I am NOT a Hoarder!



Really… I’m NOT! I just have lots of stuff.

I’m in a place in my life right now, where I am going through all my stuff to organize and de-clutter, and as I do, I’m amazed at all the JUNK I have. I’d like to say I’m a collector of things, but seriously… where did all this STUFF come from???

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20

A cluttered home, a large collection of toys, a lot of clothes or shoes, messy closets, stacks of papers on your desk, a book collection, many dishes and glasses or table cloths and napkins is normal… most people have this, most people live like this. Especially if both parents work, and there’s a house full of kids. This is not hoarding.

Hoarding is an out of control experience. It’s an obsessive-compulsive disorder to hold onto everything. It’s more than a messy lifestyle, it over comes the person’s ability to live a normal life. You’ve see it on TV. They purchase things, whether it’s at a yard sale, a department store, a grocery store, or it’s a gift. They save clothing, mail, newspapers, magazines, papers, wrappers, cans, napkins, paper towels, boxes, trash — usually things that have very little value. It piles around them to the point that it only leaves a small space for them to sleep, walk and possibly cook. Most times, there is a bad odor, a lot of mold, dust, and all of the “stuff” that they can’t get rid of poses structural damage to their home. It’s an addiction that needs professional help just like a drug or alcohol addiction does.

When I see someone on television with this problem, I feel so sorry for them. It saddens me to see that someone lives like this and that they can’t see the mess around them the way we do. They hold on to everything like it is a precious item. They can’t bear to get rid of anything because to them, it’s a mental thing. It’s their treasure that they hold on to with all their life.

And now, I’m going through my own stuff… and WOW. I realize how much I have. I’ve gone through all my clothes and gotten rid of everything that no longer fits me, whether it was too small or big, old maternity clothing, things that I don’t like to wear, out of style clothing, professional clothing I no longer need, or things I don’t feel comfortable in… it all went to the local Battered Women’s Shelter or other donation bins. The same thing for my son’s clothing. And the crazy thing??? Some of our things have holes in them where moths have munched on them. MOTHS. They were valuable pieces of clothing, too! Now, they are worthless.

And it’s not just clothing… I also have a lot of “stuff” that I have accumulated over 26 years that I don’t even use! Crafting items, sewing items, fabric, Christmas stuff… a lot of stuff I don’t even know what I have! I’ll be going through everything and either donating it, selling it, or tossing it.

Why did I hold on to all those things? To be honest, I’m not even sure. Maybe because I have a hard time letting go of things, or maybe because I think I’m going to fit into the clothing one day, or maybe because I didn’t feel like going through all my stuff. Whatever reasons I had, there’s one thing for sure: These things did not make me any wealthier.

In a commentary I read, it said that in ancient days, treasures consisted of fine clothing, gems, silver, gold, land, wines and oil. It meant an abundance of anything. In those days, their homes were made out of clay, wood, hay, etc. It was easy for thieves to break in and steal, and for moths and bugs to get in and destroy their clothing.

A hoarder possibly looks at their things as “treasure,” but they do find “comfort” from all their things. If you try to remove their items, it causes anxiety because they have an emotional attachment to each item. The same with us. We do find an attachment to our things. While I’m not a hoarder, I do become attached to certain things: my favorite item of clothing, my cell phone, my ipad, my beautiful dishes, etc. We can also lose everything in a blink of an eye. Moths can come into our closets and eat holes into our clothes, fire can destroy our homes. Dishes chip and break, glasses shatter, pictures fade.

Jesus wants us to form an attachment to Him, and store our treasures in heaven where they are completely safe by investing in eternity. No one can steal our salvation from us.

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

We need to focus on the Lord, desire a fellowship with him. As a Christian, wanting to dwell in God’s house, what do you think we would see?  The beauty of the Lord, and his greatness! Can you imagine it? I don’t think it would be the Jesus of the old days, with the sandy, dirty sandals and the rough garments that he wore. I think He would be glorious, shining, bright! He is clothed in beauty, goodness, justice, love and mercy, and he never deceives, he never fades or loses power. He never disappoints. He’s always there for us. Those traits will NEVER be destroyed or stolen.

