Tag Archives: parties

Have You Checked Out Holiday Yum Yet?

art by Ellen M. Gregg

art by Ellen M. Gregg

It’s the Holiday Yum Blog Fest!

Looking for the perfect recipe to share at a family dinner?  A dish to pass at the next work potluck?  Well check this out and stay tuned for much much more!  Many of your favorite bloggers are sharing their best holiday recipes with you in this very tasty blog hop!

So Get Ready to Savor the Flavor!

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!

For the full Holiday Yum schedule check out the tab at the top of the blog!

And from all of us to you and yours, have a very Happy Holiday Season!

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Best Dressed: A Guilty Pleasure Review

I have an addiction.  To the Oscars.  Every February when the red carpet rolls around, I get over the top urges to cook gourmet appetizers involving olive oil and fine cheeses.  I demand suggest to all my friends that they dress up and drink wine with me!  And for the four hours of awards and 2 hours of pre-show, I make them deal with my company!

It is an extreme guilty pleasure of mine to ooh and aah over the dresses worn at the Academy Awards.  So for this Guilty Pleasure Friday, allow me to REALLY INDULGE and share my favorite, and not-so-favorite, looks of the evening as well as provide the decadent recipes you all asked for in my previous Oscar post, A Red Carpet Affair!

For Outstanding Achievement in Evening Wear, the Nominees Are:

Penelope Cruz

Stunning, Penelope; I love it!  Gorgeous and unique color for the evening.  Classic hair and Hollywood glamor!

Sandra Bullock

While Sandra appeared on some blogger’s Worst Dressed list, I wholeheartedly disagree!  I adored the unique silhouette of her gown, loved the beading at the waist, and thought she looked sleek and beautiful.

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams, this year’s Natalie Portman!  She looked darling and youthfully vibrant in this coral gown, both fun in silhouette and super girly.

Kristen Wiig

Her first big Red Carpet event, and Kristen nailed it!  Gorgeous gown with subtle texture on the bodice and frilly femme fatale in the skirt.  A knockout look if you ask me!

Ellie Kemper

While Ellie’s bangs are an extreme ‘do, I LOVE her gown.  A simple shape is made bold and fiery with these red and gold sequins.  Hot, hot, HOT!

Glenn Close

Best Actress Nominee, Glenn Close, looking so chic and pardon my french, DAMN FINE in this pleated bodice and form fitting gown.  I love that she topped it with a suit jacket!  She looked radiant!

The Oscar for Outstanding Achievement in Evening Wear Goes to:

Viola Davis

I’m completely biased towards anyone who wears a bold color at the Oscars, and Viola looked smashing!  I adore the emerald green gown with beading in the bodice and mermaid-like pleats in the skirt.  To accessorize, she even wore emerald earrings.  Voila, Viola!

My Nominees for Poor Achievement in Evening Wear Are:

Rose Byrne

I am a fan of Rose Byrne’s acting, but this look is too harsh for me.  Everything about it is too blunt.  There’s no whimsy at all.  The hair is too sharp, the gown too garbage bag saggy, and the shoes look like geisha shoes to the point where I’m afraid she’s going to tip over.

Angelina Jolie

Tell me this doesn’t remind you of the scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel makes a dress out of ship sails and rope, and I’ll give it another try.  I think my bigger issue is poor Angelina’s body.  Her arms and legs are much too thin for my liking.  She looks ill.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Not bad, but not great either.  A little lackluster for such a graceful face and frame as Gwyneth.  I like the cuff bracelet, but that’s about it.

And the Award for Poorest Achievement in Evening Wear Goes to:

Melissa Leo

Last year, she won an Oscar!  Now look at her!  It’s like someone bedazzled her pajamas!  I hate the top!  It isn’t flattering, and that bow just doesn’t go.  The shoes are about all Leo’s got going for her.

And now for the sharing of food!  Cause you can’t talk fashion on an empty stomach!

Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers, Garnished with Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint

Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers (from Bon Appetit Magazine)

  • 12 oz fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 T minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 t coarse salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 2 T capers, chopped

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to change color, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper.  Cool.  Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil.  Spoon over cheese slices.

