Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

I rarely wear red (since it brings out the naturally red tones in my hair), but thought this red and green look was the perfect nod to Cinco de Mayo. Since the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, I paired this festive silk blouse with a pencil skirt for my classic office outfit. I’ve found that a closet full of silk blouses and pencil skirts makes for an easy mix and match work wardrobe that always looks polished and appropriate. When wearing a sleeveless blouse to the office, I make sure to top it off with a cardigan or blazer. Mexican fare is always popular in my house, so we get excited over any excuse to whip up some guacamole and break out the chips and salsa! Rather than heading out to happy hour, why not throw your own Cinco de Mayo celebration? Personally, I like this Alton Brown guacamole recipe from The Food Network, but doctor it up with a bit of extra tomato.

Ingredients
3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Mix up a pitcher of margaritas, and let the fiesta begin!

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Easter Tablescape: Patterns at Play

In decorating the table for Easter, I let myself have a little fun mixing and matching colors, patterns, and textures to create a bright and energetic spring tablescape. I found the Nicole Miller Home floral napkins at Homegoods and just had to use them, but could only find four. I also realized that I had donated my go-to “Mint Candy Apple” hued placemats in our move last year. Luckily, matchy-matchy is out and pattern play is in! I started with the napkins and the pieces that I knew I could use throughout to keep the table cohesive and played around with different combinations and finishing touches. Since my table is oblong rather than round, I chose to have the ends of the table set the same instead of alternating the two place-settings as I would around a round table. The finishing touch was the pair of adorable bunny salt and pepper shakers. What makes your Easter table complete?
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Kristen’s Day Off

Since moving to Alexandria, we had been wanting to make it over to local restaurant and watering hole, Brabo. Everyone buzzed about their amazing upscale happy hour specials, most notably the mussels, frites, and glass of wine for a mere “Jackson”. Making it anywhere by 6:30 on weeknight is a rare occurrence, so my birthday was the perfect opportunity since I had taken the day off work to have a “me” day. Ted (bless his heart) had made reservations at the new restaurant that opened on the ground floor of my office building, but I couldn’t bare the thought of trekking to the office on my day off! It was the first time I’ve ever taken a vacation day to just do nothing, and it was amazing. I woke up without an alarm, had a leisurely breakfast, enjoyed my coffee while reading my favorite blogs, and made it over to Solidcore, a new boutique fitness studio in my neighborhood, for my first class. The instructor and former ballerina, Alexandra Perrin, sure knows how to kick booty on the megaformer! I was sore for days, but have already been back for another class. I spent the rest of the afternoon testing out some of those beauty product samples we’ve all been saving for a rainy day, stopping by my favorite stores, and re-organizing my closet for spring. If you’ve never taken a day-off just to have a “me” day, I highly recommend trying it!             Jacket (C. Wonder, no longer available), Blouse (J. Crew, no longer available), Necklace, Ring from Rocksbox (use code kristenbff188 for a free month), Shoes by Butter from The Shoe Hive

Thanks for reading!

Oscar Party Inspiration

The Academy Awards is my Super Bowl. Every year I get excited to watch the who’s who of Hollywood arrive in style and spend an evening talking fashion and films. The Oscars red carpet is my favorite because fashions trend towards old Hollywood glam and stars and starlets go all out to make sure they are perfectly polished and coiffed. It’s a classy affair and I like for my watch party to be the same. Try asking friends to dress up a bit…maybe slipping on a embellished top and a swipe of red lipstick. I also like to gather a few decorative accents that enhance the theme of the evening. Inspired by this black and white tablescape by Le Cupcakerie featured on divinepartyconcepts.com, I’ve rounded up a few party-perfect picks to set the mood. How are you celebrating awards season this year?

Oscar Party

Tassel Garland / Oscar Night Bingo / Gold and White Paper Straws / Chloe Wines / Tuxedo Party Poppers / Who Are You Wearing? Invitations / Kate Spade Confetti Coasters

Pretty Pink Weekend Brunch Tablescape

It’s no secret that pink is my favorite color, so it is no surprise that when we were lucky enough to host my family for brunch I rolled out the pink carpet…okay, so really more like the pink napkin rings and roses. Hosting brunch is a fun way to entertain friends and family without leaving you with a sink full of dishes the next morning! I chose fairly neutral basics for our dining room so that it is easy to change the look of the tablescape with different china, linens, and fresh flowers. For brunch I chose to mix a few pieces of my fine china, Femme Fatale by Monqiue Lhuillier, with basic white everyday pieces to keep the pops of pink from becoming overwhelmingly feminine. Ted even treated us to some of his delicious homemade biscuits!

