Happiest 1st Birthday!

365 days ago…I took the plunge and started what is now a huge part of my life – this little blog I call Hosting & Toasting. It seems just like yesterday I was sitting at Dough in Tampa over nutella lattes with my friend, Carly (College Prepster to most of you), about my blog “idea” – I’ll never forget how supportive she has been along the way! I can’t believe it’s been a year – an amazing year!

To celebrate H&T’s first birthday, my good friend and fellow Floridian, Christine of Politics to Pastries, baked me an adorable rainbow sprinkles pink cake (if you don’t follow her, you should start – she is an amazing little baker, politico and friend). And while I wish I could just pop bubbly and eat cake on a day like today, I wanted to also take today’s post to say thank you and share with you more about how this blog came to be.

I have often written from time to time about my aunt to whom H&T is dedicated to and while I rarely use H&T to talk about personal affairs, after a year of blogging, I wanted to finally explain more.  I wanted to write a few words about someone whom I am forever thankful for – and the reason why I started to blog in the first place. I have always been hesitant to share this here but here it goes.

In 2012, I lost two of the closest people in the world to me, my aunt and uncle, who were also my Godparents, role models, doctor, friends and unlike any two individuals I have ever known. They were murdered and taken in the most tragic of ways. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday with my sister calling me as I was watching The Bachelor after a Junior League meeting, on what I thought would be a typical Monday evening. I can remember turning on the Today Show the next day and many others – listening to them talk about my family, my loved ones, my aunt who I had just talked to hours before. The entire situation is still surreal to me.

It has forever changed my life and the person I am and strive to be. While I don’t want to comment on much of this still for obvious reasons, I pray each day that justice is finally served. I also know that they would not want me to think about the way they were taken but instead about the way they lived.

 Before this, I had been to one funeral in my entire life and then after this, I found myself standing in front of hundreds of people at church giving a eulogy with my sister trying to paint the type of lives they led – ones rooted in family, friendship, faith and philanthropy. Ones that continue to inspire me each and every day and ones that inspired me to finally start H&T a year ago today.

 In the weeks before she died, we were on a trip in Palm Beach and she was constantly bothering me to send her the photos from my last Christmas party in DC. She loved to see pictures from all the parties, meet me in New York for weekend trips and was always there to give advice at any hour of the night. Growing up I would make fun of her for always being so “over the top” in all that she did from hosting to fashion trends. It’s funny because ironically, my love for entertaining, traveling, fashion and just about everything in between was no doubt influenced by my aunt and all her fabulous soirees. She was like a mother to me, helped raise me and I owe so much of who I am today to her. She was also a female entrepreneur with her own fashion business which inspires me as well. So I think it’s appropriate that I first thank her and my uncle. It is my hope that I will live a life half as wonderful as they did and I hope she is somehow following along on this journey here on H&T too.

Thank you also to my friends and family for all your support and encouragement since before day one especially my cousin and his wife, my sister and my dad. An extra thank you to my close friends and roomies for putting up with all my instagrams, photo shoots, hosting activities and never-ending #hashtags on a daily basis.

Thank you to my fellow bloggers, some of whom I have been lucky enough to meet, for all your support, sweet comments and love! Special thank you to Blair who designed H&T as well!

And last but certainly not least, thank you to all my readers, near and far, for following along. I have been blown away by the loyal following this past year and love reading your emails, tweets and comments. Without y’all, documenting all my hosting and toasting wouldn’t be nearly as fun. I hope I have in some way inspired you too!

What’s next for H&T? More hosting, toasting, outfit posts, giveaways and trips are coming your way. I’m also excited to announce that I will be a presenter at the DC’s Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in November. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come see my Holiday H&T Tips and Tricks workshops over that weekend (oh yes and check out Bobby Flay too).

Now, to take a walk down memory lane – here’s a look at H&T’s inaugural post.

Thank you for reading and letting me share all the things I love. Here’s to many more blog birthdays!

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