3 DIY hostess gifts

juliet roses 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

Is there any guest faux pas worse than showing up to a large holiday party empty handed? I can think of a few, but they all involve one-too-many drinks or setting something on fire. The basic rule of thumb: if you’re a guest at someone’s house and aren’t contributing to the meal (aka brining a killer side dish to accompany the host’s short ribs), you should bring a little something, just to show your host that you appreciate her hospitality. These three easy ideas are perfect for holiday get togethers and—most importantly—you won’t waste a lot of time or money pulling them together.

 

Grocery Store Florals Get Stylish

hostess flowers DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

Grocery store flowers can become instantly stylish with just five extra minutes of your time. Please (I beg you) start by removing that crinkly, tacky cellophane exterior and grooming the stems a bit—remove any leaves not around the bud, trim the stems at least two inches and arrange in an appealing cluster. Place them atop a slice of brown butcher paper—it’s crisp and classic and feels suddenly sophisticated when tied with a graphic black and white striped ribbon.

 

DIY Hot Chocolate Kit

hot chocolate hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

hot chocolate kit 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

This is perfect for the hostess who has kids—she may hate you for souping them up on chocolate, but it’s a sweet sentiment that you’re thinking of the whole family. Line a wood crate (mine is from a craft store) with a charming, seasonal towel. Place mugs and instant hot chocolate mix inside, alongside fun add-ons like candy canes and marshmallows.

 

 

Bread and Tea Towel Bundle

hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

bread and olive oil hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

I love this next gift for the food fan of your group—it’s even a great way to package up whatever appetizer or bite you said you would bring to the party. Select a playful tea towel (this one is from Crate and Barrel last year, but they always have great new holiday ones that come out around this time) and wrap it around two loaves of bread, securing multiple times with red and white baker’s twine. Place a good bottle of olive oil or balsamic atop the package and secure again with string before passing off to your happy hostess!

 

 

 

happy memorial day weekend!

13079 4572282260243 269859728 n happy memorial day weekend!

 

Happy Memorial Day weekend, you guys! I hope you all have the day off today and are already three glasses of wine/margaritas/beers/virgin daiquiris in. I’ll be spending a few hours at work, then I’m hopping on an Amtrak up to Boston to watch that little guy up there graduate college! I can’t believe I’m old enough to have graduated, let alone old enough to have a little brother who is now graduating–seriously, I don’t know where time went!

 

The rest of my weekend will be spent camped out in CT with my family–I’d say hopefully by my pool, but it looks like Mother Nature doesn’t have the same thing in mind with all the rain coming our way. Regardless, I hope you have a spectacular three-day weekend spent with friends and family!

 

 

happy valentine’s day!!!

happy valentines day happy valentines day!!!

 

Or, as I would like to refer to today, Happy House of Cards day! Whether your plans today include a romantic dinner (I had to tell this handsome guy I already had plans. Bummer.) or just a night out with the girls, I hope you all have an awesome time celebrating the ones you love. For me, the night calls for a birthday celebration for my friend Caitlin (I kind of wish I made these cookies in honor of it) at The Smith, followed by drinks and a bit of packing for our trip to Savannah next week. Enjoy celebrating today!

 

p.s. A little Valentine’s Day playlist for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image via studio diy

your valentine’s day look, simplified

8122d9be609b2d4ab45da898555281b1 your valentines day look, simplified

 

 

If you could narrow in on the days in a women’s life where she wants to look especially pretty, Valentine’s Day is probably one of them. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, there’s just something about the holiday (at least, I think) that makes you go extra-feminine, extra-girlie and extra-pretty for a few days.

