Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

I love planning a holiday meal.  As new food magazine issues emerge on the shelves, I start collecting them – and scouring them – using page flags and sticky notes to mark interesting recipes.

I’m lucky that my family is laid back when it comes to holiday meals.  They usually leave the menu up to me, and I love the responsibility – it lets me get a little creative!

A decision on the protein comes first – turkey, ham, duck, Cornish game hen, seafood?  From there I plan the sides carefully… and yes, I write it all down on one big list.  (Normally I make a list of possible sides and then mark them off based on relevance to the protein.)  Once I’ve narrowed down my sides and desserts (the two hardest categories to whittle down), I make a shopping list.  I go through the ingredients in each recipe and check it with items I have on hand.  If I need something, it goes on the shopping list – with amounts needed jotted out to the side.  So, if for example, I need butter for the green beans, butter for the mashed potatoes and butter for the dessert – I might have a side note of 1/2 cup + 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons… Before heading to the store, I do the math so I buy the right amount of each ingredient.

**My Holiday Grocery Shopping Trick – Buying in bulk (especially when everyone else is) can be a waiting game.  Instead, plan out your shopping list early and conquer it by making more frequent, quick stops during the week leading up to the holiday.  Plan to buy 10 items or less so you can go through the Express Lane – it’s a breeze and you’ll have all you need in no time, without having to wait 30-45 minutes in a long register line! **

I’ve made TWO free printables to help you with your Thanksgiving Dinner planning and shopping – just click on these links to download a thanksgiving menu planning and a thanksgiving shopping list.

Another clever idea for your holiday (and everyday) entertaining is to keep a Cooking Journal.  I got this one years ago at Anthropologie, but any journal or notebook will do.  In my food journal,  I keep track of menus for holidays and other special get-togethers.  It’s kind of like in the movie High Fidelity when John Cusack’s character reorganized his record collection in chronological order.  If I remember that we loved the potatoes from last Easter but our favorite turkey was from Christmas 3 years ago, I can mix and match to create a better menu for the next holiday.  It’s a good way to keep beloved recipes close at hand (if they’re well received I jot down the recipe in the book) – and I love to look back on what went over well and what didn’t.


Here’s a peek inside my cooking journal.  I make notes of the event, date of the meal, who was in attendance and where the dinner was for future reference.  I also include a rating out to the side of experimental dishes – stars if we loved the dish and X’s if we hated it… keeps us from repeating culinary mistakes.  In this journal, I also experiment on recipes I’ve had and want to duplicate or recipes I’ve thrown together and liked.  It’s where I keep track of my culinary adventures (and misadventures too).



I would recommend a cooking journal to any aspiring foodie… in fact, if you know a foodie who doesn’t have one, it might be a great Christmas gift idea.

It’s back to Thanksgiving dinner plans for me.  Happy Thursday!

Make Way for More Cards!

Make Way for More Cards!

As spring shifts into high gear and Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation draw near, we need more room for greeting cards – we have cards out the wazoo!


To solve the problem, this weekend we put a little muscle into it and added two more sections of shelves to our greeting  card corner.




The new section will be our “Featured” area – if you’ve seen a card posted somewhere on social media, this is where you can find it. Quickly and easily.

Now we can get out even more of the cards you need for this busy season of life!

cards sm

Earth Day Wildflower Seed Bombs

For Earth Day this year, we wanted to do something really fun for our customers… so we’ve made wildflower seed bombs!

The idea is that  you can use the seed bomb in your own yard (or toss out the window when driving down the highway) to magically add a little beauty to the world around you.

To make your own Earth Day wildflower seed bombs, you’ll need the following (yields 20):

8.5 x 11 blue cardstock – about 12 sheets

8.5 x 11 green cardstock – about 6 sheets

a blender


local wildflower seeds

a mesh strainer


To begin, tear the paper (or use a paper shredder if you have one) to make small pieces of each cardstock color.  IMG_5601

You can use any kind of paper (even newspaper), but I used an aquamarine colored cardstock, because I wanted it to look like a globe.

Add the paper shreds to a blender and cover with water.  ** If you don’t have enough water, your paper won’t “pulp” – it’s always easier to drain the extra water than add it.

IMG_5602Blend until the paper is a smooth consistency. Pour into a mesh strainer draped over a bowl (to drain the excess water).

IMG_5603Use your hands to press the pulp  until most of the moisture is strained.

IMG_5604Repeat the same process for the green cardstock (which will serve as “land” on your Earth seed bombs later – so you’ll need far less)

IMG_5605Once you have the paper pulp from each color completed, slowly add handfuls of wildflower seed until thoroughly mixed.

IMG_5606I got my seeds from a local nursery, but you can find local wildflowers seeds online for your area by doing a search online.

IMG_5607With the blue paper pulp/seed mixture create a small ball (squeezing the moisture out as you go).

IMG_5608Add bits of the green seed mixture and reform in a sphere to create an “Earth” shape and look.

IMG_5609Set aside each seed bomb on a cookie sheet to dry and repeat until all of the paper pulp is gone.

