Monday, February 15, 2021

Pink Dreams: How to Design a Blushing Romantic Tablescape plus The Color & Language of Flower Love Explained

Did you you know that every blossom gets “spanked” at the airport when the flowers land in the US?!  Yes, Federal Agents “spank” and physically hit and shake the plants to make sure they are free of some hijacking pests or bugs.

I saw the news report on CBS TV a few years ago and it stuck with me.  I am re-posting two of my most popular Valentines post from past years. 

The CBS News Valentine’s Day feature told the story of the “Superbowl of Flowers.” Here’s the newscast link:  "From Rose Farm to Table.

The news piece features the roses from Columbia (some years ago when I worked at BBG, we hosted rose growers from Columbia who were looking to improve their rose flower yields with reduced amounts of chemicals); the same style of growing is used in Ecuador. I worked garden design and menu development there for several years during the winter season; I saw first-hand the incredible rose production and preparation for shipping.  From the broadcast, I learned Miami is the Flower Hub for the US, with 91% of the country’s flowers coming through the airport there. That’s 22 million flowers a day!  

Plants are the source of All Valentine’s Day Gifts! 

Valentine’s Day offers passionate plant lovers a holiday like no other. Besides the many luxury gifts designed to woo a special someone -- including chocolates, champagne, fragrance, and jewelry -- glamorous, glorious flowers, blooms, and blossoms are the Valentine gifts sure to elicit that romantic swoon.  The thing is - all those other luxury gifts are inspired by and composed of --- plants!  

Think about it - chocolate comes from a plant bean, champagne from a grape plant, jewelry is most often a flower or blossom rendered in earth’s metals of gold, silver or diamonds. So why not go with the original gift of romance - the authentic messenger of love?  Plus, there are legends and stories about most every plant and flower, right down to the meanings of color and the mysterious effect on our ardent -- and lustful -- desires.

This was my Valentine’s Day floral gift this year.  Such a beautiful mix of roses, and other blooms. 


Say It With Flowers

Over time, flowers have taken on meaning beyond their sheer beauty. Perhaps it was the garden sprites or Garden Goddesses that sprinkled their fairy dust  -- adding more romance to nature’s jewels as symbols of virtue and ardor and love. 

For example, my Peruvia lilies are noted as a symbol of devotion. Peruvian lilies can say to a companion or loved one that you will always be there for them and that you trust in your lasting bond, according to Proflowers 

Further, my pink roses signify grace and elegance; Stargazer Lily, often referred to as the “floral celebrity” represents wealth, prosperity, innocence, and purity


In years past, I often created these pretty floral designs for my Valentines Day tablescape decor. This is when those sweetheart candies were readily available. Sweethearts had been a candy tradition since 1860s when those signature sayings on the candy hearts were launched. The candies were off the market until 2020 when Spangler Candy brought the treats back; this year there are new sayings inspired by music. Sweet. 

I created these happy looks with tulips ~ their meaning is “Perfect Love!” And red tulips are “most strongly associated with “true love.”  Well, I love them… 

Did you know the word tulip comes from “turban?”  See, tulips originated in Persia and Turkey and residents there wore the tulips in the turbans - so western Europeans mistakenly gave the tulip its name ~ mixing up the flower with the hat. Sigh...

For my Valentines floral candy confection, I place a glass inside the vase, line it with the Sweethearts who have made an encore performance, and is once again the best-selling Valentines Day Candy. They are so fun. Oh, and the tulips are placed in the glass that is nestled inside the vase and hidden by the Sweethearts. 


What does all that floral color mean? According to Michael Skaff, FTD, as reported by ABC-TV Chicago: 

Red is for passion and love. These are best suited for the person who you are on clear terms with, like you're both in love or serious about dating.

White is for purity, renewal and freshness. If you've messed up recently, these may be a good way to make amends.

Yellow is for friendship. These are best reserved for someone you're close with and care about very much.

Purple is a complex color that can evoke a variety of different emotions; integrity, fantasy, enchantment. This color says "I'm intrigued by everything you do." 

