How to Host a Simple Family Dinner.

Cross your fingers for a sunshiney afternoon.

Arrange a bouquet of fresh cut flowers in bright colors.

Cook a stick to their bones kind of meal.

(pasta bolognese, a fresh green salad, hot oven baked rolls with butter)

Serve that dessert they never get sick of.

Easter was such a treat this year. It was simple, but indulgent, with weather to compliment the mood. I was so happy to have found endless bouquets of ranunculus when I went to the market to buy flowers on Friday. They are my absolute favorites this time of season, and a great accessory to any table with their deep variety of colors. In an attempt to take the guessing out of the meal, we went with the family favorite. Like I said, want to host a seamless feast, just go with the favorites… sometimes simple is the best policy.

Just of a few of my favorite instagrammys from the day.. @thefreshissue

xoxo

Crumbs & Leftovers.

You can always count on the memories to hang behind while all the other cookie crumbs and crumpled up wrapping paper scamper into the trash.

There is very little like the days after Christmas. Weird feeling right? The tree still twinkles and there could be a few gifts left wrapped up – stragglers for the friends and family you haven’t seen quite yet. But, even as you relax and try to work off (or continue to feed) the food baby, that sad, empty, Christmas is over feeling is still hanging around.

But that’s what the memories are for.

This year, I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for the family. I decided to make everything, from bread to dessert from scratch. That up there? The makings of homemade olive bread. My pregnant lady cravings for olives are definitely to blame for that. 

Two kinds of lasagna. Some steamed vegg. My crispy fried calamari. A fresh arugula and greens salad with beets & pine nuts….. And really bad lighting too… all made their way to the table. 

And what is Christmas eve without Santa’s cookies?

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Handmade Holidays: Gingerbread House Edition.

You guys, we’ve just reached a totally new level in our relationship. 

Wait, I needed to delay it a little bit with the buffer barnyard. 

This… is what brings us to a whole new level. 

… The HAIR…. and the purple velour scrunchy on my wrist!!! ScarYYY.

Alright, 10 words too many about my awkward phase, cut to the reason I even bothered revealing my 12 year old self, the gingerbread houses.

I don’t know if any of the Christmases I remember, was a Christmas without a gingerbread house. My sister and I looked forward to it every year when we were little ones. Aunt Tita would prepare for like a month before the big weekend – big weekend being a whole 2 day sleepover where we stuffed our faces with candy, licked our fingers clean of royal icing, and ended up with 2 (or 3!) gorgeous gingerbread houses. 

I remember loving the idea of chicklet stained glass windows… along with the frosted mini wheat roof tiles, and the peppermint stick and gumdrop street lights, and I will never forget the bowls full of Necco wafers.

Decorating gingerbread houses is endless fun no matter how old you are. And every year, I still find a way to keep the tradition going. This year, Tita and I invested the big bucks in a Trader Joe’s pre-made German house. 

A whole $7.99!

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Up on the rooftop click click click!

(from top left to bottom right) Ultimate oreo cookies ($50.00). S'Mores cake ($58.00). Lemon Cake ($50.00). Award Winning Apple Pie ($50.00). Mini Cakes Sampler (58.00). Mini Holiday Cheesecakes ($110.00). Red Velvet Cake ($58.00). Chocolate Seduction Cake ($65.00). Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake ($75.00). Italian Ice Tortoni ($50.00). Brownie Mountain Cake ($45.00). Mini Mousse Cakes ($38.00). 24 layer chocolate cake ($150.00). Carrot Cake ($150.00). Giant Cinnamon Rolls ($45.00). Handmade Pumpkin Pie ($50.00).

Down through the chimney …. Isn’t that how it goes? I went to the gym today and somehow made it through an hour on the machine from hell, with my Christmas Pandora channel – now, that’s how you know it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and now you know why this song was stuck in my head). 

Tuck yourselves in tonight with a few fun click click clicks. 

Oh, and the above? Just a collection of my fave offerings from the Neiman Marcus entertaining catalog this season. Yes – they do red bottom Louboutins and Red Velvet cake. Fabulousity in it’s most pure form. 

… Just another job I could dream about.

While I go to la la land, go ahead and click this week’s bold words. 

Handmade Reindeer Gift Tags. Etsy Shop: FairestLJ

Get warm under the covers and window shop

Some of the coolest parties, like ever. 

2011, 45 intense times. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip. (Yes, you read correctly).

The iPhone identity crisis

Nothing but an adorable scarf

Inspiring fonts. 

Just help me feed my backsplash obsession

Deborah Lippman does your NYE nails. 

Exactly whereI want to be. 

Or here… 

Fab Printables & Parties. 

…. seriously, ENJOY!

Vintage Ornaments. Etsy Shop: WillowonWater

 

Little Bites in the Big City.

The city was glistening this weekend. When my friend Wesley at Free People asked me to bring sweets to their holiday coat drive event in December, all I could think about was how perfect NYC is for the holidays. Everywhere you turn the store windows are festive, the fashion is cozy, and as annoying as shoving your way through midtown might be, there is no better time of the year to see the city alive. 

