IDEAs!

Ten Tips to Being a Spectacular Holiday Hostess!

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Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden, Sewickley
Courtesy of Cuttings Flower and Garden, Sewickley

Thinking of hosting a special event over the holidays? Here are some tips to help you focus on what’s important.

  1. What type of event are you thinking of? Whether you are inviting guests to your home for a quiet evening or a big holiday party, clearly define your vision. Cozy dinner and drinks, large holiday soiree or hot chocolate party; think it out beforehand and decide exactly what you’d like to do.
  2. Decide on your budget. Easier said than done but this is an important step in the process. This will help you decide whether or not to spend hundreds of dollars on those special favors or if you’d rather put your money elsewhere. Put a bit of a buffer in there too, just for things you might miss from the get go.
  3. Decide on a theme. Themes are really fun and there are so many ideas floating around out there on the web and on Pinterest, etc.Since it’s Christmas, choose shades of red, white and green, go for pine and pomegranates and make a splash.
  4. Make a list. Do you need a bartender? Write that down. Using real plates and glasses or plastic? Do you need to rent linens? Do you need to find the perfect dress? Write it all down.
  5. Get more specific. Make a menu and if you are doing the cooking, start writing down your shopping list. If you’ve hired a caterer, list everything you will need from start to finish of your event, including the napkins, paper products, wine, candles.
  6. Recognize your limits and ask for help. If you are having a large event, consider recruiting family members or hiring a “day of “ or part time event planner. You can only do so much and you will run yourself ragged before the big day.  (Give me a call and I’d be glad to help you out!)
  7. Do as much as you can beforehand. Make a timeline for the day of the event and do as much as you can in the days leading up to and including the morning of. The more you do beforehand the easier your life will be. Imagine taking a hot bath a few hours before the event. You can do that if you plan ahead.
  8. Set things up so all you have to do is minimal maintenance. If you have to constantly heat appetizers in the oven, it will be hard for you to enjoy your party! Think of ways to prepare, serve and replenish food that does not involve constant kitchen time. Or, hire someone to be in the kitchen, taking care of food and other necessities.
  9. Enjoy your own event! Put your favorite dress on, light the candles, and pour the bubbly. Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and enjoy your guests. Do the best you can to keep an eye on things, but also expect that things may occur that no one anticipates. Spills, unexpected minor disasters can all happen but be a sport and smile and solve the issue. Don’t be a drama queen if things fall apart.  Just keep going!
  10. Have a plan for the next day. Do some clean up but also have a good day of rest. Heat up any leftovers for dinner and save a bottle of wine for yourself. Don’t give in to the urge to put everything away in a single day. Just relax and reflect on your great party!
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Shop Local This Christmas

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Cuttings in Sewickley - The Silver Room
Cuttings in Sewickley – The Silver Room

Years ago I owned a gourmet coffee shop in Sewickley called Cappuccino City. It competed directly with a national chain only a block away (we were there first) and I tell you, it was tough. We lasted seven years and in the end, sold our business successfully. Since then, I have always had a soft spot for local business.

There is easy attraction to the big box chains- national advertising, sleek displays, lures of deep discounts- especially at the holidays. Honestly, I do shop one or two chain stores at Christmas. But I always stop at my favorite local businesses and complete my shopping there.

Why? Because there are unique finds among the small shops. They carry items that the big boxes will not have. Beautiful items to decorate, to give, and to adorn your packages.

Primitives at Kathleen's in Beaver PA
Primitives at Kathleen’s in Beaver PA

Supporting local business creates and maintains jobs. It helps keep intact those small towns that would not otherwise survive in the wake of big shopping centers and malls. There is a great flavor to small towns where you can walk outdoors and wander in and out of shops.

