February’s Romantic Makeover…

February Twilight…” I stood beside a hill, smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out, from the cold evening glow.
There was no other creature, that saw what I could see,
I stood and watched the evening star, as long as it watched me.”
~ Sara Teasdale,star

February is a month of promise, hope, warm fires kindling within in our hearths , snowy days, icy nights, star filled skies, flirtatious snowmen and of course, Romance.

The renowned author and actor ‘Steve Harvey” calls February,  “the month of Love.” A special time where dreams really can come true, as we go out of our of way to demonstrate to that “special someone,” just how very much we love them.

I like to think of this month as the last real month of winter bliss… Yes, March is also a  rigorously cold month, (on our eastern coast)  but spring is busily sending forth its illustrious  tocsins, to let us know it will be arriving soon… thus, why not  take advantage of the December equinoxes’  prodigious and majestic ending.

What are some of the ways to celebrate and enjoy the benefits  of this romantic month of  February? 

In California,snowman1001  perhaps a serene walk with the one you love on the  San Clemente pier at sunset,  or upon the the glistening sands of a moonlit beach, listening to the endless , lulling tunes of the waves sauntering into shore, watching the evening sky light up with its spectacular display of scintillating  stars.

In the Midwest, (with all the Brobdingnagian winter storms hitting hard this month, the temps in the negatives…)  my sister will have to be a little extra creative with her celebration. I can just see her conjuring up a scrumptioussnowman1002 heart shaped chocolate mousse cake, lighting her myriad of candles, and enjoying her collection of ‘romantic movies,’ Weathering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and prejudice. (Continuously thanking the good Lord, she has heat and is warm.) Compared to their weather, ours is mild!

For us on the east Coast, we enjoy the warmth of our homes as the miraculous snow falls, bringing an abundance of white fluff to our once, verdant green lawns, quilting  the trees branches with  shimmering slush, later turning into gracefully sculptured ice cycles.  There is nothing quite as romantic as catching a snowfall in action over our towns Junoesque pond …the once placid water is frozen over, its icy surface glistening with a lulled pink hue… or taking a drive through the country roads, admiring all the  LOVE-made, frolicsome snowmen, cheering our spirits up as they happily greet each passerby. Have you ever noticed, there are no two snowmen alike? snowman 1000Its magical to see how snow flakes (with a little TLC,)  can be transformed into real life characters. 🙂 We love to bundle up and take Graham to the meadow after a freshly fallen snow, amazed by the abundance of  beautiful wildlife hidden behind the tall trees. We watch the grandeur red birds and blue jays flutter from branch to branch,  the flocks of snow geese flying above us,  singing their HONKy- tonk tunes, ( that we’ve grown to love,) and the grey squirrels, playfully scurrying up and down the trees, stopping every now and then to nibble on natures “power bars” made especially for them! 🙂      All very romantic…but what warms my heart the most is looking down at Graham as  we all walk in the snow… he is totally unaware that his dark, heavy fur coat has turned to white…the polar air not bothering him one bit, (as he continues to sniff, observe, look and listen to all the meadows enchanting  inhabitants.) 🙂

I  can certainly relate to the quote by Charles Baudelaire;

“I watch the springs, the summers, the autumns;
And when comes the winter snow monotonous,
I shut all the doors and shutters
To build in the night my fairy palace. ”

Whether you live in Southern California, Texas, Maine, Alaska or in other countries, places such as , England, Italy, Japan or the Swiss Alps…how you celebrate this romantic month of love will depend a great deal on what your weather and climate is like….but no matter what state or country you live in, we all have one thing in common...for this month of  ‘celebrating love,’ we can all create a romantic ambiance right within our home…bringing forth an atmosphere of amour.

Our bedroom is the one room within our home that is always embellished with a romantic motif. For February, I try to spill a little bit of its allurement throughout our entire house. For me, a wintry romantic ambiance would include an abundance of alabaster whites accented with rich burgundy’s, regal golds, hushed rose and sage green. I have decorated our home with a few dried floral arrangements,yellow3 white lace tablecloths, my wintry china, a medley of candles, a cherub angel or two, and yes…a few red hearts, dark chocolates, (in case a friend comes by for a cup of coffee,)  🙂  a touch of Hallmarks Valentines decor…and SNOWMEN!  Yes… can you believe it? I still have them out!   🙂  Here is the skinny on that….Christmas was like a dream come true this last year… saying goodbye to its splendor, putting away our jovial Santa’s in January was very difficult, thus I left my cheerful, jubilant snowmen out to keep a touch of the festive spirit within our home. When February arrived, I was perplexed.snowman1004…our neighborhood was draped in a brilliant white…  Our snowmen were so  happy being out of the attic and  they were all dressed in romantic colors. It was tough call… But I finally came to the conclusion  that there has got to be a story written somewhere about a Romantic snowman and his Valentine… thus, we voted and they  got to stay for February’s celebration of the “month of love.”

Its the perfect month for a romantic home-makeover…enjoy the last weeks of  winter’s attire as you know spring is right around the corner and your home will be dressed  up for an entirely different season… For those of you whose motto is ; “Less is more,” and your not a fan of  the commercial decor of cupids, hearts, garlands and lace doilies,   I hope a  few of these romantic rooms will bring you some new ideas in creating a  subtle romantic ambiance within your haven.  If you do love all the ‘bells and whistles’ of the season, then I am sure you will find a few creative notions as well. ENJOY!




“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.”
~Edith Sitwell

Away in a meadow all covered with snow, heart3the little old groundhog looks for his shadow,
The clouds in the sky determine our fate, If winter will leave us all, early or late.” ~ Don Halley

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” ~  Gertrude S. Wister

 “Standing in a valley,with the mist coming in,heart4
Berries grow on the holly bushes. Robins hide in snow-ridden woods.
If I could stay here, I would.”-  Bethan Williams

Now you know, I had to put in a few thoughts about chocolate, romance and snowmen…February’s other bestowals of joy. 🙂

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~ Charles M. Shultz

heart5“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ~ Linda Grayson

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”~ Katharine Hepburn

“I’ve fallen in love many times…always with you.” ~ Unknown

“A heart that loves is always young.” ~ Greek proverb

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” ~ Ingrid Bergman

heart1“Valentine hearts beat more passionately than every day hearts.” ~ Unknown

“Romance is the glamor which turns the dust of every day life into a golden haze.” ~ Amanda Cross

“Snowmen fall from heaven, one flake at a time.” Unknownwinterscape505

“Snow flakes are one of natures most fragile things, but look at what they can do by sticking together.” ~ Unknown

“Snowmen fall from heaven…unassembled.” ~Unknown


Cupid’s tour of ROMANTIC HOMES  is now boarding…cupid




Our glorious verandahs and welcoming front doors are our guests and family’s  first impression of our  homes… Capture their hearts with a  little romance as you create your expressions of ‘amour.’

