ISES DC Tabletop Design Challenge: The Magic Orange Tree

'O Magic Orange Tree, grow and grow and grow' begins the treasured Haitian forklore about a little girl saved by an orange tree.  This "fairytale" was the inspiration for my design in this year's Tabletop Design Challenge hosted by the DC Chapter of the International Special Events Society on Monday evening.  I collaborated with Blaise Thompson of Fusions Cuisine, and sponsors Devers Design Group and Select Event Rentals, to bring this story to life with a live tree growing from the center of the table and beautiful linens, mosaic base plates (that resembled the shattered life in Haiti), blue stemware and bamboo folding chairs which gave the display an island feel. 

My favorite part of the tree display was the 'Haitian' paper dolls scattered on the table.  They looked so sweet!

We didn't win, we were up against a live Sleeping Beauty napping above a glass canopy table and surrounded by 3000 flowers, as well as Thumbellina and the Grand Winner, 40 Thieves, but it was fantastic to participate and be included among such incredible talent!


{in season} Blueberries

Last night, I enjoyed the plumpest and sweetest blueberries (with homemade whipped cream) - yummy!  It reminded me of my favorite summertime blueberry recipe: grilled chicken with blueberry-basil salsa.  I discovered this recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine years ago (August 2003) and make it every summer; it's easy to make, tastes great and it's super healthy!  Give it try - perhaps this weekend for your 4th of July BBQ!


{in season} Sparklers

Of all the clever 4th of July ideas circluating the web, I love this one from PrintYourParty: Printable Sparkler Holders.
Sparklers are an essential item for my family's celebration plans; we love writing our name (over and over) in the night sky!  I can't wait to make these printable holders and have some fun!  Hope you do, too!

Thanks to Simply Creative Insanity for sharing this clever idea this week!


{Invitation Showcase} My 40th Birthday Party X2

Next week I turn 40.  I'm fine with it and ready for it ... perhaps because my husband turns 40 seven days later.  Everything's better with a buddy, right?  Absolutely!

To make sure we get it right, we're celebrating twice - once with friends and a week later with family.  Below are the invitations I quickly designed.  What do you think - thumbs up or down?

Admittedly, I'm love the crabs and can't wait to bring this theme to life!


{Event Showcase} Post-Wedding Reception

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping a lovely couple produce a post-wedding reception in their home for approximately 70 guests.  Their son recently married in a small chapel out-of-town so the guest list was limited.  They decided to extend the celebration by hosting a small party after the honeymoon for close friends. The result was gorgeous and I'd like to share some photos with you in case your hosting a post-wedding reception or garden party or other summertime party in your home soon.

Based on this invitation ...

...I designed this casual but elegant garden party.

Lilac linens on the guest tables with white-folding chairs accented with purplish-blue and pink floral arrangements - on the tables, on the buffets and on the foyer 'gift table'.  Rentals provided by DC Rentals and floral created by Galleria Florist.

The food buffet included delicious items like Mojito Shrimp, Panang Chicken Skewers, Caramlized Pear and Emmanthal Torte with Pistacio filling, Melon with Toasted Coconut, Quinoa Salad and Grilled Pineapple and Brie Skewers dipped in Cinnamon Yogurt Dip.  Prepared by Fusions Cuisine.

On the bar, guests had the option of wine, microbrew beer, assorted soda, refreshing lemonade with sliced fruit (my favorite recipe!) or chilled water with blueberries (both served in large cookie jars with silver ladels).

The dessert table had a tower of yummy Georgetown Cupcakes (vanilla with white frosting and a purple "M" medallion) to mimic a tiered wedding cake, as well as bite-size brownies, chocolate chip cookies and lemon tarts.

My clients were quite pleased with the outcome and really enjoyed the stress-free approach to party planning!


{in season} Popsicles

Baby, it's hot outside!  Time for a popsicle - the homemade variety that incorporates fresh fruit from the farmer's market.  It's easy.  Pureed fruit, water and sugar ... or you could get fancy.  I found a few recipes for you, and cool popsicle molds to make it that much more fun!  Enjoy - and stay cool!

Grown Up Popsicles (like Watermelon, Avocado and Thai recipes)

{Note - do you see how the watermelon popsicles are served?  In half of a watermelon.  Very clever!!}

Clockwide: Orka, Tovolo, Tovolo, Kinderville,

So, which recipe will you try?  I think I'll try the banana blueberry recipe and work my way up to Thai ...