The Basket Loft in Sewickley PA
The Basket Loft in Sewickley PA

I patronize each of the stores I’m showing here. At Cuttings Flower and Garden in Sewickley I buy unique gift items such as tea towels and ornaments I use to embellish my packages. At The Basket Loft I purchased Root candles for my Christmas table. Grandpa’s Joe’s Candy Shop has two locations- Beaver and the Strip District- where you can indulge your sweet tooth in old favorites such as Mallo Cups and Mike and Ike candies. I buy bacon flavored treats there- including chocolate covered bacon!- for my niece who loves bacon. During a recent shopping trip to Consignment Cottage in Moon Township, I purchased a primitives- style wall hanging for my dining room (for less than $10) during their 20% Thanksgiving weekend sale. Kathleen’s in Beaver PA was a complete surprise. A mecca of primitives (which I love) and a Santa that I may just head back there for.

Need a new outfit for Christmas Day? Check out Consignment Cottage
Need a new outfit for Christmas Day? Check out Consignment Cottage
Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop in Beaver PA.
Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop in Beaver PA.

Wherever you live, please make a note of what local businesses you can patronize. It is worth the effort to go out of your way just a bit to meet your neighbors and make new friends. Shop local this year and love it.

 

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Follow the North Star

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Embassy Suites Hotel, Winston Salem NC. Photo by Don Mikush
In Good Company, Embassy Suites Hotel, Winston Salem NC. Photo by Don Mikush

Take a whole group of dedicated people and raise money for a good cause. That is what happened last Thursday evening when supporters of Equality Winston Salem and the North Star LGBT Community Center in Winston Salem, North Carolina gathered for “In Good Company,” an evening of fun and serious dedication.

Two hundred and fifty guests attended this first ever fundraiser for North Star. Major donors were there such as PepsiCo, Wells Fargo, Replacements Ltd, Kevin Jennings and the Arcus Foundation, HanesBrands, Wake Forest University Office of the President, MCreative, and Wake Forest Baptist Church.

Event Moderators Mary Jamis and Rex Welton, Photo by Joanne Jamis Cain
Event Moderators Mary Jamis and Rex Welton, Photo by Joanne Jamis Cain

Keynote speaker John Stotler shared his story of coming out at his long time employer Wells Fargo and gave an inspirational story of their willingness to treat their LGBTQ employees equitably. Five awards were given to companies and individuals who were also leaders in the fight for equality.

All proceeds from the event benefit North Star LGBT Community Center at 704 Brookstown Avenue in downtown Winston Salem.

Mary Jamis speaks to the crowd. Photo by Don Mikush.
Mary Jamis speaks to the guests. Photo by Don Mikush.
Bishop Gene Robinson gave the invocation. Photo by Don Mikush.
Bishop Gene Robinson gave the invocation. Photo by Don Mikush.
Karon Click and the Hot Licks ended the evening on a swinging high note! Photo by Don Mikush.
Karon Click and the Hot Licks ended the evening on a swinging high note! Photo by Don Mikush.

Katherine’s Daughter Events was proud to be there and offer assistance with set up and on site coordination. We applaud Mary Jamis, the board of North Star and all those who gathered for standing up for equality and presenting this beautiful evening.

 

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Countdown to Christmas! Part One: Shopping

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Shop Local this Holiday! Check out Soergel's in Wexford!
Shop Local this Holiday! All items available at Soergel’s in Wexford!

It’s hard to believe but Christmas is only 45 days away. Have you started your shopping yet? With just a bit of pre- planning, Christmas can be a wonderful season of joy and love. In years past, I’ve had the experience of working retail at the holiday. I’ve made observations of shoppers at each stage of the game and it’s so obvious who is the happiest at the holidays.

The customers that came in my store in early November, armed with coupons from the catalog they received in the mail, usually found exactly what they wanted. They took their time, shopping and picking out presents. If they needed to special order their gift, they had plenty of time to wait for it to come in. These were the calmest shoppers.

The closer to Christmas it got, of course the less catalog items were available. And, the more irritated and irate the customer. The December shoppers were more frazzled. The week before Christmas shoppers? Forget it. They were down right miserable and sometimes not very nice.

Soergel's Santa ListNow, the November customers may have paid a tiny bit more for their items. But they were relaxed and happier over all. Mainly because they were getting their shopping done early and were able to enjoy their holiday parties and families more. And they had their pick of the nicest goods.

