Monday, December 13, 2010

Say Cheese!

If you have ever been to a swinging Christmas soiree in the South, I can guarantee you will see form of the recipe below on your gracious hostess' table. Whether your Granny calls them cheese straws, cheese bits, or cheese nibbles, no matter how you cut it- they are just down right delicious! (Excuse the crass pun but I just couldn't resist!) This is one of my all time favorite holiday recipes and I have VOWED never to make them any other time of year except during the Yuletide. These naughty nibbles accompany cleverly crafted cocktails and vino oh so well or make the perfect pre-dinner snack. Even if you don't get around to baking up these bits immediately, the dough will store in the freezer for up to a month. I hope these little pieces of pleasure bring a little spice and flavor to your next holiday ho-down! 

Cheesy Cocktail Bits


1/2 cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup grated Smoked Gouda Cheese
2 cups All Purpose Flour
Pecan Halves
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Salt to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350*.

Cream butter and cheeses. Slowly add your flour, Cayenne, salt and mix well. Form mixture into tiny balls and press half of a pecan on each ball to flatten. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until golden and crisp. Allow to cool before serving.

*If you are feeling fiesty, change up your cheeses and see what develops!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas!

As we enter the second week of December, the holly jolly holiday season is in full swing for many of us! Our heads begin to fill with visions of sugar plums or the twinkle of the Menorah lights while the sounds of silver bells chime in our ears. Along with the sights and sounds of the holiday, don't forget those nostalgic smells! Unless you are Martha Stewart or June Cleaver, I doubt you spend your days trimming your mantle with fresh evergreen and pine, baking an army of gingerbread men, or tending to an oak fire burning in your hearth every moment of the holiday season. Just because you don't have the time to devote to those yuletide traditions, doesn't mean you cannot bring those memory evoking smells into your holiday home any time you please! This year, don't bother piddling away your pennies on artificial sprays, pricey soy candles, or an antiquated potpourri array (that after a few martinis may be mistaken for party mix...) Begin with a small pot of water on the stove, add in a few heaping teaspoons of cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, maybe some nutmeg too. If available in your refrigerator’s crisper, toss in a few orange slices or maybe a pinch of fresh or ground ginger. After your brew is made, bring your seasonal scents to a simmer and watch the house come alive! Keep an eyeball on your Christmassy concoction though assuring the liquid hasn't boiled completely out of it- the only thing you want roasting are those chestnuts on the open fire! Feel free to cover and store your mixture for several days, rejuvenating it with a little more water and spice to simmer on for your next swanky soiree.

With my sincerest "scentiments", Happy Holidays Divas!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Pre-Dinner Winner

Thanksgiving, America's Holiday! Whether it's your first rodeo or your fiftieth, the stress of the cooking the treasured Thanksgiving cuisine is generally pretty high. The idea of perfectly preparing recipes, tediously timing their delivery, and pleasing a plethora of palates would make any Iron Chef quiver in their Crocs! Although we may wish for the Norman Rockwell rendition of Thanksgiving dinner, the truth is many Americans are subjected to the limitations of time, money, and ingenuity when it comes to preparing this picturesque meal. In my Hallmark card world, I would spend the day before the sacred event  prepping and planning so we could enjoy a lunchtime feast the next day. Thanksgiving evening would be observed by drinking Uncle Jimmy's "special" cider, dancing the Polka, and maybe even a little karaoke by the firelight...Ahhh, the perfect Dostal-Thornton Thanksgiving...My reality is the prep work, the cooking, AND the cleaning will all be done on Thanksgiving day putting meal time closer to dusk. Goodness knows I don't want anyone to spoil their supper, but I always need something to keep these ravenous little piggies at bay! Sound faintly familiar? This year, let's all scrap the store-bought, pre cut, plastic preserved, veggie platters and impress your guests with this modern remake of a Charcuterie plate. The most wonderful thing about this assortment is that it's a NO COOKING REQUIRED appetizer! That's one less dish keeping you away from your favorite football game and those Macy's floats! Yippee! The items listed below are suggestions that can aid you in creating your own Charcuterie. Your guests will have a splendid time exploring their own custom flavor combinations and will be impressed by your gastronomic knowledge. In addition to this artisanal assortment, have a red and white wine available with water and/or tea to keep the thirst quenched and the spirits jolly. Again, the items listed below do not need to be cooked and are probably best served straight out of the can. The beauty of this bevy of eats is simplicity!