This beautiful fresh green heart shaped wreath is not only romantic, but very creative with its  blush pink garland of petite roses…


Five hundred  imperial and gallant red roses… Breathtaking! love7

A picturesque, alluring porch for two! (I love the vintage red and white goblets.)love9

With its array of  baronial wicker chairs,white sheers, lovely pillows, throws and a bouquet of roses, this piazza brings forth a beautiful romantic flare… (The ferns are undoubtedly a touch of added elegance. )


You can definitely see that this cozy berth is in the “mood for love.”

Bring a smile to your valentines heart, give this little guy some red roses and a box of chocolates to greet your sweetheart!  Not only is he uplifting, but a fabulously, creative way to say “I love you.” 🙂


The romance of nature itself! I love it!vdd50

This beautiful and splendorous homemade Valentine wreath is heartening, love-some and is sure to bring forth many a smile.vdd67


“OUR BEDROOMS, THE  PLACE WE CHASE OUR DREAMS.” A room that  is simple to ‘dress up’ with such a spectacular motif as Romantic love.

If ever a bedroom exuded romance, this decorator has sure got the secret. Mixing lush wintry shades of white, intricate and stunning wrought  iron, a white sheer canopy, along with an abundance of pillows, baronial candle stick holders and a variety of fresh and dried roses, creates an air of mystique and royalty.love5

Beautifully romantic…The layers and textures on this canopy bed is incredibly enchanting…All it needs is a stellar arrangement of yellow roses! 🙂 ww2


More hues of the glorious shades of white… The color of pureness. For this special month, perhaps a splash of red with a bundle of Victorian dried roses and a divinely scented  valentine-red candle! I love the natural sunlight.ww1

singing T 2Yankkee candle

White, in any of its magnificent shades, represents purity, birth, simplicity, peace, innocence, youth, winter, snow as well as marriage. This enchanting and beautiful Bed Room says it all…  Perhaps an arrangement of bustling, colorful , fresh flowers would be the icing on the cake to this eminently romantic hideaway! 🙂


Are you one that is blessed to have “a spectacular view from your  window,” as part of your rooms allurement? The city skyline is exceedingly romantic, along with the captivating wooden sleigh bed with  its layers and textures of fluffy white…I am thinking some dried , refined, hushed white  roses? 🙂



This fluffy white guy, princely teddy bear dressed in his tux,(with his top-hat beside him,) amidst  a wispy white, sheer canopy is plenty of romance for me! 🙂


I adore this vintage bed with its bright whites, layers of exquisite  linens and intricately designed furniture… the petite antiquated vase filled with the blush rose colored flowers is the perfect touch… Maybe a thick, cuddly throw for  the cold February  nights that are in the one digit numbers. 🙂 ww4


The ample gifts of blue and white…Blue is the color of sleep and bliss…This felicitous bedroom can be likened to laying upon a hammock with a blue sky and a few puffy clouds that occasionally dance by the sun…Its very inviting and definitely dressed up for love… Maybe a few splashes of red to bring forth a bit of passion, or a large bouquet of  becalming  pink roses with magical babies breath?




This delightful bedroom already has a built in Valentines, romantic flare… I love the paneled arched ceiling, the striking red check couch amongst the dainty, delicate white lace and this grandiose four poster bed. Maybe a few flirtatious red  hearts on the wall would  add that special touch for this month of love? vdd30


This  charming and quaint bedroom , (without a touch of red,) is absolutely gorgeous and not only whispers, but DECLARES,” ROMANCE.” I love the special touches of natures bounty with the fresh spray of green and white roses. ww155

Sometimes simplicity says it all. 🙂 heart15

Curl up for a blissful night in a bouquet of roses! thanksgiving536

I adore this fourposter bed with its gossamer canopy, romantic floral pillows, tone on tone designed madras duvet and damask throw…   Maybe  a few single stem roses for that “finished romantic touch.” J-68





OK. You know how the saying goes, some feel “MORE is more ” and others, “LESS is  more.” THIS IS DEFINITELY MORE! Romantic, grandiose, kaleidoscopic and heart stopping! A little potpourri of “everything valentines.” 🙂 red

With its soft lighting and warm, cozy cabinetry, this kitchen is eminently beguiling and romantic. I still think it needs some hints of red to celebrate the annual occasion! 🙂 Red roses, whether dried or fresh would be the perfect touch! ww50


These cheerful and lovable little guys would brighten up anyone’s heart …I can just “feel the love” in this room! All dressed up in their earth tones with an abundance of red!  Definitely  awe-inspiring.  ww45



This hutch, with its pastel, idyllic plates embodies a tranquil charm, along with the creative valentines decorum … OK, I’d say this one is ” LESS is more,” and I love it! 🙂 red11

With its cheery,  luminous  ambiance,  alluring  reds and rich sky blues, this kitchen is dressed to a “T” for this month of passion! (I adore these enchanting chandeliers with their resplendent, authentic  lampshades.)vdd29

With its romantic, enticing , soothing, and unassuming splendor, this romantic decor would bring the ‘air of love’  and awe to any room! I have never found anything more magical as well as enchanting, than the glow of candlelight and petite, sparkling white lights! They never fail, for any celebratory fete. 🙂 ww160

Another eminently romantic kitchen…the pastel  pinks and hushed blues together are very soothing and charming. I think it just needs a few symbols of “Je T’aime” … one of Valentines quintessential trademarks, the adored HEART!


vdd66red 7

A crisp, pure and creamy white kitchen opens up ample opportunities to add Romantic accents for celebrating love.  How about some white bone china tea cups with a matching teapot,  filled with a medley of dried roses and greens, creating an enthralling and galvanic flavor.    ww55


Another inventive, creative idea for celebrating the season is  to display a black chalkboard in your kitchen…(whether on a easel or hung on your kitchen wall…) Its great for messages year round, but what a wonderful way to bedeck a room for the special holidays and   festive occasions.   I love the pastel hearts and romantic sayings! Great idea!


