Booh! Let’s Party!!!

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Spooky Sweet

So, here we are in the final days of October, also known as Halloween Week also known as the day everyone asks “What are you going to be for Halloween?” or “Are you going to a party?” week. For a florist, this is the day we ask ourselves: How can we make beautiful flowers look scary? This holiday allows us to stretch our imagination and come up with some of the coolest creations you could ever come up with gorgeous flowers. With the help of googly eyes, tiny pumpkins, curly willows and a can of black flower paint we can turn an unassuming innocent pretty arrangement into a halloween masterpiece.

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Witch’s Brew

You may be decorating your home with floating ghosts, spider webs, dangling skeletons and scary faced lanterns for your halloween party. But who said that you can’t class it up with a few flowers centerpieces. It’s true that halloween parties are not the kind of parties you plan to have flowers, and we are not saying you should, but there are ways to make your party different than the rest while maintaining the fun.  Imagine how the Addams Family would throw a dinner party. We all know that they are the epitome of class (in a spooky way). What would their decore look like? How would they set their table? What would their centerpieces look like?

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Wicked Bouquet

This the time to have fun with your imagination and step away from the “normal” of life, so why should you limit yourself to what is the “normal” for halloween parties?

So go for it, get creative, think outside of the box, call your florist! We’re armed with all kinds of fun goodies to add the BOO! in some BOOtiful flowers and the Spook in some Spooktacular arrangements.

 

 

Happy Halloween Y’all! Mwahahahaha!

 

Food, Drinks, Entertainment and Decor For A 4th of July Celebration

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When planning a party or any kind of celebration, there are four elements that are a must: Food, Drinks Entertainment and Decor. And for the 4th of July celebration, when we get to celebrate the birthday of our country, it is important we do it with lots of pizzazz. It’s the country’s big day after all, so it’s a given that the theme is red, white and blue. Here are some of our fun ideas that can help you plan your celebration.

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BBQ is the go to. It’s hot out, you want to soak up some vitamin D, you have the day off so it’s a perfect excuse to grill al fresco. Plus it a very easy and stress free way to feed your guests that will show up with their friends and their friend’s friends and their cousins, so a lot of people. But you might want your food to follow in the patriotic theme so there are fun of ideas to help you. You can incorporate fruits and vegetables and deserts for the reds whites and blue elements. You can make some fruit salad with strawberries blueberries watermelons and bananas and throw in some mint leaves because yum. if you are baking a cake the you can decorate it and use blueberries and bananas for the stars in the American Flags and white icing and strawberries arranged in lines for the stripes. You can also make red velvet cupcakes with white buttercream icing and plop a blueberry (or three) on top. For a healthier options you can make individual frappes in clear cups and layer with ripe strawberries or raspberries yogurt and of course blueberries. We’ve decided that blueberries should be the fruit of the day!

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It’s hot outside so you will need to hydrate. Now, what you choose to hydrate with will depend on your age and choice of beverage. Fourth of July is usually a family holiday, so there most probably will be small children, teenagers and adults of a legal drinking age present, it’s, therefore, important that they can all enjoy themselves, responsibly. Here are some cool ideas you can use to incorporate the theme of the day into your drinks. Since it’s july and undoubtedly hot out it’s important you have ice. Ice doesn’t have to be boring cubes of just H2O. You can get creative. Cut cubes of watermelon and freeze them. YES! They  are juicy watery fruit so they are perfect for freezing and they will add flavor to your drink whether it is just water or otherwise AND they will not water down your drink (if you are not drinking water of course). you can make smoothies for the younger crowd. We suggest you blend the different color fruits separately and layer them so they can show the distinct color in the glass you pour them in. If you are serving the fruity deliciousness to an adult then you can pour in some adult liquor stick in an umbrella and tiny American flag, dip your feet in the kiddie pool sit back and enjoy. If you are mixing some cocktails then here are some drinks that will add color to your drinks: the blue Gatorade which is hydrating, refreshing, delicious, and blue, Hawaiian Punch for your red, and Pina Colada mix for your whites.

