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Ideas & Inspiration

Spring 2011


Ideas & Inspiration

{Founder & Publisher}

Courtney Russell {Photographer}

Danielle Bortone-Holt {Design Director}

Crystal D. German {Design Assistant}

Rizzo Johnson {Contact} soiree@halfpastlavish.com

www.thesoireemag.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Half-Past-Lavish-Event-Production/108495097837


A publication of


Letter From Courtney In January the obligatory resolutions were made – find time to go to the gym, get really organized, etc., etc. These weren’t really resolutions, but more so some serious life goals that consistently seem to make my never-ending to do list. I do make some other resolutions, but ones that I have more confidence in my ability to keep. Last year, my life completely changed, and I became a new mom. Figuring how to get through each day felt like a feat in itself, let alone living up to any of my crazy resolutions. Before my son was born, I had visions of modern-day Donna Reed dancing in my head, and I came up with this idea that I would make 1 new recipe a week from my stacks of magazine I get each month. Suffice it to say, that didn’t happen, but once we got ourselves into a nice little routine, I did find the time to try new recipes, and at the end of 2010 I was proud of what I did accomplish, because I tried, and that was the best I could do. So it’s February already. How are you keeping up with your resolutions? Have you rethought them a little, accomplished some, tweaking others? Well, every year in January the media focuses on losing weight, decluttering, and rebalancing, and while these are all great goals, let’s just remember we can try our best this year, and there will always be next year to try again. My fun goal for 2011 is to try something new, and I’m enlisting the help of SOIREE in making this a success. Have you always wondered what it would be like to do __________? Yep, fill in the blank with whatever it is you’ve wanted to try. I’ve got a laundry list of things I’d love to try my hand at. In this issue we’re kicking this new feature off with a “Day in the life of a Barista.” I grew up on the East Coast, so the average high school job wasn’t a coffee barista like it was for so many of my friends here, but I’ve been dying to know what it’s like to be a barista, so this month I finally get my chance. What would you love to learn/do for a day? Let us know at soiree@halfpastlavish.com or on our Facebook page, and who knows, we just might try it out! Cheers, Courtney

Team Soiree Loves these vintage valentines





Happy Valentine’s Day to our dear readers!

A Day In The Life Of

of a Barista

“I never knew there was so much fine detail that goes into working with coffee beans.” shares Courtney.

No two espresso shots are the same. Trained Baristas will drink dozens of espresso shots (a technique called, “dialing in”) to practice before they pull their first shot for their customers.

“I wanted to practice pulling a shot of espresso, but after seeing how delicate the process is. I was intimadated and left it to the pros at Vovito. Danielle and I were happy to taste the end results!”

Baristas at Vovito Caffe & Gelato have trained with some of the west coasts finest roasters, baristas and coffee connoisseurs. The Vovito Baristas take pride in learning the intricate skill of “latte art.”

The Bravern stands erect at the entrance to the “heart of Downtown Bellevue, WA.” This luxury mixeduse property is part residence, part Microsoft campus, and part retail. With high-end retailers such as Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch, and Neiman Marcus it is a mecca for the Pacific Northwest fashionistas and tourists, but once you step inside this unique shopping destination locals and guests alike discover there is something for everyone. Shops such as Anthropologie, Parkside Paper & Gifts, and Sur La Table balance well with the luxury retailers, but if shopping is not your thing, don’t rule The Bravern out just yet. With outdoor fireplaces and a lovely indooroutdoor layout, The Bravern is one of our new favorite destinations for a light treat at Vovito Caffe & Gelato or Trophy Cupcakes when the sun decides to peak through the iconic “northwest gray.”

Vovito Caffe & Gelato focuses on delivering a true, quality experience to guests through their handcrafted, Italian style gelato, coffee, and crepes. Vovito produces such a high quality product that “regulars” will make a daily 30 minute morning commute from Bothell, WA to Vovito in Bellevue, WA before heading in to work over in Seattle, WA. Now, if you aren’t from the Greater Puget Sound area, you may not realize just how much of a trek this is during morning rush hour, especially if you haven’t had your morning cup o’ joe yet, but now that we’ve experi enced Vovito’s coffee we can’t argue! For more information on menu items, hours of operation, and directions to Vovito Caffe & Gelato visit www.vovito.com.

