Tuesday, April 29, 2014

{kentucky derby drink flag printable}

Last year we hosted a little Kentucky Derby viewing party (it was actually my first time watching the race!) complete with mint juleps and custom drink stirrers.  I loved how the drink flags turned out so I knew I would have to whip up a batch for the derby this year.  The stirrer set for last year had each horse's name on it and their corresponding jockey's jersey.  Guests selected a stirrer based on their pick for the race's winner which made for a little friendly competition (something that always makes a party a little more fun in my opinion!).

This year I created two options for you: one has only the jerseys on the flag with a corresponding key to what horse that jersey belongs and the other has both the jersey as well as the horse name.   Unless your friends have memorized every jockey's jersey design then you can use the set that has no horse names on it to play a more random game where guests simply pick up a flag.  Click the photo below for access to the free printable downloads.  Simply cut out the flags, adhere them to a small bamboo stick or paper straw, pop it into your mint julep and enjoy!

For Kentucky Derby viewing party inspiration check out the board I put together last year right here!

Monday, April 28, 2014

{two year anniversary}

Today marks our 2-year wedding anniversary which blows my mind even now as I write it since it feels like a week ago that we were loading up a Uhaul full of wedding DIYs to head out to the desert and celebrate with 130 of our closest friends and family.  Even though we are only 2 years in as far as our wedding date goes, Chris and I were actually together for almost 10 years before making it official. While I certainly don't claim to know everything it takes to make a successful marriage, I do know that every year we have been together has been even better than the one before.  If we can keep that up for many years to come then I'd like to think we've got it figured out.

Last year Chris surprised me with a weekend trip to Palm Springs to celebrate our first anniversary (you can see a little video I made from that trip here)  This year (in addition to our anniversary gift tradition) we are going decidedly more low-key with a dinner tomorrow night at one our favorite places in Chicago.


Friday, April 25, 2014

{friday cocktail: triple pepper margarita}

Next weekend we will be attending a Cinco de Mayo party where each guest brings a batch of margaritas to enter into a contest so I have been brainstorming what recipe we should whip up for the win this year.  Last year we tried to be fancy and brought these, but we didn't win which I will chalk up to the fact that most of the judges were drunk.  My favorite kind of margarita is a classic Tommy's margarita with jalapeƱo muddled in and a spicy paprika salt rim (generally enjoyed in Palm Springs!) so I thought I might try out an even spicier recipe to potentially enter in the contest.  

Working with my fave recipe as a base, I added in muddled red pepper, more jalapeƱos, a pepper garnish including fiery habanero and rimed the glass with home-made lime salt.  I absolutely love how this cocktail turned out, but it occurred to me after a few sips that the spice won't make it a crowd pleaser (aka the champion) so I'll need to think of something else for the contest.  I think we will go off the beaten path with a less traditional margarita and I'll be happy to do all the "research" in the meantime. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

{what i loved this week}

on instagram:  My favorite party color scheme used for Monika of The Doctor's Closet son's 1st birthday.  My new blogger girl crush is on Erika Brechtel whose amazing website I just discovered through her re-branding work with Clara Persis.  A chic office makeover feature.  I need to remember to surprise someone with a coffee and love note!

on pinterest:  A fun goody filled box to greet bachelorette party go-ers!  Probably going to copy this exact outfit this coming weekend. 

in the magazines:  As if I wasn't obsessed with Olivia Palermo enough (who isn't really?!?),  I will now be stalking her every wedding planning move starting with her feature on the cover of Brides!

on the blogs:  An impeccably feminine home tour and a fabulous Veuve dinner party both featured on The Glitter Guide this week!

on the internets:  Cocktail garnish inspiration via The Tasting Table - I'm particularly intrigued by #7.

on my wishlist: This simple white dress for summer with a fun low-cut back.  This satchel from Gigi New York in the perfect shade of taupe.  Absolutely love these monogram notecards in addition to the 19 other things I would like to buy from this shop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{chia seed pudding 3 ways}

I have been seeing dessert recipes using the incredibly healthy chia seeds popping up everywhere. The seeds are incredibly rich in antioxidants, protein and fiber which doesn't sound like a typical dessert ingredient, but I figured it was worth a shot to see what all the hype was about.  Since the prep time for a chia seed pudding is about 5 minutes I decided to try out multiple flavor combinations to see what I preferred.  The simple answer is that I prefer them all and chia seeds are surprisingly tasty with a texture similar to mini crunchy tapioca.  In other words...I get what all the hype is about.

