A MINI GARDEN PARTY


This weekend I hosted some girlfriends for dinner and drinks. I know these girls from working as a therapist and we all happened to earn our professional licenses  this year and so of course we needed to celebrate! And as you know I love any excuse to get creative, so I decided to do a little garden party theme this time given it's summertime. Starting with the most adorable invitation from Paperless Post, I couldn't help myself, despite inviting only three people! Aside from the one I used, all of the options from Happy Menocal are so chic. The illustrations are perfect and I honestly want to use them all.  For the decor I just grabbed some pretty pink and purple flowers from Trader Joes to make an arrangement, add to the ice bucket and detail the cake with. The ice bucket was extremely easy to make but if you're not into DIY here is one you can purchase. To make mine I just took two glasses that fit into one another and added the water and flowers in the space between them. In order to make sure the flowers didn't all float to the top, I filled it up halfway with half the flowers and let it freeze, before doing a second round. It turned out beautiful but the ice melted within a few hours so it was pretty but not the best way to keep the wine chilled! For the punch, I poured in about two bottles of brut rosé, slices of grapefruit and grapefruit flavored Italian soda to taste. It was not only beautiful but also delicious! I love drinking brut rosé because its' got all the benefits of champs but it's pink and way less sweet. To garnish the punch cups I added a few peach colored raspberries I found at Trader Joes to a cocktail skewer. Another option would be to use blueberries or grapes depending on the fruit you put in the punch. I am not sure how well raspberries and grapefruit go together but the coloring on the raspberry I found was just too pretty to pass up! SusieCakes helped me out with my absolute favorite marble cake and as usual accepted my request to switch out the chocolate frosting for the pink buttercream. I  added the cute flowers myself to match the other florals and give the cake some dimension. The lady who took my order didn't seem too fazed by my request to write "Licensed AF" on it and it was as befitting a title for us as delicious. Since I left the meal up to Arthur, who made some delicious roasted veggies, a cucumber salad and chicken yakitori; I of course made a nice little cheese plate. I used my typical favorites like triple cream brie, manchego, raw honeycomb, candied nuts, water crackers and salami slices. It was delicious and so simple to put together. I also added some strawberries to keep with the garden theme! Enjoy!

-MGN
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LE WEEKEND


CELEBRATE: I have a birthday, a friend in town and will be throwing a small little party to celebrate myself and few work friends who recently got licensed as therapists. As you know I love to celebrate, whether it's just dinner with a friend I don't see often, a birthday or a full on party. For the little get together I am hosting, I'm going to try out a little garden party theme, so hopefully some florals, a fizzy punch and some fresh fruit. Past that I will need to consult with my private chef, aka Arthur to decide on what food. As usual, I am mainly focused on my decor. Wish me luck, can't wait to share! SEE: I'm excited for two movies opening this weekend, the sequel (or is it a prequel?) to Mamma Mia, which I actually just saw for the first time on Netflix recently. I remember having a desire to see it when it first came out, but for whatever reason never got around to it and now I am full on ready to buy a one way ticket to Greece or try to become a broadway singer. The jury is still out on which plan is more feasible, but in the meantime I am excited for the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again premiere. Additionally, I am eager to see McQueen, a documentary about the legendary high fashion designer, Alexander McQueen who unfortunately passed at a young age and in the prime of his career. I first saw the preview for this film when I went to see another fashion icon documentary that I am still obsessing over, The Gospel According to André, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! DO: For Arthur's birthday I got him a series of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and we just went to the first one, which was Seal! He is such a great performer and had an epic band playing with him. The Hollywood Bowl is just such a wonderful summer venue. I love that the venue allows you to bring your own wine and food, so in true Monica fashion I brought a bottle of brut rosé and grabbed some sub sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie from Bay Cities (aka the best Italian deli in Los Angeles). It was such a beautiful night and I am excited about the next two shows coming up in the series! Not a lot of time for rest this weekend, but sometimes that's what it takes to have fun! Enjoy!

