July 14th, 2009 |

Lanterns by the Lake

lanterns by the lake party

Summer is the perfect time to gather for a family reunion.  Whether it takes place annually or for a special occassion such as a wedding or birthday – make time this summer to entertain your family in style!

Fill your location with wood picnic tables and hang white paper lanterns from the trees above to give the setting a festive look.  If you plan on having a sit down dinner or lunch, try this creative placecard idea.  Using the end of a citrus peeler, scrape out everyone’s name onto a lime.  It’s a natural-looking decorative element that will fit perfectly into your outdoor setting.  Keep your centerpieces natural-looking as well.  Try gathering wild flowers and placing them into simple vases or tin cans like the picture above.

Have each family member bring a special dish to serve for the meal….to differentiate what is what (and who cooked what), place all of the food on chalkboard slabs.  You can identify the dish, so everyone will know “Aunt Mimi” made the brownies!

Oh, and make sure to set up an area for activities such as bocce ball and croquet to keep your guest entertained!

Images: outdoor party (traditionalhome.com), couple, paper lanterns, lime placecard (inmagine.com), daisy tin can centerpiece and chalkboard appetizer display (brides.com), bocce ball sign (theknot.com), baby (chasing-fireflies.com)

July 14th, 2009 |

dress up your SANDWICHES!

dress up your sandwiches

Summer days are full of picnics, bbq’s, and a lot of outdoor entertaining…..sandwiches are the perfect meal for all of the occasions….but are your basic, old sandwiches boring you?!  Here are three simple updates from Cooking Light that are sure to put a little pizzazz back into your sandwich!

PESTO – Packed full of health benefits, pesto perks up milder ingredients.  Spread a tablespoon on a baguette topped with grilled chicken and tomato.  You can also try pairing pesto with frilled fish, such as halibut, and serve it with lettuce on a Kaiser roll.

ROASTED RED PEPPER – Red peppers are naturally sweet, and full of vitamin C.  Fill a flour tortilla with lettuce, sliced roasted red peppers, diced garlic, and feta cheese.  Roll it up burrito-style.

AVOCADO – Use this heart-healthy ingredient to top a tuna salad sandwich.  Try adding sliced radishes, alfalfa sprouts, or sharp cheeses.

July 12th, 2009 |

Happy Birthday To Me!

Sherbert Balloons (josevilla.bigfolioblogI’m taking today off to celebrate my 30th birthday!  Yup, ya heard me….30…..it sounds old!

I spent my 20′s figuring out who I was, what my dreams are…..had an amazing college experience, met friends I hope I will have forever, had a pretty amazing dream job, found my love for entertaining, and most importantly met (and married) prince charming.  Can’t wait to see what the 30′s bring!  Cheers!

Happy Birthday To MeImages: girl with balloons (josevilla.bigfolioblog.com), candles (inmagine.com)

July 9th, 2009 |

6 Summer Side Dishes

Summer Side Dishes

The best part of summer cooking is that most main dishes can be thrown on the grill!  Burgers, ribs, fish…..the main dishes are easy.  Spice up your meal with some exciting side dishes from Martha Stewart:

July 8th, 2009 |

White Wedding

 

I always dreamed of having a white wedding….there is just something so elegant and romantic about it!  I was married in October, so the white color palette just wasn’t going to work for me….but for all of you brides out there, I encourage you to explore the possibilities of a white, white wedding!

I think of white as a very “classic” color.  You can give it a modern edge by using some un-traditional items in your centerpieces and decorations.  I love the look of the white twigs in the centerpieces pictured above…..a touch of natural beauty, but placed with large, white blooms it creates a perfect balance of elegant and traditional, with a touch of modern appeal.  Decorations don’t have to be complicated or elaborate!  Have a room full of plain doors?!  Hang a wreath of white flowers on each door….not only with the repetition be stunning, but it’s a simple way to elevate the space.

Images: bridal party (theknot.com), bouquet and wreath (projectwedding.com), table setting, white urn, party favor (brides.com), wedding cake (thecakegirls.com)

July 6th, 2009 |

S’mores: Updated Recipes for a Summer Favorite

smoresS’mores is a summertime favorite – what could be better than a combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers?!  Although the classic version is one of my ultimate treats…I thought I would find a few new ways to update the classic!

Try a s’mores sundae by combining ice cream with the classic ingredients, a s’mores cookie, or a dark chocolate “grown-up” version.

Smores please

July 6th, 2009 |

Weekend Party at the Lake House

Weekend Party at the Lake House

It’s Monday morning – after a week of posts full of red, white and blue, and patriotic fun, I am a little burned out on color!  I am totally “that girl” that pulls a head-to-toe black outfit out of her closet when I just can’t figure out what to wear!

Some might say black and white is a boring color palette.   I love the striking combination when it comes to clothing, my home and party decorations!  I have summer, lake houses and family gatherings on the brain lately….so today’s inspiration is for a family gathering at the lake.

