The Retro Drink Everyone Loves

Punch might just be the ideal holiday party drink: It’s easy to prepare in  advance, serves a crowd so you can avoid stocking a full bar, and is retro chic.  Dig out your mother or grandmother’s bowl and cup set, follow these four simple  rules from Dan Searing, author of The Punch Bowl and  co-owner of the bar Room 11 in Washington, D.C.; and then try making Searing’s Cold Claret  Punch or Jamaican  Punch.
1. Keep It  Seasonal An iced tea-lemonade punch is terrific in July, but December  calls for ingredients such as citrus, apple brandy and warm baking spices like  cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. And now’s the time to serve heartier punches (think  ones that include egg nog).
2. Watch the  Booze One of the most common mistakes Searing sees is too-strong punch  (even if part of the drink’s appeal is its potency). Either follow a recipe to  make sure you don’t over-spike, or adhere to this rule of thumb: Each 5-ounce  serving (the standard size for the cups that accompany most bowls) should  contain about 1 and a half ounces of an 80-proof spirit (most vodka, gin,  whiskey and rum fall into this category).
3.  Save the Sweets for the Gingerbread House Searing says it helps to  think of sugar (or agave, or whatever you’re  using) in punch as salt in a  savory recipe: You need it,  but too much will ruin the finished product. Mix  all the ingredients together and add the sweetener last, and don’t use all of it  at once.  Add a little bit, then taste, and keep doing so until you think it’s  just  right–and maybe ask one other person’s opinion, to be sure.
4. Use Ice Wisely
Pouring a bag of ice cubes into a bowl of  punch is the fastest way to dilute the liquid. Instead, Searing says to prepare  your own ice  block by filling a Bundt or loaf pan, or a 2-quart paper milk or  juice  container with water (if using a carton, rinse well first). Freeze, and  when you’re ready to serve, run the pan under warm water to release the ice, or  peel off the paper carton. Have a second block in the freezer  if your party  will last more than 3 hours. If you don’t want to make a  block, serve the punch  without ice, and have an ice bucket nearby so guests can add as much as they  want.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/blogs/The-Retro-Drink-Everyone-Loves#ixzz1jVRsV8kv

How to Write your Wedding Vows: What you Need to Know

Writing the wedding vows can both be blissful and stressful at the same time. Writing vows brings about fond feelings that we have for the one we are about to wed, but the thought of sharing these feelings, or putting them into a coherent sentence, can be beyond trying for a lot of brides and grooms.  Before you write your vows, here are some things that you should take into consideration:

Can you write your own Vows?

Though we have all heard about the bride and groom who stress over writing their own vows, there are quite a few officiants out there who will not allow you to do so.  Religious wedding ceremonies, such as those held in an Episcopal or Catholic church, may require you to recite part of, if not all of, their own traditional vows.  This may vary from officiant to officiant, so make sure you ask them prior to asking them to conduct your wedding.

Are you both Writing your Own?

Some brides and grooms simply do not want to write their own vows, while the other partner may.  Make sure both you and your fiancé are on the same page about whether or not you are going to write your own special vows.

Some partners may also want to write their vows together, or even show them to one another prior to the big day. Again, make sure you discuss this with your fiancé so that you are both happy with the outcome.

Outline you Vows

Do you remember having to outline term papers in school?  Vows are not a whole lot different.  Setting out an outline with a beginning, middle and an end will help you keep your thoughts on track.  You will also be making sure that you are creating one cohesive masterpiece that will be easy for your partner and the attendants to follow.

Pick your Tone

Your vows don’t necessary have to be gushing with the “lovey dovey” stuff.  If you want to throw in some humor, go for it!  Find your voice and a tone that you feel the most comfortable with.  This will ensure that your vows ring true to you and your relationship.

Keep it Short

Vows are meant to be short, usually within one minute long.  You don’t want a long, streaming prose that will take you five minutes to recite.  Keep your feelings and your promises straight and to the point.  Otherwise, your guests – as well as your partner – may start to squirm and shift.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you keep your vows tailored to the relationship that both you and your partner have.  Make promises that you know will make an impact on your relationship and that you both feel strongly about.  There’s no sense in copying someone else’s vows that you may have heard at a different wedding or in a movie.  Speak from the heart and you will be sure to get a few smiles and tears.