Monthly Archives

March 2017

Beauty, Pretty Things, Random Things

APRIL SHOWERS

A few months ago I was at my niece’s bridal shower in Texas and believe it or not, there were 30 hostesses giving the luncheon (which means 30 names on the actual invitation!) It may sound difficult to co-host an event with 30 people, but once you learn a few tricks, it’s actually easier. I know for sure my Houston friends have this system of co-hosting down because they do it with perfection all the time.

When my son got engaged, I got many calls from friends sending love and congratulations. Soon after that initial phone call, many called back and asked to be put on “the list” to entertain. This is a tradition across the south and midwest. Our family and friends came together to make sure my son and his fiancee were “showered with love”. They offered to entertain by either hosting a bridal shower or an engagement party. Everyone wanted to host something to help create more room for love and celebration.

Over the years, I’ve co-hosted many of these celebrations for both family and friends and I’ve learned what makes an event memorable. Here are some of my favorite tips and ideas for a fun and flawless bridal shower.

Ask How Many?
Before you can begin to plan, It’s important to get an idea from the Bride, Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom how many guests they’d like to invite to the shower. Will this be the bride’s only shower or party or will there be a few? Determine how many hostesses will be giving the event. The answers to these questions will help you determine if it will be an intimate gathering or larger event.

Pick Your Venue
Once you determine the number of guests, the venue often falls into place quite naturally.  If it’s a smaller shower, one of the hostesses might offer her home while a larger guest list may require outsourcing to a restaurant. Once you’ve settled on the venue and size of your party, your group can then decide how to proceed.

Stick To A Budget
Most people usually have a budget when it comes to entertaining. It’s normally less expensive to entertain at home whether you cook, order in, or have the party catered. However, an at home event may become expensive if you need to rent chairs, tables, china and tablecloths. Restaurants have their own hidden expenses; many restaurants have a minimum guest requirement if you are requesting a private room. When researching restaurant options, be ahead of the game and ask questions to find out all additional costs they may charge for private events. If there are a lot of other hostesses sharing the costs of the event, having the shower at a restaurant might make sense and be cost-effective. Every scenario is different so do your research!

Delegation is everything
It’s the norm that one of the hostesses (usually a close friend of the bride or groom’s mother) takes charge of the event. She secures a date from the bride and sends out an initial email asking the other hostesses how they’d like to help and what they’d like to help with. People offer to do different jobs like ordering the invitations, addressing and stamping the envelopes, choosing centerpieces, buying the bridal gift and choosing the party favors. The different duties and jobs are divvied up amongst everyone. The hostesses split all expenses, and it works out beautifully.

 Know Your Bride
Every bride is unique and if you tailor the experience to her, it will be all the more meaningful. My daughter-in-law Jayme loves shoes and the color pink. For her bridal shower in Houston, the hostesses carried out that theme just for her. From the invitations to the cake, the flowers, the napkins and the party favors; everything was personalized and picked out just for Jayme!


Just Chip In
Sometimes the event is happening out of town and you can’t be there to organize or help with the nitty gritty. If this is the case, it’s ok to leave the specifics to the local hostesses. They will appreciate you “chipping in.”  When the tables are turned and the event is in your hometown, you can take more responsibility…it all evens out in the end!

Play Games
When you have a more intimate shower, games are a great way to break the ice between guests and a fun way to pass the time. A few personal favorites are wedding jeopardy or trivia, wedding bingo, and heads up. For instructions and even more ideas, check here. Pinterest is full of great ones and is my go-to for great bridal shower games.

Shower Gift For The Bride
The hostesses usually go in together and get a nice shower gift for the bride. Some ideas include pieces from her Bridal Registry like place settings of her everyday china, pots and pans that she registered for or a special kitchen appliance that she’s been wanting.

Hostess Gift
It’s also customary for the bride to give a hostess gift to each person hosting the shower or luncheon. Some examples of this are a personalized memo pad or stationery, monogrammed napkins or gift enclosure cards, a beautiful candle, or an accessory for entertaining like a set of appetizer spreaders.

Click here Barbara’s Bridal List to download my personal checklist for a flawless event.

