Someone’s at the door! Be prepared for surprise guests.

Before I got married, I lived with my parents. Yes, I’m one of those people. I know to some it might sound really strange, but the way I was raised that was the proper thing to do. There is even a saying that goes something like “From your parents home to your husband’s home” which is basically the tradition that I was raised to follow.

Anyway, now that I have my own place (with my hubbie) I LOVE when friends and family stop by and I am able to play hostess. Those skills are new to me and are still being refined and perfected. I thought I’d share with you a few tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way.

Anyone care for a refreshment?

Recently my husband’s best friend and his girlfriend were in town for the weekend. I had fresh sheets on the bed, towels laid out for them in the bathroom, extra toothpaste and brushes just in case, but I made one critical mistake…I forgot to restock our wine! As we prepared for a night out I offered some wine to our house guests, but only had some left over from a few weeks prior. I poured the wine into glasses and watched as everyone puckered their lips in disgust after tasting some old, sour wine. I was NOT a happy hostess!

Since then I’ve made sure to always have at least one unopened bottle of red and one unopened bottle of white wine to offer my guests. I’m not a wine snob so I always pick up a bottle of wine either on sale or that I have a coupon for – usually it’s a bottle of Yellow Tail, Barefoot, or Robert Mondavi Private Selection.

Another delicious and refreshing option is lemonade. Keep a pack of Crystal Light in your pantry, mix it with some water, and serve out of a beautiful pitcher. Garnish it with some sliced lemons, strawberries, or mint leaves. It cannot get easier than that.

Sweet, refreshing lemonade

Sweet, refreshing lemonade

Who’s hungry?

I’ve learned that the key to be a fun hostess is to not stress out. I know that sounds silly but so often I get consumed with making sure everything is perfect – refilling drinks, making sure I have enough munchies out, checking in on food I may have cooking or baking, etc. After my guests are gone I often times feel like I spent more time running around than chatting with my guests – and that definitely doesn’t make me a good hostess.

To avoid this running around, and stressing about what I’m going to serve my guests. I try to have items in my pantry that are ready to serve. Here are a few ideas from my pantry to yours…

Who doesn’t love some creamy hummus and soft pita bread to munch on as you chat with friends? My favorite hummus to keep in the fridge is made by Sabra. They have various flavors – my favorites are Original and Garlic. Turn on the oven to warm up your pita so it’s nice and soft…or serve it straight out of the bag to save on some time and start enjoying your company.

Creamy Hummus and Pita Bread

Creamy Hummus and Pita Bread

You can’t go wrong with a fruit and veggie platter. Grab whatever you have in the fridge – grapes, strawberries, celery, or carrots –  and style it really nicely on a serving dish or bowl. Your guests will appreciate this healthy, fresh snack.

If you’re craving something warm try grabbing something that’s freezer friendly. Buy it, freeze it, and pull it out whenever you’re ready. How about trying healthy, yummy edamame or a satisfying bowl of meatballs? Both are great to store and easy to heat up and serve.

Popcorn! This one is a bit unconventional as a snack to serve your guests at home, but I’m sure you’ve seen that this snack, done right, can be super healthy! Try Jolly Time’s Healthy Pop or Smart Balance’s Smart ‘n Healthy both are healthy options.You’ll see that your guests won’t be able to keep their hands out of the bowl and leave feeling full and satisfied.

Light, airy popcorn

Light, airy popcorn

Do YOU have any suggestions of snacks that work in your home? What do YOU serve surprise guests?

Favorite Posts of the Week – 2/27 Edition

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! I’m so happy March is upon us…it’s my favorite month of the year. The weather is just gorgeous in Miami, there are lots of fun outdoor events to attend, and I get to celebrate another birthday!

Let’s get to my favorite posts from the week of February 27th:

My home office gets a lot of use. I occasionally work from home, and frequently do some late night work from there as well. We’ve done a decent job decorating the room in greys, whites and pops of green. However, after seeing this office – described as heaven’s front office – I’m thinking of doing a white-out redo! Check out Virginia’s blog – Live Love DIY – to see more of this redo, and check out the back of the office chair.

Heaven's Front Office by Live Love DIY

Heaven's Front Office by Live Love DIY

When I was planning my wedding I learned how important lighting is to help set the mood for the night. Up lighting in a color that helps accentuate your color scheme ties the whole room together. Monogram lighting is like the cherry on top. I personally didn’t have monogram lighting, but that’s only becuase I hadn’t seen this one featured on Style Me Pretty. How cute is this?

Monogram Lighting

Monogram Lighting

I’m fascinated by furniture referbs. My sister-in-law, Fit Chick on the Fly, recently completed a gorgeous project for her master bedroom that I’m hoping she’ll post soon, but for now here’s an amazing dresser refurbished for a baby nursery. I love the lace feature on the drawers and it seems like it’s SUPER easy to accomplish. Just lay the lace down and spray over it!!! Check out the full story on The Stories A & Z and little B.

Lace Dresser for Baby Nursery

Lace Dresser for Baby Nursery

I’m kinda over the rustic wedding trend. I guess it depends on the setting, but for the most part I’m desiring to see some super luxurious, glam weddings. This week Style Me Pretty featured an elegant wedding themed after Alice In Wonderland that really caught my eye. The tablescape created for the reception was so elegant and colorful. The lighting, mostly candlelight, creates an ultra romantic vibe.

Wonderland Inspired Tablescape

Wonderland Inspired Tablescape

I love this cake featured on Hostess with the Mostess! My birthday is coming up so what if I make my own super girly pink cake? I think it’s a great idea!

