Monday, January 31, 2011

How To Select a Floral Designer for Your Wedding

Photograph is originally from Big Wedding Little Budget
Original article in January 2011 Table Hopping - CNY Edition 

When selecting a florist or floral designer for your wedding
 or any other special event or occasion,
you should start by doing your homework
and researching places of interest. 
You can also ask people you know if they have had any
good or bad experiences with any florists and who they would refer, if any. 
Or you could also search the Internet for florists in your area,
search Craigslist, 
or look for advertisements in your local newspaper. 
That's just a starting point if your unsure where to check out first. 

Once you've found florists you are possibly interested in
 you will want to select at least 3 of them that you will meet with. 
Once you set up a meeting,
 try to provide them with as much detailed information as you can. 
Be prepared to discuss any ideas that you have,
details about the event,
 color schemes,
 flowers that you love (as well as the one's you hate!) 
You also want to provide them with what your budget is. 

This will help the florist when he/she is creating your pieces;
 so they know how much or how little to add. 
 If possible, you should bring a photograph of your dress,
 the bridesmaids' dresses and
any floral designs you like. 
With this information, a good florist should
have a clear idea of the event and floral designs,
and be able to provide a detailed cost estimate. 

Keep in mind,
even when you have provided all of the information that you can,
comparing cost estimates may be difficult. 
A true "roses to roses" comparison is not always possible. 
 Each designer has their own vision of what they can create and provide you with,
and some provide you with a more detailed cost than others do. 
So, in efforts to sort through the quotes provided and
to select the floral designer that is right for you,
 you should consider the following:

Was the florist willing to spend the time you required during the initial consultation?

Was he/she professional, prompt, and courteous?

Did he/she listen to your ideas?

Did he/she "get it"?  And did he/she make suggestions that you liked?

Was he/she knowledgeable,
for instance did he/she suggest which flowers would be in season?

Did he/she have a portfolio of flowers that you loved? 
 If you didn't like anything you saw in their portfolio,
chances are you will not like what you see on the the of your event!

Where the photo's the designer provided their own personal work?

Were they willing to work with your budget?

Were they able to provide references?

Were they familiar with your event site, and/or willing to visit it prior to your event?

Did they provide you with a detailed cost estimate and contract?

Are they able to provide all of the services that you require? 
For instance, can they provide linen rentals, arches, urns, etc?

Will the person that you met with be your contact (and designer) throughout the entire process?

Will your florist deliver and set up the flowers?
Or, do they use an outside delivery service?

How many events will the florist book the the day/weekend of your wedding?

Did you enjoy speaking with him/her, and would you feel comfortable working with them?

Thinking through these questions should help you to select a floral designer that will create the look you wish to achieve, while working within your budget and providing professional service.

Super Bowl Snacks

Everything about the Super Bowl - 
the audience, the tv advertising dollars, and the linemen...
is HUGE!  
But, your party dishes don't have to be.  
These bite-size nibbles are big on taste!

 By George Duran author of Take  This Dish and Twist It.
Photographs By Marcus Nilsson
Originally Published on January 29, 2011; Syracuse Post Standard - PARADE

Buffalo Chicken Fingers with Blue-Cheese Dip

Makes: 30 - 36 

Per 4-Finger Serving:  410 calories, 
41g fat, 55mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 4g carbs, 7g protein.


2 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp hot wing sauce (Frank's RedHot works good)
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 cups blue-cheese dressing
Celery (for garnish)


1.  Dry each chicken breast with a paper towel; 
cut  into strips 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and 3 to 4 inches long.  
Season with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat a non-stick skillet on high and add oil to coat bottom.  
Working in batches, fry chicken strips until browned, 
about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.  
Set aside on a dish lined with paper towels.  

3.  In a small saucepan, melt butter; 
mix in hot sauce and vinegar.  
Once combined, turn off heat and set aside.

4.  Fill six shot glasses with 1 Tbsp blue-cheese dressing each.  
Stick a toothpick or short skewer into the end of each chicken strip 
and generously coat it with hot sauce.  
Place two chicken fingers and a celery stalk inside each shot glass.  
Or serve on a platter with a dipping bowl of blue cheese dressing
and celery sicks on the side.

Tiny Twinkie Strawberry Trifles


Makes: 8 Trifles
Per Trifle:  100 calories, 3.5g fat, 
5mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 16g carbs, 1g protein


2 cups diced fresh strawberries, plus extra for garnish
1 tsp sugar
2 Twinkies
2 Biscotti, any flavor
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed


1.  Place diced strawberries in a glass bowl and sprinkle with sugar.  
Mix gently with a spoon and set aside.

2.  Crumble Twinkies into a small bowl; set aside.

3.  Place biscotti in a resealable plastic bag; 
using the back of a large spoon, crust into coarse crumbs.  
Pour into bowl.