Moral of the story? Get going. Start shopping local or online. Make a list. (check it twice!) Ask loved ones what they want (yes, so much easier) and give them a budget amount. If you’d rather surprise them, fine, but make sure you have receipts in their gift box. You’ll spend less time too in the long run, because you will give thought to the gifts you purchase.

If you plan on giving homemade cookies or holiday breads work on your grocery list now. Buy flour, sugar, fresh baking soda and powder (my mom taught me this), nuts, cupcake liners ahead of time. I love to go to the Fiesta Outlet early on and buy oval platters to put my famous baklava on. (I’ll share that recipe soon!) That way I can leave the platter behind, a lasting memento of my delicious gift.

Soergel's Santas

I hope this inspires you to start shopping if you haven’t already. Love to shop local? Please also check out my favorite floral shop- Cuttings Flower and Garden in Sewickley PA.

What’s your favorite shopping strategy? Please share it with us!

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The BEST Halloween Ideas!

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I’ve scanned Pinterest to find you the best and some of the eeriest Halloween decorating and food ideas! Here are my favorite picks for your home or get together!

 

Create some spook-tacular pumpkins with these creative ideas from The Plaid Palette. I’ve seen many different pumpkin carvings over the years but this is different and unusual! Click HERE for their link and get carving.

Bloody Halloween Cake

Talk about creative! This Bloody Halloween Cake comes to you courtesy of Say It With Cake. They get my kudos for one yuckky looking cake! If you go to their website, they have a picture of it with a big knife in the middle! Won’t this impress your friends? Click HERE for their link.

 

pumpkin rice krispie treats

Awww, I never get tired of Rice Krispies Treats! (and who does?) This recipe received an amazing amount of pins on Pinterest and I can see why. Who can resist these sweet looking treats? They are perfect for kids and adults alike and Nicole of 365 (ish) Days of Pinterest came up with this clever idea! Click HERE for her link.

Vampire Cocktail | Self Proclaimed Foodie

Krissy over at Self Proclaimed Foodie came up with this idea and wow, what an original! Dubbed Vampire Cocktail, it contains raspberry puree, vodka and amaretto for ingredients, just to name a few. Be vampire-ish and check out Krissy’s website by clicking HERE.

For more food and decorating ideas, click HERE for a great link to Pinterest and have a happy and safe Halloween!

 

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Spotlight On: Greek Wedding Shop

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Photo Courtesy of Greek Weddings and Traditions
Greek Crowns – Photo Courtesy of Greek Wedding Shop

Ever been to a Greek wedding? If you have, you may have noticed the beautiful crowns the priest placed atop the bride and groom’s heads. The crowns are called Stefana and are usually joined by a white ribbon.

The significance of the crowns is this: The wedding crowns, or Stefana, symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on the bride and groom by God during the sacrament of marriage. The Stefana are joined by a ribbon which symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple. Through the crowns, Christ establishes the couple as the King and Queen of their home, which they rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. (source)

Pretty impressive? I think so!

When I first began blogging on WordPress, I found a website with the name Greek Weddings and Traditions. Sia Aristidou and I became blogging friends and I realized what a great source of impressive Stefana and other wedding articles her little Greek website/shop is!

Here are a couple of questions I asked Sia about her business:

1. What are your most popular items?

Definitely the Stefana. However Stefanothiki boxes are also popular and christening sets.

2. What is the average shipping costs to the USA for wedding crowns and the average length of time to receive them?

This depends on the item. I work with amazing designers from around the world. My products are shipped directly from the designer to the client. Some of my designers are located in the USA so postage time is very fast. However, other items are handmade in Greece or Cyprus or Australia and they might take a little longer.

3. How did you get started in your business? What motivated you to begin?

Great Question! I love Greek Weddings! I have always been fascinated by Greek traditions and Greek culture. So I started to write a blog about wedding traditions. The blog was just a hobby to begin with it but it gained a lot of engagement from Greek people around the world. Many others started to join in the conversation. Soon, I started to receive emails from couples asking about products like stefana and lambathas for their wedding. So I tried my best to help them by connecting the designer with the bride. The Greek Wedding Shop was a natural progression from that. Now I feature beautiful handmade wedding and christening products made by some of the best Greek designers in the world.

