Sunday, December 23


I made my very first gumdrop Christmas craft while I was still in high school. My sister was away at college and I decided she needed a gumdrop wreath to hang on the door of her dorm room. The wreath was a huge hit with the girls in her dorm, but alas the wreath was too heavy and WOULD NOT hang from her door. No nails were ALLOWED on dorm room walls!

Saturday, December 22


'Tis the season to satisfy your sweet tooth, right? From candy to cookies to cakes, everyone has their favorite Christmas sweet. It's no stretch to say that my family LOVES Red Velvet Cake. It's the most requested cake in our family. 

There's nothing more festive than ending your Christmas dinner with a beautiful and stately Red Velvet Cake. This year I have decided to shake things up a bit and make Red Velvet Brownies instead of cake. Sacrilege! I know. I will keep you posted on how this goes over with the family. Fingers crossed. Red velvet brownies are a bite-size version of the classic cake we all love so well. Top it with cream cheese frosting and you've got yourself the ultimate holiday dessert! This already sounds like the kind of thing that will be calling me at night!

Thursday, December 20

Mini Christmas Trees, An Extra Touch

Seventeen years ago I decorated my very first mini-Christmas tree. Flipping through a magazine one day I came across a photo of a small tree for a baby's room. Ms.E was 6 months old at the time and I thought a tree dedicated to a baby's first Christmas was a  brilliant idea. Why had I never thought of this before? It was genius. Inspired really. Well, I'm sure you can see where this is headed, after the first mini I never looked back. Now there are trees in every room of our home. There are years when I would rather NOT decorate every tree, but it's tradition here at Porter Central and the kids wouldn't have it any other way!

Spread the holiday cheer in your home with mini decorative Christmas trees. Your Christmas decorating should not be concentrate only around your mantel and family room but throughout your whole house. Put around as many as you like in different themes to keep them interesting. Enjoy the following eye candy. You just might find something here that peaks your interest starting a new family tradition in your home.

Tuesday, December 18

Outdoor Christmas Decorating Tips

Want to make the exterior of your home just as classically welcoming with holiday cheer as your interior? Look to the award-winning landscaping firm 'Mariani Landscape' for tips on giving your home’s landscape a festive, timeless look you’ll love.

Monday, December 17

Shrimp with White Beans and Spinach Ragout

Most of us are finding ourselves in full-on holiday mode. Each day we become just a bit more busy than the day before. Here at Porter Central, we have been keeping late hours trying to finish all of our shopping, decorating, letter writing, baking, cleaning and the work we do within our community.

Sunday, December 16

Versatile Chocolate Chip Cookies, Baking Tips and Ideas

Last night Mr.P and I were ALONE! It was sheer heaven. What did we do? We baked cookies by candle and twinkle lights. With our favorite Christmas tunes playing on the stereo and just the right lighting we had an absolutely wonderful time in the kitchen. I would highly recommend this to anyone in need of a little Christmastime romance with your sweetie.

I keep this cookie dough in the freezer, most of the time.
Meet my trusty 'cookie' scoop. 
It makes perfectly-sized cookies, consistent every time!

Friday, December 14


Christmas pajamas, a holiday tradition I love, probably because they remind me of snuggly kiddos all clean and warm from their baths, cuddles by the fire and happy smiles as they open gifts.

However finding the perfect Christmas Eve Jammie's for your family can be a bit of a challenge especially if you are looking for a particular color, a style that works for boys and girls, in a range of sizes and reasonably priced. No one wants to spend a small fortune on PJ's, specifically during the Christmas season. Personally, I try to keep ours priced under $15-$20 a pair. Here's what I have found this year. ENJOY!

Thursday, December 13

TAE-BO ANYONE? The Art of Making Bows

A few year ago, a friend called me up asking if I knew how to tae-bo. 'No,' I replied, 'I have never tae-bo-ed before'. She asked again, 'tae-bo? You've never tae-bo-ed before'? Again I said, 'No, no can't say as I have....have you'?

Tuesday, December 11

Christmas Eve Party-In-A-Box

This has to be one of the best ideas I have come across in quite some time. My kids and their sweeties will adore this little extra special gift on Christmas Eve. This all-in-one surprise in a box is easy to pull together at the last minute. If you happen to find yourself wandering your local Walmart, brain dead from the mad dash you have been on since Thanksgiving, look up and add these  items to your basket and start a new family tradition.

