August 7, 2017

A Canadian Summer

For 10 years as a kid, I spent my summers at overnight camp. It’s hard for me to describe, but those 10 summers were the best of my life. The friends I made, the experiences I had, the sports I played and the independence I gained was invaluable.

This summer I sent my older son Gavin to sleep away camp for his first time for a month. It was heartbreaking to send my baby away. I couldn’t breathe with him gone. However, I knew I was giving him the greatest gift and experience he could ever have.

During the one month period that he is gone, the camp hosts a visitors day for parents and families to come and visit their children. The following week, Gavin was going to be coming home so I decided to rent a cottage near the camp for the week instead of flying back and forth between Toronto and New York.

When we first spotted Gavin on Visitors day we grabbed him so tight and cried tears of joy. It was an emotional roller coaster for us all. Gavin was so proud to show us around camp, introduce us to his friends and show us what he had learned over the past few weeks. His favorite and most proud accomplishment was learning to water ski.

My sister has a friend who rented a cottage in the same area that we were looking for a place so she recommended that cottage to us and we got super lucky in booking it!

The cottage was unreal, nestled right in front of the lake.  The owner is totally OCD like me so everything was super organized and perfectly placed.

My sister, her husband and daughter (Baby Dylan!) came to the cottage for a few days. Then my friend Ady spent another few days with me before I picked up Gavin to come home for the rest of the summer.

The quality time Luke got with his cousin Dylan was so special. “Uke” she kept calling as she was chasing him around. We don’t live in the same country so we cherish this time together!

We BBQ’d, made bonfires, took the paddleboat and canoe out in the lake and spent the evenings gazing at the stars and drank rosé all day.

When I picked up Gavin I got to learn all about his time at camp and it sounded like he had the most wonderful time. He was exhausted, filthy and even a little bit rattled over all the new experiences. Needless to say, summer camp started a beautiful tradition and legacy for many years to come.

xx, Seri
1 comments
Party conversation
  1. Marissa

    Looks like camp packing will be a summer tradition! Better start to think about what to hide in his bag this summer!

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August 4, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Here’s a perfect example of baking something that I didn’t need, but was happy to stuff into my face. Guys, I have to fit into a very tight dress for my other son’s wedding in five weeks. Although there are healthy ingredients in this recipe, I went overboard and added streusel and drizzle to what would have been an acceptable muffin recipe.

Okay, so streusel and drizzle definitely takes this to the NEXT LEVEL, but really? I may has well have just plunked two of these bad boys directly on my hips before they passed through my lips.

Now, as for the size of these muffins? Well, they certainly ain’t muffkins. I like them BIG. Why? Why not?

Is there anything better than a muffin top? With the exception of one that sticks out if your pants are too tight (which may happen if you scarf down a few of these – consider yourself warned).

I absolutely love fresh peach season and throwing in the dried dates into this recipe was a nice twist. I’m getting tired of adding the usual cranberries and raisins to things. Aren’t you?

Oh yes! What about this muffin pan? The nice folks at USA PAN sent this to me a few months ago (pre-demolition), and I have been saving it until we finished the kitchen and had our ovens in full gear. I’m sure you can imagine how many muffin tins I have collected over the years, but this one is special. First of all, it has an amazing design. Love the stripes! Secondly, although I’m always cautious to either spray or line my muffin tins, this pan didn’t need ANYTHING because it’s super non-stick. My muffins practically fell out on the floor when I released them. Five second rule applies here if you happen to drop one.

Speaking of which, I get many requests about freezing baked goods. These muffins are perfect to pop in the freezer for up to three months or they will stay fresh in an airtight container for three days. Having said that, why is it that I never have to freeze anything? Most likely because I either take my goodies to the office OR I polish them off myself before they have a chance to make it into the freezer.

There are no secret ingredients in this muffin recipe. Just plain old fashioned DA BOMB diggity peachy keen muffins here.  Ready, set, let’s get baking!

For the streusel topping
– ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
– ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

For the muffins
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup rolled oats,quick cooking
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup milk (almond, rice or soy will work too)
– ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 3 fresh peaches peeled and diced into small cubes
– ½ cup chopped dried dates

For the vanilla drizzle
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 3 tablespoons milk
– ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) To make the streusel topping, in a large bowl combine both sugars, cinnamon, melted butter and flour until the mixture is very crumbly. Set aside or place in fridge while making your muffin batter to keep the streusel from getting too warm.
2) Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray; set aside.
3) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the rolled oats and set aside.
4) In a large bowl using an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and both sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.
5) Add in the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Turn mixer off and set batter aside. In a large measuring cup add the milk and sour cream; whisk well to combine; set aside. With the mixer speed set to low; alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Be sure not to over mix. With the mixer turned off, add in the diced peaches and dates and use a spatula to gently fold the fresh and dried fruit into the batter just until incorporated.
6) Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Don’t be shy, fill those tins to the brim. Top each muffin cup with about 3 tablespoons of crumb topping.
7) Bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Once the muffins have cooled completely, make your drizzle by combining the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle over each muffin and let set. These freeze well, but I’m going to be honest here, there won’t be any left to freeze once you get your hands on these. Makes 8-12 large muffins.

xx, Debi
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August 3, 2017

A Parisian themed Bridal Shower

Hosted by the bride’s mother and soon-to-be mother in law, we celebrated a Parisian-inspired bridal shower lunch at a quaint restaurant in Toronto’s Distillery District. Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie is a venue fit for a chic event like this one. The room is decked out in vintage décor, art, and mirrors. The beautiful windows, lighting, and ceilings make the space charming and full of character.

