Tag Archives: Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Dinner, Dessert and a Delightful Tablescape…..


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more Valentine’s Day celebrations! While we do make an effort to show our love and appreciation for one other most days, St. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to give it a little something special. Although Nick’s not with us this year, a care package is waiting for him in his mailbox (whether or not he makes his way to the Hub to pick it up, we may never know).

My favorite way to set the tone for a delectable meal is to set a beautiful table, whether it’s simple or over the top. Here I chose a to start with a lovely runner; pink, green, brown, cream and yellow paisley. It has depth and personality. As a centerpiece, I combined cedar globe topiaries, simply slid into stone urns and covered with a little moss, cream candle-sticks holding hot pink pillar candles and a charming birdbath holding a host of rose petals.

Pretty in pink, I chose hot pink placemats for each place-setting, along with silver leaf chargers, my Lenox white scalloped edge dinner plates and mauve glass dessert plates. The finishing details were hot pink napkins run through pink beaded napkin rings and crystal water and wine glasses. Sparkly and colorful!

 

For dinner, I decided make Filet Mignon, Potato “Risotto” and our favorite veggie; broccoli. Normally we don’t make dessert, but, come on, this is our Valentine’s Day dinner, so Amanda and I made Chocolate Soufflés!

 

The Potato “Risotto” is so rich and creamy you will think you’ve died and gone to Heaven! The prep is a bit of work, but completely worth it.

 

Potato “Risotto”

Serves 3; you’ll definitely want to double or triple this recipe!

3 Tbsp butter

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes

Generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Generous sprinkle of salt

1 ½ cups chicken broth

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp chopped chives

 

Before you even get started, you’ll want to prep the potatoes. Once you’re finished, you can place them in a cold bowl of water and leave them in the fridge overnight. That will be a huge time saver when you are ready to get this dinner started.

 

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into 1/8” slices, then 1/8” cubes. They’ll look a little bit like Arborio rice.

 

When it’s time for dinner, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat

Add;

Chopped onion

Cover and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes or so

Add;

Potato cubes

Sprinkle generously with cayenne and salt

Stir together

Add;

Chicken broth

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer

Stir until the liquid is largely absorbed, approximately 8 minutes

Add;

Cream

Simmer and stir until the liquid is reduced and creamy

Add;

Cheese

Chives

Stir until well combined

 

Filet Mignon:

While we like the grill, our favorite way to prepare steak is in the oven

Pre-heat oven to 400°

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil

Season both sides of meat with cracked black pepper and course sea salt, or my favorite steak seasoning; McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning

Sear steak in the skillet on each side for approximately 3 minutes

Place skillet in the oven

Cook steaks until desired doneness, for medium-rare, leave in the oven for 12-15 minutes (oven cooking times may vary)

Serve steak with a hearty helping of Risotto Potatoes and your favorite veggie

Chocolate Soufflés:

This is a very special dessert. While there may be a lot of prep, it can all be done in advance. When it’s time for dessert, just pop them in the oven.

 

Serves 6

 

Pre-heat oven to 400°

Butter 6 ramekins and coat with sugar. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use

Ingredients;

6 Tbsp sugar; 3 Tbsp in one bowl, 3 Tbsp in another

1 cup milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds removed

3 large egg yolks

2 Tbsp flour

½ tsp kosher salt

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

6 egg whites

Powdered sugar

Heavy whipping cream

Vanilla extract

Sugar

In a small sauce pan, heat;

Milk

Vanilla bean seeds

Vanilla bean

 

Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow milk to steep (flavors blend)

Remove bean and discard

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat;

Yolks

3 Tbsp sugar

 

Continue to beat until a pale yellow color and slightly thickened

Beat in;

Flour

Salt

 

Slowly, beat in half of the vanilla milk mixture

In the sauce pan, combine the milk mixture with the egg and milk mixture

 

Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until thickened, approximately 2-3 minutes

Transfer to a large mixing bowl

In a small glass bowl, combine;

Bittersweet chocolate

Cocoa powder

 

Bring water in a small sauce pan to a boil

Place glass bowl on top and allow chocolate to melt

Pour chocolate into large mixing bowl

Mix together thoroughly and set aside

In a medium size mixing bowl, beat egg whites until frothy

Add 3 Tbsp sugar, one Tbsp at a time

Beat until stiff peaks form, approximately 6-7 minutes

Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture until well combined

 

Remove ramekins from the refrigerator and fill ¾ of the way

Either refrigerate until ready bake or place in the oven

Cook soufflés for approximately 15 minutes, until tops crack slightly

Remove and flip over onto a dessert plate

Top with powdered sugar a whipped cream

 

We LOVE our home-made whipped cream. It’s simple; pour the desired amount of heavy whipping cream into a bowl, add some sugar and vanilla extract and beat until thick and creamy.

