May 24th, 2011 |

Americana Picnic Tablesetting

I kind of get giddy with excitement when this time of year rolls around.  Memorial Day marks the start of summer, the start of bbq season, lazy days in the park, and simple reasons to have a party.  I also get excited because it means I can pull out one of my ALL TIME favorite table inspirations……this amazing patriotic table from Carolyn Rohme’s Passion for Parties book.  I have loved this table since the first time I saw it years ago – the simple items used look fabulous when repeated down a long table.  Hope you find inspiration in it too!

May 23rd, 2011 |

4 Simple, DIY Ideas for Dressing Up Memorial Day

Can you believe Memorial Day is just one short week away?!  Officially the kick-off to summer, Memorial Day weekend is a fabulous time to gather the troops and fire up the grill!  I’ll be back later in the week with some yummy ideas for what to serve, but today, I thought I would focus on 4 simple ideas on how to “dress up” your Memorial Day party.

Better Homes and Gardens has put together a gallery of ideas for decorations, table settings, centerpieces, etc. and today I pulled out a few that I think would be very simple for you to re-create.  First, dress up those paper lanterns!  5 minutes with a glue gun and some patriotic ribbon or ric rac will work wonders with those old, white paper lanterns you have been holding on to.  Second, create a monochromatic, tiered centerpiece using different sized white pots.  Bold, red mums are an inexpensive option….this could also be darling done with sunflowers for a summer picnic!  Third, edge your food or dessert table with striped crepe paper or ribbon.  Simple, stylish and easy to put up and take down.  (double-sided tape should do the trick!)  And lastly, put that pie up on a pedestal!  Just because you serve a simple dessert doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look extra-special!  Dress up your basic, white cake stands with ribbon or mini bunting.

May 22nd, 2011 |

Get Excited. Get Very Excited!

Some of you may have noticed that we took a little break from blogging last week.  It was a much needed break….let’s be honest, it’s tough to come up with creative ideas every single day!  But, it’s our passion, it’s what we do, and it’s what we are constantly striving to do better.  I would love to tell you that I was sitting on my couch eating bon bons (which is what my husband thinks I do everyday), or better yet off on some tropical vacation.  Alas, I was home and I was working my little butt off!

I wanted to share a bit of what’s going on in our world……

We are BUSY filling orders from WH Hostess, our business has grown like wild fire and we are constantly re-inventing how we do things to handle the amount of orders we are getting!  Trust me, these are wonderful problems and I am thankful every single day for them.

We have a CRAZY amount of parties going on between now and June 15th.  Some of them are local, where it’s all hands on deck to style, while others are all over the country, where our skills come into play by conceptualizing, planning and shipping off party goods for our parents to execute themselves.  We are collaborating with Christi from P is for Party on {wait, let me count…..} 4 parties in the next 3 weeks!  (visit our monkey love, mod safari and little blue car parties to see some of our recent collaborations)

We have some major photo shoots coming up this week, top secret for now…..but more inspiration is coming your way soon!

The next issue of The Party Dress Magazine is launching in just a few short weeks.  Let me tell you….it’s AMAZING!  The quality of work by our amazing contributors literally blows my mind every time I sit down to work on the layout.  DIY ideas, party concepts, amazing products and party features from the very talented Sharnel Dollar, The TomKat Studio, Kara’s Party Ideas, Style Me Gorgeous, Hello Naomi, Le Papier Studio, Save the Date for Cupcakes, Beth Beattie, P is for Party, Anders Ruff, Glorious Treats and Delish Catering Chicago…..to name a few!

We are pre-selling the glossy printed version of the magazine now, and any orders placed before June 1st will ship 2 weeks BEFORE the digital version launches….just a little thank you for being the best readers and customers a girl could have.  So to get your hands on a printed version, click here.  Also, due to popular demand, we are re-printing Issue 1, so if you missed out the first go around, this is your last chance!   The digital version will launch mid-June, and I can’t wait to share all of these amazing ideas with you!

June is going to be an exciting month for us…..not only are we launching the second issue of our magazine, but our blog is getting a facelift!  Yup, a new {and very much improved} The Party Dress is coming your way.  A new look, better user functionality, and all-together, much-needed freshening up.  When I started my little blog back in February 2009, we were just that….a little blog.  Two and a half years later, we’ve grown, we’ve expanded…..we are now a blog, a magazine and a stationery shop.  I can’t wait to unveil our shiny, new look to all you!

As we head into the final weeks of May, I hope you are all having fun planning your summer parties….can’t wait to hear about them and look forward to providing you with countless inspiration in the months to come!

May 12th, 2011 |

Flower Power Cupcakes

With Spring in full bloom here in Chicago, these cupcakes caught my eye!  All You Magazine has come up with three simple ways to dress up basic cupcakes to look like flowers using cookies, gummy candy and jelly beans.  I think these would be darling for a garden party birthday party, or a summer bridal shower.  Click here to find the how-to’s.

May 11th, 2011 |

Shabby Chic Centerpieces

I was perusing some of my favorite websites last night for some inspiration for an upcoming client’s party.  In looking for “shabby chic” centerpiece ideas, I stumbled across a sweet, playful wedding on Project Wedding.  These centerpieces totally spoke to me….I love the use of casual, colored glass, simple blooms and most importantly, the wood crate!  I think you can take away great inspiration for a summer bridal shower, birthday party or casual outdoor picnic.  Click here to view the rest of the wedding!

May 10th, 2011 |

{Press} Little Blue Car Party on HWTM!

