Party Planning


I found that the more I let go in life, the more I grow.  The more I grow, the more alive I feel.

Today was a big day for me.  It was my final day as a teacher.

My whole life, I longed to teach.  And, for 6 years, I loved my job.  But, I found that it was time for me to let go and grow.  It was time for me to reconcile my priorities.  And, right under “1. God” on my priority list is “2. Family.”  It’s a funny thing though, how being a devoted teacher can push things out of whack.

You see, I am the type of teacher who cares for every child like my own.  I’m the teacher who is in the classroom 12 months a year, often as many as 12 hours a day.  I am the teacher who can’t fall asleep at night because I’m thinking about a struggling student.  I’m the type of teacher who takes every grumpy parent’s comments to heart because I just want what’s best for “my” child.  I’m the type of teacher who can’t say, “Well, I’ve tried hard enough.  There’s nothing else I can do.” Imagine, then, how that emotional roller coaster adds up when you have not a house filled with kids but a whole classroom full!

Yes, it was certainly time for me to reconcile my priorities with my energy and emotional expenditures.  So, today, I held my chin up and said goodbye to a classroom of students for the last time.  In so doing, I closed the door on my life-long dream and prepared for a fresh start.

I thought I would be sad today, but instead I found myself excited. It was a pleasant surprise.

You see, these past months, I’ve been studying and preparing to begin a new career.  I will be working from my favorite place (home!) as a holistic health counselor.  I am so excited about my new adventure and the prospect of devoting my energy toward my loving husband that I didn’t even think to be sad today.  And, I think that’s a good sign.  It reminds me that I’m on the right path. So, I’ll continue praying and walking.

I cherish my years of teaching and the ways in which they have prepared me for this new journey.  Now, I look forward to beginning my work with growing families and to helping them discover their own best health and happiness.

In just a few more days, my business website will be up and running, and I can’t wait to share it with you!  I’ve been so busy growing that I haven’t had much time to write lately, and now I will be helping others grow, too!

Spring is here, and it’s raining love! 

 Last weekend, I traveled to West Virginia to throw a bridal shower for my little brother and my sister-in-law-to-be.  It was a lovely day filled with even lovelier people, and I wanted to share a few pictures with you. 

Clearly, the bride is the glowing woman second from the left.

The two love birds are to be wed on a WV ranch this June, so we designed the shower with their wedding concept in mind.

As an extra gift to the bride, we had each guest address an envelop for personalized thank you notes we’d purchased for our bride. When you’re planning a wedding, there’s nothing like the gift of time!

It was a casual come-and-go-freely shower, so we kept food handy at the tables.  We were pleased to find that guests actually ate more this way.  Since threats of rain forced us indoors, it also helped with space.

Wreaths at the base of each cake plate held moss, river rocks, daffodils, daisies, button mums, hydrangeas, carnations, and alstromeria.  Each had a little star fish tucked in to represent the honeymoon to the Virgin Islands, as well.

I caught my parents watching happily from the kitchen.   Let’s just say they are thrilled with their son’s choice.

The lucky groom is the man in blue. He made us all very proud when he asked this wonderful young woman to be his wife.

I know their lifelong marriage will be a happy one.

Tis the season to be asked to “bring a finger food.”  I have a love-hate relationship with these types of parties. I love the concept of sharing in the preparation. I love to cook.  I hate that I stress over it. 

BeachBoy’s favorite carry-to-a-party item is bacon chicken wraps, but I’m not a fan of taking the same thing to every party.  I’ve tried to explain it to him, but he insisted they’re too good not to take. 

Long story short, I actually found myself buying a magazine called, of all things, “Southern Lady.”  Yes, you heard me right.  I was standing in line at THE grocery store of the south (Publix), when I noticed a magazine featuring appetizers.   As I flipped through and saw a few that looked good, I caved and paid the ridiculous price charged by the grocery store. 

This weekend, we have to parties requiring a finger food, so tonight I’m getting everything ready. 

The first recipe I tried was good, cheap, and couldn’t be faster, so I thought I’d pass it along. 

Cranberry Cheese Log with Rosemary and Toasted Walnuts

  • 1 pack softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack
  •  2 cups chopped dried cranberries (This came out to be just shy of a 6 oz pack. You could make it even easier and just round up.)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (My bush recently died, so I used dried.  Sorry, I didn’t measure.  I just eyeballed it as usual.)
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Mix all bu the nuts.  Chill the mixture.  Form a log and roll in the nuts.

 

This made me wonder:  What if I used fresh cranberries and candied walnuts?  Hmmm….

