This is the cutest idea that I got from my friend Liz Bushong. Check out her blog at Brenna and I fell in love with Liz’s Valentine’s Day Love Letter made of pie crust and cherry pie filling. We set to work making it for my Mom. Our goal was to deliver it warm.

It was super easy. You need an envelope (think square), parchment paper, pie crust, cherry pie filling, butter and white sugar sprinkles.

Open your envelope all the way up. Trace the opened envelope onto the parchment paper and then cut it out. Place flattened pie crust on top of parchment paper. Cut your crust according to the parchment paper diameters.

Place pie envelope form on baking sheet. Spoon your cherry pie filling onto the center of the envelope, making sure to put some at the top of the envelope flap. Note: less is more! The cherry pie filling will expand.

Pinch the flaps of the envelopes back into place, leaving the top flap open. (And cherry filling on top of that part). I free handed a heart to cover the seems. We coated it with butter, and sprinkled on some white sugar.

We put it in at 350 for ten minutes, and kept watching it. I think we pulled it out at twelve minutes, but I’m not sure because we were was so excited about its cuteness! Be careful, the size of the envelope will expand and it will finish much bigger than when you started. This lead us to make a round of tiny envelopes, which I wish I could show you. But I can’t. They were so cute, they ate them before I could snap a pic.

P.S. We did deliver this hot! (It helps my Mom lives three minutes away). It was a total Valentine’s success! xo


Yay Fall!  In almost no time, I made these awesome pumpkin/succulent centerpieces & you can too.


Hallow out your pumpkins, and simply place your tiny succulents in them, like you would any planter. Have some extra potting soil on hand.  Go for unusual colors, like this white, for a new and different look.  For bigger pumpkins, group different succulents together.  Give them a good watering as you plant, and they’ll require almost no upkeep.  Stack pumpkins and gourds for height.  Happy Fall-ing!


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Back to School is a high holiday. It needs to be celebrated! I love the look of our retro “Happy Back to School Day” door. When they were young, the kids loved it. Now, it embarrasses them. Bonus!

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My friend Christine B. had the best and BRAVEST back to school party ever! She had an annual party on the first day back to school RIGHT AFTER DROP OFF! Can you imagine? Would your house ever be ready? Christine pulled it off every September. We all brought something and she had champagne. Best way to start the school year ever! Happy Back to School Day!

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Following my party rule of “three special touches,” I came up with the idea of these adorable graduation caps. I made one for our dog door stop and one for our budda and baby statue. They were super easy. I put the dog by the front door, and called it a graduation party.


I used: a stiff piece of paper stock (I just had this glittered one in my stash), hot glue, paper clips, scissors and yarn. You don’t even need the paper clips, but they were a cheat in this instance. So, if your short on time, have some on hand.

The top of your cap is a simple square. The square needs to be bigger than the head you are putting the cap on. Hold the paper above the head, eyeball it, and cut yourself a square. Very scientific. Next, cut a strip of paper, about an inch wide, long enough to go around the entire head. Hot glue the ends of this strip to each other so you have a circle. (This is where you can also use the paper clip to hold the ends together). Now, glue the square to the top of your circular strip. Cap is done. Now, take your yarn. This makes the tassel. Eyeball what you want the drop of the yarn to be. Cut several pieces of yarn this same length, bundle, and hot glue onto the top of the cap. You could have made three in the time it took me to type that.


Maeve’s graduating. What? Who let her turn 18? Here’s a few ideas from her grad party that you are free to steal.

I love creating vignettes at a party. Here’s my rule: you need at least three vignettes scattered about your party. If you do it right, they tell the story of the party and let your guests know just why the occasion is special. If you do it wrong, your friends might accuse you of creating a shrine to the guest of honor. (As once happened to me) Try not to create a shrine. It’s a balancing act people.


When decorating for a party, especially graduations, throw back school photos are great. Make use of cake stands and plate stands, to give your display items different visual height. My Mom taught me that framing the party menu is always a nice touch. Candle wax is your best friend. Keep it on you at all times. In a flash, I attached the gold star garland and a third grade pic of the graduate to my menu frame.