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Entertainment

Well it’s a party after all, your guest have to enjoy themselves and a great way to do it is to plan games. you can buy red white and blue balloons to stay in them and play water balloons or balloon pop. Or play American history trivia, pictionary or charades (you’ve got to keep the kids brain working in the summer wink wink). Capture the flag with American flags is another good one. Baseball is after all THE American pastime, so you can’t go wrong there. Bocce is another game that is getting some serious popularity these days and a perfect outdoors game for all ages. All these are games that both the younger and older crowds can play and really enjoy.

Decor

We’ve touched on some things already, like little flags for your drink and the patriotic color balloons. But there are so many different ways you can liven up your place to really add some fun to your party. Of course flowers are number one. You can contact a knowledgeable florist and they will guide you through what would look great. And by “they” we mean “we”. There aren’t very many blue flowers and a  plethora of red and white ones. But there are many ways to incorporate the color while adding spark to an arrangement that would make them perfect for a party. Blue vases, blue ribbons or bows, stared confetti centerpieces and many more and be arranged together to give your party the oomph it deserves. You may think, “why would I get flowers to put outside to bake in the sun”, and you would be right to think it but remember your guests are not only outdoors. They will be congregating in your living room and your kitchen and will use your bathroom. Flowers will help you spread the festive decor you have outdoors merge seamlessly indoors and do it with class. And you get to enjoy the flowers long after the party is over, the last of the guest has been shoved out and  there aren’t’ any more hot dogs left. So Bonus!

We hope you have a fantastic holiday weekend celebrating the country’s birthday! Have fun and stay safe!

Holiday Parties For Work and Home

 

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‘Tis the season to be merry and jolly. ‘Tis a season of giving and receiving and eating an abundance of ginger cookies and drinking an unnatural amount of eggnogs with or without spirits (wink-wink). ‘Tis the season of many many holiday parties, be it thrown by coworkers, at work, by family members or friends. Fun times! But it can also be overwhelming trying to attend all  those parties while trying not to offend your hosts. It could be also be overwhelming when you are in charge of your company’s holiday party or throwing one in your home. We’re here to help.

 

Party at home

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Christmas Sleigh

What kind of party are you throwing? A dinner party? A cocktail party? A potluck? What’s the theme? Do you have your christmas tree, poinsettias, garlands, mistletoe, wreath for your door, hanging stockings for your Christmas parties? Or your menorah, dreidel, and the Star of David for your Hanukkah party? Whatever you’re celebrating make sure you set the atmosphere first. People will enjoy a party that “happening” not snoozing. If you are planning a dinner party then have some soft holiday music in the background. Make sure that your table setting reflects the joy of the season. Centerpieces with winter evergreens and beautiful flowers and candles, pinecones and ornaments. You can use ornamental balls as place settings by writing your guest’s names on them and setting them on the plates. The possibilities are endless.

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Silver and Gold Centerpiece

If you are throwing a cocktail party make sure that every room the guests will be in, oozes the festive season. Distribute small flower arrangement with holiday colors throughout the house make sure the trimmings and ornaments and overall theme of the party is well distributed in all the areas of your home when you know guests will be in, even the powder room. Have some upbeat yet appropriate music (depending on who your quests are).

 

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Fruit and Gourmet Basket

Party for the workplace

This season is a reasons to have fun with and celebrate your coworkers. It’s the season for evergreen wreaths on your walls and doors, poinsettias in every hallway, conference room and receptionist desks, garlands on your windows and railings, cinnamon-ey and ginger-ey baked goods in your kitchens, personalized holiday decor in each employees cubicle to celebrate their holiday. Workplace holiday parties shouldn’t feel like an obligation to the employees, it should be something they look forward to and enjoy while they network if they choose to. The season calls for some warmth, goodwill, peace, hope, joy, harmony and prosperity. All great things to wish mankind and great qualities to have in a workplace. Let your party reflect that.

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Bells Of The Season

Whether your party is a formal one in a banquet hall with catered 5 course meal, live entertainment, and bottomless flow of wine and champagne and elaborate centerpieces gracing each guest table or a conference room turned party room with that cool guy from the cubicle at the end DJing and home baked cookies and pies or anything in between, it should reflect the joy of the season. It only takes small small special touches to achieve.

