3 Cinco de Mayo Tablescapes


For the last two years, the weekend coinciding with Cinco de Mayo has not been a night of Coronas and mariachi bands, but rather a Mexican-themed auction to benefit our mission trip to Tijuana.


Tristan and I aren’t going to Tijuana this year due to a forthcoming Europe trip, and will be attending a wedding in lieu of the auction this year. But my heart is with our team who is working hard on the auction details, and our fearless leader Colleen, who has been bringing folks down to  build homes on some of the poorest, roughest terrain in Tijuana for 20+ years.

Some images from our previous trips:

Last year, I was in charge of the auction decor. It was a great opportunity to implement this festive tablescape I saw at the International Food Bloggers Conference many years ago, put together by Hostess with the Mostess.



The budget for decor was $300 and I wanted that to include both fresh elements as well as reusable pieces for future auctions. I paired down the centerpieces to 4 items each – runner, mason jar, glass vase and can. I also copied the baby blue, royal blue, orange, red and pink color scheme.

My right hand gal, Diana, and I scoured thrift stores for three months straight looking for scarves to use as table runners and clear glass vases. We needed 28 sets – one for each table. Diana scooped up the cans and mason jars within one week. We then had a team craft day to deck out these centerpiece items with paint, paper, tissue fringe, baker’s twine and washi tape. We also threw on some leftover tassels from my wedding, because why not? We made a tissue garland and I used the printables from the inspiration post to make signs. I picked up a flat of succulents the day of the auction from Home Depot and 48 flowers from Pike Place Market.

Here are two centerpieces as examples.


Here you can see the tissue garland and two of the signs at the entrance.


Each table had a unique scarf:


My friends came out to support us – thanks, girls!:


The scarves were the largest investment and weren’t quite as cheap from thrift stores as we thought they should be. We ended up cutting some of the larger scarves in two or three and spent around $175 total at thrift stores (including the glass vases, which generally cost around $1 each). The succulents were $70 and the flowers were $40. There were light tissue, tape and paint costs which I covered as a donation (and kept the leftovers).

Here are some other of Hostess’ fiesta-esque tablescapes, for further inspiration:



A Fiesta First Birthday Party (cute little donkey and pom pom placemat!)


Fresh and Sophisticated Dinner Party (love the cabbage and color scheme!)

Whether you are planning something special for Cinco de Mayo or just want to pep up your next Mexican feast, Hostess has some great ideas and your local thrift store has some great cheap supplies.

If you would like to learn more about St. Paul’s of Shorewood’s annual Mexico mission trip, click here. This year’s auction will be held Saturday, May 7 at Seattle Lutheran High School and includes an authentic Mexican feast, wine and Mexican dancers for just $15 a person or $25 per couple. It’s a steal of a deal, for a good cause! Tickets are available at the door or in advance by emailing colleencrandell [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Adios, amigos.



Magenta Baby Shower Invites

I wanted to share the invitations I created for the baby shower I tri-hosted six months ago. (I highly recommend tri-hosting, by the way – one person for food, one person for decor, one as life-saving floater). The shower was at my home and I was in charge of decor and design.

I was inspired by this diaper invitation, but REALLY did not want this to turn into a $200 card making project as mine have a tendency to do.


My cost-saving strategy was to dip in to my existing paper and ribbon stash as much as possible. But of course I still ended up at Paper Source for some non-negotiables such as envelopes and scalloped paper. But I was able to use standard printer paper for the diapers, and forced myself to make sheer ribbon cute, since I already had it. I’m much more of grosgrain girl these days.

Making the template took the longest amount of time, since I needed to modify the size and shape to accommodate my paper size.

Amy Shower InviteAmy Shower Invite 2Amy Shower Invite 3Amy Shower Invite 4Amy Shower Invite 5

Ta da!

I am pleased with how they turned out, given that I made compromises on the materials and didn’t just buy myself out of it when I hit a few roadblocks. Paper Source is 3 minutes from my house, so I really needed to stay strong :). I am definitely embarrassed to admit how hard it was to resist.

If you’re a crafter like me, you may have a craft supply stash but never truly use what you’ve faithfully kept all these years. I feel inspired to revisit old craft supplies for future projects before immediately investing in the perfect ribbon/envelope/cardstock combo.




Boho 30th Birthday Party

Boho Bday

My dear cousin Christy turned 30, oh, a YEAR ago, and I am finally documenting the evening affair on this blog. Is it too early for #TBT?

