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The Importance of Toasting

24 Apr

The celebratory tradition of a toast transverses virtually all backgrounds and cultures.

My husband and I hosted a small brunch at our house this Sunday. We made Mimosas – always brunch favorite. When make a toast, we not only express the jubilant spirit of the season, but can do it in a way that includes everyone. Our small family gatherings include several diverse beliefs – Atheists, devout Catholics and Pagans and so I have especially come to enjoy our holiday toasts, when we all take a moment together, raise our glasses and pause to acknowledge this special occasion – for which ever reason we find it special!

Spring Celebration Mimosas

Mimosas on the deck, Sunday morning

The fun stuff – Mimosas!

Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Prosecco or Cava, select around a $10-12 bottle. You want something that you won’t feel bad about mixing, but something that is still tasty enough for those who prefer to for go the juice and just sip the bubbly. Skip the Brut and try a Blanc de Noirs or something of a similar style. The slightly less tart profile mixes better with the acidic orange juice.

For the juice, when you can go for fresh squeezed orange juice. Fresh juice has more flavor than juice from the carton, so you may want to use a smaller amount. We are fortunate enough to have two orange trees, loaded with sweet fruit and used this occasion to break out our juicer. Also try juice blends like Santa Cruz Organic orange-mango or orange-pineapple, for a slight twist.

For the presentation, a rimmed metal tray is an excellent choice. It makes for easy clean-up and prevents soaked table cloths if your bubbly happens to bubble over!

Our Orange Tree


S’mores Party

17 Apr Smores Party invitation design

I really enjoyed designing the invitation for our backyard S’mores Party. Yum!

Smores Party invitation design

50's style S'mores Party invitation

The sun is shining, and my family and I are starting to plan our camping trips for the summer. It reminded me of our S’mores Party we had at the end of the season last year. This was a simple yet fun party. We had a bonfire in the back yard, bundled up, roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. My favorite s’more was definitely the Nutella-banana s’more! Check out a similar recipe at Sunset Magazine

nutella banana smores from Sunset

New twist on an old favorite

This will definitely become an annual tradition at our house. A desert-only party made for easy prep and clean-up, and fun for the whole family.

Chris at Graphic Bungalow

Creative Gift Wrapping

29 Mar

While at ‘lil G’s birthday party this weekend I noticed the gift table where I saw this adorable wrapping by my friend Sadie. She used her son Asher’s artwork to wrap the gift. Genius! I manage to keep most of the special art assignments my kids bring home from school, literally there are hundreds in a container in my house. I have a hard time throwing away their masterpiece. But to use them for gift wrapping…..I LOVE the idea and thought I would share with you. So next time you think about throwing away the 10th finger painting of the week, roll it up and save it for wrapping.



Food & Wine Pairing Guide

28 Mar

I’m a wino, living in the middle of one of the world renowned wine countries it’s hard not to be. I try to do my best with pairing foods with wine and now that I found this handy Guide on Real Simple, it’s going to make my wine selections a little easier. Check it out…..

Wine Pairing Guide

If your in the Paso Robles area here are just a few of my favorite wineries to hit up.

Calcareous ~ Pear Valley ~ Denner ~ Opolo ~ Ancient Peaks

What are your favorite wineries?



Be Our Guest

18 Mar

We love to have house guests and have plenty of them.  Somewhere in the blogosphere I found the most thoughtful Guest Basket put together for visiting houseguests.  As a Modern Hostess I felt this was the perfect touch for my next visitors.  I put myself in my guest’s shoes and gave some thought to what they may need during their visit to Casa Cortes.   I gathered necessities such as spare toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, magazines, a couple books, and placed them in a basket and had it waiting on our guest bed next to clean set of towels.  I also included a hand written note welcoming our guests back.  They Guest Basket was well received and will be a regular touch for our future guests.

Here is an idea of things to include in your Guest Basket:

Ear plugs
Bottled Water
Snacks such as trail mix, energy bar, oranges
Shampoo & Conditioner
Lint Remover
Mouth Wash

Use your imagination and chances are you have most of this stuff around the house.

Have a great weekend! Arianna

Party by Numbers

19 Oct

I have this fun “party by numbers” wheel from Real Simple. It turns to show how much to buy of ice, liquor, hors d’oeurvres you name it, it’s here. I thought I would share since not everyone has one of these handy dandy party wheels.

Let’s say you have a party of 12 coming up. Here’s what you need…..

Ice: 12 pounds total

Garnishes (lemons/limes): 3 each

Cheese: 6 pounds total

Hors D’Oeuvres: 48-72 pieces

Wine: 7-8 bottles total

Beer: 3 six packs

Liquor (Vodka, Gin & Rum): 2 bottles each

Optional Liquor (Bourbon, Blended Scotch, Whiskey): 1 bottle each

Juice & Soda (Cola, Ginger Ale, Cranberry & Orange Juice): 2 bottles each

Seltzer & Tonic: 3 bottles each

This is the middle of the road party. If you expect to have a larger group of guests or a smaller group just multiply or divide the numbers above.



Halloween Series ~ Spider Webs Galore

15 Oct

Any day now I will be receiving a tube of beef netting. That’s right, beef netting! What would I possibly need beef netting for? Take a look…..

You can purchase your own beef netting at Trenton Mills or on ebay, which is where I ordered my tube.

The great thing about beef netting is that it’s reusable for more Halloweens to come. I promise to show off my entryway once it’s all decorated.