Bottomline don’t let the stress and the hustle and bustle of the season steal the joy from it. Enjoy yourself whether you are attending the party or throwing it. And find a great florist to help your shoulder some of the stress of the preparation.

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Pregame Your Thanksgiving: Part Two

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Fall Fantasia

Last week we talked about your pre plan for Thanksgiving. By now you know exactly what you want for your Thanksgiving celebration, the food you want to serve, how you want your house to look (the flowers, the table setting), how many guests you’ll have, and you are feeling confident that you have it all planned out. We’re proud of you.

This week is when you tighten up your list of all the things you need. Especially if (from your trial last week) you know what key ingredients you need for your special dish, or thought you had but didn’t, you know what works and what doesn’t and what needs to be changes. So now you have your final list and your opportunity to get most of what you need ready so that you’re not overwhelmed on cooking day.

If you are a “make everything from scratch” kind of person then this is your week to prepare all the time consuming items that you absolutely must have. You can make you pie crust, vegetable soups, cranberry sauce and gravy over the weekend and freeze it. Actually anything you can make ahead and you know will be good by Thanksgiving, make it and freeze it or store it. Buy all your ingredients except for the items that will go bad or won’t taste as fresh if not consumed soon like your green or fruit salads.

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Graceful Glow

This week is also the best time for you to clean your house. Not that we are saying that you belong on an episode of Hoarders, but you are inviting guests to eat in your home. There is nothing as appetizing as eating in home where everything is disorganized or even dirty. Casts a shadow of doubt in the cleanliness of the food you are serving. So take your time to make sure the duts are off the shelves, the bathrooms are sparkling, and your kitchen is spotless. Make sure that pretty much all the rooms you know your guest will be in looks fresh and clean. This doesn’t mean that you have to redecorate and throw some fresh paint on your walls; just spruce up. Make sure to get some scented candles to burn on the morning of Thanksgiving so you can give your home that welcoming smell and mask some unsavory scents that come from cooking, we all know that some dishes taste fantastic but do not smell appetizing while cooking.

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Fine Fall Roses

Make sure that the centerpiece you ordered is coming from a reputable florist. You don’t want to get to the big day and have a gaping hole on your dining room table where there should be colorful flowers. And if you’ve done your homework last week, and called a good flower shop (you know, like us) you will not have any doubts that you will have a gorgeous arrangement of fall flowers and colors to display and put an exclamation point on your whole table setting. Plus if you burn one of your dishes, you at least have beautiful flowers your guest can look at. Again, You’re Welcome!

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Pregame Your Thanksgiving: Part One

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Crimson Cornucopia

 

When we go out for the evening with our buddies, we “pregame”, right? Why should it be any different for the one day of the year we get to get “wasted” on yummy goodness? The same way we plan our outfits, hair and makeup for the ladies, Imbibe in our choice of “refreshments”, plan our transportation and decide weather we need a designated driver or we’re Ubering it, we believe that Thanksgiving deserves the same enthusiasm and excellent planning.

This week we’ll focus on the not-so-fun but could be fun aspect of “Thanksgiving pregame”. The preparation. Make a list of everything you need from the guest list, to the decor, to the menu (therefore ingredients), to the anti-acids and the “cleanup crew” (the younger guests are perfect for this). Thanksgiving is the season open of the holiday season. So this is the time to dust off your cookbook and your dinner party planning skills.

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It’s My Party

If you want to make a dish that you’ve never made before and you are experimenting and you know it will be complicated, we suggest you try it first now. Your family and your friends can taste tasters, giving you the opportunity to practice , know what works and what doesn’t, feed your family and friends and have the confidence that you will not end up with inedible lump of something or other that your guest will talk about till next Thanksgiving. Also, plan your drinks for both your adult and minor guests. This week, buy all the ingredients that can be stored and stay fresh till the big day like your spices, dry ingredients etc, so that you are not overwhelmed and can be sure you haven’t forgotten anything on the day of. If you start now then you know what you have and what you need to get and there is still time to go out and buy it without fighting the late shoppers later on, there is nothing worse than being in grocery store on a holiday.