Pink can mean flirtation, femininity. It's also evocative of passion. It's a safe color for those flirtatious relationships that may still be in the "honeymoon" phase.

Orange is for desire. You wouldn't normally think of Orange on Valentine's Day, but the color can say how much you desire your loved one. 

Speaking of color, I thought I’d insert a popular blog post from two years ago here. It too, still resonates… 

  photo: Angie Lambert 

Pink is powerful. Pink is unconditional love and nurturing.  

I surely must’ve had pink power whispering in my ear while I was contemplating what the Valentine’s Day Tablescape would look like this year.  

Albeit, if I’m being totally honest, at the time that the design concept was gradually coming to me, I think I was channeling unabandoned romance; unbridled “pretty,” along with pink’s luminous textural art; its ability to blend or play with other colors and, well, its ability to elicit pure delight!

With pink as the inspiration, I took out those pink accessories I had in my tablescape collection that would work here, and then set out to shop for what I hoped would be the “fulfilling” design pieces.  

I had already decided I wanted tulle as a defining design element.  

After all, who can deny tulle is a dreamy, cloud-like confection?  It’s the perfect pink tutu gliding en pointe in our dreams.  It’s the dreamy pink prom dress.  Pink petticoats fluffing pretty princess dresses.   

And yet, Power Pink is not just for dames.  

Think about a dreamy man’s sexy sport jacket. (and socks.)  elvis wearing pink blazer singing performing on stage.  

So Pink it was to be.

Mother and I went to a local Joanne’s fabric store and after poking around with this and that - Voila!  I found not one but two widths of pink tulle -- on rolls!  C'est formidable!  

I also found some faux florals -- on sale -- that I determined I could amend to make a kind of flower display.  And they were Peonies -- my most favorite bloom -- so naturally, they stole my heart.  

I also found pretty faux floral napkin rings.  

Usually, I shop the floral district in Gotham - for both real and faux florals.  But these choices adapted (or yielded) -- to my design!  And I think you’ll agree.  

I cut the faux floral pieces to create a more natural-looking display in the champagne glasses that worked as my vases. 

As support for this floral design treatment, I will share with you that even though I’m a passionate garden designer and floral arranger dedicated to using “real,” seasonal flowers (along with some exotics) to amplify a holiday celebration, I have used faux florals for some years - without feeling too cringeworthy - for my clients who need floral compositions with no maintenance - or because the thought of importing so many exotics along with their attending transport footprint, gives me pause… 

And then, in October of last year, one of my true entertaining, garden, and floral “she-roes,” the ever-glamorous Carolyn Roehme posted on Instagram about her “evolving” perspective on the use of faux.  She mixes real and fake.  What a nice vote of approval for a process I’ve enjoyed pursuing - albeit with some reluctance. So yeah!  I LOVE Ms. Roehme.  We must be garden sprites from another life… 

The Tablescape 

When designing a tablescape - which is clearly distinct from setting a nice table -- is that, foremost,  you are telling a story -- creating a kind of display that will delight your family and guests.  

A memorable table design is infused by the occasion.  

Then the creative, artful execution comes into play.  

There is the deliberate, thoughtful, layering of a dynamic, designed composition.  After all, even the best home tablescapes as opposed to one-off events table decor - can be modified and updated as a holiday transitions.  Think Winter Holiday to New Years’ or Lunar New Year to Valentine’s.  You can add and modify the foundation layout.

Fast forward to my pre-Valentine’s Day with family, followed by a Ladies Who Lunch / Galentine’s Day luncheon.  

I was over the moon with their heart-clutching and sighing reactions!  As a home entertainment designer, that is exactly the reaction you hope to elicit.  I live to delight family and guests!  

The Tablescape Design Process for Romantic Tablescape

Picking up where I left off shopping for the elements...  

On the table, I started layering the tulle runner. I went back and forth. And back and forth.  And back and forth.  I sincerely thought it would take a few of these end-to-end goal post efforts.  But like any good design project, the ultimate determination is in the look.  

