How to host a simple, lovely and stress free party!

Hello there! Trying to jump back into my extracurriculars these days (so Rosie has a sane mama!) We've had some big changes over the past few weeks - we just moved from Brooklyn to Nashville, Tennessee (I still can't believe it even as I'm typing). We'll dive into that later, but for now, lets talk baby showers! 

The month before we had Rosie, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend in Brooklyn.  Early on I decided on an Alice in Wonderland garden party theme - I wanted the feel of the party to match my friends colorful and imaginative personality. The plan was to host the seated lunch in our Brooklyn backyard, weather permitting. 

Besides being very pregnant, Brooklyn Boy and I were flying in (I had a dr.'s note to fly!) from Nashville the night before the party. Good planning, hu? We had NO room for bad weather, flight delays or early labor. I needed to plan ahead and simplify as much as possible without comprising intentionality and quality. 

The weather and the babe in my tummy held off and we had a marvelous time. Thanks to a handful of go-to-tricks, the party was simple and stress free. Here's how we did it - 

  Let a bold pattern to do the heavy lifting.     With the seated lunch happening in my Brooklyn backyard,  the dining table became the main focus for all the decor. For our Alice in Wonderland Garden Party look & feel, I used 5 yards of  black and white fabric from IKEA  to ground our table scape. The fabric was dramatic, fun and affordable!   It also camouflaged my mismatched tables that were different widths and lengths! 

Let a bold pattern to do the heavy lifting. With the seated lunch happening in my Brooklyn backyard,  the dining table became the main focus for all the decor. For our Alice in Wonderland Garden Party look & feel, I used 5 yards of black and white fabric from IKEA to ground our table scape. The fabric was dramatic, fun and affordable!  It also camouflaged my mismatched tables that were different widths and lengths! 

  Lean on talented friends!      My first priority of the shower was for my soon-to-be-mom friend to feel loved. Second priority was to lighten the load for myself and 'out source' some of the tasks. As someone who loves doing projects, I've learned there is a time to DIY and a time to hand off! I called upon   fabulously talented friend,  Anna Watson Carl, of the Yellow Table . She graciously took care of everything edible. She conjured up the most delicious Rhubarb Lemon Fizz cocktails & mo  cktails,   Crostini with Fresh Ricotta and Pea-Mint Pesto, Strawberry Shortcakes (made with Orange Zest Scones) + Fresh Whipped Cream and Arugula Salad with Shaved Fennel, Watermelon Radish, and Green Apple. Not only was the food outstanding, but it took so much pressure of me! Win Win! 

Lean on talented friends!  My first priority of the shower was for my soon-to-be-mom friend to feel loved. Second priority was to lighten the load for myself and 'out source' some of the tasks. As someone who loves doing projects, I've learned there is a time to DIY and a time to hand off! I called upon fabulously talented friend, Anna Watson Carl, of the Yellow Table. She graciously took care of everything edible. She conjured up the most delicious Rhubarb Lemon Fizz cocktails & mocktails, Crostini with Fresh Ricotta and Pea-Mint Pesto, Strawberry Shortcakes (made with Orange Zest Scones) + Fresh Whipped Cream and Arugula Salad with Shaved Fennel, Watermelon Radish, and Green Apple. Not only was the food outstanding, but it took so much pressure of me! Win Win! 

  Know what you're good at. And what you aren't!   Printed pieces are not my gifting! I reached out to two dear friends to help with printed details for the shower.      My go to designer for, well . . . almost everything, is  LeighAnn , who I've  mentioned  lots before. LeighAnn took on the printed pieces for the party. We asked both soon-to-be-grandmothers questions about what their kids were like as babies - weight, length, first words, funny stories. LeighAnn took their answers and designed centerpieces around them. She also made name cards and "Jack's Stat's" notecards for each place setting. At the end of the shower, we collected all the stats and put them into a keepsake book for mom & dad. 

Know what you're good at. And what you aren't! Printed pieces are not my gifting! I reached out to two dear friends to help with printed details for the shower.  My go to designer for, well . . . almost everything, is LeighAnn, who I've mentioned lots before. LeighAnn took on the printed pieces for the party. We asked both soon-to-be-grandmothers questions about what their kids were like as babies - weight, length, first words, funny stories. LeighAnn took their answers and designed centerpieces around them. She also made name cards and "Jack's Stat's" notecards for each place setting. At the end of the shower, we collected all the stats and put them into a keepsake book for mom & dad. 

