Thursday, February 17, 2011

To make Entertaining easier... Come up with a Theme!

It's Thursday... so that means Today's post will be about

The Art of Entertaining.

Almost everyone likes to throw a Party now and then. Some more than others, but that's a whole other topic... SO, once you decide that you want to celebrate something, whether it be a birthday, dinner party, holiday or just because- then it's time to make a plan and come up with a "To-Do" list. You need this to stay organized and this helps your party to be successful. (Check out my post on "Planning for a Successful Party" for more details.)

 The Best Parties are Successful 
because they have a THEME!
You can get this napkin as well as
other party supplies from:

A Theme gives your party much more of a WOW factor with your guests. It doesn't matter how old the guests are, but a theme gets everyone excited and anticipating your party. You are more likely to have more "Yes" responses if you send out your invite by snail mail, an Evite over the internet or even Facebook event notice (if you want a BIG party-LOL) to let your friends, family & others know about the party you are having. Let me spell it out for you...

Sample One: 
You are cordially invited to my house on Friday, February 18 for a casual dinner. We hope you can attend.

Sample Two:
Hola! Pam & Brian are hosting a Mexican Fiesta with Margarita Madness this Friday, February 18. We'd love for you to come party with us.

Which party sounds like it will be more fun to you? 
Well, I hope you answered Sample Two! 
This photo is from

A Theme not only gets your guests excited, 
but it gets you, the host inspired as well. 
The possibilities are endless, a lot depends on what you want to celebrate. At the bottom of this post I will list some themes, but I also would love to hear from you. Lets grow this idea list of Party Themes. I'll return and post more if you make a comment adding your theme idea to my list in a red color.

If you are having a hard time coming up with what you think is a great theme, then take a quick run to your local party supply store, or better yet "Google" Party Themes. You will receive some interesting and fabulous ideas from the web sites that appear.
Now I just said, go to the party supply store; but unless you love what they are have and it's a decent price, go home and make most of your own theme invitations & decorations. 
Get inspired! With a Theme,you can create 
your own way cooler, unique, fun, 
creative and less expensive decorations.
The "go ahead and buy it rule" is if you are short on time, have the money to spend or don't think that you can come up with anything better than what you see at the store. It's really ok to buy party supplies, but my blog here is to inspire you and help you get more creative. I like to buy things when they are really cute, pretty or unusual, of quality and the price is right,( but I'm also really picky and a perfectionist!) I love being creative and make my own creations. 


Kids' Parties:
Alice in Wonderland
Dress Up Time
Harry Potter Hogwarts
Home on the Range Cowboy 
Let's be a Princess Party
Let the Force be with You!
Pirates of the Caribbean 
Pretty in PInk
Tea Party
Toy Story

Make your own mask just like these!
Love this photo from

Casual Get-togethers:
Casino Royale
Chocolate Dreams
Football Team (Pittsburgh Steelers) Party
Girls Night Out
Ghouls-Girls Night Out
Sandals & Sangria
Halloween Monster Mash
Kiss me I'm Irish!
Love My Italiano Pasta NightMexican Fiesta
Margarita Madness
Mardi Gras Party time
Red,WhIte & Blue Fourth of July
Super Bowl 
Sandals and Sangria
Wine and Cheese

So why not have a party? Everyone loves a get together. 
Use my tips to get started and have fun! Cheers!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Glass Hurricanes

It's Wednesday- Time to talk about Interiors!
When it comes to designing what goes in your Interior 
or the inside of your home, 
Today, I want to talk about using Glass Hurricanes. Glass is a nice medium to use to display just about anything that you want. It's great to because if you invest in some great Hurricanes or large vases, it is easy to use them all the time but to change them up with the Season, Holiday or just because you want to see something different. I think I said on an earlier post that you only need to get one item to transform your room. A Hurricane would be one of my suggestions. The height gives you the advantage to make a beautiful display and showcase flowers, candles or something as pretty as Potpourri.It's the perfect decorator's sweet item because they are an interior design "work horse" as: 

"Glass contains, but yet reveals."

