friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{my seasonal favorite is back…the roasted corn salad}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{a long overdue pedi, and just in time for pool season}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{guess where these cute tins came from!  I’ll give you a hint…it starts with a T and ends in ARGET}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{a robust rhododendron}

Happy weekend and happy Memorial Day…enjoy the holiday!

vegetable garden markers

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

My youngest daughter has been begging me to plant a vegetable garden all spring.  I find this quite ironic considering that, for the most part, she avoids eating vegetables!  However, I did think this endeavor might encourage her to snack on a few carrots or cucumbers every so often…so we took on a new project of creating a vegetable garden.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

When I say “we,” it truly was a family affair.  Once we found an area in our yard that was sunny enough, my husband set about building a raised garden bed.  And while he was doing that, Claire and I created garden markers to identify the plants we are going to grow.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

We used wooden spoons, various colors of acrylic paint, and a black sharpie marker to make these.  First, we painted the top portion of the spoons on both sides, and placed them on waxed paper to dry.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Once dry, we decorated each spoon with a simple drawing of the plant and wrote the name of each vegetable.  So simple!

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Then it was time to plant!

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

And finally, we placed the vegetable garden markers next to the plants to identify them.

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

vegetable garden markers | polka dots and picket fences

Hopefully, we will have vegetables to pick soon…

graduation gift ideas

Well, it’s that time of year…school is ending and high school seniors are graduating.  It was just last year that I experienced this rite of passage for the first time with our oldest daughter.  It’s hard to believe that she just completed her first year of college and is home for the summer!  Even though I don’t have a child graduating this year, we have been invited to our fair share of grad parties, and I thought I would share some of my favorite picks for grad gifts!

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • laundry bag…No matter where the graduate is headed in life, dirty laundry will be a part of it.  Throw in a roll of quarters, detergent, and dryer sheets, or a Target gift card, and this grad will think of you every time he or she heads to the laundry room!

grad gift | polka dots and picket fences

  • echo dot…This little gadget can do just about anything…except that dirty laundry!  And it’s the perfect size for a dorm room.

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • shower caddy…My daughter had one similar to this her first year of college, and she really liked it.  All those pockets and compartments make it perfect for carrying all the essentials to the dorm showers!  Bonus…you can have it personalized with a monogram.  Throw in a fun shower gel and soap, and your graduate will love it!

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • initial notebook…Perfect for keeping track of all those assignments, lists, schedules, and dreams in your life…AND I love the vibrant colors and gold-embossed initials!

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • ‘she believed she could’ bracelet…This slender cuff bracelet would be great for reminding a special grad of the power believing in herself.  It comes in gold, silver, and (my favorite) rose gold.

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • personalized stationery…I know we live in a world of technology, and most communication is done via text or email.  However, every young adult should learn the fine art of letter writing and personalized stationery makes quite a statement!

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • weekender bag…This canvas bag is perfect for those weekend trips home from college or to visit a friend!  It comes in several colors, and it can be personalized with a monogram.  Definitely a useful gift!

grad gifts | polka dots and picket fences

  • s’well water bottle…I must give credit to my daughter for this gift idea.  She gave s’well water bottles to her friends in their soon-to-be college colors last year.  A great idea for the guys, as well as the girls!  They keep hot drinks hot, cold drinks cold, and they are eco-friendly.

In case none of these gifts work for you, I would suggest the gift that all graduates love…CASH!  What college kid can’t use some of that!!

our visit to magnolia

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

We visited the state of Texas last month during our spring break trip.  While we spent the majority of our time in San Antonio, we did travel to Waco for a day.  You can’t go that far and be that close to the Magnolia Market Silos without visiting this fun destination!

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

We had a wonderful experience, and today I’m sharing my tips for visiting the Silos…

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

  •  First, do not expect to see Chip or Joanna Gaines during your visit.  Our youngest daughter, Claire, is a huge fan of Fixer Upper…AND I just knew that in her 10-year-old mind that she thought she would walk right into the bakery and enjoy cupcakes with the Gaines family.  I didn’t want her to get her hopes up, so I set the expectations very low by telling her over and over that we would not see them there.  I’m so glad I did because there was no disappointment.  Even without a Chip or Joanna sighting, it was still a fabulous day!

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

  • Go early or go late.  And avoid the weekends.  Now with that being said, we visited on Good Friday and didn’t arrive until close to noon!  It was crowded, but not terrible…we spent a few hours there and left to do some other things in the town of Waco.  We returned to Magnolia late in the afternoon, and it was almost empty.  We were able to enjoy it a second time, but in a less-crowded condition.