Plan your table setting. Take your time to inventory your plates, water and wine glasses, serving dishes, cutlery napkins etc. This is your opportunity to replace the wine decanter Uncle Bob broke last Thanksgiving while telling that funny joke (again). Call your florist and order your centerpice(s) for your dinner table, buffet table, powder room, kitchen, mantle, foyer, and coffee table. Remember a good flower arrangement can help you hide imperfections in your home. You have a glass ring stains on your wooden coffee table that that guest made by not using the coaster (Uncle Bob has destroyed your home, we get it), plop a beautiful arrangement on it. The fireplace mantle paint has chipped? Place a long and low centerpiece on it. Powder room is going to get a lot of action so place a fragrant arrangement by your sink (again, Uncle Bob). Plan on some entertainment for the young guests and for those that don’t have the desire to unbutton their pants and luxuriate with a happy tummy in front of the tv watching some pigskin action.

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Merlot By Candlelight

Now you know if that croquembouche recipe you wanted to try will work, you already know what you need to buy (food or otherwise) and how your table will look. You know where to sit Uncle Bob (away from the flammables, breakables and down wind), and you already feel the weight of the holiday stress falling from your shoulders. You can now strut your stuff knowing you’ve got it this year. You’re welcome.

 

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Shhh… It’s a PARTY!!!

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In life, there are a lot of celebrations. Those that that call for big parties, loud music, banners confetti and noisemakers and those that call pretty china, dainty snacks, polite conversations and mild music and everything in between. Whether you are celebrating a milestone or a Wednesday, it doesn’t matter: a party is fun (or is suppose to be). Some are a surprise and some are not, some are big and some are intimate but all should be fun and planned well. Today we’ll discuss surprise parties for best of life’s celebrations.

3-Key-lime-cupcakesIt is easy to be overwhelmed by the whole party planning process. The first thing you’ll need to do is get a theme for the party and set a budget understanding that the largest chunks of the budget should be for the venue, decor food and entertainment. Once you have that the rest will fall in place. And when planning a surprise party there is the added pressure of planning something that someone else would enjoy while keeping it hush hush. Not an easy task.

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  • When thinking of surprise parties, the first thing that we thing about is birthday parties. They are tricky to plan because you know that the birthday boy/girl knows when their birthday is so it is easy for him/her to be suspicious that someone is planning something. This is why we suggest that you don’t wait for the BIG milestone birthday to throw one; like the 21st of 30th or 40th etc. Plan the surprise birthday party on the “regular” birthdays like 27th or 42nd. This way it will REALLY be a surprise.
  • Another popular event that warrants a surprise party is a baby shower. It is also an event you don’t want to scare the expecting mother into an early labor. It’s true she may be expecting to have a baby shower some time during the pregnancy but she won’t know when.
  • Bridal shower are another occasion that call for surprise parties. Just like a baby shower, the bride to be may suspect she will have a party at some point. She may assume that she will be included in the party planning but we think it would be awesome if the bridal party and her family planned a party that catches her off guard.

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When planning to have a surprise party, the first thing you will need to think about is if the person you are throwing the party for would enjoy being surprised or how s/he will handle it. Remember, not everyone likes surprises nor will know how to respond to it so be careful that your plan doesn’t backfire on you.

Make sure that your guest know that it is a SURPRISE party so they don’t ruin it. You would assume that they know not to tell the guest of honor but some people are simply clueless about these things. Prime example of a ruined party: Guest gets invited to attend a bridal shower. guest couldn’t attend so proceeded to text the guest of honor to apologize that will not be able to make it. Guest ruins the aforementioned party. so it is imperative that you and you minions are the only people that the guest and anyone involved with the party will communicate with weather to RSVP or send gifts to.

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You’ll also have to remember that you are throwing a party for someone else. so your taste and likes and dislikes do not come into play. It’s about what will wow the guest of honor. If you like chocolate cake for your birthday, the birthday girl might like carrot cake, you might like an explosion of pinks for a baby girl’s baby shower decor but the guest of honor might enjoy shades of oranges and yellows, you might like a fancy tea party for your bridal shower complete with cucumber sandwiches and dainty hats but the bride-to-be might like to have a casino themes shower. You may like a vase full of peonies and hydrangeas but she may like sunflowers and daisies. The surprise is not only for the part where the person you are celebrating doesn’t know you are honoring him or her but it’s also in knowing what exactly with please him/her and providing it making the whole to-do a memorable and enjoyable day.

