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IT’S LIKE YOUR NORMAL YOGA, BUT WITH GOATS the most hysterical workout of your life

goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpLast week I got to gallivant around Mesa & Phoenix, Arizona going on hot air balloon rides, learning how to fly on a trapeze, and lots of other fabulous adventures that I can’t wait to tell you about. But maybe the most hysterical and unique experience of the week was a morning goat yoga class…

All you American Ninja Warrior fans, remember April Gould the “Goat Whisperer” from 2015 & 2016? Well she has partnered with long-time friend, Sarah Williams (who, if you ever visit Arizona, has one of the best SUP companies around – Desert Paddleboards) to bring you one of two goat yoga experiences in the country.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelp

Truthfully, the experience is hysterical and unlike anything I have ever done. You drive out to April’s farm just outside Phoenix, let yourself into the gated field, and check your normal notions about yoga at the door.

It starts off normally enough, everyone doing some stretches and some basic poses to warm up, the only thing that might be different from your normal class at the gym, is that there are a bunch of goats running around in tiaras, feather boas, and crowns.
goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpSarah leads the group in beginner yoga poses while April walks around with the goats. She places dried fig leaves in front of your mat so the goats will come over, hang out, and munch a little. They share their story, talk about why goats are awesome, and just encourage you to relax and have a little fun.

Between you and me, I was totally confused. I live in the city, I don’t casually interact with goats on a regular basis, and I think the last time I pet an animal outside of a dog was at my grade school field trip to the petting zoo. I had no idea what to expect. Don’t they bite? I think I am afraid of them jumping on me? What if I can’t hang? I had a series of questions…goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpAbout 15 minutes in, Sarah leads us into a downward dog & that is when things start to get crazy. Starting at one end and working around the circle, April leads one of the smaller goats up on your back and the goat just kind of hangs out there. If you are close enough to your partner, the goat will hop from person to person quite happily.

It was a freaking riot! At the point, all intentions of practicing yoga go out the window, and all eyes are on the goat. Not to mention that there was a little kid (less than a week old) running around, so naturally all I cared about was snuggling the hell out of it.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelpIf you are there with a group (which we had a birthday party & a bachelorette party in the group) April & Sarah will lead you in group poses and the goat joins right in. Hoping up on the top of the pyramid or right on top of you while doing a partner plank. Don’t worry, everyone is happy to take a picture and capture the hilarious scene.

When you visit Arizona (and you should absolutely visit) you’ve got to stop by Arizona Goat Yoga. The classes are basically free ($10) & you have to sign up in advance on their website, but I promise, it will be one of the most hysterical things you’ve done in a long time. Going with friends or a family vacation? This is an absolute must! Nothing says next years holiday card, like a human pyramid with a goat on top of dear old Dad.goat yoga in arizona via lauren kelp


photos by Kristen Carter Photography
This experience was in collaboration with Visit Mesa & Visit Phoenix. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

GINGERBREAD LATTE

If the Pumpkin Spice Latte is the drink of fall, then this Gingerbread Latte is absolutely the winter version. Nice and cozy with all the spices and fragrances of the season and perfect to serve warm or over ice (and easy to adapt for a happy hour twist) – what could be better? If you are looking to spice up your morning coffee order, this is absolutely it!
Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelpAs much as I love spend $6 every time I walk into a coffee shop (said no one ever….), it’s nice to keep your wallet tucked away and play living room barista. This sassy little coffee order totally plays into my fantasy of being a rockstar barista. I get to play with spices, froth some milk (okay, it’s totally unnecessary for the recipe, but it’s fun, so I do it), and serve it up in a fun glass. Plus, you know how much I love when things can get a little boozy & this is an adorable drink to serve at your next home happy hour. Everyone will be like, oohmygosh, you are such a rockstar barista slash mixologist, what do I even bring to this friendship cause you are so cool and good at everything awesome.

I mean, what could be better?!

