Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Party Inspiration & DIY Ideas: Kentucky Derby

There are so many fun ideas for ways to celebrate the Kentucky Derby on the blogosphere right now. (Including, of course, our Megan's Derby attire & Mint Julep recipe.) In case you don't stalk as many blogs as I do, I thought I'd share my favorites from other blogs with you! Starting with these invitations by Lauren of Lauren Chism Fine Papers, as featured on Oh So Beautiful Paper. Lauren designed my wedding invitations, and I'm obsessed with basically everything she produces. Including these beyond perfect and super fun Derby Day party invitations.
Personally, I'd much rather attend what is sure to be a fabulous party in a pretty home like Lauren's than actually attend the Derby. Have any of you ever been? I went one year, to the general seating area, which proved to be a huge mistake. It was basically a trash heap. I was actually grateful that it rained that day, because my Hunter boots helped protect me from the piles of garbage we had to wade through. Definitely not as pleasant as this pretty "Down and Derby" party designed by Julia Lake and Brita Olsen for Camille Styles. I love that they incorporated vintage tickets from real horse races.
For a last minute DIY project, try these free printable Kentucky Derby Drink Flags by Mint Love Social Club. And make sure you follow this blog always - Natalie is constantly creating beautiful and approachable event design ideas.
And if you need inspiration for men's attire, I love the look of this gentleman on Classy Girls Wear Pearls

Monday, April 28, 2014

6 Prettiest: Mother's Day Cards

Mother's Day is just less than 2 weeks away. There are so many pretty cards out there that it would be a complete shame to buy a sad looking drugstore card at the last minute. I'll make it easy for you - here are the 6 prettiest of the year!
Top Row: Rifle Paper Co. | smudge ink Middle Row: smudge ink (my choice this year!) | Sugar Paper via Hattan Home Bottom Row: hello! Lucky | Rifle Paper Co.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Food & Wine Celebration

Yesterday's Food Styling Class: Dinner Parties! at Haven's Kitchen with Rebekah Peppler
Tasting Table rounds up the best wines to drink this spring. My personal favorite of the list is Jolie Folle - I first tried it at Bouchon Bistro so it carries great memories. Plus that packaging!

I could watch this video all day: Sprinkle Bakes demonstrating different piping techniques to decorate cupcakes.

Red wine + Scandal: PUNCH "explores wine's role as a symbol of power, knowledge and family and why it's become a key part of Kerry Washington's character on the hit ABC show."

Learn from the experts: Bon App├ętit offers the best cooking tips they've picked up over the years.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bar Cart Design: Julep Cups

If you want to recreate Megan's Derby Day bar cart design, start with the obvious: the Julep cup. Top left: I love this hexagonal cup because of the free monogramming options. It would also make a great gift! Top right: 3" pewter cup Bottom: set of 2 beaded cups

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Perfect Mint Julep // Kentucky Derby Prep

As promised, here is Megan with her Julep recipe! Don't you just love her vintage Julep cups, the silver gravy boat repurposed to hold simple syrup, and those equestrian swizzle sticks?! 
Megan: The mint julep is a cocktail that is imbued with equal parts tradition, heritage, pride, and bourbon. While the basic ingredients (whiskey, sugar, mint, ice) remain unchanged across recipes, there are quite a few schools of thought when it comes to proper julep fixing technique. I hardly consider myself to be any sort of expert, so I just make mine to taste and usually end up inebriating myself in the process. 
1. In a chilled julep cup, gently muddle fresh mint leaves to release the oil and aroma of the mint. I like to use an equestrian-themed cocktail stirrer to do so, but the back of a spoon will also suffice.
2. Add two parts Kentucky bourbon and one part simple syrup. This is a classic Southern cocktail, so it should taste two parts boozy and one part sweet.
3. Fill glass to the brim with crushed ice and stir with enthusiasm until frost forms on the outside of the cup.
4. Top with club soda for a little fizz. Some may call this step heresy; I call this step hangover prevention.
5. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a striped straw. ​

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kentucky Derby Hostess Style

