Monday, December 31, 2012

{new years eve dinner party inspiration}

This New Year's Eve, Chris' parents offered up their house in Huntington Beach for us to host a dinner party at while they are out celebrating the New Year in Palm Springs. Rather than have a stressful night out on the town, we quickly jumped at the chance to have a dressed up evening in alongside our closest friends.  Here's a little inspiration board I put together for the night and Ill be sure to share photos later this week.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

{the parties of 2012}

Wow! 2012 was a whirlwind year that seemed to fly by!  Even though it felt like everything was moving at double speed, we got the chance to throw some amazing celebrations this year including one really big one- our wedding!  Here's a little recap of all my favorite parties from 2012 and based on these fabulous events, I cannot even wait to see what 2013 holds for us:

 {the "breakfast for dinner" themed party we threw for our good friend Kay- complete with a pancake stack cake! Definitely one of my favorite party themes since it was super easy to execute and who doesnt love breakfast food in the evening?!?!}

 {a garlic centric dinner party we threw in our new Chicago dining room.  This was first dinner party we had in our new place and I loved creating a menu around one ingredient}

 {a relaxed dinner party menu- one of the only posts where I featured a complete menu 
along with wine pairings!}

 {a colorful and fun engagement party some of my friends and I threw for our newly engaged pals,
Jeff & Katie.  My favorite part of this party was the DIY slider bar!}

 {my bridal shower- I definitely had absolutely nothing to do with the planning and execution of this party. All of the credit for this beautiful event goes to my bridesmaids, mom and mother -in-law.  I just loved this party so much, I had to include it!}

 {our "sequins & bow ties" themed going away party! This theme is hands down the best one I have ever thought of- I wouldnt mind if this was the theme for every single party going forward.}

 {breaking tradition for our birthdays this year, we opted to throw a cocktail party rather than the 20 person sit down dinner we usually choose to host- this was also the very first big party we threw in our new Chicago place, but surely not the last}

{a "champagne & desserts" themed partI threw for my good friend's 26th birthday party- another theme that I wouldn't mind using for many future parties!}

And of course- the best party of this year for us was our wedding in Palm Springs last April:

Monday, December 24, 2012

{our holiday cards}

You might remember the holiday cards I reviewed for Minted back in this post.  While I did end up using Minted to print our holiday cards, we actually ended up using their "Big Picture" design with allows you to upload you own full bleed photos to both sides.  As with many people around the holidays, we had the best intentions to take a real photo for the card with the Chicago skyline in the background or something festive, but time got the best of us.  We decided to simply use one of our favorite wedding photos and then get a little more creative with the back of the card...

Friday, December 21, 2012

{friday cocktail: guest blog with Pharmacie LA}

Even though I am on vacation, I would never leave you without a tasty Friday cocktail to try out and I am so excited to bring you a custom cocktail from Talmadge Lowe of Pharmacie.  Talmadge's less than a year old company is raising the bar on hand crafted cocktails from the classics to unexpected mixtures.  After sampling some for myself at The Cream event last Spring, I can personally vouch for their satisfying creations.  Check out Pharmacie's website for more info on events and custom cocktail creations.  Take it away Talmadge!

{image via Jennifer Emerling}

This is a classically styled aromatic cocktail that I designed for a wedding. The groom wanted a drink that was "deep and dark, something that feels old fashioned." The bride commented that the cocktail tasted like something that would be served at "some old school men's club with leather chairs" and the name was born: The Confirmed Bachelor.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

{gift guide guest blog with A Fabulous Fete}

Today I have Lauren from A Fabulous Fete here to give you the 5 Things on her Christmas list!  I started reading Lauren's party centric blog almost two years ago after discovering a link to her amazing calligraphy.  You simply must check out her blog for some amazing party inspiration (including her recent wedding!) as well as her adorable Etsy shop which includes one of my favorite signs!  Take it away Lauren:

When Natalie asked me to pick out 5 things that were on MY list, I was like (heck yes), this will be super fun, easy, and the perfect link to send my husband. But then, I had to narrow my list to santa down to just a handful. It was hard, but I think that these really are the 5 things on the top of my list. 

01. palm leaf pillow. i've seriously been drooling over this forever. i can't bring myself to pay for pillows (they're just so easy to make), but i would totally accept them as gifts.

02. lighted peace sign. we have "that" wall in our living room that is begging for some tlc. this would be the perfect centerpiece to the art collection i plan on starting.

03. lips print. this will go right next the number 2.

04. kate spade 'ta da' necklace. i feel like whenever i explain something to someone, these words come out of my mouth. like everything i do is a magic trick or something. 

05. wildfox drunk on love sweater. just because it's cool, and i like margaritas.

Rachel Leigh of Rae Leigh Designs! Congrats Rachel!!! :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{gift guide guest blog with Modern Sequins}

Today we have Myka from Modern Sequins sharing her "5 Things on My Christmas List" gift guide while I am out on a ski vacation before heading home for the holidays!  I actually first found Myka through her Instagram feed and immediately fell in love with her sparkly style.  Be sure to check out her fabulous blog.  Take it away Myka:

Hi.  It's Myka from Modern Sequins.  My wish list this holiday season includes a votive holder I've been coveting (hello Jonathan Adler, I love you), some fun accessories, and a dress that proves every girl deserves a little sparkle in her life.  Doesn't this dress just scream best dressed at any holiday party?  Happy holidays to everyone and here's to an amazing 2013!