I want to diligently seek the Lord and dwell in his house. This is where I want my treasure and heart to be, because I know they are secure in the Lord!! And by the way… he wants us just the way we are. We don’t need to change or clean up. He’s a good good God.

Shrimp Tacos





My husband is an awesome cook. In fact, my theory is, men make some of the best cooks. Why? Because they think out of the box. And my husband? He is one of the best cooks I know. He is precise, creative, and makes delicious meals that just blow my mind, one right after another.

He studies YouTube cooking videos like he’s going to earn a degree in Cookology. And so he should! He masters a dish in his mind before he even cooks it, and when he finally purchases all the ingredients to serve it to his little family, that recipe has been perfected in his mind a thousand times over. When the food rolls out, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt… I’m going to love it.

Whether it’s complex or simple, he’s always nervous about serving it, thinking he’s going to fail and it’s going to taste terrible. In all fairness, sometimes it’s not 100% spot on, because food is subjective. But then again, I burn half of the stuff I make because I’m in such a hurry to get dinner on the table. So what does that say about me? Right?!?

But in this case, he has perfected this very simple, clean and delicious recipe for shrimp tacos, and I’m sharing it just in time for Cinco de Mayo! Anyone can make this, but it is so much better when you and your honey roll your sleeves up and make it together! So whether you love an icy cold Mexican beer with a squeeze of lime, a tangy Margarita on the rocks with salt, or one of our non-alcoholic favorite Mexican sodas “Jaritos,” here is our favorite Shrimp Taco recipe. It’s topped with a tangy cabbage slaw and a surprise sweet chili-siracha sauce. Serve it with a side of rice and beans to make it a filling meal. We hope you enjoy it!!

Shrimp Tacos

Ingredients and Directions

  • Corn Tortillas
  • Spanish Rice
  • Black Beans


  • 1 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder (optional)

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine spices and flour in a small bowl. Toss shrimp in flour mixture a small amount (five or six) at a time. Use 1/2 inch of oil in a small frying pan. Fry in small batches until crispy; be sure not to crowd pan.


  • 1/4 head small cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (if lime is dry, use whole lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine and set aside.


  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 4 drops siracha sauce (or to taste)
  • pinch of salt (to taste)

Whisk sour cream and mayonnaise until creamy. Add sweet chili sauce and siracha sauce and combine until smooth. Taste and adjust chili sauce and siracha sauce to taste. Salt to taste.

To serve: Heat corn tortillas. Layer 4-5 shrimp with slaw and cream topping. Enjoy with a side of spanish rice, black beans and your favorite beverage!


Break Out The Cloth Napkins


In my second post of my spring series, Entertaining 101: Stoking Up For Guests, I’d like toss out the idea of using cloth napkins… Here’s the first post on Water Goblets, in case you missed it!

I love cloth napkins. To me, they are like a special accessory you add to a party dress. Something pretty and colorful to set off the ensemble, making it unique and noteworthy. They come in prints, fancy colors, weaves, Jacquards… they even have beads and tasselled edges. They brighten up the table like flowers do. They are so cheerful!

Do I use cloth napkins every day? No. I’m not crazy! We eat tacos, spaghetti and sauce, BBQ … MESSY STUFF. And, I have a CHILD who likes to spill, smear and wipe stuff. No, we use regular, “Bounty brand” paper napkins every day. I even toss in some paper towels when we eat ribs and buttery corn on the cob. I do not like to be a slave to laundry and ironing. I know our environment could use a deep breath and deserves the dedicated people who do use cloth napkins every day, and I applaud them loudly — but honestly, I just don’t have it in me.  (The following are from Target — Set of four under $10.00)

But on special occasions, when we have company over, or when we eat in the dining room, I break out my favorite table cloths and pretty cloth napkins. I love how they make the occasion a little bit more fancy, and I get to play with colors and pattern.  Even if I don’t break out my fancy china, and we are just eating in the kitchen with my plain white dishes, I can still use my cloth napkins and place mats or chargers for  special guests like the pastor, my in-laws, close friends, or for a special birthday. I actually even have some of the napkins I’ve pictured in this post, love them, and use them not only frequently but over and over again — even if it’s just to line a chip basket or a bread basket.

