The Toast Wedding Showcase Preview and Giveaway

Many, many years ago I met the guy that turned out to be my husband. At that time I had no desire to ever be married. I had no desire to plan a wedding. Something strange happened to my very unromantic soul in dating my eventual husband. While I am still pretty sure that he is as happy as I am in the choice to marry, I am not sure he was prepared for what the planning of the wedding awakened in me… a love for weddings that would just NOT die.

I’m excited to be participating with a team of some of Portland’s very best wedding vendors to create a wedding space at the upcoming The Toast Wedding Showcase hosted by Elli.

When I say the very best in Portland’s wedding vendors I mean it! I’ve been inspired and incredibly excited by the ideas and work coming from my teammates for this event. We have a 10X10 space that we are creating with our inspiration coming from selected stationary provided by Elli.com.

Ticket Giveaway for Toast Wedding Showcase in Portland

Sneak peek into some of our inspiration for our space!

 

I’ll be creating a DIY wedding backdrop that I’ll eventually share here on the blog. In addition I’ll help with the styling of the space. Our rental company Something Borrowed Portland Vintage Rentals is bringing out all the stops with some really fabulous vintage rentals… including a brand new custom built item that will see its debut in this show! Lane’ will also be helping us style the space. The food elements are being put together with a custom menu by local northwest-style catering company, White Pepper. I’ve seen the custom menu and can’t wait see how it all looks! No wedding is complete without some gorgeous floral elements and our florist, Intimo: An Intimate Occasion Florist in Portland, has designed something truly spectacular. Local calligraphy artist Kelsey Malie is lending us talents to help really put the icing on this oh-so-gorgeous cake.

This event won’t only be a great way to gather inspiration and DIY wedding tips, but it also be a way to connect with wedding vendors in Portland that truly care about your event and their craft. In addition to seeing all the cool curated wedding spaces designed just for this event, attendees will also get:

  • Complimentary Appy Couple wedding website and app.
  • Entry into drawing for chance to win a free engagement photo shoot.
  • Gorgeous and festive photo booth pics courtesy of Happymatic.
  • Bridal style showcase with looks for events leading up to your big day.
  • First 125 attendees receive a gift bag full of surprises.
  • Complimentary food and drinks.

Click here to purchase your super affordable tickets to Toast Wedding Showcase today! 

I’m also giving away two sets of two tickets! Bring your mom, your groom, your bride or someone from your bridal party! Make a girls/guys night of it or a romantic evening for two.

Please enter the below giveaway only if you are going to be in the Portland area on March 7th and wish to attend the Toast: Curated Wedding Showcase. Winners will receive notification by March 3rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday Spirits: Marionberry Champagne Cocktail

I had never even heard of a marionberry until I moved to Portland. Now, these native to Oregon berries are just one of the many reasons I’m in love with this place. One of the other reasons I love Portland is that we like our beverages here! Mixing the two just seemed natural.

Marionberry Champagne Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

 

When then fine people from “Eat your Oregon Berries!” contact me and asked me if I’d like to develop a recipe with berries grown right here in the area I knew immediately that I wanted to make a cocktail. One bag of the Columbia Fruit Marionberry Blackberries was way too much for just one recipe… so, I made a couple and will be sharing them over the next few weeks!

 Marionberry Cocktail Syrup:

To make this cocktail you’ll first need to make a syrup with the berries. You can choose to strain the seeds from the syrup or you can choose to leave them in like I did. This recipe will make approximately 8 oz of syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen marionberries
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice of two lemons (approximately 3 oz)
  • 1 cup of refined sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and frozen marionberries in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Cover with a lid and let simmer down. Stir occasionally. The berries will break down and the juice will be watery and red.
  2. Once the berries are broken down, mix in the cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved completely.
  3. Pour into a container, set in fridge and let cool.
  4. After cool mix in the lemon juice. The syrup should be slightly thickened, but not quite the consistency of a maple syrup.
  5. Make a cocktail with the syrup or pour over ice and top with soda water for a refreshing marionberry soda!

Marionberry Champagne Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

 

Marionberry Champagne Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

 Marionberry Champagne Cocktail Syrup:

I love champagne cocktails for all kinds of occasions. A little sugar, a little citrus, and a lot of champagne and I am a happy camper. A traditional champagne cocktail will have a sugar cube and some bitters. This cocktail is a variation on that using the syrup in place of the sugar and the lemon in place of the bitters.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 oz marionberry cocktail syrup
  • 4 oz sparkling wine
  • garnish with marionberry and a slice of lemon

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a champagne glass, garnish and enjoy!

