Fireplace Fantasies

Come on baby, light my fire.

I’ve always wanted a fireplace. I’ll admit it, I use have a Christmas DVD of a fireplace, just so I can see and hear the warm glow of the yule log. A DVD pales in comparison to the real thing, but for a while it was as close as I could get!

Then I found a faux fireplace that allows you to have a real flame fire! I bought it, and the fire fuel, several years ago, and have still not used it once! What is wrong with me?

I’ve got a flickering flame light bulb in there for now, but hopefully someday, I’ll have the real thing.

Instagram Fireplace

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Winter Wonderland Tablescape 2015

Last year we created a cozy warm burgundy Christmas decor to welcome home our Evie who had been in the hospital for 4 months. We wanted it warm and inviting as a big welcome home. This year we went in a completely different direction, creating a winter wonderland look full of frosty snowflakes and sparkling silver.

Both the table and the sideboard are decked out with pine bough garlands, with silver balls and snowflake accents. We spent forever polishing every piece of silver in the house so that everything would sparkle in our frosty wonderland.(Once again, please ignore the empty picture frames – two professional artists in the house and we have empty frames – yep- cuckoo birds!)

The snowflakes have been carefully placed to appear as though they have just randomly fallen from the sky and landed around the house.

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Clause are a cherished family heirloom that come out every Christmas. This year they have taken center stage as our Christmas table centerpiece.

 

We placed a few Christmas balls in silver candlestick holders. An elf seems to have photo-bombed our decorating photo shoot! So fun! Such an awesome trick for taking ADORABLE pictures of your pets, kids, grand-kids or even some whimsical selfies. 

Check out how it’s done here: 

 

These gorgeous silver ornaments are actually salt and pepper shakers. Its quite a rare delight when form and functionality meet like this.

 

 

Here’s the table place settings with baroque silver charger plates and baroque silver candy dishes on top. The candy dishes will be filled with candy for Christmas day. 

 

Our sideboard/buffet has got a cascading sheer cover that has an embroidered lace pattern that subtly mimics snowflakes.

 

At night, this look really comes to life with white twinkle lights everywhere!

I’ve just realized there are no pictures that include the tree or any other parts of the house. More pictures to come!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and Joyous Season!

Here is a look at last year‘s cozy warm burgundy decor.


Last Christmas! Check out more pictures here:
Christmas 2014

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Star Spangled Seashore Celebration

When summertime rolls around, we love to bring the beach and seashore into the decor — so for our Fourth of July theme, we went with a ‘Star Spangled Seashore’!
 
 
Sometimes it’s hard to part with a particular decor or theme and this year we really did not want to take down our cool summertime Oysters and Pearls: Seashore Celebration
 
We couldn’t skip the fireworks and the Red White and Blue though, so we created a sort of patriotic seashore fusion.
 
 
Though there are quite a few similarities between this theme and the last, we don’t mind because we are using many of our most favorite things.
 
Making their return are the silver charger plates and matching silver nut dishes in both baroque and seashell shapes. Also the pearls, fishing nets, lantern and seashells are back. 
 
New to the table is a gorgeous navy blue blanket being used as a tablecloth topper. Also new to the table are some lovely red salad plates and some Navy blue napkins.

 

We’ve got our patriotic red white and blue ‘fire’Cracker Jacks ready as a nostalgic summertime treat. We added red white and blue striped ribbon just to make them extra special. 

With a name tag or note attached to the ribbon they would make an awesome place card or party favor as well.

 

We’ve also got our Pop Rocks, because they are like having a fireworks show in your mouth!

The sideboard is all gussied up with red white and blue bunting and other patriotic  themed items. 

We found these sparkly balloon weights from Dollar Tree. They certainly are not a statement of understated elegance, and they may be a bit gaudy, but they feel like a fireworks launch! 

If you can’t add a little over-the-top sparkly glitz and glam for the 4th of July, when can you?



We’ll be adding some of our favorite patriotic recipes and entertaining ideas soon — until then, here are some pictures from last year’s 4th of July celebration, and a few more from this year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday Party for Feather

A Very Merry Birthday Party for Feather!

We had a small birthday party for Feather on his birthday this Sunday. 

There are no pictures of the Birthday Boy, or the guests because we were able to keep the Paparazzi at bay for the entire event.

Sometimes it’s nice to just live in the moment and see things through your own two eyes rather than on a tiny screen while you snap pictures!