I’m definitely not one of those people who thinks you should dress or look a certain way for a guy (like wearing your hair only the way he likes it, etc.), but I do feel like it’s very easy to go over-the-top on Valentine’s Day (or any other date night really). Red lips, red nails, fake lashes, lots of bronzer! Next thing you know, your guy thinks he’s cheating on you because he’s at a romantic dinner across from someone he barely even recognizes. This Valentine’s Day, keep it soft, pretty–and most importantly, you. Here’s how:

 

valentines day makeup inspiration your valentines day look, simplified

What’s that saying? Keep it simple, stupid? Well yeah, do that. Let’s face it, your guy isn’t going to notice if you spent four hours highlighting and contouring in the mirror (unless you’re late for your dinner reservation), so skip the hoopla for the evening and save it for a night out with the girls. Your date wants to take you out, not you and your entire Sephora collection, so any makeup you use should stubtly play up your best features. I love starting with a highlighting primer, like Make’s version, for a little bit of a glow. Bring some dimension to your face (and call attention to your gorgeous eyes) with a little brow action and some mascara (Eyeko’s version is seriously amazing…I always get compliments on my lashes when I wear it!). I’d even make a case for a bit of a cat-eye with a felt-tip liner…just nothing too crazy (think more Emma Stone, less Alexa Chung). Finish things off with a bright cheek and pretty lip (Laura Mercier makes the best lipsticks–so hydrating!).

 

 

valentines day hair inspiration your valentines day look, simplified

Now, let’s talk hair! You know that very audible hairspray “crunch”? Yeah…we don’t want that. Besides making sure you don’t have a heavy hand with the spray nozzle, focus on whipping up a ‘do that makes you feel pretty without the high-maintenance every half hour mirror check. I love going for loose waves–they’re pretty and romantic while staying out of that “too dolled up” category. I love starting with Fekkai’s Coiff heat protectant before I blow dry (plus it smells amazing), then I focus on creating loose, pretty waves with my Jose Eber wand (you’ll want to wrap hair with a lot of space in between the spirals on the barrel–that will ensure more of a wave, less of a ringlet). After finger combing my hair to give it an intentionally messy look, I finish with a combo of Living Proof hairspray and Bumble and Bumble’s thickening spray at the roots. Oh! And don’t forget perfume–that always makes me feel prettier and pulled together. Lately, I’m loving Issey Miyake’s “Florale” scent.

 

 

valentines day fashion inspiration your valentines day look, simplified

 

Finally, the best part–the clothes! I love the idea of a pretty, girlie dress for a special Valentine’s Day date (with your guy, or your girlfriends!). Liz’s Red Valentino frock is amazing (I mean, pretty much my dream dress), and hits the perfect note between just-fancy-enough while still young and fun. You could go with a pale pink like this Tory Burch to stay holiday-themed, or opt for a sexy black cut out number.  I love the pretty blue lace on this Alice and Olivia dress, the pattern on this Peter Pilotto for Target one, and the Olivia Pope-ness of this black and white one (doesn’t it remind you of the dress from this scene?).

 

 

 

 

 

top image via

valentine’s day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

Valentines Day homemade ravioli valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

 

I can still remember one of the best meals I’ve ever ate. It was in Florence, on the final Thursday of our trip–a few friends and I ventured over to the other side of the Arno (which we didn’t really do much, as the side we were staying on was more populated/central) to a little restaurant called Trattoria Quattro Leoni. I ordered the pear tortellini (Somehow, even after 5 months, I still didn’t get sick of pasta. Go figure.) and I’m telling you right now, it was out. of. this. world. It was one of those dishes where you’re instantly like, “I wish everyone I’ve ever loved in my whole entire life could eat this right now.” That kind of good.

 

So that long-winded explanation boils down to this: for Valentine’s Day dinner, I’ve recreated that best dish ever in the hopes of letting you guys in on it. Is it going to be as good as the original? Nope. Probably not even close. Are these even tortellini? Also a no, but I made fresh pasta, OK? Shaping them into tortellini just seemed too complicated…

 

I know homemade pasta sounds intimidating, but I promise it’s not. You can even make it without that fancy Kitchen Aid attachment (I should know, because I don’t have one either). All you need is three ingredients, which I suspect are already hanging out in your kitchen.

