Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

nov16Just last week, the leaves that were golden yellows, vibrant oranges and eye-popping reds. A sprinkling of leaves woud slowly dift to the ground with the slightest breeze. With every step, the leaves would crunch under my shoes. The last of the leaves are holding on with all their strength and soon will be gone. Thanksgiving must be coming. I am beyond excited for the holidays! Feast your eyes on this moodboard that will inspire a DIY budget friendly tablescape.


Dried Goods: In one of my posts, “DIY Projects :: Seasonal Centerpieces“, I featured non-floral centerpieces from Nettleton Hollow. This is a seasonal project that will highlight your Thanksgiving table and help celebrate a bountiful celebration.

In A Nutshell: Faux acorns make an easy and affordable way to dress up your dinner’s surroundings. Fill apothecary jars with seasonal fillers with nuts, cranberries, dried leaves and branches for a striking arrangement. (Pottery Barn; $14)

Perfect Pear: Use seasonal fruit to help guide your guests to their seat. Make sure to wash the pears, in case your guests munch on the place card. 

Spilled Beans: An easy DIY project that will have your guests asking you to share your secret. Incorporate the colors of fall when you pair pumpkins with lentils and other dried beans. Candles will also warm the gathering space, so be sure to keep plenty around.

Glorious Gourds: As farmers markets close up shop, be sure to grab some lovely squashes. Place in a neutral bowl to allow the colors of the bounty to pop. Martha also suggests adding kumquats for a splash of citrus color.


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nov09Kim-Erin celebrated her daughter, Riley’s first birthday with an Ice Cream Social theme. She wanted to have a theme that was unique and not overdone. Plus, who doesn’t love ice cream?! The little details really make this party one of a kind. Handmade yarn balls to replicate ice cream scoops make fabulous and affordable centerpieces. Painted terra cotta pots hold a buffet of toppings and candies. Party favors of stickers and candies wrapped in clear cellophane tease the party-goers. Plates with custom labels flaunt Riley’s name with retro Ice Cream Shoppe font. My favorite detail is the photo ice cream tree. Photo ornaments of Riley and ice cream cones are fastened to the branches and drip with charming appeal. Happy birthday, Riley!

ice cream social-1

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oct30Together, Bake it Pretty and Inspired Bride created a table full of candy for the eyes and tummy. I can vouch for Bake it Pretty’s selection and quality, as I’ve used their products for most of my parties (cupcake frosting tip, cake pop sticks, sprinkles, cupcake wrappers…oh the list goes on and on). Find all the delicious details (and recipes) for recreating this spectacular table of sweets.

Maddy, from Inspired Bride, use a simple color palette of ice blues and whites to avoid taking the focus away from the display. Check out Maddy’s tips and easy directions to inspire your next dessert buffet.

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oct22October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I know, the month is almost over, but little bit of recognition counts. In my nine-to-five job, I work with men with prostate cancer and women who’ve been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My job is to enroll my patients on clinical research cancer trials and follow them throughout the course of the study. It seems like on a weekly basis, tears are brought to my eyes by stories of strength, love, triumph and loss. The next few posts are dedicated to bringing breast cancer awareness to you and your loved ones.

During September 18-20th, the Susan G Komen for the Cure Race and Celebration was held in Portland, Oregon. My work (Oregon Health & Science University) had a table at the Convention Center and tissue poms made an appearance!! During the two day event at the Convention Center, my colleagues and I gave out about 7000 grocery bags and brochures.

2009 - Komen

Their Pink Phone Campaign (@OHSUPinkPhone) made its way across the beautiful state of Oregon. You could listen to personal stories of how breast cancer has effected one’s life or share and record your own story for others to hear.


The Race was on Sunday and my friends and I joined 45,000 other supporters and survivors. It was an exhilarating event. This year was my fourth year doing the race and I am already pumped for next year’s celebration.

Personally, the fight for the cure is everyday. Be aware and keep strong!
(Psst! Come back tomorrow for a lovely Breast Cancer related giveaway!)

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oct19The leaves are turning into a golden a crisp and gently falling in the breeze. Halloween is haunting us just around the corner. Here is a mood board to help inspire a creepy, yet chic Halloween celebration. Be careful, the tingle of goosebumps might run down your spine.


Bone Collector: The tricked out appetizer plates will surely make your head spin. (Pottery Barn; $5)

Fright Invite: Custom invites with a cauldron full of skulls and eerie font will haunt your guests’ mailboxes. (Wheeler Studios; $2)

Gourd-geous Garland: DIY garland directions are easy to follow and can be hung anywhere for instant harvest decor. The gourds are aplenty at your local grocer.

Fierce Fireplace: Drape dark ivy around your mantle to add a somber feeling to the space.

Painted Pumpkins: Why carve when you can paint? Forget the standard Jack-0-Lantern look, paint spider webs or outline the trunk of a tree on your pumpkin.

Dreadful Drinks: Set up a drink bar and print off the recipe cards for each drink. The black vodka sets the tone for all three drinks.

