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

July 1st, 2009 |

Creative Centerpiece with Patriotic Style

Patriotic StyleLooking for a quick, inexpensive centerpiece for your 4th of July party?  Try this idea from Woman’s Day….

Supplies

Red sand
White sand
Blue sand
Glass vases – different sizes and shapes
Red, white or blue daisies
Small, decorative American flags

Directions

1) Layer red, white and blue sand in the glass vase (varying colors and patterns as you desire)
Hint: Pour in a layer of color, then shake gently to level.
2) Add flowers or flags for a festive finish

July 1st, 2009 |

Sail Away: A Nautical Children’s Birthday Party

Sail Away (small)

Keeping with the red, white & blue theme this week in celebration of the 4th of July, here is an adorable party idea for your favorite little sailor.  Create a nautical theme birthday party full of stripes and sailboats!

I found this adorable party invitation and party favor bags from a company called Imprintables – preppy, but with a touch of modern charm!  It set the tone for the rest of the party….a color scheme of red, white and blue, bold stripes and modern sailboat silhouettes.

Decorate with nautical flags (I found the perfect ones at Land of Nod) and striped tablecloths.  Use grosgrain ribbon to accent all of your details – stripe napkin rings, and tie ribbon around bowls of food.  Use small wooden boats clustered together as a centerpiece.  Instead of serving a traditional birthday cake, serve sailboat-themed cupcakes, cookies or rice crispy treats.

If you are looking for a fun activity for the children at the party, fill up a large baby pool outside.  Buy a bunch of small, plastic boats and write numbers on the bottom of a few of them.  Buy prizes to correspond to the numbers on the boats.  Float the boats in the pool, and have the children take turns picking a boat.  If they choose a boat with a number, they win a prize!

Images: nautical flag decoration (landofnod.com), ahoy sailboat gift and party favor (imprintables.blogspot.com), stripe napkin rings and bowl of strawberries (socialcouture.com), tiered cookie stand (instyleweddings.com)

June 30th, 2009 |

4th of July: Dinner Under The Stars

Dinner under the stars (small)

Images: table under the tent (via Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm), red drinks (gloriawongdesign.com), berry dessert (foodportfolio.com), flower and stripe plates (kate spade via macys.com)

June 29th, 2009 |

Bridal Shower: Party of Poppies

Poppy Shower (shower)

Although put together to be a bridal shower, this happy party could be darling for a birthday party too!

Have a bride that has a beautiful style, but doesn’t love a lot of frills?!  This bridal shower is perfect for her!  With a color palette grounded in grey, and popped with green, yellow, orange and pink – this outdoor party has a few unique details that make it an event full of clean lines and happy details!

Invite your guests with this lovely invitation from Wedding Paper Divas – I love the colors and simplistic design.  A couple of ideas for decorations….set up round tables outdoors and cover with pewter grey linens.  To give the party a modern look, use rectangular, white plates.  To create these festive centerpieces, use boxes of grass (real or artificial).  Use large bloom flowers such as  poppies or gerber daisies to stick into the grass.  If you are using real flowers, just stick a piece of floral wire up the center of the stem to manipulate the shape.  It’s happy, festive and full of style….sure to thrill any bride!

Images: invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), cake (southernaccents.com), party favor box (theknot.com), table setting (inthenowweddings.com)

June 28th, 2009 |

Dinner for 16: Country French Charm

Dinner for 16

My mother and a few of her friends recently hosted a dinner party to celebrate the retirement of a dear friend.  The party was hosted at my parent’s house, and although I wasn’t a hostess…..I hear the word party and I immediately jump on the bandwagon!  I went up to help set up for the party – and this is what we came up with.

Dinner for 16 on the patio!  My mother wanted the party to look like a country french dinner in a garden, so we set up a l-o-o-n-n-g table, and covered them in red and white check table cloths.  We used 4 lanterns as centerpieces, each dressed up with a candle, moss and a single yellow bloom.  The great thing about the lanterns is that they look beautiful in the daylight, but they set off a lovely glow at night.  The placesettings were simple – silverware was rolled in red and white napkins, each held together with a floral napkin ring.  We used her melamine dishes – a solid green dinner plate with a beaded edge, and a country french pattern salad plate.  Melamine plates are PERFECT for outdoor entertaining.  The are non-breakable, dishwasher safe, and they elevate the party to feel more like a dinner party, rather than a casual BBQ on the patio.

Dinner was served buffet style, so we set up a round table (easy for people to maneuver around) with an umbrella above it.  Okay – get ready for this – this was my favorite part of the decor!  We hung clear votive candles from the inside of the umbrella – the candles were hung on ribbons at all different heights.  Red, green, white, checked, polka dot, and plaid ribbon…..the mix of colors and patterns played into the country french theme.  The pictures don’t do it justice – it was absolutely charming!

The setting was perfect, the food looked delicious, and from what I could tell – the ladies were all having a great time!  (I had to leave after cocktails to go do a little entertaining of my own at my house!)  As you can see….the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  I definitely learned from the best!

Stay tuned for a great beverage idea for summer…..

All images property of The Party Dress

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