Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tour de France Fun

My husband is obsessed with the Tour de France bicycling event, and over the years, I have grown more interested myself.  What intrigued me even more was deciding how to transform this event into my July monthly dinner theme...

Invite: I designed the invitation on PhotoShop using a Tour de France poster image I found on the Internet.  Nothing super special to this invite sadly.

Entry: I knew I wanted to incorporate my husband's actual road bike into the decor, but wasn't sure how at first.  I decided on this simple entry.  I made a banner using scrapbook paper and my Cricut machine.  For those of you that don't know about cycling, the background papers represent the 4 jerseys that the leaders of each category from the previous stage wear wear during the next stage.  White with red polka dots is the King of the Mountain jersey; green represents the lead sprinter; white is the fastest overall rider under 25 years old; yellow is the overall leader of the race.

Inside Decor:  I created a street down the center of my table using card stock and used my Cricut to cut out cyclists in various jerseys. I also borrowed one of those giant Eiffel Tower drinking cups they sell at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas from a friend of mine.  She didn't mind me spray painting it grey, so I did.

My original idea for place cards was to shape paper clips into bikes with large buttons as wheels.  After making one, my fingers were killing me, so I had to come up with another idea.  I bought these plastic water bottles from the Dollar Tree and made a simple label. Not super creative, but at least it goes with the theme.

I made wine bottle labels on Photoshop to represent the theme and translated the white and red wine into French. My menu represented a few of the stages of the Tour de France, so since wine is always our first stop, it became Stage 1.

For wine charms, I used images of the jerseys of popular teams in the 2015 Tour de France.

Menu: Since the Tour de France happens all over France, I decide to serve French cuisine.  Our starter was a spinach salad with French dressing.  This was Stage 2 of the race.  The salad was topped with red onion, mushrooms, bacon, and shredded cheese.  To make the dressing I mixed a 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and two green onions finely chopped (with tops). I am not normally a fan of French dressing, but this was tasty.

For Stage 3, I served Beef Bourguignon that I made in the crock pot.  I found the recipe here. It was very good.  If I were to make it again, I would thicken the sauce to make a gravy before serving.

Normally I would serve the Beef Bourguignon with mashed potatoes, but since this was a Tour de France party, I served it over wheel pasta with butter.  It was "wheelie" good!

I have been wanting to make crepes forever, and my original plan was to make the entire meal crepes.  One of my guests recently found out she has a wheat allergy, so this changed that plan. I did make two different kinds for dessert though.

The first was a chocolate crepe.  I made them a few days before and froze them.  Inside, I put strawberry yogurt.  Then drizzled chocolate on the top with a dollop of whipped cream, some chocolate shavings, and a strawberry.

The second crepe dessert was AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS! These were Lemon Raspberry Crepes.  The inside is a lemon curd with whipped cream.  Outside is drizzled with a raspberry sauce and then garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh raspberry. I used a different recipe for the crepe, but the curd and sauce recipe I found at Buttercream Bakehouse.

Favors:  I sent the ladies home with bars a chocolate with bicycles on them.  These took a while to paint the dark chocolate bike, but they were super cute.  I used my husband's bike helmet as a basket to display them.  The tag read:
For those of you that are clueless about cycling (which some of my guests were too), a Peloton is the main field or group of cyclists in a race.

This was a fun theme.  Great if you are into cycling and Tour de France of course, but even if you aren't, try these recipes.  They were definitely something I would make again for my family.

This was

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Something Blue - A Dinner for the Bride

I am so excited that one of my closest friends is getting ready to marry a wonderful man this month.  To honor this beautiful lady and to celebrate her upcoming marriage, I decided to theme are monthly dinner in her honor.

Invite: I designed a simple invitation on Photo Shop.  While our dinners are often silly and fun themed, I wanted this one to be special, so I went with a very classic and simple design. I asked all the girls to wear some sort of blue shirt/dress, and I asked Kelli to wear white.