Create Your Own Charcuterie Components:

*Smoked Almonds or Mixed Party Nuts

*Whole Green Olives or Whole Kalamata Olives

*Baby Gherkins

*Caper Berries- A bit pricey but worth it for that gourmet touch

*Pearl Onions

*Artichoke Hearts- Available in cans and jars, be sure to drain thoroughly

*Roasted Red Peppers
*Arugula- The perfect edible garnish to "line" your tray

*Fresh Apple and Pear Slices- Don't forget to brush these with lemon juice to prevent browning

*Dried Fruit- Try dried Apricots, Cranberries, Raisins, or even Cherries

*Preserved Meats- Try Salami, Prosciutto or pre sliced Pepperoni

*Cheese- A variety of (3) is nice, Chevre for spreading, Brie for stacking, and Bleu Cheese for KICK

*Relish or Tapenade

*Jam or Preserves- Fig and Pig are a match made in hungry heaven

*Whole Grain Mustard

* Assortment Crackers- Bagel Chips and Pretzel Rod's are also great "vessels"
*Sliced Breads- Consider Rye Toast minis, French bread hunks, and Pita triangles

Start with a beautiful tray; perhaps the one Granny gave you at a bridal shower or a variety of fun and quirky bowls you found at last weekend's garage sale. Be sure to include serving utensils such a spreaders, toothpicks, pickle forks; no silverware necessary. Small paper plates and cocktail napkins make for easy clean up- why not color coordinate them to your autumnal table scape? Also remember to strategically place your plate. If you want company in the kitchen, even those back seat chefs, place this appetizing assortment close to the action. If you would rather fly solo, perhaps set up shop in the living room next to the tube.

Wherever you put this pre-dinner winner, take some time out of your culinary tasks to replenish and refurbish as necessary.

Enjoy Divas and here's to a full, fun, and fabulous Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Head Over Heels!

On October 23, 2010, my life was changed forever with the debut of my first niece, Miss Samantha Louise Dostal. I have heard others mentioned how much joy and happiness babies bring in their bundles but until you experience it first hand, I don't possibly think you could ever fathom the sincerity of that statement. I wanted more than anything to be there for her birth, but due to that dirty little four letter word (work), I could not be there the day she graced this earth with her presence. I was able to meet her (2) days after her birthday celebration and could not believe my weary eyes. Not only was my baby sister a mother, but there was this new ray of light and life that would impact our lives and the lives of others for many years to come. It's a mind baffling thing when you try to analyze the concept of human existence, a complicated and trying fact that is all simplified by taking one glance at those seraphim like features on this tiny, innocently beautiful baby looking up at you. In addition to wanting to spend every waking moment with her, I think there's an innate desire in every woman's core to decorate this new princess in clothes and accessories fit for baby royalty. The Dostal-Thornton women had such a wonderful time stocking the closet with pink, frilly things and dressing up this petite little "doll." As we all know, accessories can make or break an outfit, it's just a fact of life! Lately, the craze are these adorably over-sized floral head bands for baby girls, but with price tags of $15.00 and up, what's a budget conscious fashionsita to do? With some ingenuity, and a helping hand from our friend, George Washington, we cleverly devised our own Haute couture head band for Miss Samantha Louise, solely using materials found at our local dollar store! Take a peek below at the steps for making this necessary accessory for the little girl in your life.

Haute Couture Head Bands


Mesh Hand Bands

Floral Bushels of Your Choice

Felt in Coordinating Color

Piece of Pizazz (Example: Large Button, Jewel, Feather, etc.)

Hot Glue



Begin with one bloom from your bushel and remove any of the plastic pieces holding the flower together. Glue your flower back together if necessary. Cut out (2) small nickel size pieces of felt and glue them back to back on the mesh head band. The first felt piece will serve as a base for your bloom and the second felt piece will provide a soft backing for baby's head. Paste your posy on top of the felt base with hot glue. Allow to dry. Finish off the look by adding on your piece of pizazz to the of the bloom. Featured here, Miss Samantha Louise is donning a red button on this hipster head band. (For Christmas, I plan on making her one with a little jingle bell bling, but let your own imagination be your guide! ) After the glue has completely cooled and set, accessorize your angel and get out that camera!

Trust me when I say this project is easy, effortless, and cost effective. We hope you fall head over heels for this floral fashion just as I fell hard for Miss Samantha Louise!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Savor a Flavor of Fall!

Autumn has arrived and something in the air is electric! The treeline is on fire as the leaves glow like embers in a newly lit fireplace-vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow ablaze! The blistering heat of the dog days of summer has now faded, replaced with crisp and cooling breezes of the fall. Besides the "new look" Mother Nature has donned for the season, I also cannot resist the flavors of the fall! Pumpkin pie, Candy Corn, Thanksgiving Turkey, and my childhood favorite, Apple Cider. There is something about this spicy and soulful creation that reminds me of my Grandmother's kitchen and memorable holidays spent with my family in Savannah. After a recent date night to Bonefish Grill, I was inspired to share a grown-up version of this grog with my Divas! The server at the restaurant insouciantly mentioned their new "Fall Apple Martini" as if he new the less he shared about this apple infused alcohol, the more it would "a peel" to me! (That pun is for you, Ricky!) As demure as his offer was, I bellied up to the bar and could not resist this spicy siren's charms. The drink was refreshing yet heart-warming, with all the right things in all the right places! As any self-respecting bartender would do, they denied me the recipe but they did want to share with me that the vodka used to make this red delicious drink had been infused with 4 different types of apples for 3 days! I say "who has the time" and decided then and there to make a cleverly concocted copy for myself. Give this drink a whirl, I guarantee you will "fall" head over heels for this autumnal elixir!

