Thursday, August 28, 2014

Birthday Wish List: J. Crew Cards

Today, in the 8th installment of the Birthday Wish List series, we're talking about stationary.

No one loves snail mail more than me. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that J. Crew not only sells clothing, shoes and jewelry, but cards!

Any great birthday party needs a fridge-worthy invitation. The J. Crew card collection has some stellar choices.

This design, called Gather the Girls, is perfect for a birthday getaway weekend with friends.

Planning a more posh bash? Add a little exclusivity with this design called On the List.

Since I can't resist hot pink, I'm also crushing on this On the Books design.

It comes with a matching envelope with a hot pink liner. Swoon.

After you've had your fabulous birthday bash, thank your guests with this hysterical card:

Ha! At least the card is honest, right?

I was very excited to discover the great stationary selection at J. Crew. It makes me want to plan even more parties.

Do you still send snail mail invitations?

*All images courtesy of J. Crew.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Celebrate: Emmy Awards

For me, 2014 has been the year of the viewing party. I've hosted friends for the Super Bowl, the Golden Globes, the Oscars and as of Monday night, the Emmys.

For each party I host, I do my very best not to repeat a single item of decor. It's a little game I play against myself.

Since the Emmy Awards were on a Monday night this year (woof), I had to do way more preparation than usual. Typically I have all day Sunday to get ready before my friends come over around 6:00pm for the red carpet. This year, I started prepping Thursday night! I was away all weekend in Maine so I really only had a few hours here and there to get my ducks in a row.

For the Emmys, I knew I wanted to create a concession stand on the table in my entryway. I wasn't exactly sure how I'd execute this, but once I found these individual candy tubs at Party City, the vision became crystal clear.

With these personal candy buckets each guest could stock up, nosh on the couch and refill one last time before heading home. What could be better?

I went with four candy selections: Swedish Fish, M&Ms, Mike & Ikes and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

For each candy bowl I had a mini wooden scooper. I found these in an adorable shop in Wellfleet on Cape Cod. I couldn't resist the chevron pattern on the handles!

With the scoopers in each bowl, we were ready to go!

In the living room the name of the game was gold. I got these gold chargers last year and they add instant glam to any spread. Once my friends arrived the plates were quickly covered with veggies, chips and dip.

Lining the coffee table was a brand new set of coasters I was gifted from J.Crew. They are made of cork, but sparkle with gold polka dots and stripes.

In the dining room I made my own version of a red carpet. Though the table looks empty, this was before it got covered with all the fixings for a taco bar and later on, with the most beautiful fruit salad for dessert.

Anchoring the table was my candelabra from Pop & Circumstance. I bought this in February and I still love as much as I did the day I found it.

I was excited to debut a new set of glasses I ordered from C. Wonder. These chevron beauties were brought to my attention by Jessica of Bows & Sequins.

Though it's hard to see against the bright red table cloth, this pattern is a head turner in person.

I wanted to keep it simple for dinner with plastic plates and utensils and paper napkins. But just because they are disposable, doesn't mean you have to slum it! These lace napkins add an air of sophistication, even when you're eating off plastic.

Now for the best discovery! While grocery shopping last weekend I stumbled upon these individual bottles of Prosecco by Martini.

I decided to set them up on my favorite gold tray in front of my golden birthday sign (yes, it's been hanging for 11 months).

As each girl entered the party I greeted her with this question, "Care for your own mini bottle of champs?"

The best part? They are twist off!

With champagne in hand, plates full of tacos and tubs of movie candy, we settled in to mercilessly judge the celebs coming down the red carpet and flubbing their teleprompter lines on stage.

In case you missed it last night, you can check out my picks for Best Dressed here.

Do you have an awards show tradition? Who do you watch with?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Emmy Awards 2014: Best Dressed

Tonight's broadcast of the 66th annual Emmy Awards had everyone asking one question, "Why the hell is this show airing on Monday night?"

It's awards show tradition that no matter the occasion - Emmys, Golden Globes, Oscars, Grammys - the  broadcasts are always on Sunday night. This felt so odd in fact, that host Seth Meyers addressed it in the opening joke of his monologue.

