My husband and I hosted a dinner party this past weekend. Our guests were 14 managers, and their spouses, that work for my husband. They all put in so many hours and work hard so taking them out to dinner once every year is a great way to say thank you!

Normally I would host the shindig at my home however we are renting at the moment and do not have adequate space. We live in a small town on the Mississippi River so though we are short on restaurants we are not short on breathtaking views. The Pier restaurant sits right on the river front with walls of windows for guests to take in the scenery. This was the perfect setting for our dinner party.

I handmade these invitations and slipped them into matching envelopes tied with grey stain ribbon. My husband hand delivered these to his managers and it set the tone for the party.

This past Sunday was the day I had been working towards for the past several weeks. Thankfully my mom came into town and helped me set up and watched the boys while we were at dinner. THANKS MOM!

LESSON LEARNED: Call and confirm set up time! I was told that anytime after 3 the room would be ready for me to decorate. Do you think it was ready at 3…of course not GRRRRRRR.

Nor were my linens ready to be picked up on that Thursday morning at the time the lady told me. Why can’t people do what they say they are going to do?! I can see that working with vendors is a friggn headache.

Hors d’oeuvres where served at 6:30 and we had Tuscany Cheese Balls, Shrimp Lollipops, and Cheese and Fruit. Guests were greeted with a lounge area full of comfy chairs and bistro tables. Yellow roses and candles
set the mood.

LESSON LEARNED: Hire a photographer! Why didn’t I take pictures of the Hors d’oeuvres…because I was enjoying eating them LOL I took as many pictures as I could before the party started, but as soon as guests started arriving I switched from party planner to hostess and felt rude running away to take pictures.

The bistro tables were accented with a fun blue sash to add some color. I covered a round cakeboard with my fabric and it made for a great base for my centerpiece. Clear vases were filled with yellow roses and wrapped in blue satin ribbon.
Around 7ish we moved over the the dining area where tables were topped with blue stain overlays, fabric, candles, and blue glittery vases filled with white hydrangeas. Once it got darker outside the candle light hit the glitter on the vases and was so pretty!

Our guests were greeted with a small bag of chocolate rock candy with an embellished sticker that said, “You Rock” on it. I wanted something light hearted to make everyone smile when they sat down. Most people thought I had put real rocks in a bag. Haha I had to explain that it was chocolate.

LESSON LEARNED: Always ask if the restaurant has white napkins. When I showed up at about 6pm they had set the tables and what to my wondering eyes had a appeared but green 80’s looking napkins that clashed so incredibly bad I can’t even show you the full tablescape because it would hurt your eyes LOL

After dinner we enjoyed an amazing dessert table. They made everything in house and you could tell! I am showing you my dessert table before because the after looks different! See the yellow “cake”…well I made this faux yellow cake dummy with a clear plate on top to house the chocolate covered strawberries. During dinner our waiter came over to me and told me that the plate was to small to hold all of the strawberries. UGH! I rolled with the punches and just had them place the strawberries on the cake stand. Not was I was going for, but I had to be flexible.

I made the cake stands from Dollar Tree candle sticks and silver platers that I glued together and spray painted. The back row sat on green boxes and were accent with tall clear vases filled with white hydrangeas and green branches.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure the restaurant understands that you want MINI desserts and not full sized desserts!

I also learned how hard it is to take good quality pictures while you are trying to eat and deal with a chocolate covered strawberries crisis. I really have never had this problem before, but there was so much going on this night I could not do it all. PLUS I didn’t want to embarrass my husband by standing on a chair trying to get good dessert table shots. Your welcome honey : )
I handmade fancy dessert labels that matched our invitations.

YUM! It was all so good.

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies were placed in clear plastic bags accented with an embellished flower.

Staying on budget I used plain old toothpicks accented with faux rhinestones for the brownie picks.

HEAVEN was what this lemon cake should have been called. SO GOOD! I made flags out of blue glitter paper and attached them to toothpicks.

This snickers cheesecake was suppose to be super small pieces placed in cupcake liners BUT as you can see it is not. Tasted super good though, which really is what matters because I am sure my guests could have cared less on how it was served!

You can’t go wrong with chocolate covered strawberries!

I am absolutely in love with that backdrop! I am thinking of using it to make pillows for my couch now that I am done with it. So you might be seeing this soon elsewhere.

It was such a fun night and well deserved by my husband and his team!

I learned a lot this night. Besides my wedding 7 years ago this was the first time I had dealt with linen rentals, setting up everything at a restaurant from hors d’oeuvres to dessert, invitations, centerpieces, labels, food picks, set up, clean up, oh and trying to photograph it all.

