May 1st, 2009 |

Friday Night: Pasta Party with Friends

Pasta Party (small)

I don’t know about you….but it’s been kind of a boring week!  One day it’s nice, the next day it looks like it could snow again.  I decided we needed a little excitement as we moved into the weekend.

Invite friends over for a Pasta Party – all you need is some good wine, some fresh pasta and a few good recipes to give your guests a lovely evening!

Fresh pasta is much lighter and tender in texture than dried pasta.  If you have the time – it makes a huge difference in your recipes.  Click here for tips on making fresh pasta from Williams Sonoma.  I think you should serve a buffet of 3-4 different pastas, so that people can taste a few.  Serve up a light salad, some fresh bread – oh, and don’t forget to have fresh parmesan to grate on top of the pastas!

Here are some of my favorite pasta recipes – hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Buon Appetito!  Bon Appetit!  (Enjoy your Pasta Party!)

Images: pastas (williams-sonoma.com), pasta prep (matthewmeadstyle.com), fresh pasta (angelayeung.com)

April 30th, 2009 |

Fuschia & Yellow Spring Party

Yellow & Pink Birthday Party (small)

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 |

Celebrate Mother’s Day on the Patio

Mother's Day on the Patio (small)

Celebrate the women in your life this year with lunch on the patio.  Outdoor entertaining can be easy – a simple menu, a refreshing cocktail and a clean, Spring-like table will set the mood for a festive day!

Set up your party out on the patio with a color palette of blue & white, with an accent of pink.  White dishes look fresh when mixed with a patterned placemat and solid napkin.  Mix together different shades of pink peonies, and tuck into a cobalt blue vase to use as your centerpiece.  You could also put a single peony into a small vase and place onto each place setting as a favor.

Serve a healthy lunch of grilled tuna with provencal vegetables, with frozen lemonade with blackberry puree to drink.  Throw a loaf of french bread on the grill to serve alongside the tuna.  For dessert – wow them with individual raspberry and chocolate tarts!

Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift?!

mothers-day-gifts-small

Gifts:  Kate Spade Camilla Lane vases (macys.com),  monogrammed lucite tray (dabneyleeathome.com), Tory Burch handbag (toryburch.com), Kate Spade enamel bracelets (nordstrom.com), candle lanterns (crateandbarrel.com)

Images: peonies (flickr.com), place setting (traditionalhome.com), outdoor room (restorationhardware.com)

April 28th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: White!

white-dishes-intro-copy

This week, I thought I should focus on the most common and readily available napkin – the crisp, white napkin.  Used for centuries, a white napkin has graced many dinner tables – both casual and formal.  You can fold it different ways, tie it with different ribbons, even lay a seasonal bloom gently on top of it.  It’s a clean palette – you can change the look of it in an instant.

The only issue with white napkins?  How to keep them clean!  All it takes is one, tiny little stain – and suddenly your crisp, elegant napkin looks old and tired!  In order to help you care for your white linens, here are a few tips that I thought might be helpful:

To launder white table linens, soak them first before washing. For badly stained tablecloths and napkins, you can use household bleach.  (But use warm water and a mild soap or detergent to wash colored and delicate white linens.)  While the linens are still damp, put a hot iron to them and continue until they are completely dry.

Napkins and tablecloths should be ironed on both sides. To iron a tablecloth fold it wrong side out, lengthwise. Iron it with the thread of the material. Refold the cloth right side out and iron it again, pressing in the center crease. Fold it lengthwise a second time, then crosswise several times without pressing the folds. One sharp crease down the center is all you want.

Iron napkins first on the wrong side, beginning with the corners and getting them properly right-angled to avoid distorting the weave, then iron them on the right side. Fold or roll as you wish.

Image via Pottery Barn

April 26th, 2009 |

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Cinco de Mayo Party (small)

Cinco de Mayo (otherwise known as the 5th of May) is a day to party and to celebrate, and also a good time to get a taste of Mexican culture.  If you can gather some festive drinks, colorful decorations and try your hand at some traditional Mexican food….you can throw a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!

If you’re going to throw a fabulous party, you’ll need to decorate. Colored paper flowers, paper lanterns, and strings of white lights in the trees are a great way to liven up any party in a hurry. Pinatas are a traditional decoration and are a fun activity for kids at the party.  The most important thing when decorating for Cinco de Mayo?!  Use color! There is nothing mild about the Mexican culture – many homes and businesses in Mexico are filled with vibrant colors such as turquoise, fuchsia, yellow, red, purple and lime green.

Here are a couple of tips for decorating:

  • Buy solid color paper plates, napkins and cups using a combination of the Fiesta colors.
  • Hang Sombreros on walls, and use them during the party for a Cinco de Mayo Mexican Hat Dance.
  • Buy piñatas to hang from tree branches or to use as a centerpiece for tables.
  • Burn chunky, vibrant candles all night.
  • Drape white lights in trees surrounding the party area.
  • Have colorful, wood maracas at each place setting – tie them together with raffia and attach a placecard.

On to the south-of-the-border menu – begin with icy cold margaritas and quacamole, a warm bowl of chicken-tortilla soup. For the main course, set up a taco bar with colorful bowl of toppings – cheese, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and peppers.  Serve up some grilled corn with cheese and lime on the side – yum!  And for dessert – try mixing a little margarita mix into white cupcake batter.  Decorate with a slice of lime on top – very festive!

