Monday, January 28, 2013

How To Host A Wine Tasting Party

I recently hosted a blind wine tasting party for my mom's birthday, which was a blast! If you're a wine lover, a blind tasting party is a great way to celebrate a birthday (or just because)!

Organize your blind tasting by deciding what kinds of wine to taste. For example, you may decide to taste one varietal (one grape variety). Another idea is to choose all regional wines, only sweet wines, reds, or whites. For my mom's party, we asked that each guest bring a bottle of red wine (any varietal). This was a great way to find out what each person's favorite red wine was, too. It's always fun to find new favorites!

As The guests arrived, I took their bottle and wrapped it with burlap and wire to cover the label and any other giveaways as to what the wine was. I also labeled each bottle with a number with a sharpie to keep track of which wine was which (on a separate piece of paper to correspond with the bottles), and so guests knew which "number" they were tasting for scoring/guessing purposes.

Palate cleansers, such as bread, crackers and cheeses help neutralize the taste of one wine before tasting the next. In addition to the simple palate "cleansers", I made brie, strawberry, basil and honey "bruschetta", tuna dip, veggie cups, and a tri-tip sandwich station. To spice up the food labels to fit in with the theme, I used wine corks as the label holders and wrote on cardstock. 

{DIY Chalkboard cheese plate using an old frame from my grandmother}

Each guest got a pencil and a scoring sheet to record their impressions of the wines, as well as to guess what the varietal for each was. 

I also designed this sheet for guests to take home with their own notes:

The prize for the most correct varietals guessed got a nice bottle of wine. 

Hopefully you’ll come away from blind tasting discovering a new favorite. 

Bottoms Up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sheer Sleeved Blazers

This Forever 21 blazer is perhaps my favorite purchase of the year so far. I had been lusting over the nearly $600 version from Helmut Lang for a couple months until I saw the Forever 21 version online. I imagine that this blazer will sell out quickly, so snag one fast! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Turkey Stuffed Squash & New Favorites

I made stuffed acorn squash over the weekend, which was a hit! You can find the recipe here. The only change I made was that I didn't use any paleo breadcrumbs. 

I also wanted to share a couple of my grocery favorites:
Raw Creamy Almond Butter from Trader Joes. I eat a spoonful of this every night with a granny smith apple as my "dessert". I love that it contains only one ingredient: raw almonds. No salt, sugar etc.

Lundberg's Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup is my new favorite food item. I probably got a little too excited when I found it! Brown rice syrup is produced from brown rice that has been ground and cooked, converting the starches to sugars consisting of 45% maltose and 3% glucose. It tastes like butterscotch/caramel. Love! 

What are your healthy favorites right now?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Workout Gear

Lululemon Headband: I love wearing this headband when I go to spin class (AKA when I sweat a lot).
 Femme Fitale Fitness gloves: These fitness gloves are a MUST for weight lifting. They are so comfortable and well made. I avoid sore hands and callouses, and I protect my rings by wearing these every time I use weights. To top off the comfort factor, they are also the most beautiful fitness gloves I have ever seen! I get so many compliments on these subtle swarovski studded gloves. 
Lululemon Lift and Separate Bra: This sports bra is amazing and so very necessary for big chested ladies. I hate the look of squished boobs, and love that this bra literally lifts and separates the girls. 
Lululemon Cool Racerback Tank: I love this tank because it's fitted, comfortable, breathable, and flattering. Nothing is more annoying than baggy clothes getting in the way while exercising. 
Skullcandy Earbuds: These headphones are fantastic for cancelling noise and provide very clear sound. They've lasted me so much longer than all of my iphone headphones!
Lululemon No Limits TankI love that this top has a built in bra and a band around the waist to avoid riding up etc. I do wear my lift and separate bra underneath this top because the built in bra isn't enough support for me. I'm jealous of those who can get away without wearing a sports bra underneath!
Old Navy Zip Up Jacket: The quality of Old Navy's fitness jackets are excellent, and I love that they continually come out with flattering styles.
  Lululemon Wunder Under Leggings: These are by far the most comfortable, flattering leggings I've ever tried! Trust me and try them out!
Pssst Dry Shampoo: Very necessary for days when I'm in a rush from going to the gym to meet a friend for dinner etc. This stuff dissolves the grease/sweat and makes my hair bouncy and fresh looking. 
Nike Free Run Shoes: I love the color of these shoes, and love that they're so light and comfortable. 
Sephora "Perfectly Nude" Lipgloss: I use this at the gym (and out of the gym) to keep my lips feeling hydrated. Yes, I could use chapstick but I'm such a lipgloss fanatic.
Asics Gel Blur 33 Shoes: These shoes are cute (in my opinion) and they have excellent arch support. The gel makes these shoes so incredibly comfortable. They are by far my favorite gym shoes!

What are your gym essentials?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Mint

This Winter has been so cold (for California standards), and I'm so ready for Spring! In hopes of Spring coming sooner rather than later, I wore a mint dress paired with sweater tights, a scarf and booties over the weekend.

Dress: Zara//Scarf: Forever 21, similar//Booties: Target//Watch: Fossil//Bracelets: Forever 21

Friday, January 11, 2013

Spring 2013: Baroque

Art history is always more fun when studied through the lens of fashion. Fall 2012 called for an introduction to baroque, and baroque styles were seen on the S/S 2013 runways as well. The art movement of the late 1500's to 1700's was marked by ornate details and gilded, decorated motifs. When worn, the resulting masterpieces render each day a grand exhibition.

While I didn't get my hands on any baroque inspired pieces this Fall, I did purchase a dress from Asos (on sale!) a few weeks ago that I am excited to wear come Spring.
The Inspiration

Chanel Spring 2013 
Photo credit: Vogue

Meadham Kirchhoff Spring/Summer 2013 Show
Photo Credit: Vogue

Meadham Kirchhoff Spring/Summer 2013 Show
Photo Credit: Vogue

Vera Wang Spring/Summer 2013
Photo Credit: Vogue

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wedge Sneakers

I bought these wedge sneakers from Target last week for $35, and I am in love. When the Isabel Marant sneakers first came out, I thought they were the ugliest pair of shoes since birkenstocks. Well, they've grown on me. And for $35, I don't feel guilty for buying such a trendy pair of shoes. You can buy them here.

I haven't worn them yet, but the below photos have lent some inspiration.

Alessandra Ambrosio

Gisele Bundchen
Olivia Palermo

What do you think of wedge sneakers? Did you hate them at first like me? Have you always loved them? Or do you still hate them?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Butternut Squash Eats & A Workout

Happy New Year, lovelies! I'm kicking the year off right with a couple recipes and a workout to share. 

One of my all time favorite dishes is butternut squash gnocchi. There's only one problem: I don't eat refined flour or wheat (at least on a regular basis). I set out to try alternative ingredients to make my own, and I'm so glad I did, because this version is just as good!

You can see the recipe here. Instead of sweet potatoes, I used butternut squash. For the sauce, I used about 10 sprigs of fresh sage sauteed with some balsamic vinegar and coconut butter. 

This is a very quick, easy and healthy dinner. I sauteed some butternut squash with sliced onions, sage, vinegar, and coconut oil and served it with Trader Joes' chicken apple chardonnay sausage. 

In keeping with the healthy eating theme, I thought I'd share a workout I did yesterday. My workout schedule is usually the same, but I do a variety of different exercises and try to increase the weight I lift on a regular basis. This year, I am working on getting my triceps and back to "show" more without flexing.