Cloth napkins aren’t as intimidating as they sound, if you purchase the right kind of fabric. Polyester is NOT the right fabric. It is very difficult to keep clean. Oils and grease stain easily and when you wipe your mouth with them, they really don’t absorb well. Liquids don’t absorb into the fabric, and just bead up and roll right off. It’s annoying and I just want to ball them up and throw them across the room whenever I use them at restaurants. They are not a nice napkin to use.

On the other hand, 100% cotton is a wonderful fabric to use for napkins. They absorb beautifully, and they come in beautiful prints and colors. And, while not my favorite, Cotton/Poly blend works well, too. They actually wash up nicely and easily with all the modern cleaning products we have. More on that later. (The following are from Wal-Mart — Set of eight under $10.00, set of 4 under $5.00)

In general, cloth napkins make your invited guests feel special, like you actually went out of your way to make the dinner table fancy for them… even though you didn’t. They fold nicely under the fork, or you can fold them into a fancy shape and place them on the dish or fan them out in a water goblet. Either way, they just say: You are special enough to bring out the best, and you will get “oohs,” “ahhhs,” and “oh you shouldn’t have,” and “everything is so beautiful” whenever you put them out, and THAT ALONE should make you feel good about yourself (even if you burn dinner)!

Cloth napkins aren’t only pretty and functional, they save money. You’re not constantly running out to buy colored paper napkins for special occasions. Sure, there is a place and time for colored paper napkins… say, a large graduation or other large celebration party, where you need 100 napkins. Yes, paper napkins always have their place (you can see I’m trying hard to convince myself). Actually, I do love to get pretty cocktail napkins, and I pass them out with the water goblets or with dessert. I also get colorful paper napkins for my little boy’s birthday parties. See? They do have their place. Keep in mind he was born in 2005. He’s a child that has child-sized friends that make child-sized messes. I however, am an adult, and I like to adult with other adults in the dining room on occasion. So when you have small, intimate parties, don’t be afraid to bring out the cloth napkins. Challenge yourself. I double-dawg-dare-you-to. As an adult, that is. Ehem. Spit shake on that? (The following are from Pier 1 — from $3.68 to $4.95 each)

Purchasing tips for cloth napkins: Always look for heavy cotton and woven cotton napkins. They wear better, and wash and dry better. They will come out of a hot dryer less wrinkled, and will only need a quick press of an iron. Lighter cotton and linen will need heavier ironing and possibly some light starching. Remember… just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better!!

Washing tips: As soon as your guests leave, pick up your napkins and table cloths, shake the crumbs off of them, and squirt them with my special Stain Removing spray recipe: in a spray bottle, combine 1 cup of blue Dawn dishwashing detergent, and one cup of hydrogen peroxide. Shake well until combined. Spray any stains you see on the napkins and table cloths. Let them sit while you put leftovers away in the refrigerator and load the dishwasher (or at least 30 minutes). Load your washing machine with your detergent and a capful of OxyClean. Allow your washing machine to fill with water. Toss in your table-cloth and napkins and allow them to soak over night in the water with the lid open (if you can). Close the lid to your washing machine the next morning and let the machine run. Dry them in the dryer, and take them out as soon as the dry cycle ends. Run the iron over them immediately and fold them neatly and put them neatly away so they are ready to use the next time you need them.

And really, that’s all … According to Giselle!

Toasted Garlic Asparagus


Asparagus with toasted garlic — SO DELICIOUS!


This is quite possibly my favorite side dish to make. It’s simple, quick, delicious, and requires just one pan. The asparagus is cooked in water first, the garlic is toasted next, then they are combined. The toasted garlic takes on a delicious nutty flavor that seeps into the olive oil and coats the asparagus and makes a heavenly combination.

If you’ve never prepared asparagus before, then this is the recipe you should try for the first time. There are no measurements, no cooking times or temperatures, no rights or wrongs. It’s all done by feel, and I’ll walk you through it.