Add a multimedia of color and texture for this gladsome occasion… mason jars and  creative canisters filled to overflowing with red and pink candies along with chocolate hearts amidst  white lace doilies. These decorative displays would put anyone in a “fabulously romantic”  mood. 🙂



A cozy kitchen table set for two…Exceedingly romantic and lovely. This exhilarating flower arrangement takes the Valentines spotlight in this room! 🙂 red1

In this stunning, inviting and resplendent  kitchen, the decorator has taken the same kitchen from above,  with its luscious  butter cream whites, amidst the regal black marble, but this time, expressing that “Less is definitely  MORE.”  Eminently Romantic with its grand accents of Valentine RED, noble golds and soft whites. Who wouldn’t feel the emotions of “amour” in this cozy room? 🙂 VDD

Some more romantic, winsome and canty little snow guys, adding buoyant  color, animation and FUN in this joyous time of the year… February’s month of amoire.  IMG_0488



Accent towels are always a complete giveaway of the season as well as the patina of your kitchen! 🙂




This Romantic, mysterious yet inviting dining room motif, is not dressed up in the typical valentine decor, but it exudes the very essence of romantic dining. What beautiful and authentic chandeliers…the layering and mixing of fabrics, colors and textures with this decorators table linens is sublime as well as alluring.


A dining room tablescape, created with a wintry mix of nature ‘s bounty, would not only look  speculator, but  would be delightfully  soothing to the senses. Void of bright colors, it’s beauty alone is breathtaking and would enhance any festive  get together. ww70

Nowadays, with as many fabulous slipcovers that are on the market, you can transform your rooms with the color of the season. This wintry medley of magnetic earthiness, warm whites, rich tans and regal black, is undoubtedly striking with a romantic flare…I envision  an exquisite arrangement of striking red roses, to liven up this already inviting tablescape.



Charming, elfin, enchanting, fairytale like and undoubtedly, exceedingly picaresque. This stunningly beautiful dining room  evokes all kinds of “romantic emotions.”  I truly believe you can never go wrong with WHITE! The centerpiece is lovely with its verdant greens and bright colored blooms. I would add a little more warmth and romance with the  table-settings done in the passionate color of red.



I love the maritime slip covers for these dinning room chairs. The soft white amidst the pastel blues is refreshing.  This table scape would come alive with some chargers topped with calico red plates or a luxurious table-setting in sparkling off white china…(I always put a small token gift upon every guests plate.) Valentines day or not! 🙂




Another inviting room of repose and rejuvenation…a Wintry  masterpiece.  I would add a creative, cheerful and snowy centerpiece to add a bit of festivity to the table.



Don’t forget to keep the month of February exciting, bringing forth a feeling of “being pampered” with choice, fragrant candles that fit the “romantic mood!” I bet The Cinnamon Frosting is divine! 🙂


This decorator has GONE ALL OUT! Very festive and celebratory!vdd1


The decadent wintry cake with the beguiling candle lights, creates a very intimate and luxurious table! This gets a “10” in my book! ( Fresh cut wood, kindling in this gorgeous  fireplace  would of course, be a welcomed added touch for a Romantic evening!) 🙂ww11

A mixture of pewter and fresh flowers gives a very rich and polished presentation! (I love the wintry grapevine garland.) 🙂


There is nothing that says “Romance,” like a fairy-tale village, magical snowflakes,  glistening white lights and a dapper little snow guy… A perfect tablescape for your dining room sideboard table, to add a touch of allurement and romantic flavor for this month of celebrating LOVE!.



Whether for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or a Romantic Valentines dinner, white damask linen with silver, white china and soft, golden candlelight is timeless. Absolutely stellar!


This Valentines I chose to use my wintry cardinal china, mixed with an array of blues and whites… (All winter colors.) And of course, my snow guys with romantic, dried yellow roses and soft candlelight. Every time I walk through our dining room and see this cozy, colorful tablescape, I smile! 🙂


I also added my new 2014 collection of ‘birds.’ These ‘bluebirds of happiness’ were a special gift from my husband this Christmas…They can stay out ALL YEAR LONG! 🙂


My faithful bunny, ( our 7th year wedding anniversary gift from Kit,)  also stays up all year long… (I change his wardrobe to fit the season. 🙂 For February, he is embellished with a fairytale-like, elfin  wintry attire…


I am impressed with this ‘winter wonderland’  dining room hutch, with its snowman themed plates and entrancing , romantic snow guys.


Talk about “melting hearts!” This guy is also a keeper!




OUR LIVING ROOMS…THE PLACE WE LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE TOGETHER...I may not always decorate our bathroom for this romantic month, but I  never miss bringing out a few decorative items to highlight the flavor of ‘romance and love’ for the room we live the most in


This living room is beautifully simple yet elegant and sophisticated…With its quiet highlights of red, it brings forth the cheerfulness of this holidays’  celebration.


Another cozy, romantic living room…spacious , great lines and a perfect arrangement for a lovely get together. I would add a few accents or two, to bring a little more festivity. (Perhaps an array of throw pillows and fresh garden flowers, to bring some warmth and a motif of romantic-love) 🙂




“I heard it through the grapevine” that ‘purple‘ is the new color this year for Valentines day…Undoubtedly romantic, alluring and passionate! 🙂


For those of you who are not a lover of reds, cupids or valentine decor, but are in love with romance, these two living rooms exude the mystique and romantic patina, with the beautiful colors of rich  tans and royal blues, or hues of gold, butter-cream whites and taupe…the furniture style, candle light, flower arrangements and small  decorative items are lovely “just the way they are.”



“A Room with Two Views.” 🙂 I adore the red florals amidst the stripes, with accents in red, white and blue… Romantic and bedecked for the holiday!


Out of all the living rooms, this particular one captures my heart the most! Its got everything! Feminine touches amidst a baronial, checkered ottoman along with the noble and rich, dark woods. The floral couch, inciting valances and white paned windows are exceedingly  warm, snug, and  festively romantic.