Throw back photos are great, but you need to throw in some throw back memorabilia as well. This is why you are saving all that stuff! In this shot, you see the apple Maeve made in school. Yup, this is the finish line. First grade to Senior Year. It’s now or never. Bring some of that stuff out.

And, collect up some items on theme. The Graduation Doll is super sweet. And if you are lucky enough to have a friend who loves to bake cookies in the shape of a graduation cap, display those prominently. She even sprinkled them in the school colors. It takes a village to have a great party. xo


Restaurants are a super easy and convenient way to celebrate special events. My favorite tip is to customize your table — especially if its a small celebration. Above is what I had going on at our house.


And this is how it looked at the restaurant. Brenna and her friend were graduating elementary school, and we took them to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. I hit the craft store looking for something that said “school” to me, and left with the chalk board easels and letters. A little hot glue later, I had what my southern friends would call an appropriate monogram. I added some flowers in the tiny watering cans and headed to the resturant a few minutes early.


The girls were surprised and felt really special. The best part about this, is you get a lot of impact for a little work. The restaurant does all the hard stuff– ironing the table cloth, cleaning the glasses, polishing the silver (ok, that might be over the top, but you get the idea). You do only the fun stuff. Try it next time, you’ll be happy you did.


I love people who get having parties. My sister-in-law Christie is one of those people. She’s goes all out for my niece’s birthday, and I love it! This year it was an ice cream party, complete with a centerpiece made of ice cream sprinkles and tissue paper.


For the sundae bar, cones and cups were dipped in chocolate and sprinkles.


With all the toppings you could want.


The ice cream cone bunting by was adorable. Christie made tissue flowers and glued them in paper cones, and strung them across the window.


In fact, every place she could put a tissue paper cone, she did! Can’t wait for next year.


Since we are one nation obsessed with Mason Jars, it only seemed right we pull out the acrylic and paint with red, white and blue. Except we didn’t have white.


So we made do. They turned out so cute, we didn’t even miss the white paint. But if we did, we could have easily filled the jars with white rice, or cotton balls. To get the star effect, we cut star shapes out of duct tape and stuck to the jar. We painted right over them, and when the paint was dry, we peeled them off. TIP: Expect your star edges to be messy. You can clean them up and create sharp lines with a toothpick.


And if you don’t have bunting, but want that patriotic feeling, here’s a fast and cheap way to get the look. We bought a red, a white and a blue plastic table cloth at a dollar store. We used rubber bands to bundle the ends, and string to tie in the middle and at each end.


Done! Took less than five minutes and we don’t have to worry about it getting wet. For fun, we added white paper stars.  Cheap & easy!


This one from pinterest always got me, and I always wanted to try to put my own spin on it. Finally, it came to me — the ric rac firecracker sunburst. You see it there in the middle?  It’s a supporting player, but adorable nonetheless. Sure, some people invent the internet or electricity. I’ve got the ric rac firecracker sunburst. And you know what? It makes me happy.

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But here’s the thing, I didn’t come up with the ric rac firecracker until we were well into this project, which was inspired by someone else’s idea. But, I think that’s ok. Even if the ric rac firecracker never crossed my mind, we had fun doing this project. Here’s what we did:


Quick ran around the house and found four empty toilet paper tubes. Not hard. No one in the place ever changes them out. The only thing we bought were the red, white and blue patterned fabric squares. We had the skewers, paper, small styrofoam balls, tissue paper, ric rac, glitter and rice. Because those things are staples, people.

The trick to the project is to glue the fabric to the tube, and then hot glue (on low) a styrofoam ball inside the toilet paper tube at the top. This gives your skewer something to attach too, as well as provide a foundation for the “hat,” or top of the firecracker. For the hat, trace a circle on colored paper, cutting one slit towards the center of the circle. Then make a cone with the paper circle and glue on top of firecracker.

To make the genius ric rac firecracker, repeatedly loop your ric rac. When you get about 15 loops on either side, tie in the middle with a knot. Cut all the loops. Hot glue to your skewer.