 

pasta base valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

 

For the fresh pasta, you’ll need:

 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • olive oil (I used truffle oil for a little extra somethin’ somethin’)
  • sea salt

 

To start, sift your flour onto a clean, flat surface. Create a well in the middle with your fist or finger, like shown above. Crack the eggs into the well, adding in your oil and salt too. Mix together carefully using one hand–the dough will start to come together sticky at first, but keep kneading it until it’s smooth. If it feels too dry still after about 5-7 minutes, add a few drops of water–likewise, if it seems too wet still, add a pinch more flour.

 

raw pasta dough valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

 

Ball up the dough and coat with a bit more oil. Wrap in saran wrap and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. In the meantime….

 

 

chopped pears valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

…Chop up two pears! You can leave the skin on, but you’ll want to cut them rather small and cubed. First up is caramelizing the pears. If you’ve ever made apple pie filling, you’re going to be a pro at this. Just put the pears in a skillet with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons brown sugar, cooking them on low until they’re slightly mushy and deep brown in color.

 

ravioli filling valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

Add the pears to a bowl with the ricotta (I used one whole small container) and a handful or two of chopped fresh spinach (uncooked). You’re also going to want to add one teaspoon of granulated sugar to this mixture (like you would with lasagna, etc.). Mix together fully, then cool until you’re ready to use it.

 

homemade ravioli valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

After a half hour, your dough should be ready–roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s very thin–about 1/4 of an inch or less. You’ll need two of these “sheets” for your ravioli–one to serve as the base, and one to serve as the top. Plop teaspoon-sized scoops of the ricotta mixer onto the bottom sheet in a grid formation. Top with the other sheet of pasta dough, then cut between the ricotta dollops to form squares. Press around the edges of each with a fork to seal them. Allow to set for an additional 10 minutes, while you boil a pan of water that’s been heavily salted.

 

Spinach ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli valentines day eats: spinach, ricotta and caramelized pear homemade ravioli

 

Cook the ravioli for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and cooked through, but not mushy. Plate with a bit of unsalted butter, parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Enjoy over a romantic candle lit dinner, then check each other’s teeth for spinach afterwards.

 

True love…there’s nothing like it.

 

 

 

 

signing off

a7e61e01528f26b1a4078e2cab548417 signing off

 

 

I’m calling it, you guys. I thoughts I could do the whole get ready for Christmas and still put up good posts thing, but I can’t. Instead of putting up a few posts that I just don’t feel super into, I figure it’s better for me to sign off for the holiday starting now.

 

Things are going to be a bit quiet here between now and New Years–I’m really looking forward to taking a break to spend time with my friends and family, and do the whole Christmas thing. I’ll be heading home to Connecticut today, and I honestly cannot wait (even though I don’t have any of my shopping finished yet…yikes!). Another great thing about a mini blog break? It’ll give me the chance to develop tons of great new content for you–I’m really excited about things to come here in 2014!!

 

I hope you all have a safe, happy and healthy holiday with your family and friends. Cheers–we’ll talk soon!

 

 

the a-list: holiday greeting cards

holiday greeting cards the a list: holiday greeting cards

 

 

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of snail mail than me. I’ve always loved writing lettings and notes (I had like, five pen pals growing up), and finding the perfect stationary is half the fun. Birthdays, new babies, moving, “just because”–you name it, I’m sending a card for it. The holiday season rolls around and all of a sudden there are so. many. reasons. to write letters.

 

I think “e-cards” are pretty genius, but sometimes you just can’t beat a hand delivered paper card, which is why I love the new crop of sites popping up that make it super simple to choose, write, address and send off cards to everyone on your list this holiday.

 

Paperless Post now has adorable not-so-paperless items, Rifle Paper Co. and Kate Spade Stationary always top my list, and another favorite site of mine, Postable, pretty much makes letter sending so easy, you could do it in your sleep (bonus: use the code holiday13 to get 20% off your order between now and 12/31).

