Trick or Treats 

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Blue &White

I have been collecting blue and white for at least 8 years now from dinnerware to decorative objects, even Asian jewelry.  My favorite pieces are my large ginger jars with pink tassels hanging from them in my living room, 
my cobalt blue drinking glasses and a pair of oversized cobalt blue glass hurricane candle holders I use on my patio table.  
Really I could go on and on.  I even carried the blue upstairs into the hallway and I just love the vintage floral prints that are in royal blue wooden frames on my celadon green walls.
I have recently decorated a guest room and used a cobalt blue wall covering with flowers and added several blue and white touches in there as well.  Growing up I lived with it.
My mother collected cobalt blue glassware and antique medicine bottles, it never seems to get old.  I can remember how she cherished her blue Shirley Temple sugar bowl.  She loved it so much so that when I came across another, I bought it for her. 
 My intuition must have been strong, because it was not much later that she was cleaning her China cabinet selves and low and behold broke one of the bowls.  Mom told me that when she was a child, there was a certain day each week that the movie theater gave away China or so called "depression glass" and that's how mom started her blue collection. 
 I can remember sitting at the kitchen table and gazing out into the yard, as the sun illuminated her vintage bottle collection which was prominently displayed on a window shelf.  The cool blue, beautiful then, remains beautiful today.

If you have opened any magazines lately, you will find blue and white is dominating.  From the cover of House Beautiful, 
blue and white ginger jars and other fanciful touches adorn eloquent homes,
 to fashion magazines such as InStyle where royal blue and blue and white China patterned clothing are all the rage. Even patio decor catalogs such as Frontgate and Potter Barn all carry blue and white cushions and entertaining accessories.
I am so passionate about blue, it seems to be the best pop of color when it comes to decorating or donning.  Blue and white is crisp, cool and charismatic.

I am certain a looming question is whether or not blue and white is expensive?  It can be given the craftsmanship, age and quality.  Blue and white goes way back to a major trading post in Canton China. 
With that said, the name "Canton-ware" became an elegant and fashionable household and table top name in the early 1900's in the United States.  Centuries later, blue and white has made a major come back and like I said can be found flooding the press right now. 

One of my fortes is demonstrating how to achieve the look of the moment for less, with my mantra "affordable luxury." You don't have to own priceless pieces to establish the same elegant look I assure you.  All it requires is a good eye and a little imagination.  Yard sales and thrift shops are a great place to start, as I find cobalt glassware everywhere I turn. 
 As for blue and white, antique shops, decor catalogs and stores such as The Christmas Tree Shop, Marshalls/Homegoods and even your local department stores carry a variety of items in this style.  I even will venture to say that I went into the dollar store for safety pins and came out with a stack of cobalt blue porcelain dinner plates. 
 The truth is, it's everywhere.  Just stop for a moment in the stores and take a good look around you, it's been looking back at you longer than you have realized.


Jamie Gottschall

Botanically-inspired Easter Baskets
Watch my Easter segment HERE

Valentine's Day Fondue

Valentine's Day is just a little more than two weeks away. So, this morning, we're "dipping into" something a little different to help you celebrate. Lifestyle expert Jamie Gottschall is here to show us how to make a fab fondue spread that both your wallet and your special someone will enjoy this holiday.