Now, we went over board and made a red, white and blue base of rice. If you lose your mind like us and want to do this, it’s one cup of dry rice, one teaspoon of vinegar and then add food coloring until you reach the color you like.  Let dry before you use.


I love when people design parties around what they love. A little girl spent years dancing, and her friends and family surpirsed her with a bridal shower at the ballet studio where she danced. Love that idea.


They decorated the studio…


with a heart poster sign in and chocolate bars. Get it? Ballet barre? I knew you got it.


Picking a place with meaning makes the party all the more special, and it can even be less expensive than pricy locations that only rent to parties. Think outside the box!


Want a little zen with your happy hour? Yoga Happy Hour mixes a little wine and a little meditation. Meant for beginners, everyone is welcome. Making new friends is encouraged.


Great way to start off the weekend.


I don’t even have a dog and I want to have one of these parties! My genius friend Pam had a tailgate birthday party for her dog Jack at the local dog park.  For Jack’s 5th birthday, they showed up at the park ready tailgate! Anyone who was there was welcome to join in. How fun is that? I especially love that Jack dressed up for his special day. Nothing’s better then being classically understated.

Next stop, I just saw a flyer advertising cocktails at our local dog park. Really? Canines and Cocktails? Might be time to get a dog.


Okay girls, just figure out a way to make this one early for your daughters. You will reuse it every year and just think how adorable the pictures will be as your little one grows up in her birthday sash. I also expect you to wear it on your own bday!

You can make this as easy or as complicated as you wish. If you don’t sew, find a friend who does. It’s practically no fabric, and no time. Think pre-cut letters from the craft store, some hot glue and some embellishments. It’s years of fun.  Special thank you to Aunt Deb who made this sash — my mom, myself and my daughter have all worn it!  Family heirloom!

Teacher Tip:  These are also a fun way to celebrate birthdays as school….especially since sweets are now outlawed!



Okay, when I made the Birthday Chalk Board for the front door, I mistakenly thought it was reusable. Not so. Apparently, the girls got it in their minds they each would have their own birthday front door. (What have I created?)

What to do for a 17 year old? Wasn’t sure at first. Didn’t want frilly, or childish. Happy to report I got this one right! And, for virtually no money. I had a one dollar frame from a yard sale, bought the M and the 17 at a craft store, painted them with the leftover chalkboard paint from Brenna’s birthday, and through up some paper flowers. I had hoped to up my paper flower game, but ran out of time and went with the old pattern I always use. Happy to report the teenager almost smiled.

I’m loving the new square and rectangle looks on my front door. Let’s see what comes next….


Kids’ tables are practical, but they can be stylish too. (At which point, they’re really for the moms!) Here my friend Kimberley and I challenged ourselves to a kids’ green table. We used recycled brown bags as place mats, with crayons for coloring, and put flowers and herbs in containers kids can chalk on. Best of all, we found another reason to use small milk bottles. So much fun, we’d even sit there!


Red, white and blue always leaves me patriotic, even when it’s gumballs. This one is super simple — colored gumballs in mason jars. I took it a step further by making the pinwheels. You can find the instructions here:

Remember to thank a Veteran!


Kick off your summer with these super cute, patriotic ice cream cones. Just coat the top of your cones with white icing and dip in sprinkles. (jimmies, if your from Philadelphia like me). You can use them as soon as you finish. Enjoy!


Spring is high birthday season at our house. In full disclosure, I did own a birthday wreath that I made and would hang each year for the girls. But that went the way of the burst pipe, with the rest of our belongings. I never really loved it and I just couldn’t bring myself to make a replacement. Enter the Birthday Board. What bored me with the wreath was it’s shape. I wanted something to fill most of the door and be a little different.


I bought this long rectangular poster frame that I knew was the right size/shape for my door.
Short on time, I painted the card board backing with chalk board paint. When it was just dry enough, I wrote a birthday message and added the burlap bow. Even if I had more time, not certain what I would have done different.

Bonus, the guests all left the birthday girl a message!

