May 9th, 2013 |

CHAMPAGNE FLOATS

Sorbet and Champagne FloatsOne of my favorite Spring and Summer “dessert” is a gorgeous champagne float.  A delicious, grown-up version of the classic root beer float, you can create these with any flavor sorbet (which is very helpful in color coordinating your dessert to your party theme or color palette!).

I simply place a scoop or two of flavored sorbet (this was raspberry!) in a wine glass and then top with about half a cup of champagne.  Just enough to fizz up the sorbet!  Serve it with a long spoon and a pretty striped straw.  This is a fabulous dessert for Mother’s Day!

Resources: pink tunic (sailtosable.com), lucite tray (whhostess.com), pink striped straws (shopsweetlulu.com)

May 8th, 2013 |

BOXWOOD & ROSE CENTERPIECE

boxwood and rose centerpieceMy pink Mother’s Day tablesetting from the Spring 2103 issue of The Party Dress Magazine included this darling boxwood and rose centerpiece project that was so simple to create, I just had to share it with you.

You can create this using silk or real flowers.  The supplies are simple: a footed vessel, a boxwood ball (sized to fit), roses (real or silk), and long sewing pins.

Once your ball is placed in your footed vessel, prep your flowers.  Trim the stems so there is only about 1/2 inch past the bottom of the bud.  Insert a long pin thru the center of the flower bud and then attach to the boxwood ball.  You can scatter your roses about in either a symmetrical pattern or, in this case, a more abstract design.  Voila!  It’s a simple, DIY project that will have Mom smiling this Mother’s Day!

DIY boxwood and rose centerpiece project for mother's dayResources: footed bowl (juliska.com), pink tunic (sailtosable.com)

May 6th, 2013 |

MOTHER’S DAY PINK TABLESETTING

pink and green tablesetting for mother's dayMother’s Day coming up this weekend. What type of celebration are you planning?  In the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine, I gave my simple ideas for hosting a gorgeous pink & green luncheon – complete with ideas for the tablesetting, DIY centerpiece, and even a delicious dessert!  Join me all this week as I share these simple ideas on how to host a lovely Mother’s Day lunch.

centerpiece over tableFirst up, set the table in style!

Sometimes a plain old tablecloth just won’t do. Think outside the box and use a textured piece of fabric as your tablecloth. I used a cut, pink-organza fabric here.

placesetting with cookie placecard

Silk flowers can be attached to ribbon or a ring to be used as a napkin ring. It’s a great way to update a basic white napkin. As you know, paper is my business. So I am always in favor of a classic placecard. But once in a while, it’s fun to switch things up. I had Firefly Confections create these custom cookie placecards (that could also serve as a party favor for guests).

cookie placecardsMy tablesetting featured a gorgeous, and simple DIY centerpiece, too.  But you’ll have to come back tomorrow for those instructions!

strawsorder a copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine

April 30th, 2013 |

MAY DAY BASKET

may day basket

Start a new tradition this year by giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps on May 1st.  I found this charming basket (with the perfect handle for a door knob) at Hobby Lobby.  It holds a small amount of flowers, so if you purchase 3 different bunches, you can make a few baskets to delight your friends & neighbors.

may day flowers in a basketorder a copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine

April 11th, 2013 |

FRESH FRUIT TART

fresh fruit tart recipe for spring entertainingI hope you have enjoyed all of the spring entertaining ideas I have been sharing with you this week.  Today I am sharing the recipe for my spring fresh fruit tart.  Whether you make one large tart, or individual mini tarts for your guests, this tart is simple to make and the presentation is beautiful every time!

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar | 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour | 1 stick unsalted butter, softened

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

1 tsp vanilla extract | 8 oz cream cheese, softened | 1/3 cup granulated sugar

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

your choice of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi slices, or blueberries

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed | 1 T cornstarch  |  1 T fresh lemon juice | 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine the crust ingredients and process until the mixture forms a ball. For individual tarts, divide the dough into equal parts and with your fingers, press the dough into mini tart pans (works best with a removable bottom). Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until very lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust, and arrange the sliced fruit atop the tart in your desired pattern.

Combine the thawed lemonade, cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool and wiith a pastry brush, apply the glaze over the entire tart.

Refrigerate the tart until about 15 minutes before serving.

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April 10th, 2013 |

ZUCCHINI BITES for SPRING PARTIES

zucchini tomato and goat cheese appetizer recipeThis week, I have been sharing the components of my luncheon celebrating the start of Spring and being able to entertain in my favorite room of my house – the sun room! (did you see the peek into this room that I shared last week?)  Focused on a crisp color palette of navy blue, emerald green and hot pink, we have discussed tablesetting ideas and ways to infuse the modern monogram into them, shared recipes for a tart limoncello sparkling cocktail, and the recipe for my fresh fruit tarts.  Today, I sharing one of my go-to appetizers.  Fresh ingredients, quick to assemble and tasty every time, my zucchini bites will become your favorite spring appetizer.

DIRECTIONS:

Stack together layers of zucchini, goat cheese and oven-roasted tomatoes for a simple, yet deliciously-fresh appetizer. Top with a sprig of basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for added taste.

