Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sparkle Into Spring!

You may not have noticed, although you should have guessed it, I've been preparing for a jewelry party! I love to host jewelry parties. I love having friends over, giggling and talking, and eating of course! I hosted my first 2 years ago to help a friend who was just starting out selling Premier Design Jewelry on the side. I remember that my mom hosted a Premier Design Jewelry party years ago, and it is so much fun. The hostess benefits are fantastic and the jewelry is affordable. Since this was my FOURTH jewelry party to have, I decided it was time to go all out! I've been reading so many entertaining and party blogs and I wanted to use some of the ideas I've seen that have been so inspiring. As I begain pulling together ideas for the party, I noticed that there are not many ideas out there for "hostess parties". What do you do when you aren't throwing the party for someone else, a birthday party or shower? NO ONE has anything on hostess parties. Here is what I can use what you find from all the other parties! How easy!

I started by searching online for all the entertaining ideas that I love and added some of my favorites to my inspiration board.  I decided on the color palatte, pinks, red, and purple.  I purchased just a few items from Home Goods and Pier 1 and then came up with a simple menu:

Quiche (made morning of)
Krispy Kreme donuts (picked up from around the corner)
Banana Bread (made night before)
Ham & Cheese Muffins (made morning of)
Pink & Purple Pancakes (made morning of)
Fruit & Cool Whip dip (cut up and mixed morning of)

Here are photos from the initial inspiration board (if I can get blogger to work!):

And then I started making the items for the party.  I found an easy tablecloth design that I started with a few scaps from the fabric that I used to make the tea napkins.  I used the tablecloth on the coffee table to display all the jewelry.

I love the way it turned out!

And then there was the garland:

And the food, display inpired by an Amy Atlas dessert bar, of course:

My friend, Jenn, did such a good job displaying her jewelry!

We also had the "Exclusive" table, for the pearls and extra sparkly jewels:

I couldn't let my guests go home empty handed! 

Other details from the party:

We had a great time planning and putting it all together.  Thanks Jenn for all of the beautiful photos!  I had a wonderful time playing in the jewelry with you!  I can't wait for the next one!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Visions of Broccoli

There are visions of brocoli dancing in my head. I can't believe that my little garden is doing so well.

Add Image
Day 7/Day 10

I plan to purchase another pot this weekend so that I can transplant the broccoli. There are four plants in there right now.
Other photos from Day 7:

Look at that beautiful lettuce!/Green onion shoot! (early!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Almost ready

Just a few more finishing touches...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

If Can't Take The Heat...

Get out of the kitchen!

Maybe I should have just walked away. Twice.

Cooking disaster #1
I wanted to try this lamb recipe from Cooking Light this week. It was in their section for cooking for less than $10 per meal. So I was contributing to my family's financial stewardship! The recipe calls for 1 (1 pound) bonless leg of lamb. At the grocery store, the leg of lamb was $12 or $13, which did not live up to the $10 rallying cry of the article--so I went with the lamb shanks totalling 1 pound instead........

At this point, I should have remembered this article in this month's Cooking Light, and paid attention to mistake #3: You don't read the entire recipe before you start cooking.

I've substituted things before and have had very few problems! I pride myself in knowing what you can substitute for items I have forgotten to restock in my pantry. I've practically memorized the back cover of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book "Emergency Substitutions". These are things you should just know.

And so, that is why I was quite surprised when my lamb shanks didn't quite make it. Then, I oversalted the chile garlic sauce. It was so bad, I didn't even finish it.

Cooking disaster #2:
Did you know you can burn noodles?

When the water is boiling and you set the noodles in the water, if you don't break them in half, they rest on the edge of the pan. Well, aparently, if you don't push them into the water, they burn on that edge. Who knew? I've never experienced this before. Maybe it's just something I should come to expect with a gas oven. And why I should stick with making my own pasta.

It's finally time!

Can you feel it? Spring is in the air! I love this time of year. The tulips and cherry blossoms, asparagus and lettuce--soon it will be time for tomatoes! In our first apartment, we had a balcony, and I did not take advantage of it. Then we moved into the city and I quickly realized how much higher on the list of "must haves" a balcony should have been. So now that we are in our new apartment, with a large balcony, I am going to do some container gardening.

Even though it has been raining all weekend, I managed to make it to Home Depot to pick up some items. It would be wonderful to have a huge garden like Martha, but I am limited by bars.

I'm pretty sure everything is too close together, but we'll see how it goes. I can always start again in just a few weeks! From left to right: Spinach, green onions (seed), lettuce, carrots (seed), broccoli, and rosemary.

Then I brought them inside because I was afraid that in the cold and windy rain I would kill them. They'll go back out tomorrow morning. This method is called hardening and should be done when you transplant the seedlings before the last frost (which I think I have figured out is around April 9th).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Recall: Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Do you know what this is? It's MSG. Food manufacturers have learned to cover it up with fancy words like "chicken broth", "boullion", "natural flavoring", and "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" so you don't know when you're eating it. Do you know what it's in? Hot dogs. Chicken stock. Doritos. Do you know what it does? My very dumbed down version of what it does is this: it excites the cells in your brain. This leads to having a lot of energy-for those of you who have kids, do you ever notice their energy level increase after you feed them hot dogs? The cells get excited to the point of exhaustion and they die. Notice the crash you feel after a bag of Doritos?

And now there's salmonella in it.

The list of products:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dinner Last Night

My sweet husband is wonderful to try out the strange food I sometimes put in front of him, and even food I know he doesn't like. This time, I tested out how far I could get with chickpeas. Garbanzo beans, chickpeas, no matter what you call 'em, he doesn't like them, and I knew I was pushing my limits here. But there's bacon in this recipe, how can you say no to that??

Chickpeas with Broccoli Rabe and Bacon
from Cooking Light
· 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
· 1 cup chopped onion
· 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
· 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
· 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Cook broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add bacon; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in onion, oregano, and red pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until onion begins to soften, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chickpeas; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broccoli rabe, salt, and black pepper; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine. Place about 1 1/2 cups chickpea mixture on each of 4 plates; shave 1/2 ounce cheese evenly over each serving.

I used broccoli, because I couldn't find broccoli rabe at the store. I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry, which made this a very convenient dinner.

The reaction I got was, "Not bad." Not a home run, but he didn't push it away either. I'll take it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Starting Again

There are so many things I want to do, and learn to do. I get inspired by blogs and things I see online, and I feel it is time to share them again. But I don't want to get "borrow" my inspiration, I want to show you what happens when you do it for yourself! Like the pink and purple pancakes I saw over on Ohhdeedoh? I actually made them!

Or the endless number of penant garlands? I made two myself!

So there you have it! I hope to inspire your creative side too!