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Posts Tagged ‘entertain’

As I bustled through the grocery store today, I noticed they had all sorts of pumpkin this and caramel apple that on display.

It made me really want a piece of pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin cake. Or pumpkin bread with chocolate chips. Or…

Oh, you get the idea.

Anyway, if you are looking for some fun fall recipes, entertaining tips and party ideas, I invite you to download Savvy Autumn Entertaining.

Autumn Cover

It’s free!

You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or you can download a PDF version from my writing website.

She Who Loves Fall

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Word of the Week: Entertain

en·ter·tain

[en-ter-teyn]

to have as a guest; provide food, lodging for; show hospitality to.
 
I’d like you all to think about the last time you entertained someone at your home. Or, if you have never tried yet, what are you waiting for?
 
Entertaining is opening your home to someone and making them feel welcome. That is the simplest and easiest definition. It is making memories with your friends and family. I can guarantee they won’t remember what your house looked like, probably not what they ate. What they will remember is how you made them feel.
 
So the next time you entertain, think about that definition of simply making people feel welcome in your home. Then go out there and make a great memory!
Happy Entertaining!
Shanna

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As the days start to warm up and get longer, think about refreshing your home’s decor.  Bringing in breezy fabrics, garden elements and bright florals make the statement “Spring Has Arrived.”
Here are 10 tips to bring spring into your home this season.

1. Let the Light In

Do you have velvet drapes or shades you’ve had pulled closed all winter. Open them up! Think about taking the drapes down and replacing with airy sheers. Toss slip covers in pale tones or bright florals on have, dark furniture.

2. Rug Replacement

Area rugs that are so warm and cozy in the winter can look bulky and dull in the spring and summer. Roll these up and store until fall. Bring out some lighter cotton rugs and watch it lighten the look of your room.

3. Move it, Move it!

If you have your furniture grouped around your fireplace, think about changing things up during the warmer months. Take the focal point away from the mantel and take advantage of windows that bring in light and adventure from outside.

4. Bring the Outdoors In

Bring a few garden chairs, accents and floral fabrics into a room for a garden feel. Even a couple of fun wicker chairs with bright cushions can make the room feel fresh and outdoorsy.

5. From Fake to Fresh

Take all the fake plants and arrangements, clean them and then store them for the spring and summer seasons. Bring in pots with fresh little plants of violets and primroses and invest in a few live green plants.

6. Less is More

Take all the knick-knacks and do-dads off your shelves. Dust the shelves and items and then decide what key pieces you really want to put back out. lighten the load and create more air by not loading the shelves down with too many pieces.

7. Easy Breezy

Sheer fabrics practically scream out warm days, fresh air, sunny skies. Use sheer curtains,  tablecloths, bedskirts, and pillows in your choice of plain, printed and patterned selections.

8. Stop the Madness

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you don’t love something, it isn’t serving a purpose or it doesn’t have sentimental value (real sentimental value) box it up or get rid of it. Get your clutter under control, get organized and enjoy the feeling or awe that comes over you when you are done with this task.

9. Deep Clean

Now is the time to bust out your cleaning supplies and give your home a good once over. Clean the windows, scrub floors, polish all the furniture, vacuum sofa cushions, air out rooms, wipe down walls, shine light fixtures.  Give the fireplace a final cleaning for the season.

10. A Welcome Entry

Take stock of your front door entry area. Sweep it down, wash windows, touch up paint if necessary. Put out a welcome sign or nice exterior decor piece that reflects your personal style. Make sure the entire area is clean, clutter free and says “Welcome to our Home.”

Happy Entertaining!

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As the days grow a bit longer, the sun bring welcome light and warmth and the crocuses start to bloom, think about doing a good spring cleaning of your entertaining pieces. This will prepare you not only for a new entertaining season, but also to entertain with style on the spur of the moment.

Take out all your serving pieces, dinnerware, flatware – all of it! Anything you use when you have company over to eat.