Drying update: If you need to speed up the drying process, turn a couple of fans on the seed bombs to help circulate air around them. Depending on their size, that should dry them in 6-12 hours.

We plan to give these out to the first 20 customers who come in on Earth Day (this Wednesday)… but think this would be a fun project for any family who wants to bring wildflowers to their community year-round!


Vacation Inspiration – US Virgin Islands

Vacation Inspiration – US Virgin Islands

For my birthday this year, a few girlfriends and I took a trip to the US Virgin Islands (St.Thomas and St. John). It was a wonderful time to relax and getaway, which gets my creative juices flowing. It’s amazing how a little time “off” makes my To Do List longer once I return, but I love that feeling of refreshed inspiration!

St. Thomas

For this trip, we stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s Home (available on VRBO if you’re headed that way).

It’s hard to beat waking up with a view of the ocean. And it’s even better eating meals on the porch with an ocean view (the above photo is the view from the back deck).


Driving in the US Virgin Islands is – challenging to say the least– with all the curvy road and steep hills and sharp turns – so we were glad to have our trusty Jeep Carol along for the ride.


On our first morning in St.Thomas, we brunched at Gladys’s Café.  It’s a charming little place known for their hot sauce, which you can have shipped home.


Then we enjoyed duty-free shopping (not really my thing but the other girls enjoyed it).

For two days of the trip, we took the car ferry over to enjoy the beaches of St. John. While we were gone, Lubbock was getting pummeled by a snow storm, so we made a “sand man” in honor of our friends at home.


Can you see how amazingly clear the water is? Heaven I tell you, Heaven.



For our second day on the island of St. John, we visited Honeymoon Bay. It was a bit of a trek from the car to the actual beach (about a 10 minute hike), but when we arrived, our beach chairs and lockers were ready and waiting on us (totally recommend the pre-paid package, which also included the use of snorkeling gear and ocean kayaks).




I had never kayaked before, and calmly paddling through the crystal clear water, observing sea life below – I found my happy place.

I was so inspired by the colors I saw on this trip – the bright yellow of our Jeep, the deep fuschia of the Bougainvillea, the turquoise and sapphire blues of the ocean. Sometimes you can “see” colors in photos or on a color chart, but when you see them on a canvas that God painted, it’s SO much more impressive.


Check out these mailboxes – it was so interesting I had to pull over to get a photo!

And now for a dose of the inspiration: When we returned, I was working with a bride who was having a beach wedding. She had ordered something online but wasn’t happy with how they turned out (we hear this ALL the time), so she wanted to come up with a custom invitation design for her Big Day. The first thing that came to my mind was that gorgeous, tranquil water of St.John. So I proposed that we try an hombre effect using turquoise (the bride’s main wedding color). To further the beachy theme, I added a tiny starfish accent at the bottom. It was perfect, and she was thrilled with how the design turned out.


2015 January Market Trends

2015 January Market Trends

As always, my last trip to Atlanta Market did not disappoint.  It’s true, going to Market IS fun, but make no mistake – it’s NOT a vacation or pleasure trip.  It’s hard WORK.  I try to throw in a couple of great dinners to make it seem more fun and relaxing than it really is, but for me, Market is all about the finds.

Going from showroom to showroom for five days, I started to notice a few trends.  Trend-spotting is important in retail – when you really pay attention, you can predict what will sell before it actually does.  That’s the trick.  Find the newest, hottest thing before it’s declared the newest, hottest thing… and it’s pretty darn difficult!

{As a designer, a bonus for noticing the trends is that it can inspire me to create products that will merchandise nicely with those emerging trends.}

So, while I did find a LOT of cool items that our customers will love, these three trends really stood out, so I’m declaring them the HOT trends of 2015!


+  GRAY +

I’ve heard that gray is the new black, but it’s for real happening this year.  It was everywhere – from tabletop to tote bags to jewelry and gorgeous stationery.  I would probably never pick gray for a paint color in my home, but there were so many beautiful gray tones at Market, I might end up changing my mind some day.


… hot dog, I know our store customers are going to be happy about this one – we’ve got a lot of Doxie lovers out there!  I spied the iconic weenie dog on stationery (Rifle Paper Co.) and in brass (Creative Co-Op) and on pillows and bookends.  Let’s hear it for the dogs!

+  GOLD  +

Yes, still.  And everyone wants it – gold foil on greeting cards and beverage napkins and everyday stationery and wedding invitations.  Metallic gold prints on home decor and fashion accessories.  Gold, gold, gold is all the rage!

Did you attend Market this month (in Atlanta, Dallas, Vegas or New York)?  I’d love to hear what trends YOU spotted!  Let’s compare notes.

{featured in the image above (clockwise-ish):  Butter London Dodgy nail lacquer, Royal Standard Cake Stand, Read Between the Lines Tipsy and Fresh Card, Slant Collections Cheers! napkins, Kate Spade New York ice bucket, Royal Standard gold greek key tote, Rifle Paper Co. Dachshund note card, Creative Co-op Brass Dachshund )