Rather surprisingly - I used all 25 yards of tulle that was on the roll.  

I wanted that cloud-like, ethereal look. 

Next - I needed to work in the string lights -- both white and pink.  

I make sure to put the battery operated switch on the upside in the whatever table runner I create in order to gain easier access amidst the tablescape’s many splendored accessories. 

The faux flowers I strategically cut and anchored in some of our hand-blown heart  Waterford crystal champagne flutes from the Millenium Series - filling the base with fragrant, violet, French Lavender seeds.  

I often use table mirrors -- or a number of a variety of mirrors - from vintage cosmetic compacts to cocktail coasters to wall-hanging mirrors as a key element of the tablescape design.


Here, I want to point out, is a key DIY Tablescape construct that makes it such an extraordinary art form  - and that is - repurposing or using a thing in a new way.  

One’s eye for the “what if” needs to be so wow-worthy in order to elevate the “nice” - to the heart-clutching.

I used the pretty pink ballet music boxes from last year, as part of the tablescape anchor - and used it as the concealed surprise with an amuse bouche for one of our dinners.  For the rest of our entertaining meals, I left the music boxes open, filled with - what else -- pink feathers.  This pink feather texture adds a sensual layer to the look. 


I bought pink strands of hearts, and later added a pink flower light strand. And because I’m so smitten with flamingos, I got these adorable ones at Joanne’s that must be used for appliques… And in the same way, I used the airy pink florals, scattered on the pink tulle runner.  

I brought out my pinkish, glittery placemats I had from Christmas, years’ past.  

I purchased new Lenox Blush settings - they were just too pretty in pink and gold - and I’m thrilled with their look. I have mixed and matched with my other table settings for so many other occasions.  I think they look especially sweet with green, glass plates. 

More of the artful layering-in included gold and pink glitter, of course (because as I always say, life is too short and you can’t have too much glitter!); gold beads and “pearls”along with those Conversation Sweetheart Valentine’s candy that they stopped making (I kept a stash! But then, before I could complete this post, I read of the Sweethearts’ comeback in the NY Times yesterday!) This year is just their second making the Sweethearts and their back with classic sayings like “Hug Me” and “Cutie Pie,” in addition to sayings inspired by classic love songs like “At Last,” “I’ve Got You Babe,” and “Love Me Tender,” according to the company’s spokesperson.  Isn’t it “sweet” that the idea to pull inspiration from love songs came from their commitment to bring a smile to someone’s face, with music. 

The Pretty in Pink February Tablescape is a delight in the day - and especially fetching at night, especially with all the ornamental string lights bouncing off the crystal and amplifying the glow of the fireplace. 

When setting the table for guests, I wanted to use a holiday-appropriate place-setting name cards.  So, naturally - it was a heart-shaped card.  I purchased a pink heart stamp - and Mother helped in the design:

I tied gold and pink ribbons through the hole and set in the green holder stands.  

Subsequently, I asked my brilliant botanical artist friend, Jean Gaulle if she could shrink up one one of her truly outstanding pieces of art -- Look at this! 

 - and shrink it down so I could show off her art on the name cards.  It was a lovely addition to our Ladies Who Lunch / Galentines celebration. Thank you, Jean.  

Seriously, (y’all need to follow Jean on her Instagram - and get an original Jean Galle piece of art for your home.  I’m so very proud to highlight, display, showcase my very talented friends. Always.  

In terms of the tablescape, a bit more layering was in order to get to perfection: 


2021 Update:

I used many of the same elements from a few years ago and changed it up with some key features: mainly, the gold chariot that we purchased at last year’s auto show (It seems like another life when we could attend a big show in a public place…) Anyway, Bill painted it gold and I place a few silk leaves and a tea candle inside and it looks like a Cinderella coach or carriage. And I use it at the center of the table. 

I also had purchased these Italian red wine glasses for an Independence-themed tablescape; the red works here for Valentines and Lunar New Year.


I kept the candelabras from the Christmas gold and white table decor, along with the elegant white orchid. 