First, I want to show you what pan I use so you can find one similar to it. I trim my asparagus by cutting the bottom parts off because they are tough and woody. I like them to be tender and yummy. Then, they all fit nicely in my 10″ Stainless Steel, Copper Bottom pan. It doesn’t have to be exact, it doesn’t have to be stainless, it doesn’t have to have copper. But it does need to be large enough to fit your asparagus, and it does have to have high sides like a family -style pan… so take a good look at my pan, and then go digging in your cabinets to see if you can find one that works. Ready, set … GO!!


Did you find a pan that works?

Ok. Once you find your pan, and you’ve trimmed about 2-3″ of the hard woody part of the asparagus off (the bottom part), fill the pan with water and bring it to a boil. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and cook the asparagus until “fork-tender,” which means your fork goes into the asparagus easily but with a bit of resistance. You do NOT want the asparagus to be mushy. Drain the asparagus. Place the pan back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and three fat garlic gloves that have been finely minced. Stir the garlic around until golden. Add the asparagus and toss the asparagus, garlic and olive oil around to coat the asparagus. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve and enjoy! Easy peasy!


This picture shows me adding the asparagus on top of the toasted garlic right before I toss it all together.


Water Goblets For Entertaining



Here is post number one on my series of Entertaining 101: Stocking Up for Guests. I hope you take notes on how to fill your cabinets with versatile and useful items that you will be able to reach for when ever you have a planned party or a surprise guest pop in. Whether you are a seasoned hostess, a newly wed, a bride to be, or a person that wants to step out of their comfort zone and start entertaining… I hope this series helps you discover A Mind Set For Entertaining!

One of the best investments you can make is in a set of sturdy glass water goblets. Yes! Glass! Don’t be afraid to put out glass goblets when your guests come over. Why put out plastic? Plastic is wasteful, and can get costly. Glass is beautiful, sturdy, and a good, heavy glass goblet with a cold, delicious drink in it feels good in the hand!’

Besides, you can use them over and over and over again, and not just for water.  I serve lemonade, tea, soft drinks, or any other drink you can imagine in them. They are lovely for sangria, beer, and generous margaritas. I’ve even served a generous portion of dessert in them. I use them for buffets, casual meals, Superbowl celebrations, cookouts, Bible studies, or any gathering where I have a crowd coming over.

They can be dressed up in the dining room, or dressed down on the picnic table with a beverage dispenser and a cooler of ice next to them. If you purchase a sturdy set, they can be tossed in the dish washer, and placed back in the box for storage until your next party. Trust me. I DO NOT hand wash them. No delicate crystal here! I highly recommend you purchase all clear goblets, because they will go with any color dishes, napkins and table cloths you decide to use — you won’t be limited.


My mom always drilled in my head to have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. When you take care of your things, they last longer, and she is right!  As you can see … my boxes look yellowed, but I have kept my glasses in their original boxes because they are packaged in sturdy cardboard, and they are divided nicely and well protected.

I purchased my two sets of 8 all clear goblets from Wal-Mart about 15 years ago, and I’ve only broken one in all that time. I paid $12.99 for one set of 8, and I got two boxes of them. Of course, the same set has gone up to $37.99 now, but that’s still under $5.00 per goblet.

Amazon.com has a beautiful set of water goblets by Libbey, 12 16-1/4 ounce goblets for51r5crqhaAL._SL1170_ $30.40 Prime (as of the date of this post – see or click on single glass to right) and they look sturdy and lovely. I might even bump my set up by another 12… you see … they don’t all need to match perfectly! That’s the beauty of clear goblets.

If you are great at scouring the dollar stores, you can find beautiful water goblets for $1.00 each. I recommend you purchase at least 12 goblets, and if you’re getting them at the dollar store, get them at the same time, because sometimes, they come and go quickly. You can even find restaurant and hotel buyouts on eBay for great prices!! My only suggestion with eBay is that you get all clear glasses, and make sure you’re getting sturdy stems (as opposed to very thin stems, which break easily).

