Snow day at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Once again we are getting bombarded with snow here in Philadelphia. This seems to happen every year lately. Hard to believe that Junebug and I have been minding the booth for 12 years! What a gift. It’s so lovely seeing old friends and making new ones. I have the BEST customers. I thought it would be fun to share some photos from the show for those of you who weren’t able to come or would like to know what it is about!

The main entrance garden was alive with color and sounds from the Rainforest. Orchids and tropical flowers took the main stage with bamboo structures and numerous sources of water- including ponds, waterfalls, fountains and rain barrels.

One of my favorite displays was a wooded garden setting for a wedding. It was just lovely and magical!!

Isn’t it just dreamy?? I think there could be gnomes and fairies hiding about. Stop by again tomorrow for highlights of other sections of the show! : )








Kentucky Derby Dinner Club

derby shot

Oh, The Kentucky Derby! This month Farmboy and I hosted Dinner Club on Derby Day! Excitement, good food and great friends all rolled into one. What fun!

In our dinner club the hosting couple selects the menu and sends out the appetizer, soup/salad and dessert recipes to the three other couples. The host couple provides the entree, perhaps other sides and beverages. It makes for a relaxing time to try new foods, family recipes and traditions.


Speaking of traditions… the Derby has always been a tradition in our home. Everyone present picks a horses name out of a hat and puts in a dollar. Whoever wins the race gets the kitty. I remember rooting for Seattle Slew and Affirmed when they won the Triple Crown in the 70’s with a room full of hysterical, screaming people! As an 9-ish year old… it left quite an impression.


Aren’t these napkins fun! They will be used for years to come the first Saturday in May… and the third (Preakness) and the first in June (Belmont). Gotta follow American Pharoah through to the Triple Crown! Let’s hope! They are from Pomegranate Inc and I couldn’t resist.

Now, there is something that you need to know about me. I forget to take tags off of things… my clothes, throw pillows, shoes and apparently napkins. I once told the pastor at our church about the time that I wore the tags on my new dress to Easter Sunday Service. I thought the man was going to have a convulsion on the floor from laughing (he’s a very smart dresser). Ahhh…  the little details that allude us. If you see me at the grocery store discreetly check me for dangling price tags and give me the wink and nod in the direction of the offending bar code if need be. I can take it. Before I divulge anymore secrets, on with the Kentucky themed menu…



Mini Hot Browns

Benedictine Sandwiches


Spring Panzanella with Fresh Peas and Fennel


 Kentucky Burgoo

Prosciutto and Cheese Biscuits


Ice Cream Sundaes with Bourbon Coffee Sauce



And a special thank you to my stylish friend Lisa Porter from The Lisa Porter Collection for her Bourbon Ball recipe. A box of goodies went home with each couple. : )

A French Inspired Dinner Menu

I love setting the table for a special occasion. This dinner club evening was one of my favorites.





Kir with crackers, olives and nuts

Soup Course
French Spring Soup

Fish Course
Marinated Shrimp in Champagne Burne Blance

Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Brandy Cream Sauce
Wild Rice Pilaf
Asparagus with lemon and Butter

Salad Course
Frisee Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Syrup

Cheese Course
Artisinal Cheese Plate

Grand Fruit Salad

Our dining room table is very special. It is made from an old plank door from the house where my grandfather was born. My dad drove it all the way from Mississippi to Upstate New York along with a mantel that we installed around our fireplace. I remember playing in “The Old House” when I was little. The house is gone now. I love that there are pieces of that place here and cherished in our home.

There is a key hole in the table often covered by a place mat or a napkin. Whoever finds himself seated at the keyhole is the honored guest for the evening. : )




Happy Belated Easter!

How was your weekend? Did the Easter Bunny come to visit? This little guy had to find someone else to pull his wagon I’m pretty sure.

We had the opportunity to host the family dinner at our house- it was alot of fun as you will see. I have SO enjoyed Pintrest lately and seeing all of the beautiful Easter/Springtime decorations inspired me to do some projects with the kids.

