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6.08.2011

12 Thoughtful Summer Hostess Gifts

Other than the winter holidays, summer is one of the busiest times for entertaining.  It's a celebration of summer flavors or that new grill & patio, as well as a time to relax with friends.  Whatever the occasion, make sure you don't come empty handed.  Your hostess was gracious enough to invite you over, and it takes a lot of time, money, and planning to get it all right.  A gift is a must!

You have a lot of options when selecting hostess gifts.  If you don't know the hostess well enough, that's ok.  Generic gifts like candles and even hand soaps are great gifts that everyone will use/like.  You can also select gifts based on the event.  Say you've been invited over for a clam bake.  Purchase a few pairs of lobster crackers to ensure that everyone invited will get a pair.  Also, another more hands on option would be to make compound herb butter and display it in a pretty butter dish with a tag and ribbon tied around it.  This semi-homemade option shows that you went the extra mile, and after your hostess is done with the butter, they still have a wonderful gift to remind them of your thoughtfulness...Trust me, this will definitely get you an invite to their next get together!  Oh and if all else fails, you can always ask your hostess if they need you to bring anything.  Even if they say no,  an appetizer or dessert are always great additions to the party.  

The following are 12 Summer gift ideas that your hostess would be lucky to receive.  For each category there is one thoughtful purchases and another semi-homemade gift idea.  
New York Clam Bake : Your hostess will probably only have so many lobster crackers, so this is a great way to make sure everyone gets a pair.  The butter is also a wonderful addition to the lobster, as well as to other clam bake fare, such as corn on the cob. (It's also even great on meat and other vegetables too!)
     No. 1 ~ Lobster Crackers ~ Fox Run
     No. 2 ~ Tea And Toast Butter Dish ~ Anthropologie + Compound Herb Butter

Cocktail Hour : Some days all you need is a cold drink, good company, and beautiful outdoor surroundings to unwind.  The grapefruit margaritas will be a refreshing hit at your next get together, and the cocktail rimming sugar kit will be a pretty, colorful addition to your cocktail/mocktail beverages.
     No. 3 ~ Cocktail Rimming Sugar Kit ~ Delicove Spices
     No. 4 ~ Eye Winker Green Opal Pitcher ~ Fishs Eddy + Iced Tea Spoons ~ Anthropologie  + Grapefruit Margarita

After Dinner : As I said before, dessert is always an easy and great idea to bring with you.  With the days growing hotter by the minute, however, skip turning the oven on and pick up your favorite ice cream on your way over to the event.  Jeni's "Artisanal" Splendid Ice Creams is, without a doubt, my favorite kind of ice cream.  It has so many interesting "foodie" flavors, as well as the basics, so that everyone will enjoy it.  (You can purchase it online if there isn't a store near you btw.)  You can also make your own vanilla bean sugar and package it in a beautiful sugar bowl.  Each grain of sugar will be infused with the vanilla flavor and it's a great addition to grilled fruit, beverages, and other desserts.
     No. 5 ~ Ohio Love You Ice Cream Collection ~ Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
     No. 6 ~ Mimi Sugar Bowl with Spoon ~ Kazuyo Komoda + Vanilla Bean Sugar

Grilling Party : It's pretty likely that everyone knows at least one master of the grill, and even more likely that you'll get invited to at least one BBQ this summer.  These gifts are for those people and events...A master of the grill probably has a ton of grilling gadgets, but not many have a pizza stone.  This set also conveniently comes with a large pizza paddle and pizza cutter.  The Giara glass bottle makes a lovely presentation for your homemade BBQ sauce that will be ready to be brushed on and enjoyed that day or weeks later.
     No. 7 ~ Round Pizza Baking/Grilling Stone Kit ~ via Target
     No. 8 ~ Giara Hermetic Glass Bottle - Red ~ Bormioli Rocco + All Purpose BBQ Sauce