Wicked Welcome: Before your guests enter your haunted house, have them wipe their wearing feet on this welcome mat. (CB2; $20)

Feather Your Nest: Set the tone for the party with a feathery wreath for your front door. Want a cheaper options? Make one yourself. Buy a metal wreath (Target; $30)

Bat Cave: Place removable bat vinyl decals on the walls of your house to instantly increase the haunt factor. Remove when you are done and save for next year. (Wilson’s Graphics;$30)

Sinister Sweets: Create a food buffet with a theme centered on color. Don’t forget to include dark chocolate!

Any other ideas? What are you going to be for Halloween? We have four parties to attend (that’s what happens when Halloween falls on a Saturday) and I am still tossing around ideas.

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oct05Unlike hosting a dinner party or planning a bridal shower, a wine tasting event requires hardly any planning. With a wine tasting, you can spend less time prepping for the event and spend more time enjoying your guests. This is a stress free way to host. It also gives a great excuse ends to test their palette. Now let’s go on a grape exploration.

Picking a theme is necessary, as it will help you decide which wine to buy. Start by deciding if you want red, white, sparkling, or dessert wine. Or just stick to wines within a specific region (Willamette Valley or Napa Valley), or taste the same varietal produced in different parts of the world (Cabernet Sauvignon). With the surge of eco-friendly trends, organic wines are now available, perfect for a eco-friendly theme.

wineThink about your guests and how much they know about wine. If you’re hosting a group of novice wine drinkers, a more basic tasting such as an introduction to one of the major red wine grapes works best. If your group is more experienced, try experimenting with lesser-known varietals or different years (vintage) of the same wine. Also think about the season: heavy and full reds don’t mix well with a hot and dry August evening, but they would be perfect in February around the fireplace.

You can host a wine tasting on any budget. While some bottles can costs hundreds, even thousands of dollars, yet a great tasting can be done on almost any budget. Go to your local grocery, Trader Joe’s or World Market to find some budget friendly bottles. Ask the reps from the store, one might be able to recommend a bottle for you.


To share the cost of the event, make the tasting a potluck style tasting. Or have tiny bites to supplement your tasting. Prepared food and no-cook items can easy bulk up a menu.

No Cook Items: cheese, crackers, breads, chutneys, fresh or dried fruit (apples, pears, grapes and figs), pickled vegetables, nuts, honey, jam, salami and other dried/cured meats,

Prepared foods: deli counter sliced meat, pre-made desserts from your local grocery or bakery. Remove wrappings and transfer everything to several serving dishes. Then clean afterwards is a snap. cheese

Offer food or drink that will help cleanse the tongue (palette) of any flavor remnants.  Chilled water and bland crackers are a great example. Try to avoid flavored breads or crackers.

If you want to trim your budget, skip the crackers and bread, but water must be offered.


Line up wines in the order in which they will be tasted. Although there are no set rules, Cheney recommends starting with whites and finishing with reds, and going in order of driest to sweetest and lightest to heaviest.

Six different wines are enough to keep your guests entertained with flavors. Offering more than six can make your guests feel overwhelmed and rushed to try them all. In addition, it can get your guests beyond drunk. :)

After the tasting, if you your guests are not too full, offer them dessert. Pairing something light with coffee or tea will help settle the stomach. Don’t forget to offer nonalcoholic options to your  guests whom are driving.

Chill the Wine

In general, white wines are chilled and reds room are at temperature. If your house is warm, you can put the bottles in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes or just until they are cool to the touch. Red wines should not be served cold, so be sure to take them out of the fridge about one hour prior to pouring.

Opening and Pouring Wine

Opening all your bottles ahead of time can streamline the tasting process, especially if you have a large group. But if the party is small enough, opening the bottles at each round is acceptable (and more fun).

The Tasting Steps

1. Introduce the Wine
Start by introducing and pouring your first wine, then walk the group through the tasting process detailed below. Throughout the tasting, encourage your guests to keep in mind that this is a fun, social occasion, so it is not a competition. Just a relaxed way to try to new.

2. Look
Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle over a white tablecloth or napkin and examine the wine’s color and intensity. Is it a deep red, a light gold? Is the color saturated throughout or does the wine look watery around the rim/edges? Does it look viscous or watery?

3. Smell
Place the glass on the table and swirl it vigorously to release the wine’s aromas, then bring the glass up to your nose and inhale. What does the smell remind you of? Cherries? Tobacco? Oak? 

4. Sip
Take a small sip and swish around. Allow some air to help release the aromas and flavors. Think about what flavors you taste as well as the wine’s acidity and sweetness. Also consider the wine’s body and texture: Is it light or heavy? Thick or thin? If you’re sampling red wine, think about the tannin level—tannins make for a dry, almost cotton-dry. Again, you may want to close your eyes to focus on what you’re tasting.

5. Swallow
Swallow the wine and think about its finish and aftertaste. Does the flavor linger (have a “long finish”) or disappear quickly? Is the wine one-dimensional or more complex?

6. Evaluate
Do you like this wine? Try to identify exactly what you like or dislike, as that can help you identify wines you’ll enjoy in the future. And, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers—it’s all a matter of personal preference.

