Valentine's Day DIY Ladies Night

What better way to get in the Valentine's Day mood, than sipping champagne and mingling with your girlfriends for a fun do-it-yourself candle making bash?!

Shop my look: Dress by Alexis Odette Dress, Shoes by Aquazzara

This past week, one of my good friends and fellow DIY'er Melanie, owner of Petit Elephant NYC, and I hosted a fabulous and over the top Valentine's Day themed event. The ladies were treated to a delicious champagne punch with strawberry and raspberry infused ice cubes, a chocolate fountain and of course champagne jello shots in the shape of hearts. Some of the event features were a "Kiss Me Wall", photo booth using the InstaX Mini 8 camera for instant pictures as well as adorable Valentine's Day Themed props!  An incredible raffle sponsored by Glam Squad which is having a special promo right now $25 off your first booking using code GLAMLOVE25, Jeff Lake Camp, Current Fitness, CleoNYC Chloe and Isabel and of course Petit Elephant! 

However, the biggest focus of the night was on the fun DIY craft that I put together; candle making! I created two super sentual choice for the ladies to choose from. The first scent was a mix of citrus notes and was cleverly called Love Spell, the second option was a seductive sweet chocolate scent. I used essential oils that are safe for the skin. The candle wax is made from all natural soy and can be used as massage oil when melted. How perfect, right?!

First, the ladies decorated their candle tin with crystals and personal touches that Melanie and I carefully arranged at each place setting including labels that they could write a personal message on, or simply a "Made With Love" label.  I then went around the tables and taught the ladies one-on-one, how to set up the candle wick to get it ready for the wax to be poured. Once they completed this, they came to the kitchen where I had the hot candle wax in the two enticing scents. I explained to our guests, as they decided over their scents, how the wax is melted and what it looks like pre-heated. I explained how I prefer to use soy wax chips because I like the way they melt quickly and it makes my job super easy! I stressed the importance of safety during candle making through-out the demo. I used a double boiler to prevent over-heating the wax which could catch on fire if left over direct heat. I also, showed them how I used a thermometer to monitor the heat of the wax. The wax should always be poured at a temperature of approximately 130-150 degrees. 

I love crafting, but not everyone shares this same interest. Seeing the look of joy and accomplishment on their faces when there were done is so empowering. I love showing how easy many DIY projects can be, and also how fun!

The night finished with our lucky raffle winners being chosen. However, no one went home empty handed along with their DIY candle, the woman personally selected a piece of lingerie from the La Mariee Lingerie Sample sale.

For more information on this event, please contact me or leave a comment below.

Check out more photos from the event!

Easy Tips for Entertaining a Kid Filled Holiday Event... Featuring Chic Chef Joanna

joanna entertaining.jpg

1- Entertaining for all ages: Make sure you have food items that will cater to all ages, along with the old family recipes or pot luck foods, prepare food that picky eaters will enjoy as well; like chicken fingers, pasta. It's always fun to introduce traditional family recipes to the kids but sometimes it's hard to make sure they've eaten enough at large family parties. Especially with all the sweets around. Joanna recommends checking to make sure there are no food allergies. This will show you really took the time to consider everyone!

2- Table Decor- This is such a fun and create part of entertaining. But don't forget, the kids won't want to sit at the table for long. Incorporate holiday crafts for the kids on the table and this will help keep them in their seats longer and make your meal more enjoyable! Try having crayons or markers at the table with paper, you can print out holiday prints or activities like these from http://www.dltk-holidays.com/xmas/worksheets.htm. Take it even further and have snowflake shaped paper.  Simply take a few sheets of white paper and cut out the shape. Here's how... Instructables.com.  Joanna recommends having the kids decorate their own Gingerbread Cookies. Make your own or try this simple kit. Wilton Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Kit

3- Family Christmas Stories- This is something everyone will enjoy, not just the kids! Have everyone write their favorite family christmas or holiday story on a paper and put in a center bowl. Then as the dinner goes on you can take turns pulling out a paper and reading the story. This is a fun way to share memories and walk down memory lane. The kids will love hearing all the stories!! 

