Cinco de Mayo

It's almost Cinco de Junio, but I still wanted to share with you a couple of photos from a Cinco de Mayo party in Dallas.

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My cousin, Laura Adams, and her fun group of girlfriends, affectionately known as the Girls of Belfort Place, held a party to celebrate this holiday which is actually more widely celebrated in the U.S. than in Mexico. I love the miniature pinatas hanging from the chandelier! I wonder if they were filled with candy? {A funny sidebar: when I was little we took a trip to Mexico, where my parents bought a pinata for me to take back as the star attraction for my birthday party. The party goers and I were surprised when no candy fell out despite repeated beatings of the paper mache animal! How were we to know we were supposed to fill it ourselves?!?}

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Margaret Story made this adorable cactus-inspired centerpiece for the party, which was held at the beautiful home of Kay Neve. I can't wait to try this clever idea!

O' Danny Boy

In celebration of St. Paddy's Day next week, here's a favorite drink recipe of my dad's (and several friends): Danny Boy. So named because of my dad's extreme (and I do mean extreme) fondness of the song and also because our ancestors emigrated from Ireland (by way of Scotland), the country of origin of the song, to our current stomping grounds in southwest Virginia (due to the strikingly similar terrain).

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Jack Daniels (single barrel preferred, regular ok)

Sprite or 7-Up (note: diet not allowed)

Orange slice (not wedge; and in the drink, not hanging off the side)

On the rocks

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Somewhat of an unusual drink by some standards. So many friends and family (husband included) have adopted it as their signature drink that it's the norm around here now.

May the luck o' the Irish be upon ye!

Sue Whitney at Round Top

One of the highlights of my trip to Round Top was meeting Sue Whitney, junk connoisseur and founder of Junk Market Style, her brand that revolves around-you guessed it-junk. Just my kind of gal!

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Sue was there signing copies of the new book she co-authored, Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition. Of course, I scooped up my copy right away and asked for her Jane Hancock. I can't wait to implement some of her wonderfully creative ideas! She has co-authored other fabulous books, including Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers and Decorating Junk Market Style. Just the other day she appeared on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

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Sue's booth was totally inspiring. Items from the antiques market were pulled together into a stunning vignette and sold. Proceeds went to Houston's Habitat for Humanity. Next time you want to throw something away, just remember that even junk can be charitable.

One man's trash truly is another's treasure.

Real or Fake?

Are these flowers real or fake? That's what my mom and I were wondering when we spotted them at a wedding celebration this weekend. They are so gorgeous they couldn't possibly be fake, right? I just had to touch them to see for myself.

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The answer is: both! The pink flowers are silk and the rest are real! Normally I wouldn't imagine putting such an arrangement together but these are over the top beautiful. Can't wait to try this idea (on a slightly smaller scale!).

Paint Chip Placecards

Placecards make dinner parties more fun! Especially if you mix the guests up a bit and stick your newly-divorced uncle Chester next to shy little Thelma from down the street. There are many ways to do placecards. Here is an easy (and free!) idea: use paint chips from home improvement stores.

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I'm not advocating going into Lowe's and taking a huge stack of paint chips home with you. Just a few that you would probably use anyway in your next painting project. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and you can fold them differently, as I did here.

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No need to match the colors to your table setting exactly. Just pick some hues you love and go with it. (Once again, I used my bandana napkin trick, as mentioned in a previous post. And by the way, denim is my absolute favorite for placemats...it goes with everything!)

Paint chips are fun to use for kids' parties as well as the adult dinner party. Just please don't switch the names around when you come to my house. There's a reason I put you next to my 90-year-old aunt Louise.

Baby, Baby, Baby!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my friends Becky, Mimi, Vannessa and I recently hosted a baby shower for another friend. Her adorable baby boy was born earlier this week and is doing great so I thought now would be a good time to share some ideas from the shower. We didn't know if the baby was going to be a girl or boy so we did a pink and blue theme for the shower.

Vannessa was kind enough to let us have the shower at her beautiful home. She made these too-cute flower-shaped balloons by tying pink and blue single balloons together to form the shape. Then she stuck them down in her flower pots on the front porch for a surprise welcome for our guests.

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Becky made pink and blue cosmos and rimmed them with thick coordinating colored sugar. They were as lovely looking as they were refreshing! For the pink drinks, she used Stirrings Cosmo mix and for the blue she used Rose's Blue Raspberry mix. Of course vodka was added to both! To rim the glasses, cut a piece of lemon, lime or orange and run across the top of the glass. Pour the sugar onto a dish and dip the rim into it.