Vovito is also home to two of the Vovito Owners, Ariff and Shairose four Slayer espresso machines in Gulamani, wanted to bring the the greater Seattle area. Although European café experience to the Pacific Northwest. After extensive the Slayer company is housed in the Seattle neighborhood of training with gelato masters and Georgetown, very few local working with award-winning coffeeshops can baristas, the We have the same standards as boast that they Gulamani’s felt the café owners in Italy. own a Slayer. prepared to open And if coffee and the doors of gelato were not enough, Vovito has Vovito Caffe & Gelato. “We always added true, Parisian-style crepes to have 27 flavors of fresh gelato,” their café menu. We tried the shares Shairose Gulamani. “We “Strawberries & Cream” crepe, and have the same standards as the found it delightfully light, yet café owners in Italy. Our products do not remain out past their prime.” decadent.


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Real Advice from one of Seattle’s Best

BJ Duft

The first time a client researches and selects a caterer can be daunting and overwhelming. We totally get that, and caterers do too. BJ Duft, owner of Herban Feast Catering & Events and the new Herban Design Studio at Sodo Park, chatted with us to share some tips & hints with you.

Soiree: There's a lot that clients wish they knew but don't when it comes to working with a caterer. What are some tips, hints, and advice you wish all clients new about how to create a fab working relationship with your caterer? BJ Duft: I have found that many clients may not have a clear understanding of how pricing works in relation to what they may be purchasing, (ie: menu variety, quality of food, service and pre-event support). Fullservice caterers, like Herban Feast, are set-up to provide much more than just great food & beverages, they typically will assist the event planners and are well connected to provide coordination for rentals, floral, etc. That said, it is a challenge for a lot of new clients to come to the table with a budget in mind as they are not always clear on what a caterer can/will provide. Having an “overall” budget for your event creates an opportunity for the caterer to be more “creative” with costs as well as provide options that may save the client some money in the long run.

A personal “concept meeting” is a great way to start a fantastic working relationship with your potential caterer. It is a very healthy “getting to know you” opportunity which I find helps me better understand what is important to the client…..in terms of their values and aspirations for their event. Whether the event is a wedding, auction or corporate dinner, many times the initial meeting has been a cultivating experience for me and the client where we came up with amazing ideas that resulted in an event that exceeded everyone’s expectations! A caterer that offers a “tasting experience” will provide an opportunity to sample some of their menu elements, which is a great way to start a quality working relationship…a meeting at the dining table! When picking a caterer what should clients consider? What advice do you always share with your clients? From a financial perspective, it is not easy to compare “apples to apples” with catering quotes. Ask for a quote/proposal to be fully inclusive so there are no hidden surprises with add-on costs. From a service perspective, ask you caterer how many events they do on a given day and how they are staffed (office, pre-event support and “day of” service staffing). Inquire about how they are set-up to handle last minute changes and how in their history they have handled emergencies and any last minute “event crisis”….how did it go and what did they do to ensure the event went off without a hitch?

Lobster Mac-n-cheese, photo by Azzura Photography

From a culinary perspective, where do they source their ingredients and how are their menu items created? Are they pre-fab components or do the make menu elements from scratch? Do they finish entrees on-site or are they cooked-off at their catering kitchen and then sent out in a hot box? And, be sure to ask for at least 3 references! That is really, really helpful advice for clients – new and veterans. What are some trends in food and catering that you are excited about for 2011? “Small Plates” are still in and getting hotter! They provide more variety and more interaction!! For Dinner, we have found our Family-Style dining experience is a trend that continues to grow in popularity….it helps create a less formal dinner service and encourages guests to connect at the dinner table. Jazzed-up comfort food, a la our Lobster Mac-n-cheese (shown above) in a Dim Sum Spoon, is very hot right now across the nation. I am noticing a trend with more of my wedding clients bringing family recipes to us and asking us to include them in their menu. Another trend is artisan vendors for desserts. Two I love are Jonboy Caramels in Ballard and FROST Donuts in Mill Creek.

We love FROST Donuts too. Yum! Last question, if you could cater any celebrity’s event who would it be? What type of event would it be? And what general theme would you like to plan this specific catering menu around? A birthday celebration for actress/comedienne Kathy Najimy…I think she would want the event to be super fun and incredibly inventive, which would allow our creative and innovative minds here at Herban Feast to come up with an amazing menu and styling! Her birthday, on Feb 6th, is one day before mine. I would go total “Aquarium-themed,” which would have all the guests feel like they were dining at a special club or restaurant down in the beautiful crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. The menu would reflect dishes around the theme, lowered onto guest tables from giant fishing rods from above the dining tables and the cocktails would be served from sexy mermen….she likes her boys hot, hot, hot! And dessert…….I’ll keep that to myself until Kathy calls me to book! BJ, that is too fun. I can’t wait to book my next event with Herban Feast. You guys are amazing! Thanks! For more information or to book your catering consultation with BJ Duft and his team at Herban Feast head over to

www.herbanfeast.com Frost Doughnut “mini cakes” photo by Eliott Peacock

Focus on Gift-giving at its best!