Apple Cider Martini


All Natural Apple Cider (Available at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Publix, etc.)

Vanilla Vodka


Fresh Nutmeg

Cinnamon Sugar

Red Apple Slices

Assembling the Drink:

Chill your Martini Glasses. Pour 2 1/2 oz of Vanilla Vodka into the shaker. Add 4oz of apple cider
Sweeten with a bit of honey and throw in a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously for a minute until the drinks are well mixed. Style your decadent martini by rimming your martini glasses the cinnamon sugar mix before pouring your lavish libation. Before serving, grate a small amount of fresh nutmeg over the Apple Cider Martini. (I know this seems like a costly and frivolous addition, but trust me- it's the crowning glory to this concoction!)

Top with a thin slice of red apple and serve immediately.

Bottoms Up, Y'all!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Ahhh....a day at the beach...Doesn't that phrase provoke many wonderful memories to flood your mind? Perhaps your ideal day at the beach involved strolling on the sand with someone you love, scooping up eclectic seashells, and smells of the salty seawater? Whatever maritime memories came rushing back to you, I am sure a few were spoiled by a wicked case of sunburn that left you looking like a giant molting lobster for a week! Besides the fact the red crustacean look not being featured on the cover of "Elle", severe sunburn can be more than a fashion faux pas. Severe sunburn can lead to blisters, scars, itching, rashes, fever, fatigue, and sun poisoning. In addition to all the temporary tyrants, extended sun exposure can lead to premature aging, skin discoloration, and even skin cancer. With all the knowledge we possess in regards to the harmful effects of those radiant rays, sunburn still happens! As summer is now in full swing, I wanted to share with you all a few homeopathic sun therapies that will help ease the pain.

*Tea Bags- Soak these tea-riffic little packages in ice water and press them against your skin for relief. Teas such as chamomile, lavender, and bergamot, are all known for their cooling capabilities.

*Cucumber Slices- Lay these cool cukes over your eyes and on your skin for a very veggie sensation.

*Frozen Aloe Vera Gel- Nicey and Icey! A great way to heal the hurt!

*Water- Keep your fluids up; water is a necessity! Gatorade, Powerade, and Pedialyte are great re-hydrators as well!

*Milk of Magnesia- Apply a thin layer with a cotton ball directly to your skin for a cooling effect.

*Noxema- Not just for faces anymore! Rub a layer of Noxema to the sun-soaked areas for temporary relief. Warning- this treatment is quite messy!

*Baking Soda- Dissolve some baking soda in water and make a compress using a clean cloth. Baking soda is cooling, calming, and will help your skin retain moisture.

*Potatoes- Grate a potato and apply it to the burned area. The starch will cool and soothe the burn. Thank goodness for taters!

*Aspirin- Aspirin kills the pain and reduces inflammation and redness of sunburn but it must be taken within 24 hours of the burn to receive the full healing qualities.

So Divas, if you are going to sun worship this summer please allow your Cabana Boy to slather you down with some sunscreen before baking. You can thank me later...

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Few "Engaging" Ideas for the Newly Engaged!

Love is in the air! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the blossoms are blooming, and love reigns supreme. Over the last few months, I have had more than a fistful of friends decide put a ring on it. At this time, please allow me to send special shout out to Lindsay,Colleen, and Chasady; three of my favorite friends and now fiance's to the men they love! Congratulations to you all and remember that the best is yet to come! For all those who are newly bethroved, think about taking these thought-out tips into consideration. Before you discover the dress, fret about the flowers, or find yourself in a cake conundrum, here are a few suggestions that may seal your sanity in the many months leading up to your nuptials.

*Start Spreading the News: Whether it's a Facebook status update, a text from your iPhone, or a formal hand-calligraphed announcement, share your news with the world! First and foremost on your list of informants should be your parents, followed by immediate family, then friends. Eager ears will enjoy your engaging news but will not enjoy being kept in the dark.

*Dress Up Your Closet: As your anticipation builds, so should your wardrobe! Over the next year, you will have a slew of soirees to attend including engagement parties, bridal showers, ladies luncheons, a wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and maybe even a morning after brunch. You will be the belle of the ball at all of these pre-marital parties, so be sure to dress to impress. Start seeking out stylish sales now and stock your closet full of dresses and outfits appropriate for any of those matrimonious occasions. Your pre-planning will allow you to put your best fashion foot forward and will free your time up for more important items like SPA treatments and wedding cake tastings! :)

*Postage Please: Throughout the planning process, you will find yourself snail-mailing everything from engagement announcements, to save-the-dates, wedding invitations, and thank you notes for shower and wedding gifts! Begin to purchase postage in small increments; a booklet of stamps once every few weeks or so will help lighten your letter sending load. You may even consider adding postage to your wedding shower wants list. No, it's not that baby pink 5-speed Kitchen Aid Mixer with Pasta Maker attachment, but unlike the mixer, I will guarantee you will use the postage!

