Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All about pumpkins

It's that time of year when pumpkins are everywhere.  I know when most of you think of pumpkins you think about carving them for Halloween or making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Well, I just found an article on Buzzfeed that amazed me with all of the different cocktails, meals and desserts you can make with pumpkin.  Of course, I have to share it.  Take a look at this link for some great recipes.  

Do you have any favorite pumpkin recipes to share?  I would love to hear about all of your tasty treats!

Until next time...


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween entertaining from Live on the Couch

This morning I had a blast with John, Lisa and Jodi talking about Halloween entertaining "Live from the Couch" on CBS, WLNY.  For those of you not in the New York area, here is a link to the clip.  Enjoy and Cheers!

The history of candy corn

Did you know that October 30 is National Candy Corn Day?  It makes sense that it is the day before Halloween.

I love candy corn and just found this great article on one of my favorite websites,, about the history of candy corn.  In the spirit of Halloween I want to share it with you.  

Happy Halloween and...


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The art of the handwritten note

Recently a reader asked what about thank you card etiquette.  Does anyone send them anymore?

That's a great question!  And yes, people do still send hand written notes in the mail.  Less than before, but they are being sent.  Of course there is a certain etiquette to be followed and I really like the etiquette section I found at Dempsey & Carroll Stationers.  Here is the link.

However, I would like to take the issue of thank you cards, and written notes in general, a bit farther.  Let me ask you when was the last time you sent a "thank you note"?

As you may know, I recently launched the Shawn Rabideau Stationery collection for just that reason (among others).  The art of the hand written note is just about dead.  However, if I can single handedly bring it back…I will!  I know I have an uphill battle on my hands.  What with texting and email being "so popular" I might as well give up…but I'm not going to, and here's why the hand written note is better than a text or email.

A hand written note shows someone you care:
When you receive a hand written note from someone in the mail it shows they've taken the time to pick out a card that fits the occasion.  Whether it be"thinking of you", "congratulations" or even"sympathy" it shows that person cares about you and where you are in life at the moment.

A hand written note is better than the cell phone bill:
I know everyone has "bundle plans" these days, but getting a hand written note in the mail gives you that tingly feeling that you don't get from a cell phone bill.  Especially when you know you may have gone over your text limit.  Writing a hand written note only costs you the expense of the card, the stamp and three minutes of your time.  Going over your text plan can cost you much more than that!

A hand written note is always opened first:
I don't know about you, but when I receive a hand written note I open that before my credit card bill.  It makes me smile and I even put them on display in my home where I can see them, giving me smiles for days to come.

A hand written note can bring comfort:
When was the last time a text brought you comfort?  I have a dear friend who lives several hours away and while I can't always get a hug in person, her notes make me feel as if I received one of her fabulous hugs.  She knows when I'm sad, happy or just need a boost.  While I adore her texts, her hand written notes last forever.  I keep every single one in box…I can't do that with her texts.

Writing a hand written note polishes your writing skills:
I recently found out that my nieces never learned how to write cursive.  Let me say that again…The school doesn't teach cursive!  WHAT?!  Rather they taught them typing.  I remember having to write my letters, words and sentences over and over until I got them right and received an "A".  Writing by hand makes you polish your writing skills. Not only with appearance, but with spelling…I like the challenge of not depending on spell check.

Writing a hand written note makes me feel happy:
When I write a note to a friend, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Partially because I feel like I'm doing something good for someone else.  But also because I know when that person receives the note it will put a smile on their face.

I could go on and on for why you should write a hand written note, but the bottom line it's the right thing to do

Email is somewhat acceptable, but I would never recommend texting a thank you note or any other kind of sentimental note, it's quite impersonal and frankly lacks emotion or feeling.

Next time you're about to send off an electronic note, pick up a pen and paper and see what kind of reaction you get.

Until next time…Cheers!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to handle late RSVP's

I was just reading a post from a great Bridal Blog, Always a Blogsmaid, and want to share it with you.  Mayra and Xochitl offer a lot of great advice and I think this post is spot on.  Check out the link below.