Brides to be… Put them on your registry! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, because you just might get it! Tip: chosing more expensive brands for your registry don’t always mean better quality or durability. Remember: if you want your friends and family to purchase your items, be sure to make a diverse selection of items and prices on your registry! Make the selections do-able.

This recipe of Sparkling Pineapple Punch reminds me of a drink they have in Peru which I think you will enjoy. It looks very pretty served over ice in the glass water goblets. And, wherever you decide to purchase your goblets, you won’t regret it. You will find yourself using them over and over again as they are so versatile and neutral, and will save you money time and time again. They truly are an investment worth making! And that’s… According To Giselle!

Sparkling Pineapple Punch


  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, about 3″ long
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 can (46 ounces) pineapple juice
  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 12-ounce can ginger ale, chilled (more if desired)
  • Ice cubes


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour into a large pitcher; stir in juices. Refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Serve over ice.

A Mind Set For Entertaining


en·ter·tain·ing — en(t)ərˈtāniNG/

adjective: provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment.

For some, the thought of entertaining can be intimidating. For others, their ready to throw open their doors and have people over, but might hesitate because “entertaining” might sound expensive. Some might worry about what they will cook, because they never learned how to cook or their skills aren’t strong in the kitchen, while others might worry about starting conversation. Others might worry about the planning and execution of a pary. Shyness and the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing might hold you back. Maybe you’re worried about whether people will come, or maybe you’re worried about whether you’ll “do it right.”

…Being in the moment with the ones you love is far more important than stressing out over the details of food or entertainment.               — Giselle

The fact is… you shouldn’t worry about anything.  You should look forward to having fun, communicating with your guests in a way you feel comfortable, enjoying time with each other, and making memories that will last a life time. These moments are for creating everlasting friendships, strengthening family ties, meeting new neighbors, learning about each other. Food is just icing on the cake… you can enjoy the moment whether you cooked, had a pot luck, ordered pizza, or carry out. Being in the moment with the ones you love is far more important than stressing out over the details of food or entertainment.


I want to start a series that will teach you how to stock your cabinets and pantry with appropriate and inexpensive items that will enable you to entertain at any given moment. Whether you open your home for a casual meal, a football game, a cookout, a formal dinner, a Superbowl celebration, a bridal or baby shower, or a holiday family meal, the cost of purchasing disposable plates, cups, forks, spoons and knives should not be something you worry about for your special celebration. Neither should be what you serve, how you plan for the event, or even how you break the ice in a room full of guests.

I want you to learn the easy way to plan, execute and finally, focus on the fun part of entertaining, so that when you’re ready to start inviting your friends and family over for memorable luncheons and dinners, you’ll have the confidence in your self and in your abilities. Whatever the occasion is, your doors will always be open. You’ll be able to welcome someone into your home and “provide amusement or enjoyment” without stress or worry, and everyone will appreciate the time spent together! And that’s… According to Giselle!




A Quick Side


I love potatoes. There. I said it. Out loud. Sort of….

And I have a quick side dish for all potato lovers that are frantic to get dinner on the table quickly before the screaming crazies take over the kitchen and begin eating all the cookies, chips and other delicious things you try to hide from them. Then it won’t matter how yummy that chicken is that’s been roasting in the oven, because the bellies will be full of junk.


So, all you’ll need is a 28-ounce bag of baby potatoes, three cloves of garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, ready-set-go…

  1. Place the baby potatoes in a microwave safe container, add 1/4 cup water, cover with saran wrap and microwave for 8 minutes.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, mince garlic. Prep the rest of your meal for serving because the rest will go very quickly.
  3. When potatoes are done, strain them and place them on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle some olive oil on them and roll them around with the minced garlic.
  4. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and pop them on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes until garlic is crispy. Pull them out of the oven and sprinkle with parm cheese. Broil 2-3 more minutes and SERVE with your meal.

