I have a habit of excess. The more the merrier. The bigger the better. Honestly, it has become a problem from my closet to my pantry. I love to indulge and to indulge those that I love. Parties tend to be exhaustive affairs with plates of food and drinks overflowing – it’s something I love doing so don’t think I am holding a grudge. But this year, I am holding to my holiday promise of keeping it simple. However, simple doesn’t mean boring!
I plan on making the three signature champagne cocktails I shared yesterday for my gathering, but otherwise I am going to keep things low-key when it comes to my nibbles. I turned to my good friend and professional chef Alejandra Ramos of the famed food blog Always Order Dessert for some guidance. Alejandra agreed with me that since guests are coming after their respective dinners, there was no need for heavy finger food. ”The drinks are the stars of the evening so make everything else easy, quick and delicious. NO COOKING!” She suggested that I stick with the tried and true cheese plate….
But Alejandra stressed that while the snacks can be simple, they shouldn’t be boring……
Taking her advice one step further, I wanted to up the “wow”factor and do something as easy but even tastier…..herbed truffled popcorn! Aside from being super easy to make in large quantities, the popcorn is a delicious and unexpected pairing to accompany the cheese Alejandra recommended….
Last, Alejandra said I should think about presentation when it came to planning my menu…..
I interpreted Alejandra’s advice as why not have your drink garnish be an appetizer? Rather than simply dropping one or two raspberries into my drink as a garnish, I skewered them onto rosemary to create fruit garnishes that could also double as an appetizer….
Thanks to Alejandra I am now fully prepared for my party and not nearly as stressed. With these quick and simple tips, I can now focus on enjoying my party rather than worrying about running it. Which in turn gives me more time to drink….and oh…hang out with my guests too!
Wish each of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
[Credits] Styling: Courtney Lake// Photography: Adrienne Aubry
Happy New Year!
I spent all of last week looking back, recapping 2011 in all of its glory and blunders. However, in this first post of 2012, I want to focus on what lies ahead for myself and the blog. You can call them resolutions if you want, but these are my hopes, wishes and dreams for the new year….
Becoming My Own Fan: Some people call it confidence. I like to think of it that in 2012, I will become my biggest cheerleader. The negative voice in my head will be replaced with one that sounds remarkably similar to Oprah giving me positive affirmations……
Embracing Failure: “It Is Okay To Fail”. As I try to grow the blog and kick start the design business, I keep repeating this mantra in my head. It is through my failures that I have created my biggest successes. So 2012 is about brainstorming, planning and seeing what happens when I place things in motion — and being okay if some (or all) don’t succeed.
Asking For It: I have an unhealthy fear of the word “no”. It frightens me in the same vein as clowns and The Forever Lazy, hence why I am always fearful of asking for help or the things I want. I am going to try my best to shed the notion that the “no” is a direct reflection on me, rather than the person’s ability (or want) to help me. Eventually if I ask enough people, someone will say yes….or if everyone says no, then it may sink in that it wasn’t a good idea to start with!
Acknowledging My Limitations: I am going to be the first one to tell you that I don’t know everything there is to food, design and culture. I am pretty sure I know about 1% of what there is to know. Yet I still feel a pang in my stomach when asked a question I don’t know the answer. Being a “professional” in a field doesn’t mean I need to be the expert, but have the desire to continue to learn.
Appreciating My Contributions: I don’t save lives. I have yet to find a cure for cancer. However, I do set a kick-ass table, can style a vignette like no one’s business and can a cake that would make you slap your Momma. But, I find myself continually playing down my talents because they are not “substantial”. Yet I know that when a doctor walks into a room I decorated after a hard day’s work and feels relaxed, sits down to a meal prepared from one of my recipes and smiles when he seems that his wife set a table inspired from one of my tablescapes, I have touched way more people than my consultant friend that day.
For the Blog & Business…..
grow. Grow. GROW: DId I mention I want to grow the blog? I found that in 2011 I finally found my voice and perspective. 2012 is now about finding those opportunities that grant me the autonomy to be me and sharing my unique take on them with you. It is also about making sure that I am writing about those things that appeal to both me and you as readers. So don’t be surprised if you see a survey or two in the coming months asking for your feedback.
Immortalize Myself on Celluloid: Yuppers – 2012 y’all are going to see me in a completely different light…..well actuallty bathed in about a billion watts of light actually. I am lauching a video section of Courtney Out Loud where I will be doing tutorials, answering reader questions and talking with those individuals who inspire me on a daily basis. However, this also means that you will be subjected to my voice on a regular basis…..it’s a trade-off. You have been warned.
I Want It In Writing: I am making no bones that I would love to see myself in a print magazine in 2012. It’s a lofty goal, but it would tickle me to no end. So world (and magazine editors) I am putting it out there……
More Original Content: I strive to make Courtney Out Loud a place to find original content — food for thought. It’s a tough order to fill since the landscape is so competitive, but one I am committed to in 2012. Which also means I want to start highlighting YOUR projects, homes and tablescapes. So start sending the projects you are proud of my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launch My Business: I found myself in 2011 in the unique position of having people asking for my services without really having a business. I spent 2011 dabbling in the waters of self-employment and am almost ready to place my next venture out for the world to see. I am excited about this next phase and even more excited to share it with you.
There you have it. I think it’s a doable list but things that if I can get them all done, will place me on the track to success. I raise my imaginary glass to success and prosperity in 2012. So did you make a list of success milestones for 2012?