Tips On Being A Good Host From Houzz

file4051347375805With the Labor Day weekend coming up lots of people will be traveling to get in their last bit of summer vacation in. According to AAA Travel, 34.7 million people are expected to drive 50 miles—or more—this weekend. About 86 percent of Americans will be taking one final road trip before school is back in session. That means lots of us will either be house guests or hosts in the next few days. Hosting guests can be fun and gratifying, but also a little stressful Houzz  has some great tips for being a good host to help you and your guests have a great weekend. You can read the whole article here, but some of the best tips are:

Check off guest room essentials. Your guest room doesn’t have to rival the Ritz-Carlton hotel, but the space should offer your guests comfort and coziness. Fresh sheets, and extra pillow and blanket, a wastebasket, and a cleared space, shelf or drawer for them to store their things.

Reconfirm. Some flexibility is fine with close friends, but make sure that you are all on the same page as to when your guests will arrive — and leave.

Ask About Allergies. You don’t want to have a guest sneezing all weekend because of your pet. And you don’t want to plan a clam bake for some someone with shellfish allergies.

Let Your Guests In On The Plans. Tell your guests in advnace if you are making reservations or have physical activities planned so they can pack accordingly.

Explain Your House. You are used to your houses quirks, but they are all new to your guests. Make sure they know how to work your cable, have the wifi password, if any cabinets have hard to work latches, or if there is a trick to getting the right temperature in the shower.

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Wedding Wednesday: Succulent Bridal Bouquets

4838996111_26606f3394_zAs we browse wedding blogs and Pinterest looking at different wedding ideas and inspirations, we are noticing a trend in both bouquets and centerpieces — using succulents in addition to or in place of more traditional flowers, like this bridal bouquet made by the very talented Ashley of and shot as part of a Poser: Exposed wedding workshop. While succulents — which include aloe plants, cactus plants, snake plants, donkey’s tail and agaves — are better known for being hardy than being beautiful, they can have their own quiet beauty, with colors ranging from blue-green, to chartreuse, many shades of pink, red, yellow, glowing white, deep burgundy, and nearly black. Unlike more fragile flowers, succulents can live out of water for several weeks so you can have the bouquet made in advance and don’t have to worry about wilting during the ceremony or reception. Some couples also like the symbolism of something  so strong, hearty and enduring being part of the wedding, and after the big day is done, the succulents can be replanted and serve as sort of a living memento. What do you think of replacing the roses and carrying a Christmas cactus down the aisle?

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How To Throw A Great Emmy Party Tonight



Are you planning to watch the Emmy Awards tonight? Awards shows are always a great excuse for a party, but these events don’t have to be high pressure, especially since the Emmy’s are on a Monday this year. My friends and I are famous for what we call our “slacker Oscar party” where we order in pizza and keep the dress code super casual. What to serve? Dips are always great party food. Bowls of olives and nuts. Plates and platters of cheeses and charcuterie. Here are some of my favorite party food recipes:

Gazpacho Dip Recipe

Salsa Dip

Deviled Eggs

Green Pea Hummus

Creative Popcorn Flavors

What are you planning to serve?

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Meatball Fridays

20_Salt-Table-SettingYou may have noticed lots of people posting links on Facebook and Twitter to an article on the Serious Eats food blog called Friday Night Meatballs: How to Change Your Life With Pasta. The author and her husband were feeling socially isolated — between work and the obligations of raising kids, it’s so easy to get caught up in being too busy to connect with your friends on a regular basis. The couple decided to institute a weekly night — one night a week, for up to 10 friends and their kids. On the menu — meatballs and pasta. They announced it on Facebook saying “Starting next Friday, we’re cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who’d like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who’d like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table. We’ll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don’t have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good Scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We’ll just have to find out. This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village. You’re invited.”

What they found out was that great things happen when you simply sit at a table and share a meal. Not only did they get to spend more time with friends, in a relaxed situation where no one had to worry about paying the bill or rushing home for the babysitter, but their friends got to know each other. Within the rotating guest list, new friendships were born, singles became couples and professional connections were made. It’s a lovely story, and reminds me of why I design tableware. Nothing brings people together like sharing a meal and making it simply special.

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Wedding Wednesday: Do Bigger Weddings Mean Happier Marriages


There’s now a scientific reason to increase your guest list at your wedding. A recent study by a pair of psychology researchers from the University of Denver has found that larger weddings may mean stronger marriages.

The study, called the Relationship Development Study, followed 418 people all of whom were single and between the ages of 18 and 40 when they joined the study in 2007 and 2008. Five years later when the researchers checked in with them, all 418 of the participants had gotten married.  The goal of the study was to identify what patterns of behavior tended to set people up for successful and fulfilling marriages. The researchers asked study the participants questions about their marital happiness, how much they confided in each other, if they believed or felt that things were going well in the relationship, and whether or not they had thoughts of divorce. The researchers considered those who ranked in the top 40%  to have “high-quality marriages.”

One of the things that top 40% had in common was that they had weddings with 150 or more guests. The researchers found that 47% of couples that got hitched in front of 150 or more guests had high-quality marriages, compared with only 31% of those who had 50 or fewer guests. That means that couples who had big weddings were 52% more likely to have high-quality marriages than couples who had smaller weddings. The researchers mused that perhaps making the promises to each other in such a public way, made people more likely to commit. Or it could be that having a supportive network that is also committed to your marrige provides a couple with more support.

But all is not lost for those who have more intimate weddings… it should be noted that the marital happiness was self-reported by the couples and there is no real way to judge the veracity. And it was only a 5 year study, so no sense yet of how these happy couples fare after 10, 20 or more years.



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