This is what I was aiming for…

This is how it turned out including gummie worms, peeps, twizzlers and jelly beans. : ) The containers will be turned into terrariums later this week!


The kids and their cousin made some sweet tissue paper poufs to hang from the light fixtures for our family dinner. The children’s table looked very happy and inviting we thought.

After an early morning spent searching for Easter baskets, eating chocolate, breakfast and more chocolate we attended a beautiful service at Grace Chapel and came home to hunt Easter eggs. The dogs only ate 2, we think, although 2 others are still missing…

I love cooking for a crowd! Everything about it, coming up with the menu, the table settings, the smells, the noise and laughter of a house full of people and the memories that it creates for my kids. Farmboy made the most amazing Snickers Cheesecake Saturday night AFTER working all day at the farm. He is such a Renaissance man. The recipe for the cheesecake came from a recent dinner club featuring a “Seinfeld Theme”. Who knew there were so many food references on Seinfeld!? I’ll try to post it soon!

Here is the Easter Dinner menu for this year.



Banana Pepper Dip
Fresh Veggies and Dip
Deviled Eggs

Main Course

Whiskey and Cola Basted Ham
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast


Blanched Fresh Asparagus w/Lemon
Pennies From Heaven Carrots
Cheese Souffle
German Potato Salad
Red Quinoa and Avocado Salad


Snickers Cheesecake with Oreo Crust
Strawberry & Raspberry Trifle
Strawberry Pie

 At the end of a long, glorious day I looked at beautiful family pics on Facebook that friends had posted from their weekend and something that my high-school English teacher (Don’t you love that about Facebook!?) put up made the most sense for me to share at Easter… because I KNOW grace, forgiveness and mercy and the beauty of those actions make a profound difference in this world and in the lives of other people.  : )

“”I serve a risen Savior-he’s in the world today-I know that He is living, no matter what men may say”. It’s simple, your wrongs are forgiven. Today, in honor of His sacrifice, forgive someone.”

It is the essence of Easter.

Dinner Club Mexican Menu

~ Appetizers ~
Crab Tostadas
Mango and Brie Quesadillas

~ Entree ~
Beef Hot Tamales with Red Chili Sauce

~ Sides ~
Creamy Coleslaw
Mexican Black Beans

~ Dessert ~
Citrus Parfait with Pineapple and Mango


Farmboy and I are hosting dinner club this weekend and I thought it would be fun to post the menu. Tonight we will undertake the making/assembly of the tamales! I’ve never made them before but we have a couple of extra sets of hands and I have promised sombreros to wear, Margaritas to sip on while listening to some Texas Tornados and Freddy Fender music. How can you go wrong!?

I wish you could smell the warm spice of the red chili sauce in cooking in the kitchen. So fragrant.

The first time Hubby had tamales was during a visit to Mississippi to see my grandmother and sister. The four of us drove over to Natchez (so beautiful when the azaleas are blooming), did some site seeing and had a tasty treat from Fat Mama’s.  You might not associate Missisippi and Mexican food… but tamales have quite a history in the Mississippi Delta. I remember large pots of them cooking next to the bonfire at our Outdoor Club get togethers in high school.

If you are in the area and wearing an apron… stop in and we will put you to work. Now, do tell- what is your favorite Mexican dish?



Oh, Happy Happy New Year!

What a wonderful holiday it has been! Christmas Eve was a highlight for me. Three generations sitting around the candlelit dinner table talking about their Christmas memories. It was such a treat to have both sets of grandparents and their aunt there for the children to hear. We laughed over Farmer Russ always wanting a bicycle when he was a boy and never getting one. He took matters into his own hands and bought himself a motorcycle when he was just 15! Whaaat? What is wrong with THAT picture.

Junebug’s (my mom) favorite present was an Indian outfit complete with a bow and arrow. To everyone surprise Poppa Frank’s favorite present was his Roy Rogers outfit complete with holsters and chaps! What a pair they would make and make now!

