Life Skills Cooking 101

Life Skills Cooking 101 – 6 Steps to Teaching This Key Skill to Those with Special Needs

Today’s population of children and adults with learning disabilities, Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD, and Down syndrome is growing. In reviewing recent research, we can find that the average lifespan of a person with Down syndrome in the U.S. is approximately 60 years. That’s an increase of 35 years since 1983! Autism has increased 289.5%, ADHD 33% and developmental disabilities 17% in the last 15 years.

The population is not only growing but getting older and, with this, they need the same day-to-day life skills everyone else needs to be functional. Learning basic life skills, like cooking, is essential to functioning better as an adult and becoming independent.

Here are 6 steps and helpful hints to teaching life skills cooking. The recipe to success when teaching cooking is consistency, repetition, and patience with a large dash of humor.

Step 1  – Kitchen Set Up
I recommend breaking this down into two days. Devote the first day to equipment and the
second day to ingredients. Cooking should be fun; not overwhelming and stressful. Work together with your child in making decisions about the kitchen set up as this will help your child stay focused and know how interested you are in them learning to cook.

Day One

1. Take a tour of your kitchen focusing on equipment used for cooking.

2. Show your child where the utensils, the pots and pans, mixing spoons, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, cutting board, paper towels, toaster, microwave, and blender are and don’t forget the refrigerator. There are a lot of different compartments in a refrigerator that can be confusing.

3. Review the difference between liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups. Don’t spend too much time here because it will be more obvious when cooking but be sure they can be easily reached, along with the measuring spoons.

4. Next, ask yourself, can everything be easily reached or moved? Are the mixing bowls stored in a pile making it difficult to get the right size? Are the paper towels easily torn from its holder?

5. Arrange things with your child so they feel part of the process and that their input is important. This enforces that you are interested in them learning to cook independently. If you’re excited, they will be excited.

Here are some Helpful Hints on storing and buying equipment:

- Since a blender is heavy, try to find a spot on the counter to store it.

- A cutting board with a rubber backing is best because it won’t slip on the counter, making it safer and easier to use.

- Depending on the child’s ability, should the knives be stored in a different location? For safety reasons, I always use plastic knifes for cutting during my cooking lessons.

- Metal measuring spoons with clearly marked measurements that include a 1/8 measurement are best. They last longer and the measurements won’t wash off.

Day Two

1. Take a tour of your kitchen focusing on cooking ingredients.

2. Start with the refrigerator. Point out the milk, eggs, butter, juice, etc.

3. Next, show where the dry ingredients, spices, and oils are stored.

4. Then, again, ask yourself, can everything be reached or moved easily? You don’t want your child frustrated trying to reach things or because they can’t read something.

Here are some Helpful Hints on storing and arranging ingredients:

- To make it easier to lift and pour from large containers, store your ingredients in smaller, lighter containers. For example, you can store vegetable oil in an empty spice jar or pour milk into a quart container.

- To make it easier to scoop and level dry ingredients, store dry ingredients — like, sugar, flour, salt and pepper — in wide, covered containers.

- Metal dry measuring cups with long handles and clearly marked measurements are best. They last longer, are easier to use, and, again, the measurements won’t wash off.

- Store spices in a shoe box container. This will make it easier to put on the counter to see which spices are needed. Start with the most common ones like salt and pepper and then add to the box as you go along.

- Remember to arrange things with your child. It is so important for them to feel a part of the set up. It does take patience and time but it’s vital to your child’s successful independence in the kitchen.

Now you’re Ready to Cook!!

Step 2 – Select a Recipe
This may seem like a simple step but finding a recipe that has a few ingredients (no more than 4 to start), step-by-step directions, a colorful picture, only one recipe on a page, and a recipe that lists the equipment and the ingredients needed, can take some time. Having the right recipe to start with is important. You want your child to be excited about the recipe they are cooking and even more so, you want your child to have a fun and successful experience. You don’t want them to be turned off by their first recipe because it was too long and confusing.