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp

GINGERBREAD LATTE
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Cup
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, heat your almond milk over medium heat. Once warm (just under boiling), add spices, brewed coffee, and honey & mix well
  2. Serve in a fun mug & top off with a little ground cinnamon, or for a happy hour twist, add a shot of your favorite libation!

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp Well, snow bunnies, what do you think? Ready to cozy up by the fire with one of these delicious Gingerbread Lattes? I mean, let’s be real, what’s not to like! Can’t wait to hear what you think! xo, LK

Gingerbread Latte recipe via lauren kelp


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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

THE PERFECT PAIR FOR A FALL PICNIC

Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpHappy Fall, my fabulous entertainers! Are you ready for cozy sweaters, reading by the fireplaces, and lots of other deliciously autumnal things? I know I am! See ya later humidity, hello scarf weather! Here is the best part about fall – entertaining! Call me crazy, but it’s my favorite time to gather a bunch of friends, drink good wine, eat great food, and hang out all night. Gone are the hectic days of summer and the mania of holiday season hasn’t hit yet, it’s a sweet spot where schedules are free, the weather is great, and the stars align!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpToday we are talking all about why you should host a fall picnic (yes, outside) and what to serve at it! I mean, come on, just look at that spread above – who wouldn’t want to spend the evening with friends noshing on that? Guess what – it’s totally attainable, easier than you think, and won’t take up your whole Saturday prepping. Interested? Of course you are! Well pour yourself a glass of wine, scroll down, and let’s get this party started! Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpWe are talking all about my love for outdoor entertaining in the fall over here, but it deserves to be re-enforced. Having a bunch of friends over and dining outside with the crisp fall air in the trees, drinking wine, and catching up is just about as magical as the Midwest can get. So, now that we’ve convinced you that a) you need to host a dinner party this weekend and b) it has to be outside, it’s time to talk about the menu!

Here is the best part about a fall picnic – the spread! The small plate spread is totally undervalued and is a total show stopper. Pick a theme (for this we did mediterranean mezze) and if your guests ask what to bring, you can tell them something on theme.

When our guests asked, we had them bring olives, a few cucumbers, a bunch of carrots, or a packet of pitas. We put the olives into a cute little dish, sliced the carrots & cucumbers up (for dipping in the spreads), and voila! A fun spread that your guests helped curate!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpNow, it’s important to pair the menu with the perfect accompanying wine & let me tell you, nothing is more delicious than a cold glass of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon-Blanc on a fall day with a delicious spread. Typically, a Sauvignon-Blanc is thought of as a summer wine, but with the rich flavors of the Mediterranean seasonings, the crispness of the white wines cools everything down a bit and makes for a really delicious pairing.  I love pairing foods with complex flavors or unique spices with K-J’s Sauvignon-Blanc because it doesn’t wash out the spices but almost enhances them.  Warm up those pitas, put out some spreads & accouterments, pour those glasses of wine & hop to it!

Looking for some good spreads to whip up? How about a batch of homemade hummus! Super easy, delicious, and everyone loves a good homemade spread. Five minutes in the kitchen and a small stockpile of hummus later & you’ve got yourself a party!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren Kelp

THE PERFECT PAIR FOR A FALL PICNIC
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame paste), optional, with some of its oil
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. Put everything except the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add the chickpea liquid or water as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning (I often find I like to add much more lemon juice). Serve, drizzled with the olive oil and sprinkled with a bit more cumin or paprika and some parsley.

Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpSo, what are you waiting for?! Let’s get this party started! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren Kelp


photography by Constance Higley & recipe by Brendan McCaskey
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SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMERTIME BACKYARD BASH

Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

Well, howdy friends! Have you been enjoying your summertime? I know we have! Maybe it’s because the summers are so short here in Chicago, or maybe it’s because there is something so quintessentially summertime about eating outdoors, whatever the reason – I have been itching to throw a fun backyard supper club style barbecue!Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

Last week, we rounded up some friends and threw a casual family-style backyard bash and it was exactly what dreams are made of. Great food (I mean, just check out that insane grilled peach and prosciutto salad!), wonderful friends, and a breezy summer evening to sip wine, catch up, and laugh all night.

Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

With the warm weather creeping in, the only way to cool down is to stock up on some wine, invite some friends over, and relax over a barbecue. Ask your guests to bring their own goodies for the grill and provide some sides, or play chef and try out some of those recipes you’ve pinned! There is nothing like trying out new recipes on guests. I do it all the time & weirdly, it always works out!

Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

One recipe that you absolutely (I mean, absolutely) need to pin, bookmark, print out, memorize, or tattoo on your body is this Grilled Peach & Prosciutto salad we are sharing with our pals over on KJ.com. Pop a bottle of Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, or two (no judgment, it’s hot outside), fire up the grill, and get to prepping – because this salad is off the freaking chain!

Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

I think my favorite thing about summer entertaining is how relaxed it can be. Firing up the grill, playing with fun flavors (peaches & prosciutto, yes please!), and just being the excuse to get the gang together.

Summer seems to be such a busy time for everyone, so getting the gang together and spending an evening catching up, relaxing, and making memories is what it’s all about in my book.

Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp

So, what do you say? Ready to throw a casual backyard bash? Whether you are in your apartment downtown or firing up the grill poolside, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be thoughtful! Tag us in your next backyard bash – we can’t wait to see!
Throw a relaxed backyard barbecue party with this delicious grilled peach and prosciutto salad recipe! via Lauren Kelp


lauren buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

NASHVILLE TABLEMAKERS a pop-up dinner in a flower shop

The act of hosting a dinner party is something very near & dear to our hearts here at Lauren Kelp. Our aim is to inspire, help prepare, navigate, and encourage you to be the community maker amongst your friends. To invite people into your home – new friends or old – whip up something easy yet delicious, and make memories around a table, on a porch, or sitting on a picnic blanket in the backyard.

We believe in the magical powers of dinner parties so much, we travel across the country and host pop-up dinners for people doing cool things in their neighborhoods. They could be graphic designers, photographers, shop owners, designers, bakers, even candlestick makers – it really doesn’t matter as long as they love their community & encourage others with their craft. We call these parties, Tablemakers Dinners & to us, they are the culmination of thoughtful entertaining.

In 2015, we traveled to Phoenix, New York, and Sonoma and in 2016 we kicked off our Tablemakers tour in Nashville, Tennessee. We gathered 40 of the cities creatives & movers + shakers invited them to break bread with us in an old historic home turned flower shop. We ate, drank, made new friends, connected with old & got to know people without all the pretense of a “networking event.” No pressure, no fluff, just good old fashion supper club fun.  

Nashville was a special dinner for us, for many reasons, one of them being the relaxed, family-style vibe of the dinner. Heaping plates of ricotta gnocchi, grilled lamb kubideh, and spring onion & potato gratin filled the table, all expertly prepared by our local Chefs – Dan Forberg & Tony Galzin. As people were passing around dishes and re-filling their neighbors glass of wine, it was so fun to imagine all of us hanging out in someone’s living room.

Truthfully, this family-style setup got me really inspired to host more dinner parties in our apartment & with more people! With make ahead-menus, a few big serving plates, and some great bottles of your favorite Kendall-Jackson wine – you’ve just created plans for the rest of your summer. We were so inspired by how fun this gathering was, we put together a little how-to on how to host an unforgettable family-style dinner party. Interested? Of course you are! Hop on over here to get the skinny & prepare to be inspired!

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Well my friends – great wine, good food, and a fun mix of creative people makes for just about the best get-together in my book. Whether you are hosting 4 or 40, remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be honest. 

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VENDORS

Host & Founder: Lauren Kelp 

Co-Host & Graphics Designer: Ashley Cooper

 Co-Host & Wine: Kendall-Jackson 

Photographer: Josh Ulmer 

Food & Menu: Chef Dan Forberg & Chef Tony Galzin

Dessert: Tea-rriffic!

