Tiny Bubbles

It’s a blog post! Let’s pop open a bottle and celebrate!

Actually, this post had been started previously but I hesitated to put it out there. You see, I’m a wannabe wine connoisseur but have only a very basic knowledge. But I do know enough to see that champagne and sparkling wines are not just for special occasions these days!  Which is great – because what else has the ability to kick festivities up a notch so easily? So I’m drawing on the actual oenophiles for this but wanted to share some fun facts and quick tips about the bubbly.

via philolog

First and foremost, your bubbly beverage can only be called Champagne when it comes from the Champagne region of France. Yep. Otherwise it’s a sparkling wine. Australia and the US also produce bottles of bubbles but you’ll see them listed as sparkling wines. However, some from other regions have their own names:

Spain = Cava
Italy = Prosecco, Spumante, Frizzante, Asti/d’Asti”
France (outside Champagne) = Crémant

When you’re picking a sparkling wine for your next gathering, another thing to keep in mind how dry or sweet it is:

Brut Zero (the most dry)
Brut (pronounced “broot”)
Extra Dry/Extra Sec/Extra Seco
Dry/Sec/Seco – This is the most popular style and one you will probably see the most. Very food friendly
Demi Sec/Semi-Seco – These are great pre-meal – as an apertif and for desserts
Doux/Sweet/Dulce (sweetest)

Now, to use! Part of what has contributed to the growing popularity of champagne and sparkling wines is the acceptance of it as an anytime drink. Have it before, during or after a meal. Or, just have a glass on it’s own. Yum!
Sparkling wines should be served chilled – around refrigerator temperature. A champagne bottle’s its ideal temperature is 45-50 F . It will reach this after twenty minutes in a bucket filled with ice and water or three house in the refrigerator.  It should not be chilled in the freezer. (Oops!)

Then you’ll want to open the bottle and serve in a coup, flute or tulip-shaped glass. The styles all have reasons behind their design but unless you’re entertaining a sommelier, feel free to pick based on aesthetics or what you have on hand.

via Abby Rose Photo

You can make things a little more interesting by adding a champagne bar. Have assorted juices available (orange, pomegranate, grapefruit, etc.) and sugar cubes soaked in bitters so guests can make their own creations. Or give them some guidance with champagne cocktail ideas like these from the Food Network.

Finally, decide what you’re going to toast to. Cheers!

via Kaufman Mercantile

Note: Most of my information is highlights from this post by Rick Bakas. If you want more information and a full price range of recommendations; check out the full text – it’s informative and easy to understand!

With all the holiday madness, who has time to plan a New Year’s Eve bash? More importantly, who is hosting a NYE party but hasn’t had the time to plan it?
Not to worry, we’ve compiled some last-minute inspiration (and some FREE printables) for you. So put the champagne on ice, pick up some supplies and get ready for 2011!

Of course one of the best sources of inspiration is always Pizzazzerie and you couldn’t expect anything but fabulousness from Courtney. Her “Midnight” themed party has a perfect mix of fun and elegance.

via Pizzazerie

Black, white and bling seem to be making the most appearances this time around. And why not? It’s classic, gorgeous and versatile. Chris from Celebrations at Home not only put together a fab holiday table that easily transitions to NYE

via Celebrations at Home

but then she creates a gorgeous bar to match.  (Check out the coordinating dessert table too!)

via Celebrations at Home

You can also take basic black and white and add a pop of color (again, use those Christmas decorations!) like The Couture Cakery did for The Hostess with the Mostess.

via Hostess with the Mostess

Check out Catch My Party for a little something from Paper Dolls you can use to pull any of the black and white looks together.

via Catch My Party

For the trend-lovers, why not close out 2010 with Pantone’s color of the year? Two great sets of printables are available in turquoise!

via Catch My Party

via Love The Day

These Love the Day printable were actually created to support Operation Shower, in hopes that you will spread the word about their Operation Give Thanks fundraising campaign. Read the post to learn more.

Some subdued but still lovely ideas from {every}nothing wonderful via The Sweetest Occassion (post includes the printable suite).

Have the kids joining you for the festivities? Check out this party for ideas on how to make it fun for them and still glam enough for you. (Once again with the black and white)

via Pizzazerie

Finally, if you still have to work on NYE and you’re not sure how you’ll get the time to get everything ready, once again, Chris from Celebrations at Home has you covered with a classic silver and gold setting:

via Celebrations at Home

She didn’t buy anything for this table except the grocery items! You could easily do the same using your own holiday decoration colors.

