Archive for June, 2009

Poolside Happy Hour

Happy Hour is great. Happy Hour in the pool is absolutely fabulous. Sundays are always my lazy days because it’s the last opportunity to lounge before getting back to responsibility. Yesterday, I spent my lounge day in the swimming pool with a refreshing, poolside beverage my friends and I were testing out. We found the recipe in Rachael Ray’s monthly magazine.

It’s easy to forget just how much good a swim can do. Not only was the swim relaxing and sleep-inducing, but it was a good bonding afternoon. The 4th of July is this weekend and there are a couple nice ideas floating around in my head. Perhaps some of this past weekend’s cocktails will find their way into family’s cups this holiday weekend. Might I suggest some Clear Plastic Glasses for a classy, inexpensive look? The post-swim drowsy feeling doesn’t exactly contribute to any eagerness for clean-up.

Pink Torpedoes (makes 6 drinks)

Ingredients:

2 cups vodka, chilled

1.5 pints sliced strawberries

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Limoncello

1 750-ml bottle sparkling wine, chilled

6 sugar cubes

Directions

1.    Stir together the vodka, 2/3 sliced strawberries and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let mixture sit at room temperature until vodka turns pink (approximately 6 hours). Refrigerate overnight.

2.    Strain the vodka and divide among 6 tall glasses. Add a splash of limoncello to each glass and top off with the sparkling wine. Drop in a sugar cub and garnish with the remaining strawberry slices.

*Recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine.

Recycled Centerpieces, Doilies

Whenever I host a party at my house and guests come bearing gifts, I always like to keep the gift bags. I keep them not only because it’s a shame to throw the cute ones away, but because they can always come in handy later during a last-minute gift emergency. There’s nothing wrong with a little eco-friendliness in the gift-wrapping department.

I’ve found, however, that gift bags can be recycled for something other than future gifts. If you’re going through a party-drought, use the gift bags to make center pieces at your own get together with friends or family. Grab a water-filled vase, or container, put it inside one of your gift bags and cut the flower stems to size. It’s a great way to add a splash of color to your table top without spending a dime. :-D

If you’re lacking in the gift bag department, another quick trick for elegant table décor is using doilies. Dishes and table decorations steal the attention when they’re accented by any assortment of Lace Paper Doilies. Trust me; your guests won’t know the difference.

Baby Boomers, Part 2 – Baby Showers

Last week, I received the invitation for my friend’s baby shower in the mail. It’s exciting to hear that your friends are doing well and that their happiness has created life. Just in the same way that fashion trends seem to make a full 360 every few years, it seems that the baby boomer trend has done the same. In spite of the economic crisis, couples continue to expand their families with more tiny miracles.

Because it is not our place to advise our friends and family to put their family plans on pause until the financial crisis is stable, why not lift our glasses and make a toast to the babies in the oven? Gather your closest girlfriends and make sure the guest of honor’s shower is a memorable one. Pick a theme (maybe even one that matches the nursery theme) and split the work. It’s a baby shower for goodness sake; you can’t go wrong with all of the baby stuff out there. Walk down the baby shower aisle and take a gander at the different collections in order to start getting ideas.

This afternoon at work, we were discussing possible baby shower gifts because my friend’s is coming up fairly quickly. It’s always such a pain to find the perfect gift because you don’t want to show up with the same gift as the next 10 people. It may not be an Einstein-ish idea, but we decided on a DIY gift basket containing embroidered baby burp cloths, bottles and maybe an outfit or two. A baby shower themed cake made out of cloth baby diapers could also be adorable (make sure and get some cupcakes—pregnant women + hunger is never good).

Just a thought. :-D

Congratulations, Class of 2009!

My sister graduated from high school yesterday. Nowadays, a high school diploma is a must if you want to earn a paycheck that will get you more than just dinner. More than 90% of her graduating class will be pursuing a higher education next year and boy, is that an accomplishment. Although many high schools encourage high school students to go to college by showing them graphs, charts and statistics, I believe it’s important to share personal college experience to leave a real impression.

