Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RE-Ceiving Guests: An Orchid Inspired Family Dinner Table

LADY'S DINNER PARTY.   Reba's sisters-in-law were all in town at the same time which was a special treat so she invited them all over to her house for dinner.  Reba chose a hot pink and green color scheme for the table to go with the festive and feminine nature of the gathering.
PINK ORCHIDS.  Reba selected two pots of hot pink orchids to use for centerpieces.  The orchids coordinated with hot pink wine goblets, plate chargers and the tablecloth to add visual pop to the more restful green and white elements of the tablescape.

SEASONAL TREAT. Orchid blooms are long lasting and a visual treat as a centerpiece.  When they are in season, they are great additions to any table.  I was amused when I saw that Reba had chosen them for her tables this year.  I haven't used them much, but this year, I also happened to buy white ones for my dining room and I couldn't be happier with them. They are pretty low maintenance as far as light and watering goes.  My friend, Martha, suggested I see them as an alternative to cut flowers that will last longer instead of a "plant" and once I did that, I fell in love with them.

BIRD MOTIF.  As she did for a recent bridal shower, Reba emphasized the bird motif in this china pattern by moving small bird figurines she has in her home to her table.
PARROTS & OTHER TROPICAL BIRDS.  We live in a warm, subtropical area, with a lot of bird watching, so these beautiful, colorful salad plates could be appropriate for lots of different occasions. Here, Reba matched them with off white dinner plates and hot pink chargers. Reba also recently used the bird napkins for a bridal shower table setting, you can see HERE.



Reba used a bird motif with a very different end effect at a bridal shower discussed HERE


Friday, August 22, 2014


PAR-TEE! For my father-in-laws' 80th birthday, my sister-in-law, Yvonne, suggested we have a golf theme party because it is his favorite pastime and because she had seen hole in one cupcakes that she wanted to use.  I agreed that was the perfect theme for my FIL and I am sharing some of the projects we did to make it a special celebration for a Golfer Dad.

INSPIRATION OVERLOAD.  When we decided our theme, I headed over to Pinterest for cool inspiration pics and created a party board you can see HERE (you might follow us on Pinterest while you're there fyi. ) From the pics, we took the large numbers and a golf figurine for the cake ideas from the first one.  I took the idea of a runner with golf clubs and ribbon to make it golf themed from the second picture.  The third picture had too many cool ideas to name. It's a little boy's party and his mother went all out for it.  If you ever want to do a golf party, then I definitely think this would be a great place to start looking for inspiration.  The fourth and fifth pictures gave me the idea for centerpieces.  We were going to keep things as simple as possible so we wanted easy centerpieces.  Using inexpensive clear glass containers filled with golf balls (many of which we took from my father-in-law's collection and just supplemented with a few packages of new balls as a gift and practice balls which are very cheap), white tees and green paper grass and photos kept it economical.  The last picture inspired our cake table setup.


1. http://decoratingforevents.squidoo.com/how-to-make-a-centerpiece-for-a-golf-themed-party
2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/williprobstbakery/9871361236/in/photostream/
3. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/216032113348873742/
4. http://blog.chickabug.com/2012/03/golf-party-games-noah.html
6. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/216032113348870725/

THE SWEET LIFE.  The cake and cupcakes were purchased from a bakery.  My sister-in-law, Yvonne, is a great cook & baker and considered making the cupcakes herself, but she was very busy at the time and wisely chose to lighten her to-do list by having someone else make them.  The golf poles are made from lollypop sticks and the golf flags are made from fruit roll up material so they would've been easy to make, but a bit time consuming to assemble.  Something to consider if you take on this project.  The figurine was from a bakery shop.  The white golf tees were purchased at Wal-Mart.  The runner was cut from a large roll of astroturf which Yvonne found at a home improvement store.  Both Home Depot and Lowes should carry some.  The green and white ribbon was purchased from Michael's.