Another wintery, exotic flower arrangement for your Romantic home makeover…


I love the potpourri of colors this decorator has chosen…This room looks a little formal yet I have a feeling, it is a room that has experienced a lot of love and living. For Valentines and a touch of romance, I would add a few decorative pillows that flavor the room with a flashy valentines motif, along with a few cozy, February scented candles.



“One can only imagine  that  ‘Winter Night’ smells scrumptious.” 🙂


Very simple, a white damask couch, a potpourri of throw pillows, (a romantic snowman throw,) 🙂  and a box of Sees chocolates from California. (If any of my brothers are reading this blog, please, no more Sees candy for awhile…it was WAY to good!  🙂 )


I would love to have  a fresh arrangement of white flowers or white roses for my coffee table , (If my husband is reading this blog, please take note of what next Friday is.. 🙂 ) I love fresh flowers in the house…their fragrance as well as natural beauty, are very pampering to the soul. 🙂


Yes, my Christmas tree changed to a snowman tree in January. For February, I added dried red and  pastel yellow roses along with red and gold wired ribbon to create a bit of romance. My other  little guy is just glad that he doesn’t  have to fit in that tree as he loves spaciousness, and dislikes crowds. 🙂


A few of my favorite wintry pillows… I love the white bear snowman! He is so original, colorful and adorable.! 🙂 IMG_0597

Another favorite pillow that I keep out for this “sweethearts season,” 🙂  is the one my sister made me for Christmas. You already know who the Boss of this house is…”Sir Grantham.” He  truly is a “heart wrapped in fur” and I  will keep this gorgeous pillow out year round as she made it with his photo, (in my living room colors…)  Its a keeper! He is one of my valentines too …he’s my heart!


This living room is magical with its romantic lighting, heartening fireplace, white woods mixed with the dark and the beautiful highlights of blue… For February , I would add a few throws, bright, motley pillows and an arrangement of yellow roses… but it truly is captivating just the way it is. 🙂





Absolutely stunning, romantic and complete! I wouldn’t add a single thing!


Very Romantic, filled with the beautiful bounty of natures wintry colors.  A Victorian flare with its swags embellished with glistening white lights and roses…all in line with Valentines Day, as well as warm and cozy for the winter.  The only things I’d change would be, replacing  the white pillar candles with pomegranate red, and adorn the bunny rabbits with petite grapevine wreaths with roses (to keep their necks warm!) 🙂




I hope after taking this Romantic tour that you have gleaned a few ideas to take home to your  own romantic and cozy haven… I know I have. Just a few changes around  your home can make a big difference. Enjoy this last full month of winter… Majestic February. Take a stroll through the woods in the snow, light some wintry scented candles or bake a batch of  heart shaped valentine cookies. While your spouse is taking a shower, draw a heart on the steamy mirror and tell them how much you love them…celebrate the month of love and make it special for yourself as well as your household.

In closing this ‘Romantic Makeover vignette,’ I wanted to share with you a few of our favorite chocolates for your “Valentine,” (if you aren’t already sold on one,) as remember Valentines  DAY is a special holiday for all the senses… and chocolate is at the top of the list! )       sees20  Now, if you really  stretched it, you could consider a box of chocolates as ‘Romantic home decor.’  Some of the heart shaped boxes are  created so luxuriously and look so beautiful.(They add an abundance of charm and elegance, just resting upon your coffee tables.) 🙂 (just sayin! ) 🙂



Our #1 choice is See’ s candy….always a must when we visit California. Our 2nd is Ghiridelli, 3rd, Dove Chocolates, 4th. Godiva and  5th, Harbor sweets 85 Leavitt Street, Salem MA.  Lastly, Harry and  Davids Chocolate mousse crunch! (Kits very favorite!)  If your still looking for  a ‘sweet treat’ for your Valentine,  I hope these suggestions are helpful!




If by chance, you are a Trivia person, here is a little “Info” on this particular box of candy;

sees20Harrods is the proud creator of this Valentines  box of chocolates, noted to be the most excellent chocolate in the world. There are 49 pieces, all studded with Swarovski crystals, hand wrapped in Indian silk, with platinum and gold linings, and each peace is padded with a crystal flower…for only a mere $10,000. SO,you can buy these for your sweetheart for Valentines Day, or  a new car. 🙂

Have a wonderful and blessed Valentines day !


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

“A Valentines For Jim.”

“One day,  A 5 year old asked her big brother;  “What is love?” He replied;  “Love is when you steal my chocolate from my school pack everyday…and I still keep it in the same place.” ~ Author unknown.


The  “much awaited’ day has  finally arrived. The one day that this “month of love” is centered upon… Valentines day! What exactly is Valentines day? (Besides the day we enjoy an abundance of rich dark chocolates, bake winsome heart shaped cookies for our kids classroom party,vdd41 answer the doorbell to a ‘PRO Flowers’ delivery man, holding an extremely impressive  bouquet of red roses, (or white,) 🙂 hear our favorite love songs playing on the radio all day,  receive an unexpected gift from our sweetheart, or express our heart felt sentiments to the ones we love, on a Hallmark greeting card.)  🙂

What you may not know is that Valentines Day is also Known as The feast of Saint Valentinevalentine11 It is a holiday celebrated in many countries all over the world such as Italy, Britain, Australia, Austria, France, Germany Japan and Denmark.  It began as  a liturgical celebration of one or more, early Christian Saints named Valentinus.

One celebrated account of this passionate holiday is the story of Saint Valentine of Rome. It is noted that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as well as for his ministry to the Christians, who were being unjustly  persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, while imprisoned, Saint Valentine healed the jailors daughter of an illness…before his execution, he wrote her a letter and signed it “Your Valentine,” as a farewell. (I wonder if he had any inkling that his letter would start a worldwide holiday for expressing LOVE?)

In the18th century, the tradition of courtly loved flourished in England and Valentines day evolved  into an occasion for ‘sweethearts”  to  express their love with flowers, confections and homemade cards, (known as Valentines.)

hearts100In the 19th century,  Valentine cards became mass produced, thus we have an ample array of Valentine  greeting cards to choose from… As of current, the symbols created for this romantic day are hearts, doves and the renowned winged cupid!