In my last year of college, a professor passed around a story about a student’s hard earned success. He didn’t tell us it was about him right away and instead let us discuss the details first. He was an immigrant when he was pursuing his education and in spite of all the hardships and hurdles, he succeeded and graduated. It is amazing what pure drive and determination can do for a person’s dream.

Because of the upcoming wedding, a lot of family is down here visiting so, what was going to be a small barbecue turned into quite the ordeal. I had picked up a few graduation themed party items for when it came time to celebrate. My all time favorite: the Congratulation Graduate Imprintable Party Invitations; they are so adorable and I love that you can compose your own message.

It’s important to celebrate major accomplishments and let the hardworking student know that his/her effort paid off. Parents, even if your son/daughter seems to be living on cloud 9, don’t stop encouraging them to pursue their dreams. They’ll love you more for it later.

P.S. Congratulations Class of 2009!! :-D

Oh, Family Reunions

It’s the middle of June and if the sun hasn’t welcomed you with a huge bear hug, I’m sure a family reunion can do it just the same. A cousin of mine called early last month to let us know she was getting married the following weekend on a beach a couple of hours away from where I live. Talk about sudden. She must have thought it over the following day because the wedding has since been postponed until this weekend. Lucky for us “locals,” we get to accommodate quite a number of guests.

Great.

Seriously, it’s great for about three days before you realize that more guests just means more dishes than the dishwasher can hold for one cycle. To say the least, we all love our distant relatives because they’re, well, distant. Need I say more?

I like to think advice can change the direction of fateful events. In this case, I’d like to prevent anyone from gaining a criminal record after hosting a family reunion. Keep a secret stash of disposable tableware supplies (we’ve expanded our selection recently ;-) ) for any type of reunion, unexpected barbeques, long-term visitors—that sort of thing. Trust me, you’ll look up at the sky and be grateful that it’s one less thing on your “task list.”

Basketball Playoffs

The NBA playoff series this year is intense. Game 4 is in overtime this very second and the game is tied again. I’m sure some people have bitten half their fingers off by now. I can already picture my coworker on the edge of the couch waving off anyone who tries to talk to her. Just earlier today, we were talking about how once basketball and/or football season(s) come around, we’re officially single for a few months. You know what that means, ladies!

It basically comes down to lose them or join them. In some cases, if you can get into the hype of the game, it’s more fun to just go with the flow. There’s at least a couple more games left in the playoff series this time around and there’s still plenty of time to host a game-watching get together.

The game gets intense and guests usually don’t want to eat anything except whatever is left of their nail bits. The best thing to do is probably have your guests arrive a little early for a full on meal or just appetizers and drinks. My coworker loves cutsie party ideas so she bought a plain chocolate cake and decorated it like a giant basketball—I’ll hand it to her, it looked pretty awesome! ;-) For all other finger foods, grab some cool plates. Basketball Themed Party Supplies are adorable and you really don’t need any other decorations.

Welcome Them & Independence Day

A number of customers have approached us regarding “Welcome Home” celebrations they are planning for husbands, sons, daughters and loved ones serving our country. No matter what position they may hold in the military, it’s important not to let occasions like that go by without at least a special dinner.

I just finished cleaning up all the cheesy e-mail forwards that I’ve received throughout the course of the last few days. I always wonder who starts these forwards because some of these people really lay it on thick. The subject line may as well be begging for a tear or two from each reader. Regardless, I came across one that always makes me think a little. The gist of the e-mail, which I’m sure you’ve read countless times, is to not leave what you can do today for tomorrow because you might not make it. Then it goes on to provide a whole list of tragic stories that may or may not have happened. The message may be a little cliché, but it definitely has holds some truth.

Our Independence Day holiday is just around the corner and some of our troops are scheduled to join us. Make sure and receive them with at least a piece of chicken on the grill, perhaps some fruit-kabobs or their favorite snacks. Don’t let them go home without knowing how much you love and appreciate the work they do for our country.

In all cheesiness, don’t make it a schedule of shoulds and maybes. Welcome those uniforms and celebrate our country. Dress up the day with 4th of July Party Supplies!

