the Devils in the Details

Hello? You There?

Some of you may be wondering, where have you been? Well, honestly, I have no complicated excuses. I simply get super busy and loose track of time. When the school semester begins, I tend to disappear.  So it occurred to me that maybe some of you out there actually care and wonder what I do at school.  This semester I took two classes, Watercolor and Sculpture. I  had a pretty good time with both of them, but unfortunately, they take up a good portion of my time, especially Watercolor. The simple reason is that I’m old, and I’m slow. Halfway through the semester I had to submit 12 pieces of my work in a portfolio review. All art students have to pass a review in order to take upper level courses. I had been putting it off for a while now and was at the point where its now or never. Apparently I only have about 10 more courses left to take until I can do my capstone (art version of a thesis).  When I had my midterm review with my watercolor professor it occurred to me that I am still treating school as a buffet; try a little from each category. I really need to start focusing on one medium and begin accruing a collection of work to show.  Oh man!  It sucks when you realize for the second time in your life that you have to grow up. (1st being the time I gave birth).

So, here I am at the end of the year, classes done, portfolio review done and my brain is fried.  I’ve made a pretty big decision for myself and declared an unofficial concentration of painting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna do photography and mixed media wacky stuff I like, but in order to graduate, I’m going to concentrate on painting.  You’d think I’d feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders? I don’t.  I mean I still have to pay my tuition!

Here’s a peek at some of my favorite works from this semester.

IMG_0678IMG_0668IMG_0594copy IMG_0576copy IMG_0541copy  IMG_0835TIMG_0828copy   This last piece with the heart was actually more of a performance piece. I sculpted the heart out of clay. Then I painted the heart. Then I covered the heart with mosaic glass tile and grouted it.  And then I preceded to shatter the heart to pieces with a sledgehammer. It was by far the best thing I’ve done all semester!

Actually, both classes were great, I learned a lot and had fun. And if you are wondering, passed my review and got A’s in both courses.

Now, shall we get back to the important stuff……… the parties!

Happy Spring!

True Story

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Logan

I think a day without laughter is a day not worth living through. My kid makes me laugh the most. I’m not sure if he knows what he’s actually doing, but he’s probably the funniest person I know.

This is the exact conversation I had with my four year old son, Logan, in the restroom at my niece’s birthday party last summer.

Logan: “Mom, why don’t you learn to do pee pee standing up?”

Me: “Girls can’t go standing up.”

Logan: “But its easy. All you have to do is stand next to the toilet, point your lo-lo, (Portuguese for penis) down and then you  just pee.”

Me: “Girls don’t have a lo-lo.”

Logan: (with a shocked look on his face) Pause, “Well, I know you have a big butt!”

Thank goodness we were the only people in the bathroom.

This would be the first time he realized girls and boys are different, besides of course the time he asked what my breasts were.  I told him they were my nipples and that everyone had them; even him.  He responded, “I don’t have THOSE!”

Oh the joys of motherhood!

 

Valentine Crafternoon

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Every year around Valentine’s Day, we have some of Logan’s friends over for a little party with crafts, treats and surprises.  This year we had a bit of delay. Originally, our party was scheduled for the Friday afternoon before Valentine’s Day, but Mother Nature had other plans. That day Nemo hit.  For those of you not here in Connecticut, Nemo was an insane blizzard that swept in and covered the state in snow overnight. It was crazy! Luckily, we anticipated the storm and rescheduled for the following week.

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The day of the party finally arrived.  Our friends came excited to play.  We made a Valentine place mat from cut out hearts and contact paper, and a lace-up heart with stickers. Everyone made beautiful works of art!  We sent everyone home with a favor bag full of sugary delights and a personalized mailbox with handmade multi-colored heart shaped crayons. (Those were super fun to make.)

I served a small array of snacks and sweets.  There were Red Velvet cake pops, Chocolate Whoopie Pies, sugar cookies and pink macarons (my new obsession!).    pop IMG_0612 mac IMG_0649 IMG_0644

We are very fortunate to have such “sweets” in our lives and hope this tradition continues for many years to come.

