I'm working on some Valentine's for my Grands, planning a fun themed breakfast for my Rock n' Roll Buddy, and an assortment of sweet treats to take into work this Friday.
It's going to be a busy, fun week!
My head says think football, but my heart says Valentine.
I'm struggling to find my Superbowl party mojo this year for some reason.
Maybe it's because I'm not invested in either team in the Superbowl this year, (I love Cam Newton's amazing smile and killer skills, but I respect Peyton Manning's career history, so it's a toss up.) or maybe it's because the big game is only one short week in front of Valentine's Day, (How id that happen? They need to be further apart!) and I have been more than a little preoccupied with some plans in the works for that.
(I'm planning something incredibly clever for Valentine's Day...stay tuned!)
Regardless, I am forcing myself to put my Valentine's projects on hold until Monday, and refocusing on this weekend's plans. We've decided on a nacho and taco bar, with all of the toppings we could think of (I originally wanted to do a mashed potato bar, but changed my mind last week.) for our halftime menu. I could eat Mexican food seven days a week, so I am especially looking forward to this year's party food!
(The food has my attention, but the decorations...notsomuch.)
(Did I mention I'm working on something pretty danged creative for Valentine's Day??)
I dug out my little AstroTurf runner, and my penalty flags, but I'm not too sure there will be too much more in party decor, as we are not holding the party at my house. (That in itself alleviates a lot of pressure to handle every detail.)
How about you? Will you be watching the game, or is it just another Sunday for you? Will you be watching those crazy commercials, or will you be at the mall, or the movie theater?
I'll be with friends, eating tacos, and obsessing thinking about my tablescape for the following Sunday.
My my etsy shop is filling up with several new $5 printable e-kits, so you might want to check it out before the weekend gets here.
(Are you getting tired pf seeing my mantel showcasing some new printable yet?)
Some of it is chalkboard art, and some is vintage...all of it is printable....
I'm all about a little holiday decor here and there. How about you?
For my gathering last week, I took the easy route. My cooking mantra is that if I can buy something ready made that tastes better than I can make it, I will. I can then spend more time cooking or baking something else that is amazing. For this meal I chose deli soups from my local Safeway; baked potato chowder and tomato bisque. What made them extra special was the presentation and the details.
For the baked potato chowder, I added toppings to choose from; shredded cheese, chopped green onions, and crispy cooked crumbled bacon. I offered up grilled cheese croutons for the tomato soup. I simply made a yummy grilled cheese sandwich on artisan sourdough bread, and cut into small cubes, then stacked on wooden skewers.
This way, we all had the option of eating the little grilled cheeses on the side, or in our soup!
And, so yummy.
A basket of "Everything Crackers from world Market, and sliced sourdough bread completed the main course.
The real show stopper was dessert. I made homemade toasted coconut marshmallows from this Ina Garten recipe. The Barefoot Contessa is my all-time favorite, and let me tell you, homemade marshmallows are actually easy to make.
We roasted them over the fire pit, then smooshed them in between a graham cracker and a bit of a chocolate bar, and oh, my.The marshmallows hold their shape, and then, when you bite into fresh-off-the-fire gooey goodness, they disolve into a heavenly clod in your mouth.
They were dee-lish.
I had spent a portion of my weekend before the gathering working outside on my patios in preparation for the little outdoor soiree. (The photo above was on a prep night when I was playing with the table setting...)
Yep, that's plural, on the word patios.
Technically one is supposed to be a covered carport I think, but I park my car and truck in my garage, and don't need it for that, so I've made it into the outdoor dining area.
Wait. I'm jumping ahead.
You might remember the first patio from last summer, here. It's set for winter entertaining now, with my outdoor living room type patio furniture complete with blankets tossed for folks to cover up with if necessary, although I needn't have been concerned, as I lucked out with an actual semi-dry day and evening, and we our high last Wednesday was a balmy 57'.
So, now on to the other covered carport patio. The round dining table and chairs is gone from the original patio layout, and has been replaced on this second patio, with a longer harvest table and chairs in more of a full-on dining area set up. I have the two propane heaters on either end of the harvest table to keep us warm. I hung strands of Edison lights (from World Market) around the perimeter, (I wanted to zig-zag them, but they can't be hung too close to the propane heaters) and two vintage windows I bought at a Christmas faire hang above the season's remaining stacked firewood. I wanted to zig-zag the lights, but the instructions on the lights specifically said not to hang them near a heater, so that put the kibosh on that idea.
My outdoor harvest table is a craigslist find, with Ikea bistro chairs (You can't beat fifteen bucks a chair, and they fold up for easy storage if need be!) Five dollar Ikea throws adorned the backs of the chairs, in case that iPhone weather guy was wrong, and they added to the welcome look. With my fire pit going, and two outdoor heaters flanking the dining table, we were quite toasty.
