Valentine’s Day for Everyone

There is always a lot of pressure placed on those who are alone (by choice or not) to be with someone at this time of the year.

Well, when I say you should make the effort to prepare a special dinner for your mate, including candles and flowers, tablecloth, and cloth napkins, it is also for the single people as well.

Note the pictures; one set for one and the other has been set for two. No big deal either way, but looks special. Having just returned from Maui, what else would you expect me to do?


Why not? You are just as  important and even if you order a pizza in or buy something prepared by a kitchen in a restaurant, take it home. set the table (make the effort, it is important) light a candle, put out a cloth, napkin, good dishes (at least the best you have), pour a glass of wine and enjoy the fact that you actually did this for YOU.

For everyone else, Plan ahead….salad or soup? Or both? Chicken? Pork Tenderloin (my meat of choice for Valentine’s), steak?

Potatoes? What kind? Rice? Pasta? Vegetables: Your choice, just not canned or frozen. Fresh is always best and it shows you actually took the time to do this.

Dessert? White Chocolate Brulee? Cheesecake? Chocolate Cake?


Fresh fruit, cheeses and a few crackers?

Big, expensive gifts are not always the way to show  your affection. A sincerely bought card, a single rose or a bouquet of flowers and time set aside to show you care.

Enjoy! Now I have to go and plan our own special time.

Reveillon Dinner For Friends

I am sure by now everyone knows for whom and why we host a “Lead In To Christmas” dinner every first Saturday in December. This year we are doing it New Orleans style. We were there last Christmas and attended the Cooking School of New Orleans. Reveillon means “reawakening” to family, friends and always using the secret family receipes of 100 years ago or more. All the recipes being used are original and I think it will go over well.

Our menu is this:

  • Festive Kir Cocktail With Hibiscus Flower Welcome
  • Shrimp Dip With Crackers
  • Homemade Antipasto
  • Prawn and Artichoke Soup (Wow, so yummy)

Langostine and Scallop Etouffee (yummmmmm)

Boudin Blanc-stuffed Turkey Breasts With chestnuts

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce


On each place setting is a mini stocking with a baby orange, 2 homemade Pralines and a candy cane.  Also, a copy of the evening menu is at each place as well. When our guests will be leaving, they will each be given miniature Panettone cakes.

The picture here is the table setting without the candles actually being lit. More to come

Steps in Setting Your Table For Company

We had a dinner Sunday for a well known Chef and his family. (We must be nuts, but that is us)…..Below are steps taken to show how to accomplish a pretty table. It is not difficult to do. Use what you have and make it work.

Step back after each step and look at the table……what can you add? Remove because it isn’t working? Always, always have candles, fresh flowers (shows you care), clean and pressed linens, cloth napkins (forget the paper napkins), clean silverware (even kitchen quality if that is what you have).  Don ‘t forget, this has taken me years to add to the table, so don ‘t give up.

You won’t be sorry you didn’t quit and your company will be super impressed. My 12 year old grandaughter (at the time) set a table that was simply awesome one year for Thanksgiving.

deciding on cloths and colours
Charger plate and protective plate doily
Basic plates put on
napkin/cover and silverware added
Soup bowl. wine glasses added
bread/butter plates complete and individual flowers on table
– Completed

Table Setting Demonstration, Plus

Being excited to attend the Osoyoos Home Hardware Store on Saturday, along with a couple of florists showing how to make some incredible displays, another lady on a different level showing how to decorate the entrance to your home for the holidays, we packed up the car and left  so I could begin my ‘shopping’..

I was given everything needed to do what I like best….setting the table when anticipating company coming. Now, so you can even try to understand what this felt like….this store is on 5 levels, and I was given free rein to use anything she had to showcase some ideas. Well! Talk about a kid in a candy store. Believe me, I did 3 settings per colour setting in white and then black and gold, some were 2 settings such as a Santa Fe theme and then with  water-blue dishes. Also there was a whimsical setting with polka dot dishes for a party Buffet. What fun.

I could hardly walk when I left to go home. I was Exhausted….sore, but also happy. Then I got sad because I didn’t do all  I wanted to accomplish.

