DC Punch Workshop!

DC area friends! Join us this Sunday for our first-ever cocktail workshop at Red Barn Mercantile in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia! This is something we’ve wanted to do for a super long time, and we’re so excited to talk about all things booze and holiday entertaining – and of course share some of the tips and tricks that we’ve collected over the years. Andrew, our resident cocktail guru, will be teaching everyone how to make two delicious punch recipes that are perfect for holiday entertaining: a traditional Colonial-era rum punch and a modern Tiki bowl. We love making punches for any large gathering, since you can make a huge batch ahead of time – so you know that your guests will be taken care of without having to spend all night at your bar cart.

Planter's Punch Tiki Bowl Rum Punch Recipe

Planter’s Punch

The workshop is this Sunday, December 4 from 6-8 p.m. Guests will taste both punch recipes, and everyone will go home with a bottle of Morris Kitchen Preserved Lemon Syrup and hand dip dyed recipe cards so you can make your own punch at home! We’ll also have a few of our gorgeous vintage punch bowl sets available for purchase to help dress up your holiday tables!

Space is limited to just 10 guests – so hurry over to the Red Barn Mercantile website to purchase your ticket right here! We hope to see some of you there on Sunday!

Traditional Hot Rum Punch / Photo Credit: Sweet Root Village for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Traditional Hot Rum Punch / Photo Credit: Sweet Root Village for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Traditional Hot Rum Punch / Photo Credit: Sweet Root Village for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photos by Sweet Root Village from this post a couple of years ago when we made a big batch of punch for some friends!

Purchase your punch workshop tickets right here!

DC Guide: Fall Foliage Destinations

This month I’m partnering with Capital One’s new Auto Navigator® site to share some of my favorite spots in the DC area. Earlier this month I shared three of my favorite independent boutiques, and today I’m excited to share three of my favorite destinations for gorgeous fall foliage! I tend to plan our family adventures based on the season, finding the best places to see cherry blossoms, peonies, and lilacs in the spring and going to a nearby farm to pick in-season fruits and berries in the summer. We’re currently experiencing peak fall foliage in DC, so it’s the perfect time to head outside and enjoy this beautiful season while it lasts!

DC Guide: Fall Foliage Destinations

There are so many wonderful attractions, historic sites, gardens, and museums in the DC area – and while we can get to most of the museums via public transportation, some of our favorite destinations are best reached by car. Our car is a pretty important part of our family weekend adventures! When my husband and I bought our first (used) car a few years ago, we had a 6 month-old baby and a brand new mortgage payment, and we were feeling really overwhelmed by life in general. We were also focusing more on our short-term financial situation and didn’t really think about the longer term added cost of maintaining an already 10-year old car used for both daily commuting and longer trips to visit family out of state. If I could go back and give my first-time car buying self a piece of advice, I’d tell myself to think more about our long term needs and the emotional security of having a reliable car that you can trust to carry your family wherever it needs to go. I know I feel so, so, so much better putting my money into a payment for a new car with a maintenance package and warranty than I ever felt fixing up our old car!

Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site is changing the auto financing experience to empower consumers and take the stress out of shopping for a car. You’ll find everything you need to find and finance your dream car, all on one website from the comfort of your own home or mobile device. You can find out in minutes if you pre-qualify for auto financing – with no risk to your credit score – then test drive financing options before heading to the dealership. You can even find the perfect car by searching the inventory of over 12,000 dealerships by make, model, and price. Click here for more information and to get started today.

We’ve been taking advantage of the mild Fall weather to get out and enjoy some of our favorite outdoor destinations. All three should be on your must-visit list!

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

The Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks

Situated on several acres at the highest point of DC’s Georgetown neighborhood, the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks is probably my favorite outdoor destination in all of Washington, DC. Designed over the course of 30 years by landscape architects Mildred Bliss and Beatrix Farrand, the gardens feature multiple garden terraces with everything from roses and peonies to chrysanthemums and Japanese anemones, an indoor orangerie, beautifully landscaped flower beds, winding walkways along gently rolling hills, ponds and fountains, and so much more. My girls love exploring the meandering paths, while of course I love taking in all the gorgeous flowers and foliage. And since Dumbarton Oaks is located at one of the highest points in DC, there are also some pretty spectacular views of the foliage in neighboring Rock Creek Park.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum

One of the things that I love most about living in DC is that so many of our public attractions offer free admission – including the National Arboretum! And it’s only 10 minutes from my house! With more than 15 garden collections and displays on 446 acres in Northeast DC, the National Arboretum is the perfect place to run around and explore any time of year. I love visiting the Asian Collection, Dogwood Collection, Conifer Collection, and Herb Garden in the fall, but you really can’t go wrong in any section of the park. You can also see the original columns from the U.S. Capitol Building, which were transferred to the Arboretum when the Capitol underwent an expansion in 1958.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: The National Arboretum

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate

Whenever we feel the need to escape DC for an hour or two, we jump in the car and head to Mount Vernon. George Washington’s estate is located only 30 minutes outside of DC, but feels like an entirely different planet. You can tour the Mansion, stroll around the Estate gardens, walk down to the wharf on the edge of the Potomac River, visit the Pioneer Farm – or even visit the distillery and gristmill! We love to just sit on the lawn behind the mansion and gaze out at the Potomac River (OMG that VIEW), or visit some of the many farm animals on the grounds, including sheep, pigs, and oxen. It’s pretty much the perfect afternoon excursion.

