Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!! & Recipes for Leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Here's an idea for tomorrow: instead of eating the same meal twice (or three times) in a row, turn the usual leftovers into fun new recipes.

For breakfast, try Stuffing Hash - hash browns made of stuffing and sweet potato drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a poached egg. Ummm yes, please!

Throwing a party on Friday? These canapés are so creative: panchetta, green beans, stuffing and brie on a Triscut cracker.

Mashed Potato Croquettes would be the perfect side dish for Friday dinner. Who wouldn't want to eat breaded fried mashed potatoes?!

Enjoy your holiday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meal Delivery | Subscription Boxes for Busy Holiday Weeks

Something I'm still getting used to while writing this blog is doing all of the prep work for holidays so far in advance of the actual day. For instance, our Thanksgiving dinner (Friendsgiving) was over 3 weeks ago! And I've already taken apart my Autumnal bar cart design and replaced it with holiday decor. Walking into our apartment is starting to remind me of that disorienting day when you walk into a store and see Christmas decorations before Halloween has even happened. On the plus side, I haven't been crazy busy this week preparing for Thanksgiving, as I'm sure some of you have been!

Speaking of - since we're all now officially into the holiday season and will only be getting busier, I thought I'd share something that's been helping me out immensely for the past few weeks. I started subscribing to HelloFresh, a subscription service that delivers recipes and pre-measured ingredients every Monday afternoon. As much as I love browsing Pinterest for recipes and shopping at our local markets, on busier weeks that can cause more stress than enjoyment. I find that when I have a big event coming up, it consumes my focus. I don't want to worry about weeknight meals when I have a dinner party to prepare for! A friend I was telling about the service asked why I would need to use it, since I know how to cook. I explained that, especially during the week leading up to Friendsgiving, without these recipes and ingredients showing up at my door, I wouldn't have stopped to cook real meals and I'd have survived on popcorn and eggs. Seriously. That's happened several times.
The HelloFresh recipes I've made so far were simple yet satisfying and took no more than 30 minutes to prepare. I wouldn't use this service every week - vegetarians don't get a choice of recipes like meat eaters do with the "classic" box, and many of the recipes included more cheese than I prefer to eat in weekday meals. Plus there's no mention of "organic" anywhere... However, for busy weeks I think this is definitely a better option than takeout, both health-wise and economically. If you'd like to try it you can use my promo code "QFKNKA" for $20 off your first box. And no, I did not receive compensation for writing this review. I was gifted a box, and a few weeks into your subscription you'll likely be given a few boxes that you can give out as gifts as well.

I'm curious - have any of you tried a meal subscription box? I've heard that Blue Apron meals are too complicated for weeknights, and I'm interested in learning more about Plated. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Cocktail | Autumn Sangria with Bourbon, Pears & Apples

I made this Autumn Sangria for our Friendsgiving signature cocktail, and it would be perfect for Thanksgiving as well. Of all the cocktails I've served at parties in the past year, this one was by far the most popular. We were also serving a nice sparkling wine we brought back from our last trip to Napa, but everyone loved this cocktail so much they barely noticed the bubbles - rare for our group of friends.
Rain moved our dinner from the terrace to the living room, leaving very little space for mingling, so we had to move cocktail hour to our bedroom. To guide guests away from the cramped living room and kitchen, I set up this cocktail station in the hallway just outside of the bedroom. This is a trick I learned when I worked in event planning - station food and drink in different areas of the space to get the crowd moving.
Combine 1 bottle of white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc) with 2 cups of good quality apple cider and 1/2 cup of bourbon. Add 1 apple and 1 pear, sliced. Throw in a few cinnamon sticks and chill overnight in the refrigerator. I put a cinnamon stick and a few cranberries in each glass for a festive touch.
I love these acacia wedge servers for autumn and winter entertaining. The natural element lends a rustic feel to the otherwise fancy crystal. To keep the sangria cold I used a mini beverage tin and put tongs on the side in case anyone wanted to add ice to their drink.
If you'd prefer a sparkling version of this cocktail, I've made that too! You mix the cider and boubon with the cinnamon sticks and fruit (leaving out the wine). Then when you're ready to serve, pour some of the cider mixture into the bottom of a glass and top with champagne. Extra points for garnishing with a sprig of rosemary! 
Photography by Darren Gantt

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration

Thanksgiving colored candy in my Michael Aram olive branch dish
I absolutely loved this Modern Guide to Thanksgiving Etiquette that Bon Appétit put together this year. They also have a Thanksgiving Prep Timeline for this weekend that is spot on.