Had enough? No? OK – we’ve rounded up few more free printables. Don’t say Socialize never did anything for you! Here’s to you and a wonderful 2011!!

Free printables from anna and blue paperie

Subway art from Custom Printable

Printables from Anders Ruff (OK, not free but only $18 and adorable!)

For the last few years, my husband and I have gotten together with friends a couple weeks before Halloween to embrace some pumpkin carving fun! None of us have kids (or much artistic ability) but it’s still a great reason to get together and an easy gathering to plan. Here is what you’ll want to do:

Pre-determine a location. You are probably not going to want to do this in your house. The grown-ups I know are just as messy as most 5-year-olds and you’ll be sweeping up pumpkin seeds on Labor Day. The backyard works well if the weather is still pleasant enough. You can use the garage as shelter from the elements if there’s a chill in the air. Wherever you are; clear enough space to give everyone plenty of room to work.

Gather supplies and prepare the space. Pull out your folding tables if you have them.
Collect newspapers to cover everyone’s carving space. Make sure you have enough to give everyone a couple layers.
Put an empty trash can in a central location for most* of the pumpkin seeds. Use a heavy duty trash bag or double up on the household kind. Those seeds get heavy!
Print and set out pumpkin stencils for those who don’t want to freehand. Better Homes & Gardens has a huge (and free!) selection here. For some tips on carving with stencils, check out Pumpkin Carving 101.

Have a sharpie and a pumpkin carving kit for everyone or ask them bring their own. This way, you don’t have to sacrifice your good steak knives to a jack-o-lantern.
Have a lot of rags or paper towels on hand.
Finally – have tea lights for each pumpkin!

Find your perfect pumpkin. We like to make this part of the event for the whole group. Head to your local pumpkin patch so everyone can select their canvas.

And a couple suggestions for easy, festive additions!
You can’t beat hot spiked apple cider to keep everyone warm. Use fresh apple cider, spiced rum and some cinnamon sticks and whole cloves (to taste)

Heat apple cider in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir occasionally. When cider is heated, remove cinnamon sticks and cloves with a slotted spoon.
Pour a shot of rum into a mug, then pour cider over to fill mug. Add a cinnamon stick to stir drink.

To keep things easy, hold your pumpkin carving party in the evening, post dinner. This way, some light snacks will be sufficient (remember – this is supposed to be an easy one!). Last year, I had some candy corn, Halloween-theme Oreos and some popcorn for guests to snack on. You can also *save the seeds from the first few pumpkins to be gutted. Roast some up using butter/olive oil and salt or this recipe from Fabulous Foods. By the time the carving has ended you’ll have a seasonal snack ready for your guests.

Let the fun begin!

Pop quiz: What’s the one space that many but not all of your event guests will use; but usually gets left out of the event decor plan? Think about it. The bathroom is probably one of the few other areas in your home or venue that a large portion of your guests will visit. Why not tie it in with the rest of the festivities?

The Bride Scouts show us how to do just that with a photoshoot they did for Style Me Pretty. Check out their post here for a few more tips on how they customized the display. It’s a great take on the dessert buffet craze, don’t you think?

I am a huge believer in providing bathroom baskets for any gathering. But if you have a venue that will accomodate it; a display like this is a lovely way to let your guests know how much you appreciate them. Mints, handtowels, soaps and cotton swabs are wonderful to have in the bathroom. Since you won’t be worried about minimizing things for photo purposes; you’ll want to include a few more basics. I recommend including:

Bobby pins
Ponytail holders
Safety pins
Shout wipes
Lint Roller
Feminine products
Spray deodorant (choose whatever brand is best suited to your color palette, naturally)
Band-aids
Hairspray
Tylenol/Ibuprofen
Antacid
Contact Solution
Floss
Nail Clippers

The list can go on but these items will help people survive most situations that they may not be prepared for (blisters from new shoes, sauce spilled on their shirt, etc.). And if you don’t have a whole vanity to dedicated to the amenities; use a smaller basket and one stand for a more limited display. I’m willing to bet that at least one of your guests will find something that saves the day for them!

One last Oktoberfest post before I get ready for the tapping of the golden keg this afternoon. Check out this story on the Des Moines Oktoberfest celebration. It covers an example of when a major change did NOT work in making the event more successful but was definitely worth a try. Now the Des Moines Oktoberfest is making what I think will be a triumphant return to it’s original location.

Added bonus: great tips on what a Burgermeister does. Another great addition to your Oktoberfest party!

Considering some of the stats from Germany’s Oktoberfest, it may not be something you can replicate exactly in your own backyard. But here are a few ideas on how you could do it on a *slightly* smaller scale.