4- Hot Cocoa StationMake a DIY hot chocolate station for the kids (adults will love this too!) Prepare hot cocoa and put in a warming pitcher.. check out this one from Greville.  Then, have marshmallows, cinnamon, whipped cream and candy canes on the table so your guests can make it their way! To avoid spills you can buy the to-go coffee cups like these from Bed Bath and Beyond by Dixie. For adults you can also provide rum or try this recipe from Baileys that is a favorite in my family, Baileys Irish Cream Recipe. Not huge hot chocolate lovers? Well, Joanna always serves a drink called Scropino. It's Prosecco, a splash of vodka and a scoop of lemon sorbet! "Add a sprig of rosemary to make it festive" says Joanna. For the kids, try sparkling water and a scoop of lemon sorbet. 

5. Seasonal Produce- Joanna recommends making the most of seasonal items. Shop the local market and find out what is only available during the holidays. It's a fun way to try new recipes and the seasonal produce is always fresher and riper. Her kids love the Cotton Candy Grapes that actual taste like cotton candy. Amazing, right?! But for adults try something like this amazing lettuce that is only available during certain months of the year. See more benefits to buying seasonally! 

Chic Chef: Garlic & Herb Pressed Chicken & Tips on Elegant Table Decor

Today, Joanna is serving up more than an amazing dinner dish idea. Although, yes, she's doing that too... 

Every time I have dinner at their apartment, I leave always wanting to know how she pulled that off! Two busy kids, two dogs and she still manages to make the most delicious meals and have fresh flowers!! So, for all of you out there wondering the same thing, I've asked her how she does it; make my mouth drop and water all at the same time. 

Here's how she likes to make a lasting impression.. as if her cooking isn't enough!

"I pretty much use this table setting all the time with the variation of flowers and candles. For the most formal or informal gatherings I like to keep it simple. I love the natural and warm look of the rattan place matts against the Italian China. I rarely ever use table cloths, but always use really nice pressed napkins. It makes a huge difference, when they are nicely pressed." - Joanna Moeller 

"I make this dish quite often when I'm entertaining. It's versatile, ( you can always alter the recipe with whatever herbs or veggies you have on hand),  easy to make (since its all in one pan!) and everyone loves it!" - Joanna Moeller

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone in and skin on organic chicken breasts cut each breast in half so that you have 8 pieces.
  • a bag of baby Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3rds
  • 5 shallots cut in halves
  • 10-12 pieces of frozen (thawed) quartered artichoke hearts 
  • 2 lemons

Marinade mixture:

  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • the zest of one fresh lemon
  • 2 tbs lemon pepper seasoning
  • about 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt to taste 
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Preheat oven to 425 Degrees
  1. Start by either in a food processor or chopping by hand, the garlic and the herbs. Add in the lemon pepper seasoning, fresh lemon zest, olive oil , a squeeze of one whole lemon and plenty of salt. 
     
  2. Rub all over washed and completely dried chicken pieces and marinade for up to 2 hrs. (if you dot have time to marinate, this dish comes out just fine!)
     
  3. In a large skillet such as a cast iron, add a little olive oil to the pan on medium high, wait for pan to get nice and hot, arrange your chicken pieces skin side down. Put another heavier pot directly on top of the chicken so that it is pressed down. Be patient and let the chicken get lots of color before turning. This should take about 8 min. Once the chicken is very brown and crispy turn over and press again but only for about 4 min. 
     
  4. Remove chicken and put aside. 
     
  5. Add Potatoes and shallots to the pan season with salt and pepper. 
     
  6. Cook on medium high heat until potatoes and shallots are caramelized.
     
  7. Add the thawed artichoke hearts and cook for a few more min.
     
  8. Squeeze the juice of one whole lemon on the potato mixture. 
     
  9. Add the Chicken and Juices to the pan and put into the oven for about 25 min. Until the potatoes are tender.
     
  10. Finish the dish with more fresh lemon juice

**I love serving a nice big green salad along with this dish and dinner is done**

Chic Chef: Italian Wedding Soup

Check out our Featured Mom, Joanna Moeller's, at home version of Italian Wedding Soup. 

