Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Super Bowl 2012

Do you celebrate the Super Bowl? I have to admit that I am not a huge football fan. Or a sports fan really at all. I'll go to the occasional baseball game (I LOVE Rockies Field because I was living there when it was first built) and football game for my alma mater (BYU) otherwise I'm not a huge sports fan. But my husband is. And he loves fantasy football. So we're having his teams and their families over for the bowl.

We kept it very simple last year. I will probably do something similar this year. What do you all do?

The colors are red, white and blue, for both teams! Keeps it super easy! Here are some images for inspiration! 

Red, white and blue marshmallow pops

I found this on Pinterest. Instead of guacamole I'll make a 7-layer dip 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

In November my church's women's organization (the Relief Society) got together for a cookie social exchange. To be honest, for some reason, this was not my favorite event I've worked on. It went alright. Not the greatest turn out. BUT we did have a lot of yummy cookies to take home. I wanted a winter wonderland feel, using red and white. I saved my inspiration to this Pinterest board that I created, "Cookies  & Milk Party." So I bought (from Dollar Tree) and brought round bulbs from home, a curtain rod and white curtains from our toy room and create a little window with red and white striped wrapping paper (from Joann's). Then we gathered cakestands from several women to display the goodies. Labeled each one so we knew who baked what.  Like, I said, it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped BUT it was fun, nonetheless. After we enjoyed each others company, a true social, and sampled each other cookies, with a glass of milk drunk from a red/white striped paper straw we gathered cookies to give away. We sent each gal home with a white gable box, affixed with a handmade tag and twine, full of cookies to give away to a neighbor or friend

Vase filled with white beans and cranberries. 

Dollar tree glitter ornaments and glitter snowflakes from Michaels. 

Each table had a unique centerpiece. 

The cookie spread. I provided the peppermint version of my double chocolate chip cookies.

The gable box gift. Handmade tag (made by one of our committee members) tied on with string!

Christmas lights and bulbs. Don't you love it when you don't check to see that all the strands of lights work BEFORE you set them up? Yeah, me too.

A questionnaire we had each take for the next years activities. 

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blueberry Almond Scones with Lemon Curd

My sisters-in-law all worked for a caterer in Colorado and brought home the yummiest foods....and a few great recipes! This is one of them. She also is the reason for the Overnight Caramel French Toast.

Each Christmas morning my in-laws make these wonderful scones complete with lemon curd and Devnonshire cream! Oh yes! They usually make cherry almond scones with Devonshire cream and blueberry scones with citrus curd. But either sauce goes well with any type of scones. You can spread the creams on top of your scone. Or you can dip them. That's what we do! These are flaky, not too sweet, simple and delicious!

You can adapt the scone recipe very easily.

Almond Scone base
Yield: 12  scones (or about 6 people)

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, cold
1/2 cup dried fruit---such as blueberries, cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup almond paste (you MUST include this ingredient)
1 tsp orange peel (for the red fruits) OR 1 tsp lemon peel (for blueberries)
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk; or sour milk, or 1/3 cup milk with 3 tsp vinegar (let rest for 5 minutes to curdle)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, optional

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
2. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or criss-cross two knives
3. Add yogurt and buttermilk.
4. Fold in berries, orange peel and add in crumbled almond paste into pea sized bits
5. Divide dough, it will be sticky!, into two rounds. Flatten with your flour covered hands.
6. Brush with 1-2 tsp buttermilk, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp grated orange peel
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes
8. Enjoy with chilled lemon curd or Devnonshire cream

Citrus Curd
2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh is preferable, but condensed is fine)
1 tsp lemon peel (fresh is preferable but dried is okay)
1 tsp grated orange peel
dash of salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter

1. Whisk eggs and yolks together in saucepan.
2. Add all remaining ingredients, except butter.
3. Cut butter into tablespoons and add to pot
4. Stir constantly, over medium heat until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken.
5. It is ready when it's the consistency of thin jelly. Cover with saran wrap.
6. Served best after it's been chilled for one hour.

