Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Parisian Chic Luncheon

Oui Oui...Bonjour...Salad Nicoise...Baguette...this about all the French I know! For shame, I have never been to grand Par-eeee. One day though, I will be there and I'll know a lot more French.

Since I've never been to Paris, I figured why not throw a Parisian Chic baby shower luncheon for my fab sister in law Drew? You know, the one with my cutie pie niece, Brooke? They're having another baby girl! Cue my excitement!! Drew, in her typical humble fashion, wanted just a simple lunch since she's already got baby clothes and STUFF galore for baby #2. In typical Jackie "over the top" fashion, I tried to do a full blown shower but it was to no avail. I'm still happy though because I got to throw her a  fabulously chic luncheon to celebrate the new bebe. 

The real reason for the French flair was because we held the shower at the darling French restaurant, Cafe Monte.  The cafe is full of French food, French music and of course, French pastries. It's an absolutely adorable restaurant and I've said several times, "This would be the cutest place for a shower!" BOOM. It happened. And it was just as cute as I imagined :) 

We had a small crowd of intimate guests who are close to Drew. I went to my go-to invite gal Jess from Party Box and chose this chic invite to set the tone. I picked up an Eiffel Tower stamp from Paper Source (aka my weakness) and stamped the outside of the envelopes...side note, how fun is stamping? I'm a little obsessed. There's a stamp for everything. And if there isn't, you can make your own custom stamp. It's absolutely stamp-tastic. 

I continued my stamp-happy ways with the place cards. I added a "Le" in front of everyone's name too, because I thought it sounded French and fancy. (Thanks to Kristen for taking the pics since I pulled a rookie move and had zero memory card in my camera. Der Jackie.)

I collected many an Eiffel Tower to create a "row" of towers in the center of the table. They were from Hobby Lobby, Target and Sur La Table. They were excellent purchases, I must say. I added white roses to give the dark table some brightness. 


I added sprigs of dried lavender to each place setting. Again, it seemed French...

The signature cocktail was a pomegranate Mimosa (virgin Shirley Temple for the mama to be!) with striped straws and straw flags from Party Box. 

For party favors, we hit the jackpot at Pottery Barn which apparently has gone Eiffel Tower-obsessed this holiday season with a plethora of Parisian ornaments featuring the grand structure. I set the ornaments at each place setting with a sticker from the fab Party Box.  Tres chic, no?

How sparkly is this ornament?! It looks magnifique on my tree!

For a sweet ending to the evening, I had one of my favorite independent bakers, Jen Panaro, make these gorgeous cupcakes. I sent her the invitation and she matched the colors exactly! Everyone loved these adorable treats! How could you not... 

What you don't see in these photos is the mini-Paris trivia quiz with mind boggling questions like: "Is French toast REALLY French?" The answer: "It's unclear." 
Seriously, I couldn't get a straight answer so I gave up.

Here are some pics of the glowing mom and myself... Among other reasons, Drew is probably really sick of being preggers because I always touch her baby belly... it's getting weird.

It definitely got weird in the creepy moment below captured for all time...I look slightly crazy and possessed... just trying to bond with my new niece perhaps? What a weirdo. Even Drew looks scared. 

I'm so excited to welcome my new little niece into the world and see what kind of big sister Brookie will be! It can't get here soon enough, right Drew?! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Alley and Mark's Wedding Photos are here!

Happy Friday! You might remember Alley and Mark's beautiful wedding I previewed back in October.   The fabulous Dianne Personett of Dianne Personett Photography has the photos and they are stunning! 

I adore this ring shot perched on the cupcakes with the named flags. Also, how beautiful is Alley's ring?! Mark did quite a job on this one, and I have to admit, I've tried this sparkler on many times. (Isn't Alley sweet to let me try it on? If it was me I would never let it off my finger!)
 It's even prettier in person!

Speaking of beautiful, how great is her dress!

And how handsome is this couple!


I loved the rustic florals done by Pink Petunia.

Check out the groomsmen's fancy socks! 

And the fabulous wine crate cupcake display that showed off Got What it Cakes work just perfectly! 

Mark and Alley got away through a sea of fall leaves!

...and hopped on a golf cart to drive away into a happy life!

So now you've seen some elegance, how about some cuteness? Holiday Tea Cuteness, to be exact! My mom, mother in law, sister in law and precious niece Brooke enjoyed holiday tea at Ballantyne Hotel yesterday. Complete with a plethora of tea flavors, finger sandwiches and tiered trays of petit desserts, the holiday tea was a great way to celebrate the holidays! I'd check out the local fancy schmancy hotels in your area to see if they offer it. It's a great time out with the ladies!

