Tagged party

Top 9: End of Summer BBQ Accessories

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Must have Summer BBQ Party Accessories

As summer is winding down to an end (and since we have deck renovations on our brains) it’s time to start thinking about squeezing in as many summer BBQs as possible before it’s time to make apple pie and eat Halloween candy!  We love to host parties, and when you can add in a little summertime weather and food on the grill – well, that’s just perfection.

Here are my Top 9 accessories for that End of Summer BBQ!

1. These Heat Resistant Corn Holders are colorful and fun! We have some golf ball corn holders, but these would be a fun change!

2. I love these drink dispensers from Crate and Barrel. Something like this drink dispenser feels excessive and something too large to store. But I still love them! And it’s nice for large parties even just for water, instead of needing to refill the water pitcher several times throughout the night.

3. Adding lanterns, twinkle lights or globe lights adds a little extra whimsy to the ricketiest table, burned hamburgers, and even helps you deal with the mosquitoes a little bit longer.

4. Every backyard party needs a good yard game! Ladderball is one of our favorites! (Other acceptable options: Croquet, Bocce, Kan-jam)

5. We have the Butter Boy! People always laugh and wonder what is sitting on the table. But it’s so much easier to butter corn with it and it’s a cute little man in overalls! How can you go wrong?

6. You can’t look too far without seeing another mason jar craft / trend / decor idea. But let’s get back to what mason jars were originally used for – catching fireflies!! I have so many memories of summer nights catching fireflies after dinner. Take your BBQ back to the basics and see how many you can catch (and let go – of course).

7. Every party needs some good tunes! We have a Soundfreaq - a portable bluetooth music player. You can charge it when it’s plugged in, sync it to your iPod, and haul it around the party, the yard, wherever you go!

8. These DIY Slipknot Rope napkin rings from Lemon Tree Dwelling would dress up any old napkin!

9. BBQs call for big platters to pile on hotdogs, piles of corn on the cob, or for the spread of burger toppings. I am always drawn to the melanine platters by FrenchBull because they are so much fun! Everything a BBQ should be.

What’s your favorite thing about BBQs? What do you put on your hot dog? I’m a ketchup girl.

Check out the end of summer party I posted on last year!

Top 9: Farewell Party to Summer

Farewell Party to Summer

Dinner Menu for a Lumberjack Party

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A Lumberjack Birthday Party

If there is any “rule” in my book to hosting a dinner party, it’s don’t make it too complicated!

What’s the point of preparing and hosting a get-together if you’re going to miss it all?

For our Lumberjack Party I knew I wanted a hearty menu to live up to the ruggedness of the theme. What’s a universal man meal? Meat and potatoes.

Lumberjack Menu: All Recipes/Links in this Post

  • Turkey Chili
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread
  • Maple Bacon Cupcakes
  • Maple Flapjacks Cupcakes
  • S’mores on a Stick
The best part of this menu? I made most of it 1-2 days before the party to minimize day-of preparation craze.
A Lumberjack Birthday Party
I made two pots of chili – a traditional tomato based chili with beans and ground turkey. I also made a white chili broth-base with chicken and cannellini beans.

Turkey Chili Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb ground turkey
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 3  15oz cans kidney beans
  • 2 15oz cans black beans
  • 1 15oz can Mexicorn
  • 60 oz diced tomatoes
  • 30 oz tomato puree
  • 30 oz water
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 5 tsp taco seasoning
  • 4 T sugar
  • Tabasco to desired taste

Brown the turkey, garlic and onions first, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

White Chicken Chili Recipe:

Modified from the Tennessee White Chili at FoodRepublic.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds diced chicken breast
  • 3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 15oz can Mexicorn
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 container chicken broth, to desired consistency
Saute the chicken, garlic and onions first, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes were the easy solution to the potato part of the meal. After I scrubbed some yellow potatoes, I wrapped them in aluminum foil. I cooked them on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 90 minutes.

Since I made the chili two days in advance, an hour before the party, I stuck the chili on the stove and the potatoes in the oven. Everything was self-serve.
A Lumberjack Birthday Party

I created a toppings bar on the sideboard of our dining room:

For the Toppings Bar

  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar
  • chopped up bacon
  • black beans
  • diced chives
  • assortment of hot sauces.
A Lumberjack Birthday Party

Cornbread

I rounded out the meal with some Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. I made Jiffy Cornbread, adding 2 de-seeded, diced jalapenos and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar per box of corn muffin mix. (For our party I made 3 boxes). Cook per box directions.

A Lumberjack Birthday Party

Beverages

I had several bottles of water on the table and several bottles of pop in the fridge. I also picked up some fun drinks: Maine Root Handcrafted Soda-Pop in Blueberry and Mandarin Orange (YUM! The Blueberry is my favorite. We discovered it at my cousin’s Maine wedding this summer!), Angry Orchard Ciders and some Summer Shandy (hopeful thinking – it’s almost summer, right?)
A Lumberjack Birthday Party

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Recipe modified from The Fresh Fridge – for in-depth directions, check out her tutorial.