 

Romance Recipe: Al Fresco

Blog-HeaderAugust evenings are just about the loveliest. And the loveliest of the evenings are meant to be enjoyed with those we love. So this week we will give you everything you need, to have a romantic evening al fresco. Yes, you have a plethora of restaurants with outdoor dining that you can take your honey to for a romantic evening out. But how much privacy do you think you’ll get, among the other patrons only 2 feet away from your elbow and pedestrians zipping past you on the sidewalk. We think that you can be as romantic as you want in the privacy of your own backyard, patio, balcony, or rooftop.

The Food:

When you are planning your meals, think simple. Remember that this is outdoors and you don’t want to keep going in and out of the house or apartment to get your 6 course meal. The idea is to sit back relax and enjoy each other’s company and take in your beautiful surrounding not stressing over the complicated meal.

If you feel you must cook for your honey, because, let’s face it, nothing says “I want to take care of you this evening” than actually getting down and dirty with ingredients and producing a yummy meal, we suggest this simple recipe for two of Bistro Roast Chicken we found on My Recipes. Honestly, yummy chicken made this simple should be illegal, but here it is:

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2 chicken leg quarters (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 whole garlic heads

Preheat oven to 375°.

Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Loosen skin from thigh and leg by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper). Rub herb mixture under loosened skin. Place chicken on a broiler pan. Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone.

Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil; place on broiler pan with chicken. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450° (do not remove chicken from oven). Bake 30 minutes or until thermometer registers 180°. Cover chicken loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin. (or eat that too we don’t judge).

But not all of us can work in the kitchen without it ending up with our house smelling like smoke and an impromptu visit from the fine gentlemen from the fire department. For those of us that are charred food experts there are God sent delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless that will bring you food from just about any restaurant of any cuisine in any part or your city. Just download the app, choose your dishes (including dessert), time your delivery and bam you’re food if on it’s way and you didn’t have to slave over a stove and you have to do is dish it onto a plate and make it look pretty.

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The Drink

You will be out on a warm evening so you need something refreshing and light. We suggest a nice cool and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Get an ice bucket and stick a bottle or two (or four, again no judgment here) in to chill and make sure to take the bottle(s) out in the bucket. Nothing as unappetizing as a warm white wine. And no matter what you do, do not ruin a good wine by adding ice in your glass…just don’t. We love the Robert Mondalvi Fume Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, but to be completely honest you can’t go wrong with a good Chardonnay or even Rose.  Just chill them, always chill them.

And since there are apps for the food delivery, remember that your wines can also be delivered to your door and yes there are apps for that like Drizly and Minibar. Isn’t the modern days we live in just marvelous? No more going to sketchy looking liquor stores or fighting the checkout counters of grocery stores anymore. With click and click-click and clickety-click, bam bottles at your door.

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Sweet as Sugar

The Mood:

Lighting is what’s important when setting up a romantic environment. Yes, even outdoors. You need to fish out your christmas lights and hang them on your trees or anything you can wind them on. Get battery operated tealights you can float in a vases full of water and just spread them round your table, floor and anywhere and get lanterns to hang especially to illuminate your way back into the house. Make sure all the lights are soft and in only one color. Either golden twinkles or red but don’t go crazy with a whole bunch of different colors. It could make it look a little tacky and no-one wants that. We are going for elegance and romance.

Never forget the Dukes of everything romance and that is flowers. You need a small centerpieces to put on your table to tie everything together. Choose an arrangement that is in a small container that sits perfectly in the center of the table and will allow you to look at your honey. And just like the the food and the drink, flowers are only a few clicks away from showing up at your door.

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The Movie

When done with your evening romancing your love, and you’ve talked about everything and anything but you just don’t want to end the night yet, it’s time for an activity that required very little talking, and that is watching a movie. For an evening like you just had we recommend Kate and Leopold. This old fashioned romance in a modern world will conclude your evening with an exclamation point.