THE CENTERPIECES.  The centerpieces were my main project for this party.  My sister-in-law, Suzanne, had a large collection of tall clear glass vases which she offered for the party.  Both my SIL, Yvonne and I had some more vases this size so between all of us, we'd have plenty to use for centerpieces without buying any new ones.  Originally, I wanted to use large square or round vases, but once I started assembling a vase, I decided the taller ones were the way to go for us.  It took many more balls, tees and grass to fill up one vase than I thought it would.  Since we had to make quite a few centerpieces and we wanted to keep the party easy peasy/low key, it wasn't worth the expense of buying all those new vases and all the extra supplies it would take to fill them.  But, yes, I do think the wider vases would have looked marginally better because they'd look more like buckets of balls.   The Golf Flag idea is from Pinterest.  I made the flags from green felt, and the numbers from white felt.  Hobby Lobby carried white felt numbers pre-cut, but they were not large enough for the flags I wanted to make to be proportionate to the height of the vases so they didn't work for me which was a bummer.  It would have saved time which would have been great.  The poles were cut from thin dowels I bought at Home Depot for a few dollars and spray painted white.  I found the thin green ribbon to attach the flags. I curled stiff florist wire in to hold the photos and green and white scrapbook paper to frame the photos all of which I found at Hobby Lobby. 
MEMORY DECOR.  As I mentioned in the entry discussing decorations for my mother's 80th birthday party which you can read HERE, I am a fan of using photos to decorate a birthday party.  For this party, I went through my in-laws' photo albums and picked out some great photos to show my father-in-law at different stages of his life.  I tried to use photos from his infancy, his childhood, his time in the military, photos of him with his wife, his kids, his grandkids and engaging in many sport activities because he is very athletic.  I took the photos to Wal-Mart and made tons of copies of the photos to use in the centerpieces.  I adhered the photos to green and white decorative scrapbook paper as a frame to finish our the pics.  The photos and frames are double sided so the guests would have something to look at on both sides of the table.   They are held up by hard florist wire that I curled at the ends to hold them. The process was a bit time consuming, but it also helped me be able to create a couple posters for the party.

POSTER COLLAGE.  In the process of doing all the memory themed decor for the party, I ended up visiting many different print shops.  I made the invitations as seen above at Walgreens, the RSVP cards at Office Depot and the photos at Kinko's and Wal-Mart.  After all that, I decided to make a couple poster collages at Wal-Mart because their charge for the service was a lot cheaper than the other places and basically too good a deal to pass up.  I don't know if the other places offered more options with their posters, but it was just a last minute impulse project so the collage offered at Wal-Mart's print shop was fine for me.  I mounted the poster above on foam board and I framed another one for the entrance to the restaurant where we were having the party and tied some balloons to give to direct the guests upstairs to the party room.

COVER BOY.  This is the photo I used for my father-in-laws' folded party invitations.  Isn't he a cutie?  Reba used our mother's childhood portrait for some of her birthday parties and I copied her idea here.  Reba hooked me up with Walgreens which has an awesome online invitation site where you can upload a photo to use for the cover, write your party info on the inside page and order the invitations to be ready within a few hours.  They look as great as invitations done at much fancier print shops.  These are normally  $1.99 each but I think they were running a special at the time I ordered so they were a little less.  A link to order your own is HERE
COLLECT MEMORIES, NOT THINGS.   My husband and his siblings all hosted the surprise party for their dad and they wanted it to be special, but not complicated so it was decided to forgo gifts and ask all the guests to contribute a letter, photo or postcard instead of another present. To make collection easier, I got my niece, Makena, to design postcards to be included with the invitations. Makena studies graphic design and I think her cards came out FANTASTIC!  I was so pleased when I saw them. I sent along a plain piece of paper explaining that we were collecting photos and postcards to put into a memory album for my FIL.  I stamped all the postcards and placed clear address labels on them for people who couldn't make the party to return.  I was very pleased by the response we got from the out of town guests who couldn't make it.  Additionally, I bought scrapbook pages for my husband's immediate family members to bring their photos and letters before the party to tape them quickly together and insert them into the album for some more personal pages. While I thought about a picture book from Shutterfly, I found the plastic sleeve album system that they sell at Target very user friendly and quick which fit more into  our tight time frame so I can recommend it as a great alternative in a pinch to a Shutterfly album.
THE BIRTHDAY BOY AND HIS GIRL.  This was a surprise party for my father-in-law.  He thought we were taking him out to Sunday lunch at his favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate his birthday a few days early. He only expected to see my husband, our daughter and myself.  He was totally shocked to see not only all his nearest and dearest from in town, but also cousins from all over Texas who came into town to celebrate his birthday with him.  Above, the birthday boy is sitting back and taking it all in with a limed cool beer and a plate of his favorite Mexican food to munch on.
CAKE TIME.  My FIL was pretty amused when he noticed we had used some of his old golf clubs for decorations and had pulled down his childhood portrait from his study wall to use for his invitations all without his notice. 
PLENTY OF SMILES BEFORE THE VIDEO SLIDESHOW.  I don't have it to share, but I felt the big highlight of the party was a video of photos from different parts of my FIL's life set to music which my niece, Makena, prepared for the party. She was very busy when we were doing the party and her postcards were already a big contribution, but I mentioned to her that I would have loved a video for the party and she came through in a big way.  People were clapping, laughing and sometimes crying (especially when deceased family members came up in photos) throughout the video and everyone gave a massive round of applause for the end.  It left everyone in a good spirit (although the margaritas helped too ;) haha) and closed the party on a high note.
THE CAKE TABLE.  My SIL, Sonia, brought my FIL's favorite pies to offer as an additional dessert and I have to say they were a big hit.   My father-in-law and his taste, hobbies and life were all over the party which was great. My husband has a big family so it took awhile to agree on what to do for the celebration and there was plenty to do, but I thought it all came together really well in a short period of time to give my FIL a really nice birthday celebration. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

