Thursday, October 23, 2014

Alfresco Autumn Brunch

My favorite kind of autumn day is the one where you can just throw on a light jacket and maybe a scarf, and leisurely stoll through the streets admiring the pretty leaves and all of the festive fall colors. As much as I relish throwing on my leopard print Snuggie and curling up in front of the fireplace, I really love a crisp fall day where you can soak up the sun and enjoy the great outdoors.


Add good friends, prosecco, and a pile of gourds to this equation, and you basically have my recipe for the perfect October Sunday. Luckily for me, this is exactly the kind of ideal fall day that I enjoyed when I recently hosted an alfresco autumn brunch on my patio.


I've mentioned before that I always try to take full advantage of hosting on my private patio since that kind of space is such a rarity in NYC apartment living, and also that my friends and I gather together each month for a Brunch Club outing. October was my turn to host, so I invited everyone over to my patio for a potluck barbecue. Since everyone was bringing a dish to share, I was able to focus less on the menu and turn my attention to the decor.


Ever since I came upon these mini pumpkins on sticks at my local Trader Joe's, I knew that they were my new favorite fall decoration. I used full sticks as table decor, and then cut pumpkins off the sticks and placed one as a paperweight on each napkin. The napkins were a lucky clearance find at my local Marshall's, and they perfectly suited the theme!


When I'm casually hosting a few friends at home, I usually opt for disposable tableware (sorry, but I don't have a dishwasher!) so I tried to jazz up things up a bit by using raffia to tie the utensils.


For a rustic place setting, I cut rectangles out of some cardstock scraps, hand-printed each name with a red marker, and cut springs of oregano from my patio garden which I attached with clothespins that I had painted with orange glitter.


I usually keep my patio table somewhat bare, but this time I wanted to add a kraft paper runner to tie in the rustic theme. I measured my kraft paper, cut it to size, and then used orange glitter paint to hand-stamp a polka dot pattern. I finished the table arrangement with the pumpkin sticks, white pumpkins, and a tall fall flower arrangement.


Of course, the best part of any potluck gathering is the wide variety of food, and we definitely had quite the bounty.


Our grilled entrees were accompanied by a huge range of side dishes, salads, and accouterments - definitely the perfect lazy Sunday feast!


We kept the drinks relatively simple with pumpkin pie cream welcome shots and mimosas, but some Hipster Ale snuck onto the table (probably from Brooklyn!).


Our desserts pretty much stuck to classic fall flavors, as you can see from these gingersnap pumpkin ice cream sandwiches.


Oh, and clearly our famous pumpkin dip had to be included as well.


Overall, it was a pretty casual Sunday gathering that took full advantage of the beautiful weather and seasonal flavors. Thanks to everyone bringing a dish to share, I was able to focus more on the fun crafts (which I love) instead of spending way too much time in the kitchen - I highly recommend divvying up these tasks when getting together with a large group of friends so you can remove some of the planning stress and just enjoy each other's company!


How do you feel about an outdoor brunch in October? Are you happy to extend your outdoors time as long as possible, or would you prefer to curl up under a cozy blanket instead?

xoxo
B

P.S. Don't forget to enter our Rituals giveaway!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting to Know Us!

We've been seeing these introductory posts making the rounds in the blog world lately, and thought it would be fun to do our own as both a re-introduction and a way for our new readers to get to know us better! Read on for a little more insight into the worlds of B and M:



B / 31 / New York City
M / 32 / Central New Jersey

The Gals through the years


B: I'm a single gal, so my immediate family members are my mom, dad, and little brother (and of course, M is family too!).

M: My husband (whom you may have seen referred to as Grill Guy due to all the grilling he used to do on B’s patio when we still lived in NYC!), my one year old son, Logan (also now known as Big Boy M!), and my Havanese dog, Fred. As far as immediate family, I’m lucky to have both of my parents along with 3 sisters, 2 nieces and a nephew!

Clearly we're not working it in these pics, but these are way more fun!

B: By day, I'm an event planner and major gifts officer for an Off-Broadway theater.

