as the wreath upon the front door.) fall  There were fall leaves everywhere and ample planters filled with beautiful mums in bright yellow and a rich purple. The combination of the cold air and the feelings of fall displayed liberally amongst the street, truly  made me feel like a child again. (Even Graham had a kick in his step. 🙂 )  I could hardly wait to see the next home…There were some homes that had their hearts set on Halloween decor more so than celebrating fall…(Those houses were on the scary side. ) Bone white, (no pun intended 🙂 )  lanky skeletons hung from the trees as pitch black bats were mounted, (upside down of course,) upon a few of the branches on the tree limbs that were bare. There were cobwebs, spiders, a Frankenstein monster as well as the renowned ‘mummy’ and then of course the coffins which had R.I.P.  painted upon them. Graham kind of ‘trotted by those homes,’….He does not go for all the scary stuff! (Except of course if a real black cat just happened to be lurking around in the midst of the  graveyard, then he would be chasing that cat in a flash and be part of their spooky display. 🙂 Trying to catch him would be  even spookier for me! 🙂

These porches are all  stunningly filled with bounteous ideas for your fall porch amidst all the vibrant hues of golds, reds, copper, russet, purples and orange.  How about a Pumpkin carving party along with a ladies Tea on your newly decorated piazza. Maple and pecan scones with fresh unsalted butter, carrot soup, pumpkin bread and a delicious autumn spiced tea?

We can’t forget that in the midst of our celebrating  the autumn harvest with  grateful hearts, the wondrous holiday of THANKSGIVING!C-110

 There is not a whole lot to add to your fall verandah, if you have decorated for the autumn season. It you have festooned your porch for ‘Trick-or-treaters,’ along with a spooky atmosphere, you may want to replace it now with a little fall decor. Scarecrows are so easy to make as well as displaying plenty of plump pumpkins, fall garlands and Pilgrims giving thanks. It is a wonderful holiday and we have so much to celebrate and be thankful for!


IT”S Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…The one magical season that SPEAKS IT”S PRAISE all by itself!

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“Christmas weaves a magic wand over the world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Every porch is bedecked with yuletide JOY! At Christmas, the wealth that nature alone sends our way, is more than a bounty to decorate with. We are gifted with the riches of firs, cedar branches, wild berries, mistletoe, ivy, bay and a potpourri of evergreens, cranberries and apples, (of all colors.)  For a polished, refined  look, use cranberry red and  shimmering gold ribbon intertwined in  the garlands hanging around your front door or upon your wreaths and balustrades.  This wintry Christmas garden wreath is exquisite…I can easily see that in front of a large mansion, B&B or even a small cottage!

It is the time of year where a little extra light is needed as the days are short and the nights long. Topiary trees, outdoor Christmas trees or garland around our outside bannisters, interlaced and weaved with glittering white lights is festive and fairy tale like, evoking a CELEBRATION!

If you are blessed with a home on the water,  and a dock that  travels out to your boat, decorating your walkway with lights and a small tree is stunning!  Having a beautifully festooned Christmas porch is not only a feast for the eyes but a respite for the soul. By the time you accomplish all of your ‘holiday To Do list,’ ( the boat parade, caroling, sledding with your kids, making snowmen, baking, parties, shopping, wrapping, guests and your  church candle light service,) your body and soul will gladly appreciate that wicker chair, warm Christmas throw,  apple cinnamon candle burning, twinkling white lights, the smell of fresh greens and a big mug of hot cocoa.) (And of course a space heater to warm your toes! 🙂

“MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT! ” (And be inspired to dress up your porches! 🙂  ~ The chubby guy all dressed in red with a long beard. 🙂


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Exhilarating and Blissful Springtime .

 The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri GuillemetsZ-3026

THE DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER:Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

Spring time is the land awakening. The march winds are the morning yawn.” ~ Lewis Grizzard

“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”  ~ Ellis Peters”

“And Spring arose in the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt every where; And each flower and herb in earths dark breast, Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelly

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks GO.” ~ Christopher Morely

“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.” ~ W. Earl Hall

“I love spring anywhere but if i could choose, I would always greet it in a garden.”~ Ruth Stout


