Never-too-old slumber party

I had a birthday not so long ago. I also am lucky enough to have a group of fantastic girlfriends who threw me a surprise party! What started as a tongue in cheek suggestion apparently turned into ‘Oh, we’re actually planning a surprise slumber party.’ You’ll have to forgive my horrible pictures. One of the surprises was a delicious (alcoholic) punch. They know I’m a sucker for punch, and after a few glasses, I no longer had full control over my camera.

They also put together a make your own pizza bar and my friend Megan decorated the dining table with sheets and a pillow to look like a bed! Seriously, isn’t that too adorable?? Amber kindly donated her froggy as a centerpiece and you can’t see it, but there were bras and panties hanging from the chandelier. Hysterical!

Also note Megan’s very clever DIY craft on the cups. She punched a hole in  a plastic cup, tied on a name card with some pretty ribbon, and then doubled up with an un-holey cup inside so we didn’t spill punch all over ourselves. Which was pretty much bound to happen.

They also put together a candy, jello shot, and cupcake bar! We’d already eaten most of the jello shots (made with cake flavored vodka, what?!?) and a whole lot of the candy by the time I got around to the picture, but it was so cute! They also had a selection of vintage toys to play with once the punch and sugar took hold.

They did such a great job and I am so touched by the effort. Thank you Amanda, Amanda, Amber, and Megan for such a wonderful evening!

The next day, my sister surprised me with a trip to see the Hunger Games (can you tell I like surprises??) and a delicious home-cooked dinner. And the picture below happened. That’s the husband cutting my birthday cake with a sword. I can’t make this stuff up, people!

Halloween Party Recap

Halloween 2011

Did I forget to mention I was throwing a Halloween party with some friends? The first week at the new job left me rather discombobulated, so I haven’t been focusing on much else, let alone doing a good job planning for a party. However, we threw a Halloween party at this friend’s house a few years ago and he saved ALL the decorations we used before. How great is that? I had picked up a few more things pre-job switch (when I still have full usage over my brain) and we were able to pull together a pretty rocking party with just a few hours prep. Yay, teamwork!

The costumes were particularly great this year, but I won’t be posting any of those pictures in order to protect the not-so-innocent. I will tell you my favorite costume was my friend dressed as Richard Simmons, curly wig and all. HILARIOUS! Runner up, a honey badger!

Halloween 2011

These are my infamous eyeballs. They’re just Oreo truffles decorated with icing, but they’re always a big hit!

Halloween 2011

This is a watermelon that showed up at a party several weeks ago and has just been hanging around ever since. We decorated it with the spiders to add to the Halloween ambiance.

Halloween 2011

My friend Erin put together some candy coffins, isn’t it too cute??

Halloween 2011

What’s Halloween without Jello shots? All lime all the time.

Halloween 2011

The prize cauldron for best costume included some delicious pumpkin beer homebrew, a glitter rat, spider rings, plastic skeletons, some funny glasses, and of course CANDY!

Halloween 2011

And yes, this is a picture of a wooden giraffe drinking a 40 of Tecate next to the deviled eggs. It was that kind of party. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend full of spooky celebrations, too!

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

My husband, Keith, is an avid home brewer. We spent this past Saturday at our local Oktoberfest, which is a home brewer’s paradise. Where else can you taste beers like a cranberry ale (delicious), a peppermint patty stout (yummy), or a jalapeno beer (GROSS) all at one place?

We capitalized on the beer momentum and hosted a hop centered tasting dinner on Sunday evening. Keith made the same beer recipe three times using a different hop for each batch. Tasting them side by side really showed off the differences between the hops.

Of course, I chipped in with some easy beer-themed table decor. Anybody else enjoying some Oktoberfest festivities this month?

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Hoptacular Beer Tasting Dinner

Rustic Wine and Cheese

Cheese & wine afternoon

You know I am a sucker for a wine and cheese party. This one done by Lana of Lanalou Style is especially charming. Her idea to wrap the jars of condiments in craft paper and string is pretty brilliant. What a simple and lovely way to dress up condiments. Usually, I serve condiments in small bowls, but this is a much better solution!  I’d love to see the idea extended to the bottles of wine, too, or wrapped around blocks of cheese.  Sigh, wishing I was at this table instead of behind a desk right now!

Cheese & wine afternoon

Cheese & wine afternoon

Ultimate Host Competition Entry – Challenge #1

Spaghetti Dinner

I think I had way too much fun with this. Challenge #1 for the Sterling Vineyard’s Ultimate Host Competition was to plan a party for 6 for $75 or under. I drew my inspiration from the 1930’s spaghetti parties people held during the Great Depression. If people could find the money and energy to entertain back then, certainly a party for $75 now is doable! I came in right around $50, and that included a bottle of wine from Sterling.

Spaghetti Dinner

I designed the centerpiece to showcase a WIDE variety of pastas. Giddiness practically overtook me in the pasta aisle. There are so many pretty types of pasta available now. It’s funny to use the word pretty to describe pasta. I mean, how often does one actually LOOK at dry noodles? But match up a couple in a centerpiece and aren’t they awesome? Different shapes, sizes, colors, and yet they are all essentially the exact same food.

Spaghetti Dinner

I did a few DIY projects for this party as well. The place mats are layers or burlap and craft paper sewn together. I cut a slit in the craft paper so I could slide a napkin and silverware inside. Then I made initials from cooked noodles for each place setting.

Spaghetti Dinner

I had some leftover cooked noodles, so the votive candles got wrapped in spaghetti, too!

Spaghetti Dinner

The menu was pretty standard for a spaghetti dinner: salad, pasta, bread, dessert. I wanted the salad to be a little retro in keeping with the dinner theme, so I combined grape tomatoes and big black olives over lettuce leaves with a few shakes of vinegar and oil.

Spaghetti Dinner

For dessert, I made an easy yellow cake (because we all know I am NOT an accomplished baker) and layered it with my blueberry spice jam and some slightly sweetened whipped cream. Even though I am not a sweets person, the cake and jam combo was stupid good.

Spaghetti Dinner

The main dish was pasta al bianco. It’s been a standby recipe in my kitchen for a few years. I’ll post the full recipe for it tomorrow, so make sure to check back!

Spaghetti Dinner

I submitted the entry through the Sterling Vineyard’s Facebook page, so fingers crossed! Even if I don’t win, it was a super fun excuse to step up my game on a normal Sunday evening dinner and I had a great time participating.

Fall Happy Birthday Banner

Fall Birthday Banner

I’m sorting through the pictures from this weekend’s pasta party extravaganza, but here’s another fun little project from the weekend. We attended a double birthday party bash Saturday evening, and the lovely hostess Erin commissioned me to make a fall themed happy birthday banner.

Fall Birthday Banner

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I especially love the little burlap detail. It gives the banner such fun texture.

Fall Birthday Banner

Erin did a nice job decorating the outdoor area. Isn’t the porch AMAZING? That’s one of the birthday boys in the shot admiring her handiwork. Great job, Erin!