For a lovely view of the pink tablescape in the daylight, please visit my newest Facebook page: Ladies Who Lunch

It was the premiere interview with the fabulous interior designer, Toni Sabatino. She too designed a very pretty-in-pink tablescape at her home just in time for our lunch interview. Also, please sign on as a glam-fan on the page?  We’ll be doing monthly interviews with those folks who are masters at their artful crafts!  Fun, too. 

Following the work on the tablescape - it was time to design the entry hall.

Keeping with the theme of pretty in pink - I started with a smaller width tulle - only two or three layered wraps - red candlesticks I found at the antique shop - on sale; gold and white candles i had (I don’t light them anymore); the gorgeous gold candle holders my niece Marissa gifted us at Christmas (you’ll recognize them from the holiday tablescape); pink string lights, and then when I learned it was the Year of the Pig for Lunar New Year’s, I got these cute pink pigs (banks) with gold wings and crowns!  

In the black plant urns I added cotton candy! The cream colored maple cotton candy from our Union Square Greenmarket and the pink (and blue) cotton candy from Dylans Candy Bar. 

It’s all so frothy and pretty! (And to think some folks told me it couldn’t work….)

I bring the tiered candy to the table for more sweet desserts or leave in the hallway so that guests can take a few for the road...

The favorite menu husband Bill’s Asian Miso soup -- with pork, ramen, spinach and egg. It is delicious.


And handsome, too. 

My heart-shaped beet-burgers are so terrific; I’m thrilled that guests love them too.  

Beets, chick peas, rice/quinoa, EVOO, and garlic - whizzed up in the food processor and shaped into hearts -- served on a bed of beet greens sauteed in anchovy paste and EVOO, and baby greens.

The Ladies brought champagne and some extraordinary pink treats! 


Local Flowers

And not to douse the aforementioned floral ardor, this is a perfect occasion to highlight the ahem, ground-breaking work of one of my favorite floral visionaries: Debra Prinzing

Just as I espouse growing edibles and eating food that is locally-sourced, Debra has championed a more sustainable floral business/”industry” using locally-grown ornamental flowers.  

Termed a “Slow Flower” Movement, she advocates for growing your own flowers or buying from local growers.  For many of the same reasons.  Do we really need to have billions of exotic flowers flown in every day?  

If we can recalibrate our floral aesthetic, we can enjoy glamorous floral designs and practice a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment - not to mention creating lots more local jobs.

Prinzing has authored two books on this important subject: The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden 

and Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden

Debra’s news release quotes: “The book follows Prinzing through 52 consecutive weeks during which she challenged herself to pick, arrange and photograph a seasonal bouquet using only local ingredients. She sourced flowers, leaves, branches and seedpods from her own garden, from friends' gardens, and from the meadows and fields of her favorite flower farms. Like an easy-to-use cookbook, Slow Flowers features vivid images of each finished bouquet, a thorough ingredient list and step-by-step design instructions. Special "takeaway tips" share expert flower growing advice and eco-design techniques

Slow Flowers demonstrates that living in the moment - each season - is just as rewarding for flower lovers as it is for foodies who cook seasonally-inspired menus."

Floratopia: 110 Flower Garden Ideas for Your Yard, Patio, or Balcony by [Jan Johnsen]

Another terrific book by one of my favorite landscape designers and authors, Jan Johnson is her newest book coming out February 16th, Floratopia. I reviewed her last book, Gardentopia

According to the Floratopia’s bio/overview, the book, Floratopia: 110 Flower Garden Ideas for Your Yard, Patio, or Balcony showcases beautiful flower varieties and offers illustrated design ideas that will have you seeing the potential for colorful flowers, both annual and perennial, in all kinds of outdoor spaces, large or small.

Enjoy the glamour of the garden in every season…

Friday, February 12, 2021

How to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2021 ~ Year of the OX with XOXO Plant, Food & Drink Love ~ With Easy to Make Recipes


Goodbye Rat. Hello Ox.

Happy Lunar New Year!  

We are indeed saying goodbye to the year of the rat; ushering in the year of the ox. 