A centerpiece of assorted canning jars with birdseed and votive candles added ambiance and light to the table. I used my metal chargers that are now painted in black chalkboard paint, (A great way to update any outdated charger plates you might have!) and reproduction French grain cloth napkins and runners (From World Market) I had bottles of chilled water at each end of the table. (A great entertaining staple to have on hand are tall closable bottles for water, and I always find them at the thrift store.)
My old enamel top table works fabulously as a buffet server, although I really didn't get any great shots of that, and the food came out perfectly. Easy, tasty, and more than enough.
I'll share my menu tomorrow!
I wanted to share a sneak peek at one of the fun buffet table decorations I’ve come up with for Wednesday night’s Winter Blah’s get together. I found this wine online, and had to search a bit to find out where to buy it. (It got good taste reviews…) It turned out that it is sold at Target stores, of all places. I skedaddled right on over there, and was amazed at the selection of wines with catchy names! Handsome Devil, Fancy Pants, and Middle Sister, just to name a few.
Who knew Target had such fun stuff on the wine aisle?
Pleasant surprise of the week for me.
I made the buffet sign and I was pretty thrilled with the results.
(Is that old photo perfect or what?)
Oh yes, this is gonna be a lot of fun.
With two big brothers, she will most certainly be a force to be reckoned with, and she already has her Daddy wrapped around her pinky.
God is so good.
After I designed it, I printed it, and matted it with a piece of black scrapbook paper. Then I realized it as just going to be easier to text my friends, and so I added the invite to a text as a picture. (I know. Still probably a bit too much, but I am pretty sure my friends know that is just my style.)
Anyway, this little invite is going to set the tone for the girl's night. I'm talking soup, or chowder, or chili, and s'mores on the fire pit, all done up on the covered patio, using my outdoor heater.
Can you see it?
I can hardly wait!
What a weird, unusual, surprising, entertaining football season it has been this go-round! My beloved Seahawks are officially out of the running to play in the big game this year, and the games next weekend will reveal who those two teams will be, but it's time to start planning, and printing, and cutting and pasting all of the fun details for your annual Superbowl party.
Those of you who are not football enthusiasts might want to skip this post, although Superbowl parties sometimes have much more to do with food and fun than the football game itself.
I am updating my Superbowl and football printable kits in my etsy shoppe this week, if you're looking for paper goods to add to the festivities, with Team banners coming after next weekend, when we know who will be playing in the big game. You will see them all later this week in the shoppe, but for now....
My latest chalkboard printable is now available in my shoppe. It adds a whimsical element to my fireplace, and works for the entire football season, really.
Are you ready for some football?
I was invited to a football party for the big games last Saturday, and I decided to make my dipped pretzel sticks in both teams colors (The Patriots and the Cardinals.)as well as taking along a few cupcakes.
The dipped pretzels are super easy, take only a short while to make, and are yummy, with that salty-and-sweet thing going on. Kids and grownups alike love them. All you need to do is pick up pretzel rods at the grocery or dollar store....they come in two length, and I like the longer ones. They are about eight inches long.
...and candy melts. (I get mine at WalMart...they have lots of colors!) pour some candy melts in a microwavable jar...
...and heat one minute. Stir until smooth and creamy. (Microwave an additional 20 seconds if not melted enough)
.....and dip and baste your pretzel rod with the melted candy-melt, the sprinkle with candies if desired.
Lay on a piece of waxed or parchment paper until set. Add additional color melts if desired at that point.
Place in a container to serve, or lay them in a row on a tray....they are pretty, and delicious!
I added a dozen sweet little cuppy-cakes to my tray and I was ready to go. (You know I love to bake and create desserts, and so I always have frozen unfrosted cupcakes on hand...well, almost always. This way, I can pull out however many I might need when friends pop by, or it's a special friends birthday, or, in this case, a playoff football game, and frost the cupcakes accordingly.) I frosted the mini cupcakes in simple homemade white buttercream, and made little cutie-patootie flags to go on top of them by snagging the teams logos from Google.
The kids at the party scarfed down the cupcakes, and the pretzels were a hit with everyone too.
You might remember that I shared some glittery New Year's Eve party hats and horns and party bags back during the fall. Well, my customer sent me some photos from her fabulous event, and they did not disappoint!
The touches of gold and glitter and clocks fit perfectly with the stunning venue, wouldn't you agree?
(And that giant clock as a centerpiece and photo-opp backdrop! Oh! I adore it!)
Thank you Jan, for sharing the photos! I was so thrilled to be a part of this beautiful event!
