May 7th, 2009 |
With the arrival of spring finally here, I am so enjoying cooking with the light, fresh flavors of the new season. Asparagus, artichokes, strawberries – oh, the list could go on and on! My favorite source for peak-of-season produce? The local farmers’ market. Not only do I pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, many markets also offer locally produced breads, cheeses, other specialty foods……not to mention gorgeous flowers! When I’m planning a Spring or Summer dinner party – it’s one stop shopping – I can pick up my ingredients and supplies for my centerpiece all in one place!
To help make your farmers’ market shopping more pleasurable, here are a few tips from Williams Sonoma:
Bring plenty of small bills plus shopping bags or baskets. Arrive early for the best selection—and to avoid the crowds. Before you buy, stroll through the market to see what’s available and to compare prices and quality. Many farmers encourage customers to taste before buying. And be sure to talk with the growers. They’re happy to introduce you to new and unusual ingredients and to offer cooking suggestions.
Farmer’s Market’s are a great place to gather fresh ingredients – but there is a way to make it even easier on yourself to eat locally and seasonally, all the while supporting farmers and taking advantage of the abundance of each season: by subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Local Harvest is a CSA program that offers subscriptions all over the country. Each week, you’ll get a box brimming with that week’s harvest. No requests – you will get what is in season at that time and the selection varies from region to region and from farm to farm. But if you like to experiment and love to try new things – this could be a great program for you!
Now that my local Farmer’s Market has begun, I have decided to host a dinner party in the garden using all fresh produce. When you’re cooking from the farmers’ market, keep preparations simple so the garden-fresh flavors can shine. I am going to serve a salad of mixed greens and toasted baguette slices topped with warm goat cheese, and fish fillets with asparagus and orange. For dessert, something lemony… stay tuned for ideas!
I love the idea of setting up an outdoor dining room – use your table as the central focus, place some throw pillows on the chairs, hang a light fixture or lanterns from the trees above the table to define the space. Set up a bar on a garden work bench, and enhance with bowls of fresh fruits and vegetables. Create some ambiance by decorating the space with lanterns. A few ideas for setting the table – use cotton linens and create a loose centerpiece of seasonal blooms and fruit (have a bunch of grapes overflowing, or a few baby artichokes or lemons placed into the arrangement). Use woven charger plates to add a natural feel to the table, and enhance your napkin with a raffia tie and fresh vegetable such as a radish or carrots.
This Famer’s Market dinner party is a recipe for success – great, healthy food, a stunning setting and good friends! What could be better?!
Images: radish napkin (bhg.com), goat cheese salad (williams-sonoma.com), white ceramic and woven dishes, outdoor bar (potterybarn.com), garden table (artfool.com)
May 7th, 2009 |
There’s just something tantalizing about the tanginess of lemon….it’s light and fresh….and I could eat an entire plate of lemon bars if you were to put them in front of me!
These tangy desserts offer an intense burst of citrus flavor that will compliment any Spring meal:
1. Lemon Madeleines
2. Lemon-Raspberry Ice Cream Bombes
3. Creamy Lemon Bars
4. Icy Lemon-Mint Parfaits
5. Marbled Lemon Tart
May 6th, 2009 |
A lot of the COLOR posts I do focus on the pretty, pale colors…..not today! Today is all about bold, bold, bold!
My inspiration today is a beautiful room I found on the Harlequin Fabric & Wallpaper website. Harlequin is a company in the UK that offers an eclectic, elegant, and versatile range of weaves, prints and wallcoverings that will satisfy the most demanding of tastes.
Shades of deep teal, popped with orchid purple and accents of brown and white….this color palette has a stunning wedding written all over it!
White flowers and dishes look fresh up against the strong teal walls and linens – add a touch of chocolate brown by tying a ribbon on your teal favor boxes and place them on each seat. You can also bring in the brown color and satisfy your guest’s sweet tooth by offering a lavish chocolate buffet for dessert! Offer cellophane bags and teal ribbon to pack up some goodies to bring home at the end of the evening. Deep shades of color, stunning accents and an evening rich in love – perfect!
Images: teal room (harlequin.uk.com), boutonniere and calla lilly bouquet (weddingchannel.com), table (theknot.com), bridesmaid dresses (swsmag.com), welcome sign (theknot.com), favor boxes (aboutdetailsdetails.com), chocolate buffet (brides.com)
May 5th, 2009 |
Looking for the perfect accessory to update your home this Spring?! Look no further….the hottest accessory out there is the lantern. Used both inside and out, lanterns add a touch of style by day and a stunning glow by night to any room. Perfect for outdoor entertaining, you can get so creative with these!
There are so many different ways to customize your lantern-style:
- Make a bold statement with an over-sized lantern placed on the ground
- Use a series of lanterns lining a path or patio
- Hang small lanterns from your umbrella
- Play with proportion by arranging groups of different sized lanterns on your fireplace mantel or as a centerpiece on your dining room table
- Fill the bottom of your lanterns with decorative objects such as moss, rocks, flower petals or shells and starfish for summer
Lanterns are readily available this season – different metals, colors – at all different price points. Check out these at Pottery Barn, Resortation Hardware, and West Elm.
