Parties & Gatherings
My fantastically generous mama-in-law gave me the best gift ever: Gold flatware that, once upon a time, belonged to her mama-in-law.
It’s… mmm… so luscious and dreamy.
I couldn’t believe it: The flatware had been languishing in storage for decades! My MIL thought they were garish and had intended to get rid of them.
I’d been lusting after gold numbers just like this for years, and I’m over the moon that I now care for these babies and that, bonus!, they’re a family heirloom.
They’re making their grand debut today, on Thanksgiving.
I’m thankful for these gorgeous goldies, and, always, for my health, sweet family and priceless friends. Of course, I’m beyond grateful for my loving, ridiculous hizzy, and I’m endlessly thankful for this little booger…
… who always wants to know what’s happening on the food table.
Hope your Thanksgiving is soulful and stuffing-filled.
I love to watch my favorite vampire movie on the Friday before Halloween. It’s a frilly blood-sucking movie that isn’t very scary.
Nope, it’s soooo much better… oozing decadence and filled with lusty, bloody candle-lit drama.
On this night, I usually make a dinner that has some element of red to it – a bloody steak, drippy marinara or even sauced-up pizza – and light up our place with two dozen candles. Then I put on jewels and a long, flowing gown, and parade around the house and take stock of our Halloween decor (a pumpkin that hasn’t been carved because I’m too lazy, overpriced gummy pumpkins bought in a moment of weakness at Whole Foods).
My hizzy is used to this October ritual. He finds it nutty, albeit amusing. He gripes a little when I make him wear the toddler’s vampire cape I plucked from the street a few years back, but I think deep down he likes being costumed for the celebration.
For Labor Day weekend, we thought it’d be festive to have a lil’ boat party on Lake Travis.
We rented a pontoon, grabbed our Austin pals and motored out for an afternoon of swimming and drinking beneath the hot Texas sun.
We tossed back different kinds of wine, including a super dry Sicilian rosé. (I know, the wine’s pink hue is forbidding! I swear it wasn’t sweet.)
Since it was a happy hour party, we noshed small bites: filo-wrapped pulled pork, shrimp cocktail, corn cakes with creme fraiche, stuffed olives, and some other appetizers our friends brought that aren’t pictured (whoops!).
Lake Travis may not be the Pacific Ocean, but the water’s warmer (a big plus!) and there are easy, cozy alcoves to stop and drop anchor in.
My galpal brought these tomato-mozzarella-basil skewers. They might be my fave app of all time. So simple, colorful, fresh and gorgeous…
To fete our new condo, we invited our Austin pals over for burgers, sausages and swimming pool fun.
Glass isn’t allowed on our pool deck, but I snuck in these three champagne flutes (thanks a million, Amy!) that had been begging to be cupped and toasted for the first time.
The flutes made their debut with our lillet punch, a not-very-exact hodgepodge of gin, champagne, lime juice, grenadine, Fresca and lillet, a French aperitif.
(Don’t worry, the punch tastes just as good in plastic cups.)
What is lillet?, you ask. I wasn’t too familiar with it either until a month ago.
It’s a blend of a few white wines (85%) and macerated liquer (15%). You can drink this liquid on the rocks or mixed with almost anything.
Living in the middle of Texas has made me crave all things nautical, especially in the summer. Hence, the starfish decor – another space-eating accessory I had stashed in the bowels of storage that were begging for new life on a party table.
The starfish and and nauty-striped straws helped bring a little bit of ocean into downtown Austin, at least for the afternoon.
This is a bit late…
For Father’s Day, my dadless friends and I drank tropical cocktails, floated around a Palm Springs swimming pool, turned about five shades darker, told amusing stories about our long-gone dads, and barbecued slabs of meat.
To cool ourselves in the desert sun, we chomped on frozen grapes, and also used the grapes as a garnish for our drinks. Two of our easy-peasy quaffs: a screwdriver with muddled grapes and the Gold ‘n’ Stormy, a mix of golden rum and ginger beer. (You’re supposed to use dark rum to make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, but oh well. Golden rum works too!)
So, happy belated papa’s day to all the men out there who are fatherly to anyone…
Almost eight weeks ago we did something crazy: We got married.