*Become a Designing Woman: Conceptualizing and designing a wedding can take as much time and effort as Michelangelo gave to painting the Sistine Chapel. Start a Design Board to map out the feel and theme of your wedding day. Start with a piece of heavy-duty foam board, fill it with fabrics, paint swatches, drawings, and magazine photos- anything that helps evoke the feeling of your dream wedding day. Be a Velcro visionary and adhere a piece of the scratchy stuff to the back of your iconic items in case your tastes change as the months fly by. Next time you find yourself strolling the aisles of your local hardware store, select a plethora of paper paint swatches to help you devise your color scheme. Whether it's Goldenrod or Grape, choose your colors wisely as they will play a vital part of the mood and ambiance of your extravagant event . Take your venue color scheme into consideration, but more importantly, stay true to your personality and to your true colors!

* The Write Stuff: A blank journal that you keep by your bedside is the best for documenting late night design concepts, tentative guest lists, or whacky-tacky wedding advice given to you by nutty Aunt Martha. (You don't really have to write it down, but at least humor her.) This journal should be petite and pint-sized as travel is required. Slip this tiny tablet in your beach tote, gym bag, or Pucci purse as inspiration never waits. Jot your ideas as they come to you and organize these impromptu thoughts later.

* Location, Location, Location: As you are floating on cloud nine, tip-toeing through the tulips, and busy being swept off your feet, at least start to think about the season and the venue you would like to host your ceremony and reception. With the wedding market booming, most high volume venues will begin booking brides anywhere from a year to a year and a half in advance. Even though the actual exchange of rings may be in the not so near future, keep in mind the early bird, or in this case the early bride, will get the worm!

*What About Your Friends?: Married friends will be your most reliable resource during your pre-marital planning process. Extend an invitation to lunch to the newlyweds and bring your best Barbara Walters! Prepare a list of questions for the lovebirds- ask them what the most important thing about their wedding was. Do they have things they wished they had done differently? What vendors would they recommend and why? Be sure to listen and learn; writing all these valuable vittles in your journal. Show your appreciation by picking up their lunch tab. A sandwich for sound advice is a decent trade to me!

Being engaged is such a precious time in every couple's courtship. Despite the pressures of planning for the wedding and a new life together, remember to enrich and enjoy this chapter of your fairytale. The wedding day will come and go but it's the love that you share for each other that will last forever more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gettin' Dirty!

Whether you are 9 or 90 years old, the thought of making and eating a "dirt pie" may just bring a smile to your face and a twinkle to your eye! This dirty dish evokes so many fun summer memories for me that I just had to share it with y'all in hopes that it may lead to your own memory making process. Try out this precious and potted dessert at your next family reunion, birthday party, or any lazy Sunday afternoon. This "soiled" sweet is sure to please even the pickiest of palettes!

Dirt Pie


1 package gummy worms

2 packages chocolate pudding

2 lb. Oreo cookies

3 1/2 c. milk

8 oz. cream cheese

12 oz. Cool Whip

1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

3/4 c. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3 qt. flower pot

1 dirt trowel

1 bunch plastic flowers


Mix the pudding and milk, then whip in the cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla. When mixed, gently fold in the Cool Whip. Crumble the Oreo cookies in a food processor using medium pulse. In the flower pot, put small piece of foil in bottom to block holes. Fill the bottom of the pot with a layer of cookies, then pudding, followed by a handful of worms. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. Be sure your top layer is your crumbled Oreo cookies. Artfully place your artificial flowers in the top layer of your dirt pie and sprinkle the top with a few gummy worms for show. Allow dirt pie to chill for several hours and when ready to serve, spoon out with the trowel.

A fun variation on this recipe is to substitute out the chocolate pudding for vanilla pudding and the Oreo cookies can be substituted for vanilla Oreo cookies. Instead of gummy worms, use gummy fish and other sea life confectionaries. Serve your sand pie out of a plastic sand pail and scoop out using a sand shovel!
Hope you "dig" this recipe, dahlin's!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strawberry Field Mice Forever!