You can try going to the bookstore together and looking through some cookbooks, or search on the internet. Be careful, though, some children’s recipes are much more complicated than you would expect. Read them carefully.

I have found that it’s better to start with one very simple recipe and cook that recipe a few times until your child can complete the recipe on their own. Try starting with a trail mix or smoothie that can be done quickly and enjoyed.

Step 3 – Read the Recipe 
Read the recipe with your child. You may have already done this when you were looking for the recipe but it will help to bring them into focus on their task. Reading the recipe before starting will also allow you to go over any questions they may have.

Step 4 – Gather your Ingredients and Equipment
This is where all the time you spent setting up the kitchen will pay off. First, focus on gathering the ingredients and putting them out on the counter. Then, focus on gathering the equipment and putting them on the counter. This is a good time to note if there are any organizational changes that need to be done later in your kitchen set up. But stay focused on the recipe for now and later, with your child, addresses steps they may have found difficult and look for ways to change that for next time.

Also, if your child is having difficulty focusing on the ingredients or equipment, cover the recipe with a piece of paper leaving only the part they are working on showing. Then, move the paper as you go.

Step 5 – Cooking Directions
Again, to help your child focus on one direction at a time, you can use a piece of paper to cover the directions except the one being worked on, or use sticky arrows. Put the arrow on the direction being worked. Once that step is completed, move the sticky arrow to the next direction.

Directions can be difficult and wordy. Try to find a simple recipe with a few steps to start with.  It’s important at this stage for your child to be successful and proud and have quick gratification.

Step 6 – Consistent Repetitive Routine
Be consistent and repetitive. I can’t say that enough, except to say, be patient and laugh. Learning to cook takes some time but it’s rewarding and fun. Remember to always follow the same steps in the same order: read the recipe, gather the ingredients then gather the equipment. If you are using sticky arrows or paper to help follow the directions, have them ready.

Repeat the recipe a few times until your child is able to make it easily on their own.

Remember to laugh and give lots of praise. Give your family a head’s up on what’s coming so they are ready with the “wow, that’s great” comment. And, yes, there will be spills! Just remember to giggle and have your child join in on the clean up. It’s all worth your time and patience to help your child become independent in the kitchen. It will build their self-esteem and self-confidence and, together, you’ll have fun!

Beverly Worth Palomba has been a teacher from Pre-K through high school for more than 20 years and, during the past 11 years, she has worked exclusively in Special Education. She created a life skills cooking class four years ago at the local high school geared to the needs and abilities of her students. In addition, Beverly provides cooking workshops at local community centers. This program inspired her first book, Special Day Cooking: A Life Skills Cookbook. For more information, visit

Enter To Win A Fair Trade Lambswool ‘HOPE’ Scarf From Dhana Teens

Keep your little one warm and cozy this holiday season with a lambswool scarf from Dhana Teens. Featuring organic, fair trade fabrics and designs by eco-minded artists around the world, Dhana collections strive to unite the beauty of nature, organic elements and world cultures while inspiring younger generations to adopt a free, global philosophy for life.

This week we’ve teamed up with Dhana Teens and we are offering one lucky winner a fair trade lambswool “Hope” scarf in red color.

How to enter:

Simply fill out the form below and you are all set! You can get extra entries by sharing and commenting on Facebook and Twitter!

Good Luck!


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10 Tips for Moms to Survive the Holidays

We all know it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But there is so much pressure to create perfect moments and memories, give the perfect gift, remember and connect with friends and loved ones. Quite frankly, the holidays are exhausting. And with four kids, who have end of year parties, secret Santas, holiday concerts and a last push on schoolwork before the break, any mom is tempted to hold up the white flag. And then, they have the dreaded wish lists (demand lists disguised as wishes). So I have compiled a list of things I will try to do to make the holiday less cluttered so I can savor the moments with my family.
To start I will tell the kids—

1. Santa is on a cleansing diet so he can fit in his big red suit so he’s not available for any requests yet. And he doesn’t want us making him any cookies or treats of any kind.