Rimming sugar can be found in every color (also check the cake decoration aisle) and the thicker the better. Fun to do for non-alcoholic drinks as well and kids love it (if you can stand the sugar high!).

Vannessa and I folded the napkins into what we thought looked like tiny pink blankets for the forks and tied them with a blue sheer ribbon.

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Mimi had the most gorgeous cupcakes and cake made for the occasion. Both were topped with pink and blue fondant flowers and yellow bumblebees {for the "Mommy to Be(e)}" and alternated in chocolate and vanilla cake. Mommy to Be(e) took the small cake on the top home for any late-night sugar cravings! We draped three little silkies in pink, blue and yellow around the bottom of the cupcake stand for a little extra "babyfying."

Our flowers were a mixture of colors and a variety of blooms, formed together in a tree shape.

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My cousin Cody, an aspiring personal chef and caterer (more about him later), prepared the delicious and oh-so-pretty food (Becky and Mimi served as his sous chefs). My favorite is his wild mushroom pate, made from every kind of mushroom you can imagine...and, well, that's about all I know about it except that it is to die for!

In the guest book, the guests shared their favorite "mom" tip, which I'm sure will prove to be invaluable in the coming months. I may need to borrow it from time to time to see if I'm doing anything right!

Please Pass the Pepper

For a while I was obsessed with painting glass of every type. Wine glasses, plates, vases, and...salt & pepper shakers. Their surface is so smooth, it's irresistible to a paint brush.

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I painted these s & p shakers (from Bed Bath & Beyond or a restaurant supply store) in colorful patterns with glass paint and then baked them (yes, in my regular kitchen oven) according to the instructions on the paint. There are some glass paints that do not have to be baked and instead call for painting a coat of varnish or other sealant on top. I would not recommend these, as they are not long-lasting and will start to chip after the first (hand)washing. Unfortunately I speak from experience on the matter!

Baking glass paint enables you to put the item in the dishwasher. The paint will not chip and it's also food-safe.

These are so easy and inexpensive to make, why not do a bunch so that everyone at the table can have their very own? No more boarding house reach for your guests.

Supper at the Lake

I love to set a memorable table even when we're at the lake. All of our colors there are bright so I like to keep the place settings fun. I'm a huge fan of bandanas. There are just so many uses for them...for example, dinner napkins. They are much prettier than paper napkins. I know, some of you will say, "but I have to wash them!" Bandanas are easy to wash, they don't need to be ironed and the colors don't bleed. Plus, after washing they are super-soft. On a practical note they actually work better than paper napkins. Your table will look much more stylish AND you will be doing the environment a favor while saving money too! For the same reason, I'm not a big user of paper plates (don't get me wrong, I love all of the cute patterns of paper plates and napkins...but that is a story for another posting).

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For the lake I bought yellow, lime green, turquoise, pink and hot pink bandanas (at home I have red, black and navy). Wal-Mart usually has a good selection for less than $2 each. If you don't see the colors you like there, try a craft store like Michael's or search online.

The napkin rings have different colors of silk flowers (I picked these up at Pier One a few years back). Each place setting has a different color plate in vintage Fiesta Ware, which I have collected from various antique stores. If you purchase plates like these at an antique store or flea market, be sure not to buy any with chips or cracks, especially if you plan to serve food on them.

For drinks I used handpainted wine glasses (no two are alike) that I either painted myself or purchased for my collection (more on that later). I think it's fun to use these even if you are just serving water in them, and a great alternative to the wine glass tags that are so popular these days. Of course some merlot can be poured as well!

Give Me Some Sugar!

My friends and I recently hosted a baby shower for another friend who is due in two weeks! She and her husband decided not to find out the sex of the baby (such a sweet decision in today's modern world!) so the baby shower was done in pinks and blues. We fixed pink and blue cosmos (the mother-to-be drank sparkling water) and rimmed the glasses with pretty colored sugar in, you guessed it, pink and blue! We had some sugar left over so I poured blue sugar into two little white dishes, then in the contrasting pink color spelled out the new mommy's initials by simply drizzling the sugar with my fingers! Yummy enough to eat! Watch for another post with more photos from the bebe shower soon.

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Simple Holiday Table

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Christmas may be behind us but there's still a little time left to set a simple holiday table. Perhaps for New Year's Eve? This was our table a few years ago and I love the contrast of the rich red walls and table accents against the dark furniture. A few well-placed pops of color go a long way towards adding a festive feel to any place setting.