Boost Creative Clarity This New Year

As we enter the new year it’s important to take stock of the previous year to assess wins and losses to boost creative clarity this new year. Think about what you succeeded at and where you totally fell flat. I love to find a cozy place, with pen and notebook in hand, to write out my thoughts and plans for the year ahead. Whether it’s a new home project, lifestyle change, planning a party or business idea – memorializing intentions is a great way to stay on track. Also, it’s such an amazing feeling to be able to cross accomplishments off as you go.

The new year always comes with feelings of renewed intentions and possibilities. Ride that wave as long as possible to enhance your creative clarity. Another thing I like to do is to speak about my plans out loud. Speak your intentions out to the universe. Something about hearing them out loud makes them more real. This is not about a New Year’s resolution that we start and lose steam within 2 months. This is about keeping ourselves consistent and accountable. Here are 5 ways to boost creative clarity this new year.

Happy New Year Confetti

Set Specific Goals to Enhance Your Creativity

It’s important to have clear and specific goals in mind when trying to boost your creative clarity this new year. This will help you stay laser focused and motivated. For example, what is this new project? the parameters? How long is the timeline? how much is the budget?

Experiment and try new things

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your work. This can help stimulate your creativity and give you a fresh perspective. Also, go ahead and take a risk – you really never know where things will lead. Once you put a pinky toe in the water you will be able to put in a whole foot within no time.

Taking Notes

Surround yourself with inspiration

Surround yourself with things and people that inspire and motivate you. This might include artwork, music, or other creative media. Also take a walk and observe the world around you, or visit a museum or art gallery to stimulate your creativity. Definitely surround yourself with other creative people. Working with other people can help you to think more creatively, as you can bounce ideas off each other and build on each other’s thoughts. I always find that my creative cup is enhanced after meeting with other creatives.

Take Breaks to Boost Your Creative Clarity

It’s important to give your mind a break so it can rest and recharge. Stepping away from your work for short periods of time can actually drive your productivity and creativity in the long run. Don’t forget to get enough rest. Getting enough sleep is crucial to enhance creative clarity. Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure that you are well-rested and ready to tackle the day ahead.

Practice Mindfulness

Taking time to focus on the present moment can help clear your mind and improve your ability to think creatively. Sometime thinking about a full project can be overwhelming. Break the project apart into micro projects. Probably more manageable that way.

Finally, embrace mistakes and failures – instead of getting discouraged, try to see mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and grow. This can help you to approach problems with a more open and creative mindset. Even following one or two on the above can help boost creative clarity this new year.

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    Host A Fabulous Game Night

    The week between Christmas and New Years is probably one of the best times of year. The energy around the house is super festive. It’s a perfect time to really get cozy and spend time with family just watching movies, maybe baking together, and snuggling in. With all the holiday rush and activity plans, if you are at a loss for things to do host a fun fabulous game night. Nothing is more fun than a little competition, trash talking, and good laughs.

    Why Should You Plan An Activity Night

    There are many benefits to having a fabulous family game night. Here are a few reasons why you might consider planning one:

    1. First off, strengthen family bonds. Spending quality time together as a family is a great way to strengthen your relationships. An added bonus is creating special memories. Game nights provide a fun and interactive way to do this.
    2. Encourage teamwork. Games that require collaboration can help teach your children valuable skills such as communication, listening, problem-solving, and cooperation.
    3. Boost creativity. Many games require creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which can help boost problem-solving skills.
    4. Provide a break from screens. Game nights can provide a break from screens and encourage face-to-face interaction.
    5. Have fun. Above all, family game nights are a great way to have fun together as a family and make lasting memories.

    How to Host a Fabulous Game Night

    Game night is not only limited to only families. This is a fun activity for favorites couples night in or your girl gang gathering. The key pulling off a fun activity night is to level up the details. Here is how to host a fabulous game night.

