Easy Entertaining with a Cheese Platter

Thank you to Fromager d’ Affinois for sending me a variety of cheeses to try and photograph for this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

If you entertain often, then cheese platters are your friend.* Not only are they delicious, but they are filling and SO easy to put together! When pressed for time, or bring an appetizer to a potluck party, or even when I just have a lot going on, I reach for my cheese boards and hit the deli section of my local grocery store.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for creating a successful cheese platter:

  1. Buy a few different cheeses, but cap it at five different cheeses. Choice is awesome, but being overwhelmed by choice is not so fun. Keep your platters simple by choosing three to five cheeses to feature. For this platter I used three different flavors of cheese from the same brand of cheese, Fromager d’AffinoisBy going with the same type of cheese, with different flavors, I am able to let my guests enjoy discovering the differences in one type of cheese. You can also go with selections from different types of cheese to give additional variety.
  2. Make sure the cheese is easy to serve. There is nothing more awkward then trying to get some cheese off of a cheese platter that is too difficult to cut or there isn’t a cheese knife around to help get the cheese from the platter to the cracker. To ease the cheese serving conundrum pre-slice hard cheeses, put out cheese knives that are sturdy enough to cut the cheeses available, and make sure you have something to spread soft cheeses onto crackers. This platter features there soft cheeses (which I LOVE for entertaining) that are really easy to cut through with a simple cheese knife and spread onto a cracker.
  3. Serve cheese at room temp. You certainly don’t want your cheeses sitting out for hours, but cheese straight from the fridge won’t have the depth of flavor or ease of serving as one that has gotten to room temperature.
  4. Label your cheeses. I don’t know if there is anything quite as alarming to the palette than to think you are about to enjoy a nice double creme brie to get a tangy goat cheese flavor in return. While I’d love both types of cheese, it sure does help to know what is coming my way! It becomes even more important when you have the option of tasty accompaniments or toppings.  Whether you simple write out cheese names on a piece of paper and lay it next to the cheese or get fancy and print out specific labels, your guests will appreciate you taking the time to label!
  5. Don’t forget the accompaniments! Crackers are great for serving up with a good cheese platter. They are easy to store in the pantry for use at a moments notice, they make it easy to serve the cheese from the plate to your belly, and generally, can go with almost any kind of cheese. If you want to have a little more fun with your cheese platter you might think about alternative food items that might serve as a good cheese-to-belly delivery tool. Some cracker-alternative options include sliced cured meats, vegetables, breads, and different types of fruit. Is there anything better than a slice of aged cheddar on a crisp, ripe apple slice?
  6. Toppings set your platter apart. You’ve got the cheese all to temp and labeled, and your accompaniments are at the ready… it is time to think about what might really set your platter apart and make your cheese choices sing! Toppings such as pepper jelly, fig jam, apricot spread or even honey all make for tasty additions to a cheese platter. Have some fun putting out toppings so guests can mix and match.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

More ideas for your cheese platters:

About Fromager d’Affinois:

Fromager d’Affinois is the top-selling cheese for Fromagerie Guilloteau. It is a smooth double cream cheese expresses that has been delicately matured. In addition to the original Fromager d’Affinois, this cheese also comes in flavors of Garlic & Mixed Herbs, Olive, Truffle, and Pepper. I tried the original, mixed herbs bleu and pepper varieties— all of which were creamy and flavorful! The high fat-content of this cheese positions it halfway between a traditional Brie and a triple-cream cheese. I was able to find this cheese at my local Whole Foods Market.

*Cheese platters are your friend unless you do not eat dairy, or your guests do not eat dairy. In that case, you may want to make other entertaining friends.

Personalized Gifts with Custom Printed Ribbon

Epson Ribbon Printer featured on A Well Crafted Party

A while back the good people at Epson sent me this fun little Epson LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit  to try out. I’m a big label maker fan and finding out that Epson made ribbon cartridges so that the label making didn’t have to be restricted to label paper alone, well, it made my day. It has also happened to make nearly all of my gifts just a little bit more special!

