suite soirees: a valentine’s day picnic complete with an epic heartcuterie board

Resources linked below

In quarantine, home really is where the heart is. Spending so much time indoors this year and still wanting to be safe during the pandemic, I decided to move things outside and set up a heart-themed picnic for my SuiteHearts (aka my pre-fiancé, Brian and bestie, Dan).

I first set the scene with a plush faux-fur rug and scattered a few blush and cream pillows around the center table so we could all sit comfortably. Then I created a focal point on the hedge with fabric flowers and a wooden “love” cut out in front of two chairs and a small table as a conversation space.

The drinks, or as I like to call them, “Suite Sips”, were perched on their own marble table for a drink station. I knew I had to have some variety for all of our different tastes so there were two rosé wines, beer for Brian, canned vodka spritz cocktails, and a fun pre-mixed strawberry margarita that fit in perfectly with the pink theme. Of course I turned to Dan and cheekily asked, “Will you accept this rosé?”

For nibbles, I always love to create pretty cheeseboards so I took the Valentine’s Day theme and created a “Heartcuterie” board complete with cheese, crackers, fruit, candies, and deli meats that I wrapped to look like roses. What better way to ask, “Will you brie mine?”

I fell in love with the idea of heart-shaped caprese salad (even though it was a bit cheesy) and was so happy with the way it turned out that I loved it from my head, all the way to-ma-toes. It was super easy to make and really delicious to eat.

For something suite, I hand dipped cherries in white chocolate and rolled them in black sprinkles for an updated twist on the classic chocolate-dipped strawberry. There was also heart-shaped watermelon and crispy vanilla meringue perched on marble pedestals.

I love the way the whole picnic turned out and it was a nice change to celebrate love outdoors. Tell me, do you beleaf in love?

Resources

Love Sign  I  Felt Hearts  I  Glitter Hearts
Faux Fur Rug  I  Pillows  I  Marble Table
Marble Cheeseboard  I  Marble Pedestals  I  Two-Tier Tray
Crackers  I  Heart-Shaped Crackers
Bubblegum Yogurt Pretzels  I  Cosmo Popcorn  I  Meringue
Candy Lips  I  Cosmo Bears  I  Cinnamon Hearts
Rose Wine  I  Rose Wine  I  Strawberry Margarita  I  Beer  I  Canned Cocktail

What snack would you fall for first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.


if you’ve got it, haunt it: how we decorated the building for halloween this year

We’re just here for the boos! My pre-fiance, Brian, loves Halloween. No, like loves Halloween. So when he asked a few years ago if he could decorate the building, it started off innocent enough with a few tombstones. Then came the handmade coffin, then a smoke machine, then a spider the size of a small car. Each year he’s expanded on his, ahem, inventory – I mean display.

Well this year I was in for a surprise when a box the size of our mattress showed up in August. August! What crawled out of that box was none other than a 12 foot tall skeleton with light up eyes. Brian looked like a dwarf standing next to it! He tried to hide his mischievous smirk when he looked at his new toy and then to me to see if I would scold him for his frivolous (and secret) purchase.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I am really disappointed in you.” He kind of chuckled under his breath and then I deadpanned, “I am really disappointed that you didn’t buy two.” I mean, come on, I have to admit that a skeleton that can easily peep right into my second floor bathroom window while I’m showering is kind of a cool addition.

Then we added those good ol’ headstones, the car-sized spider, last year’s purchase: a skeleton horse with a new, black, glittery skeleton rider, and pretty much everything else Brian had squirreled away.

We normally confine the Halloween decorations to only the front yard of the building, but since we remodeled and relandscaped it last year and the trees have grown in, our usual set-up had to be reimagined since it would’ve been hidden behind the tall hedge. So we decided to try something new and instead stage it at the entrance and along the driveway of our building this year.

When we decorate for Christmas, I love to hang oversized white and gold ornaments over the driveway and last year we created a more permanent cable system that is reusable and easier to put up than fishing line. So I had this idea that we could repurpose the cables for Halloween and hang bats and skeleton spiders from up above. Brian had the idea to swag beef net “webbing” over the cables so that the spiders looked like they had created a home for themselves. As a final touch, our ghost girl hovers in the center and watches over the building and I like to joke that she’s a potential new tenant that prefers an upper floor.

We still had a lot of open cables so Brian suggested we hang the faux flame candles that we purchased for another project and didn’t end up using. They had just been sitting in the attic so he drilled some holes and looped fishing line through them so they hung upside down a la Harry Potter. This has been my favorite new element by far this year. To see the soft, warm glow of candles that appear to be floating above the driveway is really quite magical at night.

