Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Links: Are you there, spring?

Image Credit: Note to Self Print Shop
...Something to keep in mind during what is supposed to be a chilly, rainy weekend in NYC. Thankfully we still have a few bottles of our house red in the wine fridge. When oh when will it be time for rosé?!

This is SO useful: Beautiful bottles by color for your bar cart (Hank & Hunt)

Trend We Love: Gold Wire Sideframe Tables (Lonny) - If we had room for another side table, I'd go for one of these.

Hopefully we'll never need to know this, but just in case: How to salvage overcooked cake (The Faux Martha)

How to trick people into thinking you're French (Garance Doré) - #2 Eat bread. Baguettes. Croissants. Do this without gaining a pound - has some truth to it. There is a French woman at my yoga studio who I noticed twice this week walking into class eating a giant almond croissant. I'm baffled by her.

I'm loving all of these: 6 Easy Pieces to Refresh Your Spring Wardrobe (The Atelier) You can find several of them on my Spring Style board.

Good question: Why are wine and cocktails absent from restaurant criticism? (PUNCH)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

12 Spring Hostess Gifts Under $50

Hopefully we'll all be attending a few fabulous spring soirées, so I suggest stocking up on a few of these items to have ready to wrap. It's such a relief to have a things like this waiting when you need a gift instead of having to scramble at the last minute. At less than $50 each you can pick up a few - and it wouldn't be the worst thing to keep one for yourself! 
1. Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board | 2. Brooklyn Thread Wine Stopper | 3. Aerin Gold Comb | 4. The Social Type Oui et Non Matches via Hattan Home | 5. Silver Plated Cocktail Picks | 6. Rifle Paper Co. Citrus Floral Menu Cards via Furbish Studio | 7. Wishbone Jewelry Holder | 8. White Pig Bowl | 9. Jonathan Adler Smartphone Dock via Shopbop (free shipping & returns!) | 10. Jacobsen Salt Co. Slide Tins, Set of 6 - Perfect for picnics! via Williams-Sonoma | 11. Turkish Hand Towels in Sky Blue & Light Pink | 12. Voluspa Maison Noir Crisp Champagne Candle via Nordstrom (free shipping & returns!) 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cake Baking Class at One Girl Cookies

Last week I attended another baking class at One Girl Cookies. I wrote about the cookie baking class last fall, and featured some of their cookies in the Joyeux Noel luncheon I hosted last winter. As I mentioned before, Chef Dave is a fantastic host; he makes sure that everyone is comfortable asking questions during the class and has a lot of fun (and a full wine glass). He was kind enough to give us his personal entertaining tips last year - definitely go back and read them if you missed out!
The finished product on my bar cart with Belvoir Fruit Farms beverages, Rufflewood cocktail napkins,
and The Social Type matches via Hattan Home and LEIF.
This class featured a chocolate cake with rosewater buttercream. I've ordered their cakes before for special occasions (including the baby shower I co-hosted this winter) so I knew the cakes would be delicious. The theme of the class was "sweets for my sweet" because it was originally scheduled for Valentine's Day weekend but was postponed due to a snowstorm. My husband definitely didn't plan to be at a baking class during March Madness, but he was a good sport about it - luckily his team wasn't playing that night! Recipes can be found in the One Girl Cookies cookbook. They are starting a new series of classes next month called "Bake the Book"- if you sign up for 3 classes in the series you get the book for free! Sign up here. I'm definitely signing up for the whoopie pie class - the pumpkin flavor is incredible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shop the Look: The Full Skirt

Not that I'm surprised, but Megan's spring-ready full skirts were a hit! So I've put together even more options for you to shop and try for yourself. Any favorites?? I personally tend to gravitate toward navy, so I have my eye on #6. The Tibi skirt #3 has been worn by several celebs recently, so you can bet it's going to sell out quickly!
1. PARTYSKIRTS Wild Strawberry Lady Length | 2. Tibi Raffia Organza Full Skirt | 3. Tibi Raffia Patchwork Full Skirt | 4. Bel & Beau The Mrs. Maxi Skirt in Sapphire | 5. Bel & Beau The Mrs. Maxi Skirt in Onyx | 6. PARTYSKIRTS Navy Lady Length | 7. PARTYSKIRTS Black Classic Mini

