Lately…

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 {A shot of our famous glitter bottle.  How rad is this thing?!  AND each one provides 15 healthy meals to a child fighting hunger}

Hey there!  No matter how prepared we feel for the holidays at work, it’s always insane in December and blogging just falls by the wayside.  November and December are the two months when over 70% of our business for the YEAR occur and we trade our spaces behind the computer to high-tail it to the warehouse to help with fulfillment.  I realized it had been a few days since I last posted so I wanted to drop by with a note to say hello.  Check out a few of the things I’ve been working on and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more realtime updates :-)

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{Sneak peek at a fun new project I’ve been working on with my mom.  Pillows galore!  I’m dying over the colors!}

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{The 31 Bits holiday party is always an absolute blast.  How dreamy is their space with those lights and balloons?}
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{Finally found a few hours to put up our tree :-) Half of the lights weren’t working, Target didn’t have any white lights in stock and the process took a million times longer than I expected, but her glow makes me SO happy.  And kitty is clearly enjoying it too.}Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.57.59 PM

{Behind the scenes at yesterday’s NYE shoot featuring our glitter bottle with Zoom Theory!  By the end of it we were covered in confetti and champagne, but I’m stoked at how this turned out and can’t wait to share the final images.}

Cheers!

DECEMBER

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Happy December 1st!  Can you believe it’s the last month of 2014?  I’m both ecstatic and terrified – excited that my favorite time of the year is here and scared to death that every year seems to fly by even faster than the last.  The feeling really hit me yesterday while working in our warehouse with a group of 25 volunteers who were there to pack up our orders from our Black Friday sale.  Over 27 pallets of boxes were packed, stacked and hauled onto a UPS truck late last night and the reality really set in.  Not only are we having a great year, which I am thankful for to my core, but the holiday bustle is truly here to stay for the next four weeks.  Even in the madness, I vow to make this season merry to the very last minute.  My Christmas playlist is on shuffle/repeat, I can’t wait to attend a few holiday events this week and our Christmas tree is going up whenever I can find a few free hours to make her pretty.  Are you feeling the holiday cheer yet too or am I just a crazy #basicwhitegirl?! ;-)

PS: Take a look at the holiday images that are making me feel all warm and fuzzy on my Pinterest – feeling so inspired by some of these!

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Cheers

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DIY Fall Floral Arrangement

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You all know that I’m a flower fanatic so creating a fall floral arrangement could hardly be considered “work” ;-)  The trickiest part of this task was keeping it simple enough so that the arrangement could easily be replicated by a novice.  Since most of our reps in this program at work have little experience arranging florals, I needed to break this one down step by step so they could easily recreate it for their own party.  Flower arranging is really intimidating to a lot of people, but it’s really so much easier than most imagine until they see it broken down.  The trickiest part for me is learning the textures and strength of the stems/stalks so that you know just how much pressure you can use while arranging and finagling your flowers into your floral foam.  But once you’ve done a few, it’s really easy to get the hang of it.  I whipped up this beauty that would easily cost over $150 at a flower shop with less than $50 in under 30 minutes.  Since we were using the arrangement for our Pink Party, we wanted to keep with the theme, but also make it seasonal.  Outside of Breast Cancer Awareness, October is not a month that would traditionally make you think of pink, but with the addition of some orange and deep purple florals in combination with pink buds and fresh maple clippings, our arrangement was both perfectly pink while warm and seasonally appropriate for a cozy, fall wine tasting.

Supplies

Florals (see my list and tips below)
Oasis Floral Foam
Vessel
Floral Clippers/Pruners

Floral-Guide

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Tip: Almost every big city has a flower district where you will get the best deals on bulk florals.  A few quick google searches will lead you to yours.  If you live in a small town with no direct access to a flower mart, do some research on what you’re looking for and call your local florist to place you an order.  Also, use whatever florals you have around you. Have a tree changing colors in your yard?  Persimmons, Oranges or Artichokes?  Clip a few small branches or stalks and add them to your arrangement to cut down on cost and to keep your arrangement seasonal, textural and beautiful.