So fun to wake up to another FABULOUS party feature on Hostess with the Mostess today!  This little blue car first birthday was SO MUCH FUN to work on with Christi from P is for Party!  A little boy’s first birthday, but geared towards adults – so I focused on using lots of eye-catching patterns and tried a few new things that turned out just darling!  Coordinating fabric used for pillows, a patterned backdrop for the dessert table, placemats for the tables, bottle wrappers for the drinks….there are so many cute details, you must go check it out!

Our little blue car party collection is available for purchase in the shop here.

May 9th, 2011 |

WH Hostess: New Summer Collections!

With Summer quickly approaching we are already busy planning summer events!  I thought I would show off a couple of my favorite new collections from WH Hostess, perfect for that summer soiree you are planning!

Nautical themed parties are by far one of our most-requested – and although we still love our very-popular nautical stripe invitation, we decided it was time for an update.  We brought together a combination of mod patterns, nautical stripes and an anchor to create this fresh, new collection.  What I love about it is that it could be used for a birthday party, a baby shower or a summer cocktail party.  It’s ageless and seems to be appealing to so many people!

I have to admit – I’m in LOVE with the little blue whale collection.  I can just picture the sweetest, preppiest birthday party for a precious little boy or girl.  There are so many cute elements to this collection – the sweet wave pattern, the colorful polka dots, and of course, the little blue whale!

Speaking of preppy…..it wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t have SOMETHING inspired by Lilly Pulitzer!  In this case, we decided that our favorite pink & green combo deserved two, cute new collections!  Our preppy alligator and lilly flower collections were born!  Each with their own style and flair, each to become a favorite among sweet little girls!

Summer is all about bright colors – and these collections are too!  We have been getting requests for a cute Pirates & Princess themed collection since the start of WH Hostess – but every time I worked on it, I just never felt it was right.  Well, I think we got it right this time!  A combination of colorful patterns, including polka dots, skull and crossbones, and magical stars, the icons and characters steal the show!  This is a great collection for a double birthday party….especially for twins!

If it’s one thing we like to do around here, it’s create collections that kids can relate too – collections that can inspire full party themes.  We all know how much kids LOVE character birthday parties – but they typically don’t appeal to their stylized moms!  It’s our job to help you plan a party around a theme your tots will recognize and love….but one that you will be excited about style-wise.  This bold, primary-colored collection is perfect for that child that LOVES Sesame Street!  Playful chevrons and polka dots will make the perfect accent to your party.

Summer seems to be a VERY busy time for bridal showers!  We get so many requests for “kitchen shower” themes, that we created a fabulous collection in not one, but two trendy color palettes!  Cobalt blue and fuchsia pink, and yellow and grey – you can’t go wrong with either!  I love the different arrangements of glasses and dishes on these items, and I especially love the mixture of the modern silhouettes and patterns!

Last, but certainly not least, is our Indian summer collection.  Designed for my very own sister’s bridal shower, I truly love the colors and patterns in this group – and think it is perfect for any summer celebration!

May 5th, 2011 |

Polenta and Eggplant Stack

I’m always on the look-out for gluten-free recipes….especially ones that look mouth-watering good!  This polenta eggplant stack from Woman’s Day looks absolutely delicious and will be tested out in my kitchen this evening!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant (8 oz), halved, sliced (3 cups)
  • 3⁄4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 small zucchini (8 oz), sliced (2 cups)
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tube (16 to 18 oz) ready- to-heat polenta, cut into 8 slices
  • 1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 slices
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, heated in microwave
  • Garnish: chopped fresh basil

Directions

Heat 1 of the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet. Add eggplant and onion. Cover and cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes, stirring a few times until slightly softened.  Add 1 tsp of the remaining oil, the zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Remove to bowl; wipe or rinse skillet.

Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet. Add polenta; cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat until bottoms are golden.  Turn off the heat, turn polenta and spoon the vegetable mixture onto polenta (it’s OK if some falls onto the skillet). Top each with 1 slice of tomato and sprinkle with cheese.

Place the skillet over low heat; cover and cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with basil, if desired, and serve with sauce.

May 5th, 2011 |

Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Garden Basket

Anyone out there looking for a last minute Mother’s Day gift?  The creative genius behind Floral Art LA came up with this idea – a garden box full of supplies for Spring planting.  I love the idea of a useful gift, but in this case – I think I am MORE in love with the presentation of the gift.  Presenting simple gardening items such as a shiny new watering can, garden gloves, some seeds, plants and maybe a new pair of garden sheers in a moss covered box – genius! You can order directly from Floral Art LA – but I think some of you are crafty enough to make this on your own!

May 4th, 2011 |

{Press} Nesting Newbies – Issue 5

We are BEYOND excited to share with you news that we have been keeping quite for some time now.  The fabulous editors of Nesting Newbies Magazine asked us to create a birthday party for their latest issue.  Shot back in November, I have literally been DYING to show off this party!  They asked me to create something that showed off my personal style, so I immediately gravitated towards a classic black & white palette, updated with some clean patterns and my signature pop of green.  Our modern silhouette collection was born.

I had so much fun planning and shooting this party – my god-daughter, Mackenzie, served as our model, and my little pup, Penny Lane, even made it into a shot!  I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the spread that the editors of Nesting Newbies put together for us.  Not two, not four, but FOURTEEN pages!  It’s a fabulous issue and I’m so happy to be a part of it.  I encourage all of you to curl up with your morning coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the 200+ pages of inspiration and ideas.  (our story starts on page 64, if you were wondering!)

I will share some more detailed pictures from this shoot soon, but for now, I do want to thank the fabulous vendors that sent us goodies to use for the shoot…..fondant cupcake toppers by Two Sugar Babies, couture cookies by Allyson Jane, candy from Candy Warehouse, hairbow for the birthday girl by Mel-Belles.  Thank you for the beautiful photography by Sisterazzi Photography, and to Angela at Perfect Look Make-Up for making me camera-ready!

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