Picnic Pizzaz!

With the Fourth of July fast approaching and other summer picnics in the making, think of new ways to add simple style — guaranteed to deliver interest to the ordinary picnic.

Watch my e-How video for inspiration and take it from here!

The Makings of a Fun, Casual, Picnic

  • Ball jars
  • Colorful bandanas (can use red, white and blue for patriotic holidays)
  • Quilt or colorful tablecloth
  • Lights for stringing when the sun goes down
  • Games  — croquet, kickball, bean bag toss, you name it!
  • Good food of your choice!
  • A warm welcome to make your guests glad they came.

Real Men Can Cook

I knew by the way they barreled in the kitchen that they were hungry. Our 14-year-old son and his two buddies came in from outside with that “look.” I was elbow deep in cookie dough involved in my own project so I really couldn’t stop to make them food. Besides, at 14, they can forage in our kitchen and find something themselves.

Before I could even finish my instructions to fire up the grill and grab some frozen burgers, one of the boys asked, “Mrs. Kelley, do you have an onion?”

Step One: slice the onions

Step One: slice the onions

Before I could answer, Connor continued, “Well, only if it’s not your last one, but we didn’t have any at home [I guess that's why they came here] and I can show you how to make grilled onions in a pouch for burgers.”

Now this was worth clearing a space for him on the counter. What happened next was nothing short of entertaining. Connor instructed me on the onion pouches (recipe below), and the other two boys, Patrick 1 and Patrick 2, prepped the grill, found the chips and implements, and caused general kitchen bedlam.

Did you know a big grill spatula can also be a bat?

As an onlooker I was more than entertained and proud of the boys. These boys are growing into fine, young men…and, they can cook!

Connor’s Onion Pouches (Recipe via His Older Brother Ryan)


  • 1 white onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 Tablespoons (approximately) of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Aluminum foil


  • Cut as many pieces of foil as you have burgers, big enough so you can make a pouch and twist the top.
  • Place several slices of onions on the foil.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients and top with butter.
  • Wrap up and twist top so juices don’t leak out. Put on the grill and cook until soft and brown.

    Burger casualty.

    Burger casualty.

Pots o’ Hospitality

These little flower pots filled with springtime goodies are fun to make and give away. Create them for any occasion — party favors, hostess gifts, or welcome gifts left in your guest room. Use your imagination loading the contents of little flower pots.

Recipe for Pots o’ Hospitality

  • Ceramic green flower pots, available from Home Depot, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and garden stores in various colors and sizes (I used 5-inch pots here. If you’re inspired, buy terra cotta pots and personalize them for the occasion with paint.)
  • Colorful gardening gloves
  • Seed packet of herbs
  • Espresso Pillows from Trader Joe’s (chocolate-covered espresso beans… but a bit of any kind of chocolate will go)
  • Spanish moss (available from any craft store)

gArrange everything in the little pot and put in a cellophane bag (available at craft stores) and tie with ribbon (I used rafia). I also included a little soil in a separate baggie placed behind the flower pot in the cellophane bag. That way the seeds are ready to plant.





Simply Spring Tables

Your table says “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here.” Set a spring table with the blooms of the season for a hospitable burst of color. Today my dishes all match, but feel free to mix and match dishes for a whimsical, yet coordinated, look.


Spring flower centerpiece: tulips, azalea bush and dogwood branches, all from my yard. Whatever you have, blooms and greens, trim short for a bowl so the centerpiece is low and doesn’t obstruct vision. I used a Portmeirion Botanic Garden bowl with a spiked flower frog to hold flowers in place. Arrange loosely for an informal look.

Napkins: Whippoorwill pattern by World Market picks up all the spring colors from the flowers.

Tablecloth: Fresh spring green linen by World Market. The color hue is a step up from the wintertime mossy greens.

Dinnerware: Simply white Franciscan china, Nautical sea sculpture pattern.

Goblets: Wine goblets by Kosta Boda. Water goblets by Libby.

Candleholders: from Michaels, inexpensive votive holders for low, dispersed lighting



Botanical Buffet

It’s spring and although it might still be a little chilly to eat outdoors on the deck or patio, you can bring all the color and blossoms inside for an indoor springtime buffet.

Watch my e-How video on how to pull this off and welcome your guests to your botanical buffet. For table decorations, re-purpose some of your garden implements and decorate with the colors of spring. Your food will also be inspired by the season. Some of my favorite spring-time menu items are:

Click here for the video here on How to Decorate a Serving Table for a Spring Party. (Be sure to press the “CC” button is you would like to view it with captions.)


One of my favorite things to do on Holy Saturday is deliver these little kabobs — candy kabobs that is! Many of you wrote to me and asked about the Easter kabobs I made last year. So, back by popular demand…here they are.

I got the idea for these in a local boutique…so clever! The price: $8 per kabob!

I wanted lots of kabobs so I bought my own candy and materials and spent $20 max! So far, I’ve made 20 kabobs and still going. (Retail price for 20 would be $160.)

For all You DIYers Out There

Materials: wooden skewers (available in the grocery store), roll of cellophane, ribbon, Easter grass, twisties, ribbon.

Candy: I used Reese’s cups, Peeps, chocolate eggs, fondant eggs, and some gummy shapes. The candy is tricky. I found the candy wrapped in foil with soft centers (such as a mini Reese’s cup or caramel-filled eggs) work really well. Next time, I would like to find a little bigger chocolate egg wrapped in foil.

The photo tells it all – slide candy on skewers, wrap in cellophane, secure Easter grass with a twistie and finish with pretty ribbon!

The designs are endless depending on the candy, the type of Easter grass and the ribbon. Have fun!