Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018 Wine Club Christmas

Christmas season is in full swing and our dance cards have been packed with parties and get-togethers. I again had the chance to host Wine Club Christmas last week and we had a lovely time! Here are some snapshots from the night, along with some recipe links to the delicious treats we ate.

I set the table with a red striped runner and these very, very cute scalloped-edge napkins from Target. Wherever I go, red, white and blue always seem to pop up.

I love any excuse to bust out all the blue and white china I've collected over the past few years, and show off my handmade mug collection. Using storebought puff pastry, I made two types of breadsticks (both delicious!) based on this Martha Stewart recipe. It was so easy peasy! One batch was parmesan and cayenne pepper, while the other was Everything seasoned.

I welcomed our guests with some good old-fashioned Glogg (that has to be one of the most fun words to say out loud) — wine mulled with spices and served warm.

I did some prep but Sean did the heavy lifting, so here's a great shot of me wearing my mom's apron while Sean does all the work.

My favorite Pinterest-sourced idea: a Christmas tree veggie tray! I used a cookie cutter to trim slices of cheddar into stars and then laid some pretzel sticks to form a trunk.

I also served my very first hard-but-worth-it sugar cookies with royal icing (these deserve a whole separate post). I used this Tasty recipe for the cookies and bought royal icing mix, just to make the whole process a little easier for a newbie. I may have lost my mind and made custom icing colors matched to my gift wrapping scheme because...well, I'm a little bit extra.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the piece de resistance, so here's an old screengrab from an Insta Story: Sean's extra delicious Bucatini Amatriciana with crispy prosciutto. He's made it twice now and it is a bonafide HIT and everyone in Wine Club loved it.

And as if all that wasn't enough, I also tested my baking skill and made this hot cocoa cheesecake, which required a water bath that — of course — seeped a little bit in at the bottom and maybe made my crust too soft. You can't win 'em all, but the cheesecake itself (topped with a layer of ganache) was perfect.

It was a wonderful night of fellowship with my best gals to close out our NINTH year. Obviously we have to make 2019 a truly baller year befitting our decade of monthly get-togethers!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Christmas Wrapping Scheme 2018

The holidays turn my Martha Stewart-wannabe levels up to 11, and wrapping presents is no exception. I'm now in my 12th year of choosing a wrapping scheme and running with it! I started doing this my first Christmas after college and it's such a fun little design challenge for my brain to see how many combinations I can create from a tight color or pattern scheme.

This year's scheme is — drum roll here — GREEN AND PINK! I had this vision in my mind of a Wes Andersonian color scheme of variations of mossy green and bubblegum pink, with accents of gold. It took me a minute to realize apparently "The Royal Tenenbaums" title card has imprinted on my brain!

The idea sprung from a roll of peachy-pink floral paper designed by Kelsey Garrity Riley that I picked up at O'Suzannah in Charlottesville, one of my all-time favorite gift and stationary stores. From there, I picked up beautiful marbled green and pink papers, plus watercolor greenery paper, at Paper Source. I found the polka dot green paper at Target and the perfect bubblegum pink at Dollar Tree.

My very favorite part of wrapping, however, is getting very frisky with the trimmings. I picked up a spool of pale pink velvet ribbon at Target, dip-dyed green ribbon and moss satin ribbon from Michael's, and pink sequin trim, pale pink vine and olive ribbon at Hobby Lobby. In the scrapbooking section, I found a bag of gold tassels for $2.99.

Check the detail on that marbling! So pretty.

Wrapping presents is truly one of my favorite parts of this season. I totally zen out wrapping, drinking eggnog and watching cheesy Netflix Christmas movies in my Terrific Lady Room (my version of a man cave). May I recommend "Christmas With a View" starring nobodies, alongside Vivica A. Fox and Patrick Duffy?

See previous wrapping schemes:

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Birthday Weekend: Crafts Galore and Winesgiving 2018

Call me Priyanka Chopra because I was basically super busy globe-trotting (or...Virginia-trotting) for all of November and life ain't slowing down one bit. I had a truly wonderful birthday full of friends and laughter this year and thought I'd share a few pics of our celebrations!

Amber's Favorite Things Birthday

One of my lifelong icons is Oprah, and I love the audacity of her Favorite Things. Jokingly, I said I wanted to have an Oprah-themed birthday inspired by Amber's Favorite Things and thus, my birthday party theme was born. When I thought about it, my favorite things are: breakfast pastries, crafting, mimosas and girl time. So, I invited my girlfriends over for a crafternoon brunch!

The dress code was "luxurious loungewear" and I ordered beautiful pastries from May's Parlor in Virginia Beach. The only food I had to "make" were the straight-from-Pinterest baguette cups filled with hummus and bell peppers.

My handmade mug collection ready for duty.

My sweet friend Kate brought her espresso machine over and made lattes to order for everyone (what a rockstar!).

Once the living room was set up for crafting, it basically looked like I'm running an at-home preschool art program. I was truly shocked to find out I had more art supplies to share than I could put out on one table — I have a hobby problem.

I even took a cue from Oprah and hid a few of my "favorite things" as party favors around the room. We had an impromptu scavenger hunt and people got to take home some of my iconic faves: Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers, orange Tic Tacs, Sour Patch Kids, and more.

For my craft, I ultimately just practiced my watercolor brush lettering and added some words to a friend's moon and stars paintings.

A couple friends made wreaths, like Ashleigh's winter showstopper here...

And Kate even taught herself some origami from YouTube!

It was such a fun day of just gabbing and crafting, and I honestly might want to do that quarterly.

Winesgiving 2018

The very next day, Wine Club convened for what is arguably our favorite "wine club" day of the year: Winesgiving! We introduced Winesgiving maybe five years ago and it is basically the Thanksgiving of my dreams. We all pile into cars and convene at The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, where we collectively spend approximately $200 on gourmet sandwiches, cheeses, jams, crackers, cookies, chocolate and whatever random foods we can't resist. We stock up on our favorite snack: Torres black truffle potato chips. And then we set out for a winery to partake in wine, cheese and fellowship!

This year we ventured again to Gauthier Vineyard in New Kent County, which has a beautiful lake view and fantastic fire pit!

Stacie surprised us with matching wine tumblers that all said "#winesgiving" and we were arguably the most obnoxious clique to ever take over a winery.

It was a fantastic cap to an excellent birthday and I couldn't be more grateful for the friendship and fellowship that enriches my life. As I've aged, I've realized how rare it is to forge deep connections to form and maintain adult friendships, but I've been exceptionally lucky to have found so many members of my tribe.