Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Activity - Time Capsule

A new decade approaches, and here is the ideal activity that New Year Eve party goers of all ages can participate in: Create a Time Capsule.

  • Find a container to hold all the contents (shoe box, large leftover Christmas gift box, empty popcorn tin, etc..)

  • Paper or pieces of paper and pens/pencils to write down events that happen during the year that are on a personal level or national level, prices of everyday items (gasoline, gallon of milk, butter...) or what music and movies were popular in 2009.

  • Add some photos of family members and friends or items and memento's from a vacation or event.

  • Find a save and secure place to store your capsule with a 'Do Not Open Until 2020'.

These are just some suggestions of capsule items to get you started. Send us more suggestions or what was it like to make or create your time capsule this New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year to everyone, and we look forward to new and upcoming postings in the new year.


Carole and Angela, Table Ambiance

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Auld Lang Syne?

Ever wonder what the famous New Year's Song meant? Thanks to Lisa Gache from
Beverly Hills Manners has some insight.

The words to "Auld Lang Syne" are pretty obscure to most of us, yet we sing them with pride on New Year's Eve. The Scottish phrase literally translates to 'Old Long Ago' and encourages us to think about days passed. The lyrics also refer to kindness ('We'll take a Cup of Kindness yet') and conjure up positive images of everyone getting along and creating a happy future.

These final days of 2009 are perfect for taking stock of the past. Reviewing our good deeds and our not so good deeds. Who we wronged and who we helped. Who we slighted and who we were generous towards. Were we kind or were we cruel? Did we cheat ourselves out of an experience or did we try our best? What were the ramifications of our actions? Did it serve us or did it do us a disservice? This is all good information to ponder before ringing in a new year.

So before New Year's Eve approaches, sit down and write a list of resolutions for yourself. Then add a list of manners resolutions. These can be purely aspirational because, after all, we are human and make mistakes. The important part is to focus on being more aware and trying to change. Below I have compiled a list of manners resolutions that I aspire to live by. Feel free to use these as a starting point or as your complete guide.

Finally, stop thinking of manners as some dated, dusty set of rules from days long ago. Manners never get old, they are never out of style and they are never irrelevant. On the contrary, manners are insanely important and frankly they are a nice change from the salacious, gratituous, frivilous world we live in today. So embrace your new manners in 2010!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hurry... Items are going fast!

It is that time of year again when we close up the season with our end of year clearance sale! Click here to see all the items on sale for incredible prices.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookie Party: Fun for All Ages

My mom started having a cookie party for all her grandchildren and her friend’s grandchildren. It has been a holiday tradition for over 10 years running. All the children (even the teenagers) look forward to it every year.
It is a great activity to really get you into the holiday spirit. It allows adults to catch and chat while the kids are having fun creating confection masterpieces.
To get started, send out your invitations. If you are short on time, log onto to get a cookie party invitation out fast.
You can buy all the necessary decorating items (sprinkles, icing, candy etc) at your local grocery store or craft store, like Michaels). We have found that the easiest and less messy idea is to make one big batch of royal icing. Separate it into squeeze bottles (available at restaurant supply stores or Michael’s) and color it with food coloring.
A Royal Icing Recipe:

1 lb confectioners sugar 3 Tb. egg white powder½ tsp lemon extract (optional).
Mix altogether, add 1 tablespoon of water (or more) to reach the consistency you want. Beat approximately 6 minutes)

One of our favorite sugar cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Another helpful hint is to have your guests bring their own container or box, so they can easily transport their wonderful cookies home.
If you have any holiday traditions, please let us know! Send us an email so we can share it with our blogging community.
Stay tuned for Holiday Entertaining Ideas for guests of all ages.
Visit our website for more Holiday Table Decor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Get Into The Spirit

This fun cocktail from Martha Stewart is sure to get you into the Holiday Spirit!

Candy Cane Cocktail

1 candy cane, crushed for garnish,
2 ounces strawberry vodka
4 dashes white creme de menthe
2 1/2 ounces cranberry juice Ice cubes

1. Place crushed candy canes on a small plate or saucer. Wet the outside rim of a chilled martini glass with water. Holding the glass by the stem, rotate the rim to coat with candy. 2. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, creme de menthe, cranberry juice, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into prepared glass; serve immediately.
Visit our website for holiday table setting ideas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Manners

December 1st has arrived and the Holiday Celebrations begin. Thanks to Lisa Gache from Bevery Hills Manners who provides tips on proper manners for the holidays.

Good manners and proper etiquette are appreciated throughout the year, but even more so during the holiday season when expectations are at an all time high. This is a special time to bond with family, share in special activities, help one another, be charitable, and tolerant. To make the holidays nicer for all, here are 9 quick tips to guarantee a stress free and joyous holiday season!

1. Eat, Sleep & Be Merry. A hungry stomach or a tired body is a recipe for holiday party disaster. Schedules tend to be packed during the holiday season leaving little or no downtime to recharge batteries. Avoid any pitfalls by making sure everyone gets plenty of rest and eats a light snack before attending any holiday celebration.

2. Dress for Party Success. Dress appropriately for the occasion. If your family is attending a party at a ski chalet then a pair of clean jeans, a parka and Uggs will suffice. However, if the holiday gathering is a more formal affair then party attire, in the form of a dress or a nice pant suit, is a wise choice.

3. On the Road. On your way to the party, make sure to review any rules such as the type of holiday party you will be celebrating, who will be attending, what kind of food will be served, and any special activities your family may be asked to participate in.

4. Arrive on Time & Bearing Gifts. Your hosts are looking forward to your arrival so avoid being late and make preparations ahead of time. Select your attire beforehand, make sure all gifts are wrapped and a proper note has been written, map out your route and write down a contact phone number in case of an emergency.

5. Essential Holiday Table Manners. (a) Wait to be seated until everyone has arrived at the table. (b) Follow the lead of your host or hostess for everything. (c) Place your napkin on your lap. (d) Pass all trays of food to the right and all condiments in pairs. (e) Make pleasant table conversation with the person on your right and your left. (f) Chew with your mouth closed. (g) Wipe your mouth before taking a drink. (h) At the end of the meal, place your utensils in the finished position on your plate and your napkin loosely on the left side of your plate. (i) Ask to please be excused.

6. Clean-Up & Be Invited Again. If you are attending a sit down dinner celebration with family or with friends, offer to pitch in. This will guarantee future invitations.

