Archive | July, 2012

Theme Parties Are Awesome – Christmas in July (Pre Party)

20 Jul

Shhh… I’m throwing my husband a surprise party this weekend! His birthday is Christmas Day, so it should be a pretty good surprise… in July. Also, it’s just an excuse to finally have people over our house!

Step 1 of throwing a surprise party: Do not marry my husband.

Someone please remind me never to throw him a surprise party ever again, will you? He is seriously the hardest person to keep things from EVER. Like, no joke. He has impeccably annoying timing, is very particular about where things go in the house, and notices every.little.addition/change. You have no idea.

A couple of people pulled out of the party last minute and I’d love to change it to another weekend so more people could come, but I CAN’T HANDLE THIS ANYMORE.

This is what I’m talking about:

Story: I went to my mom’s house for a day a couple weeks ago. She did some party shopping for me while I got my hair done. I came home with some things that needed hiding. I also needed to convince my husband that I came home from a trip to my mom’s house without buying anything (impossible scenario – we shop, it’s what we do)… or at least not much. I had to keep him away from the trunk of the car when I got home. Oh yeah, and I also bought him this really cool cabinet that looks like it should have a dart board inside (I have since bought a dart board to go inside), and was going to give that to him as his “birthday” present.

What happened next: I got lucky and my husband was out walking the dog when I got home, so I brought everything in myself and left a couple things hiding in the trunk (he doesn’t drive, so won’t be going in the trunk for any reason other than helping me get things out). The whole way home I tried to think of places I could hide things, and the only conclusions I had were the back of my side of the closet, under the bed in the guest bedroom, and the basement. The basement is off of our side door that leads to the driveway, which means it was the closest place to try to hide them after getting them out of the car. Basement it is… OH RIGHT I forgot he chose that weekend to organize the basement. I went downstairs, bags in hand, hoping to throw them in an empty bin, but COULDN’T FIND THE EMPTY BINS BECAUSE HE’D MOVED THEM!! I knew he’d be home any minute, because, like I said, he has impeccable, unfortunate-for-me, timing. Panic mode. What do I do? What do I do?! Ok first thing’s first, get the dartboard cabinet inside. CRAP – it’s much bigger than I remembered! CRAP – I have shoes at the back of my side of the closet – it won’t fit! CRAP – I have tons of stuff already under the bed in the guest bedroom! I ended up putting it on the far side of the bed in there, and just kind of put it under a blanket until I could find a better place for it. I ran to the basement and stashed a few things before he walks in the door and wants to know what I’m doing in the basement. “Umm… I bought this, uh, Christmas tree thing at the church thrift store that I needed to bring down…” (You should know that I never, ever go in the basement, other than to run to the freezer and back. I’ve been in the basement more times in the past two weeks than in the whole 3 1/2 months we’ve lived in our house.) Weird looks from him, and then he goes downstairs to make sure I didn’t mess up any of his organization. Yes, this is my life.

Next story: I’ve hidden several 2 liter bottles of soda in the basement. I didn’t have much of a choice as to where to hide them, really. I was pressed for time when I first brought them in, so I hid 3 behind my basement freezer, and 3 stuck in a stack of borrowed moving blankets.

What happened next: Two things. One, last weekend he randomly asked me if all the blankets were my friend Amanda’s (we originally got some from her, and some from my mom). My response? “Yeah, but I don’t think she’s going to pick them up… (this weekend)… um, anytime soon…” I almost blew it there. But why the hell is he randomly asking about the blankets?! Two, when I got back from our weekly Target trip last weekend, he asks why I didn’t buy him any Sprite. We NEVER buy soda. Like, ever. Sometimes if I’m running out in the morning and coming back to make lunch, I’ll buy us each a coke. Yes, I know the price of two individual cokes is about the price of a 2 liter bottle of soda, but then we’d be drinking lots of soda. Anyway… so where did this random Sprite suggestion come from? See, you’re probably like me and the first thing you think is HE FOUND THE DAMN SODA. But I don’t think he did, because if he did, I don’t think his first thought would be “she’s throwing me a birthday party in July”. I think it’d be “why the hell did you buy so much damn soda and why are you hoarding it in the basement?!” I’m pretty sure he would have confronted me if he found it.

Next story: My neighbor is getting married in a few weeks and she’s borrowing some lanterns, tablecloths, etc. that I used for my wedding. We were in the basement one day last weekend going through things, and also stashing some stuff to the side for the party (that I told him was for her and she was taking it later). She ended up taking one of my bins home with her full of wedding stuff.

