Monday, September 18, 2017

SHOWER IDEA // BUILD YOUR OWN FRAGRANCE BAR

Make Your Own Perfume Oil, Custom Scent, Signature Scent

Perhaps the only positive from my blog hiatus was that I have a backlog of some really good stuff to share with you - one of which is the build your own fragrance bar I pulled together for my sister in law's bridal shower. Tasked with styling up the party and incorporating an activity of the non-game variety, I created a fragrance bar that would address both. This decorative assembly of oils, pipettes and pretty packaging allowed guests to mingle and create something useful and personal to take home from the shower. In today's post, I'm showing you how you too can create a similar build-your-own fragrance oil bar set up for your shower guests. I did all the legwork for you and am sharing my well researched resources and experience to make your set up easy and more affordable.

Shower Idea, Perfume Bar

In approaching set up, you'll want to focus on both the aesthetics and self-serve quality, lest you'll need to station an attendant at the table to direct guests on how to assemble for the duration of the party. Know up front that it will be helpful to have someone who knows what they are doing on hand to get guests going. But I found that a quick guide to assembly, framed and placed front and center on the bar went a long way to encourage guests to create and experiment on their own. Also helpful- create and publish 3-5 pre-tested scent recipes for guests who want to participate, but are not feeling particularly experimental.

Creating your fragrance oil blends

Your fragrance oils will need to be made ahead of the party. These are the pretty bottles from which guests will layer together in a roller bottle to create their own personal scent. To create these, I added therapeutic / cosmetic grade essential oils to each bottle filled with a carrier oil - in this case sweet almond oil. Be cautious - you do not want oils that are solely used in candle making. These may contain other ingredients that you don't want to put on your body. There is a bit of science involved in this step and I am not an expert. However, I will refer you to a couple of expert resources here and here that will guide you through the steps. Safety first - I would always err on the side of caution for a skin safe ratio (in this case, essential oil to carrier oil) and keep your pre-blended solution at the lowest recommended percentage. Remember, guests will be layering multiple scents anyway so a blend that seems very light at first will build in intensity within the roller.

You'll note the bottles are relatively full above. Unless you plan to use these again at another party or have more than 50 guests, I would suggest you only fill these to half to save yourself the extra cost. We had 50 guests and bottles were hardly depleted. I recommend you use a 4oz bottle filled 3/4 full or an 8 oz bottle (like we did) filled to half with your carrier oil. It will still present nicely but you won't have as much waste.

Shower Idea, Perfume Oils

Selecting your oils

I am sharing the list of oil blends I created and featured at our fragrance bar and some notes on how to blend. These are presented in order - so the base note would go into the roller bottle first, then the heart and finally the top note. You don't have to use the scents I used - there are many others to select from. Essential oils have become increasingly popular for use in home diffusers so you may even already have some of these in your oil collection. Brand selection is somewhat controversial depending upon who you talk to and cost can really add up.

That said, I thought this collection was reasonably priced and offered a nice array of different scents to build on. 

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Table Essentials

Blending oils can get messy so consider that as you plan your set up. You will want to be sure you your fragrance bar is not in a carpeted area so that any spills might be easily cleaned up. Linens will be soiled (as I learned) so hard surfaces like the tile samples I put to use above went a long way in both presentation and maintenance. Open the bottles up and present them with ready to use pipettes. These pipettes should remain in each bottle - guests should not use them in different bottles as scents will cross pollinate. Keep in mind that guests will also want to sample the scent before they commit to it, so sample cards available on the table (and a receptacle for used cards) will be helpful. 

Label your bottles using tags you create or those generated by a label maker as I did. Coffee beans are also useful to guests who want to clear their olfactory palette before inhaling another scent.
Make Your Own Perfume Oils
(Complete list of sources below!)

Packaging for Take Home

We actually hosted this shower close to Christmas time and I found many guests were creating a personalized scent for gift giving. Regardless, its a nice touch to send guests home with some swag in a pretty package.  Clear plastic cylinders (see below!) often used for candy packaging were a perfect solution. Pre-stuffed with a little wood excelsior, the rollers slid easily into the cylinder before being capped and sealed with some decorative washi tape.


Make Your Own Perfume Oil

The DIY fragrance bar was a hit at the shower. Just ahead of the upcoming wedding, there were so many guests meeting each other for the first time and this non-game activity encouraged mingling and interaction. It was fun, made a decorative statement and guests got something useful to take home.

Source List

Bottles - these are the ones used above, but these would also be extra pretty!



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Arrangement of the Month: September 2017

White Floral Arrangement, Hydrangea and Roses

Full of fluffy white hydrangea and roses, this month's floral arrangement represents a clean slate as the season changes from summer to fall. Too busy with the getting back to business, business, I plucked these right from the grocery store and created a statement arrangement where we'd be greeted at each trip in and out the door. Despite a methodical selection of buds, it's the greenery that really steals the show here. Our garden is turning over as well, so pruned cuttings from our formerly out of control Lady Banks climbing rose were also added in for some extra dangling drama. 
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Friday, September 8, 2017

REAL LIFE: END OF SUMMER MUSINGS


Palm Tree on the beach, Single Palm Tree

I've always been fond of this little limbo-land time lapse between summer and fall. For so many years, it's signaled renewal much more positively to me than the post-holiday void of January, when the wallet is spare and the diet and gym membership beckon. Like clockwork every September, there's a bustle of activity around back to school and the forming of game plans that lead into the holidays. There's the changing of the wardrobe, the opening of the windows once again, a difference in the way the light washes across the room and a cozy, but spirited energy that I feel only fall can bring.

