27 May, 2009

Away So Long!

Hello everyone!

I am so excited to be back at it! The last couple weeks have just been crazy! I have a lot to share with you.

The Hubbs and I attended a wedding and I have pictures and some commentary to share. Also, a few words about wedding party attire will be coming soon!

I'll get cracking on it today!


11 May, 2009

Arrrgh! What to Wear to a Wedding!

The Hubbs and I are attending a wedding very soon. The happy couple are friends from The Hubbs days as a New Berlin Eisnenhower Lion. The groomie stood up in our wedding. The lovebirds are cute as a button. Great people!

"So what's the problem?!", you ask. I don't have anything to wear. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Buh. Sometimes I feel like my life would be so much easier if I weren't so fussy. So while browsing the virtual racks at Nordstrom and Macy's, I decided to put in my two cents about appropriate wedding guest attire.

Fancy Pants
I love a swanky, ultra-hip formal wedding. I do. But I believe there are some general rules one must follow when dressing for it. First and foremost, don't outdress the bride. I include dressing all in the color of the wedding dress in this rule. Believe you me, if someone had shown up to our wedding in the same color dress as me I would have scratched her ever-lovin' eyes out! It's my number one no-no for sure. After obeying that rule, feel free to go big with the glam! I am a huge advocate for silk, beads, sequins (tastefully done of course) and all things that glitter. Wear what you feel beautiful in. Age appropriateness is a big issue with me, as well. Let's remember we aren't going to prom or a second grade girl's birthday party or a brothel (please pardon my tone!). Dress for your wonderfully unique body type, wear your age like a badge of honor and you will be a hit every time!

A guest at our wedding wore a 20's inspired sailor dress in a lovely yellowish green tone. The hem hit at the knee and was whimsically asymmetrical. She accented it with the most beautiful light yellow buckled heels and necklaces that just hit the navel. She looked comfortable, stylish and radiant. The current object of my covetous heart is this little Badgley Mischka number pictured at #1. I am lovin' blue right now! Also, notice the beaded natural waist line. Stunning!

Semi-Formal Chic
The bulk of the weddings I've been to are semi-formal affairs. I think this is a great way to go, I find most guests are far more comfortable when "Black Tie" doesn't appear on the invite. But, let me remind you not to mistake semi-formal for casual. Aim for a put-together ensemble that is both tasteful and slightly fancier than your everyday look. I love bright, bold colors in the spring and summer and tend to save the darker colors for weddings later in the year. Plums, yellows and shades of blue and green look fresh with grays and neutrals. Consider silk georgette and fluid rayon fabrics for a breezy look at any pre-dusk soiree. After dark, you may want to head for a little more sophistication. I love cocktail dresses paired with fitted jackets and bold accessories. Right now, this Kay Unger silk halter dress (aka #2) seems like a dream. First of all, pure silk?! Oh my, and what a lovely color, not to mention the leopard print is so soft, it barely seems leopard-y. My favorite part? The halter neckline and banded waist, of course! This style looks great on just about everyone.

A Causual Fete

Romantic. Whimsical. Breathtaking. These are three words that come to mind when I think of casual weddings. Garden settings, beautiful beaches, and municipal parks are just some of the places crafty couples are getting hitched. The mood is always joyful and lighthearted. One's attire should compliment the theme. I reccommend cotton sateen, linen and silk chiffon in dreamy silhouettes. Nanette Lepore hit the mark with the lovely belted a-line dress at #3. To me, it's wonderfully fluid and the shape is perfect for every body type. Dresses aren't your thing? Mix it up in a smart pantsuit crafted in festive colors. #4 is gorgeous! I love the wide leg pant and dramatic, asymmetrical neckline. Bold prints and bright colors are beautiful and today's styles are all about looking lovely. All in all make sure you're dressed appropriately. No jeans, please.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Had to get that off my chest. It doesn't change the fact that I have nothing to wear. Oh, well-back to the closet I go. Wish me luck, all!

Entertaining on a Dime

Well, summer is nearly upon us and if you are anything like me, summer means one thing...parties! Memorial Day, Independence Day, Tuesday-all great reasons to have a fabulous soiree. However, all of the festivity and fabulousness of summer can be tough on the wallet. Here are a few basic tips on entertaining on a shoestring budget.