African Safaris Are Here to Stay

Girlfriends need that 2-hour girl-talk segment periodically, just to avoid feeling like the opposite sex is not tearing down their morale. My best friend and I are kindred spirits and the majority of the time we don’t even have to say anything to know what the other is thinking. Just this afternoon, we had one of those spontaneous, never-ending conversations where you cover pretty much every topic since the beginning of time. A very close friend of ours is getting married in a couple of months and as bridesmaids, we’ve caught the early stress bouquet. So naturally, we had to discover all of the upcoming events.

Even though there’s only one MOH, we’re all so close that we all feel responsible for making her last couple months as a single girl, completely memorable. Tackling the task of cooking up a phenomenal Bachelorette Party and Bridal Shower are on our most urgent lists right now. As many can clearly see, the African animal prints trend isn’t going anywhere. Zebra, cheetah, giraffe, snakeskin and leopard prints are adorable and they’re fun to mix with solids—this applies to décor and clothes!

Since it could possibly be too common to do an animal print theme for a bridal shower, the idea could definitely work for other events. It may not be too prevalent here, but one of our office neighbors happens to be a hunter and he loved one of our tribal design patterns. Sorry, ladies! I guess men started the whole animal print trend. Before we women were “discovered” as able human beings, there were hunters wearing tiger capes and lying on bear rugs in front of the fireplace.

The trend is unisex: Tribal Designs, Rainforest Animals

A Page of Peace

The past few months have been crazy to say the least. Get-togethers today, birthday party tomorrow, graduations, weddings—ahh, doesn’t anyone take “breathers”?

After graduation last year, I figured life would just slow down and not feel like such a rollercoaster. Wrong. When people know you have more time on your hands, they tend to think you can transform into an Octopus! In the hopes of getting away from the noise and retreating to a peaceful corner, I asked my friends and sisters if they’d be into starting a small book club. I got the “you’re-such-a-nerd-look” at first, but they agreed in the end (closet nerds).

We have yet to choose our first book, but my suggestion to any aspiring book club-ers is to limit the size to between 4 and 5 people. The smaller the group, the easier it is to keep organized and the easier it is to settle on convenient group meeting times. I know my friends and sisters have busy schedules the way I do, so allowing about a month for everyone to read the book is perfect.

Monthly meetings to discuss the book of the month are more doable than say weekly meetings and it’s not so stressful for the host. Each month, a different member of the club can be responsible for hosting the discussion at their place of choice. Reading is definitely one of my favorite relaxing activities because every book takes you on a different adventure.

If you hosts need ideas for book club meetings, take a gander at all of our general party theme supplies. Go on, seek (a book), conquer (the pages), meet & eat! ;)

Not So Terrible Twos

My mother, being the eternal caregiver that she is, volunteered to take in her four of her friend’s children this week while her and her husband are on a trip. The three older ones visit pretty frequently since they’re pretty close friends of my sisters. This week, though, the baby stayed with us too! She’s two, yes I know, two! Emily’s the star of the household right now and I’m sure she’s enjoying every second of it. That child’s mischievous grin steals your heart in nanoseconds, her hugs are priceless and that little voice can pretty much get her anything she wants.

Give the princess 10 minutes and she’ll twist anyone around her little pinky. We’ve had her for three days and put it this way, there were three people on bath duty and two people on outfit-choosing patrol. The whole thing is ridiculous, but you must remember that our baby is six going on sixteen. I think my mother forgot for a second what it’s like to have a baby in the house because the baby can’t help but cry for her mommy when it’s time for that “horrible” bed time.

For the past few years, we’ve spoiled the pookenator silly because he’s our baby. I think spending a little more time with Emily has nudged him a little more in the grown-up direction these past few days. He can’t help but notice the size difference every time he’s around her. It’s a bittersweet realization. :(

Emily’s in one of the best stages: the terrible twos. In spite of her ability to send everyone into heaps of oohs and aahs, the child can tear it up like any other active two year old. Running after these little hurricanes is probably the best cardio routine anyone can endure because you know it’ll get your blood flowing and it’s always different. Babies grow and develop in the blink of an eye. Don’t let the magic of each age escape you. Enjoy the heck out of their precious innocence.

Grab a pen, the phone, call a few girlfriends with their babies and plan a tea party! Don’t forget to invite the most important guests: your baby’s babies!

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