July 25th, 2009 |
Whether you are planning a romantic night with your special someone, or an intimate gathering of close friends – bring your dinner out under the stars for a picnic!
Set the mood by creating a cozy area for people to gather. Lounge chairs, blankets, big pillows will do – add lanterns, candles and potted plants around to add color and some mood lighting. Serve food that is not only easy to eat, but remember to use serving dishes that aren’t breakable and they should sit well on the ground. Baskets are perfect for this occasion! Gather bowls of different dips, slices of bread, and crackers all into one basket.
Come up with a festive dessert, such as a summer fruit salad with sambuca. Give this recipe from Williams Sonoma a try….
Feel free to vary it according to the fruit available, adding raspberries, peaches, oranges or melons. Adjust the sugar, lemon juice and sambuca to suit your taste. Kirsch or another fruit brandy can be used in place of the sambuca, if you prefer. The critical step is the long maceration, which allows the flavors to blend.
1 pint strawberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus more as needed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more as needed
2 Tbs. anise liqueur, such as sambuca or anisette,
plus more as needed
Hull the strawberries and halve or quarter if large. Peel and dice the mango. Dice the plum and nectarine.
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, mango, plum, nectarine, blackberries and blueberries. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon zest, the juice of 1/2 lemon and the 2 Tbs. sambuca and stir well. Dice the banana and stir into the salad. Taste and add more sugar, lemon juice or sambuca, if needed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the flavorings before serving. Serves 4 to 6.
Images: stargazing picnic (brightideas.com), pillows (instyleweddings.com), basket of dips (inmagine.com), drinks (helennorman.com)
July 24th, 2009 |
If you ask a child what their favorite food is….my bet is that 90% of them say “Candy!” So why not spoil your child rotten on their birthday and host a party decorated to the nines with candy?! Invite your child’s friends with this adorable invitation from Tiny Prints.
Take your color inspiration straight from the source – candy brights, such as hot pink, turquoise blue, yellow, orange and lime green. Use solid colored plates and napkins, maybe throw in a stripe here and there…..simple enough! Use real candy for your decorations. Buy life savers in bulk and string together on ribbon or wire. You can drape them along the sides of tables, on a fireplace mantel, around a doorway, etc. Another easy idea is to dress up your napkins with a lollipop. Cute, colorful and the kids get an extra treat to bring home with them!
If you are planning this party for an older child, or even for adults – you may want to present a candy buffet. Check out this past post for inspiration.
I have two really cute activities for you for younger children….
- Fill up a large bowl with gumballs (you can buy them in bulk at Candy Warehouse) and ask the kids to guess how many gumballs are in there. Have a couple of prizes for the kids that come the closest to the actual number.
- Instead of a purchasing a decorated birthday cake, bake a large sheet cake and cover in plain white frosting. Provide the kids with bowls of candy and let them go to town decorating it!
Send your guests home with this charming mini gumball machine as a party favor from Beau-Coup. You can attach a personalized tag that says “Thanks for coming to my party! Love, Bella”. It’s the perfect reminder of an afternoon full of sweets and treats!
Images: table (via A Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm), invitation (tinyprints.com), napkins with suckers (familycircle.com), gumball machine party favor (beau-coup.com), cupcake, party decorations and candy (inmagine.com)
July 24th, 2009 |
Try this idea at your next party…..marshmallow fondue!
Perfect for kids, fun for adults! All you need is a bowl of melted chocolate, a bag of marshmallows, and a bunch of sprinkles for toppings!
Image (via inmagine.com)
July 23rd, 2009 |
Use bright, colorful accents to decorate your big day! There are so many fun details in this inspiration board – they could be used for a wedding, a bridal shower or a fabulous summer birthday party! The paper umbrella placecards, the napkin accented with a pink orchid, the colorful parasols to shade your guests from the sun…..I hope you find a way to use one of these ideas at your next party!
Images: event tables (projectwedding.com), bridal party with parasols (amorologyweddings.com), couple with parasol (blog.emilieinc.com), bouquet (brides.com), napkin (brides.com), stripe wedding cake (partyspot.com)
July 22nd, 2009 |
Have I ever told you that I absolutely LOVE zucchini? It is one of those foods that I discovered late in life (like, last year!?!) and now I just can’t get enough of it! My husband isn’t a fan….which means I am constantly trying to slip it into dishes like risotto, vegetable tians, etc. in hopes that he doesn’t realize it until it’s already in his mouth. This yummy treat would be a perfect appetizer for an alfresco dinner this summer!
Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs and Cheese
- 3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.
2. Discard the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
3. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together with a fork.
4. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. You can make these up to a day in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
recipe via health.com
July 22nd, 2009 |
I don’t know about you, but I love changing out the accessories in my home each season….who am I kidding, multiple times per season! I’m constantly moving things around and performing what’s known in the home good stores as a “floor flip”! I just like to change things up and try out different looks. One of the best things we registered for when we got married are glass hurricanes. We have the ones pictured above (on the left) from Crate & Barrel. Although they mostly reside on the mantel of our fireplace, I can change the look of them in an instant….perfect to use as a centerpiece for a party!
I love the minimalist look above….the large floating flower, the banana leaf wrapped on the inside of the hurricane. Simple, elegant, perfect for everyday or a party!
You can fill them with flowers, fruit, beans, wine corks, moss, rocks…..the sky is the limit! I love this image – it’s a perfect example of how you can quickly change the look of them for a party.
I’m already trying to figure out how I am going to update my hurricanes for Fall. What are your ideas?! How are you going to update your home for the Fall season?
Images: hurricanes with banana leaves (crateandbarrel.com), pink floating flower centerpiece (brides.com), hurricanes with fall fruit (potterybarn.com), colored candles with beans (flickr.com), pumpkin hurricanes (goodhousekeeping.com)
July 21st, 2009 |
We celebrated my sister’s boyfriend’s birthday Saturday night by cruising around Chicago on a boat. Since the party had a boating theme, the sailboat cupcake seemed to be the perfect dessert! They turned out so cute, I just had to share them with you!
These would be perfect for the Sail Away children’s birthday party theme I posted a couple of weeks ago!
If anyone is interested in the template for the sails, send me over an e-mail and I will happily give it to you!
July 20th, 2009 |
To toast the end of summer, invite your friends over for a fresh cocktail party concept: bites and bubbly!
This simple invitation from Wedding Paper Divas sets the tone for a festive evening with friends. A color palette of yellow, pale orange and silver and the use of a simple circle shape to create bold and modern atmosphere. Add some twinkle to your event by placing tea light candles around the party. If you are looking for some silver accents, use silver mini-tart pans as candle holders.
Set up a bar featuring your true guest of honor….the bubbly! Use a silver bucket to house the bottles of champagne (or prosecco), and choose two champagne punches to serve. My suggestions? Champagne Orange Sherbet Punch and Pomegranite-Champagne Punch…..delicious, pretty and the colors work with our color palette! Although a traditional punch bowl is always lovely, try using large cylinder vases and a ladle to serve your punch. The lines of the vase look a bit more modern, and you can buy the vases in all different sizes. Try alternating between short and chubby, and tall and skinny!
When you are hosting a cocktail party, make sure you have the appropriate glassware and dishes. You don’t want to work hard to create a beautiful party, and then serve your guests their bubbly in plastic glasses….do you?! You can find affordable glassware at IKEA. A set of six wine or champagne glasses for $4.99! A small investment for what will bring an elevated level of style to your party!
Instead of cooking a full meal, offer your guests a few “bites”! Serve a combination of appetizers and desserts, and since your guests will be walking around mingling, try to keep them easy to eat, or bite-size. I came up with a few new ideas that I think would be fabulous….
An evening full of good friends and fabulous bites and bubbly….it’s the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer!
Images: invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), champagne bar (toddevents.com), floral centerpiece (aboutdetailsdetails.com)
July 20th, 2009 |
This pasta recipe from Rachael Ray just looked a little too good not to share with you! Perfect for a summer party….or just a Monday night dinner!
- 1 pound bow-tie pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Dress it up!
Give this pasta a fancy twist by tossing in cooked lobster or shrimp.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn, raise the heat slightly and cook until the corn is heated through and golden, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
- Add the vegetables, butter and basil to the pasta and toss.
July 16th, 2009 |
Whether you are celebrating a 20th anniversary or the recent engagement of good friends, invite people over to celebrate the occasion with drinks and appetizers – all styled with rustic charm! I am in love with this invitation from Minted…it’s half modern, half vintage, and completely charming!
Style the location of your party with a natural feel, using a rustic yellow, green and rust orange as a color palette. Place a couple of different centerpieces around the party to vary the look. First, fill a basket up with moss stones and votive candles. And second, place grass plants in small terracotta pots and wrap a decorative ribbon around it. If you have a trellis or trees above your serving table, hang some votive candles to add a little sparkle to the evening.
Serve your appetizers on serving pieces such as slabs of wood or slate, and in baskets. Look for some hearty appetizers such as pancetta-wrapped asparagus with citronette dressing, grilled zucchini with fresh mozzarella, and fig and goat cheese crostini. In addition to wine, serve a tasty, signature cocktail such as blackberry and cabernet caipirinha.
Images: patio (countryliving.com), invitation (minted.com), grass centerpiece (oncewed.com)