out and about with Allison: Sam's 1st birthday

In Allison's words: 

"I wanted something playful and fun and well, thought the old Cowboy and Indian theme had been done. So I decided to focus more on the Native American part. We bought Sam a TeePee for his birthday which he loves and plays in all the time (his cave of sorts). Sent out cute Sideshow Press invitations, inviting Sam's friends over for an afternoon pow wow. I made all the girls flower felt necklaces with grosgrain ribbon and gave them each Native American names to fit their personalities such as, Leotie meaning flower of the prairie, and Lomasi meaning pretty flower. For the boys, I made headdresses that they surprisingly kept on their heads and I stamped their names on the back of their felt feather...Sam was named Istu meaning sugar, the other boys, Helaku meaning full of sun, and Kitchi meaning brave. Carrot cake cupcakes from a Barefoot Contessa recipe were divine. Paper bags with each child's picture held another cupcake for their take-home treat."

out and about with Allison: getting merry!

Allison sent me this great party just in time before I signed off for the holiday. 

In Allison's words, "Just went to my friends' Amy (of Sideshow Press) and David's holiday party last weekend. So very festive, their house was so warm and inviting: complete with a tinsel tree decorated with old ornaments, feather wreaths (Amy's mom made magnolia/ pheasant feather wreaths taken from their Christmas tree farm in Mississippi....they looked phenomenal and hung on every window! very resourceful too). Of course the food did not disappoint, a complete spread of wonderful party food: yummy stuffed dates, backyard bbq with jars of sauce given out as party favors at the end of the evening, beautifully iced cookies in every color and shape. I could go on and on about the food! With so many people scaling back this Christmas it was so wonderful to be welcomed into the home of such dear friends and celebrate the season. It certainly puts you in the mood for the Holidays! I love the photo of Amy and David's son, Otto, with his first beer...I believe he mistook it for his own bottle...oops, the holidays have that way of making everyone merry!

Thanks for the wonderful photos Peter Frank Edwards...you certainly captured the spirit of the holidays and the Pastre home. Happy holidays to all!"

Thank you, Allison- for once again sharing a great party with us. For two other fun parties I've run across, look here and here

out and about with Allison: a baby shower (x 2)

From Allison:

Photos 1-5: a driveway supper / couple's baby shower
Photos 6-12: a tea baby shower

"I just celebrated a dear friend's pregnancy with two brilliant showers. The first: a driveway supper shower, complete with a night sky full of stars. It was a couple's shower for Courtney Rowson and her husband, Carter. The event was held at Amy Pastre's home, the momma-to-be's business partner at Sideshow Press. The soiree was thrown by Sandy Lang (a writer) and her beau, as well as Amy and her husband. They threw a magnificently relaxed dinner shower to honor the expecting parents. A long table was set up in Amy's driveway with a simple tablecloth, potted plants, and a few oil lamps. We started the evening off with a pomegranate soda cocktail, spicy-sweet pretzels and almonds, and sliced pears and cheese with honey. For supper we feasted on roast pork loin with pancetta and sage, sweet corn, an arugula and endive salad with roasted brussel sprouts, and a white-bean and tomato salad. Yum! For dessert Amy and Sandy made a delicious banana cake with rum banana sauce and ice cream. There was also plenty of wine. Everything was served family style. Placecards were made from from birch bark...so simple, classic and casual. I cannot take credit for these magnificent photos, however. Sandy's fiancé (and co-host), Peter Frank Edwards, captured them. The evening was perfect- and the perfect way to celebrate the growing family tree of our friends Courtney and Carter!

The second party, a Tea shower, was given by a few of Courtney's girlfriends at my friend, Boo's, lovely home. The invitation was absolutely adorable...a tea bag attached to a custom Sideshow letterpress creation. Genius! The shower was complete with assorted tea sandwiches (smoked salmon and caper, herbed goat cheese, and cucumber and mint), fresh figs with honey, blue cheese and walnuts, and mini cupcakes. Instead of hot tea, Boo created a refreshing iced herbal tea made with Earl Grey. And of course Rosso Bianco champagne, Courtney's favorite (it was her third trimester)! I couldn't resist taking a picture of my gift, wrapped in Snow & Graham paper. Instead of watching the mom-to-be unwrap all of the gifts (which can take hours), all of the guests picked a gift and unwrapped them at the same time. Then we went around the room and showed Courtney her baby's new clothes and toys. Much more fun for everyone!