Click on the link below to find out how you can make Valentine's Day special

Valentine's Day Chocolate Fondue

A Rockin' Moroccan Christmas Eve

Middle Eastern lanterns were the inspiration for this Moroccan theme


Once the sun went down and guests began arriving, the house glowed in shimmering colors, it was truly magical.  Here I draped a jewel encrusted, cross tree ornament over the top of the lantern
Every fabulous idea comes from an inspiration, whether in your imagination, something you spotted in a store, in a magazine on television, anywhere!  For me, it usually comes from an item I spot while shopping. 
One great piece can drum up the most fantastical scene, transforming the usual to the awe inspiring unusual.  It can transport you to another time and place; make you feel warm when you are cold, remind you of your childhood or whatever your little heart dreams about.  For years I stuck with my childhood fantasy of a land of candy, so sweet it would give you a toothache just looking at it.  I had visions of sugarplums dancing in my head for as long as I could remember.  It reminded me of my favorite childhood memories, such as Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Candy Land game and the jumbo faux lollipops that would line the path to the Macy’s Santa in New York City. 
Two years ago a pomegranate and a can of gold spray paint inspired me to transform everything from fruit to nuts into a gilded era.  
From jewel toned glassware to Persian rugs, this table is set for a Sultan
But it was last Christmas that was my greatest holiday entertaining accomplishment, allowing my imagination to run rampant, all because of one item of inspiration, a Moroccan lantern.  That one lantern transformed me into a genie of sorts and from that moment on my theme was evident, or shall I say, my wish was my command; A Rockin’ Moroccan Christmas” was born.   There is a bit of irony here though, 99% of Morocco is an Islamic country, which as you may  well know, does not celebrate Christmas. On that note, that is just the type of diverse situation that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Without further delay, I hope you will join me on a magic carpet.
These Marionettes were a Marshalls/Homegoods fab find along with the lanterns, glassware and more!
What and Where?

My initial inspiration came from a Moroccan lantern which I spotted at Marshall’s/Homegood’s.  Any savvy Marshall’s/Homegood’s shopper knows that frequenting the store regularly is a must.  The more lanterns I seemed to buy, the more shipments of lanterns arrived.  I was inspired to mix the glamorous with the rustic, so I killed two birds with one stone scooping up some of the most rustic looking wooden bowls, cheese boards and serving pieces I could find.  I found multi-colored Moroccan glassware and jeweled religious cross tree ornaments.
Above: Rustic wooden serving pieces, mixed with Middle Eastern inspired objects make for an eclectic tablescape

At home, I did a quick sweep of my house, collecting small Persian rugs, pillows and colorful wine glasses. 

The napkins topping frosted gold-trimmed square dinner plates matched the lantern colors, each one a different color around the table.  The same color placemats were alternated as well.  I found matching brass and wooden silverware and brass pineapple napkin rings.  The napkins, rings, plates and placemats all from SteinMart and the silverware from an antique shop.  I purchased a service for 24 including the serving pieces and soup spoons etc for just under a few hundred dollars (a steal!  I see these sets all the time in these shops in large wooden boxes, so keep your eyes peeled!)

I even went as far as to go through my costume jewelry for rustic looking religious medallions and crosses to use as table props and even used an antique oil painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her arms for my dining room fireplace mantle.

Live greens trimmed from local trees adorn my marble mantle.  I used a plastic flower box liner on its side filled with water soaked floral foam.

Live greens trimmed from local trees adorn my marble mantle.  I used a plastic flower box liner on its side filled with water soaked floral foam.

My décor also included live greens and tropical fruits, but they were saved for last, so
 that they wouldn’t spoil too soon. (you can find similar objects at an antique shop or thrift store).

Jewel tones votives and ruby red pomegranates adorn the side board 

Coconut, pomegranate and live greens create an eclectic look


Hors d’ oeuvres
The menu was consistent with my Moroccan/Middle Eastern Theme.  As for my appetizers, I used an oversized, round rustic wooden pizza board and divided it up into sections.  The center was reserved for one of the exotic new lanterns and around it were bowls of; tapenade, fresh hummus, stuffed and plain figs, cheeses, pita, toast, unleavened crackers, grapes in multiple colors, sliced pomegranate, roasted red peppers and olives, all on a bed of extra large lettuce leaves.

