Serve Ciao Bella Sorbet at your next cocktail party!

You guys know that I had a makeover by Mom’s Fashion File, right? (said sarcastically and with a wink).  I’m not trying to rub it in to those that didn’t win, or brag about how fantastic I looked “after“.   It was an amazing opportunity on so many levels.  I met many beauty experts and successful professional bloggers but it really came down to the amazing group of sponsors they put together including those from their Secret Style Suite party.  The absolute highlight for me (and not just because it contained alcohol that I required before the fashion show) were the cocktails created using some of the Ciao Bella Sorbets.  (Remember I posted a brief snippet about them about a month ago?) Absolute cool fantasticness and you SO totally need to set up a bar at your next party. 
Ciao Bella uses all natural ingredients and delicious, bold flavors and is a favorite of my family.  I am dying to try the Peach Ginger Sorbet though, so if anyone in Orange County runs across it can you let me know! I look at every market I visit and have yet to find it! 
Follow Ciao Bella on Twitter and Facebook! 
Here are some recipes for you to try out.  You will not be disappointed!
{peach ginger margarita}
1/2 pint CIAO BELLA Peach Ginger Sorbet
1/2 pint CIAO BELLA Lemon Zest Sorbet
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup tequila (white or golden)
1/4 cup Cointreau
Ice Cubes
Optional:  salt for the rim
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Pour into a margarita glass with a salted rim.  Add more ice as needed.
{wild blueberry lemon drop}  I heard RAVE reviews about this one
2 oz. citrus vodka
1 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. lemonade
CIAO BELLA Wild Blueberry Sorbet (very soft)
Optional:  sugar for the rim and CIAO BELLA Lemon Zest Sorbet
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Pour into a chilled martini glass with a sugared rim.  Garnish with a small scoop of Wild Blueberry or Lemon Zest Sorbet!
{blood orange sparkling sangria} This is the one I had…PERFECTION!

One bottle sparkling wine (can use white or rose)
1/2 cup Cointreau
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint strawberries (cleaned and cut in to small pieces)
CIAO BELLA Blood Orange, CIAO BELLA Prickly Pear Sorbet or CIAO BELLA Peach Ginger Sorbet (all good options)
Pour wine and Cointreau into a pitcher.  Delicately add fruit and ice.  Pour into glasses and garnish with CIAO BELLA sorbets.  
{pickly pear bellini}

Sparkling wine (prosecco, cava or champagne)
CIAO BELLA Prickly Pear Sorbet
Optional:  fresh fruit for garnish, CIAO BELLA Blood Orange Sorbet or CIAO BELLA Raspberry Sorbet
Pour the sparkling wine into a champagne flute leaving plenty of room at the top.  Slowly add a small scoop of the Prickly Pear sorbet to the glass.  Be mindful as it will likely foam up over the rim of the glass.  Cheers!  
Go try it.  Now.  
Top 2 photos by Amy Winkelmann for Cupcakes and Cutlery
Bottom 2 photos by Bella Diva Photo (see more shots of the Ciao Bella Table from the party here)


Cocktails for the weekend

This weekend I will be luxuriating in a rented home in Palm Springs, CA with a wonderful group of friends (holla Genette!!! Thank you for being born so we could celebrate you in style! :).  I was on a twitter party earlier this week and found out that you could make some amazing cocktails with Ciao Bella Sorbets…yeah.  While I don’t know any specific recipes yet (I think they are unveiling them soon) but I’m sure I can come up with something.  I can think of nothing better than sitting on a raft in a pool with a wonderfully chilly sorbet cocktail.  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  Oh and expect light posts next week as we are home from Palm Springs on Sunday afternoon, home for two days and then headed back out with the boys for our first ever family vacation!  Woo Hoo!!!!!!
image via Ciao Bella