Sweet Paul suggests 10 Thanksgiving books to make your celebration wonderful.

If you have a vegetarian at your table and you're clueless about what to serve them, Martha Stewart has 15 easy meatless Thanksgiving recipes.

DON'T FORGET!! Our giveaway is still going on - who wouldn't want to win a crystal ice bucket & 4 champagne flutes from Reed & Barton?! Enter here.

How to prepare for a dinner party in 5 steps.

More Thanksgiving 2014: Pinterest Board | Bar Cart Design | Tablescape | Painted Pumpkin Centerpiece Tutorial | Appetizers | Menu Place Cards | Favors: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins | Hostess Gifts | Printables

Thanksgiving 2013: Tablescape | Bar Cart Design & Sparkling Pear Cocktail | Place Cards & Menu | Favors: Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting | Printables

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Last Minute Thanksgiving Printables

Thanksgiving is a week away! Which means that these free Thanksgiving printables would make the perfect project for this weekend. I absolutely love the "thankful for prompts" - the place mats would be perfect for a kids table! Click the links in the captions to download from the original sites. If you want more, check out last year's printable picks.
Placemats // Oh My Deer
Menu, Place Cards, Thankful For Cards // Antiqueria for Oh So Beautiful Paper
Leftovers Labels // Coco + Kelley

Thanks for coming! Leftovers Bag // Pizzazzerie

More Thanksgiving 2014: Pinterest BoardBar Cart Design | TablescapePainted Pumpkin Centerpiece Tutorial | Appetizers | Menu Place Cards | Favors: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins | Hostess Gifts

Thanksgiving 2013: Tablescape | Bar Cart Design & Sparkling Pear Cocktail | Place Cards & Menu | Favors: Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Appetizers: Baked Ricotta Dip & Truffled Potato Chips

Deciding what to serve before a Thanksgiving feast can be tricky. There definitely needs to be a little something for guests to nibble on, but you don't want to spoil their appetites before the main event. For our Friendsgiving celebration this year I decided on this baked ricotta dip with truffled potato chips and crudités. (Hostess confession: Foragers was out of the truffle chips so I had to sub in rosemary and the sign didn't match the chips. The party went on.)
Traditionally I have been very against crudités. Who is ever on their way to a party thinking "Gee I really hope I can eat some plain raw vegetables tonight." But in this case I thought it paired nicely with the dip and wouldn't invite guests to stuff themselves the way a cheese board would. The ricotta dip itself is wonderfully light and the lemon and chives make it refreshing. You can find the recipe at the Kitchn.
I decided that if I had to serve raw veggies I wanted to do so in a fun and unexpected way, so I put them in this terrarium (last seen holding candy on my Halloween bar cart). I bought the terrarium with zero plans to use it for its intended purpose, as I hate indoor plants. They are always dusty and I feel like they attract bugs. Candy and potato chips however, I can get behind.
Photography by Darren Gantt

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

16 Holiday Hostess Gifts Under $50

I've already received several requests for holiday gift guides - I appreciate you reaching out and I'm so happy to help! I can only imagine how quickly your calendars are filling up with parties this holiday season. Stock up on a few of these affordable gifts so you'll be prepared - a good guest never arrives empty handed! 
1. Henri Bendel Signature Holiday Candle Sale: 2 for $50! | 2. Party On Bottle Opener | 3. Tocca Parfum Trio She can regift whichever she doesn't love as a stocking stuffer! | 4. Snowflake Cheese Board | 5. Dinner Diaries: Reviving the Art of the Hostess Book | 6. Tory Burch Westerly Candle (will make a beautiful vase or makeup brush container when the candle is done!) | 7. Monogram Bottle Stopper | 8. Cheers My Dears Mini Party Cups | 9. Jonathan Adler Sticky Notes | 10. Champagne Water Bottle THIS KEEPS CHAMPAGNE FIZZY FOR 24 HOURS!! | 11. Back Me Up iPhone Charger 12. Nate Berkus Candle Holder | 13. Chocolate + Smarties + Mallet = too much fun | 14. Sugar Paper for Target 2015 Planner | 15. Kate Spade Wine Tote | 16. Chocolate Covered Oreos

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giveaway: Ice Bucket & Champagne Flutes from Reed & Barton!!

