Category: Parties

Jan 19

How To Make A Silver Retro Christmas Tree

How To Make A Silver Retro Christmas Tree (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and welcome to Décor it Yourself! Every year, Will and I bring home a cut tree, but, this year we wanted to be a little greener and save some green, by bringing home a live one and showing you how to make your own retro tinsel tree!

First, gather a bunch of wire hangers and straighten them all out.

Fold 4 of them in half, then fold in half again, and reinforce the joint with galvanized wire.

Now, take out 4 pieces of thick wire, measuring 64 inches. Wrap the entire length of the 4 metal pieces in galvanized wire to create a strong structure.

Take your “L” shaped feet and attach to one end of your thick wire, to create the stand. Wrap until all 4 feet are secure.

Wrap the entire pole in tinsel, starting at the bottom. Once covered, wrap with galvanized wire.

Now, you’re gonna make your branches. You’re gonna cut different lengths of wire from your hangers, for the tiers of your tree.

Once you have your wire cut to the length it needs to be, wrap the entire piece with tinsel. Bend some tinsel over the end so it covers the sharp end of the hanger. Then, wrap that end with galvanized wire a couple of times, to secure the tinsel.

Now, wrap the entire branch with the wire until you reach the end. Then, secure that end the same way you did the first.

Bend one end 3 inches up at a 90° angle. You will need:

10 – 21” branches

8 – 16” branches

6 – 12” branches

5 – 10” branches

5 – 9” branches

4 – 8” branches

3 – 6” branches.

You’re going to attach your branches by placing them on the trunk, like so. It helps to mark where you’re going to attach them by marking them with a piece of wire.

Use a friend’s help to hold all of the branches of that tier in place. Wrap around all of them at one time with wire. Be sure to wrap all the way to the end of where the small parf of the L reaches the trunk.

We started with the bottom tier of the branches. Next, do the top tier, then measure the space in between to evenly distribute the rest of the tiers.

Once all tiers are securely attached, you’re going to finish your base. Take a square piece of wood, big enough for all 4 legs to fit on. Screw mending plates to each leg, about 2 inches from the trunk.

Paint your feet white to complete your stand.

Fold the branches in different directions to make it lush. Decorate, and voila! You have a retro tinsel tree for under $30 that you can use year after year!

A whole bunch of you asked for Christmas tree alternatives, so when we come back, I’ll show you plenty!

Welcome back! Another great tree alternative is a rosemary bush in the shape of a Christmas tree, that you can also use when cooking your holiday meals.

For small spaces, use a wall decal for your tree, as featured in Apartment Therapy.

Ingrid from Wood and Wool Stools has a cool tree alternative, as seen here. Read last year’s Threadbanger blog for these DIY trees by Venest. Our own viewer, Isabel, made this tree alternative out of a vintage body form. Awesome work, Isabel!

What are you doing for your tree this year? Going eco and green with a live one, or making your own? Send in photos so we can see them. Thanks so much for watching! I’ll see you next wek, and remember, Your Nest Needs You!

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Jan 19

How To Prevent Common Christmas Disasters

How To Prevent Common Christmas Disasters (courtesy of Howcast.com)

With a little forethought, you can avoid many embarrassing, annoying, and downright dangerous holiday mishaps! You will need:

Emergency gifts
A drink limit
Kiss-avoidance strategies
Graciousness
Fishing wire
A computer with internet access
Orange and lemon rinds (optional)

Step 1: Have wrapped, unisex gifts on hand in case you forget someone. This is also useful if someone gives you something that cost twice as much as what you gave them: Just say, “And here’s your other gift!” Pick things you can use if you don’t give them as gifts, or stuff that can hold until next year.

Step 2: Figure out how much alcohol you can drink at the office Christmas party before you’re at risk of doing something you’ll regret. Then stick to your limit.

Step 3: Avoid an unwelcome mistletoe kiss by saying you have a cold – or feigning a cough or sneeze as the person closes in on you.

Step 4: If someone gives you a lousy gift, simply say, “Thank you.” If you pretend to like it, you may get more of the same next year.

