new year's eve

I will be on an airplane when the ball drops tonight. What are you all going to do? Hope it's more fun than that. Can you drink a bubbly beverage for me!? I am SO looking forward to 2013 - 2012 was a bit of a struggling year for us.  My husband got hurt, hospitalized and was out of work for 3 months. And just recently I was rear-ended at 40 mph and it totaled my car. 2013 has to be better for us! I hope the same for all of you.

Look at this cute idea from Bloom. It is so cute and kids would love it! 

pottery barn :: winner

Yay! I'm grinning ear to ear... I just found out that I am the winner of the Pottery Barn Mystery Box Challenge.  Thanks to ALL who voted! When I was asked to participate, I never expected to come out on top.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

pottery barn :: mystery box challenge

I am SO excited to share today's post with you! I was recently asked by Pottery Barn (I know crazy, right!?) to participate in a fun little competition - a "Mystery Box Challenge". Along with four other bloggers also asked to participate, I received a box of Pottery Barn products to create a holiday entertainment display. It was so much fun!!!

When the box arrived, I was giddy as a little school girl! The UPS man was basically Santa Claus to me that morning. I opened, and opened, and opened.... Ornaments. LOTS of ornaments! The only rule - Use the ornaments (just some or all) in any way you like, just not on a Christmas tree. In addition to being allowed to use anything I already owned, I was also given $50 to shop for additional decor, fabric and/or food to make the display complete.

For my design concept, I had a few starting off points. I wanted to use what I either already had in my house and/or what I could find for cheap - or even better free! First, since Hurricane Sandy left us in the northeast with a windfall of tree branches, I used tree limbs as well as evergreen boughs to create an arrangement in a large urn from my front porch. Secondly, since a lot of the ornaments I received from Pottery Barn were purple and gold I decided to run with that color scheme - especially since that is the same colors I use on my main Christmas tree! Also, I knew I wanted to use my sunroom as the set-up area because nothing beats natural light when you are trying to photograph. (Speaking of the photographs, my friend Stephanie Anestis Photography took all the beautiful photos!) And lastly, you know me and my sweet tooth - I just had to incorporate some of my desserts. So, without further ado, here is my design...

I hung some of the ornaments from the branches in the urn but, I also used the Pottery Barn ornaments in three other creative ways.

1. I used color coordinated ornaments as focal points in my garland design.  In the center mirror, I used the Plum Finial Glass Ornament. Hanging from the garland are the Gold Ecelctic Beaded Spire Ornaments.

2. I transformed the Mercury Glass Ball Ornaments into standing holders - this idea can be used for both place card or food tag holders.  I used them as food tag holders. (If used as a sitting place card holder, the ornament could do double duty as a favor for guests as well.) To make, I simply used a hot glue gun to put three glue balls on the bottom to act as little gripper feet. After the glue dried, I also glued the food tag to the top of the ornament.

3. I used the Jeweled Oval Frame Ornament as a gift tag on a gift.  In addition to providing recipient and giver information for the gift, the ornament also serves as an extra little gift atop the present.

Here are some more pictures showing my holiday entertaining display...

The other bloggers participating need no introduction - they are amazing and I'm honored to be included in such great company - but just in case you don't know one or two of them, here is the list.

Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home
Cyd Converse, The Sweetest Occasion
Kelly Lyden, The Party Dress Blog
Shelley O'Donnell, Divine Party Concepts

Okay, so go vote for your favorite design!
(Insert shameless plug here - I would love for you to vote for my design! I'll be your best friend!)

I know I was lucky to be selected to participate, but now you can be lucky, too!  All you have to do is VOTE! One lucky voter will receive their very own Pottery Barn Mystery Box. So again I say...

Go vote!

Disclosure: I was not paid to participate, but did receive products on behalf of Pottery Barn.

