Thursday, July 18, 2019

Surprise Birthday In the Garden

Today's tablescape is a surprise birthday party
Jann Olson.  

It is so fun when a true surprise happens!!

Some of you know her from
Some of you may know that Jann has had 
a rough couple of years with breast cancer 
and now brain cancer, so we wanted to spoil 
her tonight.  

The table was set in our favorite summer spot 
for our crafting group in Joanne's barn turned 
into gazebo.  But alas, we also found out that 
the barn was coming down, so it was our farewell 
dinner here.  

You have seen before how Joanne fills 
the old open-air gazebo with all kinds 
of beauties.

We always have such a grand time and hate to leave.

It truly has become an outdoor room, so when 
it slipped out that it was being torn down we 
all went into mourning.  (A few days later it also 
slipped out that they have plans for something new there,
so we can't wait to see what her husband will create.) 

Joanne loves to find thrift store plates to 
create her tablescapes.

And she is the one who taught us how to create 
beautiful mannequins.

We all take food assignments to create our dinners. 
Amy @-thebakeaholic made the cake.

Becky, our newest member created this gorgeous 
doll that looks like Jann with each of our names 
embroidered around her skirt.  

Karen filled the table with flowers.
I made chicken for our fajitas.  
When everyone helps, it creates a 
great party.

Natalie provided gift bags from a local store called 
Busy Biddy.

Besides surprising Jann with a beautiful doll, cake, and dinner, 
we were all surprised with Nashville's singing storyteller, 
Kate Campbell, who gave us a private concert.  She is a 
southern charmer and had us all so entertained as she told 
the backstories of some of her songs.  
Check out her music.  You can find 
her @katemuses on Instagram.

Jann took off soon after to celebrate her birthday 
with her husband by going on a river cruise.  
We can't wait to hear about that!

It was sad to celebrate our last dinner here, 
but we all know Joanne's husband is so talented, 
and Joanne loves entertaining in this space, that 
we have something wonderful to look forward to.

If you are like me, you are running so hard to 
just have as much fun as you can, that it is hard 
to do any blogging and any visiting, so I truly 
appreciate you stopping by!  It will disappear 
before we know, and here in Utah, it only arrived
the last couple of weeks - alas!  

I will be posting this with

Monday, June 24, 2019

Five Layer Cookie Bars

I was plotting something rich and gooey and 
delicious and decided to put everything together 
that I love...Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, 
Oreos, and more chocolate.

This is a simple cookie that makes enough for a 
crowd as you bake it in a bun pan.

Start with two packages of prepared chocolate 
chip cookie dough (or make your own batch).  
I add about 2 T. flour for each package to make 
the chocolate chip cookies a little firmer.

Spread them in bun pan that has been sprayed 
with Pam.  Then break up half a package of 
Oreos and sprinkle on top.  

Mix a package of brownies ( the 9x13 size package) 
with 1 egg and 1/2 C. butter.  Pinch off pieces and 
place on top.  It won't cover all of the cookie dough.

Pour on a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Sprinkle on 1 1/2 C. chocolate chunks or chocolate chips.  
I love Trader Joe's chocolate chunks.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool completely 
before cutting.  

Yum!  Layer after layer of cookie goodness.  Give these 
a try for one of your summer picnics.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Summer is in Bloom Tablescape

It is a beautiful sunny day, finally, after 
all of our rain.  We wondered if summer would 
ever arrive. 

Welcome to my first tablescape of the summer out 
on our back deck.  

I had to celebrate the gorgeous blooms before 
they were all gone.  

I decided to use my wonderful bowls and plates 
that look like flower petals.  I got these years 
ago at Home Goods.  They are still some of 
my favorites, although they don't stack well.

I started with square wooden chargers from Pier 1, 
then topped it with a pink plate from Home Goods, 
and a white plate from Tai Pan, finishing it off 
with the flower plates and bowls.

I used my cute flower spreaders that my DIL gave 
me last year for Mother's Day and paired it with 
simple gold flatware that I have had for years.

The tablecloth is a rose design and the napkin 
follows the theme with a simple twist of a silk flower stem.

I used my mother's pink stemware paired with 
my bubble glasses. 