-MGN

{ garden party inspo image source 1 | 2 }
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HOW I ASKED MY SISTER TO BE MY MAID OF HONOR


Having a sister guaranteed many things in life; lots of copying, toy sharing and fighting over who got to play Mary-Kate Olsen first. For the record it was always me but seeing how things turned out I am more than happy to give you the privilege now Becky. But the other fairly common tradition of sisterhood often assures you a spot as maid of honor and of course for me there was no question that my only sister Becky would get the job. Given that she’s had years of practice being my schlepper, therapist, voice of reason (although I’m still the big sister and 99% right), lady in waiting, defuser, stabilizer, reality checker and biggest cheerleader always; I am fairly confident in her abilities. I know she’ll make the perfect candidate to manage multiple Monica meltdowns and tell me I look like Kate Middleton. She’s going to do a great job of keeping me humble and making sure I have a great time because that’s who she is!

So to make it a bit more special, I decided to give her a cute little box full of fun things, as many brides often do to ask their maids of honor and bridesmaids to be a part of the big day. I found the box at Tuesday Morning, which is a similar store to HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx  They had a lot of options for cute decorative boxes and I would highly recommend looking for one there or a craft store like Micheals or Hobby Lobby. So I filled it with a lot of the usual things like brut rosè, candy and a nice card. I chose brut rosè for a few reasons, the primary being that I love it, but also because right after Arthur proposed, I said "yes" and then immediately heard a champagne bottle pop and when I turned around it was my sister Becky, holding a bottle of brut rosè. The other perfect coincidence is that this particular brand is called Graham Beck, which I swiftly crossed out and made "John Beck," as that was Becky's undercover name in Arthur's phone to coordinate the proposal. I also added a ridiculous vegan kale gourmet candy bar (yes they make it and yes it cost $10 welcome to LA), every season of The Nanny in DVD format (which my sister and I grew up watching religiously and taught us more than any teacher or cheerleading coach could have) and a live butterfly. Yes, you read that right. I went v extra and put a live butterfly in her box - inspired by the movie Bridesmaids when Kristen Wig’s character is invited to her friend's wedding shower in the most over the top way possible. Now before anybody gets concerned, there was no harm done to the butterfly. It was shipped on ice and hibernated until we released it. The butterfly slowly woke up with the warmth and then flew into the beautiful Chicago skyline! The company I worked with was great, and I would highly recommend if you’re interested! It made the whole experience extra fun and very special. 

So if you are planning to do something similar for whatever occasion, my best advice is to make it personal! Obviously mine was full of funny things unique to Becky and I's relationship and that made it mean more for us both. For example, she always chose mint chocolate chip ice cream as a kid, hence the mint chip candies. She also is constantly rolling her eyes at the Los Angeles stereotypes, hence the vegan kale chocolate. And Compartés has amazing chocolates, but vegan kale, really? Oh and did I mention they also make an avocado toast chocolate bar too?? That one I might actually try though. Anyway, Becky's Box Included the following:







-MGN
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MY BRENTWOOD APARTMENT TOUR: THE LIVING ROOM


I just said goodbye to the apartment I have been living in for 7 years. My entire time so far in Los Angeles has been here, in the only place I have ever called home in the city of angels. And now, I am moving in with my fiance in not so far away Santa Monica and I must say, it's been quite the send off. Obviously there are many good things about this move. The most important is starting a new chapter with Arthur and his adorable little frenchie, Pierre. Second, Santa Monica is not far from Brentwood and super close to the beach so this move isn't too much of a shock, seeing as living in Brentwood is practically living in Santa Monica anyway. And third, it's the next part of my life here in Los Angeles, my adult home really since I left Chicago right after finishing college about two hours away. As excited as I am to start this new chapter, I must give this place I called home some credit. It was where my California dreams got to come true. As cheesy as that might sound, it was home base for everything after I got off the plane at LAX and attempted to create a future in this new city. It was the first step in becoming truly independent and #adulting. The safe haven after tough days at graduate school, extra long work weeks, unfortunate car accidents, time spent with awfully "Hollywood" people and hours on the 405 freeway. It was where my best friend from high school and I debriefed from celebrity sightings, boozy brunches and bad dates. Where we hosted all our friends from Chicago, family and new LA friends. The place we'd order pizza at 3am, pregame off my bar cart, spend hours deciding what to wear out and debate whether or not a gluten free diet was actually better than eating real carbs. The jury is still out on that one, please write in an answer if you have one. The place where I'd bring home cheese and rosé for friends to come chat and where I created this wonderful outlet you are reading from right now. The place I'd retreat to after bad breakups and to call my mom and sister. Where I'd eat ice cream in bed and overwhelm my Pinterest account. The place I'd eventually welcome a new roommate, Leila, to after Emma moved to the Southbay and I desperately needed some hope after tough breakup. It served as home base for so many beginnings and endings, and so I wanted to make sure I got an opportunity to truly honor it. Hope this tour does it justice. Enjoy!