Spring has sprung and if you live anywhere in the Southeast, you know that means the green fields are dotted with those ruby red gems, sweet, sweet, STRAWBERRIES! Here in Florida, we are world famous for our spectacular Plant City Strawberries. This town is the largest producer of Strawberries and Citrus in the state of Florida, and boy are we thankful for that! Our spring dining regime is filled with menu items such as Strawberry Trifle, Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Salad, Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Shakes, Strawberry Daiquiris, and the list goes on says Bubba Gump! As much as I lust for these crimson cuties, I can get berry burn out after a few cases and begin to seek alternative uses for this perfect produce. In addition to this season bursting at the seams with, spring is also the time for fabulous fetes like Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, and Birthdays. In seeking new and inventive ways to put these scarlet sirens to use, I stumbled upon this idea on the World Wide Web. Just imagine how precious these bite-size berry mice would be sitting alongside a punch bowl or hidden among the buffet at your next springtime soiree! A few themes you may want to incorporate them in could be a "Nursery Rhymes Baby Shower." You could use them to play up the beloved "Three Blind Mice" or "Hickory Dickory Dock" Nursery Rhymes. For a child's birthday, consider hosting an "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" Party. This is an absolutely adorable children's book, a part of a series, which would make all the kiddies squeal with excitement! For all you Divas with a more grown-up gathering in mind, display these mice among your Fromage array at your next "Cheers and Cheese" (a.k.a. Wine and Cheese) Party. Even the most sophisticated of guest would enjoy this pop of humor.

Strawberry Mice


For each mouse, slice a small section from the side of a strawberry so it sits flat.

Press a mini chocolate chip into the tip for a nose, using a small dab of icing to secure it in place, if needed.

Add icing eyes and stick 2 almond slivers into the top of the berry for ears.

For a tail, use a toothpick to carve a small hole in the back of the berry and push the end of a piece of licorice lace into the hole.

Serve these berry cute treats with small triangles of Swiss cheese.

Wherever these Strawberry Field Mice may scurry, I hope they bring a little smile to your next Spring Soiree!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to Put the "Care" in Career!

As many of you know, everything's been coming up roses lately as I was presented with a new job for an illustrious hotel here in Central Florida. I am now on week three in the prelude of my profession and I am becoming more and more accustomed to office life with every day that passes.

For many including myself, starting a new career can drastically change your life! You must adapt to a new environment and co-workers, train your body and mind new routines, maybe devise a new wardrobe, and find out how the boss likes her morning coffee from Starbucks! A new job sometimes brings a transition that is difficult and uneasy.

I was deeply touched this week when I opened my post office box to see a large, manila envelope with my name so carefully written on it along with the words "NEW JOB KIT!" Besides from being a stellar person, my dear friend, Amanda Brown has seen me throughout all stages of my life- from being my sorority sister, to my bridesmaid, and now to my best friend who I wished didn't live so far away. The contents of the package were graciously gifted to me along with a sentimental note card that described why she enclosed each item. I was so inspired by this package that I feel compelled to share it will all my Divas!

If you know a close friend, relative, or even the new kid at the office, here are some ideas that could make their evolution in office exec just a bit easier.

*Nifty Note Cards- Amanda gave me the cutest pink "S" monogrammed note cards and said it was to keep in touch and thank all my clients. Even if your filing friend doesn't deal with clients or thank you letters on a daily basis, having a set of classy note cards screams you have manners and are familiar with eloquence of etiquette. "Thank you" is the most under used phrase in the English Language as far as I am concerned.

*Fabulous Frames- Find a few frames for photos to bring your dearest to your nearest location! Photographs of the faces you love the most are a great way to brighten the drabbest of all office spaces.

*Creditable Calendar- Don't have an assistant to "pencil you in?!" Help anyone manage meetings and moments with a whimsical and wonderful calendar!
*Savory Snacks- Fight that 3:00 hunger hound with a vat of hearty and healthy snacks for your friend to feast on. Great office side snacks include dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, and other sundries. These nibbles will also come in handy when that deadline approaches and there's not a moment to spare for a lavish lunch break.

*Memorable Mouse Pad- Bring a little fun along with function by purchasing your cubicle companion a mouse pad with a silly or sentimental saying imprinted on it. Every time they commence their computer work, this mouse pad will hopefully put a little sass and smile into their day.

*Tactful To Do Lists- Everyone from mommies to managers needs a trusty To Do List. These little lists can be found everywhere from your local dollar store to discount dime stores to the finest stationers. If you are a greenie at heart, you may want to consider buying your business buddy a dry erase board- no paper waste included!

*Coveted Coffee Gift Card- For those mornings where your get-up and go has got-up and gone without you there's always COFFEE! Purchase your paper pushing pal a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts Gift Card for them to use at their own discretion. Who knows, maybe they will return the favor and arrive to the office one day carrying your custom "Skinny Tall Vanilla Latte!"

*Posh Pens- Help your friends find the "write" way to success to with a plethora of posh pens. Writing instruments that are decorative yet functional are always a plus in any Diva's World!

*Basic Breath Mints- The difference between fresh breath and bad breath could be a contract! Assist your filing friend by supplying them with an arsenal of mouth-freshening mints. They will thank you and their co-workers will thank you!

