Color inspiration No. 4

Pantone coral-01.png

By now almost everyone is familiar with the “Pantone color of the year” phenomenon - since 2000 they have been declaring the ‘it’ color and for 2019 it’s Living Coral. Honestly, we’re not mad about it (some years it’s been confusing).

Now that it’s spring, and summer is almost here, we just had to do a color inspiration around this one. So many ways to use this color in your home or wedding planning! And besides that, it’s such a fun color for nails, lips, a cute new swimsuit… lots of excuses to go shopping. But more than that, we realized when putting this together that it’s actually really versatile, so even if it wasn’t your thing before, don’t write it off just yet.

Bold look - coral doesn’t always have to be a day at the beach, pairing it with moody, deep colors is so striking.

Fresh new take - something about bright greens and oranges in the mix feels so happy, like coral is really living its best life.

Classic interpretation - for a vintage theme or hint of ocean, black, soft pinks and blue-green make a lovely contrast to the bright coral.

See previous color inspiration posts No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 for more ideas!

Our Perfect Picks: Afternoon Tea Party

We covered some of our guidelines and tips for throwing a bridal shower here, but we wanted to spend a little extra time on one of our favorite themes: the afternoon tea party! In addition to bridal showers, afternoon tea parties are great for baby showers, birthdays, mother’s day… but do you really need an excuse anyway? We also love this theme because it’s so customizable - it can be scaled up or down and alternative versions can be tucked in (or be substituted in altogether) with everything else to accommodate dietary needs.

Prep work

IMG_5874.JPG

So, yay for lots of tiny foods! But we have to warn you, it’s a decent amount of work. Like other big meals, we plan out what things can be made ahead and what order everything should be done the day of (no one wants a soggy sandwich). As a general rule, desserts, sandwich fillings and fruit can be prepared 1-2 days before (maybe longer depending on what it is). Finishing dessert touches and sandwiches can be done in the hours before and at the last minute we get our warmed things ready.

Savory bits

We like a mix of traditional and a few things we’ve created along the way. First up, sandwiches. Probably the most commonly thought of one is the cucumber sandwich. We like to do ours with watercress butter and English cucumbers (tip: slice and dry out a bit with paper towels). Chicken salad is another popular one and there are lots of flavors to choose from. Our preference is to make sure to stop processing it before all the ingredients turn into a puree. It could be regional, but a favorite of ours is lox and cream cheese - alternatively you could use a whipped salmon cream cheese. Lastly, we came upon the idea of an open-faced sandwich with Boursin and thinly sliced apple on pumpernickel bread. It’s a fun and surprising addition that also adds a pretty visual element. Most importantly, all the crusts get cut off (it’s a special occasion! plus they might make for a good snack while you’re in the midst of a long prep day…) and we mix up cutting the sandwiches straight or on the diagonal into four tea sandwiches.

Although we don’t include them as often, quiches (mini ones especially) are a great addition. Other British lunch options like sausage rolls or savory pies could be added.

All the desserts

IMG_5875.JPG

Here you can pretty much include as many (or as few) options as you like. We like to have at least three small desserts to round out the meal. Instead of specific types, we think about the flavors (lemon, chocolate, berry, almond) and textures (cake/sponge, biscuit/cookie, tart/pie, mousse/custard). It’s also good to balance heavy and fresh options. We almost need a flow chart for this! Other additions that can be fun (and easily purchased if you want to save some time): macarons, chocolate truffles or special candies.

Necessary extras

We love crumpets. Technically it’s not necessary, but we always like to have them. The trick to preparing them is pretty simple: BUTTER. We prefer to warm them in a skillet and continually add butter on top until it seems like they couldn’t possibly hold any more. Then we cut them into 4 and pile them up, serving them warm.

The other two things we also usually include are scones (fluffy, British style ones, sometimes with currants) and fresh fruit. This meal is not for the carb-faint at heart. And then of course we like to offer a selection of jams and lemon curd. Clotted cream is a bonus addition that can be tricky to find, but really adds to the experience (as an alternative, we’ve had fresh stiffly whipped cream).

Tea+

IMG_5876.JPG

The obvious drink option at a tea party is tea - we’re a bit boring in that we both love a good black tea with milk and sugar, however we like to have a few teapots on hand to make a variety of options if people prefer something different. For a spring/summer tea party infused water, fresh juices and mimosas are the perfect addition. In the winter maybe a hot cider or hot buttered rum might be called for :)

Styling & customizing

The typical tea party is full of flowers, pastels and lots of (hand-wash only) mismatched china. We actually love this aesthetic for a tea party, it feels so British and comfy, almost like you’ve been transported back in time. But if that’s not your thing, it can easily be switched up for something modern, a picnic theme or have some fun with a Mad Hatter tea party. Recently we helped host one at Christmas and changed the menu to have more seasonal flavors, although we still made sure to have some of the classic favorites. Add a menu at each place setting and it feels like the real deal!

Does anyone else love tea parties as much as we do?! While we love hosting and planning, we also love trying various tea houses in the area, maybe we’ll have to share our thoughts on those at some point…

Cupcakes!

kevin.gif

It's hard to say whether cupcakes were ever not a thing, but within the last decade they have become increasingly popular and it's not hard to see why. First of all, it's cake. But the flexibility cupcakes offer is why we love them so much. For one party you can easily have options for size (sorry Kevin), flavor combinations, and food allergies.

But let's be honest, we like them best because of the decorating possibilities. Everything about them from the liner to the frosting to anything you add on top can be adapted for any theme. And when you're finished, they make a lovely display for a party. Even if baking isn't your thing, lots of local shops make delicious cupcakes, we're unabashedly Team Trophy.