Specifically, the year of the metal ox. 

What does it mean? 

According to experts, the metal ox can represent a range of metals ~ from jewelry to syringe needles. Soooo, I'm thinking we can best mark the Year of the Ox with a piece of jewelry (naturally!) perhaps in the form of a unique, hard-working, and versatile array of plant-styled arm cuffs or bracelets ~ because plants play such a key role in Lunar New Year festivities and I like these looks. I have some arm cuffs but don’t see them worn too much anymore. So, I’m thinking they will be good looking on all those Zoom calls where upper body looks are paramount. And the other metal ~ of course ~ the vaccine! Surely, that’s a sign of very good luck. 

February 12 marks the start of the Lunar New Year. This is the Year of the Ox.

Asian countries, not just China, celebrate this gateway to spring. 

From Korea to Malaysia to Japan to Indonesia, and our own city’s Chinatowns and Asian markets, Lunar New Year, or Tet, is celebrated with centuries-old traditions marked by food and flowers and plants.  While the colorful street parades we all love will be tabled this year, you can enjoy the restaurants’ special foods. Frequent them. Order take out. 

You can also visit the Museum of Chinese In America. The Museum offers a plethora of virtual programs ~ for the entire family. 

It’s worth noting that the ox is a hardworking zodiac sign. Therefore, no rest for the home-bound workers nor the front line health-care or essential workers.    

Rather than be disheartened or woebegone about the prospect of more work,  Let’s be grateful for the opportunity to work at all. 

In addition, I believe “Work” takes many forms. We can work to seek new ventures (open up that business that maybe has been a side hustle); to work to improve our community ~ volunteer where needed. We can work on ourselves to improve our character, our health (mental and physical) and work to improve our garden soil, plants and the environment… 

I’ve learned that the Year of the Ox is a lucky sign that will focus us on relationships. I’m going to extrapolate that to lean into building better relationships in a post-covid world that embraces our work, family, friends, community and loved ones. Including our pets and our gardens…

So, Cheers ~ Ganbei (sounds like: “gon bay”).

And to toast to the year of the ox, here’s a perfect drink for your Lunar New Years’ celebrations ~ and I hope you have many over the 15-day festival ~ from my from from my Art of the Garnish book.  

Courtesy of Jordan Bushnell, national brand ambassador for Hennessy. 

As told in the Garnish book, This is a fiery red drink, its star anise and cocktail cherry garnish is sure to spice up your fortune…. “The drink was created for Chinese New Year so all the elements you see in the background are themed for good luck in the culture,” noted Jordan.



Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass containing fresh ice.  

Finishing Touches: 

Garnish with star anise and a maraschino cherry. 

Thank you so much Jordan for this exquisite drink recipe, plus all your other spectacular contributions. 

Back Story to the Lunar New Year Festival: 

Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. Originally the purpose was to scare off Nian ~ the name means “new year” is a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains (I think nian represents a kind of winter).  Folks wanted to prevent Nian from returning, and created holiday decorations that are typically a bright and loud red to scare off the beast.  

The color red is now a much loved color; representing happiness and good fortune. 


Image result for plants and flowers and fruits for lunar new year

Plants are an integral part of the Lunar New Year celebrations.  

Many Asian families love flamingo flowers (Anthurium, a house plant in colder zones) for its auspicious red color, which symbolize good luck and prosperity. Meanwhile, as the shape of blossoms looks like hearts, which can also work for Valentine’s Day.  The flowers also indicate happiness and enthusiasm and not just for their beauty; they are some of the longest-lasting blooms. (Some folks refer to the plant as the Little Boy flower for the, ahem, suggestive structure of the spadix. Smile)  Everyone can love the plant as it’s super easy to take care of. 

Orchids may be the most popular - they symbolize elegance, wealth, fertility and abundance.


Orchids bring good fortune. I’d like to believe that too. These exotic blooms surely bring me happiness. 

Ahhhh, then there is my all-time favorite, the peony. 

