Celebrating Womens Friendship and Food

women friendsOkay, I can see you right now rolling your eyes at me after reading the title. “Sure, Cathy,” you are thinking, “just when I am supposed to find time to get together with my friends with all I have going on in my life?” I understand. I have been there. Heck even though my kids are grown, I’m still there!

We all have a lot going on. As women, we seem to take on much more than we should. Most of the time, there really isn’t much choice either. Sure, most of us would love to be the social butterflies we were when we were teens. Remember that? Passing notes to your friends in the hall at school. Talking on the phone all night. Slumber parties. Getting your underwear frozen if you fell asleep first. Wait a minute. That last memory was not so fun. But you get the idea.

When we were kids, we were social beings. When did that change? I guess about the same time our worlds became full of wiping little noses, potty training, and cleaning the puke out of the carpet. Then there’s the house, the yard, the husband, the parents, and for many of us the job or business. It’s no wonder many of us have let our friendships fall by the wayside.

There just isn’t enough time to have a social life. But really, we still need it. We still need the companionship of other women. We need to let loose and have fun once in awhile. Of course it can’t be as much as it was when we kids, but it’s important for our own mental well being to try to carve a little time out once in awhile to have some fun with your pals.

And it doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly. If you can set aside some time once a month, that’s a start. Although more often is better of course.

Are you wondering what kind of things you can do with your friends with such a short amount of time? Well, I’ll tell you what I do and then mention some other possibilities after that.

Once a month, I get together with 2 friends I have had for almost 20 years now and we do a fun craft and sometimes go out and eat. And just lately, now that we no longer have small kids at home, we make that a sleepover on the weekend so it’s almost like the slumber parties of youth. Just without the frozen underwear. So far.

Something else I do is belong to a Bunco group that meets once a month. Bunco is a social game, played with dice that is usually played with 12 people but at 3 tables in groups of four. And then depending on your score at the end of each round, you may move on to another table. So you end up playing with everyone eventually. During half time we pig out on great food and socialize. It is so much fun and really meets my need of fellowship with other women.

Something I have been toying with, but have to wait til things get a bit less crazy in my life is to join a book club. These usually meet once a week. I found several going on in my area at MeetUp.com .  That’s a great place to start looking for groups for lots of things that may be to interest of you, from dog clubs, to mom clubs, to sports groups.

Once my care taking duties lessen, I plan on looking for some more outlets to get my social groove on. I want to join a bowling league and I’d love to be involved in a business mastermind for other internet marketers. I’d also like to take some more advanced art classes. That’s for the future though. Right now, I’m happy with the several social outlets I have.

For those of you with small kids, try to find a mom’s group to join. When my kids were little, I went to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) for about 8 years and was even the financial officer for the group.

There are plenty other mothers groups out there. If your kids are a little order, why not get involved with the PTA at their school?

Churches often have women’s groups so if you are in a local church, see what they have to offer.

Just look around and be open to opportunities that come your way. And don’t let husbands and kids others make you feel guilty about wanting to take a little time out for yourself. Our families sometimes forget that we are people too and not just robots here just to meet their needs.

Have fun!

Cathy

 

Five Tips to Tone Down Kids’ Birthday Parties Without Sacrificing the Fun

Kids i birthday Planning a birthday party for your child? If so, the thought of competing with some of the extravagant events seen lately may have you hocking the family silver or facing a nervous breakdown. When you consider that many parents spend hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars for celebrity entertainers, bubbling Dom Perignon and caterers like Wolfgang Puck for a child’s first birthday celebration, it might seem “socially irresponsible” to do otherwise.

According to a 2011 ABC News report, parents are spending anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 on birthday party ideas that offer everything from lavish sweet sixteen parties to over-the-top circus parties for a one year old.

While parents and grandparents are busy planning the party to end all parties, some event planners caution that too many activities prevent guests from focusing on anything. Children have short attention spans, so having ten things going on at once can be a sensory overload for their little, bright minds, thus not being able to remember much from the party. It might be better to have one or two over-the-top performers or play stations rather than fifty, unless you have a party list that includes hundreds of guests.

