Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall Harvest Party

If you need help with your Thanksgiving tablescape, you are totes in luck because our Harvest Party decor will serve as the perfect inspiration for the upcoming holiday! 

My sister-in-law Drew, our friend Kristen (of the fabulous Kristen LeQuire Photography) and I teamed up to host a Harvest Party over the weekend. You might say it was a cornucopia of fall party goodness. At the very least it was a great way to get together 50 (yes, 50!) of our closest friends before the holiday rush gets started. 

Let's take a look at our little soiree, and note that all beautiful/professional photos are from Kristen LeQuire Photography and all average ones with not great lighting (because I don't really know how to use my camera) are from me. Ha! 

We went with a rustic theme with burlap, candles, pumpkins and hay. That's right, haaaaaay. I tried to teach my niece Brookie that horsies say "Haaaaaaay" but she said horses say "Neighhhhh." 
She's smarter than me. 

We played with height and tiers by putting pumpkins on mini hay bales and having a few tall candlesticks. I loved it! 

My favorite part of the main tablescape was the "EAT" runner, which I purchased from the Etsy shop CushPillowDesign. Oh Etsy you're such a wealth of handmade amazingness.

Our menu was full of hearty and creative appetizers and some old standby favorites. We had different stations everywhere which is always fun - everywhere you went there was a new delicacy to be had! 

The main table (the "EAT" table!) had the big spread. It included cheese, meats, a fall salad, meatballs, etc. There were lots of yummy goodies to choose from!

We also had a Crostini Bar, which was an idea I saw on the always inspiring 
Celebrations at Home Blog! I set up the crostini bar on brown Kraft paper and wrote the different toppings directly on the paper. It made for easy clean-up and a neat set-up! 

We also created a Popcorn and Nut Bar which was a hit. People love to snack at parties, duh. We put different varieties of popcorn and nuts (bought at Trader Joes and World Market) in glass containers with either chalkboard labels or burlap. 

While the party was BYOB, we did provide a Spiked Cider. I personally love trying a signature drink or cocktail at a party, but people usually like to stick to their regular drink or cocktail and sometimes the signature drink gets ignored. I was SO pleased when our Spiked Cider was a hit! I used 2 gallons of the Spiked Cider from Trader Joes (like $2.99 each!) and a good amount of Bacardi Rum. I poured the cider in the crockpot first and let it warm up for a few hours, then right before guests arrived I poured in the rum. You don't want the alcohol burning off and ruining the party, do you? We served the cider in mason jars with striped straws. 

We served a few mini desserts because we all felt (and were correct) that people don't really eat a lot of dessert at a cocktail party. So we served little pumpkin pie tarts and mini carrot cake cupcakes.

And these appropriately timed Maple Leaf cookies from Trader Joe's. 

We also didn't super stress about desserts because we were having an outdoor Smores station! Using sternos and wooden boxes made by Drew's hubby, we made a Smores station that was enjoyed by all. Everyone loves Smores, no matter how old you are :)

While we were setting up we discovered that everyone looks great lighting candles so we took a few "posed" shots lighting candles. Women are ridiculous...

Here's me:

And Drew:

And then Kristen did the greatest thing ever by comparing me to my other favorite Jackie, Jackie O.
(Jackie Fo ... Jackie O...get it?)

I hope you got some inspiration for your Thanksgiving table from our Harvest Party! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brix Chocolate: Chocolate and Wine

Chocolate and Wine. Wine and Chocolate. It's the perfect pair to soothe a bad day, celebrate something special or just spice up a Tuesday night. So when I discovered that someone had gotten serious about wine and chocolate pairings, I knew I had to check it out stat. The geniuses behind Brix Chocolate have a tagline: Chocolate for Wine. And it lives up to the hype! 

With 4 different kinds of chocolate to pair with everything from Cabernet to Riesling, it's incredibly fun to pair up the chocolate decadence with some more decadence :) The wonderful Kristen LeQuire of Kristen LeQuire Photography took some lovely photos of my friend Hillary and I doing what we do best, eating and drinking of course!