    A Few Tips:

    1. Prepare the space. Set up a comfortable and spacious area for your guests to gather. Make sure there is enough seating and table space for everyone to play comfortably. Use comfy pillows and ottomans to make the space cozy. Lighting is important. Decorate with candles and flowers is always a no fail. Here I used game chips and dice in my decor elements to highlight the theme of the night.
    2. Provide snacks and drinks. Consider setting out a selection of handheld snacks, such as chips, popcorn, and pretzels, served alongside some beverages. Here I prepared mini Mac n Cheese, empanadas, and domino brownies. A signature game night cocktail/mocktail would be a great addition to the fun.
    3. Choose the games. Select a variety of games that will appeal to your guests. Consider the number of players, the length of the game, and the skill level required. You may want to mix up the types of games, such as board games, card games, and video games.
    4. End the night on a high note. Consider having a prize for the winners of each game. This can add an extra element of fun and competition to the night. Prizes can be a bottle of wine, movie tickets, scratch offs, or gift card.

    Overall, the key to hosting a successful game night is to make it fun and enjoyable for all of your guests. With a little planning and some good games, you can have a great time with your friends and family.

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    • MoDecember 30, 2022 - 7:08 pm

      Great article and great ideas! Love how game night can be as simple or chic as you want it to be! ReplyCancel

    • MoDecember 30, 2022 - 7:10 pm

      Great article and ideas! Love how game night can be as chis or simple as you want it to be! And domino brownies…how cute?!?!ReplyCancel

    Boozy Blood Orange Cocktails

    Holiday time is so fraught with so much to do and not enough time. Between the work parties, holiday shopping, and family events, it’s so hard to not feel overwhelmed. Part of the fun of the holidays is taking time to enjoy with friends and family. Are you thinking about what festive cocktails to serve at your next holiday fête? I’ve got you covered. Here are three boozy blood orange cocktail ideas for your next gathering. My favorite way to stay ahead of the fray is to have short cuts on hand. I hate feeling rushed. So, for me, that means prepping ahead.

    That’s where these 3 easy recipes for boozy blood orange cocktails come in. They all use the same do ahead blood orange simple syrup. With just 2 simple ingredients you will have a beautiful and delicious silky syrup ready to be used. Also, this syrup is so versatile, it can be used on dressings, ice cream, cakes, and even waffles.

    Why blood orange syrup you ask? Well for one, blood oranges have a seasonal beaufitul deep red and pink hue that just screams holiday. The blood orange syrup is bursting with blood orange flavor. Blood oranges have a complex flavor with floral and tart notes. Similar to navel oranges, but sweeter and less acidic. For reference, blood oranges also have a similar flavor profile to that of raspberries.

    Blood Syrup Orange Recipe

    Ingredients water, cane sugar, blood orange juice

    1. In a saucepan, add 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of blood orange juice.
    2. Bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.
    3. Stir.
    4. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat, cool completely.
    5. Strain syrup and store into an airtight container.

    Boozy Blood Orange Cocktail Recipes

    First up, is the Blood Orange Old Fashioned

    blood orange old fashioned

    Here is basically how to assemble the cocktail.

    1. In an old fashioned glass, add in the 1 oz blood orange syrup and muddle with a blood orange peel.
    2. Fill with ice and add in 2 oz bourbon. Stir gently.
    3. Garnish with a dehydrated blood orange slice.

    Next up, Blood Orange Margarita

    Ingredients (makes 2 mixed drinks)

    1. 3 oz silver tequila
    2. 1.5 oz triple sec
    3. 3 oz blood orange simple syrup
    4. 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
    5. ¼ cup Pink Himalayan salt ( or glass rim)
    6. Blood orange slices for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Spread salt on a small plate. Wipe the rim of two coupe glasses with a lime wedge. Dip the glasses into the salt to coat the rim.
    2. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the tequila, orange liqueur, blood orange syrup, and lime juice over ice. Shake for about 15 seconds.
    3. Strain the margarita into glasses. Garnish with blood oranges.

    Finally, the Blood Orange French 75 (makes 2 cocktails)

    Ingredients (makes 2 mixed drinks)

    1. 3 oz gin
    2. ½ oz fresh blood orange juice strained
    3. 1 oz simple syrup
    4. Ice
    5. Sparkling wine

    Instructions

    1. Add gin, strained blood orange juice, simple syrup, and ice to a cocktail shaker.
    2. Shake and pour into two champagne flutes.
    3. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a blood orange twist. Enjoy!