e: sign Soire le B de l too. l umb ders wi re b e mo lov rea Bevin: bumble We ink our u tell us y, n o h t a y p d n B design helps an in, ca e com businesses and Bev out th me,the ab na c.? individuals express the tion, et a r i p just the right sentiment ins through distinctive gift baskets, bags, and boxes, as well as custom calligraphy and favors. Our products include: custom corporate gifts, artful business & personal gifts, and custom wedding invitations and favors. Customers choose us for our artistry, high quality selections, and creative, helpful service — each bumble B design product truly embodies the art of giving.

“I played around with a few different possible business names before settling on bumble B design. Design encompasses my talents for both gift design and calligraphy design, and B is my nickname as well as my middle initial.” “I learned about the world of gift baskets in the 1990s when I was a co-owner of a family specialty dessert store, Sweet Daddy’s, in suburban Philadelphia. I was responsible for creating and marketing gift baskets for the store, which we filled with my Dad’s fresh baked goods, my mom’s Belgian chocolate truffles, and other culinary delights. When my husband and I moved back to Seattle to raise our kids, I worked at David Smith & Co., where I had begun developing the concept of a gift division for the Indonesian furniture & craft store. When the company told me they wanted to move more slowly with the idea, my husband encouraged me to start my own gift business here in Seattle, stating that “I was so much more about creating beautiful gifts than selling furniture.” I followed his advice, started bumble B design in the fall of 2001, and haven’t looked back since!

u bumble B design is s yo all p e m ke s t a a a great fit for me as Wh ted as er? I love collaborating wn iva n, mot siness o fashio g with clients to s in bu irin end re insp r t t create personalized, Wha , etc. a w gift artful gifts & custom ? ne ign des ou for ncepts calligraphy projects. y s/co n g i I get to exercise my des creativity on a daily basis. I see myself as the artistic messenger of my client’s appreciation and care; important sentiments to express whether to clients, employees, or loved ones.

I draw inspiration for my gifts from a few different sources, one of which is nature and seasonal changes. For example, I will often tie wheat stalks onto my gift baskets in the fall, or lavender sprigs into relaxation gifts. The seasonal changes often spark a change in the color palette used in my gifts, as well as the products I look to feature. I also draw inspiration from whatever cool new products my suppliers have in store, or from other business owners doing inspirational things with their businesses. One of the new suppliers that I’m excited about is Olive & Sinclair Chocolates out of Tennessee – they make tasty oversized chocolate bars in wrappers that are so visually compelling you almost don’t want to open it! This is exactly the type of product I love featuring in my gifts. Big Dipper Wax Works is a local Seattle company and their 100% beeswax candles are delightful to burn. I’m also inspired by the Japanese emphasis on gift-giving. My family has had several Japanese exchange students live with us over the past three years, and with each student I have been so impressed with their attention to gift-giving.”

n bee chat s a It h tful to se We hand deliver gifts g el t gh n i i l h e t u d y o n o locally in the Seattle s u! A now ab o y ? & Bellevue vicinity and with ould k esign d sh B e ship nationally. Our gifts w ble bum & calligraphy services can be viewed online at www.bumbleBdesign.com. We reuse clean packaging materials (peanuts, boxes, airpacks) in our gift shipments and will pick up these items from Seattle businesses in order to promote eco-friendly practices. We have a business Facebook page, bumble B design, where we give away a lot of free stuff and even have “Taster Bs” who help us sample new products.

Oooo, sign us up as “Taster Bs!” How fun! You’ve inspired us to get a little more creative with our gift-giving this year. Thanks!

do gifts ting t a Wh e get ? lov ng you receivi and

I love receiving all sorts of gifts: drawings from my children, nieces and nephews, hot sauces, chocolates, love letters, and a banjo from my husband, photos & objects from travels abroad from my dad and mom, a handmade feather hair clip from one of my best friends. I even liked receiving these funky ear cleaners from one of my Japanese exchange students just because they were so novel and like many Japanese things, the design was inspired!

