Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fifty Shades of Fun

The excitement over the book, Fifty Shades of Grey hit our monthly dinner girls this month.  The girls requested I do a party centered around this theme, so conservative-little-me borrowed the book and started reading.  It was a lot of fun to put this party together, and the evening was a lot of fun for all of us.  It didn't have the extravagance of Christian Grey, but at least it had the inspiration!

Invite:  I created a little rhyme for the invitation wording and bought assorted shades of grey card stock to create my invitation.  I also bought sunglasses from the Dollar Tree to wrap around the invitation for some added fun.  I asked guests to wear shades of grey to the party and bring a "toy" for an exchange. 

Entry:  You can't have a Fifty Shades party without a contract can you?  I modeled the wording of my contract off the contract in the book referring to myself as "The Hostess" and my guests as "The Diners".  I tried to stick to the formal language of the contract and included sensual words for added fun.  I wrote it all on foam board and hung it from my entry door. Guests signed it before entering!

Decor: When I  think of Christian Grey, I think sophisticated as well as a bit naughty.  I wanted my decor to reflect this without being over-the-top sexual.   I set my table with a black tablecloth and tea lights (some elevated) running down the center. Along the center of the table I also had handcuffs (thanks to the law and legal teacher at my work), a copy of the novel, a whip (from my brother's Indiana Jones Halloween costume), and a grey tie (thanks hubby).

On each plate, I placed a boy's grey tie.  The boy ties fit better than an adult tie and it was great to have these in various shades of grey.  Special thanks to Clint's Tuxedos in Buena Park who let me borrow these ties for the party!! If you are looking for a great tuxedo for an upcoming event, Clint is your man!  Great selection, great prices, and a super nice guy!

As a place card, I got paint sample cards from Home Depot each with three shades of grey.  I used my Cricut to cut out the name of each guest and glued it to the bottom.  The grey napkins were tied with zip ties for another Christian Grey reference!

I used my Cricut again to cut out handcuffs to use as wine charms.  I cut them out in various shades of grey.

On the dessert table I created two candy jars with red candy (inspired by the Red Room of Pain).  I labeled the red cinnamon candies "Hard Limits" and the red licorice straws "Soft Limits" to again play up the contract wording.

I also designed wine labels to go around the wine bottles.  The first bottle we opened for the evening was labeled "Sexy" and each bottle following got a little darker word!  If you would like the template for these labels, comment below and I will send it.  It isn't anything fancy, but it added some humor to the party.

Activity:  Besides the gift exchange, I also had guest's share a fun story.  I called them Sexual Deviance cards just for fun, but the story did not have to be sexual.  We had fun guessing the writer later in the party!

Menu:  I created my menu around some of the language used in the book. I displayed the names of each menu item as if it was an email from Anastasia to Christian or vice versa following the format in the book. Both of these characters have Subject lines that are clever as well, so I tried to do that.  Again, if you would like copies of these, I can email you the template.

I started with SUBmissive Sandwiches.  These were easy to make Philly Cheese steak sandwiches.  The meat and buns were from Trader Joes.  The rest of the sandwich was Provolone cheese slices and sliced red and green peppers.

Bow TIED-UP Pasta Salad was next.  You can put anything in pasta salad, but I chose to include tomatoes, green and orange peppers, black olives, and kidney beans.  I used 1 1/2 boxes of 16 ounce bow pie pasta. Here is the recipe for the Italian Dressing I made to use:

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves, crushed
freshly ground black pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until thoroughly combined.  Then add this to the pasta salad mixture an allow it to marinate.

I also served a fruit salad I called Forbidden Fruit.  These three entrees really filled us up so I was glad I did not try to serve more.  Plus two of them can be made ahead of time, so that was nice in terms of the hostess part.

For dessert, I served two cupcakes.  The first was Vanilla Cupcakes with "Whipped" Cream Icing and Strawberries in honor of Anastasia and the constant reference to "vanilla" in the book.  I found the cute grey cupcake wrappers at Michaels.

In honor of Christian Grey and the red velvet bedding in the Red Room of Pain, I served red velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.  I also added a chocolate handcuff to the top.  To make the handcuffs I melted chocolate chips, put the melted chocolate in a zip lock with the corner cut, and then pipe/draw the handcuffs onto wax paper.  I put the paper in the refrigerator to harden.  Then just peeled off and placed on the cupcake before serving.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 (1ounce) bottle McCormick Red Food Color
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.  Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Mix in sour cream, milk, food coloring, and vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended.  Do not overbeat.  Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes.  Remove from pans; cool completely.  Frost with icing.

To make the icing: Beat cream cheese, softened butter, sour cream and vanilla extract in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.  Pipe onto cupcakes.

Favor:  I made cake pop Ben Wa balls for my favor since they are a fairly significant part of the book. I used the same vanilla cupcake batter I used for the cupcakes to make cake balls.  I then melted white chocolate to dip them in and to hold the black licorice in place.  After this set, I used Wilton's Silver Spray to give them the metallic look.  I placed these in a favor bag with a tag playing up the "inner goddess" reference from the book.  Again, if you want to host this party and want this template, just email me/comment below!