Slow-Baked Tomatoes with Garlic and Mint (from Better Homes and Gardens magazines)

  • 1 1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled, split lengthwise, and green shoot removed
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, trimmed
  • 1 to 2 t coarse salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Wash and drain tomatoes well.  Pat dry with paper towels.  In a nonreactive 2 quart baking dish, place tomatoes in a single layer.  Pour on olive oil so they are well coated and there is a thin layer of oil on bottom of dish.  Toss in garlic, mint, salt, and pepper.  Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until skins split and soften but tomatoes still retain their shape.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.  Spoon or mash over slices of bread or serve with warm goat cheese.

Godfather Crostini

Godfather Crostini (from Simple and Delicious magazine)

  • 1 loaf (8 oz) French bread, cut into 16 slices
  • 2 T plus 1 t olive oil, divided
  • 8 bacon strips, halved
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T minced chives
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 2 T shredded parmesan cheese

Brush bread slices with 2 T oil and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 400° F for 5-6 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp in a large skillet.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Combine mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice and remaining oil in a small bowl; spread over toast.  Top each with a basil leaf, tomato, pesto and a piece of bacon.  Sprinkle with cheese.

There you have it!  My picks for what to wear to the Oscars, as well as what NOT TO!  And some delightfully easy and delectably tasty appetizers you can serve at your next guilty pleasure soiree!

What have you been indulging in lately?

A Red Carpet Affair

(source: filmofilia.com)

The Paaaaaaaaaaarty Has Arriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiived! 

The entirety of Sunday was spent prepping sauces and chopping party food, assembling schwag bags, and getting my costume ready.

I’m thrilled for the winners of the 84th Academy Awards, all of whom seemed more than grateful in their acceptance speeches and looked just lovely.

The winner for Best Achievement in Directing went to The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius.  Likewise, Best Actor went to Jean Dujardin from The Artist.  My favorite awards of the evening went to Best Supporting Actor, 82 year Christopher Plummer for Beginners, gaining her 3rd Oscar and 17th nomination, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady won Best Actress, and very exciting was the win of Best Supporting Actress, Octavia Spencer for her role in The Help!  And the finale of awards, Best Picture, went to The Artist.

Also exciting was the return of 9-time Oscar host, Billy Crystal!  Yay!

I think we all enjoyed THIS... (source: latimes.com)

More than THIS! (source: posh24.com)

Now, on to the party!  A party at my place is primarily about THE FOOD! The menu included:

  • Sugar Snap Pea Salad
  • Godfather Crostinis
  • Salmon Cakes and Dill Sauce
  • Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Mint
  • Herb Buttered Mushrooms
  • Gladiator Chicken Skewers
  • Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos
  • Fresh Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers
  • Tofu Dill Fondue
  • Sicilian Herb Dib and Assorted Cheeses
  • Chocolate and Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits
  • Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake

Our signature drink to kick off the red carpet interviews was a Peach Bellini, followed by lots and lots of red wine!  I know right, are your mouths watering?  They should be!  This was possibly the best coordinated menu and most savory of foods my co-hostess and best friend, Cat and I have ever had!

Co-hostesses of the Mostesses: Marilyn Monroe and Catherine

Godfather Crostinis

Salmon Cakes

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos, Grilled Asparagus, and Gladiator Chicken Skewers

Mozzarella with Toasted Garlic and Capers, garnished with a few Slow Roasted Tomatoes

An Oscar Worthy Pudding Parfait!

Guests filled out their ballot sheets ahead and turned in their pens.  No cheating allowed!  Markers were handed out, and we waited during the awards.  My winning guest had 12 correct answers and won the first place prize of a Movie Theater Pass for Two, a bottle of Francis Coppola Chardonnay, a Box of Lindor Truffels, and a bottle of Chanel Chance perfume!

My blog contest winner from last Tuesday’s post, guessed 2 out of 4 main categories correct and will be receiving an Amazon Gift Card plus Oscar worthy prizes such as movies, recipes, and more movie fun!  And the Oscar for best blogger goes to…Amanda Rudd!

Thanks for tuning in to the Oscar’s with me!  Join me on Friday for my Guilty Pleasure rundown of Best Dressed!

How to Survive Cabin Fever

source: google images

It’s winter, winter everywhere, and not an ice scraper to spare!  The six day work weeks have begun for me, and no matter what my shift is, it seems I’m going to work when it’s dark, and it’s really dark when I leave.

