Category Archives: Party Ideas

SOIREE: Wine Tasting Party

Have you seen those Groupon-like  in-home wine tasting dealios that pop up every once in a while? There was one on Bloomspot a while back and I snagged it. I honestly wasn’t sure what it was going to entail since it was absurdly cheap considering it included someone coming to you and bringing like 8 bottles of wine, but bought it I did!

Once I finally set up a date that worked with the 12 people we were inviting, I booked the tasting and pended a note to self that I was going to need to get my plan on. Especially in the event that the “wine specialist” bro that this company was sending was a bore.

FFWD to an anniversary trip to Napa and an awesome private tasting at my all-time favorite winery, Laird! I love Cabs, Napa Cabs in particular – and Laird is where dreams come true for people like me! The Pyramid tasting was like no other one that I have been to, a really good combination of intimate, interesting & enjoyable. I could go on and on about why Laird is the little known King of Napa Valley…but that can be saved for another day. Anyways, after the tasting our driver took us to Rubicon (now called Inglenook which sounds terrible) to rendezvous with my Aunt & Uncle and we are telling them about the tasting and out of nowhere (yes, on the slow side that day) I realize that all of the thoughtfully chosen appetizers & wine pairings would be PERFECT for the upcoming wine party!

Here’s a quick pic of the apps from the Pyramid Tasting @ Laird:

From Left to Right:

Granny smith apple, triple cream brie & candied pecans. PAIR WITH: A citrusy Chardonnay *This one was easy to make and the ingredients were readily accessible, one thing to note is that sometimes it’s frustrating doing something as simple as spreading brie on an apple slice because it doesn’t adhere right off the bat due to the apple’s moisture. Slow & steady wins the race here.

Dried Turkish apricots topped with a substantial blue cheese & a macadamia nut. PAIR WITH: An oaky Chardonnay *A lot of people seemed to like this with reds better, all in all it worked with both, but would recommend pairing with a rich red.

Thin savory cracker, aged Parmigiano Reggiano & dried cranberries. PAIR WITH: Pinot Noir

Thin savory cracker, aged Comte cheese & a honey and balsamic dijon mustard. PAIR WITH: Merlot

65% cocoa dark chocolate. PAIR WITH: Cabernet Sauvignon *I opted for 65% cocoa dark chocolate with sea salt and it was full of win. Absolutely recommend going that route!

I replicated some of the apps above with a variation here and there, in addition to a few of my own. Also as you can see in some of the snapshots from our party below, I set up some of the apricot/blue/walnut bites & apple/brie/candied walnut bites and then scattered the ingredients amongst so that guests could follow the lead and make their own once they were consumed.

Here’s what I did for the party:

-Did a simple runner of chalkboard contact paper (that I had left over from Super Bowl) down the center of the dining table. Secured it with painters tape right onto the table cloth just so it wouldn’t slide around. On the runner (main appetizer runway) I scattered:

-5 big blocks of cheese. I love cheese, and so did everyone there. Best part was that I was prepared to go to Whole Foods to get what I needed, but on a routine Costco trip saw that they had EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR! WHAT! Costco, I love you. Here’s what I got, I personally recommend this exact combination of cheese types:

  • 2 different bries – 1 super common, mild one (Brie le Cremeux) and a triple cream one of amazingness (Fromager d’Affinois Triple Cream)
  • 2 different blues – 1 traditional crumbly, but still soft one (Point Reyes Original Blue), 1 brie/blue combo (Cambozola)
  • 1 hard – think parmigiano, gouda or other, but aged beyond regular grocery store standards

…stabbed each block with a cheese knife and then with chalk I scribbled (right as the first batch of crostini were burning & everyone was arriving, of course!) the general cheese type and if I had any brief adjective to help anyone unfamiliar out!