7. Gracious Gift Receiving. Graciously accept all gifts whether they already have them or not. Focus on something positive to say. For example, if you do not like a gift, you do not need to say they do. You can simply say "thank you" or "how nice of you to think of me". Being polite always pays in dividends.

8. Departures. Designate an agreed upon beginning and end time with your family to prevent any misunderstandings when it comes time to leave the house or return from a party.

9. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! A phone call or, better yet, a hand-written note of thanks to your holiday party hosts shows your appreciation for all their hard work. If you've thanked someone in person for a gift, a thank-you note isn't obligatory. But, it is never wrong to write a thank-you note. If you receive gifts from family members that you won't see to thank in person, write them a thank-you note-both to let them know their gift arrived and that you liked it.

The best way to alleviate stress from the holidays is to do something charitable. Look into your local organizations to see how you can donate your time to those in need. Offer to serve a holiday meal, hang decorations, bake cookies, read stories or sing holiday songs. Set a good example for your children while doing something fun and inspiring for the whole family. Take a moment to realize how lucky you are and be thankful for all that you have.
For Holiday Table and Home Decor Ideas, visit us at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Cocktail

A fresh and festive cocktail to toast with this Thanksgiving.
- 1 part Grey Goose La Poire flavored vodka
- 1 part pumpkin butter
- 1/2 part triple sec
- 1/2 part simple syrup
- Pinch of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger
- Grated nutmeg and apple chip for garnish
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add all ingredients. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with nutmeg and apple chip or a fresh cranberries on a toothpick.
Recipe from
Don't panic, you still have plenty of time to plan/prepare for Thanksgiving. For table setting ideas visit us at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Simple Thanksgiving

Let's K.I.S.S

Let’s K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) this Thanksgiving. The most importantly thing to do on Thanksgiving Day is to remember or reflect on the things you are thankful for. So, in the kitchen and on your table, keep it simple. Start planning your meal with “make ahead” recipes or invite your guests to help with the Thanksgiving feast by bringing a dish or two to ease the load on you. Set your table ahead of time. If you are worried about dust, cover the table setting with plastic wrap or dry cleaning bags. Visit our past Thanksgiving blog postings for simple ideas (i.e. an array of fall squashes arranged in a low profile basket, or use mini pumpkins as votive holder and have several of them down the center of your table).

Post your favorite simple yet effective idea for hosting Thanksgiving in our comment box. (photo from

Friday, November 13, 2009

Easy Thankgiving Centerpieces

Here are a few ideas to add a little ambiance to your table this Thanksgiving!
The pumpkin arrangement is from Make a few of these arrangements and place them down the center of your table. To add some height to the center, simpley add two of these great fruit/vegetable taper holder. Stick a pear or pumpkin in the middle and add a 9 inch taper to it and ta da, an easy yet unique table setting for Thanksgiving.
Another idea is to place a worry free pillar candle in a hurricane vase with nuts and add two pumpkin arrangements on either side of the hurricane for this years Thanksgiving table setting. It is that easy. Happy table setting!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Project

Get the Kids Involved This Thanksgiving!
This cute yet fun project is brought to you by Most kids love to help, so put them to work in helping add to the Thanksgiving table decor!
Now for a little Table Ambiance touch.....Not only do these pilgrim hats look delicious for dessert, they might also make for a perfect place card or party favor. Have the kids gather leaves outside and clean them with a damp cloth. Then have them write each guests name on the edge of each leaf with a gold metallic pen. Put a leaf in the center of each plate at each guest's place setting. Then place the hat in the middle of the leaf. Not only will each guest find their spot at this years Thanksgiving table, but they will have an amusing treat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Plan Ahead This Thanksgiving

Plan ahead this Thanksgiving will make this holiday virtually stress-free. Susan Westmoreland from Good Housekeeping has created a two week check list to follow to in sure a celebration that even the hostess will enjoy.
For table setting ideas and products for this Thanksgiving, visit us at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Make a Wish This Thanksgiving

Make a wish.............
With Thanksgiving around the corner, who gets to break the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? Well...... everyone can get a chance this year. Lucky Break Wishbone has created a fun product that allowes everyone of all ages to enjoy making a wish on the wishbone.

How can you incorporate this into your table decor? Easy... tie a wishbone around everyone's napkin at each place setting or stand it up against the beverage glass.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Surviving Halloween

Here are some great tips for this Halloween........

Halloween Etiquette - Tricks for Surviving the Night of Fright!

Halloween can be a wonderful and fun-filled time not only for the little ones, but also for adults. There are some basic etiquette rules however, that we all need to observe to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone. Here are a few essential tips on how to survive the night of fright!
Trick-or-Treating. This is truly a tradition reserved for younger children who look forward each year to dressing up in their favorite costumes and going door to door to receive unlimited amounts of sugary treats. A child who has reached the age of sixteen or seventeen should retire their pumpkin candy bag for good. Begin trick or treating at dusk while their is still some light for safety. Try not to crowd or stampede the doorways for candy. Teach your children to be patient and polite and to remember the all important "please" when they ask for a treat and "thank you" when they receive it. There is nothing like seeing a ghost or goblin at your front door with impeccable manners.
Neighborhoods. It is perfectly acceptable to travel outside one’s own neighborhood, particularly, for children who live in a hillside neighborhood without sidewalks or for children who may be living in a neighborhood that is less than child-friendly. However, if you do decide to leave your neighborhood, the next best thing is to trick-or-treat in a neighborhood that you are familiar with or that is the neighborhood of a friend. If a house is dark and all the lights are turned off, this is the unwritten signal that the family is not participating in the ritual or may not even be at home.
Costumes. As far as costumes for children, the general rule is that they be kid-friendly. Politically incorrect outfits or very scary horror costumes are not considered appropriate. Older teens and adults may choose to let their wild imagination get the best of them, however, etiquette dictates that whatever they choose, they should try to be considerate of others and their environment. Ask yourself one simple question, "Is my costume disrespectful or would it offend or scare another person at the party"? If the answer is yes, then find an alternate choice. Oftentimes, we think only about ourselves and not of others.
General Halloween Etiquette Tips. Halloween is a perfect “training” time to teach your children to take only one candy and be sure to say “thank you”. After just a few visits, your two year old will be an expert! At least one parent should accompany children up to at least the age of twelve. Make sure to speak with children about general safety rules, staying with their group, and if older, curfew time. Parents should check the treats of the younger children before they eat them. Children should never eat anything that is handmade or specially prepared (unless you know the family).