M: My day job couldn’t be more different from all of the glitter, cocktails and nail polish I post about here on TSN, as I work in Financial Services in the mortgage department at a major retail bank.


So many galish hobbies, so little time


B: Blogging (obviously), crafting, dancing, reading, hosting parties

M: Blogging (double obvi!), anything creative, with paper crafting being my absolute favorite, making playlists (for B to dance to!), wine, mixing up cocktails and watching trashy reality tv

Love a good snack
B: WAY too many! I'm a bit of a soup freak since I eat it year-round, typically at least once a day. Like a good Italian girl, I can never resist pasta or pizza (though I'm trying to be better about limiting my portions).

M: I tend to go on kicks where I obsess over something for a couple weeks and could eat it every day, and then move onto something new when I inevitably get sick of it...my current obsessions are roasted butternut squash (love to stick with the seasonal foods!), Wegmans frozen perogies (trust me on this one – sooo good!), and grilled pork chops with roasted apples.

Clearly we had MANY photos to chose from for this collage...
B: My typical go-to is a glass of wine (usually pinot grigio). For a mixed drink, I prefer a vodka base and a juice mixer (typically cranberry juice) but in the fall, I can never resist an apple cider martini!

M: I’m also a wine Gal, with pinot grigio being my go-to in the warmer months and malbec in the cooler months. For a mixed drink, if I’m at home, it’s without a doubt, the apple cider martini, but when I’m out, it’s usually something boring like vodka and club soda with a lemon or lime.

Always ready for a shopping spree
B: Ever since I moved to NYC, I've become much more of an online shopper - it's just so much easier! I like to scope out the deals on sale sites such as Rue La La and Gilt but I'm not exactly a shopping snob - I can usually find something anywhere!

M: I’m a total online shopper – you just can’t beat the deals you find online, especially when combined with Ebates! My go-tos are usually J.Crew/J.Crew Factory, Nordstroms and most recently Old Navy! Oh and for every day type of purchases, I’m all about Amazon, especially being a proud Amazon Prime subscriber – seriously, if a week goes by without a package getting delivered from Amazon, my mailman usually checks on me to make sure I’m ok!

Just a typical night - M snuggling with Baby M, and B in bed with Buble!
B: I'm definitely a morning person! I usually try to go to sleep by 11:30 (right after Watch What Happens Live, haha) and I wake up at around 6:30 on weekdays and "sleep in" until around 7:30 or 8 on weekends.

M: By nature I’m a night owl, but ever since Big Boy M arrived (well actually since I was pregnant and couldn’t keep my eyes open past 8!), I’ve become an early to bed, early to rise kind of Gal. Bedtime is usually around 10:30/11pm, and wakeup is around 6:30-7:00am. While I love having a productive morning, I still do miss my stay up all night ways and usually complain without fail every single night about how I hate going to bed!

Getting pretty for M's wedding
B: There are many products that I love, but I can't leave the house without eyeliner! Also, I think the world would be a much less fun place without glitter nail polish.

M: I’m a Jersey Girl so naturally I couldn’t live without my bronzer! Along with that I never leave the house without a tinted moisturizer and some blush – what can I say, the pale look just isn’t for me! My favorite bronzer combo (because clearly one is not enough!) is my Bobbi Brown shimmer brick pretty much all over my face, followed by a dab of my Nars The Multiple in Laguna on my cheeks.

Two BFF's trying to change the world, one sequin at a time!

We say our blog is a mix of "all things we love" which can mean anything from DIY projects to cocktail recipes to theme parties to our love of Michael Buble. As best friends, we tend to have similar obsessions and taste which makes it easy to share this little corner of blogland!

