Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Party Planning

One of my favorite things to do is to throw a party. I love having friends and family in our home, and we enjoy the opportunity to share an afternoon or an evening together, to catch up on one another's lives, and to make some memories. It is important for me to keep things simple in order to focus on the fellowship rather than the process.

We had a great time hosting a party for my grandmother last year on her birthday. When all the guests had gone home, Grannie told me that she'd never had a birthday party before. I was speechless. I decided then that we would definitely be doing that one again. It's coming up very soon, and we are gearing up for a repeat performance.



When we begin our planning, we usually start with a theme. We arrive at our choice through various methods, choosing something we particularly like (superheroes or the 1950's), finding decorations on super-sale (luau in the winter), or even coordinating with the season of year as we will be doing this time.



The invitations can take any form you like. Evites are particularly popular these days, and I can appreciate their efficiency in both time and cost. I have to admit, however, that I am partial to a more traditional approach. It's hard to beat a sweet little card that arrives in your mailbox. It's an extra measure of thought that evites just can't provide.

The decorations will usually be chosen to fit your theme. Pick something you like, and don't be afraid to step outside the box. I loved this autumn leaf design, but plates, cups, and napkins in the same pattern seemed a little much. The coordinating stripe napkins added a touch of fun, I thought. These items and a fall centerpiece for the table will pretty much comprise the decorations for this party.

To save on cost, you may choose to use what you already have. If you have a few leftover plates from several different parties, stack them up in a random order for serving. Use a solid color for the napkins and cups. When you get ready to play a game, divide your teams based on their type of plate. We also have some inexpensive plastic plates and cups we often use for get-togethers to avoid disposable items.



We like to play games at our parties, and I find it to be a wonderful way to get things going. I always try to have an activity planned for the start of the party since early arrivals can feel at loose ends while they are waiting for everyone to arrive. When our children were small, we often had an art project for everyone to work on until things were in full swing. For older guests consider a jigsaw puzzle or two, a scavenger hunt, word find, or crossword puzzle. You can make up one of these with information about the party's honoree for a personalized touch. When your guests don't know one another, a game is a great ice-breaker and serves to get people talking.

I have found that party food can be very simple yet completely sufficient. Several years ago, some friends and I discovered that we could have one dish and a fun party drink, and everyone was more than satisfied. Most of us tend to watch what we eat anyway, and it is considerate not to provide the temptation. We would often serve key lime pie or cheesecake and a light and fruity punch. Open a can of mixed nuts if you'd like to offer something salty and wa-la! That was easy.

If you'll be serving a meal at the party, make less trouble for yourself by selecting a dish that will easily feed a crowd. A big pot of chili can be made ahead of time and warmed up just before your guests arrive. Cook boneless chicken and salsa in your slow cooker and serve with rice and tortilla chips. Offer a baked potato bar with an array of toppings for your guests to create their own masterpieces.

Though completely unnecessary, I enjoy presenting our guests with favors as they leave our home. For our fall birthday party, we will be giving these seasonal tissue holders. I have a feeling this one will be a hit with my grandmother's friends. Most likely, these ladies will be turning theirs wrong-side-out to view the construction and making their own by the next day. That gives me great joy! Last year we gave each guest a small pot of pansies. Choose your favors to suit the likes of your guests. Keep things simple and costs down since you will likely be doing several of these.

So plan your party and have a fabulous time!

Offer hospitality to one another... 1 Peter 4:9

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making Do

Plato was right. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

'Tis The Season

In case you didn't realize IT had arrived...

Scripture Cake


A friend recently gave us this recipe, and we've been having fun planning a baking session. There are still a couple of items I need to check with a much more experienced cook, but we're looking forward to giving it a whirl. If you try it, let me know how it works out.

1 C Judges 5:25
3 1/2 C Exodus 29:2
2 C Nahum 3:12
1 C Genesis 24:17
1 t Exodus 16:31
2 C Jeremiah 6:20
2 C 1 Samuel 30:12
1 C Numbers 17:8
6 Isaiah 10:14
1 pinch Leviticus 2:13
3 t Amos 4:5

Season to taste with 1 Kings 10:2. Follow Solomon's prescription for a good boy in Proverbs 23:14 and bake. Each scripture verse contains one or more ingredients used in making a cake. Follow carefully.