Looking to make your Halloween complete? Visit for howlish Halloween home and table decor.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Cocktail

Halloween is the perfect time to partake in the spirits!

Dracula's Kiss

Ingredients: 1 oz black cherry vodka ,1/2 oz grenadine, cola maraschino cherries for garnish

Preparation: 1. Coat the bottom of a highball glass with grenadine. 2. Add ice and vodka. 3. Fill with cola. 4. Garnish with cherries.

Cocktail recipe from:

Visit our website for Halloween home and table decor to make this Halloween one to remember:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creepy Halloween Treat

We just loved this Halloween Treat from the Food Network. These creepy yet yummy spiders would be a fun addition down or around the center of your Halloween table setting. Or make them an edible place card (write each guests name on a sticker and wrap one end of the sticker to a toothpick and place the toothpick into the spider) to welcome or frighten each guest at the table. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional
Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Mound 30 small clusters of pecans, about 3 or 4 pecans each, spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.
Make caramel: Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.
Put the sugar and corn syrup and in a deep, heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, or 305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla taking care since the mixture will bubble up. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.
Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies. Then press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs. Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. (It's helpful to have an extra hand here, since the caramel can set quickly. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.)
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider. Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.
Recipe from: 2007 Television Food Network, G.P.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Harvest Time

Here in the Northbay, Sonoma County has the Harvest Fair. At this weekend event, held every year on the first weekend in October, it celebrates the variety of amazing wines and foods produced here locally. Hundreds of people gather the last weekend in September at the Harvest Fair Awards Night Gala to see who the big winners are in the wine and food industry. This year's winners of the sweepstakes prize (the highest honor given) went to Adler Fels of Santa Rosa for its 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($25.00) and Owl Ridge Wines of Sebastopol for its 2008 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($12.00).

What does this have to do with Table Ambiance....... Well, we thought with all the amazing wines (and foods) that are introduced during this Harvest time it is a prime time to entertain - Host a wine tasting party for friends and/or family, and get their opinions on different wines.

Not sure how? We have a new and fun product called MusicCooks - Wine Tasting. It is a box set filled with fun and easy recipes (along with photos), instructions on how to host a wine tasting, and it also includes a shopping or pantry list for your convenience. To top it off, it includes a CD filled with Wine Country music (a blend of bluegrass, classical jazz, and country). This little box is everything you need to impress your wine tasting guests, but it will be our secret!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Season is Here.......

Happy First Day of Fall
This is our favorite time of year, even though here is Northern California the weather sure isn't feeling very fallish. This time of year is full of rich colors to choose from and wonderful fall foods and recipes to entertain with. And of course, don't forget the numerous reasons to entertain the season. Stay tuned to see some of Table Ambiance's fall entertaining ideas.
Ideas for Fall Decorating
Quick Fall Centerpiece

Create a stress-free centerpiece by setting several pumpkins or gourds on the table. This arrangement contains them on a long white platter, but a low basket or tray would work just as well. Garnish with a few leaves, berry clusters, or flowers to add a bit of color and texture.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Labor Day Party Idea

Some of might know that Labor Day marks the end of summer! Even though for those of us living in Northern California we are finally getting our summer weather. The old tradition was no more white apparel after Labor Day, so we thought it would be fun to have a party that is very monochromatic……all white. Well, almost all white.
This is another perfect opportunity to entertain outside especially if you are experiencing an Indian summer with wonderful evening weather.
Send out an invitation using to spread the word about your fabulous Labor Day celebration.
Mention to your guests to wear all white to your party.
To create a simple yet elegant ambiance for your party, our new favorite item is the paper lanterns that are found an almost any party store or if you live in the North Bay Cost Plus World Market carries a variety of shapes and sizes.

For your table, keep it simple. Use white table cloths or placemats, white dinner plates, and clear wine or water glasses. However, it might be fun to add just a bit of color on the table using a colored napkin placed the center of each dinner plate. For the centerpiece, find three of your favorite vases with similar height and fill them with flowers (such as daisies, hydrangeas, peonies etc.). Another idea may be use three cylinders and full them with sand or gravel and place a white pillar candle in each.

Remember is it the little things that make a party successful. If you are in a time crunch, ask your guests to pitch in with the food or drinks. The point is to send off summer with a bang! Have fun and send us your ideas on how you spend your Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kid's Camping Birthday

Birthday Party Camp out

A great and easy birthday party idea for kids. With the summer quickly coming to an end, a camp-out birthday party is fun.

Set up a tent in your backyard with a fire pit somewhere in the vicinity of your tent.

Have the guests bring their sleeping bag, pillow, and warm clothing.

Start the party around early evening (It is up to you if you want to serve dinner (or BBQ)that evening or just partake in the nighttime activities with dessert/and late night snacks) and let the party goers get their stuff settled in the tent.

Start the fire in the fire pit as soon as the sun starts to set. As it gets dark, a great party favor the kids can enjoy during the festivities are glow sticks. They come in a variety of items (stick, necklaces, bracelets, headbands, earrings etc.) so the dark doesn't seem so scary if you have a bit of light with you at all times.

Some activities that are fun around the campfire is the old time favorites of making s'mores. Another is play charades or the telephone game.

Depending on the age of your guests, a good ghost story around the campfire is fun too.

Stay tuned for end of summer activities for all ages.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Get Fired Up Italian Style

Memorial Day weekend is the kick off to outdoor entertaining and BBQ season. So this weekend, get your grills fired up!
Here is one our favorite flavored hamburger perfect for entertaining this weekend.

Italian Style Hamburgers
1 lb. ground beef
1 package Italian salad dressing seasoning
1/2 red onion chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Let stand in refrigerator for about 1/2 hour. Take out of refrigerator and make individual patties. Barbecue to desired doneness.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memorial Day

Celebrating Memorial Day
This holiday came to be for the sole purpose to remember and appreciate the men and women who gave their lives to protect and defend our nation. Although Americans for centuries have always celebrated these fallen heroes, Memorial Day became official in 1868 by General John Logan.
However, along with the remembrance of our fallen soldiers, nowadays Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off the start of barbecue season and summer.