Our blog was definitely a long time in the making, as it’s something we talked about for years before we finally took the leap and launched. As BFF’s who have rarely lived in the same city for longer than a year or two (the longest being in high school!), we had kept a shared journal of sorts that basically documented every and anything going on in our lives, which we lovingly referred to as The Sequin Notebook, since it was just that.. a notebook covered in tons of sequins! After filling up the pages with countless lists, party plans, recipes and everything in between, we felt a sense of panic when we realized our precious notebook was down to its last couple of pages.
That gemmy beauty in the middle is our ACTUAL sequin notebook!
After searching high and low for a replacement, we couldn’t seem to find anything that came close to our original until it finally dawned us to turn our beloved notebook into the blog we’d been dreaming about for years! Suddenly all of the pieces pretty much fell together and we launched The Sequin Notebook in May of 2013! While we still miss being able to pass that sequiney gem back and forth, blogging has been so much more amazing than we ever imagined and we absolutely love the community of gals we’ve been able to meet and interact with. And as if we could get any closer, the blog has definitely added another facet to our friendship and often we are still amazed to discover new things about each other in our individual posts!

xoxo
The Gals

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Dip


There are tons of pumpkin recipes everywhere this time of year, but I promise that you'll want to make room on your dessert list for just one more pumpkin recipe...this delicious dip!



This pumpkin dip could not be easier to make - if you can hand mix a few store-bought ingredients, you're golden! This fluffy, light dip has all the autumn flavors you love (pumpkin! cinnamon!) and is the perfect party dessert. I served this at my recent murder mystery party and the guests devoured it immediately! If you have 10 spare minutes, you have more than enough time to prep this crowd-pleasing dessert. 


Pumpkin Dip
(Adapted from Carolina Charm's recipe)

Ingredients
* 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
* 5 oz. of sugar-free, instant vanilla pudding powder
* 16 oz. low-fat Cool Whip
* 1/2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
* 1 tbsp. cinnamon
* For dipping: apple slices, gingersnaps, vanilla wafers


1) Mix the dry pudding mix, Cool Whip, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice by hand in a large bowl.

2) Chill for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).

3) Immediately before serving, stir the dip and sprinkle the top with cinnamon.

4) Serve with apple slices, gingersnaps, and/or vanilla wafers.


In the rare event that there are any leftovers (which is HIGHLY unlikely), simply place the remaining dip in a Tupperware container and enjoy it for up to a week.

What's your favorite fall dessert?

xoxo
B

P.S. Don't forget to enter our Rituals giveaway!
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Linking up with Meg, Leeann, Molly, Lisa, Emily, Jennifer JuniperEmily, Karyn, KristenEmilyMandy, Mary, Jessica, and Mandy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five on Friday {October 17, 2014}

TGIF! This week has been a particularly stressful one for me, so I'm very much looking forward to some low-key family time this weekend. Here are the 5 things I'm loving this week:

ONE | Rituals Giveaway
Have you entered our giveaway yet? We're obsessed with Rituals Cosmetics after our visit to their Upper West Side shop, and we know you will love them too! Don't miss out on your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway TWO | Song of the moment: "Take on the World"

I'm pretty sure that I'm way too old to be rocking out to Disney Channel theme songs since I'm not a 10-year-old girl, but this song is super catchy and the lyrics are actually pretty empowering for days when I need a little extra boost, haha! Yes, this is the theme song to "Girl Meets World" (I'm hiding in the corner in embarrassment) and it's sung by the show's two young teen stars (yes, now I'm completely cringing), but give it a listen anyway (and let me know if you can ever get those "oh, oh, oh"s out of your head - go ahead, I dare you).

THREE | How to Get Away with Murder

Ok, I know I can't be the only gal out there who is already OBSESSED with this new show! Only 4 episodes in and I'm already totally hooked - it's the perfect Thursday night blend of soapy drama, intrigue, and of course, MURDER! Who else is a fan?! I want to hear your theories on the mysteries!

FOUR | Pumpkin Tree Branches
Image via Tilly's Nest
Is this not THE cutest fall decoration you've ever seen? I mean, they are pumpkins...on a stick...and they're actually REAL (well, they are technically a form of eggplant, which surprised me at first since clearly they are so pumpkin-y). When I saw them chilling in the floral buckets at my local Trader Joe's, I knew I had to feature them at my recent Alfresco Autumn Brunch. Check back here on TSN next week for full details on the brunch, including how to incorporate these bad boys into all of your fall events!

 
FIVE | Rescue Beauty Lounge SALE!

