Leather and Shine | Pitaya’s Beaded Blouse

The holidays quite literally sparkle. And while I play perpetual cynic on a variety of occasions, the holidays are no mocking matter for me. Whether it is the shiny ribbon on the outside of a perfectly-wrapped present or the glisten of just-fallen snow, this time of year comes with a definite (practically blinding) shine, and I love every glitter-covered moment.

It only makes sense that so many holiday attire articles show sequin-riddled frocks or metallic knitwear; it’s simply the funnest way to be festive. And while the concept of a ‘going-out top’ never turned out to be as important as assumed during my under-aged years, I still like them quite a lot: They can go over a dress, under sweater, or atop a skirt to create the ideal look for any evening occasion. This beaded ensemble from Pitaya is a perfect example of the holiday blouse you need this season.

I gravitated to this top while shopping at the Delmar Loop Pitaya — after all, what’s more December-ready than gold beads? But as my datebook is more full with travel times and work obligations than cocktail parties and fireside soirees, it became instantly clear that I needed to style this top in a less-obvious fashion. Instead of grabbing a skirt and pumps, which you know would look great with it, I sought out some leather and metal.

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (6)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (2)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (1)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (3)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (5)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (4)

Beaded Art Deco Crop Top with Leather Vest and Skinny Jeans (7)

Currently wearing… Beaded tank, c/o Pitaya [SIMILAR] | Saks GRAY vest, Off Fifth [LAST SEEN / SIMILAR] | Necklace and earrings, c/o Pitaya | Pants, AE [HERE] | Books, Steve Madden, DSW [SIMILAR] | Headband, BCBG [SIMILAR] | Merona clutch, Target [SIMILAR]

Versatility is key, after all.

Peek Inside Art: 314

I recently told you about the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and its Art: 314 event. I explained how the museum depends on membership to support itself. I noted the Young Friends program. I introduced an amazing artist that would show at the auction, and noted the many other important artists. Yes, we’ve gone over all of this before. Now, let’s take a quick peek inside the party.

The CAM’s Young Friends were one of the true stars of the evening. If this packed, loud event was any indication, that is one fun-loving group of art supporters. We munched on appetizers and sipped on cocktails from one of my favorite local eateries, Square One Brewery and Distillery in Lafayette Square. The minute I saw beer pretzels with mustard—SO. GOOD.—I nearly lost my mind. After eating and mingling, Lance and I admired the art up for auction and took a stroll around the museum. We even drew our own ‘fundred‘ dollar bills, because neither of us can turn down an opportunity to color.

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Thanks for the invitation, CAM!


Don’t forget: I was invited by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to explore their Young Friends Program. I received complimentary access to events, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thanksgiving 101: Decorations and Tips (& a DIY project!)

I’m telling you all about my favorite Thanksgiving cocktails, appetizers, place settings, and more in my new blog series Thanksgiving 101! Up today: Decorations and last-minute hostessing tips.

My obsession with holiday decorations is… Intense. I’ve always loved decorating for all holidays. (We have a Taco Bell tradition on Easter, but you know I still own some egg garland.) Because of that, I’m sure you can imagine that I go a little bananas over holidays I celebrate in spades, including the always-overlooked Thanksgiving.

Is it hard to find decor for this holiday? Sure. Do you have to mix woodland home items with Halloween pieces? Absolutely. But—like with so many holidays—a little (lot) glitter, a couple of DIY projects, and a bit of cheeky paper honeycomb can really set the mood.

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (16)

 

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (12)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (4)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (2)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (5)

 

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (15)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (6)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (8)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (9)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (11)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (3)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (13)

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (14)

I know, I know—you’re wondering where I bought those super-rad corn string lights. They were marked down at Jo-Ann Fabric. (!!!) Other favorites include my new homemade pennant garland, the recent additions to my owl collection, and the cinnamon brooms that are keeping our home looking and smelling like the best of fall.