2.The elf on the shelf is planning to be extra naughty this year so you’d better bring your A game and best behavior if there are going to be any presents in this house.

3.Then show your kids a picture of mass chaos (like the day apple starts selling the iphone 6) and say, “All these people are in line for unlimited texting so I don’t think it’s in the cards for you anytime soon.”

4. Don’t feel guilty for giving your kids exactly what they ask for. You shouldn’t be creative in finding the perfect gift. Your only reward will be giant teardrops.

5. Buy your own gifts this year, then wrap them up and put them in your husband’s closet.5.When he sees them, just say, “You’re welcome,” and walk out. And when your husband says the same thing he says every year, “don’t get me anything. I don’t need anything and don’t want to spend the money.” Take him up on it for once. Give him a hammer and a list of chores.

6. Don’t under any circumstances buy into the notion that Black Friday is a ‘must’ shopping day. You will never complete your shopping as you will be run over by crazy moms on a mission using shopping carts as weapons. And the sales will continue into the season anyway.

7. Don’t feel guilty about having a nicer outfit and shoes than your child. They don’t really want to wear them anyway. And have good hair and nails and get in the photos. Photo-bombing makes you feel young! So be ready and create those opportunities.

8. Secretly create the hashtag #secretsantasucks. Grab a glass of wine each night, vent anonymously and read all the other comments. This will help you appear sane through the holiday mayhem.

9.When your children are exhausted and arguing, it is understandable. They’ve just executed a fall schedule that could kill a rhinoceros. Create holiday cheer coupons and give them each one worth a dollar if they can change the fight into merriment on the spot. It’s like a dollar value menu for moms.

10. Buy baked items at the gourmet grocery store. Recut them and place them in a beautiful box with a sprinkle of powered sugar. If its for a class party, add raspberries on the side.


I actually love the holidays, a time of thanks and re-connection. But having a few tricks up my sleeve will leave me freed up and filed with holiday cheer.
Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business School graduate, has lived and worked in seven different countries, including the United States. Wacker is also the multiple award winning author of theFujimini Adventure Series for children and the upcoming book for women, The Mom’s Code. For more information, please visit:

Man Builds ‘Hobbit House’ In Just 4 Months

What started out as a pile of dirt soon turned into a beautiful countryside home.

On a hillside in Wales, 32-year-old Simon Dale went to work. Sick of the costs associated with owning a typical home, Simon sought after a realistic, affordable solution. He found just that. This man with no carpentry or building experience got out his hammer, his chainsaw, and a chisel, and started to build. He had help from his father in-law and the occasional friend passing by. It took him a mere four months to construct and cost him just under $5,000 in materials.
You have to see what he built in such a short period of time.
Here’s how his vision began.
For a man with little prior building experience, Dale was sure to have his hands full. However, he was confident. “My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverance and a mate or two to give a lift now and again,” he says. Simon and his wife, Jasmine, are avid environmentalists and pride themselves on creating as little net impact on the environment as possible. “Our supplies are dwindling and our planet is in ecological catastrophe. The sooner this change can be begun, the more comfortable it will be,” he explains. While residing in their now iconic home, the family spends their days doing ecological woodland management and tending to their garden.
But all of this certainly didn’t happen over night. In fact, it began with this empty plot of land and pile of rocks.
Now you can finally see the foundation take form.
Simon made it a point to waste nothing. The stones he used to dig and the mud that was dug up went to the walls and foundation of the home. He used spare wood from the forest that surrounded him. The floors were constructed of scrap wood as well. He found lots of necessary items – like window panes, wiring, etc. – in local trash piles. The man was on a mission to be resourceful and kept the environment in the forefront of his mind. The couple collected rainwater to keep their garden healthy and flourishing.
While Simon worked, his wife and their two young children camped out in the surrounding woodlands. He would occasionally enlist his sons to help him out with simple tasks like collecting wood. For the first few months, the four of them had no electricity or bathroom.
They used candlelight when it got dark. But that didn’t deter them. In fact, the family found something beautiful in living off the land, like their ancestors long before them. Not to mention, these ancestors also built their homes with their hands and the materials around them.
Here’s the finished result.
Here’s the lovely family in front of the finished home.
The home has a compost toilet and solar panels. It is heated with a wood burner. The walls, floors, and roof all contain straw barrels for increased insulation. The walls also contain lime plaster, a much better alternative to cement.
As you can see, the inside of the home is beautiful. It’s clean, cozy, and filled with natural light.
The Dale family has always been in tune with nature and has stressed the importance of taking care of the environment. They want to hand a world to their children that is bountiful in both resources and opportunities. While they have moved on from their hobbit-like home, the family still continues to build and spread their message.
Simon explains simple and beautifully why he and his family live the way they do, “It’s fun. Living your own life in your own way is rewarding. Following our dreams keeps our souls alive.”
Read the article from SFGlobe here.

