Category Archives: Hosting

Easter Watercolor Name Cards – Free

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Oh man have I been lacking creativity and motivation lately. I don’t know what it is, but I’m hoping I get out of my slump soon. I’ve been meaning for over a month to post about my daughter’s unicorn birthday party details (check my Etsy shop for the super cute invitation). I’ll get to it soon I promise! But in the mean time, I’ve come up with another free printable for you all. Easter is just days away…really not sure how or when that happened…and I am hosting this year and I always think it’s fun to come up with a new name card design for the table.

I don’t know about you, but this watercolor trend isn’t getting old for me and I especially love it during the spring time. And how pretty are watercolored eggs?! Click here for the free download and just write in the names of your guests at the top…a gold sharpie perhaps?! Enjoy the season everyone! Xo, Jessica

Christmas Name Cards: Free Download!

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It’s almost Christmas! Yikes! I feel like I am scrambling to get things done, but at the same time…nothing is getting accomplished!! The girls have this whole week before Christmas off of school and I have been spoiled with them both in full time school and having those hours to check things off my to-do list. Plus, they seem extra cranky and messy lately (sigh). Mom life am I right?!

But I realized that with Christmas just a few days away, I better start thinking of my table setting! Given how this week is going I thought I should keep things super simple and not try and reinvent the wheel. So I whipped these place cards up to go with the glitter Christmas party crackers I found from Meri Meri (click here for free download. And there is an editable field to type your guests names!). Black, white and gold this year! And maybe a bit of greenery thrown in there 🙂 I also felt it appropriate to have the “peace, love and joy” theme this year. 2016 seemed to be more crazy and emotional in the world than usual and we could all use some Christmas joy and magic to make the world a little brighter for 2017. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Much love to you all!

Random Pretty Things for the Holidays

I posted this picture yesterday on Instagram and promised the sources and/or links. These are just a few things I have around the house that make me smile when I look at them. Some of them are no longer available, but they can be used as inspiration or be on the hunt for something similar.

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  1. Necklace: from Madewell. Here is a similar one. You can’t go wrong with any of their jewelry!
  2. Chinese Scissors: I found these beauties as an early Christmas gift to myself 🙂 from Amazon
  3. Felt Mistletoe: Mine is from West Elm years ago, but click here is a similar one
  4. Polar Bear: Again this bear is from West Elm a while ago, but Restoration Hardware has some really cute ones this year.
  5. Trees: These are from Target Dollar Spot
  6. Yarn: Again from the Target Dollar Spot. I swing through that section every time I go to Target. You can always find some sort of gem in there!
  7. Brass Pomegranate…Target again folks. There are so many perfect little decorative accessories every season. I heart that store waaaaay too much!
  8. Gold Mini Picture Frame: Paper Source. Who’d a thunk, but they have some really cute accessories for the home and office. And some great gifts!

Spring Cocktail with Rhubarb Simple Syrup

IMG_4577Last year, I made plum simple syrup from our plum tree and it was absolutely delicious paired with vodka and soda. It’s still too early for plum season, but our rhubarb is coming up like gangbusters. And there are only so many things you can make with rhubarb that my family will eat. I personally would eat it any ol’ way, but my husband and kiddos are more particular and have their quota of baked goods and jam.

For an adult only treat, I was curious what a rhubarb simple syrup would turn out like. I followed my basic recipe and added a few cups of chopped rhubarb during heating. I then strained the juice through a mesh strainer and kept the remaining cooked fruit. After my experiment two things were a happy surprise. 1. the simple syrup makes for a yummy, refreshing and beautiful vodka soda cocktail. 2. The remaining cooked and strained rhubarb is perfectly sweetened and makes for delicious rhubarb sauce! Served it warm over vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Here is the recipe for you all – super easy and quick!

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

2 cups 1/2″ diced rhubarb stocks

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water and rhubarb. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Strain juice through a mesh strainer in to large mason jars or any sealable container. Keep the fruit for a delicious sauce! Allow to cool.