Please take a few moments and check out Sia’s great Greek wedding shop! Click HERE to be connected.

My thanks to Sia for being my first SPOTLIGHT vendor!

Photo Courtesy of Greek Weddings and Traditions
Photo Courtesy of Greek Wedding Shop
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Jessica and Jason’s Rustic Wedding

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Thank you to Dalton Photography
The beautiful bride Jessica! Thank you to Dalton Photography

It was a day meant for love. I headed up north, to Camp Lutherlyn with my assistant Leah, ready to GO for Jessica and Jason’s wedding!

Jessica contacted me months ago, after her brother and his fiance had arranged for me to be the “day of” coordinator for their wedding in November (looking forward to that!). Jessica impressed me by saying she wanted her family to enjoy themselves on the day of her marriage. And then, when we met to go over everything she said, “I just want all the guests to have a good time.” (WOW!)

And how could they not? With a gorgeous setting, rustic cabins, tall trees, beautiful sunset, delicious food and sweets- everyone had a good time!

The ceremony was held in the forest amphitheater within the camp itself. It was only a short walk down into the majestic sanctuary where cello and soft keyboard music greeted the guests. Jason’s father officiated the sacred event and participated in the most special day of his own son’s life. The beginning of a life with Jessica.

The Bride Arrives! Photo by Dalton Photography
The Bride Arrives! Photo by Dalton Photography
Photo by Dalton Photography
A Forest Cathedral. Photo by Dalton Photography

After the ceremony, it was all fun and good times on the deck of the reception hall. Music, photo booth, and a fantastic S’mores set up awaited the guests. We swooned over the beautiful twinkly chandeliers that Jason created just for Jessica and this special day.

Photo by Leah Marino
S’more Fun! Photo by Leah Marino
Photo by Leah Marino
Love those Chandeliers! Photo by Leah Marino

I will never forget this beautiful wedding, the family and Jessica and Jason. There was lots of love there that day,among all the friends and family. May they have many joyous years together!

The Happy Bride! Photo by Dalton Photography
The Happy Bride! Photo by Dalton Photography
The beautiful couple. Photo by Dalton Photography
Best Wishes to Jessica and Jason! Photo by Dalton Photography

 

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Hanging Out at Harvest House

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The Front Porch Pumpkin
The Front Porch Pumpkin

I am always on the look out for creative ideas and my favorite place to find them is cuttings flower and garden, located in beautiful Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

I visited the store recently for “Harvest House” and owner Jim Price has his 1860’s house all decked out in the coolest fall and Halloween garb you can imagine! The front porch looked amazing!

The Front Porch at cuttings
The Front Porch at cuttings

I especially loved these hanging children’s games, complete with tiny metal balls you have to carefully roll into place!

Looks like fun!
Looks like fun!

There were a few wicked witches on hand there as well.

I'm Melting!
I’m Melting!
Perfect for the front door!
Perfect for hanging on a doorknob!

Ride a broomstick over to cuttings soon and be inspired. Tell them Katherine’s Daughter sent you!

Gorgeous Fall Wreaths!
Gorgeous Fall Wreaths!

 

 

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Think About Your Guests

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Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
Picture Perfect Entry! Photo by Zack Wilson Photography

Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim are coming from New York. Cousins Sue and Nick are arriving from North Carolina. Your old college friend Maddie can’t wait to get here.

It’s your daughter’s wedding. Guests are arriving from all over the country to celebrate the big day. You’ve booked the Hyatt, made Pittsburgh gift baskets for their rooms, planned the rehearsal dinner to include them all. Now what?

Recently, a good friend of mine told me how she and her husband traveled miles to attend a wedding. She bought a new dress, shopped for the bride and groom’s present, and booked a hotel room.

Upon arriving at the wedding, there was no one to greet them. Then a young twelve year old girl welcomed them and told them where to sit. During the ceremony (I kid you not), the fire alarm for the building went off. Everyone went outside. After a while, it was the little girl who told everyone when to go back into the building.

I said “Where was the coordinator?” My friend said, “There wasn’t one.”