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

  • Visit the food trucks for lunch or an early dinner.  There are several that surround the perimeter of the property…lots of choices for some unique and delicious food!  Enjoy your meal at one of the picnic tables, and be sure to play some yard games and swing a bit.  Your inner child truly comes to life at this fun place!magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

  • Explore the Magnolia Market.  This is not only a retail shop, but a showroom of creativity! There are staged areas that change seasonally…I was so inspired by these that I couldn’t wait to get back to my own home to start creating.  The products are a lot of what you see on their show and the website, but it was so fun to see them in person.  They also offer FedEx shipping, in case your purchases are too big for traveling.
  • magnolia| polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fence

  • Be sure to check out the Magnolia Seed and Supply Shop.  It’s located in the back behind the silos…we almost missed it.  Once again, you will be inspired to work in the garden after visiting this area.  In fact, Claire talked me into purchasing items to create a fairy garden.
  • magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

  • Finally, a visit to Magnolia is not complete without going to the bakery.  The line can be long…45 minutes or more.  If you arrive and the line isn’t too long, head there first!  Even with the long line, I would say it is a very efficient process.  You are given a small menu and pencil to fill out while you wait in line.  And those cupcake names are so clever…Shiplap, Nuts and Bolts, and Silobration!  Once you are inside the bakery, the line moves very quickly and your order is ready in no time at all!  Then, find a table in the seating area just outside the bakery and enjoy your sweet treats!

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

my texas food journal | polka dots and picket fences

magnolia | polka dots and picket fences

We had such a great visit at the Magnolia Market Silos!  I’m so glad we were able to spend the day exploring it and making memories!

 

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{when you go there twice in one week and order the same item, you know you have a new favorite}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{sweet gestures on Mother’s Day}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{THE surprise of all surprises}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{some proud mom moments this week…academic awards assembly and a recorder concert}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{an impromptu lunch/ coffee date with friends at Bleak House, which led to the discovery of this delicious roasted veggie panini}

Happy weekend, everyone!

crafternoon…spring edition

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

I hosted my first ever CRAFTERNOON a few months ago (click here to see the details of the fun afternoon of crafting, food , and friendship).  It was such a success that I decided to host another one…this time with a spring theme.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

As part of the day, the guests created this vintage-inspired floral arrangements.  Don’t you just love those white-washed wood containers!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

The supplies were set up and waiting as everyone arrived…the wood containers, floral foam, Spanish moss, silk flowers, and greenery.  Not to mention a sweet treat of white chocolate malted eggs for each person!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

After a few minutes of introductions and mingling, the crafting began.  The floral foam was placed inside the containers and then hidden with the moss…that required some strategic placement.  Then the fun part…the flowers!  While I offered my sample as a guide, everyone had their own unique way of designing their floral arrangement.  And if they ever want to switch out the flowers or use the wood container for a different purpose, they can simply take out the flowers and greenery.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Once the crafting was finished, it was time for a light lunch of roasted chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, fresh fruit, prosciutto wrapped cheese, and a croissant.  In keeping with the floral theme, the napkins were the perfect accent to my antique glass luncheon sets.

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Since this spring edition of the CRAFTERNOON was about floral arrangements, I thought these flowerpot dessert cakes were the perfect ending!  Not only were they cute, that chocolate buttercream frosting was delish!

crafternoon | polka dots and picket fences

Once again, it was a fun afternoon of crafting, food, and friendship…a CRAFTERNOON!

P.S.  I’m planning another CRAFTERNOON for summer…a mother-daughter afternoon of creating terrariums, followed by a fun lunch.  I’ll be sharing more details soon…

party like a pineapple

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

If you are a regular reader of Polka Dots & Picket Fences, you know how much I enjoy browsing (okay, more like shopping) the Dollar Spot at Target!  Really, who can resist those great finds at even better prices…

Well, that was the case when I spotted all these fun and colorful pineapple items in the dollar bins recently…yep, I couldn’t resist and loaded my cart with a “few” of these summery party supplies!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

The napkins!  The appetizer/ dessert plates!  And that beverage decanter!  It’s all so cute and colorful that I decided to style my bar cart with it all for the summer.

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

Pina coladas, anyone?  And what goes better with that than individual pineapple upside down cakes…I’m sharing the printable recipe for those at the end of the post!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

And what about that lighted pineapple garland…I think that’s my favorite part of the cart!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

The teal and yellow color scheme just screams summer, and I intend to enjoy this bar cart setup ALL summer long!

Be sure to get the recipe for those pineapple upside down cakes.  They are so moist and flavorful…a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!

party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
Print

Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans pineapple slices
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • maraschino cherries (cut in half)
  • 1 package yellow cake mix

Instructions

  1. Drain the pineapples and reserve the juice.

  2. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar, and mix together.

  3. Spray the the insides of a muffin pan, and evenly divide the butter/ sugar mixture and pour into the muffin cups.

  4. Press the pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
  5. Place the cherries in the center of the pineapple, sliced side up.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences
  6. Prepare the cake mix according the package instructions, substituting the water for the reserved pineapple juice.

  7. Pour the cake batter on top of the pineapple slices.  Fill 2/3 of the muffin cup.

  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until baked through.

