party: santa barbara style

August 10th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Parties - (Comments Off)



Every year during the first week of August, Santa Barbara, my hometown, honors it’s Spanish heritage with a city-wide celebration called Old Spanish Days – Fiesta for short.  Lasting from Wednesday through Sunday there are events every day – street markets, flamenco dancing, live music, and the Friday parade. The streets are littered with confetti and glitter from crushed cascarones. Many Santa Barbarans don traditional Spanish garb. Tequila is flowing, churros and frying and mariachis are playing all over town.  Flamenco and folklorico dancing can be found on the steps of the Old Mission on the first day of fiesta, La Fiesta Pequena, and on the following nights in the Sunken Garden at the Santa Barbara Courthouse during “Noches de Ronda” performances. The Friday parade, El Desfile Historico is one of the largest equestrian parades in the country. I have many memories as a child watching the parade from my mom’s office balcony, my friends and I crushing cascarones over unsuspecting pedestrians below.



While all of the city-wide festivities take place, many people also throw their own Fiesta bashes. The last couple of years, work has sadly kept me away from my cousin’s incomparable Fiesta party. She does not spare any detail, always with beautiful decor, amazing food and a very serious margarita and salsa competition. Margarita contestants stand behind the bars serving up their best recipes, while volunteers pass numbered cups around with samples for judging. Contestants are eliminated in rounds, and prizes are awarded at the end of the evening.  No need to get super-fancy, the same gal one 4 years in a row and has been barred from competing with her beergarita, the main ingredients being frozen lime concentrate and a Corona. Sometimes the simplest things are just the best.

Here is a little inspiration for throwing your own Fiesta party…


Any brightly colored flowers bunched into Mexican food cans are a simple decor solution.


This hand-made sarape bow would be a festive touch on place settings or favor boxes.


Cascarones are a must, they are a little messy, but provide a lot of entertainment.  You might want to plan a baking marathon around making cascarones, so you can use all of the egg!  Simply tap the top of an egg and peel back a small opening.  Empty out the white and yolk. Thoroughly rinse the shells and let them dry, opening side down, overnight.  Fill the eggs with confetti and decoupage a small piece of colored tissue over the top. Proceed to decorate however you want!


No fiesta would be complete without a pinata!  They come in many shapes and sizes, but the traditional burro is my favorite.  This one has been glammed-out with gold paint and paper flowers. The how-to is linked below!


The crowd-pleasing beergarita:

1 can frozen limeade concentrate
1 limeade can full of silver tequila
1 can of 7up or Sprite
1 can light beer
juice of one lime
1/4 of limeade can or less of triple sec

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and serve over ice!

Encourage your friends to get creative in the kitchen with unique salsa recipes. Making salsa could also be combined into the party – provide many different chopped ingredients for guests to mix their own salsas on the spot!  Enchiladas and tamales are great for a crowd. Large batches of enchiladas are easy to make, and while tamales are complicated, I’d suggest going straight to the source and checking a local Mexican market.
For dessert, churros would definitely be my top pick.  When I was growing up, Fiesta was pretty much the only time I could ever get a churro.  I looked forward to that like nothing else!  Then we got a Costco… Like tamales, churros can be a bit inconvenient to make, so if you have a Costco, a great shortcut would be to buy several churros at the food court, chop them into bite size portions, reheat them shortly before eating, and serve with melted chocolate for dipping!

Viva la Fiesta!!!






Sources: Old Spanish Days Fiesta Album // Style Me Pretty // Pop Sugar // Intelligent Travel // Studio DIY

party: on a patio

August 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Parties - (Comments Off)


During this time of the summer many Angelenos are off on summer vacations, and the ambience of the city shifts. All of sudden everything is just quieter, slower, calmer.   Crowds are smaller, waits are shorter, and life just seems more enjoyable.  Even the initial summer gridlock created by the influx of tourists and beach-goers has dissipated. I relish this part of the year here and enjoy it, knowing that it is only temporary.  The leisurely feeling in the larger environs inspires the same at home. These warm summer evenings beg for small get-togethers, simple food, and a just a hint of a breeze.