That’s ALL! Sometimes, you can even find them in microwaveable bags, which makes the whole process easier. BOOM! You are the superhero mamma. Or Pappa… because pappas cook too, although according to my experience, they are MUCH MORE MESSIER than mammas and leave a long, LOOOONG trail of cleaning upstuffs… What? Huh? Nothing to see here. Move along, move along…

Really, it took me longer to type this up than it will actually take to make the potatoes! Here are some yummy variations — keep the garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper, and add the following:

  • Before broiling, sprinkle with smoked paprika, chili powder and cumin, toss well (do not us parm cheese). Broil for 5 minutes and serve.
  • After broiling, sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar, toss well (do not us parm cheese) and serve.
  • After broiling, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, diced jalapeno and shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a smoked cheese), toss well and serve.
  • After broiling, sprinkle with Old Bay, a little bit of Malt Vinegar, toss well and serve.
  • After broiling, toss with 1/4 cup pesto and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and serve.

The Art of “Passing It Down” Was Broken


When I got married back in 1990, I didn’t know the first thing about registry lists, bridal showers, and wedding gifts. Yes, I grew up watching my mother flawlessly entertain, but I never threw my own party, never purchased my own dishes, and never even gave stocking my own kitchen a second thought.

I feel so fortunate that I had a mother that had a passion to plan, cook and entertain, and passed it down to her girls, and most times, she had to do it on a very tight budget. She learned it from her mother and her grandmothers. It was passed down from generations past, but at some point … something was broken in our world.

Everyone has their own tastes, and I am truly happy to see so many people cooking, entertaining, and finding their “voice” in their kitchen and home.

My theory is that my generation is the last  generation of children to have moms that stayed home either full time or part time and taught their daughters how to cook, take care of their home, and practice true hospitality. I feel that for whatever reason, women either chose to, or had to go into the work force. Whether to begin their path in a desired career, or to bring in a second income (as is basically required in this day and age), moms have had to wear so many hats: race to work, put their kids in day care, run a race of carpools, school drop offs, after school sports and commitments, homework helpers, cupcake bakers, laundry, cleaning, yard work… cooking and entertaining are by far the last things a mom has time to think of, let alone teach her kids.

In my twenty six years (this June) of marriage, I can soundly say that I’ve seen two and a half decades of women that for the most part, don’t know how to cook. Of course, there are exceptions — there always are, but this tells me one thing. At some point… the art of “Passing it Down” was broken. But then… Cooking boomed in Magazines! Then on TV! Then on the Internet! Then on Pinterest!  And now? Women, men, teens, children, EVERYONE is cooking! It’s so exciting!


Everyone has their own tastes, and I am truly happy to see so many people cooking, entertaining, and finding their “voice” in their kitchen and home. But still, there are those that have never learned the basics of cooking, have never given a thought on how to stock their kitchen and pantry, and are intimidated by the thought of what to put on their own registry once they are engaged. Don’t be intimidated! We’re going to work through this together! And it’s going to be fun!!!

Just remember… Entertaining might be intimidating your first time, but its not always going to be like that. You soon will find that it’s fun, exciting… and its where friendships are bonded, family is strengthened, laughter is loud, games are played,  secrets are shared, and tons of fun is had by all. And that’s all… According to Giselle!


Simple, Easy, but Elegant Table Setting


If you’re a newlywed, or living on your own and are afraid to entertain in a semi-formal setting because you aren’t sure how to set a table… this post is for you. I’ll show you how to set an easy, elegant grown-up table without a lot of fuss. But first… a background story. Feel free to skip over it.


We just celebrated Easter, and usually, we have dinner with a large crowd, but this Easter, my parents came to visit, and my husband and I decided we wanted to keep things easy, elegant, and simple. My parent’s drive is about 6 hours, and my father just turned 80, so it can be a pretty tiring drive, and we don’t know if this might be their last visit, or if they still still have many visits ahead, so I wanted to take advantage of this holiday and just enjoy their company, and the meal as a family meal.

My mom, sister and I all enjoy pretty, elegant, fancy-pants things. The difference between us is, my mom and sister are really fancy-pants (they love sterling silver place settings and candle sticks, fancy chandeliers, fine, fine china, crystal, antique linens, etc.), and I’m more practical. I hate polishing silver, starching linens, and fine china tends to break in my hands. But still, I love “pretty,” and “fancy,” and “elegant.” I just do it in a more practical way.