 

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Romance Recipe: Hawaiian Style

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Aloha! Ahhhh…summer and summer vacations and all the romantic opportunities during these vacations…so many possibilities. Last week we went all continental and showed you how to romance your honey the italian way. This week we save you from all the spaghetti and wine carbs and replace them with fruity fresh drinks and seafood yum yums and show how to make it steamy…you know, like the Hawaiian volcanoes.

The Drink

Well, obviously, we are going with the authentic hawaiian signature drink: Mai Tai. First we need to appreciate the esthetic aspect of this deliciousness. The bright yellows and oranges and the dark amber are a representation of the very hawaiian sunset. This drink is a treat for the eyes and for the taste buds.

Here’s a great recipe for one  tall glass of the real mai-tai:

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1.25 oz  Light rum like Captain Morgan Light Rum

1 oz  Your favorite mai-tai cocktail mix (one with mostly passion fruit is important)

1 oz  Fresh pineapple juice

.5 oz  Orange juice and

3.25 oz  Dark Rum

To get that layered sunset look, make sure to pour each ingredient in the order listed. If you really want to go all out with the authenticity of the drink use Hawaiian rum Koloa Rum in both the dark and light. Then make sure to garnish with a wedge of cored fresh pineapple with rind on (because texture), an orchid loom (because so pretty) and a tiny umbrella (because you simply gotta, it’s the law…of mai-tai).

The Food

It’s still beach season so we want you to keep the gorgeous beach bod you worked so hard for the whole winter. So, even while you are having romantic meals, you can keep your it light without forgoing yummy flavors. With that in mind we present to you Shrimp, pineapple(because duh) and avocado on a bed of Arugula.

Here’s what you need to serve 2:

.5 lb Fresh uncooked shrimpshrimp_salad_with_arugula_grilled_asparagus_tomatoes_and_fresh_mango-Blog

2.5 tbsp Olive oil

.5 Lemon juice (or lime)

1 Clove of garlic finely minced (plan on some mints for after dinner of obvious reasons)

1 cup  Grape tomatoes, halved

1  Avocado sliced in wedges

.25  Ripe pineapple cored and cut in cubes

as much arugula as you want

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First, in a bowl, mix half the lemon (or lime) juice, garlic, 3/4th of the cilantro and salt and pepper and let the goodness marinate in the refrigerator. While the shrimp is making friends with flavor explosions, mix all the remaining ingredients (minus the arugula) in another bowl and let those yum-yums make friends.  Now take the happy shrimps and saute them in a hot pan for a few minutes till they turn pink showing they are cooked. Lastly, pour the content of bowl #2 onto a bed of arugula and top it off with the shrimp in the pan. If you are not drooling right now, then wait for desert.

As we all know the Hawaiian Islands are volcanic in origin. Volcanoes mean hot lava. Hot lava means hot Chocolate Lava Cake. And that means decadent ooey, gooey, hot and melty chocolate that erupts from custardy cake. Yup we just drooled. For a very easy recipe go here. You’re welcome.

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Tropical Arrangments

The Mood

You have a porch? A back yard, a front yard, a balcony, a veranda, an outdoor space where you can set up a table and two hairs on (but away from prying eyes)? Excellent. Get yourself these items: 2 hula skirts for him and for her, tiki torches (can be artificial or the real ones you light on fire), tea lights, 2 leis, hanging decorations like brightly colored tropical birds etc, and orchid to put in the lady’s hair and most importantly call your florist for a tropical flower arrangement to add that exclamation point to your island decor. We recommend flowers like hanging heliconias, birds of paradise, a variety of orchids, anthuriums all put together and accentuated with broad-leafed tropical leaves. We urge you to find a florist that has tropical flowers and knows how use them, because not all have them regularly. And remember exotic doesn’t necessarily mean tropical in the world of flowers; exotic is subjective, tropical is not.50First-Blog

After dinner and a wonderful conversation, cuddle up with your honey and watch some RomComs like 50 First Dates, or Forgetting Sarah Marshal, Or South Pacific, or Blue Hawaii while sipping on your yummy mai-tai and munching on Macadamia nuts and slices of pineapple.