Sunday, December 9

DIY: Christmas Boxwood Wreaths

Wreaths traditionally grace many homes during the holiday season. I have always loved Boxwood wreaths. They are simple and beautiful adding serenity and class to the splendor of the season. But do you know the origin of the winter wreath?

Friday, December 7

December 7th, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the American Navy and Army base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The attack came as a surprise to the American Navy and Army and lead to great losses of life and equipment. 

Wednesday, December 5

10 Simple, Yet Elegant Small Bites For Easy Entertaining

Far from ordinary, these appetizers will help get your Christmas or New Year's Eve gathering off to a memorable start. Taking ten minutes or less to prepare, these appetizers will please even the most discerning guests. They will never guess you were in and out of the kitchen in a FLASH!

Monday, December 3

How to Throw a Successful Christmas Party

Ten Things That Are Sure To Make Your Holiday Party Planning Fun and Simple.

Christmas is a fun and festive season with tons of parties. Why not throw one of your own this year? It doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. The following ten steps will help you get a jump start towards holiday party success!

Saturday, December 1

Absolutely THE BEST Buttermilk Biscuits

When making Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits you want to aim for crusty, flaky and fluffy, ALL at the same time. Sound hard? Not as hard as you might think and quite possibly quick as well. All you need is a good recipe and a few tips.

Friday, November 30


Multiple trips to any location has its benefits. It gives you the chance to enjoy your travel at leisure, freedom from the demands of a schedule. When you are at leisure, something wonderful begins to happen. You begin to find yourself JUST BEING. What does it mean to just be? I realize to some of you this concept may sound silly, after all, just being is a bit like a car idling, it is there, a sort of foundation of existence. You may say, 'so what?'.....and  I'd say, 'just being is a lot more interesting and satisfying than it sounds.' Don't knock it until you've tried it!

Tuesday, November 27

One Cold November Night.......

.....found me all alone at Porter Central; highly abnormal for our household. There is ALWAYS someone or something underfoot. Finding myself in this 'blue banana' sort of situation was a pleasant surprise indeed. So what to do with my free night. The house is clean. Laundry maybe? Or, I could always finish Christmas decorating. Nope, I think I'll have a bowl of my favorite soup, listen to my Christmas music on Rhapsody and do a bit of cyber window-shopping. The laundry and decorating can wait until tomorrow because the night belongs to ME.....AND IT'S GONNA BE FUN! Well, at least relaxing and I'll take that any day!

Monday, November 26


Are you a hunter gatherer? Someone who loves to forage?  No, not the society of people that lived thousands of years ago, but circa 2012 at a flea market near you! Do you gather together in one space the things you have a passion for?

This little wooden rooster on wheels was my very first find. He sits in my kitchen window. 

Sunday, November 25

Making Your Home Christmas Cozy

If you want your home to reflect that warm and cozy feeling that only Christmas can bring, it can be as simple as adding a few personal touches that appeal to the senses. Often, you can rearrange or bring out items you already own, or buy a few simple home accents that aren't very expensive. Here are some of my favorite ideas on how to make your home warm and cozy during the Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 21


If you are fortunate enough to be with your loved ones today on Thanksgiving, make it a day to remember. Pulling the men away from televised football and flushing the women out of the kitchen may be harder than you might think, but if you plan a few activities you just might pull it off! A day to cherish. A day to remember. Here are just a few last minute ideas for a good old fashioned family Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20


You'll love these if you're a molasses fan, and with the addition of roasted pecans, the taffy is quite reminiscent of pecan pie.  I think these would be fun for something different  to hand out to friends, teachers and co-workers during the holidays. They'd be good any time of year!


I don't know about your family traditions but in the Porter house Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pie! If our dessert table isn't full of pies we would in fact have to check the calendar. Maybe it's NOT Thanksgiving! No need to look for cakes or cookies because you won't find any, however there WILL be pie. I'm not exactly clear on how it happens but our pies somehow seem to miraculously multiply on Thanksgiving Day. Every year I always end up with as much or more pie than I originally baked myself. Which in fact is fine by me since I am a lover of pie. I can bake cakes upon cakes, or cookies and candy by the dozen without taking a nibble, although pie.... well pie is a different story. Let's just say that I am lucky, Mr.P and Jared will have all of our pie eaten by the Saturday night following Thanksgiving, yes it's true. As a result, I don't have to exert too much self-control. I'm grateful, truly I am. 

