Black Friday!

This year I have not seen as many Black Friday advertisements! Personally, Cyber Monday is more appealing to me. No lines, going out in the cold at 5am! This year in honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I will be offering a special discount for my eStore. From November 22nd to November 26th at midnight, all aprons will be 20% off.

Use the code: BLACKFRIDAY at check out. Enjoy!

Aprons are available in S/M and M/L. They are the perfect hostess apron as they are designed to flatter any figure with the full-shaped A-line skirt. Think of this as the perfect complement to a little black dress as you serve guests at your party. This makes an excellent gift for women of all ages who appreciate the art of entertaining!

5 Tips for Hosting a Fabulous Dinner Party

Tis the season for holiday parties! I wrote a blog post for my friend and fellow blogger, LC of Digital Curls. Holiday parties are always fun for the guests, but they can be a bit stressful for the host. Check out my 5 tips to a fabulous dinner party and let me know how all your events go!

View the post here:

Harvest Festival & Halloween Party Treats

With Halloween around the corner, I’d like to share some yummy treats that are great for house parties or for your to enjoy as you pass out candy. Some do not officially celebrate Halloween, but it is still a great day to enjoy movies, warm food, and healthy (and some decadent) treats!

Healthy Chicken Strips from Oprah: http://www.oprah.com/food/Chicken-Strips

Baked Sweet Potato Steak Fries by The Divine Hostess: https://divinehostess.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/sweet-potato-steak-fries/

Spicy Roasted Butternut Seeds from food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-roasted-butternut-seeds-pumpkin-seeds-50958

Roasted nuts by Lemons and Anchovies: http://lemonsandanchovies.com/2012/04/spicy-honey-roasted-almonds/#.UI1kOIbueSo

Halloween Cake Pops by Bakerella: http://www.bakerella.com/eye-popping/

Pumpkin bread from My Baking Addiction: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/pumpkin-bread-recipe/

Butter beer from Bakingdotcom: http://www.bakingdom.com/2010/11/butterbeer-oh-yes-friends-butterbeer.html

Chocolate Lover’s Candied Apple by The Sweetest Vegan:

TDH eStore Grand Opening!

The wait is finally over!

I am happy to announce that my Fall 2012 apron line is finally complete! I have started with 3 designs which will be available for a limited time. The aprons are available in S/M and M/L. My designs are meant to be sassy and feminine, yet still a very functional apron that will look fantastic over nearly any dress. The full mini skirt is a dramatic yet flattering A-line. The aprons were handmade by my fantastic seamstress in Seattle. Visit my eStore to check out the other looks!

Visit: http://divinehostess.bigcartel.com/

See the video for an up close look!

Labor Day Weekend BBQ Foods

Who doesn’t love a good 3-day weekend? I know I do. I am looking forward to a little extra rest, and some time to catch up with family and friends. Many will be hosting or attending events throughout the weekend. I am providing you with some simple recipes that will help keep you from being the guest who brings the store-bought potato salad. 🙂

Here’s my top 10 list of things to make for your cookouts and barbecues.

1. Loaded Baked Potato Salad. Need I say more? And yes, a vegetarian just recommended that you eat bacon.

2. Deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are a great appetizer and for most– you cannot go wrong with eggs.

3. Easy Turkey Rollups. These are healthy, kid-friendly, full of protein, and they make a fantastic starter food.

4. White cake with lemon frosting. What’s a BBQ without a delicious dessert? Whether it is made as a cake or as cupcakes, this is a great treat to conclude festivities.

5. Barbecued Corn. An absolutely delicious and new way to eat barbecued corn. A must read!

6. Cucumber Melon Medley. Fruit salad is always a hit, but it’s nice to do something a little more unique. This will balance out all of the high protein barbecue foods, and keep you cool and hydrated.

7. Summer Sangria. You will need to make this about 4 hours in advance, but the recipe is surprisingly easy!

8. Quinoa & Seafood Greek Salad. This has been a huge hit at parties for me. It’s a nice refreshing salad, that is surprisingly hearty. Something about the lemon flavor is nice and light for hot weather.

9. Fresh Mex Salad. Here’s a salad that is Mexican-inspired. This will pair well with grilled shrimp or carne asada.

10. Carnitas. Do something different for the holiday! This recipe for slow cooked pork could pair well with any of the salads mentioned and may be something a little out of the box for your guests.

Guide to grilling beef and pork found here.