I had been obsessing over the menu for a week or two because… I just love to! Here’s what was served:

Asparagus Soup
(a family tradition)

Pear and Gorgonzola Green Salad with Walnuts
(my sister-in-law sent us the most wonderful pears from Harry & David)

Grilled Whole Beef Tenderloin with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
(Junebug and Poppa bring one every year… yum!)

Wild Rice Pilaf

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
(fresh from the garden!!! who knew!)

Pennies From Heaven ( a great carrot side)

 After basking in the warm candlelight glow from the table we all said our goodbyes and headed to the candlelight service at church. A beautiful service. So glad that my sister was there. My heart was touched as LaLa asked Ryder if she could put her head in his lap and he played with her hair and scratched her back as she rested. So sweet. Their gentle hands passed the flame from one candle carefully to the other. The sanctuary was aglow as we sang Silent Night.

Christmas morning was fun, EARLY and full of yummy goodness. Here’s what was on the menu:

Quiche Lorraine
(a family tradition: recipe from River Road Recipes- Baton Rouge Jr League cookbook)

Crustless Spinach Quiche
(a new recipe that I wanted to try… I think I prefer Quiche with a crust)

Fruit Salad

Lunch at my sister-in-laws with the extended family was fun and scrumptious. I managed to “win” a roll of toilet paper in the Bad Santa game.  I was hoping for a five dollar bill rolled up in there. No such luck.

The past week has been relaxing, pretty quiet besides the “school is out” sleepovers and “that’s not a word” Scrabble shouting matches. Farmboy even made a delicious Chicken Marsala dinner one night. He is such a Rennissance man! I have been in my pajamas much too much to admit to you. It’s 4:30… we have a party to attend at 7pm. Think I’d better go get changed… NOT that I could possibly still be in my pjs at this hour!

The smell of Black-eyed Peas is in the air. We are taking a DUO (I watch too much Ironchef) of Blackeyed Pea appetizers to the party tonight for double the prosperity for the coming year. Texas Caviar… a great alternative to salsa for chips and a warm BEP dip. Here are the recipes:

Texas Caviar

Zannie’s Black Eyed Pea Dip

When Ryder was getting his hair cut yesterday the stylist asked him what we were doing for New Years and his answer was simply “Eating black-eyed peas”. Made me laugh… we are such an exciting bunch. ; )

Next week Michelle Masters Studio will be back open for business and we will be gearing up for the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show. There are new greeting card designs on the way as well as some fun new products. Fifteen pounds of french lavender buds is on its way for heavenly scented sachets and I will soon be ordering framing for some new paintings. Yay!

Thank you for stopping by- for reading, for your comments over the last year and for your encouragement and support of my little niche in the world. I am so honored. I wish you JOY, PEACE, PROSPERITY & GRACE for the coming year. May it shine in your lives and illuminate all those around you. : )


Have you planned a birthday with/for a 6 soon to be 7 year old lately? If you haven’t you don’t know what you are missing!  At our house it is customary to celebrate the kids birthday’s with a family cookout including: grandparents, great aunts, regular aunts, uncles, cousins and all of their dogs followed by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday in the overly decorated dining room with presents, cake and ice cream.

My chandelier will never be the same. It’s had streamers, ribbons, little swirly plastic-y things, lego guys, Indiana Jones figures, spiders, bats… you name it… hanging from the crystals.  I have been known to go a bit overboard for the kids birthdays. There was the one year when we all met under the festival tent with tiki torches at the entrance wherein the kids were given passports, a compass and a list and then sent on a scavenger hunt. The evening culminated in the hay barn where they had to pass through an obstacle course complete with a pit with rubber snakes. It would have been a challenge even for the real Indiana Jones.

