Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Vintage Party

I am a sucker for all things vintage or nostalgic.  I wanted to bring that sense to Henry's party, and the inspired wrapping paper definitely set that tone. So, when thinking of sweets I wanted to connect with the sentimentality of my own childhood.  This is fun for our kids and the adults. 
When I was in Party City, I found these vintage looking animals.  I knew Henry and his friends would love them.  They also reminded me of my own childhood.  

I thought why not stick them in two bite cupcakes from Whole Foods (I do not prepare food that I could easily buy from Whole Foods, especially when the cupcakes cost $3.99 per dozen)

BTW this was the perfect project for Sophia to help me with. They are so good looking and made a fun project for Miss S. 

I have also literally been a sucker for these SUCKERS. They are good looking, classic, and are fun for any event. 

I love the idea of the homemade cake. It is so sweet and sentimental. I know myself and lack of baking skills, so I turn to those who do well, sometimes Whole Foods, and, in this case, Paradis (12th and 4th Ave).  They made a truly homemade cake. 

I say, why wait till you're thirty to have a cake full of candles?  Enjoy the sparkle!!! Blowing out the candles was truly his favorite part of the entire party. 

Best Wishes!!!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Good Read

This past weekend was a big one for birthdays at Mel & Liza, as we celebrated Melina's son, Henry's, on Saturday and mine on Sunday!

My incredibly thoughtful sister, who always gives the best gifts, is also a talented and passionate (though not officially professional:)) gourmet chef, so I was thrilled when a package arrived from her with this wrapped up for me in it:

Even though I have just started, I can already tell that this is more than just a cookbook to flip through-- it's one I want to sit down with and read through, cover to cover.  With a glowing forward by Mario Batali (Gwyneth's close friend and collaborator on several projects already) and pages of introduction by Gwyneth, the recipes that follow already seem familiar and special, like they've been recommended by friends.  Her approach to cooking conveys a genuine love for food and an appreciation of how meals are integrally related to family, even including a fun section on involving your kids in the kitchen.

A few recipes I'm already dying to try:

Duck Ragu

Crispy Potato & Garlic Cake 

And my sister swears that the simple slow roasted tomatoes are to die for.  
  • Vine-ripened tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, rub with a tiny bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake, seed side up, in a 275°F oven for 3–5 hours, or until they look nearly sun dried (the edges will be caramelized and the moisture will be almost entirely evaporated). These keep, well refrigerated in an airtight container with a bit of olive oil, for at least a week, so make a whole bunch at once.

Have a great day! 



Monday, February 27, 2012

Truly Homemade

Two years ago Mr. H made his appearance at Beth Israel Manhattan, and this last week Jake and I celebrated his birthday.  I must admit, I could think of hundreds of birthday parties for girls, but when it comes to little boys, I was out of ideas.  Of course, I could have gone a very commercial route, but somehow an Elmo themed party was not getting me too excited.  
So I turned to Paper Presentation (18th St. btw 5th and 6th Ave) for some inspiration. This is a fabulous paper store full of great looking paper, so I knew I was bound to be inspired by something-- I was running out of time with 72 hours remaining. 

Lucky for me I found this wrapping paper and from there I was on my way to our Homemade Party. I always say to think outside of the box, and using high quality wrapping paper is a fantastic way to add texture to your event.

Henry has a love for cowboy boots, horses, barnyard animals, and ballons. So, I worked hard thinking of ways to combine all of these fun ideas together. First off, the invitation was important to get just right. My dear friend Jane, from Plain Jane's Cards sent me these perfect invitations. I just told her he loves ballons, horses, and is all boy. 

Could they be any cuter?? Check Jane at
 She is AMAZING!!!!

Just a bit of a side note.  I LOVE blogs, but sometimes you see parties and images of events and you think, really? Thats a quick DIY, and it's inexpensive- who are you kidding??
 Now, I am telling you Henry's birthday was truly simple, good looking, and sentimental. Most importantly, the event did not stress us out, which I think is key when celebrating milestones. 

The Low Down; a few tips on keeping it truly simple and homemade.

