Entertaining & nesting
with do-it-yourself details.

Snowed In with a White Hot Chocolate

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The city of Atlanta is under a layer of ice right now, and I’m snowed in at home. On one hand, I’m going a little stir crazy after two days stuck inside away from the office. But on the other hand, it gives me some time to try some recipies I’ve been putting off.

This homemade white hot chocolate recipe from Gimmie Some Oven has been on my list for too long. So today while we were bundled up inside still trying to conserve our heating, I whipped up a batch of steamy creamy goodness. And it was delicious. So simple too. There’s just three ingredients: milk, vanilla and white chocolate. And only one direction: Mix and heat in a saucepan on the oven.

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» Recipe here: Gimmie Some Oven

It was seriously rich, but the perfect afternoon snack for a cold, icy day. I bet we’ll make this again soon.

Stay warm, wherever you are!

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2014 Minted Wedding Collection

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I can’t believe 2014 is here. It’s time for a fresh start, new resolutions and, oh yeah… I’m getting married! With less than 10 months to go, it’s time for me to start thinking about sending Save-the-Dates.

In a twist of fate, the online stationery marketplace Minted reached out recently to ask if I could check out their wedding collection. There’s so much great stuff out there, you guys. And Minted makes the whole thing look easy. As a graphic designer, I’m really picky about stationery and paper products for our wedding (and everything else in life, really). But Minted is a design marketplace, which means that the products on the site are created and sold by a huge network of independent designers with their own talents and styles. There’s something for everyone.

In fact, once you’ve browsed the huge selection and settled on the perfect design, there’s even more ways to customize it. After adding your own names and photos, you can change the paper, shape and colors of most of the designs. Plus, Minted makes it easy to add backers, envelope liners and coordinating labels.

Save the Date Wedding Suite

I drafted this Save-the-Date suite up in just a few minutes with our engagement photos and wedding details (It’s the New Adventures design). Even with all the bells and whistles—a patterned backer, matching wrap-around return address labels, and a kraft paper envelope with a glittering gold liner—the grand total for 55 professionally designed cards is around $200.

With most designs in Minted’s wedding collection, you can follow up your Save-the-Date with coordinated Invitation suites and thank you notes. It’s like having your own custom stationer, but for way less cash.

The first step to gorgeous wedding paper is, of course, picking the perfect design. Here are a few of my favorite design suites for different personalities:

For a trendsetter and fashionista:  Ombre

Ombre Wedding Invitation Suite

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Have a Very Merry Christmas!

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After growing up in Florida, I’m thankful to spend Christmas this year in an actual winter wonderland with the mister’s family in Michigan. I’m currently cozied up inside on Christmas Eve with an iPad and a can of Vernors Ginger Ale (this stuff is seriously good), peeking out at a frozen lake and trees dusted with snow. I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas today, whatever the temperature!

(The pic above is paper tree decorations from Radostina of Seventy Nine Ideas. I added the text with Over, a photo graphics app for iPad)

Making Spirits Bright

Boozy Gift Bag & Mason Jar Tag

I love Stock the Bar parties. Maybe it’s because my friends and I are at the stage where we already have all we need, but I love the idea of starting newlyweds (or nearly weds) off with a fully-stocked home bar instead of more stuff (I know I’d rather have a full bar than a full tupperware cabinet any day). It’s also a great theme for a housewarming party. Every guest brings along a bottle of their favorite liquor as a gift, and by the end of the night the hosts have a full bar to entertain anytime in their new home.

The easiest way to wrap up a bottle of wine or liquor is my usual method: Stash it into a tall gift bag with some festive tissue. But when a friend announced she and her husband were celebrating their new home with a combination Stock the Bar Housewarming and Christmas Party, I knew I had to create something special. Inspired by the classy brown paper bags they dish out at the liquor store, I decided to go hobo-chic and present this bottle of gin inside a stamped paper bag that was rolled down and tied up with pretty striped ribbon.

(By the way, this gin, The Botanist, came highly recommended by my local liquor guy. Apparently the guys at the distillery first set out to make scotch, but they realized that nobody wanted to buy young scotch. Instead of giving up, they switched the plan to making this really wonderful small-batch, aromatic gin.)

Boozy Gift Bag & Mason Jar Tag

To finish it off, I added a handmade gift tag made from a paint chip palette. This is my new go-to gift tag this holiday season because it’s so easy and impressive. Press an inked rubber stamp (this mason jar is my favorite) across a few colors on the paint strip. Then cut it out, punch a hole or add a grommet, then write your message with permanent marker. Taking calligraphy classes is on my bucket list, but until then, I like to practice copying calligraphy and typography from photos on the internet. I just searched for “making spirits bright calligraphy,” found this image and practiced a bit before inking the tag.

Boozy Gift Bag & Mason Jar TagBoozy Gift Bag & Mason Jar Tag

Boozy Gift Bag & Mason Jar Tag

From the Heart of Haiti to my Living Room

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I’m not one to hawk products. But every once in a while, something comes along that makes sense to share. The Macy’s Heart of Haiti project is one of those. On the surface, it’s a collection of exotic housewares and jewelry available at Macy’s. But after learning about the program and the cause behind it, I realize there’s so much more.

You remember the 2010 earthquake that devestated Haiti? Sure, now that I mentioned it. But for the people of Haiti, they’re forced to remember every day. The Haitian economy was shattered nearly four years ago, and it hasn’t recovered. Garment factories have popped up in an effort to revive the economy, but workers there aren’t getting the wages they’re promised.

So Macy’s partnered up with Fairwinds Trading and more than 200 independent Haitian artists to bring the artists’ handcrafted goods directly to shoppers like you and me in the United States. In exchange, when you purchase a product from Heart of Haiti, Macy’s kicks back half of the wholesale price directly into the hands of the artisan who created it. You get something beautiful, and they get some of the help they need to bounce back.

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Everywhere Society generously hooked me up with a beautiful palm leaf picture frame from the collection to style, shoot and share with you. That’a awesome for two reasons. First, I’m a southern girl, so you know I’m a sucker for all things palm. And second, I got to experience the stellar craftsmanship for myself first-hand. An attached tag tells me that the steel my frame is made of was salvaged from recycled barrels and cut and hammered by hand.

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I’ll be going back to Macy’s for more from the Heart of Haiti line (luckily my local Lenox Mall is one of the participating locations, but the collection is also available online), particularly this gold-striped wooden tray. Happy shopping!

 

Disclosure

I received payment, trade and/or products from Heart of Haiti in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. Affiliates and sponsors are screened to make sure I think they are a great fit for the site. Thank you for supporting the partners that keep Formal Fringe up and running!

S’Mores Toffee Squares

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Certain things can’t be improved upon, but s’mores are definitely not one of them. Case in point: These toffee squares.

They combine everything we all know and love about s’mores—chocolate, graham cracker and the all-important marshmallow—but the whole thing is deconstructed out of sandwich form into bite-able squares that eliminate that whole oozing-out-the-back-when-you-take-a-bite part. And did I mention toffee? Yep. That too.

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The graham cracker in this concoction is coated in delicious sweet-and-nutty toffee crunch before being topped with melty chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Hea-ven. Let me tell you. And they keep well in the fridge for a while, if they even last more than an hour. Better make two batches. The recipe’s below.

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