Both parties were lovely. As I walked away from each engagement, I realized how important friends are in my life. I have such an amazing vantage point of getting to see all of my friends' children grow up--I'm feeling very blessed and lucky, indeed. There will be so many more fun parties in the years to come!

Until next time...party on!"

Thank you, Allison! I adore all of these great ideas, thanks for sharing. -Sara

out and about with Allison: a late summer party

I really can't think of a better occasion for a party then to welcome someone to town. Having people you love feel excited about a new place (whether it be a town, job, whatever) is the best gift you could possibly give them. Here, Allison walks us through this late summer party she threw for some friends to welcome them to Charleston.

From Allison, "My friends, husband and I threw a summer party at our home this past weekend for our good friends who just moved to Charleston. We had about 20 people over to our house around 7 on a warm Saturday evening. My friends and I divvied up the responsibilities of food and drink between us. With all of the food prepared ahead of time, the only responsibility I had was to bring everything to room temperature, and to make sure everyone's glasses were full. A note to self: In the future I must remember everything takes twice as long to prepare with a 5 month-old in the house! The idea was to have a relaxed party with Southern hors d'oeuvres. I wanted to create a menu that people could enjoy while talking and mingling outside on our porch, in the yard or inside our home...whether they wanted to grab a plate or just graze.

We started with a specialty cocktail made with local Firefly sweet tea vodka- a spirit distilled on Wadmalaw Island, not very far from Charleston. My friend, Kate, simply mixed it with a bit of lemonade, which made for a refreshing start to a warm Charleston evening. The vodka is also delicious straight up, but beware...for lovers of sweet tea, it goes down easy- too easy. We served the cocktail in Mason jars with slices of fresh lemon over ice. Guests helped themselves to pitchers of it in our sunroom when they arrived. 

For the hors d'oeuvres, I marinated my new favorite cut of meat- a flat iron steak- with a soy citrus marinade. The steak is not that expensive, and the cut holds the marinade very well and is almost as tender as filet mignon when done! It literally melts in your mouth. The marinade came from an old issue of Gourmet (they used a London Broil instead). I have used it on everything from shrimp to chicken. It is delicious when served with the soy citrus mayo...not too heavy, and perfect for a summer meal. We served the grilled sliced steak at room temperature on a platter with the mayo, warm rolls, and some wonderful arugula greens.

Pickled shrimp helped round out the menu- served cool or at room temperature, it is so fresh and easy to prepare ahead of time. We grabbed the shrimp from Mt. Pleasant Seafood on Shem Creek, where they sell locally caught shrimp right off the boat. I used Sara Foster's recipe from Fresh Everyday. Her cookbooks are among my favorite- her recipes are flawless, colorful adaptions of classic Southern fare. The blueberry pie recipe is also to die for! But I digress...

I also whipped up some deviled eggs and gave them a refreshing touch of tang by adding lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard and a simple garnish of freshly chopped dill. My friend, Anne, made Southern caviar- a classic combination of black eyed peas, green bell pepper, green onion, pimentos, garlic and other seasoning- which we served with pita chips. And my dear friend, Ellie, made bite-size tomato sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise on white bread with local farmer's market tomatoes. 

Toward the end of the evening, I made my way to the porch where the din of conversation could still be heard over the music, my guests digging deep into the coolers of beer and wine...and oh, and what's that? An occasional broken glass. I don't get too worked up about the wine glasses- after all, it's not a good party until someone breaks something! And besides- this was a casual party among good friends new and old. By and by, it was a success...a fresh, simple summer gathering to show some newcomers Southern hospitality.

Until next time...Allison."

Thanks Allison for this amazing post! I'm already dying to try the soy citrus marinade. 

meet Allison

Allison Abney is the life of the party wherever she goes. She infuses every gathering she's a part of with spirit and style! This Charlestonian juggles a thriving purse business and motherhood, and still manages to regularly throw impromptu parties and dinners for friends.

Allison will be penning a monthly post called 'out and about with Allison', detailing her latest adventures in the kitchen and around town. She will share her favorite wines, party attire, music lists, entertaining tricks, and easy dishes with us- among other things. We hope you'll join Allison and the Party for all the latest!

Allison, pictured above, with her son, Sam