friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{who would have thought I’d find true Italian gelato in the middle of Texas}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{absolutely loved our visit to Magnolia…unfortunately, no Chip or Joanna sightings}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{whimsical seed packets spotted in an antique shop in Gruene, Texas}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{what’s more Texan than a Saturday night at a rodeo}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{sampled a lot of chips and queso this week, but the Gristmill River Restaurant had the best}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{authentic horse rides at Stricker Trail Rides in Boerne, Texas}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{enjoying a Texas-sized margarita along the San Antonio Riverwalk}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{all things Texas spotted in this cute display}

Happy weekend!

We are home from our trip to Texas.  Loved our time there!  I’ll be sharing some blog posts about some of our experiences there in the near future…

tea talk

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

tea talk | polka dots and picket fences

It’s time for April’s tea talk…so grab a cup of coffee or (if you’re like me) some tea and join us as we discuss the question for this month!

“What is your go-to hostess gift when attending a party or dinner hosted by a friend?”

  • Name:  Christy
  • Age:  49
  • City:  Nashville,  Tennessee
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children: two

I like Archipelago boxed candles in Pomegranate Citrus, Mango Tangerine, or Verbena Basil.

I also love anything from Williams Sonoma.  Their kitchen towels, logo towels, and little holiday towels are fun.  I love their Essential Oils Kitchen Essentials with dish soap. hand soap or lotion, and countertop spray.  The olive oil and balsamic vinegar sets are wonderful!


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

If I find something monogrammed that’s appropriate for a hostess gift, I buy it and set it aside until I can use it.  Some examples are soap, cheese boards, notecards, and coasters.  Otherwise, I’ll pick up something seasonal from Williams Sonoma…a pumpkin bread mix, hot chocolate, etc.


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

My go-to a lot of times is a Yankee candle in a “generic” scent, like Vanilla Cupcake, or a seasonal scent for that time of year.


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

I try to personalize my hostess gifts as much as possible…whether it be “themed” along with the party I’m attending or something I definitely know the hostess appreciates and enjoys.  My favorite idea when attending a dinner party is to provide a breakfast bread, coffee, and a couple of mini-bottles of Baileys or OJ/champagne for the hosts’ morning after breakfast.


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

I like utility or consumable items.  My current favorites are:

  1. Corkcicle, which is frozen and used to cork and chill wine
  2. Mrs. Meyers linen spray, dish soap, counter spray, etc.  My two favorites are lavender and geranium
  3. Philosophy Amazing Grace body wash
  4. Godiva chocolates

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

A great bottle of wine that the host will love.  As a level 1 Sommelier, I sometimes bring something I think the host may not have tried before, but really like.


  • Name:  Kathy
  • Age:  61
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  development officer
  • Number of Children:  one

I have several go-to hostess gifts when attending a party or dinner hosted by a friend.  A nice bottle of their favorite wine or pretty cocktail napkins (depending on the host).  But if it’s a special friend, I usually take a jar of American Spoon preserves, jelly or spoon fruit.  That way it’s a gift the entire family can enjoy.


  • Name:  Julie
  • Age:  48
  • City: Sylvania,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  stay at home mom
  • Number of Children:  three

Wine is probably my easiest pick up.  I also enjoy perusing Hallmark or TK Lane (a local boutique) for a fun gift, often seasonal.


  • Name:  Meredith
  • Age:  40
  • City:  Ottawa Hills,  Ohio
  • Occupation:  former licensed nursing home administrator…now a household engineer
  • Number of Children:  four

I would have to say Paula Brown sells a pistachio dish for about $20 and then I get a bag of pistachios.  It’s kind of my go-to gift for men or women or for a couple.  It is also great for cherries.  There is a separate bottom dish for the shells or pits.


As always, my friends shared some great ideas!  I will definitely remember these suggestions the next time I need a hostess gift!!!

