Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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Sweet Crepes with Chocolate Mousse

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. Today, I am sharing a fun recipe from Annette’s archives perfect for Valentine’s Day this weekend.

Even though Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, my husband and I have decided to skip the hoopla and stay home instead. However, staying in doesn’t have to be boring and bland, right? I discovered this recipe for sweet crepes, and I thought it would be such a fun way cook something together in the kitchen and get a sweet result in the end.

Here’s a recipe for sweet crepes with chocolate mousse. Let us know if you give it a try!

xo,

Nicole

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
For the crepes, you will need:
– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare:

Combine the milk, eggs and melted butter in a blender and puree for 10 seconds. Add the flour and salt and blend again until smooth.

Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

For the mousse, you will need:
– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn

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Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

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If you’re joining your girlfriends later this week for a little Galentine’s Day celebration, I wanted to share a quick and festive pomegranate punch for the big day. Think of this sparkling treat like a mimosa, but instead of orange juice, use a yummy mixture of pomegranate and grapefruit juice. The result is a pink mimosa that is perfectly ladylike…but let’s be real, I’m sure guys will love it too.

Let me know if you give it a try for Galentine’s Day, or any other event coming up this spring.

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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Galentine’s Day Cocktail: Pink Mimosa

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Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope coined the term “Galentine’s Day” eight years ago, and ever since it’s become just as much a part of Valentine’s Day traditions as chocolates. A few years ago, I teamed-up with a few of my favorite gals for a Galentine’s Day brunch full of festive fun and of course, lots of pink.

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One of my favorite results of that party was a new twist on a classic drink: the pink mimosa. Made with pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and bubbly, this pink mimosa is perfectly ladylike, but I’m sure guys will love it too.

Let me know if you give it a try for Galentine’s Day, or any other event coming up this spring.

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Grapefruit and Pomegranate Mimosas
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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How to Elevate Boxed Cake Mix, Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s friend and web-manager, and I’m back with a fun, festive post for Valentine’s Day. Let’s start at the beginning: I am a pretty good cook! I enjoy putting my own twists on recipes, and my specialties are sauces and condiments. I make a mean aioli.

That said, I am absolutely not a baker. It’s just not my forte. I enjoy adding a dash of this or a pinch of that here and there, so the precision of baking just isn’t my thing. But, since I love chocolate, cookies, and creme brûlée just as much as the next gal, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate baking…kind of. My current favorite trick: elevating boxed cake mix.

While you can elevate boxed cake mix many different ways, there are two no-fail ways to take boxed mix from drab to fab. First, bake it in a fun dish.

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This serves two purposes: one, it instantly makes the cake look like you spent more time on it. Two, you can serve your cake directly from the dish. Presentation is huge!

I picked up these ceramic bakers from HomeGoods for a steal. One thing to remember: if you are baking in ceramic, you have to watch the cooking time. I added 5 minutes to the cooking time of the Godiva boxed mix I picked up, but I kept a keen eye on the cake the entire time it was baking.

Another way to elevate boxed cake mix? Make your own fabulous icing. Icing is so easy. Truly. It requires just a few ingredients (namely butter and sugar). I used a recipe found on Jenny Steffens’ blog for a chocolate glaze. It tastes almost exactly like your grandmother’s Texas sheet cake icing and by the end of the afternoon, I was eating it with a spoon. Whoops! Note: I used 2 cups of powdered sugar when I made mine.

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For even more festive fun, you can add a creative design using sprinkles or chocolate pearls – which will only make it look even LESS like boxed cake (win!).

I love the idea of impressing your significant other or girlfriends with a fun, semi-homemade cake like this one for Valentine’s Day. They’ll all be impressed, and you’ll be stress-free!

xo, Nicole

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