Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Introduce Guests

Today is the first day of October, meaning only one more quarter left in the year!  I have found that this part of the year has the most holidays to celebrate.


Here are just a few biggies:

Halloween
Thanksgiving

Christmas

New Years Eve

.. not to mention you might have anniversaries, family birthdays, or other religious holidays.
In preparation for these upcoming events, I was thinking of a short and sweet little tip that will really help you, and your guests have a better time mingling with others.




Have you ever been to a party and have either not been introduced to other guests, or have been introduced to other guests by just their name and then forgotten it two seconds later?  I am REALLY bad with names and I realize lots of other people are too, so I use a bit of a "tip" to help my guests remember people's names.

It is easier to remember someone's name if you know something about them.  So rather than just introducing guests with just names I add a bit of information that they both have in common.  If you don't know of anything they have in common, try to give another piece of information, such as where they are from, or where they work.  It not only gives guests a common ground because now they know a bit about one another, but if they are friends of yours, they will probably be seeing each other again at another one of your future functions.


Happy First Day of the Last Quarter!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Something Rather Controversial...

I have been tossing an idea for a blog post back and forth in my heard for a while, because it is sometimes rather controversial.  I know what you are thinking… a party planning blog is not a place for a political discussion.  It is, however, a place for a discussion on Gift Registries.



I have my own opinions on gift registries and it is probably the closest to those of Emily Post and Martha Stewart.  My only "rule" if that you DO NOT under any circumstances write the places you are registered (wedding, baby or otherwise) in an invitation to a party.  The information of a registry is to be given out by word of mouth only.   

However, I know others have different opinions:

Some think that a gift registry is like billing your friends for the sheer fact that you are getting married.  Thus, not needing it to be in an invitation, because one would not exist.

Others think that it is okay to have a registry, but not anything extravagant (perhaps just bed linens, towels, and some things for a kitchen).  These types of items would be things the couple would not have already due to just starting out. 

And yet others think that if a host is going to foot the bill for their guest's expensive meals, they should be able to ask for what ever they want and the information regarding such registries should be placed in invitations because how else would guests know?


Being of the age where my friends are getting married, (and planning a wedding myself) I have seen the many "ugly" sides of a gift registry. 




What are your thoughts?  Do you like the idea of registries?  How about in an invitation?  Or do you think the whole idea is just rude to your beloved guests?

Share your thoughts in the comments!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Best Laid Plans





Everyone Makes Mistakes


Practice Makes Perfect


I'm sure you have heard these phrases before, I certainly have.  From playing the clarinet in high school, to learning my debits and credits in school or at work, I have had to practice to hone my skills (and I have made mistakes!)  

This is no different when learning about a hobby such as sewing, decorating cakes, or even blogging!

I had this phrase come to life while trying a few new things this week in preparation for the Mr. Fix it Fiance's birthday.  I had a plan of an awesome XBox themed shin-dig, (rather than duplicating the Star Wars birthday from last year).  

I decided that since I had an opportunity to play around with new recipes, I was totally going to try some I had been waiting on... 

That's when it happened, everything went sooo horribly WRONG!   

Here's how:

1.  The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Fiasco:

Due the fact that my Mr. Fix it Fiance is not as big of a fan of CAKE and I am, I decided to make him a chocolate chip cookie cake instead (MY FIRST EVER!)  I followed this recipe to a T, except for using a pizza pan.  I don't have one of those, so I just laid out the dough on a regular cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  

Only about twelve minutes latter I smell a burnt smell around the apartment.  Apparently the cookie cake expands WAY more than the size of my cookie sheet.  The edges slid off the sides of the cookie sheet, broke off, and landed in the bottom of my oven.  I had a HUGE mess.  

Okay, so I learned my lesson, next time use the proper utensils that the recipe says to use.  (Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the cookie dough STUCK to the inside of my oven, I was a bit preoccupied with the clean up!)



2.  Flooding Gone Wrong:

I had an AWESOME plan to use the icing from Bake at 350 to decorate the cookie cake (or cookie blob) to look like a Xbox controller.  (ALL her cookies are LOVELY, so why wouldn't I, right?)  

Wrong, .... SO wrong!!

Bake at 350's directions where fantastic, but the icing colors I bought would not turn the white fluffy icing, to black, so I got purple.  Yes, I had to use purple to create a Xbox controller. 

I then was going to use the "flooding" technique to make the controller come to life on the pan, however, after I failed at the outlining, flooding the joysticks, and making the light up buttons look anything like buttons, I gave up.  You can see that mess below:



3.  Icing Plan 2

I used Bake at 350's cookie recipe as well, to make the MOST delicious cut out sugar cookies and held up to being tortured by my icing- capades.

I wanted to make circle cookies to look like the Xbox logo.  By this time, my kitchen smelled BURNT, the icing was hardening and I was already upset about the hideous cake, so I put the logo on the cookies with just two green lines... no flooding.  