Stay tuned for upcoming BBQ ideas, recipes, and table setting ideas.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flip Over Summer

We found this from and thought it was the perfect cake to kick off summer vacation:

· 1 10-3/4-ounce frozen pound cake, thawed
· 3/4 to 1 cup desired-flavor ice cream
· 1/2 of an 8-ounce carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
· Pull-apart licorice twists
· Bright-color candy wafers and/or round candies
· Graham cracker crumbs (optional)
1. Halve pound cake horizontally. Using a serrated knife, cut off the rounded top of the cake so each layer will be level. Cut each half into a flip-flop shape*. Place ice cream in a small bowl and stir to soften. Spread softened ice cream over one of the cakes. Top with second cake. Place ice cream-filled cake on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze until firm (2 to 3 hours). Spread with whipped topping.
2. To decorate, cut the ends of two twists at a diagonal. Insert a toothpick on the underside of each twist. Arrange the two twists with the cut ends together to form a V-shape, inserting toothpicks in cake to hold the twists in place as straps. Arrange candy wafers around base of flip-flop to decorate. Cover cake loosely and freeze until serving time. Serve on a platter sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs as sand, if desired. Makes 6 servings.
3. Tip: To cut flip-flop shape, trace the bottom of a child-size flip-flop (needs to be 7 to 7 1/2 inches long) on a piece of paper. Cut out shape. Place paper, clean side down, on a piece of clean cardboard or sturdy paper; trace shape. Cut out shape. Place cardboard shape on top of one cake half and use a small sharp knife to cut around shape and through cake. Repeat with other cake half. 4. Cake for 12: For a larger crowd, double recipe and make a pair of flip-flop cakes.
Recipe and photo from:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch

This looked really yummy and easy to make!
Stuffed French Toast

24 (1-ounce) slices cinnamon-raisin bread
Cooking spray
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups egg substitute, divided
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
Bottled cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Trim crusts from bread. Arrange half of the bread in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine milk, 1 1/2 cups egg substitute, half-and-half, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour half of milk mixture over bread in dish.
Combine 1/2 cup egg substitute, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cheeses in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over moist bread in dish. Top with remaining bread; pour remaining milk mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover and bake at 350° for 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if desired.
Recipe From:
Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2001

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

She Is Royalty on Mother's Day

Here is a fun theme for a Mother’s Day gathering: Queen Bee!

All Mothers should be treated like royalty this Mother’s Day and here is a fun and easy idea for your Mother’s Day tablescape. This occasion is ideal for outdoor entertaining.
Set Your Table: Cover your table with a white tablecloth. Sunflowers are easy to arrange in a vase, so fill a simple vase with a variety of sunflowers. On either side of the vase, place jars of honey or small decorative woven beehives. For the place setting, use orange and yellow round place mats, white or yellow napkin, white dinner plate, and place a bee candle in the middle of each plate for your guests to take home. On all mothers’ plates place a tiara and bee candle so they are recognized as royalty.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Spirit

Here is a great cocktail alternative from to margaritas for your Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Mojito Sparkler:

· 6 fresh mint leaves
· 1-1/2 to 2 jiggers (2 to 3 ounces) gold rum
· 1 teaspoon lime juice
· 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
· Ice
· Club soda
1. Crush leaves in the bottom of a tall glass. Pour in rum, lime juice, and sugar. Add ice, stir and top with club soda. Makes 1 serving.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guacamole with a Twist

I know this is a Mexican theme party, but I loved this recipe that added a little Italian to it!

Recipe from
Basil Guacamole
· 2 ripe, medium avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled
· 3/4 cup snipped fresh basil
· 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
· 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
· 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
· 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or few drops bottled hot pepper sauce
· Tortilla chips
DirectionsIn a bowl mash avocado with a fork Stir in basil, tomato, green onion, lime juice, salt, and red pepper. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Makes about 2 cups.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Paper Flowers - How to

This is a project that can be done by almost anyone.

2 sheets of tissue paper (same or different colors)
Green pipe cleaner or wire
Cut the tissue paper into 12 inch squares. Stack two tissue squares together. Start on one end and accordion fold the two sheets. Fold the accordion tissue in half. At the fold/middle wrap the pipe cleaner around two to three time. Now start to unfold the accordion tissue and fluff the paper flower. (You should be able to make two flowers depending on the size of your tissue sheet.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo Celebration Table

The fifth of May marched the day of Independence of Mexico from France. But now the holiday is celebrated by all. As usual we are all about the table! So here are some suggestions for creating un fabuloso partido.
Use bright and bold colors on your table using traditional items. For your centerpiece, place an over sized sombrero in the center of your table. On both sides of it fill two vases or pitchers with either fresh flowers such as sunflowers, yellow daisies, or orange roses. Better yet you can buy or make tissue paper flowers. In between the vase and sombrero place a pair of maracas. Go to your local party store to find Mexican celebration banner. Cut out the string part so you are left with individual banners or flags. Each flag will be used for a placemat. Place the ‘flags’ at each place setting. White dinner plates work well, but if you have festive or colorful dessert plates, use them with the dinner plate to add color and contrast. It is only appropriate to have a margarita glass at every place setting to serve the ever popular margarita during your fiesta. For the napkin, you can purchase paper or better yet bright solid cloth napkins place under the dessert plate would add texture and dimension to the place setting. (TIP: Go to your local fabric store and find southwester or Mexican print fabric and cut them into 17” squares to create your napkin). While you are at your local party store pick up a few mini piñatas. Fill each piñata with candy and write each guests name on them. Place the filled piñata in the center of the salad plate. Not only does is it a unique place card, but it doubles as a fun party favor too.
Now you are ready for Cinco de Mayo with style. Buena Suerte!

Stay tuned here to find easy menu ideas for your celebrate or sign up for our newsletter to receive first priority on tips and discounts from

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taping a TV Segment

We had so much fun working with Lisa Quinn from View from the Bay and her new show Live Well -Home with Lisa Quinn. Here are some photos from our taping. The entire crew from KGO ABC TV Station were so incredibly wonderful to work with.
You can view the segment by clicking here.
Thank you Lisa, you are so much fun to work with!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Buona Pasqua! - Italian Easter Bread

Italian Easter Bread
Making this Italian Easter bread has become an Easter tradition that my daughters and I have started years ago. Although we have never written a true recipe down, the one listed below is very similar to what we do. Buona Pasqua!

