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

I.  As part of my never-ending endeavor to simplify home entertaining, I’ve written about color bunching, garlands, and preserved plants in lieu of fancy florals. Well things are about to get even easier. Keep things fresh, and eliminate flowers all together, by filling your vases with greenery. Often overlooked, bunches of greens are readily available at your local supermarket. Pick one or two types of foliage for visual simplicity and place them in solid color vases (the stems will look messy in clear vases). To up the ante, stick some dried branches among the greens for height.


II.  Tonight I’m making a casual dinner for friends. Cooking for people the first time always makes me nervous. I vacillate between concocting impressive new recipes and relying on my tried and true favorites. The impromptu nature of tonight’s dinner means that I’ll be going with the latter option and making my infamous French Onion Soup. Calling it my recipe is a bit of a stretch because there aren’t many ways to improve upon the dish. The secret is to caramelize the onions until they are barely recognizable brown bits on the bottom of your stock pot. Other than a splash of Cognac, that’s honestly the only thing you have to know to make this mouth-watering classic.


III.  Finding a novel idea for wedding placecards is nearly impossible. Everything from elaborate hand-cut French lace with embroidered calligraphy to plain Jane crisp white with Times New Roman has already been done. That’s why I was stunned to see these striking agate slices on Instagram from a friend’s recent dinner party. Expecting the agate to be too pricey to recreate in bulk for a wedding, I was even more surprised to find them for under two dollars per piece from several online rock retailers. Depending on color-choice (neutrals for a rustic wedding, darker colors for a black tie affair, or hot pink for a beachside celebration) the agate is surprisingly versatile. 


IV.  With the summer season soon upon us, invitations to barbecues and pool parties abound. Typically, I keep a few bottles of rose chilled in my fridge to bring as host gifts - but now I’ve found something infinitely better: Candy Infused Vodka. Here’s how to create the crowd-pleaser chez toi: 1) Pick a colorful candy, Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, Red Hots, Starburst, and my top choice, Sweetarts, all work well. Where applicable, separate by color. 2) Buy mason jars with lids at your local hardware store. 3) Fill 2/3 of each jar with vodka, then toss in a small handful of candy and cover with lid. 4) Keep the jars on your kitchen counter overnight, then strain out the candy and label with a chalkboard sticker. Bonus points if you know your host’s favorite candy.

V.  With our mother turning sixty this year, my brother and I knew that we had to create something extraordinary to ring in her new decade. We easily decided on theme, decor, catering menu, and entertainment - but invitations were more challenging. Mom had about half of her friends’ email addresses, so we needed both online and paper invitations. Paperless Post couldn’t have handled this task more beautifully. I designed the invitation using a blend of custom images and stock options, which easily converted to both an online format and one that could be printed. Nervous that the quality of the printed invites would be lacking, but liking the idea of the online/printed consistency, I wearily placed my order. All of my fears were assuaged when the invitations arrived at my doorstep. The images, embossing, and cardstock exceeded my expectations, and the custom envelope liners were to die for. Now my only problem is finding an excuse for another party so that I can use the paperie again!

Have a wonderful week!  xx tt