1. dress  2. ring  3. votive   4. pom pom   5. scarf

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

{gift guide guest blog with Sequins & Stripes}

I am so happy to have Liz from Sequins & Stripes contributing her "5 things on my Christmas List"  while I am out this week hitting the slopes (aka drinking spiked hot chocolate in the apres ski lodge).  I have followed Liz's inspiring style blog ever since it first launched and if you aren't familiar with it then you simply must check it out immediately!  Take it away Liz: 

Hi there! Liz here from Sequins & Stripes sharing a selfish little gift guide centered around five items that I'd love to see under the Christmas tree. Tis the season for giving, but sometimes it is fun to reward ourselves too...{right?!}.

A huge thank you Natalie for having me! I hope you are having the most amazing time on your vacation. 
Happy holidays to everyone! xo

Monday, December 17, 2012

{ski trip vacation}

This week I am in Steamboat Springs Colorado along with 800 other students & their significant others from Chris' MBA program at Kellogg.  A week full of skiing, apres-skiing, snow tubing, and themed party nights (you can check out some of the action on my Instagram feed). While I'm out, I have lined up a great bunch of bloggers this week to do some gift guide guest posts for you so be sure to check back tomorrow for the first one from Liz of Sequins & Stripes!

{photo taken out the window of our cabin}

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2012

{friday cocktail: martin voiron}

We have no less than 13 different bottles of bitters on our bar, but it seems that our Angostura, Peychaud's & Lavender flavored bitters are the bottles that get the most play.  Since we definitely play favorites with our bitters, I am always on the look out for recipes that utilize some of our lesser loved bitters especially the cardamon or celery bitters (and if you happen to know of a great recipe then don't be selfish and keep it yourself ...send it to me!).   I came across this recipe forever ago which uses Grapefruit bitters, but at the time we didn't have Chartreuse in our bar.  While the original recipe calls for Yellow Chartreuse, I felt Green Chartreuse would make a perfectly fine substitute and you know what...I was right! Enjoy...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

{chicago guest room + GIVEAWAY!}

One of the things I was most excited about decorating in our Chicago place is the 2nd bedroom which we decided to turn into more of an office/closet rather than a traditional guest bedroom.  Our previous loft barely had one real bedroom so the idea of having a whole second room at my disposal to decorate had my head spinning with ideas.  We decided to paint the walls in fresh white and picked up all the white furniture from Ikea to go along with it. There are still quite a few things on my wishlist to complete in this room such as finding the perfect white rug as well as a white desk chair or completing this little project on the white curtains.  Since we have been so busy in the last few months and my wishlist of projects will not be completed anytime soon with all the holidays plans around the corner, I decided I wanted to share photos of where the office is as of now.

And as a special bonus I have a little tassel garland giveaway for you today from The Flair Exchange at the bottom of this post!!

{one of my favorite images from our wedding printed on canvas} 

 {white "Lack" shelves above the desk}

 {brass tray from here and acrylic desk accessories from The Container Store & Russel + Hazel}

 {vintage milk glass and a boxwood topiary}

{another to do item on my project list for this room is to paint that eagle in the top left gold} 

 {artwork I have had since high school & an artificial lemon tree brighten up the shelves}

 {white ceramic finial jars I scored at Bash, Please's garage sale}

{expedit shelving unit, storage boxes & magazine files all from Ikea}

 {collection of vintage milk glass containers we used for the sweets table at our wedding now 
hold an array of washi tape, sharpies & address stamps}

somewhat of an inspiration board & place to display photos/invites}

{somehow even these two closets aren't quite enough space for me as I also use half of the closet
 in the master bedroom- they say the first step is admitting you have a problem...}

{attempting to keep my closet more organized by arranging by color} 

 {garland from The Flair Exchange above my closet- scroll down to win one for yourself!}

{new gold edged business cards}

Carmen from The Flair Exchange who I purchased my tassel garland from has generously offered to giveaway a strand of tassel garland to one lucky reader today so you can adorn your own closet or party or whatever you desire with a garland of your choosing!

Simply leave one comment on this post letting me know where you would plan to use your garland! Winner will be selected by random number drawing on Tuesday December 18th at 11:59pm.

Please note: one entry per reader and this giveaway is only open to US residents. 
Garland will not ship until after Jan. 1st 2013.

**no compensation has been offered from The Flair Exchange to host this giveaway. I just fell in love with my tassel garland and The Flair Exchange has generously offered to giveaway a strand to one of  my readers!!! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

{appetizers for dinner}

I like appetizers. A lot.  I'm generally reminding myself at social get togethers to not embarrass myself by taking the entire plate of appetizers off of a server's tray as they are passing through.  Maybe it's because I love tiny food so much and the general idea of an appetizer is to be cute and bite size.  This past weekend, Chris and I were trying to brainstorm up a menu for a little night spend in and after only finding appetizer ideas that sounded appealing we decided to make a dinner out of a dishes you would usually find on the "starters" menu.  Rather than sit down for a proper meal, we spent the evening cooking in the kitchen together and enjoying the appetizers as they became ready.   We cooked up three different dishes (click on the different elements below for recipe links):

 {charred red peppers for the romesco sauce}

{a maple old fashioned to accompany the cooking}

 {pan fried cauliflower on a bed of romesco topped with flat leaf parsley & garlic toasted panko}

{grilled asparagus with friend egg and romesco sauce}

                              {crostini with mortadella spread topped with spinach & balsamic cashews}

what you need
  • 1/2 lb mortadella
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/2 sliced french baguette
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Chop cashews and lightly toast. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette and set aside. 
  2. Cut mortadella into small chunks and place in food processor with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil until mixture reaches a spreadable consistency.
  3. Toast baguette slices.
  4. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the mortadella onto each toasted slice.
  5. Top with chopped spinach and large spoonful of the balsamic cashew mixture.
  6. Lightly salt to taste.