Wander Woman

Parties & Gatherings

Birthday Beer Bottle Labels: Psychotic or Cute?

by on Jan.27, 2012, under Parties & Gatherings

We’re having a bash this weekend to celebrate my fiance’s big 3-0 milestone, and I figured beer bottle labels were a cutesy, subtle last-minute touch I could pull off.

Sure, you can order personalized label stickers from a professional site, but I thought, “Hmm. How hard could this label thing be? I’ll just do it myself.”

I reconned party blogs and learned that you only need a few basic ingredients to create a label: paper, a printer, clear tape and scissors. (continue reading…)

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Gold + Silver Holiday Table

by on Dec.23, 2011, under Parties & Gatherings

After three weeks of cookie-baking, holiday parties, casual get-togethers and expensive, furious gift shopping, nothing sounds better than a glistening, cozy dinner at home.

For our Christmas dinner this year, I decked our table in gold and silver, and crowned the meal with a berry, twig and antler-looking-flower centerpiece.

Can’t wait to drink champagne and savor a thick cut of meat, lumpia (Filipino eggrolls) and strawberry croissants with my loved ones… (continue reading…)

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A Birthday Party

by on Nov.04, 2011, under Other Lovelies, Parties & Gatherings

A very 1920s-feeling candelabra (snapped up at a flea market a few days before!)

I had grand visions of a 1920s-themed dinner party for my birthday.

But it’s really hard to capture the era’s glamour when you live in a green wooden house with white walls that screams “country,” when I need it to purr “decadence.”

I thought about buying oodles of crystal-y beaded drapes and hanging them throughout the house – so that my pals would brush past them at the champagne table or walk through them to go out on the deck – but I decided against it.

I’ve got a wedding to save for, dammit!

Walls of crystals are not a necessity, I kept telling myself.

Still, I wish I would’ve had them…

The appetizer and champagne station

(continue reading…)

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A Sunday Picnic

by on Jun.23, 2011, under Food & Cocktails, Parties & Gatherings

Last Sunday, a few friends and I gathered for a leisurely, snacky picnic.

I called it our “Fatherless Day” picnic, because only children of deceased or absent dads were invited. Sounds morbid, but it was uplifting and cathartic; like an outdoor therapy session with lots of bubbly.

Our small group trekked to Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula and set up shop on the picnic grounds.

We chomped on cheese, crackers, pasta salad and chocolates, and told stories about our papas.

I had every intention of laying out a picnic blanket and lounging on blades of grass, but as soon as we laid the blanket down, hundreds of leafhoppers and other itchy insects started picnicking with us. Ick!

We didn’t want to battle jumpy pests all afternoon, so we relocated to a nearby table. This was difficult for me, since I had grand visions of a decadent, ground-level picnic.

Alas, I settled for a table-and-chairs picnic.

Bonus: The chairs made perfect anchors for the bunting I cobbled together a few weeks ago. (“Bunting” is that fabric banner that’s hanging from the chairs.)

I chopped up an old shirt to make that festive doodad. I think it turned out a little wonky, but I’m pretty friggin’ proud of it. Check her out…

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An Engagement Party

by on May.17, 2011, under Food & Cocktails, Other Lovelies, Parties & Gatherings

Lemons are guest stars in this soiree. Peonies and carnations sing as the centerpieces.

My groomy and I thought it’d be fun to corral all our loved ones for an engagement bash. 

I wanted the shindig to be fun and beautiful. The setting was critical: It had to be outdoors. I was aiming for a garden party feel, yet still wanted it to be casual enough so that guests would feel comfy lounging and eating/drinking themselves silly for the night. 

We decided to throw the party at my mom’s, since she has a cozy backyard and she won’t charge us for using her space. Score! Plus, she liked the idea of having it at her house so she could take on a key piece of the grunt work – arranging the table/chair rentals. Those rental people are always so troublesome! I was grateful she took on that task.

I sniffed around party planning blogs, looking for clever ideas I could recreate and tweak. After weeks of list-making, lunch-hour shopping trips, after-work shopping trips, weekend shopping trips, menu research, and remedial arts and crafts projects, here’s what we ended up with… 


Our signature drink was a Lemon-Basil Rickey. I wanted to call it a "Fizz," but dangit, it just wasn't fizzing. So I called it a"Rickey," as in Gin Rickey, because it had the core ingredients of club soda and citrus. I used vodka and basil to give it a lil' kick.






The dessert table! We laid out one sweet treat at the start of the party, and the rest of the desserts trotted out after dinner.


Doh! I forgot to snap a shot of the parting gifts before the party! I took this pic the next day when I finally remembered. It was filled with homemade lemon bars and chocolate chip-coconut cookies. I loaded them into a wicker basket - not this fancy crystal dish.

This party was a kick-ass trial run for wedding planning. And, yep, the bash was everything we wanted it to be! I think our party peeps loved the food and libations, which is the most important part of a celebration, hands down. 

Here’s what I learned: Hosting 40-plus human beings for dinner is wild! It’s so special and exciting to spend that time with them. But it’s a BIG task that probably requires a paid staff member who can tend to food and beverage needs throughout the party. My soon-to-be mama-in-law, Bette, and granny-in-law, Nannie, filled this role and worked their tails off during the whole event – restocking appetizers, setting us up for din-din. My mom and best friend helped a ton too, especially before the party and even after. So did our de facto family members: Donna, Tom and everyone else, we appreciated your help! 

Thanks a million, pals and family, for all that you did. You helped make it a perfect night! 

And don’t worry: For the wedding, we’re definitely not taking the DIY route. I’ve got wedding planners/caterers/bartenders on speed dial.

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Romantic Flowers…

by on May.13, 2011, under Other Lovelies, Parties & Gatherings

We’re throwing a big party tomorrow. I’ll yap about the party later, I’m sure, but for now, I wanted to share the oh-so-pretty flowers I got for the shindig. I picked ’em up at a  wholesale flower mart – the place where all the florists and wedding planners source their flowers, which they, of course, sell to us laypeople at a markup of 1,000%. This was my first time ever buying flowers wholesale. It’s hugely gratifying and life-changing.

Peonies, ranunculus, hydrangea – some of my faves! Actually, I really wanted cockscomb (they’re weird-looking and wavy), but those greedy little wedding planners with their team of assistants and sour faces bought up everything! I was lucky to get my hands on anything more than baby’s breath.

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How to Throw a Dinner Party: Flowers and Other Pretty Things

by on Mar.29, 2011, under Other Lovelies, Parties & Gatherings

My best friend is so sweet: She insisted on making dinner for us, my mama and a couple of close friends.

She’s excited that I’m getting hitched. She and I always joked that we’d have multiple husbands, or no husband at all, and it seems that I’m breaking that pact (or getting closer to the end goal, depending on which way you look at it!).

I love coming over to her bungalow, because Sister – that’s her nickname – is a fantastic hostess.

She splurges on fresh flowers and has at least 20 candles blazing throughout her pad.

She plays the best music – a mix of old loungey tunes and newish indie – and serves the best food.

If you’re lucky, she’ll even stir up a bowl of sangria.

On this night, she fed us goat cheese-olive tapenade bites, avocado salad with mustard vinaigrette, salmon with lemon, herby sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe (Hmm, I think that’s what it was!).

Dessert was divine too.

After dinner, we could hear her slaving over the stove, stirring something sweet. Soon, she barreled back into the dining room with bowls of fresh brownie-berry sundaes.

She even gave us parting gifts – bags filled with perfume and grooming goods!

Sister is amazing, and I’m so lucky to have a bestie who’d do all this for us.

Mucho thanks, Sis!

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