If you want to get into making your own, here are our tips for great cupcakes.

Erica's bridal shower cupcakes2.jpg

Sift your dry ingredients.

This isn't something we grew up doing, but man does it make a difference. The easiest way is to have a colander that sits easily inside another bowl so you can fill it with all the dry ingredients and sift together at once. You'll be surprised how many small lumps will need to be broken up at the end that might otherwise not get fully incorporated. As a bonus, they're basically already mixed together! At this point we just add them as directed (bonus tip: don't over-mix!).

Pumpkin creamcheese cupcakes3.jpg

Do a test cupcake. Or two.

Different cupcake batters will rise differently. If it's a new recipes, we will often test out filling the liners to two different levels to see which one ends up with the right shape. Depending on the results, we might also try different oven temperatures (if the cupcakes fall when cooling, dropping the temperature can help) and of course the amount of time.

Erin's mint chocolate flower cupcakes3.jpg

Use portion scoops!

We have a few on hand and this is the easiest way to ensure uniform cupcakes. But, even if they aren't perfect...

Chloe's raspberry vanilla cupcakes8.jpg

Frosting covers a multitude of sins.

And ugly cupcakes.

Despite our best efforts, usually the cupcakes aren't all identical. But that's why someone invented frosting! With just a little bit of practice, you can pipe fluffy frosting like a pro.

Erica's baby shower cupcakes.jpeg

Don't underestimate the power of the cupcake liner.

A simple vanilla or chocolate cupcake with no frills frosting can be transformed with the perfect liner that matches your party theme. When in doubt though, kraft liners are versatile and let the frosting and/or topper shine.

pear cupcakes.png

Sometimes you need a topper

Not all cupcakes should have one and often sprinkles are the perfect finishing touch, but sometimes you have an idea that puts it over the top and you just can’t resist (like making tiny pears out of marzipan or tiny paper boats). We also like adding tiny food that hints at the flavor: mini peanut butter cups or tiny white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Although we hate to admit it, the topper is often the most fun part to think about and create!

Also a shout-out to our favorite local shop that covers all our baking needs! Home Cake Decorating Supply Co. has been around since 1962 and is the BEST place in Seattle for baking supplies (anything you can imagine, you'll find it there). The prices are just as good (often better!) than what you can get online, plus they are always friendly and happy to chat about your creative adventure.

Happy baking!

Party Mixology: what's on our bar cart?

IMG_9807.JPG

The bar cart or bar station is really making a comeback and it’s so fun! Actually one of the things we like most about it are the vintage vibes, which if you really need vintage bar inspiration you should check out The Kitchy Kitchen (she also has great cocktail recipes). Obviously you can take it any direction you like - modern, farmhouse, colorful, retro - and then purchase, make or collect pieces that work for your style. We thought it would be fun to show you what we like on a bar cart and a few ideas for your own bar or drink station.

  • Part of what makes this tricky is that we don’t have a lot of links when it comes to purchasing things we love in this particular case. Most of what we’ve found has been at local antique shops, but also Ebay and Etsy (look, links!) are great places to find unique pieces.

  • When you’re looking for vintage glasses, consider mismatched sets - not necessarily individual glasses, but search for sets of 3 (hey, probably was a set of 4 until one broke…) or 5 and then choose two odd sets that compliment each other. Probably will get a better deal and end up with a fun mix of glasses.

IMG_9823.JPG
  • Add a recipe card box - what could be more vintage than storing recipes on paper?! Also what better excuse to buy something cute from Rifle Paper Co. One of the fun things about cocktails is that it’s easy to play around with recipes and create something new or compare a variety of recipes and figure out your favorite (probably best with a group so you don’t have to finish all 10 margarita options yourself, but you do you). After all that, why not write down the winner and keep it somewhere easy to find! Bonus: bring out a recipe card for guests to follow on their own.

  • Re-purpose and rethink. This is kind of a staple of vintage shopping - what was this originally used for and what can I do with it now? And that’s how a glass clam shell jewelry holder became a margarita salt dish. It doesn’t even have to be vintage (or new) for this to apply. Maybe you’ll give something you already own a new life in a different context.

IMG_9877.JPG
  • Lastly, the extras, little plants, knick-knacks, candles or other random objects that are totally unnecessary and yet we can never seem to help ourselves from adding. In this case, a very ironic vintage tray from the prohibition era that was too funny to pass up plus a few other little things.

  • And one more thing we wanted to add: so of course the idea is that it’s a bar cart, which usually means alcohol, but really we think it can mean whatever you want. In the winter, a lot of it gets switched out for mugs, tea and hot chocolate mix! (ok we do keep some mixer options on there, but also tiny marshmallows)

In case you missed it, we posted our signature pear cocktail here and for lots of other great recipes we love, check out the sisters at A Beautiful Mess!

Our Perfect Picks: Travel inspiration

Some people live to work and some people work to live. We work to travel. And not just for the sake of taking a break, we also really love seeing new places, meeting people, learning about other cultures and trying all kinds of food. If you are here in the Pacific Northwest like us you probably know about Rick Steves with his many guidebooks and a TV series on public television, but his perspective probably sums it up best: "Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening our perspectives through travel."

Since we love traveling so much, we thought it would be fun to start sharing some of the places we have really enjoyed. If you’re in the process of planning a honeymoon or your next vacation, here are a few places we’ve been and can’t wait to visit again!

Stay tuned for future posts with travel tips and places we're dreaming about exploring together on a #sistertrip Let us know if you have questions and what your favorite destinations are!