Friday, September 28, 2012

{friday cocktail: a manhattan}

Sometimes (ok- most times) I make girly, sparkly, fruity cocktails and other times I just get down to business with a classic cocktail.  A cocktail so classic that you would expect to see it on Mad Men or in a dark mahogany library filled with weird taxidermy.  This Friday is one of those days and I bring you a recipe for a classic manhattan cocktail (if you don't know it then this is your chance to try it, if you already know it then is the recipe presented to you once again).  It's simple.  It's old-school.  It will most likely impress somebody if you make it for them and act like you know what you are doing...

{luxardo cherries might seem pricey, but they last forever in your fridge so make the splurge 
and you will always have them on hand for manhattans}


Thursday, September 27, 2012

{diy mini triangle garland backdrop}

The mini triangle fringe garland I created for our birthday party is basically a super simple version of the garland I made for our wedding (see the wedding tutorial here).  The difference with this garland is it uses inexpensive colored tissue paper rather than fabric.  The best part about using tissue paper is if your rotary cutter is sharp enough you should be able to cut through 10+ sheets at a time which makes this project extremely quick!  I created seven pieces of garland about 6 to 7 feet long to cover the window behind our appetizer and sweets table.  Since the table was against a wall, I was able to simply tape the garland directly to the wall behind our curtains.  I you don't have a wall to anchor the garland to, you can still create the "backdrop" effect by attached the garlands to two thicker dowels which you can anchor into floral arrangements on the edge of your table- similar to this photo.  

what you need:
  • rotary cutter & mat
  • glue gun
  • 1/2 inch wide ribbon (i used a mixture of gold and white twill ribbon)
  • colored tissue paper (each 7' garland requires about 5 sheets of tissue if you are cutting them to the same size that I did)

  1. Take five sheets of tissue and fold them lengthwise, cut the tissue using your rotary cutter so that the long folded side is 20 inches long and the short side is 7 inches tall. 
  2. Keeping all the sheets of tissue together and straight, begin cutting your fringe.  Start about 3/4 inch down from the folded side of the tissue.  Cut pieces of fringe about 1/2 inch wide.  There is no need to be exact here just try to keep the fringe pieces straight!
  3. Once you have cut the length of the tissue, make a full cut down the center which will give you two rectangular pieces of fringed tissue about 7" tall by 10" inches wide. 
  4. To cut into a triangle, fold the tissue in half (keeping all the sheets straight and together). Then cut a diagonal line from the bottom corner of the new folded side up to about 1 inch down from the top of the non folded side. 
  5. Now you can carefully separate your five sheets of tissue into 5 pieces of folded triangle fringe!
  6. To attached fringe to ribbon, simply place a thin strip of hot glue down the center of the ribbon and carefully place a piece of fringed triangle along it so that no tissue goes past the top of the ribbon.
  7. Continue placing fringed tissue pieces end on end until you reach your desired garland length.  Then simply cut the ribbon and turn the garland around when you hang it so that the ribbon shows on top of the garland covering up the ugly glue-gunned side! 

With the scraps leftover from cutting the triangle, you can make yourself some festive confetti!  Simply place a pile of scraps on your mat and cut across them with the rotary cutter in a few different directions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{a birthday cocktail party}

Last night we hosted a little cocktail party get together to celebrate our birthdays.  This was the first large gathering we have had at our new place in Chicago and I decided to keep it simple rather than going all out with a theme.  Inspired by the fun mix of colors from this photo, I created some simple decorations using a mix of tissue paper I already had laying around.  A few strands of garland and some confetti was all this party needed to turn it from a regular get-together into a birthday celebration, along with a spread  of savory and sweet snacks.  And to top it all off (because its not a cocktail party without alcohol) we made big batch of whiskey punch and diy champagne cocktail set up!

