Sock it to Me – Sock Design Contest

Sock It To Me Sock Design Contest // A Well Crafted Party

Awesome-sauce socks are Sock it to Me’s Sneaky Ninja and Jellyfish designs

My friends have shapely, awesome legs! They are the perfect models for these SWEET sock designs, don’t you think!?

Nothing against these awesome ninja socks and the fabulous jelly fish design… but, I think some of my readers can do better! I know I’ll be trying for sure… What the heck am I talking about? Well, the Sock It To Me sock design competition of course!

 The first place winner receives 15 pairs of socks, has their design put on socks AND wins $5,000 — not shabby!

Sock It to Me, a Portland-based designer of fun and fashionable socks for women, men, and kids, is inviting sock fanatics from around the world to submit a unique sock design for a chance to win $5,000, $1,000 and $500 in cash and products – and have their design manufactured in Sock It to Me’s next collection.

Yes,  you read that correctly… you could have socks made with YOUR DESIGN.

The contest runs from September 5 – 26 and is open to artists of all ages and talents. Click on over NOW to download your design form and get entered!

Don’t forget to share with friends who would also make awesome socks! Click on one of the share tools below!

What would you put on a pair of socks?

PS. I love socks. Like, a lot. I’m super excited that Fall is coming and with that is sock and BOOT weather! I’ll be sharing another post soon with free printables for those out there that share my love of socks!

Disclaimer: I was sent some complementary socks in exchange for sharing about this contest. Nothing was promised and all thoughts are my own. I will be entering the contest just like anyone else that thinks socks are awesome. I hope you do too! 

Saturday Spirits: Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail

Disclaimer: I attended a tasting of Raft Syrups and received a sampling of their syrups. This post is not sponsored by Raft. I happened to really enjoy the syrups and have created a recipe (or few!) using their syrups. Enjoy!

Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

Botanical Syrups and Kindred Spirits

A few weeks ago I was invited over to the home of the creators of Raft Botanical Cocktail and Soda Syrups with a few blogging friends for the opportunity to try some of their syrups and cocktails made with them. I was incredibly inspired by the passion and dedication of the women behind Raft Syrups. They spoke about their syrups and the process of creating and selling them with such authentic enthusiasm.

If you’ve ever read Anne of Green Gables then you’ve read the term ‘kindred spirits.” That is exactly how I felt sitting down with a few of my blogging buddies and Sook & Roslynn of Raft. I was reminded of the line:

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

Anyways, we tried SEVERAL tasty drinks that night. (Many of which you can actually find the cocktail recipes over on the Raft website. ) Admittedly, the tasty drinks might have contributed a little to the warm fuzzy feeling that I got from the evening. However, I’m going to think now and forever that I’ve found another pair of kindred spirits out there.

Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail

Upon tasting their Lemon Ginger Syrup the first thing I thought was…. wow, this would make for an AMAZING lemon drop. And, because I like to toot my own horn, I WAS RIGHT.

The lemon drop is a funny drink for me. Typically they are too sickly sweet for me to enjoy. However, when mixed with  just the right proportions of sweet and sour, I am in love. The ginger syrup gives the lemon drop just the right mixture of sweet and sour… and, as a bonus, a fun little kick of ginger at the end. If you like a little spice in your cocktail then definitely try this drink.

Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Limoncello Liquer
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Ginger Raft Syrup
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 slice of lemon for rimming your glass
  • Ice
  • Shaker
  • Martini Glass
  • Granulated Sugar mixed with lemon zest for rim
  • Candied Ginger for Garnish

Directions:

  1. Using a sliced lemon, rub lemon juice around the edge of your cocktail glass. Dip the glass onto a plate covered in granulated sugar mixed with lemon zest. Set glass aside.
  2. Pour the vodka, limoncello, lemon ginger syrup, and juice of the lemon into a cocktail shaker full of ice. SHAKE! Strain liquid into the rimmed martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a candied ginger.

Enjoy!

Lemon Ginger Drop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

 

More about Raft Syrups: Raft Botanical Cocktail and Soda Syrups are made in Portland, Oregon. The syrups are not only just about quality ingredients and great flavor… but, also about a healthy well-being! Check out the Raft About page to learn more about why they are creating these syrups. It is a good read, I promise! They currently stock three different syrups: Hibiscus Lavender, Lemon Ginger, and Smoked Tea Vanilla. The syrups are stocked in some stores throughout Portland and can be purchased ONLINE! These would make a fantastic gift for anyone building their bars.

Want even more recipes using Raft syrups? Check out these links:

Portland Pairings – Unique Wine Tasting Class

Pairings Portland Basics Class // Reviewed on A Well Crafted Party

I’ve been to a lot of wine tastings in my day. Heck, I’ve even hosted several in my job as a trainer at an Italian restaurant. However, this was my first time ever experiencing a wine tasting quite like this… the Pairings Portland Wine Shop invited myself and my fabulous friend Bee to try out their Pairings Basics tasting class so that we could share the experience with readers. I’m so glad I got to experience it!

I’ll start by saying that there is nothing typical about the Pairings Portland Wine Shop. As soon as you walk in you get a feel for the different type of wine experience that you’ll be getting. Instead of wines categorized by variety and price point, the wines sold throughout the store are paired with moods, foods, TV shows, music, weather, and more. When signing up for the Pairings Basics class, be aware that you aren’t signing up for a typical tasting either! You’re signing up for an experience of learning a lot more about what you like about wine and why you like it. You aren’t going to sit there listening to someone talk about the things YOU should be tasting or things YOU should be smelling. Oh, and you’ll only be tasting ONE wine.

