Day 14: Get Together!

IMG_6088

The last thing I want to do when I feel like I can’t get it together is to entertain a house full of guests.  Or even host a dinner party for us and one other couple.  But that is precisely why you should do it!  Good friends, good food and good wine always lift the spirits!  Not to mention the last minute blitz to clean the place up and make it presentable!

Prince Charming and I have a divide and conquer approach to getting our house ready to entertain.  One of us tackles the playroom and the kids.  The other dusts and vacuums.  We put away laundry and clear off the counter.  We are actually really good about putting things in their proper place and not just shoving them in closets.  And within an hour or so, our house looks quite presentable.  It makes us wonder why we don’t do this cleaning blitz more often. 

Once the house is clean I begin the cooking.  I think the best way to entertain is having a larger crowd, a pot of something where guests can serve themselves and a few appetizers.  Most recently I made Brunswick Stew for a football viewing party.  We had some chips and veggies and dip as appetizers.  Some guests brought some apps and desserts.  The stew was self serve and kept warm on the stove.  It was so easy.  Everyone could eat at their leisure and I could relax.

IMG_6071 IMG_6072

I always have a beverage center set up.  I have a big galvanized tub that I bought at Lowe’s when it was on sale for $12.99.  I fill it with ice and adult beverages.  I set up glasses next to it.  I also have a smaller one for juice boxes for the kiddos. 

IMG_6070 IMG_6069

Sometimes it is nice to have a sit down dinner.  You know, pull out the good dishes, set the table, light some candles and really cook!  The nice wine can be served in the expensive wine glasses. 

I enjoy creating a menu.  Usually I have an appetizer, a salad and a main dish.  I don’t bake so dessert is either purchased or brought by another guest.  A really easy “go to” dinner menu is a charcuterie plate for an appetizer, kale and Brussels sprout salad and braised short ribs served with crusty bread.  Because the ribs are braised, they cook for a long time and it will seem like you slaved away in the kitchen when, in reality, they cooked while you did other things. 

IMG_6089IMG_6096

I keep the table setting simple.  I try to have festive colors for whatever the time of year is.  Rule of thumb: dark napkins are better than light.  They stain less!

And once the party is over and everyone is satisfied, you’ll feel like you have got it together.  Even if the dinner is gross and you have to order pizza, you and your friends will have a good laugh.  And laughter is the best way to feel like you have it together!

Fourth of July Entertaining

Happy July 4!  I’m sure all of you are gearing up for your celebrations.  Let’s just take a moment to remember that it is the birthday of our great nation and we should all be so proud to celebrate!

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.  Seriously!

I love fireworks and backyard barbeques.  I love the relaxation of summer.  I love spending it with my family.  I love cooking and lingering all day with friends and neighbors. 

Since I spend almost every July 4 at one of my favorite places on Earth (I’ll share that with you later.), I pinned so many things that I thought I’d share them with you.  There are some fantastic July 4 ideas out there!!!!

First, The Menu:

Sweet/Hot Baby Back Ribs

Fourth of July Recipes: Sweet-Hot Baby Back Ribs

Carolina Style BBQ Chicken

Picture of Carolina-Style Barbecue Chicken Recipe

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad

Lemonade Iced Tea

Patriotic Cheesecake Parfaits

 

The Party Favors:

The Table Settings and Decorations:

And the most important part:

 

(all images via Pinterest)

Happy 4th of July!!!!

Validation

Have you ever wondered “Am I any good at this?”

I wonder that exact thing every day. 

Lately, I feel like the universe is telling me “Hey!  Have some confidence!  You ARE good at this!”

For example, Tuesday I FINALLY stenciled my daughters room.  Just a focal wall to offset all that purple.  I had the idea in my head to try to mimic the pattern of her bedding.  It seemed like a good idea.  Then I added more to it – it had sparkle like glitter, and maybe have jewels….

Perhaps I went too far…..  But then I did it and it came out better than I imagined!