7. Samples #2 to #6
In between each sample, be sure everyone cleanses their palate with water. Sample the wine with a morsel of food. Does it bring out hidden flavors?

For subsequent wines, you may want to once again lead the group through the formal tasting process—this can be especially helpful for newbie tasters. But, if you think your group would prefer, feel free to let everyone taste on their own.

8. Final Discussion
Once all the wines have been sampled, lead the group in a discussion about all six wines. (If you held a blind tasting, this is the time to reveal your bottles.) For fun, have everyone vote for his or her favorite and rank the wines in terms of preference.

A prost to you and your next party! Cheers!

(Credits: Photo – Pottery Barn; Thoughts and Ideas from: Wine Lovers, Forbes, Epicurious and my past experiences)

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sept10Kari is hosting an intimate baby shower for her beloved friend Jami. Jami’s first born was a boy, so the fanciful frills and pink bows were not included in her first baby fete. Since the shower is limited to Jami’s nearest and dearest, Kari wants to give her the most girlish and pinkest shower possible. Hopefully, the weather holds out, as the shower will be held in downtown Portland in an urban outdoor patio. How chic is that?!

Pinkalicious baby shower

Bundles of Joy: Buying bottles of pink juices (Trader Joe’s, World Market or your local grocer) will help keep with the monochromatic scheme. Wrapping the bottles in fun colorful print and sealing with oversized pink diaper pins will bring bring out the baby themed without being tacky.

Tree of Life: A simple DIY project will make a boring gift table come to life. Once the tree is painted and set in the foam, it is ready for decorations. If dried Manzanita branches are out of your price range, use Mitsumata branches instead, they are more affordable. Embellish with pink baby pacifiers ($1.99), pink safety pins ($1.99) and pink ribbon bows. All can be found at your local Joann Fabric.

Waterlogged: To keep things simple in this overloaded pink party, submerse your flowers in large glass vases. Scatter them through the party space to keep the table clear for your guests’ food plates and drinks.

Pillow Talk: Tossing a few throw pillows around the seating area, will really make it cozy with color. Lovely ruffles that accent the hot pink and baby pink pillows are a great way to incorporate color and feminine frills to the party. (Hettle; $17)

Banner: Etsy can be a non-stop stop for most events. This is the ultimate way to welcome your guests and Jami, your guest of honor. Frills, ribbons and pink colors are all featured in this customized banner. Send a personal request via Etsy convo, as her shop is currently away due to an influx in orders. (Burley Girl; $30)

Tabled: Using linens that are aligned with the party’s colors will really make the party over-the-top. Layering a hot pink table runner atop of a light pink or white table cloth is more dramatic than just a table cloth. If you really want to push the pink limit, only use linens in shades of pink (ie napkins, runners, table cloths etc). (Table Cloths Factory; $2.99)

Cuppy Cake: Cupcakes are delicious alone. But add a cupcake wrap to add more color to the delicious dessert. Cupcake wraps come in a variety of colors and designs. You will definitely find one that will fit your needs. (Paper Orchid; $13)

Shades of Pink: While you’re at Ikea, pick up some very affordable pink vases. The chubby round vase ($3.99) can be used to run down the table runner on the table, while the tall skinny vase ($1.99) can be used to flank the food table. Both come in your party’s colors. (Ikea)

Ring of Love: These lovely sparkalicous napkin rings can be found at an Etsy shop (surprise!). Tie your napkins in these rings to really add some drama to your tablescape. Wait, did I just use tablescape. Oh, Sandra Lee. (Divine Design; $12)

Floats Your Boat: Kari lives in Portland (love) and our local Ikea is having a 50% off on all Grodby candles. With a set of 10 floating candles (in various shades of pink), float the candles in vases of water. The party will be during the afternoon, there may be no need to light the candles. However, if it is a normal Portland afternoon, it could be cloudy and candles bring instant warmth and comfort to a space. (Ikea; $1.99)

Feather Your Nest: Feathers maybe over the top, but they do add a bit of fun to the setting. If feathers are not your thing, giant wooden letters (also found at Joann Fabric) can be used to welcome Jami’s newest addition. Using the baby’s last name or baby’s initials are a great way to personalize the event.

Pinkalicious baby shower menu

To keep things simple, I would suggest ordering from a local deli. My favorite is Elephants Delicatessen and there is a location close to you as well. Their menu includes party platters that make hosting a snap. It also helps that their food is made with local ingredients and kills your hunger immediately with their fresh and simple.
If you are want to cook and prepare the food. Here are a few ideas:

Antipasto platter
Cheese plate (3 types: goat, Gouda and blue)
Seasonal fruit tray
Quesadillas de Camarones
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños
Puff Pastry Paneer Wheels (Sub paneer with cheddar or Swiss for the mama-to-be)
Olive Cheese Bread

Cupcakes from St Cupcake
Lemon bars (or something not too sweet)

Pinkalicious baby shower drinks

Frozen Grapes for a splash of color (use raspberries as well)
Melon Cooler (sub watermelon for the cantaloupe)
Various pink drinks


Don’t forget to enter to win cupcake note cards, cupcake toppers and tissue poms for your next party. Cheers!


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