I can safely say that there has not been one event that I have planned where the host has not had to make calls to guests who have not replied by the response date.  I do think this is incredibly inconsiderate on the part of invited guests but the fact is that it is not only ok, but necessary to call guests if they do not respond on time. Also, there are likely to be a few last minute changes so as the host you should always plan accordingly.

Again, some great advice.  Thanks Always a Blogsmaid.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A 40th Birthday under the "Big Top"

I noticed over the last few months I have not had many blog posts featuring events.  We have been really busy with many great, weddings, birthdays and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs over the Summer so I have some catching up to do!  I want to start by sharing a surprise 40th birthday party I planned and designed for a client's wife.  As you will see it was a really spectacular party that went off without a hitch despite some real challenges in the planning process, the first of which was how to erect a 3,500 square foot tent over the pool in our client's back yard.

It took a full week for the crew from Stamford Tent to construct the tent and get it ready for me to create the Las Vegas feel that my client wanted for the party.

With the tent complete, I began the task of creating the atmosphere that my client wanted for this event.  Since a key aspect had to be entertainment, I brought in On the Move Entertainment to help me in creating the perfect feel.  What better way to set the stage for a Las Vegas theme then to line the entrance with showgirls.  On the Move provided gorgeous costumed girls to wow the guests as they came through the covered marquee to the main event.

When guests entered the tent they were truly wowed by the spectacular scene I created around the pool.  Their first stop was the flower wall I installed under the existing pergola. I created the perfect setting for guest photos using this 8 foot wall as the backdrop and accenting it with draped organza and oversized vases dripping with fuscia and white phalaenopsis orchids.  It was a stunning way for guests to start their evening.

Throughout the room I used different, fun elements to create a spectacular overall look.  I brought in unique furniture pieces including chairs internally lit with LED lighting to give them a bright pink glow and some great lounge chairs that I used to create individual vignettes around the room.  

As you can see, the overall look inside the tent was really something to behold.  By filling the pool with 60,000 ping pong balls we actually created a screen that was used for the ever changing light show that was taking place around the tent.  This, combined with the LED lights in the furniture and the sparkling payette linens I used on the tables, certainly gave the room the Las Vegas feel our client wanted.

While the atmosphere was spectacular, we also needed great food and entertainment to make the party complete.  For the food, we chose The Brownstone to bring in a true feast.  From a wonderful seafood buffet to selections of pasta, sushi and meats, there was no possible way for a guest to go hungry at this party.

Of course, no birthday is complete without a cake.  For this party I brought in the wonderful cake artists at Pink Cake Box who really outdid themselves.  I love the way they added the LED lights and sugar orchids into the cake design as the perfect compliment to my decor.  Definitely a job well done.

As I mentioned, the other key to a great event is entertainment.  Not only did On the Move bring in a great band and showgirls, we had continual entertainment throughout the evening with some amazing performances.  One of my favorite was Bubble Girl who acted as a sort of contortionist while in her sealed bubble in the pool.  Certainly a unique experience.

Of course, we could not stop at Bubble Girl.  As a special treat we brought in the renown synchronized swimming company, the Aqualillies.  This was another show stopper as these talented ladies amazed guests with their skills in the pool.

As if all of this was not enough, we brought in a truly talented illusionist to keep guests entertained throughout the evening and treated men, and some women, to hand rolled cigars. Just as there was plenty of food, there was also continual entertainment so there was never a slow moment at this party.

As thrilled as I was with how this party came together, the only thing that really matters is a happy client and guest of honor.  The birthday girl was truly thrilled with the results of her party making for a happy husband.  

I do want to give special thanks for all of the amazing vendors who worked diligently to pull this together and to the talented work of Jennifer and Charles at Maring Visuals for capturing everything on camera.

Until the next Happy Birthday.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quick, easy cocktail parties.