#birthdaydiy #birthdaygirl #partydiy


So in the rental house, we have limited space and limited glassware, neither of which are ideal for a party. But, for Brenna’s Confirmation, we decided to go for it anyway. One of best things you can do for a party, be it big or small, lavish or on a budget, is to introduce something with meaning. Here, Brenna chose the Confirmation name Dorothy. We researched it and found Dorothy was the Saint of Produce and Cultivation. St. Dorothy is always shown with apples and roses. So, of course, I started envisioning all sorts of complicated arrangements with roses and apples, when my Mom stepped in and simply did this. It worked. It was perfect. And we shared they story of Dorothy and apples and roses with our guests.


And, of course, some of our guests were wonderful enough to bring Brenna flowers. You know our vase situation. Enter the blender. It all worked out just fine.


One of my favorite things about parties are the special little touches. You can’t go wrong with a cupcake cross. And this year we branched out (thank you pinterest) to Bible Fig Newtons. Did you ever think you’d read those words?


But, aren’t they cute? They required fig newtowns, white icing in a baggy to pipe, and red fruit rolls ups. Cut one side of the fig newtown to give the appearance of a book. Then cut a thin slice of fruit roll up to resemble a book mark. I pressed my book mark into the cookie with a tooth pick. This was the trickiest part. Pipe with white icing. My most important tip– have your plate or platter ready to go. These don’t transfer easy. Make sure you use a doily — the fruit roll ups do stick to a bare plate and will pull apart.


Finally, look who chipped in and did all the cupcake icing!


My wonderful friend found love love again, and I am thrilled for her, but I might be even happier that she found Fishtail on the Upper East Side! It’s my new favorite spot for anything. Plus, it’s Celebrity Chef David Burke’s place. No, I’m not related. (But in my mind, all things are possible. Perhaps, my in-laws just haven’t introduced me to him yet? It’s plausible, they’re a quiet bunch and I’ve only been in the family 18 years).


As I mentioned, Fishtail would be awesome for anything. In this case it was a bridal luncheon, and it was divine.


Then again, they had me at the light fixtures. Can you say work of art?


The pieces in me was very, very happy.


You know all those birthday emails you get from different businesses? Well last year I got one from a yoga teacher from where I used to live, offering a free yoga class on my birthday. I wrote back telling him I moved, and asked if knew of any chants that were specific to birthdays.

Ok, did that last part come out of left field? I should tell you that I have been a fan of chanting for some time. It’s gotten me through some of the hardest parts of my life. I don’t think I could be a student of silent meditation, but chanting works for me. So it seemed appropriate to ask for a birthday chant. This is what he sent me:

I am the light of my soul.
I am beautiful.
I am bountiful.
I am bliss.

I was taken back by the chant, mostly because it is in English. I’m not sure what language I’ve been chanting in, but English it is not. In fact, the foreign sounds helped me in the beginning, because chanting in English would somehow make me feel ridiculous. Go figure.

But I looked at the words he sent and they were beautiful. And they were what I needed. So even though it was in English, I gave it a try. It was the first time anyone ever gave me a Birthday Mantra, even if I asked for it.

And this is what I found, after chanting it a few times, it stayed with me. I’d be making dinner, or doing laundry, and this mantra was the tape playing in my head: I am the light of my soul. I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am bliss. In a year, where I was getting older, certainly broke, and often saddened, it was a great message. Much better than some of the negative thoughts it crowded out.

So now it’s my gift to you. Try it out. I swear, it works. (Swearing, not good yogi behavior!) If you are uncertain, try it for three minutes. Find a quiet place, and say the words over and over. You can also find the words set to music on You Tube.

Honestly, one of the best Birthday gifts I ever got.


Don’t you love the perfect gift? Sometimes someone just gets you, and the gift says a million things without being expensive. I love being on the giving and receiving end of perfect gifts. Enter the Birthday Compass.

So last summer I got my friend horribly lost while driving in an area I have lived in for years. One absent minded turn and we were in a scene from a horror movie — driving in dense fog near a deserted canal. Can you say chain saw?

Anyway, we got out alive and Karen just gave me a compass for my birthday. Brought me right back to sheer panic! Still can’t explain how I got us so lost, but finally I have some direction in my life.