There is something in this dish everyone in the family will enjoy.  I know it looks so hard... but here is how she does it! It's so simple. See how she breaks down each step.

This is a wonderful and easy soup recipe that both children and grown ups love. It's great for a week night dinner or also to serve for guests.


Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1lb. Of ground pork. (You may also substitute ground chicken or turkey) 
  • I cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • About a 1/2 cup of whole milk ( you want the meatball mixture to be very moist) 
  • Salt and pepper

Remainder Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of yellow onion chopped
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 and 1/2 container of chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb or box of small pasta such as orzo
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by making your meatball mixture. 
  2. Put olive oil into pot set stove to medium high
  3. Brown in batches in a heavy bottom pot such as a Dutch oven or any soup pot is fine. Set aside browned meatballs.
  4. Put in your vegetables except for the spinach. (That goes in last. )
  5. Sauté for about 2 min. 
  6. Add stock, salt/ pepper meatballs
  7. Summer for about 20 Min. 
  8. Add pasta directly to pot and cook for another 8 min. 
  9. Throw in the chopped spinach
  10. And serve with plenty of grated Parmesan

Enjoy!

Chic Sugar's Sweet Cake Party

Brinkley's and Brent's birthdays are in the same week. I debated having two separate parties but realized that it would be best for everyone if I combined them... I mean come on! Who wants to throw two parties within a week of each other? And also make our friends and family come back twice. Well anyway... I did decide to have my daughters 6th birthday together with my baby's 1st birthday. The venue was easy... it's the public space in our high rise building called The Lounge. It's on the 7th floor right off the indoor pool and gym. And features a private terrace, kitchen, fireplace and pool table. I've actually thrown all the children's 1st birthdays here and was pretty excited to be following in tradition for our newest addition.

So we called our favorite cake decorator and let the planning begin!

Chic Sugar is an amazing cake decorating company. We meet almost 8 years ago when we called her to do Brycen's 1st birthday cake. She also did Brinkley's cake one year and has done them for other birthdays here and there. We knew she'd be able to pull off a "Shimmer and Shine" cake for Brinkley and also replicate the same "BMW" car cake that she made for Brycen, for Brent! Some how in all the talks we collaborated on the idea of her doing cake decorating for the kids and my daughter couldn't be happier! She loves anything sweet and is so into baking and decorating that this was her dream birthday party. And Chic Sugars did not disappoint. She surpassed my wildest dreams and came with boxes and bags full of stencils and molds.. every color in the rainbow colored cakes and fondant for the kids. The decorating table was swarmed with children of all ages just antsy to get their hands dirty! I love cake decorating myself and was seriously jeleous i couldn't get in on the action. But Brent was a little too young for this and we had a music class on the other side of the room for the babies. 

If you ever need a gorgeous custom cake (that is also as equally delicious BTW!) or are also interested in throwing a cake party for your little ones, you can check them out a ChicSugars.com

Family Movie Night

Do's - 

1. Pick a movie everyone will enjoy - If this becomes a battle amongst the kids try picking a few choices and then rotating who chooses or having them choose together earlier that day so they aren't fighting over the movie right before you are ready to start. 

2. Try the classics - Show them movies that you loved as a child!

3. Set the stage - Make the atmosphere conducive to watching a movie. Make it special and fun! Try getting extra large pillows and blankets so everyone can cuddle up and enjoy!

4. Popcorn, candy and drinks - We always have popcorn, candy and drinks which makes it feel like a real movie. See my post under DIY popcorn party for tips on candy for the kids!

5. Make it a bonding experience - Who does't love to cuddle with the kids. Make it a special and memorable time. It's not just movie night; its a time you are all together relaxing as a family. And thats pretty cool. 

Don'ts-

1. Try not to pick movies that may bore the kids. If they lose interest, movie night is over :( So let them weigh in.

2. Don't expect the kids to sit and watch a movie if they have been in all day. Try getting them out for a long walk or park time before the movie so they are eager to sit and relax. 

3. Candy- Giving the kids too much candy at night can be bad for everyone. The sugar rush won't help the littles sit still either. I'm not saying don't offer candy but just be aware of how much they consume!!