For more information visit:


We are



} Cameron Levin Designs } Getting to know Cameron – one of Seattle’s up-and-coming Renaissance women! Soiree: Cameron, you are quite the renaissance woman. We

are truly amazed! Catch us up on what you've been up to in the last year and what's on your plate for 2011.

Cameron:Thank you! I'm so flattered! This past year has really been all about fine-tuning my [fashion design] line, Cameron Levin, to be ready

for wholesale. Last year, I was doing a lot of commissioned pieces and one-offs, especially the feather dresses, but this year I'm excited to create a cohesive, thoughtful collection. I've been selling in Spun Sustainable Collective [in Capitol Hill], and in the next couple of months you'll see a new line of dresses and some separates on the rack. Also new for 2011 is my gig as the managing editor for Seattlepicks.com. I've been writing for them for three years, and it's just a lot of fun. I'll still write features on local boutiques and other hot spots, but I will also get to write about products and events.

As a fashion journalist and designer what trends are you most excited about for 2011? What's a runway trend that you think can easily be incorporated on the streets of Seattle? 2011 is interesting - I've noticed a fun dichotomy of minimalism/utilitarianism (probably as a result of the recession) but also surprising eccentricity. With some of the bold bright color palettes and mixed patterns, the military aesthetic is everywhere-from lace up boots, crew-neck jackets, and earthy green and brown tones. I think Seattleites will respond well to the

military look best because of its practicality and efficiency, and I think we're really good at layering - it's almost an instinctual thing for us.

You also plan events (seriously, you are one of the most well-rounded gals we know!). What's an event theme you'd love to design for an event this year? Well I'd have to give that some thought, we just had a women's event featuring Nancy Pearl (AKA the "Lusty Librarian"), best-selling author and NPR host. We collected tons of books (which we then donated to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library) to use as the table centerpieces. I loved that theme because it was "green", so to speak, and was a productive, meaningful decorative theme versus something that was just pretty. Besides, there's a certain appeal about books - especially old hardcover books. They inspire and motivate us to learn about everything the world has to offer. We also featured the designer of Nico Paper Goods, who is originally a bookbinder but makes these darling miniature leather book charm necklaces. Coincidentally, she also sells at

We love the repurposed book idea for event dÊcor. We might just have to borrow that one! We’ll stay up-to-date with all you have going on and get on the

www.lovecameron.com e-newsletter stat!

Coupons Re-imagined imagined Chinook Book now for iPhone ®


The world’s first mobile coupon book

Get a bunch of friends together and host a

Clothing Swap Party!

Invite your friends to bring clean, gently used clothing and accessories, pile them on a sofa and let everyone dig through and pick what they want. When everyone is done, each item that is left over is held up for a “last chance snag� before it is put into bags to be donated to your favorite charity. It is also a great opportunity to pick up that bottle of wine you’ve been wanting to try to serve with some tasty snacks.

photos by Brickhouse Photography

Q & A with Courtney It’s been fun hearing from readers, and I appreciate your comments and questions. Some of the questions are too good to not share, so we hope you find this column useful, and please keep the questions coming!

I often read about how easy it is to make simple floral arrangeQ ments from grocery store bouquets, but when I get home with them it always just looks like I put the bouquet in a vase without even attempting to arrange it. What am I doing wrong?


I totally know what you mean. I used to think the same thing, until a florist showed me a super easy and ingenious trick. Using tape, preferably waterproof, but I’ve totally used the regular, clear tape used to wrap presents with, make a grid across the top off the container you are using. Remove the filler (greenery, baby’s breath, etc.). Then place the flowers in the container within the grid pattern and, voila!, you have yourself a nice arrangement.

grid across top of container

Also, if you want to hide the stems in the container from view, you can take some of the greenery that is usually added as filler and wrap it around the inside of the container.

Please join Starry Nights Catering & Half Past Lavish Events for our next open house showcasing our amazing dessert buffets. March 24, 2011 Starry Nights Catering, Kirkland, WA. 6:30 - 8:30pm. Complimentary with RSVP to soiree@halfpastlavish.com.

Last Word

Why we love


A tiny dish is a terrific spot to set rings or other jewelry.

Trying to find a useful purpose for vintage finds can run the risk of adding more clutter to your dĂŠcor.

Put your decorations to work! Here are a few examples of how we get use out of some of our vintage plates every day.

A large plate can house all of the bottles of face wash, moisturizers, and masks.


Profile for Half Past Lavish

Soiree February 2011  

Half Past Lavish event planning magazine

Soiree February 2011  

Half Past Lavish event planning magazine