Notice that wreath? I made it a while back, but I recently updated it with a few clearanced acorn bells I found after Halloween. Using heavily-discounted/dollar section/couponed items, you can make this wreath in a matter of minutes for less than $10. Is anything better in the world of DIY than a project that is cute, cheap, and inexpensive? Doubtful.

thanksgiving wreath

You’ll need…

  • Wreath – Target dollar section
  • Twine – Target dollar section
  • Felt leaves – Target dollar section
  • Acorns bells – Michaels clearance
  • Hot glue

Directions

  • Wrap the twine around the wreath and secure it in the back. Leave a loop of extra twine for hanging.
  • Hot glue on the leaves, letting the edges overlap. Let dry.
  • Hot glue on the bells, making sure to secure the edges.

See? Easy. And super cheap. You’re apartment is ready to host Thanksgiving! 

But wait. Before you get to cooking, here are a few last-minute tips…

  • Tidy the “unseen” areas. You never know who will discretely rummage for a tampon or an extra spoon.
  • Light and check. Turn on all your lights and check every area for dust or dirt.
  • Groom your pets. And if you have pets, keep a lint roller handy for those who would like one.
  • Prep your powder room. Have additional hand towels and toilet paper accessible, and place an air freshener in the space.
  • Leave space in the fridge. Remember how many people will bring their own drinks and plan fridge or cooler space accordingly.
  • Check the table. Remember to check all dishes, silverware, and glassware for spots or residue; sometimes washing machines don’t get everything, and this is not a good time to notice that problem. And don’t forget to light those candles!
  • Get yourself ready. Heaven forbid someone arrive before you’ve gotten dressed. Don’t wait until the last minute! This is why we have aprons.
  • Prepare favors early. This added bonus should not be what knocks you off schedule.
  • Use a Reynolds Bag. Cook your turkey in a Reynolds Bag and thank me later.
  • Keep cleaning supplies within reach. Something will get spilled or broken. Be prepared to fix the problem so no one feels guilty. Don’t be the hostess with white rugs and no carpet cleaner.
  • Make a playlist. Turn the volume down low, but keep music going to avoid awkward silences in conversation. (I totally forget this at our last party and I’m still kicking myself!) I play music through our television since our living room, dining room and kitchen are all connected.
  • Pour yourself a glass first. First as in before anyone arrives. This is one of the greatest pieces of hostessing advice my mother gave me.
  • Keep salt and pepper within reach. Perhaps someone likes saltier food than you do. It’s not an insult, it’s preference, and since you’re hostessing to entertain your guests they should not feel awkward asking for more seasonings.
  • Get out your board games. Nothing kills a party faster than a dull moment between food and hang-out time.
  • Have extra everything. This means extra silverware, glasses, napkins (SO MANY NAPKINS), drink picks, food, dishes… Everything. Someone will forget which is there’s and want another. Have one ready.
  • Set the bar. I am typically finishing the last side dishes when guests start arriving, and the first two questions out of their mouths are always Can I help you with something? and May I have a drink? If you can avoid making your guests work, do; instead, pour them your pre-made cocktail, send them to the stocked bar, or hand them an opener for whatever type of beverage they brought. I once hostessed Thanksgiving without a cork screw. Thankfully, we were tipsy (I’m not going to lie to you!) before we tried to open that wine, so we all got a good laugh out of me poorly opening the bottle with a damn power drill.
  • Relax. I don’t care if you’re hostessing game night or your wedding; it’s a party, so treat it as such and have fun!

Wondering why I didn’t share any actual meal recipes? Because you probably have your own! (And because my favorite recipes aren’t mine to share.) One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is eating the recipes I grew up with. Bread stuffing is my favorite, by far. What’s yours?

Thanksgiving 101: Table Decor, Place Settings, & Party Favors

I’m continuing to share my absolute love for Thanksgiving in my new blog series Thanksgiving 101! Hosting your own? Check out these cocktail and appetizer recipes and tips.