Purchasing with a Purpose:Velveteen Partners with Pratham USA to Support Children’s Education in India

Velveteen and PrathamUSA have partnered to sell a special holiday capsule collection and donate 100% of the profits to support Pratham’s education programs in Delhi. The sale will be hosted on as a post-Thanksgiving closeout. It launches on Black Friday, November 29, and will continue through Giving Tuesday, December 2, 2014.
Velveteen’s Flash Sale provides an opportunity for customers to support education in India while shopping elegant holiday looks including delicate silk dresses, silvery velvet skirts, stylish baby tunics and much more.
Pratham is the largest educational movement in India. This past September, Velveteen’s founder Laura Eckerman Egloff, visited the Pratham’s library in government schools and a Pratham run Learning Center in the Mayur Vihar neighborhood of New Delhi. She was impressed by the success Pratham, its educators and community volunteers are having in creating educational opportunities for underserved children in India. As a mother of two young children, Laura knows how important it is that all children have access to quality education.  She is committed to work through Velveteen to support programs like Pratham which are working well and making a difference.
“At the heart of Velveteen is the belief that empowerment of children is the first step toward a better future for everyone. We owe it to the world to ensure every child has the opportunity to engage with the world around them – to wander, to explore, to look outward and to shine. Education is the critical first step in unlocking this opportunity for millions of children. We’re thrilled that our first Flash Sale will be in support of the incredible work that Pratham is doing in India.” 
Velveteen is proud to partner with artisans in India to produce its beautiful childrens’ clothing. Supporting education and economic opportunities in India is a natural extension of these partnerships and an essential reflection of Velveteen’s values.
About Velveteen
Velveteen recently won the Junior Design Award for Best International Fashion Brand, and was named “Highly Commended” in the Best Girls’ Designer Fashion Brand category at the Junior Design Awards hosted by the British publication Junior Magazine. Velveteen works with fair-trade organizations whenever possible. The clothing is finely crafted and hand-embroidered, using a combination of Indian artisan techniques.
Velveteen wants all children to enjoy a childhood filled with wonder and opportunity. Velveteen is for the child who shines bright like a diamond. Velveteen is for the child who is strong, smart, and kind. Velveteen is for the global child in all of us.
About Pratham
Pratham, which means “first” in Sanskrit, is one of the the largest non-governmental organization working to provide quality education to rural and urban children throughout India. Pratham’s programs—including pre-school interventions, programs for children in primary and upper primary grades, education for dropout women and well as vocational training for youth —reach millions every year.
Established in Mumbai in 1995 to provide pre-school education to children in slums, it now has activities in twenty states of India and has supporting chapters in the U.S, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Pratham’s co-founder and CEO, Dr. Madhav Chavan received the 2011 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the prestigious WISE Prize for Innovation in 2013. Pratham has received a 4-star Charity Navigator rating for four years in a row.