Like an entertaining mullet – photo shoot in the front, party in the back

First, I want to thank all of you who have shared kind words with us about this photoshoot.  Choosing to do the shoot the weekend before Christmas might have been one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had but the stress was totally worth it.  I am in LOVE with how everything turned out, the vendors we got to work with and the fact that Lauren and I had an amazing time working together on it.  (If you haven’t followed this project from the beginning, read this post first).  
I didn’t know Lauren before this project but thought she might be the perfect partner.  And I was totally right.  I could not have guessed how well the planning and styling of this party could have gone.  We were on the same page the entire time down to the types of champagne glasses to use.  We complemented each other really well and I can’t wait to work on our next project…
Although we originally set out to do a New Year’s Eve party, I love that we kept it from being too themey and allowed it to shine as a girly shindig too.  The glittered jax and pink yo yo’s lent a sense of whimsy and pink glass accents were subtle and sweet.  We used mostly rosey-gold tones to keep the look cohesive and grown up along with gold which added just the right sparkle without being over the top.  The gold cake stand that Lauren made (available on her Etsy shop) and the tiered plate stand (inspired by a silver one seen in the December issue of Real Simple Magazine) added a ton of interest and can be re-used in all kinds of other celebrations.
Both Lauren and I enjoy hitting the thrift stores for party pieces.  These glasses can be found in abundance and were such a great touch for the party.  To me, these glasses are really feminine and are fit for pink champagne.  Having a lot of guests and don’t want to buy a ton?  Buy just a few and use them to serve candy, plop a big candle in it or turn it over and put a plate on it for a quick pedestal.    
I love the idea of serving a signature cocktail to keep from having to supply a full bar.  I have never been trained as a bartender so I don’t know the first thing about mixology or even which brands are better than others.  When you are using mixers, you don’t have to worry (as much) about the quality of the liquor and everyone loves something new.  How freaking adorable are those labels?  Can you believe that Lauren did those by hand?!  Traditional calligraphy can take a hike.  For those of us less than blessed in the writing department, there are various free girly fonts we could use instead like Champignon, Loopi, Gruenewold, and the unfortunately named Breast Bomb.
Because we were focused on creating the decor from the pages of a magazine, were were able to introduce a few other subtle colors through the various garlands we hung.  To make this even more girly, you could easily use a variety of coordinating scrapbook paper for the garlands.  There are also some great wrapping papers out right now (thank you Valentine’s Day…) that could be used.  
To mimic the jagged edges of the starbursts we used throughout the decor, I found these opaque white star lights at Ikea and we made a quick “lantern” with them for the table.  Although I like the idea of candlelight, I have an irrational fear of open flame and sometimes there is more drama with a harder light.  Shadows can keep a pink party in check.  
Noisemakers scream New Year’s Eve, but with the right color glitter, they become a girly accessory.  To all those about to get married, we salute you.  But we also implore your bridal party to leave the male anatomy doodads at home for your bachelorette party.  Want to be noticed?  Pass out glittered noisemakers.  That will cause an entrance that won’t go unnoticed.  Just be sure to appoint one person noisemaker collector so as the drinks start flowing the noisemakers won’t turn in to the cause of a bar brawl. 
These fancy little numbers in the champagne flutes didn’t come out until much later in the night, after the photographers were long nestled in their beds.  But they were a super fun touch and totally girly.  I liked the idea of a non-baked dessert and came across this recipe by Donna Hay for basically a fancy jello shot.  They are made with cranberry juice, gelatin, vanilla beans, and vodka (I used raspberry vodka) and poured over sliced strawberries to set.  A dollop of whipped cream and they are ready.  If you know me at all you know my motto is “can’t leave well enough alone” so I wanted to add some “bubbles” to the top since they would be served in a champagne flute.  I basically made a krispy treat but substituted Kix cereal and used a few pink marshmallows to give it a hint of pink.  I think they added a nice touch.  
So whether you like this party for New Year’s or any girl get together we thank you for coming back each day to see more of the project.  The project wouldn’t have happened with Real Simple Magazine having such lovely pages so I’m just going to give you a quick little run down of all the items we were able to make with them:
-paper jewelry
-all kinds of different garlands
-placecards (see them above, the actual names were made with letters cut out of the magazines gift guide.  Each section of the guide had a title and I was able to find all the letters for each girl’s name there)
-Photo props
-Calendar favors
-Ribbon decoration 
-Drink Labels
-Napkin Rings
Lauren has some photos up today as well.  Hop on over to see her wrap up!!  
And a huge thank you to our vendors and sponsors who collaborated with us on this very fun project:
Meringue Bake Shop – The most fabulous desserts ever!  Kristin, thank you, as always, for your willingness to participate in my crazy adventures.  You never hesitate and always come up with unique ideas.  You are truly an artist and so much better then anyone knows yet.  Seriously, your PushCakes are IT for me.  I love that you are always trying new things and pushing bakery boundaries.   I look forward to you getting the attention you deserve and I will help you to do that in any way I can. 
Up Imagery – Ed and Desi MADE this shoot.  Given a time crunch, (ok huge underestimation of the time set up would take on our part) they styled some of the detail shots themselves and they came out amazing.  Big thanks to Eva for matching us up!  Their excitement about the project from the very start kept me going.  I love their shooting style and they were a joy to work with.  Can’t wait to work with them again and look forward to keeping up on their blogs to see their work!     
Lucid Absinthe – Thank you for working with me on a recipe for the signature cocktail.  I NEVER would have come up with that on my own!  Thank you also for the product sample! 
Freixinet and Segura Viudas – Thank you for the samples you sent for the shoot.  Both were delightful and fit the party perfectly.    
Glue Dots – Thank you for supplying all the adhesive we could ever need for the paper crafting we did on this project.  The ease of use of your products and versatility were perfect for this crafty party decor.  You were on board with us from day one and we appreciate your generosity. 
photo by Up Imagery
-Amy – In the midst of packing up your old house and preparing to move in to your new one (as well as preparing for Christmas) you offered to make a full meal for us.  Not only did it look good but it tasted amazing.  I thank you for your friendship and appreciate all the support you have given me in this project and in others.  I look forward to seeing what the new year has in store for you (hint – it involves food and Amy becoming a star…)
-Taryn – Thank you for letting us take over your house for the day to shoot the party and then actually have a little party.  The fact that you let us invade your space was so generous and the fact that you are about 20 months pregnant is even more mind blowing.  You are an amazing friend to me and giving beyond belief and I adore you.  
-Lindsey – Thank you for picking up the pink rock candy for us.  It may seem like a little task, but the party would have felt undone to me without it.  And that just lets you know how crazy I am but that really helped us out!  You did whatever little jobs we gave you and were just plain fun to hang out with. Thank you for everything!  
Lauren – Seriously, you are awesome.  I am beyond impressed by your talents and am so happy that you are mere minutes from me.  I am so glad that we were able to meet, create an amazing project and become friends.  This would not have been possible without you and I am truly grateful that you were willing to work around my schedule with the kids to get everything done.  Cheers to 2011!!!
All photos, except group photo, taken by me