IMG_5018IMG_5035

(full “how-to” in the future)

Or dinner the other night…. I was following a recipe but decided to cut a little of this, add a little of that…… And I ended up with this….

IMG_5049

It was soooo good!

IMG_4669

IMG_4948

Or just hoping that someone out there likes your decorating…. and your blog…

Then you get featured on Wow Us Wednesdays with Savvy Southern Style and you feel validated.

And it feels amazing!!!!

5 Fab Wines for Under $15

I am no wine snob.  I can’t tell you what notes are left on your pallet, or talk tannins, etc.  (I don’t even know if that last sentence makes sense!  ) I like what I like and that is that.  What I really like is not paying too much for something.  I have found 5 amazing wines for under $15.  It has been said that there are plenty of wines out there for under $10, but I have found that the $10 – $15 range is the sweet spot.

This photo texted to me by my friend and her daughter about sums up my love affair with wine:

V__AE00

All wines are from Total Wine with the exception of one, as noted with its picture.

IMG_3829

IMG_3831

This one is a favorite of mine for the warmer weather.  I serve it very cold.  I don’t know if that is the correct way to serve it, but that’s how I roll!  It is a dry rose’ called Domaine Fontanyl and it costs $12.99.  It is a really good appetizer wine. 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3835

This wine is, hands down, my all time favorite.  It is very light and slightly fruity without being sweet.  I use it to cook, to sip, to entertain, everything!  Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc costs $8.97!  It goes well with fish and chicken.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3836

Bourgogne Pinot Noir came from a local wine shop aptly named The Wine Shop.  My friend picked me up a bottle after we had it at their house and I raved about it.  It has a slightly spicy finish.  (There!  That’s the depth of my wine knowledge!)  It costs $12 per bottle.  This is a steak wine, for sure!

 

 

 

IMG_3837

Cruz Alta Cabernet Sauvignon was recommended by the guy at Total Wine.  He got me at chocolate.  He said it had a chocolate finish.  I don’t really taste it, but it was good nonetheless at $11.99.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3838

This one was introduced to me by my mother and father- in- law who are quite the wine connoisseurs. (They know their coffee, too!)  They ordered it at a sushi place one evening while visiting us.  Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc is very light without being sweet.  It is $11.99 and frequently sold out!

 

 

 

I enjoy discovering new wines and learning more.  Please enlighten me on wine speak – as you can see, I need some coaching!  Smile

Superbowl Sunday Supper

I wait for this Sunday all year for two reasons: wings and beer.  We have 2 children, so Prince Charming and I don’t really do anything for the big game.  The kiddos have to be in bed at a reasonable hour; it’s a school night, after all!  So tonight we are keeping it simple.  We were lucky enough to receive a Christmas gift this year that gives all year long.  We are now members of a “Beer of the Month” club and our first shipment arrived.  Tonight we are ordering wings from a local sports bar (Taco Mac) and having a beer tasting. 

  WP_000828

My team isn’t in the big game this year (New England Patriots) so we’ll just relax and enjoy beer and wings and football, guilt free!

Cocktail, Anyone?

The new year is fast approaching.  Hold on to your hats, it’s 2013!  How are you going to celebrate?  For most people it will be spent among friend and/or family eating and drinking until midnight.  The usual beer and wine will be served along with a champagne toast at midnight.  But if you are hosting one of these soirees, why not jazz it up a bit?  Check out these festive cocktail recipes sure to start your new year with a BANG!

** Disclaimer: please drink responsibly and always have a designated driver.  There’s even a non-alcoholic beverage in here for them! **

Pomegranate Prosecco  Pomegranate Prosecco

  8 sugar cubes

  1 cup pomegranate liqueur

  2 (750-milliliter) bottles Prosecco

(From Coastal Living)             Garnish: pomegranate seeds 

Put 1 sugar cube in each of 8 Champagne flutes; add 2 tablespoons pomegranate liqueur to each glass. Fill glasses with Prosecco (about 3/4 cup each). Garnish, if desired.