In the afternoon we had a small family get together and had some delicious home-made ‘mud pie’ (his absolute favorite) — my aunt makes this for him every year on his birthday.

This yummy pie is served with whipped cream piled high on top of it.

I didn’t get any pictures of it topped with whipped cream because I know better than to stand between a hungry birthday boy and his chocolate puddin’ pie!

After the party, once the guests had all gone home, we had a small dinner party with just the four of us.

Peggo made Veal Parmigiana for dinner (another one of Feather’s top requests).

I personally have to suspend all thoughts of what Veal is, and even then I have a hard time getting through dinner — but I kept that to myself!

After dinner we surprised him with his favorite Carvel Ice Cream Cake.

I don’t know if it is a Long Island thing or just a Hickey family thing, but Carvel Ice Cream cake is like the official taste of birthdays. 

A million childhood memories of birthdays past flood into my mind when I see or taste a Carvel Birthday cake.

It seems like this frosty confection made an appearance at the birthday celebrations of just about every one of my family members — nearly every year.

I can remember family members soaking knives in hot water just to be able to cut through the cake with a house packed full of family members just waiting to get their piece!

If you’ve never had a Carvel Ice cream cake, it’s vanilla and chocolate ice cream with that signature Carvel crunchy chocolate cookie crumble between the layers (that I thought was coffee grounds when I was a small child).

You can buy these cakes in grocery stores nationwide now, but when I was a child we would get them straight from the Carvel Ice Cream Parlor, and they would write a personalized Happy Birthday message on the cake.

I loved that blue gel they used for writing, and always hoped I got a piece with some blue gel letters on it!

The party decorating was quite a mish-mosh of holidays. 

We are still all decked out for St Patrick’s Day so there is lots of Irish green around. 

We swapped out a few pots of gold for birthday party decorations and we were set for a party.

Paper plates can actually go quite a long way in decorating for a birthday party!

Here we have a paper plate sandwiched between a gold charger plate and a clear glass plate so that it has the look and feel of a ‘real’ plate as opposed to a flimsy piece of cardboard (and oh boy do I have a lot of decorating plans for these clear plates!)





It was a day of family and fun with pie and cake and smiles all around.

That about sums up our celebration of Feather’s 88th Birthday Celebration! 

We’re looking forward to giving him many more birthday parties to come!




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St Patricks Day – Decorating

A Leprechaun has come through our house and doused it with a healthy dose of green!

This looks a lot like the Valentine’s Day pictures with a photo filter to change the red to green, but I promise it’s not.

In the past, whenever I would try to decorate for St Patrick’s Day, I would have a very hard time getting things to match. 

The look would come out as a sort of “Fifty Shades of Green” — which I can only assume is the story of Christian Green, a kinky leprechaun who grants wishes, but only if your wishes are to be spanked by a kinky leprechaun — so a slightly different story.

Good luck getting that image out of your mind. 

But back to the decorating — we wanted a very bright cheery St Patty’s Day green, but that color can be a bit intense, so we’ve made the green an accent on a mainly white foundation. 

We’ve also got the pots of gold which bring in a nice dark contrasting black and some sparkling gold.

Lots of decorating items being re-used here! Mardi Gras beads and Christmas gold as well as Halloween cauldrons. 

The crown on these beads is reminiscent of the Irish Claddagh (if it had a heart under it) so it still works as a St Patrick’s decoration.

The Battenburg lace has made another appearance, this time with a green tablecloth underneath so the green peeks out of the open-work in the lace.

(secret tip: the green underneath is from the dollar store! Usually those plastic tablecloths look and feel awful, but under the lace it works perfectly to add the color!)









Last year after St.Patty’s Day we caught a 90% off sale and I picked up these awesome St Patty’s necklaces with giant shamrocks and Irish charms. I LOVE after holiday sales!

I knew they would bring some festive bling-bling to each place setting. 

I also scored these gorgeous green glass candy dishes in the exact green I was looking for.

The gold charger plates are back again and feel reminiscent of giant gold coins. 

I mixed in some green plastic plates because they are the perfect color, and when stacked in the white china they are working almost like a second layer of charger plates. 

The only green cloth napkins I had were a deep hunter-type green, so the lovely napkins shown here are actually paper napkins!

The centerpiece is a very real cauldron that I found at Savers. It weighs a TON and was clearly used many times by it’s previous owner. 