Furniture & Table Decor: 12th Table 

Venue & Florals: FLWR Shop

Table Runner :Hester & Cook

 Candles: Paddywax Candles 

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HOST A CRAFTERNOON PARTY in 3 easy steps

crafternoon0001Have you ever hosted a Crafternoon party? I used to think they were for chilly days in the wintertime, but I was sorely mistaken. We got some friends together & hosted a little summer Crafternoon get-together & had an absolute blast!

We all brought crafts we were working on (or wanted to start), a few bottles of our favorite wine, and some little snacks to munch on & it was one of the best ways to spend an afternoon I could have ever imagined.

I love them because a) you get to hang out with friends b) you get to work on crafts and c) they almost always turn into a dinner party with spouses, boyfriends, or people who couldn’t make it to the craft portion – it’s so fun! So, as evident in my enthusiasm, we want to spread the summer Crafternoon love & show you some tips, tricks, and a fun DIY to get things started.
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STEP ONE: Prep the space

A Crafternoon is a get-together that works best with a big space. Grab a few card tables, clean off the dining room table, or pull out the picnic table in the backyard. Depending on how many friends you have over, each person should have enough space to spread out a little, comfortably.

Now, don’t go crazy, but provide some options. We held ours in our living room where people could sit at the dining room table, on the sofa, around the coffee table, or on the floor – whatever works, you know?

crafternoon0011STEP TWO: Gather the supplies

Next up in our little Crafternoon bash 101 is to gather the supplies! We are big fans of crafting with wine, so we made sure to stock up on a few of our favorite bottles (we’ve been loving Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Merlot for summer-time).

Not to mention – snacks! You can’t get your besties together without a good cheese board. Pick up your favorite cheese, some fresh summer fruit, a baguette, a good bar of chocolate, and maybe a spread or two & you’ve got the fixings for an all afternoon-hang session.

crafternoon0023STEP THREE: Kick things off with an easy DIY

Now comes the fun part! Not everyone is a big “crafter” so to help everyone get their feet wet, we started off with a fun & super easy wine glass DIY. Hop on over to Kendall-Jackson’s blog to see this two step craft that will have you seriously addicted!

Another fun option is to make stamps out of your corks. Mark the non-wine side of your cork with a shape (basic shapes are best), carve the negative space out, dip in some paint & play around. This is fun for wrapping paper, cards, or even on extra cocktail napkins. Adorable & super easy!

crafternoon0016So, what do you think? Ready to gather the gals this weekend & craft your buns off? I mean, it sounds like a pretty great way to spend an afternoon to me – drinkin’, craftin’, probably hangin’ out and doing an impromptu potluck. Count us in!

Have any other fun & easy Crafternoon crafts? Let us know if the comment section – we can’t wait to try them out!crafternoon_1


lauren buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

HOST A SEAFOOD BOIL our go-to summer party

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Think you can’t pull off a backyard seafood boil? Think again! With warmer temps just around the corner, we are making the case for why a seafood boil should be your summer go-to party. They are big fun, low stress, and with a little extra prep work on the front end, your party will go off without a hitch!  What could be better than cooking outside, drinking great wine, and eating seafood right off the grill. Start saving those newspapers now, because we’ve got a party to throw! Are you ready for your 5 step prep? Let’s get started!

KJ0043STEP ONE: PRE-PARTY PREP

If you’ve ever been to a seafood boil, you know that paper napkins or plastic bibs just won’t cut it. Make a quick run to IKEA and grab a few bundles of dishtowels to serve instead. Your guests will thank you & they are just a few bucks per bundle and totally worth the trip.

Gather up the spices, trash bins, newspaper stack (to line the table, of course), and clear a prep spot in the backyard that is separate from your entertaining space. All the fun will take place on the big table, but it’s nice to have a little side table for extra bibs, spices, crackers, etc.

KJ0032STEP TWO: PREP THE FOOD

This is the fun part! Get your water up to a rolling boil and get ready for something delicious. For the most amazing seafood boil recipe hop on over here to see our friend Brendan’s insanely delicious concoction. Easy to make & even better to eat, I promise this is one to print out and tape to the fridge.