So, I’m getting cabin fever.

Here are the rules and realities that I’ve come to believe in for surviving the perpetual darkness of the winter season:

  1. Crazy colored, fuzzy socks are a must!  It’s true, especially if you’re boyfriend won’t turn the heat up anymore.  Big, fuzzy, warm socks are a godsend after 9 hours on the sales floor.
  2. So is an eclectic mug collection.  I’m too lazy and a wimp to brave the cold and see my favorite coffee shops, so I save time and money with our Keurig single cup coffee maker.  I’m well stocked on apple cider, cafe’ mochas, espresso, and a variety of bold blends.  Pick your mug for fun: the flamingo? the New Orleans cafe’ du monde mug? one of the maple leaves set?
  3. If it’s dark all the time, it means it’s the “night life” all the time!  Wanna know what I’m doing for fun this holiday season?  I have SOOOOO many cosmetics (Hello, I work at the mall and manage that department!) that I’m going to wear each and every one of my eye shadows until I’ve gone through them all!  Today I wore Turquoise Sands!  Doesn’t that sound like I do in fact have a life?  I said sounds like!  Stop that snickering!
  4. Stay indoors.  Watch The Vampire Diaries.  I will leave the house, a drastic and bold move (if I plan, I just go right after work) to venture to the library and stock up on whole seasons of TV.  I’m currently rewatching Season 1 of The Vampire Diaries since it’s newest season is on that ridiculous thing the networks call “midseason finale”.  How garish!
  5. Household chores gettin’ ya down, throw in an audio book!  I’m trying to madly finish up a few titles on my To Be Read list for 2011, so I’ve been double-tasking by getting ready in the morning to an audio book.  I can also listen while cooking, cleaning my room, or wrapping presents.
  6. Become a Sports Fan.  Nothing like a fan club that requires sitting in front of the TV, snack food, and obscene amounts of cheering.  Looking for a team to root for?  *brushes shoulders*  Might I suggest the ol’ Green and Gold, 14-0, Titletown Champs Green Bay Packers?!  Alright, alright!
  7. Write in a journal.  Start a journal.  Now more than ever, keeping a gratitude journal has been important to me.  The long hours and days at work and little free time makes it important to spend that time in a meaningful way and be grateful for the little things like taco dip, vampire TV, and Aveeno creamy moisturizing hand lotion (OMG – this cold weather on my skin! Grrr!)
  8. If you can’t hibernate, have a party!  The holidays should be a time for friends and family.  Spend your days with those you love indulging in laughter and creating new memories.  What will I remember about this holiday season so far?  My toddler niece telling me on the phone “I found Coco the Elf, he’s down the hall!”

 How are you handling Cabin Fever this winter?

Blog Awards and Life List News

Get ready for a fly-by week on The Happiness Project!  Today I want to say thank you to the writers who bestowed me with some great blogging awards and tell you about this Friday’s upcoming Milestone Party!

First, a big BIG thank you to Amanda Rudd and Gene Lempp who both nominated me for a Versatile Blog Award.  Amanda and Gene are such awesome writers, readers, and friends that I am very honored to share this award with them.  Amanda is, like me, an example of persistence, and a very encouraging and charming woman.  Gene is irritatingly smart about how to set goals and I credit him for getting my nose to the grindstone.

Thank you immensely to all my readers, I wouldn’t be doing this without you!  Well, I might, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun or filled with potential learning opportunities.  I’m so humbled to share my day with you and get to know so many of you through your writing, your projects, and of course YOUR COMMENTS-my fave!

     Another BIG thank you to Marcia Richards for naming me a recipient of the Liebster Blog Award.  Liebster is a german word for Friend, and coming from my Life List Club co-founder, I can definitely say Marcia is a great friend.  She’s got the creativity and energy of a toddler chewing espresso beans and at the same time comes off as the wise fairy godmother of all things chocolate and life lessons.  Marcia, thank you for being my sound board.  I love bouncing ideas around with you!

Part of receiving such honorary awards is presenting them to others you feel deserve them.  The Versatile Blogger Award is for bloggers that are able to write about a broad range of topics with talent and enthusiasm.  I must recognize the writing works of Catie Rhodes, who is a woman after my own heart with her posts that range from the paranormal to films from the 80’s-90’s.  For starting her own blog not too long ago, Catie has it figured out!