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

DC Guide - Fall Foliage Destinations: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate

All photos by Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

This post is sponsored by Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site – click here for more information and to get started today! All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

DC Guide: Where to Shop in Washington, DC!

Over the past few years, I’ve shared some of my favorite DC-area destinations, from where to eat and drink and eat again, to some of the DC area’s most beautiful gardens, attractions, and museums. Today I’m excited to partner with Capital One’s new Auto Navigator® site to share three of my favorite independent local boutiques in the DC area, from the vibrant 14th Street corridor in Northwest DC to Old Town Alexandria to my own neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Southeast DC!

DC Guide: Where to Shop / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

We’re a single car family, and I use our car every day for school and day care drop offs and pick ups, taking my husband to work, and a frenzy of errands during my kid-free hours. Not to mention fun family activities on the weekend and the long highway trips to visit family in Upstate New York and New Jersey. So we definitely need a car that is safe and reliable for our entire family. When our poor 13-year old car suddenly became totally unreliable this past summer, we took the opportunity to upgrade to a brand new car! Both my husband and I had ever only owned used cars before, so this was our first experience buying a brand new car!

Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site is a brand new way to navigate the auto financing experience. The car buying process can be so overwhelming and stressful, from trying to decide on a particular make and model to figuring out car financing. Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to find and finance a car, all on one website from the comfort of your own home or mobile device. You can pre-qualify for auto financing and test drive financing options so you can head to the dealership with financing in-hand. You can even find the perfect car by searching the inventory of over 12,000 dealerships by make, model, and price. Click here for more information and to get started today.

I spent an afternoon in my new (and very reliable car) visiting some of my favorite independent boutiques in the DC area with my friend Rachel. If you’re planning to visit DC soon, you’ll definitely want to stop by each one of these shops:

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry

Image via Salt & Sundry

Salt & Sundry: I’m a big fan of and regular visitor at Salt & Sundry’s original Union Market location, but this was my first time visiting their gorgeous second location on 14th Street NW! Aaaannnnd…. I pretty much want to take one of everything home with me. Gorgeous ceramic dinnerware and mugs. Cocktail tools and ingredients. Rugs and textiles. Jewelry and accessories. I came home with a beautiful new mug for myself and a bottle of cardamom bitters for my husband, but I’m totally going back for one of the hanging planters below.

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Salt and Sundry / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile

Image via Red Barn Mercantile

Red Barn Mercantile is my go-to resource for finding the perfect gift. Located just across the Potomac River on King Street in picturesque Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, Red Barn Mercantile has something for everyone, from furniture and pillows to soap and candles to cocktail mixers and cookbooks – and fantastic gifts for kids! They also have the best stationery selection in the entire DC area, including greeting cards, art prints, notebooks, notepads, and planners. If you’re looking for more extensive interior help, Red Barn Mercantile also works with local designers to offer interior design services!

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: Red Barn Mercantile / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

East City Book Shop is an independent book store in my own neighborhood of Capitol Hill – yay! They only opened their doors a few months ago, but they’ve quickly become one of my favorite go-to shops on the Hill. Not only do they have an amazing array of books, including a fantastic kids section that both of my girls adore, but they also have kid-friendly art supplies, a seating area for story time and events, and the best small but mighty greeting card collection in Capitol Hill. It was such a pleasant surprise to walk in for the very first time and see so many stationery favorites on those shelves!

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: East City Books / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: East City Book Shop

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: East City Books / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Where to Shop in Washington, DC: East City Books / Photo by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photos by Rachel Lyn Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper, except where noted

This post is sponsored by Capital One’s Auto Navigator® site – click here for more information and to get started today! All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

DC Guide: Where to Shop for the Perfect Cocktail Party with car2go

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One of our goals this winter is to have friends over to our house more frequently – it isn’t always easy to go out when you have small kids at home, especially when you just want to stay warm and cozy inside. Last year we were still unpacking and getting settled into the new house, and by the time spring rolled around we felt like we’d spent the entire winter hibernating. Plus, hosting friends is a great excuse to try out some of our new cocktail recipes!

