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Cherish Relationships

My Son’s Wedding: The Dress! The Flowers! The Epic Mother Son Dance!

Celebrate Life, Family, Hospitality and Entertaining
mother son dance

It seems like yesterday when my youngest son thought every single animal, no matter what it was, was a cow. Moo! (it was a cat), Moo! (it was a dog). Moo! (It was an elephant for goodness sake).

Just to embarrass him, here’s a picture of him as a little ball of fluff. Adorable, right?

Oh, and here is one from those awkward middle school years with braces.

It’s my right as a mother to share these on the internet, yes? I think so.

Fast forward 25 years or so, and here I am, just getting home from his wedding in Maine—unpacking my fancy clothes, scrolling through the photos, and wishing we could do it all over again. continue reading

The Art of Easy Entertaining and the Cutest Fall Baby “Sprinkle” Ever

Hospitality and Entertaining
easy entertaining
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I love to entertain.  Always have.  I’d go so far as to say that I enjoy throwing parties even more than attending them.

But for a lot of women, the idea of entertaining at home is an intimidating, even frightening prospect.

I think that’s because many people have the wrong idea about what it takes to entertain.  You don’t need to have buckets of money, a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood, or the culinary skills of Martha Stewart to throw a good party.

Showing hospitality is simply about sincerely welcoming others into your home with a warm and open heart. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. In fact, some of the best parties I’ve ever been to, or given, have been the simplest.

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Join The Party: The Power and Importance of Female Friendships

Cherish Relationships, Friends and Community
female friendships

“No, thanks. I’m not really a joiner.”

How many times have you heard that? Or said that? If you’re anything like me, the answer is plenty – on both counts.

Though I’ve written whole novels and even a whole series of novels centered on the subject of community and friendship among women, I don’t think of myself as a joiner.  Much of the time, I prefer to keep my own company or hang out with the imaginary friends who inhabit my books. I spend so much time alone, and so comfortably, that I have occasionally been accused of being a hermit. continue reading

Our Journey: What I’ve Learned Since My Husband’s Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Cherish Relationships, Family, Healing and Hope

Two years ago, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

This is something I haven’t talked about much until today, not online and not on this blog.  There were a couple of reasons for that.

For one thing, though it impacted me as well, it really wasn’t my story to tell.  It was my husband’s and he is a very private person.

Also, in our usual straightforward and efficient way, we handled it.  After talking with doctors and doing quite a bit of research, my husband had surgery to remove his prostate.  The margins were clear and no chemotherapy or radiation was deemed necessary. After a few months of recovery, everything seemed fine and we went on with our lives. continue reading

Cool Down with Low Calorie Cocktails (4 points or less on Weight Watchers!)

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes
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I don’t know about you, but in Central Oregon, we’ve had quite a heat wave. My car said the temperature was 104 yesterday. My car can be a bit dramatic (we have that in common), but still, this part of the country just isn’t set up for three figure temperatures. Most houses around here don’t even have air conditioning.

So what do I do to cool down? Well, for one, I’ve been spending a lot of time swimming laps, training for my first triathlon (T minus 1 month!). But with guests in the house this week, I decided to take it upon myself to bless them with a plethora of summer sippers to help us beat the heat. Aren’t I a good hostess?

There was a couple of criteria for these cocktails. First, they needed to be delicious. Second, for the benefit of everyone here, they needed to be healthier than normal. Personally, I aimed to keep each cocktail at four points or less on my Weight Watchers Freestyle plan (and I succeeded, most of my recipes are only 3 points!). We got a little creative with the ingredient list, using Truvia, a naturally-derived sugar alternative, and diet ginger beer, diet tonic, and flavored kombucha.

I made:

  • Skinny G&T (3 points)
  • Perky Paloma (4 points)
  • Blackberry Basil Mule (3 points)
  • Grapefruit Kombucha Gimlet (3 points)

Wondering how they turned out? They were awesome.

Here’s four recipes for low calorie cocktails, four points or less on Weight Watchers, that you and your guests will love this summer.

         

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Perky Paloma


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: stirred
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

Step aside, margarita. This tequila-based cocktail is apparently the national drink of Mexico. It’s refreshing, light, and oh so festive. Salted rim optional.


Ingredients

¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
half of a lime
1 tsp Truvia
1.5 oz. tequila
¼ cup club soda
grapefruit wedge for garnish

Instructions

In a glass, combine Tequila, Stevia, juice from half a lime and fresh grapefruit juice. Stir well. Top it off with diet club soda and ice, and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Keywords: paloma, tequila, low-point cocktail recipe, low-calorie cocktail recipe, weight watchers cocktail

 

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Skinny Gin & Tonic


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: on the rocks
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

One of the lowest calorie cocktails possible, aside from just drinking straight liquor (which I don’t really recommend!) is the gin and tonic. Its light, bubbly, and refreshing.


Ingredients

1.5 oz gin (I use Tanqueray)

3 lime wedges

4 oz diet tonic water


Instructions

Mix all ingredients together with ice in the glass of your choice. Garnish with more limes.