 {our dining room set up moved around slightly, instructions for garland here}

 {a party staple- our party sized recipe version here. every time we make this punch I bet Chris that there is no way our guests will finish it and I am consistently proven wrong as this was drained clean by the end of the night even though it had 3 full handles of whiskey in it!}

{champagne cocktail set up}

 {my favorite champagne bottle bucket from here}

{recipe for this party favorite is right here

{I did not make these from scratch (no one has that kind of time)-
 they are available in the freezer aisle of target}

 {easiest recipe to make. ever. its only three ingredients and your friends will be so impressed- recipe here}

{funfetti-obviously. this is a birthday party after all.}

{mini red velvet}

Friday, September 21, 2012

{friday cocktail: lillet rose flambe}

Ever since I saw this beautiful cocktail from Martha Stewart, I have wanted to pick up a bottle of Lillet's new Rose, but I was having the hardest time finding a bottle.  I finally spotted one at Schaefer's and immediately scooped it up for birthday cocktails last night.  There are about five or six different recipes I cannot wait to try with it, but I figured I would keep it simple and go with a straightforward recipe suggested in the cute little booklet that came with the bottle (I am a total sucker for marketing materials).

{If you are wondering where all this confetti came from, it just so happens to be
 leftover scraps from some birthday crafting.}


Thursday, September 20, 2012


Today I am celebrating my 27th birthday!!!!

I am definitely not one of those people that tries to ignore their birthday when it rolls around (why pass
 up a chance for some champagne?!).  Plus with Chris' birthday only three days after mine, we make sure
 to do it up every year.  I cannot believe it has been a whole year since our last
birthday party (re-live that magic here and here). 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

{fall cooking: crispy polenta}

These past couple blustery days in Chicago have made it feel like Fall more than ever so I have been collecting a wishlist of dishes to cook to go along with the changing season.  This recipe made the cut as soon as I spotted it on Pinterest, but the honey and lack of protein in the dish made it feel too much like a dessert.  We dropped the honey from the recipe and added in cremini mushrooms as well as some spicy italian sausage. We also used feta cheese instead of goat cheese, but that is only because I mistakenly bought lemon flavored goat cheese at the market (it's gross- trust me). You can see the original recipe we followed here.  The crispy polenta makes for a great base to any dish and is easy to prepare for large groups- we particularly love to pair it with marinated pork loin.

Friday, September 14, 2012

{friday cocktail: raspberry mint fizz}

Since moving to Chicago, I have heard a few people talk about "seasonal" drinking which happens to be different people's preferences for drinking based on what season it is and I am not just referring to Hot Toddy's in the winter and margaritas in the summer.  People here have told me they drink red wine or Manhattans only in the winter.  Being from California, the concept of real seasons is pretty foreign to me let alone the idea of modifying my drink choices based on the season.  I have been wanting to whip up this simple summer inspired cocktail recipe for some time and I figured with the official first day of Fall fast approaching, I better get on it!

I was first inspired to make this recipe when I saw a similar version on Camille Styles using blueberries and I loved that the recipe could easily be altered using different fruits for garnish and a wide variety of flavors for the soda.  No matter what combination you choose, the result is light and refreshing with a touch of sparkle. All of the ingredients conjure up ideas of sitting on roof decks on a hot afternoon or outdoor summer evening  dinner parties.   The best part of this recipe is that it is extremely easy to make in large batches perfect for parties- plus it looks super girl which makes it perfect for a bridal or baby shower.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

{DIY table number napkins}

Today I'm sharing another simple DIY project we created for our wedding, the custom napkins we created that also doubled as table numbers.  This was definitely one of those projects that was a labor of love.  Table numbers are usually staked in the floral arrangements or set alongside them and you simply have to create one per table, but I chose to make this project which would have the table number displayed on every single place seating.

I fell in love with this project when I first saw it on Twig & Thistle, but I figured it would be way more work than it was worth to create 130 napkins for our guests.  I changed my mind as soon as we decided to do long dinner tables put end on end.  We would still need to assign table numbers to the 13 tables so that guests could locate their seats, but I was concerned that guests might get confused about where a certain table started and ended since the tables were placed together.  These DIY napkins offered the perfect solution and allowed us to make some tables hold more than others by simply making 10 napkins for a certain table number rather than 8 which helped tremendously with the fully assigned seating.

This project took a good amount of time, but the effort required is minimal as long as you have the right tools.  The 3 inch circle punch is an absolute must for this project as is a high quality cotton napkin that doesn't have any texture (i.e. a waffle textured napkin wont work!).  You can see the full instructions and download the file for the numbers over at Twig and Thistle here. 

 {image via Twig & Thistle}

 {we could not have finished this project without the help of chris' mom!}

{for Chris and my seats, we created our crest on the napkins instead of the table numbers since we were pretty sure we would know where our seats were!}