Scroll down for the three different recipes for chia pudding that I tested out- my favorite was the simple and sweet vanilla coconut pudding, but the pistachio was a close runner up.  These recipes use either unsweetened almond milk or vanilla coconut milk, but you can substitute for any dairy you prefer such as regular 2% milk.  Regardless of which flavor chia pudding you chose to make, you will definitely need to add a small amount of sweetener to the mix.  For these recipes I experimented between maple syrup, honey or agave nectar as sweeteners and between the three I find that the agave nectar was my favorite.

Each recipe below makes two large servings.

Vanilla Coconut Chia Seed Pudding:
  • 1 cup vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a bowl then transfer to serving bowls.  Place in fridge to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Ideal garnish would be dried coconut chips although I tried it with shaved dark chocolate!

Raspberry Lemon Chia Seed Pudding:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • lemon zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a food processor, combine raspberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, almond milk, honey & vanilla extract.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in chia seeds.  Place into desired serving bowls and let set in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with fresh raspberries & lemon zest!

Pistachio Chia Seeding Pudding:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
In a food processor, combine almond milk, pistachios and agave nectar.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in chia seeds.  Place into desired serving bowls and let set in fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Garnish with chopped pistachios!

Monday, April 21, 2014

{2nd anniversary art}

We will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary next week and in keeping with the tradition we started last year we started searching around for another piece of art to add to our collection.   We chose to go with a large photo print from our wedding day for our first anniversary which you can see see right here.  This year, I came across these amazing palm leaf watercolor prints from The Aestate and thought one of them could be perfect!  The more I tried to decide which of the four variations of the Beverly print series was the best the more it occurred to me that it could be amazing to grab up three of them to create a sort of large triptych piece.  I also briefly entertained the idea of having them print us one extra large one like this, but the custom framing cost behind something that large is atrocious (over $600!!!).  We picked up white frames for these from Ikea and depending where we move to we could always switch them out for the walnut finish frame or even paint them!

Friday, April 18, 2014

{friday cocktail: trouble in paradise}

Lately I have been seeing a lot of great cocktail bars make more use of tinctures in the place of bitters for their recipes.  Even though tinctures sound complicated and fancy they are actually quite easy to make. You simply infuse the flavor you wish to have a tincture of by soaking it in a high proof alcohol- for example a basil tincture is just a healthy handful of fresh basil leaves soaked in everclear overnight and then strained into an eyedropper container.   See more about tinctures here.

Since I love spicy cocktails, I was particularly intrigued by this cocktail from Tosca Cafe in San Francisco which includes a black pepper tincture along with my new favorite cocktail ingredient, Campari. This recipe is one of the select few that both appeal to my love for citrus-y and sweet cocktails as well as Chris' preference for more bitter bourbon or whiskey based drinks.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

{what i loved this week}

on instagram: Gorgeous  and colorful kilim rugs from Amber Interiors Shoppe.  The most fabulous flamingo vespa.  Oh Joy's fun line of summer garden party gear for Target.  One Hope Wine now offers a full mimosa bar set up complete with juice carafes, labels and bubbly- how perfect is that for a bridal shower or brunch?!?!

on pinterest:  A bold choice for a kitchen with cabinets painted in moody black makes me wish we weren't renting our place.  Simple white paper flower crowns would be amazing for an all white summer party. 

on the internets:  Temporary wallpaper from Blue Hand Home is the perfect solution for renters- I particularly love this one

on the blogs:  Maybe the most perfect engagement shoot in Malibu on 100 Layer Cake.  The couple's style in the first few photos is flawless. 

on my wishlist:  A tourist inspired Los Angeles beach towel.  It's never too early to pick up a good  dress for the holidays like this beaded one from River Island.  A clamshell planter overflowing with succulents.  A simple gold ring with an aqua stone - best part is it's included in Shopbop's friends & family sale right now!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{diy cocktail bitters sugar cubes}

When I saw these DIY angostura sugar cubes on pinterest while we were living in Paris, I knew they would be one of the first projects I wanted to try out as soon as we got home.  I ordered up these mini ice cube molds and then started thinking about which bitters I would use the most in cube form.  I decided in addition to classic Angostura sugar cubes to also mix up some Lavender and Peychaud cube.  

The recipe appears to be quick and simple which usually has me feeling pretty skeptical about how my version will actually turn out, but these were super easy to make and for the most part they popped out the molds in perfect squares!  In addition to being great for a French 75 or Sazerac cocktail, these cubes would also be tasty used as a sweetener for tea or even a fabulous gift idea alongside a bottle of bubbly or booze!  Check out below for the recipe details:

what you need:
  1. Mix together sugar and desired bitters flavor in a bowl until the bitters liquid is well combined with the sugar.
  2. Firmly press sugar into ice cube molds. 
  3. Allow to harden overnight OR pop in the microwave for 30 seconds then let the mold sit for about 30 minutes to fully set before popping out the molded cubes!
  4. Store in airtight container when not in use.