I imagined it being used by a witch to boil eye of newt for Halloween, and I knew I had to have it for for my Halloween decor. 

When I realized it could come out again filled with gold coins for St Patrick’s Day too, I was sold!










The buffet is covered in lace with a green tablecloth underneath and you can see the green coming through very subtly. (green plastic tablecloth to the rescue again!)











The lace pattern is small flowers, not shamrocks, but it gives the impression of clover and swirls, and in my decorating fantasies it is shamrocks.

Big green bows with shamrock shaped leprechaun buckles were found at the dollar store and I love them!

That pretty much covers our St Patrick’s Day decorating. 

Now it is on to plan some green baking projects!








Thank you for stopping by!! 

Here’s wishing that you find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!













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St Patricks Day – Potato Soup

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With an Irish name like Hickey, people kind of expect us to celebrate good ole St. Patty’s Day.

After discovering that the ‘traditional’ St. Patrick’s Day dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage may NOT even be a traditional Irish dish, we decided to explore the alternatives.

Continue reading “St Patricks Day – Potato Soup”

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Mardi Gras Celebration – King Cake

Happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras Celebration!

I have to admit, I have never tasted King Cake. I don’t know what makes a King Cake good or bad. 

I do know that I wanted a festive treat for Mardi Gras and King Cake is one of the most festive looking Mardi Gras treats around.

Please look away now if you are from New Orleans, or have tasted the real King Cake, because I have made a quickie version of a King Cake-like treat that probably pales in comparison to the real thing.


It’s a giant cinnamon bun twisted/ braided into a big wreath-like cake, with the cinnamon bun frosting covered in Mardi Gras colored sugar.

It was a lot of messy fun to make, and I would have taken more pictures of the process, but my hands were covered in sticky cinnamon filling and I didn’t want to have a cinnamon flavored camera — because I would have to eat that too.

So, this is the only in-progress picture, but I think its says it all.


I mentioned in a past post, that I have made my own colored sugar for the first time this year. It was easy and fun!

In case you missed it, here are the full and excessively lengthy instructions;

– put some sugar in a ziplock bag
– add a few drops of food coloring
– shake-a, shake-a, shake-a
– the end







The tradition is to hide a baby charm in the King Cake. The lucky person to get the piece with the baby in it will be blessed with good luck and prosperity.

Choking hazards aside, I’m wishing you all find the piece with the baby! 

Good luck and prosperity to you! 

Happy Fat Tuesday!


UPDATE: We just served it!

Here it is cut open!

I have not tasted the King Cake yet because I am still happily stuffed from eating THESE divine Monte Cristo sandwiches that Peggo made, but so far two of us have tried it and there are two thumbs up so far!

Not bad for a quickie substitute idea!

UPDATE again:  I tried it. *swoon*
4 out of 4 thumbs up so far! Best served warm. YUM!

Nitty Gritty Notes – We used two cans of Jumbo Cinnamon Roll dough from Aldi (2@$2.39) — the kind that explodes when you unwrap the cardboard can. Each can contains 5 rolls. We unrolled all the rolls into strips, and made two groups of 5. We loosely grouped/stacked the strips and then twisted them together. The twisted dough was loosely shaped into a wreath-like shape with only minimal efforts to tuck/blend the edges.
 
All of the dough shaping was on Non-Stick foil on a sheet pan that was also used for baking it. The directions on the can said to bake 18-22 minutes at 375. We were using two cans at once so we tried 22 minutes and then pulled it out and poked at it a few minutes before deciding to toss it back in for 8 minutes longer at 350. It came out PERFECT.
 
We used the frosting that came in the cans of dough, and frosted them with a flexible silicone spatula while they were fresh and hot, working quickly and covering the entire ‘cake’ with frosting before sprinkling the colored sugar on top before the icing cooled/set.
Want more Mardi Gras? 
Check out our Mardi Gras decorating HERE!
Check out our Fat Tuesday Monte Cristo HERE!

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Mardi Gras Celebration – Decorating

Happy Mardi Gras!

This is our first year celebrating Mardi Gras, so we’ve been doing some research!

Mardi Gras already has its own signature colors of Purple Green and Gold, so the color palette is already set as far as decorating, and each color has a special meaning. 

– Purple for Justice
– Green for Faith 
– Gold for Power.