As I continue to work with brides and their families, it becomes more and more apparent to me that brides who want a coordinator do so for a couple of reasons. First, they want to enjoy their own day without worrying about every little detail. They want someone else (and not a family member) to watch over things, keep to the timeline for the day as best they can, and make sure any emergencies (like that fire alarm) are tended to.

Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
Lots of Happy Guests! Photo by Zack Wilson Photography

Second, they want their guests to have a good time. When it is obvious there is a coordinator, people will notice and take questions to that coordinator, instead of bothering the family. A coordinator is added insurance for a contented day, sort of like a big warm blanket for the entire wedding.

I think of myself as a warm blanket because I bring on smiles and soothe the nervous. Your guests are going to have questions at the ceremony and the reception. And they don’t want to bother you. They want to know where the bathrooms are, where to put their card, when it’s ok to raid the cookie table. They may get to the reception a tad bit late and want to know if they should wait in the foyer while the maid of honor gives her toast, or go and find their table? (answer: WAIT) Even the vendors have questions like when is dinner, when do I start the music for the buffet, etc etc etc.

Ah, I answer their questions. I am the go to person. I don’t bother the bride and groom or the family unless absolutely necessary. And then I keep it brief and non dramatic. Your guests will have a good time, I promise. And so will you.

Photo by Zack Wilson Photography
I love this picture! Thank you to Zack Wilson Photography

Think of your guests. Call us at 412-498-1607 and let us help you on your special day!

Please share and pass this post along to friends who are having a wedding. Thank you!

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Cat + Josh

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Cat and Josh, August 16, 2014
Cat and Josh, August 16, 2014

The first time I drove up the driveway to Cat’s home, I think I was a bit star struck. It was a beautiful house, on top of a hill, with a gorgeous yard and in ground pool.

Cat’s mom, Susan, showed me around. She and Cat had already envisioned where the tents, tables and chairs would go. Their request? They didn’t want to have to worry about anything on the big day. I asked if they wanted me at the church. No. They wanted me at the house, to watch over things there, to greet the guests as they arrived.

Blue tablecloths, White chairs and napkins. Mint and White paper lanterns!
Blue tablecloths, White chairs and napkins. Mint and White paper lanterns!

So I watched over the house and set the outdoor tablescape. I placed all the linens, decorated the tables with centerpieces and favors. They needed bartenders so I had hired two. The gift/sign in table was stylized and so was the memory table.

Cool Idea! Jenga blocks were how the guests sign in!
Cool Idea! Jenga blocks were how the guests signed in!

I coordinated with the DJ, a family relative, and he announced the arrival of the bride and groom, and the call to dinner with perfection. His (or the bride and groom’s) choice of music for the day was an eclectic mix of old and new. It kept the guests moving all through the evening.

Cat and her mom thought of the young ones as well. There was a basket with blankets to lay on the ground, perfect for babies to bask in the warm summer day. There were corn row games and a washer toss that kept the kids busy.

Love the t-shirt! Cookie Table Security!
Love the t-shirt! Cookie Table Security!

I loved Cat’s paper bouquet. Though I’d read about them, I never had the chance to see one up close. It was stunning, just like Cat.

Wow, Stunning!
Wow, Stunning!

The family hugged me throughout the day and thanked me. They said they couldn’t have done it without me. I’m not so sure about that but I am humbled that I could be of service to such a beautiful family. It’s my goal to take the stress off of loving couples who simply want to enjoy their wedding day and not burden their families.

I think my team and I accomplished that!

December 15, 2014- Here’s the review Cat submitted on our Facebook page: “We used Katherine’s daughter for our wedding. Joanne was able to create a space where we felt completely at ease! Our ceremony was at a church and while we were away, Joanne was able to set up the reception without instruction and made it an oasis! We had the best day of our lives (so far)!! It was beautiful and COMPLETELY stress free! My mother, bridesmaids, myself, and my wonderful groom were able to enjoy our day as Joanne managed the day of the wedding details. She worked amazingly with the caterer, and our cousin (who was the DJ) HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended!”


Vendors already chosen by the family:

Ambassador Tent Rental

Juliano’s Catering

Sweet Bites Bakery

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