Tag Archives: planning

A Guide to Last Minute Traveling

UnknownIf you’re anything like us, you probably like to begin planning for trips and vacations at least a few weeks ahead of time. But sometimes things pop up and you need to make travel arrangements quickly and cheaply. There is no need to panic if you are unable to peruse your favorite travel sites for the best deal. Your smart phone has the potential to help you plan your entire trip in less than fifteen minutes. There are many different travel apps that you can download to make things easier. Here are a couple of our favorite free ones:

mzl.xbhlyiabHotel Tonight: Finding a hotel last minute can be a hassle. You know what you want, and the price you need, but eliminating those that are completely booked can make this task seem impossible. Fortunately, Hotel Tonight helps you find a hotel where you want at a price that works. You can book for up to one week ahead and reserve your room for one week at the most—giving you a little extra time to look for additional options if you will be staying in one location for a while. The app tells you when there are only a few rooms left at a hotel, and won’t show you any that have no vacancies. They also have a nice little classification system. Hotels are ranked as “crash pads, basic, solid, charming, hip, luxe, or high rollers.”

6284824fa2dc70a3c213aa175a4ae0c6Couchsurfing: If you’re a more laid back and adventurous person you might want to try the Couchsurfing app. On Couchsurfing, you can look for people who have opened up their homes to travelers or you can open up your own couch for visitors. Couchsurfing is free; it is about meeting people and exploring the world, not making money. So it’s great if you need to travel but are strapped for cash!

There are many more travel apps out there. The best way to find one to fit your needs is to experiment with a few of them. You may also want to try Travelzoo, LMT Deals, and Tripit. Some of them can help you secure airfare, transportation, AND accommodations. Others have fun day planning and excursion features.

Unexpected detours or obstacles can make traveling a hassle, even if you are an excellent planner. So relax, pull out your smart phone, and let these apps take care of everything for you!

Written by Krista Knauer

Set the Scene for Spring!

Written Liz Bushong


Setting the scene for spring, whether you are decorating tables for the prom or hosting a casual get-together, this bold and bright sassyscape is about making a statement: making it sassy and making it yours!

Presenting a lovely table bursting with color, using every day dinnerware and cheery flowers will create a beautiful table and a lasting impression for dinner guests.

The spring 2014 color forecast has several new colors ready to burst out in brilliance. According to the Pantone Fashion Color Report, one of those colors is Freesia.  It is a bright, citrus yellow that can be paired with black and white for a stunning and eye-catching color combination.  You will see this combination in clothing and in home décor.


Nothing makes more of a statement than the color scheme of black and white. There are three different ways to use black, white, and citrus yellow for setting a festive and fun table. First, the large black and white table with the white branches and hanging orbs would be a lovely dessert table or dinner table for six. However, if you are using this color scheme for a table of six, I would recommend that you create a smaller centerpiece and limit the mix of patterned plates. You want to see your guests while seated at the table so the grand centerpiece would be best served on a buffet or large side table. You could still use the centerpiece ideas at a smaller scale, or if you do want the large centerpiece, make sure it is higher than the seated guests or above their heads. The goal is to be able to see the person seated across from you or adjacent to you. After all, you are looking great and you want to be seen as well as heard while enjoying your dining experience.

This grand and stunning black, white, and citrus centerpiece draws your eyes and attention to the table.  A large brandy shaped glass bowl is filled with black licorice to hold the white tree branches in position. Glass round orbs fitted with yellow Gerber daisies seem to float in the air as they hang effortlessly on the white branches. The refreshing accent color, citrus yellow called Freesia, adds energy and a burst of brilliance to this overall black and white color scheme. lizmar4

To keep the black and white balanced, a checked hounds-tooth patterned placemat and solid fringed black napkins with the classic white dinner plate set the tone for two of the place settings. To mix it up a bit, two of the six place settings are the same while the four in the center are uniquely different, all in the same color scheme but different patterns. As long as you keep the color scheme in the same tones and family, you can add layers of pattern.  Your eyes will tell you when there is too much “mixing and matching” of color, pattern, and texture. Standing at attention and waiting to get noticed beside the large airy arrangement stands two large hurricane pedestal glass bell jars that are filled with fresh lemons then topped with blooming yellow and white roses as the complimentary floral arrangements.  The center of the table is dressed with a black and white striped table runner that is draping horizontally over a yellow polka dot paper runner.

Clever containers with fresh bright flowers will always “sass-up” a centerpiece. Adding to the mix are black and white zebra and damask-patterned salad plates.

Serving up a little bit of sunshine at each place setting are Lemon Blossom cookies that are neatly tucked into each standing bishop napkin fold.  These cookies are shaped like tiny flowers that are power-punched with a citrus lemon flavor and destined to become a spring favorite.