If I was even a month or two younger, maybe I could have done it all. Next time….if there is a ‘next time’. Take a close look at the pictures and then pick and choose what you want to do with your table.

Thanks Frances and her super staff. Go see for yourselves….WOW!

Christmas 2012 Table Theme

This year, as with every year, it is always a trick for me to come up with a different table theme. I really mean the colour of the cloth and how to change it up a little. It is going to be just a ‘take five’ moment. Take another 5 minutes of  your time to really look at the table and then bring it up a notch.

Here are a few steps how to do just that.



This year….I decided to do a table with black, gold and silver. One of the reasons being I had the silver decorations (balls, etc.), wreaths – new this year but for only pennies each one. I put one in each of the two dining room windows. If you can gather your own materials from nature, go for it.

I found some artificial large poinsettias I had used before and placed one in each of the wreaths. They look great. I added a couple of the silver Christmas balls to hang sporadically and it took on a whole new look. Very chic!

A big box grocery store opened just a couple of weeks ago and they, of course, had  many specials on and one was little Christmas trees wrapped in red tree bases. Also, they had gold and silver balls in a big package especially for small trees. Well! I couldn’t let that one go. Besides we also had two trees I stand by the fireplace and they only had a couple of balls on them. I was able to add so many more now and they look great.

Okay, not done yet.  The little trees needed a top. We looked high and low through several stores and couldn’t find anything. Then…..I saw a pkg. of small red bows. Being a desperate woman I bought them (again for only pennies).  I think they were to go on a tree or present or whatever. I chose the whatever and put one on each tree. Voila! Done.

From previous years, I had a silver mesh table cloth topper. I pulled it out and it worked so well. Again…no additional cost but it takes me years to add things that can be used. Besides, when you operated a Bed and Breakfast (12+ years) and entertained a lot like we used to do, you do gather things.

I had black napkin covers, black and gold Christmas “crackers” and we were given 12 black and gold Christmas Ball place card holders a couple of years ago as a Christmas gift from a special niece and, again, it is now put to good use.

I dug out some gold coloured little stockings.  I think they were supposed to go on a tree, but I would put a lottery ticket and candy cane in each one and place one at each setting. One more little step to go and complete that extra five I asked you to take.

I was given as a gift from Suzanne and family one year of 12 little gravy boats. So….once everyone has loaded up their plates, they also have extra gravy should they need some. Also, each setting has their own salt and pepper shakers.

We have two pictures here…1 shows the table setting like normal…the other shows what the ‘extra’ steps bring the level to.

Again, treat family, friend and guests in your home the same and take the extra five…..It shows. It means a lot to those who sit at  your table.  It is just another ‘Damn I Can Do This’ moment. You’ll feel proud at what you can accomplish with new and old things combined.

Good job one and all. Merry Christmas and have fun with your own table. Let me know how it all works for you.

The pictures are #1 and #2


Celebration Christmas Table Setting

I have a week before our big “Lead-in-to-Christmas dinner with 12 friends and, so you can see how it is built up, I started putting our table together. We have taken pictures and are putting them now on the site, along with some of the pictures that go with the recipes. More to come.

I tried several colours and opted for a Royal Blue satin cloth with an organza topper in the same colour. (I made these years ago)  Then went scouting around to see what would make it look special.  I have candle holders (gifts given over the years), Christmas crackers, Christmas  place card holders that look like ball ornaments for the tree.

The crackers came with little place cards, so I wrote everyone’s name on them and put them together. When we were in Costco several months back, they had a box of 12 individually boxed chocolates. I just set the place card holder on top of the box on the corner of the charger plate.

You can purchase charger plates at almost any store, including the dollar stores. They don’t have to be china but they look great, and protect your table cloth from spills.

The idea is to make, use, borrow or get as gifts all the things you want to make your table special. Our kids are great for doing just that. I have snow white napkins  (industrial strength) and 12 little gravy boats (1 for each guest) as an example what they give me.

Watch over this next week. You will see the table in stages and the dinner as being served. Then  you have several weeks to think about what you are going to do. one thing that is a must…tablecloth must be clean and IRONED.

Later…..have to try out the martini I am planning to serve as the signature drink.