Now that weather is getting colder it's time to move the party inside.  When I plan a party (any party) I make sure it's quick, easy and inexpensive!  After all working full time there aren't enough hours in the day to play Betty Crocker and Suzy Homemaker!

Rabidon't Tip - Don't spend hours cleaning your home.  Give it a quick dust, polish the bathroom, light a few candles, dim the lights and viola you have instant mood.  Save the cleaning for after the party when everyone's gone home!

The first thing I plan is the bar.  Know thy guests.  Are friends and family cocktail or wine people?  Sometimes I keep it really easy and ask each guest to bring a bottle (or two) of wine from a specific region of the world. This is a great way for you the host to save money and time shopping.  And it gets your guests to try wines they may not have otherwise tried.

Another option is to select several mixed cocktails you know your guests will like.  Pre-mix the cocktails and serve in pitchers.  Guests can pour their own drinks.  Again, this saves you from playing Isaac (from the Love Boat) and it saves you money for those guests who like to be heavy pourers.

Rabido Tip - Make sure you have enough mixed drinks pre-mixed in the kitchen.  This way you can spend time with your guests and not mixing and measuring the libation.

Food is one of the most important items at a cocktail party and if you're like me you fuss over what's too much and what's not enough.

If you're stopping by the grocery store on your way home from work keep it simple.  French bread, variety of cheeses, olives, hummus, prosciutto wrapped bread sticks all make great cocktail food.  And remember, there are so many quick bites you can make with items in your pantry so shop there first.  See what you have and then figure out what you need to supplement.  I like to do hearty foods that guests are going to fill up on.  French bread sliced with a little bit of ricotta cheese, lemon zest and a dab of honey make great passed hors d' oeuvres.  Don't be afraid to buy frozen pigs in a blanket, a little spicy mustard and you have a hit on your hands.  And if you have a great sushi restaurant get a platter or two of sushi.  You know your guests best and what they like.  Just remember to have good hearty food that you don't have to spend hours preparing.

Rabido Tip - Don't be afraid to serve store bought and homemade bites together.  Again, it saves you time and money!

The only thing left to do is to enjoy the party!

Until next time..... Cheers!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Try this yummie Cauliflower Gratin recipe

Now that fall has set in and the temps are getting colder I am always looking for comfort food recipes that warm me up.  However, I want recipes that are somewhat healthy.  I recently discovered a fabulous recipe for a Skillet Cauliflower Gratin…I've tweaked it a bit to give it more flavor and richness. Not only is this perfect for fall entertaining, it would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

4 cups 1-inch cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a large head)
1 1/2 cups skim milk, divided (see below)
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheese cheddar cheese divided (see below)
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
3 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


Heat oven to 350 degrees

In an oven proof skillet, on medium to high heat, bring cauliflower, 1 1/4 cups milk, salt and finely chopped garlic cloves to a boil  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is fork tender.

In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and olive oil.  Set aside

In a small bowl wisk together 1/4 cup reserved milk and flour.  Mix until smooth and set aside.

After the cauliflower is fork tender, slowly mix in milk / flour mixture until slightly thickened.  Add Dijon mustard, Worcestershire Sauce and remaining cheese.  Mix until smooth and combined.  Top with breadcrumb cheese mixture.

Bake in the oven until the top is brown and bubbling.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Bar Mitzvah Touchdown!

I always like to be able to design an event that is out of the box.  For that reason, I love Bar and Bat Mitzvahs since there is an extra degree of creativity that comes with designing the theme for the party.

Recently I had the chance to design such a Bar Mitzvah at the W New York Hotel.  With a very cool LED lighting system the ballroom was perfect for this football themed Bar Mitzvah and I had a lot of fun creating it.  

Guests entering the space were greeted by a stunning escort card table.  I combined green roses and orchids with more exotic greens such as bamboo to create the lush centerpiece. The centerpiece was then surrounded with football inspired escort cards for the adults and football pass lanyards for the kids.