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Style: The Full Skirt

What better way to kick off spring than with some super feminine skirts styled by our fashion contributor Megan? I've personally been loving the full skirt trend that I've been seeing in stores and on fashion blogs, so I'm thrilled to have Megan's expert advice on how to style them. Don't you think the floor length pink skirt would be perfect hostess attire? It's elegant without being fussy. And if you missed her last post on how to style fancy pants, you should definitely catch up. Here she is!
Megan: It's finally spring, and all I want to do is put on a voluminous skirt and twirl. (And maybe befriend some little bluebirds who'll help me get dressed in the morning, Cinderella-style.) The full skirt is a classic shape that has been making a big comeback lately, and I am so excited to transition into spring with a few new skirts to style for a multitude of occasions. Nothing shouts a bare-legged hello to warmer weather quite like a fun, full, feminine skirt, and so without further delay - we present the party skirt. 
Megan: There are few things in this world that are as equally fun and feminine as a tutu. I've paired this one with a striped slub tee because I like the contrast of the fluffy tulle with the casual cotton knit. The blush tone of the skirt is sweet but the athletic-inspired black and white top keep it from being too precious.
Skirt: Space 46 Boutique | Top: J.Crew, similar | Shoes: Ann Taylor, similar J.Crew version | Necklace: J.Crew, similar | Bracelet: J.Crew

Megan: I discovered Bel & Beau's party skirts last fall, and this emerald mini has been a staple in my late winter wardrobe. It's seen alumni receptions, dinner parties, and a St. Patrick's Day celebration. The high-waisted shape and taffeta fabric are a total throwback to an era when men and women dressed for cocktail hour, and I can't help but have a total blast in this skirt, a pair of pointy-toe pumps, and a bold red lip. It's my go-to good-time party look.
Skirt: Bel & Beau | Sweater: J.Crew | Tights: J.Crew Factory | Shoes: Ann Taylor, similar J.Crew version | Necklace: J.Crew, similar J.Crew Factory version

Megan: I caught a glimpse of this Carmen Marc Valvo gown from the Spring Summer 2013 runway show, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I loved the chic sequined white tee against the punchy coral ball gown skirt, and I was inspired to recreate it with some very accessible pieces. I paired this white embellished shell with a floor length fuchsia skirt for a look that is elegant and classic but with a bit of whimsy and effervescence. I'm just waiting for an invitation to a black tie affair with a Palm Beach theme...
Skirt: Bel & Beau | Top: C.Wonder, similar Ann Taylor version | Shoes: Banana Republic, similar J.Crew version | Bracelet: Kate Spade | Ring: vintage

All images in this post are by photographer Kristin Lance.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Spring Celebration

NYC in Spring via Vita Nostra Photography
New York City chefs look forward to spring ingredients - learn what your favorite chefs will be cooking with this spring.

More spring vegetables to be excited for and what to do with them: I am loving this green bean, red rice and almond salad from The French Market Cookbook.

If you're contemplating a juice cleanse, Gwyneth has some advice for you in this week's GOOP.

Out with the old: The Everygirl can help you spring clean with 7 questions to ask when cleaning out your closet.

In with the new: buy yourself something pretty from my Spring Style board.

Megan will be back on Monday to show us how to style some fun party skirts!!

Until then... xo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

I've been looking for a few photographs to frame and place on and above my bar cart - it's in serious need of a spring makeover. Currently I am loving Georgianna Lane on Etsy. Most of her photos are in the perfect palette for spring, so I thought the first day of the season would be a great day to share them with you. Head over to her shop for more prettiness and to purchase a few for yourself! (She photographs more than Paris, I'm just in a phase...yes, still).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Outstanding in the Field: Tickets on Sale Tomorrow!!