Pineapple Daisy Flower Arrangement

Earlier this week, my daughter's Daisy [girl scout] troop hosted its last meeting with a [rescheduled] campfire dinner.  All families brought something to eat.  I chose Pineapple Daisies just like the ones from my local fruit arrangement store.  They were so super easy to make - and quite cute as an arrangement, ideal for a hostess gift and or food for a casual party this weekend!  Give it a try!

Slice pineapple into rings; press flower cookie cutter to make flower shape.
Scoop cantelope to make ball shapes.
Insert pineapple on a logn skewer followed by cantelope ball and red grape.

To make arrangement, place floral foam into vase and cover with black beans.
Insert skewers into foam.


{giveaway} Announcing the Winners

Thank you to everyone who responded to my first 'posh' promotion.  I sincerely appreciate your comments and love that you love my invitation designs!

Congratulations to these ladies who were randomly selected to receive party invitations from my new summer collection!  Please contact me right away so that I may mail the invitations to you.

Stacy Lepo Mcguigan
Victoria Mutarelli
Maureen Reilly


{in season} Hydrangea and Delphinium

Hydrangea and delphinium flowers are in bloom right now.  These gorgeous flowers make a spectacular floral presentation. Case in point, below are a few photos from a post-wedding reception hosted in my client's home yesterday.  Inspired by the pinkish-purple flowers on the invitation, my florist - Carol Beales of Galleria Florist in Falls Church, VA - created these stunning arrangements to adorn the foyer, food and dessert buffets, and guest tables.  It was lovely! [More on the party later this week!]


{event showcase} Hokie Luau Graduation Party

Some parties that I produce are truly a collaboration with the client.  For example, I recently helped a long-time client produce her son's HS graduation party, a Hokie Luau! I designed the invitation and coordinated food, drinks, cake and staff while she tackled decor and a surprise visit from Virginia Tech's mascot, the Hokie bird.  Below are the results of our teamwork, some photos to inspire you, especially if you are hosting a graduation party soon.  Enjoy!

{Photos - custom invitation; stuffed Hokie bird; surprise visit from the Hokie bird and VT cheerleader; cake}

{Photos - luau decor including coconut people, tiki signs, inflatible palm tree cooler and 2010 pinatas}

{Photos - many VT balloons; cocktail food display; and bartender}

{Photos - maroon and burnt orange floral arrangement on the food buffet}

{Photos - Hokie bird teaches guests how to do the 'Hokie Pokie'}


{summer entertaining} 3 Tips to Keep it Simple

Q: Help!  I'm having a party; what should I do?

A: This is a loaded question that I receive from friends and readers a lot!  My first response is always the same - whatever you "do", keep it simple!

  • Plan for a casual cocktail party.  Guests may be invited last minute; minimal seating is required; and food and drinks are easier to prepare.

  • Serve bite-size, no-untensils-needed foods - approximately 3-5 types.  Purchase prepared foods at the grocery store and assemble on your own serving dishes.

  • Skip the full bar and offer a signature drink - one drink that can be served with or without alcohol.  Want to show a little creativity?  Give your drink a clever name - like Sunset Surprise - and start the conversation!
Above all, remember the the objective of a party is to have fun, which is another good reason to 'keep it simple'!  Cheers!


{giveaway} Summer Party Invitations!

My first promotion ... a 'posh' promotion .... I'm so excited! 

 To introduce my new collection of summer party invitations, I'm giving away a set of each to three (3) lucky readers respectively.

ENTER TO WIN NOW!  Two ways to enter:
Entries must be received by Friday, June 11 at 10:00 pm EDT.  Only valid in the US. Three names will be randomly selected and announced next week.

READY TO BUY?  Invitations with envelopes (10/pk), $20.  Email me to discuss the details.
Thanks, in advance, for participating ... in my first 'posh' promotion!


{in season} strawberries

Strawberries are in season right now!  I bought a few pints at the grocery store this morning; the deal was incredible plus I can tell from the bright red color that these strawberries are delicious, naturally sweet and juicy.  But then I was perplexed on how to use them.  A quick Internet search revealed a Cooking Light article with 14 Favorite Strawberry Recipes! I selected a few below; which strawberry recipe is your favorite?

All these strawberries remind me of a local Virginia strawberry festival that my family went to 6 years ago.  They had a long line of tables with stacks of fresh strawberries in containers; it was mind-boggling.  My then 1 1/2 year daughter loved strawberries and easily polished off a pint; see photo below.  It was a fun day outdoors.  I encourage you and your family to explore a strawberry or pick your own celebration at a local orchard this season!  Cheers!