Gulp…here we go. This year, February 14th looks a little different for me. For the better part of a decade, I was one of those people in love, coupled off, splitting a slice of cake with my sweetie, one of the lucky ones struck by cupid’s arrow on Valentine’s Day. I’ll spare you some of the juicy or heartbreaking details, but needless to say this year instead of staring across the table all googly-eyed at someone, I’m having a couple girlfriends over for dinner. (Most anticlimactic break-up announcement ever? Sorry about it, but that’s all you’ll get.)
This is not a pity party type of Valentine’s day…so don’t you go feeling bad for me. Thank god the term Galentine’s Day was born because it has removed the stigma of being alone on the Hallmark holiday, it has taken the single girls’ valentines day from something pitiful to something fabulous. I feel so lucky to have so many bomb babes in my life, and I’m pleased as punch to be able to spend a holiday showing some love to my favorite gals.
There’s only one way to celebrate with friends…well, I’m sure there are plenty of ways to celebrate with friends…but there’s honestly only one way I’m interested in celebrating: by popping bottles of champagne and uncorking some delicious wines.
I’m laying out my two favorite wines for your special night, whether you’re getting dressed up and hitting the town with someone special, or having a girls’ night in with your Galentines!
Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 – Everyone knows the story of those silly, fickle star-crossed lovers who had a steamy 3-day affair which ended in lots of bloodshed and devastation…a little dramatic if you ask me. Nevertheless, sharing this bottle on valentines is very fitting. It’s a blend of merlot, corvina, and coatina. The richness of the grapes shines through in this lush, rich, easy drinking wine. It’s a little spicy and juicy like any good valentine’s day should be.
Cuvée Deor Gold NV – I can’t think of a better bottle of bubbles to drink with some girlfriends than the Deor. First of all, the bottle is fancy AF. It’s painted in a Venetian style with matte gold and glitter. The bottle represents wealth and brings good fortune to all who sip from it – and who doesn’t need a little bit of that luck? The taste is expensive too, floral and fruity. The best part? This decadent sparkling costs less than $15, so you get all that opulence and none of the expense! Pouring out some of this wine with my favorite gals is as good as gold to me.
I hope, like me, you’re lucky enough to spend Valentine’s Day with the one(s) you love if that’s your significant other or a few fabulous friends. And if not, at least you’ll have a few nice wine options to drink the night away!
If you are in your twenties or early thirties it is inevitable that you will have one of those years where every weekend is devoted to weddings. Your calendar will be filled with showers and ceremonies, or trips to the Bed Bath and Beyond bridal registry. This is my year, people, I am experiencing a wedding filled 2017. I am in three weddings, and invited to attend many more. I didn’t know I had so many friends! But I honestly shouldn’t complain, one of my college friends had a year where she was either in or attended 11 weddings! But even with my whopping 7 weddings on the horizon, it is making for a very busy fall.
Because of this, I have gotten really really good at knowing just what to do for each event: what to buy, what to wear, and how to plan. This became even truer the past two weekends when I was the host of two very different, but very fun bachelorette parties. It seems like I’ve got a bachelorette party formula down with only slight alterations necessary to fit each bride.
Here are some simple tips and touches that will make your bestie’s bachelorette bash one for the books:
Know Your Bride
Does anyone still hire strippers for bachelorette parties anymore? Surely someone is out there doing it, but chances are, the bride to be isn’t all that interested in a sweaty man (other than her own) bumping up on her. The point here is, plan activities around what your bride might actually want to do. It’s a day or a weekend to celebrate her, after all, so keep the bride’s style in mind.
Is the bride a party animal? Good, take her out to a club, let her dance the night away. Is the bride shy? Cool, so maybe don’t make everyone stare at her while she opens gifts. Pick activities that your bestie is sure to enjoy, that won’t make her feel uncomfortable, like a *cough cough* stripper. If you’re in her bridal party, then you know her best, so make sure her style is in mind when you’re planning her bash.
Bride First, but Guests Second
You want the celebration to feel true to the bride’s style, but remember that you’re still the hostess of a party, and you have to entertain the other guests too. This means picking activities that everyone can enjoy. If you’re in my group of friends, that means drinking. A bachelorette party formula that has always worked in the past is starting the day with brunch, then heading out to a pool for some fun in the sun. Not too many people I know would object to that. Keep the activities light so that everyone can have fun. Make sure there’s good music playing, and enough food and drinks for everyone.