From child trafficking in Ghana, to the drug war in Columbia, journalist Lisa Ling is no stranger to tackling social issues head on. Ling has reported all over the world for National Geographic Explorer, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and CNN.  In 2008, Ling was one of the hosts on CNN’s Planet in Peril:  Battle Lines, a documentary examining the conflicts between humans and nature.  So it was no surprise that when she was ready to build her own home, she was determined to find solutions that would result in a mini- mum impact on the environment. “CNN’s Planet in Peril was a fantastic opportunity for me to investigate the condition of this planet. A natural question comes from such a journalistic piece. ‘What can I do in my life to start to turn this around and be more thoughtful of my choices?’” Ling goes on to say, “I wanted to do my part to set an example for others that choices we make in our lives can add up. Think locally, act globally. What choices we make right here at home do affect people that live in distant countries and vice versa.”


Both Ling and her husband, Dr. Paul Song, had a very distinct sense of what they wanted their home to be, and when they met principal designer, Marco DiMaccio of PUNCHouse De- sign Group, they knew they had met their man. At the time, Ling was preoccupied with some of the most stressful events in her life, including her younger sister, journalist Laura Ling, being held captive in North Korea.  As a result, her time and attention were understandably limited, and she and Dr. Song needed someone they could trust the project with, who un- derstood exactly what they wanted to achieve.  “It’s their home, nothing is more important than to listen to the type of life the client wants to have in it,” says DiMaccio.


With Ling’s inquisitive nature and her strong belief that education is the best tool for becoming more sustainable, it didn’t take too long before she and Dr. Song learned the benefits of building a sustainable home. That is when they learned about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification: “That meant for me peace of mind knowing that the home is clean for my daughter, and low to no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) materials were used; and being less dependent, and maybe even energy independent, is something that all people would love to be.” She goes further to say, “People want to know how to become energy independent so that they can then feel the freedom of not being tied to public utilities so much. I feel that our home helps to show that one can have it all in a very stylish package.”


To that end, DiMaccio worked tirelessly one day at a time, not to reach a LEED certification, but to make the smartest and most efficient decisions that he possibly could throughout the design process. DiMaccio stated, “most important to me was to keep focused on the task of the day and not get caught up in trying to achieve some goal that’s far off…if we achieved anything of significance in terms of certifications or awards then I wanted it to be because we had earned it from daily hard work.”


There are many homes, especially in the California area that are sustainable or have reached a LEED certification. Al- though impressive, the fact that Ling’s home achieved Platinum LEED certification is not what makes this house unique.  But achieving 100% recycle/reuse on a deconstructed home in conjunction with achieving the highest level of LEED certification makes this home very special, and the first of it’s kind.


Every piece of the home that stood on the lot before Ling’s home, including the nails, were recycled or reused. With the help of Habitat for Humanity and Waste Management, Di- Maccio was able to figure out how to use all of the materials. DiMaccio and his team even found a way to recycle and re- use the toxic, petroleum based roofing material by locating a company that would use it to make parking lots, or asphalt for roads.  The reuse of materials didn’t stop there. The signature five-foot diameter ball light in front of the house was constructed out of a few thousand plastic Chinese takeout containers.


DiMaccio’s smart and efficient design included more than the reuse and recycling of materials. He also paid close attention to efficient heating, cooling and water irrigation by using large overhangs to keep the house well shaded, while at the same time using large windows to bring reflective soft light into the space.  He included a central atrium open from the first floor that extends through the roof, bringing extra light to the center of the house, while allowing the hot air to be pulled up and out of the house by remote controlled sky- lights. In addition, the house has solar panels and a 5000-gal- lon rainwater tank buried in the front yard.


More often than not, open spaces, clean lines, and a modern aesthetic can equal cold and uninviting – not comfort- able. However, DiMaccio listened to his client and created a warm and welcoming space where Ling and Dr. Song could feel their most relaxed. A space where they could gather and enjoy the company of friends and family, a place where they could laugh and play with their daughter and watch her grow.  When asked what her favorite part of the house was, Ling replied, “Wherever my husband and daughter are is my favorite part of the house. But my particular favorite part is the front grass amphitheater.  It is so cool and will be the largest playpen for my daughter. My whole family can sit in that grass amphitheater and talk and see each other. Nothing makes me and Paul happier than to be with our family and our little daughter Jett.”  When asked the same question Di- Maccio answered,  “I was hired to create a happy space for them to live in. That smile is my favorite part.”