*Celebratory Champagne- Celebrate good times; come on! Landing a new job can be quite a feat, especially these days considering our economic situation. Remind your friend that you are proud of them and their outstanding accomplishment with a bottle of bubbling Champagne. After a long and tiring first week at any job, they may need a drink sooner than you think! :)

Friends and families are there for us see us through our troubles and our triumphs. They are there to celebrate our successes and to mourn our losses. Show a friend or family member your love and support by gifting them with your own cleverly composed "NEW JOB KIT!" It's always nice to know someone cares about your new career!

Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Love is the BEST Medicine!

Hello Dahlin's! I am writing you this blog as the smell of freshly opened alcohol swabs, latex gloves, and hospital cafeteria Salisbury steak waft through my nose. To our dismay, dear ole' dad had to undergo emergency surgery this Wednesday and we have been busy setting up camp here at the hospital ever since. We thank our lucky stars that the surgery was a great success and his road to recovery at home is quickly approaching. As the days pass, and the sterile, green tiles of the hospital become an everyday sight for sore eyes, I cannot help but think that an extended stay in this massive mansion of medicine would drive even the sanest citizens nuttier than a fruit cake! Now, some people may think, my father included, that lounging around in bed all day, being waited on hand and foot by cute little nursies, and watching unlimited cable television would be the ideal vacay, but I am sure the majority of us wouldn't view this as a wondrous walk in the park! If you have a friend or family member who is sick at home or currently in the hospital, why not chalk up a little cheer and bring a bit o' sunshine to their weary world!

*A Tasty TREATment - Fill a beautiful basket with lots of gastronomic goodies like chocolates, cookies, flavored popcorn, gourmet teas and coffees, crackers, and soups to make their hospital stay (and their hospital food) a little more bearable. Before loading up on these fun foods, be sure to ask if your patient is on any kind of restricted diet and adjust the snacks accordingly. Nurses and immediately family would be your best consults for this!

*Color is the Cure - Never under estimate the power of color in an otherwise bland and boring room. Chromatherapy or more commonly called, Color Therapy, uses color and light to balance energy wherever a person's body may be lacking, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually. You don't necessarily have to "paint their town red," but pops of pleasing colors through a festive flock of flowers, a buoyant bunch of balloons, or a posh pop-art poster will help add a little fun and whimsy to an otherwise dismal and drab space.

*Get Them the Gossip - Keep your patient up to date with latest news and celebrity gossip by purchasing a few magazines or newspapers from a local bookstore for them to flip through. STAR Magazine will always bring a giggle or a gasp out of celeb-obssessed reader. Or, if your bed-bound buddy loves to read novels, pick up a few of the bestsellers from Barnes & Noble Bookstore to help them pass the time.

*Arm Them With Amenities - A hospital doesn’t exactly fit the definition of "hospitable" so don't expect to see those perfectly placed petite bottles of invigorating rosemary-citrus shampoo or a travel-size sewing kits waiting on your armoire upon your check-in.  Pamper your patient and bring them a terry-cloth or waffle weave travel kit  filled to the brim with their favorite shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, body spray, toothbrush and toothpaste, an animal print shower cap, scented moisturizers, a bath pouf, and maybe a few grooming tools. If you have a hospital-bound Diva, a few primpin' and preenin' items such as colored lip gloss, blush, mascara, a sassy hair band, and brush would be more than appreciated, dahlin's! (True story, my DAD asked for tinted self-tanner to give him that "after St. Croix glow during his stay!" Ha-ha!)

*Hand-made with Heart - No matter what the occasion or circumstance, personalized gifts are always considered some of the best and most appreciated options. A picture drawn by your child (or you if you are a Monet in the making), a framed painting, a poem, a hand knit hat, or a jar of your annual strawberry jam are ways to show your affection and dedication to your patient. A visit accompanied by a simple cheer-up construction paper card or just an inspirational text message can bring instant smile to your patients’ face as well! This most certainly is a case of "it's the thought that counts."

*AromaTHERAPY - All hospitals and medical institutions have that same sickly and sterile "smell." You know exactly what I am talking about! Help make your patient's room a little more cozy and comfortable by bringing the aromas of the world right into their room. Gel candles are fabulous as they produce pleasing scents without having to be lit. A basket of potpourri, room spray, a lavender filled eye pillow, or a sachet for their closet would also be fabulous fragrant ways to freshen up their hospital suite.

*Musical Medicine - This gift will certainly be music to your patient's ears! Purchase an inexpensive MP3 player or I-pod Shuffle and load it up with songs from some of your hospital homie's favorite artists. You can also bring them a few of their favorite CD's and a small boom box so they can listen to their Top 20 Tunes. Just make sure the noise level is agreeable with your next gurney over neighbor!

*The WRITE Stuff - Supply your patients with writing materials and office supplies such as memo pads, paper clips, pencils and pens, a stapler, scissors, and tape. These can prove to be very useful for them, especially if they are accustomed to working with these items at their daily jobs. It will bring back that sense of work and routine to those idle hands. Also, why not purchase a pack of decorative note cards from your local Wal-mart or Dollar Tree? Your purpose driven patient can get started on those thank you notes for all the glorious get well gifts and guests they have received during their hospital stay. Don't forget the stamps!