Purple can be a difficult color to work with. Finding the right shade is quite a task, and it can be nearly impossible to find other items to match!

One way to get around this is to find items made by the same company, or from the same line, so that they least match each other. 

We made sure to do this with our tablecloth and napkins. Having that one consistent base to work with really helped pull the look together.

Our decorating goal for the dining room is to design the buffet and the table so they look like they are meant to be together. We want them to compliment one another instead of competing for the spotlight.

Here we have the buffet covered in a purple tablecloth, and the dining table is covered in a gold tablecloth with purple napkins placed diagonally as place mats to give the table a harlequin pattern. 

It brings the exact same color from the buffet to the table so they stay harmonious without weighing down the entire room with two dark purple table cloths.


We went with the literal metallic gold as opposed to introducing yellow accents. We did this mainly in the form of gold charger plates, gold platters, gold flatware, gold tablecloth, and an assortment of gold beads and baubles to simulate over-sized Mardi Gras beads (mostly Christmas decorations…sshhh!! don’t tell anyone!!)

Once again the dollar store saves the day with lots of awesome inexpensive bead necklaces to drape from every available surface. 

They had lots of other cute items as well, such as our cute little masquerade masks.

We’ve even wrapped beads around the napkins instead of napkin rings so guests can join in on the fun and wear them if they’d like.

We’ve draped beads from the candlesticks and on the pedestal in the centerpiece.










With the decorating complete, we can focus on our Mardi Gras feast!

The plan as of now is to make Monte Cristo Sandwiches — probably using a copycat recipe of the recipe used in The Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. 

We’re also planning to make King Cake for the very first time — or a modified version of king cake, just as long as it has the traditional colored sugar.

UPDATE: We made  the King Cake and the Monte Cristo sandwiches, read more about it here;

Check out our King Cake HERE!
Check out our Fat Tuesday Monte Cristo HERE!

I made the colored the sugar for the King Cake myself for the very first time — so fun and easy I should blog about it! — except the whole blog would be;

1 – put some sugar in a ziplock bag
 
2 – add a few drops of food coloring
 
3 – shake-a, shake-a, shake-a
 
4 – the end

Maybe if we are lucky we’ll be able to score some Packzki this year. Though it’s not traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras fare, it is a traditional Fat Tuesday food.

I’ll update this post with how it all turned out! Until next time, Happy Mardi Gras y’all!

Check out our adventures in making a King Cake HERE!
Check out our Fat Tuesday Monte Cristo HERE!

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Silver Freak

I’m a silver freak, silver freak, I’m silver freak-ay!

If you’ve spent any time at all here at my blog (THANK YOU!) you’ve probably noticed that I have a bit of an addiction to silver, especially in the baroque style.

If you are wondering how a person can collect baroque silver without going broke (pronounce ‘broke’ as buh-roke, just this one time so it sounds like baroque) I am about to share my silver secrets with you.




Lots of the silver in my silver collection is from…
The Dollar Store. 

*GASP*  

Yes, $1.00 silver trays (like the ones pictured here) can really brighten up a table or sideboard.


The more ornate and antique pieces are the best ones though, both for the beauty and history of each antique piece. 

When you find a heavily tarnished piece of silver at a yard sale, thrift shop, antique fair or Savers, its like finding buried treasure.

Covered in tarnish it looks awful, and nobody seems to want it. It’s almost always priced to move. 

I scored my silver tea set at an antique fair for $25 bucks because the dealer didn’t want to waste his time polishing it.

I brought it home, polished it and had it appraised. It’s worth $250.00 – $300.00 – making it by far the most pricey piece in my collection at $25 or $250!

I would love to report that I sold it for a tidy profit, but I fell in love with it and can’t bear to part with it!






Our silver charger plates that appear in our more formal place settings were a gift, and as tacky as this sounds, I know the exact price, because I put them on my list when I saw them on sale for $19.99 for a set of 4(almost 20 years ago)

Sadly these seem to have been discontinued, and I can’t find them anywhere if we should ever need replacements or to expand the set.




My silver flatware is a subject that really excites me (I told you I was a silver freak). 

One day I was window shopping online at places I could NEVER afford when I discovered the most beautiful silver pattern I had ever seen in my life. 

It’s called Wallace Grand Baroque and it is solid silver and GORGEOUS. It is also priced so far out of the realm of possibilities for me that I wouldn’t even dream of collecting it.