Though there was some stiff competition tonight, particularly in the lead actor in a drama series and lead actress in a drama series categories, as a whole, the show was pretty much a snooze fest.

Despite the predictability, I did have two favorite moments. First, Jimmy Kimmel's three minutes on stage as a presenter. When he looked at Matthew McConaughey and said, "I mean - alright, alright, alright - already. How many of your speeches are we supposed to sit through?" I just about died from laughter.

On a more serious note, my second highlight of the night was Sara Bareilles singing a painfully beautiful rendition of "Smile" for the "In Memorium" segment. How Billy Crystal spoke about Robin Williams like that, I will never know. What strength.

Now onto the part we care about most - the fashion!

Tonight I had five clear front runners. In order of wow factor:

1. Sofia Vergara - Sofia has been making my Best Dressed list for years now. Tonight she absolutely stunned in a white Robert Cavalli dress with a bold red lip (CoverGirl, of course). She blushed yet another shade of red when Giuliana asked about her new relationship with "True Blood" hunk Joe Manganiello. She giggled, "He's too hot for the red carpet. I told him to stay home"

2. Lizzy Caplan - She's come a long way since her role as Janis on "Mean Girls." Now the star of "Masters of Sex," Caplan turned heads in this unexpected black and white gown by Donna Karan Atelier. I love the neckline and the cut outs on the side. Despite the skin, it was still elegant.

3. Matt Bomer - Now this is Hollywood handsome. Bomer attended the Emmys as a nominee for his role in "The Normal Heart." Women across American swooned when he walked the red carpet tonight in head to toe Tom Ford.

4. Uzo Aduba - You know her as "Crazy Eyes" on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," but tonight she attracted attention for another reason, her curve-hugging Christian Siriano gown. This is a far cry from her prison jumpsuit! This dress is everything - the cut, the color and the train.

5. Liev Schreiber - Dang, Naomi. Your husband is fine. Liev Schreiber is one of those men of mystery. You don't know why you're magnetized to him, you just are. Though I do love a classic tuxedo and bow tie, the thin dinner tie is an equally classic move.

There you have it, my top five!

Who made your Best Dressed list tonight?

*All images courtesy of Just Jared

Dining Out: The Beach Plum

I can't wrap my head around the fact that this coming weekend is Labor Day weekend. Where did summer go? I don't know about you, but I am trying to squeeze in as much time outdoors, on the water and at the beach as I possibly can before that famous New England fall weather starts blowing in.

In the spirit of savoring summer, last weekend I drove up to Rye, NH with one of my BFFs for a girls only beach day.

When we first graduated from college and moved to Boston, every time we wanted to go to the beach, we went to Good Harbor in Gloucester, MA. We had a whole routine - we met at the same time every Saturday, parked on the same secret street (where you didn't need a resident sticker) and set up our compound in the identical spot. About two years ago when the aforementioned BFF became an avid surfer, we traded Good Harbor for Jenness State Park in Rye.

After our glorious, relaxing beach day we decided to try a new place for dinner on our way out of town. Normally we have burritos at The Secret Spot in Hampton, NH, but we decide to change it up and try a place called The Beach Plum.

The Beach Plum is directly across the street from the entrance and parking lot for North Hampton Beach. The place is packed every single day of the week.

The night we went, this is what the line looked like:

After placing our orders we nabbed a table in the outdoor seating area. Though it was crowded, there were still plenty of open spots.

My bestie ordered the tuna roll. It came in a cardboard serving tray with a side of potato chips and two plastic forks for the tuna carnage that would surely occur as she attempted to bite into that giant sub.

After a few bites, I asked what she thought and she replied, "They definitely did not need to use two full cans of tuna. I wish there had been some garnish - lettuce, tomato, a pickle - I really would have loved a pickle. I did appreciate that the sandwich bread was buttered and toasted though."

The Beach Plum has a surprising number of vegetarian options and I went with the veggie wrap. At the counter the young man taking my order asked if I wanted all of the veggies, to which I said, "yes." He then offered either a white or a wheat wrap; I went with wheat. Unlike my dinner date, whose meal came in a cardboard box, mine came in a plastic to-go container.

