Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Bar Cart Styling

Does everyone have fabulous New Year's plans? Even if you're staying home, I hope you're celebrating! My plans include fresh pasta from Raffetto's, champagne, and homemade gingerbread cake. Which feels pretty perfect. And of course I gave my bar cart a makeover, so it's an official celebration.
I used a 1 inch craft punch and gold glitter card stock to cut out large pieces of confetti. (Much easier to clean up!)
Reed & Barton "Soho" Ice Bucket | Reed & Barton "Soho" Champagne Flutes | Vintage Champagne Coupes (Gift from a friend)
I switched out the "Joyeux Noel" vintage inspired postcard for a "Bonne Année" from the same Paris Glitter Greetings set by Cavallini. | Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Minis
Since I am stationery obsessed, I love incorporating cards wherever possible. The Kate Spade "Pop, Fizz, Clink" card is from Megan, of course. | The pink Rufflewood cocktail napkins are a constant on my bar cart. This time I topped them with Flutter Letterpress' vintage inspired coasters for 2014.
Happy New Year banner by Flutter Letterpress | "Press for Champagne" Framed Button by Lisa go Lightly
"May you Sparkle & Shine in the New Year" foil / letterpress card by Parrott Design Studio.
Bonne Année!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Minute New Year's Eve Party: DIY

Well, hello! In case tomorrow's pressure-filled holiday has snuck up on you, here are some ideas for last minute DIY projects to add a little festivity to your celebrations. Click the links in the image captions for the original sources and directions.
Confetti Champagne Bottle | The Hunted Interior
Glittered Votive | Crafts Unleashed
Luck & Health Favors with Printable Tags | Oh So Beautiful Paper
Confetti Poppers | Weddingbells
Champagne Labels & Glass Tags | Lia Griffith
Banner Instant Download | Creative Union Design
Party Blowers | Ruffles & Stuff

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pick-Your-Liquor Eggnog Recipe

Every Christmas Eve, my mother makes eggnog. Not the overly sweetened kind from a carton that gives eggnog a bad name. Real, homemade eggnog with whipped eggs that tastes like Christmas in a glass. Since we're not spending the day together this year, I called her for the recipe. Which I should have known would go something like: 1. a list of ingredients without quantities 2. vague preparation instructions 3. "It's done when it looks right." 4. a casual mention afterward of a really important step that she failed to mention earlier. This is just the kind of cook she is - it comes so naturally to her that she barely has to pay attention to what she's doing. After asking a series very specific questions, I was able to piece together the recipe (with actual instructions) to share with you here.
Christmas Eve Eggnog 
Quantity: Approximately 8 tumbler glasses
Time: Active: 15 minutes Resting: At least 2 hours
6 Eggs, separated
1 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups Half & Half
2 cups Lowfat Milk (1% or 2%)
1 cup Liquor (Your choice, can be a mixture)
Ground Cinnamon & Nutmeg, to garnish

Separate the eggs into 2 different medium sized mixing bowls. Be sure not to get any yolk in the bowl with the whites (the fat won't allow them to whip as much as you need). Whisk the sugar into the egg yolks for 2-3 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the yolks lighten slightly. Add the vanilla extract, half & half and milk; whisk to incorporate. In the second bowl, whip the egg whites until they are very fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture.

Here's where it gets fun. At this point, you can add 1 cup of whichever liquor you'd like, or a mixture. My mother likes to mix of rum, brandy, bourbon and sherry. She adds it into the egg mixture, pours the whole thing into a pitcher and let's it chill for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

I like to let the guest decide which liquor they prefer for their drink. So I'm letting the mixture chill (again at least 2 hours) without adding any liquor, and presenting a pitcher of virgin eggnog. Then in a tumbler glass with ice, pour a shot of the guests' choice of liquor - I like Kahlúa, while my husband prefers Bourbon - you can use almost anything you have in your cabinet. Grand Marnier also goes wonderfully. Then fill the remainder of the glass with the virgin eggnog and stir to combine. Top with a sprinkled pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday R&R

Holiday Card by Flutter Letterpress; Vintage stamps
Hi there! Is everyone officially on holiday break? I hope you're all doing something fun and festive. I'm on my way to sunny Florida for the week. Not that it'll be very different from New York - it was 70 degrees yesterday! Confession: due to that darned flu - which I am not pleased to report that I am still recovering from - I wasn't able to prepare much for you this week in advance of my trip. I am so sorry! Please don't hate me, hate the flu. I promise I'll be 100% back with you next week and we'll have some fun with New Year's Eve bar cart design. In the meantime I'll try to post a few updates here with some photos of our celebrations and maybe a recipe (homemade eggnog anyone?)
Thanks for your patience! Happy holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Weekend Links: The Latest in Food, Wine & Holiday Celebration

My Latest Online Magazine Obsession
I just discovered the online magazine foodiecrush and I love it. Check out their Holiday 2013 edition, which features "Festive Foodies and their Sweets, Treats and Entertaining Eats."