I put out small wooden bowls of a variety of nuts and set up a folding table with wooden boards that had sliced meats and cheeses, marinated anchovies, mackerel, sardines, marinated brussel sprouts, stuffed grape leaves and artichoke hearts.  
A bowl of fresh hummus, is strategically nestled within the main appetizer tray surrounded by pita
I propped this circular wooden tray on top of a live pine wreath, added a hot pink silk bow and dried hydrangea, all in keeping with the living room decor

A side of lump crab meat and mango flavored cocktail sauce added an extra touch.
I found this jumbo jar at Marshall's/Homegood's and filled it with colorful ornaments.  The height was necessary to add some dimension to my table.
Cured meat, sun dried tomatoes and crackers on a rustic board, atop layered linnens

Crab cocktail with a mango salsa.  If I could do this over, I would have filled the tray with crushed ice

Main Course

Baby lamb chops marinating

In a roasting pan, coat your (Baby) chops with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lime, salt, pepper, freshly chopped mint, freshly minced garlic and allow them to marinate in the refrigerator.  Under the broiler, these were ready in minutes.


On a foil lined baking sheet, coat the salmon with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.  Broil until ends are crispy.  This is another quickie!


Yet another quick meal, in a roasting pan, soak chicken cubes in a combination of coconut milk and cream of coconut, curry powder, fresh parsley, salt, pepper and moistened sweetened flaked coconut. 

Chop fresh mango cubes and slide both the mango and the chicken onto the skewers.  Place them on a lined baking sheet and place under the broiler, cooks in minutes.

Even my wardrobe was part of the fun.  I selected the brightest dress in my closet, wrapped myself in colorful scarves and was dripping with gold coins and colorful beads, all in effort to have a Moroccan Bazaar feel.
I ransacked my closet for anything with a Middle Eastern Inspiration and came across these beautiful linen and silk scarves 
Into the treasure trove of gold coins and colorful beads I dove!

(supper and dessert)

Light em' up!  Bring the ambiance to the buffet, along with the tropical yet rustic theme

As you can see, this male dominant family enjoyed every last detail and morsel of the evening
This was the most beautiful Christmas thus far.  It was memorable, warm and inviting. 

It brought a big family together, sparked intriguing conversation and in the end was truly a memorable Christmas for all.
  I’m not sure if or when I will run out of ideas, or simply burn out, but for now, I am bursting at the seems with ideas for years to come, so stay tuned.
My husband entertains family tickling the ivories and singing classic Christmas carols

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!



Above: white artificial miniature white pine trees, jars filled with varying sized marshmallows and artificial snow made for the perfect countertop blizzard.

The most memorable Christmas' for me, were those that were white.    I can remember snow forts, snow angels, licking icicles, snowball fights, ice skating in my very own back yard and sledding to name just a few.  I also remember the eerie sound of the windows whistling, the frost that surrounded the window pane and counting snow flakes as they fell.  

Speaking of snow flakes, my mother used to sit us down with a cup of hot chocolate and whip cream
as we cut endless patterns of paper snowflakes, leaving little or no time for video games or boredom, she always had something creative up her sleeve.

We then would toast marshmallows and later in front of the tube while watching the Christmas classics, would string popcorn and cranberries.
Above: to create a natural looking snowfall with snow drifts, sprinkle your artificial snow from above jar level.
Those were the happiest childhood memories and it's no wonder why I capitalize on the season in my own home, in my own way, with my own children. 
On long roasting sticks which I purchased at my local grocer, I toasted marshmallows and placed them in a pine colored jar fireside.  You can keep these simply as decorative items or toast them to eat just before the children come in from the snow.

In my kitchen, I have recreated that magic on another level; a visually stimulating one.
Above: under cabinet lighting illuminated the snow, creating a lifelike effect.I love having the boys friends over, and they certainly hate to say goodbye.  I had fun with marshmallows this year which remind me of snowballs, as you can see and the boys had fun shaping snowflakes.  I LOVED this simple project and so will you.

Now let it snow in your own home!



My sons LOVE Christmas, but the younger of the two seems to have inherited moms touch when it comes to styling a Christmas scene.  