Look at the pictures and you can see how versatile and so many great uses you can have with  one great glass container. Here are some of pictures showing the details of what I used in my Mantle article. You can buy hurricanes just about anywhere, I would suggest that you make sure when you buy one that they are a heavier glass. If it's too thin, being a larger object, they tend to break easier. I am showcasing a just a couple of our Willow House Hurricanes as that's what I have at my home and what I've made my displays with. We have even more in our current catalog, they are all very pretty.


The Coronado Stone Pedestal
The Coronado Stone Pedestal  is shown here with the WH Mediterranean Sage Bowl and a ceramic starfish tea light holder. Multi colored sea glass is used in the glass base and a white pillar candle placed on top. The colors and textures of all of the arrangement together leaves you with the impression of the sea. YOu can find it on page 15 of our Spring WH catalog.
This is our newest Hurricane that we currently offer in our Willow House line. I really love the Coronado Stone Pedestal because it is a bit different than the usual glass hurricane. It has a glass body, but the base is almost as big as the body and it is made out of stone with a detailed design and a white washed finish. If you think the picture is pretty, 
you should see it in person.

 The Hemingway Hurricane
We have had this product for awhile and there's a good reason why! This pretty items is just so versatile, you can use it for almost anything. Look at a couple of pictures and I hope that it helps inspire you to get a little creative too!
By the way, I've got more ideas to share about what you can do with these lovelies. But I'm going to save it for another post.
 I'll give you some more ideas too.
This first Hemingway photo shows how a red pillar candle and
matching potpourri can work from Christmas time through  Valentines Day. 
Find this on page 42 of our WH Catalog
Version Two Hemingway makes us think Spring with Sea Glass
and lovely soft yellow pillar candle.  You could also tie a ribbon
around the middle of this or at the bottom to give it even more detail.

Our third view makes a spectacular display with Winter branches
and potpourri on the bottom to give a base to the display
The Galveston Hurricane
I love our Willow House Galveston Footed Hurricanes.
The ironwork gives these just that extra touch of style.
We carry two sizes & they're on page 37 of our 
WH Catalog
Here are just a few of the many ideas of what you could do with a Hurricane.
If you use Potpourri, I love the Yankee Candle brand, as they have very interesting lovely scents as well as pretty objects inside of there different flavors. I love Pier One for Pillar Candles, they are very nice quality candles and although you may pay a bit more than if you go to the local grocery+ convenience store, they usually go on sale and they are really nice and last a long time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Inspiration Monday!

from Pam's other blog: Design Spark!

Monday is a great day to get inspired. I think that reading a great quote from someone is the perfect way to get inspired. 

For today, I have chosen two quotes from Oprah Winfrey.  Her life is truly inspirational, when you know her back story. I love the fact that she tries to help so many others. I know my goal for this week is to help someone not expecting it, but needing it to help make the world a gentler place this week. 

"I believe that everyone is the keeper of a dream - and by tuning into one another's secret hopes, we can become better friends..."

Oprah Winfrey

I am dedicating this weeks post to Paul Bieszczad. 
This week is going to be a little tough- but I know I can do it- my family needs me to be strong for them. It is hard when someone leaves this world unexpectedly. God Bless Uncle Paul, you've got your Angel WIngs. Bless you for your passion & feistiness! He was one of the first people in my life that I observed as a child who showed me how amazing your life could be when you love someone and live your life with passion. I was a personal witness to his and my Aunt Kathy's love story.Thank you for becoming a part of my family. I'll even say "Go Bucks!" in his honor (which is hard for a MSU Sparty fan to do), Uncle Paul was one of the biggest Ohio State Buckeye fans I know. He was not afraid to show it.  We will miss you so. xoxo

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Time for a Change

-Happy February! 
Now that 2011 has been here for a month, 
for February the motto should be
It's time for a Change! View this as a good thing :) 
Take a good look around your home and 
figure out what needs to change.
I've done it, now YOU should do the same. Are you asking: I like what I have, why would I want to change it? Also, where is all this money going to come from to make these changes? Let me tell you that, to answer the first question: 
What to change? It doesn't take much to make an impact on a room. 
You do NOT have to change every single thing in your room or spend a ton of money to make an impact on your home decor. It can be as simple as: 
  • Giving your room a new coat of paint.
  • Changing up a centerpiece on a coffee table.
  • The kitchen table with a new item to give you an updated style. 
  • Maybe your mantle needs a new focus. 
So remember one nice new something for your home can make your room feel brand new and give you a much needed boost as well.
This is the Viridian Oval Container one of Willow House's brand new products.
imagine this as a centerpiece on your coffee table. To change it up, why put it in your kitchen
 filled with green apples adding a little bit of color to your winter while making a
nice healthy snack center for the family.
Why do you want to change it? Well, if you change everything all at once, it can be costly and who has the money to do that as well as the time and energy?! 