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{so be honest…who rushed out to shop the Victoria Beckham line of clothing at Target last Sunday}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{the bluebonnets have peaked, but the endless red poppy fields at Wildseed Farms totally made up for that}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{I DONUT regret going to VooDoo Doughnuts…as yummy as they are creative}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{come on…we’re in Texas, you have to visit the hole-in-the-wall chili place}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{creative expression in Austin, Texas at Grafitti Park}

Happy weekend and enjoy the Easter weekend, everyone!

And if you want to keep up with our Texas adventures, you can follow Polka Dots and Picket Fences on Instagram (be sure to check out my Insta stories for all the fun escapades)!

glow in the dark egg hunt

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

I love Easter egg hunts!

I remember hosting my first one many years ago…my oldest (who is now 19) was two years old at the time.  We invited her playgroup over for snacks and to hunt for eggs.  I thought I was being super organized and got up early to hide the eggs in our backyard.  That didn’t go well because, along with our dog, the other critters (squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, etc.) in our yard began hunting them long before our little friends arrived!

Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about hosting an egg hunt since then!  With my youngest daughter getting a bit older, I decided to make it a bit more intriguing this year with a GLOW IN THE DARK EGG HUNT!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

We started the evening with a craft project…decorating baskets to use for collecting those eggs.  These plastic baskets were perfect for tying strips of brightly-colored fabric in each of the cutout circles.  Each basket turned out very colorful and unique!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

Now about those eggs…

I purchased glow stick bracelets and large-sized plastic eggs…you need a bit of extra room to fit the glow bracelet inside the egg.  Simply bend the bracelet to activate the glow and place it inside the egg.  Wait until the very last minute to do this, so that they are still glowing while your guests are hunting.  And then hide those eggs!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

Now all we need is for it to be dark!

To keep everyone entertained until the sun set, we made glow in the dark slime (recipe for that is here).  I’m not sure if it really glowed, but they had a lot of fun making it!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

And a party wouldn’t be complete without some sweet treats…neon green cupcakes, hot pink marshmallow bunny peep and donut hole kabobs, pretzel popcorn chocolate mix with neon sprinkles, and pop rocks!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

I was so excited to find glow in the dark plates, bowls, and cups!  We had fun turning off all the lights and turning on a black light to illuminate them before eating the fun snacks.

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

When it was finally dark outside, the girls ran around the yard hunting for the glow in the dark eggs.  Of course, the girls themselves were also glowing with light up rings, glow necklaces, and glow bracelets!

I think they had so much fun that we decided every party should have a glow in the dark theme!

 

four-layer vanilla bunny cake

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

Easter is just around the corner, and it’s time to begin planning those brunches and dinners for everyone to enjoy after church!  And a day like this calls for a special dessert…

How about a four-layer vanilla bunny cake!

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

I’m sharing the recipe for the cake and buttercream frosting at the end of the post, but it is essentially a boxed cake mix with some extra ingredients added to enhance the flavor.  The fun part of this cake is decorating it after the layers are assembled and frosted.

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

I kept it simple by using just three items…edible green grass, gummy carrot candies, AND THE BEST PART…the chocolate bunny!

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

fou-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

Really, it’s all those small details that make it so appealing to the eye.  Now that sweet, creamy taste of the cake…that’s appealing to the mouth!  And the chocolate bunny…he’s really too cute to eat.  Maybe just nibble a bit on his ear…

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

four-layer vanilla bunny cake | polka dots and picket fences

Print

Four-Layer Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 white cake mixes
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 sticks butter (room temperature)
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Cake Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix the cake mixes together with the milk, vegetable oil, and eggs using a beater.  Add the vanilla.

  2. Pour the batter equally into four 9" round cake pans that have been greased and floured.  

  3. Bake as directed on the box. 

  4. Cool completely.  Place cakes in the refrigerator to cool.

Frosting Instructions

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy.