We tried to create vignettes all along the driveway and for a little property management humor, we set up a spot with a “manager” sitting in a chair holding a “Vacancy Available” sign next to an open coffin with two occupants scrambling for the chance to be interred. A metal arbor with dead tree limbs still attached frames the scene and we added black flowers to the arch of the arbor. We had been storing the arbor that was being thrown away by a restaurant for years when I said, “When else are we gonna use this thing?”

And then, this year, we have a vacant first floor apartment that we’re remodeling so I came up with the idea to create a scene in the windows and use the glow-in-the-dark skeletons that don’t really go with the rest of the outdoor decor. And Brian finally got to put one of those floor fans that tenants always throw out when they move to good use and wired a skeleton to it and turned it on to add some movement.

follow us on Instagram @TheSuiteLifeLA

We have a few more elements to add to finish it all up (a cemetery sign spanning the driveway), but we’re super happy with the skele-fun we’ve been able to conjure up during such a bummer year. To see the kid’s faces when they run down the driveway with their parents is just pure Halloween excitement. #TrickOrSuite, witches!

What’s your favorite part of this year’s Halloween decor? Let us know in the comments below.

All images courtesy of Brett Erickson I Video courtesy of Dan Magro


suite eats: a green snack board for st. patrick’s day

I love a good cheeseboard.  Any time that I have friends over or entertain, I always like to offer a pretty cheese board or charcuterie plate since it’s easy (and delicious) snacking.  I also love any excuse to get creative and color coordinate.  So with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I wanted to do a twist on my regular spread and do more of a “green day” inspired snack board full of gorgeous green veggies, fruits, guac, candy, and cheese (obvi).

I headed to one of my favorite stores, World Market, to stock up on all the green treats they had from all over the globe.   (Links to products below.)

I started with my go-to cheese board plate (similar here) that my spread quickly outgrew, so I decided to embrace the idea of making my kitchen island the center of attention and laid everything out there.

First, I placed small bowls that would hold the dips around so that they would anchor the snacks and then started layering in the good stuff.  I made sure to use an odd number of bowls to keep things visually appealing.

Then I grouped the veggies together like green peppers, celery, sugar snap peas, cucumber, and green cauliflower.  To the bowls I added green castelvetrano olives and pesto to dip.

Above the veggies, I added in fruits like green apple, pear, grapes, and kiwi.  I added hummus and a garlic & herb spreadable cheese in the middle so you could dip the veggies or fruit in either one.

Then I found these fun, green guacamole flavored tortilla chips and mounded those by the bowl of guac.  Together they were so good!

I layered in a few other crunchy snacks for texture like “Margarita Crunch” popcorn, wasabi peas, and wasabi almonds before finishing off the snack board with some suite treats.

For the dessert end, I added matcha green tea Pocky biscuit sticks, green tea Kit Kats, apple flavored candies, and green tea chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

And no get together is complete without a good wine to offer guests so I partnered with Winc who delivered four bottles straight to my door and tailored to my tastes.  I took a quick quiz online and my delivery included my favorite, a sauvignon blanc, along with a chenin blanc, sparkling chardonnay, and a red blend.  Having hand selected wine delivered definitely made this soirée easy to plan since I didn’t even have to leave the house or scour the wine aisle looking at labels.  And Winc got it right too – we loved every bottle.

If you’d like to try four bottles of wine for $39 plus complimentary shipping, just use my special code here from Winc.  Your friends may be green with envy with how easy it is.

Resources

Winc Wine
Wasabi Almonds  I  Wasabi Peas Popcorn
Pesto  Olives Hummus Spreadable Cheese
Guacamole  I  Chips
Kit Kats  I  Pocky Macadamia Nuts  I  Apple Candy

What snack would you dive into first on this snack board?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


suite sips: halloween-inspired cocktails conjured up by mixologist dan magro

For the last two years, my boyfriend has gone crazy with decorating the front yard for Halloween.  It started off innocent enough with a few tombstones, but then last year he kicked it up a notch with a fog machine, homemade coffin, treasure chest, two-story high spider web, skeletons, hanging ghosts, and a gigantic spider.  So naturally, we also threw a party to go along with the lawn decor because I mean, how could we not?

I like to make everything from scratch so I got busy Pinterest-ing decor and food ideas (you can check out my Pinterest board filled with Halloween ideas here), and then I enlisted the help of my friend and hobbyist mixologist, Dan Magro, to conjure up some signature drinks for the evening.  For those of you who don’t know Dan, he’s the author of Suck It Up: Extraordinary Cocktails for Everyday People so he kinda totally knows what he’s talking about.