What!?

Pairings Portland Basics Class // Reviewed on A Well Crafted Party

Pairings Portland Basics Class // Reviewed on A Well Crafted Party

That is what I thought too… but, you’ll be tasting that wine over and over again and trying it with different things. Without sounding completely over-the-moon about things… this was a revelation to me! It was amazing seeing how one wine was changed between the simple change of an acid or a fat. To me, someone who throws a lot of parties that include wine and food, it made me realize how I can modify a dish that just doesn’t quite match a wine the way I want it to!

The description of this class says, “you’ll discover the magic of wine and food pairing.” I think the class totally delivers on that description.

More about the Pairings Basic Class:

  • Cost: $25/person
  • Size of class: MAX 18 people
  • You’ll try a wine to see if you like/dislike it
  • You’ll then try the wine with 7 different elements, marking the changes that it made in the wine
  • In the end, you’ll leave with a knowledge of how food and wine interact with your taste buds.

Wanna see Bee’s review of the class? Check out her thoughts on the Pairings Basic class at The Spicy Bee!

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary class in exchange for my honest opinion of the experience. All thoughts are my own. I am a big believer in trying out and supporting local businesses as I am able and I think will interest my readers.

Curvy Girl Style: Work Attire Sun Safe Fashion Pt. 2

7 Days of Sun Safe Style with Summer Skin // A Well Crafted Party

 

Right after my skin cancer diagnosis I had the opportunity to meet the owner and creator of the sun safe fashion line SummerSkinSummer Kramer (yep, that is her name!) is seriously such an inspirational powerhouse of a woman that has really made a beautiful brand of clothing that can also help protect you. I was fortunate enough to be able to sample one of her creations— the Endless Summer Scarf. The Endless Summer Scarf is just too much fun because it can be worn so many different ways. I got the scarf the week before my surgery and had fun creating 7 Different Days of SummerSkin Style for my Instagram feed. Over the next couple of Curvy Girl Style posts I’ll be sharing some of my favorite outfits from that week! Check out all the styles I did by looking up#mysummerskin on Instagram!


 

Sun Protetive Work Attire with SummerSkin // A Well Crafted Party

Last week I shared an easy, casual outfit perfect for a day by the river or out at the Farmer’s market. Today I’m sharing my favorite work outfit from the week. After reading about and seeing the image of a truck driver’s face and the way the sun damaged the side of the face with the most exposure I became much more aware of how much I drive how much sun my face and arm is getting while driving. I often don’t plan on being outside for long when I run out the door for a long day of work, so I don’t really think to put on a hat or extra sun protection. The Endless Summer Scarf has been a great accessory for me during my drives. So much so that I tend to just leave it folded up in my car when I am not incorporating it into an outfit. It covers the side of my face that the sun hits along with my shoulder. Then, when I’m done driving, I just pull it down to make a cute accessory to my work attire.

Sun Protetive Work Attire with SummerSkin // A Well Crafted Party

Sun Protetive Work Attire with SummerSkin // A Well Crafted Party

 

Outfit details: Shoes // Christian Sirano for Payless (This pump is actually on clearance RIGHT NOW– not an affiliate, just thought you might wanna know!),  Skirt // Black Pencil Skirt via Target a few years ago, Tank // Target a few years ago, Necklace // Lucky Brand last Fall, Scarf // Endless Summer Scarf 

Do you protect your skin while driving? If so, how? Comment below!

DIY Friend Gift Perfect for Coffee & Tea Lovers from Fancy That Shop

DIY Friend Gift for Coffee or Tea Lovers featured on A Well Crafted Party

The Portland Bloggers group recently had the opportunity to visit local party and craft shop Fancy That for a fun crafting event. Lisa, owner of Fancy That, prepped a great customizable craft that each of the bloggers in attendance were able to make for the coffee or tea lover in their lives. Many people talked about giving to friends or teachers. I personally wanted to keep mine for myself! :) This is a really easy and fun DIY friend gift idea that you can completely customize for the gift recipient.

This isn’t your typical tutorial. It is completely adjustable to your style and materials. Nearly all of the materials can be found at the Fancy That shop who has both an online and brick-and-mortar store.

BEFORE Friend Gift DIY featured on A Well Crafted Party

The picture above shows what each attendee to the craft event received at their table. The tables were also covered with party circles, double sided tape, washi tape, bakers twine, and hole punches. Nearly all items below can be purchased through the Fancy That shop!

Supplies:

  • 1 drink carrier
  • wooden spoons
  • Tea packets or instant coffee packages
  • Sugar or other sweetener packages
  • cellophane baggies for decorating and/or packaging
  • White cups with lids & sleeves

Optional items used for decorating and customizing your gift:

  • Custom printed party circles (can be anything really!)
  • Washi Tape
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Scissors
  • Bakers Twine
  • Markers/pens
  • Hole punch
  • Stapler

Friend Gift DIY for a Coffee or Tea Lover featured on A Well Crafted Party Friend Gift DIY for a Coffee or Tea Lover featured on A Well Crafted Party Friend Gift DIY for a Coffee or Tea Lover featured on A Well Crafted Party

 

Directions for your DIY Coffee (or Tea) Lover Friend Gift

Decorate your supplies as you like, put everything in the drink carrier, and deliver to your friend!