Images: metal lanterns, sectional with umbrella, fireplace (potterybarn.com), seating area with red pillows (restorationhardware.com)
May 5th, 2009 |
This is so fun, I just had to share it with you….
The Party Dress was featured in Snapshot Magazine this month!
Check out the May issue on-line.
May 4th, 2009 |
As the school year quickly comes to an end, celebrate and thank the teachers that have made an impact in your child’s life this year.
Spoil your child’s teacher with a fun, out-of-the-ordinary gift…..a monogrammed clipboard, personalized luggage tags, a festive paperweight to dress up their desk, or a cute bag to tote her notes back and forth.
May 4th, 2009 |
With everyone concerned about the economy these days, people are cutting back on luxuries such as Spa treatments, yoga classes, and weekly mani/pedi’s. It is such a shame….because everyone needs a little pampering now and again! Take matters into your own hands, and invite your friends over for a Spa Day at home.
An ideal party for Mother’s Day, a bridal shower or to celebrate a special birthday….a Spa Day at home gives you and your friends a chance to spend the day together pampering yourselves.
First, decide on what “treatments” or activities you will have available:
- Try calling a local nail salon to see if they have 2 manicurists that could come to your party to give manicures and pedicures. If you can schedule your party for a time when the salon is closed…chances are the technicians would be happy to come make a little extra money!
- Facial masks are an absolutely must! Check out this do-it-yourself skin-brightening mask from Martha Stewart. Made with 3 simple ingredients – it’s sure to leave your skin with a rosy, healthy glow!
- Call a local massage therapy school to see if they have any students that might want to come over to practice their skills.
- BYOM – Have your guests bring their own yoga mats and do a group yoga class out on your lawn.
Set up different lounging areas in your home so people can relax throughout the day – place big, bright colored pillows on the floor for people to sit on. The use of scented candles, black stones, vases with a single bloom of orchids, and pitchers of water will help your guests feel more like they are at a Spa retreat. Don’t forget to put out some healthy treats – trays of crudites, fresh fruit and fruit smoothies are sure to keep everyone energized.
Images: facial masks, seating area (inmagine.com), foot soak (rachelraymag.com), crudites tray (southernliving.com)
April 30th, 2009 |
Now the weather is starting to get nicer, my mind keeps filling with ideas of outdoor entertaining. I live in the Midwest, so there are only a few months out of the year that you can actually throw a party outside. There are just so many options – pitch a tent in your backyard, lay out blankets in the park for a picnic, hang lanterns from the trees over your patio to create a modern candlelight dinner. I have so many ideas….and Spring has only just begun!
This inspiration could be used for any type of Spring or Summer party. It would be a fabulous baby shower, a festive birthday party, or a relaxing lunch following a bachelorette spa day. Or you can just use the change of season as an excuse to gather your favorite ladies for lunch outside. Whatever your reason is to celebrate, just make sure you do it in style!
I used solid, bold colors to acheive this modern picnic – sunny yellow, fuschia pink – throw in a stripe or two and let the festivities begin! You can create this “tent” by inserting white stakes into the ground and attaching a canopy of fabric (available by yard at your local fabric store). Not only does it frame your celebration, but it also shades your guests from the sun!
The yellow and white stripe screams traditional Spring, but the fuschia accessories….that’s where the modern look comes into play. Try fuschia Lucite wine glasses, candle holders, vases and serving pieces. You can carry your color palette throughout your food too….when I think of yellow, I think of lemons! Try serving a lemon soufle as your dessert.
I hope this post has inspired you to host your own modern picnic!
Images: table setting and flower boxes (midwestliving.com), rock candy (amyatlas.com), wine glass (target.com), stack of plates (potterybarn.com), pink drinks (brides.com), pink placecards (plumparty.com), favor box (theknot.com)
April 29th, 2009 |
This Spring, encourage your kids to explore the backyard by throwing a Safari theme birthday party!
This easy-to-do adventure will thrill your smallest explorers….here are a few ideas:
- Use postcards of Africa as your invitations – write something cute, like “We are going WILD for Matthew’s 5th Birthday!”
- To decorate your house and yard, make an animal track path throughout your house. Use black paint or markers to draw tracks on a roll of brown Kraft paper. Tape the long roll of paper to the floor so the kids can follow the animal footprints all the way to the party table.
- Drape a mosquito net canopy from the ceiling and decorate it with toy bugs, plastic monkeys, giraffes and zebras.
- Fill the area with clusters of animal print, brown and green latex balloons.
- Set your food table with animal print plates, and red, orange and brown napkins and tumblers.
- Use a large square of real or fake grass as your centerpiece – place bunches of bananas and animal crackers in the center of the table for when your hungry explorers return from their safari adventure.
You are going to need a few activities/games to keep your little explorers busy:
Enjoy the Safari…I hope your guests don’t get too WILD!
Images: kids in masks (potterybarnkids.com), goodie bags and monkey cupcakes (flickr.com), toy binoculars (orientaltrading.com), tablescape (cookiesmag.com)