Marionberry Champagne Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

Ingredients for this post were paid for by the great people at Oregon Berries with a gift card to our local New Season’s Market. I found the Columbia Fruit Marionberry in their freezer section. Thank you for supporting the companies that help me bring fresh and tasty new content to the blog! 

 

 

Free Printable Blog Planner 2015 Edition

It’s here! If you are a subscriber to the newsletter then you’ve already seen that I’ve released the 2015 edition of my free printable blog planner. If you haven’t subscribed, then what are you waiting for!? The newsletter doesn’t go out too often and when it does it always has a free printable for you! Some printables are blogging related and others are just about celebrating life in general.

Scroll down to subscribe to the newsletter. After your confirmation you’ll receive an email within the hour with a link to your fresh new printables! Subscribers will receive first dibs at all updates to this file! If you’ve already subscribed and love the new printables then I would appreciate you sharing this post! Just click one of the SHARE buttons at the bottom of this post or pin the images directly! (Lots of thanks for sharing!)

Free Printable Blog Planner 2015 from A Well Crafted Party

Free Printable Blog Planner 2015 from A Well Crafted Party

Here is what is new in this year’s set of free blogging printables:

I created this printable file with the same basic bright colored designs from the past two years. That way, if you have already printed out pages previously of the original design, then they should coordinate! That is all well and good… let’s get on wit what is NEW!

  • Option to download only the pages you want or a huge file of a basic planner already put together for you! The whole point of this planner is to build the planner that will be most useful for your blog, not try to make someone else’s dream planner work for you.
  • Six new brainstorming and planning pages
  • Cover pages! A whole schlew of new cover pages for the months or sections of your binder.

Free Printable Blog Planner 2015 from A Well Crafted Party

The full list of pages available to download this year:

Brainstorming for Your Blog:

  • Blog Resolutions
  • Focus your blog worksheet
  • Post Brainstorming Worksheet
  • Year of Ideas NEW!

Tools for Maintaining Your Blog:

  • Affiliate Program Tracker
  • Finance Tracker
  • Pitchminder
  • Project Budget Worksheet
  • Sponsor Tracker
  • Collaboration Tracker
  • Stylesheet Worksheet
  • Password Tracker NEW!
  • Analytics Tracker

Planners for Your Blog:

  • Month at a Glance Planner  (List) NEW!
  • Monthly Blog Post Planner (Calendar View)
  • Weekly Blog Planner (7 Days)
  • Three Posts Weekly Planner (3 Days) NEW!
  • Three Posts Daily Planner (For those over-achievers out there or large blogs out there) NEW!
  • Single Post Planner NEW!

Covers:

  • 2015 Blog Planner Cover
  • Plan the Work, Work the Plan
  • Money, Money, Money
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016

Free printable blog planner from A Well Crafted Party & PDXBloggers.com

Like what you see? Subscribe today! After your confirmation you’ll receive an email within the hour with a link to your brand new printables.

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You’re Invited! Join me on Thursday, Feb. 26 for a FREE Facebook Event for bloggers called “Fall in Love with Facebook.” We will be discussing social media and really learning the ins and outs of Facebook and other platforms from other bloggers! Attendees and A Well Crafted Party subscribers will get the first set of Social Media Planning Printables that I’ve designed!

Toddler Style: My Casual Cool Three Year Old

Do you want to know what is really strange for me about being a mom? It is the fact that after 28 years of not having a child, I can’t really remember my life before my son. That is sort of difficult to explain. It isn’t that I don’t remember life pre-motherhood or that I don’t cherish that time as well. He is just such a part of me now that I can’t imagine my life without him. He has changed me in so many amazing ways, and yet I’m still the same person.

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

 

I haven’t posted about my kiddo much in the past year because I’m finally seeing his little personality and have been unsure if I wanted to share it on my blog. He has his own personality that is no longer just a reflection of my husband and me, but is just him! In the end I finally decided that I will abide by some personal rules when posting about him, and if and when he decides that he doesn’t want to be featured on my blog I’ll respect that. Currently he loves the camera. If you can’t tell by these amazing shots taken by Macey from Moments by Macey.

Casual Cool Toddler Style – Hiding the Threenager

At three years old we are dealing with a variety mood swings. Sometimes this little guy will be the most polite and amazing child. Brian and I will look at each other with “what in the world happened to him?” Other times it is FIT city. From everything I’ve read from mothers and fathers of 3 year olds… we are right on track.

