Lately…

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 {A shot of our famous glitter bottle.  How rad is this thing?!  AND each one provides 15 healthy meals to a child fighting hunger}

Hey there!  No matter how prepared we feel for the holidays at work, it’s always insane in December and blogging just falls by the wayside.  November and December are the two months when over 70% of our business for the YEAR occur and we trade our spaces behind the computer to high-tail it to the warehouse to help with fulfillment.  I realized it had been a few days since I last posted so I wanted to drop by with a note to say hello.  Check out a few of the things I’ve been working on and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more realtime updates :-)

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{Sneak peek at a fun new project I’ve been working on with my mom.  Pillows galore!  I’m dying over the colors!}

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{The 31 Bits holiday party is always an absolute blast.  How dreamy is their space with those lights and balloons?}
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{Finally found a few hours to put up our tree :-) Half of the lights weren’t working, Target didn’t have any white lights in stock and the process took a million times longer than I expected, but her glow makes me SO happy.  And kitty is clearly enjoying it too.}Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.57.59 PM

{Behind the scenes at yesterday’s NYE shoot featuring our glitter bottle with Zoom Theory!  By the end of it we were covered in confetti and champagne, but I’m stoked at how this turned out and can’t wait to share the final images.}

Cheers!

DECEMBER

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{images via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9}

Happy December 1st!  Can you believe it’s the last month of 2014?  I’m both ecstatic and terrified – excited that my favorite time of the year is here and scared to death that every year seems to fly by even faster than the last.  The feeling really hit me yesterday while working in our warehouse with a group of 25 volunteers who were there to pack up our orders from our Black Friday sale.  Over 27 pallets of boxes were packed, stacked and hauled onto a UPS truck late last night and the reality really set in.  Not only are we having a great year, which I am thankful for to my core, but the holiday bustle is truly here to stay for the next four weeks.  Even in the madness, I vow to make this season merry to the very last minute.  My Christmas playlist is on shuffle/repeat, I can’t wait to attend a few holiday events this week and our Christmas tree is going up whenever I can find a few free hours to make her pretty.  Are you feeling the holiday cheer yet too or am I just a crazy #basicwhitegirl?! ;-)

PS: Take a look at the holiday images that are making me feel all warm and fuzzy on my Pinterest – feeling so inspired by some of these!

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Cheers

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Thanksgiving Week

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Happy Thanksgiving week!  Jake and I took the red eye to New Orleans on Monday night to be here with his family for the holiday and it’s a little different than what we normally do, but I’m happy to be in such an amazing city with loved ones.  I just wanted to pass along the Fall / Winter Entertaining Guide I put together for ONEHOPE in case you were looking for any more recipe ideas for tomorrow.  There are definitely some yummy ones in there so check it out.  All of the images from that shoot can be seen here so be sure to visit there for some more decor tips and ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Meg

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Images by Brian Tropiano.

Butternut Squash Soup

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One of the many things I love about fall is eating seasonally and experimenting with fall flavors.  Fall is the perfect time to experiment with butternut squash, figs, root vegetables and all sorts of yummy produce and I always find myself craving a great, hearty soup around this time of the year.  A quick internet search for a great butternut squash soup recipe lead me to this with an almost perfect 5 star review average with over 1,900 reviews (!!!).  I knew I had to give it a try.  I adjusted it a tiny bit to make it slightly healthier and the end result was nothing short of incredible.  We served it with warm sliced sourdough bread and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the hint of spice and creamy, buttery flavor one weekend when we had friends in town and we were thrilled with their feedback. This is something really great to make on a cool fall weekend so I wanted to pass it along.  Cheers!

Ingredients

6 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
4 tablespoons butter
1 5lb. butternut squash
3 cups water
4 chicken bullion cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 8oz package reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Apple Topping

1 apple diced (I used a fuji apple)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Season with garlic salt and olive oil.  Place in a baking dish cut side down and fill dish with 1″ of water.

2.  Roast squash for 45 minutes or until soft and tender.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

3.  Once squash is cool enough to handle, remove skin, discard seeds and dice remaining squash.

4..  In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

5.  Puree squash and cream cheese using a hand blender until smooth.  Heat for 10 more minutes (do not boil).

Directions for Apple Topping

1.  In a small pan, heat butter until melted.

2.  Add apple and brown sugar.  Saute on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

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I’m Back!

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Huge apologies for being MIA this past week, but my computer that I’ve had since design school finally kicked it.  And by “kicked it” I mean that it took 90 minutes to resize 10 photos last week, I could feel my stomach ulcer attacking my insides and I was about to be hairless if I didn’t start PULLING OUT MY HAIR in frustration and stress.  I finally caved and got a brand spanking new computer that feels like absolute lightning and my life is complete again.  Transferring files, fonts and contents has been a bit of a process while trying to keep up with holiday madness already happening at work, but I’m back with some SUPER fun content lined up for this week and next.  I can’t wait to share :-)  Thanks for your patience!

PS: This image reminds me that my favorite time of the year is almost here, gets me excited to wrap presents for loved ones and gets my creative juices flowing.  Isn’t it so wonderfully simplistic and just perfect?! Image via.

