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A Hanukkah Celebration

November 28th, 2018

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My friend, Jane, has incredible taste and she happens to be a fabulous hostess.  When she invited a small group of friends for a Chanukah celebration, no one knew what to expect, since none of us celebrated Chanukah.  Jane made sure to tell us prior to the evening, that we weren’t expected to do anything special, just to come and enjoy the beautiful dinner she prepared for us.

First, I noticed the elegance of the table.  Jane didn’t dress the table with a lot of items, just a few beautiful elements that played off each other.  Her centerpiece was a wire and bead art piece which traveled across the table.  Her placemats mimicked the look with a silver wire design.  Jane also mixed her metals to bring in the gold of the chocolate coins and the silver of the table decor.  Of course, she brought in some blue with the small votives at each place setting.

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The menu was full of home-made foods which looked beautiful but simple to prepare. 

To end the evening, we toasted champagne and mentioned how grateful we were to have each other in our lives.  I love experiencing my friends’ hospitality.  As always, Jane did an outstanding job creating a warm and loving atmosphere which we all cannot wait to experience again.

The Golden Turkey

November 17th, 2018

My friend Rachel has a saying…”It’s not Thanksgiving at Arina’s until the Golden Turkey Appears!”

She’s right, when the golden turkey makes its way to the kitchen, Thanksgiving can officially commence! Of course, I start displaying the golden turkey waaaayyy before Thanksgiving.  We change its placement in accordance to the party theme.  For cocktail parties, you’ll find it at the bar or appetizer table.  For family dinners, we’ll display it on the buffet section of the kitchen.  Sometimes, I’ll even place it in odd little nooks just to be funny, it’s a lot like an elf on a shelf except you can touch it, rub it, reposition it, bend it, and pretty much have fun with it! It’s quite the conversation piece.

We acquired this big bird at a garage sale and I probably paid $3 for it.  Ironically,  it has given us so much entertainment and fun that it has become one of our cherished family pieces. I know my boys will be fighting over who gets the golden turkey (HA! Probably not!).

I guess my point is, consider having one or two fun pieces that you traditionally display during the holidays. In addition to the  expensive crystal, fine china, or grandmother’s silver, maybe you too can find yourself a golden turkey!

 

Family Thanksgiving Celebration

November 16th, 2018
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Family at the Thanksgiving Table

 

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Simple Thanksgiving Decor

Each year, my sister Anna, volunteers to host Thanksgiving and our family gathers at her home to celebrate the holiday. Anna is a wonderful hostess, I’ve said this many times.  She and I are always stealing each other’s ideas and recipes.  Unlike me, Anna does things very simply with a relaxed feel but always seems to WOW her guests.  She never seems to stress over the details.  Even the few times she’s asked me for help, Anna always seems relaxed and at ease while I’m running around stressing over pretty much everything.  Nevertheless, we always seem to pull off a great party and when working together, we make a good team.

During this particular celebration, her table was simple with red placemats and a bouquet of fresh flowers.  However, she added candlelight as her main decor element, creating a soft, warm, and quiet atmosphere.  She used different style and height crystal candleholders which were set on mirror tiles to reflect the light. She also placed some candles in her silver candleholders on the back buffet. Last but not least, she added some votives to bring various levels of height.  It looked so beautiful.

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Candlelight Everywhere

This look was very minimal but definitely brought the WOW factor.

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Smoked Salmon Appetizers

It’s no secret, our family is ALL ABOUT THE APPETIZERS… Anna always prepares a wonderful appetizer spread that is easy and festive.  Above are the smoked salmon appetizers which she serves at practically every function.  They are served on small pieces of bread, smothered in plain cream cheese and topped off with a generous slice of smoked salmon.  She finishes by sprinkling green onion on top and watches them disappear off the plate in a matter of minutes.

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Veggie Plate and Hummus Dip

I’m always in charge of the veggie plates and dip.

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Veggie Plate and Basil Hummus

This veggie plate featured my favorite basil hummus which I make for practically EVERY occasion.

I also love bringing my beet hummus which adds a vibrant color to an otherwise boring cracker bowl.

The dinner is typically traditional with turkey, cranberry source, her famous mixed roasted vegetables, and of course, mashed potatoes. Here’s my son and my parents enjoying her delicious buffet.

Last but not least, the dessert always comes from The Smoke House Market, which is a wonderful store in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is affiliated with Annie Gunns, which is a famous steak house in St. Louis, and sells many of their freshly prepared food creations. Their pies are in HIGH DEMAND during the holidays and since my niece worked there, we always had fresh pies for Thanksgiving… with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.

All in all, my sister does a fantastic job with Thanksgiving. And I’m alway impressed with how beautifully and seamlessly she executes this annual celebration.

Juliska Holiday Table at Mary Tuttle’s With Bunnies… YES, Bunnies!

November 14th, 2018

I truly enjoy working with Mary Tuttle’s, a beautiful home décor and fresh flower retailer in Chesterfield, Missouri.  I’ve worked for them for over seven years creating their marketing campaigns and developing their marketing strategies.  Walking into their store is like walking into a magazine.  Every nook is filled with inspiration on interior design and entertaining.