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Fresh Mex Salad

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A Season of Giving

Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. ( 2 Corin 8:14, NLT)

That verse came to mind this morning as I cleaned out my closet. It may not be Spring cleaning time, but I recognized I had more than enough things and I really hate the clutter. I was recently reading a post on Rhiannon Duffin’s blog and became inspired to really play hardball with getting rid of clothing I do not wear. The tough thing is that there are a ton of clothes I don’t wear, but they are still nice. I’ve talked myself into keeping them because I remember the price I paid and what store I bought them from, or who gifted them to me. I was basically justifying the clutter around me. I have two filled closets, under bed storage, and space organizers heaped with clothes. This is not something to be proud of– it’s really quite silly. What is the point of having plenty if I do not use it?

I thought about some of the clothing that still has the tags, or work clothing that no longer fits. Somewhere (likely somewhere nearby), there is a woman who could use a new dress, or a pair of pants to wear to an interview for a job that will feed her family. That’s when I got the cleaning bug. What other things do I have in excess that I can share? Food? Office supplies? It really is rather freeing to just get rid of things.

Sometimes I wish for more in life, when I haven’t even been diligent enough to clear out the old. I remember fights with my mom in grade school every August. I would say I needed new school clothes, she would say she would not purchase so much as a sock until I got rid of the clothes that no longer fit. This standoff never resulted in me winning, and she was right. Why would she reward me with new clothing when I was still holding onto the old?

Many of us look around at our home decor, and may have things we still want. I am definitely guilty of this. In the interim, getting rid of clutter can make a home look more “together” and it can also reveal opportunities for creativity which may have otherwise not been recognized. Freeing up new space makes room for home DIY projects, and the chance to rearrange furniture.

A few tips….

1. When going out of town, think of a neighbor or friend you can give extra food to instead of letting it spoil in your fridge.

2. Share your bulk items.

3. Get rid of clothing that hasn’t been worn in over a year and develop a good storage system for seasonal clothing items– and I don’t mean those HORRID novelty Christmas sweaters. You can throw those away!

4. Have clothing swap parties. Invite friends over for brunch and trade. Give the rest to charity.

5. Cook what you buy. Sometimes it’s tempting to eat out when  you have had a long day. If this becomes a habit, you could be allowing good food to spoil as you burn a little hole in your wallet.

6. Make it a habit to routinely check for things to get rid of in closets, freezers, the fridge, the trunk of your car, etc.

When I don’t think I have much at all, my reminder is to give from the areas of my life where I do have plenty. Although we don’t give to get, it always works that the most generous people always have more than enough. I think we get into the spirit of Christmas and are inspired to help those in need, but there are many who need help long before Christmas and long after. So I propose new a season of giving–one that lasts all year long.

A Housewarming Party Made Easy (and inexpensive)

Note: Maybe you did not just move in, but maybe you want to have a nice dinner party and enjoy the summer weather. If so, this post is for you!

Follow the link below to watch the video that goes along with this post:

House warming parties are so fun and cozy whether you are just moving to a new apartment on the other side of town, or you have just purchased your first home. Often times because of the stress of the move, time it takes to unpack, and a limited budget, housewarming parties do not happen until months or even a year after moving in. Yet, all the while you find yourself wanting to do it– and wishing you could have one sooner. I’d like to share some easy tips for putting together an inexpensive housewarming party within the first 90 days of moving in.

Hopefully, you’ve unpacked. Let’s assume you’re one of those organized packers, so you had all the boxes neatly marked with labels like “Kitchen Utensils” and “Linen Closet” and such. If you set aside working hours for yourself to unpack each day, you’ll be done in no time.

Now, for the food and decor.

1. Remember that your guests, who presumably are friends and family– are not expecting to walk into a Crate & Barrel showroom. They are expecting to come into something nice and cozy, and congratulate you on your move. Don’t feel like your home decor has to be perfect. One good idea is to concentrate traffic in the areas of your home that do happen to be complete. Kitchen, living room, dining, room– these are places people can hang out. There is no need for them to peek at the bedrooms–especially if they aren’t ready yet. If you need to, place cute little signs on the outside of the off limits rooms so that your super nosy guests keep out. Something like “Under Construction” will be funny and unimposing.

2. Don’t feel like you have to provide a full meal for your guests, who will only be dropping by your house for short moments of time. If the invite says “Drop by from 11am to 4pm” guests will already have the idea that they are just casually coming by to show their love and congratulations.

