Entertaining & nesting
with do-it-yourself details.

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

hearthaiti2

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

SmoresToffee1

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.

SmoresToffee2

SmoresToffee3

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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Gifts for guys: The "Bro"quet

Gifts for Guys: The "Bro"quet

I don’t know about you, but I’m always stuck on what to get my boyfriend for a special day like our dating anniversary or Valentine’s day. Guys have it so easy: Buy flowers, sign a card, rinse and repeat.

But my guy hates cards. And I don’t think he appreciates P.D.F. (public display of flowers) quite the same way that I do. So when his birthday rolled around this year, I decided to scrap the bouquet and go for a broquet.

The bro-quet is like a bouquet’s manly, DIY counterpart. Just like a gorgeous floral arrangement, this crafty gift has major “Wow!”-factor when you leave it for him to find, or drop it off at his office. But instead of flowers and greens, he’ll get to enjoy eating and drinking his favorite candy, liquor and snacks. What more could a guy want?

The best part is that it’s easy to make.

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Materials:

  • A vase or container for the base (I used a chinese take-out style box from a craft store)
  • A block of floral foam that fits inside your container (“wet” floral foam is easier to cut)
  • Pennies or weights (optional)
  • Sticks, such as lollipop sticks, wooden skewers or popsicle sticks
  • Hot glue & a hot glue gun
  • Candy, snacks and other goodies to fill the bro-quet
  • Ribbon, tissue, name tags or other decorations (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cut down your your floral foam so that it fills your container. If your container is light (like mine was), you may need to weigh it down with pennies or another small, heavy item before filling it with the foam.
  2. Take your bro-quet goodies and attach a stick to the back of each one with hot glue. Try to vary the lengths of the sticks; bigger items like beef jerky should go in the back on longer sticks, smaller items like the liquor bottles are in front on shorter sticks.
  3. Once you’ve got everything attached to a stick, begin to push each stick down into the floral foam. This is where you put on your ameteur florist hat and try to arrange everything in a way that shows off each item and gives the bro-quet a nice round shape.
  4. Finish off the bro-quet with embellishments like wooden letters, tissue paper or ribbon (either wrapped around the bro-quet, or attached to another stick like I did here.

The bro-quet makes a great gift because you can completely customize it to your man’s tastes. Does he love beef jerky? Chocolate covered pretzels? Whiskey? Sour gummy worms? Snickers? And you don’t have to stop at the edible. Try adding golf balls, fishing lures, DVDs, gifts cards, video games, or anything else you know your guy is into.

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Because I know it can be tough to shop for this sort of thing, here’s a run-down of all that went into my bro-quet:

  • 2 mini-bottles of Jägermeister
  • 1 mini-bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 mini-bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • 2 5-Hour Energy Shots
  • 3 Nerds Ropes
  • 2 Mike and Ike fruit twists
  • 3 Charleston Chews
  • 2 sticks of rock candy
  • 2 snack packs of Goldfish crackers
  • 6 Airheads
  • 3 bags of Pop Rocks
  • 3 mini boxes of Mike and Ikes
  • 1 pack of Big League Chew bubble gum
  • 1 full-size bag of Peanut M&Ms
  • 1 full-size bag of Pretzel M&Ms
  • 2 packages of Oberto beef jerky

Happy snacking and happy crafting!

Eating My Way Through Chapel Hill and Durham

I recently took a weekend trip up to “The Triangle,” a.k.a. the triad cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ok, that’s kind of a lie. I really only visited Durham and Chapel Hill. It was a quick trip. So this will be a quick post. If you do only two things in North Carolina, visit Rise and Sugarland.

Because food groups are important. But so are donuts. And biscuits. And cupcakes. And gelato.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit at Rise, Durham, NC

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Rise in Durham is the best spot ever for breakfast. Whether you want savory or sweet, they’ve got you covered. Because the serve two things: Biscuits and donuts. My recommendations: The Maple Bacon bar, Orange Curd donut (dusted with Pistachio Sugar), or literally anything on a biscuit. That’s a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit pictured above.

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Sugarland_gelato

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Sugarland in Chapel Hill calls itself a “bakery,” but it’s so much more. A rainbow of decadent gelato peaks (which you can get in a pretzel cone), crazy gorgeous cupcakes, …and, oh, you can get a frozen gelato martini. What’s not to love?

2013 Fantasy Oscars Draft Game

Fantasy Oscars Draft 2013 - Free Printable Game!

It’s that time of year again! No, not Valentine’s Day or Can-We-Put-The-Coats-Away-Yet? Day. It’s almost time for the Academy Awards. And of course, for the 2013 Fantasy Oscars Draft.

(Looking for the 2014 Fantasy Oscars Game? Click here.)

In case you missed it last year, I put together a little cut-and-play game for you to follow along with the award show and make it more competitive (a great idea, especially, if you’ve got some guys who think an Oscar party is their version of hell). It borrows elements from Fantasy Football, where you put together a dream roster of pro football players who earn points for your fantasy team; only this time, you’re choosing films, actors, actresses, performers, preseneters, producers and directors to fill out your 2013 Oscars Dream Team.

Fantasy Oscars Draft 2013 - Free Printable Game!

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