Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mother's Day Tea Centerpiece

A gorgeous arrangement featuring a variety of colorful flowers displayed in decorative tea tins. {via Martha Stewart}

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Red Velvet Peppermint Cake...Yum!

I made this cake for our family progressive dinner, and it was so yummy!

Red Velvet Peppermint Cake

Yield: 1 (3-layer) cake

* 1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
* 3 egg whites
* 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix*
* 1/2 cup buttermilk
* 1 large egg
* 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
* 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
* Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
* Garnishes: Holiday Trees, 6 (5-inch) red and white peppermint candy canes, crushed; 12 (5-inch) green candy canes, broken; 12 round peppermint candies


Beat first 4 ingredients according to cake mix package directions.

Beat yellow cake mix and next 6 ingredients according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Swirl batter gently with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

Spread Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (Cake may be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.) Garnish, if desired. Serve within 2 hours.

*1 3/4 cups yellow cake mix may be substituted

NOTE: For testing purposes only, we used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe White Cake Mix, Jiffy Golden Yellow Cake Mix, and McCormick Red Food Color.

If cake is frozen, thaw completely before garnishing to prevent crushed candy from running. Do not refrigerate after garnishing.

Peppermint Frosting ~

Yield: about 5 cups

* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
* 1 (2-pound) package powdered sugar
* 2 teaspoons peppermint extract*


Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. Add extract, beating until blended.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract may be substitute

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

9 Great Christmas Entertaining Ideas While Staying on a Budget

by Marley Majcher – (a.k.a. The Party Goddess)

1. Think like a Beatle.
Or at least his wife. Currently Yoko Ono has a “Wish Tree” project installed in cities around the world because when she was a child in Japan she used to write wishes for the coming year and leave them in the temple. Why not create your own wish tree? Cut out squares of paper and pre-string them. Invite guests to write their wishes for the new year on a card and place them on your tree (or in a vase). Then, when the holidays are over, save the cards and put them in a scrap book to whip out the following winter.

2. Get personal.
Place card holders should be fun and festive enough to glam up the table while also letting guests know where they will be sitting (think individual snowflakes, ornaments or even mini evergreens tied with beautiful ribbon scraps and each person’s name).

3. Collect it yourself.
Take a nature walk and pick up fallen branches, evergreens and pinecones. Take interesting branches and evergreens and “flock” them using the store bought canned stuff or spray paint pinecones silver. Don’t forget to use spray adhesive to add a little extra glittery fascination. Create a centerpiece or buffet decor with what you found and adorned.

4. Repurpose what you’ve got.
Tired of your old holiday gear? Why not just switch it with a neighbor. You deliver two boxes of ornaments or supplies to them and they deliver two boxes to you. That way the house will feel totally festive and no one has spent a cent!

5. Or just reorganize your manpower.
Don’t feel like switching with a friend? Then why not simulate your own version of Trading Spaces? Pull out all of your usual holiday decorations and have a few close friends or family members decorate your place using your own stuff (then of course you do the same for them!) Tuck things in unexpected places like the bathroom windowsill or even the counter of the master bath. You’re guaranteed not to get stuck in your same old holiday decorating rut.

6. Spell it out.
Create unique and memorable place cards for your guests by using seasonally inspired “Thank You/Gratitude” cards. The hostess (or family members or dinner guests) should jot down on the card why they are thankful for that person. Place the card in its envelope (the envelope can also be seasonally decorated if you enjoy creating paper crafts) and with a calligraphy pen (color coordinated with the predominate color from your holiday decorating palette or gold), write their name and place the gratitude card at their assigned seat.

7. Be healthy, drink tea!
Tea has gotten a big boost in the media lately for its healthy properties, but it’s also easy to make and a really inexpensive addition to your bar menu. Get creative with options like Sweet Tea with Rum and Funky Tea-tini’s that will get your buzz on and keep you cancer free (well sort of.)

8. Back to the basics.
The really basic, like 1950’s basics. No one believes me but casseroles are fabulous. They are so inexpensive to make, can use leftover ingredients, freeze well and will KNOCK YOUR GUESTS SOCKS OFF. Guaranteed!

9. Create edible centerpieces.
Individual sweets on a pedestal in the middle of each table double as d├ęcor and dessert. Example: Picture candy apples dipped in caramel or chocolate and then individually wrapped in cello with beautiful ribbon and nested among evergreen sprigs. Not only will the centerpieces look festive and different, guests can either eat their candy apples for dessert or take them home as favors at the end of the party.