Keywords: gin and tonic, weight watchers cocktail recipe, low-point cocktail, low-calorie cocktail

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Blackberry Basil Mule


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: stirred
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

While a Moscow Mule is traditionally served with mint and lime, this version is full of summer flavor, with blackberry and basil leading the charge. The diet ginger beer is the perfect thing to take it up a notch.


Ingredients

1/4 cup blackberries

1 TB basil leaves, chiffonade or minced

½ lime

1.5 oz vodka

½ cup diet ginger beer

½ TB Truvia optional (add sweetener as needed. my berries were so sweet I didn’t need any!)

extra basil and lime wedge for garnish


Instructions

Mix the berries, basil leaves, vodka, Stevia, and lime juice in the glass of your choice. Muddle the berries using a muddler tool. Top it off with ginger beer. Shake vigorously in cocktail shaker with ice and strain. Pour into a festive glass and garnish. Voila!

Keywords: mule, vodka, blackberry, basil, low-calorie cocktail recipe, low-point cocktail

low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes

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low calorie cocktails, weight watcher cocktail recipes

Grapefruit Kombucha Gimlet


  • Author: Marie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: shaken
  • Cuisine: happy hour

Description

A gimlet is traditionally a gin-based cocktail. Grapefruit masks gin in a dangerously wonderful way. This grapefruit kombucha, which is lower points than juice, is also great for gut health since its a fermented tea product. I love the added sweetness and the bit of fizz it brings.


Ingredients

1/4 cup Grapefruit kombucha (or flavored Kombucha of your choice)

1.5 oz. gin

juice of half a lime

1 tsp. Truvia

Grapefruit wedge


Instructions

Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with grapefruit slice.

Keywords: gimlet, gin, grapefruit, low-point cocktail recipe, low-calorie cocktail recipe

Perfect Make Ahead Summer Dinner Party Menu (Just 5 Weight Watchers Points!)

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
summer dinner party menu weight watchers
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If you’re busy (and who isn’t?) hosting friends for dinner can be a real challenge.

Unless, of course, you’re prepared.

This summer, I’ve pulled together some gorgeous, favorite recipes into an easy summer dinner party menu that can mostly be made ahead.

You know what that means, don’t you? You can actually go to your dinner party instead of spending it in the kitchen. Doesn’t that sound like a nice change? continue reading

Proper Picnic Planning Guide: Picnic Recipes, Al Fresco Etiquette and the Best Gear

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
proper picnic guide, picnic recipes, picnic gear
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What do you get when you combine delicious food, the great outdoors, time with friends, and  a pretty quilt, all wrapped up into one adorable and portable party? It’s a picnic. And it’s my favorite.

Here’s how to throw the perfect picnic with the best food. continue reading

The Dos and Don’ts of Family Reunion Planning

Family
family reunion planning

One of my relatives loves to assert at every family get together that “You can’t choose your relatives.” She smirks and we laugh because we are so lucky to have such a fun bunch, despite the quirks, dysfunctions, and fiery Irish personalities. But her statement rings true for everyone: you really can’t choose your relatives. Whether you like it or not, you’re a lifetime member of the club. You are bound by shared DNA, shared memories, shared secrets, and shared histories. Essentially, you’re stuck together. And that’s not such a bad thing, is it? continue reading

Fiesta Party Ideas and Recipes Perfect for Summer

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
Mexican fiesta strawberry margarita
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My new home in Central Oregon is pretty close to paradise. Beautiful scenery. Wildlife. Perfect weather. Lots of locally owned restaurants, wineries, and breweries. Fun outdoorsy things to do at every corner.

However, it lacks in one critical area. Shocking no one, there doesn’t seem to be any authentic Mexican or Tex Mex food where I can get a proper bowl of queso for at least 200 miles.

I used to live in Mexico. I also used to live in Texas. While both places were fun and exciting in their own right, there’s one thing I miss this most. The food. The sizzling smells. The vibrant colors. The cumin and garlic and oregano. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.

Enjoying Mexican food and its somewhat less authentic but still delectable cousin, Tex Mex, is the perfect way to ring in summer. And if you’re looking for a way to celebrate reaching the finish line of a long, hard week, lift yourself out of a funk, or simply jolt yourself out of a food rut – my Tex-Mex party menu will definitely do the trick.

On the other hand, do you need a reason?  Any day is a good day to invite a few friends over, play some lively Spanish guitar music, and have a fiesta! Ole’!


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Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes You’ll Want to Make All Year Long

Food for Grownups, Hospitality and Entertaining
broccoli quiche, mothers day brunch ideas
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Mother’s Day and brunch seem to go together like April showers and May flowers. So why not knock it out of the park this year? Whether you are celebrating your own mother, celebrating yourself (we know, you’ve done a great job and deserve a delicious meal), or perhaps daughters, daughter-in-laws, or friends, Mother’s Day brunch calls for a sense of occasion. It should be pretty, feminine, bright, and delicious. Most of all, it should make the moms in your life feel special and loved. continue reading