The day we took these photos with he was on his best behavior. You would never had guessed that just hours before he had thrown an epic fit because he didn’t want to nap and then another epic fit because he didn’t want to wake up. By the time we got to the wall and had a bunch of balloons he was the happiest and sweetest kid on the block. He loved his casual cool toddler style look, making sure his hair was just right in the mirror. But, really… it was all about the balloons. Man, balloons are amazing.

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

Casual Cool Toddler Boy Clothing - A Well Crafted Party

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

Casual Cool Toddler Fashion - A Well Crafted Party

 

Outfit details: (affiliate links may be used) 

High top two tone shoes via Old Navy // Skinny Jeans via Gap // Chambray Rolled Sleeved Shirt via Old Navy // Vest via a three piece set from Burlington Coat Factory (Similar via Amazon) // Tie was a gift (Similar via Amazon)

 

 

Saturday Spirits: For the Love of Amaretto

How to Make an Amaretto Sour - A Well Crafted Party

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is one of my favorite holidays. Not for all the mushy stuff. That is great and all, but that isn’t what I love about today. I love chocolate, sweets, red, pink, decadent foods, the phrase ‘I love you!,’ little notes of love, and so much more.

When I was a little girl my dad always made a point of getting my sister and I something small for Valentine’s Day each year. Even when we couldn’t really afford anything, he made a point to tell his girls we were special this day. When I got a little older I loved making valentine’s for my friends. I might have tried my best at hiding a crush or two within friendly valentines. I guess I was pretty good at the hiding part of it all, because no one ever seemed like they found out! Whooops.

It never was a “romantic” time even after meeting my husband. I worked in the restaurant industry for so long that Valentine’s Day usually meant I had to work. Because of that time I never really like to go out on Valentine’s Day. I prefer to stop by the grocery store and grab some delicious ingredients that we don’t get to use often. Tonight is no exception. Tonight I’m going to run by Whole Foods for their Steak & Lobster special (seriously, once you see this Herb-Roasted Lobster Steak recipe you’ll want it too!) and bunch of their roses that are on sale. We are doing a small dinner party with friends. I can’t wait!

How to Make an Amaretto Sour - A Well Crafted Party

In planning my menu for tonight I knew I wanted to use one of my most beloved liqueurs in a drink. Amaretto is one of my favorite ways to give a little sweetness to a drink. Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liquor that is made from a base of apricot pits or almonds or both. Funnily enough though sweet and delicious the name Amaretto comes from the Italian word Amaro meaning bitter.

Good ole’ wikipedia says this of the word, “Conflation of amaro (“bitter”) and amore (“love”) has led to associations with romance.” I guess I’m just going to be a part of all those people that have trouble distinguishing the two, because I definitely amore my Amaretto.

I’ve always believed drinking a good Amaretto Sour felt like enjoying a really great make-out-session. Don’t believe me? Make one and find out! Or, scroll down a little further and find ways that Amaretto can enhance other favorite beverages to make them even more lovely.

How to Make an Amaretto Sour - A Well Crafted Party

How to make an Amaretto Sour:

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Amaretto
  • 3/ 4 to 1 oz home-made Sour Mix (to taste)
  • A good maraschino cherry (check out my thoughts on a good maraschino cherry here)
  • Orange Slice (optional- I just love the flavor of orange and amaretto
  • Ice

Directions:

  1. Pour the amaretto and sour over ice. Crushed ice gives this drink even more ‘kissability’. I like to garnish with a a good maraschino cherry and a slice of orange!

How to Make an Amaretto Sour - A Well Crafted Party

Use Amaretto in these drinks to make them even more lovely:

  • Margaritas— Enhance the orange flavors and lend some sweet to your sour by adding Amaretto to your Margarita. To make a great margarita with Amaretto rim your glass with sugar rather than salt and pour the following ingredients over ice or blend in a blender together: 1 1/4 oz tequila, 3/4 oz amaretto, 2 oz sour, and 1 0z of fresh orange juice. YUM.
  • Spiked Coffee— Put 3/4 oz to 1 oz of amaretto in a hot coffee, top with a dollop of freshly mixed whipped cream and top with a dash of nutmeg.
  • Sidecar — Someday I’ll share my very favorite side car recipe with you… but, for now, consider trading out the cognac in a sidecar with Amaretto! To make pour the following ingredients over ice in a shaker, shake, and then strain into a chilled and sugar rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel. Ingredients: 1 3/4 oz Amaretto, 1 oz Orange Liqueur, and 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice. So good.

Have the happiest of Valentine’s Day… may it be sweet and not sour at all!

Do you have a favorite drink featuring this lovely liqueur Amaretto? Comment below with your recipe!