Guests enjoyed a lovely three-course lunch. Guests could choose to start with either a tomato soup or Caesar salad. The main course was a choice between salmon or chicken. And finally, the sweetest course of all was a maraschino cherry tartlet, with vanilla and salted caramel ice cream.

This shower will filled with many traditional-game-loving guests, but we kept it simple and only played a few games that didn’t really involve much movement. Games were organized at each guests’ seat and they were simple and sweet. One of our favorites was He Said, She Said. The game card had a variety of different statements and guests had to guess who they thought said each – the bride or the groom! Another crowd pleaser was the Date Night Jar. Guests were able to write a fun date idea for the happy couple and place them in a jar for the bride and groom to use when they’re stuck for a date idea! 

The dessert table was created with a two-tiered semi naked cake as the focal point. Also included on the sweet table was a variety of cookies and squares made for the taking. There were to-go containers ready for the ladies to pack up as many cookies as they could fit!

The lovely groom-to-be popped in at the end for a quick hello and flower drop off. 

At the end of the party guests walked away with “thank you” succulents potted in gold sprayed terra cotta pots. It was the perfect send off to the most perfect shower.

Party Credits
Photography – Magnolia Studios
Venue – Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Floral Design – Coriander Girl
Invitations, Place cards, Menus – Minted
Cake – Nutmeg Bakeshop 
Event Planning and Styling – Daniella Visconti for Little Miss Party and Debi Traub of Simply Beautiful Eating

xx, Seri
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August 2, 2017

Women who Inspire

After having children I met a few fellow moms through preschool and clients of Little Miss Party Planner, whom I bonded with immediately. Every one of them, is running their own business.

As always, I designed and ordered invitations for Colette to mail to the list of guests from Minted. They have the best selection of invites especially when you’re looking for something sophisticated and classy.

I connected most with women who were inspiring and motivating to me and through each of them I met so many more fabulous women.

It’s remarkable how much talent there is out there and the best part is sharing it with each other.

Just before the summer, my dear friend, Colette Lettieri who has a beautiful home in Westhampton and asked me if I’d like to join her in hosting a party for a group of fabulous women.  Of course I said, YES!

It was a perfect day for rosé and brunch by the pool. I styled the backyard with balloon garlands and florals centering the barcart and creating a stage for photos.

We worked with Sophie from Patio Artistry for floral arrangements in my favorite Dwell vases that I placed around the backyard.

Colette is friends with this wonderful chef, Carol Galanty who came in to make a delicious spread of brunch for the ladies. Carol also gave the guests a cooking demo making summer rolls with her beautiful daughter.  The recipe was super easy to mimic at home so everyone went home with new information that they could use after the party.

Another friend of Colette’s, Christie Hoyt, is a personal fitness trainer and sommelier! Christie worked with Carol to set a Belini bar with an assortment of fresh squeezed juices. Christie also filled the bar cart with tons of rosé which was so nice to sip on that beautiful day.

You know I have a deep obsession with the balloon garlands from One Stylish Party so when I saw the columns on the deck in Colette’s backyard I just to doll them up with tons of balloons!  I styled in fresh florals all through the balloons and added some stems into the bar cart for an unexpected look.

There were so many wonderful woman to chat with at the party and I walked away with tons of  new contacts, an awesome goodie bag and a few new friends. Was a pretty perfect party with Women Who Inspire.

Party Credits
Host and Lifestyle consultant: Colette Lettieri
Photography:  Striffler Photo
Sommelier & Personal fitness trainer:  Christie Hoyt
Catering:  Carol Galanty
Balloon Garlands:  One Stylish Party
Invitation:  Minted
Flowers: Patio Artistry

xx, Seri
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August 1, 2017

A Boozy Limeade Slushy

This whole boozy slushy trend is absolutely brilliant, in my opinion.  Who doesn’t want to enjoy a cocktail that resembles a slurpy and gives you a slight buzz?

For our most recent How to Host Video,  Natalie mixed us up the most DELICIOUS Boozy Limeade Slushy, which was an absolute hit at the bridal shower.  Natalie was kind enough to share her recipe with us so you all can enjoy it at home!

Here’s what you need:
-can of frozen limeade
-your favorite vodka (we used Tito’s)
-simple syrup
-sparkling water or seltzer
-ice
-fresh limes
-blender

Here’s what to do:
1) In a blender, combine the full can of frozen limeade, 5 oz. vodka, 2 oz. simple syrup, 4 cups of ice and 1 cups sparkling water/ seltzer.  Blend until you’ve reached desired consistency.
2) Scoop blended mixture into each cocktail glass.


3) Slice up a fresh lime and garnish each glass.  Add a straw, and sip!

You. Are. Welcome.

Until next week… Cheers!

xx, Abby
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