black cherry salad

For all of your holiday entertaining, this black cherry jello salad is a yummy and palette-friendly starter.  It looks so pretty pre-plated on your table on a lettuce leaf.

image credit: dthoskins

Cherry-Lime Cola Salad

What you’ll need:

  • 2 (16 oz) cans pitted dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup, drained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional-I usually leave this out)
  • 1 (3 oz) package of black cherry flavored gelatin
  • 1 (3 oz) package of lime flavored gelatin
  • 1 (12 oz) can of cola-flavored carbonated beverage, chilled
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows (or more to cover the dish)
Step by Step:
  1. Drain cherries, reserving juice.  Add enough water to juice to yield 2 cups; set aside.
  2. Halve cherries and place in bottom of a 11x7x2-inch baking dish.
  3. (optional) Sprinkle pecans over cherries
  4. In a medium bowl, combine black cherry and lime gelatin.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring cherry juice and water mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Pour over combined gelatins, stirring to dissolve.
  6. Add chilled cola and pour gelatin mixture over the cherries and pecans.
  7. Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows.  Cover and chill for four hours (or until firm).
I love dishes like this that are chilled starter courses.  For easy serving with large groups, this salad works well as a pre-plated dish.  Plus, anything with marshmallows looks festive and playful on a holiday table.


Who are you entertaining this holiday?

Thanksgiving revisited


It’s Thanksgiving week!  For those of you that are still looking for some holiday inspiration for your food or table, here are a few of our favorites:


Wishing you a wonderful holiday week!

birthday snack bar

I believe that birthdays should be big—-and fun—-and colorful! Those were my intentions when creating a snack bar for guests to enjoy at my son’s recent 2nd birthday party. It is one of my firm party planning beliefs that guests should have something to eat immediately when they arrive.  It’s a great way to help guests mix and mingle and you don’t have to worry about antsy party goers who are desperately waiting for you to cut the cake!

Here’s what I served:

Popcorn and caramel corn in paper popcorn bags


Chex mix, scooped into snow cone cups for easy handling.  I loved the stickers that we used on the snow cone papers.  Adorable!


Bottled fruit punch in red and blue, with cute paper straws.  Everything is truly better with a paper straw, don’t you think?


To create the backdrop for my snack bar, I covered two pieces of foam core with an adorable circus animal themed wrapping paper. The colors were perfect for my son’s party! I strung some penant banners to match those on the front of the house with twine and attached them to the back of the board. I leaned the board up in the picture window in the kitchen and—voila!—a festive backdrop for the snacks. A white table cloth and colorful runner added the final touch.

no vases needed

Do you ever get tired of using your same boring vases?  I know that I do!  If you are like me, you have a stack of vases from floral arrangements that were delivered.  We really racked them up when our son was born!  Even with all of those options, sometimes I struggle with finding something that isn’t too formal, but isn’t a down-home mason jar (both of which I use and love for the proper occasion).  There are times and decors that just need something special.  There are other times when you are making an arrangement to take to a friend and you don’t want to have to ask for the container back.

I found this cute container with a “5” on it for my fifth wedding anniversary, which we used to display the flowers that we featured in all of our photos for the day.  I simply placed a plastic drinking cup down inside this unique wooden box,filled it with water and voila—an instant update to my typical vase.  Plus, it was a cute container to display in my bookshelf once the flowers were gone.



Dig into your cupboards, your garage, stop by a local craft store or hit up a garage sale.  You’ll be amazed by the options!

Some of my other favorite “unusual vases” and affordable options:

  • shot glasses as bud vases
  • teapots.  This sweet arrangement was for a baby shower for my cousin.
  • ceramic pitchers
  • wine bottles
  • old fashioned parfait glasses.  i got an adorable set while garage sale-ing.
  • empty perfume bottles

The possibilities are truly endless.  Let your creativity shine!


recipe: roasted brussel sprouts

I never even tried a brussel sprout until I was over 30 thanks to the fact that my grandmother (whom I lived with as a child) didn’t like them and therefore never served them.  I probably wouldn’t have liked them either as a kid, but as an adult who loves fresh fruits and veggies I don’t rule anything out until I’ve tried it.  I don’t remember where I first saw this recipe, but I can narrow it down to either the now defunct Gourmet Magazine, or Ina Garten’s show The Barefoot Contessa.  In either case, I’ve sort of made it my own and it has become one of my favorite side dishes.

1 lb Brussel Sprouts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
Ground Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper OR red pepper flakes to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the stumps from the brussel sprouts and then cut them in half.  In a mixing bowl, combine brussel sprouts, olive oil, ginger, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread the sprout mixture evenly on the pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove sprouts from oven, toss, and place back in the oven increasing the heat to 425 degrees for 15 more minutes.  Sprouts should be crispy on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside.

autumn sunset

image by dthoskins

We have had some beautiful sunsets here in the Bluegrass this fall and this sunset view from my back deck (in the Gainesway neighborhood if you’re local) occured just before we got some of the weather from Hurricane Sandy.  We were very fortunate to have had no damage from this storm and our thoughts go out to those in the Northeast who are still suffering from it’s effects.

If you would like to help, tune in to WKYT tonight for the Big Blue Nation Cares telethon from 7-8pm where UK players will be answering your calls.  Go to for more info.

black & camel

One of my favorite color pallettes, particularly during the fall is black and camel.  This ultra polished color combo can be worn by any skin tone and works well for both day and evening.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

black & camel


Featured: Crumpet flare dress (, Camel coat (, Dorothy Perkins cape coat (, Pink tartan (, H by Hudson navy blue shoes (, Ballerina shoes (, Leather shoulder bag (, The Cambridge Satchel Company genuine leather handbag (, Marc by Marc Jacobs logo watch (, Monies horn jewelry (, Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses (
What is your favorite fall color combo?