Are there pieces that are chipped, cracked or discolored beyond hope of redemption? Get them out of your entertaining area and do something else with them. Cracked plates and platters make great bases for planters, can be used as wall art or broken into pieces and glued into a mosaic. You can even set cracked plates into cement and make garden stones out of them.  Just get them out of your cupboard!

Do you have serving pieces you don’t like to use but hang onto out of a sense of guilt (as in Aunt Madge gave you that hideous bowl for a wedding gift and you’d feel guilty getting rid of it)? Get over it! If you don’t love it, don’t keep it!

Do any of your dinnerware pieces need replaced? Take an inventory? You can find affordable china replacements through a variety of outlets online.

Look at all your flatware and serving sets? Do they need polished? Are the fork tines all in good shape? Do any of them need replaced?

If you have silver items that need polished, make them shine before you put them away.

Spending a bit of time now not only prepares you to entertain beautifully on a moments notice, it also rids your cupboards and closets of things you no longer like or use.

Happy Entertaining!

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Now that the holidays are over, the Christmas bills have started arriving and the weather is dreary, everyone could use a fun pick-me-up.

Why not host a fun party? Provide the time and place for your loved ones to forgot about the January blues and have a couple hours of unbelieveable fun. You can pull together a great winter-themed party without breaking the bank and it will be just the thing to bring out smiles and warm some hearts!

Here are a few ideas:

* Snowman Party – The fun can snowball in a hurry with a creative theme. Use a simple menu like Snowman’s Soup (Potato Soup), Snowman Rolls (shape biscuits or rolls into a snowman shape). Cut your favorite white cheese with a small snowman cookie cutter, and place on top of  nice green salad for Snowman  Salad. Finish the meal with a snowman shaped dessert, easily made by stacking varying sizes of cupcakes, covering in white frosting and finishing with coconut or by dipping Nutter Butter Cookies in melted white chocolate and adding a face and a hat with frosting. Use snowman decorations left over from the holidays to highlight the theme. You can even make an easy centerpiece out of white styrofoam balls (available at craft stores) placed in a pretty glass bowl.

* Snowflake Party – Get the kids in on the decorating for this party. Have them cut as many snowflake as they can and hang them all around your serving and gathering area. Chiffon, organza or even tulle can be a great and affordable way to carry out the theme, especially when you combine white and icy blue. Layer white lights under the chiffon for a warm glow. For this party you could make snowflake soup (tomato soup with a sour cream snowflake floating in each bowl – fill a sandwich bag, clip a corner and pipe it on!) and snowflake sandwiches (grilled cheese sandwiches made by alternating a dark bread like rye with a lighter bread like sourdough or white. Cut out snowflakes from each then put the cut out of one bread into the cut out area of the other.)  Serve Candy Cane punch (1 liter cranberry or strawberry juice, 2 liters of lemon-lime soda, 2 quarts peppermint ice cream. Just before serving, put chilled  juice in punch bowl, scoop in ice cream, top with chilled soda. Garnish the bowl with mini candy canes) with snowflake sugar cookies for dessert.

* Skating or sledding party – use mufflers and mittens for your decorations. Use mitten shaped invitations to spread the word. Serve hot cider and hot chocolate (if you are serving hot chocolate make sure you have fun add ins read like marshmallows, crushed peppermint, mini chocolate chips and long peppermint sticks to stir with), snack mixes, and something simple like  mac and cheese with warm bread and salad. Make ice skate brownies for dessert. Cut a small skate shape our of cardboard for a template then cut out brownies, flipping the template over for half so the skates or heading different directions. Frost with white icing, make laces from red icing and the skate heel from a touch of chocolate frosting. Add a mini candy cane on the bottom for the skate blade.