The word that comes to my mind when I think about springtime is “WELCOME!” It is the time of the year where everything is brand new…fresh aromas, pristine colors blooming, and an abundance of new growth and sunshine. It is a time of life and rebirth…Living in Delaware, Z-5000(our back yard conjoined to the woods,)  we see a sundry of nature’s bounty everyday…wild flowers and untamed, lush green ivy climbing up the massive trees along with fresh green grass, where only weeks ago, it was a wintry grey and  exceedingly barren.  The meadow, with it’s array of trees and multihued foliage is purely undomesticated and we absolutely love it. (Graham adores it as well!) Even though he is close to 12 years old, he still acts like a puppy, running after all the wild life, even the Brobdingnagian deer.  (And a wild cat in our neighborhood! ) 🙂

We see everything from bunnies with their babies, squirrels, ground hogs and herds of deer with their young ones close by. I have never heard so many birds singing at once and am always so blessed and graced by the beautiful robins, blue Jays, cardinals and woodpeckers. Just this morning, I stopped what I was doing to listen to the epic sound of the snow geese flying over our home as they are just now beginning their spring practice for the time they will migrate south. Their melodic sound is like music to my heart as I have grown so fond of them over the last eight years living in this maritime state.

Being a connoisseur of decorating, spring gives me an entirely new escapade to take on with bringing this exquisite time of the year to life within our walls as well as the porch, garden and outside yard. There are a multitude of ideas I want to share with you in this blog and I hope it fills your mind, as well as heart, with many creative thoughts as well as an excitement to bring forth a ‘touch of springtime’ in and around your haven.

Whether you live in the city, a Villa, the countryside, a high rise apartment or in suburbia, planting flowers, (flower boxes if needed,) brings a plenitude of warmth as well as a charming luster to the outside of your berth.


In Springtime, your porch is waving to you, signaling you to spend time in it’s peaceful repose, to read your long forsaken novel, share a cup of coffee with your girlfriend,  lay in a hammock and take an after noon nap or call your sister in Oklahoma for a wondrous catch-up call. 🙂   Sitting on your beloved veranda, you have so many ‘ready made’ and contributory bestowals to make your time exhilarating  with the sunshine, the birds, the blooming flowers and the soft breezes.I love this batten burg lace tablecloth!

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Another heavenly spot in the  glorious season of springtime is the garden. Whatever your particular tradition is each year for the blue print of your garden, make sure it is picturesque, soothing and ageless, consisting of your favorite flowers, bushes and trees. I, personally believe roses are the prize and applause  of springtime. There is something so beguiling about it’s unique aroma as well as it’s  soft, velvety  pedals. I believe that our gardens sometimes utter more about our lives than our own words. They are not only lovely to behold, but working within them, hours at a time,  gives us such a gift of  tranquility, peace and insight into the simplicity of life. I love the quote by H. Fred Dale; “My Green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plants point of view!”  Yes, planting a garden teaches us a an abundance of lessons!





During this beloved season, my favorite embellishing adventure is to bring spring and all of its glory INTO our home. In our abode, we put a touch of spring in every room, (some rooms more than others,) not missing a detail.  Whether changing your linens and comforter to greet the season of rejoicing, putting soft,  bright towels in the bathroom,  adding bedazzling throw pillows on your couch, decorating your dining room table with an Easter theme using a color palette of spring colors, adding greenery or bunnies to your kitchen or  placing decorative topiary trees, floral arrangements and dried wreaths around the hallways and family room, your home can reflect the new season and radiate with color and beauty just like  the outside of your home.

The  dining room table is definitely an  ‘eye catcher’ and  an essential part  of creating the mood you are wanting to establish for your seasonal celebration throughout your home..  Both of these table themes are so creative and picturesque in natural simplicity for this time of year.Z-1095


I can’t wait each year to awaken our bedroom with brighter colors and an entirely new look…(still Romantic in style, but a little softer and feminine.)  (Sorry honey.) 🙂 (I love taking out all my spring decor items and trading them in for the wintry snowmen, silver and golds.)







The bathroom, my quiet, serene spot in the late afternoons, (as I bask in my lavender bubbles and make the water as hot as it will go,) 🙂 needs a touch of spring as well. My towels change from hunter green and burgundy to pastels and fresh whites. I place new  elegant soaps out, body sprays, powders and lighter candles in the midst of this tiny haven.  (And perhaps hang some bright kaleidoscopic garland and sneak in a few bunnies.) 🙂


