Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas!

We had a fabulous Holiday Open House last night.  A special thank you to all of our customers who stopped by to shop and share in the holiday cheer!  We were especially excited about the money we raised from 6-8 that benefitted the Minnie Pearl Foundation here in Nashville.  What a great excuse to shop!

Lulu, our famous girl, gets dazzled for the holidays in a fur-trimmed dress!

Jason Parker Counce-designed snowmen and elves!  Doesn't he do fabulous work!

When I was desinging the dessert/candy buffet, I went with a Red and White theme, complete with two topiary peppermint trees and a peppermint ball as the center of our petit four display.
Here's the candy/dessert buffet menu:

  • Santa Baby Cakes
  • Mini Eggnog Cupcakes
  • Christmas Petit Fours
  • White Chocolate Pretzel Rods
  • Dark Chocolate Pretzel Rods
  • Naughty and Nice Gingerbread Cookies
  • Cocoa Tassies with Peppermint Cream Icing
  • White Chocolate Cherry Blondies
  • Holiday M&Ms
  • Chocolate Covered Pecans
  • O'Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Some photos from the holiday candy buffet I designed for the night.

(Anna adding the petit fours before guests arrive)

A little hard to tell with this picture, but this is the "Nice" set of gingerbread cookies.  "Nice" is written in metallic below this frame.

This is the "naughty" side of the gingerbread cookies.  As you can see, someone's been a little "naughty" and already gotten into the cookies!

Naughty and Nice side-by-side

Anna and I in front of the finished display, waiting for our customers to arrive.

Anna, Lamar with Just in Time Services (the best bartender around) and Stephanie

Anna posing with Lulu (check out Anna's boots!)

Anna, Ashley from Ashley's Bride Guide, and Stephanie

Ashley from Ashley's Bride Guide and Hillary from Brocade Design Arts

Sarah, (store manager and our resident Stationery Expert), Anna and Maggie Scarlata

Okay, so we live in Music City and we had to showcase these boots again!

The You're Invited Girls
Lori, Ashley, Stephanie, Anna, Sarah and Yvonne

Thanks again for making our holiday open house such a success!

Happy Holidays (and Happy Thanksgiving)!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Desserts

So now that your Thanksgiving Table is complete with centerpieces and place settings, now it's off to create a fabulous Thanksgiving Day dessert table.  What a great excuse to use some fun serving pieces (mix and match) as well as try several dessert options.  Your guests will thank you!

Thanksgiving Dessert Table 
as seen on
This holiday, expand your entertaining space and move part of the party out of the dining room.
1. Rethink your surfaces. Clear a side table or desktop in another room to create a cocktail bar or dessert station.
2. Vary the height and size of your serving pieces. Incorporate footed compotes, trifle bowls, cake stands, and stacks of dessert plates to add dimension and visual interest to your entertaining surface.
3. Corral your ice bucket, glassware, and libations on a tray that can be easily removed when coffee and tea are served.
4. Mix and match your favorite china and glassware collections at the dessert station. Don't worry about continuing the theme you create on your main table.

One of my all-time favorite Pumpkin recipes (that's perfect for Thanksgiving) is this one from Libby's.  It is a huge hit at my Thanksgiving meals, and combines two delicious ingredients-pumpkin and cream cheese.  Plus, it's a beautiful presentation when you slice into the roll.
LIBBY'S® Pumpkin Roll

Estimated Times:

Preparation - 45 min | Cooking - 13 min | Cooling Time - 1 hrs refrigerating | Yields - 10
Dazzle family and friends with Libby's® Pumpkin Roll; moist and creamy, with a tantalizing aroma and beautiful presentation.

  • CAKE
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)
 oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

 cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Did I mention before that I love pumpkin?  Here's a Paula Deen recipe that is always gone at Thanksgiving as soon as I serve it.  (Make sure to check out the variations she recommends at the end of the recipe for other occasions).  Also, if your grocery store stocks the Vanilla Cool Whip at the holidays, it's great paired with this cake and sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon!

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
50 min
6 to 8 servings



  • 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For those of you who aren't into baking, but need a great, easy dessert for Thanksgiving this recipe is for you!  Your guests are going to think you slaved for hours.  It can be our little secret!  
I attended a Southern Living Cooking School years ago, and I think this recipe came from that event.  
Praline Apple Pie (super easy)
(Photo courtesy of Taste of Home)

1 frozen Mrs. Smith's Special Recipe Deep Dish Apple Pie
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Open hole in top of pie and cut 4 to 6 additional slits. Bake pie on baking sheet covered with foil, at 375 for 1 hour 20 minutes. Shield pie with foil after 1 hour of cooking. Cool pie about 1 hour.
Bring butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and confectioners sugar until smooth. Pour slowly over pie; spread to cover. Top with pecans.

Note: This makes more praline sauce than can really fit on top of pie, so have extra pecans          ready to stir in left over sauce, and waxed paper, to quickly make some pralines. You'd hate to waste such a decadent treat!

Happy Baking!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Place Settings

Thanksgiving Place Settings

Acorns and leaves in brown, crimson and gold make for an easy Thanksgiving placesetting from

Having children at your Thanksgiving meal? This is the perfect tablescape for them. Brown craft paper, crayons, and pears in pots make them feel "grown up" but leave easy clean-up for the adults!

From is this easy idea for a quick place setting. Take ordinary leaves from your backyard and press between two glass plates.

As a mom with two little children, I'm always looking for new traditions to start. I've seen this in a few publications this year, and I plan on buying my own special tablecloth for us to write on and date at each holiday. Here's the instructions online:
Homeade Blessings Tablecloth-from

Homemade Thanksgiving Tablecloth

Encourage your kids to actually write on the table!
Try this simple Thanksgiving dinner tradition: Buy a light-colored tablecloth and have friends and family write what they are grateful for on it. Break it out year after year to create a priceless piece of family memorabilia.

A plain, light-colored table cloth: Preferably cotton (Fabric pen may not work as well on synthetic fibers.)

Multi-colored fabric pens: You'll want to use something washable so you can preserve the memories, but still get the gravy stains out!

Grateful family members and guests

Buy a white or light-colored tablecloth.

Pick up some colorful fabric pens at your local craft store.

On Thanksgiving, set the table with your new tablecloth and place a marker at each person's place setting. Remember to supervise babies and toddlers, otherwise you're sure to end up with a colorful kid!

At dinner, have every family member and guest find a spot on the tablecloth and write down something they are grateful for. A grownup can wield the pen for the little ones, even those who haven't yet learned to talk!

If you feel like sharing, go around the room and have everyone read aloud what they wrote.

After dinner, simply toss the tablecloth in the wash and store it for next year.

Break it out year after year. Your family will love looking back at the year Dad was grateful that the Sox won the World Series. (It was a miracle!)

You can also make a Memory Tablecloth to break out during the winter holidays. Simply have your family write down a favorite memory from the proceeding year rather than something they are thankful for.

Here are 2 easy ideas from
On the left, they've taken a simple single leaf and with a metallic pen wrote each guest's initials.  I love the use of the leaves, and how it contrasts with the gold pen and the chocolate brown napkin.

Down below, a linen napkin, some sprigs of fresh herbs and a simple cardstock showcasing the guest's name makes for a very "green" place setting.

Happy Tablescaping! (Is that a word??)