Step 5: Prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian by keeping sweet treats away from dogs and cats. Chocolate toxicity is the most common holiday-related illness for pets. Poinsettias are also poisonous to your four-legged friends.

Step 6: Keep kids and pets from knocking over the Christmas tree by securing it with clear fishing line attached to the treetop and a ceiling hook. If you have a cat, scatter orange and lemon rinds on the tree skirt; most cats hate citrus scents.

Step 7: Don’t panic if you still need gifts and even the drugstores are closed: Just go online, order a gift, and print out a photo of it. On your way out when you realize you’ve forgotten someone? Pick up some movie passes or a gas gift card.

Did you know? The average person gives up on trying to make their new electronic gift work at 11:48 a.m. on Christmas morning, according to a survey!

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Jan 19

Learn How To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget

How To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget (courtesy of Howcast.com)

It’s not just about buying less during the holiday season; it’s about buying smarter. You will need:

A budget
A gift list
Shopping web sites
Haggling skills
Secondhand purchases
Supermarket flyers

Step 1: Set an overall gift budget and use it to determine how much you can spend on each person on your list. Make sure you stick to it! Consider a family agreement to buy gifts for the children only.

Step 2: Search for gifts on eBay, Craigslist, and sites that offer discontinued or overstock items. Use price comparison web sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and look for rebates.

Step 3: Check out thrift shops, secondhand stores, and pawn shops – the latter in particular offer great savings on jewelry, watches, and electronics.

Step 4: Learn how to haggle. You can often get a discount just by asking for it, especially if it’s a small store, you’re a good customer, and you offer to pay in cash. Just remember to be polite and ask discreetly. Always ask salespeople if there are any coupons, promotions, or discounts available.

Step 5: Bake holiday treats from scratch to reduce costs, and consider giving some of them as gifts. Start scanning supermarket flyers a few weeks in advance for sales on baking supplies so you can stock up when prices are low. Butter stays good in the freezer for several months.

Step 6: Find ways to save on decorations. If you buy a real Christmas tree, make a wreath out of trimmings. Fill colorful bowls and vases with edibles, like fruit and nuts. Turn stemware upside down and put votive candles on the base for an unusual candleholder, or float votives in the glasses right side up.

Step 7: Trim your holiday card list by only sending greetings to people you rarely see. Then shop the post-Christmas sales to stock up for next year!

Did you know? The average American family spends over $1,000 on Christmas!

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Jan 19

How To Get In The Christmas Spirit

How To Get In The Christmas Spirit (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Dreading dragging out the decorations and pretending to love gifts you don’t really want? This year, find every way to make this a memorable, meaningful season for you and your loved ones. You will need:

Kindness
Holiday music
Decorations
Christmas tree
Volunteer work
Christmas movies
Personalized letters

Step 1: Greet people with a holiday wish and smile wherever you are.

Step 2: Clean the house while blasting cheerful holiday music and belt out a tune to get your spirits up.

Step 3: Decorate the house in festive colors. Hang mistletoe and set out red and green candles, tape up friends’ greeting cards, hang stockings on the mantle, and put the tree up early. Include the kids by letting them make their own decorations and crafts for the tree.

Step 4: Hang outdoor lights along the eaves, over the trees, and on the bushes. Paint a special Christmas letter box for the porch. Buy animated and lit reindeer, and other decorations for the lawn.

Step 5: Volunteer to bring toys, clothing, or a little cheer to those not as well off. Give to others around you, shoveling the walk for an elderly neighbor, making cookies, or helping out at church. Take some time to reflect on your blessings. Make this a family ritual.

Step 6: Watch Christmas movies with the family to get everyone in the spirit. Before bed, tell the kids Christmas stories to make it a season they will never forget.

Step 7: Send out personalized, old-fashioned, well-wishing notes and letters to friends, family, and associates. Everyone likes to get a nice letter this time of year.

Did you know? A box office flop when it was released in 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life became the film classic it is today around 1974 when it became public domain and could be run on television for free!

