Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ultimate Hostess Contest

Are you the Ultimate Host?

Recently, I found a contest on the Sterling Vineyards Facebook site to see if I could host a party for six, with my flare of creativity on a $75 budget. Although California is not eligible to play, I still wanted to give it a whirl.

Those of you that know me, are aware that I love hosting a fun party. I think my super cool Favorite Things Party or my Summer Fun 1st Birthday for the mini was a dead giveaway right there. So clearly, you know this was right up my alley!

You can check the contest out HERE and enter the next 3 challenges that are coming up! (Only for non-California residents)

As for the hosting on a budget, this is what I would have entered with my photos below. It was a lot of fun getting to use my creativity skills!

The Décor:

After much deliberation, I chose a brown, gold, and green palette, consistent with the colors of the upcoming fall season. My first stop when planning a party is my own home, trying my best to piece together anything I already have around the house – after all, when sticking to a budget, you can’t beat $0! I was able to dig up two old table cloths that fit with the theme, as well as a set of napkin rings, and with a budget of only $75, I borrowed the dishware from a friend (in exchange for an invitation to the event, of course). Finally, I salvaged a wine barrel planter from the back yard that had been sitting unused for months.

With that as a starting point, it was off to the dollar store, where I picked up the votive candles, gold ribbon, and the leaves in the napkin rings. The brown napkins were a bit pricey at $4.99 from TJ Maxx, but I really like the touch of class that a cloth napkin brings to a dinner party. The best two scores of the day – the great find on the frame at a yard sale for 50 cents, and the pinecones from my neighbors’ yard, for free! The brown flag-style food labels were a fun creation cut straight from an old paper grocery bag that I had in the cupboard.

The Cuisine:

Rather than focus on a single main dish, I decided to host this meal tapas-style, with an array of mouth watering hors d’oeuvres, including a variety of grapes and olives, which not only added to the décor, but they made wonderful munchies throughout the course of the evening.

We started with prosciutto wrapped figs with black pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. This appetizer was absolutely stunning when paired with the Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay!

From there, we moved on to a wonderful brie with organic fig preserves, topped with chopped almonds. Served with crackers, this one brought in a number of compliments.
Our family recipe bruschetta, a star at just about every family gathering, didn’t last long. Featuring a fresh-baked sourdough baguette, the home-grown tomatoes and basil marinate in balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for just the right amount of time for the flavors to truly blend.

The final stop before dessert was the beef tenderloin and red potato skewers, grilled with olive oil and an array of fresh herbs.

Finally, I topped it all off with the surprisingly simple to make, and absolutely delicious chocolate-covered strawberries, with fresh organic berries straight from the backyard garden.

Bellies were happy and full by the end of the night – we truly enjoyed the bounty of the harvest!

The Entertainment:

The true fun of this evening was great conversation with friends and family. That said, I was even able to throw in a little entertainment for free, since there is always an ample supply of corks around the house, remnants from many wonderful evenings with friends. During the course of the night, we played a fun game called Corks. This game requires about 100 corks to be placed in a bag. Use a red or black marker and draw a star on the bottom of one of the corks. Stick it in the bag of corks and shake it up. Have party guests select one cork each, continuously handing around until a guest picks the cork with the red or black star. The player who selects the cork with the star receives a backrub from the host! The bag went around the group about 4 times until we got a winner. It was a ton of fun!

I already have another contest in the pipe.  I can't wait for this one. Holiday contests are the best!!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Favorite-tini

Although my Favorite Things party is over and there won't be another one for at least 5 months, I thought it might be a great idea to create a signature cocktail for the next party in the meantime.

Introducing the..............

Isn't it gorge?

If you want to make your own Favorite-tini for your Favorite Things party or just because, I've included the recipe below. I hope you enjoy it at your next party!

