Monday, January 27, 2014

Super Bowl Party Revisit

I'm reposting some advice I gave on hosting a Super Bowl Party.  Someone asked me about it and I remembered I had done this already, so let's take a look again....

(Cue the waves and music taking us back in time.)

Super Bowl Party

The cold outside getting you down?  Why not throw a Super Bowl Party this Sunday and cheer yourself (and your friends) up?  It's a great excuse for a low key get together in your house and both the men and the women love it.  The three key ingredients, of course are a television, drinks and some snacks, but it doesn't have to be sitting on the floor, 7-layer dip and cans of Bud.  There is certainly a time for that, but this winter has been too harsh and you and your friends need a pick me up.  Let's class it up a bit, eh?

First of all, we need to create a space to watch the big game.  I like tiered seating, but you don't need to have stadium seating and a home theater to get this effect.  Just have several clusters of seats at different heights.  I'm sure you have a setup that involves some couches facing your television, grab some bar stools to place behind them so more people can sit and watch.  I find those that are most into the game will fill the couches and those with a more passing interest in the game and more interest in chatting and eating will take the stools.  If you really wanted to do it up right, you can buy a bar height table for that second tier, too.

Next, let's look at the drinks.  Beer is fine, and should certainly be on hand, but why not create a signature drink for everyone else?  I love to make a punch and have rum or vodka on hand to spike it.  This way the kids feel like they are part of the party, and the adults can decide if they just want just a splash of the hard stuff to keep it safe, or a little more to make it fun.  You can even name the punch after one of the competing teams or the host city.  As for the beer, take some pint glasses and put them in the freezer the night before so guests can drink from a chilled glass.  This way every guest has something special, even the beer drinkers.

Finally, the food.  Traditionally we like to have comfort food or Mexican food for the Super Bowl, not sure how that happened, buy why not pump up the food a little?  With just some simple adjustments, your normal fare can turn special.  You can certainly purchase some already made meatballs, but why not serve them as sliders with small rolls and slices of fresh mozzarella?  Instead of chips and chili, why not cook up a steak with a spice rub, then slice it thin and serve a mini slice in a tortilla cup?  The internet is teeming with recipes, just take a minute a look through and your guests will feel special.

That's it, you have just a few days, but go ahead and just do it!  Stay warm!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I've been away

It's been quite some time since I've posted.  Have you seen the blog posts of our 2 week sailing trip through the Caribbean?  That's the biggest reason, I've been getting ready to travel, then away, and still trying to get back on my rhythm.  I'll get there, in the meantime, please feel free to peruse our trip, from our two favorite days, Day 5, and Day 11; to our absolute favorite island and resort in the world, Cap Juluca in Anguilla; to Day 9 taking us from one 5 star hotel to another, snorkeling over sunken ships, climbing through The Baths.  Quite an adventure! 

Once I'm all caught up, I'll begin writing more!

~ Sue

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Your Relationship with Your Event Planner

A good relationship with an event planner can make the busy mom’s life a little more fun!

Think beyond Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs… Do you secretly envy your best friend because she throws an annual holiday party and you think you’re just too busy to do one yourself?  Have you let milestone birthdays or anniversaries go by because you were too busy to celebrate them properly?  A good relationship with an event planner can take the work-a-day life of a busy mom and pepper it with some fun.  I say “relationship” because life is filled with events we wish we could celebrate… your daughter’s sweet 16, your parent’s golden wedding anniversary, a surprise birthday party for your significant other, a family reunion, even a grown up Halloween party.  Your planner can help you decorate your home, handle the caterer, and even manage the invitations and RSVPs.

The first step is to find the right event planner.  You will want to look for someone who is interested in building a relationship with you, too.  There are some planners that like to plan 3 to 5 big events a year and leave it at that, but what you need is someone who cares less about the size of the event and more about the quality of the relationship.  For example, we are currently planning a 70th birthday party for 10 couples at the home of the birthday boy.  While the busy wife and mother is tending to her family and business, we are selecting the menu, invitations and floral arrangements, renting tables, chairs and linens, staffing with servers and a bartender, and even selecting the right music for her pipe in through her existing sound system.  Then, while the happy couple focuses on their guests and enjoys themselves that night, we will be busily working behind the scenes making sure everything arrives in time, gets set up in her home beautifully, served to the guests professionally, then taken down and cleaned up as if the party never happened…  all of this for less than she would have paid if she took her party of 20 to a trendy restaurant for dinner.  It’s the perfect solution for this busy family, and she will use us again for her next party, which is clam bake this summer at her shore house. 