What happened next: My husband inspects the basement the next day, probably to make sure I didn’t mess up any of his organization again. He comes up and asks me why there’s a gap between the bins (yes, seriously). I have zero clue what he’s talking about, and say I don’t know, we were moving stuff around. He’s so not satisfied with that answer, and just stands there wanting another one. So I think hard and I’m like OH she took one of the bins. And he was like OOOH ok, and walked away… BACK to the basement. WTF?! I hear him moving things around and hope to god he’s not touching those FREAKING BLANKETS because DAMN that soda is going to sell me out in a heartbeat. What excuse would I have for stashing soda inbetween blankets?? I’m a closet soda-holic?? So I pretend I need something out of the freezer and go down and push things around in it until he’s like “someone has to be upstairs with Stevie” and I say ok, I’m just getting something… let’s go. And I manage to get him out of the GD basement… for the moment.

Next story: I was allowed to go to Target without him last week (he had better things to do, I guess, which is fine by me). Which meant that I decided I needed to make some side trips for party prep. One of which being the Christmas Tree Shop. If you don’t know, now you know – this store is awesome. And no, it has nothing to do with Christmas… except twice a year. Yes, TWICE, because guess what – they celebrate Christmas in July, too! I found the cutest paper plates that have flamingoes wearing santa hats on them. How freaking perfect is that?! I also got a snow globe of Santa surfing. Anyway, they’re just a bargain store, and I got a bunch of other things while I was there – including 100 tea light sized citronella candles. We have a bit of a problem with mosquitoes in our back yard, so I’ve been hunting down a solution to this problem so that people will want to come back to our house someday after this party, and also not get West Nile. So I bought 100 of those, and a set of these stick candle things as well and I don’t know, some other stuff. When I got home from my shopping trip, I hid the bags from the Christmas Tree Shop behind some bags of clothes I’m going to donate that have been in my car for a bit too long, and brought everything else in and closed the trunk.

What happened next: What was supposed to happen next was I was supposed to find 5 minutes when my husband was out of the house where I could sneak off to the car and bring the candles (and also the 4 packages of hamburger buns I bought at Target) inside. Have I mentioned recently our temps have been topping 100 here in the Philadelphia area? Um… yeah. So… I forgot about the buns and the candles until the next day. LUCKILY my neighbor (who I am going to owe big time by the time this party is over) is a teacher and is off in the summer, so I was able to text her to get them out of the car before everything melted and exploded in my trunk. Ugh. *facepalm*

I have since discovered that I have smaller areas that he won’t go into, where I’ve been hiding things like a banner I’m making, party recipes, and other random things I’ll need for the party. Because I’m sure you’re dying to know, those areas include: the china cabinet, the basement freezer, pretty much any kitchen cabinet except “his” and the pantry, the bar we have on the back porch, the upstairs linen closet, and the guest bedroom closet. I mean, I don’t have a lot of space in these places either, so it’s like hiding small things EVERYWHERE. I fear the day when we have kids, because I am convinced they will be just like him and I will never, ever be able to hide anything from them (like, um, Christmas presents?!). I even contemplated the attic, but he randomly goes up there to check on the air conditioner (I KNOW).

I also tried to skip yoga the other day when we were both supposed to go. He skipped it with me (that never happens).

He’s started doing these knee exercises in our guest bedroom… precariously close to the dartboard and duffle bags I have stashed in there.

Also, just so you get the full idea of what I’m dealing with here, I’m probably going to have about an hour or an hour and a half, TOPS, to actually set this party up. I’ve managed to come up with a way to get him out of the house, but that is, like, zero time to prep for a party… or at least the type of preparations I want to do. Cooking for this party? HA, yeah, ok. That’s not gonna happen. So I’ve enlisted help from my friends, including one who is making cupcakes, and my neighbor who is not only making a pizza and a bread bowl dip for me, but I have commandeered her kitchen for 8 lbs. of pork and my crock pot for two whole days. Oh right, and this slab of pork was frozen in my basement until Tuesday, when I brought it over and took up a whole wing of her refrigerator with it so it could thaw out. Told you I owe her big time! I haven’t been able to get beer or wine or anything bulk sized for the party because… what would my excuse be? And my tiny little hiding places will not hide a case of beer. And I’m not about to hide individual beers in cabinets. I’m desperate, but not that desperate. Did I mention the garage and shed are out, too? There’s so much space in them both – it would be perfect! If they weren’t also inspected daily by my potentially OCD husband.