1 package Rapid Rise yeast
1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
3.5 cups flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggssprinkles

Tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs right out of the fridge, without hardboiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don't crack!
In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends, and loop into a circle.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.
Recipe from: The Italian Dish.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Cupcake Recipe Revised

As we posted yesterday the adorable cupcake recipe and photo from the Food Network.

Here are some simple tips to save time in creating the cupcakes:
  • Use a boxed cake mix and follow as directed

  • Replace frosting recipe with store bought frosting and add food coloring to the container to create the desired color.

  • If you don't have time to color shredded coconuts, use green sprinkles or green jimmies to make the nest.

  • If you can't find White Airhead candy, you can purchase fondant at your local craft store (like Michael's) or cake supply store.

These little tips will reduce the time it take to create these adorable cupcake and allow you to carry out the Easter theme at your Easter feast.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Dessert Idea

Cupcake recipe and photo from: Food Network Kitchen

1 vanilla cupcake, recipe follows
About 1/3 cup White Fluff Frosting, recipe follows
Green coconut grass, recipe follows
6 small candied malt balls (2 yellow, 2 pink, 2 white)
1 yellow chick peep
White Airhead candy

Frost a cupcake with fluff frosting. Press a circle of coconut grass on top. Nestle the malted eggs on top of the grass. Gently press the peep onto the center of the grass. Cut the white Airhead into a 1/2 oval shape; trim one side so it has a cracked egg jagged edge. Place egg next to chick.

Vanilla Cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake tins with paper liners. (To avoid cupcakes sticking if they overflow slightly, lightly spray the tops of the pans.) Put tins on a baking sheet. Set aside.
Process sugar and butter in a food processor until very creamy, scraping sides as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add the milk, water, and vanilla and process to blend.
Whisk both flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients, in 3 batches to the wet, pulsing, and then scraping batter off the sides of the processor as needed after each addition. Process until the batter is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
Evenly pour the batter into the prepared cups, filling them 3/4 of the way full. Bake until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and the tops are golden, 18 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly in tin, and turn out of tin when cool enough to handle. Cool cupcakes completely on a rack before frosting.
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy
Fluff Frosting:
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
Pinch fine salt
Whisk the milk and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.
Slowly beat the butter and sugar, in another medium bowl, with an electric mixer until incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.) Add the fluff and salt and reduce the speed to low. Add the milk and vanilla mixture, scrape the bowl down, and mix until fully incorporated. Raise the mixer to high and beat briefly until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Frost cupcake immediately.
Yield: 3 3/4 cups

Coconut Easter Grass for Cupcakes:
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 to 2 teaspoons liquid green food coloring
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid yellow food coloring
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a mesh rack on top, if available.
Put coconut in a shallow bowl. While tossing with a large spoon, add food coloring drop by drop until the desired color is reached. A little more green than yellow makes a pretty grass color. Add a few tablespoons water to moisten the mixture and help disperse the color evenly. If the color is too dark, add additional water, as needed, to dilute to the desired color. Drain the coconut in a sieve or strainer.
Spread the coconut in an even layer on the rack, or directly on the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use immediately, or store in covered container for up to 3 days.
Cook's Note: Food coloring can be messy and can stain your skin. To prevent this, wear latex gloves. You may find it easier to color the coconut in a large zip top plastic bag, tossing it to color evenly.
Yield: 2 cups coconut grass

Stay tune for how to Fake the Food on this recipe!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unique Gifts For Easter

"The Excellence Of A Gift Lies In Its Appropriateness Rather Than In Its Value." -Charles Dudley Warner

Here are some of our favorite Spring time and Easter hostess gifts that are appropriate and under $25.00 ea.

Click here to view these gifts and other gifts under $25.00.

For more gifts and Easter entertaining ideas visit us at

Monday, March 30, 2009

Easter Recipe Idea

We loved this recipe for two reasons: 1) an Easter Brunch would not be complete without Eggs Benedict and 2) it included 'Make ahead' suggestions to save precious time.

Eggs Benedict
· 1 to 2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules (optional)
· 4 eggs
· 1 recipe Mock Hollandaise Sauce*
· 2 English muffins, split
· 4 slices Canadian-style bacon
· Cracked black pepper (optional)
1. If desired, lightly grease a 10-inch saute pan or skillet with cooking oil or shortening. Half-fill the skillet with water. If desired, stir in bouillon granules. Bring the water to boiling; reduce heat to simmering (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Break one of the eggs into a small dish or a measuring cup with a handle. Carefully slide egg into the simmering water, holding the lip of the cup as close to the water as possible. Add remaining eggs, one at a time.
2. Simmer eggs, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place them in a large pan of warm water to keep them warm. Prepare Mock Hollandaise Sauce.
3. Place muffin halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat about 2 minutes or until toasted. Top muffin halves with Canadian-style bacon. Broil about 1 minute more or until bacon is heated.
4. To serve, top each bacon-topped muffin half with an egg. Spoon Mock Hollandaise Sauce over eggs. If desired, sprinkle with pepper. Makes 4 servings.
5. *Mock Hollandaise Sauce: In a 1- to 1-1/2-quart saucepan combine 1/3 cup dairy sour cream, 1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon yellow mustard. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until warm. If desired, stir in a little milk to thin. Makes about 2/3 cup.
6. Make-ahead directions: Prepare Poached Eggs and toast English muffins as above. Place muffin halves in a greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Top each muffin half with a slice of Canadian-style bacon and 1 cooked egg. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. To serve, prepare the Mock Hollandaise Sauce; spoon hot sauce over eggs. Bake, covered, in a 350F oven about 30 minutes or until heated through. Recipe

Stay tune for more ideas to make this Easter frugal yet festive with Easter Table Settings and Entertaining tips.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Easter Table Setting Idea

An Eggcellent Table Setting Element.
When Easter is here it is all about the 'egg'. Here is a fun yet useful idea for your Easter table setting. The yolk and white of a clean egg has been blown out from a hole large enough to fit a tulip stem. Then the egg is placed into a silver-plated napkin ring for stability. You can go one step further and write each guests name on them each egg to welcome each guest to their place setting. Or several of them displayed throughout your spring tablescape.
This idea brought to you by:
Stay tune for more Easter Table Setting tips from Or visit our website to view our two Easter Table Settings Ideas: Easter Hop To It and Easter Egg.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Easter Brunch Recipe: Deviled Egg Salad