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Nov 23

Learn How To Have A Skinnier Thanksgiving

How To Have A Skinnier Thanksgiving (courtesy of Howcast.com)

You can save calories without sacrificing flavor, just by tweaking your Thanksgiving dishes! You will need:

Low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
Fresh cranberries
Sugar or sugar substitute
A little restraint
A fat separator
Flour

Step 1: Favor the white meat over dark to cut four calories and one fat gram per ounce. Don’t ban dark meat altogether – it’s actually more nutritious, containing more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12
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Step 2: Cook your stuffing outside the bird; it’s lower in fat that way.

Step 3: Remove the fat from the pan drippings before you make the gravy, either by using a fat separator or chilling them in the fridge and then skimming off the fat. You’ll save a whopping 56 grams of fat per cup of gravy! For a really low-cal gravy, skip the drippings and make it out of low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth mixed with a little flour dissolved in water.

Step 4: Use chicken broth instead of cream and butter to make mashed potatoes. Consider making smashed potatoes by leaving on the nutrient-rich skin.

Step 5: Make the traditional green bean casserole with 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup and cut the calories by more than half, plus eliminate 14 grams of fat. Shave off another 250 calories by using only half the can of French-fried onions.

Step 6: Make your own cranberry sauce. Wash a bag of fresh cranberries, put them in a pot with a cup of water, let them cook until the desired texture, and then stir in sugar or sugar substitute sparingly, to taste.

Step 7: Slim down the candied yams by cutting back on the added sugar or maple syrup — you probably won’t even miss it — and nixing the mini marshmallows.

Step 8: Stick to pumpkin pie. At around 240 calories a slice, it beats apple, mince, and pecan. Don’t eat the crust and you’ll save another 100 calories.

Did you know? On average, Americans take in 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day!

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Nov 22

Learn How To Host Your First Thanksgiving

How To Host Your First Thanksgiving (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Stop stressing! These tips and tricks will help you pull together a fabulous celebration with minimal angst. You will need:

Adequate seating and tableware
Traditional favorite foods
Mini-pumpkins and gourds
Votive candles
A cleaning service (optional)
Two small turkeys (optional)

Step 1: Figure out if you have enough chairs, seating space, and tableware. Borrow from friends and neighbors to fill any holes. Or check out a thrift store; if you don’t need or want it afterward, donate it back. Throw some cushions on the floor around your coffee table and let little guests eat there.

Step 2: Call your guests so you’ll have a handle on how many people are coming – and an excuse to fish for contributions. People often want to contribute, especially if it ensures that their holiday favorite will be on the table.

Step 3: Don’t be shy about asking for assistance before, during, and after. You’ll need all the help you can preparing the food, getting your home ready, serving, and cleaning up afterward. If your budget allows, hire a cleaning service a day or two before.

Step 4: Honor traditions; even if you personally think that green bean casserole is disgusting and cranberry jelly out of a can a disgrace. If it’s important to someone, serve it – and let them take the leftovers home.

Step 5: Consider cooking two small turkeys instead of one big one. They’re easier to handle, cook faster and more uniformly, and are more tender and juicy than a large, older bird. Plus, they provide twice as many drumsticks!

Step 6: Finalize your menu and go shopping. Figure out what you can make a day or two ahead so that the big day is not such a rush. And remember: Now is not the time to attempt a dish you’ve never tried. Plan on these per-person servings: 1¼ lbs. turkey, 1/3 c. gravy, ½ c. mashed potatoes, ½ c. of each vegetable side dish, ¼ c. cranberry dressing, ½ c. stuffing; two dinner rolls; and 1/8 pie.

Step 7: Make a simple table centerpiece out of a bowl of small gourds and mini-pumpkins and line the table with votive candles. You’re all set!

Did you know? The pilgrims carried a supply of beer on the Mayflower, in part because it was safer to drink than water!