*Runway Rx - They may be sick, but who says they cannot be stylish! Patients are generally asked to wear pale and unflattering hospital gowns, which may escalate their sickly feeling. They say "clothes make the man" so put a little pep back in their step with a little closet candy! A hip, patterned bed jacket, a pair of sassy bed slippers or socks, or a colorful shawl can bring a little fashion and fun to your bed-bound buddy. Making them feel more attractive and stylish is a nice way to boost their morale and their mood! In the words of the ever so famous Rupaul, "you better work!"

*Home Sweet Home - For anyone I have ever talked to on a business trip, on an airplane, in a hotel, or in a hospital, home is truly where the heart is. If your patient has a while to go in the hospital, bring the things they love about their home to them. A hand-made quilt from grandmother, their prized pillow, and maybe the secret teddy bear they may still have as a bed buddy would be thoughtful treasures to tote along. (I am 27 years-old and cherish my "Billy Bob" Bear.) Bring their family and friends to their bedside by filling frames with pictures of special occasions, trips, and other happy memories to place around your patient's room. Smaller items such as a prized figurine or a dish garden they used to tend daily are also homey additions to any hospital suite.

*Puzzle Your Patients - Sudoku, crossword puzzle, word search- what puzzle pleases your patient? Simple puzzle books and other energizing enigmas may help fight the loneliness and the boredom of a bed-bound buddy. Be sure to flip through the puzzles first however as they should not require a rocket scientist to solve them. These games should promote relaxation and thought rather than putting the hospital patients under any more stress than they already are.

*Kudos for the Caregivers - The patient of course is number one priority, but it's always exceptional when you can honor the doctor, nurses, or the family and friends who have kept up a bedside vigil for your patient with a small gift or word of praise. Encourage the caregivers to do something good for themselves! If you feel compelled, present them with a gift certificate for a local restaurant, movie passes, tickets to the opera or charity event, or a voucher to put towards a small shopping excursion or day at the spa. Individuals in the health care profession and the dedicated friends and family spend the entirety of their day caring for someone else; it's comforting to know that someone else cares about them!

(Note- Before stocking up on these glorious gifts and goodies, check with your patient's care providers to see if there are any dietary, heatlh, or hospital restrictions that may interfere with your present PRESENT plans. If so, do not get discouraged, just adjust your gracious gift giving accordingly!)

Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers, dahlin's! Dad is a trooper and what we call at our house a "good solider"; we know he will make it through this set-back with flying colors! I hope you do not find yourselves or someone near and dear to you bed-ridden or sick anytime soon, but if by chance you do, may these get well gifts bring a bit of happiness to the hospital room or home of your precious patient!

Wishing you all good health and happiness, always!

Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feeling Blue...For Dinner???

Dahlin's, you have spoken and your wish is my command! The following fresh post features one of my absolute favorite recipes from that daring, dark-haired, lovely, loud-mouth, celebrity chef, Rachael Ray! It was definitely love (or maybe lust) at first sight when I initially laid eyes on this recipe. The hands of time stopped and my fabulous foodie fairy-tale had come true! They say "it's all in a name"...Could you possibly go wrong serving up a recipe entitled "Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Bleu Cheese?!?" I admit, Bleu Cheese is an acquired taste for many and much like liver, brussels sprouts, or Aunt Mary's Mystery Meat Loaf, you either learn to love it or hate it! I am sure you can tell by this post that I am definitely pitching for the Bleu Team in this culinary feat. If you feel it would be terribly tragic for you to ingest any of this buttery, blue stuff, feel free to substitute out a milder yet equally delicious cheese like Brie, Provolone, Swiss, or even a Sharp Cheddar. Once you decide on the cheese of your choice; prep your ingredients, pre-heat your oven and put this perfect poultry project to the test!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Bleu Cheese


2 large, boneless chicken breasts, skinned
3/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
4 slices good-quality center cut bacon
1 tablespoon E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil, that's for you Rachael!)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons grainy mustard


Pre-heat the oven to 375*.

Butterfly the chicken breast pieces by cutting across the breast but not all the way through. Open the breasts up and pound lightly between parchment paper. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Cover the chicken cutlets with bleu cheese crumbles, pecans and scallions in equal amounts. Roll the chicken, wrap each roll with two slices bacon and secure with toothpicks. Season the outside of the rolls with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken evenly all over, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a small baking sheet, place in the oven and cook 10 minutes more.

Melt the butter in the same skillet pan the chicken was seared in. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock. Let thicken a minute then whisk in the half-and-half and grain mustard, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to warm.

Halve the chicken and stack to show off the center. Set chicken in gravy or pour over top.

Turn this chic chicken concoction into a masterpiece meal for two by baking up a batch of Pilsbury Grands, serving it up with a side of sauteed spinach and a dollop of cranberries spiked with a bit of ginger or citrus zest to finish the plate.