I'm so excited about our very first giveaway! The crystal pieces you've seen in my photos (most recently here and here) are all by Reed & Barton, who have generously offered an ice bucket and 4 champagne flutes for one lucky reader. These items will majorly improve your holiday hosting!! And would be perfect for toasting to the new year. You can see the ice bucket on my New Years Eve bar cart from last year. Use the widget below to enter - you'll be asked to visit A Bar Cart in Brooklyn on facebook - legally I can't ask you to "like" the facebook page, but I hope you do! And you get an extra entry for following on Pinterest. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway begins Monday November 17 and ends Monday December 1 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Residents of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be selected by and notified by email on Tuesday December 2. The retail value of the prize is approximately $200 USD. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that A Bar Cart in Brooklyn is not responsible if Reed & Barton does not fulfill their prizes; Reed & Barton is represented with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. The items will be shipped to the winner directly from Reed & Barton using a promotional code on their website. A Bar Cart in Brooklyn will make every effort to assist the winner in obtaining the prize. If there is an issue please notify A Bar Cart in Brooklyn within 30 days for assistance. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to A Bar Cart in Brooklyn alone. Information will not be shared or sold and is used only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beauty Products for Holiday Travel

Are you traveling during the holiday season? Somehow the events I'm attending between now and the new year are spread out all over the place: from Florida to Texas to Washington state to Mexico. That is a LOT for 6 weeks. So it occurred to me that I'd better get my travel bag in order. Below are the products that I rely on for travel and why. You can click the images to shop directly from the post!

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads are my #1 most essential product for travel. 30 minutes before your flight lands, wipe your face with one of these to get rid of that yucky plane feeling. Then follow up with Clarins Beauty Flash Balm and Beauty Flash Eye Revive. I love the Beauty Flash line because it does exactly what it claims - reduces redness and puffiness. It instantly makes me feel more awake, which is why it's also my go-to for mornings after too much champagne. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment is a great defense against the dry air on planes. (Has anyone tried the advanced serum? I'm curious.)

For the party: Drybar answered my travel prayers with a new all-in-one product released this fall. Triple Sec is a volumizer, texturizer and dry shampoo. It also has just enough hold so you can skip the hairspray. It's perfect for refreshing plane hair, and the mini version saves a ton of space in my bag. Like hair products, perfumes are difficult to travel with. If your favorite scent doesn't come in a rollerball version, pour a little in an atomizer.

Nails: If your manicure doesn't last the weekend (mine never does) and you can't stand chipped nails, Butter's 2 in 1 remover and nail prep pads are great to have stashed in your bag. Top with a layer of Dior Nail Glow so you can still look polished. It's prettier than clear but not a real color for those who are terrible at painting their own nails (me).

Before bed: Tarte Fresh Eyes makeup remover wipes save room in your tiny liquids bag. I'm convinced Dr. Dennis Gross' Alpha Beta Peel is some sort of sorcery. This is the best thing you can do for tired skin - you'll basically wake up with a new face. And they come in individual packets so you only have to pack as many as you need. A quick scrub with Fresh Sugar Lip Polish helps keep dried out lips from chapping. (Top with another layer of Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.) A few drops of Clarins Radiance Booster in your moisturizer gives you just a touch of self tanning - never orange - just enough to look a bit more glowey. Happy travels!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Friendsgiving Favors: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Last year's Friendsgiving favors were such a hit that I decided to make the same pumpkin spice cake, just in a different form. Sometimes it's important to stick with what works! So this year I used this giant muffin tin to make oversized pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Sending guests home with something they can eat for breakfast the next day is so appreciated.* And how beautiful are these tags by Charlie Whiskey!
*Now for the confession I mentioned yesterday: by the end of the evening I was so caught up in all the excitement, and I'd had so much wine that I completely forgot to send all but 2 guests home with their muffins. This is very embarrassing for me to admit, but I think it's important that I do. No host or party is perfect! And that's okay. (I think I'm trying to convince myself of this more than you!) On the bright side, I kept the tags and can reuse them another time.
This pumpkin spice recipe is very versatile - see it here in these mini wedding cakes I made for a Newlywed Party

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How (and How Not) to Create Painted Pumpkin Centerpieces

