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How To: Engagement Party Planning

12 Jun

We’re planning an engagement party for my sister and her fiance in a few short weeks so I’ve had good reason to dive back into all my favorite things: food, decor, and party planning. Since we’re a smaller group, I’m leaning toward hosting a dinner party. I love the idea of a long table, intimately lit with candles and lots of wine and champagne and leisurely toasting the couple all evening.

I’m imagining this really incredible all-vegetarian menu, possibly done completely in my tagine which I’ve been dying to use since I first read Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard. Vicky loves Indian so I thought doing Moroccan could be a fun twist on cuisine she’d probably enjoy. I also love the presentation of this salade niçoise. Aside from the tuna, etc, of course. My vegetarian sister might not like that.

engagement party/ our address and contact information was edited-out obviously /

Since we’re on a tight schedule as far as the date is concerned, I opted to skip the mailed invites in favor of my favorite e-vite company, Paperless Post. We used them for our 2011 Christmas party and loved the ease of use. I just purchased 25 credits for $5, and after confirming the guest list with my sister, emailed them out, easy-peasy. Don’t worry, there was really fun animation that accompanied them that included an envelope popping up, flipping over and then opening to reveal a fun envelope liner before the invitation popped out. But my favorite feature of Paperless Post is that you’re able to track RSVPs online and communicate event updates to guests easily and in a way that is a bit more special than throwing together a Facebook event.

I wanted the feel of the event to be simple and elegant, but still playful — it’s an engagement party after all — so the invitation needed to feel equally spirited and celebratory but not necessarily overly formal. For dress I’m thinking semi-formal. Dressy, jacket and tie welcome, but not a must. As I researched engagement party ideas and etiquette I was really surprised to learn that engagement parties are typically less formal affairs than the bridal showers and rehearsal dinner to follow. Barbeques and clambakes were two top engagement party themes in fact, which makes perfect sense when I think about it. Basically, you don’t want to out-do the wedding events to follow with anything overly lavish. So I’ll have to think more about this menu. My next step will be to talk to Vicky and Dan about what they like and go from there!

How To: Rosemary, Vanilla, + Lemon Holiday Home Fragrance

25 Nov


One of the most important things to me as a host is making sure guests feel welcome and comfortable in my home. With the holidays approaching, this means I’ve been thinking more about parties, food and drinks, and decor — not to mention the urgent need to really “deep clean” our place so we’re ready for entertaining!

I’m usually careful about avoiding overly perfume-y candles because tastes differ and the last thing I’d want is to drive friends and family out the door for air because of an ill-chosen scent. So I was excited to re-create this delicious-smelling home fragrance inspired by the gourmet cookware and foods store, Williams Sonoma. It’s homey and delicious. I simmered it on my stove all afternoon while I organized our kitchen pantry yesterday and am officially obsessed. I kept making excuses to leave the kitchen just so I could re-set my senses and enjoy the delicate rosemary, vanilla, and lemon all over again upon return. You have to try it.


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DIY Williams Sonoma-inspired Home Fragrance
{ rosemary + lemon + vanilla }

You’ll Need

1 lemon, sliced in rounds
2-3 sprigs (stems) of rosemary
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
small saucepan 1/2-filled with water


– Smash the rosemary a bit to release some of the fragrance
– Dump everything into the filled sauce pan and bring to a boil on the stove
– Reduce heat to low (no bubbles)
– Add water to the pan as needed; you don’t want to smell burned lemons + rosemary, trust me!

* Tips *

– Plan to start this about 1 hour before company arrives so fragrance has time to develop.
– Play around with the ingredients per your tastes. Orange slices, cinnamon sticks, sage and a few drops of almond extract is one combination I’m excited to try for Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving Cocktails

23 Nov

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I’ve been pulling together fun cocktail ideas in addition to the list of dishes I’ll be making. Since Thanksgiving sides and desserts tend to be rather  “heavy” I erred on the side of effervescent, light and refreshing cocktails that are perfect for sipping pre-dinner or in lieu of (or with!) dessert. As a wine lover + punch fanatic I’m especially intrigued by the Pinot Punch. Cheers!

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Pilgrim Punch

1 oz. Shellback Spiced Rum
1 oz. Irish whiskey
¼ oz. vanilla schnapps
¼ oz. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 oz. brut champagne

Combine brown sugar and liquids except champagne in cocktail shaker. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with champagne.

Source: Cheri Loughlin, The Intoxicologist

Blood Orange Bellini

1 oz. Blood orange puree
½ oz. DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps
4½ oz. sparkling wine
Garnish: orange twist

Combine all ingredients in champagne flute and garnish with twist.

Source: Newport Rhode Island’s Castle Hill Inn

Pinot Punch

2 oz. Barrymore Pinot Grigio
½ oz. pomegranate juice
¾ oz. Lemon juice
¾ oz. brown sugar syrup
3 cranberries
3 sage leaves

Muddle cranberries and sage leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add brown sugar syrup, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and wine. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Garnish with sage and cranberries.

Source: Barrymore Wines

Happy Harvest

2 oz. Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka
5 red grapes
Splash grapefruit juice
Lime, squeezed
Club soda
Garnish: lemon twist

Muddle grapes in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, vodka, and grapefruit juice. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with club soda and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Source: Skinnygirl Cocktails