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Gold ForksBiscuits

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Kate Spade Larabee Dot Rose Bowl / Monique Lhuillier Femme Fatale China / Gold Flatware (similar)

Award Show Season Worthy Snacks

I am so excited that award show season is finally upon us! The Sunday nights snuggled up by the fire getting lost in the glitz and glam of the red carpet help me get through the gloomy grey bitter cold days of winter. I like to make an afternoon of getting ready from pampering myself to preparing festive snacks. In honor of the Golden Globe Awards this evening, I pulled together a few favorite recipes to prepare and enjoy while watching the show.

martha stewart rosemary caramel popcorn

Popcorn has long been a favorite snack of mine, and lately, I’ve gotten into gourmet ways to doctor up a bowl of popcorn from savory styles like truffle parmesan to sweet indulgences featuring chocolate and peanut butter. Today, I’m choosing a blend of sweet and savory with Martha Stewart’s Rosemary-Caramel Popcorn (click link for recipe).

williams sonoma rosemary spiced nuts

Since I already had rosemary on hand, I was reminded of some delicious spiced nuts that we received from a friend for Christmas and found a recipe by Williams-Sonoma for Spiced Rosemary Nuts that turned out to be very similar and equally delicious.

ice cream bonbon pops

After selecting a couple of savory snacks, my sweet tooth wanted to be invited to the party as well. For a twist on classic truffles, I turned to a Food & Wine recipe that combined popcorn with one of my favorite simple pleasures – ice cream! You can use pretty much any of your favorite candies from Reese’s Pieces to chocolate sprinkles to adorn the outside of these bite sized desserts. The lollipop sticks even offer the added bonus of mess free enjoyment, which is a perk, especially if you happen to be snacking in a favorite party dress!la marca prosecco

To me, a glass of sparking wine is always the perfect complement to a spread of sweet and savory snacks. Perhaps this harkens back to the time I spent in Italy enjoying cicchetti after a long day of studying or shopping at the bàcari scattered around Venice. The La Marca bottle is not only beautiful, but offers persistent bubbles with hints of honey and white floral notes.

What snacks or watch party traditions will you be enjoying this awards season?

Holiday Hostess Gifts ($30 & under)

I really enjoy all of the holiday parties and gatherings that seem to pop-up this time of year, and my southern upbringing won’t allow me to show up empty handed. While usually appreciated, I try my best to avoid bringing the cliché bottle of wine. I often pick up appropriate gifts whenever I just happen to see something while I’m out shopping to make sure I have the perfect gift on hand. For some of my friends, a bottle of wine to help them unwind after the party is the perfect hostess gift, but even then, I try to find a special bottle, limited edition release, or something of the like to make it feel a bit more festive and thoughtful. What are your go-to hostess gifts this season? Here are a few of my favorite finds!

holiday hostess gifts

1. Acropolis platter ($29) Z Gallerie / 2. Henri Bendel scented candle ($30) Henri Bendel / 3. “Rough Day” wine glasses ($15 for set of two) Nordstrom / 4. Monogrammed Cheese Board ($28) C. Wonder / 5. Zebra Dish ($28) Jonathan Adler

Bits of my weekend…

Celebrated five years of married life! Thank you to our family & friends that helped us get here, and to those that helped us celebrate!

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Getting the Party Started

Welcome to Peonies & Prosecco, a sparkly refuge from the realities of daily life, dedicated to living well and finding glamour in the everyday. The name was inspired by a couple of my favorite things that conjour up thoughts of parties, pampering, and delight so what would be a better way to get this party started and celebrate the start of a new year than with a sparkly cocktail? Cin cin!

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SPARKLING GINGER PROSECCO by West Elm

serves 12

Ginger Syrup

    1 ounce sliced peeled fresh ginger
    ⅔ cup water
    ¼ cup granulated sugar for ginger syrup
  1. Simmer peeled fresh ginger with ¼ cup of the granulated sugar in ⅔ cup of water for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain and chill until cold.

Candied Ginger

    ½ cup granulated sugar for candied ginger
    2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  1. Finely grind the crystallized ginger with ½ cup of granulated suager in a blender or food processor.

Sparkling Ginger Prosecco

    2 bottles of prosecco
    prepped Ginger Syrup
    prepped Candied Ginger
    lemon wedges for rimming the glasses
  1. Rim champagne coupes or flutes with lemon wedges and dip rim in candied ginger to coat.
  2. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cold ginger syrup into each rimmed glass and top with 6 ounces of prosecco

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