When Kristen, you know her from, married my cousin Steve, we couldn’t wait for a new baby in the family! So how did I get caught with no wrapping paper the day of the Baby Shower? Let’s be honest, it’s not the first time it’s happened (if we’re being really honest, I’m lucky I had the gift). But this is the first time I had a great solution to the problem. While I had no paper, I had plenty of ribbon. I took the biggest width I had, and tied a giant bow around that sucker! I thought it turned out adorable.


This is how my no-wrap present fared against the other presents. Not bad. Might even adopt this as my gift look. (And yes, I did use the product tag as a card. Not my proudest moment).  But, there was a bonues…


the Mom to Be got to sport the ribbon on her fantastic bow bonnet. Great job with the bow bonnet Ava!!!

Ziploc prep like to pros

Ziploc prep like the pros

I was delighted when Ziploc included me in their holiday round up of experts. Oh, dear Ziploc you do not know how I honor you daily as I pack those never ending lunches. Thank you for keeping their fritos safe and dry, their chips from spilling all over their backpacks, and jelly from a squished sandwich contained. You may have just found me, but I have loved you forever.

Check out the Ziploc post:

Thanksgiving Prep Like The Pros


Coleen Christian Burke is a holiday decorator for the White House. She recommends taking the family on an autumn hike to pick up seasonal treasures for your Thanksgiving display. “You can collect whatever catches your eye: twigs, berries, pinecones, etc.” she explains. “You can’t help but feel thankful when you bring nature into your home at Thanksgiving.”

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I love fall decorating! All of my fall decorating was down to science. I could get it done in record time, with time left to free-lance and be creative. Oh, how I loved my decorations and the system I had worked out. Then, we moved. Then, our new house flooded and was unlivable. (sorry dear readers who are sick of this old story). At this point all my decorating traditions are wiped out. So I’m starting over. Fall Decorating Phase One is all sweet and nice. Pumpkins, gourds, and happy scarecrows.

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It’s as simple as grouping a bunch of pumpkins together. Done. Now Phase Two Fall Decorating will be more of a challenge. Phase Two: Scary. Check back if you dare.

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One of the best things about the first day of school is the memories you get to create. I absolutely love what my fabulous cousin Staci did chalking the word kindergarten in giant letters down her long driveway. And I think I just found my new favorite stylist in her daughter Carly Jane!! (Carly, I so love your dress and boots- please make me over!)

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It was a such hit, I’m afraid Staci’s going to have to do it every year!

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And it’s even better when the older kids will still pose! Here Carly Jane’s brother David gets ready for 5th grade. If you make it fun, you only have to force them a little bit — at least with my crew.

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What better way to run off to school on the very first day! Love it!

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Of course, my friend Tommy Starling served amazing savories to go with the sweets at his daughter’s Ladybug Birthday Party. These were made with Babybel cheese. He used an edible black marker to make ladybug spots on the wax, added a halved black olive for the head, and finished it off with bean sprouts for antennae. Super cute!!


Next up, he made Ladybug Caprese Bruschetta. Start with crusty bread, add a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf to each. Then Tommy sliced cherry tomatoes in half, coated them with a balsamic glaze, olive oil and black sesame seeds, and placed a tomato on each piece of cheese. Adorable & yummy.

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Can’t wait to see what he does next year! Thanks Tommy!


Who doesn’t want to go to a Ladybug party! My friend Tommy Starling pulled out all the stops for his daughter’s birthday. Sometimes you just have to splurge, like he did on the cupcake tray above, to really make a statement ( and save yourself a ton of time). But don’t worry, Tommy’s got plenty of DIY Ladybug party ideas he’s willing to let us steal.


Before we get to that, I have to gush over Tommy a little more. He’s the author of the amazing children’s book Bob’s New Pants, which is about a curious Lady Bug, who teaches kids about diversity. It’s perfect for ages 3 to 7, and available on Amazon. Who better to give us tips for a Ladybug Party!


I thought this was genius. Tommy simply stuffed fresh raspberries with milk chocolate chips.