Guys Only Night : Invite your friends over for a couple of drinks and brews for the game or a poker tournament.  Both of these gifts are extremely guy friendly and functional.  The whiskey stones will keep any drink cold without diluting it with water, and the chip & dip bowl will be great filled with some blue tortilla chips and the quick & easy salsa recipe below.  The shortcut is that it uses canned tomatoes.  All you need to do is blend all ingredients together, transfer it into the acacia bowl, and put it in front of your friends to munch on all night (though it has potential to be devoured in seconds).  Anyone can do it.
     No. 9 ~ Whiskey Stones (Set of 9) ~ Teroforma
     No. 10 ~ Acacia Chip and Dip ~ Crate & Barrel  + Quick & Easy Shortcut Salsa + tortilla chips

Weekend Guests : As a weekend (or overnight) guest, it is more important to bring a hostess gift than ever.  I usually like to bring things that will be great eats/drinks for the next morning aka less for your host to worry about the next day.  This blueberry batter bowl gift set has all you need to have fresh blueberry pancakes minus the griddle pan.  In addition, this flow carafe has a freezable coaster that will keep drinks cold for up to 4 hours!  Make a batch of mimosa (or bloody mary) mix in this carafe, bring a bottle of champagne, and you'll have mimosa's ready to go for the next morning.
     No. 11 ~ Blueberry Batter Bowl Gift Set ~ Stonewall Kitchen
     No. 12 ~ Flow Carafe w/ Freezable Coaster, 1-Quart  ~ Emsa + Mimosa Mix + Champagne

Gifts not only shows the personality of the receiver, but of the giver as well.  I love to cook and bake, so these "semi-homemade" gifts are perfect for me, but if you're not the homemade type, it's ok.  Do what you do best.  If you're crafty, embroider your hostess' monogram on some pretty cloth napkins.  If you're the music type, develop a rockin' playlist to set the mood for the event.  At the end of the day, it's really the thought that counts, and it doesn't have to empty your bank account.

6.07.2011

A Lesson In Tying a Bow-Tie

Have you ever woken up, forgotten what occurred in your dream, but later came across something that day that made you recall the details of it?  It's kind of weird, but this happens to me quite frequently; the most recent time being this morning. 


** Disclaimer beforehand that my dreams can be quite...interesting I guess I'd say...definitely random  
...
Last night in part of my dream, I was asked by a gentlemen if I knew how to tie a tie, and I was so distraught that I couldn't.  When I woke up, I completely forgot about it until I came across this instructional guide.  Very strange, I know.

Well, now I know.

Tell me, does this phenomenon ever occur with you? 

6.06.2011

Backyard Movie

Transport back in time when the drive-through movie reigned supreme.  These days many of these institutions have gone out of business, but you can still get that outdoor cinema experience right in your own backyard (and be a whole lot more comfortable while you're at it).

Inspiration : 
Pottery Barn has created a cozy outdoor viewing experience that I must recreate this summer.  They even give you tips here including on how to create your outdoor screen. 

Lust List :
No. 1 ~ Clear String Lights ~ World Market
No. 2 ~ Carrots Green 23" Pillow ~ CB2
No. 3 ~ Sadie Floral Outdoor Throw Pillow ~ Pottery Barn
No. 4 ~ Paint Palette 20" Pillow ~ CB2
No. 5 ~ Grove Wicker Pendant Lights (Set of 3) ~ Pottery Barn
No. 6 ~ Kneed It Side Table ~ CB2
No. 7 ~ Chesapeake Futon Lounger ~ Pottery Barn 
No. 8 ~ Cordless Decorative Bug Zapper ~ Sunbeam ~ Because bugs are not invited to this showing...
No. 9 ~ Popcorn Spices ~ Delcove Spices via Etsy ~ Spice up your freshly popped kernals with dozens of seasoning choices - Kettle Corn, Sour Cream & Onion, Italian Parmesan, Butt-Kickin' BBQ, Amish Caramel, even Lemon Cheesecake and more.
No. 10 ~ Samba Green Tray ~ Crate & Barrel 
No. 11 ~ Etched Red-Orange Design Mango Wood Bowl ~ Overstock
No. 12 ~ Martini Side Table ~ West Elm
No. 13 ~ Silver Movie Reel ~ Hollywood Megastore ~ Use as decor or stack to use as a clever holder for your beverages and popcorn.
No. 14 ~ Stainless Steel Snack Bowls ~ CB2
No. 15 ~ Knitted Pouf ~ CB2

Invite your friends and loved ones, pop some popcorn, and push play.