Valentines day, means something unique to each of us… For some, it’s a traditional celebration and a day filled with extravagant gifts, romantic dinners and jewelry…For others, its a day to tell your “sweetheart” you love them, give them  a valentine, a big hug and kiss and go about the day. 🙂 I believe the importance we place upon this holiday has a lot to do with our childhood, heritage, personality as well as our age and the season of life we are in.

inspired52As a little girl, growing up in our large family of 9, Valentines day meant that at some point in the day,  my mom would receive an elaborate, beautifully decorated, red- heart shaped box, filled with a variety of scrumptious chocolates form my dad. (Sometimes through the mail if he was oversees.) My mom was so tender hearted and shared her bounty of confections with us, (her 7 kids,) every Valentines day.  We all enjoyed our festive  party at school and were ecstatically happy if we got a colorful Valentine from that one “special someone” we had a crush on .


My giddy feelings changed drastically about this romantic holiday as Ihearts111 began high school…  My brothers had beautiful girlfriends, and they could hardly wait to give them their engaging  red, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, along with a dozen red roses. My older sister had so many boyfriends, I had  lost count. I, on the other hand, (very shy) did not have a boyfriend and  always felt a little lonely that day…My mom always came to my rescue by leaving me a big basket of colorful M&M’s outside my beautiful katbedroom door Valentines day morning.  (She knew it was my favorite candy and that I needed a little cheering up.)  Along with the candy , was a sweet card telling me that  “She’d be my valentine.”   She was so thoughtful and the candy really did help…(a little.) 🙂


danny1Valentines can also be a celebration of Friendship…its not necessarily just a “Sweethearts Day” festivity.  If you don’t have a ‘special someone,’ you can always go out with  your girlfriends… enjoy getting all bedecked in  “RED,”  and go dancing and celebrate the love of your friends. (Guys you can do the same…maybe taming down the red a bit.) 🙂 I remember one year in mydanny3 twenties, for Valentines day, my sister and I, (both single,)  met for lunch at our favorite eatery in Irvine California on our lunch hour. Right before I left,  a young, attractive man from our company was passing out a long stem red rose to each single lady…it made me feel so special. Another valentines, when I was not dating anyone, my trainer at the gym, (while I began my workout,) secretly took a single stem rose with a card out to my cardanny and placed it on my front seat. When I saw it, it really touched my heart. We can give a Valentine and express our love for any special person in our life, no matter “what  category of love” our relationship falls under. 🙂


When I met kit, I adored valentines day…he always picked out the most gorgeous long stem, lovered roses and bought me handmade, chocolate truffles from a  chocolateier shop, nested within the Harbor in Dana Point CA. Our first Valentines together, he kidnapped me from work and whisked me off to Palm Springs for the day, wined and dined me and we had the most wonderful time, enjoying the newness of our love and spending an entire day together…Its a heartening memory  I will never forget… (6 months later, we were engaged.) 🙂


Through our married life, we still celebrate this romantic holiday. Not always with expensive red roses and intricate truffles..hello2.but we do something special for one another,  remembering the day and thanking God for one another and our love. Graham of course, always gets a special treat that day, lots of hugs and kisses and wonders “Whats up guys…its to soon to be my birthday?” 🙂


How do you celebrate Valentines day at your house? If you have kids, your holiday is probably centered around them…helping them make all their valentine cards for their classmates, jimbo99baking 30 cupcakes or heart shaped cookies for their valentines day party… If you are off at College, perhaps their is a Valentines dance, or you expectantlycutiepie 13 wait for the mail delivery to arrive to get that special card in the mail from your sweetheart that lives far away. Better yet, maybe they will decide to surprise you and  fly out to see you in person. ( After all, it is a day of “dreams coming true.”) 🙂 If you are engaged, I can only imagine your celebration this year… all the bells and whistles, I am sure! 🙂

topten 166According to our local radio station, the most popular things to do for your ‘sweetheart ” on Valentines day are; Taking them on a romantic getaway for the weekend… going out for a romantic dinner, saying “I love you,”  morning, afternoon and evening in some new and creative way,  giving a gift for no reason,  Of course, giving a box of decadent chocolates, sending Roses, writing your heartfelt  sentiments on a greeting card, going to see a romantic movie together and making a special dinner for the other person. ( I am sure these are just a few of many thoughtful and romantic ideas.)

This year, I will make Kit his favorite dinner, served by candlelight, shower Grantham with lots of love, hugs, attention and TREATS…but  I also  decided to take the time,  (in celebrating this month of love,)  to do something entirely different.  In recognizing what a very special love my big brother and I shared for 51 years, I decided to write a tribute, (a letter of love,)  to him…I’m calling it ” A Valentines for Jim.” ifonly100 I belelive that there are few people in life that we allow ourselves to love with our entire heart and receive that same kind of love back… Jim was one of those people. He was my big brother, a best friend through my life and someone I adored… he died unexpectedly while vacationing in his favorite place in the world, Cabo San Lucas . This letter-valentine  is an expression of how very much I treasure our wonderful years together...I believe a Valentines is an expression of the heart…not limited to romantic love, but for the deep love within our hearts for any person who has blessed our lives beyond words…Ifonly503 Normally, I would not think to sit down and write a letter of love and appreciation to my brother, (though I do talk to him at times, like I know we all do when we lose someone dear to our hearts,)  (OK, most of us do…) 🙂 But, I  have to say, it has been a blessing as well as a walk down memory lane. YES, there have been some tears of joy, some real “missing” going on within my heartstrings, 🙂 but  it has been heartening, enlivening and very rewarding for my soul. I do know that I will keep this “Valentine to Jim,”  forever… (Probably in  a heart shaped  box under our bed.)  🙂

Maybe you have someone that you have wanted to write  a letter to. A spouse that has  died, a sibling, an ex boyfriend or ex girlfriend,  a beloved pet you have lost , a grandparent, someone who gave their life to save yours…or to whoever that special person is,  that is on your heart.  Writing is a form of expressing your heart, whether to read alone or share with the world…I am a firm believer that writing is a great blessing for the soul. How about writing them a “Valentine,” during this Month of love?

jimbo209A month after Jim died, I wrote a tribute to him and read it at his memorial service…I can’t tell you how much that helped my grief…Today, I am healed from my grief, yet it was still eminently rewarding to sit down and think about all the wonderful times Jim and I shared, what gifts he bestowed to my life and share my heart with him, believing somehow he can hear my heart and see my words…

