Monthly Archives: July 2017

Manners on Monday: The One Upper

July 31, 2017, posted by Gina – I can’t believe today marks the last day of July and while it’s not the official end of summer, school will be starting in the first few weeks of August giving us that Fall feeling. And as this last day of July falls on a Monday, we’re talking about manners. The subject of this week’s manners post is one we all encounter from time to time so let’s get started.

The Seinfeld show had a humorous way of treating everyday experiences and it made us feel better. One of the episodes was about the “One Upper”. You know, the person who is better, smarter, richer, busier, healthier, happier or whatever than you or anyone else. In the episode, Jerry becomes more and more frustrated as the One Upper continues with their conversational dominance. No matter the topic, the One Upper topped his experience.

I am not sure about you but I will put up with this for a while but then my blood will start to boil just as Jerry’s did. How are we supposed to deal with a person that does this? First, we can find a way to walk away. Drinks always need refreshing, the powder room calls, the other line is ringing or whatever. I like to have some excuses prepared so I can get myself out of these situations in a nice way.

Turns out that these One Uppers are really not trying to make you feel bad. They are insecure and are trying to convince themselves that they are wonderful. They have low self-esteem and this is a way for them to make themselves feel better. While this makes me sad for them, it is not our duty to be their punching bag.

Next time you encounter a One Upper, take a deep breath and have your exit plan ready.

So, as we started this post off with Seinfeld’s humor about his annoying One Upper, we’ll end it with a funny video. If you’ve ever seen the Penelope character on Saturday Night Live, you know she’s the ultimate One Upper. “I invented air, so every time you breath you owe me ten cents.” Click THIS LINK to see it and have a laugh.

A Very Versatile Arrangement

July 30, 2017, posted by Gina – This past week I worked on an arrangement that looked great in two totally different locations. I used it for a centerpiece on a super summery tablescape and again by itself on a console table. Let’s take a look at how I used this little versatile arrangement.

Here we see the arrangement on a glass topped wrought iron table cosied up between two lamps with burlap shades. The galvanized container used as a vessel for the arrangement seems right at home in this rustic environment.

Moving on to the second location…in this overhead view of the table, the arrangement is pleased as punch to be the centerpiece on this brightly colored tablescape.

Here is an up-close view of the arrangement on the table.

In this long view of the table you can see all of the elements that make it so colorful and inviting.

Can’t you just imagine yourself sitting right here?

We hope this brightly colored table inspires you to create a similar one for yourself. It is amazing how a few flowers can bring life to a room and transform a space.


Galvanized vessel for flowers: Gina Diamond’s Flower Co.
Table runner: Home Goods
Flatware: Southern Living at Home
Monogrammed glasses: In Gina’s family for a LONG time.
Fringe Napkins: Gina’s personal collection
Dishes: Alexa by Southern Living

Fun Stuff for Friday

July 28, 2017, posted by Gina – Happy Friday! After traveling the past few weekends, we will finally be staying home this weekend. I have been playing catch up since last weekend and have finally crossed the finish line, so I can enjoy my few days of relaxation. Son 1 may pay us a visit so I have a few recipes on deck. I was able to get the peach hand pie recipe that I mentioned in last week’s Friday post and will share it with you next week. You will want to try them as they are delicious! In the meantime, here are a few fun things that caught my attention this past week. Enjoy your weekend and we will see you on Monday!


This time of year, these bright red sunflowers start showing up. The color is very eye catching and rich. Would it surprise you if told you this sunflower does not naturally grow this red? They are dyed to be this vibrant color. I hope I have not burst your bubble. I tend to prefer naturally occurring colors when it comes to flowers but this red can’t be ignored. There truly are sunflowers that are classified as red but they tend to be more burnt orange or rust in reality. Some of these varieties include Moulin Rouge, Velvet Queen, Autumn Beauty and Floristan. As the Fall approaches, you will begin to see these more frequently as their colors more closely look like the deep oranges to burgundies we all enjoy using instead of this bright red.



I found these protein bars the other day at Sam’s and thought I would give them a try. I will admit that after I tried them I rushed back to get more. They have fewer calories (150) and sugar (5g) than most bars of this type, taste delicious and help you fill full. I am not sure of the organic benefit in a bar like this but a doctor developed these while looking for a healthier alternative to these kinds of energy bars. A perfect snack if you are on the run.



After washing and drying your face do you still find make up on your towel? How does that happen? In a quest to get my face squeaky clean, I chose these make up remover towelettes that will flat out get your mascara off. I follow this with the cleansing gel and there is not a trace of make up behind, leaving my face ready to accept my anti-wrinkle cream.