Entry Decor: I used Sharpie and foam board to create a sign for the entry door counting down the days until Kelli's wedding.  Hanging on the door, I pulled out my own wedding veil to drape.  My veil was super long, so I had to fold it a ton at the top so it wouldn't drag on the ground.  To hide the bulge, I bought some flowers to fashion into a bouquet to cover it.

Interior Decor: I wanted all the decorations to be very elegant, but also have a little rustic flare as that is Kelli's personality.  I set the table with a blue tablecloth for Something Blue, a little white rustic looking box I bought at Michaels, and a vase with white roses in the center. I also bought these cute iron-like letters from Michaels to spell out the couples initials.

I also decorated the table with upside down wine glasses with roses inside and candles on top. The roses inside I just bought at the Dollar Tree and pulled off the stems.  I used my wedding china (don't you just love it!) for our plates.

For napkin rings, I tied a blue ribbon around a white napkin and added a diamond ring sticker to the center.

I made simple place cards out of card stock and the same diamond ring stickers I used for the napkins. To make them stand up, I cut off a little bit of the bottom of a cork and then sliced a slit in the top. My friend and her fiance love wine, and they are getting married in Temecula, so I wanted to incorporate wine a little bit in the decor -- this is how I did it.

I designed two wine bottle labels that went with the theme.  Here Comes the Bride All Dressed in WHITE for the the white wine, and for the red blend, I found a romantic silhouette on Google and added The Perfect Blend with the couples names.

For wine charms I tied a simple blue bow around the stem of each wine glass, and put various wedding themed scrapbook stickers on the base.

Menu: Again, I wanted the food I served to be elegant, but I also wanted to stick with the Something Blue theme.  I served steak with a blue cheese mixture on top (super yummy), vegetables, and mashed potatoes.  I died butter blue and used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart.

I also served a Blue Pear Salad jello that I cut into hearts, and a spinach salad with blue berries and a light dressing I made mixing raspberry lemon concentrate with dijon, vinegar, and sugar.

For dessert, I served cheesecake pudding and blueberries in little shot glasses. I made a crumb mixture with vanilla wafers for the bottom, and then alternated between the pudding and the blueberries before topping it off with whipped cream. I forgot to take a photo of this, but this image is similar to what I made.

I also made these bridal dress sugar cookies for dessert.

Favors: I bought little champagne bottles as both a favor and to do a toast to the bride. I created the label on Photoshop.

I also designed these mini white boxes on Photoshop to give to each guest. The top of the box read: Thanks for celebrating Kelli's future "I Do" Here's a little Something Blue for you!  Inside I put a bottle of light blue nail polish for each guest. Isn't the chalkboard sign a TOE-tally cool addition to this favor?

A Gift for the Bride: To cap off the evening, I put together a little gift basket of wine for my friend and her future husband to drink at special moments during their first year of marriage.  The girls all pitched in, so it was from all of us.  I designed the tags stealing some sayings from the Internet and creating some of my own.

I went to the grocery store with these "firsts" in mind, so I tried to pick out wines that matched.  For the Honeymoon, I chose a bottle of Flip Flop Cabernet Sauvignon.  They are traveling to Hawaii on their honeymoon, so this was a perfect match.  For First Home, I chose a bottle of Chateau (which means home in French) St. Jean.  For First Date Night as Mr. and Mrs., I chose a Little Black Dress Pinot Noir.  For First Fight, I chose a Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon.  For First Dinner Party, I chose a bottle of Cabernet called Spin the Bottle!  Last, but not least, for their First Anniversary, I chose a Layered Cake wine since it is tradition to "save" part of your wedding cake to eat on your first anniversary.

I am so grateful for my friendships with these ladies, and I cannot wait to celebrate my good friend Kelli's wedding. I wish her all the happiness in the world!