Images: party (detailsdetails.com), margarita (williams-sonoma.com)

April 24th, 2009 |

Kentucky Derby: Day in the Garden

Kentucky Derby Party (small)

For 135 years, the Kentucky Derby has been everyone’s race – from the dapper men and beautiful women, all in hats and sipping on frosty mint juleps, to the laid-back crowd who picnic on the in-field on fried chicken.

The Kentucky Derby is more than just a race — it’s an annual society event. Since the first Derby in 1875, the race has become steeped in traditions ranging from specific food and drink to proper Derby attire.

One of the best part’s of The Kentucky Derby is enjoying a lovely day outside.  Although you will be glued to the TV to watch the actual race – bring your party outside to enjoy the rest of the day in the garden.  Set up tables with bright linens, and centerpieces that are loose and colorful.  Serve a buffet of traditional southern food – fried green tomatoes, bourbon-marinated pork tenderloin, fried chicken, and blackberry & toasted pecan cobbler for dessert.

kentucky-derby-tickets-plumparty

No matter how you decide to celebrate the Derby this year – there is one tradition that everyone must do: you have to serve the official drink: Mint Julep. The cocktail consists of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup, and is traditionally served in a silver julep cup with a sprig of mint.

If you want to organize a friendly wager for the race – check out these tickets from Plum Party.

For those ladies lucky enough to actually attend the Derby, the biggest question leading up to the race isn’t in regards to who is going to win….it’s all about what outrageous hat they will be donning that day!  It’s about color, extravagance, and definitely a touch of drama!
Derby Hats (small)

Images: garden (fineartamerica.com), flowers (artfool.com), race (kentuckyderby.com), invitation (ashleybrookedesigns.com), mint juleps and food (southernliving.com), hats (latimes.com)

April 23rd, 2009 |

Creative Spring Centerpiece

I love this idea from Simply Stated…..what a great centerpiece idea for Mother’s Day, a baby shower or little girl’s birthday party!

flower-table-runner

What You’ll Need:

  • Sharp scissors
  • Drinking straws
  • 2 boxes of wheatgrass (sold in flats or boxes at health-food stores and flower shops)
  • 12 to 16 gerbera daisies
  • A pencil

For such a creative look – this is so simple to put together.  Cut the straws to match the height of the grass.  Then snip the daisy stems so they are slightly longer than the straws, and gently slide each stem into a straw.  If the straws are too narrow for the stems, slit the straws from top to bottom.  Poke holes in the soil with the pencil. Stick the straw-sheathed flowers into the holes.

Don’t forget to lightly water the soil to help the flowers stay fresh!

April 22nd, 2009 |

May Day Flower Basket

may-day-basket

One of the most popular May Day traditions is to hang a basket full of spring flowers on a neighbor’s doorknob. The trick is you don’t want the neighbor to see you.  If you get caught, you are supposed to get a kiss!

Put a smile on your neighbor or friend’s face this May Day!

April 21st, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Roll it up!

roll-it-up

Simple and sophisticated, this rolled napkin will make a stunning companion to any placesetting.

You can accessorize your napkin roll with a ribbon tie, a napkin ring, or even a piece of twine with a placecard attached to it.

Perfect for a luncheon, bridal shower, or special dinner party….I hope you will try this napkin roll at your next party!

Image via The Knot

April 20th, 2009 |

Celebrate: Earth Day 2009

April 22, 2009 marks the 39th Earth Day celebration.  Celebrate by planning a day of activities that will encourage your children to learn about planting and recycling, followed by an alfresco dinner with friends.

Earth Day Planting (small)

If it’s true that you are what you eat, then you might want to take a look at the food you are picking up at the grocery store.  The average meal travels roughly 1500 miles before it’s consumed – why not try to plant and eat organic food from your very own garden?!  It’s not only better for you, but it’s better for the earth.

Invite the neighborhood kids over to help you plant a vegetable garden.  It’s a great way to get everyone together and to teach kids how they can make a difference.  Have your garden mapped out before the kids get there – separate the kids into groups, and assign them a vegetable to plant.  Check out these great chalkboard stakes at Crate & Barrel – they are perfect for identifying what’s what!

Send the kids home with a plant of their own to nurture – you can plant them in small terracotta pots or a wooden box.

Earth Day Recycle (small)

Earth Day is a great time to teach kids about the importance of recycling.  Reuse.  Reduce.  Recycle.  Talk to your kids about why it’s important to recycle – that making new things from recycled ones takes less money, less energy and less of the Earth’s resources.  Talk to them about how they can make a difference, and help you to recycle at home.

After a day of activities with your kids, invite your friends over for a nature-inspired dinner alfresco.

Earth Day Dinner (small)

Set your table using eco-friendly linens (which you can find plenty of these days!) and use bamboo or cork serving dishes.  Use natural elements such as birch candle holders, twigs and plants as your centerpiece.  Try bringing in some other garden elements to your table – such as attaching a butterfly on to your placecard or favor box.

Menu ideas for Earth Day may include creating only foods you do not need to use energy for. This is a great way to remember the importance of the day. You can barbeque, create pasta salads, and make vegetable platters with home made dips….ranch dip with sour cream, french onion dip, bean dip are all popular.

Have all of your guests, young and old, leave their mark in your newly planted vegetable garden.  Have each one write their name on a rock and place it into your new garden.  It will be a wonderful reminder of good friends and a great day!

Images:

Recycle Images (via inmagine.com)

Dinner Images: girl (inmagine.com), table setting (rebeccathuss.com), butterfly napkin (estiloweddings.com)

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