An Eggcellent dish for your Easter Brunch or Buffet

Deviled Egg Salad

¨ hard-cooked eggs*
¨ Tbsp. salad dressing or mayonnaise
¨ Tbsp. chopped fresh
dill weed
¨ clove garlic, minced
¨ dashes bottled hot pepper sauce
¨ 1/8 tsp. salt
¨ cups torn Boston or Bibb lettuce
¨ cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¨ medium red sweet pepper, chopped
¨ slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled
¨ green onions, sliced
¨ recipe
Dill Vinaigrette
1. Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise and place yolks in a small bowl. Set whites aside. Mash yolks with fork and stir in salad dressing, dill weed, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Stuff egg white halves with yolk mixture. Set aside.
2. On a platter arrange lettuce, tomatoes, sweet pepper, bacon, and green onions. Arrange eggs on greens. Drizzle with Dill Vinaigrette. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
3. Dill Vinaigrette In a screw-top jar combine 1/3 cup olive oil or salad oil; 2 tablespoons
tarragon vinegar; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed; 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard; 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/4 teaspoon salt; and1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce. Cover and shake well.
4. *To hard-cook eggs: In a large saucepan place eggs in a single layer. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Bring to rapid boiling over high heat. Remove from heat, cover. Let stand 15 minutes; drain. Cool. Peel. Recipe from:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Easter Table Setting Idea

Easter- Hop To It Tablescape Spring is here and one of the first celebrations of spring is Easter. At we have create a bright and fun Easter table setting for guests of all ages to enjoy. All the icons of Easter are represented on this table. As you already know, is known for their ability to think outside the box, you know by taking one items and using it in a variety of different ways. Well, that is still true on this Easter table setting. The ceramic eggs are perfect as a party favor and place card for each guests. The adorable pair of rabbits can be used next year as part of your spring home decor, and the colorful and bright place mats can be used throughout the spring and summer for any occasion. Stay tuned to our blog each day to see our numerous Easter ideas from games for kids of all ages and easy recipe and menu ideas.
To view all of our items for Springtime and Easter Table Setting, visit us at

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome the First Day of Spring

“Spring is nature’s way of saying – Let’s Party”

– Robin Williams

We can’t agree more! At Table Ambiance, it is always about a party, and now you have a perfect excuse to have a ‘Spring Fling’ or ‘Bring on Spring’ party.
Along with the light and bright colors of spring, your menu should be the same, keep it light and fresh. Your menu should include dishes such as a variety of salads, rice dishes with fish or chicken. If the day or evening permits set your table up outside so nature’s sounds can create the audio ambiance of our Spring party. Set your table with tablecloths, placemats and napkins that reflect lots of bright colors. Choose flowers that bloom bright with the welcoming of spring. Daffodils are wonderful for their color and cost. You can purchase them relatively cheap (shop Trader Joe’s) and display them in a variety different shaped vases throughout your table along with small votives candles to create the ultimate ambiance (TIP: To preserve the life of daffodils, cut the stem of your daffodils a bit and hold a lit candle to the bottom on the stem to seal the sap. The best way to buy your daffodils is with almost closed buds; because once they have opened they have a fairly short lifespan). Another spring tablescape idea is to have the symbols of spring displayed on your table. The birds, nests, gardening, and colorful flowers are all associated with Spring. Visit for spring table setting ideas and elements to set your Spring themed table.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Entertaining On a Budget

How to Make Cheap, Fast Dinners Look Expensive

By Kristie Leong MD

Cheap, fast dinners don't have to look and taste that way. Here's how to turn them into feasts for the eyes and the taste buds.
If you don’t have the time to cook a restaurant quality meal in the evening, you’re not alone. Many busy Americans struggle to get dinner on the table and frequently resort to bringing home fast food or take-out options. Even if you only have time to prepare a fast, cheap dinner, you can still make it special by adding a few special touches that’ll make your family think you spent a great deal of time in the kitchen. Here’s how to make quick, cheap dinners that look expensive.

Bring out the Nice Dinnerware
Instead of serving a fast, cheap dinner on ugly ceramic plates, or even worse paper plates, bring out your nicest dinnerware. Food always tastes better when it’s served from attractive bowls and plates. Some people make the mistake of storing away their best dinnerware and china for a future “special occasion”. An occasion that’s special enough never seems to arise and that beautiful china ends up being unused. Isn’t every dinner you share with your family special?

Add a Garnish
Even cheap, fast dinners take on new flavor when a garnish is added to the plate. Use sprigs of fresh herbs to add a touch of color or add fresh fruit slices to your presentation. Invest in a zester so you can quickly create lemon and orange zest to add color, texture and flavor to simple dinner. Use an ice cream scoop to create luscious melon balls. If you want a more elaborate presentation, create simple flowers out of raw vegetables. There are a variety of books that will show you how to do this. This is a great technique to use when you’re entertaining on a budget. No one will ever suspect you paid so little for the food when the presentation is so detailed.

Serve it by Candlelight
Nothing adds more ambience to cheap, fast dinners than serving them by candlelight. Before serving dinner, dim the lights and bring out your prettiest candles. Not only will dinner be more pleasant, you’ll be saving on electricity too.

Add Some Background Music
Soft, new age music playing in the background adds a special atmosphere to even the most inexpensive meal. The harmonious sounds of music have the added benefit of relaxing the body and helping to improve digestion. When you serve dinner to the melodious tones of Kenny G or John Tesh, your family will think they’re eating in a five star restaurant.

Drizzle on the Sauces
When you apply sauce to an entrée or side dish, don’t just pour it on. Put it into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the food by moving the bottle back and forth to create a pattern. Many fine restaurants use this technique to give food an elegant, artistic flair. This is a simple way to serve your next meal “chef style”.

Even though you may not have the time or money to prepare an expensive dinner at home with a little imagination quick, cheap dinners can still be memorable. Why not give these ideas a try?

This article came from:

Stay tuned for more entertaining on a budget ideas. Also, Table Ambiance has incredible table elements on sale now that will add a bit of ambiance to your table.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Corn Beef Left Overs

Even though St. Patrick's Day isn't until tomorrow the festivities started this past weekend! If you are one of those who hosted a party and have left over corn beef, we have a great corn beef hash recipe for you. If you are about to cook a brisket tomorrow, save some left overs to try this recipe, it is one of our favorites.