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

GINGER’S BRISKET

GINGER’S BRISKET

Just the smell of this brisket in the oven takes me back to my childhood home and my mom’s delicious cooking. This brisket is pure comfort food that continues to be a staple around my family’s dining room table not only during Passover but at other gatherings throughout the year.

Here is my mama Ginger’s foolproof recipe:

Ginger’s Brisket

Ingredients:

3 – 4-lb. brisket (buy only the flat part of the brisket; have the butcher trim off the fat
but leave a little on top so that when you cook it, it’s not chewy and tough)

1 jar of Heinz chili sauce

1 pkg of Liptons dry onion soup

Method:

Rinse off the meat and pat it dry with a paper towel. Smear the chili sauce and the dry onion soup on the top and bottom of the brisket. Leave it in the fridge overnight to season and marinate. Wrap the entire brisket up airtight in heavy duty foil and put it in a shallow roaster. Cook 1 hr. per pound at 250 – 275 degrees.

The pan should come out clean, then let the brisket cool down to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Slice it when cold.

Enjoy!

And by the way, if you’re cooking for a large party, you can easily make 2 briskets at a time. Just double the recipe!

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

AUNT REBA’S MATZO KUGEL

Stirring up matzos for this recipe also stirs up fond memories of our family seders at my in-laws, Inez and Maurice’s home with all the kids, cousins and Aunt Reba’s delicious matzo kugel. This recipe adds just that special touch of sweetness to the meal. If you’re a fan of sweet kugel, you’re gonna love this!

Ingredients:

3 Matzos (soaked in cold water)
3 Eggs, separated
½ C Sugar
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
3 Tbsp. Canola Oil
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and sliced
1 Lemon, zested
¼ C Pecans, chopped
½ C Raisins

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks and add salt, sugar and cinnamon.
Drain matzos and mix into egg yolk mixture. Add 3 tablespoons oil.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Grease pan. Pour half of mixture into pan;
Slice apples and add 1 tablespoon grated rind of 1 lemon on top of the mixture.

Add nuts and raisins. Pour rest of mixture in pan.

Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in an 8 X 8 pan. Double the recipe for a 9 X 13 pan.

Enjoy!

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE MATZO CRUNCH

Some people call this recipe Matzo Crack because it’s “crackly like toffee” but it’s also highly addictive. Dangerously buttery, crisp, sweet and salty, you’ll be surprised at how much it resembles the typical toffee or brittle. A total yumfest and it’s so easy!!

Ingredients:

4 – 6 unsalted matzos
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
1-½ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C toasted chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the foil completely with parchment paper. This step will save you a lot on clean up time because the mixture becomes sticky during baking.

Line your prepared cookie sheet with the sheets of matzos. Cut any extra pieces, as required, to fit any open spaces.

In a 3-quart heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzos, covering completely.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lover the heat to 325 degrees and replace the pan in the oven.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate chips evenly across caramel. An offset firm spatula works great here. While the melted chocolate is still warm, sprinkle with toasted chopped nuts or flaked sea salt. (If nut allergies are an issue, sprinkles or shredded coconut are other great options.) Put the pan in the freezer until it’s set. Break the matzos into pieces (all different shapes).

Can be made in advance and stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer. I make this all year long – not just at Passover!

Enjoy!

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

MINT MATCHA LEMONADE

 

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, check out the recipe below courtesy of Cori Hertz. This green sparkling drink is inspired by the Matcha Sparklers at Shuhari Matcha Cafe on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA. They make a mint matcha drink and a version with Yuzu as well. For the rare cold day in LA – they also make amazing Matcha Lattes! Try it – You’ll love it!!

Mint Matcha Lemonade

Ingredients:

1 – 2 Lemons, small

¼ tsp. Matcha powder

2-3 Mint leaves

2 T Sugar (can substitute 2 packets stevia for calorie free version)

¾ C Sparkling water

¼ C Water, boiled

Method:

Dissolve the matcha powder and sugar in the hot water. Chop or tear the mint leaves and add to the hot water. Stir and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. Cut and juice your lemon, removing seeds, and add to the mixture. Add ice and chilled sparkling water. Adjust lemon or sugar as needed to your taste. Enjoy!