Stylecology – Plan your next party in style

Stylecology is an online store that offers stylish and unique accessories, gifts and products for every phase of life but also is the perfect place to browse for your wedding supplies. They have a variety of hostess and baby gift options, jewelry, home decor and more but it is also a place I bet you haven’t thought to look when designing a party.

Their wedding section is ripe with great party items. Sure, you might not need table numbers for your next fete but these darling peacock seals and favor tags are a must. (other styles available) Set of 25 for $42.

Who doesn’t love this old-fashioned one gallon candy jar? So cute. And the price at $13.32 (price break at 4) is very reasonable. Compared to how much some places charge for the apothecary jars, this is a steal! Oh and Stylecology sells some bulk candy too (by color!).

This glass plate ($29) is billed as a sign-on guest plate. I think it would make a perfect serving tray. Could this by my next inspiration board challenge piece? Because my head is swimming with possibilities.
Looking for personalized ribbon? You can find it here a bevy of colors. Not only can you take care of favors for your bridal shower or bachelorette party, but you can also package them up beautifully. They have dozens of options for boxes and bags but I’m partial to their small cloth bags. So cute!
Ribbon wands ($5.50 each), created by Mary Dann, aren’t just for weddings any more. They come in several colors and I happen to know several little girls who love to have these at their next birthday parties.
These votive wraps $2.29 each (set of 24) are a stylish option for adding a little special touch to your event. The available designs are very.
There are great baby gifts, items you are going to want for your home, the most beautiful wrapped soaps. This post doesn’t even begin to showcase all that Stylecology has to offer. Check them out for yourself.
Follow them on twitter (@Stylecology) for daily discounts.
All photos via Stylecology