Each year, they are part of a tabletop event for a local St. Louis publication.  This year, they chose to create a holiday table with the centerpiece that didn’t include a Santa, Christmas Wreath, or Christmas Tree.  This year, their centerpiece was a bunny.  A cute stone bunny that was tied with a burlap bow, wearing a necklace of cranberries, nestled inside a tartan napkin filled punch bowl… and I’m not done yet…sitting on top of a cake plate covered in pine clippings. Yes, that was the centerpiece and it was DIVINE!!!

The tablecloth was a simple burlap and the place settings were all different, with primarily holiday themed Juliska plates in Country Estate Winter Frolic.  Even the wine glasses were different which added a casual feel to the table which still looked festive and holiday themed.

I love the new tartan napkins and beautiful napkin rings. And of course, a gold votive at every pacesetting is such a wonderful touch.

So for your holidays this year, step out of the box a bit and bring out those bunnies to create something unique and unforgettable! Oh, and most importantly, if you live in St. Louis, stop by Mary Tuttle’s and get inspired with a lot more creative ideas.

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A Fabulous Brunch by my Friend, Rachel!

November 7th, 2018

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I have a wonderful friend named Rachel who is obsessed with Smitten Kitchen.  Rachel invited us to a fabulous bagel brunch at her home.  The bagels were from a famous local bakery where they make water bagels and we were excited to finally sample a few.  Rachel not only supplied the delicious bagels, but she also made several outstanding recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Dash and Bella.  First, she made Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms. They turned out delicious! Secondly, she prepared a Persimmon Salad which not only tasted fabulous but was also one of the most beautiful salads I have ever seen.  Rachel outdid herself and I had to share some photos as well as links to both the recipes. So, if hosting a brunch is in your future, the recipes in this post will be outstanding.

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Craft Club Goodies

November 5th, 2018

I’m shining the spotlight on my friend Rachel again.  Rachel is no stranger to fabulous parties, she organizes fun events which look effortless and always filled with delicious goodies.  For anyone who feels like it takes too much work or preparation to host a book night or craft night, you will love this post.  Hosting these types of mini-parties are very easy and don’t require as much work and planning as a typical party. When Rachel decided to throw a craft night, she asked all the guests to bring their favorite snacks. One guest brought a delicious white bean dip with pretzels.  Another brought home-made chocolate covered pop-corn… SOOO GOOD… and another brought yummy gourmet chocolates.  Rachel did an outstanding job of organizing a night out and creating a fun craft.  And since all the guests were more than happy to bring something fun, Rachel also made her life a little easier.

Stunning Thanksgiving and Christmas Tables Settings

October 31st, 2018
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Gold and red Thanksgiving tablescape from Pottery Barn

Today is Halloween and I’m sad because, if you know me,  you know that I LOVE everything Halloween!  However, I won’t be down for too long because during the holiday season, when one holiday passes, another one is just around the corner!

My focus for the next few weeks is going to be Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about fall… the colors, textures, but most of all, the food! Thanksgiving makes me think of warmth and comfort. I love watching QVC and seeing all the fuzzy blankets, flannel sheets, and pajamas that go on sale. I love the cool crisp air and the fragrance of peoples’ fireplaces burning in the evenings. It’s just a fabulous time of year.

I had a chance to visit Plaza Frontenac, a shopping center in St. Louis, and stop in some of the stores which display beautiful tablesscapes.  Here are some of my favorites.  Also, I am going to show Christmas tablescapes as well since I know some people like to put out their Christmas china on Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!

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Another Pottery Barn Fall Table Setting

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Stunning silver fall table setting from Williams Sonoma

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Loving this color combination of black and gold fall table setting

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Another beautiful Williams Sonoma fall tablescape

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Reindeer, reindeer, reindeer! I can’t help but adore this whimsical reindeer themed place setting from Pottery Barn

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Plaid tableware from Pottery Barn. I will always love plaid. It’s one of the most classic and elegant winter patterns. I can definitely see using these plates and mugs even after the holidays.

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Plaid and Santa… Need I say more? Pottery Barn never disappoints.

 

Halloween Book Club

October 29th, 2018
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Spooky Bloodied Eye Punch

Recently, I attended a SPOOKY book club which was beautifully organized by a mom from our school.  “How did you do all this, Mini”, everyone asked. Mini wasn’t secretive about how she was able to create such a fabulous buffet while being a working mom…. she outsourced everything!

As a hostess who loves to outsource myself, I always keep an eye out for great places to contact when I am throwing my own shindig.  Mini contacted Straub’s, which is a local supermarket that specializes in gourmet food.  The book we discussed was Educated by Tara Westover, which is a wonderful book… I highly recommend it! But I have to admit, the highlight to my evening was the beautiful way Mini entertained her room full of guests and the delicious accompaniments to the wonderful book discussion.

I loved the stuffed mushrooms and the melted cheese with chutney. The chicken skewers were also easy to eat and delicious.  However, my favorite part of the appetizer buffet was the Bloody Eye Punch.  It was a mixture of juices topped of with a little champagne.