Now, when we think holiday desserts, there are a few classics, that we can’t seem to keep our hands off of. No holiday season passes in my house without peppermint bark, gingerbread cutouts, sugar cookies, and decorated spritz cookies. With a small budget, I had to be selective… with desserts? Almost, impossible!

As much as I wanted to create little Free People gingerbread girls – I will have to save that for another day 🙂

Instead… I did Holidays the Free People way. Hot pinks and bright sparkley colors – and everything but red & green.

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a sweet cake for a sweet girl.

I never thought I would have stories that truly define the word baffling. I never thought I would have to add the stories of the last few weeks to my own. But I also never thought I would find so much love in one little cake for one little girl.  One little girl that puts a smile on my face with every little word, and every big smile. That is why, when her mama asked me to bake a birthday cake for her 2nd birthday, I knew it was just the thing I needed to brighten up my baffling days.

The only guideline? Pink.

A cake as cute as my little Colette. She is a pint size little lady, with a personality as big as her appetite. I love watching her munch on her bowls of snacks, and studying her mastermind climbing skills as she gets herself on top of the kitchen counter to sip on her sister’s left over hot cocoa… she is my kind of girl.

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Feel Good Friday.

Welcome to the weekend loveys! Time to spill all of your spooky plans for the next two days. Any cute costumes in the works? Fun holiday theme parties? What kind of candy did you buy for your trick or treaters?? My personal faves are sour patch kids and mini reese peanut butter cups. Yum. Have you ever made your own PBcups? If you need something fun to do this weekend, check out my recipe for how to make them at home. I myself try to forget I know how to make them because they are oh so addicting. 

Take a look at my fun project for the weekend! I will be babysitting my three little munchkins overnight, and a graveyard cake is definitely on the to do list. I am thinking of adapting the idea and to use a collection of cupcakes instead of a cake or pudding – I love the idea of chocolate covered strawberries as pumpkins, white chocolate covered nutter butters as ghosts, and milano tombstones. I always have so much fun with little helping hands… 

Now for this week’s feel good friday clicks!

for those of you reading on iphones, ipads, or in emails… click the bold word

Food 52 shares their favorite 8 homemade halloween desserts.

Why didn’t I think of this!

As if I could fall any further in love with Anderson Cooper. Food+AC = Love.

Learn how to party like a … Culinista?

How bout doing as my boy Irvin does and host a homemade  ice cream social with friends?

Get into the mind of your favorite Chefs. Don’t mind if I do(wnload).

George Banks’ house and therefore, my dream house, is for sale. 

Have you ever seen a WAVE of WINE? Yea, neither had I. Woah.

For my city readers: make your bike totally steal proof.

Twinkle Twinkle little flower.

One of my favorite vintage Apple commercial. 

And finally …. 

cookie that will send you to rehab?

Have a relaxing weekend my little boys and gouls.

Boo!

images from Bon Appetit and The Special Recipes.com

How to: A Ruffled Birthday Cake.

Didn’t I say I was dreaming of baking this cake on Friday? Well I forgot to mention the little tid bit of information that there was actually the perfect occasion for that to happen – Mama’s birthday.

Now, Mama might not have wanted to celebrate this year, especially not two days in a row, but when you have a daughter like me, it is pretty damn difficult to avoid sweets and birthday candles. However, as much of a birthday princess as I am, for the first time I kind of understood the feeling. I’ll remind you all that this year was the beginning of the end, the year I didn’t welcome turning another number older with open arms – yup, from here on out we are just getting, dare I say that we are actually getting, old? Oy vey.

However, I think I have the perfect fix for the dreaded birthdays that all of us 21 and overs will face once a year… The beautiful birthday cake. Ruffles, the quintessential little girl’s fashion dream, and the perfect celebratory cake accent.

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Homemade Goldfish & Cheez It Crackers.

I attribute my undying love for goldfish to the amount of babysitting I have done in my life. Do you know many times my hands have dug into the same aluminum lined paper bags that tiny germy drooly little hands just found their way out of? Zillions. All I need is a handful and that serves as my fix for the day. There has never been a time, not a diet I have been on, not a promise I could ever make to myself to stay away from them, that has ever kept me from having my handful when the opportunity is made available. In college, when I was feeling naughty, they were the first thing I picked up late night from the convenience store. Most recently, at one of my dreaded stops into Walmart to get a few boxes of too wonderfully priced to say no to Softasilk flour, I picked up the little mini milk carton of the fishies staring at me in the check aisle and treated myself to an afternoon snack that smiles back …. although my smile was totally bigger that day.

I guess you could call it a problem, but I call it a love affair. So when I saw the recipe for Whole Wheat Goldfish crackers on Smitten Kitchen’s website that day in March, I knew I had found my new best friend.

Her recipe calls for whole wheat flour….I couldn’t see myself taking that short cut. If I’m going to do it, I am going to do it right. That’s my motto in life. I also did a careful study of said paper and aluminum bags and tried to figure out what the seasoning was that would make my attempt at these fish even more exact.

Can you keep a secret better than the little ones in my life? Smitten Kitchen missed out on a bit of important flavor.

Dry Cultured Buttermilk… You can find it here, or at your local Whole Foods or Supermarket baking aisle.

Click to Print!

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