Wednesday, February 27


I admit it, I love Harry and David. I love the idea of quality fresh fruit coming to my door every month like clock work........and then I stumbled across Fraiche Fine Gifts. A basket from Fraiche is more than fruit, it's a work of art unparalleled anywhere and by anyone. I discovered them as I was flipping through a back issue of Victoria magazine. Owner Lorraine Eastman is proud to provide more than just fruit. Customers can select other delights to plump up their willow baskets and hampers. From exotic teas to Swiss chocolates to fine French soaps, you can customize your gift with the finest, most unusual products available today. Whether you are looking for a birth or wedding gift, housewarming or get well wishes, a business gift or something for the holidays, with Fraiche's help you can personally select the perfect gift for that certain someone in your life.

For the chocolate lover, Fraiche offers a box of chocolate mushrooms and fine Swiss chocolate truffles accompanied by a lush display of fruit. Offering gourmet fruit and chocolate gifts, fruit baskets with chocolate truffles and chocolate gift baskets. For the cheese enthusiast, a wheel of Camembert cheese and crackers and  cheese sticks. Creating arrangements of gourmet fruits, cheeses and Biscotti baskets. They also offer dried fruits with dark chocolate sauce. Including many gift ideas of fruit and fondue gift sets, fruit baskets with chocolate sauce, fruit and sweets baskets, fruit basket with dipping sauce, and fruits and chocolate baskets. You can find Lorraine and the lovely ladies of Fraiche Fine Gifts HERE. They would love to help you make your next gift giving occasion something special.


Tuesday, February 26

TRAVEL TUESDAY: Half Moon Rose Hall, Jamaica, A RockResort

Half Moon sets the standard for luxury in Jamaica. Ideally located on Jamaica’s northern coast and nestled on a two-mile, crescent-shaped beach on Jamaica's northern coast, Half Moon, A RockResort, is truly paradise found. This spectacular, 400-acre luxury resort features pristine accommodations surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and the sparkling Caribbean Sea stretches out as far as the eyes can see.

When you stay at Half Moon, you get the perfect combination of Old World charm and modern touches, to make your stay as relaxing and comfortable as possible. Half Moon offers  Fern Tree Spa suites, over-water bungalows, intimate cottages and 33 whitewashed luxurious villas that include butler, cook, housekeeper and private pool. Its' world-class amenities include the renowned Fern Tree Spa, an 18-hole signature golf course, a Dolphin Lagoon, fitness center, equestrian center, shopping village and ribboned by two miles of private, white-sand shoreline, known as one of the finest stretches of beach in Jamaica.

With its spectacular seaside location, rich Caribbean heritage, warm and attentive staff and exceptional array of amenities, it’s no wonder that this iconic Jamaican destination has set the standard for luxury Caribbean resorts for more than 50 years.

All of Half Moon’s luxury accommodations are furnished with the following amenities:
  • Spacious balcony or patio.
  • Air conditioning.
  • Refrigerated mini-bar.
  • Direct-dial telephone with data ports.
  • Color cable television.
  • AM/FM radio.
  • Hair dryer and magnified mirror.
  • 110V electrical outlets.
  • In-room safe.
  • Bathrobes.
  • Iron and ironing board.
  • Twice-daily maid and turn down service.
  • Access to the on-site fitness center and equestrian center. 
  • Crabtree & Evelyn and Signature Bath Products.

For more information on this world-class resort contact:'ll be glad ya did!


Monday, February 25

The Top 10 Everyday Things You're Probably Doing the Hard Way

As far as the writers of the TV series "MacGyver" were concerned in the late '80s, a bar of chocolate could stop a sulfuric acid leak -- and as it turns out, they were right. Sometimes, the easiest solutions are right in front of us, with simple tools and uncomplicated methods. Despite our desire for ease, studies show that in the long run, we may be able to make ourselves smarter by doing things the hard way. What researchers have found is that every time we learn a new skill, solve a problem or complete a task that needed to be thought through, you're boosting your working memory. That's all well and good, but what's the point of taking the hard way to, say, tear into a knotted bag of take-out? There's a part of all of us that sometimes just wants to take the easy way out, the chocolate bar way out. Here is a list of tricks that would make MacGyver proud, or at least keep you from tripping over your untied shoelaces. 