He drove a car ornament straight up to the Christmas tree farm and even loaded a mini faux tree in the open convertible.
This year, JP decorated his bedroom tree himself, but went the extra STYLE MILE and added a whimsical touch to his bathroom.  
We then sprinkled the area with a vintage can of after shave talc (also his idea), giving the room a pleasant piney scent and faux snow dusting and voilà, a scene was created in under 5 minutes!

As I always preach, all it takes is a little imagination and 1 prop to get the ball rolling.  Your homework?  Grab an ornament and try to turn it into a winter scene this year in your bathroom!  Now mush!

Jamie Gottschall

Pennsyl-tucky Derby Party Tips & Tricks
I have yet to venture to the Kentucky derby (as I mention in my Express Times STYLE column, link below), but it didn't stop me from taking my Pennsylvania country charm and melding it with Kentucky Derby inspirations.
YOUR PROPS are everything, from a first impression to an ongoing theme, to eye candy depending on how creative you allow your imagination to get. I was fortunate enough to have been collecting model horses in different shapes, sizes and textures to add to my ever whimsically growing table.  Where was I going with all of this?  To create a horse lovers heaven...read more

How to Throw a Pensyl-tucky Derby Party

Easter Ensemble; Dress for the Occasion
Click HERE to see how
Botanically-inspired Easter Baskets
Watch my Easter segment HERE
Easter Party Pies
Around Easter, we are always bombarded with parties, egg hunts, gallery openings and more.  The change of season has everyone out and about.  With all the rushing around, it's not so easy to whip together a dish to bring to a party.  For instance, last night I went to a gallery opening, this morning I jumped from the nail salon, hair salon straight to an Easter egg hunt at a friends house.  For me, no matter how much I love to cook and bake, it isn't always as realistic as it seems.  With that said, improvising becomes my next best friend and it should be yours, too...read more

Gorgeous, Green St. Pat's Apps
Watch my St. Patrick's Day segment HERE
Shamrock Toast Bites
Making these completely simple shamrock toast bites is as easy as 1,2,3...click HERE to see how!
Taking Your Valentine Wreath to the Next Level 

Valentine's Day is soon approaching and hopefully you followed my simple instructions to make your very own Valentine wreath.  The holidays come and go so quickly and the wreaths on your door are ever evolving.  I love to keep my beautiful Christmas wreath up all winter long, as it looks cheery and beautiful.  It shows signs of life on the warm welcoming door in which it hangs.  When it comes to hanging a Valentine wreath, it can be uneventful. Why?  Well, usually a heart shaped wreath is quite small and can get lost on a door, making it appear chintzy.  The solution, take the wreath you just made or even a plain, red heart shaped wreath and add it as another layer to your already existing holiday wreath...read more

Sitting Pretty On Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, my chairs are no longer taking a "back seat" to my table decor...or are they?With a simple faux (or live), heart-shaped, rose wreath, I was able to turn my chairs into thrones of their own.  It was as simple as threading a piece of ribbon through the back of the wreath around the foam.  Then, with a separate piece of ribbon, tying a bow on it...read more

Finding the "SWEET SPOT" This Valentine's Day

Looking for something to do this Valentines Day that's recession proof, fun for the entire family and simple?  Then look no further!  This Valentine's Day, the "sweet spot" is in the comfort of my own home.  I planned a month in advance, seeking inspiration as I combed the craft store for table decor.  I found inspiration from a red and white check picnic blanket and worked from there.  The blanket served as my tablecloth.  Next, I went through my pantry and pulled out four round mirrors that I use as chargers, plain large white plates because they would pop on my busy tablecloth and four small pink luncheon plates with ruffled edges.  I set them on my table from largest to smallest (bottom to top). ..read more

"Kid Friendly" Super Bowl Party
My son David was born on Super Bowl Sunday so he inherited the nickname, "Super Dave."  That meant many fun "kid's style" Super Bowl parties for us. Whenever we attend a Super Bowl party, everyone's children are in tow.  How many children actually sit and watch the Super Bowl though?  Not many.  Usually, they are in a designated tv room watching a movie or playing video games, only to be called in for the highly anticipated Super Bowl half time show...read more