I hate to be so simple on a tutorial’s directions… but, this craft was THAT EASY. You can decorate as little or as much as you want. Placing custom tags or printables on items or just labeling with your pen. You can even just put everything in the drink carrier with some napkins and a sweet note and call it good. But, here are some ideas for further inspiration:

  1. Use washi tape and wrap around the box, spoon handles, or cups to give your gift a fun, decorative touch.
  2. Fill one of the cellophane bags with tea packages, fold the bag to resemble a tea bag, affix a string of bakers twine with a staple, affix a small heart or tag at the other end of the string with a staple– you then have a giant tea bag as a container for your tea packages!
  3. Use bakers twine and washi tape to crate a cute little bunting for the container!

PS National Friendship Day is August 3rd!

PPS Love this idea, but aren’t really into crafting? Fancy that is selling an adorable Tea for Two drink carrier with fixins on the website!

** I attended a free craft event put on by Fancy That for Portland Bloggers. Portland Bloggers is a product of my company Jenni Bost Creative Services LLC. This event was a break out event with no promise of posting or review. I just enjoyed my time and thought the craft would fit nicely on my blog. I also believe in supporting local businesses when possible. I hope you enjoyed the craft as much as I did!**

 

Great Date Night Dinner in Portland: Serratto Restaurant and Bar

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A few years ago, when I was very pregnant with my son, my husband planned an elaborate night out for the two of us. It began with appetizers and drinks at a little art bar in Portland (no longer open) and then went on to dinner at a new-to-me restaurant called Serratto Restaurant and Bar. The date ended with dessert and drinks at a third destination that I can’t even remember now. While the whole date was amazing, and huge deal for the husband that never plans anything, the highlight of the evening was our dinner at Serratto. I had the most amazing Pork Ragu that I have tried to recreate a thousand times to no avail.

This past Fall I was invited to a blogger dinner to try out several of Serratto’s many different dishes. I jumped at the opportunity to try out the restaurant again. My evening did not disappoint! I can’t wait for my next date night at Serratto, but it sure did make for the perfect Girls’ Night venue as well.

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Any meal that begins with a good, dry sparkling wine is my kind of dinner. We started the meal with a delicious prosecco and caught up on everyone’s busy lives. This meal was about two weeks into me starting my new full-time job… the glass of prosecco was just the thing to end a busy work day!

Our Bloggers’ Dinner at Serratto Menu:

WINE FLIGHT:
Mandrarossa “Bonera” Sicilia ’09  NERO D’AVOLA/CAB/CAB FRANC
Els Guiamets “Isis” Montsant ’06  CARIGNAN/GRENACHE/SYRAH
Fidélitas “M100″ Columbia Valley ’11  CABERNET/MERLOT/MALBEC
AHI TUNA TARTARE “NIÇOISE” chopped egg, capers, olives, housemade potato chips, tarragon aioli
KALE SALAD pine nuts, honey crisp apple, sour cherries, Grana Padano, apple cider vinaigrette
SEARED SEA SCALLOP roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apple butter
MARGHERITA PIZZA & PIZZA DEL GIORNO
BRAISED TAILS & TROTTERS PORK SHANK RAVIOLI caramelized onion, baby arugula, stone-ground mustard cream sauce
MUSCOVY DUCK
PAINTED HILLS BURGER brioche, white cheddar, bacon, aioli, bbq sauce, crispy onions, pommes frites
DESSERT & COFFEE

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The meal that followed included a multi-course menu and wine flight. My favorite parts of the meal? Well, it was all pretty great (just how I had remembered it) but, my favorites were:

  • The seared sea scallop with roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apple butter was an inspired combination. I would have NEVER have thought to put apple butter with a scallop… but, it worked! It was actually my motivation to try making Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Butter.
  • The Painted Hills Burger with brioche bun, white cheddar, bacon, aioli, BBQ sauce, crispy onions, and pommes frites… probably the BEST burger I’ve eaten in a long, long time. The restaurant smartly cut the burger into quarters. Several of the bloggers (including myself) went in for seconds!

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Want to try Serratto? There is no better time than this month, March 2014! It is Portland Dining month and Serratto is participating.

Enjoy three courses for $29.

FIRST COURSE
Beet salad with shaved fennel, orange supremes, Portland Creamery chevre and lemon-tarragon vinaigrette
SECOND COURSE
Braised Carlton Farms beef cheek with porcini-potato gnocchi, smoked cipollini onions, braised leeks and carrots
-OR-
Ravioli with forest mushroom, caramelized onion and goat cheese filling, grilled asparagus and preserved lemon cream
DESSERT
Vanilla Crème brûlée with candied pecans and fresh berries


A Well Crafted Party was invited to a complementary tasting dinner at Serratto with purpose of review.  All thoughts and opinions belong to Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party.

More about Serratto:  Serratto is a lively and elegant neighborhood restaurant serving authentic and innovative dishes from Italy, France and the greater Mediterranean region. The menu, which changes seasonally, is built around a commitment to using hand-made pastas, natural meats, the freshest seafood, and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Serratto is located at 2112 NW Kearny Street (at 21st) in Portland, OR. Visit Serratto on Facebook and Twitter.