This dinner, I decided to do “simple pretty.” In fact, I totally forgot to get a centerpiece for the dining room table, and since Easter was so early, my neighbors lilacs, peonies, tulips or any other flowers, hadn’t bloomed yet, so there were no flowers that I could steal for the table. I was actually going to use the adorable Easter cake my mother-in-law made for my son as a center piece, when it dawned on me… I can use a mason jar full of fake flowers from one of my guest bedrooms. I added some branches with green leaves budding from the yard to freshen it up. I figured that no one would care, because my guests are my mom (who gave me the flowers) and my dad, husband, and son… who are men, and could care less what’s on the table other than food.

First, I want to start with the “bones.” It doesn’t matter if you have a hand-me down table, a garage-sale table, or a piece of wood balanced on two saw horses… the first thing you need is a table cloth. You can find inexpensive ones at WalMart, Target, TJMaxx, Ross, or HomeGoods, but the best place is … your mom or grandma’s closet. My tablecloth was my Abuelita’s. My mom gave it to me when we bought our first home, and I cherish it. If you can’t get your hands on a table cloth, use a scrap of fabric or even a white sheet! Anything is possible. I also love to use cloth napkins for special occasions. It just brings a special feeling to even the simplest of tables. I love the quality of the napkins from Target (they are thick and only need a light press) and love the colors and prints that Pier 1 sells.

Remember when I said I hated to polish silver? It’s true, but silver looks so pretty on a table, so what can you do??? Use the next best thing… Mercury glass candle sticks. They only require dusting… gotta love it. Just be careful, because they ARE fragile. You can find them at TJMaxx, HomeGoods, Tuesday Mornings, and even at Joann’s Fabrics during the holidays. Notice a trend? Yes — discount stores!!

And, talking about practical — see those cute little birds??? They are salt and pepper shakers… they add whimsy to the table, and I love that they are different than the normal salt and pepper shakers! Everyone loves them. I got them at Pier 1 Imports.

Finally, the plates and flatware. Long ago, my sister gave me a great set of stainless flatware for Christmas. If you have to invest in anything, invest in a heavy, high-quality set of 18-10 stainless flatware. They wash well, don’t rust, and will last you a life time. You can use them in a casual setting or in a fancy setting. I have twelve of each piece, and use them for cookouts, superbowl, parties, everyday dinner, etc. It has saved me so much money on the constant cost of the purchase of plastic flatware!

These particular dishes were given to me by my mom as a Christmas gift several years ago. They are made by Lenox and are called Butterfly Meadows. They are the china I like to use in the spring and summer for obvious reasons, and they are tough! And practical! Most fine china can’t be washed in the dishwasher… THIS CAN! Thank you Lenox, I love you!!!  I love that all the plates have different prints on them, and they are even oven and microwave safe. My aunt has this set also and uses it every day.

Most china manufacturers make a line called “casual china” and can be found either on line or in stores like Bed Bath and Beyond. This china can be washed in the washing machine, but is finer than everyday dishes. The bread plates are made by Crate and Barrel. It’s a little appetizer plate, and I really like to mix and match. An easy way to remember what side the bread plate goes on is if you make a lower case “b” and “d” with your hands (pointer fingers up and other fingers curled to your thumbs like you’re directing choir), you’ll see that the “b” is on the left for bread plate and the “d” is on the right for the drink. Easy peasy!

So here are some pictures of the table put together. Fork on the left, knife on the right. Napkin usually goes on the left either to the left of the napkin or under the napkin (I put it on the plate as bunny ears). Bread plate on the left, drink on the right. Instead of using a stick of butter, I just used an ice cream scoop of soft butter in a small white dish and a scoop of apricot jam in another one. It turned out elegant, but it was super simple and easy. If you’ve never had a “formal” dinner, you should try it. Begin with just one couple, make it simple, and give yourself grace. I know you can do it! And that’s… According to Giselle!