The relationship here is the key, she is comfortable knowing that nothing is too small to ask of us, and we know that we'll be there for her, event after event.  We know her style, her favorite colors, and the foods she hates; we know the layout of her house, where to set up coat check, and where to send valets to park; we even know her guests by now and know which ones we need to call to get their RSVP because they never send it in time.  It's a relationship for sure. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Paying an Event Planner Saves Money

It's a crazy idea, isn't it?  The idea that paying an Event Planner can save you money on your event feels counter-intuitive, but it's not.

Saving money on a big event isn't easy without looking like you've skimped.  Guests will know... there's just something that feels homemade and amateur about it, right?  You know what I mean, even if you can't put your finger on it.  The flowers are sparse, the linens are plain, the lighting is harsh...  it's something.  When you're on a tight budget, you do what you can and sometimes that's all you can do, right?  Wrong!

That's what a planner will fix.  A good planner can use vendor relationships to get you upgrades or even donations (for non profit events).  When you call a vendor, it's a one-off and you'll get the rack price.  An event planner will often get a preferred price on rentals or services based on volume.  I have some vendors that I work with so often, that I can tell them the budget and they will make it work for that price.  Also, when a vendor has a good working relationship with the planner, they know that future business from the planner depends on each event's performance, so they will often go above and beyond, not just to please the client, but to please the planner. 

An experienced planner will know where you should spend the money for the biggest bang for your buck.  I've done weddings on relatively low budgets that have been covered by bridal magazines because they look so luxurious, but what they didn't notice was where we saved money.  Maybe we reused the flowers from the ceremony at the reception, or using less expensive paper for the menu cards.  We'll know that in June it's not dark out till much later, so maybe don't spend the money on lighting the outside of the reception, but lighting inside is crucial.  It's relatively inexpensive and makes the party look richer.  It's the details that we know guests notice that we'll put the emphasis, and tell you where to save your money.  Not everything you see on websites, blogs or pinterest are worth the money and time you will spend.

You can be saved from making other costly mistakes, too.  Often times I work with clients who have done the annual event themselves for years and have decided to outsource to me.  That's when I get to hear the best horror stories of vendors that didn't show up, wasted money on invitations that couldn't be sent because of mistakes, overpriced a/v because of added services they didn't need.  Your planner will know the reputations of vendors in the area (or be able to ask their vast network about their reputations) to make sure it's someone you can count on.  Your planner will know the common pitfalls an mistakes made at every step and look out for them for you.  They will look over your contracts to make sure it includes everything you need and nothing you don't.  Planners do this for a living, so they know what to look for.

So, while it may seem like you don't want to spend the money because you think you can do it yourself, you can save yourself money and the hastle of the details that go into the planning of your next event, by leaving it to the professionals!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Read a good book lately?

I just got back from Spring Break in Florida.  My in-laws have a home in Longboat Key and we decided to fly out for the week Jade was off from school and get away from this cold!  Anyway, I love to read but never have the time because of...  well, my life.  While on vacation from my life, though, I read 2 very good books, both about struggling relationships.  

The first book I read was The Light Between Oceans.  Set in Australia after the first World War, this story of families making tough choices and just trying to do the right thing, even when a couple doesn't agree with what the right this is.  You feel so much for these characters and want the best for everybody, but just don't know how that can happen.  It's beautifully written, too.  

Once I devoured that one, I downloaded Gone Girl.  Very Different.  This book made me laugh out loud at parts and shake my head at others.  The story of a couple told from the point of view of the husband, and the diary entries of the wife, you think you really know them well.  But you don't.  This is going to make a great movie someday, I just know it.  It's over the top and fun.

The next book that I'm just chomping at the bit to read is And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.  If you haven't read The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, you really must.  I read The Kite Runner first and almost didn't want to read A Thousand Splendid Suns because I thought there was no way a first time author could follow a book so great up with anything but a disappointment, but I was soooooo wrong.  A Thousand Splendid Suns was even better, it's probably the best book I've ever read.  Seriously.  So you can bet that I'm downloading his newest book on May 21. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Favorite Foods

My favorite way to eat is in small meals all day long, like 5 meals a day.  I would always choose tapas over a Thanksgiving meal (my husband thinks that's blasphemy), and I have a number of go-to dishes that I love. I decided to look into what the nutritional value of each is, so I figured I would write a blog post about them as I do.  Ideally I'd like to get about 30 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbs, and 7 grams of fat per meal.  Now, as you may know, I'm gluten free and I try to stay away from most dairy with the exception of goat's milk cheese and yogurt, so these dishes follow that diet.