My holiday spirit took a major hit while I dealt with the flu all week. As soon and I'm back to a normal human temperature, I'm going to try Darling Magazine's list of Top 5 Ways to Get into the Holiday Spirit. Hot cocoa and cookies sound SO much more appealing than vegetable broth and Emergen-c.

Lark & Linen interviews Martha Stewart for her holiday entertaining tips. An invitation to Martha's annual Christmas Brunch Open House is on my (in my wildest dreams) wish list.

Cookies you can make out of leftover pie crust - no more waste!

Getting a little tired of the non-stop promotional emails from every single company who has your address? This 2013 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog will make it all better.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Megan's Bar Cart

Megan Dorward's Bar Cart
Hi Friends. I had big plans for a cookie decorating post today, but unfortunately I've been spending most of the week in bed with the flu. Not exactly one of the seasonal activities I'd been looking forward to! I'll be back tomorrow with some fun weekend links, and hopefully will have recovered fully by next week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3 New Year's Party Looks: Night Out, Night In, Pajama Brunch

Megan at her Bar Cart in Washington D.C.
Look who's back!! Megan took my not-so-subtle hint that I needed her expert advice on New Years attire. Didn't you just love her holiday party looks? Now she's back with 3 more, including options for a New Years Eve both "out" and "in" - so whatever your plans are, Megan has you covered. Personally for this holiday I'm a fan of a night in - I'm never one for the hassle of long lines outside in the cold, for the ladies room, for a cab home…no thank you. That said, I do like to keep things festive (always!) so Megan's "fancy pant" is such a perfect option for a cozy celebration at home. But my favorite by far is her New Years Day Pajama Brunch idea. This is an actual event that she throws! Can you imagine?! If we lived in the same city my next hint would definitely be for an invitation to her 2014 brunch. In fact, I'm going to start shopping for my own "party jams," as she calls them. You know, just in case. And here she is...

Megan: If you're headed to a glitzy, swingin' New Year's Eve party like the kind Harry & Sally were always meeting at (then I envy you because those parties looked awesome), the occasion calls for a festive, sparkly party dress. I love this J.Crew number because it has some of my favorite elements: a neckline I won't be tugging at all night long, a metallic fabric, and a full skirt for twirling. Ann Taylor (yes, Ann Taylor!) has been rolling out one pair of good-looking shoes after another this season, and these darling bow pumps will turn heads as you're coming and going. To pick up the bow theme of the shoes, I've added this J.Crew holiday bow necklace and Kate Spade bow watch. Bows on bows on bows on toes!
Dress: J.Crew | Necklace: J.Crew, similar Ann Taylor version here | Shoes: Ann Taylor | Watch: Kate Spade | Ring: J.Crew, also eyeing this Michael Kors ring | Bag: vintage | Nails: Essie, "Who's She Red" | Lip: Nars, Heat Wave

Megan: Sometimes the best New Year's Eve celebrations consist of nothing more than a few friends, a cocktail or two, and round of Auld Lang Syne. If you're planning to ring in the New Year with a cozy night at home, I love the idea of a "fancy pant"- it's celebratory without much more effort than jeans. I've paired these gold brocade pants with a black merino sweater and a classic black pump. I love a good tassel necklace, and I've been collecting them since I was old enough to drive to flea markets on Saturday mornings. I love the art deco feel of this J.Crew necklace that I got last year, but tassels have been turning up everywhere this season, and this is one of the hardest working pieces in my jewelry box. New Year's Eve style doesn't get much easier than this.
Sweater: J.Crew | Pants: J.Crew (I also love these and these, J.Crew really outdid themselves) | Shoes: Ann Taylor | Necklace: J.Crew, similar here | Bracelet: J.Crew