 

I finally got my act together this season, and I’m finishing up my cards tonight (some of my favorite guys are getting that adorable hot dog pup in a sweater–very manly, no?). Snail mail 4>>>>>

 

 

homemade holiday treats: pizzelles

pizzelle iron homemade holiday treats: pizzelles

 

 

I pretty much will take whatever excuse I can get to bake. Birthday? Surrrreee, I’ll make a cake. Hungover? Muffins it is. Upset? Cupcakes coming your way. Obviously, the holiday season gives me the best excuse of all–there are just so many events to bake for and people to eat said baked goods so I don’t have to.

 

Last year, I shared a few of my blog friend’s favorite holiday cookies (if you’re interested, head over and grab the recipes for cherry and chocolate cookies, candy cane cookies, peppermint bark, cream wafers, peanut butter blossoms and chocolate espresso snowcaps), and this year I’m sharing some of my family favorites. The tried-and-true recipes that make it onto our dessert table every holiday season. First up? Homemade pizzelles.

 

homemade pizzelles homemade holiday treats: pizzelles

 

 

You’ll need:

  • A pizzelle iron (you can get one at Macy’s!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • powdered sugar to dust

 

Beat the eggs, butter and vanilla in a stand mixer. Add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder to the egg mixture, mixing fully. The dough will be sticky and thick.

 

Place a teaspoon-sized dollop of the dough on each side of the iron and close down to bake, about 90 seconds or until light brown (check them along the way, as iron temps can vary). Remove with a spatula, set aside to cool, then dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

 

homemade pizzelle recipe homemade holiday treats: pizzelles

 

 

 

 

 

 

the glossy life gift guide

the glossy life gift guide the glossy life gift guide

 

‘Tis the season…to spoil your friends, your family and yourself! I’ve always loved giving gifts (and I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it)–there’s just something magical about seeing the look of surprise on someones face when they open that gift they didn’t even know they wanted. This year, I’ve rounded up some great gifts for everyone in your life….your guy, your best friend, you parents, your siblings, that new bestie you bonded with over margs last month.

 

Instead of doing multiple gift guide posts this year, I’ve rigged up a whole page dedicated to them–live now, until New Years…simply head over this way. Whatever your budget, whatever your taste, I’ve got you covered. And keep checking back–I’ll be updating these throughout the month with more goodies I find! Happy gifting!

 

 

p.s. You can also find the gift guide living on my sidebar for this month–just click that cute little square wreath!

photo by Jamie Grill Photography via here

happy thanksgiving!

happy thanksgiving happy thanksgiving!

 

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! I guess it’s no surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays–I mean, it is devoted to family, food and gluttony, after all. I’m clocking in a few hours at the office this morning, then hopping on a Metro North train and heading home to Connecticut for lots of awesome family (and puppy!) time.

 

Today and tomorrow will be pretty quiet around these parts as I concentrate on fitting as much stuffing into my stomach as possible, but I wanted to make sure I took a quick moment to talk about one of the things I’m most grateful for this year: you guys. Blogging and writing have always been rewarding to me, but the thing that makes this whole process more fun is hanging with you (virtually, and in person!). I’ve met more amazing people through blogging than I could have ever imagined, and I’m constantly inspired by what you all are putting out there on your spaces. Thank you for taking the time to visit–whether that’s once a day, once a week or once a month. I truly appreciate every single tweet, e-mail and comment more than you could ever know.

 

Other things I’m thankful for this year? Shake Shack opening up in Grand Central that’s sure to make today’s commute home easier, Scandal (duh), my amazing friends and family, a clean (finally!) apartment,  Smartfood popcorn, and holiday Pandora. You know, the basics.

 

p.s. If you’d like, you can keep up with me over the next few days via my Instagram. I’m making a few things for the big meal tomorrow, so you know there will be food shots.

 

p.p.s. Make sure to check back here on Friday–there’s a little somethin’ somethin’ called The Glossy Life Holiday Gift Guide going up in a fun new format. You’ll be crossing off your holiday shopping list in no time!

 

 

 

 

[image via Style Me Pretty]