I saw them well before Christmas at Macy's and couldn't justify the price, for three reasons. First, I already own some darling (Old) soft white (cream?) snow boots. (They never really change the style you know? They may be old, but they are still cute.) Second, I am not going to be in the snow anytime soon that I know of. Third, it was Christmas shopping time, and they were not on sale.
Christmas came and went, and I had to go back to Macy's to make an exchange, and there they were, calling my name, with a sale tag on them now. Not just any sale tag, mind you. A half off tag.
(You know I took this as a sign from God, right?)
Then, as if to confirm that it was truly a God thing, when I exchanged my item, it was on sale as well,and I ended up with $25 going back on my credit card, which, in my little mind, meant I was now saving that much more off the plaid snow boots. (Do you do that too?)
Be still my heart.
I may have to wear them one day soon, even if there is currently no snow here.
I love coming up with themes when shopping for presents, and I am especially thrilled when I can carry the process over to my wrap job. This weekend I gave a friend who is interested in hiking and fishing a birthday present. I was not sure what all he had in his hiking supplies, (To be honest, until this weekend, I was unaware there were hiking supplies.) so I had settled my mind on a gift card. I am not really a huge gift card fan, and so I decided I would give him a small hiking item to go with the gift card to get the theme going.
I found a compass. I figured it was a good item to have in your back pack, in the event you are out of cell tower range and find yourself lost. So far, not a terribly exciting present.
I printed a map of Oregon on computer paper. (I googled it and there it was.) I then wrapped the present in the map paper. I found a hiking quote on Pinterest that I liked and copy-pasted it on to a page, then printed it, along with a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" tag and cut them both out.
I used extra chunky baker's twine to tie the tags to his prezzie, and I was done. Now, it was a much more meorable presentation than just a quick-wrapped gift card.
(And I didn't even have to buy wrapping paper!)
(What? Doesn't everyone?!)
Aah, yes. The playoff games start this weekend, (And the next, and the one after that.) culminating at the grand-daddy of all games, the Superbowl.
I'm starting to scan Pinterest in search of unique and yummy recipes to try out on this year's buffet table, and I'm cheering for the Seahawks to make it to the biggest game of all. I like to feature something different each year, and right this minute, I am stumped on what my feature food will be. I've done pulled pork, and then sloppy joe sliders. Hot dogs and then chicken wings and pizza were featured in the past as well. I've even started the pre-game with biscuits and gravy, and so far this year I am undecided.
I could do a chili bar, or chowder bowls. (Or possibly tomato soup with mini grilled cheese sammies?) Hmmm, maybe even a mashed potato bar? (I did one a million years ago for a holiday party, serving the mashed potatoes in martini glasses, and it was a huge hit!) I haven't done a taco bar yet either...
I'm currently stumped on what to feature, as you can see. What kinds of foods do you like to serve (And eat!) for parties? I want to know!
(Not a good start for the year, but I am going to go with the better-a-tiny-bit-late-than-not-at-all excuse.)
I was on a two year roll a few years back, with a word of the year. One year it was Balance and the next it was organize. It took me a few additional years, but I do believe I have somewhat achieved a decent balance in my life, with my priorities straight, and I am more organized than I ever have been. (Which is saying a whole lot, if you know me.)
Anyway, the last couple of years I somehow forgot to choose a word of the year, (I know, that doesn't make me sound like I got organized.) but this year, I'm back, baby, in a big way. I am feeling like twenty sixteen just might be my year of making some huge strides in a few areas I am wanting to focus on. (You know, the usual suspects; my health, my finances, my dream job...)
I struggled between two words this go-round. I struggled because they are actually so similar that I wasn't sure which one fit me the best. Those two words are "Mindful" and "Purpose". I truly want to keep the why I am doing something...anything...present in my head. I want to be mindful of how I spend my money and my time. Mindful of how I eat. To do all things in my life with a purpose,and not just go all willy-nilly and at the end of a day wonder what I did with my one-and-only-life for the past twenty four hours, you know?
Then, I found this online here:
First of all, mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose”. Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of our awareness.
(No wonder I was having trouble deciding, huh?)
I love it, love it, love it.
Yep, that's my word for this coming year.
Do you do a word of the year? If so, what is it this year?
I always try to hunt down little vintage and thrift shops when I travel, and thanks to the internet, blogging, and Facebook, it is easy to find them. I was in Phoenix this past weekend for the Seahawks game, and managed to squeeze out some time to check out a vintage shop named Rusty Saturday, where one of my fellow bloggers (Karen Valentine, from My Desert Cottage) has a booth. Rusty Saturday turned out to be worth the trip, with about fifteen or so booth spaces. (All of them fairly large, and laid out with style.) I saw quite a few items that I fell in love with, but since I was flying and not driving, size was an issue. I did end up discovering a fabulous footed silver tray that I was able to wrangle into my suitcase for the flight home.