Container Gardening 3 comments

July 27, 2017, posted by Gina -When you think about it, container gardening is essentially a combination of gardening and floral design. The same principles that apply in floral design are true for container gardening. Most of my container plants are usually leggy and just plain tired at this point in the summer. I just can’t help giving them a fresh look with new plants even though it is a bit of a challenge finding interesting and pretty plants in late summer. Let’s take a look at what I found at the garden center and how I put it together in my containers.
I took the old soil out of my container to make room for fresh, nutrient rich soil.
I like to use Miracle Grow Potting Mix as it is a combination of soil and fertilizers that help make your plants very happy.

In choosing my plant materials, I could not get the old adage of “thriller, filler and spiller” out of my mind. It’s funny but it really helps when selecting plants. I chose purple coneflower as my thriller, purple heart as my filler and blue haze as my spiller. I worked with an analogous color combination that I really like; pink, deep purple and blue.

I began with the purple coneflower, continued with the purple heart and finished with the blue haze. Once I had everything in the container as I liked it, I filled in with the soil.

And here is the finished container…

In total, I worked on 4 of these. Here are two that frame my steps leading to my patio:

Go ahead and freshen up your containers. It suddenly makes your whole garden look fresh again.





What to Cook Wednesday 2 comments

July 26, 2017, posted by Gina – For this week’s What to Cook Wednesday I’m sharing a very easy snack recipe for Spicy Ranch Pretzels. The recipe calls for Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn oil but I used the store brand. I also threw in a bit more dill and red pepper flakes. So, feel free to adjust this one according to your taste and enjoy!


Fun Stuff for Friday

July 21, 2017, posted by Gina  – Here’s the round up for this week’s fun stuff post…


Do you ever just “have” to do something different in a room? Somehow you feel like you need to make it look a little different without having to call contractors to your home. Well, that was me earlier this week. I got this bright idea that instead of a small rug in front of my laundry room sink, I wanted one for the whole room. I set out to At Home to rug shop and just look what came home with me. The rug you see here is so soft and I love the bit of personality it brings to a rather utilitarian spot in my home.


If you are like me, whenever you visit an At Home store you never come out with just the one thing you are looking for. On this trip, I was very happy to find these solar outdoor lights on their Flash Find Sale. I mean seriously, they are only $4.99 each! If you have a dark area in your yard that you wish had a little light then go to At Home now because these won’t last. I will confess that I purchased more than an average share of these. If you see a bright light in the sky, chances are it’s coming from my home. At the store near me, these were displayed just inside the front door.


|  SHOES!  |

Last week I shared the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale with you. My items arrived yesterday and true to form, everything fit perfectly. I wanted to show you these shoes I purchased. I have never seen this brand but let me assure you the bed of this shoe is cushioned very well and is unbelievably comfortable for a heel. The zipper on the back gives this shoe a bit of an edge which I think is fun. You do not have to unzip it to get into the shoe. So, while you may not need shoes, don’t forget that there are so many FALL things on sale now but it will end soon, so get shopping!



A friend of mine moved to a new house not too long ago and she has done a lot of work on it. So, it was time for her to let a few of us see all the wonderful things she has done. We started with a brunch that was just perfect for the hot day. A delicious salad with a French tarragon dressing and chicken salad (from me) were the main course. My friend made these absolutely delicious peach hand pies. Now let me say this, I really am not fond of fruit and most of the time will pass on a fruity dessert. Since there were just a few of us, I decided to “soldier on” and eat one of the pies. Thank goodness I did because these little pies are so good. I promise to get the recipe and share it with you before our wonderful summer peaches go away.

That’s all my fun stuff for this week. Here’s hoping you have a nice relaxing weekend or one that is filled with fun projects.

What To Cook Wednesday: Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

July 19, 2017, posted by Gina – I don’t know about where you are, but where I am it is HOT! When it is this hot, I make meals on the lighter side. Also, my basil is growing like crazy so I’m trying to think of ways to use it. Enter the Wedge Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing. The dressing recipe is from none other than Ina Garten. What would I do without her? I love her recipes because they are easy to follow and always fabulous.

While the dressing is Ina’s, I decided to take a slight departure from the bibb lettuce she suggests using. I love iceberg lettuce and the wedge it makes. On top of the iceberg I put tomatoes, green onions and crumbled bacon. So simple but oh so good.

The first time I made this for my family my younger son absolutely loved it and asked why I had never made it and when would I make it again. My older son did not like it because in his mind lettuce in a salad should always be chopped. I would love to hear about reactions from your family if you serve this to them. Let us know what they think of this. In the meantime, enjoy!

Tutorial: How to Use an Orange as a Vessel for Flowers

July 2017

Fruits are used in floral arrangements in many ways whether they are incorporated into the actual arrangement, used as a vase filler or as the vessel itself. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to create your own orange vessel filled with a simple floral arrangement. We used these as decorations for individual place settings that could be taken home by each guest. You can see the full table design HERE.

