Entertaining

Hosting a Garden Party

Summer time is the best season for outdoor entertaining.  The options for throwing a memorable party are many. There is the backyard bbq, the park picnic and even the outdoor movie night.  For a more upscale gathering, consider hosting a garden party. Garden parties incorporate pretty plants, durable party supplies, and signature drinks with a sophisticated menu. Planning a garden party allows for a little more creativity and a well thought out décor scheme.

There are so many party supplies available to transform a backyard into an inviting garden. When decorating your yard the same rules of décor apply as when you decorate the den.  Your scheme needs to include visual interest, texture, focal points and a color scheme.  In planning a garden party your décor elements will be inspired by the landscaping or your container gardens.

Begin the planning process by shopping for party supplies. A quick stop to your local craft shop can provide you with a wide range of party supplies from stationary to create invitations to little boxes to give away small favors. A well-stocked shop will have candleholders to burn a bit of citronella and delicate Chinese lanterns to provide light to the back deck.  You may even be able to find interesting containers to create centerpieces for the buffet table.  Wander the aisles and let your imagination soar with ideas.  Coordinate each of the party supplies you purchase by color and theme to keep a cohesive look.

One key component to a garden party is having a well-landscaped backyard with a beautiful display of seasonal blooms. Not to worry if your yard is a bit ho-hum, you can still add color and lush greenery by planting large container gardens.  Opt for several coordinating colors or opt for a monochromatic approach and let your color choices set the palette for the event.  The style container you choose will add to the décor of the event.  A simple pot will be less dramatic than a more ornate one giving you the opportunity to plant bolder flowers like hydrangeas and peonies.  An ornate container will serve as a focal point and do well with simpler blooms such as geraniums or roses.  Let the colors of your flowers and plants set the color scheme for the day.

Create an elegant buffet table with platters of food arranged artfully on tiered levels.  Lay out a tablecloth and layer it with a table runner for an extra punch of color or pattern.  At one end set a stack of pretty plates, silverware and napkins using a large basket to hold them.  Use little clay pots matching your color palette to hold the silverware.  Stack napkins in a square basket decorated with ribbon woven through the rim.  To keep the breeze from carrying away your napkins, hold them down with a painted seashell or rock.  Mix in small vases of flowers or potted plants and tea candles to offer soft lighting as dusk sets in.

No matter what style event hosted in the back yard, bugs are always a problem.  Keep them at bay with tiki torches and citronella candles placed evenly around the lawn.  The scent will deter the skeeters, and provide light to darken corners of the yard.  Citronella may bother some guests though.  A great alternative is to hollow out an orange and use the rind to hold burning twigs of rosemary.

With the selection of party supplies available today, it is easy to turn your backyard into a beautiful and sophisticated gathering spot for outdoor dining.  Going beyond the usual backyard fare with unique little touches will leave your friends thinking you are the next lifestyle maven.

Sophisticated Easter Decor Inspiration

Easter is by far one of my favorite holidays. Perhaps it is because I was born on an Easter Sunday, or maybe it’s due to the beautiful spring colors. Pastels are generally the go to color for Easter decorating, but it is refreshing to see  a departure from the expected.  Jewel tones offer a sophisticated take on Easter.

I recently stumbled upon the site Art de Fete with the creative Svitlana Flom at the helm.  I love the vignettes she styled. They are so sophisticated.  Most Easter vignettes can appear juvenile but her choices are more suited to an upscale adult only home.

images used with permission via Artdefete.com

images used with permission via Artdefete.com

The tablescape is equally stunning.  I love the mix of colors, textures and visual weight.  By using the branches as the centerpiece your eye is more drawn to the table with its burst of colors.

images used with permission

images used with permission

If you’d like to move away from the Easter pastels, let her vision inspire you this year.

Stress Free Holiday Tips

The holiday season is ridiculously busy, with baking, decorating, shopping and the usual everyday activities. Staying stress free can be very difficult, but with a few easy strategies the holidays can be less hectic.

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From late November to the last week of January our to do lists and calendars fill up faster than most other months. It’s overwhelming if there’s no plan. To make it a little easier, pencil in all of the activities you need or want to accomplish during the holiday season. My calendar includes a target date to finish shopping by, a day reserved for holiday baking and my decorating schedule, from putting up the tree to bathing the outdoor landscape in lights.  I leave a lot of weekend evenings open for that impromptu party invite. Down time is set aside too for watching the season’s plethora of movies and television specials. I try to remain flexible as much as I can this time of year, if a task is not accomplished on time, but isn’t a top priority I don’t sweat it. I think a rigid schedule can almost add to the stress.

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Be sure to eat right, get exercise and plenty of rest. The busyness of the season creates a opportunity to burn the  proverbial candle at both ends easily.  We start each day with trip to the gym, and have a healthy breakfast. It keeps me from snacking on sugary sweet treats this season is famous for.                         Often, Kevin and I will head out into the neighborhood for an evening stroll and to admire the festive light displays our neighbors put up each December. It’s quiet down time allowing us to talk about things or revel in the stillness of the evening. It rejuvenates us each time.

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For us just having a plan, a little flexibility and paying attention to a healthy lifestyle helps to keep the holidays stress free.

 

 

 

Celebrate: The Last Weekend of Summer

The last weekend is summer is a bit of crazy concept in a region where the temps will remain summer like for another two months or so. Still, Labor Day weekend has long been a weekend to hang with family and friends to reflect on the adventures of summer and celebrate one last time.

This weekend we may catch up with friends down by the beach, or have friends over. Regardless, I’ll be kick starting the weekend with apple slices, brie cheese, asiago cheese bread and a good red wine. IMG_0525

I recently gave Concannon Vineyards a try. They have been around for 130 years, and yet I had never heard of them. I’m not usually a fan of red wines on their own, but their Conservancy Red Table Wine was pretty good. It had an oaky flavor without being too heavy or too bitter. I would definitely buy it again.  I think it would be better in sangria, though.

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My recipe for sangria is super easy.

1 bottle of red wine

1 bottle of ginger ale

1/2 cup of Triple Sec or another orange liqueur

1/2 cup of vodka

a sliced orange, lemon and lime

Pour everything into a pitcher, stir well and let it sit over night.

If you want you can add cinnamon sticks or a couple shots of a cinnamon liqueur for an extra kick.

This sangria is great to serve at a backyard BBQ, or a casual dinner with friends.

* this post was sponsored by Bzz Agent on behalf of Concannon Vineyards. I was mailed a $5.00 coupon to try the wine.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating July 4th with Red, White and Blue

Happy 4th of July!

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Whether you are hanging with friends today or enjoying the day with family, there are many ways to bring celebrate the Red, White and Blue.

4th wreath

via thepartydress.net

Make a great holiday wreath  with a little red, white and blue yarn, a wreath form and few white buttons. It’s the perfect adornment for your front door.

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via Martha Stewart

Using a set of d-rings and some beautiful grosgrain ribbon, create these simple, yet, unique napkin rings.

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via pintrest

Love this idea! Dyed rice layered into hurricane glasses and topped of with a plain white candles.  To help keep the bugs away, try burning a citronella candle when the sun goes down.

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via designtimesfour

What’s a summer celebration without mason jars? These luminaries are a great project for the kiddos. All you need are a few mason jars, a little red, white and blue tissue paper, and some glue.  Have the kids glue the paper inside the jar, let dry and  insert a battery operated candle to safely illuminate a garden walk way.

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via betty crocker

Top the day off with delicious cupcakes.