Christy is two years older than me, which made her the perfect candidate for my only child self to follow around and idolize growing up… that, and her inspiring fashion and interior design sense that always pushed the boundaries but somehow came together swimmingly. I’m sure I was very annoying to her for many, many years.

As one ages, two years becomes a very small age difference and for the last 10+ years we’ve been very close friends. Her and her sister rolled out all the bachelorette and bridal shower stops when I got married a few years ago.

Christy is now a working mom to an adorable 5 year old.  I just sensed that if she was to properly celebrate her 30th birthday, some outside intervention would need to be involved, and I was more than happy to return the party-throwing favor. (more…)

Blue Chinoiserie + Pink

Also known as Hosting My First Shower(s).

Hello and good evening. I’ve had a few moments of adulting over the last month, namely hosting my first bridal shower and my first baby shower.

I knew the bride-to-be liked blue chinoiserie (um hello who doesn’t?) and her wedding colors were navy blue and blush pink. So for the bridal shower, I decided to “invest” in blue chinoiserie vases and dishes at thrift stores and decorate with blush linens and flowers. Here were my inspiration images:

4365b08ff11f935b553191c939abf67c  c365334adf5ab6e0a5d52b73583b4bae

At that point the baby shower was already scheduled for a few weeks following. The mommy-to-be likes bold colors (her wedding colors were kelly green, black, white and gold – YES.), so I knew I wanted to do bold blue glass with magenta accents. Here were my inspiration images.


79ee94b77eb511eacade3ae5076f069bYou can see the blue glass and blue chinoiserie can kind of mix-and-match. #bonuspoints

I figured that combinations of blue and pink would always work for bridal and baby showers to come, and I plan to reuse these same items for years.

And as you know, I was already able to re-purpose the blue pieces for my blue and orange Halloweenhere’s how it turned out.

Stay tuned this week for some snapshots of each shower. I’d say a “grand reveal,” however these aren’t styled shots nor was there a professional photographer. The reality is that I am hosting a real event, not a styled shoot or “blogger party.” As such, I have real concerns other than taking Pinterest-worthy photos. Like making sure there is clothing on my body before people arrive. Trying to hide a few last-minute objects. Not burning anything and does the house still smell from what I burned earlier? Background music. Taking Saran wrap off of the food. Trying not to cuss. Etc.

Here’s another inspiration image for the road.

blue and white with profusion of pink peonies

Check back to see how everything turned out!



A Gluten Free Blueberry Morning

At the International Food Bloggers Conference last year, I attended a session in which Hostess with the Mostess showed us bloggers some themed recipe ideas (with corresponding tablescapes!) using some of Krusteaz‘ newest baking mixes.

Obviously the tablescapes were my favorite part…of the entire conference. So thrilling, in fact, that I decided to model the tables for our annual Tijuana mission trip auction after the Hostess’ fiesta-themed tablescape. More on that later!

Anyway, one of Krusteaz’ newest offerings is a line of gluten free mixes, and after the conference, they sent me some mixes to try.

2015-02-01 11.39.10-1

Nice touch with the branded spatula.

I’d recently tasted the brunch donut holes at Capitol Cider (a gluten free restaurant), and was just starting to believe that gluten free baking ≠ equal dry, thin tasting and dense. But mixes by nature are iffy.

HOWEVER. I made up a batch of the Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix and … I’m pretty excited about them. It took five minutes, for one.

2015-02-13 23.00.28-2

2015-02-08 11.00.09

Et Voila!

2015-02-13 23.00.26-2

2015-02-13 23.00.27-1

Second, there’s definitely not a lack of flavor. The texture and richness reminded me of a cake pop. I could only eat one muffin per sitting (as you can see from my photo, I originally intended to eat two). That’s not a bad thing – all of the fancy-pants cupcakes around are a similar intensity. I think these muffins would be great for a group brunch or bridal shower, and I’d imagine most people wouldn’t even know that the muffins were gluten free. Plus, there are all sorts of other recipes you can make with this mix on the Krusteaz website, such as tropical blueberry cake.

My parents, for instance, are now gluten-free and were delighted to experiment with some of my extra mixes. I tried using the pancake mix for waffles… and, well, I’m bad at making waffles so I didn’t think the mix could be blamed for my own personal issues. I also tried the Double Chocolate Brownie Mix and the end result was a strong “good” when accompanied by my normal brownie accessories of vanilla ice cream and raspberries. Alone, I could tell the brownies were gluten free (that aftertaste thing?) but the texture and chocolateyness were on point.