Monday, November 19

10 Kitchen Supplies To Make The Holidays Easier

If you don’t have the basics for cooking a holiday dinner, you should probably head to Target and buy yourself some kitchen basics that won't break the bank. Before heading out, check my list of 10 things to look for to make Thanksgiving and Christmas a bit easier. In my opinion.....

Sunday, November 18


What happens when you wake up early on a cold Sunday morning and decide to dash out the door for the early service at church, without eating breakfast? You go back to your warm little house, climb back into your pj's, make Sunday Brunch for your sweetie and snuggle under the covers in your cozy bed while eating scrambled eggs and reading the Sunday paper. Life can sometimes be complicated so it's important to make time for you and your family to slow down and just BE. Tomorrow morning will be here soon enough bringing a busy week of work, school and preparing for visiting family, friends and our Thanksgiving feast. So in the words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't slow down and look around, you might miss it".

I didn't plan to make brunch in bed this morning. When we came in from church, I was hungry and decided to scramble eggs. In an effort to free up as much space as possible in my fridge for the coming holiday week, I began pulling things out that I could quickly throw into my eggs. A handful of spinach, a few left over grape tomatoes, grated cheese, sausage crumbles and a bit of onion. What started out as cleaning the fridge quickly turned into a delicious meal for two under the covers.


There is no written recipe for this, however I will tell you what I used.

3 large eggs
3/4 cup baby spinach
2 tablespoons minced onion
a handful of grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, if you don't
 have it you can use a pinch of dried or skip it completely
1/2 cup prepackaged, precooked sausage crumbles
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Crack eggs into a small bowl. My 'large' eggs were huge and I only used 3. 
If they had been smaller I would have used 4. Add a pinch or two of salt and ground pepper. Whisk and set aside. 
 Melt butter in a non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat.
 Add spinach and onions. Saute until spinach is wilted.
 Add grape tomatoes, sausage crumbles and parsley; 
cook about 2 - 3 minutes. Stir everything well to make sure everything is heated through. 
 Add whisked eggs to your skillet and begin stirring at once. Immediately turn 
your heat down to medium-low. Keep stirring and folding the eggs over and over.
 When they are almost cooked, add cheese. 
Make sure to mix the cheese in well so that it melts....and your done.

I served my SPINACH, TOMATO AND SAUSAGE EGG SCRAMBLE with toast, juice, coffee, newspaper and a smile.
Had I planned ahead I would have had some sort of fresh fruit on our tray and maybe some really good quality jam or small danish. I did add an iced pumpkin muffin, which neither of us ate. It was a relaxing moment in our otherwise hectic lives. It was nice to start the week off with wonderful quality time with my husband, Mr.P!

Go through your fridge as you prepare for Thanksgiving. You never know, you 
just might find the ingredients in there for something wonderful!

You'll be glad ya did!


Saturday, November 17


Far be it for me to know all of the ends and outs of cooking a full out Thanksgiving Dinner. In our family, everyone brings the dish they are most known and loved for. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my mother's Caramelized Sweet Potatoes and my sister's Green Beans and so on. If you're on deck this year for cooking your families dinner and find yourself unprepared, here are a few direct links to Thanksgiving websites you might find helpful. HAPPY HUNTING!!

Bliss Tree offers gluten-free recipes for anyone out there in need.
Lastly, I offer our families humble side dishes....pies to come.

No prayer can be better than the prayer of giving sincere thanks and praises to God. May you have a Happy Thanksgiving feast!


Friday, November 16

Jared's Favorite Apple Crisp!

What is it about the this time of year, the cooler nights and Autumn in the air, that causes us to crave the warm aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, or coffee?  There is just something heart-warming to the soul about pulling a steamy apple pie or crisp out of the oven!  What a delicious surprise for your family at the end of a long week of work and/or school. Surprise them as they come in from school, or on a cool brisk Saturday after 'the' big game. A dessert dotted with butter and brown sugar somehow always puts a smile on my face and the faces of my little family!