{All design & styling by A. Party Style, LLC. :: All photos taken by Stephanie Anestis Photography}

kilt cupcakes

Some orders I get are very specific and to be honest, some get me very nervous. Nervous that I won't be able to create what the client has in mind. Last week, I had a cupcake order to fill for a wedding shower tea celebrating the marriage of a Scottish gentleman and his African bride. The place where Andrew, the groom, works hosted the event and asked that I make little kilts to top the cupcakes. Not only was that challenging enough, they also asked that the plaid be the specific tartan to his family. Yeap, I was nervous. After it was all said and done though, I think they turned out great. Whew!

halloween recap

First, I have to say my thoughts and prayers continue to be with my fellow east coasters suffering from Sandy's destruction. Our power came back on in time for a regular night of trick-or-treating and that normalcy was great for the kids. My girls went as a flamingo and a mermaid this year. But the area is still far from normal.

While we are talking about Halloween one last time for the year, here are some pictures from a recent Halloween dessert table I did - all witch themed. (I was going to share before the actual holiday, but having no power compromised that. Oh well, hopefully you can stock up some ideas for next year.) Note the little witch hat spoon toppers for the pumpkin mousse cups and the broom stick donut holders?  So cute,m right!? I originally saw them from this gorgeous Halloween party styled by the talented Paula of Frog Prince Paperie.

shoe and purse cake

This was a recent cake I did for a 13th birthday party. Instead of making all the purses and shoes out fondant/gumpaste, I used ornaments from my master bedroom Christmas tree with the same theme.  I would never be able to get that level of detail at that scale. It was a win-win... easier for me and cheaper for my client. Happy 13th, Victoria!!!

national root beer float day

My favorite - Root Beer!!! The only thing better than a root beer float would be a root beer float cocktail! I was recently introduced to Three-Olive's Root Beer Vodka and loved it!  Now, I'm thinking I should try this...

Root Beer Float Cocktail

2 oz. Three Olive's Root Beer Vodka
4 oz. Root Beer
Float 1 vanilla ice cream scoop on top


xmas in july :: wish list

To wrap up the "Christmas in July" series, I'm going to share a few of my wish list items. Maybe it will give you some ideas as well.

I am a firm believer that there is always more to learn. The online cake decorating classes available from Craftsy look fabulous and I would love to take them.

Continuing on the theme of always learning, I also want this book by Lena Malouf. 

I might be too practical, but this handset would make my life much easier. I am constantly on my iPhone while working at my desk. Holding this between my shoulder and cheek would be much more comfortable. I also bet it would be easy to hear as well as speak into - call me a traditionalist, but I like old school handsets. There are many colors available, but I have to go with purple obviously! 

xmas in july :: winter's night dessert table

Last year, I donated a dessert table to a fundraising event at my daughter's school. The event was held right after the holidays, but I thought I would still share photos as part of the "Christmas in July Series" since the event theme was "A Winter's Night". In addition to my dessert table, guests were spoiled with delicious food from Park Central Tavern, drinks from Cork & Barrel and top-notch entertainment including music, dancing, comedy and poetry performed by parents of the school. There was also a silent auction with terrific items. It was a first class evening and will definitely sell-out again this year!

In addition to my donation, I was also asked to decorate the tables for the event. Given the limited budget, I thought the venue looked really nice all aglow with white, ivory and blue. The fact that we had several inches of snow fall the same day as the event, was so apropos.

xmas in july :: simple dessert trays

This is a dessert tray I quickly put together for my husband's office last holiday season. Mini cupcakes and macarons... Even though they are simple desserts on a simple platter, I think they look pretty tasty. When entertaining during the holidays, make your presentation easy so you can enjoy the party, too!

xmas in july :: new home christmas card

Every year, my husband and I design our own Christmas cards. On Christmas Eve of last year (crazy, I know!), we moved into our new house. Since the timing coincided (and it reduced my workload!), we wanted to combine our holiday card with our moving announcement. I didn't know what I was going to do until I saw this design from my friend, and the always creative, Kim from The TomKat Studio. 

Along with the 3-D ornaments, I added "We are decking NEW halls this holiday season". I thought it captured both purposes of the correspondence beautifully.  

(As much as I love visitors, I want you to call before you come, hence fuzzing out the address. Ha!)

xmas in july :: ice cream and christmas

So, I'm a day late and a dollar short - what's new!? Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day and I had a post prepared to share, but missed the actual day. I couldn't stand not showing you these adorable ice cream ornaments though. National Ice Cream Day and Christmas in July are surprisingly a perfect match.

Some you can buy...

Or how about making your own...

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