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Whether we’re planning a larger event or a smaller gathering, we always want to have something tasty for our guests, but it isn’t always feasible to get around town using public transportation. I’m so glad that car sharing services have become more popular in DC over the last few years. I see car2go all over my Capitol Hill neighborhood, so I was really excited to team up with car2go to try one of their cars for myself. We had a few friends coming over to try some of our upcoming winter cocktails (the best kind of research!), so I jumped into a nearby car2go to gather provisions. Because this was a more intimate gathering of friends and the first time we’d had people over since Alice’s arrival in September, we decided to keep things really simple: two really good cocktails accompanied by a cheese plate and some seriously delicious doughnuts – all around our coffee table (an antique Egyptian brass tray that we found at a flea market!). I try to get as much preparation as possible done during nap time, and car2gocar2go made it so easy to pick up some special treats from some of my favorite DC spots in just a couple of hours!

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In case you aren’t familiar with car2go, the entire fleet is made up of smart cars – so they can fit into really small parking spots – that you can access for short trips around town, even one way or by-the-minute trips! I was a bit worried about being able to find a car nearby when I needed it, especially on a weekend, but I just pulled the car2go app up on my phone when I was ready to walk out the door and there was a car just a couple of blocks away. I was in a car with a quick swipe of my member card and on my way in about 10 minutes total!

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My first stop was my favorite new addition to Capitol Hill: District Doughnut! I was so happy when they opened up shop on Barracks Row a few months ago – they seriously make the best doughnuts I’ve ever tasted! My personal favorites so far are Brown Butter and Maple Butter Pecan, but they’re always coming out with new seasonal flavors. Lines have been known to form down the block and parking can be really difficult on weekends, but I managed to find a tiny parking spot that was just the right size for car2go.

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Next I headed up to Union Market, an artisanal food market in the NOMA area of DC. We love coming up to Union Market for casual meals or to shop at the many specialty stands – you can find everything from produce stands to a fishmonger to ice cream! I made a beeline to Righteous Cheese to pick up the ingredients for our cheese plate, then stopped by the produce stand to grab some fresh seasonal citrus in lieu of flowers. I couldn’t resist popping into Salt & Sundry to pick up a new candle from local candlemaker Sydney Hale Co. and the most gorgeous tiny dipping bowls from Redraven Ceramics.

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If you’re planning to host a cocktail party of any kind, you’ll definitely want to visit a well curated liquor store. My final stop was at our favorite liquor store in all of DC: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Schneider’s seriously has everything – from small batch distilleries to the more familiar brand names – and the staff is always available to help you find something, answer questions, or make recommendations if you need help navigating the sheer number of options. It’s overwhelming in the best possible way.

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My favorite part of running around DC with car2gocar2go? Once you’re done with the car you just park it anywhere and leave! You don’t have to return the car to a specific spot or worry about completing a return trip within a specified period of time. You just drive the car for the amount of time that you need it (even one-way trips) and then you’re done. I found a parking spot right around the corner from my house, so I didn’t have to worry about schlepping a bunch of things for a long walk home. My husband was taking Sophie and Alice for a walk when we pulled up – so Sophie even got a peek inside the car2go! She promptly proclaimed it her tiny car.

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I made it home with plenty of time to set everything out before our guests arrived. Andy made up a large batch of one of our favorite drinks – The Martinez – and a bowl of Hot Rum Punch – you’ll have to check back on Friday for the Hot Rum Punch recipe!

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Photos by Sweet Root Village for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Flowers + Strawberries

After being cooped up indoors all winter, we’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as possible these days – at least until the oppressive DC summer heat and humidity set in. Over the past couple of weekends we visited one of our favorite DC spots – the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks – and took Sophie on her first strawberry picking adventure at a nearby pick-your-own farm. She enjoyed exploring the grounds of Dumbarton Oaks, but I’m pretty sure the afternoon of strawberry picking is her definition of the Best Day Ever.

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Sophie particularly loved the fountain – and fish! – located within the Ellipse at the center of the gardens. And while we sadly missed most of the spring flowers like peonies, lilacs, and tulips, the roses and iris were at peak bloom during our visit. Heavenly.

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Our strawberry picking adventure started with feeding clover to the goats and saying hello to the farm’s piglets. Sophie has been really into learning animal names and sounds lately, so I’m pretty sure she would have been happy if the afternoon had ended here…

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…but she was pretty stoked once we got to the strawberry fields. She spent a few minutes pointing out berries for us to pick – “Strawbey!” – and she also enjoyed carefully placing the picked strawberries into our bucket. It didn’t take long for her to start dipping into the accumulated pile of strawberries. Pure joy for this tiny toddler.

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My people. I do love these two so very much.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper (last photo via Instagram)