It's no secret that we're big fans of the pretty polishes from Rescue Beauty Lounge, and they are having a big sale that just launched today! All polishes are buy 2 get 1 free, with free worldwide shipping! These gorgeous polishes rarely go on sale, so make sure you do some shopping before this incredible deal ends on Monday, 10/20 at noon EST. I'm planning to do some damage this weekend and purchase some early holiday gifts (and maaaybe a couple for myself, of course!).
xoxo
B

Thanks to our gals AmandaJennieKarliClare, Rebecca, Katie, Natasha, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DIY Tulle Monster Centerpieces

We are absolute Halloween fanatics here at The Sequin Notebook, so get ready for lots of candy-filled, costume loving, crafty goodness in these last weeks leading up to the big day! Today I’m sharing a fun tutorial from Little M’s Monster Mash for DIY Tulle Monster Centerpieces.

While these particular centerpieces were used for a birthday party, these could easily work for a Halloween party or other fun Monster-type bash! And they couldn’t have been easier to make (I promise!) so novice crafters, don’t be scared off! 

I found all of the supplies at Jo-Ann and scored a great deal thanks to their friends and family they had back in September.  Luckily they're now having a similar promotion for 20% off of everything, including sale items!

Since I made 6 of these babies, I found that it worked best to do each step on all of them before moving onto the next. It also helps get you in a rhythm, especially when crafting with a good Bravo marathon on tv!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rituals Cosmetics Review + GIVEAWAY!

Get ready to meet your new beauty obsession.


I was recently invited to a special Birchbox event at the Rituals Cosmetics store on the Upper West Side. This gorgeous shop is less than a 10-minute walk from my apartment, so I was thrilled to discover a hidden gem of beauty products right in my own neighborhood!


While this company is fairly new to the United States, it's already created quite a stir in Europe. In fact, it originated in The Netherlands, which just so happens to be one of my very favorite places in the world since I spent some time there as a teenager.


While Rituals has European roots, the company has an Asian influence which carries through the products and into its decor. Each store features beautiful cherry blossoms to create a serene atmosphere.



Rituals brands itself as "a story of passion to create pure simple happiness." The lovely ladies who work there talked about how people go through their daily routines without always being mindful of what they're doing, and that Rituals wants us to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of using beautiful bath and skin products.


Here is how company founder Raymond Cloosterman describes his vision: 
“I passionately believe that we can transform our daily routines into more meaningful moments if we pay just a little bit more attention to the details. This philosophy led to a unique concept of combining home and body cosmetics, and this is how RITUALS... was born. With a luxurious collection of high quality products to enrich body and soul we offer anything from body and facial care to scented candles, clothing, perfumes, gemstone make-up, and tea."

After learning about the company's origins and mission, we roamed the store to sample the various products and learn more about the different lines. Birchbox was kind enough to provide a bountiful breakfast spread, which included some yummy mimosas and macarons.




I seriously could have spent all day in that store (and I've already been back since to do some more shopping!). The scents were all fresh and light, and the creams felt super luxe on my skin. My daily beauty routine has definitely gotten a bit monotonous, so it was great to have some new inspiration to shake it up!


While I honestly loved everything I tried out, I kept coming back to the Laughing Buddha collection. This collection is all about focusing on the positive and adding an extra dose of happiness to daily life, which I think is a great way to start each morning! Plus, the mandarin scent is simply divine!


After receiving a hand massage with the Good Luck sugar body scrub and washing it off with the Happy Buddha shower foam, I was sold on taking home that collection. Birchbox and Rituals kindly gifted each attendee with the product line of her choice, so I was able to take home the scrub, shower foam, and body cream to begin my new daily ritual.

BUT...here's the best part...


Rituals and Birchbox DOUBLED their gift so one lucky reader will also be taking home the Laughing Buddha collection! One winner will receive the same sugar scrub, shower foam (which was in the swag bags at the Golden Globes!), and body cream (total retail value: $69). 

Enter below for your chance to win - the giveaway will run through October 28th, and we'll announce the winner on October 29th.

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Thank you to Birchbox and Rituals for a fantastic day! Which Rituals product are you most excited to try?

xoxo
B
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