As the national flower of China, peonies are always popular in the flower markets. In Chinese mythology, peonies are always associated with richness, peace, honor and prosperity. As peonies are well-known as wealth flowers, they are great, especially red ones. 

Last year, I splurged and got three tree peonies for my own garden. To amplify or complement my many 

Narcissus, or water fairy flowers, symbolize wealth, prosperity and good luck, which will be perfect for you if you’re looking for lucky Chinese New Year flowers.Image result for plants and flowers and fruits for lunar new year

The sweet scent, bright color and delicate petals make narcissus quite popular among Chinese people.

Pussy willows, known as silver willow in China, symbolize prosperous wealth, and just like here, the coming of spring. As the branches of pussy willows usually come in tall height, they are related to growth and prosperity. Meanwhile, the furry blossoms are associated with abundance of fortune. 

Fruit, fruit plants and cut fruit stems are equally important in Lunar New Year traditions result for plants and flowers and fruits for lunar new year

I grow lemon trees indoors all-year long. I adore the fragrance and the leaves. The fruit is almost a lucky-extra. I’ve got several ready for picking shortly. Usually, their harvest coincides with a favorite niece, Lauren and her husband’s visit to our homestead. So BC (before covid,) Lauren would  pick a lemon for our martinis!  So don’t be shy, citrus is easy and fun to grow. Photo: 

In China, the peach fruit represents longevity while peach blossom symbolizes growth, prosperity and romance. As a result, peach blossoms are considered sacred. In my little orchard, too!  With bright color and beautiful appearance, peach blossoms are quite popular during Lunar New Year. Look for them in your local flower market. 

Peach blossoms are very popular among young people because they believe that peach blossoms will ignite romantic luck for those who are single. Leading into that Valentine’s Day…

Plum blossoms are another symbolic flower,  indicating courage, perseverance and reliability. As the blossom season is around the same time as the Spring Festival, it’s a great idea to buy some plum blossoms to decorate your home. According to tradition, plum blossoms will attract long-term good fortune. I’m thinking it’s a good idea to put some plum blossoms in a pretty vase in your home office and bedroom…

Kumquats are a golden, festive color that represents wealth and fortune. 

Add to that the fruit’s delicious flavor on its own and in various desserts, and it’s not a surprise why not only the cut flowers but having a small tree as an indoor, pretty, and fragrant plant is becoming so popular.

Kumquats are thought to bring auspicious meanings of wealth and good luck.

It’s also believed that the emerald green leaves will attract wealth, luck, and prosperity, as the leaves look like jade stone.


Mandarin oranges are also a great plant to grow and bring good luck. I have grown one for years in my home spa. 

Image result for plants and flowers and fruits for lunar new year

Chrysanthemum flowers are a long-time favored flower for bringing good fortune. (There is an autumn festival in Japan: Kiku, dedicated to the national flower.)

I just loved this cute image of puppies fashioned from mums!)

Where, you might ask, is the best place to purchase plants? 

THE best place - for Lunar New Year plants ~ or anytime ~ is KinKa

My esteemed friends, EunYoung and Tom, are the wonderful couple ~ both of whom are talented artists ~ who lovingly curate and run the shop. How adorable are these two?! I am so encouraging fine-artist Tom to create a children’s picture book. I love his sweet illustrations. Don’t you agree??

(KinKa fronts the excellent restaurant Maki Kosaka created by the award-winning, and Michelin-starred omakase KOSAKA restaurant owners. You must experience its incredible seafood, sushi, seasonal vegetables and elegant decor.) 

KinKa is the “forbidden flowers” of the tea ceremony (wink) but you can readily get flowers and gifts here.

  Who wouldn’t love these heart Hoyas as a gift? 

The bouquets are heart-breakingly, tenderly, beautiful.. 

More beautiful floral compositions. See the web site for delivery and shipping. 