Today I'm sharing with you what I learned in the process of making these painted pumpkin centerpieces for our Friendsgiving table. This was a new project for me, and there are definitely a few things I would do differently next time! See below for a basic how-to, and then learn from my mistakes.
Basic how-to: 
1. Cut top off the pumpkin and hollow it out. 
2. Make sure the pumpkin is clean and dry.
3. Paint a few coats with acrylic paint, allowing time to dry between coats.
4. Use a plastic container inside to hold the flowers, making sure that no water gets into the pumpkin. 
Lessons I learned the hard way: 
1. Choose small pumpkins. The flowers will add height, making larger pumpkins too tall to see over and they will take up too much table space. We had to move our pumpkins off the table after the soup course to make room for family-style serving dishes. Also, once you've added the vases with flowers and water, they become very heavy.
2. I read that it's a good idea to use produce protector on the inside of the pumpkins. It is not. Immediately after sprinkling this weird chemical powder into the pumpkins, they emitted a ton of gross, messy pumpkin-water. And the pumpkins were rotten within days. 
3. Use acrylic paint. I used spray paint, and as you can see in a few of the photos, the paint cracked and flaked off.
4. Be specific with your florist about which exact types of flowers you want. This sounds obvious, but I gave a sample photo, asked for "something like this" and the end result was not what I had envisioned. 
5. Toast the seeds. I rushed through the carving stage and didn't save the seeds. I wish I had! A treat bag full of toasted spiced pumpkin seeds would have made a great party favor. (I'll share our actual favor along with a hostess confession tomorrow.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Friendsgiving (or Thanksgiving!) Menu Place Cards

My favorite addition to this year's Friendsgiving (besides a few new guests!) is the beautiful calligraphy work by Charlie Whiskey. The shop owner, Caitlin, was so wonderful to collaborate with. She also made the signs for our Autumn bar cart, and there is more to come in the next few weeks! If you need custom calligraphy for an event, or even just for your holiday gift tags, I definitely recommend sending her a message. 
Since our Friendsgiving dinner was semi-potluck style - each guest brought at least one item - I felt that it was important to list people's names with their dishes on the menu. Everyone felt special when they sat down and saw their own names written in this gorgeous handwriting! I also included the names of local businesses for the items we outsourced in the menu or signage (Almondine, Foragers, One Girl Cookies). 
Before the dessert course, we asked each guest to write what they were thankful for on the back of their menus. Then we shuffled them and everyone read someone else's note of gratitude out loud. This is a tradition we started last year, and it's my favorite part of the evening. When we were finished I collected the menus for safe keeping, and I must have put them in a really safe place, because I haven't been able to find them since! I'm looking forward to coming across them one day soon.
Sources: Custom Calligraphy Menus by Charlie Whiskey | Rufflewood Plaid Dinner Napkins & Custom Table Runner | Reed & Barton Wine Goblets & Iced Beverage Glasses (20% off at Bloomingdales with code "holiday"!) | Villeroy & Boch Candlesticks in Medium & Large (also 20% off) | West Elm Organic Shaped Gold Rimmed Dinner Plates (currently on sale!) | Acacia Wedge Server | Ikea Lanterns (painted gold) | Chairs via Party Rental Ltd. | Vintage Gold Flatware 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Plaid & White Pumpkins: Friendsgiving (or Thanksgiving!) Tablescape

When planning our first Friendsgiving last year, either there weren't as many Friendsgiving guides available as I've seen this year, or I just didn't read them. Most of what I've seen recently describes this now-trending faux holiday as a very relaxed, informal affair. Whoops. I see it as: fancy dinner party plus best friends & comfort food minus typical family stress equals a celebration everyone actually enjoys. And a fantastic excuse to use our wedding crystal! Mismatched chairs and paper napkins weren't exactly on my radar. I did keep the look semi-rustic with the natural linen tablecloth and the plaid linen runner and napkins - I love how those look mixed with the crystal glasses and my grandma's gold flatware.
As you can see, we had to set up the dinner in our living room. Our original plan was to dine on the terrace, but it was cold and rainy. Not even last minute patio heaters could solve the rain problem. Moving our coffee and dining tables to the basement storage room for one night wasn't ideal, but overall we made it work and it was worthwhile. And setting up our bedroom for cocktail hour was actually really fun!
I'll be posting a tutorial on how to paint pumpkins for a centerpiece later on this week. I definitely learned a few things during this process! I have to admit, I wasn't crazy about how they turned out. Mostly I wasn't in love with the flowers that were used (they look a little old ladyish, no?), though I'm blaming myself because I gave the florist our napkins as a color guide. Lesson learned: next year the florals will be white, white, white. Or just candles. (Yes, I'm already planning for next year!) 
Sources: Rufflewood Plaid Dinner Napkins & Custom Table Runner - I can't say enough good things about this company. So lovely to work with. | Reed & Barton Wine Goblets & Iced Beverage Glasses (20% off at Bloomingdales with code "holiday"!) | Villeroy & Boch Candlesticks in Medium & Large (also 20% off) | West Elm Organic Shaped Gold Rimmed Dinner Plates (currently on sale!) | Acacia Wedge Server | Ikea Lanterns (painted gold) | Chairs via Party Rental Ltd. | Vintage Gold Flatware | Custom Calligraphy Menus by Charlie Whiskey (more on those tomorrow!) 
I love the life added to this shot by the umbrella and L.L. Bean boots in the background. Speaking of - a huge thank you to Darren Gantt Photography for stopping by at the last minute to capture these beautiful photos. The rain made the room terribly dark and Darren is so talented for being able to work his magic given the conditions. I think he might actually be some sort of wizard.
PS: If you missed it, here is last year's Friendsgiving tablescape. You can see that a lot of the elements are the same (dinner plates, glassware, flatware, candlesticks) but by choosing a few new items (linens, centerpieces, menu place cards) a whole new look can be achieved without starting completely from scratch. If any of you threw a Friendsgiving celebration last weeked, or are planning to soon, I'd love to see photos!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in November Celebration