As an accent on the kids cocktail tables I created these fun footballs covered with green button mums.  I added logos of the Bar Mitzvah Boy's favorite football teams to the containers for that extra little detail that rounded out the overall look and feel to the party.

As guests entered the ballroom they saw a large backdrop of a football stadium that gave the illusion the kids tables were on a football field.  This helped to create depth to the space while adding a "wow" factor to the room!

I brought the wall to life by adding two long tables where astroturf created the look and feel of a real football field on the table top.  Placed in the center of each table were large glass vases filled with footballs which helped to create height and drama by supporting two life size cutouts of football players that seemed to be running down the field from the stadium.  It was a great display that had real impact in the room.

There were other little touches I added to complete the theme.  For example, all of the napkins at the adult tables were wrapped with a napkin ring that resembled a football field.  For the adult arrangements I used  roses, orchids and other green floral to create a sleek and elegant centerpiece that rounded out the overall look to the party.

In the end it was a great Bar Mitzvah.  Everyone was thrilled with the result and we had a great time creating it!  While all of the vendors pulled together I want to send a special thanks to John Benke at the W New York and Jen from Fifth Avenue Digital for her great photography.

Until next time...


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shawn Rabideau Stationery Designs - Trevor

Fall is in full swing and if you like to entertain like I do check out the Trevor Invitation Suite from the Shawn Rabideau Stationery Collection.  Growing up in country side of Western New York I was surrounded by the beauty of tress all year long and thus the inspiration for this Faux Bois invitation.  It's rustic and elegant at the same time.  I offer it in natural and a bright stunning yellow.  And the best part it can be customized with your initials.

The Trevor Collection is perfect for intimate dinner parties all the way through Thanksgiving.  Use this collection to inspire your tables setting with place cards, menu cards and even gift tags.  The possibilities are endless.

Check out the Trevor Suite on or at a retailer near you.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Organizing your guest list

Brides, it's time to organize your guest list and make excel spreadsheets your friend!

I can't begin to tell you how many different forms of a guest list I've seen over the years.  Each and every one has been a disorganized mess.  So, to make things easier for you take moment to look at my format for organizing your guest list. Using excel spreadsheets allows you to filter your guests by table, by who is and isn't coming, and who you've written a thank you note for. For sorting purposes it is important to separate last name, first name, address, etc. into separate fields for easy sorting.  And you can even use this list to organize your holiday cards!

Check it out and make excel spreadsheets your friend!

Until next time -


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pumpkin Keg!

I absolutely love the idea of doing a pumpkin keg.  I found the idea on,  it's perfect for any fall party including Halloween!

It's simple:

Carefully cut a hole in the top of a pumpkin, remove all seeds (reserve for toasting in the oven) and membrane making sure the entire inside of the pumpkin is clean.

Carefully cut a hole in the lower portion of the pumpkin and insert the spout (find it here on Be careful to cut the hole small enough so that the spigot has a tight fit to prevent any leak.

Pour in your favorite fall beer or cider.  And enjoy! (please drink responsibly)

To keep the beer or cider cold place a zip - lock bag filled with ice in the pumpkin with your beer or cider.

Be sure to keep the kids away from this one... If you want, you can make one for just for the kids with their favorite punch or soda. Just mark one pumpkin "adults" and the other "kids".

This is sure to be a hit at your next party.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hanukkah Entertaining

I just happened to be reading the New York Daily News today and read the following article reminding me that Hanukkah is early this year. 

For the first time in 125 years Hanukkah takes place over Thanksgiving.  I really enjoyed reading the ideas in this article for blending traditions to adapt traditional food served during Hanukkah with those served at a Thanksgiving feast.  I know I will be testing out some ideas of my own.

And of course, if you are planning a Hanukkah celebration visit or one of these great stationery retailers to see the Hanukkah invitations in the Shawn Rabideau Stationery collection.  

Here to a Happy Hanukkah and a great holiday season!