Learn more about LEED at their website here.

Shan and Toad Giveaway

Holidays are around the corner, and we want your littles ones to look stunning this Holiday Season. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Shan and Toad and we are giving away a $150 Gift Certificate to Shan and Toad for a pre-holiday shopping spree!

How to enter:

Simply fill out the form below and you are all set! You can get extra entries by sharing and commenting on Facebook and Twitter!

Good Luck!




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Tia & Tamera Mowry Actors and Founders of NEED Brand

Did you see the amazing panel of women at Club MomMe’s Fall Family Fest Event?  It was a powerhouse packed panel of beautiful and intelligent moms such as the lovely Lisa Ling, Garcelle Beauvais, and Tamera Mowry!  We were lucky enough to sit down with Tamera and her sister Tia for an exclusive interview about motherhood and their innovative product Milky!

NCW: How did the idea for your new products Milky! and Stretchy! come about?

Tia: I am so passionate about this project.  It came about out of a ‘need’. I breastfed Cree for three months, and I couldn’t breastfeed anymore – I was devastated.  I enjoyed breastfeeding so much…I remember I cried when I gave my son his first bottle of formula, because what I wanted for him, I couldn’t provide.  With that being said, there weren’t products out there that I felt were practical enough for my lifestyle…I wanted to come up with a product that was practical for moms, and that is why we came up with Milky!  It is a 2.5 oz. bottle, with all organic ingredients…This is something that I would have loved to have had while breastfeeding Cree, but more importantly, I feel it’s practical and it tastes great…. I think that just because you eat organic, or eat healthy food, it doesn’t mean that it has to be disgusting. I’m a true believer in that. For Stretchy! my sister and I felt…there were so many great stretch mark creams out there on the market, but they were all so expensive.  Whereas Stretchy! is going for $17.99. It is practical and affordable, it smells great, and you don’t have to just use it for stretch marks.  I actually use it all over my body, and it is a great moisturizer.
Tamera: My sister and I knew that we wanted to build a brand catering to motherhood, and we were introduced to a couple of products. One was a tea [Fenugreek] that we heard helped moms produce more milk.  My sister couldn’t produce milk when she had Cree, and it devastated her, and she’s not the only one.  There are a million moms out there who can’t produce milk and they feel inadequate – they don’t feel like they’re being a mom.  To see the hope and smiles on these moms faces when they take Milky!, and it actually works…you just feel ultra-great, and you say ‘Yes, that was worth it!’
NCW: Tell me about your pregnancy? Tia: My pregnancy was not a great one.  I had good moments, but there were also crazy, difficult challenges that I had to face.  I think the biggest challenge was the nausea that I had.  I re- member being so nauseous when I was shooting The Game in Atlanta, and I would go to the toilet and do what I had to do, and then when I was done, study my lines…this was the cycle. I was hiding my pregnancy at first, I didn’t want anybody to know, and then I had to make people laugh…my point is that… I was definitely in the percentage of women that have nausea throughout their entire pregnancy, and that was not easy, and what helped was bread.  So I gained sixty pounds because that was the only thing that helped with my queasiness. My pregnancy was an interesting, challenging experience…but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Tamera: My pregnancy was great, it was amazing!  I enjoyed being pregnant all the way up until I was late.  Probably around the thirty-seventh week, is when I was like, ‘Ok now…when are you coming buddy?’  He was ten days late…not fun at all. I just wanted to stay there and not move.  It was hard I must say… but for the most part I only had morning sickness for the first two weeks of my pregnancy and that’s it.  I was on cloud nine, I felt beautiful, I felt sexy, and I felt powerful.  There is something about carrying a child, your creativity heightens, everything does.  It was beautiful.
NCW: Was it difficult being so open in your book?