The original Martha & Mary


Which Martha am I talking about??? Well… I can say, with complete confidence… my mother is the ORIGINAL Martha Stewart. They are approximately the same age, but my mother is so much more special and talented than Martha. Let me explain…

My mom grew up in Peru, where she learned the art of hand crafting, sewing, hand washing linens, starching, cooking and so much more from her mother. Her mother (my grandmother) was so talented. She was a professional opera singer, an expert seamstress who made many of her own costumes, and she played the piano beautifully.

I remember many nights when my mother would stay up late at night and into the wee hours of the morning sewing beautiful dresses for her girls, for my aunts, and for her self. She would patiently make our halloween costumes, finishing them with sequins, beautiful buttons, bows, and other special touches that she would sew on by hand.

Birthday party invitations were always special, and hand crafted long before scrapbooking supplies were in style. I’m talking about the 1970’s!! I remember one invitation was a black ant cut out of black construction paper with little minnie mouse feet, a real lace dress with sequins buttons and a cute little face and antennas. Another invitation was made out of those little old fashioned 4″ plastic white milk jugs that was turned into a clown with a little white styrofoam ball glued to the top as the head with yarn hair, sequins buttons, felt clothes… She was so creative, and she always made our parties so special with delicious food and fun entertainment like puppet shows and kids music.

My mother worked long hours organizing her home, making sure it was always spotlessly clean, welcoming, beautiful, and always open for anyone at any time. Her home was, and still is, beautifully appointed and decorated, often sewing her own window treatments, pillows covers, bed covers, and slip covers for chairs or couches. Her pantry was always stocked, and meals were always delicious, even when her budget was tight. She never showed us if she was stressed, overwhelmed or upset. She was always emotionally controlled and joyful. She was and still is a hard worker, serving others first.

Not only has my mother worked hard at home, but she has always, ALWAYS been involved in ministry at church. Women’s ministry has always been close to her heart. She’s led Bible studies, home groups, ministered to women who had gone through divorce, or women who had husbands with addictions or recovering from addictions.What ever ministry God placed her in, she was involved 100%. It’s the example I saw through my young adult life and its what I patterned my own life after. Yes, she resembles Martha Stewart, but she also closely paralleled someone else that I find far more important.

The story of Martha and Mary in the Bible is one I’ve always loved. Sadly, I’ve always identified with Martha, because for 25 years, I’ve run into ministry full tilt, always busy working, preparing, juggling, running around, serving… frustrated because I felt like everyone around me was so un-committed to helping out in ministry. I’ve been the one who would fill in when someone was absent. I’d run myself ragged, become ill, and still keep running, exasperated at all the bodies sitting on the pews listening to the message the pastor was sharing, or enjoying worship. I need to say that I NEVER saw my mom doing this. Ever! This is Martha, only in a different setting.

And this is where I would say to Jesus… “Lord, do you not care that my friends have left me to do all the serving alone? Tell them to help me!” And, Jesus would say to me… “Giselle, Giselle… You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for all the others have chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from them.” (a loose translation of: Luke 10:40-42) Sound familiar? It’s the exact conversation Martha and Jesus had about Mary.

Needless to say, my mom is a Mary. Mary was Martha’s sister who sat at Jesus’ feet, learning and worshipping. My mom was able to balance her priorities as Mary was, knowing that while hospitality is important, and that serving others and having your home in order, and working your full time job is also important, placing your relationship with the Lord first and sitting at his feet, worshipping him, reading his word, and spending time with him is far more important than anything else. This is when we hear from him, when he mends our brokenness, when he moves in our hearts and when we grow spiritually.

Mary’s heart was in the right place, and her motives pure, and Jesus knew her heart, just as he knows our hearts and thoughts.Yes, My mom has a lot of Martha in her, but in her heart and spirit, she’s a Mary. She knows her priorities.

This story isn’t just for women. It’s for men as well. You fill your lives with work, softball, golf, projects at home or away from home, filming silly things, playing around with your technology, fishing, hunting, building things, ministries with the children or youth, home groups, serving at church, music or whatever other busy things men do… The principle is the same. Slow down and take time to re-prioritize!!

Let’s all make it a priority to choose the “good part that won’t be taken away from us!”

And that’s… According to Giselle!