Supplies Needed:
Oranges (you will be using ½ orange for each arrangement)
Wet floral foam
Green roses
Assorted greenery
Floral Knife
Knife for cutting orange in half
Melon Baller

1. Start with oranges. You will need ½ orange for each arrangement
2. Cut oranges in half.
3. Run knife along the edge first and then hollow orange half with a melon scooper.
4. Scoop all pulp out using a melon scooper.

5. Place soaked and cut to size wet floral foam in each orange half.
6. Gather roses and greenery. We choose green roses as a nice compliment to the orange.
7. Begin placing two roses in each half and continue covering floral foam with greenery.
8. And here you have a wonderful small arrangement for a place setting that could easily be used as a take home gift. How fun is that?






Citrus Inspired Tablescape 1 comment

July 18, 2017, posted by Gina – I recently worked on a tablescape with a tropical theme that is perfect for a summer time gathering. I’ll show you all the elements of this brightly colored and texturally interesting table in this post.

Fabulous pineapple napkins and oranges were the inspiration for this summer time tablescape. I saw the napkins while at Home Goods one day and knew they had to come home with me. I really had no idea at the time how I would use them but little by little the ideas for this tablescape came together.

Notice the small flower arrangement on the salad plate. I used a hollowed orange as the vessel for the flowers. You can see the tutorial on how to make these individual arrangements HERE.

Here is a close up of the floral arrangement filled with two roses and greenery. I chose green roses to compliment the orange as well as the other elements on the table.

All the elements of this tablescape came together quite nicely. I started layering with the burlap table runner followed by the orange and white placemats and topped with wood carved chargers and white plates.

In this photo, you can see some green compotes filled with oranges. I love to put some type of interesting object on the table and these vintage green and silver compotes certainly did the trick.

I decided it would be fun to use pineapples as the centerpiece to coordinate with the napkins. Oranges added to the fun, bright vibe and coordinated with the napkins.

A long view of the table.

This side view of the place setting shows off the orange element of the flower arrangement.

Here is a view of the centerpiece along with 4 of the 6 place settings.

One final view of a bright and summery table that’s quite an audacious welcome!

Burlap table runner –Home Goods
Orange and White placemats – Vietri
Wood carved chargers – Pier 1
Plates – Alexa by Southern Living, Dillard’s
Flatware – Ballard Designs
Green and Gold tinted glasses – Home Goods
Centerpiece – McCarty



Manners on Monday: Tips on Tipping

July 17, 2017, posted by Gina – People in the service industry make our world go around. Think about it. There’s more than likely one person from the service industry that does something for you throughout the course of your day. Whether it’s someone helping you pack your groceries or a server at a restaurant, we are impacted by people who rely on tips to help them make their living. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some common tipping practices.

Food Service
I think it might be fair to say we all know how to tip in a restaurant but basically the rule is 15-20%. I use this rule and most of the time I tip 20% unless the service was just not very good. I used to wonder about tipping at a buffet. After all, the server is not bringing you food but most of the time they bring drinks and make sure you have the condiments you need. For a buffet, the rule is to leave 10%. And just what do you do about take out? The rule is that tipping is not required but if special attention was given to your order then a tip is always a nice thing. Then there is pizza delivery. I wondered about this for years and finally found out that a 10 – 15% tip is standard. If you see a tip jar at a counter, you are not obligated to leave a tip but if your service was efficient and friendly it’s a nice idea.

I have always tipped valets but never knew what the going rate was. It is anywhere from $2-5. Bellhops are invaluable when you are checking in and out of a hotel. The standard rule is $2-3 per bag. I have become aware only recently of the general rule for housekeeping tips. We were left a nice note from housekeeping and I wondered if we should tip them. After further review, I found that is standard to tip housekeeping $2-5 per day. It is also suggested that you leave a tip each day of your stay instead of at the end as the staff may change from day to day.

Personal Care
I am a ‘frequent flyer’ at my hair salon and try to leave a nice tip with my stylist since I am usually there for three or more hours. During that time I think of how tired my stylist must be dealing with my thick mop of hair. The standard tip rate is 15-20%. Other similar services such as manicures, pedicures, facials and waxing carry a 15-20% tipping rate as well.

Pet Services
We used to have two beautiful light blond cocker spaniels. Cocker spaniels require a lot of care with their coats as they have long hair. When it came to tipping the groomer, I tended to be generous as I knew what a challenge it was to work with our beauties. The standard tip rate is 10-20% but if your pet is unruly, extra-large or needs extra care, it’s a good idea to tip on the higher side.

While these tip rates are standard, each situation is different. You know when someone has gone above and beyond, so it’s up to your heart and wallet to give what you like. And while tipping is a good idea add a smile and a thank you and you might make someone’s day.