April 11, 2012


For the season 4 premiere of MadMen we threw a viewing party to honor our great friends' identical twin sons (Michael & Brody) for their role as Baby Gene Draper.

So much fun to plan, and such a great evening of '60s style eats, drinks and cigarettes 
(candy, that is).

The invitation


This is my friend Teresa, who is Michael and Brody's mom. She has a little candy buffet business and let me use some of her vases for the little candy buffet we had.

Below is Teresa with her husband Cameron. Their older son is my oldest son's age and they are good friends. Then they have their twin boys and we have our twin boys. Not only are they wonderful friends and neighbors, but they have been unbelievable support for us in this crazy world of having 3 boys - including a set of twins.

I remember the day Teresa called to tell me her sons had an audition for a show that she had known was my favorite. I couldn't believe it and told her they would the perfect baby for Don and Betty Draper. They obviously got the part and I was lucky enough to accompany them to the set one day to help out. I got a little tour and even said a little hello to Jon Hamm. Small world...but he and I both went to the University of Missouri at the same time. How could I have never run into him there? I've since met him when the cast of MadMen hosted the annual brunch for the Rape Treatment Center this year, which I volunteer for every year.


Here's my little photo for making a very worthy donation at that event.

Okay...back to the party. The retro furniture was borrowed from storage from my inlaws. I went to the library to check out art books published in the mid-60s for the coffee tables.  Probably should have rolled up the contemporary non-matching rug for the party, but just getting the toys put away was a feat.

I had fun with the little touches, like framing a picture of JFK and putting together a slideshow in the digital frame of MadMen stills and pictures of Michael and Brody. I even put retro Vogue pictures and artwork from the 60s in my bathroom.

I pulled all the scenes from the episode that had the twins in it so we could have a special viewing of their parts. Even projected on a vintage screen. 

Teresa and I in our MadMen outfits (retro clock courtesy of my inlaws...took me a couple of months to take it down because it was such a big hit).

Everyone outdid themselves dressing the part

This is my husband, Matt. My Don Drape

All the MadWomen
All the MadMen
Enjoying our candy cigarettes...maybe a little too much
Well, I forgot to take pictures of the cleverly named retro appetizers and food (deviled eggs and pigs in a blanket included) but got a last minute photo of the vintage wooden pineapple cheese holder. LOVE (again a thanks to my inlaws).
Someone caught this very unflattering photo of me, but at least you see I did serve food.

Not very retro, but yummy red velvet mini cupcakes

As people left I had DVDs of the boys' episode and scenes along with a photo of the boys for
everyone to take home


Ships Ahoy for Owen and Hudson's 2nd Birthday Party

As usual, I had fun finding everything to fill the gift buckets. I monogrammed the towels with all the kids' names and put their initial on their chairs. The chairs were all outside waiting for them with their filled water bottles and sailor hats.

The bibs for the boys
The backyard is all set for the chaos with the kids' chairs and bouncy balls

In lieu of balloons we used lanterns

The one thing I was not thrilled with is how the cakes turned out.
The writing bled the second I put it on the cake.
Guess there were mixed reviews from the birthday boys.

But I was happy with the cake pops

Our friends (who are obviously also twins - yet identical) Michael & Brody
The boys having lunch
Hudson enjoying a moment of relaxation with his apple juice snowcone
A cute little moment for Owen


April 2, 2012


I had such a fun time planning every detail of my sister-in-law's wedding shower a few years ago. From the invitations, down to putting her gift together. I want to throw the same party again just to have the menu of good food to eat.


The Invitation

The Gift Bags

Details, Details, Details

 The Ambiance

The Menu

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Arugula and Sundried Tomatoes

Watermelon & Cantaloup Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Desserts Galore:

Triple Chocolate Trifle with Raspberries

Cheesecake with Peaches and Strawberries

Sugar Cookies

Megan's gift (from cocktail necessities to bedroom necessities)


Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Sundried Tomatoes

4 Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Garlic Salt
1 tablespoon Pepper, cracked
3 Dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅓ cup Lemon Juice
1 cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Long loaves crusty rustic bread
1 bunch Arugula
¼ pound Parmesan Cheese, grated
Sundried Tomatoes, sliced

Rub the chicken breasts with the 2 T olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and rub into the chicken. Grill the chicken over medium heat on an outdoor grill or in a grill pan on a stovetop for 4-6 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove chicken, maintain heat, and grill the lemon slices until lightly charred on each side. Place one or two lemon slices on each chicken breast.

Combine the mustard, lemon juice, garlic clove, salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor and pulse until well blended. With the processor running, slowly pour the remaining 3/4 cup olive oil until emulsified with the other ingredients.

Slice the bread loaves in half lengthwise and tear out the center of each piece, leaving approximately 1 inch of bread on crusts. Brush generously with dressing. Toss the arugula leaves with the remaining dressing.

To assemble the sandwiches, place the chicken breasts end to end lengthwise along the bottom halves of the loaves. Layer with the dressed arugula leaves and top with the parmesan shavings. Place sundried tomatoes on top. Place tops of bread on and cut.

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice, from about 1 lemon
¼ cup simple syrup, recipe follows
⅛ teaspoon amaretto
2 cups watermelon balls, from about half a watermelon
2 cups cantaloupe balls, from about 1 cantaloupe
Simple Syrup:
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
In a blender, combine mint, lemon juice, simple syrup, and amaretto. Blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon and the cantaloupe. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Simple Syrup:
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Take pan off heat and cool the syrup. Any extra cooled syrup can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Triple Chocolate Trifle with Raspberries

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
3 ounces finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons Cognac, rum or bourbon, optional

½ cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 ¾ cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar for whipped cream
1 to 2 pints fresh raspberries.

1. To make brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until fully melted. Stir in cocoa and sugar until combined. Slowly add eggs, whisking chocolate mixture constantly, then whisk in vanilla. Fold in flour and salt.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until just firm, about 25 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer pan to a rack to cool. If using spirits, prick holes in hot brownies and drizzle evenly over pan.

4. In a large bowl, mix together granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup milk. In a large saucepan, bring remaining 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream to a boil over medium heat. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into cocoa mixture. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking gently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. (A simmering bubble or two is O.K., but do not let it boil.)

5. In a medium heat-resistant bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking them constantly, very slowly dribble about half the cocoa-milk mixture into yolks until fully combined. Pour yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining cocoa-milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat, until thickened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let mixture come to a simmer. If pan begins to steam thickly, remove from heat for a few moments and stir well before continuing.) Let cool slightly.

6. Melt 5 ounces chopped chocolate with butter. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool 5 minutes, then fold into thickened egg mixture. Place plastic wrap directly against pudding (to prevent a skin from forming), and chill until set, about 3 hours. (Pudding and brownies can be made up to 5 days ahead, and refrigerated.)

7. Just before assembling, in an electric mixer, beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream with remaining 5 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until it forms soft peaks. Scrape down sides and fold in any excess cocoa or sugar.

8. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares. Fit a layer of brownie squares in bottom of a 4-quart trifle, glass, or other bowl. Top with half the pudding, a third of the whipped cream, a third of the remaining chopped chocolate and a third of the raspberries. Repeat layering until all ingredients have been used. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours before serving.