 

Serve and enjoy….

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

 

To schedule an Interior Design or Life Style consultation, or for any questions or comments, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com

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In the Red…..


 As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more seeing RED! Color inspires an amazing visual and emotional experience. For me, I am simply a red girl. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate this fabulous scarlet hue…..

 

 

 

 

The toile pattern is an absolute classic; always beautiful in all of its incarnations. While pastoral and oriental themes are to die for, I love the nod to nature featuring birds and butterflies (another of my favorites!).

 

 

 

 

What a YUMMY chair! This would be fabulous tucked into the corner of a Living Room, a Foyer, or as host and hostess chairs in a Dining Room…..how glam! I would even sit on it while eating Green Eggs and Ham!

 

Throw pillows can add an inexpensive pop of personality! While they are at home on a sofa, chair, bed or bench, I love them in a more unexpected place, like a Dining Room chair; comfort, color and interest!

 

 

 

I am a sucker for Chinoiserie and anything red! Wouldn’t this be fabulous tucked in a Powder Room, Hallway or over a bureau?

 

 

The chandelier is a total statement piece. This would be a bold choice in a Dining Room, Bedroom or fantastic in a Bathroom.

 

 

What is more stately and elegant than Lalique crystal? While the iconic Lalique fish is delicate in stature, it packs a big punch!

 

The classic urn is an interior style icon. It is at home inside and out, filled with plants, firewood, towels, magazines and anything else you can imagine

 

 

Monkeys and elephants are amongst my favorites. They are so playful! Here they are paired in a beautiful, whimsical lamp, which would be perfect bedside, on an end-table or in a Foyer.

 

 

Picture frames provide the perfect backdrop to family moments, adding a pop of personality!

 

 

A pair of love birds would be adorable nestled on a book shelf, mantel, in a centerpiece or outdoors.

 

Speaking of the outdoors, while a garden bench is a welcome addition to……a garden, it’s also an adorable appointment in your home as well.

 

More scarlet hues, more inspirations, more home décor, more beautiful spaces…..  

  

To schedule an Interior Design or Life Style consultation, or for any questions or comments, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com

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Movie Going Trifecta; The Descendants, My Week with Marilyn and New Year’s Eve!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…..more movie going experiences! What a week; in celebration of my birthday, I visited the Cineplex three times in five days. Talk about a Trifecta! There is nothing more decadent than heading to a matinee. It just feels sinful to be at the show in the middle of the day.

With birthdays within eight days of one another, my cousin, Nurse Terri, and I always celebrate together. We come from movie loving people, so it was only natural that as a birthday treat we head to the show with my mom. At the top of our list: The Descendants.  

 

Gorgeous George Clooney stars as Matt King, a Hawaiian land baron, whose life is turned upside down when his wife is involved in a boating accident. As a matinee idol, he’s consistently great; a charming and delightful rascal, who seems to be playing himself (Danny Ocean), kind of like Cary Grant. It was interesting to see George Clooney as more of an every man, a Docker’s wearing husband and father who is somewhat removed from the ordinary moments of family life. With his wife’s accident, he is forced to confront and reinvent his relationship with his two daughters, while he discovers that his marriage was not as it had seemed. As his journey unfolds, support and comfort comes from an unlikely ally in his troubled teenage daughter, played by Shailene Woodley. She was fantastic! In fact, all I could think about was how she might have been perfect as Katniss in the soon to be released The Hunger Games. For me, nostalgia is king, so it was a treat to see Beau Bridges as cousin Hugh. I really liked The Descendants. It was interesting, weird, thoughtful and entertaining.

Next up on my week-long tour of the Megaplex, was an outing with my girlfriend Julia as we celebrated our December birthdays. While Chuck is a remarkably good sport who would have endured My Week with Marilyn, I’m thrilled to have shared the experience with Julia.

