party planning and an elegant recipe

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Wow, so I realized how much I have missed planning events and parties last weekend. This was really fun to plan an Italian themed party. In my last post, you saw the fun Italian cream soda station that I created. Well, here are a couple ideas to help make sure your next party is a success!

1. If you are working in a customer’s home, make sure the place is clean and neat. Clutter is a huge killer for a party. Guests will inevitably wind up wandering through the back bedroom or master bathroom even if the doors are closed, so make sure the homeowner knows to hide the dirty wash, the diaries or whatever personal items they want to keep private. It’s just that way.

2. Move furniture if you can to make for an optimal socializing flow if it isn’t already. Walk through and see if there are any “clogs” besides the kitchen, which also always seems to happen.

3. Even if it’s a basic party, do something fun that will make people talk. Mine was the Italian Soda station. It was something different (not crazy, but just a little different) and brought out people’s curiosity which is a good thing. You could do a fun, thought-provoking dessert station or even have fun party favors to take away that will remind them of how much fun they had. Think outside the box.

Ok, now for the coolest recipe. My partner in crime (sissy) thought this up. We basically ran out of time to do lovely little skewers, so it ended up being tossed together as a “salad”.

Chocolate Balsamic and Blood Orange Berry Mozzarella Salad

2 pints fresh strawberries. If they are gigantic, cut them in half
1 pint raspberries
16 oz mozzarella balls drained of water (cherry tomato size, not the huge ones)
1/4-1/3 cup chocolate balsamic vinegar (more or less to taste)
4 tb to 1/4 cup blood orange olive oil (more or less to taste and yes, I said blood orange olive oil)
1 tb coarse raw sugar or coconut sugar to lightly dust (optional if your berries aren’t sweet and ripe)

**these last two items are critical in making this recipe what it is. You can find them in specialty olive oil/vinegar stores or order online.

Mix gently together, drizzling the oil and vinegar until coated. You may need more depending on your taste, but trust me, this recipe is truly elegant and a showstopper. :)

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fun addition for any party

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I hosted my first party in several months for some friends this past weekend. It was a cocktail party but I stole this adorable idea from Pinterest. It’s probably something you would usually have at children’s birthday parties, however, my adults LOVED it!
I had an assortment of beer, wine and then either virgin Italian Cream Sodas or “spiked” with vodka. It really complimented my Italian theme to the soiree and made for a fun addition to the drink station.

To do this, you will need the following items:

- 3-4 different flavors of Torani Syrup and I recommend a variety of fruit flavors and maybe a vanilla or caramel. Note, if you can’t find cherry but want to make cherry sodas, you can use good old, fashioned grenadine!

- bottles of club soda or seltzer water

- heavy cream

- ice

-vodka (optional)

- a sign-could be a white board, a chalkboard, even printed paper on a small easel or stand

-pretty glasses and I found the adorable striped straws at Target in the party section.

Write out your sign with the following instructions:

1. fill your glass with ice
2. add two-four dashes (or pumps if you have pumps for the syrups) of syrup
3. top with soda water
4. add a splash of cream

Note, you may want to provide a shot glass if making this with vodka since you probably want to control how much your guests are drinking. :)

Optional, whipped cream and sprinkles, but I didn’t do this-would be cute though. And I’m sorry, I have no idea why I didn’t get a photo of one made up.

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beautiful green

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No, this isn’t an April Fools joke; you can actually get addicted to kale. My sister and I discussed this recently and I am not sure what it is. If it’s the clean feeling you get as these beautiful nutrients penetrate the cells in your body or the sheer health of it, but I’m addicted. And it’s not a bad thing! There was an article floating around the internet recently from some woman who got sick from eating kale where she talked about how you can eat too much and it having adverse effects. Well, I’d rather go down in a raw pile of nutritious kale, than buckets of sugar and fat. In reality, anything in excess can hurt your body. Am I right or am I right??
Anyway, now that spring is finally here, I loaded up on this amazing salad. Something about the kale when it’s rubbed with olive oil and course grained sea salt, has me giddy. Try ripping up a couple stems of kale, taking care to remove from the inner (and tough) stalk. Toss in a bowl with some olive oil and course salt and get in there-massage away. Good for your hands, too! It breaks down the toughness and coats the leaves, making for a less bitter taste.
I added some Italian lettuces, some cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Just ignore the croutons…yeah, I added those, because I wanted the extra crunch. I barely need any additional dressing, but maybe a tablespoon of a homemade Italian vinaigrette…sooooooo good!