Megan is back, this time showing us her Kentucky Derby style! I love any chance to get a glimpse of her bar cart. And as a special treat, tomorrow she'll share her mint julep recipe with us. Cheers!
Megan: Nothing marks the official start of spring celebrations for me like the Kentucky Derby. By the first Saturday in May, it's finally warm enough to put on a sundress, and after the winter we've endured on the East Coast, we've earned a sweet and boozy drink. Every year I host a Derby Party at my home where I prepare a Southern spread of pulled pork sliders and deviled eggs, prep my bar cart for mint juleps, and gather all my friends for the most exciting two minutes in sports. That's exactly why I think the Derby lends itself so well to a party: it's a bite-sized sporting event that's just long enough to get the adrenaline up but - unlike the Super Bowl - not so long that it dominates the entire party. And I love an event that comes with its own signature cocktail - I found these adorable jockey stirrers, and I've been collecting silver julep cups for years. A sporting event where the attendees parade around in fancy hats, the contestants wear different outfits in bright colors and bold patterns, and the winner is showered with roses is a sporting event after my own heart.
Megan: This dress has become my traditional Derby Day dress because what could be more fitting for the occasion than a sundress with a julep print? A pair of pink patent and cork flats keeps the look polished but practical as I tend to my hostessing duties, and, come race time, I put on my straw hat and cheer on the ponies, julep in hand.
Dress: Lilly Pulitzer, still available here | Hat: J.Crew, similar | Shoes: Kate Spade, still available here | Bracelet: Kate Spade, similar

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Spring Celebration

Currently in my apartment // pink peonies and a Cocoa & Hearts painting
Even if you're not celebrating Easter this weekend, why not put a little extra effort into Sunday brunch? Restaurants will be packed, so a fancy brunch at home sounds perfect to me.  If you need some inspiration, check out Waiting on Martha's Easter tablescape - how beautiful is that?! Almost as beautiful as her Easter dessert table. Not sure what to cook? I have a whole board dedicated to brunch recipes.

Speaking of recipes, I love discovering new food blogs to follow. Check out Saveur's latest nominees and winners of their Best Food Blog Awards. I'm especially loving the baking blog Oh, Ladycakes (great name!) and I can't wait to try some of the sophisticated desserts by Vegetarian Ventures. Umm can you tell I'm in sugar withdrawal?! Obviously wavering on this cleanse.

Sam Sifton of the New York Times gets lessons in pizza dough making from Anthony Falco of the famous Roberta's. I'm guilty of buying prepared dough for make-your-own-pizza nights at home. That changes now.

For those not sure how to properly use spices in your cocktails. Please learn, and then make me one.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Inspiration // DIY's & Printables

There's no shortage of fun & pretty DIY ideas for your Easter celebrations this year. Here are a few of my favorites - click the image captions to be redirected to the designers' websites.
Easter Treat Bag Printables // Julep
Mini Basket Place Settings // The House That Lars Built
Printable Easter Basket Tags // Lia Griffith
Peeps Bunny Place Card Holders // A Beautiful Mess
Wooden Rabbit Drink Stirrers // Merry Thought
Glitzy Easter Placecards // Oh Happy Day

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Food Styling Class at Haven's Kitchen with Rebekah Peppler

Learning a few secrets of food styling from Rebekah Peppler. Check out her website for her beyond gorgeous food photos. Above, brushing olive oil onto roasted grapes with cardamom-honey yogurt and pistachios. Take a peek at the latest schedule at Haven's Kitchen for food-related classes like this one or the edible gifts class I posted about over the holidays. Or just stop by their cafe for a delicious lunch. This is easily my current favorite place in NYC!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Spring Celebration

Bright is my favorite color // Rainbow of mats at Abhaya Yoga, Dumbo
I'm leaving you a day early this week because I'm taking some food styling classes this weekend! Which hopefully means a lot more recipes around here very soon. Follow me on Instagram where I'll be posting some updates.

Speaking of food: Eater has released it's updated lists of 38 Essential Restaurants by city. I always start with this guide when I'm traveling to a city I've never been to.

According to the New York Times, the casserole is making a comeback.

Reese Witherspoon is launching a lifestyle company. (Lonny) And if you're interested in celebrity decor, someone tracked down items from Mindy's apartment on The Mindy Project. (Popsugar)

Need a playlist refresh? Try Darling Magazine's monthly music mix: Singin' in the April Rain.