Spooctacular Halloween Party Buffet

October 23rd, 2018
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Halloween Party Buffet

My friend Maureen, is a party genius! She throws many beautiful parties for all sorts of occasions, but her Halloween parties are simply SPOOCTACULAR!!! Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late to photograph the buffet before other guests arrived, so you are seeing things which have already been enjoyed.  But I think you can get some fun ideas and inspirations if you are planning your own Halloween party.  One of the things that I loved is she set-up this entire spread on her pool table.  This gave her plenty of room to have a large buffet without having to put two tables together or take up extra room with more set-up.

I think Maureen included almost every Halloween recipe.  The puking pumpkin, hot dog wrapped mummies, witchs’ fingers, pumpkins, skeletons, green dips, white dips, cakes, chips, pizza… I can go on and on!

Kudos to Maureen for all her fun ideas.  It was a real treat for everyone who attended!

Simple and Adorable HALLOWEEN Goodies For Your Next Halloween Party!

October 22nd, 2018
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Two of the moms who made the party possible!

As some of you may know, Halloween is my FAVORITE time of year.  I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, but Halloween…. OH… it just gives me so many more opportunities to be creative! Plus, I also love seeing how creative other people can be and this is why I spend way more time than I should on Pinterest and Instagram looking for fun and innovative recipes for my Halloween parties.  Each year, I throw a Halloween bash (or what I like to call a Halloween Taste Testing) every Friday for the entire month of October.  I invite my friends, my sons’ friends and their parents, and anyone who wants to come! I ask everyone to bring a Halloween dish they love and we set it out on the buffet. Then, we all try what was created and talk about our favorites.

The below goodies were created by the many parents who attended and were considered the favorites of the taste testing! Enjoy!

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Delicious Rice Krispie Treat Monsters.

The above Halloween Rice Krispie Treat Monsters are made just like any Rice Krispie treats.  However, I also dipped the top portion in candy melts and my son decorated them with various sprinkles and candy eyes.  They came out adorable.

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Yummy vegetable jack-o-lanterns filled with healthy vegetables.

My friend Rhae brought these healthy jack-o-lantern pepper snacks.  A wonderful and healthy addition to the table!

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Halloween Cheese and pretzel broom sticks… so CLEVER!

This pretzel and mozzarella stick broomsticks are ADORABLE.  I love the presentation as well.  Just two ingredients and a wonderful salty addition to a sweet buffet!  Way to go, Carrie!

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Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats

One of the moms brought these Halloween Candy Corn Rice Krispie treats.  I love how she packaged them (many kids took one home as a favor), brought them in a basket, and even displayed the recipe for anyone else who wants to try making them.  So thoughtful!!

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Halloween Skeleton Slow Cooked Weenies (A.K.A. Guts)

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Halloween Skeleton Weenies (A.K.A. Guts)

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Helping herself to some Skeleton Guts!

OOOOHHHH… SOOOO GROSS!!! But it’s Halloween… RIGHT??!! My friend Gina (not the one pictured above), is super creative and brought the ULTIMATE snack to the party!  She needed some extra space and set-up time, but this incredible treat was a SHOW STOPPER!!! The kids loved it.  She dressed up a skeleton and inserted a slow-cooker inside his chest filled with BBQ mini hotdogs or cocktail smoked sausages.  She also brought Hawaiian buns to pair with the mini hotdogs. The kids  (and adults) had a treat scooping the “guts” or hot dogs on to their plate.  I know… I know… not for the faint of heart, but it’s HALLOWEEN!!!

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Yummy cookie pizza

You can’t go wrong with a cookie pizza and this dessert was a fun treat for our guests.  Loved this creative idea from one of our moms!

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Brownie Monsters

These adorable brownie monsters made everyone smile!  They are simple brownies with candied eyes and a gummy worm as a tongue! Another dessert winner on the buffet!

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Mini Chocolate Bar Robots for Halloween

This dessert was such a fun idea  Simply take any mini chocolate bar, insert pieces of pretzels for the legs and arms, and decorate with candy sprinkles on the body.  You can make them look like anything, monster, spiders, and in this case, robots!

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Halloween Candy ghosts

Hate trying to make your cake pops look perfect? Here’s the answer! These wonderful cake pops did not have to be perfectly round to be  winners.  Once they were dipped in candy melts, they simply were allowed to free form.   After the candy melts set a bit, the mom carved in some faces, which also did not need to be perfect.  Two thumbs up for this fun and creative dessert!

I love how these adorable desserts looked together!

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My Halloween flowers. I love how some stores dye their flowers black during Halloween. It gives me so many ideas for arrangements.  I also love the background of the skeleton.  Sort of reminds me of a grave!  Okay, now I’m getting a bit gory!

Adorable Halloween guests.

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Halloween Orange Jack-O-Lanterns filled with fruit salad.

I always give two thumbs up to anyone who brings healthy desserts.  This mom went all out and created these fun Halloween orange Jack-O-Lanterns.  She filled them with fruit salad and voila!