More info on Marley:
Leading Entertainment Expert, Entrepreneur, TV Personality, Coach, Author and Sought After Speaker, Marley Majcher is CEO of The Party Goddess! and publisher of the ezine, “How To Be A Party Goddess.” If you are ready to take your career or business to the next level, make more money and just be happier with your work life, then get your free tips on how to be a rockin’ event planner at

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday America!

There is just something about the 4th of July that makes me so excited! I'm not sure if it's the thrill of seeing how many different things I can do with the colors red, white, and blue, or maybe it's the thought of BBQing with friends, the smell of burgers on the grill, sticky watermelon faces, or my hubby buying hundreds of dollars of fireworks, and praying he doesn't set himself, the kids, or anything else on fire. :) Whatever the reason may be...I love celebrating the 4th of July!

Most of the decorations for this holiday are outside, and for the most part...SIMPLE!

These pictures were from a 4th of July table at our Southern Living at HOME convention a few years ago. They simply used different fabrics for the tablecloths, and then used 3 Cinnibar Vases, and tiered the flowers with blue agapanthas, red roses, and white posies. Add some flags, and it's a perfect centerpiece!

Want to designate an area for drinks or food? Use your drink buckets as stands, and insert a PVC pipe, tie ballons together and it makes a cute canopy!
And don't is always a great decoration!

I loved this simple idea from Fill different containers with sand, and add fun pom-poms attached to skewers for a fun sparkler effect!

Also using layered colored sand makes a fun statement, and if you are not a perfectionist...a great thing for kids to help with!
Happy Birthday AMERICA!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mower Fathers Day Ideas!

These sweet lawn mower cupcakes are a cut-above choice for Father's Day.

Chocolate-frosted cupcakes
Coconut, flaked
Green food coloring
Hershey's Nuggets
Black licorice laces

1. For each cupcake, mix a handful of flaked coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Press a chocolate-frosted cupcake into the coconut to cover.
2. The mower is made with a dark chocolate Hershey's Nuggets body, brown M&M's wheels, and a red M&M's engine, held in place with dabs of frosting.
3. Shape the handle from a piece of black licorice lace, then insert the ends into the cupcake.
It will leave him wanting MOWER! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Graduation Caps

These are so cute!!! By using Reeses Peanut butter cups, Godiva or Andes mints, and then sour straws for the sweet is that!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creating an Outdoor Room

With more and more people staying home these days, dining in has become extremely popular.
Most of us in California and other warm states can comfortably eat outdoors March through the end of September. Why not maximize your space by creating an outdoor room? You'll save money and won't have to worry about overstaying your welcome at a restaurant with time constraints.

The first step is to clean your patio. Power wash if you need to. Next, visit Target for a neutral-colored outdoor rug. This will create the illusion of another room. Imagine having another family room! I found beautiful patio furniture last year on sale at Target. The base is a chocolate-brown wrought iron and the cushions are a peppery terra cotta. I picked up a few inexpensive cushions in fun accent colors to complete the look. Add some pizazz with glimmering hanging lanterns.

Now, I did keep my tried-and-true (ugly and outdated) outdoor table. I gave it a quick makeover with a pretty tablecloth. In the center of the table, I used a wrought iron round tray. Inside I placed a pretty flower pot and $6.99 gorgeous hot orange flowers from Trader Joe's.
Stunning hanging baskets - Wisteria Planters with Hangers from Southern Living at Home - tied everything together. I attached three to my overhang. Because they are high, I used red faux geraniums from Joanne's ($9.99 each). I am a stickler about faux flowers - they have to look real. There's nothing worse than cheap, plastic flowers. However, these ones really do look real and come in baskets of red and white.

To complete your look, add artwork outside. I picked up a city-chic painting of the Eiffel Tower last summer at Target. Last week I found a black, wrought iron stand at Ross for Less for just $19.99. When guests come to visit, I place the painting on the stand and crank up my favorite Parisian cafe CD.

See? It doesn't have to expensive. A few quick tricks will help you to save money, dine in, relax and enjoy your favorite people just a little bit more.

written by Antonia Ehlers
SF Budget Decorating Exhaminer, fellow SLAH sister, and friend!