Christmas Eve Traditions; Making Them Memorable

It's that time of evening when most of the adults are sprawled out after an elaborate meal on the living room furniture, as if they were in a food coma.  It's Christmas Eve and it's too early to send the children off to their beds but getting close. This is the time we usually prepare milk and cookies for Santa and leave granola and carrots for his reindeer.  It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Traditionally we read it in bed, but this year I think we will be reading it aloud, as we toast marshmallows and drink hot cocoa by the fire.  This is also the time that Gran and Daddy take turns playing the piano and we all sing along, shaking jingle bells to Christmas carols.  This year, the boys can add to the repertoire, as they have been working hard for several years with piano lessons. Usually, the Wizard of OZ is on the tube in the background and the night seems without end.  We open wrapped gifts for hours, tell stories of Christmas' past, and jokes until it hurts to smile.  The wine is poured freely and the homemade eggnog is frothy...read more

Using Pinecones in Holiday Decor

Unsure what to do with those beautiful and abundant wood works of nature?  Well stop pining around!  There is no better time to use the pinecones you have collected over the years than at Christmastime.  Pinecones come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, all ready to be used in many ways.  For years, I used pinecones to adorn my Christmas trees, add dimension and beauty to my wreaths, garlands, and to spice up the dreamy scent of a fireplace on a cold winter night.  I even use them as part of my everyday decor, from my fireplace wood basket to simply dressing up the interior of my fireplace during the off seasons...read more

Live Wreath Making

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday is shopping the outdoor nursery in search of my live greenery for the holidays. Wreath making is my favorite.  I guess you can say I have a very dimensional mind as everything I do is in layers.  I think most people see the world pretty flat.  Don't just picture the earth as a flat space but see its sphere.  The earth has dimension through natural landscape, right?  From mountains to trees, the earth has dimension.  When I begin my venture for my wreath, I am imagining how to make it as lush as possible.  I search for different varieties of greenery to layer. I layer and mix my wreaths using pine, spruce, and boxwood...read more

Gingerbread Houses 101

Each year my mother, my boys and I participate in a gingerbread decorating party.  The supplies are pretty basic so I hit the stores in advance and bring my own.  Before I set out, I try to come up with a plan first so shopping for my house is quick and effortless.  I always seem to imagine the type of house that you would find in the Swiss Alps, the Arctic, or someplace like Vermont.  I am pretty imaginative, so it's easy to come up with a plan in my head.  For others, seeking inspiration somewhere else is their only option, or so they have convinced themselves.  My suggestion for those who need some inspiring is to visit a website such as Pinterest or simply google, "photos of gingerbread houses."  There are also books out there on just about everything, including gingerbread houses or holiday baking books.  Another idea is to sketch out your house on paper first.  Many people get creative once there is a pen in hand and paper in front of them.  It's nice to have because you can take it with you to the store to find just the right elements and have it right at the table when you begin construction of your winter home...read more

Children's Christmas Table Setting

Christmas is such an exciting time for all in the Gottschall household but most fun, of course, for the children.  I really enjoy creating a private table for the young cousins, making it personal, whimsical and fantastical all at the same time.  Getting children to "stay put" at the supper table is not always an easy task, especially when there is such energy in the air.  Cousins are excited to see one another, gifts are rolling in from grandparents and the sights, smells and sounds of the holidays have the children all a buzz.  A table set to stimulate the minds of the children is imperative...read more