Uno: Ballons
Ballons are so inexpensive and bring a sense of occasion to any event. Plus Henry LOVES ballons, so when he walked into this room he burst with excitement. 

I also say when you are planning a party, keep it personal. Last summer when we were in Tucson, I picked up these fun traditional Mexican banners, and they were the perfect addition.  

Dos: Color
Color is everything. I think if you have a fun coordination of color, life is brought to any event. Lucky for me, my friend Frances Bailey of has given me bright fabrics and serving platters. In the end the room was covered in blues, reds, whites, oranges, and a bit of green. 

Come back on Wednesday for the full reveal.  I promise you this party was truly pocket friendly, stress free, and so much fun. 



Friday, February 24, 2012

I Heart Zara

Our crazy-cold weather has finally broken, and temperatures soared this week here in Vienna, even getting above freezing!  Although I wouldn't say it's here YET, spring is just around the corner, and I'm already looking forward to lighter layers and colors.

Just wondering what's out there for spring fashion (I haven't been shopping in a while--trying to be good!), I found myself glued to the Zara website and picking out about half of their collection for my imaginary shopping cart.  I love the colors-- mint, pale raspberry, greens and yellows-- and the light, flowy textures in this season's collection.  Yes, please!

Ok, I have to admit, I already have this one, and it's an even better color in person:

Enjoy the last bit of winter, because spring is nearly here!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Favorite

Marc Jacobs' Fall 2012 show was full of inspiration.  The collection is a throw back to an Old English style meets modern lady.

 “Oliver Twist-ed!” said Jacobs post show. “My team and I just started having so much fun, and kind of got carried away as we played with these new silhouettes and started mixing things up in eccentric but modern ways.”

Get Inspired!!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kitchen Redo

We were thrilled that our apartment in Vienna came with a kitchen. 

It sounds funny, but coming from Berlin, where every apartment we looked at and lived in came only with a freestanding sink and stove (no countertops or cabinets!!), this tiny, professionally installed kitchen seemed like a big step up. 

Though here we faced some new challenges: not enough counter space and storage space, and only a small hole where the college-sized refrigerator is meant to go.  There are some things I just can't seem to adjust to, and living out of a tiny refrigerator with a freezer the size of a cereal box is apparently one of them.  Call me American:)

 Making plans...

The counter space and storage issue we tackled with some basic wooden exposed shelving and a trip to IKEA for this UDDEN stainless steel topped kitchen unit (which I see is strangely unavailable in the US).

Once we had enough space to put everything, I started thinking about how I could perk the room up a bit.  The hardwood floors are gorgeous, but with the white walls, wooden dining room table and those light wood colored cabinets, the whole space was pretty BORING.  Since we're renting, and at the end of our time here we will need to repaint any walls back to white again, I didn't really love the idea of changing up the walls.  For some reason, though, we are allowed to paint the cabinets without changing them back-- perfect solution!

Before starting on my cabinet transformation, I decided to make the surface a bit more interesting than the smooth, modern look they came with.  So, at my local hardware store I picked up some inexpensive wooden molding to make into trim.  

This is one of my favorite projects for painted furniture!  If you want to dress it up a little and add some interesting detail to a simple dresser or cabinet, this is an easy and inexpensive way to do it.  If you have a power miter saw, perfect, but don't worry if you don't. Our power tools are back in storage in the US, so this whole project was done without it.  All you need is a plastic miter box saw for cutting accurately at an angle like this one, which will cost you less than $10.  

Plus some thin nails or all purpose super glue:

And a good ruler or measuring tape.  Measure twice at least!  It will save you a trip back to the hardware store, I promise.

The color I chose in the end was inspired by this amazing before and after on Design*Sponge (this couple poured their own concrete countertops to save money-- now THAT is an impressive DIY project!).  I don't usually like dark paint for a kitchen, since it can make the space look claustrophobic and heavy, but this room is so large and white that I decided it could handle a wall of cabinets painted in ink blue.

The finished product:

Be sure to notice the cute hand towel and cucina sign that compliment the blue-- both gifts from Mel:)

Have a great day!


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