When you are hosting a bunch of people for a whole weekend, it’s best to have a few tricks up your sleeve!  Make sure your home is guest-ready.  Clean sheets, towels, and well-defined areas for people to gather.  I love the pictures above with the wide, cushioned benches, the chaise lounge chairs, and umbrellas to provide a little shade.  Black and white can be boring….but not when it’s popped with bold striped throw pillows and beach towels!  Make your space evening-friendly by placing lanterns around the area to provide a little light once the sun goes down.  Provide your guests with a bucket full of flip flops to wear by the pool….it’s a thoughtful gesture and a fun party favor to take home to remember the weekend.

Your weekend will be full of meals, so make your life simple and choose one accent color to use throughout the whole weekend.  I love the black, white and yellow combination!  Line the center of your table with bud vases and fill with single blooms of sunflowers.  There are great melamine dishes out there that are outdoor friendly.  Don’t forget serving trays – these yellow ones would be perfect for carrying food and drinks out to the dock!

Images: dock images (ralphlaurenhome.com), daisy cupcake (sugarbloomcupcakes.com), sunflowers (theknot.com),flipflops (instyleweddings.com), drinks (brides.com), polka dot dress (jcrew.com)

July 3rd, 2009 |

Birthday Party: Crisp Summer Style

Navy and Yellow Birthday Party

I know I have been doing a lot of parties centered around red, white and blue this week…..it must be my patriotic side coming out!  So to switch things up, how about a birthday party with a blue and yellow color palette?!

There are many occassions worth celebrating in life, and a major milestone birthday is one of them.  I, myself, will be celebrating one of those next week (which one I won’t tell you, I have to keep you guessing about some things, right?!).  So, if your significant other,  good friend, or parent is celebrating a milestone this year…..plan a party they won’t forget!

I became obsessed with the navy blue and yellow color palette recently when I saw a couple of weddings posted on Style Me Pretty with this very combination.  It just screamed summer to me – kind of nautical, kind of preppy, but with a modern feel.  If you haven’t checked out these weddings – you should definitely head on over there for some great inspiration!  As always, I think you could take any of these ideas and apply it to whatever type of party you might be planning – a birthday party, a dinner party, or even a bridal shower.

Invite your guests with this stylish invitation from Wedding Paper Divas.  I love the simple grid pattern; it’s a detail you can repeat throughout your event to bring continuity to the party.  Notice how the cake has the grid pattern as well, but this time in a tonal, white butter cream frosting (yum!).

Set your tables with navy linens, and pop in accents of white and yellow in a beautifully gift-wrapped centerpiece.  Not only is this a festive idea (especially for a birthday party!), but it’s also much more economical than a large floral centerpiece.  Choose some coordinating, patterned wrapping paper, wrap up old boxes you have sitting around your home, stack them up in an interesting group – and voila!  Festive and inexpensive!

Frames (smp)

I am a firm believer in place cards! Whether your party is for 8 or 80 people, place cards add a touch of novelty to your place setting, and they enable you to seat your guests  in a place where you can ensure they will have a good time.   If your party is on the larger side, arrange your place cards on a table outside of the dining room to make it easy for your guests to find their seats.  Don’t forget to decorate that table; it sets the tone to your guests as to what to expect from the rest of the evening.

Paper goods, good stationary – I love it all!  And I spend a lot of my day looking for new ideas and products, but it is rare that I fall in love with an idea the way I have with this concept!  What an elegant, yet modern way of presenting place cards!  I absolutely swooned when I saw it on Style Me Pretty, and just had to get it up on the website as quickly as possible!  White linens, white and navy patterned place cards, a few votive candles….simple enough!  What really makes this table look new and interesting is the use of ornate, wooden picture frames.  Glass removed, spray painted white, frames in different shapes and patterns.  The result is stunning and I can’t wait to try this at one of my parties!

Don’t forget to send your guests home with a party favor to remember the evening.  New to Beau-Coup, these cocktail infusion favors don’t just look chic—they taste good! Add one, two or all three flavors to your drink menu to create an array of cocktails or give them as party favors.  You can even personalize the labels!

Images: invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), navy dress and place card display (stylemepretty.com), wedding cake and table setting (instyleweddings.com)

July 2nd, 2009 |

Caprese Salad: Re-designed

Caprese Salad

Everyone loves a caprese salad!  What’s not to like – a little tomato, fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar – perfect ingredients all stacked up into one salad.   But what if you don’t want to stack them up?

Try freshening up your presentation with this idea:

Take a whole tomato and cut slices into it (about 1/4″ thick) without cutting all the way thru the other side.  Insert a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and a basil leaf in between each slice.  Once the tomato is stuffed (it should “fan” out a bit) drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top.  Drizzle it with your favorite sea salt – and voila!  An update to everyone’s favorite caprese salad!

Image via George Dolese

July 1st, 2009 |

A Very Berry Dessert

Mixed Berry Terrine

Ingredients

2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
2 cups white grape juice
1/2 cup sugar
5 1/2 to 6 cups (about 2 pounds) mixed fresh berries, such as strawberries (hulled and halved), raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries

Directions

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup grape juice; let soften 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, heat sugar with another 1/4 cup grape juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in softened gelatin until dissolved, then stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups grape juice.

Place berries in a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan; pour gelatin mixture over, pressing berries gently to submerge completely (remove a few berries if necessary). Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
To unmold, dip bottom of pan in hotwater about 5 seconds. Invert onto a serving platter, and shake firmly to release. Slice to serve.

Recipe via Martha Stewart

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