party plans

Party Plan: Outdoor Dinner Party

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I’m back with another simple party plan, because isn’t summer the perfect time to throw a party? I love a casual, summery dinner that’s made even more enjoyable by eating it outside. It’s blissfully simple – I made a few salads and sides (plus the fastest, easiest and most insanely delicious vegan cake) earlier in the day, popped them in the refrigerator, and pulled them out when it was time to eat. I like serving salads because they’re lighter than a full-on entree, usually faster and less fussy to make, and, of course, they highlight fresh summer ingredients.

I made a simple and unbelievably good quinoa salad (from this awesome cookbook), a simple carrot salad (carrots, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil – from this cookbook), some zucchini chips (from Thug Kitchen), and artichoke dip. It’s simple fare, but that’s as it should be. (And it makes for great leftovers.)

And then, this cake – it was a total showstopper. It required no effort, one bowl, and some coconut milk whipped into whipped cream (who knew you could do that?!). And it was vegan. It’s coconut cornmeal cake, but don’t be put off by the ingredients – it’s sweet and rich (and the whipped cream totally makes it). I’ve posted the recipe here.

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Party Plan: Perfect Summer Picnic

party plan - picnic

Picnics are undoubtedly one of my favorite things. Just like parties and holidays, they’re one of those things that I have really high expectations for – but with picnics, my expectations are always met. I guess it’s because they’re so low-key – all you need is a blanket, good food, and good company. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve found the perfect location not too far away, and that this consistently amazing bread is now a picnicking staple for me.

On our little picnicking jaunt, we parked ourselves under a shady tree, right by a field of flowers. And though it was just my first of the season, I think it was the best picnic I’ve been on to date. So naturally, I thought I’d share my tips for a simple but perfect summer picnic.

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FOOD // The most important part, obviously. I always plan ahead so I can make this insanely good olive bread, which requires a little prep work the day before but it always works out perfectly time-wise so that it’s fresh and warm for the picnic (you can find the recipe here). Besides that, I packed fruit, dip, and other snacks in a tiffin, which is basically the perfect picnic companion. It’s compact and holds a lot and looks pretty and streamlined – what more could you want?

I brought along raspberries and blueberries, plus this super good dip and pita bread for dipping. I also always make sure to pack a variety of cheese – my staples are parmesan and chèvre, and I like to throw in another sort of unusual one, usually picked up at Whole Foods (their cheese counter is insane) – and crackers to eat it on. Finally, drinks. I kept it simple with my favorite peach Izze.

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OTHER NECESSITIES // A pretty blanket is a must. For years I’d just been using old, thick blankets, but bringing along a prettier one really steps it up a notch (if you’re on the market, I’m coveting these gorgeous all-purpose towels). In a totally cheesy way, I felt almost as though I might be in the French countryside (though, probably far less stunning). Anyway, pretty things just make you feel happy, and it sets the mood. A light, pretty blanket equals a more elegant outing.

And (because I’m a bit of a nerd), poetry anthologies. Or any reading material you like – I also packed a magazine I had yet to read for lazy lounging.

As for what to wear, I’ll sing the praises of maxi dresses and maxi skirts. Extra comfortable, easy to move around and lay down in, light and cool. I have and love this one, which I wore back in this post, but I also love the lemony color and floaty bodice of this one.

And, of course, bring good company. Happy picnicking!

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Party Plan: Valentine’s Day

party plan - v-day

More newness! Introducing party plans – little monthly plans for low-key entertaining. I’ve always been so enticed by the idea of throwing parties for myself and some close friends, but sadly, I don’t usually get the chance. So I’m bringing my unfulfilled party dreams here!

Wear // Valentine’s day is basically just an excuse to deck out in red and pink. This dress is cute, cheap and flirty, and works year-round – but looks especially V-Day appropriate with chic flats and simple gold earrings

Serve // Red velvet cupcakes are a total crowd-pleaser (they happen to be my favorite). They’re simple but decadent, fit perfectly with the holiday’s color scheme, and the single-serve portions make it an easy, un-fussy dessert to serve.

Send // I always love the idea of sending actual paper invitations, but it seems especially fitting for a Valentine’s Day party – there’s already the long-standing tradition of sending Valentines, which I’ve always thought is an extra-sweet notion. These punny options from Oh Happy Day are a creative and cute way to send your girlfriends the details (even if you’ve already texted/emailed/talked to them about it).

Watch // Would the holiday really be complete without romantic comedies? Maybe for some (namely those who have significant others), but not me. I’m a sucker for a good rom-com. These are two of my favorites (er, Notting Hill and anything with Meg Ryan in it) – but obviously, any would do (Pretty Woman also comes to mind).

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