As a movie addict, I have always been fascinated with the mesmerizing talent and tragic life of Marilyn Monroe. I’m always kind skeptical about these types of bio-pic’s because it’s nearly impossible to capture the essence of an icon, but Michelle Williams was absolutely amazing. Her portrayal was touching, thoughtful and sympathetic. The movie tells the behind the scenes story of the excruciating making of the movie The Prince and The Showgirl through the eyes of the young and delightful Colin Clark. His insightful observation that the great conflict on the set stemmed from serious, accomplished actor Sir Laurence Olivier’s quest to become a movie star, and mega movie star, Marilyn Monroe’s obsession with becoming a serious actor. I really enjoyed the experience of the movie, but for me, it was a little long on emoting. Lots of longing and lingering eyes and quivering lips, but I suppose that would sum up an exhausting week with Marilyn…….

I have known my wonderful friend, founder of MelkandCookies, since our boys were in Kindergarten. Now college freshman, the fellas still talk every day. I love that! We decided to kick off the weekend with a little lunch and a show. It was a toss-up; The Muppet Movie (I absolutely adore the Muppets. Wocka, Wocka, Wocka. In fact, growing up, one of my favorite books was Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, along with my coveted Official Preppy Handbook.) or New Year’s Eve. The romantic comedy won the coin toss.

As much as I am enamored with the movies, I love classic television, and writer/director Gary Marshal is one of my favorites. How can you not have a soft spot for the man that brought us Arthur Fonzarelli & Richie Cunningham, Laverne DeFazio & Shirley Feeney and Mork & Mindy? While New Year’s Eve was exactly the same movie (with a largely identical cast) as his previous Valentine’s Day, it was still pretty sweet and entertaining. The story lines were predictable and the acting kind of cheesy, but there were touching and tender moments. Most importantly, I spent the afternoon with a treasured friend.

More trips to the Cineplex, more movies, more popcorn, more time with family and friends……

To schedule an Interior Design or Life Style consultation, or for any questions or comments, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com

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Love Is……Valentine’s Day Presents!!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about….more Valentine’s Day gifts! Let’s face it, some holidays are geared to the ladies; anniversaries, Sweetest Day and Valentines Day. We girls like to feel cherished and appreciated and what better way to let us know how much you love us than showering us with thoughtful presents!?!

Gifts needn’t be extravagant to be thoughtful (though that’s never a bad option). Personally, I’m not the particularly mushy, romantic type. A floral bouquet doesn’t really do it for me; flowers don’t last forever and I can pick up a fine bouquet at the grocery store. I may be completely off the mark, but I don’t consider lingerie a gift for me; sorry honey, I’m just a flannel and fleece girl at heart (especially with the recent blizzard and plummeting temperatures).

Big or small, I love a present that is meaningful to a shared memory, or commemorates my interests, passions and personal style. As I was cruising around town, I snapped a few photos, you know, for…..inspiration.

 

I’m just spit-balling here, but there’s nothing wrong with a visit to your local fine jewelry store. I happened to notice quite a few sparkly baubles in the window at Altobello in Town Square; earrings, bracelets, necklaces. After all, diamonds (and pearls, semi-precious stones, gold, platinum, silver…..) are a girls best friend!

Fashions are always a welcome treat. While it may be freezing cold outside, nothing can dampen my desire for spring! Frankly, I’m rather tired of bulky sweaters and turtlenecks, I long for three quarter length sweaters and fun, flirty tops.

 

Banana Republic is currently featuring fresh transitional pieces that will enhance your winter wardrobe, while setting the tone for the warmer months to come. Grey’s, sliver, lavender’s and mauve’s are simply stunning! Pick up a sweater, a top and a great accessory, like an evening bag for your sweetie.

 

The iconic animal print remains a huge focus at Ann Taylor. This season it’s featured with interesting embellishments, color and drape. What gal wouldn’t welcome a little animal behavior!

 

Of course, costume jewelry is another great way to add some pizzazz to your daily wardrobe. Why not swing by Miroballi and check out their selection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets? A great handbag, in an unexpected color and texture, is also a great way to infuse some personal style. And don’t forget accessories for the home. A gorgeous picture frame with a cherished family photo is always appreciated!

 

Fragrance is a lovely and welcome gift. Bath and Body has some beautiful bath products, already bundled for quick and convenient gift giving. Of course for fine fragrance, Ulta has an enormous selection. I absolutely fell in love with their featured scent; Poppy by Coach. It’s a beautiful and modern floral.

 

For the girl that has it all, why not stop by Border’s and pick up an E-reader? Okay girls, this is one for the fellas too. The E-reader is no bigger than a journal and can easily slip into your purse, diaper bag or brief case.