I gave Dan free rein to be creative and he was mindful to incorporate our “Spiders & Skeletons” theme that had a black-and-white color palette so that the drinks matched and didn’t feel out of place.  He decided on two different cocktails (I love an over achiever) with one being tequila based and the other being vodka based.  Both were equally delicious.  And you know it’s a good cocktail and a good party when Dan and I had to do an emergency refill of the dispensers halfway through the night.

arachnophobia

Ingredients

  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz agave nectar
  • Activated charcoal* (don’t worry, it has no taste or grit)
  • Spider-infused ice cubes^ (optional)

Directions
To make spider-infused ice cubes, simply freeze a washed plastic spider in a large ice cube tray like this one.

To make the cocktail, in a glass, muddle one 265mg capsule of activated charcoal, thoroughly extracted.  Combine remaining ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass.  Serve over one large spider-infused ice cube.  

bone marrow

Ingredients

  • 1 oz citrus vodka
  • 8 fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz ginger turmeric simple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • Gummy bones or skull candies for garnish (optional)

Directions
In a glass, muddle raspberries with vodka until thoroughly extracted.  Combine with remaining ingredients (except gummy candies) in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake rigorously and strain into a martini glass, making sure to catch any raspberry seeds.  Garnish with skull or white bone gummy.  We used these cute “vampire” teeth and skull candies from Sockerbit.

Which scary good cocktail do you want to try first?  Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimers:

^ Plastic spiders are not to be consumed and can be a choking hazard if not securely frozen in large ice. Do not use small cubes as the ice melts faster and the black spider will be hard to see in the darkness of the cocktail.

* Activated charcoal can, in certain circumstances, absorb medication’s active ingredients (such as birth control) before your body gets a chance to. Consult your doctor if you are on regular medication of any kind before consuming activated charcoal.


brighten up your apartment with a bouq

the grace bouq
There’s nothing we love more than coming home to fresh flowers.  They instantly brighten up any room, smell amazing, and give your apartment that whole “put together” vibe.  So when we heard about The Bouqs (pronounced just like bouquet, but without the “et” at the end), we just had to try out their blooms.

The Bouqs makes sending fresh flowers to your apartment (or a friend) easy and affordable. Their signature bouqs come from Equador and are grown on the side of an active volcano which means lots of sunshine and nutrient rich soil (let’s just hope that volcano keeps a lid on it so we can keep getting our shipment of flowers, ok?).  The blooms are cut when you order them and are shipped directly to you instead of sitting in a warehouse cooler like at a regular florist, which means that they’ll last longer.  And each bouq is reasonably priced at only $40 and includes shipping!

We ordered the “Desperado” with hot pink roses and purple filler accents and when prompted if we wanted to double the amount of flowers we received for only $10 more, naturally we said yes! Who wouldn’t want more roses at that price point?

Our shipment arrived the following week in a long gray box and included flower food and directions on how to arrange our bouq to make sure that they lasted as long as possible.  We wasted no time in arranging the roses in a vase and brightening up our desk in the living room. We even upcycled some pretty glass bud vases (reed diffusers in their previous life) and spread the bouqs around to perk up the bathroom and bedroom too.

If you’re a planner (or a bit forgetful), you can even sign up for their “concierge” service where you can arrange to have flowers shipped automatically on important dates, like mother’s day or your boss’s birthday.  If you just want to keep your apartment looking cheerful and put together, you can also subscribe for regular deliveries to your doorstep either weekly, monthly, or every few months.  We think that’s a pretty sweet way to brighten up any room.

Check out The Bouqs here and tell them that The Suite Life sent you.

Do you love fresh flowers in your apartment?  Let us know your favorite kind in the comments below.

 

images: the bouqs


the sweetest treats in LA for valentine’s day

donuts over you

It’s easy to fall in love in LA.  With the city, that is.  Los Angeles has so many great local places to surprise your sweetie with some yummy treats that say “I love you” or “I think you’re kinda sweet”.  Whether you’re in a relationship or celebrating Singles Awareness Day with yourself or your Galentines, we’ve rounded up some of LA’s sweetest treats to help celebrate Valentine’s Day this weekend.

