H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Eight Tips For A Laid Back Dinner Party.

Full disclosure, this post is written in collaboration with Crosta & Mollica, a company founded with the desire to supply consumers with great quality Italian produce to be enjoyed at home. After their delicious chocolate pannettone and golden pandoro I tried late last year, I was pretty excited when they got back in touch asking if I'd like to try their Tarallini and Grissini breads. Yes. Yes I absolutely would. Spoiler: unsurprisingly they're equally as delicious. They also invited me to share some of my top tips for hosting a dinner party that's easy to organise and, importantly, a lot of fun.

Inviting friends around for dinner as an adult always felt like such a strange concept to me. The notion brought back memories from my primary school days where every Thursday my childhood best friend and I would alternate going to each other's houses after school. At her house we always had macaroni cheese and I don't remember what we ate at mine, pizza maybe? And so I always wondered why adults wouldn't go out and meet up with friends at a nice restaurant instead. As I've aged though I've been able to appreciate the simple act of inviting friends into our home and sharing food. Unlike at a restaurant you get to set the tone of the evening yourself and you can linger for as long as you like over dessert.

Aside from making sure you stick to recipes you're confident in putting together and making as much in advance as possible, here are some of my tips for ensuring the night goes smoothly and everyone has a good night, including yourself because it would be no fun at all being left feeling frazzled in the kitchen and missing out on all the conversation!

Crosta and Mollica Tarallini* + Grissini Breads*

 Keep it simple and let little touches do the talking. Maybe you've got a really beautiful table, a quirky mis-matched dinner service, or incredible food presentation skills. Little things make a huge difference!

 You don't need to make everything! Buying some pre-dinner nibbles will save a lot of time. You also don't need to stick to traditional dinner party conventions - perhaps ask your guests to bring dessert, or you could, of course depending on the amount of guests/kitchen logistics, set up a mini pizza party topping station. Everyone can choose their own combinations and have fun pitching in and getting a bit messy.

 Sometimes it's really fun to get dressed up and feel super fancy, but it's also fun to keep things really laid back. I've been known to throw on a really nice dress, but answer the door totally barefoot or in my favourite bunny slippers. It's incredible how such a little detail can change the whole vibe of a gathering.

 Set up a bar cart so guests can help themselves to drinks. You don't need to have all the cocktail making tools, just think cute glasses, straws and plenty of ice, all tailored to your aesthetic. Or you could make a big bowl of punch and alcoholic or not, it would be perfect either way. It requires a little pre-planning, but comes together quite easily.

 Be aware of dietary requirements in advance and, wherever possible, make something that everyone around the table can enjoy together. Making a separate dish if need be is totally fine but, speaking from personal experience, sometimes it's really nice and somewhat of a rarity to be able to eat the same thing as everyone else around the table. And if that's not possible, making sure there's at least one element that everyone is able to dig into, perhaps a nice side salad, is a lovely touch.

 Don't skip dessert! It can be something as simple as fruit and ice cream, as indulgent as a melt in the middle chocolate sponge, or as creative as ice cream sandwiches. The latter is my personal favourite and is as easy as making (or buying!) a simple batch of cookies and slapping some ice cream in the centre. They're customisable too and easy to make gluten or dairy free!

 Put together a playlist to set the atmosphere. Also always have a game on hand because you never know when an occasion for a round or two of cards against humanity, or even a good old fashioned game of snap if you're feeling nostalgic will present itself.

 Finally I like to set up a little station in the bathroom full of useful necessities (floss, tampons, paracetamol etc) because you never know when they'll come in handy and guests don't have to feel awkward about asking.


I'd love to hear your ultimate tips for hosting the perfect evening!

- Jennie

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Six For Summer.

It's no secret that deepest, darkest winter is my season, but when summertime does roll around I'm always at least a little bit happy to see some extra daylight and maybe, on a particularly good summer, even a peek or two of sunshine every once in a while. Summer, to me, is all about simplicity. Fuss free outfits and minimal, very functional accessories.

1. Everlane Shirt Dress
2. Nomads Clothing Peg Trousers 
3. Vivien of Holloway Rita Sunglasses
4. Dianne Tanner Euphoria Pouch
5. Anthropologie Mimira Plate
6. Rockett St George Wall Hanging

- Jennie

Friday, 3 June 2016

Five Things.

Hello and happy Friday! Buoyed by every encouraging word I received after my last post I've been furiously scribbling down ideas, constructing to-do lists and generally making a start at all of the things I've been too scared to do until now.

I'm writing this just before heading out to pick up some sweet treats for my Mum's birthday. I'm a bit eager, it's not only very early in the morning but it's not actually her birthday quite yet, but it's never too early to start celebrating, right?! I think it's going to be a good weekend.

- Jennie.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Dear June.

I'm writing this sitting on a permanently uncomfortable no-amount-of-cushions-seems-to-help sofa, singing along to retro Britney songs. I cling to moments like this. Moment of frivolity. Unconstrained silliness. Because I've been doubting myself. A lot. And it's becoming a bit of a problem because it's now at the point where I talk myself out of doing anything before I've even started. I'm sabotaging myself and potentially the new dreams I didn't really know I had.

I've been thinking a lot about hope, and how intrinsically it's entwined with hopelessness. Without one we wouldn't know how it felt to experience the other. But it's impossible to get anywhere when I find myself talking myself out of doing something before it's even a fully formed idea or concept in my mind. And that's not letting myself hope at all. That's pure hopelessness when there's no need for it. So I may naturally find myself drawn to melancholy, but I'm vowing to at least let myself try. After all, if I never try it's impossible to know what could have been.

As I've been writing I've been thinking of all the things I thought I wanted to do over the years, and there are a small handful of things I feel regret for not having started already. And I suppose that's the best indicator of which way to start walking, to begin clearing a path through the overgrowth of indecision and uncertainty, and to make a start - even if I'm not quite brave enough to tell myself that I fully believe in myself. But just because I haven't been able to make anything significant happen just yet, doesn't mean there isn't time. And maybe, just maybe, I have stopped myself from wandering down entirely the wrong path for me because it was the most convenient at the time. Convenience, in my experience, has many a wrong decision made.

So here's to hope. Sometimes hope is all there is. A sliver of light in the distance. A belief, no matter how squashed and buried underneath a thousand other thoughts, that making something happen isn't impossible.

- Jennie.