RE-ceiving Guests: Fourth of July Ideas

Happy Independence Day!  I have a few photos of a holiday table I set for my husband and myself a couple 4ths ago that I've been meaning to post forever.  I have also included links to four simple and cute Independence day food ideas to make your holiday extra special.   Whatever you do to celebrate, I hope you have a fun and SAFE holiday. 

Breakfast on the Beach.   My family stays on South Padre Island for summer holidays and so we will periodically pull out the patriotic ware for our meals on the patio.  Above, strawberries in a bowl bring festive flair to a simple breakfast followed by scrambled eggs and bacon.

Reba bought all the patriotic ware.  I especially enjoy using the stars & stripes flatware, place mats, napkins & plastic tumblers near Memorial Day and 4th of July holidays.    I don't know if it is cheesy or not, but both Reba & I religiously bring out lots of red, white & blue decor, clothing & food every 4th of July. 

Sea Shells & Candles. Reba bought a set of galvanized square candle holders with red stars and I placed one on the bistro table I set for breakfast.  I surrounded the candle holder with sea shells as an impromptu focal point to the tablescape.

Simply red, white & blue.  This is the table setting before I added the sea shells. It was fine, but I thought it needed a little something extra.    Someone else might have felt the sea shells cluttered a small table space.  Completely a question of personal preference. 

Americana fruit tray #1.  If I were serving a larger crowd for the 4th of July, I would definitely try out these fruit skewers in the shape of the American flag.  Source: http://chandlerandbrianne.blogspot.com/2010/07/red-white-and-blue.html
Americana fruit tray #2.  This tray also features cheese cubes for stripes. Source: http://www.thebettermom.com/2012/05/18/healthy-delicious-memorial-day-menu/

4th of July Cake.  This requires some time, but the instructions seems pretty easy to follow. Source: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2011/06/4th-of-july-flag-cake.html

White Chocolate Covered Strawberries dipped in blue sugar. Source: http://grinandbakeit.com/all-american-chocolate-covered-strawberries


You may also be interested in Reba's post about her 4th of July cake and the disaster she had the 1st time she made it HERE

Monday, June 2, 2014

RE-ceiving Guests: A Party Takes Flight

Reba hosted a wedding shower for the daughter of a family friend.  A bird theme for each china pattern was reinforced by the silver partridges as added decor and the silver quail salt and pepper shakers.  She used her Waterford Sheila crystal on this table.
Since it was going to be a nice size shower, Reba had to either use her red or blue toile plates again or mix 3 different sets of china to set all the tables.  Reba chose to try pattern mixing since it would give her a chance to use her formal wedding china (Coalport Hong Kong as seen above) which she still loves but has rarely used. Reba decided the Asian bird and floral design in the Hong Kong plates would set a common motif for the different tables. 

A second table featured Mottahedeh Tobacco Leaf china which she borrowed from our sister, Elsa. I especially like the vibrant colors in the pattern.  Reba lucked out and realized she had napkins with embroidered birds that matched the china pattern exceptionally well. Elsa found these at the Wisteria catalog outlet shop in Dallas.  She bought 12 for Reba and 12 for herself not realizing how well it would coordinate with her Tobacco Leaf china. The Sabino crystal knife rest is also a partridge.

 This china is a set our father bought while serving in Japan during the Korean conflict.  Our father was unattached while in Japan, but all the other servicemen who had wives and sweethearts were buying china sets since they were so inexpensive so our father picked this china to take back to the aunt who raised him.  When he married five years later, his aunt gifted it back to our parents.  The pattern is very simple and features a delicate bamboo and bird design.  The silver and white setting helped the design stand out. Reba borrowed sterling silver goblets from her mother-in-law to complement the silver pattern of the china. 