We had been planning all of the big and tiny wedding details for what seemed like forever. (Actually, it was only 7-1/2 months, as soon as we moved to Austin.)
Our wedding was relaxed and romantic, a little bit of Great Gatsby and a lotta bit of rustic countryside. I had always wanted to marry in a small chapel and have a candlelit reception in a barn, and that’s pretty much what we did. Our venue, Vista West Ranch in Hill Country, was perfect: a private house with a barn, bunkhouses and flowery, nook-filled grounds. My groom, who hadn’t dreamt of any specific details for his wedding day because he’s a groom, loved the beer garden, where we had our cocktail hour, and the quiet lavender fields that covered the lawn outside the barn.
The wedding – the whole wedding day – was everything we want from a marriage… and a party: It was stocked high with belly laughs, grinning loved ones, good food, pretty dresses, a fuzzy entertainer (our ring bearer), a chatty, bow-tied little sweetie (our flower boy), foot-thumpin’ music, and lots of tears – mainly during our personal vows. Oh, and kisses. Oceans of hugs and kisses.
Bonus: Newswrapper is also a genius, rustic way to bundle sandwiches for an afternoon picnic.
And when you’re done eating, just unfurl the wrapper for timely, entertaining reading material. (If your sandwich was juicy, you should probably skip this part.)
Don’t you love finding newish ways to repurpose items you already have in the house?
I live for it.
We’re in the throes of wedding chaos – we tie the knot this weekend! – but we decided to take a short wedding time-out so that we could pamper a very important member of our family: our little stinker, Purnie.
He turned 9 last Friday, and I’ve always felt that we never celebrated him in a big way (aside from sticking a b-day hat on his head and popping a candle in a can of meat). So to fete him this year, we scooped up a seriously special, yum-yum treat: peanut butter ice cream (made for doggies) topped with Purnie’s favorite veg, shredded carrots.
He was a little confused at first, since we never let him eat off the table, but he got the hang of it.
The cannolis were for us humans, although I would’ve been just as happy wolfing down P’s peanut butter sundae. (The ice cream really doesn’t taste too different from the PB ice cream we eat. Who knew?!)
Happy birthday, little man.
My best friend gave me the ultimate: a gorgeously delicious bridal shower.
Mishel, the generous bestie/maid of honor, took her duties seriously. She scouted dozens of restaurants in the L.A. area, and ended up choosing a tea room in downtown Pasadena. She found that most restaurants in L.A. wanted a large fortune to reserve private space and, horrifically, had strict policies against bringing in outside decor (like fresh flowers, a prerequisite for any party!) or bottles of bubbly. The tea room, on the other hand, was more lax about party rules.
We bought the flowers at the L.A. flower district the day before and stayed up till midnight cutting and playing with these ultra ladylike bouquets.
Mishel hatched the fabulous idea of floating a ranunculus in this delicate sipping glass. Totally enchanting…
She placed a perfect pink chocolate bar at each guest’s seat…
…and poured bubbly into vintage champagne glasses. Of course, fruit juices and French lemonade were laid out for teetotaling (ahh!) or mixed-drink-loving guests.
We noshed on tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberries, and tea cake.
Here’s the hardworking hostess taking a quick breather…
My sweet bridesmaid, Margo, who flew in from New Jersey for the party, helped out a ton: She sent the shower’s so-romantic invitations and put her biceps to work hauling beverages, gifts and everything else.
At the end, each lady got an amazing parting gift: a Van Cleef & Arpels perfumed candle, Edward Bess lip gloss and little vials of perfume. (It’s official: Mishel is every woman’s favorite gift-giver.)
I was so touched to have people drive (or fly!) from all over to share glasses of tea and champagne with me. Living in Texas means I don’t get to see my galpals too often (um, at all) anymore, and it meant a lot that my close ladyfriends – and family or near-family members – came to celebrate.
Mmmm, I love parties. Especially when they’re for moi!
Golf, beer, pigs-in-a-blanket, Indian food, carrot cake – even his favorite nuts! This is what heaven tastes like to Sammy.
I had a crazy amount of fun (and a hundred moments of exhaustion!) decorating and prepping for this bash. It was so special to do this for my longtime love, who is very low-key and would never, EVER go to any length to celebrate himself. I secretly think he dug all the attention for the night, though he’ll never admit it…