The setting sun filters in over the top of a wood-paneled wall into this cozy outdoor space.  Succulents always make an impact with incredible ease, and here mix nicely with simple bunches of ivory roses packed tightly together.  The decorative wire risers call back to the Bertoia chairs.  The long table and delicate frames of the chairs are ideal to make a small patio a functional entertaining area.


There is much less effort put into this table setting, but it is still incredibly inviting. The loaf of bread alone is enough to want to be a guest at this table.  With the bowls and cheese grater, it appears a pasta dish may be on the menu. Simple and informal, this looks like a fantastic evening!


This incredible built-in sofa creates ample seating for company in this simple, but stunning patio. Evening drinks could easily give way to a full-on dance party with the right lighting and music in this covered enclave. While this Patricia Urquiola patio set is visually stunning and the perfect size or a party for two. Sculptural and whimsical, the carefully patterned bent metal pays homage to many patio entertaining sets of the past.


Vintage bistro chairs, fabric accents and bunches of baby’s breath keep this table light, casual and summery. Strings of cafe lights and pillar candles are at the ready when the finally goes down.


Nothing says quintessential summer patio set like rattan in this patio on Capri. Seating for 8 and an adjoining patio just below are a perfect summer entertaining spot.


Hanging strands of white lights add some evening magic to this backyard seating area.  Facing love seats and narrow table call for a double-date, drinks and snacks. Imagine these turned 90 degrees facing a large white sheet suspended between two trees – instant theater for an outdoor movie screening! And for those of us with island plantations, dark-wood British colonial furniture, white table cloth, large glass hurricanes and pineapples really do work well with the surrounding palms for an evening dinner!  This is really so beautiful, elegant and understated, and for anyone who is a fan of of  South Pacific, you might also be envisioning Emile de Becque and Nellie Forbush eating breakfast in island paradise.


Nothing says party like golden lawn flamingoes!  The backyard of this Palm Springs private residence sports an amazing entertaining set-up, complete with built-in bar. The low planter could also be used for some additional seating in a pinch.  Many mid-century ranch-style home like this have open floor plans and lots of flow inside and out, making them ideal for parties!







Sources: Casa Haus // Sparkle Meets Pop // Toby Scott // Dust Jacket // Voltex // Cakies // D Pages // Veranda // 100 Layer Cake

congratulations alicia!

August 1st, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Paper | Parties | Style - (Comments Off)


We couldn’t be more thrilled to share these photos of Alicia’s baby shower. Not only is she a Hello, Love contributor, she is a dear friend, an adorable preggo and as of last week a mom for the second time. This shower was featured on 100 Layer Cakelet (thanks so much ladies!) but we felt like it was such a huge Hello, Love collaboration of love that we had to feature it too! Erin made the invitations and decor, I hosted and cooked, Tammy donated the prize for the raffle, Emily made the sweets and our newest guest contributor Cat did our hair and makeup!

Welcome to the world baby Pia and congratulations to the Rico Family!



























Photography: Charla Storey // Sweets: Cakewalk Bakeshop // Paper and Decor: Sweet Magnolia Paper // Flowers: Bows and Arrows // Hair and Makeup: Cat at Knockout Beauty // Raffle Prize: La Bichette

party style: i’m on a boat!

July 27th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Parties - (Comments Off)


In the summer, a party outdoors is a good thing. A party at the beach, better yet. Party on a boat? The best. Most of us don’t have a boat docked, awaiting the next evening dinner party and cruise, but it sure is a happy thought!  I’ve navigated around the images of rowdy booze cruises and celebrity yacht parties, sponsored by insert-name-of-topshelf-liquor-brand-here, to get to the good stuff. From a picnic for two, to a Moroccan-themed dinner with friends, to a catamaran cruise, these boats show off their entertaining skills!











party food: summertime favorites

July 20th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Parties - (Comments Off)


These finger foods can be served as a main dish but can also be made as hors d’oeuvres for easy summer snacking! To keep your mind in summer relaxation mode, sides and drink selections are included!


