Goat Cheese Stuffed Hisbiscus Flowers

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My friend Anca is the finest of hostesses.  When she received our Italian conversation group, one of the appetizers she served elicited a lot of intrigue and delight.  It was a small little amuse-gueule, with a star-like shape which held a tiny ball of goat cheese.   Anca revealed it was a hibiscus flower imported from Australia, (available on Amazon),  sold in a simple syrup.  I promptly ordered a jar and served them on a cheese platter at a dinner I hosted. No one could guess what they were but we had fun trying!image Continue reading

6 Wine Crate Centerpieces

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“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Wine crates are one of my favorite containers for displaying flowers.  They are available for free from most wine stores and come in many different sizes.  They can be painted or stained if desired to coordinate with a décor theme.  Because of their generous size, they make an imposing centerpiece once filled with flowers.

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This wine crate was filled with pots of annual flowers.  I ran a string of whimsical dragonfly lights through the flowers to light up the centerpiece for an evening party.  Magical!  For detailed instructions on how-to, please click here. Continue reading

Get Your Chill On: 8 No-Bake Summer Desserts

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It’s 90 sweltering degrees out.  You’ve got company coming and need an impressive dessert.  Walk away from that oven!  Instead turn to one of these totally chillin’, easy to make desserts and be one totally cool host.

Click on the highlighted title to access the recipe.

1-  Chocolate Mocha Icebox Cake

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Beach-Themed Table Setting

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“Gather a shell…And listen at its lips:  they sigh…The echo of the whole sea’s speech.” Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The sea for me is rejuvenating and its majesty always awe-inspiring. This table setting recalls the breathtaking beauty of the beach and conjures up favorite seashore vacations.  I started designing this tablescape with a piece of driftwood recently found on a windswept beach and our family collection of shells. I kept the table setting casual and carefree.   An irridescent scarf in many shades of ocean blues shimmers across the table.

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Spring Luncheon: Niçoise Salad with Planked Salmon Fillet

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Spring has finally sprung!   The garden is in full glorious bloom, the birds are singing their little hearts out and the kitchen is switching gears to produce lighter meals with spring flavors.  To celebrate spring’s arrival,  I made a gorgeous niçoise salad dressed with a citrusy Meyer lemon vinaigrette and served it with spice-rubbed salmon, grilled on a cedar plank.  A Meyer lemon ricotta cake I featured last week made for a light springtime dessert.  A simple fresh menu, all gluten free, complete with a centerpiece from my garden.

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Colorful spring arrangement from my garden: red tulips, daffodils, leucojum, Virginia bluebells, pink hellebores, viburnum branches still in bud. Do you recognize the trellis bread basket standing in as a vase?

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“January Blues” Luncheon Tablescape

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“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.” William Blake

Readers have requested more table settings and I am happy to oblige!  The inspiration for this tablescape was a gorgeous potted orchid I had in a sweet vase with a bluebird and a French inscription that I love.image image Continue reading

Top 10 Reader Favorites of 2015

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Happy New Year!  Did you make resolutions?  Have you broken them yet? Before I make my new blogging resolutions,  I love looking back at what posts resonated most with readers in 116 countries around the world in this past year.  My most loyal readers are in the USA with Canadian and the U.K. readers not far behind. I was surprised by the top 10 posts.  They tell me you like gardening topics, fast and healthy weeknight family style cooking, easy desserts with healthy ingredients and entertaining inspiration.   If you would like to suggest topics for  2016 content, please write me in comments below.  Thank you so much for reading my blog.  I am enriched by each and everyone  of you.  Here are the top 10 posts of 2015!

#10. Raspberry Panna Cotta Cake

#9. Fall Garden Tour

#8.   Summer Entertaining

#7. Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Figs, Stilton and Pecans

#6. A Dozen Cookie Recipes

#5. Triple Lime and Yogurt Mini Bundt Cakes

#4. Deep Dish Butternut Squash Quiche

#3. Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Brussel Sprouts Leeks Mushrooms and Bacon

#2  Biedermeier Flower Arranging

Drumroll, please!  Presenting the top post of 2015:

#1 No Water Flowers

Did your favorite post make it on the top 10?  Were you as surprised by these selections as I was?

Happy New Year!

If you missed it, Reader Favorites of 2014.

(Title image found on Google)