And with that we say Mahalo for spending time with us and a Hui Hou. Aloha!

 

 

 

 

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Romance Recipe: Italian Style

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It’s August, it’s hot and humid and steamy and heavy and smoldering. Much like an Italian summer romance in the hilly landscapes of Southern Italy among the grapevines, olive trees and terracotta brick homes. This is the time of the year romance is at its peak heat. And when we think about the ultimate fantasy of romance, we can’t not think about the richness of red wine, the sultry food, and the smoldering good looks of Raoul Bova. In short, we think Italy, with all its the culture, history, romance and sensory overload of everything combined. Think of the art and history of Florence, the breathtaking balance between the old and new of Milan, the whimsy and fairy tale you can conjure up reclining on a gondola and being serenaded in such a romantic language, the rich food the south of Italy offers that will make your taste buds explode with fireworks and the absolutely breathtaking rugged yet welcoming beaches of Sardinia that  will take your summer romance to the stratosphere.

Perhaps this year is not the year you can travel to Italy and experience it first hand…le sigh or rather il sigh-o. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring it to you, right? Right! And we will tell you all you need to  bring Italy home.

The Wine

WineGet a fine Italian red…wine ahm. Like a Chianti, meaning produced in the Chianti region in beautiful Tuscany. It is a dry red wine with a bit or tart cherry flavor to it. And if you want to have that authentic Italian wine look, stick the bottle in a straw basket or  fiasco. Our favorite is the Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro. Try it. And when you open the bottle quickly inhale the bottle’s first breath. That’s air from Italy.

The Food

Now that you have your wine, plan your meals to complement it. Our suggestion is a four course of the simplest Italian feast you can imagine.

For your Antipasto (appetizer) we recommend Prosciutto e Melone, that’s Italian for Prosciutto (a dry cured Italian ham that is very thinly sliced) and melons (that’s English for a yummy fruit).  Just slice the melon in wedges and wrap with prosciutto. The saltines of the prosciutto and the sweet juicyness of the melon will feel like you have a summer party on your taste buds.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti

For your first course all you need is spaghetti (preferably bucatini) fresh ripe tomatoes (on the vine), a handful of fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and onions (yellow is best) salt and pepper and Parmigiano reggiano to make a summer favorite Pasta con Pomodoro e Basilico (pasta with tomato and basil, but it sounds sooooo much better in Italian). First, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil in medium heat then throw in chunks of the ripe tomatoes with salt and pepper. Once the juices from the tomatoes start to bubble, throw in the basil. You don’t want the sauce to dry and the basil to wilt completely, you still want it a little watery. While preparing your sauce make sure to start cooking your pasta in hot boiling water and check periodically that you don’t over cook it. You want it al-dente, meaning you want it to stick to your teeth when you chew it. Right before the pasta is at the desired cooking level transfer it into the pan of your sauce and let it cook with it. This will help everyone in the pan to mingle and get to know each other and become friends and the pasta will continue to cook to the right al-dente. When serving add shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

For your second course we recommend Pollo alla Cacciatora (chicken cacciatore or hunter style). Our favorite recipe is the one Mario Batali so deliciously created here <—- seriously, you want to go to there and cook up that deliciousness. We would never steer you wrong.

For dessert, and in all honesty, in the world of romance this is the only meal that matters, we suggest you get your Bialetti percolator (this is the only way god intended for good italian coffee be made) and make yourself a deliciously strong cup of coffee (because you do not want to go into a food induced coma just yet). We like Lavazza Qualita Rossa for espresso. And make sure you stop by , in our opinion the best bakery in the Washington DC metro, Tivoli located in Ballston, and get yourself some of the decadent yumminess that they offer ahead of time and keep refrigerated till it’s time to indulge. Get the Tiramisu. Get it!