10. Untie a Plastic Bag Knot

So, you probably normally break into the plastic bag with scissors, but that can be messy if you happen to clip interior packaging, and scissors aren't always handy. It can be hard to muster the patience for fiddling with a tight knot in an effort to get to your apples or take-out General Tso's chicken, but with some basic knot-untying knowledge you can do it with your own deft fingers.
You're going untie the knot using ingenuity instead of a blade. This method of untying the bag knot doesn't involve picking at the plastic hoping to successfully loosen it. The key to the successful knot untying is to twist and push, not to pick. Twist one of the ends of the bag handles (the part that sticks out above the knot) into a tight, solid form, then push it through the knot.

9. Slice Tomatoes

Wonder why your tomato slices aren't perfect like the ones on your favorite deli sandwich? It's probably not your technique; it's more likely that your kitchen knife is dull. A dull blade is going to make you work harder as you slice. You'll also use a heavier hand to pierce the tomato skin, and that heavy hand does two things: It increases your risk of cutting yourself, and it increases the mushiness of your tomato slices.
Aside from the obvious tip of sharpening your blade to make slicing easier, try using a serrated knife, such as a bread knife. You may have better luck keeping your slices firm and intact because the serrated edge won't have any trouble piercing the tomato's skin. 

8. Take Scratches Out of Furniture

Maybe your new puppy scratched your wood flooring or you noticed a new scratch in your dining table after a dinner party. Fixing scratches in furniture is easy, doesn't require sanding, varnish or stain, and doesn't require a trip anywhere other than your kitchen. Kitchen? Yes...for a walnut.
It's the oil from the walnut meat that does the work here. Walnut oil penetrates the wood and can be used just as linseed oil to keep wooden furniture and floors from drying out. As it turns out, if you coat a scratch with it, the scratch will blend back in to the surrounding wood color. You can also use them to correct any scratches in wooden bowls and kitchen utensils ...and the oil is good for maintaining wooden cutting boards. Simply rub the scratched area with a shelled walnut to watch the scratch disappear, and then buff with a soft cloth.

7. Finding Studs

You may see some people knocking along a wall, listening for the tone to change when they reach a stud, but there is a more exact technology we can put to work for us. There are two ways to figure out where the studs in your walls are: Buy the latest and greatest stud finder at your local hardware store, or grab a magnet off your refrigerator.
Cutting-edge electronic sensor-style stud finders are tempting. They work by finding the edges of wood studs -- the latest technology in stud finders uses electromagnetic pulses to detect stud locations. But you don't need to use a special tool for this job. All you really need is a magnet to find a stud. Magnets can be used to find the metal drywall fasteners in wood studs...these are the screws or nails from when the drywall panels were installed.
While you can buy magnet-style stud finders, you can easily make one; just tie a short piece of string to a kitchen magnet and dangle it against the wall. When the magnet swings toward the wall, you've struck a stud. And once you've found the first stud, finding others based on its location is fairly easy...studs are normally spaced 16 inches apart.

6. Tie Your Shoes

Most of us learned to tie our shoes using what's called a granny knot, but all these years it turns out we're doing it wrong, or at least we're doing it inefficiently. The granny knot, as it turns out, is an unbalanced knot, meaning it's a type of knot that may lend our shoelaces to easily twisting, coming loose or coming completely undone. The knot we should be using is one called the reef knot, a binding knot used in sailing, in surgery, and in efficient shoelace tying.
Tying a reef knot with shoelaces begins the same as a granny knot, but here's the key difference: Once you've made a loop with the right lace you'll wrap the left lace behind the loop (around the front would make this a granny knot). Pull it tightly through the loop you create at the base of your knot when you wrap it around the right hand loop, and you've got yourself a balanced shoelace knot that will stay put until you untie it.

5. Clean The Microwave

Cleaning the microwave oven doesn't require oven-scrubbing chemical solutions or spray-on foams. All you need is water and some white distilled vinegar, which will help cut grease.
Here's what to do: Mix one-half cup of water with one-half cup of white distilled vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. (Use at least a four-cup bowl, otherwise you risk your water boiling over.) Microwave on high for several minutes, until the water comes to a rolling boil and the microwave window steams up. Let it cool for a few minutes before opening the door, then wipe the loosened food debris with a damp sponge and you're done.
For a more pleasant scent, instead of using vinegar add a few slices of orange, lemon or lime to one cup of water and microwave until boiling.