For the Cocktail

In 8 – 12 oz glass filled halfway with ice, add 1.5 oz vodka of choice, club soda until 2/3 full, then finish it off with the simple syrup to taste.

Pajama and Pancake Birthday Party

IMG_3979It’s been a few weeks since my daughter had her birthday, but shortly after we dashed off to Hawaii (can’t complain!!!) and now we are back to the daily grind of life. I’ve been anxious to post about Vivienne’s birthday party. I thought it turned out so cute, but I must apologize for some of my pictures. I am by no means a professional photographer nor do we feel it necessary to hire one for a kids party. Every thing we do, we do it ourselves…except for the cake. I’ve learned my DIY limits and cake decorating is not my thing 😉

After a year long conversation of Viv telling me she wanted a pirate party, a few weeks before I needed to send out the invites, she threw me a curve ball and said she wanted a slumber party? “A wha, wha?!!” I said. Me not being ready to host a sleep over with a bunch of six and seven year olds, seeing disaster in the making, years off my life and no sleep, I gently suggested a pajama party instead with breakfast for dinner (who doesn’t love that?!). She was sold! Amen to that! So I had a few weeks to rethink party ideas and come up with a game plan and here you will see the results with corals, peaches and golds as the main theme.

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IMG_3810To keep with the ombre theme of the invitation, I had our local store do an ombre cake which I thought they did a fantastic job and much better than I could have ever attempted. Then I topped it with some sticker flags and gold washi tape I whipped up along with a #7 sparkler candle.

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IMG_3777To set the scene and create an intimate, cozy atmosphere, I used a low table covered with white kraft paper and gold sparkle stickers. The kids sat on pillows and ate pancakes, fruit and yogurt parfaits…talk about sugar overload!! On either sides of the table, I had a teepee with faux sheep skin (#ikea) rugs and pillows inside. I already had one teepee I had made years ago, but I wanted one more without the effort of cutting and sewing. So with a little Google help, I saw some no-sew ideas and came up with my own take. Talk about easy!! Just using some 6′ wood dowels, a painters drop cloth and a few pushpins and you are good to go!! I also topped the teepees with some tissue garland and what I call “fairy lights” I had picked up a while ago from the #target dollar bin. That place can be a gold mine if you check regularly. Finally, we have a glass panel wall that I used to hang some gold and peach pin wheels as a back drop. Super cute!! 
IMG_3819For activities we had a donut from a string eating contest (that was a big hit!!) and then the kiddos decorated their own pillow cases with fabric markers. It kept them busy for quite a while and it was fun to see what they came up with.

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Finally, for the favors, I found these sparkly gold bags from (again) the Target dollar bin that I dolled up with some Thank You tags and filled them each with a peach colored bracelet, some donut shaped soap from Etsy, and these glass magnets I made that coordinated with the invitation. Over all I think all the kiddos had fun and who doesn’t like hanging out in your jammies?! To take one for the team, I even wore mine and I have to say, it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been at a party 😉

*Most of the party supplies were from Shop Sweet Lulu and Target

**If you have any questions about how I created or styled some of the party items, I am happy to answer!

Christmas Dinner Place Card Freebie!

IMG_3543This year we aren’t hosting Christmas for the first time in a looooong time. We are going to enjoy the day stress free at my brother’s house this year, which I am kind of relieved to not have to plan and host a big dinner. Aaaaahhhh! That said, I love to decorate the table for Christmas and come up with fun place card holders for the table. I always do something simple and pretty inexpensive…usually it involves my husband going out and picking some evergreen branches for me from some trees outside 🙂 Last year was one of my favorite tablescapes with skinny pine tree branches stuck in left over pieces of wood from what we cut off from our Christmas tree. My husband drilled a hole in the middle of the small stumps so the branches slid right in. It was simple, free and easy. I wish I had some pictures, but I sadly forgot to take any.

