I snapped a few pictures on my phone on before guests arrived on New Years Eve. It was a fun-filled night with good friends and bubbly drinks. I’m still working on my resolutions for this year; I need a few days to recover from celebrating first!

This weekend I had so much fun hosting a bridal shower for one of my girlfriends. Girly does not even begin to describe it. We had pink lemonade, a cake made out of pink donuts, pink cupcakes with glittery sprinkles, pink rock candy, and lots of sparkly pink and silver garland draped around the room. I had such a fun time preparing for it, and even more fun catching up with the ladies over cocktails and party games.

Some of the images were taken by one of the lovely bridesmaids, Sylive. Check out her work here.

I’m heading down to New York for the weekend and will be attending my very first football game while I’m there. I’m not what you would call a sports person. But tailgating? I can get behind that. Enjoying a cocktail and dinner off the grill in my warm quilted jacket on a cool Fall day — that’s what I’m exciting about. I have been informed that tailgating in the parking lot at an NFL stadium is not going to be the preppy dream that I had envisioned in my imagination — but that’s not going to stop me from bringing my monogrammed boat tote!

From top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Lately I’ve been doing a little thinking on an upcoming bridal shower I’m throwing for a friend with her other bridesmaids; think up a color scheme and theme is so much fun. I thought I’d share the moodboard I’ve been working on — it’s going to be a pink, black and white girly extravaganza. One of my favorite details from these images is the black and white striped table runners — and I whipped up a few this weekend!

Want to see more of my party planning inspirations? Follow my entertaining board on pinterest.

Somehow Halloween snuck up on me this year, is it really the end of October already? To get in the holiday spirit I’ve rounded up a few seasonal decor items to give your place a dash of ghoulish party atmosphere. The glittery hanging bats from West Elm are my absolute favorite!

Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I’m over on Houzz today rounding up one of the most essential elements of your entertaining arsenal: the ice bucket. No bar is completed without one — they add a splash of style and function, so head on over to take a look at 20 of my favorites.

I have to share a few glimpses of a bridal shower I attended this weekend for one of my closest friends. It was a gorgeous Fall day and we had tons of fun celebrating. The mother of bride assembled some amazing bouquets and myself and the other bridesmaids all buzzed around hanging bunting, tying ribbons around mason jars, and mixing up delicious cocktails. It’s always fun to decorate for a party, but it’s infinitely more fun when you know the guest of honor will truly appreciate all of the little details.

I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Next up is Mae, one half of the blogging duo from Here In This House and she’s sharing her San Francisco essentials (I’ve always wanted to go, she’s convinced me a trip here is a must!); Welcome Mae!

It was three years ago this month that I moved from San Francisco to the suburbs of New York City. Despite growing up on the east coast, I have found that something about those ten years in the Bay Area has made me a California Girl. So as I get re-acclimated to life on the east coast (including easy access to bagels and having four seasons a year), I sometimes find myself dreaming of the old California days. On my imaginary journey on this (almost) summer day, these are some of my essentials…

WEARING LAYERS. First, you’ve probably already heard the quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” This observation on the local weather is pretty much on the nose. With fickle fog and quickly changing weather, San Francisco living demands layers of clothing to easily adapt to any weather condition. 

[Okay, you won’t need gloves but don’t discount the value of a lightweight scarf! Image by TheSartorialist via Pinterest]

GETTING OUTDOORS. San Francisco is blessed to have a diversity of environments within an easy driving distance. So it’s no wonder that being outdoors is a huge part of the culture. (One thing you can be sure of in summer is that you won’t be getting much, if any, significant rain to spoil the fun!) Some of my favorite memories of being in nature are hiking amidst the historical redwoods of MuirWoods or enjoying July 4th fireworks (in the freezing cold!) at ChrissyField. But my absolute favorite has to be TildenPark in Berkeley. Tilden offers not only the usual buffet of hiking trails, but also a petting zoo, carousel and miniature steam train ride for the little ones. In the summer, it can be a great place for spotting (but not picking!) wildflowers and having a picnic lunch.

[View of Mt. Diablo from Tilden Park. Image by newbirth on Flickr]

 There were a few things that I wished I had done before leaving, including one of the popular bike/ferry circuits. One option is to rent bikes and take the ferry over to AngelIsland for the day. Another option was to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and then head to one of the many waterfront restaurants for drinks and/or dinner, like the ever popular Sams.