Tia: No. I’m the real deal. I always keep it real.  That is just a part of my personality…a part of my nature. I think what made it a great experience, was that I do have a sense of humor.  With any type of craziness or challenge, I always try to find the funny in it.  So I think that’s what helped me be able to express the reality of my pregnancy that some people don’t necessarily want to share…Some people think that ignorance is bliss, but for me, I like to know…so I can brace and prepare myself.
NCW: Was it a hard decision to let people into your lives with the reality show?

Tamera:  Yeah, it was really hard for me because I am the more private one.  I initially didn’t want to do the reality show at all, however, I realized that there was a huge demand for it, and it would be something interesting. What I did say, is that I wanted to do it differently…I did not want it to be like every other reality show that’s out there.  I wanted to make sure that we were positive and really ourselves…that we were making a difference, and the only way that people are going to relate, is if you allow yourself to be vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable, you have to be yourself, and it’s not always the most comfortable feeling.
For Milky! or Stretchy! products visit

Host a Perfect Wine & Cheese Tasting Party with 5 Simple Tips from Isabelle von Boch

This Fall turn your attention away from outdoor barbecues to cozy evenings with friends and family. Discover simple and elegant entertaining ideas from Villeroy & Boch’s own in-house hospitality and entertaining expert Isabelle von Boch. 
NEW YORK: Fall is the perfect season for entertaining. The changing leaves and crisp air create the perfect setting for intimate get-togethers with friends. Hosting the perfect party doesn’t always have to mean a time consuming and elaborate event, says Isabelle von Boch.  Instead of a formal sit down dinner she recommends trying a wine and cheese tasting.  A good wine and cheese party is a great way to wow your guests without a lot of work. With just a few tabletop essentials and the right accompaniments you can easily create an unforgettable evening.
Keep It Simple and Natural 
When planning your fall soiree the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple – a relaxed hostess makes the evening more enjoyable for everyone.  Host a tasting that reflects your entertaining style and let the season inspire you.
Plan Your Menu
Start by choosing a few great red and white wines and 4-5 fabulous cheeses.  Try using a theme like “A Taste of Italy” or “A Tour of France” to make your selections even easier.  Complete your spread with a good crusty baguette form your local bakery, some antipasti, and seasonal crudités. This is a menu anyone can handle and it gives your guests choices that are satisfying.
Create and Ambiance
Planning a wine and cheese party is more than just picking great pairings.  Presentation is equally as important as what you put on the plate. Make your food pop with white serving pieces.  A clean and modern serving platter provides the perfect canvas for any dish, and can easily be layered with vibrant linens and colored glassware.
Choose a white rustic dinnerware collection like Artesano which was inspired by the “farm-to-table” lifestyle. Arrange your serving station with a large serving platter in the center, various matching dip bowls and individual Artesano porcelain plates for an authentic artisanal look.
Layer basic white porcelain pieces with amber, smoke and burgundy glassware from the Color Concept collection on your table. These vibrant colorful glasses will help you bring Fall colors inside, and encourage guests to cleanse the palette between tastings, and to stay hydrated.
Color Concept glasses and bowls come in different sizes, so they are perfect as votive holders and for arranging seasonal floral accents on your serving station.
Keep it Glassy
Having the right wine glassware is just as important as having the right wine.  Use quality crystal that will bring out the bouquets and aromas of the wines, and add casual elegance to your tasting and toasting.  Versatile crystal sets from the Purismo range from Villeroy & Boch come in multiple styles and are an affordable way to accommodate all types of wines and your glassware needs.  Designed in partnership with European sommeliers, Purismo crystal glasses are a sophisticated choice for everyday use and entertaining.
Knives are Everything
Each cheese needs its own knife.  A soft cheese will have very different needs from a harder cheese.  Choose a set that can accommodate all variations of cheese like the Kensington Fromage Cheese Knives. Paying attention to small details like this will really make your party stand out, and make your event effortless and stylish.
About Villeroy & Boch
Founded in 1748, Villeroy & Boch is one of the largest porcelain manufacturers in the world, and an international premium lifestyle brand.  Villeroy & Boch is an innovative company guided by the time-honored tradition of high-quality tabletop, home and bath products.  Represented in 125 countries, Villeroy & Boch is headquartered in Mettlach, Germany.
About Isabelle von Boch
Isabelle is an eighth generation von Boch family member, and Villeroy & Boch premiere authority on hosting and decorating.  Today, during her international appearances as a Villeroy & Boch spokesperson she educates and inspires on everything there is to know about how to choose, enjoy and care for your dinnerware, fine china and crystal.  When she is not traveling the world inspiring others as a brand ambassador, she can be found sharing her love of entertaining with guests in her own home. She is an ardent ambassador of good taste, European hospitality and casual elegance.
Visit Valleroy and Bach’s website that contains a variety of kitchen dishware here.