Serve lobster rolls with kettle-style potato chips – have a bowl out for snacking and put a few in the sandwich, too. In a pinch, substitute shrimp for the lobster to save time and money! Lobster rolls can be served hot or cold, and the rolls can be dry, spread with mayo or drizzled with melted butter. Many people prefer them warm, but how good would this be chilled on a hot day? Throw some summery beers in a bucket of ice to compliment this classic.

There are lots of good pale ales out there to choose from that would be fantastic with a lobster roll, but right now shandies are having a resurgence. All you have to do is take equal parts light beer and mix with lemonade, ginger ale, or citrusy soda. There are also a wide variety of shandy blends available from many commercial breweries. Leinenkugel Summer Shandy is a classic lemon shandy and is a great cool-down on a hot day.
Chicago-style dogs have a delicious medley of toppings which usually includes sliced tomatoes, fresh onions, pickle spears and sport peppers. Sport peppers are a small, spicy, pickled pepper. Important note, if you are in Chicago and don’t want to be laughed at or asked to leave the dining establishment you are at, do not ask for ketchup. Hot dogs come with mustard only in this city! I’ve also had these served with Kraft Singles tucked under the hot dog, and it definitely was not bad!

Fries are a common side for the Chicago dog, but not everyone has a deep fryer, so I would suggest a doing an oven-baked version. Scarletta Bakes has the process down to a science in her instructions for the best baked french fries (link above). Trader Joe’s also has a fantastic garlic fry in their frozen foods section.

Set out a fun selection of bottled sodas like Boylan or Izze. Cost Plus World Market and specialty grocery stores usually have a great selection!


During my college days in San Diego I had three go-to places for amazing fish tacos and I sure do miss them! Living in coastal southern California my whole life, I’ve been spoiled with a lot of fresh fish. “Baja Style” fish tacos are my favorite. Fried or grilled with fresh cabbage, some guacamole and a squeeze of lime keeps it simple and lets the fish shine. Sometimes you will see these served with tartar sauce, which adds a whole extra level of deliciousness.


- Avocados

- Chopped white onion

- Chopped cilantro

- Finely minced serrano chiles (membranes and seeds removed)

- Lemon juice

- Lime juice

- Garlic salt

- Onion salt

I’m definitely a never-measure kind of chef, and everyone has their own preference. I suggest making this to taste. I usually have to test it a couple of times along the way, so I just keep a bag of chips handy! This guacamole combination is my favorite – clean, crisp and with a little bite.

You can make a refreshing melon agua fresca (using the above link), or if you want to save some time, Whole Foods usually has ready made agua fresca on ice!









party decor: balloons!

July 13th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Parties - (Comments Off)


Balloons have come to be standard party decor, present at many occasions and celebrations. Inexpensive, colorful and accessible, it’s not surprising that they have become a staple. Here are a variety of balloon decor ideas that are anything but ordinary!


Frozen water balloons stand in for ice while keeping these bottles cold.


Wrapped with light-weight fabric and adorned with pom-poms or ribbon streamers, this crafty idea would be a great way to use scrap fabric.


Balloons painted with a marbled effect add a soft and artistic touch to this cake display.


Helium filled balloons reach for the sky and fill the ceiling with color. Fun tip: put a marble inside the balloon and they will hang upside-down!


Confetti in any size or color palette in clear or white translucent balloons is a great way to match any occasion.


Gold splatter paint looks current and contemporary!


Go for the gold! Metallic balloons are perfect for the event that needs a touch of glam!







Sources: A Subtle Revelry // The Cinderella Project // Ruffled Blog // Hostess With the Mostess // CA Shine // This Is Glamorous



July 10th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Flower | Parties - (Comments Off)

americana bouquet

AMER-I-CA-NA: materials concerning or characteristic of America, its civilization, or its culture; broadly: things typical of America.

This wedding is certainly not typical but it is definitely all American, July 4th inspired and totally gorgeous…

americana red wedding invitation