If you’re looking for a fab place to go out to dinner before catching the highly anticipated 50 Shades of Grey movie opening on Saturday, we’ve got some ideas for dinner here too.  And be sure that you sign your card “Laters, baby” on any of these gifts for that extra special touch.  *wink*

joans on third

joan’s on third

This LA institution has your Valentine’s Day packed and ready to go in a crate, a tote, or a tower. Our top pick is the “Savory Selection Crate” pictured above that includes a bottle of wine (hello, lover), cheese, crackers, nuts, potato chips, and popcorn.  Grab a blanket and watch the sunset to make this crate even more romantic.

sprinkles i love you

sprinkles cupcakes

Whether you spell out “I love you”, “Be mine”, or just go with the simple “xoxo” on top, Sprinkles has your Valentine’s Day covered with flavors like raspberry chocolate chip, red velvet, chocolate marshmallow, and maple bacon (what better way to say “I love you” than with bacon?).  If you’re into baking for your honey, yourself, or your friends, you can also pick up a cupcake mix to bake at home too.

compartes chocolate

compartés chocolate

Our Instagram feed has been filled lately with this LA chocolatier’s sinful treats and their playful photography packaging.  Their creative flavor combinations will delight your darling with tastes like limited edition strawberry and champagne, raspberry pink pepperlemon lavender, and raspberry rose, and the guy-friendly Guinness beer and dark chocolate truffles.

fonuts

fonuts

Tell your special someone “I’m donuts over you” with these yummy baked, not fried, goodies.  We recommend the strawberry buttermilk, red velvet with sprinkles, coconut passion fruit, and the chocolate hazelnut.  Nothing says “I donut what I’d do without you” like waking up to a fonut and coffee.  Gluten free and vegan options are available as well.

clover juice

clover juice

For your favorite fit friend, skip the sinful sweets and instead opt for a healthy basket of cold-pressed juices.  We’d choose a few in colors reminiscent of the holiday like the pink “Le Lait” made with pistachio, almond and pink Himalayan salt, the red “Quench” with watermelon, mint and lime, the purple “Go Big” made with beets, kale, carrots, and apples, and the white “Coco Snow” with coconut water and coconut meat.

vosges chocolates

Vosges’ chocolate truffles are melt-in-your-mouth-dreamy and their innovative chocolate bars thrill with flavor combinations like the smoke and stout caramel bar or the red fire bar with chipotle chilis and cinnamon.  But our hearts just fluttered a bit when we found out that they also sell a bacon chocolate chip pancake mix.  You’ll be the hero with breakfast in bed and these fancy flapjacks as the centerpiece.

Which sweet treat would you most like to receive this Valentine’s Day?  Let us know in the comments below.

photos: sugar and charmjoans on thirdsprinklescompartés, la in stilettosguest of a guestevil shenanigans


giveaway: win dinner for two at re creo’s next supper club

re creo giveaway dinner

***This contest is now closed.  Thanks for entering!***

Congratulations to Eva Fleur Mora Dragoo! We hope you enjoy dining at Re Creo Supper Club!  Be sure to let us all know how the dinner was in the comments below.  Enjoy!

As a holiday gift to you, on December 5th Re Creo will bring Christmas in Peru to Los Angeles at their monthly underground supper club and you have the chance to join them!  The crew over at Re Creo Supper Club was kind enough to provide us with a pair of tickets to give away on The Suite Life.

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Here’s how to enter for a chance to win…

  1. Sign-Up.  Enter your name and email address below.
  2. Comment.  Leave a comment below telling us about your one favorite restaurant in LA (besides Re Creo, of course).
  3. Wait. We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, December 2nd!

Bonus: All entrants to the giveaway will receive a secret offer from Re Creo!  (Because what’s more underground than a secret and a surprise?)

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Don’t want to chance it?  Make sure that you’ve got a seat at the table and RSVP for the December 5th dinner are.creo.supperclub@gmail.com.  Just be sure to do so by November 30th as spots fill quickly.

Check out our recent article on our experience at Re Creo to see what the prize includes.

 

 

And a special thanks to everyone over at Re Creo Supper Club for making this giveaway possible!


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This giveaway is open to US residents 21 years of age and older.  Winner will be contacted via email. If our team does not hear back within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected in your place.  Limit one comment per entry. Multiple comment entries will not be considered.  This giveaway ends at midnight PST on December 1st, 2014.  Re Creo Supper Club was kind enough to provide us with the tickets to give away to you guys! (Thanks so much to everyone at Re Creo for making this possible!!) This is not a sponsored giveaway.
photos: Sarah Lockhart and Tim Ryon

homemade spicy jalapeno margaritas

Spicy jalapeno margaritas

A fun thing that my friends and I love to do when we get together is each bring a part of the dinner.  Not only does that make the clean up easier when entertaining in a small apartment, but it also helps spread the costs out a bit and gives us a fun way to try new recipes and each other’s cooking.