4. Save Money

There are two big things you can do to change your financial outlook and increase your savings: Create a budget and pay yourself first.
Creating a personal budget may sound like a difficult or tedious task, because more than 50 percent of Americans don't keep one....and as many as 20 percent of us don't have any idea how much money we actually spend every month [source: Forbes]. Before you can save money, you need to know what you're spending it on. Remember to revisit your budget from time to time because as your needs change, so will your financial goals.
And when it comes to those financial goals, here's that second piece of advice from the experts: Pay yourself first. Have a certain amount from your paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account instead of relying on yourself to remember to transfer it at a later date; out of sight, out of mind. Experts recommend having no less than 10 percent of your pay automatically deposited into a savings account. Part of this savings should first go into establishing an emergency fund if you don't already have one. Aim for enough savings to cover about 3 to 6 months of your expenses, as just-in-case money. Then start paying down debts.

3. Open Blister Packs

You won't be surprised to learn that you're not the only one who can't open those plastic packages that electronics, toys and so many other things seem to be encased in these days. That hard plastic packaging, also known as clamshell, oyster or blister packs, was introduced to deter shoplifting, but as a consequence of its tamper-proof features, it's also known to cause injuries when consumers try to open their purchases. In fact, according to estimates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year more than 6,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms for injuries incurred from their attempts to open plastic packaging -- usually lacerations or puncture wounds. The secret to blister-pack success? Put down the scissors and the knife and give your can opener a go instead. Not only is it similar to some of the special tools on the market designed to do open these packages, it actually works. And you probably have at least one in your kitchen right now.

2. Prevent Blisters

When you have a blister it can be a pain in the, well, foot, for sure, but there's an easy way to prevent friction blisters without buying special socks or shoes or whatever else you may have tried: A study conducted with groups of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., found that applying antiperspirant to your feet reduces your odds of developing foot blisters. While as many as 48 percent of the cadets who used a placebo treatment complained of blisters, only 21 percent of those who treated their feet with antiperspirant before hiking suffered any foot blisters.
Here's why: Friction causes blisters, and when your skin is sweaty or moist, you increase that friction and the odds of developing blisters. Antiperspirant fixes this problem because it's made to reduce sweat. You're just using it on your feet instead of underarms. To prevent a white mess, use a clear stick or a spray.

1. Figure Out How Much To Tip

Figuring out how much to leave for a restaurant tip was a little more difficult for some of us before there were apps to calculate it. There are several ways to calculate a tip in your head, though, and they aren't difficult....this method will work no matter what.
Here's what you're aiming for: Tip your waiter or waitress 15 percent of the pre-tax bill and as much as 20 percent for excellent service. Despite how many of us have trouble with this, one of the best ways to figure out that 15 percent in your head is no more than a two-step process.
First, calculate one percent of the bill. Let's use a $24.00 bill as our example: One percent of a $24.00 bill is $0.24. Next decide how much you'd like to tip. For a 15 percent tip, multiply $0.24 by 15, which equals a $3.60 tip. Twenty percent for great service? Multiply $0.24 by 20 for a $4.80 tip.

I hope you have found one or two ideas that might make your life a bit easier. Give some of them a try....'ll be glad ya did!


Sunday, February 24

SPRING GREEN: Take Color Cues from Nature When Setting Your Spring Table

Even if Spring hasn’t officially sprung, we’re ready to celebrate its arrival. It has been a long winter in many parts of the country and lots of us are suffering from the winter doldrums. I know my sweet niece, Heather, and her family in Maine are READY for Springtime!  What better way to welcome the new season than with a table setting inspired by Spring Green? 

This spring, the freshest greens lean toward bright, high-contrast shades. From spring grass to shell peas, citron to chartreuse, green lies at the root of this season’s most inspired table settings

Welcome guests to the table with personalized gifts they can enjoy at home. A garden stake in a diminutive flowerpot allows friendships to blossom.

Create a miniature bouquet with an inexpensive bud vase, pretty grosgrain ribbon, a guest’s monogram and a trio of tulips. Simple. Beautiful. Elegant.

I love the little bird’s nests on this place setting. The budding branches are a nice alternative to flowers and nothing could say Spring more.

Decorate your table {clockwise from top left} with a custom-embroidered napkin and place mat. Tie buffet napkins with string and arrange them in a compote. Candlesticks become favors. A hand-embroidered fern. Candy strips. Scalloped edges ruffle peachy plates. Mix and match napkins and rings. Vegetables are a visual treat. Present a set of napkins to your hostess.

I continue to be smitten by the colors and images of garden-themed table decor. The pinks and greens of peonies and tulips are a soft reminder  of Spring coming in like a lamb.  

Dining al fresco is one of the best parts of Spring. The gingham table runner reminds us of picnic blankets. The daisies are an inexpensive and happy accent. Elizabeth's FAVORITE flower!