Everything did not turn out how I had it planned in my head, but I rolled with the punches and did my best to capture it. Thanks for reading if you made it this far…xoxo

Hey JC’s Loft party people! I cannot BELIEVE that March is almost over and I (that’s Ashley from Cookin’ in Heels in case you didn’t know) am another month into contributing here, at one of my favorite blogs! I made this tortellini awhile back and Paula requested that I fly from Florida to Illinois to make it for her . . . instead of going that route, I thought I’d post it on her blog!
This baked tortellini (adapted from this recipe) was thrown in amidst one of the BF and my non-diet weeks, and it was as tasty as it was easy.

I used a mixture of chicken and garlic tortellini and three cheese tortellini. Each bit was a total surprise because I had no idea what sort of flavor I’d be in for!

Had I used ravioli, I’m sure the dish would’ve been much more aesthetically appealing . . . but I never care about how my food looks (unless we have guests).

See ya next month, peeps!

I shared these at The CSI Project a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to archive it here on my blog.

If you want to learn how to make these cuties then keep reading!

– Plastic Eggs (I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby)
– 2 Small round pieces of wood per candlestick. One will be used as the base and the other as the top to your candlestick (I used the smallest circular wood you can buy from Hobby Lobby).
– 3/16th Dowel Rod (I would suggest using a bigger dowel rod for more support…didn’t realize that until I was finished!)
– Glue
– Drill
– 3/16th and 7/32nd Drill bits
– Spray Paint

Step 1. I purchased egg ornaments so my first step was to remove the bow and loop of ribbon.

Step 2. Use a 7/32nd drill bit to drill a hole in the center of the top and bottom of the egg. How many eggs you need to drill depends on how high you want your candlesticks to be.

Step 3. Use a 3/16th drill bit and drill a 1/2 inch deep hole into the top of your wood piece/bases. You will need two of these per candlestick.

Step 4. Insert dowel rod into the hole you drilled in the base. Next slide eggs onto dowel rod to desired height. Leave a 1/2 inch dowel rod sticking out of the top egg and cut off the rest.

Repeat steps 3 & 4 as many times as needed to make the bases for your candlesticks. I choose to make 3 different heights as shown above.
Step 5. Glue the cut off dowel rods into your bases.

Step 6. Paint your bases and tops (not shown), let dry.

Step 7. Slide your eggs onto the base.

Step 8. Glue the top of your dowel rod into another circular piece of wood that you have drilled a hole into.

Bunch together on your Easter Tablescape with some pretty candles…

and stand back to admire your work! Check out my tutorials for the Starburst Egg Mirror in the background and my .40 cent Egg Place Card holder!

I inspired The Little Birdie Blog to make some of her own:
Our Nifty Notebook came up with her own twist:
Itsy Bitsy Paper added some ribbon to make these candlesticks her own:

I have a fear of commitment when it comes to holiday decor. Paying for something that will only be seen for a small window of time makes me cringe. I’m hosting playgroup at my house this Friday and was wanting some cute Easter vases, but could not find any worthy of spending money on. Then I came across these $2 pink polka dot knee socks and these $1 Easter Egg socks from Target. Which got my mind a thinkin!

– Knee high or regular socks
– Pinking shears
– Vase or water/juice glass

Step 1. Slip your vase into your sock with the elastic part at the top of your vase. Cut the bottom of the sock off leaving about 1/2″ of sock.

Step 2. I just let the bottom of the sock roll up. You can glue it down to get a more flat bottom, but I want to be able to take these off in 3 weeks when Easter is over!

Step 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you have enough coozies!

I filled my largest vase with white hydrangeas, the next smallest with pink carnations and I used the smallest vase as a candle holder. I added some paper bunting from extra scrapbook paper I had left over from my EASTER TABLESCAPE. It still needed something so I grabbed some glittery eggs that I purchased from The Dollar Tree. A paper flower was the final touch and it was just what I was looking for!

I am renting and have this awful wallpaper in my kitchen. SO I backed my arrangement with a piece of yellow scrapbook paper. It’s in an awkward corner of my kitchen so I had a hard time getting a picture of the 2 shelves side by side, but I did my best : )

I love my paper bunting and flower I made! They are great accents.

I don’t know why I love decorating for Easter so much. I guess it is the colors! So many rich and vibrant spring colors is fun to work with.

Have you made any fun Easter Decor lately? If so leave a comment with a link so we can all see!! Do you have a better name than Vase Coozie because I cannot come up with one LOL

This is Elizabeth from Six Golden Coins. If you know me even just a little bit, you know I like being creative. I’m not so great at dreaming up the creative ideas (blame it on my administrative anal-retentive side), but I’m pretty good at seeing someone else’s creativity and making it my own.