Case of the Mondays

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{image via}

Is it just me or did this feel like the shortest weekend ever?  A little housework, a short jog, some cooking/baking, HOMELAND (of course) and it was over in a snap.  It finally felt like fall yesterday and I was actually starting to feel warm, fuzzy and festive which has been tough with 80+ degree temps up until now.  This morning I woke up to find that a city of ants had somehow finagled their way in to my freshly baked carrot bread, dropped a nail polish in the bathroom that shattered everywhere subsequently destroyed my rug, favorite PJs and more…. and then spilled coffee all over myself enroute to the office.  Patience officially tested!

Here are a few things that are keeping me smiling on this *terrific* Monday morning:

-  This looks absolutely delicious – can’t wait to try it this week!
–  West Elm is having a sale (!) so I obviously had to take advantage.  Super excited about this coffee table that is currently on its way to my living room :-D
–  Oh and this lamp?  YES.  Reminds me of this one that Target didn’t order enough of has been out of since it hit shelves.
– I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with this scarf, but I love it.  Tassels for the win.
These earrings… say yes to mixed metals.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Chardonnay + Cheese

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When I first started working for a wine company, I knew absolutely nothing about wine beyond the fact that I liked to drink it.  I had no formal education in wine and the extent of my experience with it was picking up the cheapest or prettiest + cheapest combination bottle in my local market.  Like a lot of early wine drinkers, I couldn’t differentiate between varietals, wasn’t quite sure which wines pair with what foods and couldn’t appreciate any of the complexities that I now seek in my fermented grapes.  While most of the people that work in our company don’t fall in the “wine snob” category, we still experience know-it-alls (or think they know-it-all) wine snobs at events and in meetings with buyers which makes the industry intimidating and honestly, annoying at times.  My personal opinion is that wine is a subjective experience that is supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be an experience.  Certain wines will enhance certain flavors in certain foods, but learning it through experience rather than studying wine notes from a book is really what this industry should be all about.  No two palates are the same and everyone is going to taste wine differently which is exactly what makes it so fun and personal.

This division of our company puts on wine tastings in the customer’s preferred setting of choice and while some of our reps have a ton of wine experience, many of them don’t and are eager to learn what to serve at their tastings and what favors are going to pair the best with each wine.  Last month our focus was Chardonnay so I had some serious fun putting together a cheese plate and easy apps that would be delicious with Chard.  I thought I’d pass it along just in case anyone is interested in learning more about what to pair with Chardonnay.  Check it out below :-)

CREATING THE PERFECT CHARDONNAY CHEESE PLATE

When you think of a wine party, the most obvious food pairing is cheese.  However, with Chardonnay, cheese isn’t always the easiest to pair with a varietal that has such incredible stylistic range.  While some chardonnays are extremely fruity and citrusy, others are oaky and buttery which can compete with the creamy cheeses you might initially think to pair with a white wine.  I explored a few different cheeses to find the best combination with our Chardonnay that offers a perfectly balanced profile of fruit and oak.  As told by our Sommelier:

With most Chardonnays, you get some green apple, a little citrus, and depending on the producer either no or tons of oak and malolactic fermentation to give it that buttered popcorn style. Our Chardonnay undergoes an extremely cold, slow fermentation that extracts tons of tropical fruit character out of this wine. Scents of pineapple, banana, white peach and pear jump out of the glass at me when I pour it. It spends about six months in American oak, but only 20% new oak. The rest of the barrels are all 2-3 years old so it is more for a textural component rather than making the wine overly oaky. You get some notes of vanilla and toasted coconut, but it is definitely in balance with the fruit character of the wine.

CHEESE: I sought to find the best cheese to pair with our style Chardonnay and found a few favorites: Mt. Tam, a brie-style triple cream crafted by Cowgirl Creamery in California.  Another favorite was Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar which is nutty in flavor and has a similar consistency to parmesan while being much more mild to taste – perfect for our style Chardonnay.  The two can be purchased in a set from Cowgirl Creamery that also includes and absolutely unbelievable Echo Mountain Blue Cheese (still delicious with our Chardonnay when drizzled in a little honey and perfect for the reds at your wine tasting tasting), or can be ordered individually as well.  If you’re looking for less expensive options, both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a wide variety of double-triple cream, brie and mild-medium cheddar cheeses that will be perfect for pairing with Chardonnay.

OTHER BITES TO INCLUDE: In my opinion, creating the perfect cheese plate is all about striking a balance between cheeses and other small bites that enhance the flavors of your wine.  Some crackers and perhaps a loaf of fresh French Bread are key.  The fig spread and honey found in both our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages are essential for getting that sweeter balance and will make cheeses like a tangy blue cheese more approachable for those who might not love an extra sharp cheese on its own.  Figs are also particularly delicious with our Chardonnay and can be served with any cheese imaginable all the way from a creamy brie to an aged, extra sharp cheddar or parmesan.  An artichoke spread (also found in both our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages) offers a savory yet citrusy touch while olive oil is a natural pairing and will give your guests something light to dip their bread in when they’ve indulged in enough cheese ;-)

PS: From a gorgeous marble cheese board to honey, olive oil, salami, cheese knives, and more, our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages offer a one stop shop for all of the goodies you will need to create the perfect wine and cheese party.  Cheers!