There is a song by Josh Grobin that helped me tremendously  when  Jim died…its lyrics give such hope that those who die, are still living, just in a different place, only a breathe away…

” Cause your my forever love, watching me from up above
And I believe that angels breathe, and that love will live on
And never leave,
Fly me up to where you are,beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight, To see you smile
If only for a while to know you’re there
A breath away is not far to where you are.”

hearts102I hope that whatever way you choose  to celebrate this Romantic holiday, that it is blessed with love and an abundance of heart felt joy! (And if you are a lover of chocolate,  I pray you receive the  most elaborate, elegant and extra large box you have ever been given.) 🙂


As I close a portion of this blog, I open another…  I want to share my “Valentines” to my brother with you, my readers… If not for any other reasons than just to “share with everyone” what a beautiful person my brother was and perhaps inspire a few of you to do the same with the love in your heart for someone that is now gone.  Writing about someone you have loved and  lost  is a beautiful way to keep their memory alive… it can be likened to  an autobiography, a DVD filled with songs and photographs that share who someone was all about while here on this earth, or old movies on 35 mm vintage film reels, (the kind our parents inherited,) to keep the memories of their loved ones who had died, alive.  I hope that every-time I read this Valentines for Jim,  that my heart will be blessed with our many, many wondrous memories and that he will come alive within my heart and mind, all over again. HE WAS A GIFT FROM GOD, LIKE NO OTHER!




Hi Jimbo,

It’s hard to believe that its been  3 years since you, (I like to say) graduated to Heaven. 🙂 I think about you every single day and miss you more than I believed a heart could miss someone.When Patrick called on Halloween night to tell me the news that you had died in your sleep while on vacation, It was so surreal. I couldn’t grasp it as TRUTH. The minute the truth did seep in, (just a tiny bit of it,)  I could not stop crying out to the Lord…”No God…not my Jim!”    Loosing you unexpectedly, turned all of our lives upside down …it took me a long time to come to a place where I could  accept your death and allow myself to walk through the emotions of such a deep loss. My heart was broken.  The grief was deeper and darker than anything I’d known. At times, I  was worried I wouldn’t come through it, merriment but of course, you already know  all this…I can hear the words you were probably speaking up there, during that tenebrous time in our lives…
Straighten up little sis, 🙂  get it together, the Lord is there to help you…we will see each other again and it will be forever…I know I was your guardian angel on earth, but now I’m one of your angels in Heaven, by the way, it is so beautiful up here…You will love it.” 🙂

You were right…with Gods grace, a lot of prayer and love, I made it to the other side…God not only healed all the darkness inside, but He healed my body and brought me health, strength , peace and a joy I thought I’d lost. Now, I still think of you everyday , cry tears of joy, smile and thank God I had a best friend and “big Bother,” that I loved so deeply, that in return loved me the same way. And, I DO KNOW we will be together again …That is my great hope and joy in the tragic loss of you going away.

jimbo301I will still have to deal with all my future dreams of us…You, (your wife, that we all believed you’d meet one day,)  and  Kit and I , sitting together  in grandiose white rockers on a porch with a sublime and picturesque view…(with our hearing aids turned up really loud,) rocking away in our chairs, talking about any and everything as we all  grow old together. 🙂  When Kit and I have our Prayer Retreat Home one day, (Yes, we still believe,) 🙂   we’ve already decided that one of the rooms will be named after YOU, one of our biggest supporters of the dream in our hearts. I still have all the thoughtful gifts you bought for us when that dream does comes true.

Knowing you are happy, healthy and with loved ones, and are charming the socks off everyone , ( I  guess there are no socks up there are there?)  well, it gives me great peace…(You charmed the whole world down here.. 🙂 )

Your memorial service was unbelievably beautiful…all your high school friends, buddies from work,  family, my girlfriends, your childhood and adult friends, even your old girlfriends, (that was interesting,) were there.  The room was packed with so many people, all there to share there hearts of love for the one and only “James W.”  You, my “Big Brother” are LOVED!

I didn’t  think I could stand up and share my heart that day…(a friend of mine gave me a Xanax…it helped. 🙂 (Plus, I know Gods grace and strength helped me tremendously.) Sharing my heart for you actually helped in comforting my pain…(Temporarily.)

Now I am writing to you…believing you can somehow see my words and heart… I know I am a “word” person, but I will make this short…(kind of.) 🙂 If I really shared all my heart with you, it would have to be within a book, not a letter! 🙂

jimbo215From our earliest memories of being babies together to our years of middle age, you blessed my life beyond words…you will always be one of Gods greatest gifts to my life.

Remember all the frolicsome, fun times we had as kids, growing up in Costa mesa, California? I remember one  late spring afternoon… There we were, the “three  partners in crime.” I was 7,  you were 8 and Rob was 9. Even though your  real  middle name was ‘William’ we all knew it was supposed to be mischievous.  Some days you’d say;   “Hey, lets go over to the Food Giant and flush Oscar Meyer hot dogs  down the toilets until they get stopped up… Or, we could  make some funny  prank phone calls when Mom leaves the house.  On other days you’d  coax us into playing ding dong ditch on our College Park culdesac.jimbo216 (Yes the  Harris kids were very popular in Costa Mesa California, in the 1960’s.) 🙂  I’ll never forget that one late afternoon in the summer.jimbo201You were brimming with  excitement, your big brown eyes were five times their normal size as you whispered; “Susan, the Good Year blimp is arriving to the  Big field next to the shopping center… Do you want to go watch it land?” Of course I wanted to go…I wanted to be wherever you were… (we just  had to run it by mom first.)

I can hear  mom talking to us in her sweet southern drawl, (as if it were yesterday,)   as she made it known  to us in no uncertain terms that, “there would be dire consequences if we went to see the blimp light in the ‘big field’ and did we understand?”   “YES malm,” we both nodded… Before I knew it, you were gone.  The roseate, gloaming hour arrived and there was still no YOU.  I knew you were daring, but really?jimbo225 Right after mom sad absolutely not! Suddenly, you  walked through the front door, a little bit  winded. Your face was radiant…you looked as if you had achieved a great feat…There was no way that you could even try to lie to mom.  As she stood in the hallway, looking at you with that certain look on her face, (you knew that look all to well,) 🙂 your final answer? “Yes Mom I did see the Goodyear  blimp and it was really cool.”