Since my Mr. Fix It Fiance would much rather his bake goods have little to no icing, he was happy, but my pride was hurt BIG time!



After having so much trouble, I tweeted Bake at 350 to tell her about my hideous cake/cookie fiasco, she told me:


There, I had a professional telling me that practice makes perfect.  I will certainly be taking these two sayings to heart the next time I attempt a new project or recipe.

Have you had any kitchen mishaps lately?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Truly Unique: Camp Fire Cookies

I LOVE Pinterest.  I mean LOVE, LOVE Pinterest, however I find that it actually doesn't help creativity, because I usually just end up copying everyone else!  With this in mind, I decided to come up with a TRULY UNIQUE dessert creation!  

I am totally looking forward to this fall, and camping with my to-be hubby (he kills all the spiders!)  Sitting by a camp fire, making smores is probably one of my favorite things to do in the cooler months.

In honor of this time of year (and my new love of everything Pumpkin Spice!), I created:






Bill of Materials:

Freshly Baked Sugar Cookies
Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses
Small Stick Pretzels
A bit of patience!


First, begin by making round sugar cookies.  You can make these from scratch or use a package. (I won't tell!!)


While your cookies are baking, break a third off of a hand full of pretzels.  You will need 6 "thirds" and 3 - 4 "two thirds" for each cookie.  




Next, unwrap the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses (and eat a couple too!)  You will need 1 Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss for each cookie.




When the cookies come out of the oven, let them sit for barely a minute (they need to be soft for construction!)  Place the 6 "thirds" in a star shape in the middle of the cookie.  This is your "kindling".  



Once the pretzels are on the cookie, place a Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss on top of the kindling.  It will probably melt a little bit due to the cookies being warm.  If it needs a bit of help, place the cookies back in the oven for a minute.  



Then, place 3 - 4 "two thirds" pretzels in a triangle shape over the "fire".  



CAMP FIRE COOKIES!



If you are daring, place semi-sweet chocolate ships in a circle around the "camp fire" to make a "fire pit"!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

6 House Guest Rules



Just like with this Parking Problem, I understand that not everyone has the ability to comfortable host a guest (I've even made friends sleep on the floor "sleep over" style with bunches of blankets and pillows).  However, there are a few things that no matter what the situation, a hostess should do to give the comforts of home to a house (or apartment) guest.

You do not have to make your designated guest space (even if it is a couch) look like a 5 star hotel, but giving a guest these few items, will help them feel more "at home" in your home:


1.  Stack of classic movies if there is a tv and a dvd player.  You could provide a good book too.  Your guest may have different habits before bed, so give them some options, or at least open up the idea that they don't have to be on your same schedule.  

2.  Bathroom kit.  Include things like an extra toothbrush and toothpaste.

3.  Pillows and Sheets.  They don't have to match perfectly,  (in fact I still use my old Disney Princess sheet set) but make sure that what ever your guests are going to be sleeping on/ in is clean. 

4.  Space to put their clothes/belongings.  No guest wants to have their "dirty laundry" all over your house.  This doesn't mean you have to clear a whole closet, just a space, just for them.  Use these tips on creating space in a closet.


5.  Offer an outlet to "plug in".  These days everyone uses a cell phone as their main form of communication.  Give your guest a place to plug theirs in, so they aren't scrambling around trying to juice up their phone late at night.  

6  Your Attention.  No guest wants to be totally ignored, make sure you give your house guest attention while they are in town.  You don't need to act like a maid, but do remember that they are in your home and might not feel comfortable asking for things.  


Have you ever had a house guest?  Do you have a guest room, or did you have to house them in a different way?  Share your successes and failures at hosting a guest over night!


Monday, September 3, 2012

How To: Mini Ice Cream Sundaes

I have seen these delightful little sized treats all over Pinterest, so I decided to make a step by step on how to put them all together!



These Mini Ice Cream Sundaes are less than 100 calories (yes, healthy!) and are a perfect finger food dessert for slumber parties to engagement parties!

Bill of Materials:
Bananas 
Ice Cream
Chocolate Chips
Whip Cream
Cherries
Sprinkles

*You can make 5 treats from a normal sized banana!

First,  cut your bananas into inch to inch and a half slices (keep any extras for a smoothie!!)  Then, use a knife and spoon to carefully dig out the inside of the banana.  Don't core it, just make a crater in the middle making a bowl  



Next, dip each banana bowl bottom into melted chocolate, and then into sprinkles.  Place them on wax paper and then into the freezer so they will be more study and harden up faster.




 Then, take your favorite ice cream and fill up the banana bowls to the top.


Top with some whip cream and a cherry!!


Aren't they ADORABLE?


Not only are they delicious, but they are less than 100 calories each, which means no guilt for this yummy ice cream sundae!



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