Here's a slightly different version which omits a troubling reference for us, Genesis 24:17. It also contains the actual ingredients if you want to double check before you bake, or if you are so inclined to cheat. Surely not.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Escapism


My daughter gave me this cute book for my birthday, and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying this light and fun reading. Within the delightful story, however, are some close-to-painful pricks at my soul.

Becky Miller is an average stay-at-home mom who dearly loves her husband and three children but battles constantly with balancing her duties at home, at church, with friends, with family, and with Almighty God. She earnestly desires to "live a life filled with Meaning and Purpose" while being a "Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother." (I love the caps. That is classic.)

She is fully aware of her shortcomings but so wants to be perfect. Anyone? Disappointments and struggles are no stranger to Becky and her little family, but God is faithful.

I can hardly wait to see how it all unfolds. I stayed up reading last night until my eyes just would not stay open. Gotta go sneak in a chapter between loads of laundry and checking schoolwork.

What was that about Meaning and Purpose?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bathroom Redo

We had noticed an issue in one of our bathrooms with the paint bubbling up and peeling above the top edge of the shower. I had one of those self-cleaning systems that hangs on the shower head in there, and I blamed the problem on it. I thought the shower spray was bouncing off and causing the sheetrock to become wet.

I got rid of the shower cleaner, scraped the wall, patched, and repainted. Over time, it started to happen again. All we could figure was that our older son's head was the problem, and since we'd rather keep it around we looked for an alternative.

Many of you know how smart my sister and brother-in-law are. Believe it or not, they were having the same problem in their master bath. (Apparently my brother-in-law's head is a problem, too.) They fixed their shower by affixing a couple of rows of tile above the enclosure, essentially increasing its height and protecting the walls.

Genius.

When they were down for a visit this summer, these two went to the store with us and helped us buy everything we needed to fix our bathroom. They spent part of a day tiling these couple of rows for us, and it has really made all of the difference. What good guys!

The problem with the paint had kept me from getting this room repainted, so with the tiles in place we were raring to go. My daddy came over one day and painted the whole thing this beautiful blue called Azure Mist. It really brightened things up, and the semi-gloss finish is much more appropriate for a bathroom with its high moisture level.

These towel hooks are one of my very best purchases and tips for anyone who shares a bathroom. There's no question about which towel is whose, and I love the way they provide function and a bit of style at the same time.

We can call this one done. Somebody say, "Check."

Friday Night Excitement

Our neighbor's donkey, Molasses, escaped from the pasture last night and ended up in our yard. You never know what will be going on around here. The excitement level is nearly unmanageable. ;)

Our little beagle wore herself out trying to defend us from this strange enemy. Wooed with stale bread, Molasses returned to safe surroundings and all was right again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Therapy


It has been such a wild and crazy summer around here that I have not had the time to do any projects. My sewing machine has been sitting dejectedly in the closet awaiting the time when someone will open the door and take it out to play.

Early Saturday mornings have become my time for therapy. That's really what sewing often is for me. The hum of the machine provides a soothing backdrop for the racing of my mind, and more often than not my spirit becomes quiet, even restful. So on these peaceful early mornings, I've had a chance to work on small things.

There are tutorials all over the web for tissue holders like these, but my sister found a way to make them where the lining provides a bit of trim while finishing the edge of the opening. I love it! The ones I've done before required fusible web and bias tape or other trim to finish that edge. This approach is much more streamlined and well, smart.

Just cut the lining a bit longer that the outer fabric, and it will form a sort of self-facing. Wa-la! I like to use a lining that is about 5 1/2 x 9 and an outer piece that is 5 1/2 x 6.

What fun! It's also an excellent way to use up some scraps and practice combining fabrics.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Special Day


All friends are blessings. Many friends are special. Few friends are for life.

Happy Birthday, Dayna!

I love being your friend...I love you!