Welcome to the new and improved A Well Crafted Party

I’ve been blogging at A Well Crafted Party for nearly five years now and it has gone through its fair share of change as my life changed along with it.

Content over the past few years

This little blog started as a way to share my DIY party ideas and has morphed into a community where I share everything from recipes to updates on how life is with my toddler. It went from a very niche blog to a wide array of topics. Sometimes, the wide array of topics ended up hurting the overall feeling of the site and didn’t allow for readers to get to know me and my blog the way I’d prefer. Sometimes it allowed for content I never thought I’d possibly have the opportunity to share and the blog has benefited from that.

I brought in guest bloggers often… sometimes to the delight of readers and sometimes, not-so-much. My husband even started his own series called “A Well Crafted Man” but soon slowed on his postings.

The blog has had its highs and its lows. There have been times where I’ve had so much content and TIME to share that I was posting nearly a dozen posts a week. There have been weeks of silence on the blog.

Design over the past few years

Very first blog banner for A Well Crafted Party

This was my first attempt at a blog banner in 2010 when my blog began. EEK.

Evolution of Blog Design A Well Crafted Party

Professionally designed blogger blog layout circa 2011

Evolution of Blog Design A Well Crafted Party

After a brief stint in purple on my WordPress site I moved over to my current color scheme. This layout lasted about a year.

A Well Crafted Party Blog Magazine Layout 2014

A Well Crafted Party Blog Design 2013-2015

The design started as a very basic blogger setup with a terrible pixelated header, to professionally designed, to WordPress continuous blog format to a WordPress magazine layout. The logo started out as a crude purple scripted logo all the way to the current clean fonts with elements of blues, greens and yellows.

Mission over the past few years

My mission started as sharing unique party ideas for celebrating life on a budget. It gradually morphed into sharing unique ideas and stories about celebrating life and ways to celebrate moments on a budget. I still feel strongly about both of those missions, I just want to make sure I’m living up to it in my posts.

Life over the past few years

All of these changes almost directly correlate with the changes in my life. When I started I was a part of a married couple with a non-creative job craving a creative outlet as a hobby. I increased my content schedule and updated the blog look as people began to take notice of that little hobby. Then all of the sudden I was pregnant and about to have a son. I stopped throwing as many parties and wanted to start sharing more about life. That is when I made the switch to a lifestyle blog rather than a parties and event blog. When I became a work-at-home mom picking up freelancing jobs I shifted A Well Crafted Party into a career blog, making “career blogger” moves such as moving to WordPress and increasing my content schedule. When I was sharing so much content in a variety of topics I made the move to a magazine style layout. Then I got a full-time, out of the home job that took me away from this little space I had created.

What has changed?

Everything. Well, almost everything.

I tried ( I really, really tried) to keep up with a more consistent and fruitful schedule of posts in the many topics that I like to post about. I tried taking the time to comment on other people’s blogs, keep up with all the social media, reply to every comment on this site. At some point I realized that I just can’t do it all, no matter how much I want to! One area of responsibility would be going really well, and I’d be failing at so many other areas. So… that leads me to my new view of A Well Crafted Party.

A Well Crafted Party’s Mission

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog’s mission. I mean, why in the world am I spending my time and energy brining my ideas to this little side of the internet? Some bloggers make bank on  their work and I support them in that endeavor. However, with my focus on my full-time job, this blog is more of a hobby than a career. It needs to be something that I am passionate about if it is going to continue.

In all of my reflection on what I am truly passionate about and WHY I started the blog to begin with I came up with a simple mission statement that I feel I can get behind in everything I do and which supports my personal goals.

A Well Crafted Party is a blog where I celebrate life. My tagline is ‘Life is a Party—Celebrate!’ because I believe that there is something in every day that is worth celebrating and something within every person that deserves to be celebrated. My mission is to explain, inspire and educate others in celebrating the everyday.

A Well Crafted Party’s Content

Honestly, this is the hardest part for me… I want this blog to be a true reflection of myself, even if it is just the little bits of me and my family that I wish to share. My content will support my blog’s mission. I aim to post three times a week— currently aiming for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday if you are someone who prefers to just check in on posting days rather than following along via a blog reader or social media. I will be posting my usual array of parties, recipes and cocktails. I will also continue to occasionally write about blogging, curvy fashion, non-fussy beauty and family. Though, every post will keep my mission in mind.