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April 10th, 2013 |

SPARKLING LIMONCELLO COCKTAIL

sparkling limoncello cocktail recipeEvery great party has a signature drink.  A fan of all things lemon, when it comes to Spring parties, I tend to whip up a pitcher of my favorite sparkling limoncello cocktail.  Three simple ingredients – prosecco, limoncello and simple syrup – stirred together and garnished with some fresh fruit.  Delicious and gorgeous!

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April 9th, 2013 |

INTERVIEW | MADISON DALLAS

madison dallas home and gift store

Last Spring, I had the pleasure of visiting the charming home decor and gift store, Madison in the Highland Park Village of Dallas, Texas. Owned by sisters and interior designers, Kelli Ford and Kirsten Fitzgibbons, the colorful store showcases unique gifts in every corner. Their broad selection of linens that can be embroidered and monogrammed are what really stood out to me. I very quickly fell in love with the modern spin they were able to put on classic items, such as linen napkins, bedding and accessories using new technology for embroidery. Raised, oversized initals and monograms, multi- colored threads and patterns….so many amazing options that I have not seen elsewhere.

raised embroidery linen napkins from madison dallas

I was so fortunate to use these gorgeous napkins (personalized with my initials) for my ladies Spring luncheon.  While discussing the modern monogram with Madison co-owner, Kelli Ford, she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about using monograms for entertaining:

In what ways have you seen the classic monogram updated in recent years?

I have seen the classic monogram updated in recent years with the style becoming more contemporary, with the use of new tools we are able to do more with size, color, thickness and even patterns.

madison dallas store

Are there new “trends” we should be aware of?

New trends I have noticed are people becoming more liberal with monogramming. Instead of just shirts and linens it has become part of establishing identity with putting your mark on literally everything. Book bags, lunch boxes, makeup cases, socks, dog beds, ipad cases, carseats, you name it! Sense of ownership is very important to the modern day client.

How can the modern hostess incorporate monograms into entertaining and their home?

The modern hostess can incorporate monograms into entertaining and their home by having fun! Guests feel very special when you pull out your “best”with napkins, hand towels, robes, etc. They also can add an expected element of surprise with hostess gifts, shower gifts, or even children’s goodie bags.

books at madison dallas

How has technology changed over the years for embroidery?

Technology has definitely changed, as it use to be done all by hand. You can achieve a really beautiful detailed result with multihead machines with a skilled operator and designer at an amazing speed. One amazing new part of technology is you can basically scan in any image to be then converted with thread. It is pretty remarkable!

cocktail books at madison dallas

If you are in the Dallas area, I encourage you to stop by Madison to shop their gorgeous store and the broad selection of items you can have customized with embroidery.  You can visit their website at www.madisondallas.com.

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April 8th, 2013 |

SPRING LUNCHEON with THE LADIES

monograms for entertaining ideas

Living in Chicago, I’m used to LONG winters. So when the first signs of Spring arrive, I’m dying to celebrate! When we moved into our home {almost} 4 years ago, we had some serious updating to do on the sunroom attached to the back of our house. I had a vision for the space – clean, white, a place to show off my love for blue & white china pieces, and a great place to entertainin during the warmer months of the year. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears {and a little help from a contractor}, but once it was done, it quickly became my favorite room in the house. And also my favorite place to host a party!  I’ll share some pics of the space later this week.

blue white pink and green spring tablesetting for luncheon

With Spring just on the horizon, I decided to throw a little “Ladies Who Lunch” party with my best girlfriends. A reason to put on a dress, have a glass of bubbly and chat about summer plans.

kelly pouring champagne at spring luncheon

I set the table with a gorgeous, emerald green eyelet tablecloth that I had made with some yardage from my local fabric store. Topped it with my favorite blue & white urn and some hot pink roses, and then layered THE most perfect monogrammed linen napkins from Madison in Dallas. I mixed my crystal stemware with my cobalt blue water glasses for a more modern look. I created crisp, white placecards with a navy fretwork border to personalize their placesetting.

tablesetting with monogram napkins

I served up one of my new go-to appetizers: a stack of zucchini, tomato and goat cheese. It’s delicious and tasty and very healthy.

blue and white chinaI also updated my usual glass of bubbles with a limoncello prosecco cocktail. I created the most fabulous indiviudal fruit tarts that were as delicious as they were pretty. The recipes for these items will follow on the blog over the next few days, as well as an interview with the owner of Madison, the shop responsible for creating the gorgeous monogrammed linens I used for this party.  So stay tuned!

sparkling limoncello cocktail

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April 4th, 2013 |

SWEET & SALTY PEACH APPETIZER

peach sweet and salty appetizer recipe

For a sweet & salty appetizer this Spring, try pairing three of my favorite foods – peach, parmesan cheese and prosciutto. It’s the perfect little snack to bring to a friend’s house, or put out before a casual dinner.

Simply layer a basil leaf, and a couple shavings of parmesan cheese atop a slice of peach. Wrap a long, narrow piece of prosciutto around it several times to secure the ingredients.

It’s simple and full of flavor!

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