Congratulations Kelli!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

End of the Year Teacher Gift

There are a ton of great ideas for teacher appreciation gifts on the Internet, but as usual, I wanted to come up with something all my own creation.  The room moms in my daughter's kindergarten class sent out a list of some items and places that her teacher liked, so I started my brainstorm session there.  California Pizza Kitchen was on this list, and I was totally last minute in prepping this gift, so I decided a gift card there would be easy to purchase.  Here is what I came up with to go with it:

Not bad huh? Just love the PIZZA my heart addition.

As a teacher myself, I just want to say thank you to all the teachers out there.  No matter what others might say, it is NOT an easy job.  It is hard work and a truly special teacher is one who puts his/her heart and soul into each day.

Happy Summer (or almost summer for more week!)

Monday, May 25, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You - Star Wars Party!

I have always wanted to host a Star Wars themed monthly dinner, so I have been waiting and waiting for our dinner to fall on May 4th.  It finally did this year...hence, the May the Fourth Be With You theme! This theme was so fun, and super easy to pull off.

Invite:  I made the invite on PhotoShop.  The Star Wars font is available for free from tons of sites.  I used the Star Wars Rounded font for most of the invite.

Entry:  I have a very talented student leader in my class this year, and she helped me make this amazing Darth Vader entry sign to welcome guests "to the Dark Side".  We made it out of poster board and card stock.  I borrowed some light sabers from a friend to add to the entry.

Inside Decor: For the dinner table, I bought a Darth Vader backpack from a local store to place as my centerpiece and some mini C3PO figures to place on each side of it.  I used fishing line taped to my ceiling to hold up two crossing light sabers.

I love the C3PO water bottles and R2D2 cups I created for the party.  I found the template for the cups online on the Catch My Party website here.  I just used white paper cups I bought at the Dollar Tree and glued them on. Since these two droids are always together, I wanted to have C3PO next to him.  I came up with these water bottles. I bought gold metallic spray paint and sprayed them after removing the label. I then cut two large circles and the rectangle mouth out of gold card stock, drew the lines in thin black sharpie and taped them on.  Super easy.

I bought black square plates from the Dollar Store and used scrapbooking tape to adhere a Star Wars logo to the middle.  The light saber napkins were easy to make. I came up with the idea for these and was rather excited, but then discovered someone else on the internet had this idea too. Lucky for me, they had already create the image, so I just used what they had already created here.

I thought long and hard about what to make as a place card.  I even watched the original movie one more time to get inspiration.  I came up with these super cute tie fighter place cards.  They do take some time to make, but since I was only making some, I was able to get them done.

I designed two simple wine bottle labels using PhotoShop. For the Red Wine, I chose to use Darth Vader who is associated with red. I used Yoda for the white and phrased the label's words the way Yoda speaks in the movies.

Menu:  I went with a simple menu because these items were easy to fit with the characters of the Star Wars movies.  I started with a Tie Fighter appetizer.  These are just octagon crackers I found at the grocery store and cheese rectangles.  The are held together with cream cheese mixed with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and a little bit of salt and pepper.  Yummy!

For the main dish, I served "Han"burgers of course after Han Solo.  I placed all the fixings on the side to add what they wanted.

I served easy to prepare fruit kabobs as one side dish. Since I teach all day on the days of these monthly dinners, it is great to do some things the day before.  Definitely helps with my stress level -- yes...I am always super stressed since I'm always so last minute!  These Obi-Wan Kabob-ies were also a way to tie in the character Obi Wan Kenobi.

I called on my amazing friend Deanna for help in making a pasta salad.  She is an amazing cook, and this salad was just another example of her talents.  It was delicious. We used bow tie pasta to represent the character Boba Fett.

For a yummy and sweet dessert, I made Princess Lea cupcakes.  These are so cute, this awful photo doesn't do them justice.  I used black frosting to make the hair and attach the Oreos.  At first my plan was to use brown (so it would be more like Princess Lea), but that meant I would need to dip the Oreos in chocolate so they would match.  That was too much work for me, so I just went with black.  The rest is just frosting I piped on.

