I’ve been having a great time the last few days. My sister Anna is here for a visit after having been in Japan for the last year. It has been great catching up and spending time together. As a special treat for her visit I decided I wanted to throw a little party.
I love entertaining but had gotten a little burnt out last year and so hadn’t done much. I also got a game from a kickstarter I sponsored called The Jane Game. It is all based on Jane Austen and was done by a woman here in Utah. I also got a party pack as a perk for my kickstarter, which I hadn’t used. It seemed like the perfect time to combine both needs and have a Jane Austen Tea Party!
The party turned out really well. I had teas/hot cocoa to choose from with sweeteners and cream. Then for food we had chicken salad croissants, cucumber sandwiches, meringue cookies, strawberries, shortbread and two treats from bake 360.
I think it all looked very pretty and I enjoyed putting it all together. I also dressed up in as close to a regency dress as I have! Most importantly in any party I enjoyed spending time with my friends and catching up since I don’t get to see any of them as much as I would like.
After visiting we played the Jane Game and it was a lot of fun. And I am proud to say none of us ended up as old maids! We also learned that all of us need to brush up on our Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I’m seeing a movie night in our future.
Overall the party was a great success and everyone seemed to have a good time. I feel encouraged to try again and get back to entertaining regularly. It’s a part of my life I really missed and had been feeling very discouraged about it last year. It seemed so hard to get anyone together for anything that I wondered if my party planning days were over. Today let’s me know it’s not.
So today was a great day! I’ve mentioned my book club many times on this blog but today was not only a meeting but a celebration of 5 years and 40 books.
I had a lot of fun picking up different items for the decor, designing the cake (executed by Cakes by Socorro out of Provo), getting favors and reading the book. It was a lot of fun and all the work was well worth it. It’s very satisfying to see something in your head executed and to give your friends an experience gift. I had a blast not just today but for many weeks, so it was well worth it.
A lot of people have asked me for advice on starting a book club. Every group of friends is different (mine is an electic mix of people that are really only connected through me so if I want it, I have to do it)
Just for fun I also made 2 videos about books- one is My Favorite Books You’ve Heard Of and the next is My Favorite Books You Haven’t Heard Of. What do you think? Have you or have you not heard of the one’s I mention in either video. Like or dislike them?
Even if you don’t ever look at youtube if you could subscribe to my channel I’d really appreciate it. I’m working hard to make them more professional and learning a lot.
I’ve got a challenge for all of you lovely readers. I defy anyone to produce better friends than I have. It can’t be done. They defend me when I am sad, are incredibly loyal and also a lot of fun. I just love them and after the month I’ve had I wanted to say thanks and relax with my girls.
A few days ago I was talking to a box review friend that unfortunately I can’t remember who it was (if you are out there please remind me). We were discussing how we had more make up from box reviews than we could deal with. It really starts to add up quick and not all of it is good for my complexion so it could go unused.
So my friend and I were talking about our excess makeup problems and she told me she was going to have a makeover party with her friends to have fun and use up the makeup. All of you know I love a party so this sounded like a great idea to me! Plus I felt exhausted by October so why not?
I put out the word of a girls night out to my friends and gave them plenty of warning and reminded them a couple of times. I also invited a new friend Lindsay who I know from twitter. I always have an eclectic group at my parties. This was no exception. There was Emilee and Rachel who I knew from singles ward and Hawaii 2011, Stefanie my roommate from 2006-2007 and bestie, and Rachel my friend from book club (yes, 3 Rachel’s- party!) . I like having different people at parties so you have a mixture of conversation and personalities. It is a risk but usually leads to the best time by all.
The party was easy to plan. I put together goodie bags using dollar store items (and some see’s candy!). I figured it was my chance to put together my own beauty bag so it fit well with the theme of the party.
The food for the party was easy. I got a take and bake pizza and some baked chicken strips from a local restaurant. I didn’t have to cook anything which was good because I have been working and starting nanowrimo so no time to cook!
The girls got there at different times and we chatted for the first hour or so. Then we ate and started our makeovers. Masks, apple peel (from Juice Beauty, a great birchbox find) and exfoliants were used by various people. Then we moved on to the eyes, lips and nails. We looked very pretty by the end of the night!
Then we finished up the night watching Joss Whedon’s new Much Ado About Nothing which was really fun. They shot the film in 12 days with hardly any budget but that was all for the benefit of the film. I liked the black and white photography. You could tell the performers were all friends (I guess Whedon does Shakespeare readings with his friends (great idea for next party!) and he had a break between the Avengers and decided to make a movie in his house. Love that!
So I think the party was a great success and I look forward to the next one. What do you gals like to do for girls night out? I think as a 32 year old singlite I’ve got the girls night out down. So fun!
Now off to write my next section of nanowrimo! How are you all doing on your word counts?
“For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”
Readers of this blog probably remember that I loved the movie and book Perks of Being a Wallflower last year. It was the first movie I felt nostalgic for, that I felt captured high school when I was a teen. Of course, the movie is much darker and tragic than anything I experienced but the look and feel reminded me of those years.