Corned Beef Hash
2 lbs cold corned beef, chopped fairly fine
4 - 6 cold boiled potatoes, chopped coarsely
1 med. onion, finely chopped
freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Butter (1/4 cup)or beef dripping
1/2 heavy cream (optional)

Combine potatoes, meat and onions add pepper and nutmeg (hash). Blend well, allow to rest in refrigerator several hours or overnight. Put butter in a pan just enough to cover bottom, add hash. When hash begins to develop a crust on the bottom, turn with spatula. Add cream (a little at a time) if you don't add cream cook longer to form another bottom crust.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ever Wonder Why We Wear Green?

We found this article on the internet about how shamrocks and wearing green on St. Patrick's Day came to be:

The Story of the Shamrock & The Wearing of the Green
The Shamrock (traditional spelling: seamróg, meaning summer plant) is a three-leafed clover that grows in Ireland. A common image in Celtic artwork, the shamrock is found on Irish medieval tombs and on old copper coins, known as St. Patrick's money. The plant is also reputed to have mystic, even prophetic powers-- for instance the leaves are said to stand upright to warn of an approaching storm.
Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock in the fifth century to symbolize the divine nature of the trinity when he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
The seamróg is a big part of Irish history, as the Shamrock was used as an emblem by the Irish Volunteers in the era of Grattan's Parliament in the 1770's, The Act of Union. When it became an emblem of rebellion in the 19th century, Queen Victoria made wearing a seamrog by member's of her regiments punishable by death by hanging. It was during this dark time that the phrase "the Wearing of the Green" began. Today the seamróg joins the English Rose and the Scottish Thistle on the British flag and is an integral part of Saint Patrick's Day celebrations.
"The Wearing of the Green" also symbolizes the birth of springtime. Irish legend states that green clothes attract faeries and aid crops.
This article came from: (How to get a life)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Get into the Spirits on St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day Ideas:
Here is a unique green cocktail alternative to serving green beer at your St. Patrick’s Day Party from Korbel California Champagne

Irish Kiss

4 oz Korbel California Brut Champagne
1 oz. Midori Melon Liqueur

Serve with green sugar-rimmed champagne flute.

To make sugar rim: simply add two drops of green food coloring to 1/2 cup of sugar and mix well. Rub glass rim with lime and dip in your green sugar mixture.

photo from Korbel Champagne

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Put a Little Luck on Your Table

Put a little luck on your table for St. Patrick’s Day – Four Leaf Clover Napkin

Have a hot iron ready for pressing:
• Place a square green napkin on a flat surface fully open. Fold over the top two corner so they meet in the middle.

• Do the same with the bottom two corners so the napkin in a diamond shape

• Take all four points of the diamond and have them meet in the middle to make a square. Carefully flip the square over tow reveal a smooth side of a square.

• Bring all four corners of the square to the middle and make sure the shape facing you is a square. Press with iron.

• With one hand holding the center with the four points, use your other hand to reach behind each corner and partially unfold the fabric underneath so that each corner now has two layers. Carefully pull the point of each corner’s lower layer just until the upper one pops up.

• Fold the lower layer under each corner about 1 inch towards the middle of the napkin. Carefully pull the upper layer’s folds open forwards the four corners while making sure to keep all the center folds in place. Steam or press very gently.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Entertaining on a Budget

After hearing and reading on a daily basis how many people are unemployed, how many businesses are closing their doors, and how many houses are in foreclosure, now is the time to gather with family and friends for the sake of support and encouragement. That is why we enjoyed this article from on entertaining on a budget.

Fabulous Dinner Parties on a Budget
Article By :Jeanne Benedict
Use these simple decor tips to transform your fete from frugal to fabulous.
Embrace traditions around the world by hosting a dinner party that celebrates the flavors of another country. Best of all, these international menus for 6 guests were designed with your wallet in mind to give your party high style on a low budget--each party menu only costs $50!

I've included an Estimated Cost Breakdown so you can tally it all up and save even more by using items that you may already have on hand.

When guests ask what they can bring to your dinner party, suggest a bottle of wine or spirits from the country whose food you are featuring, since wine and cocktails are not included in the budget breakdown.

Italian cuisine offers such a variety of flavors, from the white cream sauces found in northern Italy to the hearty red tomato sauces enjoyed in the southern part of the country.

Italian Menu
Delight dinner guests with an Italian menu that clocks in at around $50!
Olive Polenta Squares (recipe below)
Easy Fettuccine Alfredo (recipe below)
Green Salad with Diced Tomatoes and Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Espresso Trifle Martini (recipe recipe below)

Estimated Cost Breakdown:
Olive Polenta Squares
$2 - 1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
$3 - 1 (1 lb.) box cornmeal
$2 - 1 (2 oz.) container chicken bouillon squares (about 15 count)
$5 - small (8 fl. oz.) generic brand bottle olive oil

Fettuccine Alfredo
$2 - 1 dozen eggs
$4 - 1 pint heavy whipping cream
$5 - 5 oz. wedge Parmesan cheese
$4 - 2 (1 lb.) boxes fettuccine; dry pasta

$2 - 1 head romaine lettuce
$2 - 3 Roma tomatoes
$0 - olive oil (included above)
$3 - small (8 fl. oz.) bottle red wine vinegar

Espresso Trifle Martini
$5 - 1 store-bought pound cake cut into cubes (frozen desserts)
$4 - 6 cups prepared vanilla pudding
$2 - 1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
$2 - 1 (lb.) box granulated sugar
$47 - Estimated Total

Olive Polenta Squares:
2 (3.5 gm) chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
3/4 Cup yellow cornmeal
1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Bring water and bouillon cubes to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly sprinkle cornmeal into water while quickly whisking mixture. Continue whisking for 3 minutes smoothing out any lumps as mixture thickens. Replace whisk with wooden spoon and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Spoon should stand in mixture and polenta will come away from sides of pan. Remove from heat and stir in olives.
Spread mixture on to a lightly oil baking sheet making ½-inch thick rectangle of polenta. Cool until polenta is set, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve as an appetizer.
Makes 6 serving

Fettuccine Alfredo
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz.)
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 lbs. fettuccine ( about 1 1/2 boxes dry pasta)

Add 1 teaspoon salt into a pot of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add fettuccine and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the Parmesan, eggs and cream into a large serving bowl and whisk until combined.