Devonshire Cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cream the sour cream and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Blend. Cover.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Relief Society Valentine's Dinner

This event happened last February. I had blogged about it on my personal blog but kept putting it off for this one. So here are some ideas of how to feed 80-100 people for around $350 if you do all of it yourself and pull resources from people around you.

In my church I have the opportunity to plan our monthly activities for the women (called the Relief Society). I LOVE this assignment. And I have an awesome committee full of talented and willing ladies. We've done some wonderful things together as a committee to unite the women in our area and I feel we've been achieving our goals each month we have a meeting. But in February, we had our biggest meeting yet and for the year. We pumped it up for months ahead to get the greatest turn out possible. As is common in each activity, there were a few hiccups along the way and the night of, otherwise it was nearly flawless. We worked well together and from the comments from those in attendance, we know it was a success.

The theme: Enhancing Personal Relationships. We used an Italian theme with the food and for decor we kept it to the month of love with a red, white and pink color palate. Here are some photos and some descriptions. In a budget under $350 we served an elegant dinner to 100 people (including youth servers and children's class helpers), took a love language quiz and listened to professional counselor (who happens to be in the RS Presidency) teach us about enhancing our marriages. I thought we did a pretty nice job!

Here is the gym. We only used half of it to make it more intimate. We fit 10 round tables with 8 people at each, on this half.

The entrance.

Carnations from Costco, handed out to each sister (after I remembered) at the end. We had them each wear a nametag. Flower ball on clearance at Michael's after Valentine's Day sales.

Here is Nina and her daughter Sarita. Nina, on our committee, lovingly made all the paper good items including these nametags, with her many papercrafting supplies. Here she is greeting the sisters as they came in.

The buffet table. Rhonda, who has catering experience, suggested we put Christmas lights underneath the tablecloth. I liked the softened look and then the lights don't get in the way or dirty when serving the food.

I made a little fabric garland with fabric donated by my friend Raylynn a while ago. You never know when you'll use your fabric scraps so keep them anyway!

I made these silk topiaries with fabric I had in my stash. I'll share a tutorial sometime. I made the topiaries and garlands myself with my own materials to save money and so that I could keep them, which helped with the budget as well.

One our committee members, Michelle, suggested that we ask for volunteers to decorate individual tables. Each was unique and brought a nice personal touch. I gave them a 12" x12" piece of glittery cardstock as a guideline for how much space they could use. Here are a few examples.

Here is the speaker's table.

Nina made an "events" card with results form the quiz on the back. Notice the goblets? She also donated use of these that she had previously used in her daughter's wedding. When the women first entered this was one of the first things they noticed, these beautiful goblets. It added an elegant touch. Nina found them on clearance for $3 a box and was happy to be able to use them again. We didn't break one! She also had battery operated tea lights

We had menu's printed on a tri-fold with a quiz printed on the inside. As the women were seated and waiting to start the evening we had them take a version of the 5 Love Language quiz, which unbeknown to me, was part of Marlene's talk. The little red heart was supposed to act as a little cupid's heart. I had specially ordered red golf pencils on ebay but they did not ship on time (grrrrr) so we had to gather regular pencils (including my children's attractive printed holiday ones they get from school and other places) and didn't have time to punch holes in them to make the cupid affect. Minor detail. I used an 8 1/2" x 11" glittery piece of cardstock as a placemat.

One of the highlights of the evening was having a live quartet playing classical music. Nina's son-in-law created a group of his musical friends and they willingly volunteered their time (only in exchange for a free meal) to play background music. They were so good that when my husband walked through to pick up the kids, he thought it was a cd!

After they took the quiz we welcomed them and invited them to start on their salads (which were placed on the tables beforehand) and warm bread.

Here is the serving line with the food.

