Welcoming Spring Feels so Right

Here comes the sun

425_Mar15_5541So long, cold, lonely winter, hello spring! Cue The Beatles and take a trip down Abbey Road because here comes the sun — for real. In the Pacific Northwest it always feels like spring (and sunshine) takes too long to appear. And this time of year always has me craving color. Balmy Pacific Northwest spring days are rare — and I don’t care. I just create my own brand of sunshine, and so can you.

Why not host a casual, make-ahead spring lunch? It all starts with flower power and sun-kissed pineapples, the perfect pairing for a sweet little spring gathering featuring simple sunny details. Personally, I’m pulling out the romper for this one. I’ll have you in short sleeves and sandals in no time. Yeah; it’s all right.

DIY Floral Champagne Ice Bucket

  1. Create a floral Champagne ice bucket for a real wow factor! This pretty floral ice bucket is frozen solid.
  2. Grab two freezer-safe containers, the smaller of which will hold your favorite Champagne bottle.
  3. Sprinkle flower petals on the bottom of the larger container and fill with 4 inches or so of water. Freeze. Once frozen, place the smaller container inside the larger vessel. Fill with a little water if need be to create weight. Add flower petals and blooms between the two containers, and fill the space to just below the top with water.
  4. Freeze overnight. To remove the containers, run warm water over the exterior of the large container to wiggle loose. Add warm water to the interior container and do the same.

Build a Bagel Bar

I love a party plan that gets guests involved, and this savory and sweet bagel bar is a brilliant little combo that anyone can do. Just pull together a delish array of toppings and spreads. Try smoked salmon, fresh dill, capers, red onion, pineapple, and prosciutto. Add small bowls of arugula, jalapeño, fresh fruit, additional fresh herbs, and flavored cream cheeses, and then let your guests do the rest!

425_Mar15_54302Table Toppers

I love creating tablescapes inexpensively with layered paper crafts. Simple glass plates provide a window on a polka-dot paper pineapple below. Wreaths of fresh and fragrant eucalyptus circle each plate. Napkins are quickly folded into pineapple stems and tucked into white espresso cups. White buckets holding big bouquets of yellow roses and pink carnations march down the table.

DIY Party Backdrop

These sleek, inexpensive white containers were repurposed with a gold clip and strand of suede. I made the gold leaf ink pineapple (the international sign of welcome) from an enlarged craft store die-cut stencil.

425_Mar15_5456Coconut and Pineapple Margarita

What’s a spring soiree without a signature cocktail? This frothy cocktail is like sunshine in a glass. True confession: I may have sipped a few of these at a swim-up bar in Mexico. How could I not try to re-create it at home? I added my own pretty touches, like candied pineapple. Just look at that golden goodness!

  • 1½ shots tequila
  • 1 shot pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup cream of coconut
  • ¼ shot freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ shot Grand Marnier
  • Drizzle of surplus pineapple syrup
  • 1 cup ice
  • Candied pineapple garnish (recipe follows)

Place all ingredients into a blender and give it several pulses until the ice is fully incorporated. Pour into a retro style glass; top with half a candied pineapple slice. Glass pom pom optional. Cheers!

Candied Pineapple Garnish

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  •  cup juice from can of pineapple rings
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine sugar with juice from the canned pineapple. Add corn syrup. Bring to a boil in a pan on the stovetop, and then reduce the heat. Add six pineapple rings to the sugar mixture in a single layer. Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes, turning occasionally until the slices become gooey and glossy. Remove from the pan, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Reserve the surplus syrup for cocktails, cakes, and ice cream!) Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour, turning once or twice. Cool on a wire rack.

425_Mar15_5474Tipsy Upside-Down Pineapple Mini Cakes

I like a classic dessert that oozes nostalgia. I switched it up a bit by making individual pineapple upside-down cakes in muffin tins. I made my own sponge cake, but seriously, you can use a boxed yellow cake mix, (Hello, Betty Crocker!)

  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons liqueur
  • 1 can pineapple rings
  • Maraschino cherries
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  1. Grease the muffin tins well. On the stove, melt butter and brown sugar. Add a few tablespoons of your favorite liqueur – I used cherry.
  2. Place a pineapple ring at the bottom of each section of a six-cup muffin tin. Add a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Pour batter on top and bake according to box directions.
  3. Turn the mini cakes out on a wire rack by tapping each muffin tin section to release the cake. Drizzle with surplus pineapple syrup.

425_Mar15_5440Spring Salad

Try this light and color-packed salad. It couldn’t be fresher or easier. Combine chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced green onion, fresh Italian parsley, and mint. Add a drizzle of good olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and freshly ground white peppercorns.

Craft items from Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames, Redmond. Wall flower containers from The Container Store. Hair styling by SEVEN the salon, senior stylist Chu.

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