July 20th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party: Bites and Bubbly!

bites and bubbly (small)

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 |

Summer Pasta!

corn and tomato pasta

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!

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 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.

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the vegetables, butter and basil to the pasta and toss.
July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party with Rustic Charm

Rustic Charm (small)

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)

July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party: Appetizers with Ease!

Appetizers with ease

Williams Sonoma is the genius behind this idea (perfect for your next cocktail party!).  These small plates have a base rim that fits on top of most wineglasses, allowing your guests to hold their wine and hors d’oeuvres securely in one hand.  Sold in a set of 4 for only $19.00!

July 16th, 2009 |

Rubber Ducky Baby Shower

Rubber Ducky Baby Shower

“Rubber Ducky, you’re the one….you make our baby shower lots of fun!”

I had a reader write to me asking for ideas for a gender-neutral baby shower.  The first thing I thought of was the color yellow, and quickly came up with the idea for a rubber ducky theme party.  Playful, and easy to do – this baby shower is sure to bring smiles and giggles from all of your guests!

Invite your guests with this darling invitation from Minted.  Carry the yellow color into your party decorations and accent it with blue and orange.  Creative a bright and cheery tablescape with blue placemats, yellow plates and a diaper cake centerpiece.  Take basic, blue place cards and dress them up by giving them a scalloped edge with a pair of scissors.  The rounded edges remind me of bubbles….perfect for our bath-time theme!

Instead of serving cake as dessert, set up a dessert and candy buffet.  Find all different types of yellow candy, such as lemon heads, jelly beans, lemon bars, etc. and use different size vases, apothecary jars and cake plates to set up your display.  Add personalized labels to each container – try these labels from Paper Source (there is even a template on-line to help you print on them!)

Send your guests home with a rubber ducky candle from Beau-Coup to remember the event!

Images: rubber ducky candle (beau-coup.com), rubber duck invitation (minted.com), place setting (hostessblog.com), placecards (theknot.com), candy buffet (projectwedding.com), baby shower image (inmagine.com)

July 15th, 2009 |

Flower Power Girl’s Birthday Party

Flower Birthday Party (small)

When it comes to planning a little girl’s birthday party, you can’t go wrong with pink and flowers.  Explode this idea into a festive party full sassy cheer!

Invite your guests with this darling invitation from Tiny Prints.  It’s colorful, full of flowers and exclaims the most important part….Party time!  Create a fun and girly table setting by using grass place mats, and a vase full of gerber daisies in shades of pink.  Your little guests will be in awe when they walk into the party and see a whole garden set up on the table!

Keep your food simple and stylish – serve pb & j sandwiches, but make them extra special by using a cookie cutter to cut them into flower shapes.  Use a smaller flower cookie cutter to make a flower-shaped fruit salad (mix in some melon balls for a playful look).  Serve the little girls pink lemonade to drink and cupcakes for dessert!  I love the polka dot design on these….but stay tuned for a darling, and easy-to-do cupcake idea!

After a day full of flowers, send your guests home with a bloom of their own.  Fill a small pail full of candy, stickers, and a lollipop flower.   (Cut out a paper daisy from solid color paper and poke a lollipop through its center.)

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), floral party dress (bodenusa.com), flower lollipop party favor (skiptomylou.com), cupcakes (amyatlas.com)

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:

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