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I was just chatting with a friend who is hosting a baby shower this weekend and she asked me for ideas for favors. I am not always a huge fan of favors in the traditional sense – where they are forced or expected – truly, what am I supposed to do with this one tiny frame? I’d rather the host spent more on bubbly.
But there is a whole ‘nother type of favor that I really like. Something thoughtful and unexpected – and useful. Say scones and advil after a late dinner party, or cookies after a luncheon. When I have a fun activity during the day, I tend to think that means fun for the rest of the afternoon, so knowing that a chocolate-chip surprise is hanging out in my purse come 4 o’clock seems just about perfect.
Another trick I love is to have cellophane bags and some twine on hand and let people take home the flowers from the centerpieces. Chances are the vases are yours (or need to be returned), but this way everyone can enjoy the flowers a bit longer. Plus it is green and budget friendly – two items for the price of one!
You can have a little note by the arrangement with the bags, saying something along the lines of “please take a few blooms, but kindly leave the vases” or for a smaller soiree, just spread the word. If you are feeling extra snazzy, you can put some pretty labels on the bags or even have them pre-printed.
You can purchase cellophane bags in bulk online from many spots (I have bought them from here a few times and was always happy with the product – they even have ones that are compostable!) or in a hurry, Michael’s, Target and Sur la Table generally have them on site. Just make sure you buy food-safe ones, incase you want to use the extras for those cookies.
This trick works great with simple arrangements – a big bunch of tulips, daffodils, ranunculus – perfect flowers for these spring showers.
Would you enjoy having a few flowers to take home?
Cassandra put out a call for regular contributiors to her site and I decided to give it a go. Her blog is one of my faves and it would be so exciting to be a permanent fixture over there. She has had a bunch of great submissions and the voting is up to you (or her readers, rather).
So I made pizza – ramp pizza even – and it wasn’t the highlight of dinner. The winner was a salad. Are you kidding me? I liked a salad better than pizza – homemade pizza nonetheless? Granted, the crust wasn’t my fave, which started a weekend long odyssey to find my favorite crust recipe, but seriously, even with Mozza crust, this salad was killer.
I love tricolore salads, particularly with a good pizza (Delfina and Lil’ Frankies, I’m talking to you), so when I ran to the store to grab some yeast, I threw a head of radicchio and a few lil’ endives in my basket. I know they aren’t exactly in season, but I couldn’t help it. So to make it a bit fitting for April, I swapped the arugula for barely-roasted thin asparagus.
I’m not much of a balsamic person (I think in overloaded in the early aughts), but it is just a classic part of a salad like this, that I couldn’t help but incorporate it. But since I don’t use it much, I only keep the cheap stuff around, and I wanted something with a bit more substance.
The toughest part of this whole salad was reducing the balsamic vinegar into a syrup – which was no work at all.
Chop the lettuces and asparagus, coat them in a bittersweet slick of olive oil, honey and lemon and add sprinkling of course salt and pepper. Top it all with generous shavings of pecorino and drizzle the whole lot with the balsamic syrup.
Suffice it to say, I finished a very large serving and actually had the pizza for leftovers. A first, for sure… and it was good enough that something tells me it will happen again.
It’s all about those big vases that seem like a good idea at first, but then you realize you almost never have that many flowers, so are relegated to the back of the closet.
Just fill a large vase with punch, tea, lemonade, sangria, etc. and serve it with a ladle.
What’s great about this, is with the straight sides, the vases can easily hold a label. You can just write what it is on craft paper and paste it on with a bit of double stick tape. Feeling fancy? Just add a quick band of ribbon. This trick would also work with the apothecary jars that in many stores now’days.
Oh, and have a make sure to have a small plate for your ladle if it doesn’t have a little handle…these vases may be too wide or deep to hold it up, and you don’t want it to go for a swim in your drinks.
Now I just can’t wait for summertime, when I can put this to use…
(Need your own vase/punch bowl? You can find them many places, but here are a few options: Bosphorus Bowls at Pottery Barn; Seeded Glass Cylinders, Latimer Vases, Juliet Vases and others at Aero Home; Cylindrical Vase at Target.)
Don’t forget to enter leave a comment here to enter to win a set of candles!
This weekend was full of those little surprises that I just love. It started on Saturday morning with Color & Candlelight with Eddie Ross. The event was held at Gracious Home in Chelsea and sponsored by Creative Candles – so it was no surprise that the bulk of the chat centered colored candles.
Eddie gave great tips for updating so many looks with such a simple and inexpensive trick.
Colored candles are a great way to make your rooms, parties, you name it look magazine ready in no time. All with the simple swap from a white taper (or votive or pillar) to colored. They are cheaper than new pillows and can last longer than fresh flowers.
I particularly loved his idea of placing a big group of candles of differing heights on a coffee table or even just a single – a bit of instant drama, and a way to show off more candlesticks that are likely hiding in a hutch.
Being someone who is not necessarily color-shy, but seriously in love with neutrals, it’s a great trick. A quick pink taper on any candlestick (brass perhaps), and voila – instant spice!