Maple Bacon Cupcake Batter: (This recipe yielded 24 cupcakes)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (I replaced 1 tb with bacon fat)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

**NOTE: Keep an eye on these cupcakes while baking. I over-baked mine just a touch. Due to the maple sugar/brown sugar consistency it’s harder to tell when they are finished.

Maple Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Candied Bacon

Fry bacon as usual in a frying pan – add brown sugar to pan while frying. Watch carefully to prevent burning. When finished separate bacon to dry and harden. I chopped into smaller pieces for the cupcake topper. I used 8 slices of bacon.

I sprinkled the tops of the cupcakes with cinnamon and plopped the cooled-down bacon on top.

A Lumberjack Birthday Party

Maple Flapjack Cupcakes

I’ll post on this separately – basically it’s just sugar cookies and maple chocolate frosting. I’ll share my technique later!
A Lumberjack Birthday Party

S’mores on a Stick

(This time I used chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers.)

Suffice it to say, we were all stuffed…. and candied bacon is dangerously easy to make.

Could you eat a bacon cupcake? Everyone was freaked out to try it, but I think they liked them!

A New Year’s Eve Game Tradition

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We started a new New Year’s Eve tradition last year.

I write down six questions.

Questions about what we are proud of in the year that is ending and what we look forward to in the year to come.

A New Year’s Eve Game Tradition - DesignLively

Then I fold them up and write a random time on it – spreading them out within the hours.

A New Year’s Eve Game Tradition - DesignLively

Then I put them somewhere we will see them – last year I taped them on the wall, this year they are nestled into our tree.

A New Year’s Eve Game Tradition - DesignLively

We keep an eye on the clock and when the time arrives, we open up the question and all give an answer.

It’s a fun game to play with a group of people, or if it’s just you and a friend.

Happy New Year!

P.S. I just found our old apartment keys and couldn’t bear to throw them away. So now they hang on our tree! Can’t believe it’s already our second Christmas in this house : )

A New Year’s Eve Game Tradition - DesignLively

Now I must go… I have several of The Pioneer Woman’s recipes calling my name… and Martha Stewart’s double brownies. Good thing my resolution to eat well again starts tomorrow! : p

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

A Vegetable Garden Baby Shower

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A few weekends ago my lovely friend Eva, who blogs at La Vie Urbane, and I threw our friend Johanna a baby shower.

Our friend, the mom-to-be, just finished getting her Nutrition degree and is a vegetarian/mostly vegan, and cooks the most delicious and unique dishes! The vegetable theme started as a joke… and it stuck!

We decided to use a yellow and green color scheme to keeps things springy (with the added advantage that I own a lot of yellow and green items already). We also added some blues into the mix since a baby BOY is on the way!

The shower was a luncheon. Instead of using a traditional centerpiece, we were inspired by the decorations at this baby shower.

The cascading circle streamers are made of regular white copy paper and fishing line. They were simply taped on with scotch tape and then hung at varying lengths to the chandelier.

And of course no vegetable shower is complete without lots of fresh goodies! We served quiche, cucumber sandwiches, pesto pasta salad, fruit tarts, yogurt parfaits, lemon bars, carrot cake muffins, and vegetables, of course!

Eva made these adorable soup can vases and filled them with daisies. They were spread throughout the house along with candles in ball jars from her wedding.

Sidenote: I can’t believe it was only a year ago that I threw her a Bicycle Bridal Shower! Seems like ages ago!

The sideboard was decorated with more vegetable seed packet artwork. The BABY frame is made out of letters cut from regular paper and backed with scrapbook paper.

200 points to anyone who noticed we have upper doors on our sideboard cabinets now! Another post for another day.

The mantle was decorated with my wedding accordion wheels (the DIY gift that keeps on giving) and a new bunting (tutorial to come).

In keeping with the seed theme, I purchased a few terracotta pots and straw raffia from the Christmas Tree Shoppe (I like to buy reusable party decor items). I printed out the B-A-B-Y-! circles and taped them to wooden rods. Then I cut out green leaves and taped them to the stick. Nothing fancy here people!

We also made some beloved Tissue Paper PomPoms. We hung them from tension rods that were put inside the window molding. (Anything to protect all my freshly painted window trim! I know I’m not alone!)

We played a few party games, including a Baby Predictions game. And all the guests wrote inside the cover of a children’s book as a memento for Mom and Dad.

On their way home, guests grabbed a bag of Birthday Cake Batter Popcorn. If you didn’t hear me singing it’s praises on Friday, hear me now!! YUM!

The funniest part of the day was while we were making the food. In the bag of carrots we found what appeared to be a pair of legs and a little carrot booty.