4.  Set out eight shot glasses.  
Using half of the crumbled Twinkies, 
evenly divide among the shot glasses.  
Using half of the strawberries, creaste a second layer.  
Top each with 1 Tbsp Cool Whip and end with crumbled biscotti.  
Repeat with all the layers; garnish with strawberry slices.

5.  Refrigerate for at least an hour (can make one day ahead); 
serve with espresso spoons or similar.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

How To Buy A Diamond Ring

January 2011 - Table Hopping

Step #1:
Learn as much as you can about diamonds!   
The best place to start is to take a few minutes to research,
find and read diamond tutorials and ring tutorials that provide 
comprehensive and unbiased treatment of diamonds and rings.    
Be sure to check when the information was last updated, 
since you will want to be up to date on the latest trends and information available to you.   
Learn about the 4 “C’s”, how to detect fakes, how to judge cuts, 
what questions to ask your jeweler, how to select a setting, and many more important topics.   
An informed consumer is a smart consumer.  
 Invest the time and do your research and you will get the best diamond ring for your money!

Step #2:
You want to find the best jeweler in your area.   
Websites like features 
a jeweler search engine, complete with reader reviews.   
Just visit a local jeweler’s database, type in your zip code, 
and get a complete listing of your local jewelers.   
Review any available reader comments about those jewelers, 
and pay them a visit!  

Step #3:
Don’t forget about the internet jewelers! also features a comprehensive listing of internet jewelers, 
complete with reader reviews.   
The internet is quickly becoming a popular way to purchase diamonds – 
be sure to take a visit to the internet jeweler’s listings as well!

Step #4:
Ask questions!   
Members of the jewelry industry as well as other consumers 
regularly monitor discussions and forums.   
You will usually have several answers back within a few hours
from a wide variety of individuals – from industry experts, to fellow consumers.

Step #5:
Learn the price of diamonds!   
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection and you’ve selected a jeweler,
the last remaining task is to negotiate the best possible price.   
Just like you wouldn’t purchase and automobile without knowing its factory – 
invoice cost (from a source like Consumer Reports and BlueBook), 
you should not purchase a diamond based solely on the jeweler’s stated price.   
Be sure to visit’s diamond price database. 
 Combined with a few negotiation tops also featured on this site, 
the diamond price database can potentially save you hundreds,
if not thousands, of dollars.

Step #6:
Buy it!   
During the process, be sure to reference the negotiation tips.   
And after the purchase, pay a visit back to for 
information on care and cleaning.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Giveaway!

Want a chance to win this beautiful 12 piece flower bobby pin set?  
All you have to do is follow our blog
(available to current followers as well as new followers!) 
and leave a comment on this post.  
Everyone who follows and leaves a comment will have their  name entered into the drawing.  
The winner will be picked at random.  
To assure everyone on the fairness of the drawing, 
I will record a video of the drawing process and post it here for all to witness.
The drawing will take place on Saturday, February 5, 2011.
So please be sure to follow our blog and post a comment to this post for your chance to win!

Bobby Pin Details:
12 piece set of silver bobby pins.
Each bobby pin is adorned with  beautiful handmade polymer clay flowers.
The flowers are a very dark navy blue - they appear almost black!
They are from our shop, Too Sweet Magnolias.
Value of this bobby pin set is $24.00

Etsy Handmade Rings

Yesterday I posted a video that I uploaded on Youtube 
on handmade hair accessories that are available in our shop.  
Today's video is on handmade rings of polymer clay we made
that are also available in our shop!  
Hope you enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Available Hair Accessories

Here is a video I created of several hair accessories such as 
hair pins and bobby pins we have available.  
You can find us at

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to use a scarf as a quick pick-me-up for your wardrobe

Published: Monday, January 03, 2011, 5:49 AM  By The Associated Press 
A scarf can be a wardrobe's workhorse. It adds color, style and, especially as the weather turns wintry, warmth.
Now, if you only knew how to tie the thing.
Don't go for a complicated knot, says Talbots' fashion director Tammy Vipperman. Flair largely comes from confidence, so any hesitation about tying the scarf will show, she adds, but there are plenty of easy knots that still kick up your outfit.
"If you can fold laundry and tie a basic knot, you can wear a scarf," she says.