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STEP THREE: PREP THE TABLE

Line the tables with newspaper sheets (I like to do three or four layers because things can get a little messy), bring out big bowls for shells & cobs, and don’t forget the straws! Your guests’ hands will get messy when they are eating your delicious food, so get some tall glasses for water & give everyone a straw for easy sipping. Or, just save the water for the fishes & sip on some perfectly paired Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. Just saying, I have yet to meet a better pairing then seafood & crisp white wine.

Encourage your guests to discard their shells into the big bowls down the center of the table. This is dual purpose – more room for eating & clean-up duty just became a lot easier! Melt some butter in smaller bowls & pepper those throughout the table, along with some extra spices, and hot sauce for dipping.

KJ0013STEP FOUR: SERVE IT UP!

One of the best parts of a seafood boil is getting to eat with your hands, so embrace the mess! Make sure every spot at the table has a bib (and make sure to get a few extra for the drop-by guest or extra clean-up) & put the crackers and tools within reach.

Serve your boil right on top of the newspaper & dig in! I like to leave a little dish of toothpicks out on the table to help pick up those bits of potato or sausage that are too hot to handle. Keep it casual & fun! Don’t have matching bowls for the shells or small containers for butter – who cares?! The best part of these parties is being outside with your best friends, drinking wine, & hanging out.

KJ0019STEP FIVE: CLEAN UP

It’s all basically done for  you, so don’t worry about it! Sit back, relax, drink an extra glass of wine, stuff yourself with delicious seafood, and have the best afternoon you could have hoped for. Have we convinced you to make seafood boils your summer go-to party? We sure hope so!

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Food by Brendan McCaskey

This post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

 

HOST A GALENTINE’S DAY HAPPY HOUR

GALS0013Let’s be real, Valentine’s Day kind of gets a bad wrap. Between the overpriced flowers and prix fixe dinners, it can get a little out of control. Not to mention, there is all this hype, so the pressure is on to do something amazing & spectacular (cause you have to post about it, duh).

Well, we think that’s all a little exhausting and no one likes an evening full of expectations and over priced food, so instead, we are taking the reigns back and making this holiday fun again! Whether you are single, married, tinder-ing, or just really into cats, you have fabulous girl friends in your life that deserve celebrating, right?!

RIGHT! So, we are brushing past the weirdness that Valentine’s Day can bring, and inviting the ladies over for a little Galentine’s Day celebration! Bust out the Rosé, the cheese boards, and the friendship, because we are showing you how to throw a Galentine’s Day brunch even Leslie Knope would be proud of!
GALS0025TIP ONE: Get All of the Rosé

It wouldn’t be a proper gal party without the appropriate beverages and for this bash, we are all about the Rosé. Allegedly, some people aren’t crazy about Rosé, but I think that’s because they haven’t had the right variety. We recently discovered the Grand Reserve Rosé and cannot get enough of it! It’s perfectly pink, refreshingly crisp, and impresses everyone we serve it to. If that isn’t an impressive calling card, I don’t know what is.

Make sure to go online & order it here. Also, if I were you, I would stock up on a few extra bottles. It tends to go quickly & it’s so good, you’ll want it on hand at all times!

PRO TIP: I love stocking up on raspberries or pears and adding a few to each glass. It’s acts as a classy way to determine whose wine is whose & it’s a delicious treat at the end.

GALS0005TIP TWO: Create a Relaxed Menu

No need to stress when figuring out what to serve the gals, we’ve got just the thing! As you all know, we love a good cheese board, but it’s important to have variety when entertaining. We recommend grabbing a bunch of goodies (think berries, nuts, pretzels, charcuterie, cheese, crackers, you name it!) and putting them all in a central location. Whether it’s on a board (or two) on the coffee table, or in various bowls and dishes around the kitchen island, the food will determine where people hang out so plan accordingly.

The key to a good spread is having lots of fun options but one (fabulous) main event. We are obsessed with this honey baked Camembert because it’s just the right about of sweet (thanks to the honey) but perfectly savory (from the garlic & sea salt). It’s truly what cheese board dreams are made of & couldn’t be easier!

