Category Archives: 12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas: Molly’s Blue Cheese Chips Recipe

Need a dish for the men this holiday? You have come to the right place. Molly has found these delicious Blue Cheese Chips from the Junior League of Raleigh Cookbook. They are a hit! If you are pressed for time, the walnuts, fresh thyme and rosemary are optional. Molly even recommends throwing some bacon onto the dish too, it adds a nice flavor to the chips.

Junior League of Raleigh Cookbook


4 Ounces blue cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons tub-style cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 (5-ounce) package crinkle-cut potato chips (tested with kettle-cooked)

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons bottled balsamic glaze



Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the blue cheese, cream cheese and cream in a bowl and mix until smooth. Spread the potato chips on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet, making two layers if necessary. Dollop the cheese mixture over the chips and sprinkle with the walnuts. Bake for 5 minutes. Slide the chips onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with thyme and rosemary and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Note: Do not substitute balsamic vinegar for the balsamic glaze. You can make your own glaze by mixing 3 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Cook on the stove top or in the microwave until reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Serves 8 to 10.

Enjoy ! Monday we will have Laurie’s Cranberry Chipotle Chutney over Brie. Yummy.


(image: Amazon)

12 Days of Christmas: Rob’s Rum Cake Recipe

Entertaining over the holidays? Look to the staff at Design Lines for some of our family’s favorite holiday recipes. Today, Rob is sharing this delicious rum cake.

rum cake



The rich yet airy cake is complemented by a rich combination of butter, sugar, and rum drizzled over the top.  The cake soaks it up like a sponge and it’s delicious.  Make it the night before and let it sit overnight for best results.  It’s a very easy recipe, but tastes like a million bucks!



1 cup chopped walnuts

1 (18.25 ounce) package butter recipe cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup dark rum

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup dark rum


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. While letting cake sit, make glaze and pour about 1/2 of glaze into cake pan around cooling cake and let absorb 10 more min, then turn cake out onto serving plate. Brush or pour remaining glaze over top and sides of cake. Allow cake to absorb glaze and repeat until all glaze is used.

To make the glaze: in a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.

Come back tomorrow for Molly’s Blue Cheese Chips! Need even more ideas? Check out last year’s 12 days of Christmas!


12 Days of Christmas {Day 12}: Giving Thanks

martha stewart living 2During this time of holiday celebration Design Lines, Ltd. wants to take this opportunity to give thanks not only to our clients, but to our friends, vendors, and partners who have supported us throughout 2009. We are eternally grateful for these relationships and only hope they continue to grow in the coming year.  May you have a joyful and relaxing holiday!


To check out more from our 12 Days of Christmas click here and please let us know if you had enjoyed the series and if there are any topics you particuarly want us to cover in 2010.

12 Days of Christmas {Day 11}: Holiday Parties


December for most of us is a whir of merry-making including parties,open houses, and soirees. Many of us act as both host & guest, i’ve rounded up a few creative ideas you could use for this year or next:

As a host:

Consider invitations you designed yourself like this clever postcard I recieved from my friends who have hosted a turtleneck and eggnog party(affectionately named the Neck ‘n  Nog) every year for the past five:


or try a no hassle email invitation from Paperless Post

Get decorations you can use all year round, rather than just the holidays- take some ideas on decorating from previous posts in our series to focus on the mantle or the tree. We decorated the office with balls of mistletoe strung from ribbon at each cased opening. Use the holidays as an excuse to spruce up the house and host a party. Consider new pillows or a pretty lamp for the foyer table.

As a guest:

Check out this fabulous article “Holiday Guest Behavior Guide” over at Real Simple. I love the idea of shopping locally for hostess gifts.  What about a gift certificate to the English Garden for a holiday floral arrangement?

What are your holiday hosting plans?

12 Days of Christmas {Day 10}: Christmas List

With 9 days left till Christmas Eve we have created a list to help you get ready for the big day!

