Football Party

football
There is no reason to spend your day cooking for a football party. Here is a way to have a great party and spend your day with your guest and still look like the hostess with all the tricks up her sleeve. The tricks are to make only one or two signature dishes from scratch and embellish the rest with whole foods to enhance their flavor and give them the extra pizazz at presentation.

You can find the recipe to my Mexican Hot Carrots on my blog at: http://embellishblog.com/mexican-hot-carrots/

The Key Lime mini pies are at Sorted Food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHjqwNR6T1M
(I’m gluten free so we used gluten free gingersnap cookies purchased from Trader Joe’s)

I embellished my Mexican Beans by mixing two styles: Rosartia Spicy Jalapeno and Bush Cocina Latina.

The Queso Sauce was made with Tostitos Salsa Con Queso Medium, Progresso Recipe Starters Cheese sauce, 1 cp shredded Mexican 3 cheese, 2 tlbs. chopped fresh cilantro. Melted all together
I embellished my Southwest Ranch dip by adding some fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro (you could add and fresh herb)

Have fun at your next football party! You can apply these tips to almost any party. A party doesn’t have to be a big stress if you now a few easy steps. Check out my “How to Have a Stress Free Party” for more tips. To see the entire Football Party video you can click on the link and see all the photos and video of the party and set up.

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4th of July Party

4thjulyparty
This was a great party! We had about 20 guests. The party was partially catered by a local BBQ restaurant which allowed for everyone to enjoy the day and no one person spent the day cooking and prepping over a hot grill. I also had guest that asked if they could help (this happens all the time and people like to chip in if they can). I don’t normally request help but depending on the party and occasion, I do let people bring dishes. Since this was a 4th of July celebration I let people choose their favorite “All American” side, dessert to bring. Depending on your guest list and volunteers you may want to ask what they are bringing so that you don’t have too much of one side or platter. You know your guest best and what will work for your party. Having people help you will definitely take the stress off of you to prepare all the food yourself. If you are a foodie and enjoy the food prep than there is nothing wrong with thanking your guest for the offer and letting them know you have it all taken care of. Suggest just bringing a bottle of wine or soda… If they will not take “no” for an answer.

Later in the evening we all walked to the bridge to watch fireworks and we even had a few of our own (yes, they are legal here 😉 ) If you would like to see more of the set-up and decorations please check out my Embellish Life YouTube Channel and watch the video!

I recommend subscribing to my channel so that you will always be updated on new post and also be included in all that is going on at my YouTube Channel:
Subscribe Here!
Also if you like my Facebook page you will be notified on up and coming events on my site. Well, notified as well as Facebook circulates my post.
Check out Embellish Life on Facebook here!
Supplies for the decor where purchased at:

Hobby Lobby: http://www.hobbylobby.com/

Joann: http://www.joann.com/

Save on Crafts: http://www.save-on-crafts.com/

Pier 1: http://www.pier1.com/

Watermelon MojitoHere is the recipe for the Watermelon Mojito:

It’s summer, try one, and I guarantee you’ll still be drinking them after Independence Day is over.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups watermelon (cubes about 6 cubes)
5 mint leaves
1/2 oz lime juice
1.5-2 oz rum
1/2-3/4 oz simple syrup (I swap out the simple syrup and club soda for diet ginger ale)
Club soda

Instructions
Cut the watermelon into cubes and measure out 1 1/2 cups (to save time buy the pre-cut watermelon that you can find at most grocery stores in the produce section). Combine the watermelon, lime juice, mint leaves, and simple syrup (I leave this out) in a cocktail shaker. Thoroughly muddle the mixture until the watermelon is mostly liquid. (Here is where I change it up… I use a hand blender and if I am making a big batch for a party I put it into the blender. Once it is all smooth I put it through a strainer to collect most of the pulp. Now continue on) Add the rum and some ice cubes. Shake. Next, fill a glass most of the way up with crushed ice. Strain the watermelon mixture into the glass. Top with club soda (this is where I use the diet ginger ale)