(I know. I have a gazillion silver trays, but this one was a different size than the ones I already have, and it has the cutest little feet, and the price was great, and...I just had to have it, even if I had to carry it on the plane by itself.)
(I forgot to get a photo of it close up, and I am writing this post after packing but before flying home, so if you look in the very first picture in this post, you'll see it there, on the table...here is a poorly cropped version from that top picture...)
(I would have loved to have snagged the darling white painted wood drawer piece behind that tray as well, but clearly that was not making it on the plane.)
They had some clever displays, and snapped a few pictures to share with you.
If you're ever in the Phoenix, Arizona area, this sweet shop is worth a visit, so put it on your must-stop-by spots!
I'm motivated, and on fire for the new year. I've got myself a solid game plan, and I'm optimistic that I just might be one of the eight percent of Americans that end up sticking to their resolutions. (Do you think you're one of those folks too?)
Last year I managed to wrangle my inner hoarder quite a bit, and I purged a lot of things in my cottage that I clearly was never going to use. (Four different colorful shades of polka-dot french fry holders from "Pick Your Plum"for one.)
(What was I thinking?!)
(I gave them to my fabulous daughter-in-law, who is a kindergarten teacher.)
Anyway, I made several small steps forward last year, and now I am feeling very much like the little engine that could.
Keep my organization resolutions, that is.
The weight and exercise resolution is another topic entirely.
Just a quick post to share that the large poster from yesterday's post is now available in my etsy shop. Find it here.
(Today's blog post will be coming along later....)
He's right, I am afraid to say.I mean, if you're doing it right...living that is...then I think it always feels like there are too many things we'd love to do, and never quite enough time.
There are far too many things I want to do, and no where near enough time to do it all. Big things, (Like going on a road trip to Round Top in Texas.) and little things (Like learning to make an incredible-to-nearly-die-for pie crust from scratch) and oodles of things in the middle. (I've seen AC/DC, but I haven't seen Oprah.)
This all being said, tonight we will all kiss last year goodbye, and welcome in a fresh new year, full of promise and adventure.
I've added another last-minute-in-twenty-fifteen printable kit to my etsy shop, if you're looking for a little something fun for tonight.
I designed a New Years Eve sign to go on the flip side of my giant three by four foot faux chalkboard sign. I ordered a printed blueprint (Engineered) copy of it from my Staples Store, and last night I attached it to the back of the giant sheet of Styrofoam-like insulation (from Home Depot) and replaced my Christmas mantel decor. (I will be adding this, along with a few other a few other New Year's eve Printable kits...)
I added my collection of old clocks and I am now ready to ring in the new year.
No one is required to stay until the clock hits twelve, and there won't be a lot of decorations. Just a fun banner I made, and a few other little Tracey-touches (signs for the champagne area, a Q and A game, and a few questions to ponder for next year....)
Personally, I love the whole new year- new opportunity idea of it all. I like looking back over the year past, and looking at the fresh clean slate ahead of me.
I wonder what exciting adventures will happen, and where my life will be a year from now. What are you doing this New Year's Eve? Staying home? Going out? Going to bed early or late? Is it a big deal to you, or just another date on the calendar?
Please, do share!
I created a book as a memento and Christmas present for the Grands. (And their parents.) A rather gigantic book actually, (!4" by 11" unopened, and over two feet wide when opened up!) all about our adventures at this past summer's first annual Camp Cupcake, (31 fabulous pages, with over 175 photos, thankyouverymuch.) I had four copies printed through Mixbook; one for each family.
(I had so much fun, reliving each moment of Camp Cupcake with each page I designed!)
It was truly a labor of love.
When the books arrived on my porch, I was a bit taken aback at the size of the box. Upon opening it, I was even more stunned at the size of book I had ordered. Somehow, when I read the size choices on the website, the 11 by 14 didn't seem all that big.
While the book borders on being obnoxiously large, even on my big square coffee table, it's full of photos of the kids doing sack races and roasting s'mores, so it seems somehow appropriate and perfectly sized, you know?
It took me many, many hours to build out the book, (pretty much a full weekend.) and I loved every minute I spent creating it, remembering each and every smile, and giggle, and fun memory from that over-niter spent with the grands.
In retrospect, I think I was far more excited, waiting in excited anticipation for the moment they would open this Christmas gift I had so lovingly crafted for them, than I was for anything else this Christmas season.
Aah, it's good to be Gramma Cupcake.
P.S. I know I have shared before that I have created books through Mixbook, but I want to share one more time, just how fun, and fulfilling it is to create one of these books. It captures a moment in time for you, and seals it for all eternity, only a flip of a page away, from remembering the fun you had, and how things were, once upon a time.(And, for the record, no, I am not being paid a dime to mention Mixbook. I simply love their ease of use, and their customer service.)