Infusing grandeur into otherwise drab Mondays with five things/ideas/events for the week:

I.  Over the weekend, I designed a Greek Gods and Goddesses dinner party for a client. The guests were required to wear elaborate costumes (absolutely no sheet togas permitted). The menu was easily decided because the host, being of Greek decent, knew exactly what he wanted. The decor was trickier. Initially, we played with the traditional blue and white of the Greek flag, but finding dish and glassware in appropriate shades proved too difficult. Instead, I settled on a more elegant palette of black, gold, and ivory - with pops of green from a fresh olive branch runner and pale yellow via goblets filled with lemons. To add texture, I found gorgeous linen wrapping sheets in complimentary prints, then cut them to size for the menus and placecards. For a bit of cheekiness, I spray painted rubber snakes gold, and placed them around the runner. The result was the perfect balance between elegance and whimsy. In fact, the evening was such a success that I’m stealing the theme for my next dinner.

II.  Before purchasing spray paint for the snakes, I toyed with the idea of using liquid gold leaf instead. Unfortunately, someone got to the last of it right before me at my local hardware store. Spray paint worked just as well (and was less time consuming) so I wasn’t annoyed, but I couldn’t help myself from asking the woman purchasing fifteen bottles of gold leaf what she was planning to do with them. Her reply was brilliant - she is making hundreds of gold-dipped mussel shells for her daughter’s seaside rehearsal dinner next month. The plan is to scatter them down the long rectangular dinner tables with dozens of candles in differing heights. I love the simplicity, and can only imagine how stunning it will be to see the candlelight play off the gilded shells. 

III.  Fourth of July is by far my favorite part of summer. The patriotic camaraderie, dazzling fireworks, delicious wafts from neighboring barbecues, and day drinking (because clearly we need the excuse) bring people together like nothing else. Whether you’re attending a blowout party or planting yourself in a picnic spot all day, my Blueberry Cupcakes are a must for your holiday. Besides the obvious color scheme, these confections are ideal for the occasion because of the special technique used in baking them. Rather than rely on blue food coloring, I roast the blueberries before adding them to the batter. Upon mixing, they burst with both flavor and color - making them the perfect Independence Day treat.

IV.  Due to the fact that most of you are reading a food blog with no intention of ever making any actual food (I promise it’s not as hard as you think, sigh…), I’m offering a Fourth of July suggestion for the less domesticated among us. On a recent trip to the SF Flower Market, I came across striking blue blooms sprouting from the tops of artichoke stalks. I couldn’t believe that such a beautiful hue was attached to a vegetable. Even better - they are quite affordable (I negotiated three bundles for under twenty dollars). Mixed with white parrot tulips and cranberry peonies, the artichokes make a gorgeous patriotic arrangement for your party centerpieces or hostess gift.

V.  This weekend, I’m packing my parent’s Tahoe cabin with friends to celebrate the holiday. I’m heading up ahead of my guests to open up the house, set out weekend favor bags (these gems included), and brace for the ensuing chaos. I plan to greet everyone with a delicious libation upon arrival, and found a Watermelon Mint Cocktail recipe that I can’t wait to try! While they aren’t exactly red, the watermelon stars (made from cookie cutters) take the drinks to the next level. Is it time to go yet?!

Have a wonderful week.  xx tt