  • If you don’t want to rent and set-up a tent; take a cue from some of the building/tent roofs at Oktoberfest. This look can be replicated fairly easily with a little rope or wire and streamers a la the blogosphere darling Max & Margaux wedding.
source
  • Finding some authentic Oktoberfest tables like these might be a little tough unless you have someone who wants to build them (or drop some cash on one here). But to get that bier hall feeling, a wooden picnic table will do the trick. For centerpieces, fill a few beer steins with flowers or wheat/hops and line them down the center of the table. 

Empty Oktoberfest
source

And although I couldn’t find a photo from Oktoberfest that actually shows this runner on a table; it does add to the Bavarian theme and can be ordered from quite a few websites including partycheap.com.

  • Even if you don’t have an Oom Pah Band, you’ll still need Polka music. My personal favorites are The Beer Barrel Polka and In Heaven There is No Beer. 

  • To add just a little more fun, give everyone a Tyrolean hat and set up a photo booth. Beer steins, aprons, talk bubbles with German phrases (Wilkommen! Prost! Danke Schon) and lederhosen could make for some great props. You could also go the route of the Hessen Haus in Des Moines which hosts the local Oktoberfest that I’ll be joining:
Owly Images

  • It should go without saying that you’ll also want to have some German beer on hand. Add custom labels with names like Smithsteiner. And to drink it, you’ll need
DAS BOOT!!!!
Or at the very least, some large steins for all.
Prost!

Hint: It’s not the fashion!

I love fashion and designers and all of the glamour and gorgeousness that goes along with New York (now Mercedes Benz) Fashion week. Trust me, I see some of the photos of the incredible clothes and my heart aches to be a millionaire and be able to wear those things.

Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times.

But what really gets my heart racing is thinking about how it all happened. Who is checking to make sure each model is ready to hit the runway at each show? Who developed the program that’s running check-in at the entrance? How many people did it take to run power to everything? Who figured out how that was going to happen? Can you imagine being responsible for all of this?

 
source 

This year, that role goes to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the Lincoln Center’s first-ever director of fashion who oversees year-round activities on the campus; and Christina Neault, executive producer at IMG Fashion – the company that produces the event. *Sigh* These women have a hand in everything from the crew that built the travertine-esque entrance to the person handling a designer’s last minute seating changes. Not to mention the whole however-many runway shows thing. How exhilirating!

Photograph by Lanna Apisukh

On top of all that, Fashion Week changed locations this year! It came to the Lincoln Center after being in Bryant Park since 1993. Changing a venue is almost like starting from scratch when it comes to event logistics. IMG Fashion added a week to their usual set up time, increasing it to 18 days. 18 days! The advantages of the Lincoln Center far outweigh the stress of changing things. The facilities are larger and the design and technology are better for guests and producers alike. Plus, they won’t have to use port-a-potties anymore.

Wait what? People at Fashion Week use Port-a-Potties?! Yes, according to BizBash, “Instead of the typical self-contained restrooms that stood in a separate room at Bryant Park, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center will station three luxury bathroom trailers in the common areas and provide 18 standard units backstage.” I’m sure the old ones didn’t look like the port-a-potties I’m used to.

So yes, my favorite part about Fashion Week (as it is with the Olympics, the Superbowl or any other world-reknowned event) is thinking about what the people there have to do to make it happen and wishing I was there to help. And I wouldn’t mind taking a few outfits home either.
  

 source 

Check out these articles for more MBFW info: In Tents: N.Y. Fashion Week’s new home fits like a glove; New York Fashion Week’s Move to Lincoln Center Brings New Design and Technology; 10 Ways Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Is Changing at Lincoln Center; Mercedes Benz Fashion Week  

State Holiday

You may not know, but tomorrow is essentially a state holiday in Iowa. It’s so important that if anyone is planning an event in the state in the month of September; the first question out of their event planner’s mouth better be “When is the Iowa/Iowa State game?” (if they don’t already know, which they should)
That’s right. Our state rivalry football game between the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones is a HUGE deal. Iowa doesn’t have any pro teams so all of our energy goes into the college games and this one is the granddaddy of them all!

Even though the game encourages a generous amount of smack talk in the days weeks (and months) leading up to the game; there is one thing the rivals can agree on: tailgating. No matter where the game is held or who wins; in the end we all love a good tailgate.

So, in honor of the big day tomorrow and all the fun that the Hawkeyes and Cyclones around the world will be having; I leave you with this.

Cupcakes via Next Generation Housewife

If you couldn’t tell from the pictures, I am a little biased so…

GO HAWKS!!!