Holidays Are Around the Corner


Christmas can be a stressful time of year with all the baking, cleaning, decorating, and trying to find the perfect tree and that ‘special something’ for someone who has everything.  Also, for a myriad of reasons, it can be a very sad time for some (it was for me when my Dad died). This helps ease that heavy feeling some of us go through.

About 14 – 15 years ago, I came up with the idea of a lead in to Christmas just for adults.  We had, with our friends, a pre and pre pre dinner. Each one of us had one dinner/evening before Christmas, complete with tree, small gifts, and much laughter..

About 4 years ago, our friends were gone, we held the ‘pre’ dinner for about 12 friends and I baked and gave away trays of goodies to each one as they left at the end of the evening. One man stood up and said thanks, he had just received his ‘adjustment’ and could face Christmas for the first time in years.

I urge you to try it. The only rule is you have to get a sitter (if children are home).  It helps get into the spirit of the season, gets  you away from it all for one evening. If you want, go to the dollar store and buy a gift for each person and wrap it up and put it under the tree. Yes, you decorate like it was your Christmas. Send out invitations early so you get put on the calendar and not miss out due to people already booked up.

Here’s a recipe for you to print off and get thinking about your baking. I do all my baking on Nov 11. Don makes all his tortierre pies (about 11), we listen to some Christmas music and, of course, pause at 11:00 for a couple of moments out of respect.

Check out the 2nd blog today. A recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies is posted. Have fun!

Black and Tan Table Setting




When I was planning a black and tan table setting “just because” for our next planned dinner and I didn’t have a tablecloth for it, I went to the fabric store and picked up material to make a tablecloth, 6 napkins and an exotic organza material to make the table top enhancer for the next night.

I told our friends that it was going to be very simple as my Dad has just passed away and although I wasn’t that much into a gourmet dinner, I needed the company.

The menu for that evening was:


  • Rolled ham with cream cheese and pickled asparagus
  • Hot Canapes a la Costco


  • Cold Strawberry Soup (homemade)
  • Salad
  • Lasagne (homemade)
  • Rum Cake (from scratch)

As I said, it was extremely simple but the friendship was what I wanted. Did it help? Yes.

Table Settings

If you have the will but not the money to make your table look elegant, try this:


  • Tablecloth and napkins
  • Candles (a must)
  • Clean and polished area where you will be dining


Take a deep breath and visualize how you want the table to look, mentally take five minutes and see what you can do to improve on it. Snip a stems off an ivy plant you have in the livingroom. No? Try a flower from the garden and a stem of the ivy and with a small stip of ribbon, tie it around the napkin.

We use dishes and cutlery we already have and make it work. Anything else is either from the Dollar Store (as in individual salt and pepper shakers) or from our own cupboards. It is always a win-win dinner.


Festive Season Table Ideas

I have, very rarely, used bright red and green for the holiday table. I have used softer tones, neutrals, whites, softer sage greens.

These colours usually make the table look elegant, even though you might consider using paper plates. When using bright colours it is more light-hearted.  If you don’t have napkins that match the table cloth, you can’t go wrong if you put out white cloth ones. BUT, they should be as bright a white as you can find. This gives a crisp look and shows you are starting to pay attention to details.

You can make napkin rings with a bit of a sparkle to create atmosphere. Always have candles and fresh flowers. You can laugh, I always have tulips in the house at Christmas. I like white but have used a soft pink. Depends on what I am using. Below is a setting for a “pre” Christmas dinner with friends,

Table Settings

To start with the basics. I will use a setting for four people. It can be for 20 people but the basics are the same. You will need a clean and freshly ironed table cloth. Correct sized napkins (22″-26″ for table); and for hors d’oeurves, a luncheon (14″ – 18″) napkin is best. This can be the same or contrasting colour. Get your candles and candle sticks ready, flowers either picked or ordered, cutlery should sparkle, glasses -wine, water, and/or liqueur should be handwashed in hot, soapy water and rinsed in warm water and vinegar, Dry with a clean, soft cloth.

My 12 year old granddaughter set the table the way she has seen done in our home. No help or aide was given and I am so proud of her. Now, you can do it too, Right?