Evolution of Blog Design with A Well Crafted Party

Refreshed Blog Design circa 2015

A Well Crafted Party’s New Design

I wanted to bring elements of what I have to celebrate every day to the blog in my refreshed blog design. Macey from Moments by Macey took me and the family out to take the images that I’ve shared in the design. I plan on changing up the photos throughout the seasons, but for now it is exactly what I wanted to share with my new mission. I also went with a cleaner and easier to read logo design. Because I am no longer posting several times throughout the week the magazine layout no longer worked for my blog. I’ve reverted to a more traditional blog layout. As I find time I am making my landing pages even more clean and easy to navigate so it is easy to peruse the many posts that the blog contains. The A Well Crafted Pantry page is already up and working and I couldn’t be happier!

The Future of A Well Crafted Party

Goodness, who knows!? I’m sure it is going to continue to change along with me and my life. I love that I get the opportunity to look back and track my changes through a series of posts and photos. Just like life there are moments of embarrassment and pride. I do hope that I continue to live up to my mission in the future of this blog. I also plan to really strive to be a more consistent blogger. Finally, I have a project up my sleeve that speaks to my mission more than anything I’ve ever done before. I’m so excited to bring share it in March and get the ball rolling on a year long effort!

Thank you for reading A Well Crafted Party. It means a lot to me that you not only stop by these pages, but that you take the time to take it all in. I’d love to know…

What do you think of the new design and mission? What would you like to see more of (or less of) in future posts?

Update and Upcoming Wedding and Food Events in Portland

I promise that I didn’t just redesign my site to only let it sit here stagnant. I’ve been working on a bunch of posts and projects to help bring consistent content to these virtual pages over the next few months. I’ve talked before about it being difficult for me to find balance with work/home/blog/life. In my goals for 2015 I really promised myself that I’d focus on prioritizing parts of my life. While my blog is a priority… it just isn’t quite as high as shaping my relationships with family and friends. Thankfully, often my blog life and my friendships and personal goals are often entwined! Like with these upcoming Wedding and Food events in Portland!

FoodWorx - The Future of Food Event // A Well Crafted Party Blog

Tomorrow I’ll be out all day long with 300+ delegates and 24 speakers all discussing the future of food at the Portland FoodWorx event. I’m going to be geeking out about it all day long on my Instagram and Twitter so be sure to check in! And, if you are in the Portland area I’d highly recommend you checking it out. There are different tickets available for the event. I’d love for you to say hi if you are going!

I’m really looking forward to the “Know your Oils” discussion with Julie Briley from National College of Natural Medicine, “Rewriting your Food Story” with Ian Rubin from Whole Self Wellness, and Food & Aging from Miles Hassell M.D. from Providence.  For a full schedule of events check out the FoodWorx Conference website!

Portland Wedding Shows - Toast Curated Wedding Showcase // A Well Crafted Party Blog

 

I’m thrilled to have been asked to participate in the Elli.Com Toast: A Curated Wedding Showcase event.

Myself and a team of amazing local vendors are going to design a inspirational wedding space along with other teams from the area. I cannot WAIT to show you what we’ve got up our sleeves and see what the other vendors have come up with! My team is comprised of these amazing vendors:

The Toast event is scheduled for Saturday, March 7 from 5 PM to 9PM. This evening will be filled with all thing wedding and all things Portland! Tickets are currently on sale!

From the Elli.com site:

“The Toast handpicks vendors to collaborate on a range of style vignettes such as rustic chic, classic and vintage and create an experiential atmosphere where couples can meet vendors while enjoying a fun filled, festive evening.

WHAT YOU’LL ENJOY

  • Complimentary Appy Couple wedding website and app.
  • Entry into drawing for chance to win a free engagement photo shoot.
  • Gorgeous and festive photo booth pics courtesy of Happymatic.
  • Bridal style showcase with looks for events leading up to your big day.
  • First 125 attendees receive a gift bag full of surprises.
  • Complimentary food and drinks.

This premiere event is hosted by Elli whose mission is to help brides bring to life a truly one-of-a-kind celebration.”

I hope to see you there!

 

 

Saturday Spirits: Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy

Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy // A Well Crafted Party

The colder it gets outside the more I love to cuddle up with a good blanket and a hot drink. Teas, coffees, ciders… I have no favorites. Hot Toddy’s tend to be on a regular rotation at my house when the temps get cooler. I particularly love a good traditional hot toddy (check out this post or this post for a good, simple hot toddy recipe) but, today I felt like mixing it up a bit and making myself a hot toddy with an salted caramel apple twist. I honestly don’t know if it is better to call it a hot cider or hot toddy… but, either way, it is tasty and hot.

Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy // A Well Crafted Party

Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy // A Well Crafted Party

 

Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 oz UV Vodka‘s  Salty Caramel Apple Vodka
  • 1 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey
  • 4 oz Hot Apple Juice
  • Optional: Sprinkle of sea salt, sprinkle of nutmeg & apple slice for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat apple juice on stove top and pour into a mug or brandy glass
  2. Pour in bourbon and flavored vodka
  3. Top with garnish of your choice… I chose all three!

Salted Caramel Apple Hot Toddy // A Well Crafted Party

FTC Disclosure: UV Vodka sent a bottle of vodka for me to try out. All opinions are my own.

Favorite Cocktails of 2014

Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2014 // A Well Crafted Party

In the spirit of the new year I’m looking back on some favorites… since I try to post cocktails on Saturdays for my Saturday Spirits posts I thought I’d share my top five favorite cocktail posts of 2014! These five are the cocktails that I loved the most out of the ones I shared this past year.

Favorite Cocktails of 2014 - Sparkling Lollipop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

Sparkling Lollipop Cocktail

This cocktail has to be my favorite of the year… not because it is complex or anything. But, I loved the flavor of the home-made lollipop paired with the sparkling wine. I featured this drink at my Hey Girl— Ryan Gosling themed birthday party.

Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2014- Spiked Ice Cream  // A Well Crafted Party

Spiked Ice Cream (without an ice cream maker)

Not quite sure this one counts as a cocktail really… but, it definitely counts as a favorite. These easy spiked ice cream recipes don’t even need an ice cream maker.

Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2014 - Lemon Ginger Drop // A Well Crafted Party

Lemon Ginger Drop

A good lemon drop should be sweet and tart both. This Lemon Ginger Drop gives you the sweet, the tart & an added kick of spice!

Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2014 - Twist on the Classic Martini // A Well Crafted Party

Twists on the Classic Martini

Never underestimate the greatness of a good ole’ fashion martini. Twists on the classic martini can make an old favorite a new favorite with ease.

Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2014 - Jalapeno margarita // A Well Crafted Party

Jalapeno Margarita

I guess I really like a kick in my cocktails. This Jalapeno Margarita recipe was inspired by the best margarita I’ve ever had.

Top Posts of 2014

 

The “Top Posts” blog posts that are going around seem to get a 50/50 response to whether people enjoy them or not. Regular readers are probably bored by them because they have read all of the posts within the list… but, new readers get a quick hit list of posts to check out. I thought about this when deciding whether or not to include a couple of my own “top” posts lists. If anything else, it is a good form of blog maintenance for me so that I can keep track of what readers like to read and what I like to write. So, with no further ado… here are the top 5 posts visited on my blog in 2014 according to Google Analytics:

 

Top Posts of 2014: Three Free Blog Planner Printables for 2014 // A Well Crafted Party

Most visited post of 2014:

My top post of 2014 was the free printable blog planners. Check out the 2014 blog planner edition of the printables. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter… the 2015 edition is coming very soon and blog subscribers get first downloads!

Top Posts of 2014: Free Potluck Printables // A Well Crafted Party

Second highest visited post of 2014:

My second most visited post of 2014 are the potluck printables I created. Click on over to download the free potluck printables! If you liked those potluck printables then you might like the holiday potluck printables and facebook invite cover images I created. Pin them for next year.

Top Posts of 2014: First Birthday Party Activity Ideas // A Well Crafted Party

Third highest visited post of 2014:

My third post that vistors frequented the most is actually a favorite from 2012— First Birthday Activity Ideas. I loved this party so much… but, we had even more fun at the kiddo’s second birthday a Town Themed birthday party filled with tons of town-themed party ideas!

Top Posts of 2014: Free Printable Cupcake Toppers  // A Well Crafted Party

Fourth highest visited post of 2014:

My fourth post that readers seemed to visit the most is another free printable post— Free Printable Mini Cupcake Toppers. The Luck in Love party (another highly visited post) featured these adorable toppers. I think they’d make for a cute Valentine’s party element.

Top Posts of 2014: DIY Cherry Blossom Branches  // A Well Crafted Party

Fifth highest post visited in 2014:

My fifth highest post that readers popped in to view is a DIY project that will be perfect for you upcoming Spring parties… it’s just around the corner after all! These DIY Cherry Blossom Branches are beautiful decorating the home or as a centerpiece at a party.


 

Photo credits: Potluck photos via The Spicy Bee // First Birthday photos via Motormouth Studio // Cherry Blossom Photos via Capturing Grace

More Oyster Toppings + Champagne Granita Recipe

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Continuing with all the oyster goodness (sorry for my followers that are not a fan… I will give oysters a break soon!) I have one more quick way to make a tasty topping for your oyster platters. At my recent Black, White & Gold birthday celebration I served to different platter of oysters. I served a briny oyster with champagne granita and a sweeter oyster with tabasco and lemon. I always love a good oyster with tabasco and lemon. However, these champagne granita topped oysters were AMAZING. I could have eaten a dozen of them myself! 