Be still my ever loving rooster heart! I saved my favorite for last. What could possibly say spring more than this bold green print, a rooster, white tulips and dinning al fresco? If you can find it, let me know!

Fortunately, there's an array of products, from
tableware to napkins and glassware, to satisfy nearly
everyone's green decorating thumb. Loving to mix 
and match table settings, I head to my local thrift
stores and Goodwill. I ALWAYS come away with a
prize! Start gathering your Spring Green...'ll be glad ya did!



Saturday, February 23

Words to Live By.....

A Word on Fulfilling Your Dreams....

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."

~ Earl Nightingale

What goal in your life does this apply to? For me it was this blog, and “putting myself out there.” Now that I am a year into the aforementioned I am so happy and thankful that I had the courage to start.

I adore this quotation because it applies to so very many things in life: from preparing for and racing a marathon, to building a business, to _____ fill in the blanks. I hope you find this as inspiring a sentiment as I do!

Follow your Dreams and Transform your Life!


Friday, February 22

and now for something completely different....DALLAS REAL ESTATE

For those that know me well know that I am PASSIONATE for houses. I adore touring homes, pouring over house plans and beautiful home magazines, cruising the web looking at homes that are for sale and wandering through 'stick' houses. This is the term Ms.E uses when referring to homes that are in the process of being built. Even though Mr.P and I own our home, I still enjoy the hunt. Dreaming of a lavish home that is WAY beyond our means and wondering what it would be like to live in that world. 

As I was cruising the web last night I came across these three houses that I spent some time perusing. I just HAD to share them with you all. I love each and every one of them for different reasons. Follow the links below to tour these stellar homes room by room. 

This first house, even though monstrous in size, is typically Texan and in particular very much a home you might would find in and around the Dallas area. Built entirely out of brick, you find few homes here built of wood....tornadoes you know.

4939 Manson Court, Dallas, TX 75229


  • This second house is iconic! If you grew up in Dallas, or have lived here for some time, you KNOW this house. It sits high on a hill overlooking White Rock Lake. Standing guard over joggers, bicyclers, picnickers and young teenagers that spend evenings cruising around White Rock Lake.....that would include me and my girlfriends circa 1982. It is a gem of a house and is uniquely Dallas. I can't believe it's for sale!

  • ____________________________________________________________

    And last, but certainly NOT the least, my favorite....this glorious Uptown beauty. Showcasing the skyline of downtown Dallas from every room, I REALLY REALLY would love to live here! Over the years, stemming from our love of NYC, Mr.P and I have grown to love 'the city' life.  Someday we would love to own a loft in the Uptown area of Dallas. This loft is WAY over the top, but isn't that what dreams are for???


    I know this is just a bunch of fluff and stuff that has no real meaning, but it's fun and harmless. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend where ever you may be and take a moment to be thankful for the loving warm home the Lord has provided just for you!

    These homes are more our speed!
    DALLAS GEMS through and through!

    Thursday, February 21


    Well here they are as promised, these beautifully delicious short ribs. Yesterday, I started cooking these ribs early in the day and as they slowly cooked they filled the house with a tantalizing aroma, promising an extraordinary meal when they were finally ready but agonizingly tempting before then. It was extremely hard not to sneak an occasional bite AND keep everyone else away as well!

    The short ribs, which are a tough cut of meat, needed to simmer gently in liquid for hours to get to the desired point where they nearly fell right off the bone. They were so tender we could have literally cut them with a spoon. Astoundingly flexible in their cooking time, requiring very little effort and  fairly inexpensive this recipe for Asian Braised Short Ribs was a breeze to prepare. You really can't mess them up. This is one dish that will be added to the Porter Dinner Roster! 

    Slow-Cooker Braised Short Ribs
    These slow-cooked beef short ribs are seasoned with Chinese five spice, an aromatic blend of Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, fennel and cloves. For optimum flavor, grind the whole spices just before using.
    SERVES 6
    Print Friendly and PDF
    • 2 Tbs. whole Chinese five spice
    • 4 lb. bone-in beef short ribs
    • 2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil
    • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
    • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1⁄3 cup beef broth
    • 1⁄3 cup soy sauce
    • 1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
    • 1⁄4 cup sesame oil
    • 1 Tbs. chili garlic paste
    • 2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
    • Zest of 1 orange, peeled with vegetable peeler
        into 1⁄2-inch strips, plus juice of 1 orange
    • 1⁄4 cup sugar dissolved in 3⁄4 cup boiling water
    • Steamed rice for serving
    • Season the short ribs with the five spice and shake off the excess.
    • In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes total, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Transfer to a slow cooker.
    • Add more oil to the pan if needed. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. 
    • Add the beef broth, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. 
    • Transfer to the slow cooker. 
    • Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili paste, ginger, orange zest, orange juice and sugar mixture. 
    • Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.
    • Spoon the fat off the sauce. Transfer the ribs and sauce to a serving bowl and serve with steamed rice.
    Our short ribs were fabulous. The savory, rich meat of the short ribs coupled with the zesty, tropical sweet and spicy flavors of the sauce were over the top. YUM.