Home-tested, tried and true, this wowie for a weekday meal can go from pantry to plate in 35 minutes or less. Next time you come home, weary from work and fretful about food, don't be blue; eat bleu for TWO!

Good eatings and be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention" - Behold the Official Grand Opening of My Blog!

First things first; Welcome, Y'all! I am so glad you found me here at "From Blushing Bride to Domestic Diva!" To give you a sneeky-peeky into what this blog will be able to offer you, let me first provide you with one of my favorite quotes, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." I am inspired by my dearest friends and family who have all either taken the marital plunge or are walking down the aisle as we speak. These gals including my newlywed self need a place where we can learn and share lifestyle tips, including delish yet effortless recipes, inspiration for decoration, posh weekend (or weekday if you prefer) projects and find a hub for household knowledge. My solom wish is for this little blog is to become a place for all women to master our precious art of being a WOMAN!!! We are enchanting creatures, able to plan a fairy-tale wedding for 250 on a slender little budget, cook a rocking meal using only a can of garbanzo beans and left over hamburger meat, have the house looking like a southern living magazine for the bi-annual in-law visit and still manage to throw one hell of a dinner party all while maintaining our grace and charm in a killer pair of stilettos. Once again welcome to the world of blushing brides and domestic divas: where the women rule and all the men drool!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Let It Snow, You're Gonna Glow!

Just because the weather outside is frightful and the thought of a beach day is so delightful, doesn't mean your skin can't look glow during these frigid winter months! Living here Central Florida means we are usually spoiled with 10 months of summer sun, but not this year. As I sit here typing for you, my thermometer reads 33 degrees! If that isn't enough to keep anyone indoors, I don't know what is?! It has been hard for this beach baby not being poolside at all this winter, but there's a way to get that summer time bronze without stepping a foot outside! I have always been a fan of self-tanners due to the no risk glow they provide. If you choose and use them correctly, they can become your new secret weapon in your beauty arsenal! Take these few tips on tanning from tubes!

* Shopping for Sun - First off, creams or gels work the best for me, especially tinted ones. The sprays are "cleaner" but you run the risk of missing areas as you cannot see where the spray settles. The aerosol sprays tend to be costlier and don't yield as many applications as a cream or gel. As for color choices, here is my theory: "Isn't the reason you are buying the tanner to be darker?" If you are going to buy a self-tanner, don't piddle away your pennies on the "light" version, always choose either a "medium" or "dark" tint level. Go medium if you are fair skinned or if it's your first time using a self-tanner. My favorites include Loreal Sublime and Banana Boat, both in "dark." If you are simply petrified of looking like an Oompaloompa, or worse yet, Paris Hilton, their are moisturizers on the market that offer a HINT of self-tanner. The results are extremely subtle and take anywhere from 6 to 8 days to develop, but they are a nice introduction to the world of self-tanning. Jergens, Nivea and Neutrogena are my top three picks for moisturizing tint!

* Ready, Set, Exfoliate! - It's important to slough off all the dead skin and rough patches from your body so the tanner may develop evenly. A shower pouf with drizzle of body wash or a handful of baking soda in the shower work well for exfoliating all areas of the body. In addition to giving your self a nice scrub down before your bronze up, shave! By removing your hair you are giving the tanner a clean, smooth slate to develop on all while increasing its staying power. If you self-tan THEN shave, you new tan will be shaved away, with stubble and bubbles down the drain!

* Don't Be Shy, Just Apply! - Post shower and shave is the best time to apply your self-tanner. While still in your birthday suit, lather a thick layer of plain, non-tinted lotion or moisturizer all over your nail beds on your hands and feet as well as your elbows and knees. The lotion will serve as a "barrier cream" and prevent color from building up in these traditionally thicker and rougher places of the body. Start with a half-dollar size amount self-tanner on your hands and work from your feet up. Apply more as needed, paying close attention to even application. Areas you don't want to forget are the tops of your feet, backs of your thighs, underarms, and your back. Last but not least, don't forget your face. If it's your first time with a tanner you may want to leave your face out until you see how the tanner develops on the rest of your body. As with any product, keep out of your eyes and blend thoroughly into your hair line. Allow your tanner to dry and then wash your hands immediately, removing all of the tanner from your palms. I then usually squirt a dab of tanner on the top of my hands and rub the tops together, avoiding my palms. This will give your hands a nice, even glow as well.

* Main"TAN"ance - "It will rub lotion on its skin." Sorry, I couldn't resist using my favorite movie quote! Heed the advice however and moisturize everyday to pro-long your glorious glow. If you would like to go darker, repeat these tanning tips until you develop the color you so desire. Eventually, just as the winter, your tan will fade and it will be time to start the process all over again!

I hope you can use all these tips on tube tanning, my little golden goddesses to be! Send us pics on your faux glow!

Be sure to stay tuned, dahlin's!