Ah, the table. If you’re wanting a sit-down dinner, you first need a place for everyone to sit. Find enough space at the table ,and chairs for all guests; every year, this is one of the hardest parts for us as apartment-dwellers. I have two folding tables — one standard legs-pop-in version and another super-compact option from Target — that I attach to our kitchen table using belts wrapped around the legs. While this doesn’t keep the tables perfectly aligned, it does make it harder for one person to knock the center table out of line while standing up or scooting in. For chairs, I beg, borrow, and steal — kidding, I raid our place, then ask a trusted guest to BYOB BYKC (bring your kitchen chairs.)

Now here’s the part where a lot of people opt for disposable plates and silverware. Don’t get me wrong — it is way easier, and they come in plenty of cute and sturdy options… but I love the look and feel of the real stuff, even if the clean-up sucks. We currently have a service-for-16 flatware set, which means we’re set in that department. For dishes, I always use our mismatched Fiestaware collection; and for glasses, I grab from our assortment of vintage juice glasses. I do typically select disposable paper napkins, if for no other reason than I feel people can be made uncomfortable by cloth. Do you really want to ruin your bestie’s best linen with your red wine moustache? Didn’t think so.

Since the table is coordinated, but not matching, I set place settings in a casual fashion; I also simply don’t own enough wine glasses for a party this big, and there was no reason to have spoons out at any point. Casual it is! A napkin folded nicely on the salad plate with a dinner plate below and silverware above sets the tone for the festive celebration without seeming too stuffy.

Mismatched plates, glasses, and chairs can easily teeter the line between shabby chic and sloppy, so I selected three matching (incredibly clearanced) tablecloths. To visually connect the three tables, and to anchor the centerpieces, I ran several rolls of inexpensive, waxed burlap down the middle . These rolls were the ideal width to serve as a table runner and did not require hemming. On top of the burlap table runner, I placed a collection of clear glassware to serve as flower vases and candle holders; I used what I had around the house, what former coworkers had abandoned at the office (it’s amazing how many people don’t want the vase after they get flowers delivered!), and what I could find at Goodwill. I stuck to a clear palate to avoid competing with the colorful plates — and, this option was way cheap, as I was able to reuse plenty of items from around the house. I filled the glassware with inexpensive tea lights and cheap grocery store flowers in autumn hues.

Let’s break down the cost of the decor.

  • Vases: $3, Goodwill (most are recycled jars, vases coworkers didn’t want, or other clear bottles I found around the house)
  • Votive holders: $3, Goodwill
  • Tea lights: $2, Walmart
  • Burlap: $10, Michaels (bought with coupon)
  • Tablecloths: $20, Bed Bath & Beyond (old; originally bought on clearance with coupons)
  • Flowers: $22, Schnucks
  • Confetti: Free (gift; could get for practically free during after-holiday sales)
  • Small pumpkins: $1, Michaels (bought on clearance with coupons)
  • Pumpkin table scatter: $1, Target (old)
    Total table decor cost: $62 (keep in mind: I already owned a lot of it, like the tablecloths, and the majority of the new items can be used again and again!)

HOUSE

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (1)

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (5)

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (2)

Is the mismatched look not quite your thing? Here are a few more of my favorite tablescapes.

Now, on to party favors! You wouldn’t throw a birthday celebration without cake, you wouldn’t host New Years Eve without hats… Why have any party without favors? Whether it’s a little token of appreciation or a delectable sweet treat, handing guests a parting gift is a great way to end the evening with a bang. At my recent early Thanksgiving, I gifted reusable holiday-themed cups filled with cookies and wrapped in festive packaging. (To keep them fresh, the cookies were sealed in plastic zipper bags inside of the cups and treat bags.) The ribbons were post-Christmas clearance items from last season, and the plastic bags were on sale early as they were labeled as Halloween decor. I used a rubber stamp and some last-season stickers placed on tags to decorate the finished packages, and I handed them out to guests as we said our goodbyes.