Food can really get pricey. Instead of buying those very convenient party trays, buy the dips (or make those too), but cut up the vegetables and fruits, and buy the crackers yourself. This really ensures you get the freshest produce, since you picked it yourself. I love cutting the carrots, zucchini, and broccoli myself so that I can choose the right sized pieces and ensure that none of the veggies or fruit will be too old or dry looking.

3. It is tempting to buy frozen wings or pick up wings from a local restaurant to serve. This cost can add up– and often times the food runs out quickly. Instead, I recommend adding meat to another dish like pasta, rice, or salad. It goes a longer way, and is very easy to make. Try buying a roasted chicken from the grocery store and cutting it into pieces, or adding shrimp to a nice pasta salad.

4. Bake something! There’s nothing more inviting than walking into a home where fresh brownies, cookies, or muffins have been baked. If you lack time or the skill to bake, you can buy pre-made dough, and just pop them into the oven 30 minutes before your guests are to arrive. They can check out your new abode with a sweet treat in hand! I even created a sample menu for you!

5. Check our your local party supply store for utensils. Paper and plasticware have come a long way. There are wine and champagne glasses, disposable party bowls, and more. They are even in matching sets. Check and see what’s available, and see if this is a more viable option over things you must wash during and after the party.

6. Alcohol can be a huge expense, so there are a few ways you can go:

  • You can hit up your local health food market, or the well known store BevMo and grab inexpensive wines, and when they are gone, they are gone.
  • Make a party punch like Sangria– so that it goes a longer way. There are tons of recipes for things like Sangria, frozen drinks, etc.
  • Announce that is is a “Bring Your Own Wine” event. This depends on your level of comfort. It can be a nice addition, since many are unsure of what gift to bring to a housewarming.
  • Have the housewarming earlier in the day– you can serve water, iced tea, and other beverages. Skip the alcohol altogether.

Don’t forget to load your iPod with great music for the event!

Lastly, the important thing is to stay within your budget, and do it in a tasteful way. It is also important to have an event that is more fun for you than it is stressful. Check your budget first, then plan accordingly. The most important part of the event is not the decor, food or showcasing the home– it is the time spent with those you love and who love you.

Any additional questions I didn’t answer in this post? Visit my Facebook page (facebook.com/divinehostess) and send me a direct message! I hope you enjoy your parties and gatherings this summer. I know I will!

A Divine Brunch

More than eating out, going to movies, or hitting a nightclub….I love events that take place at home. Think about it: no lines, no entrance fees, no one saying, “last call”, and most importantly, the perfect volume to have a conversation. What could be better? There are so many advantages to at-home events.

These days, it seems to be like pulling teeth when it comes to getting someone to RSVP for an event– even if that person is your roommate! I do not know what it is. There are other mediums to invite people and to get a feel for whether or not you need to plan for their attendance. I like a phone call and then a follow up evite being sent. During that phone call, it would be good to ask, “Can I write you down as attending?” and to let them know that they will receive a follow up invitation. People do have a habit of saying, “Yeah.  I should be free. Just remind me!” But ask them to write the event on the calendar and let them know you are looking forward to seeing their smiling face!

I love serving brunch because the meal can be kept nice and light. It is good to have foods that are true breakfast foods and then some that are a little heartier. When you are deciding upon your menu, be sure to ask your guests if there are any allergies. Do not feel limited, but there are many ways to come up with your menu. I like to go with a theme, so for instance Italian. Juices, Italian sodas, fruit salad, mini frittatas, caprese salad, etc. Italian is just one idea. Your menu can have a Southern flare, a picnic feel, an urban spoon type menu–whatever you like! Just be sure to time your food preparation accordingly. Allow homemade salad dressing, drinks, etc to chill. Frittatas are great when warm, so place those in the oven 15 minutes before guests are scheduled to arrive, but have food items that can be eaten immediately. Your guests will be too polite to say so, but no one likes to show up to a party on time, only to wait another hour or two to eat!

Table set up can be simple yet elegant. Fresh flowers, large serving platters and bowls, a juice glass and a champagne glass. Guests will undoubtedly love to enjoy a drink as soon as they arrive. Bring in a playful feel by using an array of napkin colors. If you have a group of guests that are open to games or fun ice breakers, place one small topic card under every plate and have guests reveal the question once they get seated. I assure you, there will be nothing but laughs ahead!

I hope you will take the time to enjoy an intimate meal with friends or loved ones. It brings a great opportunity for conversation over wonderful food. Be sure to prepare most of your food before your guests arrive so that you can partake in the fun!