With that being said, mom replied, “Jim, your punishment is to go to bed without any supper.” Seeing your sad little face, I put my hands on my hips and said, “Well, Mom, if Jim has to go to bed without any supper then so will I.”  Thus, we both headed to our bedrooms and went to bed hungry. (Unless you had a snickers bar stashed away in your dresser..) 🙂  You and I always had  that special bond between us, since we were babies…

jimbo6As an adult, your heart was one of the biggest I’d ever seen, but it was true of you as well, when you were a little boy…Remember how  every Christmas  season, (OK, most of them,) you would sneak into our family room,  pick  out a gift, hide behind the couch, open it and then wrap it back up, acting so amazingly surprised when you unwrapped it again in front of our family on  Christmas morning? You didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and take away their joy as they got to watch you open their gift. (Plus you really did want to know what all you were getting ahead of time.) 🙂

You opened my eyes to the element of patience and surprise…   Remember that one Christmas,  before mom and dad were up, you quietly jaunted out to the family room and opened the white shudder doors so you could take a quick  peak at all that Santa had brought in the night? (All the things mom and dad had left unwrapped…)  You tiptoed back to my room and said,pat100 “ Susan,  I have  just seen everything that Santa brought.”  I begged you to please tell me if you saw my new baby doll I asked for… Without even a tiny bit of  hesitation, you said  “I looked and looked and I am so sorry Susan, but  there is no doll baby for you..”  My heart plummeted with sadness. Orange Juice poured, and mom and dads  cups of coffee in hand, we  all gathered by the double  doors.  As dad opened the shudder doors, there sitting on the brick hearth fire place was my huge, life size – huggable  doll baby… and of course  standing there, right beside me, you were grinning ear to ear,  as you said, “I  just wanted you to be surprised Susan, that’s why I did not tell you.”


I loved the season in our lives when we were room mates in our mid 20’s. When you purchased your new black Mercedes, (with heated seats,) you  blessed me with your  BMW…Just to make the “sale” legal, you only charged me $100.00 a month.jimbo221 I know you  got such a kick out of me driving around in a beautiful, classy  BMW…you knew I felt like a princess, jim11(and perhaps you thought I’d catch a wealthy boyfriend and could give you more money for our rent.) 🙂    You always had the BIGGEST HEART! I will never forget the day I was home sick from work and  you spent the entire afternoon, running to the fish market, gourmet  bakery shop and grocery store  gathering all kinds of  foods to create a “get well” dinner for me. You prepared and served fresh swordfish on the grill with  garden vegetables, a nice bottle of wine and pecan pie a la mode, ( my all time comfort foods.)  All you wanted to do was bless me with my favorite dinner, help me to feel better and to pamper me…again,  that’s what your heart was all about Jim…making others feel loved, special and important!

When I met Kit and we began courting, you highly approved and gave me the “thumbs up.”   Remember the night you  invited us out to dinner to Scot’s Bar and Grill in Costa Mesa?harbor11  Kit and I were  quite taken aback as we met you in the parking lot…you had  dauntlessly shaved  half of your mustache off… Your mission for the night?  Taking a public poll as to which side of your face was more handsome, thus making us, the wait staff and  many other  happily aghast diners at the eatery, laugh as well as leave with bright smiles. I was so happy that you and Kit  hit it off right away, as we shared many  wonderful times together.  We were so proud to have you in our wedding as one of Kits groomsmen. (Yahoo…your  half of a mustache  is gone…) (You looked “simply Marvelous” either way!)


To top off our blissful Wedding day, you let us ‘borrow’ your new  black Mercedes, to take on  our honeymoon to Santa Barbabra.How blessed was I to have mHappy20y dear brother and new husband to  be the best of friends? (And to have heated seats in the wine country of Northern CA. in the brisk season of  winter.) 🙂


We all went through the darkest storm of our lives when we lost mom to cancer… Life changed so drastically without her sweet spirit, loving heart and beautiful smile. She was the corner stone of our family of 9. I am so thankful our family was all together for at least 6 months after she died.  When Kit got a job offer in Arizona…leaving you and the family in California was almost unbearable…jimbo214 Remember the night you drove from Corona Del Mar to Mesa AZ., (straight through, ) and slept in the car in front of our house? When we woke up, we were perplexed as we saw a beautiful Cadillac in our driveway that we had never seen before…we quietly walked down the stairs on to the lawn, whispering to one another as we got the nerve up to look inside this suspicious automobile.. 🙂   Oh my gosh…it was you…you had bought us a new car and wanted to deliver it in person. Our hearts  were overwhelmed with joy, not only with the surprise of a new car, but  our highlight was to be able to see YOU, our precious JIM.

jimbo219If anyone adored Christmas time, it was YOU..YOU made it so very specjimbo253ial for every child in our family as well as for all of us “big Kids.”   For our  farewell , when Kit and I  were moving to the east coast,you created a Christmas  for us that was beyond imagination. The  guest bedroom in your  Corona Del Mar  home was a magical wonderland filled with snowmen, glistening white  lights, fresh flowers, fine wine, crystal glasses and candles.  Christmas Morning you wineyblew us away, surprising us with brand new coats for our new life in Virginia, leather gloves, scarves, new bathrobes, a rabbits hair vest for me and new suits, ties and a leather jacket for Kit as well as an ample assortment of Sees candy.  ( All three of our  favorite chocolates of all time.)



jimbo800Whether our years living in  California, Arizona, Virginia or  DC,  you were  like an angel from the Lord, watching over Kit and I, always making sure our world was A-OK. You always  chose the most creative ways to say hello and keep close… A funny  phone hellocall or perhaps inspiring, sentimental cards. (I have saved every one of them.) Do you remember this card you sent me with the little brother and sister at the beach? You wrote me how blessed we were to have each other throughout  all the years of our lives, that you loved me so much and how I brought an abundance of ‘comfortableness” to your life . I have the card on my desk now, and it brings me great comfort. (Seeing your handwriting, reading your hearts sentiments and feeling the close bond once again, we were so gracefully blessed to have been given.)  You always wrote the most beautiful letters,  encouraging e-mails, sent us extravagant  care packages,  prayed many a timely prayer for us on the phone,  and we adored all your extraordinary visits to each home we lived in over the years.  When we were kids, teenagers,  and young adults,jimbo you had such a way of always encouraging me when things looked down…When I got married, you doubled the portion by continuously  encouraging both kit and I, in every season of life we were walking through. Thank you!