The Entertainment

TuscanMake sure to get some of the most romantic Italian movies to watch with you honey. Yes you can get Under the Tuscan Sun or Roman Holiday. But if you want to venture beyond the obvious try Il Postino, Bread and Tulips, Marriage Italian Style (or anything with Sofia Loren really). And if none of these movies with their music and sing-song italian language, high drama that is so typical of everything Italian don’t make you feel like you are in that exquisite Mediterranean country, then add the important finishing touches.

The Flowers

Flowers
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Call your florist and ask for a wispy, rustic country-style flower arrangement with earthy bold colors with flowers like sunflowers, brassica, protea, bear grass, hanging amaranthus and coral roses all put together in a simple vase or a terracotta pot. Make sure to set that on your table to tie in everything together. Let some of that warm summer air freeze in by opening your window. And compile a fun play list of music with Andrea Bocelli, Ramazzotti, Paula Pausini, Tizziano Ferro and Nek. Learn some romantic italian phrases that you can whisper to your honey. Even if they sound silly say them. Some of our favorites are: “Ti voglio bene amore mia/o” which is I love you, or “senza di te la mia vita no fa senso” which means without you my life has no meaning. And here are a few pet names you can use to summon your babe: “amoruccio” which means love, or “tesoro mio” which mean my jewel or my darling.

There you have it. Romance Italian style at home. Here is all you need to bring that boot shaped romantic country home.

Summer Party Decorating Ideas

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LET’S PAAAARTYYYY!

Now that we’ve done our spring cleaning and our homes and yards look spotless, it’s time to throw some funtabulous parties to show them off. This is the season for the bridal showers, engagement parties, barbecue parties, pool parties, “it’s awesome out side so let’s take avantage” parties, “warm weather is entirely too short so let’s enjoy” parties, “we’ll have a party because we wanna” parties. Any reason is a good reason for a party, right? Right!

When planning a party we need to think of a theme and color palettes that matches the occasion to help us better choose our decor and accessories. Disposable (or reusable, let love our planet) plates, cups, napkins, utensils, table cloth or covers, balloons, hats, sashes, banners, confettis, favors, and centerpieces. Now, we can help you with any centerpiece questions you may have and will try to address them today.

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Burst of Beauty

First, being that it is warm out, we understand you want to take your parties outdoors, or even partially outdoors. Here is where your choice of centerpieces will be decided. How warm is it outside? A lovely 72 degrees or a balmy 95? Is the area covered and air conditioned or open with plenty of sunshine? Of course, if you’re having your party outdoors in the open in a 90 degree weather, you do not want to have centerpieces with fresh cut flowers. Instead, we suggest beautiful potted flowering plants. You get the flowers and you won’t see them wither as the party progresses and you get to have pretty plants once the party is over (you can use them again so whoop whoop) or you can give them away to your guests as a gift! Our favorite plants that are perfect for centerpieces are: African violets, Hibiscus, Begonias, Kalanchoes, Azaleas and Cyclamen. These plants are easily found in small sizes making them the perfect centerpiece plants. You can choose beautiful rustic tiny pail buckets, or pretend you are in a vineyard in Tuscany and put them in earthy terracotta pots or class them up with fancy ceramic containers. And you can find them in a variety of colors to match your theme.

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Turn Up The Pink

If your party is partly indoors or in air conditioned area, you can tie in the decor and theme outside and follow thru with more plants or decide on fresh cut flowers in the same colors of your plants. The best part is that there are many colors, shapes and sizes fresh cut flowers come in. They can also be designed in any size. you tant tall arrangement that you want to put in the foyer of your house? You want long hanging ones you can drape over the mantle of your fireplace? You want the tiny arrangement with a few flowers to brighten up your powder room? Or perhaps you want to sprinkle around your living, dining and kitchen area, beautifully designed pave arrangements in modern cube vases? Everything you desire is only a phone call away. Call your florist and tell them what colors you want your flowers to be and where you want to put them and they will create designs that will make your heart sing, do cartwheels, backflips, hula hoops, the running man, the water sprinkler, and the cha-cha all at the same time.

You may not think that having flowers for your party is unnecessary. We think that when you look back at the pictures, sure you will laugh at the memories of the people, but, there, in the background, will be the beautiful flowers that will bring whimsy to the photo. Trust us, we know that we’re talking about.