    (more…)

    I’m in the mood for all things cozy and holiday.  Here are a few pictures I enjoyed while browsing Google images last night.

    I’m always looking for ways to show Beachboy that I actually use all of the dishes I have in boxes.  This year, he was sweet enough to let me “adopt” a table for our church’s Christmas party.  I’ve no doubt that he knew all along that it would be both messy and time consuming (as I tend to do a lot of thinking out loud…in his ear).  Nonetheless, he said, “Sure, honey.  Just don’t buy anything.” 

    Right.

    That would be great except all of our Christmas dishes are gold, along with NOTHING else we own.  That makes finding a centerpiece a bit of a challenge.  I scavenged through old boxes of decorations and found that, we did, in fact, only have blue and silver decorations. 

    So, I called upon my teacher-brain for a cheap backup plan and headed to the backyard armed and dangerous.

    Our scrubby tree needed trimming, so I thought, why not?

     

    Trees…trees….think…
    “…and a partridge in a pear tree!”
    Maybe my habit of randomingly singing songs with words I hear isn’t so bad afterall. (Well, OK, it is, but still.)
    I decided to make a pear tree for the table, but really, the scrubby tree was quite ugly.  Since the problem was that nothing matched the dishes, I figured a cheap can of spray paint would do the trick. 
      
    So, I set to work spraying the branches while my fingers shook from the cold air. 
     
    For good measure, I sprayed a few branches I had stripped, as well as a few still clad in leaves and berries. 
    (Now, this is the part where I cross my fingers and hope the leaves don’t wither up and fall off before the party since I can’t exactly stick them in water.)
    A few old Christmas bulbs from my college years later, and…
     
     
    The decorations on the light fixture look like they are in the branches, but you get the idea.
    After packing up all of the Christmas dishes, I rushed off to the church only to realize that the tables weren’t wide enough for centerpieces.  What? !
    I ended up offsetting the vase so it would fit and everyone could still talk.  Then, it was time to hang the pears and the partridge. 
     
    Done. 
    Gold may not be my favorite, but it worked out in the end. 

    I’m worse than Walmart.  It’s not even Halloween yet, and I’m already I’m planning for Christmas.

    Or, maybe the real problem is that I went shopping for Halloween supplies at Walmart last night and walked through the Christmas section to get to where I had to be.  Yes, that’s probably it… 

    Either way, I’m thinking of Christmas.

    Christmas is THE holiday for my extended family, particularly for my dad.  So, it comes as no surprise to me that I have an internal need to begin a Christmas tradition now that BeachBoy and I (3 Christmases into our marriage this year) are finally feeling settled in our first real home. 

    And then I thought….What better way for a baking maniac to celebrate Christmas than with a cookie exchange! 

    So, the planned has kicked off, and I wanted to share with you some things I’ve found along the way.

     

    Cookie Exchange Ideas

    I have to start with Robin’s Cookie Exchange as her rules made me giggle. 

    Does that scare you like it scared me?  There is a lighter version of a planning time line at AllRecipes.

    OK, I’ll be honest.  When it comes to planning, I prefer to think of the “cute” side of things instead of the logistic.  So, at the moment, my thoughts are of cookie containers and decorations.  Here are a few ideas.

     [Cookie_Exchange.jpg]

     

    Mulling Sachets

    These mulling spices would make a great favor.

     

    Right now, I’m considering making centering the party around an afternoon tea, since that’s what people who actually have cold weather drink in December. 

    white and pastel dining room

    green and white place setting

    Close-up of red white Noel table setting

    white hydrangea flower table centerpiece

    close up of table with Christmas decorations

    candy cane vase

    I’d love to do an all white event.

    More thoughts to come…

     

    Last night was our 2nd annual pumpkin carving party.  Here are a few pictures I snapped while I prepared everything. 

     

    Since we’ve had a house guest for the last week and a half, the day of the party was a busy one.  I completed all of the preparations that day, from the cooking to the cleaning.  (I don’t recommend trying it!)  The kitchen was overflowing with supplies.
    But, they were all used by the end of the day. 

    Each family gets a carving kit, including a bowl for the seeds, carving tools, wipes, a sharpie, and a candle. 

     

    This year we set up one table for the food and another table for appetizers, which we placed near the grill so the chef could mingle, too.  The remaining tables were used for both eating and carving. 

    Casual Appetizers: Cayenne Cheese Spread and Crackers, Stuffed Jalapenos, Sausage Mummies, Cheese, Vegetables/Dip. 

     

    The pumpkin station included sticky notes so guests could select their pumpkins as they arrived.  The kids loved picking out the pumpkins!

    See you next year!

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