Torie and Tristan Blueberry Muffin Mix

What are your favorite gluten free foods? I am going gluten-free for the next few months because whenever I do, I feel better. And get skinnier. What? It’s summer.

Would love your ideas!



Best BBQ Burger Recipe Of All Time

As promised, today I’m sharing the BEST BBQ BURGER RECIPE OF ALL TIME … unless you hate strawberries, in which case this one isn’t for you. Once Tristan and I made the components to this recipe for our Star Spangled Third party, we  milked the leftovers for a good two weeks. And now you can, too!

Best BBQ Burger Recipe

This recipe first sparked my interest when I met its creator, Jaeger Stoltz, while out with mutual friends in Seattle last year. Call me easily impressed, but anyone that can win $100,000 in a national recipe contest knows something about something. I think the recipe required everything to be done on the grill, so I’ve added some notes where we took some life-changing shortcuts, especially as we were making a double recipe. On that note:

Strawberry BBQ Bacon Burger

Strawberry BBQ Sauce

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • 2 1/4 pounds ground chuck (20% fat) < T&T used Waygu on sale; ground beef probably would’ve been fine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 strips thick-cut smoked bacon

Strawberry Salad

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens < T&T purchased one large tub and it was plenty of greens for double the recipe, so don’t overthink 4 cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
  • Remaining sliced strawberries from making sauce
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola or or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil, for rubbing on the grill rack
  • 6 thick slices Gruyere cheese
  • 6 brioche hamburger buns, split


To make the sauce, place 2/3 of the strawberries in a blender; reserve the remaining berries for the salad. Add the tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the blender and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a fire-proof saucepan and place on a gas grill over medium-high heat (T&T did this stovetop). Add the molasses and brown sugar and bring to a slow boil, stirring often, then remove from the heat, cover with foil, and keep warm.


To make the patties, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well while handling the meat as little as possible; this prevents it from becoming too dense. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties leaving a slight indention in the center of patties; this allows the final product to be more equal in thickness when finished. Set aside until grilling.


My favorite patty master in action!


Slider and full size patties!


Cook the bacon in a fire-proof skillet on the grill over medium-high heat until browned (T&T did this stovetop). Drain on paper towels to remove excess grease. Set aside.

To begin preparing the salad, combine the onion, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature to quick-pickle the onions. Combine the greens, basil, and remaining strawberries in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until assembling the burgers. Keep the crumbled cheese chilled until assembly.


Our unstirred salad, almost ready to be loaded onto burgers!

Heat the grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready, with a paper or cloth towel, rub the grill rack with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.  Place the patties on the rack and cook until done to preference, 3 to 5 minutes. The top of the patty should look like it has cooked a little. Flip once and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Do not push down on the patty because this will release the juices. Top each patty with the BBQ sauce then a slice of the Gruyere cheese, cover the grill, and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove the patties from the grill and place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, top each bun bottom with a patty and two strips of the bacon. Lightly drain the pickled onions, add to the mixed greens along with the crumbled cheese, and toss to combine. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and toss again lightly. Pile a handful of the salad on the top of each bacon-topped patty; if a few bits fall off, there is no problem—these are little treasures for later. Spread a little more BBQ sauce on the toasted sides of the bun tops and place on top of the salad.

Makes 6 burgers.


Look all those luscious layers!

Once we ran out of buns, Tristan and I ate the patties with cheese, sauce, bacon and the salad for the next few days:


Here you can see Jaeger showing off his recipe on The Today Show. We can take zero credit for the recipe development, yet all of our friends were thoroughly impressed, so if felt as if we actually created pure joy. We had some extra copies of the recipe printed out (so that we could spill on a few and it’d be okay), which all got taken home by guests, food smudges and all!

Let us know if you make the recipe and what you think!





Our Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom Debut

We’re super excited to share that our wedding was featured in the Summer/Fall issue of Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom, which hit newstands last week. We’ve been waiting to post photos and share info about our special day until the magazine came out. Here’s a sneak peak, featuring photos from our amazing photographer, Chris Ohta Photography!