Maybe I should talk about my supplements, too...  I take a multivitamin with iron,  CLA, Sublingual Vitamin B-12, and a D Vitamin.  Everyday.  I also buy my vitamins at Trader Joe's they're much cheaper there! 

Yogurt with strawberries and granola

1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup Kind Vanilla Blueberry Clusters
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Calories: 300
Fat: 3g
Carbs: 42g
Protein: 27g
Fiber:  8g

(A little high in carb, I could reduce the amount of granola, but pretty great.  Go me!)

Chicken breast with Hummus and Tomatoes

Leftover chicken breast (4oz)
2 tbs hummus
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Calories:  282
Fat:  7g
Carbs:  14g
Protein:  38g
Fiber:  2g

(If I just add some more veggies to this, it's a perfect meal)

Omelet with Spinach and Feta

1 whole egg and 3 egg whites
sauteed spinach
1 ounce goat cheese feta

Calories: 230
Fat:  14g
Carbs:  4g
Protein:  23g
Fiber:  2g

(If I switch to egg whites only and a cup of fruit on the side)

Calories: 275
Fat:  5g
Carbs:  35g
Protein:  19g
Fiber:  5g

GF Toast with Mashed Peanut Butter and Banana

1 slice Udi's gluten free whole grain bread
1 tbs peanut butter
1/2 medium banana

Calories:  280
Fat:  12g
Carbs:  38g
Protein:  9g
Fiber:  4g

(this has a lot less protein than I thought!  I guess I could eat with the protein shake below for a nice big meal.)

Strawberry Vanilla Protein Shake

1 cup almond milk
handful of frozen strawberries
heaping scoop of vanilla protein powder

Calories:  170
Fat:  4g
Carbs:  7g
Protein:  25g
Fiber:  3g

(If I added a banana)

Calories:  270
Fat:  4g
Carbs:  34g
Protein:  26g
Fiber:  6g

Think Thin Brownie Crunch Bar

Calories:  230
Fat:  8g
Carbs:  24g
Protein:  20g
Fiber:  2g

(This guys is pretty perfect, and tasty, too)

Protein Pancake with Blueberries on top

1/2 banana
1/4 c egg whites
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbs ground chia seed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs almond milk
1/2 c blueberries (on top)

Calories: 120
Fat:  2g
Carbs:  28g
Protein:  26g
Fiber:  4g

(another pretty good one!) 

Hummus and Cucumbers

2 cups sliced Cucumbers
4 tbs Hummus

Calories: 124
Fat:  5g
Carbs:  16g
Protein:  4g
Fiber:  3g

Tuna made with Hummus on GF Bread

1 can white tuna in water, drained
2 tbs hummus (this picture is with the roasted red pepper kind)
1 slice Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain bread

Calories:  185
Fat:  5g
Carbs:  17g
Protein:  17g
Fiber:  3g

Scrambled Egg and Hummus on Toast

1 slice Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain bread
2 tbs hummus
1/4 c egg whites scrambled with 1 whole egg

Calories: 245
Fat:  11g
Carbs:  18g
Protein:  20g
Fiber:  4g

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rain, rain, go away

Who loves a good shower?

Baby Showers, Bridal Showers

Of course they can be so much fun, getting to see everyone and celebrate our friends and family's milestones.  But let's be realistic, watching the guest of honor open gifts that she's registered for and everyone has already seen because they were just shopping with the list in  hand, isn't exactly riveting entertainment. 

Why not try a presentation shower instead?  Guests are instructed to bring their gift unwrapped.  When they get there, they can fill out a tag with their name, affix it to the gift, and place it on the presentation table.  This way the bride (or mother-to-be) can just peruse the table and thank her guests as she mingles through the party.  Great, right?  It opens the shower up to so many other possibilities than bridal bingo!  Now you can have other kinds of entertainment that traditionally wouldn't work at a shower.  This is a great option for Jack and Jill showers, too, because the men would NEVER sit through a traditional shower!