For those in need of retail therapy, I've added this perfect summery dress by Rebecca Minkoff to my Spring / Summer Style board. I also think this embroidered linen dress is the perfect item to take you from beach to lunch. Is it summer yet!?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Update: Farmers Market Products

My favorite part of spring by far is the return of farmers markets in full force. It's so much nicer choosing fresh local produce from their stands than sad looking vegetables that have traveled across the country, or worse. Here are a few products I'm considering this spring for the market & my kitchen:

Mercado Multi-Compartment Farmers Market Tote 
Admittedly, I already have about a thousand tote bags. But the organizational nature of this one I saw on Shop Quirky caught my attention. "No more fruit bruising, yogurt spilling, lettuce getting smashed... Mercado protects your farmers market haul from carelessness. It has pockets to harbor delicate fruits and veggies, loops to hold bottles in place, and transparent compartments that keep the rest organized. Outside, it has two small pockets for quick-access items (cash, keys, etc.) so you can whip out your wallet at one farmers market stall, then the next, then the next..." 

Nantucket Bowls
These new woven seagrass bowls from Serena & Lily are the perfect container to display produce on your kitchen island. I love the navy, but the fuschia and saffron are also perfectly appropriate for summer.

Herb Kitchen Scissors
I'm usually very anti-gadget when it comes to my kitchen. I read somewhere that a good rule of thumb about kitchen items is that if something only does one task (like a garlic press, which I personally find useless) then you should toss it. A non-cluttered kitchen only contains multi-purpose objects. But how many times have I bruised basil when cutting it in a hurry? That's why I'm considering these herb scissors from Terrain, "the essential tool for snipping fresh herbs into favorite dishes, five parallel blades cut herbs quickly and evenly, without crushing tender leaves." 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Long Distance Gifting: Whimsy & Spice

As much as I love baking and gifting treats to other people, there are times when your own homemade goods just aren't feasible. Ie: when you're on a health kick, or when the recipient lives several states away. For these situations, I turn to local Brooklyn husband and wife - run company Whimsy & Spice. I've been sending their gift boxes pretty frequently since 2010, and they work for any occasion you can think of - thank you, birthday, new baby...anything. Once I even sent a box to a very nice man from the airport who shipped me a bottle of wine that I would otherwise have had to throw away because the check bag line was too long. Their baked goods are delicious and refined - with shortbread flavors like fennel olive oil and honey lavender, these gift boxes are definitely suitable for adults. Best of all, they make every box to order, so when I send one I'm confident of the quality. It's seriously the next best thing to baking something myself!
Photo Credit: Whimsy & Spice
There are two sizes of the gift box, classic and deluxe. Beyond shortbread, the boxes include biscotti and brownies (in the classic) plus marshmallows (in the deluxe). You can also order their different items and flavors individually to mix and match. Their products can be found in select retailers (like my beloved Foragers City Grocer) and at Brooklyn Smorgasburg

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Clean Eating

Hi friends! I didn't plan to take last week off from here, so I apologize that I wasn't able to warn you. I spent the week focusing on spring cleaning in all senses of the term. A lot of organizing in the apartment, sorting out boring grown-up life things, and planning for the future. And - best of all - a complete return to yoga and clean eating (don't worry, I'm sure it's a phase and I'll be back to cake and champagne in no time). The silver lining of this endless winter (it's currently 46 degrees a full week into April) is that we've been given a few transition weeks to focus on these sorts of practical things prior to that truly most wonderful time of year in New York when restaurant tables line the sidewalks and all you want to do is drink wine outside with friends day and night. All that said, it just didn't feel genuine to share party prep, dessert recipes and cocktail ideas here while my kitchen is actually filled with vegetables, my mixer is sitting unused, and my wine glasses have only been filled with Perrier for a solid 2 weeks. I'm still in the first 6 months of this blog, and this is the sort of dilemma I didn't anticipate. Not to worry - I do have some fun things lined up for you going forward!

For today, I'll share a few resources I've been using recently:

Live The Process >> 5 Easy Tips for Clean Eating - I love this thoughtful, balanced approach.

Gwyneth's It's All Good cookbook. Say what you want about her, but her clean eating recipes are fantastic. This risotto (which I've made 4 times now) doesn't taste like the vegan, gluten free health food that it is. I promise.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3 Free, Pretty April Downloads for Desktop & Mobile

Happy April! Same as last month - I love freebies from designers, and calendars. Here are some super pretty April backgrounds 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!
Rekita Nicole
Sugar Paper
The Fresh Exchange