    Notes:

    You can store your blood orange syrup for up to a month in an airtight container or canning jar. To check if your syrup has gone bad, check for a cloudy look or off smell. I used store bought blood orange juice but you can certainly feel free to squeeze your own.

    I hope you will find making these boozy blood orange cocktails a breeze. These cocktails are so delicious and I am sure your guests will think so too.

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      How To Dehydrate Your Fruits Like a Pro

      Have you ever wondered how to dehydrate your fruits like a pro to garnish your cocktails? Well I am about to share with you how to do just that and which fruits I love to use. This is such a fun and easy project. The end result is actually so pretty and so satisfying. Another great thing to note is that you do not need any special equipment. I know I definitely do not need another gadget or appliance! Dehydration is a method by which water is taken out of the fruit or vegetable by sun drying or using a special machine. See how just I nerded out right there! The method I am about to show requires only time and your oven. Of course you can always buy dehydrated fruits. However, it’s so much more cost effective to make it yourself. Also, the smell of the fruit dehydrating is pretty amazing and will fill your kitchen with a beautiful scent all day.

      First thing you need to learn about how to dehydrate your fruits like a pro is to select the proper ingredients. A few fruits I’ve tried in past are all the citruses, pineapple, apples, and pears. Since it’s close to holiday season this batch I am currently making will serves so many purposes. They will make their way into beautiful cocktail garnishes, add bright colors to a harvest salad, add texture to tablescapes, intertwined with greenery for fireplace mantles and on and on. I like to make a lot to share in hostess gifts, to decorate a gift, snack on, or use as a place card. See the possibilities are endless.

      Fruit in storage

      Here are the easy steps on how dehydrate your fruit Like a Pro

      1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
      2. Select your fruits
      3. Using a sharp knife slice each one at 1/8 of an inch thick
      4. Arrange the sliced fruit in rows on baking sheets that have been lined with a Silpat
      5. Put the baking sheets in the oven for 4 hours for citruses and as long as 8 hours for pineapples
      6. Separate out by fruit by type and store in air tight containers

      Helpful Tips and Ideas

      1. Use a Silpat rather than parchment paper – You can use parchment paper in a pinch but I have found that Silpat preserves the integrity of the fruit better. I used parchment once and my fruit shrunk down to size.
      2. Some of your fruit will dry faster than others. The juicer the fruit the longer it will take to dehydrate. So for example, a slice of pineapple will take way more time than a slice of pear.
      3. Pro Tip – you can add sweetness, seasoning, or spices to your fruit to add an extra layer of flavor
      fruit as a hostess gift

      Dehydrated Fruits Are The Best Gifts

      Now that you have learned how to dehydrate your fruits like a pro give them out as gifts! My favorite thing to do with dehydrated fruits is to offer them to friends as hostess gifts. You can easily package them in mason or encheng jars. Clear plastic sleeves will do the trick as well. Don’t forget to wrap with the pretty ribbon for the finished look. What’s better than a homemade gift to show your guests how much your appreciate their invitation!

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        Infuse Gratitude Into Our Daily Lives

        Did you know that to infuse gratitude into our daily lives is a form of self-care? According to Psychology Today, gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously coming from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth.  Practicing thankfulness can be a game-changer: it has far reaching effects from improving our mental health to uplighting our relationships with others.

        It’s so easy to get lost in the whirlwind of the upcoming holiday season. I for one, just celebrated my son’s 9th birthday. Quickly followed by Halloween, and I am already feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. If you to peer into social media you would think that tomorrow is actually Christmas day. Everyone is already putting up Christmas trees, decking the halls, and drinking eggnog by the fire. All that is fine by the way, as we all should feel free to celebrate however or whenever we want. However, It’s easy to get caught up in the “what’s next” cycle of life. I just want you to know that you are allowed to just pause. Let’s pause and think about ways to be appreciative for the gifts that have already been bestowed upon us. Here are five simple was to infuse gratitude into our daily lives

        crate, poppies, thankful sign

        Be Present

        The best gift can be giving someone your full attention. Carving out a space where we quiet all the noise around us. Fully zone in and listen to what someone is expressing to us. Offer understanding, empathy, and a safe space can be just the right antidote. Just listening can offer the right amount of care and respect to someone.