DLL. Christmas List


1. Wrap those last minute gifts and stocking stuffers.  

2. Decorate the sugar cookies and don’t forget to leave a glass of milk right near the chimney too! Boy does Santa gets hungry with all the traveling!

3. The table is set for the Christmas lunch or dinner.

4. Firewood is ready.

5. Stockings are hung.

6. Have plenty of batteries for the camera, video recorder, and of course the toys!

7. Reindeer food is sprinkled outside the house.

8. A note pad and pen are near the recliner for the “thank you note card” list.

9. Morning tunes are chosen and cued in the CD player.

10. Sit back, relax and relish in the time with family.

It is a wonderful time of the year!


(Image found on Google.)

12 Days of Christmas {Day 8}: The Perfect Tree

The holiday seems to be complete when you go to that perfect tree lot, pick out the perfect tree, and decorate the tree to make it “Perfect.”  Every year it seems that people decorate their trees more elaborate and more interesting.  I love the idea of themes for your tree or just the collection of ornaments from the years past.  No matter how you decorate a Christmas tree brings cheer each year for you, your family, and your friends.

THE COOKIE TREE:  Cookies spelling out your children’s name, along with animal cookies, are a sweet treat to add to the Christmas tree. (From Better Homes and Gardens)ss_100628342

 THE AMERICAN  TREE:  Let your true colors show by decorating your Christmas Tree in patriotic red, white, and blue. The all-American look adapts well to December or July! (From Better Homes and Gardens)ss_J100226795

THE FAMILY TREE: Photocopy pictures, glue them to silver paper, and frame them with rickrack and other trims to turn your Christmas tree into a family scrapbook. Fill the boughs with small apples, kumquats, and vintage-style ornaments.ss_101003063

And this is my Christmas Tree.  I did not do the theme idea this year, but decided to use the same wrapping paper for all the presents.  My tree consists of ornaments from my childhood, ornament given to me as a gift from friends and family, and unique ornaments that I picked up over the years.


12 Days of Christmas {Day 7} : Spending Time With Loved Ones

ChristmasWhiteLightsAmong the ribbons, presents, trees and lights I believe Christmas is about spending time with the ones we love. Time for slowing down and enjoying the laughs, wonder and surprises that surround Christmas. Starting new and continuing old family traditions. One of my favorite past times, growing up was piling into my grandpa’s car  during the holidays and heading downtown to the neighborhoods inside the belt-line. Packed in like sardines the five of us would drive around admiring all the Christmas lights that hung at each house. We would be quick to yell out our favorite ones and even the ones that might need a little extra guidance from Santa. We had so much fun! If you are up for a treat and really want to see a yard decked out in all its Christmas glory – from 401 head west on Ten Ten Road. It might be a drive but it is well worth it oh and don’t worry you won’t miss it.  Whatever you decide to do this holiday, make sure spending time with friends and family are on top of the list, even if it is driving around to see houses lit up with Christmas lights.

(Image found from Google.)

12 Days of Christmas {Day 6}: Table Settings for the Season


Each year I try to come up with some interesting center piece for my dining room table or for said party that I have randomly accepted to help host.  So – a few of my past successes have been – white glossy spray painted fruit – like pears and apples – very simple and pretty when lined up in the center through the serving table. I have also wrapped large empty gift boxes with textured papers and sheer ribbons and stacked them in the center. I will be using this idea on the serving table for the cupcakes at my niece’s upcoming wedding. Several boxes stacked – using the flat parts to set cupcakes on should create interest, and height and keep in the seasonal spirit. Another fun twist is to use cranberries in glass vases – fill with a little water ( they will float if you put too much water in ) – then cut white pointsettias and arrange. You will need to burn/seal the cut tips of the pointesettias to avoid the cloudy fluid from seeping out into your vase. This arrangement will keep for at least a week.  Enjoy !

12 Days of Christmas {Day 4}: Giving Neighbors and Friends Unforgettable Food and Drinks…..

Growing up in a neighborhood that enjoyed the holiday season, every year our island would pile high with the sweets and treats from neighbors.  This was the time you could eat those cookies and fudge bars that only came around once a year.  I can remember the decorative tins that the treats would come in and every neighbor had a signature sweet.