That said, one thing it did not remind me of is the experience of being a wallflower. What is that like? I really do wonder.
Sometimes it feels like I never get the chance to follow instead of lead. I am not trying to brag. Believe me sometimes I wish I could take a break and follow but it never seems to work out that way.
When I was in grad school we were required to do a group project in every class which could be such a pain (with UofPhoenix they try to make it so you have basically the same classmates during your entire program). This definitely helps you weed out the good team partners. By the last class one person I never got to work with said ‘I never got to be a part of the dream team’.
Anyway, I always ended up leading the groups but one time I was taking my first trip to Hawaii and decided to take a lesser role, let someone else lead. I still checked in every day (as was required for the curriculum) and tried to follow a project which was due the week after I came home (the courses were only 6 weeks).
It was a statistics class and my toughest subject during my MBA (great time to take a trip right!), but I did my best and hoped for a decent grade. When I got home I called my various team members and they hadn’t done much on the paper. Quickly I glanced through the assignment and realized that my teammates had read the assignment incorrectly. They thought we had to get research already collected from scientific journals and the like. Turns out we had to collect the data ourselves.
Panicked I called my Dad who is the greatest in moments like this. We put together a survey of JWA employees rating their benefits package and asked them to return it the next day (my Dad and uncle being president and chairman of the board probably helped with that!). So I got the surveys back, tabulated the data, wrote the paper and had it in on time. Phew!
It was actually kind of funny I was visiting teaching coordinator, along with 2 other callings, at that time and I was terrible at that calling. I never seemed to be able to get my calls in on time. As it so happened just as I was tabulating data and super stressed out (I was working super long hours at this time as well) my Relief Society pres called me to ask for the numbers and I started to cry (sometimes leading can cause my anxiety, which isn’t good). She asked me if she could help and bless her heart she came over and helped read off the survey scores as I entered them into the spreadsheet. So I guess I was the recipient of leadership in that case.
Maybe it was the wrong lesson to learn but I never took a smaller role in a group again and that statistics class was my only B in grad school. It wasn’t worth the risk of failure to let someone else lead and nobody challenged me for the spot so I took it and created the dream team!
The reason this was on my mind is I was discussing a dating idea on the Midsingles facebook forum called 8 at 8. The concept is you network instead of one-on-one date. Ideally 8 people, 4 men and 4 women, meet and have dinner together. This way instead of meeting 1 person you have met 7 people who know so many more people, who know more people who might be right for you. Anyway, I brought up the idea and it got a huge response.
People seemed really interested so I set up a meetup for August 14th. Now there are 40 people signed up for the group. 21 are signed for the event. My thought is we will figure out what we want to do for the future, organize smaller groups, but I’m sure the turnout will be smaller than rsvpd. I’m expecting 8-10. We are meeting at a local pizzeria just to guard against any weirdos. It should be pretty fun.
I was talking to a friend about this, and she said I was brave. I didn’t feel brave. Of course, I went on a cruise alone to Mexico so my comfort level with strangers is pretty high. 🙂 When I was on the institute committee I remember people saying similar things when we were planning a barn dance and people were surprised I’d call someone who I knew had a barn. Seemed obvious to me but the fact that I didn’t know the barn owner made it bold I guess…
Anyway, I was sitting wondering how I ended up as a leader in another group? Whether its swimfest, book club, my writing group or some church function I always seem to be asked to lead. I’m not really complaining just puzzling because sometimes it just seems to happen without really meaning too?
One thing I like about swimming is I got to be fellowshipped instead of lead. I am pretty much always the slowest swimmer in the bunch and yet I’ve never felt excluded or anything but encouraged. Its kind of a nice change. (yet I still have led with swimfest and helping with the newsletter but that has been fun.)
The other strange thing is I’ve never been a leader in my work, unless you count my days as a teaching assistant back in college (still my favorite job). Funny hah? You think that would be the place I’d be most likely to lead? I have led in my own way at work but a clerical job doesn’t exactly scream leadership. Very strange… (I’ve also never been relief society president, thank goodness! However, I was gospel doctrine teacher for 6 years which is a type of leadership and excelled in front of the classroom)
Anyway, sorry for this long rambling post. Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about? Do you feel that way about leadership or are you a natural follower?
So today was the big day! My ‘Rachel Turns 32 and Gets a House Party’. My birthday was actually a few weeks ago but I wanted to combine my housewarming and birthday parties into one big bash. I hired my Dad’s tenant and our friend Dax to come over and assemble furniture, hang artwork and that was such a great move. It made the house feel really done. Outsourcing is almost always a fabulous idea!
My roommate was a wonderful help with cleaning and organizing for the party and my cousin Danielle came down and got balloons and helped me to clean (she’s the best!). I was a little worried that the emerging storm might scare people off but luckily there was a steady flow of people from 5 all the way to closing time at 10.