Z-3065romantic tub

The place my husband and I love so much, (as well as our guests, and Grantham),  🙂  is the kitchen. This room is open and welcome to all of our visitors and company, no matter the occasion.   Its  one of the  rooms that some of our most meaningful and intimate conversations have taken place as we cook and create with pure abandon! Its a very pleasurable and an easy room to festoon in a lively, spring attire. It  also sparks our creative juices to flow… occasionally cooking up new recipes, inspired by our garden and the pristine new season with fresh fish, (salmon, ma-hi, sea scollops and tuna,) accompanied with fresh lemons and  savory herbs from our bountiful harvest. I especially adore displaying my collection of animated  bunnies within this adored room…Another motto of mine; “You can never have to many bunnies!) 🙂








The Living room, (remember, its the one room that sets the mood for the entire home and is ‘most lived in,’)  deserves an ample serving of the new season. I love adding bright, motley pillows, white, tone on tone slipcovers to my couch, fresh flowers, grapevine wreaths and I even put a themed decorative tree up each year, strictly to festoon and glitz up the room with each magical season and event. (Besides my topiary trees.)  My tree is a little different that this one. (It is a tall, beautifully shaped green tree that I change every season.) For spring this year, I chose to use tapestry fabric as a garland, twinkling amber lights, my ‘finest’ bunnies and bears in my never ending collection, (hoping not to offend my fair haired and feathered older ones that are placed in less ‘showcase’ places,) 🙂 amidst floral ribbons, colorful ornamental balls in spring colors and dried roses. It is beautifully fetching as well as inviting. It stays up in our living room until the welcomed autumn season arrives…. I usually only create winter, Valentines, spring, autumn and Christmas trees. 🙂  ( I never have tried a 4th of July or summer tree but I have seen some created and they are quite adorable!)





Come back to the garden of your youth… The glory of  your garden and your festooned ‘castle,’ are upon you …make your next gathering, whether an outside Tea, dinner party, or watching a classic movie in your living room with loved ones, pleasurable and picturesque. Springtime is also the perfect time of year to grab your loved one and go for a picnic, even if it is ‘just in your back yard.’ 🙂

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Happy Springtime.

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Table settings that will be the talk of your party!


Famous “Kitchen and dining sayings.”

“Bon Appetit!”

“Eat well, Laugh often, Love much!”

“Eat, drink and be merry.”

“Love and cook with abandonment!”

“Many of our enamored  memories are made when gathered around the table.” ~ Author unknown

Your table setting is a gracious and hospitable labor of love to each guest, (and family member,) bringing them joy, comfort, a convivial ambiance and a feeling of being ‘colossally pampered.’  You can never have to many settings in mind for your festive occasions. Whether you have one set of china or ten, your creativity is what will catch your friends and families eye and hearts. Great ideas come from magazines as well as shopping in stores like William Sonoma and Pottery Barn. They help spark your imagination and get  your creative juices flowing.

This table setting is definitely one of the most creative and impressive tables I have ever seen. No detail is missed and the ambiance it creates is one of; “Come, rest awhile, take in a few hours of placidity and respite and ENJOY! ” (A definite welcome as well as distraction from the world and our hectic schedules.) 🙂

Whether you are serving an early summer dinner in the garden, backyard or having ladies over for a scrumptious luncheon on the veranda, pick a few colors for your color  palette, an idea for your centerpiece and begin creating. This setting is brought to life with a potpourri of textures, soft pastels of creamy whites, yellows, and highlights of light blues and greens. This table is imminently  creative with its wondrous ingredients, all of the accessories are eye catching and arresting.  I adore the blithesome white rabbits filled with flowers, ornate pewter bunnies and silvery napkin rings, achromatic charger plates under the bone white china and soft candles glowing amongst the topiary candle stand, (in which this hostess has put decorative Easter egg candles along with heartwarming photographs.) Her artwork is all complimented by the the gorgeous, rich, dark wood table.   White plates are prodigious as they fit with every occasion and all you, the decorator, has to do is embellish and bedeck them with your accent colors and decorations.


 This autumn table setting gets my mouth watering for some superb, homemade chili and and cornbread. 🙂  What a cozy greeting this setting brings!  Mixing golds, greens and silver is rich, alluring and magical. This would be perfect for a chilly autumn night …surprise your family with a special dinner, (a comfort dinner as I call them,) and light your candles and celebrate the joy of all being together.


This table in it’s array of beauty and glory is more on the formal side.

This setting exudes  ROMANCE! There is nothing  like a myriad of lit candles, glistening with their dancing flames, bringing warmth and cozy conversation, accompanied by white, silver and ravishing, stunning wood. Several vases filled with the white flowers adds grace and refinement to this table. Instead of plates, as your guests arrive, they will see a menu of the ‘evenings cuisine’ placed at each setting. As you serve each course,  your guests will feel as if they are dining at a five star restaurant! This  is one of my favorite table settings.