Here I present to you, Wallace Grand Baroque:



At the time of this posting, service for 12 is listed at a whopping $12,000.00.

That was not a typo – Twelve THOUSAND dollars.









Is your heart broken? So was mine, but…take a look my silverware set: This very similar design is Baroque by Godinger (sometimes referred to as 20th Century Baroque).
At the time of this posting, service for 12 is listed at $235.00.

That isn’t ‘cheap’ for flatware, but it’s certainly better than $12,000!

This set is silver plate, not solid silver, but it is every bit as beautiful and a fraction of the price.

Still too pricey at $235.00? 

That’s what I thought too, so I hunted ebay like a jungle cat, waiting in the shadows for the right moment to pounce. A lot of hunting, some ebay gift cards and cashback on my purchase and this set was in our house and on our table (after lengthy polishing sessions) for just about $5.44. 

Yep, not a typo again. Service for 12 listed for $56.00 with shipping included, minus $50 ebay gift cards for watching commercials and 1% cash back (yes, I will blog about how I did this).

This silverware Caddy came home with me for only $1.59 at savers ($1.99 with 20% discount). 

It was discolored and awful looking, but I could see right through that! A little bit of elbow grease and it is dazzling.


Savers is definitely my new favorite place to hunt. Some of the prices are terrible, like when I find the exact item sold at Dollar Tree priced at $1.99, but other times the prices are insanely awesome – and that is when I pounce.

It really does feel like treasure hunting. You never know what you’ll find!



Treasures like silver-plate candlesticks and chafing dishes are almong some of the most common silver items found at Savers – usually for just a few dollars.




Little accents and precious heirloom collectibles in silver also bring that personal touch to the table. 
Items like these salt and pepper shakers in the shape of vintage Christmas ornaments and rhinestone embellished napkin rings.

To me, the silver is like jewelry for the house. It completes any look and adds sparkle and warmth. I love the heirloom aspect of silver that feels like holidays, home and celebrations. Bring out the good silver and celebrate every day!

With that, I’ll leave you with a close up of my silverware pattern that makes me swoon. I’m a silver freak, silver freak, I’m silver freak-ay.



If you are wondering what I use to remove tarnish – it’s “Wright’s Silver Cream” and I have linked to it below. It’s not the scary smelly kind that you need gloves for. It’s a pink cream that comes with it’s own sponge and we LOVE it. 

Quick Tip: If it dries out, do NOT throw it away! Just add a bit of water and it is as good as new!

 

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Groundhog Day Celebration

Happy Groundhog day!
 

This year is the first time we are attempting to ‘celebrate’ Groundhog day.

So here we go!

To start with, we made Coco Krispy Groundhogs!

It’s just the standard Rice Krispy Treat recipe only we swapped out Rice Krispies for Coco Krispies so that our groundhogs would be brown.



Here’s the recipe:
——————————————
INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) Marshmallows
OR
4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups Coco Krispy Rice cereal

DIRECTIONS
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. 

2. Add Coco Krispy Rice cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Release your creative side and start forming groundhog shapes!
——————————–

We had some candy eyes left over from Halloween baking, and the teeth are made from mini marshmallows cut to shape and size with cooking sheers.

As you can see in the picture, we tried several approaches to the overall design of the groundhog. Let me tell you, when you look up at this motley crew of slightly deranged looking weather forecasting rodents, it makes you giggle.

We used a piece of a green plastic tablecloth for the ‘grass’ and some dry Coco Krispies around the base to simulate a dirt mound around the groundhog burrow hole.

Clearly Coco Krispies and marshmallow do not create the most cooperative sculpting medium, but this is not meant to be fine art.

Creating them was a fun and silly break from reality and they taste dee-lish!

On the absolute MUST-DO list for today is to watch Groundhog day! 

Unfortunately it’s not available for streaming on Netflix. If you don’t have the DVD, Blu Ray or digital copy, it’s on AMC several times on Groundhog Day so fire up those DVRs!

Here is the schedule:

Monday February 1st at 10:00 AM
Monday February 1st at 12:30 PM
Monday February 1st at  3:00 PM
Monday February 1st at  5:30 PM

Enjoy!

UPDATE:
I added links below for The Groundhog Day Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download, respectively. 

I also added a link for the CUTEST stuffed groundhog! I want to buy him and put him right in the middle of our dining room table as a centerpiece next year!


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