You don’t have to break the bank to throw a spectacular kid’s party on a shoestring budget. It takes some creativity and planning, but you can do it. And if you really want to make it exciting, you can enlist your kids to help.

Choose a Theme

Capitalize on a shape, like circles or squares. Then, you just have to incorporate that theme into your decorations, games, and snacks. A circle theme could be a perfectly fun and easy choice—balloons, construction-paper polka dots decorating the walls, and bowls of ice cream with cherries on top. Carrying the theme throughout your party can be fun and inexpensive touch.

Plan Smart

Your child might want Dora the Explorer themed everything, but licensed brand names can cost a small fortune. Try settling for something in between: Get the themed party plates but choose generic, solid-colored napkins, cups and bowls to match. Something as simple as this can save you big bucks, which you can most likely find at the dollar stores.

Buy Smart

Be certain you have a complete shopping list before you hit the stores. When you go shopping, shop the generic options first and take advantage of the buy-in-bulk selections at Sam’s Club or Costco. Grab plenty of toppings to make vanilla ice cream dazzling.

Make it a DIY Project

Making your own decorations can be a fun way to be creative and the birthday boy or girl can help out! Everything that you can do yourself rather than purchasing pre-made, do it! WorkItMom.com explains how making invitations is a great money-saver. Birthday invitations designed by your kids are a special and memorable touch.

Let the Kids Plan it

There’s no better way to teach older kids the importance of a budget than to let them plan the party themselves. Why not give the birthday girl or boy a budget, a list of the things they’ll need and the things that are optional? Then, put them to the test and let them do the buying! They might just surprise you with startlingly innovative ideas and games.

When considering birthday party ideas, keep things in perspective. You won’t win your kids’ approval with party favors, gourmet meals or designer decorations. Keep it simple and remember that your relationship with your kids will leave a long-lasting impression than any party you could throw.

This is a guest post written by  Annabella Clavette
Byline: Annabella is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor. She specializes in auto mechanics and the technology industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step by Step Guide to Organize a House Warming Party

party spreadThrowing a housewarming party after moving into a new house is an ideal way to meet new neighbors, talk to old friends and celebrate the new home. Organizing such a party is no difficult task and following the given steps will make sure that everyone is well-fed and happy.

• First step is choosing who to invite. If relocating to a new neighborhood, make sure that you invite all the neighbors to ensure friendly relations. Regarding friends and acquaintances there is no need to invite everyone you know, or just one crowd. Inviting different types of people and then mingling and making introductions allow guests to meet different people instead of just sticking with their friends.

• Instead of sending invites in the mail, it is best to email the guests about a month in advance with the necessary details such as the date, time and venue. If you wish to throw a themed party or want your friends to bring something, make sure you have it written on the invitation. Sending reminders is also a good idea, one about two weeks in advance and one a few days prior to the event, and containing driving directions. If you do not know the email addresses of your new neighbors, then it is best to slip a casual invite under their door and/or invite them personally.

• As for the seating, arrange poufs, stools and pillows on the floor to open up space. Most people will also probably stand.

• Make a music playlist. Don’t leave it till the last minute otherwise with all the work this will easily be overlooked.

• Food is one of the most important aspects. Keep the food simple and delicious, there is no need to try out new recipes and risk a disaster. Maintain a balance with food items such as chips, fruits and vegetables which guests can easily pick up and eat without a plate and items which require guests to take a plate and a fork such as nuts and meat. The variety makes sure that you adhere to everyone’s dietary restrictions. Place the food in a buffet style over a large space so people can congregate and chat. Have a variety of juices and drinks as well.

• Giving a house tour is one of the main attractions of a housewarming party. Guests won’t arrive at the same time, so be prepared to give a few short tours (10 minutes max). When giving the tour, make sure that there is someone, friend or family near the front door to greet newcomers. Make the tour more enjoyable and entertaining by telling your guests interesting stories such as a funny incident that happened when you moved in or the interesting story behind a certain painting.