-Apps

  • Crostini with mascarpone & proscuitto
  • BITES: apricot/bleu/walnut & apple/brie/candied walnut
  • Watermelon/basil/feta/balsamic – would NOT recommend this for many reasons. Taste wasn’t superb enough & the feta (because I got the good Bulgarian stuff) crumbled so many times when I was assembling it was a joke.

-Smatterings

  • Baguette slices, apricots, walnuts, grapes, apple slices, sea salt dark chocolate squares, POCKY STICKS! (because I saw them at the store and couldn’t fight childhood nostalgia), homemade fig bars & bottles of water

-Nonedibles

  • Pens for rating, wine glasses (duh!), small cocktail plates & napkins

 

 

 

A Play-Doh & Kool-Aid Marriage

Yesterday was filled with Play-Doh & Kool-Aid – we honestly just needed a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper and a good mix of Wilson Phillips and Tiffany playing in the background and it would have been a child of the 80’s/90’s dreamboat.

I went over to my friend Kim’s house yesterday. Kim is my only friend with a child, she is a vegetarian, she loves Mexican food, she is super organized, she is crafty (even knows how to sew, y’all!) and loves the heck of Pinterest. I always leave her house thinking… dang, now that’s a good mom/wife right there! I should really start taking notes.

So her daughter’s FIRST birthday is next week and she is throwing what will be probably the most adorable, clever and sweet one-year old girl’s birthday party. I am sure there are going to be a plethora of awesome Pinterest pins she is putting her own spin on and I cannot wait. I also cannot wait because I got her daughter a CABBAGE PATCH KID (as raved about here)!

I have been asking her for a while what I can do to help for the big birthday, etc. and she so graciously is always like… nothing, just bring yourself, etc. BUT I FINALLY BROKE HER DOWN. Poor girl, I honestly think she made up an art project/activity to end my incessant begging, now that is a true friend. She invited me over to catch up over lunch and MAKE HOMEMADE PLAY-DOH. Thrilled to no end I snagged us some Rubio’s yesterday and headed over for what was probably the most exciting thing in all of June.

It was super easy. I mean absurdly so. I honestly almost wanted to make some when I got home since I knew I had everything in the kitch to do so, but then realized that my current uses for Play-Doh are zero.

The below recipe we used is from How Does She – I have seen a few different recipes calling for slightly different ratios, and I would stick to the tried & true one below – using more flour than the ratio below will likely be no bueno. We doubled and tripled the below recipe for colors she wanted more of and it came out perfect every time!

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

1/4 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 TBSP. vegetable oil

Optional: Food coloring (for color) and/or kool-aid packets (for color AND scent)! <– We used a combination of both in each batch.

Directions: Keep in mind this is about a 5 minute process, not long at all. Combine all of the ingredients (including food coloring and/or kool-aid) in no particular order whatsoever into a pot over medium heat. Stir stir stir until it makes like dough and balls up and collects remnants from the sides of the bowl.

Once it’s a relatively cohesive chunk of homemade Play-Doh love, take it off of the heat! Do it quick so that the Play-Doh remnants in the pot don’t sizzle and then plop the pile of love onto a vessel of your choice (if you are using food coloring I’d suggest against white items just in case…) – wait for it to cool and knead it a few times around and pop it into some reusable containers for storage or gifts! Kim made the sweetest little labels and adhered them to Gladware as favors for the party [pics below].

NOTES ON KOOL-AID FLAVORS:

Fruit Punch smelled the best – but note that the actual color is a dark shade of blue, so prepare for that if you are going to use it and have a color preference [for example we got color happy trying to change it and it turned a reddish brown… oops!].

Kiwi Strawberry smelled RIDICULOUSLY good! It totally smelled just like that vintage Hello Kitty gum of GREATNESS! You know what I am talking about.

Cherry smelled good. Like third good.

Orange & Lemon both sort of smelled like cleaning solutions, I’d skip out on those.

Grape I personally despise grape flavoring so for me this is an auto no, but I am willing to admit that it is a personal preference thing and maybe it’s not horrible. Maybe.