Jardin Soiree: Food, Decor, & Wine Bracket Details!


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We kicked off the summer in high style last weekend, finally hosting our Jardin Soiree. We couldn't have picked a better day really, perfect weather (eighty plus degrees), French inspired playlist at the ready, and of course pretty decor provided from my local Pier 1 Imports. 

After all this shopping and prep, I was happy to finally have the day arrive and very ready for a taste, or ten, of wine! We welcomed friends with a rose vs white wine bracket, a perfect way for our mom's group to get out with the kids and the husband's (who all met for the first time). Nothing like lots of wine and smack talk to bring a group together....much more effective than name tags!

I stuck with all the treasures and steals I found the week before (and posted about here). Decor was French garden party ready with eyelet and lace paper lanterns hanging from our umbrella, a vineyard wine jug as our tasting table centerpiece, wood and glass platters, cake stands and cloches were stacked with cheese, crackers and tasty sweets, and of course a Parisian accent or two.....all tres, tres, jolie! Everything worked together seamlessly, which made set up a snap and allowed me extra time to focus on the nibblies and wine bracket set up. From the rustic floral runners, to the Provencal inspired pillows, copper beverage tubs, tiled bar cart, and the pretty glass dish with the Eiffel tower (which served as our bottle opener stand), everything came together for the perfect outdoor look. 

Now, how does one host a wine bracket? Here are the rules and finer points outlined for guests:


  • Bring two of the same bottles per guest/couple, one for entry into the wine bracket and one for entry into the prize pool. If the wine should be chilled, bring one cool and ready to drink.
  • Bottles should be $15-20 each, white (any type or region) or rose, though clearly this would work with  any type of wine or specific region.
  • Bring wine disguised in a bag and deposit with host/ess, who will coordinate all entries (and be excluded from the voting, not the sipping). I opted to disguise all wines and then shuffle them up, allowing myself  to vote!
  • All bottles are numbered and disguised with a classy paper bag for multiple rounds of voting. Helpful to  have like types against each other, but not totally necessary.
  • Each wine goes head to head with another (at separate stations) until voting is finished by all guests.
  • Ballots are counted, the losing vino unmasked, while the winning bottle advances to the next round where it goes against another finalist. *Make sure to limit samples so there is enough for each round! You might want to provide a mini decanter or glass with a mark for suggested serving size per pour.
  • To the winner goes the spoils! The guest with the winning bottle will take home the entire prize pool of all bottles entered. 



Now for the menu! Since white and rose were the wines of the day, we stuck with light lunch fare- think fig, manchego & prosciutto; pesto, roasted pepper and mozzarella; and rosemary ham, garlic jam, and camembert sandwiches, which only required assembly just before serving. Be sure to set out plenty of water, which you can easily make look like a million by adding some berries and mint! We filled our other Pier 1 drink dispenser with a lavender honey lemonade (recipe for lavender simple syrup here). And don't forget to stock up on a few red bottles and some beers for those non-wine drinkers, who I suppose might exist;) As if there weren't enough adult beverages on the menu, we rounded things out with a cocktail as well, my personal favorite, champagne mixed with lavender honey syrup.

And finally, the winner! An entry from left field swept the contestants and won by overwhelming majority: the Edelzwicker from Navaroo Vineyards. Say what? It's a white blend traditionally out of Alsace, that contains Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Muscat. Delish is all you need to know. Sante!


Compensation was provided by Pier 1 via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Pier 1.

A Pink Kind of Affair

Photos: Jessica Delaney Photography


Above: Issa dress, Derek Lam heels via TJ Maxx (for reals, snakeskin under 70 bucks!), amethyst earrings and ring via Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers


Who doesn't like an excuse to get dressed up? I don't need much of an excuse, but the annual Boston BCRF Hot Pink party was definitely a fun one. You remember the one, with oh, Mr. Jon Bon Jovi?!

Also a great excuse to pick up a pretty in pink kind of dress. The knit and cut of these Issa dresses is seriously the most forgiving. Perfect for a new-ish (I can still sort of claim that, right?) mom. If you need a summer party or wedding dress, look to get one of these on sale. Full-price, kind of a splurge, on we're talking!

We toasted our first Father's Day this weekend, by cooking up some indulgent food, drinking some delicious wine, and gifting hubs with those things you know he wants but would never buy himself (namely Lulu sweats, fancy socks with lighting bolts, and aged booze...which I may even cave and let him sip with a cigar). I'll avoid too much mush here but he is one hell of a daddy-o. Daphne is one lucky girl and I am one lucky wifey.