I also award the Versatile Blogger Award to Ellie Ann Soderstrom, another new blogger who regales her readers with fascinating tales of mythological creatures and fairtytales as well as stories about why her husband is so annoying.  And if you comment, she may make up a story for you with the character name of your choice.  Ellie Ann is pure fun!

The Liebster Award is for bloggers I consider a true friend.  There are two people that stick out in my mind who have come to my writer’s rescue and shared their own stories with the world which I always think is a brave and self-aware act.  I present this award to Mark Petruska and Renee Schuls-Jacobson.

Mark is my guy, he keeps me in the know on what’s happening in Portland, Oregon, a city I visited 2 years ago and fell in love with.  Lately, Mark’s been on some trips of his own and really grown in the past year.  He recently fell in love!  *communal Awwww*  And with this year of change, Mark’s been sharing more about his life with us, and I couldn’t be happier for all he’s accomplished, including his decision to self-publish!

Renee wrote a post called When Writers Meltdown where she was so honest about how we all judge ourselves and think we’re never doing enough.  I was SO in that moment then, and Renee not only reached out to me via comments, but did so with e-mail and twitter too.  She wanted me to know I was not alone, and that she knew exactly how I felt.  What better definition of friend is there than that?

There’s more fun to be had this Friday with the Life List Club‘s Milestone Party!  Be sure to come back and comment this weekend while each of us shares an update of our goals and YOU can win a shot at several LLC giveaways!  Share your own successes and learning moments with us.  We’ll all be offering goodies to win and cyber treats and playing our kind of party music.  I’m thinking…CeCe Peniston.  You?

How to Host a Party from the Floor

I’ve been entertaining lately.  February is the month containing the two parties my boyfriend and I throw together.  The Superbowl and The Oscars.  I’ve been scrambling to see as many Oscar films as I can between now and the award ceremony.  So the other night I enticed one of my friends over to watch a marathon of movies by offering to cook dinner for her.

Menu:  Apricot Chili Pork Chops with Lemon and Spinach Pasta with Herb Dinner Rolls

If you’re going to force your friends to sit through six hours of cinema, I recommend basting the rolls with garlic butter and sprinkling parmesan and herbs over the top right as they walk through the door.  They’ll have to stay to taste them, and then they won’t be able to move after they’ve devoured about four.  Placing the wine bottle on the ottoman also does the trick.

By far the best taste of the evening was the pasta, extremely light and fresh, while still forcing your eyes to roll back in your head.  To make it, you just cook some angelhair pasta as normal, and in a large pan saute garlic, baby spinach, lemon juice and salt/pepper until the spinach is wilted.  Add the pasta and toss!  So delicious!

So far of the nominated best pictures I’ve seen:  Inception, Black Swan, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The Kid’s Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone.  I still need to see:  True Grit, The Fighter, 127 Hours, and The Kings Speech.

Back to the party.  All was going exceptionally well.  We had viewed The Kids are All Right and spiked up a nice conversation on surrogacy.  To further entice my friend to stay, I rented the second season of The United States of Tara to watch a few episodes.  She can’t tell me no when I’ve brought her schizophrenic Toni Collette and comedy by Diablo Cody!

Somewhere in the middle of the fourth episode it hit me, like an all too real flashback “Live from the Wizard of Oz, it’s Dorothy trapped in a tornado!”  I instantly got the spins.  I fess up to my own body.  I know I didn’t eat much earlier today, I still wasn’t feeling very good.  But dinner was amazing, and a little wine is supposed to be good for you! Mixing in my stomach was the storm of Poseidon!  I guess red wine and cold medicine are not meant to mix.  Suddenly, I became that absurd host who kept excusing herself from the room hoping no one would notice her 5’2″ frame swaying around like Kramer on Seinfeld.  After my poor, but understanding, friend had paused the episode too many times to count, I guiltily said “I don’t feel good” and left the room again.  She finished the episode at my pleading from the bathroom afar, and like the wonderful friend she is, let herself out.  Dear Lord, how embarrassing!  I spent the next half hour lying on the bathroom floor moaning and cursing.  At least we have heated tiles.  *shakes head in shame*

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