BUT, the other dressing for the table were these fun place cards (Click here for the free download!!). You can type in the names of your guests in the PDF or just leave it blank and write them in yourself. You choose! Click here for the free font if it doesn’t show on your computer. Enjoy!

Soup Craze! Butternut Squash…Tomato…What’s Next Week?

IMG_3541I just finished up an evening with long time girlfriends. It’s our second annual gathering to wrap presents for an adopted family and I have to say, it’s something that I am so thankful we started last year and hope we continue for many years to come. I’m also wondering why we didn’t start it sooner?! Thank you Kelsey for kick starting us! It’s the least we can do for those in need, especially when we all pool our resources together and buy gifts for a family that needs a little extra help over the holidays.

Not only does it feel good to wrap presents for others, but it’s a great excuse for us to all gather together when our lives are so busy with our own families and children and activities. We get to chat, drink wine, and nibble while we wrap the gifts. I wish we could do this more often, but I will take what I can get!

A humble offering of soup seemed right for the occasion (plus I’ve been on a soup kick these last few weeks…tomato, pesto vegetable with orzo, cream of broccoli and potato leek), so I made a roasted butternut squash and parsnip soup topped with creme fraiche and parsley. Super easy…ahem…here is the tip that makes it so easy…buy the precut squash from your supermarket!!! Just throw your squash, parsnips and onion on a pan with some parchment paper and olive oil to roast and you have pretty much finished the bulk of the work. Shazzam!

Here’s the recipe for the Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup…and scroll down for the Tomato Soup recipe from an earlier instagram post too!

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

  • 4 Cups cubed butternut squash (approx. 1.5″)
  • 3 peeled and cubed parsnips
  • 2 medium onions cut in large chunks
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle of cream or half and half

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the chopped vegetables on a parchment lined sheet pan tossed with a few tablespoons of olive oil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until soft. Place roasted vegetables in a large pot and add vegetable stock. Heat to a low boil and add remaining ingredients. Then using a stick blender (my preferred method), blend the soup until smooth. Serve and top with creme fraiche and parsley.

* You can easily substitute other vegetables for the parsnips, such as carrots, potatoes, etc.

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Fresh Tomato Soup

  • 1 slice onion
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • drizzle of cream or half and half
  1. In a stockpot, over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic cloves for 8-10 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Add the chopped basil. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food processor or use a stick blender (my preferred method) and blend until smooth.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar, salt, balsamic, cream and adjust to taste.

Thanksgiving Table Setting Inspiration: DIY Kraft Table Runner

ThanksgivingTableI got a jump start on my Thanksgiving table setting this afternoon and pulled together all of the bits and pieces I had posted about earlier. I love the softness of the white pumpkins, touches of the gold wishbones and acorns, and then a little depth of color from the figs I pillaged from our sleepy garden. Of course I had to add a few printable items in there too. Gratitude and name cards are all the occasion calls for. Hopefully writing down what we are thankful for ahead of time instead of on the spot, we will be more creative. Of course we are all thankful for loved ones and health – that goes without saying – but cozy slippers and that perfect cup of coffee in the morning are not to be forgotten!

I’m all about an elegant table, but I don’t like things to get too fussy either, so the addition of the kraft table runner with the hand drawn white marker “chargers” finished everything off perfectly. After everyone is seated I will let the kiddos have fun and draw all over the table…the distraction gives us big people a little more time to enjoy the annual feast!

Thanksgiving Feather Name Cards: Freebie

IMG_3342Thanksgiving is just a few days away!! Yikes! I need to be in full planning mode now. To help you out with your table scape, here are the feather name cards I mentioned last week. Print them out for free and you can either lay them flat (cut top off at fold) or write on them. I attempted some calligraphy…not my strongest suite, but it’s fun to try new things.

Also, make sure to print out the free matching gratitude cards as well 🙂

Tomorrow I am going to start a mini set-up of my table and I am going to try my hand with some kraft paper down the table and some white marker decoration…let’s hope it turns out. If it does, I will post pictures 🙂