The peonies were beautiful this year, but I only got a few.  

These Fire and Ice roses are my favorite and they 
loved the cold rainy weather.  I had an abundance 
of these.

I had to show you our views - 
Mountain Timpanogos to the north, 

and Squaw Peak to the east.  The snow is usually gone 
by July 4th, but we had so much snow this year, 
which we needed.  

I am glad I could share my pretties before they 
all disappear.  Thanks for coming to visit.

I will be posting this with

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ooh La La Paris - Family Europe Trip Part 4

How lucky were we to be in Paris the week that 
the Eiffel Tower turned 130!!  She is looking fabulous 
for her age.  

For a brief moment I told everyone that Rome was my 
new favorite city, but as soon as I entered Paris, I 
went back to loving Paris the most!!

We took an Uber (and some of our group took the train) 
to hotel - The Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel.

Hubby and I had stayed there before and we loved 
the fun and central location.

We saved our most elegant place for last.  You go up 
this grand staircase to the lobby.

And what a lobby it is!  Our rooms were just up a couple of 
floors at that end, looking down onto the lobby.

We were greeted in the lobby with trays for everyone 
with cold water, wet wipes and candy.  Great first 

Hubby and I have been to Paris many, many times,
so we knew things we wanted the kids to experience.

One of those experiences is this crepe and waffle 
stand right where Champs Elysees meets the Tuileries. 

I have never had a Nutella Chantilly Waffle quite like 
theirs.  The Crepes are good too, but their waffles are 
out of this world. 

It was a 14 minute walk from our hotel to the Tuileries, 
then through the Tuileries to the Louvre.

From there we boarded our Hop on Hop Off Bato Boat 
to go and see Notre Dame.

It was worth being on the boat because we got up close 
to the reconstruction.  On street level you can't see much 
except the bell towers end.  It was so nice to see the 
cranes working and hear the pounding of hammers.  

When we had a meeting to plan our trip on Sunday night,
I said Hubby and I had never taken the time to wait in line 
for the roof top tour, so those were advance tickets I 
wanted to purchase.  The very next day the fire happened.

Poor grandson in black got strep throat and was 
pretty miserable, but he didn't want to miss anything, 
so he trudged along.

Sainte Chappelle, right around the corner, 
was busier than usual, but there were no lines.  
It really is hard to imagine how beautiful the stained 
glass windows are. 

When we finished there, we crossed the street to 
the flower markets.  The hydrangeas were in their glory.

In that same area they were having a Bread Fest, and these 
darling little bakers were learning about making bread.

By this time the family with the sick boy walked 
back to the hotel and these two with their baby 
in tow went off to see so much more of Paris.  

We had to stop at Edwarts for sipping Chocolate - 
thick as melted pure chocolate and oh so wonderful.

We had a wonderful chocolate tasting there too, 
so we had to bring a box home with us.

Next stop was for pastries at Angelina's.  I like Edwart's 
sipping chocolate better, so we saved Angelina's for 
the next day.

Having just seen Phantom of the Opera in London, 
it was fun to show them the Opera House.

Then we headed to Galeries Lafayette stunning and 
enormous centerpiece - the stained glass dome.

As we tried to get a look at it we noticed this giant 
trampoline like thing stretched across the upper 
part of the dome, and also up to the right you can 
see a glass bridge.  

There was no cost and only a five minute line, so 
they went out on it for a few minutes while I 
watched baby girl, and then I switched with Mama 
and took a turn.  You could bounce or jump or 
just lie back and look at the gorgeous century old dome.

I was so sad that the rest of the family missed this fun.
The Paris Sky Trampoline was a temporary exhibit to
celebrate the arrival of summer.  It ended June 9th. 

Then we were off to to the Gourmet Food Halls. 

We took an Uber over to meet up with the rest of the 
family at the Eiffel Tower just before dusk, so they 
could see the view and then watch the lights sparkle. 

There were new glass fences around the base of the 
tower, but just off to the right, having to wade 
through the hawkers, you entered a security gate 
and went in.  There was no cost to enter, just to go 
up.  My oldest son took his family in March as 
they just had a baby a week ago, and he thought 
there was a charge to go in under the Tower.