Ballantyne gave a beautiful presentation and quite a selection. You know I tried every variety. They were mini, so you can have as many as you want. That's the rule.

Brooke had her apple juice in a teacup and really got the hang of it!

How cute is her gingerbread dress? She's the picture of holiday cheer in front of that beautiful tree, is she not?

Here we are cheesin' it up. I love her Dorothy red shoes!

I hope you have a great weekend!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Turkey...and risotto...Holy Yum.

Good morning and Happy Monday! Even though I stayed up way too late watching episodes of my new favorite show Homeland (I'm obsessed), I woke up in a good mood ready to have a productive week! Which is better than how I felt last week in my post-DR fun coma ready to do about zero work.

Last night i made a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself. I felt like cooking a big meal for the following reasons:

1) I haven't done a whole lot of cooking lately due to general busyness. I missed it.
2) We never really had a Thanksgiving dinner in the DR. They tried and did a good job planning a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner by the pool at the resort, but they ran out of turkey in the first 20 minutes. Whoops.
3) I wanted to give myself a little holiday kick start. I think it worked as I'm ready to get my tree this week :)

For my big meal, I decided to make a turkey. Okay, okay, not a real turkey, but a bone in turkey breast with a pop up timer and everything! 6 whole lbs! It was my first time and I have to say it was easy thanks to a foolproof recipe from the always reliable Barefoot Contessa. This herb-roasted turkey breast recipe was excellent and I followed it exactly, no changes except more garlic. Always more garlic. This took about 2 hours to cook and despite the grossness of stuffing the herb paste under the skin (ew), I was a big fan. The turkey turned out moist and delicious, not a dry piece in the whole bird. Next time I would add more white wine in the pan to add a little more pan juice for the turkey, but that's my only advice. Oh, and be sure to use fresh herbs for this one, don't skimp as I usually do and use the dried herbs. It's worth it for this.
Herb paste (smells delish)

Bird's done!

One of my absolute favorite food items in the whole wide world is risotto. I just love the whole cooking process, the creaminess and the fact that you can add just about anything to it and it tastes delicious. This time I added one of my favorite fall/winter flavors this time, butternut squash. Side note, I've chopped a whole butternut squash one time and that will be the last time. I almost cut my fingers not worth it. They've got perfectly fresh diced butternut squash ready in the produce section, probably cut with a big machine to protect people's fingers. I  based my risotto of this simple recipe, and added my own touches. Big changes were more Parmesan (always more Parmesan), pinches of nutmeg and more wine right before serving. Sometimes the risotto can get gummy and dry after it's been in the pot for awhile, so the white wine moistens the rice along with giving it more flavor. And be sure to stir, stir, stir.

Saute the squash and onions in melted butter.

Add the rice and wine, and spoon in the broth a few ladles at a time.

Add your freshly grated parmesean in the last few minutes of cooking. I find the stirring process (although lengthy) relaxing, and I love seeing how puffed up and creamy the risotto gets.

Complete looks a bit colorless. Whoops.

I made a pretty salad with romaine lettuce leaves for a pop of color, and let's face it, we needed some veggies.

For the table, I did simple green and red decorations complete with M and M chocolate chip cookies as a centerpiece.


I was also excited to use my "Cheers" glasses from CB2 for the first time. Aren't they the best?

I used them with my favorite drink of choice, LaMarca Prosecco.

While I was cooking, Mr. Fo took a Sunday afternoon nap. I'm a big nap fan myself, so this was cool with me. Plus cooking time is my "me time."



We ate a lot of cookies...and gave a lot away. Side note the cookie recipe was the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe with holiday M and Ms added for festiveness (about 1/2 the bag).

If you're looking for holiday party ideas or need some help sprucing up your holiday entertaining, give me a shout. (Secret - this is part of a bigger online consulting service I will be officially rolling out January 2013. I've been working "virtually" with clients over the past year helping with party ideas and am loving it! Phone/Emails/Skype - I do it all! More info coming! )

Let me do what I do best, search the Internet obsessively and email you a plethora of resources, ideas and bargains to make your holidays the most festive ever. Basically, online consulting is my jam.

Just ask my latest online consulting client, Patricia who said the nicest things about me below! And she became an Internet friend in the process, btw. See, you can get custom  party planning help and a new friend all rolled into one!
"Jackie was so much fun to work with and helped me pull off an amazing birthday party for my husband!  She's creative, thorough, energetic, and most importantly, available when you need her and there to calm your nerves when   you're overwhelmed and frazzled with the planning process.  Having her as a virtual consultant was like having her in person- she was absolutely wonderful!"
So, to conclude, contact me for your holiday party needs (no matter where you're located), and make risotto asap. You'll thank me!