Tuesday, November 13

Bacon-Wrapped Roast Turkey

When I came across this photo yesterday, I truly laughed until my sides hurt. That's a lot of laughing my friends! Once I quit rolling around laughing long enough to read the short article and recipe that accompanied the picture, I came to the conclusion that this recipe has real possibilities. I'm thinking this just may be one of the best cooking ideas I have seen in along time. I have never tried roasting a turkey encased in a lattice-work of bacon, but this could be the next big Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, like the deep fried or tur-duck-en recipes that American's have learned to love. I have a confession, I have never eaten either one, we opt instead for the traditional bird. 

Thanksgiving in the Making: Table Arrangements

If you plan to entertain for Thanksgiving, chances are you may be arranging a Fall centerpiece for your table, sideboard or buffet. The problem is, the more you search for Autumn table top ideas, the more they start to look alike. I mean really how many acorns and faux leaves can a person put on a tray? There are many ways to establish the “tone” of a Thanksgiving table, whether it's casual, formal, whimsical, or  rustic. One of the easiest ways to do that is by creating an arrangement. You may opt to have a professional arrangement created for your holiday table, or instead, you may be in search of inspiration to create your own! Take a look at some examples of different styles of centerpieces that can be used as a starting point from which to “build” the rest of your table. 

This formal arrangement is made with pomegranates, tulips, and roses.
The rich colors and textures of this arrangement are fabulous!
Immature persimmons and granny smith apples create the unexpected pops of bright green color in this centerpiece.
Classic and beautiful...
Cornucopias are the most traditional of Thanksgiving centerpieces.
A white pumpkin makes a perfect container for this arrangement of fall-colored florals.
Love the drama of these golden turkeys against the dark-colored candles.
This wheat centerpiece works perfectly with the taupe tablecloth and round table.
This table features a mixture of arrangements, colors, and containers to create a beautiful look.
This floral arrangement is blended with candles to create a warm and inviting table.
Another example of an elegant white pumpkin base.
Understated berries and leaves arranged in goblets... perfect with this style of table setting.
The tapered candles compliment the colors in this floral arrangement.
This is such a fabulous "rustic" centerpiece. Be sure to check the Better Homes & Gardens website if you would like to re-create this arrangement. They include step-by-step instructions!
This mossy basket is perfectly matched with the natural feel of these dark-colored gourds.
I love the added interest of the peeled limes in this arrangement!
Kumquats and nuts mixed with clove-embellished clementines make an elegant statement.
This acorn basket could be created right from your very own backyard! I also love the pears and other natural elements the basket is stuffed with!
This arrangement, comprised of fall leaves and elegant florals in muted colors, is just stunning.
Fall leaves, chrysanthemums, button mums and candles make a lovely statement.
Pumpkins and herbs mixed together make this interesting centerpiece. 
All of the elements - the bird, the silver, the florals, the candles of different heights - all contribute to the breathtaking outcome of this grouping.
Create a hand-tied bouquet using flowers like cockscomb and alstroemeria
Sometimes the vase is as big of a star as the blossoms it holds. Simple yet elegant.
Create a lovely table setting by carving out the center of a pumpkin and surrounding it with an array of Fall flowers.
Orange dahlias, parrot tulips, maple branches, burgundy astilbe, and purple smokebush combine to create a container of Fall bliss!
The rich tones of Autumn leaves, and fresh harvest vegetables are the main attractions at this dinner table.
This Fall lantern centerpiece cleverly incorporates roses, mums and delphiniums. 
Add a miniature pumpkin onto each plate as a fun little surprise for your guests. You could even use small pumpkins as place cards.
This beautiful floral arrangement in a milk glass urn is soft and subtle.

Autumn centerpieces are a breath of fresh air, much like the Fall breeze outside! If you didn't find what you were looking for or are in need of more inspiration you are welcome to browse my Pinterest board: Fall Tables Unhinged. Find your own personal style and make a Thanksgiving arrangement your own. 

One that reflects'll be glad ya did!

the domestic curator ~ ronda
I love the pear place cards. 

*Picture thanks go out to Martha, Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Home and!