We had so much fun at this party just laughing and chatting about the book. It was definitely a fun party to host and the girls had a great time!

Thanks again for checking out my blog...

Laters Baby!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day with the Ladies

Happy Labor Day! I'm finally getting around to posting our Labor Day with the Ladies party I hosted in September of 2009. I don't have very many photos to show you for this party (it was before my blogging days), but some of the details are here.  I also will admit, this was not my best party in terms of the creativity side...but it was a fun one, so I wanted to post anyway.

Decor:  I set the table with a red, white, and blue theme -- blue tablecloth with red and white napkins.  I made a time clock as the centerpiece wrapping a box in wrapping paper, adhering a clock to the front, cutting a slit, and placing a time card with the theme for the evening on it.  Next to the clock I put a chef's hat a pilot's hat simply because I already owned these pieces.  Anything you have that is work-related would do.

As a place card, I created time cards with each guest's name on them.  I found an image on Google and then added a text box with the guest's name as well as added the date of our party to the dates already on the image. Simple.

Attire:  I asked guest's to dress up in career attire for this party, and it was so fun.  The creativity was super cute!  I dressed as a Zoo Keeper.  The girls dressed in everything from Miss Universe to doctors, coaches, waitresses, etc.

Menu:  I stayed with a typical dinner menu for this theme, but tied in the Labor Day theme through picket signs I stuck in each entree.

Grilled Chicken with Honeydew Salsa

1 1/3 cups finely diced peeled seeded honeydew or other melon
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro plus ¼ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded Serrano chile (I left this out)
4 boneless chicken breast halves with skin

Combine diced melon, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, red onion, lime juice, olive oil, grated lime peel, and chopped Serrano chile in medium bowl.  Toss to blend flavors.  Season melon salsa to taste with salt and pepper.

Spray grill with nonstick vegetable oil spray; prepare barbeque (medium heat).  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Grill breasts until skin is crisp and brown and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Slice chicken breasts and arrange on plates.  Top with melon salsa and cilantro leaves.

Zucchini and Tomato

Sliced Zucchini
Cherry Tomatoes

Season with salt and pepper.  Cook zucchini in small about of olive oil on stove.  Add tomatoes at the last minute & only cook briefly.

Fruit Salad

A normal fruit salad.  This one included watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, green grapes, and banana.

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pudding

Heat to a rolling boil in saucepan…
1 cup water
½ cup butter
Stir in all at once…
1 cup sifted flour

Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture leaves the pan and forms into a ball (about 1 minute).  Remove from heat.

Beat in (one at a time) thoroughly…
4 eggs
Beat mixture until smooth and velvety.  Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking sheet into mounds 3 inches apart.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until puffed, golden brown, and dry.  Allow to cool slowly.

Cut off tops with sharp knife.  Scoop out any filaments of soft dough.  Fill with vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream.  Replace tops and glaze with chocolate.

The great part about this theme was the dressing up.  It is so easy for guests to find something to dress in related to work...the possibilities are endless. If you are throwing a Labor Day party today or in the future, consider adding just this aspect to your party.  It definitely adds a little bit of fun to the party!

Also...if you want the Word document of the time cards just comment below.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Minute Pool Party

My daughter LOVES the pool, and all summer she has been begging me to invite all her friends over for a pool party.  So...I threw together an easy last minute pool party.  It was nothing special, but I did some things I thought my readers might like hear about and maybe incorporate into one of their own parties...

Invite: I wanted to do an invitation with a beach ball that rotated.  I started searching the Web for a beach ball image, and I stumbled upon one on Living Locurto!  She had the same idea I had, and she had already done the work for it (thank you! thank you!).  The free printable is offered on her site.  After I printed out the beach ball on cardstock, I used my scrapbooking circle cutter to cut around it.  Then, I designed the inside on Microsoft Word to fit a circle the same size as the beach ball (approx. 4.7").  I glued the text circle to 5.5" x 5.5" squares I cut out of bright colors of card stock.  I then I rounded the edges.  I secured the beach ball outer circle with a small brad so that it could rotate.

I already had plastic tablecloths from previous parties ( family recycles), so I used these on the tables. Since this was a last minute party and budget friendly, I didn't want to spend money on centerpieces either.  I washed some of my daughter's sand buckets to place on the tables and cut up a pool noodle that already had a flower shape to place on the table as well.  The buckets I filled with chips for guests to snack on throughout the party.

I made these easy pool-inspired cupcakes as a little end of swimming treat.  Nothing hard about these...Just vanilla cupcakes with light blue frosting.  I spread the frosting a bit sloppily to make it resemble the ripples of a pool. Finish them off with a circular gummy candy in the center as a floatie, and a honey gram bear as your swimmer.

Happy Summer! (Or end of summer for us!)