Her tips: 

Silk square
Lay the scarf flat on a table, taking two opposite-end corners and folding them into the center, giving you two straight edges. Keep folding those outer straight edges into the center until you have, essentially, a scarf sash. Wrap it around your neck, setting up the knot slightly toward one side.

Pull the two ends into an X to tie. The key to the flattest, most flattering knot will be to cross the ends, so the outside piece is on the bottom, closest to the body, and then pulling that over the top and then down through the knot, so it will stay in place and not flap around, Vipperman says.
"Most people think this is the most intimidating scarf," she says. "But you can wear it with a cardigan, denim, a little heel -- with a necklace. Let's bust the myth right now that you can't wear a scarf and a necklace." 

The noodle
Vipperman's word for the knit scarf with built-in ruffles is the "noodle," because it stretches, bends and bounces. "You can sort of do whatever you want with it. It's a terrific base," she says.

This product image courtesy of Talbots shows their Crystal sprinkled scarf. A scarf can be a wardrobe's workhorse. It adds color, it adds style, and, especially as the weather turns increasingly wintery, it gives warmth.
You get an Elizabethan-collar effect if you keep looping it around to the bustline level, tying it loosely at the back of the neck. Go a little tighter, and you have a turtleneck.
You also can wear it long and loose, not really tying it at all. 

The wrap
This is the scarf you want with you all the time. It goes under a coat, over a coat, with a low neckline or a high one, and it's the perfect thing to keep at the office, where the temperature can go up and down, Vipperman says.

She doesn't like it to be worn perfectly, though. She prefers to fold it corner to corner to make a triangle, put it over the shoulders on a slightly uneven bent, tie it with the outside piece now coming out from under the knot and then create a one-sided bow. That gives it "flourish," she explains.
Other than the delicate silk scarves, most are tied underhanded with the end coming out the top to create volume. Scarves are a sign of personal style, and, for the most part, you want to draw attention to them, she says. 

The classic winter scarf with fringe at the edges is nice because it's practically flat when worn under a coat, Vipperman says. She prefers the "gentleman's fold," which really isn't a fold: The scarf goes around the neck, and the sides are flat against the body and positioned like lapels of a jacket.
An alternate is to fold the scarf in half -- so its length is two layers -- make a loop at the fold, wrap the scarf around the neck, pulling the loose end through the loop. Vipperman likes to see this look in a bright, cheerful color against a neutral-colored coat. 

The Boho
This scarf is longer, thinner and usually with fringe on the end. Because of its length, it's really the only shape you can successfully toss oh-so-casually over the shoulders. Start with the end that's going to hang in front, positioning it about midthigh. Wrap the rest of the scarf around the neck, crossing in the front and then to the back, letting the other side hang down. It'll be hanging down the same side as the piece in the front.
Vipperman, though, wants people to experiment on their own and do whatever is comfortable with their scarves -- as long as they're wearing them: "A scarf can be 'runway,' a head-to-toe basic, whatever you want. Play with them and have fun."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DIY Lessons

Not to long ago, I was emailed by Jane from asking if I would be interested in listing my polymer clay tutorial on the diylessons website...
So of course I hopped on that wagon with excitement!  
I did some searching and found tons of amazing tutorials that are 
available both free and available to purchase.  

Not to long after, Jane expressed her interest in featuring 
Too Sweet Magnolias on the DIYLessons web page.  
WOO - HOO!  
I encourage anyone who is new to crafting or wants to learn 
something new to sign up and browse through the many tutorials available at

To view Too Sweet Magnolias featured article on, 
then you can check it out here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Love In The Air?

As January comes to a close, we are all getting ready for Valentines Day!  
It's that time when people gain the courage to express their feelings towards one another, begin relationships, propose engagements and all in all 
use the day as a reminder of the love that is shared among one another.  
It's the time for flowers and roses bouquets, chocolates and truffles, 
fine dinning and glasses of wine, cupid and arrows, more items in pink and red......
I could go on and on.....But with all that said....
Here are some items I have listed in my Etsy shop... 
that are great pieces to share on this wonderful day!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Idea & Design

For some odd reason, as I'm falling asleep ideas pop into my head.  
I don't know where they come from or why they come to me
when I'm pretty much unconscious.  
I can only remember some of the ideas once I wake up in the morning.  
Well, the reason I'm telling you this is because one night I had this idea that I actually remembered in the morning..........
A Pencil Posie.
The idea is to put the "Pencil Posie" on the top of your pencil or pen to decorate it :)  
It's more of an idea to have kids be drawn to it, 
but who cares if teens and working mom's want one too :)