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Thanks!

Gingerbread House Party

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It was brought to my attention that I never posted anything about our annual gingerbread house making party. Shame Shame!

This was only our 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Party, but has quickly become a favorite among our family and friends.  I bake and assemble the houses the night before, and then the morning of the party, the kids decorate them.  This tradition is one we keep in our minds all year long.  For every party or event I do, I must include a candy display.  Why? Because I can.  I have a set of beautiful candy jars that I love and try to utilize at every event.  But, what happens to all that color coded and coordinated candy? Usually nothing.  No one really eats any of it so I put it away in a huge bag and save it all for this one event: Gingerbread House.  It was a stroke of genius if I do say so myself.  Now I don’t feel guilty about needing those black licorice coins because they made great roof shingles!

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We served some light brunch style snacks; bagels and cream cheese, croissants, fruit, alongside some yummy Christmas cookies and cupcakes.  The best part was the hot chocolate station.  There were classic milk chocolate and salted caramel mixes, along with homemade hot chocolate on a stick, juices and sparkling water.

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The gingerbread boy and house was, of course, my theme.  The kids were all great, really getting into it this year.  All except for mine of course.  He put about 7 pieces of candy on and announced, “I’m done”.  Yes, folks, this is my Logan.

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The mom’s all helped out as well.  The kids would decorate so much, then would want to go play.  That’s when each mom stepped in to “help” finish off the houses.  We all enjoyed every minute of the holidays with our kids.  I hope you did too.

Thanks for stopping by,

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Here are the ones I made later that day.

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2013

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Happy New Year!  The more I grow and get older, the more and more I appreciate the little things.  There was a time when New Years Eve night meant where are we going, what should I wear, whose going out? etc, etc.  Now as a mom, I try to plan things that I can do with my son, which pretty much rules out Times Square, 1st Night and any bar at all.  We started a new tradition a few years ago of spending the night with my very best friend Karen, her husband Scott and their 3 kids.  This year we hosted their family for a New Years Sleepover Camp-out (or should I say Camp-In).  We set up our tent downstairs in our family room and piled all four kids inside.  They had a blast!  There was a little Wii dance party and make your own pizzas and cookies.  We even celebrated the big moment, for us it was 10:00, with party hats, noise makers, champagne, sparkling cider & grapes.  Best New Years yet.  Thank you guys!

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Thank you all for sticking around with me.  The celebrations have only just begun.

Stay tuned…..

Gratefully yours,

Jen

Eat, Drink & Be Merry!

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I realize that as a blogger now, I should be far ahead of the holiday with my photos ,themes, ect.  But, since every single one of my parties are real life parties, I have to deal with real life timing.  So maybe my holiday party will inspire you for next year or you’ll just take some cool ideas for different themes.

For the past 3 years my husband Paul and I have been hosting a holiday cocktail party, the first weekend in December, to help kickoff the season in style.  We invite all our friends and their families to come by for drinks and bite sized food.  Everyone brings an appetizer to share and we provide the drinks and desserts (of course!).

This year I chose a black and white sparkly color scheme with some touches of red, silver and gold. “Eat, Drink & Be Merry” was my theme.  We “decked our halls” with tons of ornaments. The ornament was the icon figure I used to tie everything together. With so many colors, I needed something to anchor it all. I hung bunches of clear glass ornaments from fishing line throughout the dining room and kitchen. Some I even made sparkly by adding mod podge and Epson salt for that snow-frosted look.

                    

I used plastic ornaments painted with chalkboard paint as the food labels.  There were punched paper ornaments as the labels for the candy on the candy bar.  A single mini black ornament was attached to the favors; which were homemade peppermint bark shaped like a snowflake, in a mini chevron striped red box.  A small but personal touch.

The bar was stocked with wines and beer, of course, but the focus were the concoctions in my 2 dispensers.  This year I opted for an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic martini.  The spiked version titled the “Mistletoe Martini” was a combination of champagne, seltzer, Cointreau, lime juice, cranberry juice and simple syrup.  A “Virgin White Sangria” filled the other dispenser.  This was a mix of seltzers, pom juice & simple syrup.  I served both in stemless wine glasses rimmed in red sugar sprinkles and garnished with either sugared cranberries or pomegranate arils. They were both super yummy!