Hand Crafted Ice Cream in Portland, Oregon: Fifty Licks

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Fifty Licks owner Chad Draizin sharing about his packaging choices for the ice cream cartons they sell in store. I’m in love with the clean design and square packaging.

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Bee Pollen as an ice cream topping? Yep, I tried it. I even liked it. Other toppings include potato chips and ghost pepper salt (which by the by is amazing if you like spicy and sweet!)

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You read that right….cocktails at an ice cream shop. Fifty Licks has cocktails developed to enhance the flavors of their sorbets. I was completely wowed by the complexity of a couple of the cocktails.

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The cuban coffee is another speciality of Fifty Licks. Coffee cans line one of the walls and a cuban coffee order includes getting to watch the process of making the sweet, sweet coffee.

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Sometimes I struggle with putting way too much in a post. I try to get down EVERY little thought I had about a place that I’ve visited, an experience I’ve had, or item I love. I thought that for Fifty Licks the photos above spoke volumes. I had the fortunate opportunity to join several other bloggers in trying out Fifty Licks, a Portland small-batch ice cream shop, for a tasting last November. Since then I’ve been back to share the adorable little shop with friends and family on several occasions. Both the ambiance and the flavor deliver each time I’ve gone.

If you’re looking for some great combo ideas for ordering at Fifty Licks, please let me recommend:

  • A scoop of Passionfruit with Sichuan Peppercorn sorbet sprinkled with the Ghost Pepper Salt (WOW)
  • An order of cuban coffee with a scoop of Toasted Milk ice cream on the side (heck, I think it would make a pretty amazing affagato as well!)
  • Want your ice cream to remind you of the best part of the holidays? Try one scoop each of  Candied Yam with Toasted Marshmallow Swirl & Butternut Squash with Spiced Apple Swirl. 
  • Need something to make you look forward to Summer? Try the Nordic Palmer cocktail with a Rhode Island style Frozen Lemonade and Sparkling Iced Tea Mead.

Flavors and toppings may change on a seasonal basis. If you’ve tried Fifty Licks I’d love to read (and try) your favorite flavor or order. Comment your suggestions below!


A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary tasting for the purposes of review. All opinions and thoughts are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party.

 

More about Fifty Licks: Fifty Licks began in 2010, as an innovative ice cream company, in a mobile food cart. Today Fifty Licks has a mobile cart available for events and catering, a stationary cart at the Good Food Here Pod at SE Belmont & 43rd, and scoop shop at 2021 SE Clinton in Portland, Oregon. Visit Fifty Licks on social media: Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram.

 

 

Family Friendly Dining in Portland: Pronto Pizza

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I’ve now had the pleasure of trying Pronto Pizza in SE Portland twice. It is one of those places that I was thrilled someone told me about, because I had never heard of it and probably wouldn’t have thought to look for a local-loving, in-house making pizzeria and kitchen in a strip mall on 82nd.

The first time I visited I brought my family out for a meal. My second visit was as blogger visit to sample and learn about the kid’s menu. I brought my husband and fairly picky 2-year-old to taste test the new menu items. It was difficult pulling him away from the kid’s area filled with toys and a train table. (Whoever that first person was that thought restaurants should have train tables and kid areas was a brilliant, brilliant person.)

In both visits I found that Pronto Pizza does a great job at being the type of family restaurant that I would frequent. So, I thought I’d share WHY I think Pronto Pizza is a great Portland-area restaurant for families.

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Five Things that Make a Great Family Dining Experience:

1. Affordability

I cannot go out to a family meal and enjoy myself if I am spending a full day of pay! On my family outing to Pronto Pizaa my husband and I were treating visiting relatives to a meal out. Four adults and one toddler enjoyed an appetizer, large Brussels sprout salad, two pizzas, wine, beer, and beverages, and a dessert all for under $100– just over with a tip. The meal served all four adults and the kiddo with leftovers. The prices were entirely reasonable and the value was high from our experience.

2. Choice

I like to have a variety of quality items to choose from (without so many choices that I am stuck reading a menu for an hour) when I go out with my family for a meal. On date nights I am much more likely to order a “chefs choice” or “prix fixe” menu that has very little choice involved. I’m all for trying new things… but, when I am going out with my toddler, it is nice to have a good variety of menu options. I will inevitably choose a restaurant with choices of both healthy items and gooey-cheesy goodness when we want a nice, easy family meal. I was very happy with Pronto Pizza’s menu selections. They had interesting and tasty salads (could be ordered in large or small sizes), pastas, pizzas, and more. The menu changes up based on availability and season (LOVE THIS) but, if you go and they have the Brussels Sprouts Salad on the menu you must try it! The salad had perfectly cooked (in my book) Brussels sprouts, thick pieces of bacon, and a house-made vinaigrette.

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3. Convenience

Nowadays, when we are thinking about restaurants, convenience of location and ability to reserve a table or get seated quickly are very high on our list of needs. Pronto Pizza has a large seating area and we never had to wait long either time we’ve been. Now, we would have to have visited several more times to be totally sure, but our experience so far was great. The SE location may not be super convenient to all our Beaverton friends, but it is GREAT for us! Plus, it is right off a highway, so that works for those who are making a trip out.