Also, if you're looking for a great caramel corn recipe, try this copy-cat Crunch 'N' Munch recipe out.  I made it last week for my boyfriend, and it seriously tasted like the real thing.  Plus you can substitute the nut for your favorite.  I used almonds in mine because it was a bit cheaper and what I had on hand.

Happy Watching,

6.04.2011

Dear 16 Yr. Old Me...

I saw this yesterday and it's been nearly the only thing on my mind since. Everyone needs to see this.
Warning* prepare to be at least a little teary-eyed...


I admit that I use to tan during my senior year of high school.  I wanted that glow for prom, and I even worked at the salon for a bit so I could tan for free.  This time haunts me more and more each year.  I'm always wondering if/when something bad will pop up.  If I only knew then what I know now...

Share this with those that you love or even might dislike; this could save a life.

6.03.2011

Pins of Interest

After last weeks Pinterest post, I decided to keep it going and perhaps make it a weekly thing.  Yay or Nay?  Let me know and this might be the last or one of many similar posts in the future. 

Some beautiful inspiration for the week:
No. 1 ~ Blue & Gray Living ~ Love this color combo.  It's pretty toned down, but the pop of the sofa, graphic patterned pillows, and other small touches make the room.

No. 2 ~ Vintage Polaroid ~ Some day I'd love to own one of these; working or just for decor purposes, it doesn't matter.  I also love mail air look of the book, and the title reminds me of the Gene Kelly movie (An American in Paris if you didn't know).

No. 3 ~ Vintage Cans Used for Planting ~ For drainage purposes, these would probably need some holes on the bottom, but I love the personality of these cans.

No. 4 ~ Butter and Sauce ~ Mmm yummy! Typography has been more of my recent interests, and I cannot resist this typeface!

No. 5 ~ Paris City Map ~ Great pop of color and graphic print! These also come in other cities around the Europe too.

No. 6 ~ Bokeh Wheel ~ I may or may not have a huge obsession over ferris wheels, other fair rides, and carousels in photography...just maybe.

Until Monday!
Happy Weekend,

6.02.2011

Nail Color Worth Purchasing

I'm pretty much a nude or clear/neutral fingernail polish kind of girl, but when it comes to my toes, I love some color.  It has been quite some time until I bought a new shade, however.  For some reason, I always leave the store with a color I already have back home...is it just me?  I swear it looks different in the bottle!  I guess part of the problem is that I won't make a special trip just to get nail polish, so I pick up what is conveniently available in stores I already frequent.  Since most companies stick to the basic pinks and reds every year, it's no wonder I keep picking up the same or strongly similar hues with such very limited shade choices.  Enter essie nail color.
Now I've know about essie for years now, but it's never something I thought would truly worth the near $8 a bottle price-tag.  My experience with higher priced nail color has never been good.  I find that they tend to bubble and are harder to apply than some cheaper brands.  Nevertheless, this past memorial day weekend, I saw my brother's girlfriend with this really interesting shade on, and I had to go pick it up when I found out it was now available at Target stores.  Tart Deco is a coral hue that is the perfect mix of orange and pink and a great Spring/Summer shade.  Plus, the color actually looks very similar as it does in the bottle after a few coats! Finally, rejoice!  I'm eyeing to try a few more essie shades (like the ones below), but sadly they're not currently sold in Target stores.  Perhaps I will finally have to make a special trip for nail polish??

What are your go to polish shades/brands?

6.01.2011

Bow Down to Solid Primaries

No. 1 ~ Obi Structured Dress ~ Warehouse
No. 2 ~ Sunny Kolette Skirt ~ Kate Spade
No. 3 ~ BP Valentine Sandal ~ via Nordstrom 
No. 4 ~ Touring London Bow Dress ~ Ruche
No. 5 ~ With A Bow Crops ~ Anthropologie 
No. 6 ~ Menbur Women's Arda Platform Pump ~ via Endless
No. 7 ~ Red Cotton Sateen Dress ~ Miss Selfridge
No. 8 ~ Bow-tie short ~ J. Crew
No. 9 ~ SM Luxe Zesty Pump ~ via DSW