swirl, sniff, sip, savor, swallow: do-it-yourself wine tastings

*featurette- benjamin esser calvi of bomoseen vermont 
recently while on a ski weekend, my brother-in-law hosted a wine tasting for us just before dinner. 

 each place setting was set with 5 glasses- one for each wine being tasted & an aroma wheel. download both the aroma wheel, (it will help you distinguish & describe the flavors in the wine) as well as wine tasting grids (to keep track of the wine).

try to serve light fare while
tasting to relieve the pallet

start in the middle & work your way out to pinpoint the aromas & flavors
in the wine. this wheel helps you to convert what you are tasting into words.
for more help, consult this article by Dina Cheney, a professional tasting host & author of Tasting Clubat this link as a resource for shopping for wines to use at your tasting and further guidance to lead you through the tasting itself.


home made holiday card

i went old school for this postcard by cutting out 
images from barneys & bergdorf holiday catalogs & used 
glue stick to collage a scenescape. then i cut out a 
picture of my family and pasted it on top. 
no photoshop for me.


holiday fete in brooklyn

martha stewart's "sugar plums" & clove oranges center piece
(brush fruit with beaten egg white and dust with sugar)
cocktail buffet consisted of christmas punch & eggnog
rum, vodka, grapefruit juice,
pineapple juice, meyer lemon
slices,cinnamon & grated fresh ginger
eggnog spiked with rum topped
with freshly ground nutmeg

carmel corn stuffed into homemade cones made of holiday catalogs


bride to be- bachelorette sash

*featurette- christina marie karr of kenilworth

in a successful attempt to avoid the cliche store bought "bachelorette" sash, christina crafted one of her own using leather scraps, silk fabrics braided together & a sharpie.

christina's gorgeous sewing machine


baby shower in napa...

*featurette: alex caratachea & amy baxter watson of the napa valley
for my sister's baby shower, her two friends co-hosted a baby blessing and shower in amy's back yard.

midwife friend brooke casey led a blessing for the baby in which we formed a circle with a ribbon draped around each person's wrist. we went around the circle and stated who we were, who our parents were, what qualities in the baby's parents would promote a happy baby and what we were willing to give to the baby (i.e. baby sitting, music lessons, shopping spree's, etc... at the end we each tied a piece of the ribbon around our wrist and vowed to wear it or keep it in a safe place until the baby was born. 

baby clothes hanging on a clothes line...
alex stuffed wheat grass into birch bark
'vases' & made paper baby clothes which
 by printing templates he found online

center pieces are wheat grass
stuffed into small silver vases
home-made invites using gold
dust/stamp set from papyrus.
ice cream served in 'tea light' candle holders and topped with fresh figs & edible flowers


halloween pumpkin carving party...

*featurette: glynn connolly of menlo park
for some fall day-time fun, glynn invited friends over to carve pumpkins and munch on a fall friendly foods...
doo doo doo doo doo
inspector gadget 
"pick me up" orange parisian punch
glynn picked up this recipe on her 
recent trip to paris. recipe for single drink: 1 ounce cognac, 1 ounce dubonnet, 1/2 ounce anisette, 1 lemon peel, egg white
shake ingredients well with cracked ice.
turkey chili
...with all the fixins
home-made carmel apples


lauren and keith's engagement fiesta...

*featurette- nicole carijacob soboroff of los angeles
in the garden of their LA home, nic & jake hosted an engagement party in honor of their close friends', lauren & keith malloy.
              (fotos courtesy of lauren ross, photographer.)
"we wanted to create a little country in the city, because lauren + keith live at hollister ranch & a lot of their friends traveled down for the party."  -- nicole
self serve bar
with all the fixins
taco spread
nicole hired a taco lady to cater
the event. a perfect solution so the
hosts dont spend all nite in the kitchen.

 hand stamped cards attached to old milk jugs to designate different liquors at the bar
the future mr & mrs malloy

 use simple stamps to create a personal touch.
nicole used string and mini clothes pins to
make the welcome banner.


apple season...

my mother sent me this poem today. she has an old apple orchard in her garden and while we never manage to eat even a fraction of the apples, she uses the fruit and branches to decorate her september tables. with apple season just around the corner, start brainstorming table decorations you can make using apples or their branches.

fruit wreaths can be held together with
thin wire & toothpicks or take a very
thick needle and 'sew' them together
using thick string and wrap them
around until they form a wreath.
pile apples in a basket
of any kind: an old wooden
box or even just a bowl


breakfast LA style...

*featurette: lauren cerré of los angeles 
lauren, a producer for current tv, allows us a peek into her los feliz kitchen on a lazy saturday morning for a breakfast gathering. 

(fotos compliments of sister lee cerré,fellow blogger) 
lauren served LA's breakie enchiladas & a plum galette made by sister lee and her mother using yellow plums from their garden in san francisco 

scramble eggs in a pan. add some salsa verde &
cook on low. dip tortilla in the salsa & let soak
for 1 min. fill tortillas with eggs & shredded
 jack cheese. roll & place in baking dish. cover
 with salsa verde so its soaking in an inch of
the salsa. bake till warm & broil for the last
minute to get the cheese crisp. for sides add
pico de gallo, sour cream & green onions.