All That Glitters... Part II: Layering It On

In my quest for the perfect holiday setting, I discovered many layers  of goodness, from the bottom up!  I am not a tablecloth girl, as I love the way a shiny table looks beneath those layers.  It's an elegant touch and worrying about "ruining" the table is just silly.  It's not a museum piece, it's the table you use, therefore, it should look used.  Wear and tear gives something age and with age comes character.  Dining without a tablecloth really does not mean damaging your table though, hence the layers.  I also never place a hot dish on my table without something under it for protection, something pretty, such as a coordinating placemat.  If you look closely enough, my layers can range from 4-6 pieces.  I usually start with a large round placemat at the bottom of each table setting, add a round mirror, next a charger with a color that complements the theme (but different color than the placemat), the dinner plate and, lastly, the salad plate.  Something always tops the salad plate. This time it's a pomegranate with the guest's name written on it.  Previously it's been a napkin with a beautiful napkin ring, a miniature martini glass of shrimp cocktail, or whatever sparks my imagination at the moment...read more

All That Glitters: Part II: Food for Thought

Is it true, all that glitters is gold? This Christmas tablescape will prove to you that the imagination, and work put into it, is worth its weight in gold. I know what you're thinking, "I could never, ever make my table look this good."  Not true.  I will walk you through step by step, until you, too, become a gold digger.

I used to think a hot glue gun was my best kept secret.  I use it for things you would likely never imagine but we will save that for another day.  So what is my new best kept secret, you ask?  A can of spray paint or what I call "liquid gold."  Once I get a can in hand, everyone who knows me well knows to hit the deck, my neighbors especially.  I'm so particular, yet can make such a mess with spray paint.  Like a mad scientist, I begin my experimentation.  This past Halloween, I sprayed my pumpkins and inadvertently turned my new Porsche into one.  Yup, you heard me...read more

How to Say NO to the Holiday Munchies

The holiday season has officially begun and my health and fitness kick is going strong, until the weekend that is.  Invitations to holiday dinners, cocktail parties and cookie swaps make it nearly impossible to stick with a diet or health regimine.  I walk into the gym and cookies and cakes are welcoming me at the door. On the second floor, ginger snaps and pretzels are just waiting to escape their jars. Something is wrong with this picture...read more

Preparing for the Holidays

As soon as Halloween is over, the holiday season approaches like a whirlwind.  For some, their heads spin from the stress of the seasonal transition, the anxiety over the reality that the bills create. Just the thought, for many, of the production it takes to drag out the holiday boxes and trees, not to mention the clean-up.  For others, the holidays can't get here fast enough.  Our adrenaline is at an all time high, our ideas are overflowing, and planning has been done months in advance.  We are ready and waiting to do what we do best, ENTERTAIN...read more

A Halloween Wreath that is DROP DEAD Gorgeous 

I am incredibly picky, when it comes to finding holiday decor that looks like it has an ounce of quality, especially when it comes to my front door wreath.  Your front door is where you welcome your guests and where they receive their very first impression of who lives inside.  Therefore, creating thing with my own signature is a must.  For years I searched for the perfect Halloween wreath, but they were all so chinsey looking.  You know,  those half done grapevine wreaths you find hanging in the craft stores, where you find yourself saying, if it only had a better bow, if they only used the right balance of flowers, etc.  I have a beautiful Autumn wreath that I love, I hang it every year.  It looks natural, it's full and it's simple and elegant.  This year while staring at it on my door, it came to me, "why not just dress up the wreath I love, just before Halloween?"  Well, that's exactly what I did.  I already had a beautiful net-like Halloween bow in a variety of Halloween colors waiting to be used on something (I bought it, just because I liked it so much), and I also had some other knick-knacks laying around that coordinated...read more

BOOtiful Trick or Treat Basket

It's almost Halloween and your scrambling for a fabulous costume, right?  Once your costume is finally in place, panic sets in at the last moment.  You realize you don't have a special or unique trick or treat bag or bucket.  But what's out there?  Plastic pumpkin buckets that have cheap handles that break and everyone and their brother has carried for generations or those unimaginative plastic bags.  How about instead a basket that is so beautiful, you can pass it down for generations to come?  Sounds like a great idea to me!  Don't fret because I am going to show you how to have "THE BEST" Halloween accessory this year, one that everyone will be talking about, a conversation piece, and you(or your child) will be the talk of the town...read more

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