Hope you all toasted your special guy!


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CSA Cooking Totally Unplanned, Totally Delicious: Haddock & Hon Tsai Tai


I'm learning a lot from being a first time mom. Namely, that planning out a week's worth of recipes and groceries are a thing of the past. Which I am a-okay with in the summer months, since our weekly CSA has kicked in (from Brookwood Farm), and will keep on kicking, well through the fall.

We decided to up the ante this year and try the fish share (from Cape Ann) as well as the new meatshare (from Brambly Farms). All three are nothing short of amazing. Locally sourced everything. Farm to my table, boat to my table, everything, right to my belly with minimal handling, no hormones, no pesticides, you get the point.

Click to read more ...


Summer Time and The Dressing is Easy

Photos: Jessica Delaney Photography

Above: Madewell dress (similar Tory Burch dress), Topshop camo coat (similar Madewell camo coat), J Crew bucket bag (check this luxe version by Mansur Gavriel), Isabel Marant Krisi boot


What a splendid weekend! We hosted our first wine bracket. What is a wine bracket you ask? A party where guests each bring a bottle for battle and a bottle for the winning pool (and the winning entry gets to take home one of each contestant!). Taste away, vote, and see who wins and advances, until a winner is crowned. 

We kicked things off with a battle of the rose vs whites, for the summer season, hosting my local mom's group. Perfect for a sunny Saturday outing and a great way to get a lot of people mingling, as it was the first time we got the husbands int the mix. This get together was also my official Jardin Soiree for the Pier 1 series I have been working on- look for more on the wine bracket rules, decor, and photos next week with the final post!

Sunday I played host to some favorite blog friends for brunch, taking our gab fest from downtown to the burbs. So great seeing Extra Petite, I am Khatu, NeatBit and A Girl in Boston. Be sure to check out Khatu's Etsy page- she has been crafting up killer shorts and caftans for the summer season.



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Jardin Soiree: Treasures & Steals



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Call me crazy, but I think the party planning and decor is where it's at when it comes to a get together. I like to make things pretty. And, well frankly, I like to shop. So being asked by Pier 1 Imports to scour their gorgeous stores for decor and throw a party? Now we're really talking- a match made in heaven. An excuse to invite people over, drink some wine and try new recipes, all just icing on the cake. 


How to finally throw this garden soiree? Perhaps a sweet high tea with tiered stands of cakes, outdoor tea service, and pretty finger sandwiches? Maybe a wine bracket of French vino? Guests can taste test and vote on dueling wines until a champion is crowned? Perhaps I am over thinking this and just have family over?


Since I haven't really got a firm plan down, I focused on sourcing generally beautiful French-inspired decor to outfit the jardin soiree. Challenging at Pier 1? I think not.


My big decision and splurge, was this gem of a bar cart, iron with beautiful red tile mosaic work, straight out of a Provencal bistro. It was the first thing I saw when I came into the store and it wasn't just speaking to me, it was straight screaming my name. I can't wait to roll this out for guests, fully stocked with wine and cocktails. The best part of all? It rings in at a budget friendly price. It was my party investment piece, but well worth it (on sale no less!).


How else to set the scene Francais? I left no aisle unturned and no display unchecked. Vineyard vases (oversize and ah-mazing, though beware the fauna and your hair!), just beg for some tall floral arrangements as a centerpiece. Pretty woven placements, which I intend to use as trivets, framing warm dishes on the buffet. A bronze tub of wine chilling in the shade, each bottle topped with a different painted wooden stopper. Lace paper lanterns dipping down from under the umbrella, along with iron lanterns along the edges of the patio, keeping the bugs away and lighting the party after the sun goes down. 


I could have easily found enough goodies to redecorate the entire house, and perhaps a lion or two, to guard the front steps, but stopped myself at the last few perfect picks- a glass cloche food cover engraved with 'bon appetit', a covered cake stand atop carved wood, and a pretty glass dish complete with picture of la tour eiffel. 


Sadly, I had to pass up this crazy cool pagoda umbrella (above) and all the adorable buddahs (who doesn't need a little zen with a nine month old?), but they were more exotic destination and less pretty French garden party. Though I may be back post party;) Stay tuned, the soiree is finally happening next week and the final post is to come...suppose I need to figure out all those details, huh?!


Check out my previous post on party prep here and to see more of my prep-adventures, be sure to check in often on instagram or the tag #findwhatspeakstoyou.



Compensation was provided by Pier 1 via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Pier 1.


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