Read more: American Beauty – Gin Drink Recipe http://www.drinkoftheweek.com/drink_recipes/american-beauty-2/#ixzz3c6bWX3Jr

How to have a Stress Free Party

Stress Free Party
Opening your home to guests can be a stressful occasion. Planning a large party can seem as impossible as performing brain surgery. Life can be a party if you learn to Embellish. No matter if you are hosting an intimate party for friends or designing a large event I will share my ideas and tips here. Let me help you take the stress and fear away from hosting parties and make it a fun affair that everyone can enjoy; even you!

I must be honest throwing a party is a skill that takes time to perfect; and I’m not totally sure that you can ever say you throw a completely stress free party. That being said, I have discovered some tips that have considerably reduced my stress level and truly allowed me to throw parties and events and actually have fun doing it. I have to qualify, or my husband and children will kill me, that I was not always calm and Martha Stewartish; for years I resembled a blend of something out of The Exorcist and Amityville Horror. It wasn’t pretty and I am sure I scared my boys for life. Even now that I have honed the skill of stress free parties I still sense a twinge of fear run through all the boys in anticipation of “possessed” Heidi coming back. So, that was my disclaimer, not even I was perfect. Even now I wouldn’t say I had perfected the skill but at least I’m not demonic any more 😉

Here are my Top Ten Tips for a Stress Free Party (in no particular order):

1. Make a list of everything you want and need to do for the party at least a week in advance. If you are busy or a procrastinator then make the list further in advance.
2. Stock up on party décor, paper items, service pieces (for all different types of themes). This can be tricky if you have a small space; but if you do you don’t need a lot of extras because you will not be having a party for 60 at your home. So shop and save accordingly… No Hording 😉
3. Only buy party/entertaining items on sale. If it is not something you will use all the time NEVER pay full price! Craft stores have wonderful party supplies and always mark them down to almost nothing after the holiday, this is the time to buy and save it for next time. It may actually take you a year or even two to get all you want and if you are only using it once or twice a year it is worth the time to get it for a good price.
4. Remember you notice a lot more wrong with your home then your guests. Spend your time and energy on the main room and bathroom that your guest will be in. A party is not the time to be painting the bedroom or remodeling the study if no one is going to be in there. That goes for extra cleaning. Don’t kill yourself cleaning your teenager’s closet and bedroom if it is not being used for the party.
5. Write out your menu at least a week in advance. Take advantage of the wonderful pre-made finger foods. I have found great items that get rave reviews from our local Warehouse Store, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. You do not have to give up healthy and diet specific needs either; I have found gluten free, lactose free, and organic pre-made items that taste great. Presentation is everything; you can make veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, and chips and salsa look fantastic with fun service pieces and a few strategically placed decorations. If you love cooking, pick 1 or 2 signature dishes to serve and make the rest easy and/or pre-made. If you are hosting a dinner party where the food is the focus then back off of the décor, focus on the food and let your presentation be your decor. A wonderful centerpiece, fun place cards or creative plates and service pieces are all you need and let the food impress. If you are not a “foodie” at all try picking one or two signature cocktails; many times they make a bigger impression than the food anyway.
6. Start your cleaning and general prep for the party a day or two early. The less you have to do the day of your party the better everyone is. The day of is not the time to decide on theme décor, menu, cleaning projects, and/or signature cocktail. Leave only food prep and light clean-up for the day of. If you can prep some of the food the evening before, do it. In all my experience and mistakes in throwing parties I find this tip one of the most important in having a stress-free party.
7. Write out a timeline for the day of the party. Don’t forget to set aside time for you to get ready for your own party. I can’t tell you how many parties I threw with no make-up or wet hair because I didn’t allow for my own prep ;-). I also found writing down a timeline a huge help with staying on task and budgeting your time well. No matter how much you think you can do this in your head, you can’t, trust me. Writing it out in advance with time allowances for everything keeps you calm(er), keeps you on time, let’s you know when you need to just forget something on your list and move on. I love the timeline and even do it for a small get together.
8. Get out all your service and tableware the day before the event. There is nothing worse than finding out the day of the event that you are short plates, glasses, a platter, or serving utensils. This is bound to mess up your timeline and seriously stress you out.
9. Pick out your outfit early in the day if not a few days before. The day of your party, lay out your clothes, jewelry and shoes. This is not the day to be trying on 5 total outfits. Don’t try out a new hairstyle, go with the tried and true, and keep it easy and quick. You know I’m right, we always leave getting ready till the end. Even if you use all 10 of my steps there is no guarantee that you will not be behind especially as you are learning. If you have everything ready to go; even if you only have 10 min to get dressed, chances are you can do it if it is all laid out.
10. If you remember any of the tips first, remember that you and only you know the vision of your party. If you forget something, don’t place a décor piece out, miss cleaning some place, or use the wrong plates no one but you will notice, care, or stress over it; so neither should you. I think this was the hardest lesson I ever had to learn and really the easiest one. Just deep breathe and let it go, “No One Will Notice”… Repeat that often and enjoy your party 🙂