It might still be freezing outside, but the first day of spring (tomorrow!) does bring with it some excitement that is not weather-dependent: Outstanding in the Field tickets go on sale!! I attended my first of their dinners last year at Queens Farm in NY. It was one of the best culinary experiences I've had to date. It was a few weeks prior to the start of A Bar Cart in Brooklyn, so I didn't get the chance to tell you about it back then or share my photos.
Outstanding in the Field Dinner at Queens Farm 9/11/13
I couldn't possibly describe their mission better than they do, so here it is from their website: Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table. Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it. Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table.
The dinner started with a reception featuring a cocktail infused with fresh herbs and topped with nutmeg grated into each individual drink. An impressive feat for a crowd of 156 people! PUNCH was there lending their expertise and mixing these up for us. After some incredible hors d'oeuvres and a farm tour, we were seated for dinner at one gigantic long table (pictured above) - again, set for 156. Guests are encouraged to bring their own plates for dinner - a tradition that began in the early days when OITF didn't have enough to go around. Your plate is washed and returned to you at the end of the evening. But if you don't remember to bring your own, there is a stack of pretty vintage china to choose from.
I can't recommend this experience enough. Yes, tickets are pricey. But it's guaranteed to be one of the most memorable dinners of your life. I was lucky enough to happen to sit by some super fun people, who I keep in touch with still. We've formed what we call our "Supperclub" and have since gotten together for a dinner at the James Beard house! And we're coordinating schedules to have a reunion at another OITF dinner in September.
This year's schedule has already been released. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 2pm EST and locations near large cities tend to sell out VERY quickly, so set an alarm! (Or several alarms, if you're me). 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Antiquaria Design Studio's Stationery Box Subscription

Either you need this in your life, or someone you know does. I am sure of it. I have long been a fan of Antiquaria's designs, and when I noticed they offered this stationery box subscription, it went to the top of my personal xmas list. I recently received my first box (they are shipped quarterly), and I am in love. This is such a great gift - it is so much fun to receive a selection of items that have been so thoughtfully chosen, and the surprise element definitely adds to the excitement. It's like being a kid again - at least, a kid with excellent taste in stationery. Plus who wouldn't love a gift that arrives several times throughout the year? As you can see, this box was seasonally appropriate with pastels, florals, and even a lilac colored Le Pen (my favorite).
The contents: 2 x Oh, Hello folded notecards. 2 x Thank You folded notecards. 1 Pretty Thoughts journal. 6 x floral coasters. 2 x blank inside letterpressed folded notecards. 1 Le Pen in Lilac. 1 set of vintage stamps.
Antiquaria also offers boxed sets of notecards, the most beautiful customized calligraphy address stamps, wedding invitations...oh just go see for yourself. Gaze at an overwhelming amount of eye candy on their blog, or click here to order the stationery box subscription.*
Image Credit: Antiquaria Design Studio
*A Bar Cart in Brooklyn is in no way affiliated with Antiquaria nor do I receive commission on any sales linked through this post. I'm just a huge fan of theirs and I love sharing my favorite products and gift ideas with you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Pantry Organization

I feel like right now is the ideal time for spring cleaning - according to the calendar spring is just days away, but according to the forecast (31 degrees? really?) it's not time to head to the park for a picnic just yet. So while we're still trapped indoors, why not use this time productively - and get some chores out of the way that we won't want to spend time on once the temperature finally rises. Before you fall asleep, let me remind you that an organized pantry is essential to successful entertaining. By taking the time now to do a quick refresh, you'll be prepared to host an impromptu gathering the first sunny Saturday of the season. And I promise - that day will come. So in the spirit of total honesty, here is a photo of the current state of my pantry - consider this the BEFORE photo. (Due to obvious NYC space constraints, my husband built our "pantry" by installing shelves on a wall of our kitchen. If we ever need to get to the electrical box thingie, we'll have to move my sprinkles first).
Steps to pantry organization: 
1. Remove all containers and clean the shelves.
2. Discard old and/or expired items. The mostly empty jar of mini marshmallows that are probably hard by now will be the first to go. A half of a tiny jar of leftover toasted panko probably isn't necessary either. The same goes for those raspberry shortbread cookies we received in a Harry & David shipment that I keep thinking I'll serve when a friend drops by for tea (when has that ever happened?) Also check to make sure everything is fresh - dried herbs over 1 year old should be replaced. Brown sugar can turn rock hard, so check on that now before you need to use it.
3. Wash all containers. 
4. Refill essentials. Maldon salt, quinoa, and arborio rice are all running low. Actually while we're preparing for spring, maybe no more arborio rice to tempt me to make cheesy risotto.
5. Move winter items to a less prominent place. Time to say goodbye to Sarabeth's hot cocoa mix.
6. Locate a recipe to use any items that have been on the shelf for a while. Ie: the green lentils bought with healthy intentions.
7. You've earned a reward! Buy a few fun new items that will get you excited for springtime parties, like the Jacobsen Salt Co. Cocktail Salt Collection or Royal Rose Fruit & Florals simple syrups.