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If you don’t want to go for the chocolate chips, you could substitute raisins and still get a Ladybug look. ( I, however, would never mess with the perfection of raspberries and chocolate!)


For his Ladybug pretzels, Tommy dipped pretzels in red and black colored chocolate, applying edible eyes before the chocolate dried. We debated whether these were cute or creepy, and I went for super cute!

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The final sweet touch were the Ladybug giftbags. Tommy filled them with black and red jelly beans, and threw in a random white white jelly bean — just to remind us, like Bob the Ladybug, we are a little different, and special just the same.

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Last year when we were moving, Good-Bye Mugs were one of those projects that really made me feel like I got it right as a mom. Brenna wanted to give her friends a little gift at the end of her going away party. Good Bye mugs were perfect because they allowed Brenna to feel connected to her friends as we prepared to move away. Plus, we love crafting!

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You will need mugs, chalk board paint, a paint brush and painter’s tape.

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If you want, you can rough up the area you plan to paint with sandpaper. It’s not necessary, but the paint will adhere faster. Then tape off the area with painter’s tape, paint and allow to dry over night.

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Even a year later, I still love looking at the little messages she wrote to her friends!

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Who doesn’t love a good gift bag? It’s one of my favorite parts of party planning. I love giving them and getting them. I don’t even want to admit how much time I like to spend on them. Last weekend, my brother Dave came up with the most amazing gift bag, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even trying. At the end of my niece’s birthday party, he sent us all into his garden with brown paper bags. The pic. above is only part of our haul!

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All the kids happily went into the garden to see what they could find, including my picky, sometimes vegan, teen.

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What could be better than a plain, brown grocery bag that you get to fill with fresh vegetables?


How about a jar of homemade sauce? I swear, he’s not a show off. He just grew up to be some type of new age farmer. Lucky us.
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The Red Barn in Hammonton, NJ is one of my favorite places to stop on the way to the Jersey Shore. I love looking at these pies as much as eating them!

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The presentation is so amazing, you actually feel guilty if you don’t eat them. Which is why I ate two myself this summer. Wish I had the will power of my kids who had a couple of pieces and were done.

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What’s better on a sleepy summer Saturday than a Farmers’ Market? I was so lucky to get there when the little flower ladies were setting up (actually they got lost and I gave them directions!), because I’m sure their beautiful flowers sold out! $5.00 a bunch, they were the deal of the weekend.

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Life is funny! When we lived close to New York City, we had a huge farmers’ market practically in our back yard. Ironically, when we moved to the “country” we had none. So I was super excited when some awesome volunteers got together to open one right around the corner from us.

If you can believe it, the flowers were more amazing in person!

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Sometimes it just isn’t practical to have a party at your house. It’s just easier and more convenient for everyone to meet at a restaurant. That’s what happened when my friend Karen was moving. We met at a local restaurant, but my friend Susann made it so much nicer by bringing flowers in a bud vase for the table. We took away the generic flowers that were on every table, and replaced them with these. Bonus- when lunch was over the guest of honor took them home. It was a great, inexpensive gesture that made our party seem more special!

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It’s always fun to present something just a little bit differently. A plain plate of cookies was made more special with a few extra steps. I simply made a couple star cookies with a cookie cutter, put them on skewers and placed in a bud vase. The cookies were simple, the platter was simple (green plastic!), but the bud vase with stars made the whole thing just a little bit wonderful!

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It’s always great to make a new friend — especially when she tells you her favorite summer drink. Even better when the recipe is simple. Hence, the Mrs. Weissenberger.

mrs wasenburg

You only need three ingredients: fresh peaches, frozen lemonade and vodka. Grab your blender, throw in some ice, add the frozen lemonade, then fill the empty lemonade container with vodka (the ratio of lemonade to vodka is 1:1). Add peaches with skin.

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Blend. Drink. Repeat. Best served on a hot day, by the pool.

july 4 nails

Brenna upped the patriotic festivities when she painted her nails in honor of the Fourth of July. Stay tuned for more amazing nail creations from Brenna.

Happy 4th!