The inner nerd in me also craves a bit of back-to-productivity. The downtime that comes with summer fun is good for all of us, but I'm happiest when I'm on schedule. Truth be told, my fall calendar is already filled out with things I hope to accomplish before the year officially ends in January - personal goals, plans for my online shop, Bird + Belle and around the house.  I guess I'm not too far away from that kid who was once first out the door with my packed-to-the-gills book-bag on the first day of school after all.

Reflecting a bit, this summer was good to me. We finished our kitchen remodel just before the calendar turned over, spent a lot of time in the pool, threw a couple of good parties and closed it all out with a weeklong vacation by the beach with friends who feel like family.  Before our extended crew arrived, Ryan and I had a few days alone on a mostly empty beach with little Valentino and to me, it was some of the very best days of this year. After 18 years together, we have an easy vacation cadence that we're quick to settle into once we arrive and its a comforting thing to know that we can fall back into sync that easily, especially when the demands of the work week can often take us off track. So the time alone was a good chance to regroup and reconnect with my little family and I'm moving into this next season fueled by that.

Speaking of family... I feel like there is something I've wanted to say for some time, but I've hesitated over relevance to this blog and a reluctancy to disclose something so private. Still, it has impacted my time here, resulting in a year long blog hiatus and all too infrequent posts. So for that reason alone, it feels somewhat remiss to not mention it. For the past 3 years, we've been trying for baby - 3 years this fall in fact. In that one regard, the transition into this new season is a bit of a bittersweet milestone. For much of this time, I've retreated and internalized the frustration, loneliness and anguish that comes with all that, not wanting to make others uncomfortable by discussing it or appear as though I was appealing for sympathy.  My sole goal in raising it now is certainly not to do either of those things, but to sort of release a bit of that internalized struggle out into the wild, to vent the steam in the pot so to speak in a healthy way. I've opened up in other ways recently and I've actually found some catharsis in doing so. I've also realized that one couple's experience with infertility is not someone else's either, so while it's important to recognize that others are going through it too, it can be somewhat difficult to connect through details, something that is oddly isolating on both ends. The reality of that might keep me on the fence from talking about it more here (or maybe it wont - maybe its something that should be talked about to break down all those walls). But I'll just say simply that where I am now with this is that I want to be more open about it as my current reality behind the pretty Instagram pictures and recipe posts. There are scenic seafood boils on the beach, busy remodels and fully decked out parties being had. But there will always be the behind the scenes happenings too and I wouldn't want anybody to misinterpret all that for the real-life human stuff.





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Friday, August 25, 2017

Cocktails with the Mister // Make this Rose Mojito

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe
****Among my husband's greatest talents is his ability to make a very drinkable cocktail. He never worked professionally as a bartender, but at any house gathering, you'd be sure to find him mixing away at the bar for a thirsty line up of our friends who put their faith in him to "surprise them" with something particularly delectable... and he always delivers. Never too tart, never too sweet, never too strong.  The glass in hand is without fail the one you didn't even know you wanted. 
So I too asked if he would surprise me with a monthly recipe and feature it here on the blog. So today, we're kicking off 'Monthly Cocktail with the Mister', where he will ideate and mix you up a drink just in time for the weekend happy hour. ***

It's not uncommon for my wife and I to be out in a local restaurant and for her to request I 'figure out how to make this' cocktail she's sipping eagerly through her straw. Such was the day she returned from shopping and dropped a similar request to deconstruct a drink she had at the new upstairs bar over at our local Nordstrom. The drink is known as "Vine Street' on their menu and has both the flavors of a glass or rose and a minty mojito. Ingredients (though not the measurements) are listed on the menu and they probably would have been kind enough to tell her how to make it if she had asked. Nevertheless one Sunday afternoon I set out to make her my interpretation of that cocktail, which emerged as a Rose Mojito.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

She didn't believe me, but it's important to measure for this one so that you get the right ratio of vodka to rose. I also added an additional ingredient not found on the menu, but one that became immediately important to help balance the heat of all that alcohol out in the drink - simple syrup.  I could only guess that the restaurant used a slightly sweeter rose or prosecco in their version. You have some flexibility when it comes to the grapes and mint - add a little more or less according to your own tastes. When shaken, the grapes and mint flake off into the mixture and end up in your glass - much like those little flakes of ice in a martini that always seem to make so good.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Once shaken, the foamy elixir is strained and served over ice and then garnished with a skewered assembly of grapes and mint after finishing with floater splash of prosecco that gives it a nice soda like fizz in the finish.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Recipe for Rose Mojito
Recipe by Ryan Neally for Holtwood Hipster


Ingredients:
2.5 oz. Rose Wine
1 oz. Vodka
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
12 grapes (10 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
6-8 leaves of mint
Squeeze of Lime
Splash of Prosecco

In a cocktail shaker, muddle grapes and mint, along with your simple syrup. Muddle well so you get all the juice out of those grapes and release the mint by breaking it up.

Add your vodka, rose and squeeze of lime to the shaker. Cover and shake well.

Prepare your glass of ice. I like to use crushed ice for this drink.

Strain the mixture over the ice, making sure to shake the flaky remnants of the mint and grapes through the strainer holes into your glass. Finish with a splash of prosecco and skewer of grapes and mint.


Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

There are quite a few bottles involved in this drink, but capped well - the rose and prosecco will save for a couple of days in the fridge. Cheers!



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