        Pay it Forward

        Another way to infuse gratitude into our daily lives is to pay it forward. There is an African-American proverb that states “Each One, Teach One”. This mantra originated in the United States during the height of slavery when Africans were denied an education. So, when someone learned how to read or write, it became their responsibility to teach others.   I never knew about this proverb until I heard my husband use it. He is a physician and breathes life into these words. If you have a skill set or special knowledge pay it forward to a stranger. Take the time to teach someone something valuable that can enrich their life. Are you good a resume writing? or can tutor in math, or a good interior designer. Whatever it is, do not hesitate to share your gift with someone else.

        Each one, reach one. Each one teach one. Until all are taught.

        marc victor hansen

        Write a Kind Note

        The written word is such a powerful tool. Taking the time to put thoughts to paper allows the receiver to revel in the words over and over long after the message has been written. It is a written record and a memorable keepsake. Moreover, writing a letter is such a long gone practice that receiving one in the mail is extra special.

        sign to be thankful

        Start A Gratitude Journal

        Start your day by writing positive intentions for what’s ahead. Writing down a few thoughts about what your grateful for sets a good tone for the day. It is so easy to take things or even people for granted. Reminding ourselves of all the good we have in our lives leaves less room for negativity. Jot down things in your gratitude journal about celebrating the little wins in life, such as meeting a friend for lunch, a positive compliment from your colleague, or a needed hug from a loved one. Your journal is such a powerful tool because it will in time have loads of positive affirmations for you.

        Volunteer

        Volunteering your time can be such a rewarding experience. I have volunteered with an organization known as Reading Partners. With this community I donate my time weekly to spend with a child who is not on reading grade level. The satisfaction that I get when my mentee places on or above grade level just fills my heart with joy. The smile of her face when she can read a book aloud by herself is priceless. Volunteering has so many added benefits – sense of purpose, hone a new skills, or even reduce stress and anxiety.

        Taking time to infuse gratitude into your life can greatly reduce the stress of the upcoming holiday season. Take it easy. Don’t feel compelled to compete. Remind yourself to enjoy the small moments and if things become overwhelming allow yourself the space to just let it go.

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          Moist Brown Sugar Buttercream Cupcakes

          This homemade recipe for moist brown sugar buttercream cupcakes is super simple. The recipe has two secret ingredients. The first, is responsible for its moist velvety texture while the second, kicks the flavor all the way up a notch. As you know, nothing tastes better than homemade baked goods. This recipe is so easy you will be making moist brown sugar buttercream cupcakes all the time.

          Secret Ingredients

          The first secret ingredient is the buttermilk. Buttermilk acts like a tenderizer, has a tangy taste, and keeps cakes from being too sweet in flavor. Best of all, buttermilk keeps your cake super moist. I think we can all agree that no-one likes a dry cake.

          The second secret ingredient is maple syrup. Fun fact: did you know that Quebec is the world largest producer of maple syrup? Maple syrup come in various flavor notes. There is light, medium and dark. The light taste like golden sugar, chicory or toast; the medium exudes burnt wood, caramelized sugar, coffee bean, or chocolate. The dark, is more like burnt coffee or sugar, and ground coffee beans. So, for this moist brown sugar buttercream cupcake recipe, I decided to go with a medium tone and it does not disappoint. It brings out all the rich flavors that feel warm and cozy for the fall season.