4. Kid-Friendly Atmosphere

Portland is pretty great about kids in most restaurants. I never really thought of it much before kids, but I really appreciate it now that I do have a child. Enjoying a nice meal out every now and again is important to me. It would be terrible if I couldn’t bring my toddler out to a meal! Pronto Pizza is one of the Portland-area restaurants that really bring that kid-friendliness up a notch with their play area for younger kids, video games for older kids, and Monday night screenings of cartoons. Hey, and the fact that kid’s eat free on Monday evenings* is pretty sweet too.

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5. Healthful Options (Especially on the Kid’s Menu)

Have you seen kid’s menus at most establishments? Mac & Cheese, chicken nuggets, pasta/butter/cheese… oh, and don’t forget the sides of french fries and bread! Typically the healthy option is  a side of apple slices or grapes. My son definitely eats pasta and pizza on more occasions than I’d like to admit. But, I really do try to get him some nutritious food items in EVERY meal. Limited kid menus make me want to pack a lunch for him from home. We will often just have to get food items for ourselves that are healthful and more kid-friendly. But, I really appreciate it when a restaurant puts thought into the nutrition, taste, and kid-friendliness of their kid’s menus so that I can have the meal I like and order my son a meal that he wants and that will be good for him!

So, this is the part about Pronto Pizza that I am MOST excited to share with readers…Pronto Pizza partnered with Jacki Abbott, medical educator and nutritionist with Northwest Primary Care, to help create their new kid’s menu. Pronto Pizza also invited 12 youngsters in to do a taste test of possible kid menu items when developing their new menu to ensure the food offerings weren’t just highly nutritious, but also palatable for kids. My kiddo totally loved the baked cauliflower sticks and marinara sauce. (Check out the new kid’s menu below)

The entire menus is something that I did as well. Besides the food being good. It is filled with ingredients purchased from local farms and farmer’s markets; seasonal pizza toppings with imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, double zero flour and olive oil; and daily handmade pastas.

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* Kid’s EAT FREE at Movie Night on Mondays starting Monday, February 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kids under age 12 are invited to enjoy a complimentary pizza with one topping with the purchase of an adult meal.
Classic Cartoons playing on the big screen!

What do you look for in a great family dining experience?


A Well Crafted Party was provided a free meal with purpose of review of the kid’s menu. All opinions and thoughts expressed are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party. 

More information about Pronto Pizza: Pronto Pizza, formerly Sunshine Pizza Exchange, located off highway 224 and 82nd Drive, offers deliciously simple Neapolitan-style pizzas, fresh house made pastas and farmer’s market salads. There is a private banquet room, ample space for large parties, a kid’s playroom and various retro arcade games to keep the younguns’ entertained. The overall philosophy of Pronto Pizza is to serve fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food to families at an affordable price.

Family Photos

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Family Photos by Motormouth Studios

When I was a child I loathed taking family photos. Everyone had to get dressed up in nearly identical clothing and head to a stuffy studio where we posed awkwardly and pasted smiles on our faces. Even if we had a great photographer, the experience was never too amazing. I’m glad we have those photos. But, I’m even more glad that today’s “family photos” have an entirely different feel to them.

This year, as a gift to our parents and siblings, we hired Macey from Motormouth Studios for our family photos. It was freezing outside, but we had a clear and beautiful day to work with as we took our family photos in SE Portland. I gave everyone a loose color scheme to work with and asked them to join us for an hour of taking photos. SO much better than family photos when I was a kiddo.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with these photos. Each day when I wake up and drink my coffee before I head off to work I look around at the photos on the walls of my living room and smile big.

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

Portland Family Photos, Family Photo clothing ideas in winter

Photo by Motormouth Studios

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Photo by Motormouth Studio

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

 What were your family photos like growing up? Awesome? Lame? Tell me all about it… and, if you have a photo, share a link!

Portland Restaurants: Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery

Cyrils Portland Restaurant

Have you ever visited a restaurant in your area that you’ve never noticed before, or heard of…and then, BAM, you realize you’ve been missing out for way too long? That is exactly how I feel about Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery. Cyril’s restaurant is located in SE Portland (my turf, yo) and I just now discovered its awesomeness.

The gorgeous, open layout of the restaurant is hidden on the corner of SE Oak and SE 8th Street in Portland, Oregon. The restaurant is connected with the local micro-winery, Clay Pigeon Winery. I loved the open layout of the restaurant, the simple menus, and the excellent attention to detail in menu creation.

Cyril's Food

While the whole restaurant had a neat, clean, almost modern feel to it, the food had more of a down-home appeal with a Portland-twist. The food was comforting and made with many local and sustainably sourced ingredients. We had so many amazing dishes while we were there.

The menu changes seasonally, and features creations such as their Garlicy Greens (pictured above) which are sauteed greens with garlic, grana padano cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice served on toasted bread. The meal off with a cheese board and a meat board, glasses of wine, and the Garliky Greens. These simple items were elevated by the selection of really great ingredients and sources. Two of Cyril’s entrees came next– one a special on the menu and the other the Boeuf Stew off of their Fall Menu. The Boeuf Stew was rich and tender.

Somehow there was still room for dessert.

Cyril's Dessert

Portland Restaurant Cyril's Dessert

I’ve always been a big fan of dessert. The menu reads “Sweet Thing” instead of a list of desserts. At the end of the meal you simply ask the server about the desserts for the day. The desserts were expertly paired with some delicious dessert beverages on request. I could go on and on about the desserts… but, I’ll spare you just in case you go and they don’t have these items.