The wrap was packed with lettuce, tomato, onion, green peppers, pickles and a generous squeeze of ranch salad dressing. I only wished the wrap also had some cheese.

The classic potato chips that came with both of our sandwiches were a perfect post-beach snack.

Once we had tackled our sandwiches, we were ready to move onto ice cream. The Beach Plum has these hilarious lobster sculptures on either side of the counter. The whole time we were there, people were taking pictures with the lobsters.

We both decided to order frappes so we could take them in the car. Though the ice cream cones looked fantastic, we weren't in the mood to clean up all that mess.

My friend went with a purist approach - a coffee ice cream frappe. It came in a seagull dotted styrofoam cup.

After much deliberation, I picked the coffee Kahlua brownie flavor for my frappe. It was heavenly. In fact, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still taste it.

Even though the straws we got for our frappes were wide, I still had a full layer of brownie bites coating the bottom of my cup. No complaining here! I fished them out one by one with giddy satisfaction.

The highlight of our trip to The Beach Plum was definitely the ice cream. Their cones, sundaes and frappes are all super decadent. Though the food is lackluster, it's absolutely worth stopping for a frozen treat on your way out of town.

What could be better than the windows down, the breeze in your hair, the sun on your face and an ice cold frappe?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shop: Toyidermy

One of the things I love most about working at an advertising agency is that I am surrounded by creative people. Not only do they kick butt at their day jobs, but almost all of my coworkers also have passion projects outside of work. They are photographers, jewelry makers, wedding invitation designers, musicians and more.

One such coworker is my friend Kelly, the owner of a small business called Toyidermy. It's like taxidermy, but instead of animals, she creates with toys.

All over the office people have Kelly's work on their desks, especially her business card holders.

I had yet to purchase a Toyidermy item for myself until one day last month I saw Kelly tweet that she was offering 40% off all the items in her Etsy shop. Well, you know how I love a bargain.

I immediately clicked over and started browsing. I knew right away when I saw her gold giraffe and zebra place card holders that I had to have them. I don't know what it is, I just can't resist gold!

With my Twitter promo code in hand, I placed the order and anxiously awaited their arrival. The next day Kelly stopped by my desk and offered to refund my shipping costs and she would just bring them to work. Even better!

The following day I was delivered this hot pink pouch, stamped with the Toyidermy logo.

I love that Kelly thinks of every detail, even the patterned tape she uses to seal the gift bag.

Inside, both sets of place card holders were very delicately wrapped in tissue paper and baker's twine.

The first set I opened was the four giraffes. Kelly includes a set of place cards with each order, so you can use them that day if you like.

Each holder is made from a plastic toy animal, cut in half. Then Kelly paints the two pieces and adds a magnet to each side. Those magnets hold the place card.

Next, I lined up my gilded herd of zebras.

I became so enamored with my new toys that I felt compelled to plan a jungle-themed dinner party. I already had the perfect burlap colored runner and a fabulous serving dish, but I still needed just the right napkins and a few more accents.

After a successful trip to Home Goods and Trader Joe's, I was ready for a safari dining room transformation.

I put myself at the head of the table, naturally. My name looks pretty nice poking out of a gold giraffe, no?

Though lacking the regal height of the giraffes, I like the zebras just as much.

The gold color is amplified by the lush green napkins.

At the center of the table I put a serving plate I have been dying to use. I bought this almost two years ago at Fish's Eddy in New York City. If I am ever lucky enough to get engaged, I am registering at Fish's Eddy.

For the finishing touch to my jungle table I picked out these incredible white roses at Trader Joe's. They came with these magnificent palm fronds.

Once I had the dining room table set this way, I didn't want to change it. I wanted to leave it like this all week!

I am psyched to have Kelly's Toyidermy creations as part of my entertaining arsenal. I've acquired quite the collection of gold decor, but these are so different and unique.

Unfortunately, Kelly's Etsy shop is currently on vacation. She is expecting her first child next month and is trying to slow down before baby's arrival. You can however sign up to be notified when the shop is back. Kelly plans to re-open in time for holiday shopping in late November.

What do you think of my new gold party animals?
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