          Brown sugar cupcake ingredients
          cupcake ingredients

          Supplies Needed

          • muffin tins to make 12 cupcakes
          • paper liners
          • hand stand/mixer
          • mixing bowls
          • spatula
          • pastry bag and large tip

          Ingredients

          For Brown Sugar Cupcakes

          • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
          • 1 cup dark brown sugar
          • 1 large egg, room temperature
          • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
          • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
          • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
          • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
          • 1/2 teaspoon salt
          • 3/4 cup buttermilk

          For Maple Syrup Buttercream Frosting

          • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
          • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
          • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
          • 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom
          • nutmeg to taste
          • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
          • 1/4 cup maple syrup
          • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt

          Directions

          Maple Syrup Brown Sugar Cupcakes

          1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
          2. Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Then, beat on medium speed until ingredients are well combined, light and fluffy.
          3. Add the egg, beat well. Stir in vanilla extract.
          4. In a separate, medium sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
          5. By hand, gradually fold in about 1/4 of the flour mixture using a spatula into the butter and sugar mixture.
          6. Add about 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and use spatula to fold in until just combined.
          7. Continue to alternate adding flour and buttermilk ending with the flour mixture. Mix until the ingredients are completely combined and smooth. Do not overmix.
          8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a tooth pick into the center of one cupcake and it come out clean.
          9. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in pans before frosting.

          Maple Syrup Buttercream Frosting

          1. Using an electric mixer, beat together softened cream cheese and butter until well-combined.
          2. Add brown sugar and beat until well incorporated.
          3. Gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.
          4. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt, and stir until ingredients are thoroughly combined, pausing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
          5. Pipe or spread frosting over cooled cupcakes.
          Baked Cupcakes

          Pro Tips

          Best tips for baking cupcakes

          • Use fresh high quality ingredients – try to use organic where possible.
          • Before use, allow wet ingredients to come to room temperature.
          • Pre-heat the oven to achieve the lightest cupcake and try not to open the oven before time.
          • Do not over mix the batter as it will result in a dry and dense cake.

          I hope you will feel inspired to make this delicious recipe for moist brown sugar buttercream cupcakes. You can make this for any occasion. Cupcakes also pair very well with champagne so feel free to enjoy the two together.

          moist brown sugar buttercream cupcakes
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            Coffee Table Books for Style

            Coffee table books can be one of the fascinating peeks into the personality of the home. These are the ones not housed in a book shelf or inside the cabinets. They grace the tops of our side tables, consoles, mantels, and not least of all coffee tables. These are the ones we are most proud of and put on display. They are the conservation starters, objects d’arts, and identifying interests. As I write this, I chuckle to myself. I know that in my home coffee table books are part wine coasters, candle holders, and food trays. Some people style their homes with designer fashion moments, others choose music iconography and some can’t stay away from pages upon pages of artfully arranged home design anthologies. One thing that is certain, coffee tables books for the well styled home are here to stay.  

            Now that we know these books are a staple in our homes, how should we go about selecting which books can use up valuable real estate. Since you will be constantly flipping through your coffee table books for inspiration, make sure these are books that actually stir your creative curiosity. If you spend any time on social media, there is a strong tendency to gravitate towards the popular trendy ones. So trendy that I don’t even need to name them – you all know the ones I am taking about. While I think those are great, I want to implore you to really explore your interests and plan what you wish to display. Is there a particular selection of cultural art books? Are there any biographies that move you? And what about a historical tome? Here are some helpful guidelines:

            Select a beautiful cover that matches your home aesthetic

            A beautiful cover can add to the aesthetic of your home. However, if the cover does not match the vibe you are going for, you can remove the paper cover to reveal the book cloth beneath which is usually a nice neutral color. Books on display can be works of art of their own or as part of a vignette. In addition, you can select books to complement the hues of your space and highlighting an intended color scheme.

            book
            coffee table book

            Consider the size of the coffee table book

            Before you purchase your books consider the size of the space you are working with and where its final resting place will be. Coffee table books can at times be oversized and can overwhelmed the space. I just recently purchased some these cute set of books that are mini size. The small size is ideal and I am a fashion lover. This is the epitome of form and function.

            Coffee table books
            Fashion Coffee table books

            Pick books with beautiful inspiring imagery

            Pick a book with large beautiful photography. This will ensure that you engage with the book consistently – and browse through from time to time to be inspired. Also, select books that friends and family will want to engage with.