THANKSGIVING 101

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (3)

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (6)

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (4)

Looking for other party favor ideas? Try a few of these cute options.


 

Wrapping up Thanksgiving 101: Decorations and hostessing tips, coming soon!

Thanksgiving 101: Appetizers

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is the time to share my favorite tips, recipes,  decor and more in Thanksgiving 101!

Much like cocktails, appetizers are one of the make-or-break aspects of hostessing. If you leave people thirsty and hungry, they will go home. If you feed them, give them drinks, and provide some form of entertainment, you are more than likely throwing a rad-tastic party.

Since Thanksgiving (or any big meal) can sometimes vary in cooking time, I think it’s best to have extra appetizers. This was particularly helpful this year, as dinner was served 35 minutes later than planned.

But, it is important to remember that the appetizers are not why people are coming. Unless you’re throwing an appetizer-only party, they are just the tasty treats that tide guests over and prepare them for your scrumptious meal. But, if it’s a full dinner you don’t want to fill people up too much with appetizers — and this is particularly difficult in the world of Pinterest, where there are so many delicious appetizer recipes all labeled ‘easy’. I try and stick two to three appetizers for parties of eight or less, and four to five for larger groups. Limiting yourself is important; you can’t let yourself get so caught up in making the appetizers that it takes out time you should spend making the actual meal.

Let’s take a look at what I served this year.

I see no point in changing something good, so instead of creating my own recipes for the appetizers I happily used a few I found online. First up was the turkey cheese ball, created using Martha Stewart’s Dijon cheese ball recipe. Instead of simply rolling the outside in pecans, as noted in the recipe, I took some inspiration from Pinterest and made mine look like a turkey. To do so, I used pretzel rods and crackers for the feathers. The neck was created using a beef stick, which everyone asked about during the party and one person mysteriously ate. Ha!

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Appetizer Turkey Cheese Ball (4)

Up next were easy slow-cooker meatballs. This recipe is floating around everywhere online, but I grabbed mine here. To sum things up, you simply combine one bag of frozen pre-cooked meatballs, one jar of grape jelly, and one bottle of barbecue sauce in a slow-cooker and cook on high for three hours. Once they were done, I turned the slow-cooker down to warm and waited until the party was about to begin. Right before guests arrived, I used pretty, decorative toothpicks to make the meatballs easy to eat without getting messy. They were gone almost immediately.

Easy Thanksgiving Food - Appetizer - Grape Jelly Slow-Cooker Meatballs (2)

Rounding off the list were the cheesy bacon-stuffed mushrooms, which I’d guess were the crowd favorite. I found this recipe from Kraft Foods, and prepared it much earlier in the day. This meant that 20 minutes before guests arrive, I was able to put the dish in the oven and have it pop out at the perfect temperature just on time. Instead of serving them plain, I used miniature plastic forks; they were a huge hit, and very practical.

Easy Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipe - Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms on Mini Forks (3)

Since we had a total of 15 hungry adults at our Thanksgiving, I also put out carrots, celery, potato chips, and French onion dip. Simply put, people eat a lot — especially while drinking — and you never hear anyone say, There were just too many snacks.

Did you notice how all of those treats can be done in advance? Slow-cookers, prepare-ahead appetizers, and cold snacks are your best bet while trying to cook an actual meal but still keep guests from getting too peckish. We are the proud owners of two slow-cookers, one of which I was supposed to — but am not going to — give back to my mother. (I have a feeling she’s reading this, so this seems like as good a place as any to tell her I plan on keeping both. They are just too handy!)

Need more appetizers, or in the mood for something else? Here are a few of my favorite other recipes. Some of them I have made, some of them I have posted about on the blog, and some of them I’m just dying to try.


Coming up next in Thanksgiving 101… Table decor, place settings, and party favors!