There are two additional looks to create different sassyscapes using the black, white, and citrus color scheme. Make a table sassy and fun by selecting a bold yellow and white polka dot table cloth as the backdrop for additional white and black dinnerware.  A square glass container is home for fresh green onions and bright yellow Gerber daisies for a whimsical and intriguing floral centerpiece.  Using fluffy white napkins loosely gathered or flared in a drinking glass adds to the frilly fun.  For more of a contemporary look, use black and white dinnerware with no pattern, just bold and strong solid pieces.  A clever napkin ring using two large wooden buttons and coordinating elastic cording holds the napkin neatly in place.  Another way to show your eye for detail is to serve food that coordinates with the overall color scheme. For example, serving a three-layer Lemon Crème cake or the Lemon Blossom cookies present well because they are the accent color of your table décor. Choosing a monochromatic or complementary food color scheme will always be your best option for serving it up sassy.

Now to make it yours, show your true colors!  If you don’t like yellow, select your favorite color and use the same techniques to create your own beautiful table presentation and memorable occasion.



Lemon Crème Cakes-
Makes ~15 three layer mini cakes

1 package lemon cake mix
1 package lemon instant pudding and pie mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract


1-3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons lemon curd + 1 cup
2 tablespoons butter, tested Land a Lakes
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Whipped topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
Mint leaves and fresh raspberries


1        Line 15 ½ x 10 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill cupcake pan with liners for extra cake batter. Spray parchment paper on both sides. Set aside.

2        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat together all cake ingredients for two minutes. Pour batter into baking sheet leveling batter by shaking pan side to side.  With remaining batter fill cupcake liners. Bake cake and cupcakes for 20 minutes or until cake center is done.  Allow cakes to cool.  Freeze cakes for 20 minutes or longer.

3        Meanwhile, prepare filling.  Beat softened cream cheese, butter and 3 tbsp. lemon curd together until smooth.  Fill pastry bag fitted with tip 1 M or shell tip with mixture.  Set aside.

4        Using a clean and very cold mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream on high with wire attachment.

5        Beat until soft peaks form; add ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar. Beat on high to form stiff peaks.

6        Place whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with star tip or 1 M, refrigerate until assembly.

 Assembly and Presentation:

Remove cakes from freezer and baking sheet.  Spread top of cakes with thin layer of lemon curd.

Using a square cookie cutter or sharp knife cut out cakes.  Place one cake on serving platter curd side up, add another cake layer on top of first cake, curd side down or sandwiched together.  Pipe cheese filling on top of sandwiched cakes.  Add third and final cake layer, curd side up.  Last, pipe whipped cream dollop on top of cake.  Garnish with mint leaf and fresh berry.  Make it yours by serving it with other berries between cake layers on your favorite serving dish or platter.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Lemon Blossom Cookies

¾ cup butter, softened- tested Land a Lakes
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1-3oz box lemon gelatin dessert-dry
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vanilla butter cream frosting


1. Cream butter, sugar, extract, gelatin powder and egg in large mixing bowl of electric mixer on medium speed.  On low speed, gradually add flour. Beat until mixture leaves the sides of the bowl. Shape dough into 1 ¼ inch balls. Cover and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

2. Heat oven to 375 F. Place balls on parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. With sharp knife, make 5-6 cuts in top of each ball about three-fourths of the way through to make 6 petals.  Shape wedges with fingers and place each wedge together to form a flower. Make sure center of flower is closed.  Refrigerate 20 minutes to set shape.

3. Bake 9-11 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown. Do not overbake.
Cool 3-5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Fill pastry bag or zip lock baggie with frosting, clip 1/8 inch corner and pipe centers.

Cookies can be frozen before frosting.
Makes:  24 cookies

Serve it up Sassy! TM   Liz Bushong developed recipe.  www.lizbushong.com


Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!

Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. She makes elegance easy for her audience and encourages them to add their own Sassy touch to make it unique .Liz is famous for creating her own version of a beautifully presented tablescape – which she calls a Sassyscape ™ .

In 2009,10,&13, Liz was selected from thousands nationwide to be part of an elite team of 100 professionals entrusted with decorating the White House for the holiday. In 2011, she was part of seven-person team selected to decorate the Tennessee governor’s mansion for the holiday.

Liz has been featured as the monthly guest chef on Daytime Tri-cities, television show on WJHL, the CBS affiliate for the Tri-cities area of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, WSLS-Daytime Blueridge in Roanoke, Virginia. She is also the creator and host of her own one-hour seasonal television show called “Serve it up Sassy!” for the same market, which aired in 2011.

She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Consumer and Family Sciences from Purdue University and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She is also certified in Decorative Finishes and has been trained as a master gardener. Liz is the author of Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook. Liz makes her home in Johnson City, Tennessee. She continues to perfect her sassy approach to turning simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments.  

To purchase cookbooks, see recipes, cooking, and decorating ideas go to www.lizbushong.com