A Love Note card: KinKa 

Decor & Style

The Spring Festival Lunar New Year celebrations culminate in the Lantern launch  after the 15 day celebration, this year on February 26th. That date is often referred to now as a Lunar New Year Valentine's day because young women could go out to view and admire the lanterns and, ahem, meet boys. (or those they are attracted to….) People write their poetry; most often their wishes, on the lanterns, then release them to the heavens in the hopes that their dreams will come true in the new year. Plus it’s so very cosmically beautiful.  You could recreate this at home if you live in a place with a big enough yard.

Red Pocket Lucky Money

I use these red envelopes as part of my Lunar New Year tablescape. I would go to Chinatown every year and get that year’s red envelopes and gift to our dinner party and Ladies Who Lunch guests - for good luck. It's said that the money “anchors the year.”

The red, lucky money envelope tradition started as protection against Nian. Parents would give children money on the first night of Lunar New Year. This way, the children would have something to bribe the monster or other evil spirits with.


I’ll single out a delightful cookbook here for you that was recently sent to me for review: Real Vietnamese Cooking, Everyday Favorites from the Street to the Kitchen. 

As the overview proclaims, the cookbook combines the “collective culinary wisdom of three intrepid food explorers” Yumiko Adachi, Shinobu Ito, and Masumi Suzuki, who trained with some of Vietnam's best chefs while eating their way through the country’s city streets and “country kitchens in search of tastes” and treats.  The 88 recipes are arranged in a terrific presentation including: from the history or origins of Vietnamese cuisine, a presentation of Vietnamese seasonings, 

Herbs and Aromatics, Seasonings, followed by the Basic Recipes. 

There is an interesting background that explains what the Vietnamese eat for their three daily meals, in addition to Snacks and Feasts ~ and lots of Street Food! 

I find the full-color photographs so helpful. And fun to view. It’s like you are there with the author/cooks as they guide you step-by-step.

The images very much illustrate the ingredients, the step-by-step preparations, and the finished dishes.  

The recipes are grouped into categories: mainly Rice Dishes ~ (paper, rice flour, and noodles), Bánh MÌ sandwiches, Pub Food and Bar Snacks, Salads and Vegetables, Vietnamese Hot Pots (love these), Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks. 

I should point out that while the dishes look exotic, the ingredients are all readily available at your local markets.  

I very much look forward to making my favorite food and drink recipes: Fresh Spring Rolls, Hot Pots, Firecracker Shrimp, and the Coconut Coffee Milkshake! 

Here’s a recent Lunar New Year menu that is worth repeating. I mixed Asian and Peruvian and Mediterrean dishes! Hey, we’re a melting pot!

A fun food serving presentation is to place an amuse bouche or finger food in a music box. 

When you’re guests and loved ones open up the box at their plate, not only is the pretty box and music waft out to greet them, but the surprise of finding a treat is pure joy! 

Example of an eclectic home design design in New YorkInspiration for an eclectic home design remodel in New York 

Miso Soup ~ Our remix, photo: Angie Lambert

Valentine & Lunar New Year Celebration 2018

Hosted by: Duchess Designs 

  • Pink Champagne   

  • Alfajores Cookie Baking with Marita Lynn 

  • Dumplings in Music Box

  • Miso Soup with Carrots

  • Beet Burger Heart Salad

  • Heart Cheese Ravioli with Shrimp Marinara Sauce

  • Pink Raspberry Panna Cotta 

  • Chocolate Fondue with Citrus, Banana, Strawberry, Marshmallow 

  • Bourbon/or Mocktail Milkshake

  • Shrub Mocktail

  • Coffee, Tea 

Alfajores Recipe - Marita Lynn 

Yield: 50 alfajores

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted

¾ cup butter, room temperature

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 cup dulce de leche


In a bowl, mix together, the flour, butter and sugar. Once mixed, use your hands to create a uniform dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a floured surface, making sure to flour your roller, roll the dough to ½- inch thickness. 

Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out alfajores and place on baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, let the alfajores cool on a wire rack.

Filled the alfajores with dulce de leche sandwich style. 

Dust with powdered sugar.

*Dulce de leche can be bought at any store, jarred or in a can

* @KitchenIntuitionByMaritaLynn 

Good luck to you and your loved ones for a prosperous, lucky, 2021.