This year was the first time that we had a “party” off of the farm for one of the kids. Ryder (10 yr old no longer wanting to be referred to as “the Bean”) wanted a laser tag party for himself and 3 of his buddies. At our family party he didn’t want the chandelier decorated with anything. WHAAATT?!!! It was a bit shocking for me. I went along with it… the “no theme” party. Uggh. The humanity of it. A mother with the gift of hospitality… and no coordinating colors or plates. I know. The child has to grow up. It’s okay. I’ve really gotten over it. Truely. I CAN let go.

So today Lala and I went on her birthday party decorating spree.  A tiny bit of the licensed stuff and a whole lot of colors and bling. She is such a delight. Our party favors for the cousins include: bouncy balls, tiny rubics cubes, friendship bracelets and sticky hands… which I had to give the proper warning against. “No sticky hands stuck on the ceiling! They stain when they are stuck there too long!”. Not that I have ever had a sticky hand stuck to the ceiling for beyond its proper time. Its just that those ones from the dentist office are especially sticky, stainy or something.

We have pretty pink paper lanterns hanging from the chandelier this year. Yay! As an artist it’s not easy when your design background wants to overrule a Birthday Girl’s sensibilites. I mean we want to stay away from tacky, right. Self expression vs. tacky… a fine, adorable line for a 6 year old but visual chaos as they get older.

This leads me to the conclusion that my days decorating the chandelier for birthday parties are cherished and limited. However, if you are in the same boat or even if your children are grown… celebrate. Celebrate life’s simple moments and rites of passages however it makes your heart sing. Wear the red dress. Wear the tacky purple hat. I promise that I will continue to hang wacky things from my chandelier if you will.


The Cookout Menu

Southern Baked Beans

Steamed green beans

Herb Roasted Baby Potatoes

Cucumber Salad


Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Sauteed Snow Peas

And… Birthday Cake and Ice Cream  : )

How to Make a Living Spring Centerpiece

I don’t know about you but I have been needing to see some color and some blatant signs of Spring. I thought it would be fun to plant a large container with mixed with spring flowers that could be planted out in the border when they are done inside.

I’m always looking for ways to include the children while gardening and LaLa was anxious to get her hands in the soil. A perfect project for the two of us. I hope you will be inspired to go out and create a lovely centerpiece for your spring table!

First, find a large low container with no hole in the bottom. ( I did not want to have to worry about leaking when watering.)

Then head on over to your favorite garden center and pick out some healthy spring annuals and perennials that are already in bloom. My purchase included 3 Primroses (yellow), a Gerber Daisy (pink), 2 Violets (purple), and tiny Campanula (white) that I divided in two.

Have your helper add some rocks in the bottom of your container for drainage. Our rocks were about 1/3 of the way up the container.


Then start filling with potting soil and planting! It will be viewed from all sides so keep that in mind when deciding where to place your plants. Or, if you are working with a 6 yr old let them decide and rearrange the plants when they aren’t looking. Not that I would ever do such a thing!


Once you are all potted up be sure to water the plants in… keeping in mind that there is no drainage (don’t overwater- just enough to make everything evenly moist).


Now, bring it in and enjoy! I added some cabbage leaf place mats underneath my container to protect my table surface. When the flowers start to fade I plan to replace them with miniature plants, mosses and stone… to create a little indoor fairy garden. The primrose and campanula can be planted out in the flower border to make an appearance next year!


If you decide to create a living indoor centerpiece be sure to take a picture of it and send it to me! I would love seeing your creation. : ) Happy Spring! Oh, don’t forget to tuck some little eggs into your arrangement!





Christmas Dinner Menu

~   Appetizers   ~

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Shrimp Cocktail

~   Main Course  ~

Baked Ham with Bourbon and Coke Glaze & Jezebel Sauce

Brined Roasted Turkey with Traditional Cornbread Dressing & Gravy

~   Sides  ~

Cheese Souffle

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Pennies from Heaven

Sauteed Green Beans

~   Dessert   ~

New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Marilyn’s Flan

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu

Caesar Salad

Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce

Wild Rice Pilaf

Steamed Broccoli

Apple Pie

Cheesecake Petites


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

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