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Take an American favorite, the ice cream cone, and bring it to a whole new level. All you need are ice cream cones, vanilla icing, and red, white & blue sprinkles. Spread icing on the end of your cone, and roll in sprinkles. That easy you have a fun & fancy desert guaranteed to make everyone smile.

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Okay, even my summer appetizers look Christmas, without trying I promise! I found this parmesan and spinach focaccia in the bakery section of my local grocery store, and at $4.50 it was too amazing too pass up.

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Pretty on it’s own, I dressed it up with a few fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes. I served it with some olive oil for dipping. That easy I had a great way to start off the night.

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This paper pin wheel centerpiece is super fun and super easy to make. You will need square scrapbooking paper in patriotic colors (one sheet per pin wheel), pencils, thumb tacks, mason jars, and red, white and blue gumballs.

Make a diagonal cut at each corner of the paper, going towards the center. After all four cuts, your paper will appear to have four petals. Fold the tip of each petal to the center of the paper. Once all four tips are folded into the center, push your thumb tack through each tip and into the pencil’s eraser. Done!

Fill your mason jar with large gumballs, and place your pinwheel in the jar. Repeat. This is a centerpiece kids of all ages love! Check out my video if you want to see exactly how I did it.

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I make so many mistakes buying wines I don’t like (maybe I should stop choosing them based on the design of their label!), that when I hit on one I really like, it’s like I’ve really accomplished something. My current favorite find is Dog Point from New Zealand. The label’s not bad either. Be sure to serve it in an adorable polka dot glass for maximum pleasure!

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If I cursed, I might be cursing about now. How did my daughter get to be 16? I love and cherish her….but 16, are you kidding? And what happened? We somehow forgot to save for college, which is now just around the corner. And apologies about not being able to throw that big debutante ball! (which you know I am only half kidding about. I would really, really like to go to a debutante ball starring my feminist, sometimes goth, sixteen year old).

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Still, 16 calls for cake. As many layers as you can possibly get. Throw in some flowers — they’re all edible, right?

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One of my favorite bookstores, Watchung Booksellers in Montclair NJ, was the first to host my sister Maureen’s new book, The Cocktail Club. Unexpectedly, we both showed up in orange, and after a few cocktails, people started teasing that we were the style sisters. (A few nights later, I showed up at a second book signing to help her, and we were both wearing blue!) More on orange in future posts.

Check out the cherry tomatoes in the olive tray.  The try is lined with vodka!

Check out the cherry tomatoes in the olive tray. The tray is lined with vodka!

One of the easiest appetizers from the book, and a crowd pleaser, are cherry tomatoes resting in vodka. Using a toothpick, spear your tomato, roll it in coarse salt, and enjoy! You can pick up your copy of The Cocktail Club at any bookstore or on Amazon.


The Cocktail Club is here! My wonderful sister Maureen Petrosky wrote this fabulous book just to make our lives more fun!!!!

The launch party for the press was amazing. It was held at the Brooklyn Nite Hawk Theater (hipster heaven). The New York Times, The Food Network, Lucky Magazine and Family Circle all came to Brooklyn to wish her well.

Maureen (left) with The New York Times reporter!

Maureen (left) with The New York Times reporter!

The New York Times even tweeted that Maureen was the only author they ever knew to make her own appetizers for her book launch! The Cocktail Club can be pre-ordered on Amazon now, and comes out May 13. Check back for a chance to win your own copy! Cheers!

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My son J. made his Confirmation this year, and we had a party to celebrate. (He’s 13). When it’s a special occasion, I try to think of ways the kids can participate in getting ready for the party. A favorite is having them help with the “take home” gift bag each guest is given. J. loves chocolate bark, so that was the winner. We put the bark in cellophane bags ( read: I made it), and J. personalized the tags by writing “Thank You” on each one. Did he love it? Let’s say he endured it!

But for me, it served many purposes:
1) It was a special party for J. I wanted him to see it required special effort.
2) I wanted to J. to realize his guests were going to a lot of trouble to come to his party.
3) J.’s job at the end of the party, was to give each guest a party favor when they were leaving. This forced him to look each guest/adult in the eye and personally say “Thank You.”
4) The final benefit was to me. The bark looked great displayed in a big bowl, and added to the party décor. I love decorating for a party.

