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 – 2/3 Edition

Happy Friday to all!

It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be more relieved. I’ve enjoyed reading the blogs this week to help me escape the hectic work week (even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time).

Here are my favorites from the week of January 31st:

I’ve been working on creating a romantic, serene master bedroom at Casa Martinez for the past year or so. We’ve come a long way from ugly brown carpets to beautiful hardwood floors and dated vertical blinds to romantic, sheer curtains. However, one trouble spot the hubbie and I cannot conquer is keeping our nightstands clutter-free. This week Houzz.com inspires us to maintain beautiful nightstands free of mess with a few helpful tips.

Suite Dreams modern bedroom
I love DIY projects! Well I love pinning them, but one day I’ll actually start creating more of what I’m pinning. This week Home Stories A to Z featured a pallet DIY project that’s absolutely adorable. I’ve noticed pallet projects are really trendy now (probably perpetuated through Pinterest), but this one really caught my eye.  My sister-in-law (aka Fit Chick on the Fly) loves pallet DIYs and has created a few new nice pieces for her house. Are YOU obsessed with pallet projects?
I L-O-V-E this pallet DIY project!

In Miami, it’s basically springtime; and it’s my favorite time of the year! The days are warm (not horribly humid) and the nights have a cool(ish) breeze. It’s a perfect time of the year to start bringing out your pastels. When I think spring, I think pastels. On Wednesday, Pepper Design Blog posted their Pastel Style Board highlighting some trends for spring 2012. Warning they use terms like “sorbet”, “cantaloupe”, and “honeydew” to describe some of the hot spring colors which left me craving something sweet. This is my favorite look out of the bunch – which is perfect for a Sunday brunch or even some drinks with friends on a Friday night.

Spring Pastels

Just two weeks ago my bff Suzell launched her own blog – Susy Home Maker. The blog will chronicle her life as she tackles home remodeling, marathon training, and – her passion – traveling. She’s tons of fun and some of the things that happen to her are pretty hysterical so I’m certain you’ll thoroughly enjoy catching up with her through her blog. This week, she got me thinking about my “Travel Bucket List” and where I want my travels to take me. What do you think about her travel plans? Check her out and leave her a comment welcoming her to the world of blogging. 🙂

Where would you rather be right now?

Check out other “gems” I discovered on my favorite blogs by browsing through my latest pins on Pinterest.

Party On!

Mike and I want to extend our wedding day as long as possible.  In that spirit we’ve planned an after-party just one block away from the National Hotel.

Today I finalized plans with Louie from Studio @ The Shelborne Hotel. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Studio it’s a SUPER fun karaoke bar with over 55,000 songs on file and all sorts of instruments on the walls.

Get those vocal cords ready for some singing!!! (Of course if you don’t sing you can be a back up dancer, play one of the musical instruments, or just sing and laugh from the crowd).

Here are Mike and Jeff jamming at Studio the night we celebrated our engagement.

From Thanksgiving Weekend / Engagement

No driving or changing necessary. We’re all literally going as we are – either walking or a short taxi ride as soon as the reception is over. Email me if you have questions or want more details.

Invites sealed and ready to mail

So our calligraphied envelopes arrived today along with something we had reprinted for the invitations. Of course, as soon as I opened the box I couldn’t help myself and began stuffing envelopes.  So, two hours later all of our guests had thier invites packed and ready to go.

Mike and I are checking addresses tomorrow just to make sure they all arrive at thier destinations and so we should be sending them out by end of week.

Putting invites in the mail definitely makes everything seem more real…

Signed, sealed, yet to be delivered

Signed, sealed, yet to be delivered

A special touch

A special touch

Calligraphy by: Barbara Kua (found on Etsy.com)