If you need more ideas for preparing your pantry for entertaining, here's a guide I posted last year - click to the original post for sources. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Empire State Celebration

Image Credit: Maybe Sparrow 
Though I was gone less than a week, I could not be happier to be home. I love to travel, but there's just something about my own bed, kitchen, coffee, yoga studio (with the most amazing view of Manhattan), market / juice bar... I'll stop here before this turns into a love letter to Dumbo.

1. Where to Drink Wine in New York (Food & Wine)

2. The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture (Brooklyn Magazine)

3. The Bar Heard Round the World "Since the minuscule Lower East Side bar opened its doors in 1999, Milk & Honey's influence on today's cocktail scene has been immeasurable." (PUNCH)

4. Lena Dunham (Finally) Wears a Brooklyn Designer on GIRLS (Strolby)

5. The French Girls' Guide to NYC - Because the French do everything better. (The New Potato)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Printables, DIY Ideas, Recipes

St. Patrick's Day is next Monday, March 17. It's not a big holiday for me, so I don't have anything special planned. But for those of you who would like to celebrate - or just brighten up a Monday - here are some great ideas from other blogs. (Note: I did not design these, and the images are credited to the sites linked).
DIY Shamrock Swizzle Sticks via The Merrythought
Tic Tac Toe Printable via Say Yes
Rainbow Cupcakes via Freutcake
Boozy Shamrock Shake via Lark & Linen
Mini Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes via Glitter Guide

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love & Olive Oil's Kitchen Challenge Results // Old Fashioned Fudge

So remember when I made fudge a few weeks (and several pounds) ago? It was for a blog called Love & Olive Oil's "Kitchen Challenge" series. Each month they challenge themselves and their readers to attempt a complicated task in the kitchen. I think it's so great that Lindsay and Taylor have built a community out of their monthly challenges, and I really loved reading about other people's experiences with old fashioned fudge. I especially love that I have some great new blogs to follow! Head over to Love & Olive Oil to view all of the results. The March Challenge should be announced soon - you should consider joining in!
Image Credit: Love & Olive Oil

Monday, March 10, 2014

Food 52's Cookbook Tournament

Since March Madness is coming up, I thought we'd talk about "The Piglet" Tournament of Cookbooks for 2014 - this is the kind of bracket I can actually get excited about. The 16 chosen cookbooks have been narrowed down to 1 winner, but obviously all of them are fantastic and would make a great hostess gift. Or a treat for yourself if you're in a cooking rut and are looking for some inspiration. Head over to Food52 to see the full list and meet the judges.
My Personal Top 3
With spring coming, this feels like a great time to set some new food resolutions. And I don't mean the "I'm going to cut out sugar / cheese / gluten" kind of resolution. But the kind where you decide to learn a new kitchen skill or add some new recipes to your repertoire - whatever you need to do to refresh your relationship with food. Here are my 3 choices from the tournament that I'm going to try out this year. I'd love to hear yours!

Fresh Happy Tasty: "Diane von Furstenberg’s personal chef, Jane Coxwell, shares 100 healthy, delicious, and unpretentious recipes from her travels around the world on the Eos yacht." Recipes good enough for DVF are good enough for me. I especially love that they're simple enough to prepare in a small kitchen - this means they'll be perfect for making in the summer when we're in a rush to get outside and enjoy our terrace (which is currently still covered in ice).

Family Table: "Family Table takes you behind the scenes of [Danny Meyer's] restaurants to share the food that the chefs make for one another before they cook for you." One of my favorite parts about the time I spent working in a fine dining kitchen was the family meal. The cooks loved the freedom of being able to experiment and the challenge of creating something out of whatever ingredients there was a surplus of. Though not as refined, some of these meals had more heart than the perfectly designed plates going out to guests in the dining room.

Saving the Season: "With the present obsession among consumers for locally grown fruits and vegetables, the practice of putting up foods has undergone a renaissance. As West points out, the real goal of home canning, pickling, and preserving is to retain for future enjoyment the special flavors of foods freshly plucked from the earth or snatched from trees and vines." With the exception of a quick lesson in pickling at Haven's Kitchen last year, preserving is something I haven't yet learned how to do. My mother is great at this and sends me jars of vegetables from her garden each year, so I've let her handle preserving while I've stuck to what I'm good at (baking). But I feel like it's time to grow up and figure this one out for myself.
The Bracket - Go to Food52 for the full size

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Eating & Drinking

Ralph Lauren's Table at DIFFA's Dining by Design Event
I'm leaving you a day early this week because my husband and I are spending a long weekend in Lake Tahoe with some friends, in a little chalet sans Internet. Yes I know about mobile hotspots, and I have one. But the truth is, I'm looking forward to a tech-free vacation. A dinner party in the mountains where no one is watching youtube on their iPad? Sign me up. So here are your links for the weekend - the latest in eating & drinking: 


The March Produce Guide (The Vintage Mixer) - Save this image to your phone so you know what to look for at the market.