Here are some of the committee members slaving away. I stayed out of the kitchen as I was working on decorating and making sure everything was in order. Some of us ran around like chicken's with our heads cut off, especially right at the last minute when everything comes together. I think we all managed to be able to sit down for a few minutes to at least eat a little.

Here I am sharpening pencils beforehand after my ebay glitch. And I am thinner there too. What the?!!?!

Here are some of our cute servers. They really took their job to heart and were so willing and helpful. They kept our water filled and assisted the many elderly sisters in our ward by serving them their food directly so they didn't have to wait in line for their food.

The Menu. Rhonda came up with a delicious and fairly simple menu. We had a tight budget but wanted it to be delicious. She cooked most of it, hours before, herself. Alicia and Michelle helped in the kitchen as she instructed them.
We had two pastas. Regular spaghetti, with a nice meat marinara sauce. The second was a garlic cheese white sauce that she pre-mixed with pasta.
The salad was a copycat version of Olive Garden's.
She roasted garlic slices and mixed them with olive oil and herbs. We dipped our warm bread (from Costco, the Italian version) in this herbed oil spread.

We simplified our dessert by purchasing fresh mixed berry Gelato from our Costco cafe with a piece of biscotti. Simple, elegant, rich, unique, easy.

Marlene, our upbeat and funny speaker. Sadly, I couldn't listen to all of it but what I did gather was helpful.

It was a wonderful evening with few and simple decorations that made a strong impact, music to add to the ambiance, dimmed lights, delicious yet inexpensive food, a slow pace and the little details all added to a wonderful evening together. I know that each person was enriched by coming! Several said it was the best Church activity they had been to! That's the greatest compliment!

Thanks again to my committee and to Marianne for lending me your camera and taking some candid shots! 
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peppermint Popcorn

Oops! A day early....I was going to post this tomorrow. This was supposed to be posted on Thursday, the 19th, and I didn't even know it's National Popcorn Day! Happy Popcorn Day!
Looking for a way to get rid of your leftover Christmas candy? Peppermints and candy canes? Peppermint Hershey Kisses? 

I had a variation of this at my book club (along with the Cranberry Cilantro Relish Spread....I have cool friends) but she made it with chex cereal. Well, I had some peppermint candies left and peppermint kisses from these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. My children wanted a treat and I wanted to deliver some goodies off to a recovering friend (get this! My friend went to the ER for an appendicitis only to have it removed with the good, and scary, news that there was a cancerous tumor on the appendix! Blessing in disguise!) who really liked the peppermint treat at the book club. So I brought her some. This would also make a fun Valentine's treat. It's so pink with nice crunchy satisfying peppermint bits.

Peppermint Popcorn
adapted from Skip to My Lou and Plain Chicken

*1 cup peppermints, approximately 40 hard peppermint candies or 10 candy canes, finely ground
*1 pound melted vanilla candy---I used a combination of pink Wilton's candy melts &  30 Peppermint Hershey kissesYou could also use almond bark or white chocolate chips. Or try Andes peppermint chocolates.
*12 cups air popped corn, use this easy microwave tutorial 
*1 cup Frosted Animal Cookies, optional. It adds a nice texture and added flavor

1. Pop corn according to tutorial. Pour into a giant mixing bowl.
2. Crush peppermints in a small food processor. This is quite aggressive and it sounds like you're breaking glass but your processor can handle it. I have a tiny one and ground them in batches. The smaller the bits, the better. Set aside.
3. Break animal cookies into pea sized bits. Set aside.
4. Melt your candies and kisses in a glass pyrex measuring cup or medium sized microwave bowl. Stir every 30 seconds and continue cooking, stirring after each round, until completely melted.
5. Pour over popcorn and stir until evenly spread.
6. Spread a cookie sheet sized piece of wax paper or parchment out. Pour the popcorn onto it. Sprinle with peppermint bits and cookie bits.
7. Let dry completely, until it hardens and is no longer gooey, about 30 minutes. Then it's ready to eat and place in a cello or ziplock bag.