            Use family photo books as coffee table books

            With the help of a photo publisher and there are many, you can download your photos onto a website and they will print and bound your books for you. These are the best because they are so personal, create the best memories. and you will never stop engaging with them. This may be my personal favorite coffee table book.

            So, when choosing a coffee table book there many options to consider but in the end make the selections that truly represent your well styled home.

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              La Vie En Rose

              La Vie En Rose is a love story. This year my husband and I set out to celebrate a special someone. A person who is near and dear to both our hearts. What better way to show someone that you love them, than to throw them a fête in their honor? So, we decided to have a birthday party for my sister Rose and aptly coined the party ‘La Vie en Rose” – Life in Pink.

              “La vie en rose” essentially means viewing life through rose-colored lenses. Living life with a positive attitude, and trying to see beauty in the everyday. I set out to create a swoon worthy event with all the proper vibes. For a La Vie En Rose party, the formula would be quite simple. There was no doubt that there would be assortments of pink roses everywhere and of course never-ending flowing bottles of rosé wine to enjoy.

              Months in the making, I gathered a group of her most special friends to mark the occasion. Rosé wine bottles invitations, imprinted in calligraphy set the tone of the event. If you know anything about me I will always be a stationer at heart. It should be no surprise that I took special pains to make sure the invitations met the mark. Also, the invitations also served double duty, as guest favors, to savor long after the evening was over.

              The decor included serpentine tables spread with blush linens and pink rattan chargers. Whimsical tones of pink, orange, amber, terra-cotta, and gold dotted every inch of the yard.

              Rose Floral Centerpiece

              In line with the theme La Vie En Rose, each place setting had a hand rolled flower napkin. Lovely birds and green botanicals graced the tops of the dishware.

              Rose Shaped Napkins
              Serpentine tables for La Vie En Rose Party.

              Should you look around at other events I have styled, you will know that I am a huge fan of serpentine tables. The curved edges add a little bit more interest than rounds or squares. For our La Vie En Rose party, we feasted on a delicious surf and turf meal. This was excuted by none other than celebrity Chef Vanessa Cantave of Yum Yum Chefs and her lovely staff. The menu, designed by me, was printed and clipped on mini boards that guests could follow along as the dishes were presented.

              La vie En Rose Dinner Menu clipped onto wooden boards
              Pink roses green garland outline window with mini white picket fence

              Life is a collection of little moments. How you spend those moments will define the quality of your experiences. When I reflect on my memories, I would like to think about the people I’ve loved, celebrated, cried and laughed with. Having celebrated this La Vie En Rose party for my sister I couldn’t be happier.

              If you want to read more about this lovely party, please follow this link over to Kara’s Party ideas who was so kind to feature it on her website.

              All these lovely photos were shot by @mrosovskym

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              • KevonneOctober 3, 2022 - 8:05 pm

                This is joy at its purest. From an undeniably beautiful setting with memorable moments at each turn, to this letter of why it is so worth pouring yourself in celebrating those you love. Bravo!ReplyCancel

                • ahouseonguilfordOctober 5, 2022 - 8:09 pm

                  Thanks Kev! It was actually a nice setting. I think the most memorable thing for me will the the time we spent together making it happen.ReplyCancel

              • RosevonyOctober 11, 2022 - 11:44 pm

                A truly memorable and love-felt celebration! The decor was exquisite. The food was five-star. The stationary was brilliant. It was perfect. You are truly amazing hosts and curators of special moments. ReplyCancel

              • Katya Dossous-SchwartzOctober 12, 2022 - 9:30 am

                Love love Loved this theme and decor! If “attention to detail” was an event? It was a great pleasure to attend and experience! Trés trés bon boulot! 💖ReplyCancel

                • ahouseonguilfordOctober 13, 2022 - 7:15 pm

                  Katya! I am pleased that you found the party pleasing. We are so happy you were there!ReplyCancel

              Steps to Host a Fabulous Apéro

              Who doesn’t like a good happy hour? I know I do – How about a French styled hour of fete – or, an apéro. It’s not complicated at all and you will follow these easy steps to host a fabulous apéro. An apéro is an aperitif, an appetizer, a drink, or light food served before dinner. While the word apéro does not exist in English but the French term “apéritif” is sometimes used to mean drinks and appetizers served before a meal.