PRO TIP: Bookmark, print, write-down, or screen shot this honey baked Camembert recipe because it is an entertaining gem. Two minutes of prep and a 15 minute bake time and you will look like a regular old Martha Stewart 😉

GALS0028TIP THREE: Ditch the Decorations

Let’s be real, no one needs fancy decorations to have a good time. Plus, we would rather spend that money on an extra bottle of Rosé or fun cards to write silly loves notes in. Give the house a good tidy, fluff the pillows, put on a fun playlist and let your friends do the rest.

The main ingredients to a great party are the right libations, a variety of food, and a good atmosphere. It’s really that simple! If you feel like making the evening slightly more themed, grab some fun cards (or heck, make them yourself!) and write little love notes to your gal pals. Everyone loves getting mail that isn’t a bill, so give your friends a little confidence boost, a reminder why you love them, and something to totally show off on their desk at work. 

GALS0032Three tips to throwing the perfect Galentine’s Day brunch & it couldn’t be easier, right?! Remember, the best part is getting the gals together and having a great time. With great wine & best friends, it’s the perfect pairing!

We would love to see your Galentine’s Day bash! Make sure to tag @laurenkelp & @kjwines on Instagram to show off your mad entertaining skills.

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lauren buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

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HOST AN AT-HOME FILM FESTIVAL

MOVIE0021Howdy, friends! We’ve decided to combat these cold days & early evenings (this whole, getting dark at 5 p.m. thing isn’t my favorite) by hosting our own film festival at home! There are so many phenomenal movies out, so why not round up some friends, grab some wine & popcorn, and get the gang together?

Today we are showing you just how easy it is to host your own at-home film festival, complete with two insanely delicious popcorn recipes – Parmesan & Parsley and (the ever-favorite) Puppy Chow! Get ready my friends, you’ve got plans this weekend!

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STEP ONE: Invite Your Guests!

A party, let alone a film festival, wouldn’t be a party without guests! My advice is to figure out how many you can fit in your space – that includes people lounging on the floor, sofa spots, pull-up chairs, whatever you can muster. The more the merrier in these cases & nothing makes you commit to throwing a party like having guests RSVP.

Send out a group text, email, or Facebook group, no matter the means, invite your guests to come over in comfy clothes & leave recommendations for what they want to see at the party. Which brings me to our next step…

MOVIE0026STEP TWO: The Movies!

Make sure to ask your guests what new releases they want to see. If you want to give the at-home film festival more of a theme, feel free to pick a genre (i.e. Comedy), time period (i.e. ’80s), or anything with a particular actor (i.e. Bill Murray), or whatever category your guests would like. If you want to make it more authentic, keep it to anything released this year.

Depending on the group, make sure to have several options, but plan on only watching a few. Three movies in a run can get a little tiring, so make sure to mix it up!

MOVIE0029STEP THREE: Plan the Menu!

You’ve got your invite list & you’ve got a general idea of the movies you want to play, now it’s time for the real fun – the menu! Since you are hosting a most laid back, relaxed event, no one expects for a meal to be served, but it is important to have plenty of yummy snacks close at hand.

What could be more appropriate for this type of gathering than fancy popcorn! Now when I say fancy I mean, it is super delicious, makes you look like a total pro, and takes less than 10 minutes to make. With a little prep time & some simple ingredients, you’ve got yourself two very gourmet appetizers within minutes.

To see the Parmesan & Parsley and Puppy Chow recipes, hop on over to our co-hosts blog and get the full breakdown!

MOVIE0011STEP FOUR: Set the Mood

Things are coming together and the time is getting near to your big film festival debut. Exciting! Now it’s time to get the house in order. Don’t worry about going crazy and deep cleaning the whole house (I mean, you can if you want, any excuse is fine in my book), but instead spend your energy on the main area – the living room.

Make sure you’ve got plenty of space for your guests to spread out, get comfy, and stay awhile. Stack some extra blankets on a cute stool in the corner, bring over an extra side table so everyone has a place to rest their drink & snacks, and make it homey. Who cares if the furniture gets re-arranged, or it looks messy, you want people to come & hang and watch movies. No one minds!