We have gone up many times, so we sat out 
with the stroller, while baby went up with 
everyone else.  As they got down, the tower 
began its on the hour sparkle.  It sparkles for about 
5 minutes.

Then right after the sparkle, music began and a light 
show started that last almost half an hour.  We were 
sure surprised by this, but found out it was to celebrate 
her 130th birthday.  We were lucky to get to see this.

The next morning we headed out on electric scooters 
for breakfast at Angelina's.

Hot chocolate and croissants, 

and pastries - Yum!

You can do take out or sit down service.

Can you guess where Ms. Angelina got her name? 

Then we were off to Versailles.  Ms. Angelina was 
certainly in her element here. 

I had purchased skip the line tickets beforehand, but 
today there were no lines.  We arrived around noon 
by Uber.  It was cheaper than the train for our group 
and much faster, plus we got to see a lot of Paris.

Of course, The Hall of Mirrors is one of the 

but it also became one of the scariest/funniest moments 
on the trip.  As baby got held up for a photo, a group of 
tourists swarmed mom and dad, and literally scooped 
her right out of dad's arms so they could get a picture 
with her.  They swarmed her for several minutes.  Dad 
had served a mission for our church in Korea, so he 
was able to talk with some of them.  They were so, so, so 
excited to see a baby!!  At the time it was a little scary 
how aggressive they were, but you can see dad kept 
his arm on the lady who had the baby. 

Marie Antoinette's Hamlet ended up being the favorite 
part for everyone.  This one kept asking his dad if they 
could make their back yard like this.  I told him I had 
thought the same thing since I had first seen it. 

He told us he could live here!!

Our pregnant mama kept up so well on the two week trip, 
but by this last day she was worn out and couldn't 
make it out to the gardens.  She and baby girl were real troopers. 

Our final item on our itinerary 
was the Paris Temple for the 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. 

As I mentioned in the Rome edition of our trip, 
we had promised the kids that we would go to Europe 
when the Rome Temple was completed.  The Paris Temple 
had been completed around a year before, so we 
wanted to go there too.  It is in Les Chesney, just a 
short Uber ride from the Palace of Versailles.  

 We did have a hard time getting an Uber or taxi to 
go there as they wanted a longer ride back to Paris.

We simply walked a little further up the rode from 
the Palace and then Uber drivers didn't refuse us.

The Paris Temple complex is not as grand as the Rome one,
but they did have this beautiful courtyard and a lovely 
visitor's center with a model of the temple, exterior and 
interior.  As you can see behind the trees, the Paris 
Temple is built right next to apartments.  

We ended our stay in Paris with a wonderful dinner 
at our favorite, Pizza Pino, just across the street from 
our Marriott Hotel on Champs Elysees.  The pastas 
are their real specialties, and they could easily accommodate 
all 13 of us.  

The kids all rode the electric scooters back to the Eiffel Tower 
to watch the show once again, while I relaxed in the room 
with a carton of Haagen Dazs ice cream.  

Our flight left the next morning around 10:00, so 
we got to the airport nice and early.  Our experience in 
the Paris airport in the past has been that two hours 
to get through is pushing it, so with as many as we had, 
we got there about 3 hours before and had no lines and 
no panic.  The kids treated me with this beautiful box 
of Laduree macarons for Mother's Day that they 
purchased at the airport.  Notice the gold leafed one 
in the center.  

A week later we had a family dinner and everyone 
had to make something from Europe.  My oldest daughter 
and my oldest granddaughter made this gorgeous 
collection of macarons - Paris, Rome, London and you 
can even get a peek on the left side of a Disney one.

They were all delicious but my favorites were the ones 
stacked with raspberries and strawberries. 

I would ask the kids every night what their favorite 
activities were, it was always so hard to choose.

We had a marvelous trip and I proved I could be a 
group travel agent (although I said I never wanted to 
do that for a living!)

Phew!  That took me longer to document than 
the trip itself.  I have my kids wanting to plan 
another trip to Europe right away!  Haha, 
not for a while, but we have decided to use 
our resources to create memories and this 
certainly created some fabulous memories. 
Now I need to make them each a book. 

Thanks for coming along to Europe with us.

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