My mom’s signature cookie was the Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie.  We always helped and the art to these cookies was waiting until the peanut butter cookie was just the right temperature.  Too hot, and the chocolate would melt, too cold, and the kiss would not stay.  It became obvious that the more we did not do right, the more we could eat.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
  • 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.  

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


So when I finally owned my own house this was the first tradition that I would carry on.  This year though I am going to start the signature part of this tradition.  I am putting down the traditional cookies and fudge, and branching out.  I am creating a brand look and taste that all my friends and neighbors will remember me by.  This will be what they look forward to all year.

Chocolate Chunk Hot Cocoa Mix
Chocolate Chunk Hot Cocoa Mix

Makes: 1 gift (4 cups in all) Total Time: 10 minutes

 What You Need:

  • 2 Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • 8 Ounces Chopped Semisweet Chocolate

What To Do:

  • In a bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, and chocolate.  Store in an airtight container.  Keep at room temperature for up to 4 months.
  • Include these instructions with your gift: “In a small saucepan, whisk ¼ cup cocoa mix with ¾ cup milk.  Bring to a bare simmer.  Serves 1.”


  • French Terrine, $6.00, containerstore.com for stores.


Here is one more that will be an unforgettable drink.


Makes: 2 Gifts (6 sachets in all)

Total Time: 10 Minutes

 What You Need:

  • 12 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 6 pieces Star Anise
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Allspice Berries
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Cloves
  • 6 Bouquet Garni Bags ($8 for 12 bags, surlatable.com)

What To Do:

  • Divide the cinnamon, star anise, allspice, and cloves among the bags.  Keep at room temperature for up to 6 months.
  • Include these instructions with your gift: “Simmer 1 sachet in 2 quarts apple cider for 15 minutes.  Serves 8.”

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Christmas {Day 3}: The Gift

Gift giving is part of the magic of the holiday season. Finding the right thing for that someone special can be so exciting (not to mention a big relief!). There is nothing better than the feeling of excitement as you present your gift clutching it with both hands.

Some of my favorites are:



Help the techies by gifting a ColcaSac with thick sherpa fleece to protect their laptop. http://colcasac.com

nasher museum

Museum Membership

Make all your friend’s rainy days so much better! Give a membership to a local museum.

Consider a Design Lines favorite, the Nasher Museum in Durham

Cashmere Gloves

Cashmere Gloves

Worn short or long, these ridiculously soft Two in One gloves will help her weather the weather in style.

To buy: $49.50, delight.com. Use code REALSIMPLE.

carolina ballet

Tickets to the Carolina Ballet

This season has been particularly spectacular.  Consider a night out in Raleigh.

juliska soup tureen

Jardins Du Monde soup tureen by Juliska

Think of this as a serving piece they’ll have for a lifetime, and who doesn’t love a hot soup during the winter months?

homemade-vodka real simple

Home Made Infused Vodka (From Real Simple.com)

Makes: 2 gifts (1 liter in all)

Total time: 5 minutes (plus 1 week for infusing)

What You Need

  • 1 liter vodka
  • flavorings, such as 1½ cups fresh pineapple chunks, 4 vanilla beans, or 3 halved and seeded jalapeños
  • glass bottles with tight seals

What to Do

  1. Divide the vodka and desired flavorings among the bottles.
  2. Refrigerate until the vodka reaches the desired level of infusion, at least 3 days and up to 1 week. Remove the flavorings after 1 week or instruct the recipient to do so. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

How to Package Your Gift

  1. Divide the vodka among glass bottles with tight seals. Try the Twenty-Ounce Spice Bottles ($10 each), Fishs Eddy, 201-420-8828.
  2. Tie a ribbon around the neck of each and attach a gift tag.

Over the years though, I realize that many times it is not the material gift that means the most but rather the gift of time or of yourself.  Create an experience that you and a friend or loved one can share. Those are the lasting gifts of love.

Let us know your favorite gifts to give and receive.