[Image by StudioPhototrope via Flickr]

 EATING GOOD FOOD.  Since I have a deep appreciation for all things food, it should come as no surprise that many of my fond memories revolve around great restaurants and meals in the area. With such incredible access to produce all year-round, eating local and eating fresh becomes second nature. To name all my favorite places would take pages, so here are three that are closest to my heart. Just before we moved, I was able to spend long, leisurely breakfasts (usually the hearty porridge) on the patio at BoulettesLarder in the glorious morning sun watching the tourists pass. The staff in this small cafe was always so friendly and warm.  Breakfast at Boulettes was almost always followed taking in the hard-core gourmet eye candy in the FerryBuilding.

[L to R: The exterior sign. The restaurant’s namesake. The breakfast porridge.]

I would make any excuse to head over to the Cafe at ChezPanisse for Alice Waters’ famed cuisine (more casual and easier to get into than the fixed-seating dining room downstairs). And any errand, big or small, that brought me to that neighborhood (known locally as the GourmetGhetto) would require a stop at the CheeseBoardCollective. And while I’d shop for their cheese – because you must if you’re there — the draw for me was really their baked goods. Chocolatethings, zampanos and one of the Tuesday specials, Berkeleybuns, were not to be missed!

[Working the open kitchen at Chez Panisse Cafe. Image by MatthewHine via Flickr

 But the food I miss most of all is far more humble than these outlets of national renown. In a little town called Kensington, there is a little place called Inn Kensington. This was our Sunday staple: a place we could walk to, that we knew inside and out and where the owners knew our faces. In addition to the requisite eggs and other breakfast staples, they had amazing housemade whole-wheat toast, biscuits and hash browns. I loved that it seemed to only ever be filled by our neighbors. I’m not surprised to see that this hyperlocal institution is still there, even as businesses around them on the tiny Main St. have turned over. I dream, most of all, of one day getting back there. (I sure hope the biscuits are as good as I remember!)

[Downtown Kensington. It’s ain’t big but it’s got heart! Image via MichaelGreenslade

Many thanks to Kate for giving me the opportunity to share my version of the Bay Area with you! It was such a pleasure to be able to revisit my essential spots from the area.  But, as with any list, there are sure to be places that I’ve missed. What are your favorite haunts? Do tell!

I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Elise, one half of the blogging duo from Here In This House is closing out the series with her essentials for a trip to the Panhandle of Florida. Welcome Elise!

Growing up in the Deep South, my family didn’t venture too far for our summer vacations. One spot we visited yearly was the Panhandle of Florida: Destin, Sandestin, Seaside, Grayton Beach, and surrounding areas. Generally this area is referred to as the Emerald Coast for its sandy white beaches and cool green waters (the only of its kind in the continental U.S.). You can stay in a myriad of spots, but generally a beach- or bay-house rental in one of the beaches listed above is the way to go. I don’t get back often enough now, but when I do here is my essential list:

Reading list- Be sure to brush up on some new and classic Southern literature while lounging on the beach or in your bungalow’s hammock. Here are some of my favorites that I would suggest you read or re-read: The Help by Katherine Stockett, South of Broad by Pat Conroy, The Sound & The Fury by William Faulkner, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, & Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race. You can pick up a copy of these or any other book at the fantastic independent book store in Seaside: Sundog Books.

Souvenirs from Alvin’s Island– this kitsch, souvenir shop is quinsentential beach tchotchke shop; pick up a magnet, coffee mug, or alligator head. Bud & Alley’s in Seaside- a classic panhandle open-air restaurant & bar where you should be sure to pick a t-shirt too. It’s part of the open-air market that sells local vendors’ wares. Red Bar in Grayton Beach- a funky little “shack” (no, not the Love Shack but close:) that has good food and live music. Their menu changes daily & is written on a small chalkboard they bring around to your table. Big Kahuna’s Lost Paradise water park in Destin- fun water slides, put-put golf, and rides for the whole family; always tons of fun (still hold some great memories from my childhood). Seaside- rent a bike and explore this “New Urbanist” model of a community. There are adorable vacation homes, a fantastic open air market, and great shops all around the gingerbread-styled town. Schooner’s in Panama City Beach is referred to the “last local beach club” and has live music as well as a great bar and food. Fun times indeed. And if you want to get your family’s photo professionally while you are in the area, I highly recommend a good friend of mine, Elizabeth Laird. She takes amazing photos; just check out her website and you’ll see!

My last recommendation is to remember that the Panhandle is still considered part of the Deep South and it’s culture is closer to a Southern state than the rest of Florida. The people are known for being overly hospitable and accommodating; the pace is slower; families partake in activities together; and the food is fresh, local, and amazing.