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Nov 21

Learn How To Take Great Pictures With Your Cell Phone

How To Take Great Pictures With Your Cell Phone (courtesy of Howcast.com)

You might not be composing award-winning photos, but if you cross paths with the right celebrity at the right moment, you’ll want to know how to make your shot a tabloid-worthy one. You will need:

A cell phone

Step 1: Set your camera phone to take the highest quality (and largest file size) photo possible.

Step 2: Make sure your camera lens is clean—and that you know exactly where it is!

Step 3: Arrange your subjects or scene as you see fit.

Step 4: Make sure there’s plenty of light. If you have a flash, turn it on, and stand with whatever other light source is around behind you, so it shines on your subject. Don’t block the light with your own body, casting shadows on your subject.

Step 5: Get in close so that the subject is in full-frame.

Step 6: Use the rule of thirds, framing your subject in either the left or right third of the frame, not dead center—creating a more interesting picture. If you’re shooting a celebrity at a club, use the rule of fourths—if the bodyguard is four times your size, don’t take the picture.

Step 7: Keep the camera as steady as possible—the less movement the better, so stabilize yourself as best you can.

Step 8: Snap your shot and hope for the best—or the worst, as the case may be!
Did you know? Both Sharp and Kyocera introduced the first camera phones in 1997.

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Nov 16

Learn How To Get Really Creative For The Holidays

How To Get Really Creative For The Holidays (courtesy of Threadbanger.com)

It’s that time of year again, when Jack Frost nips at your nose, and the Grinch’s heart grows 3 times its size. It’s winter in the city, and holiday season everywhere!

Well, hello there, my Threadbanger friends, and welcome to the Décor It Yourself holiday special! If thinking about the upcoming holiday season stresses you out, relax! The holidays aren’t about spending money that none of us have. They’re about spending time with those that we love. So today, we’re gonna create the invitations, décor and gifts to give our loved ones a warm, wintry evening.

Gifts can be one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season – especially during these hard times. I’m gonna give you 3 easy gift ideas, that cost no more than $10!

For our first gift, we’ll take inspiration from our Earth Day episode, and create a gift by putting a cut plant in a vintage vessel. Who doesn’t need a little extra green, especially during these hard times.

These lovely coasters were made from remnants of fabric from leftover DIY projects. I still get in trouble when I go home to my folk’s house and don’t use a coaster. Sorry, mom!

For our last gift, you’ll need cinnamon sticks, cloves and clementine peels. Place your ingredients into an old mason jar and take a cool dishtowel and wrap it around it. Tie it with a bow, and you have a nice, warm gift of aromatic mulling spices. For more on mulling spices, check out the first episode of Décor It Yourself.

And now, on to my favorite element of any time of year – the décor!

For a quick and classy element of décor, spray a candle with adhesive, roll it in some glitter and place into an old shot glass or decorated vessel.

For our next décor piece, we’ll use our old wire hangars to create cool, seasonal sayings.

And, for the easiest of our décor ideas, take an old mirror and place on it your favorite woodland friends. Add a touch of glitter for a little snow flurry.

For our final low-budget décor piece, we’re gonna put our own spin on an old, kitschy idea. You’ll need some airtight glass containers, a glue gun, some figurines, glycerin, glitter and distilled water.

First, sand the inside of the container’s lid. Glue the feet of your figurine to the inside of the container’s lid and allow to dry.

Add 2 tablespoons of glitter to the vessel and fill with distilled water. To distill water, just boil and allow to cool.

Now, just add one drop of glycerin to the container, close the lid, and use your snowglobe as winter décor, or add a bow, and you have another gift to give!

Now that we have our seasonal décor and our gifts to give, we’re ready to invite our guests. After all, opening your home is a gift in itself! For unique invite ideas, check the DIY weddings episode of Décor It Yourself. But, for the holiday invite, we’re using a polaroid from last years’ Christmas. Look at us – living together in sin!

Well, we’re almost ready for our guests! But, to keep your party stress-free and low budget, choose one signature cocktail and one tasty treat. We’re doing sparkling peach and pomegranate schnapps, along with cookies, cupcakes and pumpkin bread.

I guess it’s time to celebrate!