I could go on forever on how to throw a party. Check out my YouTube site for the video on “How to have a stress free party” Here is the recipe for Coconut Mojitos that were featured on the video 🙂

Coconut Mojitos
serves 10
50 springs of mint
10 oz. lime juice (I use bar lime juice)
30 oz. coconut rum
5 cans of Ginger-ale (I use diet)
5 limes sliced

1) Muddle mint and lime slices in lime juice
2) Add ice and pour coconut rum over ice.
3) Pour into service pitcher and add ginger-ale
4) Mix and serve!

Helpful Party and Event Photo Tip

P1040827Here is a tip that I use all the time, no matter how big the event is or how intimate the party is I take photos of the set up and decor.  I take photos of everything, food placement, decorations (inside and out), and table settings, anything that isn’t normally there.  I know for me it serves a double purpose because I post a lot of my events and parties here and you might think it is not so useful for just anyone to take all those photos, but it is.  I don’t know how many times, even when it comes to decorating for the holidays, that I get out the boxes and for the life of me I can’t remember what I use a piece for.  For events or parties I totally forget set ups for food and stations, even when it is in my house.  I change it up each time I have a party so I can’t remember what I did, say for last year’s Christmas party, I just get out my photos and look at the set up and go from there.

The nice thing also is if you have the photos you can also see what you have and what you have done in the past so if you do want to change it, update any of your decorations or set ups you can see that without having to get out all your stuff.  This can save you a ton of time and considerable mess.  I like to get out my service pieces at least 3 to 4 days ahead of time just in case I need to add to it and this gives me ample time to shop without feeling too stressed. So if I look at photos I can have even more time without having to wait.

An additional tip if you are shy on counter space use risers, simple boxes covered with fabric look great, and that way you can get more items on a table and it also gives your area some interest and dimension.  Another investment that is well worth it is service pieces that are tiered, two or three plates in one, this also gives you more space.  There are a lot of shops, Home Goods, TJ Max, Target, and many $1 stores have nice service pieces depending on your budget.  I have found some nice stuff at $1 stores some plastic some glass and I get a few and just keep them because they are great for taking over items to people’s homes; you never have to worry about leaving with your tray if everything is not finished or you forget.  If you only paid $1  for it you can let the hostess keep it or toss it, so much easier than worrying about getting it back because you know that always takes about 6 months and 20 phone calls going both directions.

I hope this helps in your party planning process.  I know that this is the season and it can be stressful and it really doesn’t have to be.  Make lists, try to plan ahead as much as you can and party planning is the one time that “Hording” can be an asset.  The more stuff (OK, within reason) you have on hand the easier it is to throw a party the key is to be able to get to your stuff and to know what you have and that is where photos come in handy.  I couldn’t do have the parties and events I do without my catalog of photos.