Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mother's Night Out - Evening Garden Party

If you follow this blog, you know I love to garden in my square foot garden. When an opportunity arose to have a party there, I jumped at it. I could combine two things I love! Our sweet friends were making a missionary trip to Haiti and I wanted to help her and her son raise money for the trip. We had three vendors inside the house selling a variety of items and giving a portion toward the trip. It was a Mother's Night Out, so kids were not allowed.

I served some light snacks and coffee/tea. It all turned out so well and we were able to give her a nice offering for the trip to Haiti. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

When having an adult party, I used to question whether I should serve alcohol or not. It seems that it is almost expected at a Mother's Night Out that some sort of alcohol will be offered. Let me speak to this a minute. I once had a conversation with my wise friend Shannon who told me something I never forgot. She said "You never know the private struggles that others have." Serving alcohol at a party may tempt someone in an area they are struggling in. Why would I want to cause a friend to stumble? When you are having a large party with mixed company (people you don't really know well, guests bringing their friends...) or if you will have people from the ministry (pastors, pastor's wives, people in leadership in the church or homeschool organization or other religious organization), it is a generally best NOT to serve alcohol. Also, don't question your hostess's judgment on this. She knows her guests and knows whether it is appropriate or not to serve alcohol.

Now personally, I don't have a problem with alcoholic beverages. I consume them very rarely and usually on a special occasion like New Year's Eve or on an anniversary. Sometimes I will have a beer while I watch a football game. The way the Texans are playing lately, it helps! My husband and I laugh because we buy a 6-pack of beer and then it sits in our fridge for a month. I usually end up making beer bread out of it just to get it out of the fridge!

Here are some pretty pictures from the evening. Thanks to my knowledgeable friend Melissa who helped me fine tune the menu!

Miss Becky's Carrot Cake, cheesecake bites & chocolate candy

corn chowder and bread. At the 99 cent store, I found some great
footed clear cups to serve just the right portion of chowder in.
See them to the right of the crock pot.

getting their shopping on!

You couldn't ask for sweeter or more beautiful friends!

Cowboy hat in the log cabin
homemade bunting from the Hill Country Wedding

lots of candles set the mood

a view of the Log Cabin

paper lanterns

my camera wouldn't cooperate taking night pictures of the
garden, so these are from the morning after

Adventures in Decorating - Thanksgiving Edition

A very sweet (and brave) friend let me practice decorating her house. She asked that her beautiful dining room be all fixed up for her Thanksgiving gathering. She wanted navy as the main color and we paired a bright orange as a the contrast. She was happy with the outcome.

We decorated her china cabinet top, her buffet and her dining table. I bought some greenery (I love the mossy greenery garland), fall garlands with fruit and leaves, pumpkin, cute squirrels, fall picks, and ribbon. The rest are items from around her house. What better way to reflect the homeowner than to use items she already owns and loves! I love the mix of the globes and books together on top of the china cabinet. They just go so well together. Putting collections together makes a more powerful statement than spreading them all over the house. If you have a collection, you can really make it shine by putting it together. Also, you don't have to put every piece of your collection out. Rotate it.

The homeowner's daughter and I tackled making the fruit topiaries. I never made one before and it was a fun project challenge. Kumquats would have worked better as the skin is tougher, but they couldn't be found in the store. We used tiny mandarin oranges very successfully. The smaller the better. We used the larger bamboo shish-k-bob skewers rather than toothpicks. Be generous with the length of your stick. If the sticks are too small, the weight of the fruit will make it pop out. Also, putting the skewer in at an angle helped to anchor it better. Putting whole cloves into the spaces between the oranges would have covered up the green Styrofoam showing through. But, really, it isn't necessary. Keeping the plastic on the Styrofoam cone (12" cones work best) makes working with it easier and cleaner. I used a straight pin and put it through two long strands of 1/2" gold wired ribbon and into the top orange. The homeowner had this idea in her head and it worked so perfectly! I think putting moss on the cone prior to putting the oranges on might have been very pretty too. I'll try it next time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How not to kill yourself hosting for the Holidays!

Hey hostess! Want to actually enjoy your Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering this year? Early preparation is the key! Sounds simple, but so few actually give themselves this break. I host lots of gatherings at my home. Here are a few tips I use to pull it together without pulling out my hair.

Lists: Here are the three lists you need: 1) Your menu 2) Your "to do" list, and  3) Your  grocery list.

Start early: Hit one of your "to do" items every day about a week before. Bread, pie crusts, fudge and divinity (cut your candy before freezing) all freeze very well! Make them super early. Don't forget to take your turkey out a few days earlier than you think you should. It can sit fully defrosted in the fridge for several days and be quite happy. Chop all the onions, garlic and peppers about a week before and freeze them in plastic bags. You will glad for prepped veggies when it is time to make your dish. Sweet potato casserole can sit in the fridge overnight and be popped in the oven the next day. Cornbread dressing can also be made ahead of time. I set my table days before. Go shopping for your canned/frozen items early. Stock up for Christmas cooking items during your Thanksgiving shopping. The grocery stores can be crazy. You will have to go a few days before to get your fresh items. Try going to the store super early in the morning. It is a sanity saver during the holidays. I don't recommend going late at night. Although, it is quite interesting.

Share the love: Have attendees bring their favorite dishes. Even attendees who don't cook can bring chairs, pickles, olives, chips, ice, and beverages. People like to help. Let them!

Prepare yourself: Try and put your feet up for about 10 minutes about an hour before the guests arrive. You will have to force yourself. Keep a paper and pen nearby so that you can jot all of the things down that pop into your mind while you are resting. It will help you not get up to quickly do what you thought of. Wear comfortable shoes prior to your guests arrival. You can always slip into your cute shoes right as the doorbell rings. Sit down and do any tasks when you have the opportunity. Ask yourself, "Can I do this sitting down?" It will save your feet! Go to bed early the day before. Do your hair and makeup the next morning. Don't wait until right before your guests arrive to get pretty. Invariably, you will get busy and then have to rush off and abandon your guests as you slap yourself together.

Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family this year with a little early preparation. It is a great gift you can give to yourself!


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