Instructions

1.  Pick your vessel.  Remember that big arrangements do not necessarily call for a big vase.  When you are using floral foam, you can position stems in from every direction and maximize the amount of space you have.  The arrangement we created is a medium/large size and we used a small vessel – a brass julip cup.

2.  Using a knife, cut your floral foam to fit snuggly inside. I like to press the foam to the vessel to get an outline of where to cut excess foam away.  You want to make sure that your foam does NOT move once it’s inside the vessel so start big and cut more away if needed.

3.  Fill your vessel with water.  Your foam will soak up a TON of water so make sure that you continue to let it soak in for a few minutes before you get to work and add water as your foam absorbs every drop in sight.

4.  ARRANGE!  There is no “right” way to arrange flowers, but I always start with my biggest floral or what will ultimately define how large the arrangement will be.  Since this arrangement was going to be large, loose, imperfect and “wildflower-esque” I started with the leaves and greenery to define how tall and wide I wanted the arrangement to be.  I positioned the left greens a little higher and the right greens a little lower to give it that imperfect and “freshly picked” feel.

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5.  Next, I added some celosia to give the arrangement some color and height.

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6.  Now that the back of the arrangement is filled in, it’s time to start adding some of the “wow” flowers or your showstoppers of the arrangement ;-)  Dahlias come into season in the late sumer/fall, are so beautiful and make such a big statement.  I added a few “dinner plate” dahlias in orange and then started filling in with smaller florals: plum colored dahlias and pink ranunculus.

Tip: you can always clip your florals shorter, but you can never make them longer.  To keep the arrangement fun, casual and wild, leave some stems on the longer side.  Don’t be afraid to group multiple of the same flower together either.  That helps add dimension and keeps the arrangement from looking too uniform and perfect.  

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7. Once you’ve used all of the “wow” flowers you can fit, add in some extra green clippings to break things up a bit.  I added some leaves as well as some extra celosia to pull things together and to make the arrangement look finished and picture perfect :-)

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8.  You did it!  Get ready for lots of compliments!

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PS: Don’t let any gorgeous florals go to waste.  We filled a pitcher with extra flowers and greens and utilized some on the backdrop behind our wine display too.

DIY Floral Ice Cubes

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I’ve been dying for a reason to make floral ice cubes for a while now and our Pink Party seemed like the best excuse to finally pull it off.  To be honest, they’re a little annoying to make and take quite some time, but the results are so darn cute and girly that I’d be lying if I said I would never make them again.  I don’t have any pictures of the process, but it’s pretty self explanatory, so I’m sure you’ll do just fine figuring it out ;-)

Supplies

Ice Cube Tray (any will work, but we used this one to make larger cubes)
Edible flowers or fruit (we ordered edible flowers from here)
A kettle to boil your water

Instructions

1.  With edible florals, you’ll want to order them 2-3 days ahead of time.  I used this company and because the flowers are perishable, they overnighted them to us.  I ordered on a Monday, they arrived that Wednesday and they’re hands down the best deal out there.  There were a few companies that charge literally $75 for the same thing.  Do not use them – ever.

2.  In a kettle, boil your water and let it cool (I stuck ours in the freezer to expedite the cooling process – but don’t let it freeze).  Once the water has cooled, boil the water a second time and let it cool completely.  Boiling the water twice helps eliminate tiny air bubbles and minerals that will make your ice appear white when it freezes.  Crystal clear ice will help show off your pretty flowers ;-)

3.  While water is boiling or cooling, remove any greens from your flowers.  The greens are edible, but I found that they turned our ice cubes slightly green on our first try – oops!

4.  Put a few flowers into the bottom of your ice cub tray and fill with 1/4″ water.  Freeze water.

5.  Once the water has frozen, layer some more flowers on top of the ice and fill your trays with remaining water and freeze.