Okay, besides being a trickster, you were the one person who went the extra mile to make everyone laugh…Whether our foreign taxi driver In Washington DC, (who could not understand your humor one bit, but boy did he try,)  the  downtown shop keepers  in Annapolis, (where you bought me my exquisite glittering gold sweater,) passerby’s at the Grand Canyon or our favorite eatery in Alexandriajimbo224…(The waiter never knew what hit him when you arrived.) 🙂 I remember the time you mooned us…Oh my gosh, I am still blushing as  I recall that memory… You were the best attorney ever, and your second occupation, at any given time could have been a prestigious comedian…Jimmy Fallen has nothing on you… 🙂 (And I mean nothing!) 🙂

The last time we saw each other,  you bought me my first pair of diamond earrings for my birthday… as we said our goodbyes at the airport,  (I know you were trying not to get emotional,)  (me too,) hello3you  had Kit, myself, along with many others in stitches, making us all laugh with your theatrical and  funny spectacles.I cried when I got on the airplane…saying goodbye  to you, was always so hard.

There came a time when our close, intimate and narrow path, that the three of us were traveling together in life, separated into two roads. It was one of the hardest times in my life, (Kit’s too,)  as we missed you so very much… We both had the assurance in our hearts that in time, everything would be as it was…we’d end up talking one holiday when you were up at dads, or get a card from you saying everything was OK between us…that’s what gave us hope and peace when we longed for the three of us being the best of friends again.) 🙂 (Which was very often!) 🙂

I want to share with you the phenomenal dream, I believe God gave to me one night…(You may already know “all about” this too.) 🙂

In my dream,  I was greeting our brotherAlex Alex as he arrived to our home in  Delaware with his family from California. (Which by the way, he did come to seejimbo288 Kit and I that fall for Thanksgiving in real life.) OK, back to the dream… When he walked through the door, his arms  were filled with a bounty of gifts, exquisitely wrapped…along with all the presents were  a few assorted boxes  of Sees candy. I looked behind my wing back chair and there as well, magicallyjimbo291 appearing were even more gorgeously wrapped boxes of all shapes and  sizes. As Alex sat down across from me, his head was down ,so all I  could see was a thick head of hair…He then spoke;  “Susan, Jim sent all of these gifts to you…they are all the things He especially picked out and wanted you and Kit  to have.”   My heart leaped inside, as the last time (in real life and very aware of  it in my  dream)  that you and I had  spoken  was 9 months earlier, when you had a heart attack. I called you while you were in the hospital and we  both told  one another how much  we loved each other, but we  had not been as close as we had been all the many years of our lives. I missed that closeness  SO MUCH! (Back to the dream.)   Suddenly, as my  eyes welled up with tears to tell Alex how touched I was, that you had sent Kit and I all these gifts, (especially knowing Sees candy was  all three of our favorite chocolates,) beheld that  Alex was not Alex at all..As his head lifted up, it was YOU. jimbo204There was my Jim, your eyes welled up with love for me saying “Susan, it is me…I have come to surprise you …all is well.” (He was the YOU I had known all my life…so handsome, smiling ear to ear, full of love and you  could not convey  enough to me how happy you were and that we were all intimate again…there was no division, just an abundance of love and unity between us. (The closeness  I always treasured.)   I wanted to stay in that moment and hold on to the joy and love I felt, forever.


Of course upon awakening from this beautiful dream, I had no idea, that you had died that very night.  A few days later, still feeling gloriously elated from the dream, Patrick called Kit and I to share the tragic  news of your death. When Pat told me the date you actually died, it was then I realized it was the night of my dream, the night you went to heaven…  Knowing that now, I know in my heart and spirit  that YOU, my Jim, big brother and ‘guardian angel,’  did in fact come to me in my dream…wanting to surprise me , telling me how much  you loved me jim10and with your eyes filled and brimming with love, told me that ALL WAS WELL.  You were so happy  Jim…and You and I were the same big brother and little sister we had been that summer evening that  I went to bed without supper because you did,  the same brother and sister who shared grilled swordfish and pecan pie in our first home together, and the same  two friends who hugged and cried, as you helped me pick out  my first pair of diamond earrings.  This dream  was Gods gift to me, as He took you home that autumn season. Forever, it will be in my heart, just as  you will be! Even to this day, I believe it was really YOU, and I hold on to that with all my heart, knowing one day, we will both be in Heaven together…(Kit too.)

I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could see you,  just one last time on this earth…to say some things I never said, to see your smile, to feel your hug and hear your voice and  contagious laugh.   I  can only imagine that you celebrate LOVE everyday up there… Your  living in the very essence of love!  Thank you Jim, for all our wondrous memories, for all your love, caring,  listening, hugs, sharing your heart, crying with me, making me laugh and laughing with me, rejoicing in all the seasons of our lives together and for being my guardian angel and “Big Brother”  here on earth . I love you to the moon, sun and stars and back, (as you’d always say..) Now you can say it and know what it really means and feels like. 🙂

Always , all my love, Your little sister, Susancb



***This Photo that I chose for the top of this blog was the framed photograph Jim gave to me on my birthday in 1996. He gave it to me as a reminder of our special bond and friendship over our lives, thus I chose it for this blog…(just adding the valentines heart.) Here are his sentiments that are written on the back of this gift. A cherished bestowal  that hangs beside my bed…one that I will keep forever.


In 1996:

“My dearest Susan, I believe God destined our lives that we would be brother and sister and that our lives would be enriched and forever blessed. Whether as small children exploring with endless curiosity, young adults making a life for our-self or as old persons having lived a full life, my heart will always have been touched by your love, your kindness, your gentleness and our destinies which have bound us together.

My life is but a story abut the persons who have touched my heart and helped shape my soul; and you dear sister, more than most, have given me life.  I love you Susan, always and forever, Jim”

Then when he visited us at Christmas time in Virginia in 2002, he wrote again on the back of this photo…

“I still feel exactly the same way…I love you, 🙂 Jimbo”

(I never even saw he had written that second part,  until after he died in the  late fall of 2010…)

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






































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.