 Another darling friend, Jessi Evans of  Orchard Made ,  created watercolor + calligraphy invitations for the shower. This was our jumping off point for the shower as far as look and feel went. I just loved these hand made invites, they perfectly captured the mom-to-be and the vibe of the shower!

Another darling friend, Jessi Evans of Orchard Made, created watercolor + calligraphy invitations for the shower. This was our jumping off point for the shower as far as look and feel went. I just loved these hand made invites, they perfectly captured the mom-to-be and the vibe of the shower!

  Use what you have!   Rather then placing all of the shower gifts on the ground, or buying a table for them to sit on, I rolled the bakers rack from our kitchen (the piece that normally held some of our dishes) outside and arranged the gifts. This made for a festive gift display that added to the outdoor party vibe. 

Use what you have! Rather then placing all of the shower gifts on the ground, or buying a table for them to sit on, I rolled the bakers rack from our kitchen (the piece that normally held some of our dishes) outside and arranged the gifts. This made for a festive gift display that added to the outdoor party vibe. 

  Choose when to invest  .   I love hosting parties and showers. Years ago, I splurged (yea right, we're talking $20 or so) on two dozen IKEA glass tumblers, like  these . For me, the splurge wasn't money related, it was SPACE related. Could I fit them in my petite kitchen? I figured, at such a great price and guaranteed use over time, I'd make them fit! The glass tumblers (rather then paper or plastic party cups) made the event feel a little more sparkly. 

Choose when to investI love hosting parties and showers. Years ago, I splurged (yea right, we're talking $20 or so) on two dozen IKEA glass tumblers, like these. For me, the splurge wasn't money related, it was SPACE related. Could I fit them in my petite kitchen? I figured, at such a great price and guaranteed use over time, I'd make them fit! The glass tumblers (rather then paper or plastic party cups) made the event feel a little more sparkly. 

  DIY Potted Herbs = Centerpieces & Party Favors   I took my centerpiece cue's from the backyard and decided to use herbs as table decor. We picked up a variety of herbs from the hardware store down the street, quickly potted them in colorful containers (minutes before the guests arrived) and placed them in front of each table setting. Then we used skewers and some of the baby Q & A's LeighAnn designed and printed and stuck them in each pot. Once the party was over, we encouraged each party goer to take one as a party favor. Viola, dual purposed table decor! 

DIY Potted Herbs = Centerpieces & Party Favors I took my centerpiece cue's from the backyard and decided to use herbs as table decor. We picked up a variety of herbs from the hardware store down the street, quickly potted them in colorful containers (minutes before the guests arrived) and placed them in front of each table setting. Then we used skewers and some of the baby Q & A's LeighAnn designed and printed and stuck them in each pot. Once the party was over, we encouraged each party goer to take one as a party favor. Viola, dual purposed table decor! 

Moral of the story - you can throw a party that's beautiful AND stress free. Hope these tips help you plan your next soiree! 

PS - If you're looking for a great gift for yourself or a friend, pick up a copy of Anna Watson Carl's The Yellow Table Cookbook! You'll thank me later :)

Giveaway Winner Announced!

calendar giveaway winner.JPG

Congratulations, Melissa, on winning the lovely calendar from Orchard Made!  I'm so jealous that you get to hang this beauty up in your home!!  Don't forget to check out the other amazing things offered on Jessi's Etsy Site . . . 

Have a great Friday night! We'll be tuning into HGTV's Celebrity Holiday Homes at 8pm to see Kathy Najimy's New York apartment turned into a festive holiday space, by yours truly!  

Dana Tanamachi's Studio Reveal!

A few months ago, I had the fun opportunity to help fellow Texan and friend Dana Tanamachi with her studio. Dana is an unbelievable designer who basically pioneered the chalk + typography movement. Her designs are all over the place from Time and O Magazine to West Elm and Burton. This girl has got it going on!  

All images taken from Dana's website

Dana lives a few Brooklyn neighborhoods away from us and had been sharing a large studio space in her apartment with a friend. Dana's business had grown so much that it made sense for her to take over the whole studio.  The studio mate moved out and I got to step in! I'm not sure you can tell by my terrible iphone picture below, but Dana has vintage posters, photos, keepsakes, design books and artwork sprinkled all over her studio. It was important to her to have beautiful and interesting inspiration throughout the space. 