Megan: There's so much anticipation around New Year's Eve that sometimes New Year's Day feels like a bit of a let down, and that's no way to begin the year. So what better way to celebrate than with a pajama party brunch? If you've had perhaps a bit too much to imbibe, then this hangover chic get-up is just the ticket. I call these J.Crew pajamas my party jams, as I've worn them to more than one party but have yet to actually sleep in them... I've found that the trick to styling glam jams like actual clothing is lots of statement jewelry and real shoes. I've layered on the pearls and stacked up the cocktail rings and found these glitter smoking slippers at Gap. Put on the sunnies, pop the bubbly, and raise a (wobbly) glass to 2014.
Pajamas: J.Crew, this year's solid navy version here and a pocket crest here | Shoes: Gap (in-store only) and metallic version here | Sunglasses: RayBan Wayfarer 52 | Necklace: J.Crew | Rings: various costume jewelry shops in New York, but some equally outrageous and inexpensive versions can be found here and here and here

Doesn't this make you think you should always wear pearls with your pajamas? And lucky us - Megan has already agreed to return in January with some looks for Valentine's Day. Thanks, Megan!

All images in this post are by photographer Kristin Lance.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Printable Holiday Gift Tags: Freebie Roundup

Now that we have gift wrap covered, here are some free printable tags to complete your gifts! Click the links in the image captions to download the original files from the designers' websites. Then simply print the file in color on white card stock (not regular paper - that's too thin) and cut out the tags. You can either tape them to your gifts or punch out the holes and tie them with some twine or thin ribbon. Enjoy!

PS: Tomorrow our fashion contributor Megan is back! She'll be sharing some looks for New Years with us. I can't wait!

Kelli Murray
Oh So Glam
Oh So Glam
Sweet Muffin Suite
Eat Drink Chic
Sharon Rowan Photo Design

Monday, December 16, 2013

Best of: Holiday 2013 Gift Wrap

You've picked out the perfect gifts - well done! Now you need to consider the presentation. There are so many beautiful options for holiday wrapping this year that waiting until the last minute and buying something at the drugstore would be such a waste of an opportunity! Here are some of my favorites. I decided to go with this first one, Rifle Paper Co.'s holiday plaid - surprisingly traditional for me, but I love it.

Holiday Plaid, Rifle Paper Co.
Kraft Polka Dot, Sugar Paper
Snow Globe Jars, Paper Source
Kate Spade Reversible Gold Dots / Stripe via Waiting on Martha
Sugar Paper Cheerful Red, via Waiting on Martha
Rosa Wrapping Sheets, Rifle Paper Co.
Fete for Friends, Mr. Boddington's Studio

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Links: The Latest in Food, Wine & Holiday Celebration

Photo Credit: Two Twenty One
1. How much fun is this free "Eat, Drink and be Merry" printable from Two Twenty One? I think it would look great printed and framed on a bar cart (obviously), on an entrance table to greet your guests, or on a buffet station. It's also available in all red or all green, if the multi-colored version is a little too bright for you.

2. I assume that around this time everyone is gift wrapping like crazy? Check out Style Me Pretty Living's guide to How to Wrap the Perfect Gift and Minted's guide to How to Tie the Perfect Bow. Both great refreshers! 

3. In case you are a late shopper and need to send some foodie gifts, my favorite market - and basically my second home - Foragers City Grocer has started shipping their products nationally. Everything I've ever bought there has been perfection.

4. Attending a holiday party and asked to bring an appetizer? The Effortless Chic put together a list of suggestions from several food blogs: The Best of the Holidays / Appetizers

5. If you're hosting a dinner party over the holidays and need some inspiration, Apartment 34's advice regarding How to Set the Perfect Holiday Table is basically all you need. Beyond beautiful. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Joyeux Noel Details: Cocktail, Favors, and Postcard Invitations

I wanted to send paper invitations for our Joyeux Noel celebration, but the limited number of guests meant that it didn't make sense to order custom. So instead I decided on these vintage-inspired postcards by Cavallini. I also found vintage holiday postage on Etsy. 
Each stamp was between 5 to 15 cents, so I had to include several to add up to enough postage. A tip for doing this - arrange the stamps prior to writing the address, so you don't have to place the stamps around your text.
I matted and framed one of the extra postcards and placed it on my bar cart to continue the theme. For the sparkling cocktail I used Belvoir Fruit Farms' latest cordial, made of apple, plum and cinnamon - the flavors seemed very wintry and festive. I simply poured 1/3 of the bottle into a pitcher and topped it off with champagne. I placed a sage leaf in each coupe glass while waiting for the guests to arrive. I apologize for the blurry photo - trying to photograph everything while entertaining gets a little hectic! 
For the favors, I bought these golden monogram mugs from Anthropologie (now available in black) in each guest's initial and placed a clear treat bag inside. I bought extra of the desserts, which I placed inside along with any leftovers at the end of the party. Topped off with a green ribbon to match the tablescape. Et voila!