Ideas for Customizing your Gifts with the Epson Ribbon Printer featured on A Well Crafted Party

Five Ideas for How to Personalize Your Gifts with Custom Ribbons

  1. Make a simple package stand out by using your recipients names on the ribbon. The image above is a photo of a recent gift I put together for two friends getting married. I found a fun suitcase style metal box and filled it with lots of goodies. I didn’t want to wrap the box because it was so unique… so, topping it off with a personalized ribbon made it look festive while not taking away from the fun package. Bonus– the ribbon can now be used by the recipients in their home or as a tag on a gift that they give!
  2. Forget tags! Use a custom ribbon instead of traditional tags and cards. You can put a cute message on it or simply your “to” and “from.”
  3. Make your own fortunes. Create custom fortunes or messages of love and print onto the ribbons. Use the ribbons in homemade fortune cookies or as a surprise book mark in a gifted book. As I was perusing the Epson site I ran across this awesome idea sharing another way to utilize the ribbon cartridges with the Epson label maker to share messages— Surprise Poppers with Ribbon Messages.
  4. Wrap a message around a bundle of flowers. Spring is here and flowers make for wonderful gifts. Go down to your local market and pick up a bundle of tulips or daffodils, write a sweet message using the label maker and print a ribbon that can be wrapped around the stems of the flowers. Your recipient will end up surprised and delighted with the flowers, and then again when they read your sweet message!
  5. Use them to share a gift that can not be easily wrapped! I love the idea of surprising a loved one with a special gift such as a trip or special outing by printing the gift message on the ribbons, tying around balloons, and delivering to your loved one. I can just imaging someone’s eyes lighting up as they see the balloons and begin to read the message. Wouldn’t that be such a fun way to propose too? Maybe even put the ring INSIDE the balloon!

You can be sure to see some custom ribbons in future posts on this blog. They are so versatile, inexpensive and fun!

What would you use a label maker with ribbon cartridges for?

Thank you to Epson for sending me a label maker with ribbon cartridges to try out for this blog. All opinions and ideas are my own. 

Saturday Spirits: Gin & Herbs Spring Cocktail

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

My favorite thing about Spring is the emergence of all the fresh herbs. This cocktail is the perfect mix of fresh herbs and the wonderful aromatics of gin.

Ingredients
Shaker
Muddler
Ice
Rocks glass with Ice
4 Slices of Cucumber (3 for beverage and 1 for garnish)
1 sprig thyme for garnish
1 oz Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup (See recipe below)
½ oz lime juice ( ½ of freshly squeezed lime)
1 ¼ oz Gin
2 oz Sparkling Water (Or Soda Water)

Directions
1. Put ice, 3 slices of cucumber, 1 oz of basil & thyme simple syrup, squeeze of lime juice, and the half of the lime into a shaker—Muddle
2. Pour gin into shaker, cover, and shake vigorously
3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice
4. Pour in sparkling water and garnish with cucumber slice and thyme sprig
5. Enjoy!

Herb & Gin Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

How to Make a Basil & Thyme Simple Syrup
1. Put a handful of basil leaves and several sprigs of thyme into a small sauce pan with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water. 2. Stir the mixture as it heats on medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (about four minutes) 3. Remove from heat and let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 4. Once cooled, taste to see mixture as it sits to get your desired herbal flavor. 5. Once you have your desired flavor pour mixture over a sieve— to strain the solid from syrup—into a jar.The mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

Originally published on InComplete Magazine

Cooking with Spices from RawSpiceBar and a Giveaway!

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

I love cooking. You can take one look at my “A Well Crafted Pantry” section of this blog for proof of that. However, one thing you won’t find in many of my recipes is a variety of spices. I’m sort of simple when it comes to using spices in my cooking. I like using fresh and dried herbs in cooking, but even that I typically limit to two or three different ingredients. Because of that I’ve stayed away from cooking some of my favorite styles of foods. Part of the hesitation is not knowing if I’ll like a certain spice or spice combination. The other is whether I’m going to use it very often. Then of course, there is the cost! Buying ten different spices to create one dish is not easy to do when living on a budget. Cooking with spices always seemed intimidating and expensive.

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

Enter my new favorite subscription service. I love subscription services. I’m a member of several for my entertainment, to my blog work to simple pleasures we want to enjoy at home such as food or beverages. I was thrilled when asked to try out a new spice-centric subscription service.

The RawSpiceBar is a subscription service perfect for people like me who want to try different spices and spice combinations, but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg trying them out.

For $6/month you get a small batch of spices delivered to your door with a short story about the spices and the region that they come from along with some recipes. The past three month spice batches included:

How much fun is that? I have never cooked ANYTHING with any of these spices. It is a whole new world of cooking at my finger tips.