On that same note, be sure to have a variety of food and beverages. A bach party I threw recently had two girls in attendance that had gluten allergies. That meant ensuring we ordered pizza with gluten free crust and had some hard ciders on hand. We knew that the rest of the group would want to drink wine and champagne, so those were the drink options. This goes back to being a good host, know your audience, and prep accordingly.
Don’t Skimp on the Photo Ops
This is a weekend to remember, but also one where things get a little bit fuzzy, if you know what I mean. You will want this fun filled weekend well documented. In an era where everyone has a phone in their hands 24-7, take this opportunity to have extra special pics of the bride and her gals. My recent Columbus bach extravaganza was full of great photo ops. One of the bridesmaids made an awesome photo cut out with the bride’s name. We also had big balloons in our hotel room to pose around. My next bach party started out at my house, so I made a little photo booth area for guests to pose in front of. We also live in a magical time of Snapchat filters, so make your own geo-filter for the night. It’s quick, cheap, and really ups your social media game.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, make a bachelorette party hashtag. You can go online and get hashtag options generated, or come up with one yourself, but it’s a great way to catalog the weekend events, and something the bride will probably want to look at time and time again. Hashtags are the future people! And if you’re still coming up short, ask me for help. It’s one of my greatest joys in life.
The Devil is in the Details
I’m typically not one of those girls that thinks that every party needs to have a theme, but sometimes with a bachelorette party, it helps. For big bachelorette parties, like the one in Columbus, a theme helps keep everything organized, like party favors, and decor. Because my friend’s bach party fell on the same weekend as the Lollapalooza music festival, we decided to make the bach party a festival theme, we called it Bride-a-palooza. We had flower crowns, VIP passes, temporary tattoos, etc. We set up a tepee in the hotel room for the bride’s gifts, tie-die plates and cups. Everything went down to the smallest detail, and it made all the difference.
Again, not everything has to have a theme, but you still want the party to feel cohesive. My Dayton bach party didn’t have a theme, but I made sure to put effort into creating the right atmosphere with food, cocktail napkins, and decor.
Because it’s still a party, it’s important to have a little fun with it. The bride we were celebrating in Dayton is getting hitched to another bride, so penis straws were out. Instead, I baked boob cookies, that’s right, nipples and all.
As with every party I throw, paying attention to those extra details may mean a little extra time, but it will translate to your guests as an extra special event. This is your best friend, we are planning for, right? That extra mile will mean the world to her, so plan around a theme, buy those balloons and make those boobs!
Bachelorette party gifts are sort of a strange territory. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of attending or planning a bach party I’ve asked my friends “So, what are you getting for her?” A bach party is not the time or place to buy the bride something off of her registry, it’s a time to have fun with her present, be a little silly. Some brides want wedding night lingerie options. I did not, no no, I did not want to hold up panties the size of a tent in front of my friends. Good gifts include personalized jewelry, fun clothing, undergarments, and even a silly *gasp* toy can make for very good options.
Bachelorette parties have really transformed from the days of drunk girls stumbling around with veils on their heads. Trust me, there are still plenty of drunk girls, but they have become a much different type of party, a party that requires more effort than penis shaped crowns and tequila shots. It’s the last chance to get super silly with your girlfriends, have a ball, and throw back a few drinks (or chambongs, because, let’s be honest.) Keep these few bits of advice in mind and your bride-bestie is going to have the time of her life, and that’s what it’s all about.
This year the Fourth of July has been particularly pleasant because it felt like one long, glorious weekend. Even though I literally just got back from a week long vacation, I dove back into work head first with little time to rest. Because of that, I took the opportunity to fully enjoy the long, holiday weekend and focus on the type of things that make me really really happy. I floated around the pool, I went for a long, leisurely hike, I entertained for the fireworks with watermelon cosmos and some yummy snacks, and I baked. Oh man, did I bake.
I started the weekend off right by making an American bakery classic: Angel Food Cake. This cake is lighter than air, fluffy and delicious. I used Mary Berry’s recipe, even though she’s a British bird, but just like that first independence day, I broke off from the english recipe and did things in my own style. I frosted the cake with a classic, homemade whipped cream, and a berry curd. As you know, I’m an absolute sucker for curds, and I’ve been messing around with different kinds lately. Here is my recipe for the perfect berry curd.