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Me and The Spicy Bee enjoying oysters

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Oyster tips from Whole Foods Market:

  • The smaller they are, the sweeter they are
  • Shucking is about finesse, not power
  • The Sweet Spot – There’s an open area in the back of the shell when the knife stops turning, twist the knife and pop the shell open
  • Protection – Wear a thick glove to protect your hand and use a rag to hold the oyster for leverage
  • History – Find out where the oyster is coming from. They should always have a tag. If they don’t have a tag, you don’t want that oyster!
  •  If you’re hosting an event or just craving oysters, Whole Foods Market can shuck them in-house for you!
  • Oysters are best 2-3 hours after being shucked.
  • Prime time for oysters is now through February; the colder the weather, the better the oyster!
  • Check out my post on shucking oysters here!
  • Check out my tabasco shaved ice topping for oysters here!
  • Check out even more oyster topping ideas on the Whole Foods Market Blog.
Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Briny-flavored oysters topped with champagne granita

How To Make Champagne Granita Topped Oysters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Shucked Oysters – Use a briny oyster to pair nicely with the sweetness of the granita. Shuck the oysters yourself or you can do what I do and ask the nice people at your local Whole Foods Market to shuck them for you.

Directions:

  1. Pour 2 cups of champagne into a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar. 
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Pour solution into a pan or tupperware item, cover and put in freezer. 
  4. After 1 hour take a fork and break up the partially frozen mixture. You want to sort of drag the fork in lines along the mixture.
  5. Put mixture back in freezer. Repeat step 4 a few times until the mixture is a sort of snow cone consistency. 
  6. Top oysters with a spoonful (about a teaspoon) of champagne granita and serve immediately. 

Serving a less briny oyster? Pair it with little slices of lemon and tabasco for guests to use to taste or a top with a spicy tabasco shaved ice!

 Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

This post was not sponsored by Whole Foods Market even though it sort of reads like it is… I learned a lot about oysters when I visited the store for an oyster tasting and then have visited several times since to purchase oysters and feed my oyster addiction. 

Oysters with Tabasco Shaved Ice

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

There is just something so decadent and fancy about oysters. They are not an everyday treat and at a restaurant they can get quite expensive. Oysters are actually quite affordable as an at home appetizer and not at all difficult to make… especially if you let the wonderful people at the seafood counter take care of the shucking for you! The fun part (for me) of serving oysters is making toppings that complement the oysters. For this recipe I used a Miyagi oyster with a full meat flavor and mild brininess (to me they were almost sweet!). I like the spicier topping for oysters that are less salty and sweeter toppings for the oysters that have a strong brininess. You’ll have to scroll through some amazing photos taken by the amazing Mary Boyden before you get to the recipe. Hopefully you don’t get TOO hungry.

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Oysters – Not too briny. I used Miyagi, but the seafood department may be able to help you find an oyster that they carry that will pair nicely with tabasco. I got my oysters from my local Whole Foods Market.
  • Tabasco
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ice
  • Food Processor

Directions:

Tops approximately 12 oysters

  1. Shuck Oysters (or have them shucked for you) and put on a bed of ice
  2. Take 1 cup of ice and put in food processor
  3. Shake in about 1 1/2 teaspoons of tabasco into the ice
  4. Squeeze 1/2 lemon juice into ice
  5. Put food processor on until ice is to a shaved consistency.
  6. Taste ice– if the ice isn’t spicy enough add more tabasco and mix by turning on the food processor
  7. Spoon about a teaspoon of the tabasco shaved ice onto each oyster and serve immediately.

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Want more?

Resources:
Photography by Mary Boyden— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Vintage Rentals by Something Borrowed— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Cocktail Napkins from Hen House Linens— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Aqua Leather Wrap Bracelet via Flourish Leather— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Styled Shoot by Bloggers of Create-Enjoy, Ladies in Navy & A Well Crafted Party:
Connect with Suzannah of Create-Enjoy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with ME! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest OR Click Share on the bottom of this post!

Classic NYE Game Night + Free Printables

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Classic Game Night New Year’s Eve Party

Going out is great on New Year’s Eve… well, great if you like long lines, high costs, and crowds. For people who enjoy bringing the fun home this idea is perfect.