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I tried to keep my part of the food menu simple and small.  Those who know me well, know I don’t enjoy cooking, love to bake but not a big cook.  I served Party Meatballs, Pinwheels with feta, cream cheese, cranberries & scallions, Pomegranate Chicken, Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites, Reindeer Cheese and a veggie platter. (http://pinterest.com/pin/200832464604686137/)  Guests brought yummy additions like, artichoke dip, caramelized onion dip and a buffalo chicken dip, kielbasa, fingerling potatoes and of course their wonderful company

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My sweets table continued the color scheme.  I featured cupcakes on my newly re-purposed chandelier stand.  There were champagne cupcakes and mini Black Velvet ones topped with an Eggnog Fluff and dipped in chocolate ganache.  Holiday shortbread bites, sugar cookies and chocolate covered oreos rounded out the cookie portion of the table.  My son Logan begged me to make Penguin and Snowman pops (oreo truffles), and I wanted to try cheesecake pops; those I dipped in white and dark chocolate.  I also tried for the first time to make french macarons. They turned out amazing!  Half were filled with peppermint buttercream while the other had eggnog marshmallow fluff.  There was also a chex mix and peppermint bark covered kettlecorn.  (Checkout my Pinterest page for all the links and recipes!)

This year I added a candy table.  I tried to fill my candy canisters and bowls with as many black, white & red candies I could get my hands on.  There were peppermint M & M’s, mints, Jordan almonds, salted licorice coins, small and large peppermint sticks, a variety of chocolate truffles, peppermint taffy, chocolate covered mints, snocaps & kisses.  I put out candy bags for the guests to fill their own take home treat bags.

Outside we had a roaring fire in the fire pit, the outdoor heater and couches set up on the deck.  The men, for the most part, hid out there.  But I have to admit, nothing beats the smell of a fire on a cold night.  The best part of the evening is getting to spend time with our friends.  Everyone relaxed and together.  My deepest thanks to everyone who came to share their holidays with us.  I always enjoy our holiday parties but I think this was my favorite one so far.  Things really do get better with age.

Happy Everything

Jen

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It’s beginning to look alot like …

I have to admit that I have been failing miserably at my goal of blogging once a week.  I’m still trying to get used to the idea that anyone even cares what I’m doing with my time.  Also, trying to find those minutes in the day to sit down and write it down.  I know its still December, but I’m going to announce here and now that my New Years Resolution is to do better.  Better at blogging, better at carving out a little bit of time just for me.  I’m counting on all of you to keep me to that promise!

Now, as for the blessed season that is the Christmas Season.  I, like everyone else, love Christmas.  We host an annual holiday cocktail party the first weekend in December, a gingerbread house decorating play date and Christmas Eve dinner.  The cocktail party is my favorite.  It kicks off the holiday season and gets everyone in the spirit before we get all bogged down with the eventual insanity Christmas is sure to bring.  All our friends families come over.  We serve drinks, a few appetizers and desserts.  Everyone brings a snack to share.  It really helps to make my holiday.

This year, our party falls on December 8th.  We spent the weekend decorating the house and putting up the tree. I’ve been hard at work at some DIY decorations, such as; a chandelier cupcake holder,  some tinsel trees, falling snow garland and clear ball strands.  My theme this year is “Eat, Drink & Be Merry” with a black, white, red & shimmer color scheme.  I chose the classic ornament as my icon or symbol. There are ornaments everywhere! I can’t wait to share all the little details with you but alas my photographer’s schedule tends to clash with mine. But even if I have to take the photos myself, I’ll get them all up.

Keep popping in for all the holiday details!