Create a Stylish Thanksgiving Table with Simple Holiday Ideas

Festive table settings bring the spirit of the season to your Thanksgiving gathering.  From centerpieces to silverware, special touches will make your Thanksgiving spread truly memorable. Give thanks in style this year with decorating tips from Villeroy & Boch’s own international spokeswoman and entertaining expert, Isabelle von Boch.
Dress for the Occasion
Dressing your table is just as important as your turkey, we eat with our eyes so creating an inviting tablescape elevates the celebration.  Create a holiday ambience with calming candlelight, complementing linens and a holiday centerpiece. A festive tablescape is sure to make a relaxing and engaging experience for your guests.
Keep it natural
Natural elements are an easy way to elevate and enhance your thanksgiving table. Add bright and beautiful colors to your table by incorporating autumn elements like leaves, pumpkins, wooden accessories to your décor for a rustic yet elegant feel.
Mix It Up
Let your color palette guide you to creating a festive and exciting tablescape. Use seasonal or complementary hues to pull everything together. Table linens, chargers and flowers are a great way to highlight your color theme.and help to create a harmonious and dynamic display.
Premium bone porcelain is perfect for everyday and formal occasions. Try using a bold dinnerware pattern like the Anmut My Color collection. This colorful bone china collection is available in seven banded hues and two floral designs. This bright and happy style puts a skip in your step for everyday living and adds a playful and chic style to formal entertaining. Layer with colored glass, metal accents and crystal candlelight for a fashionably formal tablescape.
Choose wine goblets that complement your dinnerware, and add a pop of color with your water glasses. Use a radiant crystal stem like Villleroy & Boch Boston collection, decorated with traditional diamond-shaped decor, to create drama and give your table a touch of elegance.
The Center of Attention
When designing your centerpiece remember that good conversation is part of the dinner experience, so keep decorations at a level where you can still see the person across from you. Try using an autumn arrangement in a shallow bowl as a centerpiece or floating tea lights in a bowl.  Create a more festive atmosphere by accenting centerpiece with crystal candlesticks.  Use smaller votives like the Little Lights for brilliant touches, or long La Classica candlesticks to design more of a formal feel.
Save Room for Dessert
For a more relaxed after-dinner atmosphere, create a separate area just for desserts. This allows guests to self serve and continue to mingle. Add drama and dimension to this space by varying the height and size of your serving pieces. Use serving bridges from the Villeroy & Boch Urban Nature dinnerware collection and tiered etageres and trays, along with stacks of small serving plates.
About Villeroy & Boch
Founded in 1748, Villeroy & Boch is one of the largest porcelain manufacturers in the world, and an international premium lifestyle brand.  Villeroy & Boch is an innovative company guided by the time-honored tradition of high-quality tabletop, home and bath products.  Represented in 125 countries, Villeroy & Boch is headquartered in Mettlach, Germany.
About Isabelle von Boch
Isabelle is an eighth generation von Boch family member, and Villeroy & Boch premiere authority on hosting and decorating.  Today, during her international appearances as a Villeroy & Boch spokesperson she educates and inspires on everything there is to know about how to choose, enjoy and care for your dinnerware, fine china and crystal.  When she is not traveling the world inspiring others as a brand ambassador, she can be found sharing her love of entertaining with guests in her own home. She is an ardent ambassador of good taste, European hospitality and casual elegance.
Visit the Villeroy and Boch website here.