I know what your thinking, is she done torturing her kid yet? The answer is…No! He still has to write “Thank Yous.” All this was not appropriate when he was younger, but it is appropriate at 13.

Tip – I learned the hard way, don’t cash the checks until the Thank Yous are done. We usually let our kids keep some part of the gift money they receive for special occasions. Getting to spend that money is an incentive to write those notes. Plus, having all those addresses right on the check is a real time saver.

It’s been three weeks…..we’re almost done.

If you want an easy recipe for chocolate bark, check out my ehow video. It’s not just for Christmas!

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If you learn nothing else reading this blog, remember you must have bubbly on your birthday. This year I was lucky enough to be served in a glass that had my “B” monogram — it had nothing to do with the fact the restaurant’s name started with a B.

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Life Lesson not to be messed with: try on bathing suit in February. Yes, February. That’s when you still have enough time to maybe get it together for the summer. Try to stick to this rule. That’s when the bathing suits first hit the store racks, so you have more options. It is also the only time you are allowed to buy a bathing suit that is tight.

I bought a new bathing suit in February this year, and actually wore it in February! For the first time in forever, I went on a vacation with friends. Requirements for a beach body in February, are far less stringent in my book. It’s like a dress rehearsal. Everyone should realize you are not quite ready for the main show. Hence, the picture in the cover-up. I know what I need to do. Check back in summer to see if I can actually do it. WARNING: high likelihood of another cover-up shot.

Bar carts are all the rage this year, but you can still set up for cocktails if you don’t have one. I found these vintage glasses at a yard sale, and they were just too cute to keep in the cabinet. I simply set them up as part of my Christmas décor. I found a spot on my counter, and added my old standby– glass beads. That easy, I was in the Christmas spirit and ready for drinks if friends stopped by. (okay, they didn’t –but I was ready!)

Check out my ehow appearance if you want more details!


I love decorating for sports themed parties with actual sports equipment. In this case, I made an easy centerpiece with a basketball and a glass pedestal vase. It’s always stunning to mix materials that you don’t normally put together. I filled the vase with curled ribbon in our team colors, added a few green leaves, and placed my basketball on top. That fast I was done, and the basketball centerpieces looked fabulous. (Of course!)

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I’ve had ties to Philadelphia my whole life, but never made it to a Mummer’s Parade. What a great way to kick off 2014 –doing something brand new. The parade was amazing…what was I waiting for?

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When it comes to New Year’s Eve, I’m usually pretty low key. But this year, we joined all the fun and went fancy! Check out how amazing the ballroom looked:

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Jerry and I even stayed up past midnight! Way to welcome 2014! Happy New Year!

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The last two Christmas’ I have had the honor of helping to decorate the Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Mansion. This year I was on flower duty! 33 original arrangements for the gala that kicked off the Christmas season.

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The First Lady of Pennsylvania, Susan Corbett, chose some amazing peonies she wanted to be the star of the arrangements. After I gave each one a fresh cut, I took the end of my cutters and gently pushed down on the end of the stem, essentially breaking it. HOT TIP: Breaking the bottom of the stem gets water to the flower faster and helps it to live longer. Then, the flowers went back in their buckets until I was ready for them.

The best thing about the PA Governor’s Mansion are the beautiful gardens. Even in December, they have all sorts of greens to clip. A short trip to the garden and I had all the greens I needed. HOT TIP: For winter arrangements chose several different varieties of greens to make your arrangements more visually interesting.

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When making more than one arrangement to be used at the same event, let your creativity go when making the first one. Then when you have a look you like, re-create. Somtimes this is not so easy! If your arrangement is not looking right from the start, or goes astray, start over. Trust me, it’s easier and faster in the long run. HOT TIP: Don’t fight your flowers and greens. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s faster to pull it all out and start over. Trust me, you’ll end up doing it anyway. Cut your losses, and you’ll be surprised how fast it all comes together.

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