Instead, let me take a moment to praise the waitstaff. The restaurant front of house was staffed by a small team the evening I visited. Michael and Sasha (the owners) were there as well as the server that waited our table. She was AMAZING. Years in the industry makes me feel like I’m an expert on this–She was stealthy in her clearing skills, quiet when needed, and she knew the menu (and ingredients) backwards and forwards. Which that cannot be a simple task when the menu changes as often as it does! When you visit Cyril’s Restaurant I’d highly recommend asking the staff for their opinion and recommendation. We were not sorry that we did.

Cyril's Dessert Wine

And then there is the wine…

You can’t talk about a restaurant that is connected to a winery without mentioning the wine. Right? I had the opportunity to try the Clay Pigeon Winery Syrah. It was smooth, and rich in flavor. Not too dry and not too sweet. It hit that middle ground of fruity that I enjoy. I typically stay away from Syrah wines to be completely honest… but, I’d buy this one again. I was fortunate enough to be able to tour the winery side of the venue to see and taste future vintages in production.

Reading this blog you might think that I love every restaurant I go to… but, that isn’t true at all. There are plenty places that don’t make it on my blog. There are places that are wonderful, but too expensive for me to frequent often (which I’ll always mention), and there are places that have one or two great aspects that I might share. I’ll always be honest about my opinion… and, I was blown away by Cyril’s. I can’t wait to go back…. next time I am going to go with friends and try the table-side Raclette grill!

Want to learn more about Portland Restaurant Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery? 

PS. All of these photos were taken on my iPhone. I promise to grab better photos when I go back next time!

Holiday Mingle Pt One: Food in Portland

HolidayMingle_CH_1

I was beyond thrilled when one of the Portland Blogger organizers, Bee from The Spicy Bee, worked with local PR company Little Green Pickle to bring together an amazing opportunity for local bloggers. The Holiday Mingle was slotted as an opportunity for local bloggers to get a chance to meet and connect with some amazing restaurants and food vendors from the area– right in time for their holiday projects!  It was also an opportunity to listen to a panel of PR professionals talk about working with bloggers. Only in Portland can you get competitors working together to create an amazing event that hopefully, in the end, is beneficial to everyone involved.

I’m breaking this post up into two posts because there is just so much to cover… so, now I give you the amazing food and some fabulous companies! I’ll be back soon with tips for bloggers from real PR pros!

HolidayMingle_CH_4 HolidayMingle_CH_6

The restaurant owners and vendors that came out for the Holiday Mingle brought their A-game. I highly encourage you to read on if you are in Portland looking for great places to eat, are planning on traveling to Portland, or are looking for an item or two for your foodie friends and family for the holidays.

I’ve been impressed with many of these restaurants in the past:

  • The Original Dinerant was the site of last year’s birthday party (where I had amazing food and excellent service) so getting to try some more of their dessert menu and some seriously amazing deviled eggs was certainly a highlight of my evening.
  • The Bent Brick wow’d me back in May with a fabulous Happy Hour selection. They brought their tasty smoked salmon chips (and other tasty menu items) to the Mingle. The only thing missing was their Peat & Peet whiskey drink that I fell in love with on my last visit.
  • Besaws is one of my absolute favorite places to go to brunch. The hubs and I usually bring visiting friends or family there over when they are traveling over the weekend. But, did you know they also do dinner!?
  • Another place I bring visitors to is Departure Restaurant and Lounge— not only does it have an amazing deck with a view of the city, but seriously tasty drinks and foods. Chef Gregory Gourdet showed up at the Mingle to pretty much everyone’s delight.
  • Olympic Provisions is a local salumeria. Their meats make for the best charcuterie platters! I’ve totally dined on and purchased Olympic Provisions goodies before… but, was completely unaware that they also have restaurants in the area. I can’t wait to try them out. (Also, they sell their meats… and, if you didn’t know, my birthday is just around the corner!)
  • Water Avenue Coffee and I go way, way back. 😉 I fell in love with their rich, smooth coffee at a past Portland Bloggers’ meet-up. Since then I’ve visited their shop to also enjoy a great latte, tasty treats, and their laid back atmosphere. Whenever a blogger wants to meet at Water Avenue Coffee for a meeting the answer is always YES.

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The Original Deviled Eggs

And, the new-to-me vendors really gave a great first impression:

  • Tails & Trotters specializes in Northwest Hazelnut Finished Pork. O.M.G. (I don’t use that phrase often.) I couldn’t believe that you could actually TASTE the hazelnuts on the pork that we tried. It was amazing and it will end up in one of my holiday dishes this year. I can’t wait to start recipe testing! Oh, and if you are in NE Portland then you should stop by and grab a ham sandwich at their sandwich counter!
  • Double Dragon‘s appetizers at the event were the first that I had the opportunity to try. They brought a selection of bites that had the most amazing flavors and spices. I’m pretty sure I had a foie gras pate on bread and a mushroom pate.  AMAZING. And, I often frequent the SE area of Portland… I’ll be there to try some of their Banh Mi as soon as possible.
  • Fishpeople Seafood sent everyone home with packs of their Seafood Entree Pouches that have whole food products and no gross ingredients. I can’t wait to try these for dinner or even a quick to make lunch in the office. The ingredient list on the back of the package is the thing that really made me excited. I understand every word on the package and would cook with the ingredients in my own home.