Easy, girly pink cake

Easy, girly pink cake

Check out my latest pins here.

Favorite Posts of the Week: The Love Edition

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a sweet Valentine’s week.  My hubbie and I had a nice surf-and-turf dinner at home followed by a quiet night of TV watching. It was actually pretty perfect for a Tuesday night.

Although my hubbie and I had a quiet Valentine’s day I definitely got inspiration from the blog world for something more elaborate next year…or even for a random, romantic night any other day of the year.

Here are some of the sweetest and loveliest posts from the week of February 13th:

“Love”ly fashions

Reese Witherspoon was in the spirit this week when she stepped out in NYC in a cute heart-patterned dress. The Frugal Fashionista helps those of us on a budget recreate Reese’s look (although the dress she found is a bird-pattern…which satisfies my bird obsession, but doesn’t go with our love theme). Also, love the pop of red which screams “v-day”.  How much do you love the studded bag the Frugal Fashionista found similar to the one Reese is wearing? Love it!

Reese Witherspoon's Heart-Patterend Dress

Sweet home decor

Loving this bathroom makeover featured on DomestiKated Life.  Originally posted by AB Chao, the bathroom showcases a few cool pieces that you don’t usually find in a bathroom like a monogrammed shower curtain, framed word art, a runner (rug), and, um, Polaroid pictures taped to the wall. How does that hold up with all that humidity in the air? This bathroom design is pretty funky, but there is something sweet about it. What do YOU think?

I seriously want a monogrammed shower curtain – like now!

LOVEly bathroom makeover

Showing some PDA

This adorable post from Spearmint Baby is a pregnancy shoot while she was at 34 weeks. I love the winter/snow theme. I actually don’t usually like pregnancy photos because I’m not a fan of the bare belly shots and so the fact that she’s bundled up is absolutely adorable and so sweet.

I’m definitely going to try to recreate this one with my hubbie during my next ski trip (preggers or not).

Love in the Snow

Feed him something sweet

Craving this adorable cocktail perfect for a romantic night in. This recipe featured on Style Me Pretty includes chocolate and marshmallows as main ingredients…seriously, what’s not to love? I know my hubbie will chug it down!

Valentine's Day Cockatil by Sugar and Charm

How dainty are these cupcakes featured on Kara’s Party Ideas? I’m loving the light blue, pink, and red combination (which I’ve seen a lot in home decor lately too) and the unique designs on each cupcake. This is definitely something that’s going on my Adventures in Baking board on Pinterest!

Dainty, Love-themed Cupcakes

Cookies

Mike and I are so lucky! We have such generous family and friends.

Last week wedding gifts began to arrive at our home. Every day as I got home from work I had a package or two to pick up at the front desk. It was so exciting to bring up those Macy’s boxes and open them up. It’s really such an exciting time!

One of the gifts we received last week was a baking set I requested from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s. On Saturday while I was fulfilling my domestic duties around the apartment I decided to bake some cookies for my family and a special batch for Mike.

Cooling the Cookies

Cooling the Cookies

I baked some Toll House chocolate chip cookies and mini brownie bites. Although they turned out a little crunchy I recieved some rave reviews.

Cookies Presentation

Cookies Presentation

Mike's Special Package

Mike's Special Package

Thanks to Cindy Burke for this great gift!

CasaMartinez: Favorite Reciepes

This summer Mike and I have become really obsessed with this delicious summer salad.

I was introduced to this salad when I went to a friend’s baby shower (thanks Gabi) and now I make this at home at least twice a week.  Mike couldn’t be happier since now I’m eating one of his favorite vegetables – SPINACH! Just call me “Popeye”!

Sweet and Crunchy Strawberry Salad

Sweet and Crunchy Strawberry Salad

Here’s how you can make this simple salad:

Baby Spinach Salad

Strawberries

Sliced Almonds

Crumbled Goat Cheese

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

Delish! Enjoy!

Susan, yes, I’m actually making and EATING salad!!! Maybe I can make this for you next time we come over for dinner.

Domesticated Diva – NOT!

So, I’m the type of girl who wants it all.  I want to be a career woman, a loyal friend, a grateful daughter, and now a fabulous wifey!  Taking a page from the 1950’s, pre-bra burning era a wifey takes care of the home, her husband, and her childern.  Although I firmly stand by some of my feminist thinking I do want to be good at all of those “domestic” duties.

Challenge #1 – Improve cooking skills.

Yesterday, I decided to surprise Mike and cook dinner for us. I pulled up a recipe titled “Easy Chicken Cutlet” – sounded like something right up my alley – and chose instant pasta as my side.

I started by pulling out a few different bowls – one for the eggs, one for the bread crumbs, and another for the washed chicken (apparently I’m overly paranoid about salmonella).  I rummaged through the cupboard for different spices to sprinkle on the chicken once I had breaded it and pulled out the frying pan.  Then poured a cap full of oil onto the pan and threw on my first cutlet.

I questioned myself on how long I should leave the chicken cooking on each side and so ran to ask Mike.  When I got back there was an unusual amount of smoke in the air. I flipped over the chicken per Mike’s instructions and realized I was a little too late.  The chicken was mostly black and crispy.  I finished cooking that piece and put the next cutlet on the pan. I did this 5 times…apparently I’m not a person who improves with trial and error (at least when it comes to cooking).

Needless to say, we didn’t really enjoy the Surprise Chicken Cutlet meal. BUT I did force us to eat it!

Smokey, messy kitchen

Smokey, messy kitchen

Yummy Burnt Chicken

Yummy Burnt Chicken

Mike showing me how it's done

Mike showing me how it's done