Favors:  I had so many ideas for a thank you for coming gift, that I had to figure out a way to incorporate them all! I designed these Darth Vader and Storm Trooper bags using card stock and bags I found at the Dollar Tree. Don't you love how they turned out?

I designed these tags to attach to the bags.

Inside, I used little favor bags bought from Michaels to put small candy in.  Rolos for Han Solo (Rolo), gummy bears to represent Ewoks, and chewy Lemonheads to represent Chewbacca.

This is a great theme for a kid or adult birthday party.  My kids were loving everything, and they are already asking for a Star Wars themed party of their own!

Happy May the 4th...May the Fourth Be with You!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celebrating April 6th

I've been hosting themed monthly dinners with my friends for 8 1/2 years, so some months I have difficulty deciding on a theme. This month was one of them.  Even with Spring Break to try to and figure it out, I was struggling and just couldn't find one that inspired me.  So Saturday night (before the Monday party), I typed "April 6th Holidays" into my computer to see if there were any holidays that fell on that day.  To my surprise, there were several, and they were so hilarious, I decided to go with it and incorporate them all into my monthly dinner!

Entry Decor: I picked two of the "holidays" to represent in the entry. For "Plan Your Epitaph Day" I made a tombstone out of wood and created a calendar with April 6th circled and the holiday.  For Army day, I covered a crate with my brother's old Marine jacket and an American flag I already had.

I also made this sign for the door to represent Army Day. I made it out of foam board and scrapbook paper.  Luckily one of my students is a really good artist, so she helped me get Uncle Sam just right.

Inside Decor:  For my centerpiece, I randomly decided to try to make a cake out of beer cans and Twinkies to represent New Beers Eve and National Hostess Twinkie Day. Actually LOVE the way it came out as it was perfect for this party!  To make it, I cut a 2-liter soda bottle just above the label.  I turned it upside down to lay in the center and placed 8 beer cans around it (they fit perfectly).  I then taped the Twinkies to the bottle to make them stay in place. Lastly, I added a thick ribbon around both layers and stuck a bow I bought at the Dollar Tree to the top of the bottle.

Also on the table, I place vases with caramel popcorn in them for National Caramel Popcorn Day.  I made flags for each of the holidays I was representing at the dinner to stick inside.  I made the flags on PhotoShop, they are all pictured at the top of this post.

As a final touch to the centerpieces, I borrowed two cars from my kids' toy box and made Z's with my Cricut to glue to toothpicks and stick out the windows.  These represented Drowzy Driver Awareness Day.

I used camouflage napkins to represent Army Day.

For the place cards, I made tombstones out of foam board and used my Cricut to put each guest's name on them.  I left a blank spot of guests to write their own epitaph for "Plan Your Epitaph Day". These were some of them....they gave us a good laugh.

I made wine bottle labels also themed around "Plan Your Epitaph Day".  As an English teacher and Hemingway fan, I love that I was able to incorporate one of his quotes.

For wine charms, I used beer bottle caps to represent New Beers Day.  My husband drilled a small hole in the cap, and then I threaded the string through.  Simple.

Menu:  We started out for a green salad with bacon, egg, and tomatoes. I paired it with Sorry Charlie Day only for the alliteration!

For the main dish, I served Beer Can Chicken to represent "New Beers Eve".  I had never made it before, but it was very tender and super easy.  I followed this recipe.  We cooked it on the grill.

I also served tater tots...what adult doesn't love an excuse to eat tater tots!  These represented "National Tater Day".

For a vegetable, I cooked up three green veggies to represent army green for "Army Day". I cooked green beans, asparagus, and broccoli.

For dessert, I made strawberry shortcake using Twinkies.

Favor: Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite snack is popcorn.  I couldn't pass up National Caramel Popcorn Day, so I used this as the inspiration for my parting gift.  The popcorn boxes I found at Michaels.  I created the tag to thank guests for "poppin" into the dinner party.

We had a fun time celebrating random holidays for April 6th!