I find that one of the easiest ways to set the mood is with candles. You can find candelabras just about anywhere, including flea markets, estate sales, and antique stores. Candles are always going on sale at chain stores (my faves are Target, Michael's and Pottery Barn), I wait until then to scoop up the good ones. For a sophisticated look, place the candelabra in the center of your table. Then group free standing candles of varying sizes and colors around the base and along the length of the table (I will say this works best with unscented candles-too many fragrances and become overwhelming). Beautiful!

Candles aren't your thing? Try creating rosettes using left over gift wrap and hanging pom poms using tissue paper (instructions to come....!) These two are easy to make, not to mention easy on the eyes! The point is, repurpose things you have around the house. Taking this approach is also a great way to pull a party together in minutes.

Another great way to punctuate the mood of any party is to download a festive mix of tunes onto your iPod or Mp3 player.

Mix and match your table settings. Dinner plates and glassware with complementary patterns is extremely fun and will add to the overall experience 100%. Remember what we said about engaging all the senses?

This last tip is the easiest and probably the most obvious. Plan a colorful menu. Select bright vegetables like carrots, corn and broccoli to liven up the dinner plate, especially if you are serving meat. White chili is a favorite recipe of mine and it looks beautiful in a bowl.

Most guests tend to bring wine or some other type of libation as a host gift-so use it the night of your party! I'm a huge proponent of pinot grigio and pino gris, some brands are perfectly priced for a party and pinot grigio can be used to whip up a quick and refreshing sangria. After your guests arrive, put your bartending skills to the test. Try to create interesting drinks with what you have in front of you and your guests will love brainstorming along with you; not to mention trying out the creations.

Chocolate covered strawberries are, in my opinion the perfect low-cost party dessert. They're alluring, attractive, and you can eat them with your fingers (the best part)! You can find great deals on strawberries when they are in season. Chocolate is always available in the baking section of any market and for about $15 your guests will be floored by your creativity and flair for the dramatic. Also, try using white chocolate to add some decorating pizzazz.

Live without...
When trying to save money on a party I almost always do without purchasing fresh-cut flowers. (I dream of the day I will have a garden of my own, overflowing with flowers waiting to be cut for my centerpieces...sigh) They are expensive and never last as long as you'd like. Use your imagination and decorate with what you already own. Have a theme? Use that image to inspire you to create something beautiful! I like to replace picture frames with candid photos of some of the guests attending the event.

I'd also suggest that you consider taking it easy on the upgrades. Perhaps crumbled Bleu Cheese can be used instead of pricier options such as Rouquefort. This king of cheeses, still aged in caves, can also rule your wallet. You can usually get away with using Turkish Gemlic olives instead of best selling and extremely expensive Kalamata Olives from Greece.

Likewise, perhaps some concessions can be made when choosing meat for your menu. Do you need Black Angus for your chili? Probably not. Perhaps you can swap Choice for Prime (as a corn-fed, beef snob Nebraska gal, I feel a little blasphemous even saying that). Trust me, that is the biggest meat money saver I know of. (I feel a beef post a 'comin, folks...) Also, stick to more moderately priced cuts of beef as well. The Tenderloins are a guest favorite and won't break the bank. Consider using fish in tacos, chicken in chili, pork for BBQ, or turkey burgers to liven up your menu and renovate classic party fare.

Above all, have fun! Don't fret about the little things and remember, seeing your friends and/or family members all in on place is the best reason to throw a party. Camaraderie is always in style and will always be financially friendly!

08 May, 2009

Because She's Your Mother, That's Why!

Crossposted from Renegade Soiree

This comes to us from the ever so stylish Twig and Thistle. Seattle based print designer and all around design genius, Kathleen is the brain behind this wonderful company. The blog is amazing! This adorable little doorknocker is perfect for the busy Mom (and aren't they all?!) You can download it here. I suggest printing it on brightly colored card stock. The doorknocker will fit nicely inside a #10 envelope (my favorite #10 envelopes of all time are from Paper Source). I think this gift would be best paired with something sinful (Godiva, anyone?) for that special lady in your life to enjoy with her feet up.

Let's all take the time to remember our mothers this weekend. They've given us life, love, and their never ending support as we bumble through our lives desperately trying to become half the person they are so effortlessly. I for one don't know where I'd be without my Mom behind me 100%. So, with all they give us everyday, let's make sure we give Sunday, May 10th to them.

I love you, Mom!

Photo credit: Twig and Thistle Blog