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hot chocolate mess

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Tell me this doesn’t make your mouth just water? Yes, it’s that amazing and delicious and the perfect cure for another BLUSTERY day at the shore. Nor’Easters got nothin’ on this Chocolate Lava Cake! Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s gluten free?
There are a few things I could’ve done to tweak it into being almost sinfully healthy, but I sadly, I’m out of coconut sugar, so I used white sugar and I would rather have used a coconut flour which would’ve made this a paleo recipe instead of the all purpose gluten free flour.
However, here’s the recipe and it’s sooooo easy, you’d better run out, grab the ingreds and make it, like today!
Here’s the original recipe: http://www.anoregoncottage.com/quick-and-easy-lava-cakes/

And then, here’s my gf version:

Gluten Free Chocolate Lava Cake

Makes 4 1/2-cup size individual cakes (which is good because you probably won’t have to deal with leftovers to tempt you the next day)
◾1/2 c. (3-1/2 oz.) chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
◾1/3 c. butter (plus more for greasing)
◾1/2 c. sugar (I would prefer coconut sugar! Gotta do it this way next time)
◾3 Tb. flour (I used an all purpose gluten free flour)
◾2 eggs
◾cocoa powder for dusting
1.Heat oven to 400 degrees (if you are cooking right away). Generously grease the inside of four 1/2-cup ramekins with softened butter and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.
2.Melt the chocolate and butter together how you like – using a double boiler, or in the microwave. I prefer the microwave – I use a 4-cup glass measure and heat for 45 seconds, and then whisk until smooth. If using a double boiler, transfer the chocolate mixture to a medium sized bowl.
3.Stir in the sugar and flour. Then add the eggs and whisk until everything is incorporated.
4.Divide the batter evenly between the cups (they will be about 3/4 full) and set the cups on a small cookie sheet to make it easy to go in and out of the oven.
5.Bake for 14 minutes until tops are firm and edges are set. Invert immediately (or at least within five minutes) onto individual serving plates. Dust with additional cocoa powder, if desired.

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instant update

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Oooh-this is another good project I just did…talk about instant gratification, too! A nice piece of fabric, a staple gun and voila! This chair has been recovered with minimal effort. Many old chairs can be recovered this simply, but some are not and I am definitely not a professional reupholsterer. :)
However, this was a nice and easy way to spruce up an otherwise, plain and neglected chair. This will go perfectly in our neutral colored beach home!

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DIY day

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Oooh, I finally got to do this project I’ve been waiting to do for a while. A driftwood coaster/placemat. It’s small enough to be a coaster for hot or cold drinks. Or, if I had continued on, I could’ve made it into a complete placemat for a plate or bowl. Either way, I love the rustic look! All I did was take some of my gorgeous, whitewashed driftwood pieces and tie them together with a simple one loop knot pattern with a nice, nubby and natural twine.

Soooo cute!

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farewell winter!

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I’m saying goodbye winter…from today on, I choose to ignore you. Your icy grip on my soul shall vanish. Spring is coming and I have to bid you adieu in order to fill my mind with the promise of sunshine and warmth.
I can’t wait for the first sight of a daffodil in bloom, the tender song of springtime feathered friends in the newly budding trees. Alas, winter, you have your place in this hemisphere, but you have outstayed your welcome.
Go!
Leave us with the deep moisture you pummeled us with these past several, mean-spirited months and flee back from whence you came. Blankets of green grass and shocks of colored flowers are almost upon us. So, rise up, spring! Show your head and banish winter once and for all!

“For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!”
Song of Solomon 2:11-13 (NASB)

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You think this girl is sick of winter??? ;)