1 cup strawberries
½ cup blueberries
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
zest from 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
In a small saucepan over medium low heat, cook down the strawberries and blueberries in water, and a pinch of sugar, about 10-12 minutes. Let berries come to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
When the berries have reached a nice consistency, whisk in the remaining ingredients quickly. Since the berries are already warm, you want to whisk aggressively so as not to scramble your egg yolks.
Remove from heat and strain the curd, removing any large chunks of fruit from the curd.
Cool at room temperature, and drizzle on cake.
Top the cake with additional berries for decor, and enjoy!
The angel food cake calls for 10 egg whites, so when you are separating the eggs, simply set two of the yolks aside for the curd.
I hope you all had a very happy and relaxing Fourth of July! Cheers and Ciao!
Derby Day is just around the corner and I obviously don’t care about horse races, but I do care about booze and accessorizing, which means I am throwing a Derby party. I’ve got a hat picked out and my bar is stocked with bourbon, so I’m halfway there to planning the perfect party. The only thing I have left to do is plan a menu. Menu planning is one of my favorite parts of throwing a party. Keeping a few of my menu planning tips in mind, you are sure to plan a seamless soiree, where you might actually be able to (gasp!) enjoy yourself!
Factor In The Clock
What type of party are you trying to throw? If you’re planning on an evening event and want your friends to come over at 7:00, then you better plan for them to be hungry for dinner. Not sure you want to serve them a full meal? Plan an 8:30 start time instead. My upcoming party starts at 2:00, so I’m past the lunch hour and can plan for smaller snacks rather than hearty, filling treats. The fact of the matter is, if there is food laid out, people will eat. However, you can control the time you spend prepping, and the amount of money that you spend on food by booking your party outside of regular meal time hours. At the risk of sounding cheap, I often plan parties outside of typical hours. If you’re buying some pre-cut cheese and sandwiches, then by all means, throw a noon-time party. But if you’re like me, and you’re cooking and prepping every single item, starting outside the lunchtime box means you can cut yourself some cooking slack.
Variety is the Spice of…well, your party
Make sure you make a broad range of snacks to suit all tastes and dietary restrictions. My guest list consists of more than a few vegetarians, so I want to make sure I have snacks that are enjoyable and satisfying. You can’t go wrong with a cheese board, but also, how many parties have you been to with a cheese board? How about a smoked salmon board or a roasted veggie platter instead? I like to switch it up once in awhile, keeping seasonality in mind. Asparagus is popping up all over, so how about a chilled orzo pasta salad with grape tomatoes, asparagus and ricotta salata? Your favorite fruit is in season? Toast some baguette, spread mascarpone cheese across it, throw on those berries, a wisp of honey and a slice of prosciutto. Get your assembly line going, it’s easy and different…and different is good for you.
End On a Sweet Note
No matter what time of the day you host your party, you should have something sweet to end the meal. As Julia Child once said “A party without cake is just a meeting.” I’m not suggesting you HAVE to make a cake (although, I’ve been working on mastering one, recipe to come later!) but it’s nice to have something sweet for your guests. If you’re not a baker, don’t stress about it. You could honestly throw some peanut M&M’s in a bowl and call it a day. Just make sure you keep that bowl filled! In my opinion there are two ways to celebrate, with chocolate or with champagne, so don’t let your party go without either. This is another great way to work with the seasons. In winter think peppermint, in fall deep dark chocolatey flavors, but in spring and summer, I like to go with citrus. I rarely come across a person in life who doesn’t like lemon bars, and my favorite recipe is from the New York Times made with olive oil and sea salt. It has the delightful bite of lemon curd, and doesn’t cover it up with confectioners sugar. Instead, the salt enhances and balances the tart lemon. It’s a sophisticated twist on a classic, and the perfect last bite at a party. Obviously, there is more that comes with planning a menu, but these are a few simple tips to get you started. Then you get to make your shopping and prep lists (which the ODC part of my lives for!) The more you plan, the easier each party gets and the more time you get to enjoy the company of your friends. Cheers and Ciao!