• When you wish for guests to leave, throw subtle hints like dim the lights, reduce the volume of the music and serve beverages like tea or coffee. Start the process about half an hour before you wish for the party to end.

Tom loves blogging and offering tips online. Over the last 4 years, Andrew has published numerous articles and contributed to numerous forums. When he is not writing, Andrew works as an international mover in Australia.
 

 

 

 

The Fondue Pot

Cheese fondueYears ago as a newlywed, I was given a fondue pot as wedding gift. I remember turning my nose up at it and thinking, ‘What am I going to do with this?’   I had heard of fondue. I even remember seeing it served in a couple of 60’s television shows. But by the 80’s, fondue was pretty much passe.

Flash forward to a 2009 when I was visiting my friend who lives in the Atlanta area. She and I, along with her college student son, went out to eat to a fondue restaurant.  I was really curious about this place. Well, we did have a great time. And the food was scrumptious! But it was terribly over priced. Specially, considering we were cooking our own food at the table!

My experience at the fondue restaurant did strike an interest in fondue in me. I decided to dig that old fondue pot out that I had received so many years ago and try my hand at trying it myself.

Since then, we have had “fondue night” a few times at my house and my family loves it. Even though it’s a lot of fun, I have to admit there are a few drawbacks. It tends to be kind of messy, even when there are no children involved. There is also a lot of prep work to do to get it all ready, but most of the prep work is rather simple. Just lots of chopping.

Still, the benefits out weigh the drawbacks and I plan on continuing “fondue night” occasionally. One of my kids wants to do this every year on her birthday.

Now we aren’t much for entertaining here but I have actually been toying with the idea of having a small fondue party.  Fondue is perfect for entertaining. There’s a total bonding experience when folks get together and cook food together. And it’s great for the hostess as her guests are doing the cooking. All the prep work is done way before the guests ever get there.

Ideally, for entertaining, you would need several fondue pots. One for meat, one for veggies, one for breads (although you could probably use the same sauce for all 3  of these) and one for desserts. For the dessert fondue pot, a great idea would be to go with one of those cute chocolate fountains. Yum!

I’ll give you a few of my favorite fondue recipes below but first, if you need a fondue pot, I want to show you the one I found on Amazon that is simply adorable. I love it! The spots are my favorite but you can also get it with hearts or paw prints. Click on it below to read more about it.

 

 

 

 

Orka Chocolate Fondue Set

There are loads of great fondue recipes out there.  I found one of my favorite recipes at this site which has a great page on how to make a great fondue party.

Here it is:

Beer Cheese Fondue

1 small garlic clove
3/4 cup beer
8 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon flour
Dash bottled hot sauce
Dippers such as Italian bread, apples, broccoli, steamed potato chunks

Rub the inside of a heavy saucepan with garlic clove; discard garlic. Add beer and heat slowly.

Coat cheeses in flour. Gradually add cheese to beer, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in hot sauce.

Transfer to a fondue pot set to low.

 

Swiss Fondue

2 cups dry White Wine
1 Garlic Clove
1 lb Swiss Cheese
3 tbsp Flour
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp White Pepper
Salt to taste
Nutmeg to taste

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the garlic clove and add clove to pot.
Heat up the White Wine & Lemon Juice on medium low heat – should be hot but do not boil.
Mix Flour and Cheese in a bowl
Slowly add cheese mixture while stirring
Add remainder of ingredients while stirring
Optional: Add a splash of Kirsch or Blackberry Brandy
To Dip: Italian bread cut into cubes, vegetables, flat breads

 

Mocha Fondue

8 oz Semisweet Chocolate
1/2 cup Hot Espresso or Coffee
3 tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Chop chocolate into small pieces and set aside
Heat espresso and sugar in fondue pot on low heat
Slowly add chocolate and butter while stirring
Add Vanilla
Optional: Add a splash of Irish Cream
To Dip: Angel Food Cake, Apple Slices, Bananas, Strawberries, Pound Cake, Pretzels, Pineapple Chunks, Marshmallows

Fondue can be easy to make and it’s definitely fun.

 

If you have a favorite fondue recipe, I’d love to try it and it here.

Cathy