              The apéro is neither lunch, brunch, dinner, or even happy hour. In fact, the French do not snack in the same way Americans do. For the French, snack time is the apéro – and it is a quintessential French way to end the workday and gather with friends and family. Apéro can be as basic or as elevated as you wish – hosted at home, on a stoop or a nearby café. Grab what you have on hand – chips, olives, nuts and your favorite light wine. The most important addition of course is friends. Let’s walk through the steps to host a fabulous apéro.

              Egg Chair, drinks, snacks,

              First, choose a proper time and location.

              Find a location that is most inviting and comfortable. Apéro generally starts at 6pm.  Enjoy small sips and bites for 1 to 3 hours. After hours of grazing and drinking, you can fully end your event without serving your guests a full meal.

              Second, set the scene. 

              Since apéro is a casual affair, you can host a fabulous apéro without using any special decorations. However, since eating a sensory past time, why not make it pretty? I recommend displaying elegant wooden bowls and marble platters, baskets for small linen napkins, pretty glassware – some votives and a few posies in mini vases.

              apero, happy hour, olives

              Third, add noshes and bites.

              Step away from the stove! Your spread should be easily eaten and shareable.  More importantly, cooking is not required.  But if you must, prepare a mini quiche in advance or make little gougeres. Stop at your gourmet deli and pick up a combination of the following:

              Spreads/dips: olive tapenade, rillettes, fois gras terrine, fig jam, tomato pesto (or regular), tzatziki, hummus

              Fruits/veggies: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, radishes, cucumber, melon, grapes, cornichons

              Salty/Crunchy bites: nuts, kettle chips, cheese sticks

              Breads: baguette, pain de campagne (sliced), pain aux noix et raisin, bruschetta, pita chips, gougères

              Fourth – bring on the Cocktails! 

              I use the term cocktails very loosely. The last thing you want, is to spend time away from your guests mixing drinks. So, set out bottles of very cold light white wine, rose, or flavored Rhum. Adding these mini individuals serve wine bottles are a neat way to add something fun. Cold light IPA would be great here as well.

              Finally, Enjoy! 

              After setting up your tablescape, the final thing to do is to greet your guests as they arrive. Welcome them in, delight in the hours ahead and enjoy your fabulous apéro. Santé!

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                Styling A Pastel Baby Shower

                Prior to now, I had a whole career in designing event stationery and styling small parties.  I really enjoy being a part of peoples lives in this way. My work was super rewarding as it allowed me to help people celebrate their most precious moments in style. So it was only natural to me that when I found that my brother was having his first baby that I would style a pastel baby shower for the lovely parents to be. I’ve planned quiet a few showers in my day, but none was more special to me than this one. The colors of the sweet nursery provided the inspiration for the color scheme of the pastel baby shower. It would be all the shades of mango, yellows, blues, and greens. We wanted to create a light and airy affair where friends and family would gather to connect, laugh, and celebrate.

                pastel baby shower tablescape

                Whenever I plan an event, I always have my go to list of ideas of what I believe makes an event truly special. One of the things I like to add is as much personalization as possible. That way the party feels custom and special. This pastel baby shower would be no different.

                shower flowers

                For this pastel baby shower I screen printed the menus onto each napkin. I also sprinkled the table with framed maternity photos of the cute couple. Guests were so excited to be able to go along the table to look at each photo. This little addition was a great conversation starter and guests were happy to be able to share in the couples maternity journey in this way.

                printed menu
                Screen printed napkins

                The pastel baby shower was held poolside in my family home and we were able to use the inside and outside of the property. The property is also flanked by a beautiful lake and was the perfect backdrop for the event. It was a fantastic of blend of lot’s of laughs, incredible food and festive cocktails. I engaged the talents of a paella chef for the event and it was a hit with everyone.

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                  Petite Fête Table

                  Petite Fête Table is an event design company specializing in picnics and tablescape styling. Servicing all New York City Boroughs and Nassau County, Long Island.