6.  When your ice cubes are completely solid, remove them from the tray, place in a glass and serve with an ice cold beverage immediately.  Enjoy!

DIY Yarn Fringe Backdrop

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Creating a fun backdrop is one of the best ways to make a party picture perfect.  After making two for Blair’s 1st birthday party (and seeing it featured on Style Me Pretty!), I’ve been hooked on finding quick and simple ways to jazz up a focal area at parties and events.  I came across this on Pinterest and have been waiting for a time to replicate it and our Pink Party for work seemed like the best opportunity.  Since I wanted to make the party “fall-ish” while staying on theme with pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the yarn fringe backdrop was actually the PERFECT way to bring all of the colors together.  I picked up seven different colors from our local Michael’s store with a 25% off coupon, purchased some dowels (and had them cut at our local hardware store) for under $5.  The entire project cost less than $25 and made such a fun statement at our party.  Here’s how you can recreate the look on your own :-)

Supplies

Dowels
Yarn in various colors
Scissors

Instructions

1.  Cut your dowels to length.  If your dowels are longer than you’d like your finished length to be, cut them to size using a hand saw.  Or, simply ask your local hardware store to cut them for you which is what I did.  The sizes I went with were 24 inches and 16 inches.

2.  Decide what color yarn you will be using the most and cut it accordingly.  I knew we were going to be using mostly pink with a few strands of orange, yellow and white mixed in so I cut out much more pink in strands of ~48″.  Note: you will be folding your strands in half to attach it to the dowel so keep that in mind when cutting to length.  If you want your finished length to be 18″ cut your yarn at 36″.

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3.  Fold yarn in half and pull the ends of the yarn through the loop and around your dowel.  Side loop to tighten and repeat.

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4.  Alternate colors as you see fit until you’ve filled the dowel with yarn.  Hang your yarn fringe behind a bar or dessert table (I even attached one to the table cloth) and have fun!  Cheers!

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Pink Party for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Call me #basic, but by the time September rolls around, I’m ready to embrace all things fall.  From autumn inspired recipes, to warm mulled wines, to pumpkins and candles that remind me of fall scents back home in Michigan – I just can’t get enough of my favorite season.  October, however, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it marks the beginning of the most important time of the year for us at work.  Since half the profits from our Chardonnay give back to Gateway for Cancer Research (providing clinical trials to women with breast cancer), just when we’re ready to dive head first into fall, everything turns PINK.

We have a division of our company called Hope at Home which offers at-home wine parties that benefit the cause of your choice with 15% going back to the non-profit of your choice.  As our Art Director, I’m always on the hunt for creative and fun ways for our team to stay inspired and get motivated to throw their own parties – especially during our cause months.  A big challenge for me this year at work was figuring out how to throw a pink party, when everyone wants to curl up with a blanket, drink warm mulled wine and pull out their orange pumpkins and decor.  I poked around the internet for some inspiration and ultimately ended up coming back again and again to a flower arrangement that embraced pink and orange equally.  It was inherently pink but also perfectly fall so I decided to run with it.

Since everything we put together had to be easily replicated by our team members who might not be full fledged floral designers or regular party hosts, I broke it down into three simple DIYS and four food/appetizer ideas that both embrace the fall season and pair wonderfully with our Chardonnay.  The best part of this project (beside seeing it all come together) was definitely trying the recipes.  They were SO good and everyone in the office chowed down while we popped open a few bottles of Chardonnay.  Check out everything below from the DIY and recipes to shots from our own little Pink Party ;-)

PS: If you’re interested in hosting your own PINK party for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or if you’d like to raise money for another cause that you’re passionate about OR if you’d like to make an income while giving back to various causes, please consider Hope at Home :-)

DIY YARN FRINGE BACKDROP

DIY PINK FALL FLORALS

DIY FLORAL ICE CUBES

PINK MARSHMALLOW DIP

PEAR + GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

BRIE + FIG PASTRY BITES

CHARDONNAY CHEESE PLATE

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CHEERS!