I saw old roommates, ward friends, swim friends, cousins, just good friends. It made me feel happy that I have such wonderful people in my life. There were also many who could not come because of illness or other concerns and I could feel their thoughtfulness light up inside of me. I really do have the best friends ever.
One fun thing is that my curtains got installed today and while I was at Costco getting party trays (yum!) the guy worked on the install so when I came home they were done which was a fun surprise. They look so good. I love them! I just love my house! It was so fun to share it and maybe show off just a little bit to my friends. It was a happy moment and I feel full of joy. I really do love my house!
The party was super fun and I’m so grateful for everyone who came. The cake turned out amazing!
Everything else in the party turned out great. There was a yummy spread with sandwiches, shrimp and super good strawberries all from Costco. Seriously the strawberries were delectable.
I made this guest book for the party which I think turned out super cute too.
Here are some photos of some of the friends at the party. There were of course many people I didn’t get photos of. Thanks to everyone who came! It’s always so nice to see that old friends are still good friends and that you don’t have to see someone everyday to still be tight. I am a very loved person.
It’s going to be a party that will be hard to top and while I am exhausted it is a happy kind of tired. A feeling loved and a sense of satisfaction tired. Its a job well done and feeling of accomplishment kind of tired. It’s the end of a journey and the beginning of an adventure. Most importantly I feel so loved.
So everyone knows I love entertaining and making food look beautiful. The item I’ve probably had the most practice on over the years are fruit and vegetable trays. I used to work for BYU catering where we made hundreds of fruit trays. It was there I learned how to cut a pineapple and could get a pineapple cored and cut in about a minute.
Soon after college I got introduced to the Barefoot Contessa and her amazing fruit platters always filled me with glee. They just looked so pretty :). Granted she has food stylists and a bevy of helpers (not too mention quite the budget) but I think if you invited Ina Garten to a party she’d bring about as pretty a fruit tray as shown in the pictures. Incidentally I wonder if Ina Garten’s friends are terrified to invite her over to eat. How could you measure up?
Anyway, I started a diet on Monday and had to bring a treat to activity days for the young girls at church. (Age 8-10). I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t derail my diet and as I had been a slacker leader the last few months store bought seemed too lame. So I decided to put together a fruit tray with my famous chocolate yogurt dip (so good!).
I must say I think it is my finest fruit tray creation yet:
The fruit tray included strawberries, cherries, envy apples, banana and just for fun star fruit. I had my chocolate dip (recipe below) and some store-bought caramel sauce (I’ve never quite mastered homemade caramel sauce).
I didn’t know if the girls would like the dark chocolate sauce but I think you can tell from this after shot that they liked it!
Here are Ina Garten’s fruit tray tips:
“Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that’s available.
I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height.
Then I add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M’s if there are too many colors scattered with no order.
Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit.
After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.”
Some day I will be so on the ball I have lemon leaves on my trays but I’m proud of my attempt. I think even kids respond better to something that is presented beautifully and it really doesn’t taken any more effort than throwing it on a plate. Ok maybe a tiny bit more effort but hardly anything.
Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce. Its super good. This makes a lot of sauce.
Chocolate Yogurt Sauce
3 Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars- Lindt has tons of flavors including roasted almond, sea salt, chili, mint etc. They are the best!
1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt
2-3 tbsp whole milk
heat chocolate over double boiler until melted. Add milk, mix together over heat. Will get a little thicker as it heats up.
Add yogurt once its cooled down.
Since I was making this for kids I added about a tsp of agave to make it a little sweeter.
You can add chopped nuts, toffee bits or whatever you like. Can dip anything in it. Shortbread is amazing!
I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.
As best as I can calculate on myfitnesspal.com these servings have 120 calories, 18 carbs, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 11 grams sugar.
As I mentioned in my last post I had a little gathering today to celebrate the Olympics and watch some great athletics with my friends. We decided to make healthy appetizers for the party and I think we came up with a pretty good spread:
Have you ever seen the movie Mermaids? Not a great movie but in it the mother cooks only appetizers. I think that would not be a bad way to live. You can pack so much flavor into a little bite. The 2 appetizers I made were cucumbers with lentil spicy hummus and apricots with goat cheese and almonds. The recipe for the apricots I got from the blog The Reluctant Entertainer. A simple but delicious recipe.
Recipe: Apricots and Goat Cheese Bites
Summary: Makes about 20 bites. I always double the recipe.
2 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
1 tsp. milk or cream
20 dried apricots (preferably from Trader Joeâ€™s for the best flavor and tartness)
1-2 tsp. honey
Place the apricots on a platter.
Mix the goat cheese and milk or cream until smooth.
Put a spoonful on each apricot.
Top with a whole almond.
Drizzle with honey.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
The cucumbers are just sliced cucumbers with spicy lentil hummus from Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus. It is expensive but very delicious and good for you! I like they say ‘a new hummus experience’ on the label. I didn’t know you could have a hummus experience but there you go!
My pictures of the group turned out fuzzy but here’s some of the girls:
Thanks everyone for coming! So fun to cheer on the US team in all their success today. 🙂