If you find a new style that you like, make a list and prioritize what is most important. Then buy a little at a time as it makes it affordable to make changes. If you don't take an honest look at least once a year, then suddenly you may find your home a little faded and jaded. Remember just because Aunt Milly gave you that vase, it doesn't mean you need to keep it for 20 years. If you feel guilty about getting rid of it, then give it away to someone that admires it. They will love it and so will you!

-Before you get something new, make sure that you buy something where you can find more than one way of using it. 
-Don't spend the money on something that you will tuck away in your closet for 8 or 9 months out of the year.
-Love products that are not only beautiful but useful. 
-Look at qualityIf you do not by something that is well made, it will fall apart before you are ready to change it up and when that happens you will be sad. Believe me, I have learned this the hard way. So it is worth it, to spend a little more.

Have an great day! 

Game Day Appetizers Score Extra Points! Crab is KING!

It seems that it's time again to post some appetizer recipes.  Thursday is the day I've  scheduled to pass along some great recipes.This week is Yummy! (Good thing we don't have a calorie count! Whipping cream & half & half are delicious!)This is a re-write of a post from my original blog, but definitely worth taking a look at again in honor of Super Bowl Weekend.
I have to say that I LOVE appetizers. In fact sometimes, I would rather eat appetizers than a real meal. I have come to the realization that it is because you can just get so creative with them. Several types are usually required when entertaining. The ingredients are never boring, and spices are fun and well,"Sparky" and SPICY!!! It can be inspiring to create and design an appetizer platter. Food can be a fabulous part of the edible and memorable "decorations" for a party as well.
In honor of Super Bowl Sunday- I thought I would share a couple of Appetizer recipes that I have collected over the years. My Mom Sharon called me over the holidays and asked me to give her that Yummy Hot crab appetizer recipe that I made last year for them. I had to pause for a moment because I actually could not remember which one that she was talking about. But this gave me the chance to go through some of the great recipes and so when I made a copy of them for her, I thought that I would share them with you too. If you can't make them all for the game, then try to make at least one over the weekend. ENJOY!
Instead of a Chili Recipe, I am posting my friend Claudia's Cream of Crab Bisque-Recipe. Now, if you decide to make this recipe for this weekend, make sure that you do not waste this golden "melt in your mouth" gourmet recipe serving this soup to those who do not appreciate seafood delicacies. It's way better than Campbell's but it's a bit pricey- just make sure to enjoy every drop!

Claudia's Cream of Crab Soup

2 Lbs Jumbo Lump Crabmeat (only break apart some of the meat)
1 Sweet Onion (chopped finely)
1 stick butter (butter only)
1 bottle Clam Juice
1 can (15oz) Chicken Stock
2 qts Half and Half
1 1/2 quart Heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley

In a large pot melt 1/2 of stick of butter, add chopped onion, saute until translucent, salt and pepper to taste. Add clam juice and chicken stock to sauted onion, stir to get all of the browned butter mixed in with the clam juice and chicken stock. Turn heat to medium, add Half and Half, Heavy whipping cream and bring to a boil, make sure to cook this slow and stir constantly. While waiting for mixture to boil, make a thickening paste with flour and milk, "you are going to have to judge this according to how thick you want your soup to be" the thicker the better. Once at a boil, add Crabmeat, 1/2 stick butter, Old Bay seasoning, Sherry and Fresh Parsley. Stir in Flour and Milk mixture to thicken, make sure to stir constantly. This soup is best to make ahead of time so the Old Bay can work it's magic and it will thicken as it cools. You can add more or less Old Bay or Sherry, it's up to your taste buds!