So basically tomorrow I have to do everything I’ve been thinking of doing for the past two weeks, but have been unable to. Like buy beer and tiki torches that probably won’t fit in my trunk and who knows how I’ll be able to explain that one. And make mac ‘n cheese and cookies and sangria. And figure out how to hang a dartboard cabinet. And construct my banner. And, OH RIGHT, decorate my entire back yard for Christmas. That shouldn’t take long at all… I have this vision of me and my helpers just running around like chickens with our heads cut off as soon as my husband walks out the door. GO TIME is what my to-do list says. There is a list a mile long of “GO TIME” items.

Last night he went out with his friend for drinks and as soon as he was gone I ran to the basement with three duffle bags and started stuffing Christmas decorations in them so that when “GO TIME” is here, I can just grab the duffle bags. Sad, right?? Don’t pregnant women do this for when it’s go to the hospital time? Except I guess they don’t have to hide their bags from their husbands.

Positive thinking: The party’s going to be fun. I just can’t help but stress about it because I’m used to making preparations wayyyy in advance before any party/event. Sure, there’s always last minute things to be done, but you don’t usually have to do everything at the last minute! And yeah, I probably shouldn’t be putting up as many decorations or making as much food as I am, but I can’t help it. I love a good theme party!

I’ll let you know how it all went next week! Wish me luck!

I need a glass of Santa Sangria, stat.

-C

Theme Parties Are Awesome – Indoor Picnic

18 Jul

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of throwing a theme party at work. I try to utilize a theme whenever possible for our events (you’ve got to know your audience, though – for example, I could NOT have done this for our New York office). We don’t usually have much of a budget for decorations, so what I’ve gotten used to is decorating with food – my new favorite thing actually! I love carrying a theme from decor to food.

Since we don’t have much of an outdoor space in our building, and had to utilize our own space for this event, I went with an “indoor picnic/bbq” theme.

I hit the dollar store and got some gingham napkins and plastic gingham tablecloths. Before you cringe – because most people did when I told them about it beforehand:

See? Not too shabby!

I am telling you now that it did NOT look cheap. This event was pretty much living proof that you can decorate with even the most MINIMAL of budgets (if you couldn’t tell, I’m big on decorating for everything!). I also felt like it wouldn’t be an “indoor barbecue” with white linen tablecloths. Who has a barbecue with white linens?? Nobody, ever. Well, we put them underneath the gingham. Whatever.

In addition, because I know that was just one table, I also got some dollar store baskets and some sunflowers from a local florist.

Anyway, onto the goodies – the food! I love planning menus for theme parties. It’s like hmm what do I really love at a barbecue? Ok fine, and what do other people like, too.

Our menu (and yes, we are lucky enough to have a fantastic in-house caterer to make all of our culinary dreams come true):

– Grilled vegetable skewers
– Pigs in a blanket
– BBQ chicken skewers
– Slider bar (with options of beef burger, BBQ pulled pork, and veggie burgers)
– Fresh watermelon wedges
– Potato salad shooters
– Deviled eggs (what’s a BBQ without deviled eggs?!)
– Strawberry shortcake

A few things that I thought were awesome (if I do say so myself):

1 – The slider bar. Bars of any sort (as in, build it yourself bars, also called stations) are such a good thing to have at an event. It breaks up the monotony of walking around and scooping up some preassembled food onto a plate. And all the fixin’s placed around instead of on, give people the opportunity to be as picky as they want. Bars that are “so in” these days include: mashed/baked potato bars, taco bars, cupcake bars, slider bars, and, of course candy bars (which most of you know I had at my wedding).  Mixing up the slider bar options is fun, too! We’ve done turkey slider bars for fall receptions – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.

2 – Carrying the theme through beverages as well! I went with both red and white sangrias, and also flavored water decanters. Delicious, functional, and pretty! All that fruit floating around in the glass decanter. It’s so… summery. I also had our caterer seek out some old time-looking sodas (you know, glass bottles, pop top). He was even able to find Philadelphia soda! I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

3 – The potato salad shooters (think shot glasses of potato salad). Shooters are awesome. They just are. I don’t even like potato salad nor did I eat any of it, but it’s just the idea of shooters. We use it often. For Mardi Gras we had jambalaya shooters. For a fall reception we had pumpkin bisque shooters. Shooters go along with everyone loving mini everything these days at events. Think about sliders – everyone loves sliders! They’re mini and cute. Shooters are mini and cute. Also, easy to hold and eat at a cocktail reception. Also I’m going to share my favorite thing that I can’t wait to try for a fall event (soup isn’t really a summer thing, unless it’s gazpacho!): grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters.