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Alice in Winter Wonderland Tea Party

Jocelyn wanted a tea party, peacock feathers, and we wanted to incorporate Otis, our white pet rabbit. So it made sense to have an Alice in Wonderland Party! Peacocks, gold, blue, green, purple, snowflakes and feathers! And for $52.40 for favors, food and decor and a bit of time setting up! But so worth it after seeing the girls reaction. It was fun to see their reactions as they saw the canopied table and lanterns. It felt so magical. And I have to give credit to Pinterest for so much inspiration!! I don't usually incorporate each photo that I've pinned but I usually pin because there is one or more elements that have inspired a thought, image or arrangement. You can follow this inspiration board here, or any of my others too!

The events were as follows. We had "Alice in Wonderland" (the Disney animated version) playing while we waited for all the guests to arrive. Then we painted fingernails. Had the tea party, sang the birthday song, ate the cake (well, I did, there wasn't much eating by the girls going on), opened gifts, played with gifts, and ended with decorating their favor boxes with stickers and feathers.

The happy 5 year old with pet white rabbit, Otis. Her adorable headband was made by Ellie. You can check out her fun blog here. The Alice dress was borrowed from my cousin, Micaela.


Peacock frosted cupcakes. Inspired by these cupcakes I found on Pitnerest. My friend Melanie made them and I added the "Eat Me" straw flag and pipe cleaner head.

Otis was a little scared atop the table.

Peacocks &  glitter. Perfect.

Peacock Cake made from a box and tub of frosting. Sometimes quick and easy outweighs time and stress levels.

Peacock inspired place cards. Each number corresponded with the girls age. 

Each girl was able to take their teacup home. I found all 6 sets in one shopping spree to the local D.I. (thrift store). Jocelyn was very excited for her friends to try herbal tea, her favorite morning treat. We served mixed berry and about half the girls actually drank it. I love the white lace gloves with adorned with feathers. I found them on Halloween clearance at Target.

Ribbon &  ring.

The nail & party favor station. Jocelyn loves to paint anyone's nails. It got a little chaotic though and I had to remind each girl to make sure their nails were completely dry before playing. 

White gable boxes that they decorated and then fit all of their goodies in to take home.

Snowflake Wands. Super easy to make. 

"Drink Me" bottles. I saw these POM(egranate) juice bottles and thought they were the perfect size and shape to give each girl. They are seasonal (winter) so I was happy to find them. I'll be surprised if any of the girls actually like drinking it, it's very strong because it's pure pomegranate. But the bottles can be dish washed on the top rack and my children like to drink out of them because of their fun shape. 

Flamingo Croquet pens, they went home with a bag of "hedgehogs" too (gummy bears).

Price breakdown: $52.40
Birds--gifted and Christmas clearance, Joanns &  Pier 1 Imports = $4
Glitter decor fillers--Christmas clearance, Joanns &   Michaels (some of those individual strands, including the snowflake wand tops were only 30 cents a piece, and this was 80% a week to three weeks after Christmas)--$10
Cake & Cupcake & Tea--$4, traded goods for the cupcakes :)
POM juice--seasonal, Walmart, 6 oz = $10 after coupons,  $2.28 each,
Rings--$1, clearance at Charlotte Russe, pack of 5
Tea sets-- Thrift store, set of 7 mismatched, I kept the plates for other projects and because they didn't fit in the boxes = $8
Lanterns--Zurchers &  my mom's closet = $5
Snowflake Wands--handmade, $2
Flamingo Pens--Dollar Tree = $6
Gold doileys &   playing cards = Free from personal stash & mom's closet. It was worth hanging onto those mismatched cards.
Gable Boxes--Expedx = $2.40 for set of 6, on sale
Fresh flowers--Costco, gift card
Canopy, teapot, and other accessories--Free from mom's closet
Blue tablecloth--vintage from mother, also used for my French themed party 

I hope this party can inspire your next Alice in Wonderland or Tea Party themed birthday. Please share if it has!

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