MOVIE0023STEP FIVE: Wine!

I am not going to say that this is the most important part of the get-together, but it’s a close second. There are few things more fantastic than drinking a big glass of delicious wine with a bowl of popcorn, sitting on the sofa, watching a great movie. You’ve got the makings for the perfect evening, now it’s time to pick the right wine!

For the savory & sweet lovers alike, the Vintner’s Reserve Merlot by Kendall-Jackson won’t steer you wrong. It’s full and delicious and will please even the beer-loving friends. It’s one of my favorite ‘go to’ wines and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Make sure you stock up on a few bottles because no one wants the wine to run out!

MOVIE0027That’s it! Five simple steps to hosting the most fabulous at-home film festival you could have ever imagined. Between good friends, delicious popcorn, fun movies, the perfect setting, and a hearty glass of wine, what could be better? Above all else, make sure to have a blast. Who cares if the movie is weird or you only make it through one because everyone just wants to hang out and catch up, the point is that you are all together & nothing is better than that!

If you are feeling inspired (and we hope you are!), tag us in your film festival night – we would love to see it! xoxo
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lauren buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

 

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THROW A WINE TASTING BIRTHDAY PARTY

KJWineTasting0013Hello, hello, hello! Today we are mixing things up a bit and talking about how to throw a party that is very near and dear to everyone’s hearts – a birthday party! If you are like me, you might not be the biggest fan of your birthday. The older you get, the more pressure there seems to be to do something really fun, or not do anything at all. We say, ditch the pressure and throw a fun event that just so happens to coincide with your birthday.

For us, it was a wine tasting party this year! We loved it because it took the pressure off of being the center of attention, gave everyone something to do, and was interactive in the best way. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to drink wine and eat yummy bites?

KJWineTasting0017So, today, we are showing you, step by step, how to throw the most fun wine tasting birthday party. Who knows, you might have to keep the theme going annually, it will be such a hit!

STEP ONE:

 It’s all about the wine! As you know, we can’t say ‘no’ to a good bottle of Kendall-Jackson wine, so we decided to stick with our favorites and try a bunch of different varietals in their portfolio. We got a good mix of white, a hearty variety of red (those are my favorite) and some fun dessert wines to spice things up.

It is important to get a variety of wines, even some that are outside your comfort zone. For example, I don’t really drink Chardonnay’s, but after this party, the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is my new favorite. The goal is that you find some new pairing, whether it is food or wine, that you like. So have some fun!

wine tasting 2STEP TWO:

Build the perfect spread! What is a wine tasting party without the magnificent cheese board that goes with it? Again, if you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve never met a cheese board we didn’t like. The more sliced fruit, roasted nuts, and varieties of cheese – the better in our book!

So go a little wild and have some fun!

I recommend pulling out a series of boards and placing them around your space. Have a board in reach no matter where your guests is sitting, sipping, or mingling. On the sofa, on the coffee and side tables, and definitely a few on your breakfast or dining room tables. This allows the guests to pair their wines with a new snack wherever they are.

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STEP THREE:

It wouldn’t be a party without the cake! For (seriously) the most delicious birthday cake, hop on over to Kendall-Jackson’s blog and read all about our Dark Chocolate Olive Oil cake. It’s the best thing since sliced bread and, in the spirit of wine pairing, it is made even better with a crisp glass of Kendall-Jackson’s Merlot.

Don’t believe me? Hop on over and see!

wine tasting 1STEP FOUR:

Have fun! Yep, that’s it. Three easy steps and you are well on your way to having the most fun birthday party yet. If you want to make your wine pairing party a bit more difficult, feel free to have your guests sip out of black glasses (so they can’t see what they are sipping) or tie a brown paper bag around the bottle to prevent user bias (me with white wine!).

Or, do what we did and just let your guests guide the experience. No matter how it’s thrown, this bash is always a good time had by all and it is absolutely a party for the books!

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lauren kelp author buttonconstance buttonThis post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.