 

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

8 Pairs of Shoes That Every Woman Needs In Her Closet

Everyone who knows me well knows that I’m a shoe lover and I’m always searching for the perfect pair of shoes that have the two C’s. They must be Cute and they must be Comfortable, and when I can score on both of these, I truly feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

The right pair of shoes can make or break your whole day. Shoes can make you feel great when they pull your outfit together, or they can make you miserable forcing you to limp around town in pain. It’s not until we actually wear a new pair of shoes that we realize whether the shoes are a big hit or a big mistake. I’m sure we’re all guilty of buying a pair for a special event that are perfect for that special outfit, but by the end of the night you just want to chuck them in the garbage because your feet are killing you.

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 8 “must have” styles that every gal needs in her closet. Once you find the right pair of each – both cute and comfortable – you’ll never need to shop for shoes again, but don’t let that stop you!

A feminine and classic pair of black pumps are a must for everyone. This is the LBD of shoes.  They are perfect to dress up jeans and a blazer and are chic enough to wear with almost any dress. Make sure to seek out a comfortable pair with a heel that is not too high to wear during the day, but high enough to wear out on the town at night. If you want to splurge on the ultimate classic black pump, you can’t go wrong with the Manolo Blahnik BB, the Jimmy Choo Romy and the Stuart Weitzman Nouveau. Kate Spade, J. Crew and Aldo make some great-looking shoes on the affordable side as well.

A great-looking pair of ballet flats can make the most casual pair of cropped jeans and  oversized men’s button down shirt look incredibly chic. Flats are a practical shoe for traveling and daytime wear. J.Crew, Chanel and Chloe all make great pairs and you will find a range of styles, colors, and prices. Repetto, an actual ballet company, also makes a good looking flat.

Sneakers are not so much a “want” purchase as they are a “NEED” purchase. Everyone needs at least one pair of comfortable and classic sneakers. If you seek out a fashionable pair, they can take you beyond your morning workout as well.  My favorite sneakers for a real workout are Asics. Then I have a more fashionable pair for those days I’m feeling “feh” or have a million things to get done. Nike, Adidas, Converse and Superga all make good looking shoes that won’t break the bank, while at the same time there are many brands of designer sneakers in upscale retail stores that are incredibly pricey.

Wedges are the most comfortable heels you can buy. They are the perfect pair to keep you looking great and feeling tall, or tall-er. If you’re a fan of the classic style, you’re in for a treat with a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s but other brands that offer great options are Jimmy Choo, Prada and Dolce Vita.

Flat sandals are a summer favorite when it’s hot outside and your feet just want to be bare. There is a huge variety of styles and colors to choose from, and it’s always fun to pick out a trendy pair when the weather warms up in spring. Some go-to brands for comfortable and stylish sandals are Birkenstock (most of them slides with the buckled double strap), Manolo Blahnik, Sam Edelman and Bandolino.

Heeled sandals can be worn day or night and (in California at least) they are not simply just for summer. The right heeled sandal can take you from casual to more formal occasions depending on the style. Stuart Weitzman has some great styles as do Loeffler Randall, Jimmy Choo, Prada and Manolo Blahnik.

Chelsea Boots are a great option to a flat shoe especially if you want to wear socks. They’re classic and a little bit tomboyish but are “on point” when worn with a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater. It’s actually my favorite accessory once the weather cools down. I would recommend checking out Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Saint Laurent and Sam Edelman.

No matter if it’s open or closed toe, the heeled bootie is the perfect shoe for winter, spring or fall and a night on the town. Paired with skinny jeans and a chunky sweater or a sweater dress and tights, this boot is a dressier option than the Chelsea boot. Check out options from Chloe, Jimmy Choo, Gianvito Rossi and Rag and Bone. I’m a huge fan of the open toed Mason Margiella bootie; they’re Cute and Comfortable (the 2 C’s) and I can walk for miles in them and still be a happy camper.

What do you fashionistas think of this list? Did I miss a pair that you think should have made my list? What are your favorite shoes and why? Let me know in the comments.