Seattle Met Cover

Seattle Met p1-2

Seattle Met p3

Too tiny to read? Well, go grab a copy for yourself! 🙂

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since our wedding. Tonight, we are headed to Lake Chelan, where we got married, for our 2nd Annual Family Reunion, the first of which was held when family members came to town for our wedding. They are staying in the same house and everything! Only, instead of Tristan and I flying solo in the honeymoon suite, we are camping on the deck… Oh, how the mighty have fallen! 🙂

You can see the beautiful lake in the background of this shot:

View More: http://chrisohta.pass.us/torietristanwedding

We hope to lay out and relax as much as possible, perhaps get a little color in our skin. Catch up on magazines, go wine tasting, eat a lot. Thank God for high-waist bikini bottoms!




A Star-Spangled Third

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Tristan and I had a few friends over on July 3. It was 4th of July-themed, but on a less chaotic night (i.e. less parties to compete with). None of my friends had to work on the 4th, so it was a great night to relax and enjoy some BBQ and bevvies! I talked about my Orondo Ruby Sangria recipe here, and I still have to share the super special strawberry BBQ recipe we made. This post is focused on the party itself, and of course, the decor (is there a difference?).

4th of July Eve Party

I’d done some Pinterest perusing, and gathered some 4th of July decor inspiration, then promptly ran out of time to do anything I’d planned. BUT, our friend the Star also appears during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, allowing for easy re-purposing of existing decor when in a bind.

In this picture, we see how I painted some letters and glued them onto some ribbon I already had, and draped them across a glittery star I’ve had on my front door SINCE CHRISTMAS. I would not kid about this.

Torie and Tristan July 3 party

I also was able to re-use the festive stars I had hanging during our New Year’s Eve soiree. And I really wanted to do this centerpiece, but went to three different places looking for blue bottles (no luck), and my amazing husband brought me home flowers that weren’t red (but stunning nonetheless, and still alive, almost two weeks later!). I took these as clear signs that my centerpiece wasn’t meant to be. Here’s what I came up with instead:

Torie and Tristan July 3 party

Lantern, cookies, Orondo Ruby cherries, pit bowls and firecrackers (again, left over from New Year’s Eve!).

Here’s the BBQ station (AKA Tristan’s Turf) before it was overrun with amazing food and condiments.

Torie and Tristan 4th of July cocktail party

Yay for market lights!

Torie and Tristan 4th of July cocktail party

We inherited this flag from some family members (don’t worry – it wasn’t folded into a triangle in wooden case or anything), and it was such a fun, vintage touch!

Torie and Tristan 4th of July cocktail party

Let’s zoom in on those snacks!

Yummy treats

Our little apartment reached capacity at 13 people, inside and out. Here are some brave souls who were willing to appear on our blog.

July 3 party pic 2 July 3 party pic 1

Up next, the recipe for THE best burger I’ve ever had. Tristan and I have been eating the leftovers for two weeks and could continue through winter. It’s THAT good.





Last Minute Easter Ideas

Tristan and I are headed out to Portland for Easter weekend, so we won’t be around to be tempted to throw together any last minute projects or recipes (thank God!). But we’re getting to be an age where many of our friends own grown-up houses and are beginning to host family get-togethers – can you imagine!? If you happen to be one of these individuals, or just want a festive home (er, apartment) as I did, here are some charming ideas I’ve come across in the last week or two.

Even MORE Easter Ideas via Torie and Tristan

Crinkle-y paper fun


Via Better Homes and Garden

Nest 2

Via Better Homes and Garden

Some charming wall art…

Bunny Butt

Via Decor for the Holidays

And, to add a little hop to your step, the Easter Carrot Mimosa:

Carrot Mimosa

Via Glitter Guide

If you’re looking for some other ideas, check out the 5 Easter Decor Trends post, which inspired my Easter Vignette. Gosh, what will I look forward to decorating for after Easter… Fourth of July?



Thursday Whatevs

Every blogger seems to post favorite links on Fridays. As I am an original, I will post some of my favorite links on Thursday night. Let’s not discuss the fact that posting a round-up of favorite links is, in itself, unoriginal.


Love that patio? Check out the full tour of Jessica Simpson’s Hidden Valley Home. Gasps all around.

Here’s a Before/After Home Tour – love the before, love the after!

Have you heard about the oil pulling trend? I’ve been doing it for a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted :).

It’s almost bikini season, so I need to up my workout from once a week to really anything more frequent than that.  I think these rad leggings could be just the motivator.

… And speaking of pants, these pants are AMAZING!

And finally, something all of us can get behind: how to get free food all year long.

Happy almost Friday :).