Pour pasta into a colander to drain. Immediately add to serving bowl and toss with Parmesan sauce mixture until coated. Serve hot.
Makes about 6 servings.

Espresso Trifle Martini
1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
3/4 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1 store-bought pound cake, cut into cubes
6 individual portion cups of prepared vanilla pudding (Jello brand)
Add espresso, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
Alternate layers of pound cake cubes and pudding into 6 individual Martini glasses. Pour cooled espresso syrup over the top of each one and serve.Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras Party Ideas

Mardi Gras (also called Fat Tuesday) is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. It is the final day of Carnival which begins on the sixth of January (also know as the Feast of the Epiphany).
Mardi Gras is a day of great fun so why not have your own Mardi Gras? The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. This occasion can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Before your guests arrive, have a mix of jazz music loaded in your CD or MP3 for your guest to enjoy and it is a simple element to add a festive ambiance to your occasion.
FOR THE TABLE: Cover your table with a white or green tablecloth. For your centerpiece, place several green, purple, and gold hats down the center of your table along with Mardi Gras masks and lots and lots of beads. Or at each place setting, have a mask and necklace for each guest to wear.
KEEP THEM ENTERTAINED: Make sure you have activities that will entertain even the youngest one. Make your own mask is a fun activity and craft for any age. When everyone is finished, hold a contest for the most creative.
FOR THE FOOD: There are hundreds of recipes for this celebration such as crawfish, jambalaya, shrimp creoles, gumbo, red bean and rice just to name a few. However, it is very important not to forget the King’s Cake as part of your Mardi Gras menu.
The most important thing to remember about a Mardi Gras party is it is a fun idea to gather and do and be a little wacky for one day, so enjoy yourself and have fun.

King Cake Recipe:

1/2 cup ice
2 fluid ounces light rum
2 fluid ounces passion fruit flavored syrup
1 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
1 ounce lime juice
1 fluid ounce 151 proof rum
In a shaker, combine ice, light rum, passion fruit syrup, lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage and lime juice. Shake well and pour mixture into a Hurricane or other large specialty glass. Float the 151 proof rum on top of the drink.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hollywood Cocktails

Put a Little Hollywood Spirit in Your Cocktails on Oscar Night!

Here are just a few ideas and recipes for themed cocktails to make your Oscar Night entertaining complete.
The Red Carpet
11/2 oz Patrón Silver Tequila
1/2 ounce Patrón Citrónge Orange Liqueur
Fresh raspberry juice
Dash organic cranberry juice
Fresh lime juice
Gold sugar rim
Orange wedge dipped in gold sugar for garnish

Wet the rim of a cocktail glass using an orange or lime wedge.
Rim the wet with gold sugar, shake off excess sugar and set aside
Pour the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake well.
Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange wedge dipped in gold sugar.
Recipe From:

Hollywood Martini Cocktail
3 oz vodka
1/2 oz black raspberry liqueur
Dash of pineapple juice

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Recipe From:

Manhattan Cocktail:

If the Martini is the Emperor of Cocktails, drink to dilettantes and super-spies, then the Manhattan is without a doubt the Mafia boss, libation to outlaws, hardened working men, and the women who love ‘em. Speaking of, Marilyn Monroe was a fan of the Manhattan, showcasing it in the comedy Some Like It Hot (1959).
2 oz. Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
Maraschino Cherry

Fill half a cocktail shaker with ice and shake or stir the Rye or Bourbon and the Vermouth until just chilled. Strain into an equally chilled Martini glass and garnish by sinking the cherry to the bottom.
Recipe From:
Enjoy your the evening and let us know how it all went. Email us at or leave a comment on our blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oscar Party Food Ideas

"Fake the Food" for the Oscars

As the hostess of this fabulous affair, you should enjoy every minute of it and be able to see the wonders that play out on the red carpet. So...............organize food that takes little to no effort and have it all ready to go before the guests arrive and all you need to do is replenish it when necessary. As mentioned before, a buffet is the best choice. Fill your table with finger foods such as:
Trader Joes: Mushroom Turnovers, Mini Quiches, Mini Tacos, Assorted cheeses and crackers, mixed nuts
Costco: Ready-made pasta dishes (chicken alfredo), lavash rolls, chips and salsa, brownie bits, pizza bites, deli trays, rolls, etc........
The key to pulling off the 'fake the food' is using your own serving-ware. Think outside the box. Go to your local party supply store for plastic popcorn containers and fill those with nuts, pretzels or popcorn. If you are looking for something more galmours rent or purchase large martini glasses and fill those with salsa, chips, nuts, pasta etc.
For more ideas, stay tuned here at Table Ambiance's Blog.
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Oscar Party Ideas

Set The Stage For A Glamorous Evening

Here are some ideas to add a glamorous ambiance to your Oscar Party. As you know we are all about the table. And for this occasion, we suggest doing a buffet. This allows your guests to nibble throughout the evening. Cover your buffet table with a white or black tablecloth. You can place large gold stars on top of the table or purchase star shaped confetti to sprinkle all around the table. Another fun idea is to purchase movie memorabilia and have them on display on your buffet table. Although paper products are the easiest, it might be easier to have your guest use regular plates. The plates can be salad side, but being that most guests will have them on their laps while eating, it would be easier and steadier to eat from. Plastic utensils and themed paper cocktail napkins would be appropriate however.

This is another opportunity to ‘Fake The Food.’ Costco, Trader Joes and Whole Foods all have wonderful ready-made appetizers and finger foods that require minimal effort. Stay tuned for more food/recipe ideas. To make it even easier for you have each guest bring their favorite finger food to your party.

Because the Oscars signify class, glamour and elegance - requests that your guest come 'dressed up' for the evening. Roll out the red carpet at your entrance to your home (visit a carpet store and ask for any remnants or use a red runner). Snap a picture of each guest as they arrive (the photo can be put into a simple silver or gold frames and made into a party favor for them to take home). Give each guest an
Oscar party pool ballot and have them select their choices of winners. At the end of the awards, tally up the ballots to see who had the most correct and send the winner home with a little parting gift for the highest score. Stay tuned for more Oscar Party Ideas to make the evening memorable.

For a finishing touch, load your CD player with academy award winning sound and have the songs playing in the background to enhance this hollywood ambiance.

If you have a suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at