* Winter Animals  – this theme works well and is most fun for younger children. Using the theme of animals that make you think of winter, it can be a really fun meal for little ones. Penguins can be made from hand-boiled eggs with olive heads and arms (use a whole black olive for the head and the tip of a mini carrot for his beak. Cut an olive into quarters lengthwise for arms and use tips of mini carrots for the feet. Toothpicks will anchor on the head and limbs. Be sure someone removes the toothpicks for younger ones before eating!). How about polar bear sandwiches? Just cut bread slices in the shape of a polar bear. You could do peanut butter, grilled cheese, meat, whatever you want. Serve milk as “artic punch” and have popcorn balls for reindeer cookies for dessert.

* Escape to Paradise – for the adults who are tired of gray skies and freezing temperatures, tell everyone to come dressed in their tropical best. Turn up the heater, play the luau music and put out a feast featuring “warm, sunny” foods and drinks like tropical fruit salad, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken and veggie skewers, crab pasta salad, orange-avocado salad atop mixed greens and tropical sunrise drinks (orange juice and ice with a dash of pomegranate juice). Make sure everyone has a lei to wear. A parting gift to each guest could be a votive that smells “tropical” like pineapple or coconut, as a a fun reminder of the evening. Tie it in a circle of tulle with a bright ribbon and it makes a lovely little gift!

However you decide to entertain this month, have fun, smile and enjoy the time spent with the people who are most dear to you!

Happy Entertaining!

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cutting boardI am in love! And yes, Hubby is aware of the infatuation.  This love affair is with the next best thing since sliced bread – crock pot liners!

OK, so I can get pretty excited about some very simple things but I just tried the liners for the first time yesterday and absolutely loved them. No mess, no scrubbing out baked on food. Just lift out the liner, toss, and rinse out the crock pot. So quick and simple.

When you are entertaining at home, make your prep work as quick and simple as possible. It will take less time and energy to clean up and give you more of both to devote to enjoying your guests.

Line pans with foil or parchment paper before baking (depending on what you are making) for easy clean up afterward.

Use resealable plastic bags for mixing messy ingredients, marinating meat or veggies. You can mix just about anything in a bag my massaging it. It also works great for squeezing our frosting and fillings. Just fill the bag, seal, trim off a corner and you are ready to roll.

Invest in at least one quality piece of heavy-duty cookware and one top-drawer piece of cutlery. The cookware will not only cook better and faster, it will also be easier to clean up. The cutlery will make your prep work go faster and you might even have more fun doing it.

Have a couple of good cutting boards. Keep the one you use for raw meats separate from the one you use for everything else. When you purchase a cutting board, look for one that has a gutter around the edge – it will keep runaway juices contained and save time on clean up.

Keep a bowl handy in which you place all peelings, trimmings, etc., in when you are doing prep work. It saves cleaning out the sink or scraping piles off the counter later.

Use paper cupcake liners to grease pans, or save the wrappers from cubes of butter to use when you need a pan greased.

Make clean up after the party simple, too, by having adequate containers out for guests to toss their garbage. If you are entertaining outdoors, you can even have a container to collect flatware, plates and glasses.

Think about the things you can do that will save time on clean-up and make entertaining even easier. If you have a favorite mess-free tip, please share it here!

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Easy Quiche

When I was in college living in a co-ed dorm and getting an education in things that had nothing to do with either my major or minor, a bunch of us girls got together and decided to have a nice party before we all left for the holidays. We all were supposed to contribute one thing to the meal and it needed to be “girlie” food.

I called Mom in  panic with no idea what I could make. She saved the day when she sent me this easy quiche recipe. It was a hit at the party, and every time I’ve made it over the years.

Wonderful for breakfast, brunch, luncheons or dinners, it is so good and simple to make!

Quiche
3 eggs

1 1/2 cups cream

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup shredded cheddar or colby-jack

1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon or diced ham

1/2 tsp. onion flakes

Prepared pie crust in 9 inch pie pan. Beat the eggs, add in cream and salt.  Sprinkle cheese and bacon over pie crust. Pour egg mixture over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite cooking memory from your college days? Share it here!

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