Well, that was a hit! I’m off to clean up, but be sure to check back the first Wednesday of every month for more nesting. And remember, Your Nest Needs You!

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Nov 15

How To Make A Wreath Out Of Old CDs

How To Make A Wreath From Old CDs (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Short on holiday decorations, but long on old CDs? Tis the season to be crafty! You will need:

A plastic, wooden or foam craft ring
30 old CDs
A hot-glue gun
A picture hanger
A strand of battery-powered holiday lights
Batteries
A holiday bow or ribbon
A hammer
A nail
A plastic scraper (optional)

Optional: An over-the-door wreath hanger

Step 1: Arrange the CDs in evenly spaced intervals completely around the craft ring, shiny side facing out, and glue them into place.

Step 2: Glue a second layer of CDs so that they’re evenly spaced between the CDs on the first layer.

Step 3: Glue the picture hanger to the back of the ring so the wreath will hang properly.

Step 4: Glue the battery pack for the Christmas lights to the back of the wreath, opposite the hanger. When the glue dries, wrap the strand of lights around the outer edge of the wreath, with the lights hanging over onto the CDs. After positioning the lights, glue the strand to the backs of the CDs to hold it in place.

Step 5: Glue the bow or tie the ribbon to the bottom of the wreath to give your creation some holiday flair. Before displaying your wreath, remove any stray bits of glue with your hands or a plastic scraper.

Step 6: Tap a nail into your door and hang your wreath. If you can’t use nails, use an over-the-door hanger. Turn the lights on and bask in the colorful glow!
Did you know? In 2000, global sales of CDs peaked at 2.5 billion. In 2006, that figure was down to 1.8 billion.

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Nov 08

Learn How To Make A Mojito

How To Make A Mojito (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Yes, it’s a trendy drink. But on a hot summer evening while drinking with good friends, this cross between the Mint Julep and the Daquiri doesn’t feel like a trend. It feels like destiny. You will need:

2 oz. light or gold rum
Some fresh mint
2 tsp. sugar
A lime cut into 4 wedges
Some soda water
Some ice
A collins glass
A measuring jigger
A muddler
And a spoon

Step 1: Pull off mint leaves. Set 1 mint sprig aside, and pull the leaves off the remaining sprigs. Some mojito recipes call for as many as 2 dozen mint leaves—how many you use depends on how “minty” you want your drink to taste.

Step 2: Add mint, lime & sugar. Line the glass with the leaves and add the 4 lime wedges and the sugar. Gently muddle everything against the sides and bottom with the muddler or back of a spoon. In Cuba, where the mojito originated, just 1 tsp. of powdered sugar is used.

Step 3: Fill the glass with ice.

Step 4: Pour in the rum & mix again.

Step 5: Add soda & garnish. Top off the cocktail with soda water and garnish with a sprig of mint. Mojito!

Did you know? While the Mojito was a favorite of “Carrie” and the gals on Sex & the City in the 1990s, it was also a favorite of Hemingway and the guys in the 1930s.

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Nov 07

How To Use Sustainable Holiday Decorations

Sustainable Holiday Tips (courtesy of TheSalvageStudio.com)

Welcome to the Salvage Studio. I’m Beth Evans Romos, this is Amy Duncan and Lisa Hildebrand. We began our creative endeavor 3 years ago with our mutual lust for rust! We rescue good junk and re-purpose it into fun and functional home and garden décor!

Today, we’re gonna talk about how to set an entertaining table, Salvage Studio style. This works great for entertaining during the holidays. This same idea would also work if you were doing a sit down dinner. We’re gonna start from the bottom up, and we’ll talk about all the different ideas you can use to give you that lust for rust look.

First of all, starting with the tablecloths. I like to use white linen. White linen tablecloths are abundant at the thrift stores, they don’t need to be ironed because we like that sort of shabby chic ruffled, crumpled look. I like to layer several over one another. This works out great, because if the ones underneath have a hole and stains in them, the one on top will cover it over.

