Snapshots From a Recent Dinner Party

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Lately I’ve been day dreaming about living in a house. Not just any old house, but a lovely three bedroom house all for myself! It would be the ideal house for entertaining. One bedroom (with a glorious walk-in closet) would be for myself, another room would serve as a creative studio where I would have a large comfortable desk and lots of organized crafting supplies, and the final room would be a guest bedroom for me to host my friends and family. Of course, there would also be a dining room with a table big enough to seat twelve adults, a garden with plenty of cutting flowers and a Meyer lemon tree, a pool with several lounges for tanning in the sun, and a big kitchen with an island, tons of cabinets, granite countertops, and bar stools. Continue reading

Snapshots From Aileen’s Birthday Party

photoRemember the birthday party I was gathering inspiration for? Well, it was a huge success! The best thing about planning this dinner was that I got to spend the whole day in the kitchen with my favorite cousin. We had so much fun arranging the flowers, figuring out the timing of the meal, and cooking the lamb. It also ended up being one of those perfectly sunny January days, so we were able to enjoy the appetizers on the deck. Bonus!

With one vegan and one vegetarian and the rest of the guests meat lovers, coming up with a suitable menu was challenging, but in the end, everything came together wonderfully. To start we served a selection of cheese, oysters two ways: on the half shell and barbecued with prosciutto butter, garlic shrimp, and white bean dip with lavash crisps.

The second course was a dish inspired by something my cousin had on her honeymoon. It was a composed salad with thinly shaved fennel, apple and parmesan cheese, a bed of baby arugula, and lots of truffle oil. Don’t worry, I’m working on the recipe!

The main course was rosemary and garlic leg of lamb, roasted broccolini, and creamy polenta with mushrooms and balsamic reduction. I also made a vegan main, roasted squash with lemon tahini sauce, for those who avoid meat. To drink we had tons of beer and wine. The surprise dessert was a spectacular baked Alaska with chocolate cake and Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream. It was heavenly.


A special thanks to my sister and Auntie Kathy for taking all of these gorgeous photos!

The First Step to Any Party: Inspiration Gathering

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This week I’m planning a big birthday dinner for my auntie Aileen. It’s a milestone, so my cousin and I are going all out with an elaborate menu and festive decor. The first step to any party is to put together an inspiration board. Energized by a recent trip to Hawaii, Aileen’s instructions in regards to the look were “ocean colors of blues and turquoise with some palm tree green thrown in.” As for the menu, she requested “garlic shrimp for appetizers; perhaps leg of lamb and polenta with mushrooms and/or a risotto.”

These are great starting off points for the dinner. I used a personal photo of my parent’s visit to Hawaii as the foundation of the inspiration board. Then I browsed Design-Seeds for color palette ideas, Style Me Pretty for tablescape suggestions, and Martha Stewart for lamb recipes. Normally, I’ll gather everything on a Pinterest page, but today, I actually photo-shopped a fun board! (Some of the images are from the aforementioned sources.)

There’s 15 people on the guest list, so we will all sit at one long table. I’m going to check out the fabric store for some pretty material and hope to make either a tablecloth or table runner. If there’s nothing cool at JoAnn, then I’ll head to Paper-Source and select paper to use as the table setting. I love the idea of green flowers and large balloon garlands hanging from the ceiling (this idea is from Martha Stewart Weddings). Of course, there will be lots of candles, good china, and cloth napkins. Stay tuned for more of my party planning process!

What Should I Do For My Next Birthday?

If you’re a friend or family member, or a reader of this website, you know that I’m totally obsessed with birthdays. Especially my own birthday. I started planning the celebration for my 30th birthday September 17th, 2010, the day after my 29th birthday. I love birthdays for lots of reason, but quite simply because they are an excuse to throw a party, eat a cake, and wear a fabulous new dress. Also, all the people I love come together and have a great time.

Normally, I start planning my birthday about two months in advance, around the middle of July. However, it’s already August and I don’t know what sort of party I should throw! Here’s a rundown of what I’ve done for the past ten years. Take a look and let me know if you have any suggestions for what I should do for 30-wonderful. I’m contemplating hosting a Spanish Saturday-style celebration with swimming and all day eating, but need more ideas!

20. I threw a keg party at the Blake Street house in Berkeley. I passed out early and learned the very important lesson of not drinking too much before a party. I also learned the very important lesson of never wearing two different color socks under boots. Someone took off my boots while I was sleeping and apparently everyone at the party paraded up to see me passed out in mis-matched socks!

21. Cocktail party in my grandfather’s backyard. My friend Andrew made a Real World-ish recording, complete with confessionals, of the event. When I asked him to watch it a week later, he told me he was going to edit it into a video and we would watch it ten years later at my 31st birthday party. I reminded him of this earlier this summer and he said he would look for the video!

22. Late night blowout bash at Zona Libre, my favorite bar in Cordoba, Spain. Everyone had to wear black, white, or hot pink and I covered all the walls in the bar with black, white, and hot pink paper. Antonio, the owner and bartender, made his version of the Cosmopolitan for the party.

23. Intimate night of drinking at the Blake Street house in Berkeley. I think just my sister, her best friend, Andrew, Jon, and I were there. I wore a pale pink drapey top from Mango that I still love today!

24. Dinner at my favorite restaurant, an Italian place that served the best pizza in Cordoba, Spain, with my then Spanish boyfriend Javi. Foreshadowing our upcoming breakup, he didn’t give me a birthday gift.

25. Wild weekend with my sister and her friends in San Diego. We went to dinner and Laura, a friend from college, was in town. Then we all went dancing. I also threw a Moroccan themed dinner at my parent’s house where I received the most amazing heels as a gift.

26. Wine tasting with a large group of friends, followed by a dinner at my parents’ house in Petaluma. We had a private tour and barrel tasting at the awesome winery Miner in Napa.

27. Late night blowout bash with a flamingo theme at 15 Romolo, my favorite bar in San Francisco. Scott Baird set up a special bar, with tons of Miller High Life (my favorite beer), for my friends, and I and turned the money function to the jukebox off, so everyone could play whatever songs they wanted. I also made a bunch of delicious snacks and wore a tiara!

28. An elaborate dinner party at my grandfather’s house for 28 of my closest friends. I made the four course meal, that included shrimp scampi and baked pasta with cheese, and had special wine pairings for each dish. It was a grand old time!

29. Vacation in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain. A small group of us went to the Feria de Tapas in Rota, this amazing tapa competition. We ate scrumptious food and I wore a cute little romper.

30. Cocktail party for 80 of my closest friends and family at Rosewood. The back bar and patio were closed for the event and I made an assortment of bar nibbles and tons of decorations. There were specialty cocktails, tons of Champagne, a cake shaped like a 30, and dancing!

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