I love the Brix packaging, it would make a great gift to pair with a bottle of your favorite vino! What a great hostess gift for all those holiday parties you'll be attending this season :)

As the name suggests, Brix is quite simply, a brick of chocolate! They're not messing around! 
It shaves off beautiful pieces of bite sized chocolate...


... to serve out of little bowls for a wine/chocolate pairing...

...and for sneaking sweet bites along the way!

And of course, don't forget the wine!

Hillary and I had a blast tasting and drinking...drinking and tasting! 


Kristen created this great collage of our fun tasting. 

If you head to the Brix website, there's all sorts of info about the yummy product, including the perfect way to get the most of your Brix chocolate. Pick up a brick or two for the holidays either for a gift or to host your own chocolate and wine tasting soiree! 

Happy pairing!

Disclaimer: Brix Chocolate for Wine provided me with this product in connection with my blog post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teacher Retirement Party

When a teacher retires, it's only appropriate to throw an A+ shindig! Complete with chalkboards and apples, my mom and I threw her good friend Sharon a party to send her into retirement in style! 

Sharon was an art teacher for many, many years and is super creative so we had to do something simple but special! I think we succeeded!

Thank goodness for the popularity of chalkboards, because I used them for everything including the invitation from this cute Etsy shop.



I especially loved these mini chalkboards I found at World Market. They just put a World Market right by me and I think it means trouble.



I also found a variety of teacher-y ribbons from Michaels like these ABC ribbons I used to tie the napkins...


..and these apple ribbons I used to tie around the champagne flutes! I was obsessed with these little ribbons!


Since Sharon was an art teacher, I found paintbrushes and paint from the Dollar Store. Don't discount the Dollar Store for your miscellaneous party needs! It's a real treasure trove and I still can't get over that everything's a dollar.


In keeping with the artsy theme, I had my go-to caker Jen from 13 Tiers create a fun cake with an art palette and paintbrush.


Complete with a "Retirement is Sweet" sign.


Finally we gave out apple and schoolbus specialty cookies created by SugarBakers who always do an amazing job. 

It was such a fun party and also made me realize how long I have until I retire haha! 

In foodie news, I made this Cooking Light cover recipe for Sweet Potato Soup last night and it was so yummy and easy to do! I highly recommend picking up the issue and making this comforting fall soup.

And finally, in miscellaneous news, my hilarious father made an appearance on the Today Show this morning commenting on a story in his current city of New York. Oh big Joe. 

Happy Tuesday! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Creative Cake Toppers

Well happy Thursday and I cannot believe it's Thursday! This week has gone by really quickly, at least for me. I've been catching up after my wedding this past weekend which went really, really smoothly! Liz & Derek are so sweet and fun and I can't wait to see the professional photos in a few weeks, which I will of course share with you. That was my last wedding of the year but I've got a holiday party and lots of smaller events the rest of this year until my next wedding in January to ring in the New Year! 

One of my favorite things about Liz & Derek's wedding was their creative cake toppers. They were able to get toppers that looked exactly like their cats. The girl topper even wore a veil and carried sunflowers like Liz did! It was adorable. 


My double cousin Lauren is having creative toppers at her wedding later this month, which makes me think, toppers are getting real creative these days! I did a little search to see what else is out there in the world of toppers and there was a plethora!

My cousin is doing a cute topper but i'll let that be a surprise!

This high five topper is hilarious! And appropriate, becasue your hubby should be your best friend and therefore you should be high fiving him a lot.

I love this LOVE topper :)

The monogram topper is sweet too!

The Mr. and Mrs. is cute too.

I'm really into birds lately. Fake birds because I despise real birds (they're scary). Love this!

These DIY glitter hearts are a DIY-not. (Get it? D - I - Why Not)

This pennant topper is adorable and also so easy. 

Don't forget to dress up your cupcakes too!

Aren't all of these toppers so cute! Makes me want to make a lot of cakes and top them with cute things. 

In other news, I'm writing for a great new site called Girls Guide To that you should definitely check out! My first article is called "How to throw a Harvest Party" and it's got tons of great tips for throwing a fabulous fall bash! 

Make it a great day!