 

 

Because more of everything is always better, why not swing by Hallmark and check out their enormous selection of Vera Bradley bags? We moms are always schlepping books, snacks, beverages, sports accessories, calendars and schedules, basically our entire lives, with us every day. Why not do it in style? Vera has a pattern and color palette perfect for everyone. Besides, collecting Vera’s is an obsession for some. What a fantastic gift to build upon for Mother’s Day, birthdays and Christmas!

More celebrating, more love, more Valentine’s Day, more thoughtful gift giving….

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If You Set It…They Will Come (to Thanksgiving Dinner)


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about….more beautiful Thanksgiving tablescapes! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is totally devoted to eating? The only way to make it even better is to set an equally decadent table to enjoy the experience; good food, good wine, good company and good times.

Last month, I was the featured speaker at a meeting of the International Furnishings and Design Association at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. I was thrilled to share my passion for entertaining, while I demonstrated my philosophies about how to set over the top buffets and tablescapes for the holidays. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to show you some interesting ways in which to make your table a little more enchanting.

 

While Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, I was inspired by more of an elegant woodland theme. Layering gives your table a luscious feeling. I like to pile on the linens (Bed, Bath and Beyond thanks me…)! A tablecloth is the perfect foundation, setting the tone from the get go. If you have a round table, there is nothing more sophisticated than a tablecloth that touches the ground. It’s so grand! Don’t have one? It’s as simple as renting one from a party rental store. Here I selected a chocolate brown because it’s neutral, it coordinates with everything, it shows a little imagination and the dark color hides a multitude of sins (think gravy).  

A table-topper is a must because it adds some personality. I love to use throw blankets as toppers. Some are washable and others are simply beautiful works of art. I had to have this gorgeous, nubby gingerbread, eggplant, terra-cotta and sage throw. Customarily, my next layer would be a traditional placemat. I like the idea of delineating everyone’s personal space. To make my woodland theme more authentic, I chose to incorporate berry wreaths as placemats. Talk about interest and dimension! The hues in the berries compliment the weave in the throw beautifully.  

 

Formal tablesetting’s definitely require a charger. In order to keep up with all of the other textures, I selected brown leather chargers rather than a gold leaf. It felt more rustic. I do not happen to own a set of formal china because I prefer the option to mix and match my dishes to create more interesting designs. I am head over heals for my gold buffet plates from Pottery Barn. Their rustic nature blends beautifully with my woodland theme. They are actually very practical and I’ve had them forever. They are perfect for just about every occasion other than Valentines Day. How about that for versatile? Whether I need it or not, I always set my table with a decorative salad plate. It’s an opportunity to tie your whole tablescape together. Here I am using my pear plates with an apple green and gold leaf edge. To coordinate with the pear plates, it would be a great idea to place a real pear at each place setting, with a place card tied to the stem of the pear with raffia. Seating arrangements are a way to control chaos (or just an excuse for an additional layer on your table).

I love proper cloth napkins at a formal table. They just scream special occasion. Here I used a golden, textural woven, simply slid through a copper ring. As an alternative to breaking out (and polishing) the good silver, I have selected flatware with a honed, pearl handle as an additional compliment. Rather than use a standard clear glass, I placed an amber glass footed goblet at each place setting. The amber offers a lovely warm glow.

Every table needs a centerpiece. I know that this one is over the top, and it should be. When a guest comes to an event in my home, my intention is for them to be swept up by the magic. Green is my favorite neutral, which is why I was completely drawn to this fabulous urn. For height, I filled the urn with willow branches. They have an elegant, wispy quality. To reinforce my woodland theme, I selected evergreen branches with pines cones. The hydrangeas in purple, gold and red add a pop of color nestled in at the base. Now I do recognize that this arrangement is too tall to keep on the table during dinner (unless there are relatives on the other side that you would just as soon not see), so when it’s time to eat, whisk it off the table and set it aside. That might sound like extra work, but I’m not about simple, I’m about meaningful……

It’s time for the finishing touches. Turkeys and pumpkins are so predictable. I prefer to feature more elegant pheasants during the fall and winter seasons. I have three gold gilt birds scattered around the table. What a treat it is to dine by candlelight. I have chosen leather candlesticks, in varying heights with taper candles. To capture the candlelit sparkle, I have also included mirrored candlesticks with pillar candles.

Pop in the turkey and all the fixings, light the candles, turn up the music and enjoy dinner with your family and friends.

More extravagance, more beauty, more breaking bread, more gratitude….

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