                                          A touch of Christmas is in the air!

Everyone who knows me, would tell you that I am a connoisseur of topiary trees. I have used them for many years as my centerpiece, accented with seasonal decor, created in the color theme for the festive gala I am hosting at my home. You can dress them up or play them down, either way they are a stunning addition to the core and essence of your table.   I have one topiary that has an angel as the tree, made out of  natural, green moss. It is adorable and very unique. My favorite  topiary tree is one that I made many years ago. It has a  multifarious of eye catching hues and textures. It is done in roses and small tiny leafs festooned with a shimmering gold ribbon running through it.  (Very Victorian looking!) These diverse settings are all about the Christmas season. Again, using white as the base color and adding reds and greens! Simple, yet elegant and inviting! (I especially love all the candles…the reflection of their flames on the glass coverings will be absolutely mesmerizing, creating  a very intimate and cozy ambiance.)  I adore how this hostess has placed a lovely gift at each place setting. (I always emplace their creatively wrapped  gift next to their place card,) creating excitement and wonder for each friend or family member, as they try to guess what their token might be. (Maybe some ambrosial lotions, Josh Grobin CD, seasonal room sprays, a romantic comedy DVD, or perhaps a Yankee Candle in a savory Christmas scent.)


                      Springtime has arrived at this intimate gathering.

This table creates the feeling of fresh air, a change of season, (spring time) and festivity, yet it is very simple. I have a few chargers to place under my plates for Christmas as they are red, green and gold. (I do however use the gold for a romantic setting and the red for Valentines day.)   I love how this table uses a very large plate underneath in a solid color,  (instead of a charger,) accenting the very quaint and charming china, adding even more eye-catching textures upon the table top.   This could be a special and intimate lunch with a few girlfriends or family, or again, because it is dressed for spring, an early supper.  If you weren’t in the mood for the season of new beginnings and rebirth, you would be after dining at this table. 🙂 It’s your gala so feel free to add “your creative juices” to some of these ideas…I love to use lace or linen table cloths as well as seasonal place mats when entertaining. They add a wealth of color and elegance.


 What a gorgeous centerpiece. It shows you can go to any length to create the perfect quintessence of your core decoration. It’s so creative. I love how  the Terra cotta bowls are placed under the green cabbage plates highlighted with the hostess gift of a planted flower. The centerpiece is breathtaking with its creamy white candles amidst the pink and green flowers. (It almost resembles a miniature ‘greenhouse.’ ) This setting looks like an intimate ladies get-together. (I can taste  the sweet iced tea with a fresh sprig of mint right now. ) 🙂Z-1037

 Warm and cozy with a choice of such rich colors, this setting is definitely for the brisk and very welcomed Fall season. Using miniature pumpkins with tea light candles inside, amidst the golds and elegant purple with individual  place cards is very creative. The colors continue in the centerpiece amongst the flowers and fall foliage and create a table that is not only  inviting but creates a desire to decorate the rest of the house with pumpkins, scarecrows and autumn garlands with all the fall hues, (bright golds, orange, yellows and reds, and yes, purple!)


A Valentines celebration to the max! I can envision this table with several couples sharing a very intimate early dinner…(Of course I would have my little porch space- heaters set up to keep us all warm if the chill of February blew in that evening.) 🙂 I adore the reds amongst the oatmeal-white china with its dainty pattern, lace napkins, tall white pillar candles, with their enchanting flames reflecting upon the hurricane lamps  amongst the valentine decor. This porch is very romantic as well with its abundance of screened in windows along with the white sheers. Definitely one of my favorites!


I hope these table settings have inspired you and  have given you some ideas for your parties, whether small and intimate or formal and affable.  When I married my husband, I inherited a gorgeous set of Noritake, white bone china with a gold rim gracing it’s edges from his beloved mom. I can’t tell you how many times I have used that china as a foundation to build upon for the table settings at my gatherings. You can find inexpensive, delight-some dinner plates at T.J. Max or Marshall’s. (I have collected a myriad of blue and white prints that I mix and match from these particular shops and have seen some very appealing white plates there as well.)

Enjoy your time of creating, planning, preparing  and revel in your finished work! (As well as the ambrosial cuisine and guests.) 🙂 If ever you feel you would like “a little extra help,” especially as you are beginning your journey in creating a more beautiful home and way of life, there are some wondrous Event Planners available. 🙂

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