  Winter Solstice Cocktail

  1 1/2 ounces orange vodka

  1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau

  1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, preferably from Meyer lemons

   (From Martha Stewart)         Ice cubes

                                             Club soda, chilled

                                             1 mint leaf, for garnish

                                             1 raspberry, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into a chilled martini glass; add a splash of soda. Carefully fold mint leaf in half lengthwise and place the stem end into the opening of the raspberry. Float on top of cocktail and serve immediately.

  Italian Sparkling Citrus Punch

1 Cup vodka

1 1/2 Cups simple syrup

1 1/2 Cups limoncello

(From care2.com)                                       1/2 Cup lemon juice

                                                                 1 Bottle prosecco

In a large punch bowl, mix all ingredients except prosecco . Cover and refrigerate for about two hours. When ready to serve, pour prosecco into the punch bowl with the limoncello mixture and add ice.

Hard Cider Sangria

  Hard Cider Sangria

1 cup quartered and thinly sliced unpeeled green, yellow and red apples

1 navel orange—quartered and thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup apple juice, chilled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

(From Food and Wine)                  1/4 cup apple brandy

                                                    One 22-ounce bottle hard apple cider, chilled

                                                     Ice

In a pitcher, combine the apples with the orange, apple juice, lemon juice and brandy. Just before serving, add the hard cider. Serve in tall glasses over ice.

Sparkling Peach Sunrise

  Sparkling Peach Sunrise (non-alcoholic)

3 ounces fresh peach juice

3/4 ounce grenadine

lemon-lime soda to fill

Pour the peach juice over ice in a highball glass.

(Found on About.com)           Fill with soda.

Slowly pour the grenadine into the drink – it will sink to the bottom and slowly rise, integrating into the drink.

Enjoy and be safe! 

Festive Table Settings

It is 6 days until Christmas and I hope you all are ready.  I know I am.  This Christmas is a little strange for our family since most of our belongings are still in boxes as we wait to find just the right house to call our home.  And Christmas decorations are no exception, including all of my Christmas china.  Needless to say, I am aching to set a festive table for Christmas, but I can’t.  My wonderful friend, Alissa, is hosting Christmas dinner this year because I can’t fit everyone in our rental house.  So I find myself scouring Pinterest and Google for inspiration for next year.  Check out what I have found!

I love the simplicity of this one.  It could be used for any winter dinner party, not just Christmas.

I just love a red and white table for Christmas.  Love the idea to tie in the chairs to the whole table setting.  Beautiful!

Check out this beauty from The Material Girls.  Anything with Hydrangea makes me happy.

I think anyone could achieve this one.  Very simple yet fully seated in the holiday spirit.  Ornaments?  Check!  White dishes?  Check!  Tree branch with some lights?  Check!

 

Pinned Image

Add some sparkle!  I adore the glittered chargers.  Image via Flickr.  (on my Pinterest board)

 

Christmas Table Setting Ideass

And, of course, just let it snow with a white table setting and a hint of sparkle. 

 

I have so many ideas for next year.  I think I will have to host Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s just to use them all! 

Catalogs for Christmas

I seem to get every catalog under the sun.  I’m sure we all do.  Most of them I throw away, especially when a new company sends one.  I breeze through my home décor ones (my favorites) and Williams Sonoma and then recycle them.  I love getting ideas from their pages and WS has some great recipes.  Yesterday I went to my mailbox and discovered a new catalog, Mark and Graham.  What a great catalog!  Super for all of you monogram junkies out there, like me.  The parent company is Williams Sonoma, so it is very simple yet chic.  Love it!  I want to order everything!  Just look at these great linen wine bags.  Perfect for hostess gifts for holiday parties.

Linen Wine Bag with Grosgrain Tie

I am particularly in love with these paper placemats.  You can write the menu on them for dinner parties!  How brilliant!

Bon Apetit Paper Placemats

And something I have always wanted (Santa, are you listening?), monogrammed napkins.  They come in almost any color monogram you can imagine.  And you can choose your font.  Free personalization and $5 flat rate shipping!  Yahoo!

Typographer's Linen Napkins