 

 

Fall Entertaining

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Hip hip hooray!  It’s October 1st and I’m so excited to finally get to share the shoot I styled for ONEHOPE’s 2014 Fall Entertaining Guide perfectly captured by Brian Tropiano Photography. At work, I feel like we’re always flying by the seat of our pants and putting together content like this ahead of time has been a struggle.  This year, however, we managed to stay ahead of the game and shot everything in July to use for the remainder of the year.  Trying to determine what is going to be “in” before anything holiday related is even advertised or released in store is tough so instead I just decided to stick with my gut and curate items and elements that I really, truly love.  I wanted the room to feel like a forest so I incorporated a lot of wood textures, ferns, (faux) antlers, geodes and quartz tea lights down the center of the table.  On the wood backdrop behind the wine, was a wreath with an antler to tie the look together with an additional leather fern garland with bistro lights strung above the table.  We brainstormed for days on what to do instead of traditional place cards before we finally decided on stones – gold calligraphy on stones – to keep with the forest theme while adding a touch of elegance to each setting.  The overall messaging behind the day was “Hope, Thanks and Dreams” so Beth hand crafted an amazing dream catcher where guests’ thanks, hopes for the future and dreams were shared and attached with tiny clothes pins.  Menus were printed on archival matte paper with hope, dream or thanks hand inscribed on the top and florals were kept to a minimum with wooden vessels and a casual/handpicked mixture of dahlias, garden roses, viburnum berries, artichokes and greens.

Since the entire purpose of the shoot was to show how to integrate wine into your fall, Thanksgiving or holiday gathering, the day wouldn’t have been complete without some absolutely delicious and gorgeous fare crafted by 24 Carrots Catering.  24 Carrots is one of the biggest catering companies in the business and their food has never, ever disappointed at any event I’ve ever attended.  I was so impressed that they took our direction (a classic Thanksgiving meal) and creatively modernized it a bit while still staying in theme.  For example, I loved the juxtaposition of a modern beet dish served on a raw wood platter that you’ll see below.  Lastly, each of their dishes paired perfectly with one or more of our wines so find pairing suggestions and a few wonderful recipes below!  CHEERS!

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DECOR TIP:  Chairs can make or break a look.  This shoot took place in our conference room and it’s usually filled with white task chairs that are functional for work, but we opted to replace them for this shoot and I’m so happy we did.  Using these metal industrial chairs from Found Rentals kept the look casual, but also uniform, which I loved.

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DECOR TIP:  When designing a table on a budget, not only are garlands beautiful and always on trend, but they’re also the best bang for your buck. Seeded eucalyptus, lemon leaf, leather fern and bay leaf are all great options to consider.  Contact a flower mart or district in your area for bids, but depending on the greens you go with, garlands can run as little as $2.50-$7.00 per foot!

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DECOR TIP:  Menus aren’t always necessary, but they really add to a place setting and are so simple to create.  We whipped this one up Illustrator (but can easily be replicated in MS Word), printed it on nice paper and applied it to a piece of recycled kraft/corrugate paper that we picked up at Michael’s to tie in with the rest of the theme.  Menus are not only great for making pairing suggestions, but they are also the perfect place to tie in your theme or messaging of the evening.  Beth hand wrote thanks, hope or dream at the top of each menu to reiterate why we were all gathered that day.

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DELICIOUS Sauvignon Blanc can be found here.

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Fall-Entertaining-Turkey-2PAIRING NOTES:  Pinot Noir and Turkey are a natural pairing.  The savory herbs and spices on the roasted turkey are complimented by the spice-infused influences of the French oak in our Pinot Noir.