Serve with crackers!
PS -Claudia's Tip: Your have to go to Costc to purchase Phillips Jumbo Lump, it has the best flavor and makes the best soup, it's worth every penny and makes a big pot of soup that will go fast! Great for a party esp. Super Bowl!!

The next two recipes below are from one of my favorite little mini books printed by Oxmoor House for Southern Living called "Ultimate Book of Appetizers" The last one is a crab dip that you serve cold that was published first in Southern Living Magazine in April of 2004.

P.S. Our Willow House Food Mixes are perfect to keep handy for last minute guests! 

We carry 3 different kinds of Specialty Dip Mixes:
Tuscan Roasted Garlic Dip Mix 
Santa Fe Dip Mix
Parmesan Peppercorn Herb Dip Mixes.

Plus we offer these specialty drink mixes: 
White Sangria Mix 
Sangria Mix
Margarita Mixes 

We also offer these Bread Mixes:
Lemon Blueberry Bread Mix and Rosemary Olive Bread Mix.

These are our Specialty Desserts
Tiramisu Mix 
Pound Cake Mix and 
Cappuccino Mousse Mix.

Check them out on my web site in the Shop/Order section:  Everything ships within 48 hours of our order.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's a New Year... Change up the Mantle!
Part One: Nothing is better than sitting by the fire keeping warm and toasty to kill of the wicked winter chill that seeps into your bones. With that statement, I guess it's no secret that I live in the North! While you are sitting by the cosy fire, it is even better if you can have a lovely looking mantle to make everything look so picturesque.
There are a couple of things that you need to consider when deciding what you want to put up there:
  • What is your Theme.
  • Have a Color Scheme.
  • Highlight some of your "Treasures".
  • Pick a Style.
Our Mantle at Christmas, complete with Stockings!
(Click on any of the pictures to view them larger.
THEME: A mantle is the perfect gathering place for setting up a theme. For instance, I bet you all had your mantles decorated to the max for Christmas. I know I do. Every year. Love it. Here's a Picture of it done up for the holidays. But now, the holidays are over and hopefully you are now faced with a clean slate. Using the holidays as your theme again, it's time to get ready for Valentines Day. OR you can use the Seasons as your theme. Right now would be Winter. If you have a special collection, like my mom does of Milk glass, Fenton glass and Lenox Birds, she could use her collection as her theme. 
COLOR SCHEME: Once you've picked your theme, it is time to move on to color. YOu need to have a palette in mind. It can match what furniture you have in the room or coordinate. You definitely do not want to pick something that clashes- everything should compliment the other colors. The only time that that would not matter is if you are going with a color to match you theme. It's ok that you use orange and black when it's Halloween. Just make sure that you use enough of the color together, that it's obvious that it is meant to stand out from other parts of the room. 
This mantle design color theme is picking up on the red colors that took us through Christmas and now through Valentine's Day. I'll give you some close up pictures this weekend of the individual pieces that I'm using. Here are three different versions :
Version One Mantle: Basic with a RED color theme.
Version Two Mantle: Red with a Winter theme.
Version Three Mantle: Sea Blues and Butter Yellow Spring theme.
TREASURES: Treasures are things that you collect because they mean something special to you. Why not show them off on your Mantle? Enough said.
STYLE: Everyone is drawn to a specific type of design style. Whether you love Shabby Chic, French Country, Modern or Eclectic; (to just name a few) each of these different styles also looks better with the way you lay them out. Symmetrical or Asymmetrical. Minimal or Complicated Layers. 
Now there a couple of considerations that could pose a dilemma. One is how high off the ground your mantle sits and how much room you have above the Mantel until you hit the ceiling. Also how wide your mantle is from the wall? Both of these were two huge issues for me as the space between the shelf and the ceiling is not very wide. I chose a large narrow rectangular Watercolor painting to hang above it. Then, because my shelf area is not very wide, it limits how much layering I can do. It's not possible to put many of my lovely treasures up on the mantle as it won't hold them, it's too narrow.
Just make a choice and start to play around with different items that you want to use until you get it to look right. You'll know when you are done. It will just feel right to you.
My last piece of advice to you is that rules are nice, to help you to follow, but they are also made to be broken. Don't be afraid to try something totally different!

My next post will detail some of the different treasures I used in the pieces above.
Until next time- Pam