MIND.BLOWN.

Ok, I’m a big geek for stuff like that, so maybe YOUR mind’s not blown, but mine sure was when I first saw it. And I am SO doing this at some point this fall. Or in my home for myself.

Anyway, this was just a post to tell you about my (not so cheap looking) cheap decorations, carrying a theme through food, and leading up to what I’m planning for this weekend…

Stay tuned.

-C

Our Dog Baby

3 Jul

I know two types of people, those who say getting a dog will prepare you for having a child, and those who say it is NOTHING like having a child. I’m here to tell you that it’s somewhere inbetween, and no, I don’t have children, but hear me out.

We set out to get a young-ish dog from a rescue a few weeks ago. Totally didn’t intend on getting a puppy because, well, my husband and I are both (ok, him a bit more than me) very particular about keeping our things nice. So we didn’t want a puppy who would destroy things. The sweet girl we ended up taking home we were told was 1-2 years old… but when we took her to the vet we found out she was 9-10 months MAX, so, yes, she IS a puppy! Surprise! It does explain her behavior a bit more, though.

Since getting a puppy…

We have been woken up many times in the middle of the night by her crying.

We have had to deal with pee and poop in lots of places they’re not supposed to be.

We are now the proud owners of 3 baby gates.

Our schedules are totally off – my husband (bless him) now gets up around 5:45am to walk her. (I do the night walk.)

We are totally sleep deprived.

For the first 2 weeks I couldn’t even wrap my head around cooking a real meal. (Now she “helps” and lays on the floor watching me cook.)

 

Helping mommy cook.

 

We have to follow her every move around the house, because the minute we don’t, she decides she has to pee or wants to be curious and destroy something. (Like last Friday when she was building up trust being left alone on our back porch. I left her alone for 15 minutes, came down, and she had eaten a candle. Yes, EATEN. Ok, maybe not digested, but there was no part to the candle that resembled the candle. I didn’t even know what it was until I did a survey of the room and realized the candle was missing! My husband and I take turns with her when she’s not in her crate. “Can you watch her while I go to the bathroom?” This is our life now!)

So in recap, I think having a dog (or at least a puppy) DOES prepare you for having a child: cleaning up after them, being responsible for feeding them, lack of sleep, crying, following them around ALL THE TIME. Is it exactly the same? Of course not! It’s not like you can lock your baby in a crate when you leave the house. Or toss it a rawhide to keep it busy for 20 minutes. Well, ok, I’m sure there’s some baby equivalent for that.

I love my daddy.

Anyway, we love our puppy, and obviously knew she would be work, but I’m just pointing out that there are some similarities even though some people get VERY adamant about it being nothing like having a baby. I know it’ll take time, but she’ll learn that candles and shoes aren’t for eating, mommy’s rugs aren’t for peeing on, and (fingers crossed) not to get mad when mommy and daddy leave her alone for a minute. Our *sweet* little girl (90% of the time) has a bit of a… hmm… what to call it. Oh, what the hell, bitchy streak. She is a little lover, loves to be held and cuddled, but if I spend 5 minutes with the guinea pigs and my husband is in bed or not around? She purposely goes and does something bad. Like, “Oh, you’re going to ignore me? Fine, clean this up!” I can only half get mad at her for that, though… I mean, just look at this face.

Ok, I have to tell you the story behind her name for any of those who don’t know yet. My husband told me months ago that when we got a dog we were naming it after Steven Gerrard, Liverpool Football player. He apparently didn’t even think of the possibility that we’d get a girl! I told him if we ended up with a girl, we’d name her Stevie anyway, like Stevie Nicks. Well, when we finally got her, and were on the way home (weeks after the earlier conversation), he was like “Who’s Stevie Nicks?”. Lol. So of course whenever we tell someone it’s a girl and her name is Stevie, they’re like, “Like Stevie Nicks?” and we have to go through this whole story all over again… lol. My husband told me he’s started just saying yes, even though he claims (liar) he doesn’t know who Stevie Nicks is.

Our neighbor popped in a couple times to visit with little Stevie the beagle while we were away this weekend, and she told me when we got back that you can tell she just hasn’t “figured out the world yet”. When she said that I started noticing exactly what she meant. Stevie wanders around from room to room with this little quizzical look on her face, all the time. It’s adorable, but I never really thought about it before. She’s a little puppy just trying to figure out the world.

 

Stevie and her best friend Liono.

 

Say it with me…

AWWW

-C