Santa’s Most “Stylish” Helper

108 Party

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108 monkeys  is a non-profit entity established by yoga practitioners who believe that “Mindfulness must be engaged with a social conscience. Meditative silence is not sufficient.” – Thich Nhat Hahn.  Its mission is to actualize the potential of the New Haven community, from rock to rock, breath by breath, through yoga.  On September 7, 2012, 30 people began training with Street Yoga to kick off the Street Bodhisattvas-in-Training program. The following week, another 30! They had staff from Clifford Beers, CT Mental Health Center, Boys and Girls Club, Solar Youth, Liberty, Columbus House… some who have never done yoga! Participants who work as lawyers, psychologists, physicians, social workers, teachers, executive directors. On November 10, 2012, the 108 monkeys celebrated the graduation of those street bodhis with 108 sun salutations, yummy sushi and dumplings, and of course chocolate!

I was given the pleasure to help create a memorable evening for this amazing group of people. The organization received gracious donations of sushi rolls from Miya’s, and incredible chocolate truffle slabs from John Kelly Chocolates. I provided the sugar cookies (of course), decorations, beverages, table settings and not to mention the 108 monkey garlands. The event kicked off with the group taking part in the 108 sun salutations in the donated space of Fresh Yoga in Erector Square in New Haven. Following the practice, the group convened in the 108 monkeys offices, down the hall, for refreshments.

I designed the cookies especially for the founder; simple, blue & big. They were circle shaped with blue icing to match the color scheme and logo of the organization. The drinks I chose to offer were a Glowing Citrus Infused Water and Passionfruit Tea (also illuminated with submersible lights)

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As for the decorations, they too were simple but coordinating. There were strands of confetti garland that acted as the backdrop for the dessert table. In the food room, I strung white string lights and mirror garlands in the windows. The tables were covered in white vinyl with blue shimmery runners, and punched out paper circles in coordinating tones of blue as scatter between the dishes. I also used my trademark chalkboards as food labels. The monkey garlands were a bit more unusual. I found a way to cut out the logo monkey on my Cricut machine and strung them together to mimic the actual logo. These were dangling from the light beams throughout the yoga studio. They were by far, Peg’s, the founders, favorite element.

This was my first “corporate” event, if you can call it that. I found it to be one of the biggest learning experiences ever. I am truly grateful to Peg and Jen for the opportunity to style the first (of which I’m sure there will be many) events celebrating and honoring your work.

Thanks,

Jen

108

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Sorry for the temporary absenteeism.  I have had a crazy few weeks around here.  Fast approaching on Saturday is the first ever graduation party for the non-profit group 108 Monkeys.  I have spent the past two weeks scrambling around an ever evolving set up plan and trying to get everything done in time.  I made some monkey garlands (paper chains in the shape of monkeys), confetti garlands and confetti table scatter.  The past few days have had me elbow deep in paint creating 3 graffiti style banners for the hallway of the building.  Today, I cut all the table coverings and baked 143 round sugar cookies!  Now I’m exhausted and hoping for at least one solid nights sleep this week.  Tomorrow, I finish the final banner, iron the table runners, create name tags and food labels, and put together one of my light decorations.  Friday will be when I decorate the cookies and finish all loose ends.

Is it Sunday yet???

Spooky Sweets

Over the weekend, we went to our first Halloween party of the season.  I just wanted to take a moment to show you what sweet treats I made to bring along.

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Ghost Cake Pops:

Orange Creamsicle flavor cake pops, dipped in white chocolate.

I used a food marker to draw on the eyes and mouth.

Orange Cake Pops:

Also, Orange Creamsicle flavor, dipped in orange colored chocolate, then rolled in orange sprinkles.

 

 

 

 

Candy Corn Marshmallows:

Candy Corn Marshmallows

These marshmallows were dipped in white chocolate first.  Then, I dipped them halfway in a light orange chocolate, and finally, the bottom was dipped in a dark orange chocolate and rolled in orange sprinkles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies:

I showed these little bite sized cuties in my previous post about kid Halloween snacks from Pinterest.  Here are my version.  They were so yummy.  I think I’ll be keeping that recipe around.

 

 

 

 

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Follow me on Pinterest.  I have 3 great boards filled with amazing holiday ideas!

See you soon,

Jen

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