Once you have that down, then I like to put mirrors on top. Flat mirrors are easy to find, often times without the frame, and it just really helps to add an element to the tabletop and give it some sparkle. It works really great if you have some candlelight – it helps to bring that to focus.

Then, the next thing are trivets. You’re probably serving a combination of hot and cold food, and so we like to put down some interesting trivets. This one is an old spinning wheel, this one is a grapevine wreath, and this one is an old industrial gear.

Here’s some items that you can put your dishes in to. We love silver plate at the studio. And it doesn’t need to be shiny and bright. We love it to be tarnished, because it really shows the patina and adds one more layer of texture to your table. This is a beautiful dish, and if you collect a lot of different ones, you never know when they’re gonna come in useful.

We found this piece, which is an old farm pulley, at a friend’s house where she was throwing some things away. I thought, my God, what could we ever do with that? And we turned it upside down and thought wow – that makes a beautiful stand. And then the silver dish sits on top, and there you have the perfect display piece for your buffet table.

Another use of silver plate is taking the old silver plated trays. This has been attached to a lazy susan that has been painted black. The 2 are married together with adhesive, and again, makes a sunny presentation on your table.

Continuing on with silver plates, we also have these pedestals that can be made. These glasses are from wedding receptions that I don’t think were ever used after that fact, and then, just have the trays glued on top. If you stack them together, one on top of another, then you maximize the space on your buffet table, and you also have a wonderful looking display for crackers, cheese, fruit or desert items.

Another great buffet piece is made from putting together the glass ceiling fixtures with an old candlestick. This is an old wooden candlestick that has been painted a white color, and this piece has been attached to it with a rubber gasket and a screw. This is great, then, in not only holding things such as bread, but it could also hold a salad or possibly some mixed vegetables.

Continuing on with other pieces that have been repurposed. These candlesticks have been made from an old wooden lamp that has a great texture and patina to it. And, glued on the top has been a silver plate coaster. Always nice to add candlelight to your buffet table. It just really makes everything look that much more festive.

Another great piece that has been put together from repurpose items is this fireplace tool caddy. It has been reborn as the perfect buffet piece. These are, again, the glass globes from a smaller fixture that has been wired on and crystals added. You could put in silverware, you could put in napkins, you could put in bread sticks.

Then, finishing up with the final touches. I have napkins here, in an old soup tureen that has lost its top. And again, we like to use the real napkins along with the real silverware and real plates on the buffet table, instead of plastic and styrofoam. It just really gives that extra touch that means so much that you care.

And finally, for a little personal touch, I have these glass jars with photographs. They could very easily be place holders, if you were doing a sit down dinner, or they could just have a little fun momento for people if you’re having a family reunion. What this is is an old photograph that has been inserted into a glass jar. This one has some buttons in the back to help hold the photo in place, and then, the cover has been spray painted black and put on to hold it all together.

So, as you can see, lots of lovely ideas that makes use of what you have at hand to give our buffet table that special look!

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Aug 01

Learn How To Do A Party Trick With Wine

How To Do The Wine Into an Upside-down Glass Party Trick (courtesy of Howcast.com)

Bet your friends that you can make wine magically go into an upside-down glass, and the next round will be on them! You will need:

A dish or shallow bowl
Small candle or tea light
¼ full glass of wine

Optional:

A cherry

Step 1 – Light the candle and drip wax into the center of the dish. Place the candle on the wax so that it sticks. You can get a cherry from the bartender and light the stem, instead of using a candle.

Step 2 – Pour the wine into the dish. Red wine is best, so everyone can clearly see the wine going into the glass.

Step 3 – Place the wine glass upside-down directly over the candle.

Step 4 – Watch in amazement as the wine is drawn into the glass as the candle goes out, creating a vacuum.

Step 5 – Flip over the glass, holding the dish on top. Remove the dish, and the wine is now fully in the glass! Bottoms Up!

Did you know? Treading grapes by foot is still the technique used to produce a small quantity of high quality port wines!

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Dec 20

Learn How To Host A Cocktail Party

Learn How To Host A Cocktail Party (courtesy of BetterTV.com)

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