When my girlfriends came over last week, we went with a Mexican theme and Nicole brought taquitos and guacamole as an appetizer, Adrienne made some seriously delish crock pot chicken tacos, and I was in charge of drinks and dessert.  Check out my recipe below for spicy homemade jalapeño margaritas – these were a total hit!

jalapeño margaritasLimes and jalapenos

Ingredients: Serves 3-5 people

  • 1 750ml bottle tequila (I used Cazadores blanco)
  • 3 jalapeños 
  • 1 375ml bottle Cointreau
  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (Bring 1 cup water to a boil with 1 cup sugar.  Then let cool.)
  • Salt and sugar to rim glasses, optional
  • Ice
  • Lime & jalapeño slices for garnish, optional
Instructions Juice the limes
  1. Infuse the tequila with jalapeños. Slice two jalapeños, remove and toss the seeds, then add to the tequila and let sit at room temp for a few hours or up to a day.
    (If you don’t like it super spicy and just want a hint of jalapeño, use just one instead of two jalapeños.)
  2. Mix together the Cointreau, lime juice and simple syrup as the margarita mix.
  3. On a plate, mix together the salt and sugar at a ratio of 50/50, or to taste.
  4. Run a sliced lime along the rim of each glass and press into the salt/sugar mixture.
  5. Add ice to glass and add a shot (about 1.5 ounces) of the jalapeno tequila.  Fill remainder of glass with margarita mix.
  6. Float two slices of jalapeño in the margarita and add a small slice of lime to the side of the glass to garnish.

Let us know how you enjoyed this cocktail in the comments below.


5 ways to warm up your suite for fall

Fall is one of our favorite times of the year.  The leaves turn colors, the weather gets crisp, and all the yummy pumpkin and butternut squash recipes come out at our favorite restaurants.  We love to bring this feeling indoors and make our apartment feel just as cozy. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to make your home feel warm and comfortable for Fall.

start at the front door Fall entry

Create an instant feeling of warmth before your guests even step inside.  Hang a seasonal wreath on your door (we love this over-the-door wreath hook so you don’t damage the apartment door with nails). Then change out your door mat to a warm color or fun pattern that immediately says “Autumn”.  If space permits, you can also add a large uncarved pumpkin or a cluster of smaller ones by the side of your door or a pot with Fall colored blooms.

suite scents DIY-Votive-Candles-with-Leaves

There’s nothing better than walking into a room that smells of the holidays or mom and dad’s house at Thanksgiving.  We love to choose one seasonal scent and then use that throughout our entire apartment so your nose gets the same fragrance from room to room. Add a few candles, scented bead jars or potpourri to each room, a spray and reed diffuser in the bathroom, and a few scented sachets in closets.  In the bathroom, you can also try this fun product, Poopourri, that even offers holiday scents.  Try not to go too candle crazy – the goal is to have a subtle seasonal scent that makes your apartment feel warm and inviting.

For Fall, try scents like pumpkinspiced cake, or cranberry sauce.  Then switch to pinepeppermintcinnamon, or gingerbread in December.

add a warm throw blanket zambia-throw-chocolate-043284624a

Cuddle under a furry blanket in the living room or bedroom when the temp dips lower.  It will instantly warm up any space.  A favorite of ours is from Z Gallerie because it is just so soft and has a warm lining.  Drape the throw over your couch or chair or fold and place at the end of your bed. And remember that faux is always the way to go when purchasing “fur” items.

change up your pillows fall-leaf-pillow-21

Give your daily throw pillows a break and bring out some harvest inspired or Autumn colored ones to spice up your apartment’s decor.   Add one or two to the couch, a side chair, and a few on the bed to make any space more festive. We found these cute DIY pillows on fab blog Positively Splendid.

treat yourself to fresh flowers pumpkin-vase-fall-flowers-sunflower-bouquet-decoration

Fragrant blossoms instantly make any room feel brighter and Autumn offers some beautiful blooms.  In season for Fall are the rich hues of chrysanthemums, calla lilies, roses, dahlias, and gerbera daisies.  Add a small bouquet to your kitchen table, your nightstand, bathroom counter, or coffee table for a fresh and fragrant statement.

How do you cozy up your apartment for Fall?  Let us know in the comments below.

photos: ciao domenica, b lovely events, z gallerie, positively splendidlush home