A lot of my readers are from the PNW area and I hope that this list helps bring to light some of the awesome companies we have available. But, even if you aren’t from Portland, some of the products above can be shipped! I would be thrilled to find many of these items under the tree or at the holiday dinner table this season!

A big thank you to Macey Snelson & Chloe from Little Green Pickle for photos!
And to these amazing vendors and professionals that donated their time, expertise, and product:

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doubledragon1maxwellpr olympicprovisions

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Behind the Scenes: Sister Fresh Girl’s Clothing Designer

Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party

It is true what they say… having a child changes your life. Just ask Erin Keys, the designer and owner of Sister Fresh.

Today I am beyond excited to bring you a behind the scenes look and story of the adorable girl’s clothing line. I met Erin while at a Portland Fashion Week meet and greet. She was with her gorgeous daughter who was walking amongst all the models and designers in a beautiful leopard print dress. The pair were so sweet and easy to talk to that I just had to ask to interview her for the blog. She was gracious enough to ask me into her home and give me a tour of her home studio.

Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party

How Sister Fresh Began

The beautiful young lady, that I met at the meet and greet, was the reason the whole venture began. After the birth of her daughter Erin decided to not go back to work as a buyer for a successful department store. After making her daughter clothes, things developed and she began designing and making little girl clothing to sell at home parties. Her home parties were successful and eventually, local boutiques were requesting her items. Currently Erin sells Sister Fresh at local boutiques and through her online shop.

Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party

The Studio

Erin graciously let me tour her home studio space, giving me a glimpse at how a clothing designer works. Walking into her gorgeous home you could immediately see that the busy season and Portland Fashion Week was causing her to expand outside of her studio. She had a make shift desk with her laptop, phone, camera, and paperwork on her kitchen island. A rack of pretty dresses stood in front of a huge window and her mannequin was showing off a yellow pom dress.

Upstairs a small room was neatly organized to fit an entire sewing business! The room could only fit a desk, small ironing board, a washer and dryer. A serger and sewing machine were housed on the desk. Small bows littered the desk, ready to accent dresses.

Tiny dresses were hanging on all surfaces of the room–filling it with bright colors. Several bolts of the colorful fabric used to make the dresses were neatly stacked beneath a small counter. A framed sign with the Sister Fresh logo decorated the wall. On another wall hung two cross stitched works.

“My grandma made these,” Erin explained. “She is the one who taught me to sew.”

I’m touched by this. My grandmother also taught me to sew.

I’m amazed at the small space. Not only does Erin manage to fit an entire (successful) design business in the home studio, but she has also managed to make it a delightful and inspiring office space. It makes me think differently of my sewing space at home and certainly inspires me to do more with the areas I have.

Can a designer of this adorable girl’s clothing line really have started out just like me? Seems sort of unreal and full of possibility. I hope that if someone out there is thinking of becoming a clothing designer, and sees this post, they can be inspired by this awesome lady. She learned to sew from her grandmother, had a career in a whole different field, did not go to school for this trade, and is now doing something she completely loves in the space she has available. (Though, I do encourage schooling very highly!)

Sister Fresh Behind the Scenes // A Well Crafted Party

More about Sister Fresh

The Sister Fresh clothing line is a line of clothes for girls to be girls. It isn’t about dressing little girls up to be women, but rather a clothing line that celebrates the age of girl for as long as possible.

If you’d like to keep updated with the goings on at Sister Fresh then following along with Erin on her social media accounts. She JUST got Instagram and Twitter so those would be great for you to connect with her as she learns the ropes and shares lots of good photos and tweets!

Follow Sister Fresh on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Thank you!

A BIG thank you to Erin Keys for letting me peek into your beautiful home and studio space. Good luck on the runway today!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this interview and studio tour. I am a part of the Portland Fashion Week’s Style Collective and will be receiving free VIP tickets to visit the shows. However, no post requirements were asked of us and this post was all my own idea and Erin’s awesome story. All opinions are my own. Tickets to Portland Fashion Week are still available! Purchase tickets now to get in for just $20 or pay $30 at the door. There are 6 shows in total, 35 pop-up boutique shops, and 3 after parties. I hope to see you there!

Behind the Scenes: Sunjin Lee Wedding Dress Designer

Behind the Scenes of a wedding gown designer // A Well Crafted Party // featuring Sunjin Lee's Studio Space

How do you go to sketching and dreaming about designing buildings in Korea to having your wedding dress designs strutting the catwalk in Portland, OR? Well, you fall in love.

At least, that is what Portland wedding dress designer Sunjin Lee did! She met her husband (who also acts as her business partner in many aspects) in Paris, fell in love, and ended up trying on tons of wedding dresses with unhappy results. Her decision to try her hand at making her own wedding dress is what brought her to today,  just a few years later!