"Please, just stop with the photos." 20 Pieces of Advice Every Foodie Needs to Hear (Huff Post)

What Pastis (now on hiatus) meant for the Meatpacking District, and NYC as a whole: Sex, Steak Frites, and Every Celebrity on the Planet: The Golden Years of Pastis (Grub Street)


Maybe this explains why so many bartenders seem to barely look up from their iPhones anymore: Is the Era of the Bar Manual Over? (PUNCH)

9 Reasons to Bring Back Cocktail Parties (Huff Post) - I agree with every single one of these wholeheartedly.

Behind Bars: The secret vocabulary of New York's finest drinking establishments. (The New York Times) I've been to an embarrassingly low number of these - new spring/summer bucket list? Any place called "Extra Fancy" sounds good to me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Entertaining Essentials: Pastels

It's no surprise that pastels are a huge trend for spring this year. A few of these entertaining items would definitely bring some cheer to your spring hosting!

1. Pink Cake Stand via Waiting on Martha | 2. West Elm Organic Shaped Collection in Celadon | 3. Kate Spade Saturday Glazed Mugs | 4. Furbish Studio Dip Dye Ombre Placemats | 5. Furbish Studio Bright Collection - Available in Dinner Plates, Salad Plates, Pasta Bowls, and Mugs | 6. Crate & Barrel Roundish Mini Bowls | 7. High Street Market Mint Napkin Set | 8. Furbish Studio Dipped Vase | 9. Furbish Studio Square Trays | 10. Leif Sorbet Cups

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3 Free, Pretty Calendar Downloads for Desktop & Mobile

We know I love freebies from designers. And calendars. Here are some super pretty March calendars for your computer desktop & mobile wallpaper / lock screen. The links in the captions will take you to the original sites where you can download them. Enjoy!
Desktop Backgrond via Ashlee Proffitt
iPhone Lock Screen & Background via Emily Ley
Desktop & Mobile (Both Options) via Sugar Paper

Monday, March 3, 2014

The History of the Party Dress // The Modern Dress Code

I'm so happy that my friends over at No Name, New York brought this Collectors Weekly article about the history of the party dress to my attention. Does anyone else find this statement to be so true: "Now that the jeans-and-T-shirts plague has reached our fancy restaurants, cocktail parties, and nightclubs it seems as though nobody cares about dressing up anymore."
Image Source: Collectors Weekly
One thing I haven't yet mastered about hosting is how to tactfully communicate a preferred dress code for events. When I invited my closest friends to last year's Friendsgiving, they knew they should "dress up," but only because they know me. I think it's nice when people look nice - attire is a big part of the atmosphere of a party. If I'm going to put weeks of planning and preparation into a dinner and break out the hand-wash-only crystal, I would like it to feel like a special event. Which doesn't generally involve t-shirts that could double as gym clothes, as much as I do want my guests to feel comfortable. (Maybe a rule of thumb should be: If it's comfortable enough to sleep in, don't wear it to a dinner party?) Again, since the guests were my closest friends, I didn't have to tell them this because they know me so well. And if anyone did protest, I would be able to jokingly call them lazy and tell them to pull it together. But what about occasions where you don't have that level of relationship with the invitee? I was shocked when, a few weeks before my wedding, I received some phone calls explaining that a few guests were unsure of what to wear. And I actually had to explain that, no, khakis and a blazer with no tie would not "work." (Why do men seem to want to dress as though they're a on a high school basketball team heading to an away game?) And no, "just a pretty sundress" wouldn't work for women. (In November?!) Seriously - why the aversion to putting a little effort in these days? I love the author's take: "And yet, as fashions become increasingly casual, the perfect party dress is like a secret weapon—turning anyone into a rose among daisies." 
Clearly I could use some advice - do any hostesses out there have tips on how to subtly request that guests put as much effort into dressing themselves as you put into creating a nice evening? Is it even possible to do so for a non-wedding event without coming across as a complete control freak? Comment here, email, or tweet @monicastolbach. I'll publish your suggestions in an upcoming post.