The common elements among the three tables were the tablecloths, the flower arrangements, the silver chargers, the silverware, and the gift boxes.

The bride-to-be was delighted with the dessert which was a miniature wedding cake with  a rose on top and their bride and grooms initials on the side. Reba ordered the miniature wedding cake tins and asked her favorite cake shop to bake the cakes.  She has used these at the last two showers. The brides-to-be have been delighted with the desserts.

CLOSE UP OF THE MINI CAKES. Reba has used the tins for quite a few bridal showers. The initials on the cakes to personalize them enough to make them special for each honoree.

For continuity among the tables, the white table cloths were topped by sheer square cloths with a silver thread design.  Also each guest received a small box of lemon tarts, brownies and pound cake all heart shaped.  I like the way the wrapping paper and ribbon played off the table square toppers.

White hydrangeas in silver Revere bowls were the centerpieces at each table.

Written by Eldarose. Reviewed by Reba.

Monday, March 31, 2014

RE-pranking: 10 Cute and Harmless April Fools Pranks

April Fool's Day is a good excuse to insert a little extra fun into your life. Unfortunately, April Fool pranks can sometimes cause a lot of trouble and hurt feelings when they get out of hand. I've collected 10 easy, fun and harmless April Fool Day Pranks in case you're looking for some "gotcha's" both the prankster and prankee can enjoy.

1.  MODEL PARENT.  Ever feel ignored in your household? Well, use those skills you honed back in high school to sneak out of your house to set a trap to see if anyone notices you've been replaced by the "model parent." You know the drill.  Set up a body form to be you by getting some of your pants, stuff them with a pillow and put old newspaper in the legs. Place some of your shoes at the base of the pants, set it all up in a chair you like and tape or staple a newspaper in place to cover the upper half of the model parent.   If your kids notice, you'll share a laugh. If they don't, then you've discovered a way to sneak out of your house again but now without paying a babysitter. ;) Just kidding. IDEA SOURCE: http://spoonful.com/crafts/model-parent

2. BATHROOM BANKROLL.  Tape a few $1 bills to the prankee's toilet paper roll.  They will be pleasantly surprised. IDEA SOURCE: http://spoonful.com/family-fun/bathroom-bankroll

3.  BREAKFAST PRANK.  Replace a normal egg with vanilla yogurt swirled on a plate with half a canned peach turned upside down and placed in the middle.  While not what is expected, it will still be a perfectly fine breakfast.  IDEA SOURCE:  http://www.serendipityfromjewels.com/2011/04/april-fools-day.html

4. BREAKFAST PRANK FOR THE BACON LOVER.  Microwave caramels and tootsie rolls and form them into "bacon" to add to the breakfast prank.    IDEA SOURCE: http://teachmama.com/april-fools-trick-eggs-and-bacon/

5. Murder at the Office.  Sometimes, the workplace doesn't allow for frivolity, but if yours does, then this prank won't disturb work too much.  Arrive early and place tape in the outline of a person and get police tape at a party store to place around your workspace. 

6.  SNACK SWITCHEROO.  This gotcha works for a packed lunch or an office break room gag.  Carefully open up a  bag of chips from the bottom, replace the chips with carrots and reseal the bottom with hot glue.  IDEA SOURCE: http://www.serendipityfromjewels.com/2011/04/april-fools-day.html
8.  THE CLASSIC.  Have any fake bugs left over from Halloween?  Maybe you can pick up some gummy worms at the grocery store?  If so, this is a pretty easy way to add an April Fool's Day spin to any packed lunch. IDEA SOURCE:  http://www.topinspired.com/funniest-april-fools-day-pranks-for-kids/

9. FAKE SPILL ON COMPUTER.  There are lots of computer based April Fool Day pranks, but to me, a lot of them take too much effort and time to undo.   This one doesn't, but is still a good "gotcha." 

10.  CUPCAKES FOR DINNER AND GRILLED CHEESE FOR DESSERT.  Shock your kids by offering them cupcakes for dinner and watch as they are shocked again when they figure out the "cupcakes" are made of beef and potatoes.IDEA SOURCE: http://the303griffiths.blogspot.com/2009/04/april-fools.html
You can make up for the letdown of the cupcakes for dinner being real food by offering them grilled cheese for dessert in which the bread is actually Sara Lee pound cake and the cheese is actually vanilla cake icing mixed with food coloring.  IDEA SOURCE: http://www.ivillage.com/april-fools-food-pranks/3-a-530605?ivNPA=1&sky=stu|ivl|fd|aprilfoolsfood|