This small space in my apartment is where I would entertain a few friends in, as well as sit with my roommate Leila, eat dinner, gossip and watch The Real Housewives of basically anywhere. I always loved coming home and relaxing on the couch, doing some work, drinking coffee and decompressing from my day. Of course my favorite thing to do was entertain, whether it was for cocktails before going out at night, Galentine's Day or just another night better spent at home with friends rather than some lame bar. My version of entertaining always tends to fall short on a main course, since I am a terrible cook. So instead I always do pretty cocktails, a yummy cheese plate and a dessert imported from one of my favorite bakeries; similar to my 27th birthday party. For my last hoorah in this apartment, I again stayed within my range and average entertaining skill. Rosè, some fabulous triple cream brie with honeycomb and pretty macarons. Ever since my friend Melissa gave me this adorable gold pineapple dish (old from Anthropologie - another version here) I have been trying to keep it full with some variation of a Sugarfina candy. Full disclosure, we quickly had to stop refilling it because I couldn't stop eating them all day and so now it's just for company. Same with cheese. But when I shopped for this shoot I found these ADORABLE blue caramel eggs and was OBSESSED! It's a great treat for anyone as obsessed with blue as me and they happen to be delicious too. 

For the decor my color scheme was lots of gold accents and blue and white. Starting with Raj, our colorful elephant I actually sketched out myself from a Lilly Pulitzer image I found on Pinterest and painted with Leila, was a complete DIY project that actually turned out well. It was quite simple after an inexpensive trip to Micheals and a steady pencil sketch. We used three blank white canvases, variations of blue paint and a pencil. We put in a little pineapple decal and both our initials to make him extra special. Unfortunately none of my friends could take him since he was customized but perhaps someone with the ML initials will get lucky at the Salvation Army! Hope you enjoyed my living room tour; up next is my bar cart and bedroom. 








 GET THE LOOK


-MGN

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CHIC EATS: FROSÈ HOLIDAY


We all need to beat the heat it's summertime and now the 4th of July! So I figured it's only right to debut my first "chic eats' series post with a new warm weather classic, the basics' beloved frosè. It's extremely easy to make, thanks to this amazing recipe I found from Abby Capalbo for Style Me Pretty. The only thing I changed from the original recipe is use of a grapefruit garnish, in addition to the a sprig of lavender. Another option would be to use a strawberry, which would make it a tad sweeter and keep it pretty too. I also doubled the original amount of Belvoir Elderflower to make it a tad sweeter but I recommend playing around a bit to find what level of sweetness you like most. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
BOTTLE OF ROSÈ
ICE CUBES
SLICE OF GRAPEFRUIT

RECIPE:
1. POUR ROSÈ INTO ICE CUBE TRAYS AND FREEZE OVERNIGHT.
2. BLEND THE FROZEN ROSÈ, BELVOIR ELDERFLOWER ROSE LEMONADE AND ICE CUBES UNTIL IT FORMS INTO A SLUSHY CONSISTENCY. 
3. GARNISH WITH A GRAPEFRUIT SLICE. 
4. SERVE IN A CHAMPAGNE COUPE OR WIDE MOUTH WINE GLASS.







-MGN

*please drink responsibly