We had a wonderful time celebrating!

And why is watching your friends open gifts nearly as exciting as opening them yourselves?

We played the “clothespin game” where you weren’t allowed to say the word “cute”. Let’s just say I wasn’t in the game for long when the gifts started being opened!

Party Ideas for a Swanky Magazine Swap

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In my humble opinion, the state of a town’s library says a lot about the town community.

I love the library. Love-it-wearing-my-nerd-glasses-with-masking-tape-on-the-bridge love it.

I have been fortunate enough to live within walking distance to a library since I was in high school. Plus, they are free!

I’m still “getting to know” my new town library and sometimes I really miss my old, quaint, stone library two doors down from our old apartment. One new feature of my new library is a magazine swap rack. I love it.

In the entrance is a big shelf full of magazines people drop off when they are finished with them. And they are free to take! Like today, for example: I dropped off five old Martha Stewart magazines and I picked up three Country Living, one Flea Market Finds and one Real Simple. I will read them when I have the time and then I can take them right back to the swap shelf. It’s a beautiful thing.

My deep love of the magazine rack got me thinking. How fun would it be to have a magazine swap party?

You could invite 15 people over and if each person brought 3 old magazines, everyone could leave with one or two new options to peruse at the gym next week.

You could decorate with old magazine pages, like this cool DIY magazine starburst wreath from Rag and Bone.

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or this cute garland.

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Your guests could put their drink of choice down on a magazine-woven coaster.

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And if you’re really careful you could even serve snacks out of these magazine page bowls. Add a lining perhaps?

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Here’s to bringing back the periodical swap!

Top 9: Farewell Party to Summer

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I am protesting the end of summer.

While grocery shopping this week the stockboys were putting out Halloween candy. HALLOWEEN candy.

Then, I get home and start going through my (shamelessly overstocked) Google Reader. Bloggers are already blogging about fall projects.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s been far too long since I’ve done a Top 9. Today my Top 9 is based on a theme for a Goodbye Summer party. :( Wahh.

The theme is sunset-based, because summer should be an eternal sunset. (So poetic. I know.) Why? Well, I only get to see sunsets during the summer. Otherwise I leave work when it’s dark. Sunsets happen at the end of the day, this party it happening at the end of summer. And if you want to get real scientific, the days are starting to get short again, thus a sunset theme.

I’m nothing if not well thought-out. Either that, or I am a champion of meager excuses for a party…

1. First you’d need awesome, summery invitations like these to invite your favorite peeps over.

2. I think it would be fun to decorate my deck with some of these lovely sunset-colored mobiles from LilSproutCreation. With the goldenrod, coral and tangerine hues of this beauty, I think you could even sneak this into your fall decor.

3. I would serve this refreshingly tasty looking Creamsicle trifile by Amy Atlas. The colors are beautiful! Is there anything more classically summer than a creamsicle popsicle?

4. This beautiful necklace by Alyssa’s Gems and Jewels would adorn my neck and add instant “summer celebration” to any outfit. (How is it that I’ve never heard of Maple Turquoise before? It’s lovely.)

5. Ahhh, the quintessential summer activity. Friendship bracelets. I’d love to sit around a campfire and make some chevron bracelets like these babies by LARaised. (I think it’s hilarious that these are a “style trend” right now. I think people just want to dress like they are 12 again and call it a “trend”. Not that I am opposed. I still have one.)

6. A kitschy patchwork tablecloth with hues of goldenrod and pink, like this one from CakeforBreakfast, would help set the tone.

7. I would also serve this Taste-a-Rainbow cupcakes from Family Fun magazine.

8. A pretty orange dress, like one this from AmandaArcher, would help soften the wardrobe blow in the transition from summer to fall.

9. Lastly, I’d thank my friends for coming with these “Cheerio” cards from TheDesignConspiracy. I love the yellow printing and custom screenprinted type.

Around this time of year I am grateful to live in New England. The leaves start turning and we can still go to the beach for at least another six weeks. (Yes! I have swam in the ocean in October before!)

Three cheers for an Indian Summer!

Top 9: Derby Day Play

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Today was the Kentucky Derby. A big congratulations to Animal Kingdom, this year’s winner!

Q: Animal Kingdom, how do you feel about your horse name?
A: Nayyyy. Isn’t it a Disney Safari theme park? Unfortunately I don’t get much of a sayyyy in these things.

Q: So, are you tired?
A: Are you crazy?

*The above conversation never actually happened.

Did you think you’d had your fill of weird hats for the year? Well, you were wrong. Royal weddings aren’t the only time we crazy Americans get to bring out some awesome hatware. Perhaps one of the only American celebrations that provides this excuse is the Kentucky Derby.