    There you have it...short and sweet.

    Until you try them for yourself  you  just will not 

    believe how incredibly delicious and easy these ribs are to cook and eat.

    Prepare them for your family 
    you'll be glad ya did!



    Wednesday, February 20

    Weird Wednesday: 10 Weird and Gross Ingredients in Processed Foods

    If you haven't been weirded out already today, hold onto something because you're about to be. Not just weirded out but just plain grossed out and I must say if you want to ever eat processed foods again then NOW is the time to turn away! have been sufficiently warned, your future eating is in your own hands. Proceed with caution!

    By now everyone should know that processed and fast foods are not the bastions of nutrition, but that shouldn’t make the following ingredients found inside them any less revolting, inside or outside your home kitchen. This list sends a clear message: when a packaged food contains more than five ingredients and includes some that are difficult to pronounce, stay away or at the very least do a bit of research so that you are fully aware of what's in your food. 

    Fertilizer in Subway Sandwich Rolls
    While chemical fertilizers inevitably make it into our produce in trace amounts, you would not expect it to be a common food additive. However, ammonium sulfate can be found inside many brands of bread, including Subway’s. The chemical provides nitrogen for the yeast, creating a more consistent product.

    Beaver Anal Glands in Raspberry Candy
    The anal glands of a beaver, conveniently euphemized as castoreum, are a common ingredient in perfumes and colognes but are also sometimes used to — believe it or not — enhance the flavor of raspberry candies and sweets.

    Beef Fat in All Hostess Products
    While this may not bother the most ardent omnivore, others are shocked to discover that their favorite childhood treats contain straight-up beef fat. The ingredient comes included a list of other oils that may or may not be used, so it is always a gamble! It is enough to make some of us take a second look.

    Crushed Bugs as Red Food Coloring
    After killing thousands at a time, the dried insects are boiled to produce a liquid solution that is turned into a dye using a variety of treatments. Some people worry that the coloring — often called carmine or carminic acid — could be listed as a “natural color,” disguising the fact that there are bugs in the product.

    Beetle Juice in Sprinkles and Candies
    You know that shiny coating on candies like Skittles? Or the sprinkles on cupcakes and ice cream sundaes? Well, they get that glaze from the secretions of the female lac beetle. The substance is also known as shellac and commonly used as a wood varnish.

    Sheep Secretions in Bubble Gum
    The oils inside sheep’s wool are collected to create the goopy substance called lanolin. From there, it ends up in chewing gum, under the guise of “gum base”, but also is used to create vitamin D3 supplements.

    Human Hair and/or Duck Feathers in Bread
    What’s in your morning bagel? They contain either human hair or duck feathers, and it’s your guess as to which. The substance, called L-cysteine or cysteine, is used as a dough conditioner to produce a specific consistency. While artificial cysteine is available, it is cost prohibitive and mostly used to create kosher products.

    Coal Tar in Red-Colored Candy
    Coal tar is listed as number 199 on the United Nations list of “dangerous goods,” but that doesn’t stop people from using it in food. The coloring Allura Red AC is derived from coal tar and is commonly found in red-colored candies, sodas and other sweets.

    Calf Stomach in Many Cheeses
    In Europe, all cheeses are labeled as either suitable or not suitable for vegetarians because in  other countries cheeses are made using rennet, which is the fourth stomach of a young cow. In the United States, people are left to guess about the stomach-content of their cheese.

    Sand in Wendy’s Chili
    Sand is hidden in Wendy’s chili as a name you might remember from high school chemistry class: silicon dioxide. Apparently they use sand as an “anti-caking agent,” perhaps to make sure the chili can last for days and days over a heater. 

    So the moral of this sad little article is, "Be aware what you are eating and feeding your family, you may be more shocked than you think."

    Read, research and decide what's best for you and your loved ones...'ll be glad ya did! REALLY!