  2. Add the vanilla and mix.

  3. Add one cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk, alternating until you have added 4-5 cups of powdered sugar.  Add a little more powdered sugar or milk until you have the desired consistency.

  4. To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer on the cake stand that you will be using to serve the cake.  Top it with a light layer of frosting.  Repeat with all four layers.

  5. Cover the cake with a light layer of frosting.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to seal in the first layer of frosting.  Don't worry if there are crumbs showing, as you will cover those with the second layer of frosting.

  6. Remove the cake from refrigerator.  Frost the cake with the rest of the frosting and decorate it as you wish.

 

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{roasted cauliflower with goat cheese from social gastropub}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{what to do when they don’t have your favorite flavor?  try a new one…the pineapple express bubble tea did not disappoint}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{eggs + colored dye = a creative evening with my daughters}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{mother daughter pedicures}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{pretty floral napkins}

Happy weekend!

Hope the springtime weather allows you to enjoy some outside time this weekend!!!

baker’s twine eggs

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

Easter is just a little more than a week away, and it’s time to start decorating those eggs!  Of course, my girls love to dye and paint them…but I’m not crazy about the mess those supplies can sometimes make.

This idea for decorating eggs is mess-free, except for maybe some sticky fingers from the glue.

You will need baker’s twine, scissors, and tacky glue…AND of course, the eggs.

bakers twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

To start, put some glue on one end of the egg and begin wrapping the baker’s twine around the egg in a circular fashion.

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

Continue wrapping the twine around the egg until it is covered…this is where those fingers may become sticky.

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

You can make several of these using various colors to create a fun display for those Easter festivities!

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

baker's twine eggs | polka dots and picket fences

So grab some twine and start wrapping those eggs…

friday’s favorites

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite things this week…

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{spring in bloom}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{yes, this tea tastes as delightful as it smells}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{a must see}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{how adorable is this tackle box of spring baking accents}

favorites | polka dots and picket fences

{spending lots of one-on-one time with this cutie…a staycation during her spring break since her older sister had school…don’t feel too bad for her, as we will be spring breakin’ during her sister’s vacation in a few short weeks}

Happy weekend, everyone!

yogurt banana splits

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

Earlier this week, I shared a fun way to serve yogurt…yogurt sundaes.  Strawberries, almond slices, sprinkles, mini chocolate ships…a fun presentation, and if you close your eyes you might even think you’re eating ice cream instead of yogurt!

Today, I’m sharing another fun and whimsical way to serve yogurt…

Yogurt Banana Splits

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

To make these, you will need…bananas, lowfat vanilla yogurt, granola, blackberries, raspberries, and mini chocolate chips.

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

First, slice a banana in half lengthwise.

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

Spoon some yogurt over the banana halves.  Add some granola over the yogurt.

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

Scatter the berries on top of the yogurt, and finish topping it all with some mini chocolate chips.

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

And there it is…a yogurt banana split!  Perfect for dessert or an afternoon snack or a breakfast treat…

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

yogurt banana splits | polka dots and picket fences

Really, there isn’t a bad time of day to eat one of these!  Enjoy!!!

washi wednesday

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

It’s washi wednesday, and you know what that means…I’m sharing another way to use washi tape!  I love this product soooo much…I can’t resist buying all the fun designs and patterns!

This idea actually came about because I was being lazy…

So here’s the scenario…I was baking a double batch of my homemade granola bars (click here for that recipe…yum!).  When it came time to slice and package them like I typically do with waxed paper and baker’s twine, I just didn’t want to walk downstairs to get more twine.  I told you I was being lazy, right?  I had some washi tape on the desk in my kitchen, and I figured ‘why not!’

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

That’s right…I grabbed some of that washi tape, and I used it to secure the waxed paper around each individual granola bar.

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

Much easier than tying that twine, and so pretty and colorful!

washi wednesday | polka dots and picket fences

So good ideas come to those who are lazy…not the sort of advice I will pass along to my daughters, but in this instance it worked.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!