– Cup of ice
– 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
– 2 ounces of your favorite vodka
– 1 ounce Cointreau liquor

– Splash of sparkling water

Shake ingredients in a shaker and put in chilled glasses. Put pineapple fruit onto glass as garnish.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Favorite Things Party

What a night! Last weekend I hosted my first Favorite Things Party. The concept of this party is like Oprah's Favorite Things but on a MUCH smaller scale. I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, so I just invited a few friends over to see how it would go. It turned out much better than I could have imagined! This is a great way to get your girlfriends together while enjoying wine and appy's and all your favorite things! The ladies LOVED it! We were all like giddy school girls over all the fun things that everyone brought. See below for the details and photos of the fun night.

Background of the party:

Each person brings their favorite thing (anything you like.. your favorite lip gloss, favorite kitchen tool, favorite gift wrapping supply, a gift card for your favorite frozen yogurt, etc.). It can't cost more than $6, and each person brings five of the same thing. (You can make it any amount you want, but I thought $6 was an affordable price for everyone). When you arrive at the party, you write your name on five slips of paper and throw them in a big bowl. Your Favorite Thing is to remain a secret from the group. The bowl is passed around, and each person takes five names, making sure you don't pick your own.. or two of the same name.

One at a time each person introduces their favorite thing and then reads the five names they picked from the bowl, passing out their gift to those five guests. After everyone at the party has presented their favorite thing, each person should end up with five gifts to take home.

I also had a drawing for a surprise mini swag bag! Congrats to Janice for winning!

Everyone also brought their "favorite" dish and we chowed down on some great stuff!


I made fun vanilla cupcakes. I tried to make frosting toppers with each of the girls initials, but about half of them broke, so I was able to get a few out of them.

I also put out an assortment of fun wine courtesy of Target.  ;o)

Each guest received a Favorite Things bag to collect all their Favorite Thing items to take home.

I created scratch off cards which revealed the winner to the surprise mini swag bag.

Here are just a few of the fun Favorite Things items from the party.

All the ladies.

I figured hosting a party like this during the lull season, meaning, the months where there isn't much going on after the holidays and it isn't during the summer when everyone's schedules are packed would be a perfect time.  (Although, I couldn't wait until after the holidays so I executed a tad bit sooner.) I thought about doing this once a year, but with the turnout and reviews from everyone, I'm going to do this twice a year.  ;o)  I've been wanting to try this for the longest time and I'm so happy that I was able to execute it and be so successful!

So get your girls together and host one of these! It's super easy and fun. Trust me, everyone will LOVE this idea!

My Party was featured on:

UPDATE:: If you would like the Favorite Things tag and backgroud Image I used for my invite, you can get them here: FAVORITE THINGS TAGS


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Friday, September 16, 2011

Creepy Halloween Wine Bottle Labels

Throwing a Halloween Party and need some creepy wine labels to cover your bottles?  Try some of these fun printables.

Drain a bottle of wine into separate container; soak bottle in hot water and vinegar to remove original label. Print the template, and cut out. Use a glue stick to adhere label to washed and dried wine bottle. Return wine to bottle, and cork.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Plan Like a Pro!

10 Absolutely Amazing (But Totally Doable) Kids Birthday Parties:

Found HERE!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Website Launched!

After 3 months of downtime and construction, I'm finally back on the map! I've revamped my old Photography website with my new services. Please check it out!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

{DIY} Paper Lanterns

I'm out of town for the week, but I still wanted to share this fun {DIY} decorative paper lantern tutorial courtesy of Pizzazzerie for you. I'll try and give this a whirl soon and let you know how it comes out!

  • Tissue-paper circles in assorted colors
  • Double-sided tape
  • 14-, 16-, or 18-inch-diameter paper lanterns (light colored lanterns like white work best)
1. Starting at the bottom of the lantern, use small squares of tape to begin attaching tissue-paper disks around the hole, overlapping them.
2. Working toward the top, continue sticking and overlapping disks to cover the lantern.

Tissue-paper circles, 5 inches, in Pastel and Primary, $6 for 480; hyglossproducts.comWire-frame spherical paper lanterns, from $3.25 each; | Tutorial + DIY via Martha

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