I love this shot Lauren took of the Friendsgiving invitations she designed for us. Don't forget you can download, edit and print them for your own celebration! Btw how cute is it that she made the address 123 Bar Cart Lane (can I actually live there?!)


One Kings Lane put together a fantastic Holiday Entertaining Sale. I think these festive champagne flutes + these classic cocktail napkins = entertaining season success!

Gilt is also having a sale on Holiday Decor and a bunch of their pieces would be perfect for decorating your holiday bar cart. I'd recommend this reindeer champagne cooler and the matching reindeer bowl filled with these glittery ornaments. So festive!

Food52 on How to Throw a No Stress Brunch - I instantly love any video that starts with "The way I see it, you don't need a special occasion to throw a brunch." True story.

Kate Spade + Gap Kids = Cuteness Overload. I wonder if I can squeeze my head into this hat in a kids XL??

Haha! Ina Garten Microwaves Her Oatmeal; Continues to Remain Perfect Anyway.

It's a bit early to start thinking about a New Year's celebration, even for me, but this party looks ridiculously fun.

Are any of you celebrating Friendsgiving this weekend? I'd love to see your photos!! My husband and I are at the St. Regis Bahia Beach celebrating our anniversary (thank you, SPG points!). It's been downpouring almost since we arrived, but I'm pretty sure that's what hotel lounge champagne service is for. And I'm looking forward to dinner at Fern tonight. Who cares about a little rain when dining with Jean-Georges?

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumnal Bar Cart Design

This is the bar cart I put together for our 2nd annual Friendsgiving celebration. It's one of my favorites yet, because I was able to feature so many products that make me happy by people and businesses that I really admire. And because there is a PIE on it!! I love when I get to put baked goods on my bar cart. Keep scrolling for details!
Top Shelf: Serena & Lily Candlesticks (similar) | Vya Vermouth via Mouth | Wine Decanter c/o Reed & Barton | Hangar 1 Vodka via Mouth | Green Paper Cups c/o Susty Party | Rufflewood Plaid Linen Cocktail Napkins | Free, Downloadable Friendsgiving Invitation by Lauren Chism Fine Papers | Reed & Barton Ice BucketRustic Box by Succulents Galore | Yellow Paper Straws c/o Susty Party | Calligraphy by Charlie Whiskey Designs | Voluspa French Bourbon Vanilla Candle | Yellow Cocktail Napkins c/o Susty Party | Natural Dessert Plates c/o Susty Party
Middle Shelf: Bacchus Wine via Blanc et Rouge | Green Paper Straws c/o Susty Party | Calligraphy by Charlie Whiskey Designs | One Girl Cookies Apple Pie | Cake Plate c/o Reed & Barton 
There are still spots left at One Girl Cookies' annual Thanksgiving Pie class! I took it last year. It was so much fun AND you get to take your pie home!
Bottom Shelf: Soho Centerpiece Bowl c/o Reed & Barton | Rufflewood Plaid Linen Napkins | Ikea Lantern (spraypainted gold) | Rustic Box by Succulents Galore | Van Brundt Stillhouse Bourbon Whiskey via Mouth | The Social Type "Oui et Non" Matches via Hattan Home | Custom #abarcartinbrooklyn Coasters | Vintage Swizzle Sticks | Green Bowl c/o Susty Party - Susty's green line can also currently be found at Safeways in Seattle, and sometimes at Foragers here in Brooklyn! | Natural Dessert Plate c/o Susty Party
Photography by Darren Gantt