However, there is one idea I had that is solely and originally mine. It involves the nursery in my house – specifically, the border around the room. We’ll get to that in a moment.


We decorated the nursery when I was pregnant with Katie. The original idea was to have a family tree theme for the room, because I wanted the baby to grow up with knowledge of its heritage. We didn’t know the baby’s gender until birth, so the family tree theme was nice and unisex too. Dan painted the walls a light yellow, and then painted the ceiling sky blue. And being the engineer that he is, he then painted a very true-to-life tree in the corner. And being the more creative person in our marriage, I didn’t like it. We argued a bit over how the tree should look (I wanted more “cartoon-ish” and he wanted realistic), and then he improvised and came up with what you see. The tree overlooks the rocking chair and bookshelves. I taped some “tree decorations” on it to give it a three dimension feel (items like butterflies, birds and apples). Also notice the blue “sky” on the ceiling, complete with adhesive clouds. Nice touch, huh?

Near the tree corner is the changing table. It’s really just a contoured changing pad on top of an old dresser, given to us by my paternal grandmother. The shelves above the changing table are full of diapers, but you’ll also see some of my favorite childhood storybooks, along with some of my old toys (even my original Cabbage Patch Kid!).
The crib corner is kind of the night version of the tree corner. We hung plush stars and a moon from the ceiling, and a little moon shelf. Two things you can’t see in this photo are framed prints near the crib. They are prints from one of my favorite childhood authors/artists, Joan Walsh Anglund.

Now, back to the whole family tree theme. After trying to diagram a family tree on paper, I realized that was a theme that wasn’t going to work. My family alone has way too many branches (deaths, divorces, remarriages), and I couldn’t figure out a nice illustration of that. So we went back to the drawing board and came up with the idea to have a photo border in the room. (This is my favorite part!) Dan bought some skinny chair rails at Home Depot and nailed them to the wall, a few inches apart. Then we taped photos inside the border, and Dan found sheets of plastic that we cut into strips and slipped between the wooden rails to protect the photos. The border by the changing table has been educational for both kids now, and kept them distracted during diaper changes. We use those photos to teach names of family members. There’s also a photocopied note posted there that my dad wrote me before Katie was born. It helps me keep his memory alive.

I used one wall to display family tree photos, and the photos show Dan as a baby, his parents as babies, his parents’ parents, etc. The photos are labeled with the person’s name and their role in our family tree. I remember some nights when I was up nursing at 2am, I’d look at the photos and think of all those people whose lives joined to form the little one laying across my lap. It made me feel such a connection to the ancestors who came before, and those who have yet to arrive.
There’s one more item in the nursery that is probably one of my most prized possessions. It’s the letter that my dad wrote to my brother Jackson when he was born. Dad had it framed and given to Jackson on his 16th birthday, and it was in Jackson’s possession until he died. I received it after I found out I was having a boy and decided to name him Jackson. It is a beautiful, touching letter, and a tradition I’ve tried to follow with my kids by writing them letters when they were born. Here’s a photo of it:
And here’s the text of the letter:
Monday, October 12, 1970
Dear Son,
I have pondered long today, with your mother’s help, over the one gift which, after we have given it to you, will remain with you always – your name. It must symbolize those unreachable goals for which each of us must reach.
I give to you that which was given to me – my name. But I give you my name, and more, with the hope that you will give to your fellow man that much more than I have, or will succeed in giving.
I give you Marion – to symbolize the compassion and love which your grandfather showed for his neighbor and fellow man and to symbolize the loving tenderness of your mother.
I give you Archibald – as a symbol of strength, steadfastness and uncompromising determination.
I give you Jackson – as a symbol of dedication to love and God, epitomized by your great-grandmother and her kinsman, Thomas Jonathan.
And so, young Marion Archibald Jackson Steele, wear your name proudly, but with humility. For you have a great and noble heritage –
As I watched you today during your first few hours, as you started your long road to agonized fulfillment, your lip quivered as if in fear, after having seen that which is ahead. And, I am sure, it will quiver again and again as you experience seconds of future untold minutes. I pray that God will bestow upon me the privilege of walking by your side to encourage and help you over the rough spots as you grow toward manhood. – But grow with tenderness and love; humility and compassion; strength and perseverance. But most of all – love. Love, most of all, your mother. She is so dear to me.
Your name is a gift of permanence. And with this I give you the enduring gift of my love.
Now begin – good luck and God bless you.
Your loving father,
Marion Archibald Steele