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

I was excited to get to work with Kelsey from Ladies in Navy, Suzannah from Create-Enjoy and local photographer Mary Boyden on a New Year’s Eve party styled shoot. We wanted to show an elegant and classic mix of elements for a fun at-home game night to ring in the new year. Enjoy these gorgeous photos and let them serve as inspiration for your NYE night!

In addition to the gorgeous inspiration you’ll be able to find recipes from the event throughout the week through this blog and the blogs of my co-bloggers. Portland-local vintage rental company Something Borrowed shared some gorgeous vintage pieces for the photoshoot. Currently Something Borrowed is offering holiday dinner packages so that your holiday parties are decked out with gorgeous vintage tableware!

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Free Printables:

Kelsey and I also collaborated on a beautiful collection of free printables. Kelsey wrote several phrases in her beautiful calligraphers script. I then digitized them and created an invite, signs and party circles. Click on the links below to download your free printables. Save the files to your computer and print on cardstock! I created all of the printable items seen in the photos using these printables, Scotch Brand Expressions Washi tape, and a sequined covered scrapbook paper.

New Year’s Eve Free Printables:

 

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Want more?

New Year's Eve Game Night + Free Printables // A Well Crafted Party - Photos via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty


 

Resources:
Photography by Mary Boyden— Connect: WebsiteFacebookInstagram
Vintage Rentals by Something Borrowed— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Cocktail Napkins from Hen House Linens— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Aqua Leather Wrap Bracelet via Flourish Leather— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Styled Shoot by Bloggers of Create-Enjoy, Ladies in Navy & A Well Crafted Party:
Connect with Suzannah of Create-Enjoy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with ME! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest OR Click Share on the bottom of this post!

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

The beautiful Bee (The Spicy Bee), Me! and the gorgeous Kayla (Fit Life Forward) celebrating!

 

Well, it happened again… I turned another year older. All those that know me know that while aging isn’t my favorite thing, BIRTHDAYS are. This year I let the West Elm party animal appetizer plates inspire a black, white and gold cocktail party that was decadent and slightly silly. I decided to share some photos from the party now because I feel like these might just inspire a fun New Year’s Eve event! Next week I’ll also share the recipes I made for the festive fare.

Read on for a list of DIYd items, resources, menu notes and activities! I’ve linked several items to posts with recipes. There are also a few affiliate links below. A portion of purchases made through affiliate links help support this blog at no cost to readers.

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Beverages:

We served the Bourbon Apple Ginger Punch as a signature beverage that was easily accessible to guests. In addition I had the fixings for classic martinis, red and white Hob Nob wine and lots of sparkling wine, including one of my favorite sparklings the Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling wine.  We also had a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. One of my favorite ways to make a champagne glass feel even MORE special is to add in a lollipop. Either by using homemade lollies or pretty rock candies!

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Hors d’oeurves:

The party was slated as a cocktails and cake party… which, of course we had both of those things. But, I wanted more a more savory fare to fill everyone’s bellies. I’m sharing the recipes for many of these items soon.. but, here is the cocktail party menu:

  • Oysters with Champagne Granita
  • Oysters with Lemon and Tabasco
  • Sea Salt Kettle Potato Chips with Crème Fraîche, Caviar and Chive Dip
  • Italian Cured Meats wrapped around arugula
  • Apples with Goat Cheese Spread
  • Artichoke Hearts wrapped in bacon
  • Chicago Mix Popcorn
  • Sweet & Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Activities & Favors:

I didn’t schedule many activities for the party as the food and drinks were the main attraction. I did however set up a photobooth area and made a fun game out of the favors. I did “grab bag” style favors and wrapped up several different gifts from which my gusts to choose. I purchased half of the gifts with the idea of “Whatever will be, will be” in mind. Those presents ended up being games of chance, alcohol, and even a Magic 8 Ball! For the other side of the favor area I chose gifts with the idea of a type-A personality in mind and chose good self-help books, journals, office supplies and the like. Before guests left I asked them to choose a gift and got to watch them open the gifts up. It ended up being my favorite part of the night!

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Sweet Treats:

I love savory foods… but, at my birthday there is just nothing like a great sweet treat. At this party I served champagne jello squares, chocolate truffles and a layered chocolate cake I purchased at the bakery at Whole Foods Market called the “Chocolate Explosion” cake. It was super tasty!

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Black, White & Gold Cocktail Party // Real Party featured on A Well Crafted Party

Decor:

I kept the decor pretty simple. I used the Gilded Dapper Animal Plates from West Elm to inspire the look. Beyond that I put up DIY’d hand-painted signs and LOTS of gold fringe

What is your favorite thing to serve at birthday parties?

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