A Modern Love Story

Of course, that is boiling down a romantic, long-distance relationship down to the nitty gritty there. The couple stayed contacted for nearly two years after meeting in Paris, Sunjin in university in Korea while her husband was in the states. The whole thing was sort of a romance that you’d read in a modern storybook. Strong female lead from traditional background with no intention of getting married really meets dashing, talented, and smart young man in a town far from both their homes. They fall in love to be parted by schedules, plans, and obligations. The young couple work for years, traveling back and forth, keeping their spark alive until they are reunited again. I’d read that book.

wedding gown designer Sunjin Lee's architecture sketches

When Architecture and Gown Design Collide

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Sunjin Lee’s studio in Portland, Oregon to see her work and her work space. I also got to talk with her for an hour about life, love, and her passions. Her studio walls give glimpses into her love of architecture, Paris, fashion, and wedding dresses. She has bookshelves packed to the rafters with wedding and Vogue magazines. Two full walls lined with tulle, silk, embroidered, and beaded dresses. A wall covered in gorgeous sketches of buildings. It is a sight to see.

Sunjin Lee pointed out the sketches to tell me a story about meeting her husband. She pointed out a sketch looking up at the Eiffel Tower. All of the sketches are gorgeous.

“Wait,” you drew these!?” I asked. Yep, she drew them.

She tells me about going to school and training for a career in architecture. You can see her love for great architecture in the dresses she designs. She uses strong lines in many of her bodices, she plays with the shape and structure of the dresses using fabric and structure. She tells me how she lets designs of the past inspire her work. She points out a gorgeous high-low wedding dress with 3/4 sleeves, “this shape was popular in the fifties.” It is neat to see her crafts playing together so nicely.

hand stitched beading and sequins by Sunjin Lee for her own wedding

 

Behind the Scenes of Sunjin Lee's wedding gown studio featured on A Well Crafted Party

Where it All Began

Sunjin Lee tells me how she got started in wedding dress design only 3 years ago. After trying on several wedding dresses she didn’t find exactly what she wanted. She also found out that having someone make her a specialty dress would take much more time than she had. So, she thought about what she wanted and decided that she could do it herself. And, boy did she!

She actually wore three wedding dresses throughout her wedding day in Hawaii. One of the dresses was a Nicole Miller dress (actually, the same dress I wore on MY wedding day!) and the other two dresses were of her own creation. She shows me one of the dresses she wore that had a mermaid skirt and had been hand-beaded by her with thousands of sequins and beads. She showed me how the beading worked its way up the skirt so it shimmered like water on a mermaid’s tail. Perfect for a beach wedding.

I promise that I’m trying to convince her to publish the photos of her own wedding day so we can all see the dresses in action!

Junjin Lee's studio space featured on a well crafted party

 

Sunjin Lee's studio space featured on A Well Crafted Party

 

Gift Sunjin Lee gives all of her brides featured on A Well Crafted Party

Where She Works

Sunjin Lee’s work space is a home-sewer’s dream. She has a huge table ready for cutting, bolts and bolts of fabric piled beneath it. Ribbons, beads, threads, and other sewing supplies are available everywhere you look in the room. She shows me one of the items she seems most proud of… a shadow box with a dress sketch and material swatches.

“I give one of these to each of my brides with swatches of the material used to make their dress and a sketch of the dress they are wearing,” she explained. It would be an absolutely treasured keepsake for any bride.

See Her Work in Person

The young Portland wedding dress designer has been creating her dresses for around three years. She now has two collections of dresses to her name, have seen her dresses on brides, received the 2013 Best Couture Gown Designer award from Oregon Bride, and will see them walk the runway this Friday’s Mimosas & Gowns Portland Fashion Week Bridal Show. Tickets are still available for the show if you’d like to see her work in person!

A BIG thank you to Sunjin Lee for letting me peek into your studio space and for chatting with me for so long. You are an instant friend!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this interview and studio tour. I am a part of the Portland Fashion Week’s Style Collective and will be receiving free VIP tickets to visit the shows. However, no post requirements were asked of us and this post was all my own idea and Sunjin Lee’s awesome story. All opinions are my own. Tickets to Portland Fashion Week are still available! Purchase tickets now to get in for just $20 or pay $30 at the door. There are 6 shows in total, 35 pop-up boutique shops, and 3 after parties. I hope to see you there!

 

Snapshots: Amtrak Trip to Seattle

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free trip courtesy of Amtrak for review purposes. The photos, videos, and opinions are entirely my own, based on my experience.

King Street Station

 

Yesterday I spent a lovely day traveling to and hanging out in Seattle, WA. I’ve never traveled on a train before. Sure, I’ve ridden the MAX (Portland’s Light Rail System) but, that isn’t the same.

The trip was one of my more relaxing and enjoyable trips I’ve ever had. I didn’t have to deal with traffic or making sure I had enough gas in the car. I was able to easily get up and walk around. The dining selection was tasty. The seats were big and comfortable. And, I had an outlet to plug in my phone. I will be riding with Amtrak again.

I had been super excited about having wifi on the train and being able to get some work done while traveling. Unfortunately, the wifi was a little spotty on the way up to Seattle and nonexistent on the way back. The conductor came on overhead and conveyed apologies for the problem, and several signs explained that having more reliable wifi was one of the things that Amtrak is working on. Honestly, if I had driven or flown I wouldn’t have had the option for free wifi either. So, I wasn’t too fussed.

Amtrak’s website even added a handy dandy guide of things to do when visiting Seattle. Next time I take a trip up I’ll be bookmarking this page as well and making sure I visit more of Seattle!

*** CONTEST OVER: Currently Amtrak is having a promotion trying to find the best photo or video for promotional purposes through its Instagram fans hashtagging “#amtrakgram” until August 11. Winners will receive travel vouchers! Check out the AmtrakGram website for more information.****

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