RawSpiceBar spice subscription service featured on A Well Crafted Party

I originally wanted to try creating my own recipe with the spices. But, since I had never worked with ANY of these spices before, I decided to try out one of the recipes that were provided.

I made the Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala using the Punjabi Garam Masala spice mix and the Tandoori Spices. One of the directions on the recipe was to bring the spices back to life by heating them in a dry saucepan on the stovetop. I cannot describe the amazing smells that were in my kitchen. I want to do this with ALL my spices now!

Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala recipe from RawSpiceBar featured on A Well Crafted Party.

Punjabi Chicken Tikka Marsala recipe from RawSpiceBar featured on A Well Crafted Party.I made this meal for myself, my husband and my toddler. All three of us ate as much as we could and there was enough for at least 4 more grown adults! I love that the recipes create enough for a crowd. Perfect for when I want to try out a fun new dish with friends.

I do have to say that the recipe card was missing a few bits of important information while cooking. But, the online recipe fixed any of my questions. So, if you read through the card and have questions, jump on the RawSpiceBar website and use the online version of the recipe instead.

Want to give it a shot? Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win one of two 3-month subscriptions to RawSpiceBar! Or, hop on over to RawSpiceBar now to sign up for just $6 a month!

Please read giveaway guidelines. Giveaway begins today, March 26 and ends 12AM PST April 6. Giveaway open to readers in US & Canada only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to RawSpiceBar for providing me with a sample subscription to try the RawSpiceBar services and share with readers as well as the giveaway subscriptions. All opinions and images are my own. 

Food in Celebration

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

Photo via Mary BoydenTabasco Shaved Ice Oyster Topping 

Just recently I had the opportunity to visit a conference in Portland, Oregon all about food! I learned a lot from the FoodWorx sessions that I was able to catch…more-so, they got me thinking a lot! I’ve got copious notes and many great sources to connect with to bring some more food-centric posts to this blog. However, one of these talks has been resonating under the surface for a while now and I feel that I need to share my thoughts… One short talk that has stayed with me was from Ian Rubin of Whole Self Wellness titled “Rewriting Your Food Story.”

What the heck is a food story? Well, in very simplified terms, it is how life and circumstances has shaped your relationship with food. I’ve known for several years now that my food story (though not entirely unique) has made me look at food different then a lot of my friends. While someday I may get into my food story here on the blog, that isn’t what this post is about. Ian’s talk about rewriting a food story made me remember something a co-worker once lamented about…

“Why do people always want to get together for dinner or drinks? Why can’t people get together for something other than eating!?”

Food in celebration is a part of many different culture’s “food stories.” There are Sunday dinners at grandma’s house, big beautiful birthday cakes, holiday meals that people spend months prepping for… the list goes on and on. Food is a big part of celebration!

Food in Celebration - A Well Crafted Party

Photo from my 31st birthday shindig 

I actually LOVE this part of my food story. I love how food brings us together. A large portion of this celebration-centric blog is FOOD. I enjoy brining foods to work for people to share and enjoy. I enjoy planning party menus. I enjoy random dinner parties that I throw just because.

However, with a philosophy that everyday is worth celebrating, I have started to re-think this part of my food story a bit.

I’ve started to ask myself questions regarding the role of food in a celebration. Does all celebratory food need to be healthful and consider my guests nutritional intake? No! Not in my book, I’m definitely going with a decadent cake if it fits the occasion. Perhaps it can add to the wellness of the soul rather than the body when eaten as an occasional treat. Though, a little consideration of the nutrition of guests is never a bad thing.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful in my selection of foods for celebrations. While many of my parties are still planned with food as a central part of the celebration, I try to consider the food stories of those in attendance. When brining food to work I no longer grab delicious donuts or homemade cupcakes. Instead I opt to bring more healthful and substantial offerings. (I’ll still eat the donuts if YOU bring them to me though!)

Other changes I’ve made in food in celebration is that I really look for quality over quantity as much as possible now days. I will opt to have fewer celebrations, or sometimes fewer guests, in order to be able to purchase higher quality ingredients or meals.

What traditions do you have with food in celebration? What changes have you made as you’ve grown older in this area?

How does Food in Celebration fit into YOUR food story? Comment below.

 

 

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.

Fill out this short little form to sign up for our newsletter. We promise not to overload your inbox and to send fresh new printables with each newsletter!

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.

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