Here's an idea of Dana's studio before, but PLEASE keep in mind, this picture was taken in the throws of transition in her studio! 

Our goals for the space were to:

- find a desk big enough for two people to work from

- make a fun bar area!

- present all of her inspiration and artwork throughout the space in a streamlined way

- create an organized, warm and creative environment 

Here's what we came up with!

We brought in 4 long aluminum shelves from CB2 to fit all of her fab inspiration and keepsakes. She had already purchased those 2 Eames chairs, so hello, we totally used those. CB2 had the best little filing cabinets in this minty robins egg blue that fit perfectly under our (find of the year) vintage desk! I don't know if you can really tell from the picture, but the desk was probably 12 feet long. Thank goodness Dana lives in a building with massive stairwells, or that desk would have met it's fate as street merch. The rug is from Sundance, a place Dana passed along to me. It's mostly clothing, but they have an AMAZING rug category online where we found this baby! I'll post more information on the rug in a separate post. 

Secret: Every year Ralph Lauren holds a mega sale where they liquidate tons of their furniture and propping from stores and show rooms. It's open to RL employees first then to the public. Brooklyn Boy was working at RL at the time so I picked up lots of fun things for clients . . . and ourselves!

I could look at all of these little things for hours. 

Terrariums and small compact plants are a great way to bring a little life into New York apartments. 

Had to show off these paperweights Dana did with West Elm.

On the other side of the room, we found a rustic console table that used to live under a bulky hutch top. We removed the top piece, updated the hardware with these Anthropologie pulls and set up her printing station below.

Dana had such awesome stuff, so we tried to find intentional little spots for each thing. Like these mini books above with their fantastic patterned covers! 

Oh....this chair. Man do I love this vintage oversized pinstripe chair! This was another Ralph Lauren Annual sale find! Floor lamp is Anthropologie.

The bar area had a spot from the start, snug in between these two large windows. We went mid century for this piece which I loved. The piece is actually a functioning bar with a shelf tha swelves out when you open it up! Crazy-weird-cool. The whole room is such a mix of woods and styles - Makes everything feel collected and interesting rather then a humdrum full set. 

Vase from Anthropologie. Glasses from Fishes Eddy and the tray from CB2 (I think!). Every Texan in the city needs a cactus.

Here's a more present day photo of the bar area, taken by friend and wonderfully talented photographer, Eric Ryan Anderson.  How amazing is that Burton snowboard Dana did! Fits perfectly above the bar!

Lets compare a few before and afters to give you some perspective of how the room changed. We totally rearranged the layout by moving the desk to the main back wall, making a very striking first look into the room!

Before we started, Dana moved a lot of office materials and files into a closet in another room. Sometimes a little editing can make the biggest change!

 Hope you enjoyed the reveal! It was one of my favorite projects to date. 

easiest way to hang a gallery wall

I'm helping one of my close friends put final touches on her newlywed apartment in Tribeca. She and her husband did a great job getting all of the large basics in place. Now I get to come in for the really fun part and am helping with her empty walls and styling. This past weekend we rented a Zip Car and went running all over suburban New Jersey to pick up supplies. Driving a zip car from errand to errand is immensely easier then schlepping your stuff between taxis in Manhattan. You southerners and suburbanites (me!) living in the city know what I mean! Oh. But don't be late returning your zip car or people get very fiesty and you get charged an arm and a leg. Not like I know from last Saturday experience or anything.

Anyways, we stopped at a giant West Elm and picked out six matching 18 x 18 mirrored frames for a gallery wall going in her dining room. Y'all, do you know how easy West Elm, and Pottery Barn, make it to hang frames? They provide a template that makes a potentially frustrating and cuss worthy situation into no big deal! To be honest, I've thrown them away in the past, thinking I was too good for the hot pink paper template. But never again after the ease of last night's installation!

Here are the steps:

1. Tape templates into place (I'm an eyeballer when it comes to these things) // 2. Check spacing and orientation with a tape measure and level // 3. Hammer nails into small bullseyes provided on the template // 4. Hang frames! 

Geez louise that was easy. Thanks West Elm for being ahead of us on that one! You so smart. 

*This post is not sponsored by West Elm or Pottery Barn. I just love tools that help you work smarter, not harder as Brooklyn Boy always says :)