I’ve always wanted to have a Derby Day party, but for some reason the rainy Boston weather never seems to invite cute dresses and mint juleps. Watching it on TV also erases a lot of the appeal. That is probably why this has remained a Southern tradition. I digress.

Here are my top 9 Etsy picks for Derby Day:

1. This horse trot wooden sign would be very cute tacked up outside your house. I love the weathered look of it.

2. Mint Juleps. Yum. Not only are Mint Juleps absolutely delicious and the quintessential Derby Day drink, but using this stirring spoon would make them even more of a speciality.

3. Rusty horseshoes remind me of my childhood home. We had a horse hanging above our doorway. It had been found in our yard by a previous owner because the land had once been a horse farm. You are supposed to hang them like a “U” so they “catch” all the luck pouring in.

4. Every winner needs a prize ribbon. And this one is made out of old maps! Kentucky maps, perhaps?

5. I love this hat! I need to get this hat. For next year’s Derby Day… and also for when Prince William and Duchess Catherine renew their vows.

6. Bow ties make me happy. They are like a little smile around your neck.

7. This necklace is beautiful! I love the rustic pewter quality of it.

8. This sweet wooden pin is a great way to show some Kentucky luuuuv.

9. This vintage hunting scarf is lovely. Pair this with a pretty white sundress and a swanky hat and I think I’m ready to go!

DIY Project: Cupcake Flags

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Maybe you haven’t heard, but cupcakes are the new black.

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t experienced the cupcake fad explosion over the last few years. There are now whole stores devotes to selling cupcakes (Read about some tasty cupcakes I got for my birthday here) and The Food Network even has a new show, Cupcake Wars, devoted to the trend.

However, it’s “trend” status is morphing into “tried and true staple”. Many have questioned when the cupcake fad would end, but lately I’ve been reading how many event and catering specialists are now thinking it is here to stay. (Which I am personally quite glad to hear.)

Brides have been trading in the classic tiered wedding cake for trays of cupcakes in all colors and flavors. One wedding I went to this summer even had a “Cupcake Bar” (E – they were delicious by the way!).

Then the cupcake flag was birthed. See this beautiful example from (Hostess with the Mostess) below.

How did this begin? Perhaps hostesses wanted to combat the informality of the cupcake? Perhaps brides who had foregone the traditional “cake topper” wanted something special?

Just like “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop,” the world may never know.

Martha Stewart has downloadable templates for these flags, which are fine and dandy if you find one that works for you. But, what if you want your name on it? Certain colors? A theme? You might get some strange looks if the cupcakes at Cindy’s baby shower have wedding rings on them.

What’s a gal to do? Custom flags of course!

Many vendors on Etsy can create custom beautiful flags for you. BUT, I would recommend trying to make your own.

I made my own flags for our wedding. Moose wasn’t feeling the cupcake suggestion, so we ended up serving cheesecake. But visions of wedding cupcake flags had already infiltrated my crazy bride brain, so I invented…. cheesecake flags!

The best part about making your own is that you can have as many different kinds as you want. An Etsy vendor will likely charge you per design. With color and text variations, I had about  27 different kinds of flags. (Overkill? Yeah. I know.)

The other, and probably more enticing, reason to make your own is the fact they they are very inexpensive!

I made 150 of these flags. Can you guess how much I spent?

Toothpicks = $3
Hot Glue = $3
Printing Costs = $5 (This is if you go to Staples and not print them yourself.)

TOTAL COST = $11

I was able to fit 27 flags on a sheet by flipping half of the triangles around to create square shapes.

I used Adobe Illustrator. If you don’t have that you could probably use Microsoft PowerPoint or Publisher (it’s just triangles people! There are also lots of nice rectangle flags, like the one I posted above if triangles scare you.)

After that, I cut them out and hot glued a toothpick to the back. Bada boom. Three episodes of Smallville later, I had 150 cupcake (er, cheesecake) flags ready to go.

No one noticed that the back was blank. (*Seriously, wedding guests. Did you notice?) Heck, I wouldn’t have noticed. After I pulled that puppy out I would be eating that dessert with glee.

I hope this helps you make your cupcake involved event a little more celebratory and a little less expensive.

Cheers : )

Pssst… Images from (Hostess with the Mostess), and (FoodNetwork.com)

A (Grown Up) Princess Birthday Party

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One of my best friends, Abs, celebrated her Princess Birthday recently (Princess birthday = turning the number of years as the day you were born, ex: 24 years old on the 24th.) Neither of us believe you’re ever too old for birthday parties, so we celebrated.

1. “Tiara” cake – Funfetti with caramel frosting
2. Royal Jewels candy
3. “Scepter” wands – Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
4. Polka Dot Dessert plates (from my Mom, Dot)
5. “Fairy Cocoamother”
6. “Who’s the fairest one of all?”
7. “Enchanted” Fudge
8. Golden Spun Ribbon
9. These marshmallows were DELICIOUS!