  9. Cool 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and invert cakes onto a cooling rack.

    party like a pineapple | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

It’s time for May’s tea talk, so grab a cup of tea or coffee and get comfortable!  We are discussing a timely topic this month…

“What is the best Mother’s Day gift you’ve ever given or received?”

  • Name:  Tammy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Pauline, South Carolina
  • Occupation:  homemaker
  • Number of Children:  2 daughters, 1 heavenly daughter

Last year for Mother’s Day, my husband Mark, purchased and planted all of the herb pots on our patio for me while I was away for the day.  He did a wonderful job and the herbs lasted all summer so I was constantly reminded of his gesture.


  • Name:  Jill
  • Age: 47
  • City:  Cincinnati,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  teacher
  • Number of Children:  two

My oldest daughter was big into theater productions in high school.  At Christmas, I was looking for local plays/ musicals and thought I’d get tickets to a show for her as a gift.  I stumbled onto Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s website, and they were advertising the upcoming season’s productions.  “Erma” caught my eye, as I grew up reading Erma Bombeck, and my mom loved her!  So, I was able to get four tickets (mom, myself, and my two girls) for the 2:00 pm show on Mother’s Day.  I haven’t told my mom yet, but I’m hoping she is excited about it when she finds out.  This is a gift that includes all of us, is from the heart, and hopefully everyone will enjoy the show and the time spent together.


  • Name:  Caroline
  • Age:  45
  • City:  San Antonio, Texas
  • Occupation:  mom
  • Number of Children:  one

After trying to conceive for over three years, it was on a cold, rainy, and windy Mother’s Day (May 11, 2003) in Chicago, that I found out that at long last I was pregnant!!!  And after suffering from secondary infertility and never being able to carry a child again, it really did turn out to be the VERY, VERY BEST Mother’s Day gift ever.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  49
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

My favorite gift was a handmade gift from one of my children when they were in second grade.  First, he/ she wrapped three sharpened pencils with floral tape and accented the pencils with colorful artificial flowers.  Then he/ she wrapped a soup can in shelf paper.  Finally, he/ she wrote a portrait poem about me and glued it to the can.  The pencil flowers were placed inside the can with brown tissue paper acting as the dirt to make a beautiful Mother’s Day gift to cherish forever.


  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Toledo,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mom, wife, and corporate executive
  • Number of Children:  two

The best Mother’s Day gift I ever received was the birth of my first child.  My oldest daughter was born on Mother’s Day in 2003.


  • Name:  Lauri
  • Age:  46
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  mother, coach, and retired attorney
  • Number of Children:  two

This is what I made for my mom one year, and she loved it!  I saw it at a craft store and thought…hey I can do that.  It was actually a lot harder than I thought, but it was a lot of fun.  I didn’t really think about the name of the book until afterwards, so I would recommend that there be more thought than an afterthought.


  • Name:  Wendy
  • Age:  47
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  financial advisor
  • Number of Children:  two

There’s a vase in my office my son made in art class and a card in my den my daughter made at school.  I smile every time I look at them.


I loved reading my friends’ responses…it seems that gifts from the heart are truly the most meaningful!  In fact, my favorite Mother’s Day gifts are these poems that my two oldest daughters each wrote in the fourth grade.  My youngest has the same fourth grade teacher as her older sisters, and I’m HOPING to receive a third “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways” poem this year!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

friday’s favorites

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{my new go-to when I’m craving ice cream and looking for something healthier…more details here}

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{and speaking of ice cream, these colorful toppings look like summer fun in a container}

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{never could pass up a pompom…let’s just say this garland is now in my party supply stash}

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{why have I never tried the Spicy Almond Crusted Chicken Wrap at Fowl & Fodder until now}

fridays favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{now if only it would stop raining in Toledo, I could wear my new shoes}

Happy weekend, everyone!

ice cream tacos

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

We’ve finally entered the month of May, and you know what that means…Cinco de Mayo is just a few days away.  I must admit that when I was growing up, I had never heard of the day.  Of course, I grew up in Ohio!  Now I think most people not only know about this celebration of Mexican culture, but they also do a bit of celebrating of their own.

Think tacos, guacamole and chips, quesadillas, margaritas, and queso dip!

Today, I’m sharing a twist on the taco…an ice cream taco.  Perfect to quench your tastebuds after some of that spicy Mexican food!

ice cream taco | polka dots and picket fences

So simple to make!

You will need the following ingredients…

  • frozen waffles (I use the Eggo brand)
  • long party picks
  • ice cream (any flavor you desire)
  • honey
  • sprinkles
  • whipped cream
  • cherries

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

First, toast the waffle.  Then, fold it in half without breaking it into two pieces.  Slide the party pick into the top part of the waffle to hold it in that position.

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

Brush some honey on the edges of the waffle, and dip it in the sprinkles.

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

Now the good part…scoop some ice cream into the “taco shell.”  My girls love cookies and cream, but you can use whatever flavor you want.

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

Finish it off with some whipped cream and a cherry!

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

ice cream tacos | polka dots and picket fences

Now that’s my kind of taco!