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DECOR TIP:  Since turkey is usually the main food element during Thanksgiving meals, I love that 24 Carrots used this legged platter to give it some height.  Pieces like this are readily available at Cost Plus, Pottery Barn or can be rented for the day from Found Rentals.Fall-Entertaining-Dream-Catcher

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PAIRING NOTES:  The creamy texture and toasted oak notes of our Santa Barbara Reserve Chardonnay pair perfectly with the rich butter and cheddar cheese of this twice baked potato.

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PAIRING NOTES:  Eggs and Pinot Noir are a guilty pleasure not to be missed and Pinot is the perfect partner in crime for ham.

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PAIRING NOTES (recipe below): The rich fruit and lively spice of our Pinot Noir adds some brightness to the earthy quality of these savory vegetables.

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Thyme Infused Roasted Root Vegetables by 24 Carrots Catering

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 lbs mixed root vegetables (we use baby carrots, the smallest parsnips you can find and a mix of yellow and red beets)
Olive oil, to taste
Salt + pepper, to taste

Balsamic Thyme Vinaigrette Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons thyme minced
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons miso paste

Directions

Gently peel the carrots and parsnips. Leave them whole if they are all the same size – if not, chop the larger veggies to equal the size of the smaller ones. Peel and chop the beets into rough cubes, about 1-inch all around.

Place all the vegetables onto a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place in a 400°F degree oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, shaking them periodically for even cooking. Remove from oven when soft, slightly brown and caramelized.

Meanwhile, prepare the balsamic thyme vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients aside from the oil in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in the oil while whisking to combine. Season to taste.

Drizzle dressing all over the vegetables to coat, return to the oven and caramelize for five more minutes.

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PAIRING NOTES: The savory, meaty essence of the sausage pairs perfectly with spicy and herbal characteristics of our Zinfandel.

Apple Sage Cornbread Stuffing by 24 Carrots Catering

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Cornbread, recipe follows
10 slices oven-dried country white bread
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 granny smith apples ¼ inch, diced
1 lb apple sausage
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup Heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sage
1 tablespoon thyme
5 eggs, beaten

Cornbread Ingredients

1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown, then add the celery, onions and apples and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock and cream, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and thyme.

Add beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Serve with turkey as a side dish.

Cornbread Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Cranberry Lemon Herb Butter by 24 Carrots Catering

Ingredients

1/4 cup mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cranberries, dried
1 teaspoon cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions

Chop cranberries then add herbs on a work surface. Add butter cranberry sauce and lemon zest. Finely chop together until well combined. Season with salt.

Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid.

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DECOR TIP:  Use as many potted plants as possible to achieve your look.  Mixing in small potted ferns, rosemary plants or succulents to your tablescape will keep the look interesting and will also make great favors to your guests.  While fresh cut flowers are always beautiful, they’ll also perish a few days later while a potted plant will flourish and will serve as a happy reminder of your gathering with loved ones.  While not for everyone, trees also make a huge statement.  The cedar tree pictured behind me in the photo below was purchased from a local nursery for $20!  Fall-Entertaining-Beets-3

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PAIRING NOTES: The earthy tones of the beets and the tartness of the goat cheese are complemented by the lush, dark berry fruit of our Cabernet Sauvignon.

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PAIRING NOTES: The candied red fruit characteristics and the bright acidity of our Merlot help cut through some of the richness of this luxurious pie.  The bright acidity and zesty citrus notes of our Sparkling Brut would be a fantastic match for the rich, sweet character of the pie.

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DECOR TIP:  To keep your look interesting and “collected” opt for pieces that still fit your aesthetic, but aren’t too “matchy matchy”.  I love this vintage galvanized pie/cake stand 24 Carrots used for their Pecan Pie.  That tiny hint of metal tied in perfectly with the iron chairs we selected from Found Rentals.

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Photography: Brian Tropiano Photography
Calligraphy & Dream Catcher: Beth Phillips
Rentals: Found Rentals
Linen: La Tavola
Styling, Florals & Decor: Yours truly :-)

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