With the colored candles (as seen on the table here), they really do help your eye continue to move up, in a way that white candles wouldn’t.
And so even though there may be a bit more color on the table than I would use at home (change the patterned overlay to maybe a smaller runner – I would want the food to shine through a bit too), I can’t wait to get more color in such a simple way. (And did you notice the candlesticks on Eddie’s table are brass? It’s popping up everywhere!)
We have more tips from Eddie coming up, but in the meantime, I thought a GIVEAWAY is in order.
I snagged some of these great candles, and thought that maybe you should have some too!!
Just leave a comment about how you would use colored candles and what color you like best (options below) and I will pick a winner at random. The winner of a pair of 7/8″ x 18″ tapers will be picked May 1, so all entries must be in by then.
Good luck and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s favorite color!
I forgot that I had snapped this pic in a Brooklyn subway station (Metropolitan maybe?) a few months ago. I was just looking through my photos for something (else, obviously) and saw this guy. Thought it was fitting for Earth Day, even if it is now Earth “Night” here.
Since I am generally a not much of a picture person, I must have really liked this to have snapped a shot. I think it was the surprise of seeing it, particularly in that context, that I loved more than anything.
What has been your favorite art surprise?
I’ve never really had a lot of brass around. For accessories, I have always gravitated towards other things.
I blame it on knobs, handles and pulls of 1980′s kitchens. Eating goldfish surrounded by that can really turn a kid off. Especially when there’s silver and glass and pewter and ceramic and mercury glass and so many other things to collect.
But I love when old things become new again – and I particularly love to mix all kinds of things up. And a few years ago, I was at my nana’s house and found an awesome vintage woven brass basket. It was perfect for breads and crackers at parties or impromptu cocktails. But then, along with most other things, it went into storage, and I forgot all about it, and my new love of brass.
More candlesticks are obviously great, but I love how versatile brass is – and how well it mixes into so many relms (and rooms). I might just have to order a few sets of wood and brass flatware, which would be perfect with the brass spoons in those marble salt cellars. Tables, poufs, and trays – yes please! And I might even be able to improve my sketching, with that brass colored pencil holder – a perfect activity for April showers. Oh, and that stove, well, a girl’s gotta have dreams!
Have you found any brass goodies recently?
Please tell me I am not alone in the fact that some days (weeks) you just don’t want to cook. And I don’t mean, just through together a quick pasta or frittata and not spend time cooking, I mean if I have to go in the kitchen for anything more than water I might scream.
Thankfully there are 1,000,001 options here for amazing food, so it’s not like we have to starve or anything. And what is even better, 1,001 of those options deliver. Which means that I can eat what I want without cooking while on the comfort of my couch with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (maybe not what he had in mind … oh the irony).
What is even better is when you realize you live in the delivery zone for Porchetta.
This may be glaringly obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me and for years I grappled with this.
With how exactly to keep the tea bag from completely falling in the teacup whilst pouring hot water and not burning my hand on the handle which way too hot.
And then while visiting my friend M, I noticed that she slipped a little knot around the handle, and voila, nary a lost teabag in sight. So if you already knew this, move along. If you needed some help here (as I did), you can thank M.
I just thought of this while making some tea and trying to stave of my hunger until dinner…which hopefully will be ready soon.
My new friend Jordan‘s posts about spring cleaning inspired me to share with you one of my absolute favorites in the cleaning world. And the fact that you find it with the vitamins rather than the clorox, makes it all the better.
I am mildly obsessed with tea tree oil. Last time I caught myself rambling to someone about all the ways I use it, they said I’m like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding – just with tea tree oil instead of windex. I can’t help it – I think its one of those rare miracle products.
Tea tree oil has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and therefore can be used in as many ways.
Here are just a few of the ways I use it:
- diluted with water (say 1 teaspoon oil to 1 cup of water) and in a sprayer to wipe down counters and other hard surfaces – this is the mix the use in pilates studios to clean the reformers.
- diluted in a spray bottle for a natural air freshener/air cleaner. It helps keep the air clean, particularly during the months of heaters and no windows/fresh air. Febreeze (blech) and lysol aren’t really my style.
- full strength – dab on a q-tip and dot on blemishes (clean skin if not exactly clean home). One of the few things I am allergic to is benzoyl peroxide, and I love having a natural (and non-irritating) spot treatment.
- pet freshner – I don’t have a dog, but when my friend’s dog had spent a bit too much time near the stables, no amount of bathing would help with the stink. I suggested spraying the pooch with the diluted version and it worked, without any irritating of the dog’s skin.
A few more uses for tea tree oil, that I haven’t personally used, YET:
- spray the diluted version on mold or mildew, and do not rinse.
- add ½ teaspoon to towels or other laundry that is prone to getting a bit mildew-y.
- mix the diluted solution with kosher salt to use as an abrasive in the bath or shower against soap scum – use a sponge, make sure to wear gloves, and rinse.
Do you have any other uses for tea tree oil? Or other home remedy cleaning tricks up your sleeve?
Note: do not ingest tea tree oil, and if using topically, keep the applications light and check with your doctor to be sure it works for you.