Bachelorette Party that isn’t Gross

A while back I mentioned that I had to throw a bachelorette party for a friend of mine, Lisa. You may remember that I also helped with the shower (along with the bride’s fabulous sister, Kelly – who pleasantly surprised me with her party planning skills!!). After using Paper and Cake for the shower (see shower post here, I haven’t gotten around to posting it on here yet…) I knew that I wanted to use them again. Their bachelorette party downloadable tablescape was perfect for the upcoming event. Classy, yet fun and classic, but modern at the same time, just like the bride-to-be. So I ordered it and couldn’t wait to put the party together. And then, I realized that I couldn’t attend the party!!!! So sad! So I passed along the tablescape to Kelly and she put the entire party together herself. It turned out great! First the girls started off at the spa for a day of relaxation and sunning (complete with private cabana – not too shabby). Then they dressed up (as requested by the bride) and had a nice dinner at a local restaurant. From the photos you can see the great designs created by Paper and Cake. Kelly embellished the tiara with feathers and rhinestones and used it to decorate the cabana as well as their dinner table. If you haven’t used the Paper and Cake downloads, what are you waiting for? They are super easy to use and look amazing!!!! Lisa is getting married this Friday and I can’t wait. I have known Lisa since she was born and I am super excited to share her special day with her!!!! Kelly did an amazing job hosting her sister’s shower and bachelorette party and know she will make the most amazing matron of honor ever!!!! Now, what should we use to decorate the wedding car…:)


Party sets to make your party life easier

I can be really indecisive about certain things. So I love it when I see something and it helps me make an immediate decision. Such was the case when I saw the Party Sets from Demby and Solomon Fine Printed Goods. Even though we said we weren’t going to have another big birthday party for my son until he turns five, we decided a party would be a good way to meet people in our new area. Little did I know that it was going to turn in to a Super Sweet Three (to rival the rap star’s kids parties on MTV). My son loves to play with his toy guitars so when I saw the Rockstar party set, I thought, PERFECT! I thought I would buy this kit and it would be a really easy theme to carry out without taking too much time. But then I told the theme to my husband. Yikes! His first reaction was not, “ok, but let’s not get carried away” like I thought it would be. No. It was, “I’ll build a stage.” Uh oh. My plans to use the adorable invitations has also since changed. No longer is it good enough for my husband to send out a nice little invitation. We have upped the ante and will be sending out a video invitation (we are somewhat known for videos, so it kind of makes sense, see here {quick side note: every year we do a themed xmas card and a few years ago we did one as a family band and recorded a song and this was the video to go with the song}and here {youtube took our music off due to copyrighting, whatever, but it was soooo much better with it. It was to a Flaming Lips song and just really made the video}) So what would have been an easy party using the party kits, has no grown in scope and stress (and of course I will post the final pics after the party so stay tuned). But back to the party sets. The graphics are modern, with a touch of whimsy, and are available for all kinds of events. Some are done in a girl or boy version (like the rockstar theme) while most are unisex (like backyard barbecue and bon appetit). I think you will all love these!!! The sets are totally coordinating so if you are like A and I, you know that everything will match and provide a cohesive look for your party (including options for matching postage stamps!). Most sets include an invitation with either a lined envelope or a basic envelope, a return address label, a favor sticker and a thank you note. All items are sold a la cart (which I love – since really I can only work the favor stickers in to my party now that my husband has got all up in my party planning business) with invitations starting at $55 for 25, favor stickers are $25 for 25 and thank you notes starting at $50 for 25. The best way to purchase the sets is to visit the Demby and Solomon website and look up a retailer or email them with your location and party set request. My response was quick and thorough and it has been a pleasure working with the company. Turn around time is generally 3-5 days from an approved proof plus normal shipping time. I have a bridal shower (I LOVE the pop drops) and bachelorette party to plan in the upcoming months as well, and again, these kits would be awesome!!! I hope you all like them. Let me know what set is your favorite! And also take a look at their personalized gift stickers (as seen in Oprah!) and their amazing letterpress. Word on the street is they have some exciting new products in the works as well. And we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as they debut.