I was given the opportunity recently to make a bunch of tissue paper flowers for a school project. I had so much fun with it honestly, and thought, these sure would make a beautiful decoration, or they could be used for head garlands (as pictured here) which are pretty popular in Texas, or Homecoming Mums (another Texas thing), or to decorate Derby hats, or for a garden tea party, or luau, or FiEsTa(which happens to be going on in San Antonio at this very moment), which got me to thinking that somebody else out there might appreciate knowing how to make these. I also sure don’t want to ever forget how I made them, so… that’s as good a reason as any to blog about something, me thinks.
Materials needed: 1 package of multi-colored tissue paper, a good pair of sissors, a stapler, and string (optional).
A large package of multi-colored tissue paper is fairly inexpensive to buy at the big box stores ($10 for 100 sheets). And one of those packages will give you more than enough paper to make 100 flowers that are roughly the size of one of those mesh shower pouf thingies. (If you want to make giant flowers, you could probably squeeze 10 or so out of a package???)
So here is how you make them. First open the package of tissue paper and separate the colors. Straighten up the sheets so that they lay exactly on top of each other. Peel off two sheets of one color of the tissue paper.
Now, I’ve included visual instructions below that will hopefully be easy to follow, but I will also explain…
Gather your materials. It will help to have a large table where you can spread out the tissue paper into individual color piles. (My poor sissors, you’ll notice, have issues, actually just one issue. I don’t know what happened, but they are Fiskers, and the handles have decomposed over the years since I first bought them. They are sticky now, and almost clay-like. The stuff was coming off on my hands and making my hands sticky, so I wrapped the handles in strips of paper towel. Has this happened to anyone else? Or is it just the humidity in the south that has made mine do this?)
Peel off 5 sheets of tissue paper and stack them together neatly. Then starting at the bottom fold up about an inch width and press it flat.
Flip the stack over and fold the other direction, and press flat.
Continue folding in an accordion pattern until you reach the other end.
Press the stack flat.
Fold the stack in half to mark the center place.
Press it flat to make a good crease.
Open and place under the stapler, and place a staple on exactly that center crease line. Option: you can also tie a string around this center part so you will have something to tie the flower, to attach it to whatever you are decorating.
(Photo just shows the staple being present)
Now cut one end with whatever pattern you wish for the type of flower you wish to make (see diagram below)
Cut the first end and discard the scraps
Then cut the second end to match
Fan out the ends to make it easy to separate the individual sheets
Orange shows a gardenia type flower
Purple shows a hydrangea type flower
Pink shows a peony type flower
Green shows a magnolia type flower
Blue shows a Zinnia type flower
Red shows a Carnation type flower
Gray shows a Dahlia type flower
Yellow shows a Chrysanthemum, or Mum type flower
14. Fan out both ends
15. Carefully peel off the top sheet and pull it away from the others, up towards the center
16 – 18. Continue separating sheets and pulling them up towards the center on both ends, going around in a circle
19. Smooth out the last sheet to flatten out the bottom
20 – 23. Bring the flower around and fluff each peddle to make them all uniform and fill in any gaps.
24 – 26. Set your flower down and admire how pretty it is. Then pick another color and continue making flowers.
The center pom kind of makes a flower that looks like a cactus flower. You can do the same sort of thing with green tissue going out the bottom to look like the bud part of the bloom (just cut it with deep zig zags instead of the fringe). You can also experiment with various cuts, and you can also layer two colors of tissue together to make more interesting options. Here are some samples of the flowers I made. They turned out soooooo pretty?
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”
I love theme dinners! And Polynesian is one of those themes that has tons to offer… tons of great foods… lots of great music… and a motherlode of great activities. That’s probably why luau parties are so popular. They are great for a crowd (family reunions, company picnics, neighborhood get-togethers, graduation parties, youth group events, and so on).
That’s all well and good, but I had in mind something a little more intimate. In my younger life, I had the idea to have monthly theme dinners just for family – just to make memories for my kids. January’s theme was Chinese New Year, where we dressed up, ate Chinese foods, listened to Asian music, played some sort of Chinese games after dinner, and totally immersed ourselves in Asian culture for a night. February was Cajun foods, music, and culture. March was Irish. April was Polish or Italian. May was Mexican or Caribbean. June was Polynesian or African. July was American (which encompasses everything from BBQ to Burgers, to Hot Dogs in every variety). August was South American or Australian. September was Russian or French. October was German. November was American Indian. And December was Indian or Mediterranean. That was my plan. It was so much my plan that I wrote a whole book about it, but then I kind of lost my focus. <Sheepish shrug> Well, thankfully God has given me grandchildren, and a whole renewed interest in introducing them to the cultures and foods, and sounds, and pastimes of the world. And the great thing is … SUMMER IS COMING!!!! Which makes it a great time to introduce the kids to something fun and interesting and chase away those summer doldrums, not to mention it’s all kind of educational as well.
JUNE – Polynesian
Knickknacks, tanning mats, give a dog a fish bone. The dollar store is a great place to look for decorations. You can keep it simple (lay a bamboo tanning mat down on the table, set a tropical plant as a centerpiece, and lay out luau plates, cups, and silverware from the party store), or go hog-wild (outdoor party with mumus and sarongs, tiki lanterns, grass skirts, a limbo stick, kalua pig roasting on a spit, cold drinks in pineapples or coconuts, and a nice array of Makahiki games, Hawaiian crafts, and games). Gotta have some Island music too (may I suggest Don Ho?), and maybe even get the kids ukuleles, and teach them to play an easy song.
After dinner, you can break out the limbo stick and challenge the kids to a contest, or try some hula hooping. Then set the TV outside and gather the lawn chairs around for an outdoor movie night. How about a marathon of old Gilligan’s Island reruns? Or, for a real submersion into Hawaiian culture, make leis, learn to hula, set your back yard up with some of the Makahiki Games listed below, and watch a mesmerizing “Ha: Breath of Life” show on DVD.
Traditionally, a Hawaiian party would have deep pit roasted Kalua Pig, long rice (which is basically the same thing as Pad Thai rice noodles), some dish of sweet potatoes (purple), and Poi, or even Spam Musubi. If it is your goal to introduce your family to Hawaiian culture, go with tradition. I found some wonderful recipes HERE that I plan to try.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
– – – –
1 lb large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, and patted dry on paper towels
1 7-oz pkg shredded coconut
Instructions: Place peanut oil in deep fryer and set temperature to 375 degrees. Mix flour with wine until smooth. When oil has reached temperature, dip about 5 of the shrimp, one at a time in batter and then roll in coconut. Drop into deep fryer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and curled. Drain on paper towels. Continue until all shrimp are cooked.
Melted jalapeno jelly makes a wonderful dipping sauce (remove lid from jar, warm in microwave about 1 min., stir and divide into little sauce cups). Or see the sauce recipe later down on this page. Serves 4
SPICY POLYNESIAN WRAPS
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch strips
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild as you wish)
Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions, and sprinkle desired amount of Serrano chilies. Wrap burrito style.
POLYNESIAN DIPPING SAUCE (for shrimp, or wraps)
13 ounces coconut milk
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
Place coconut milk in a skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by a quarter – it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the green curry paste, ginger, lime rind, and sugar. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce is thickened and fragrant. Stir in mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 cups cooked Sushi rice
4 sheets Spring Roll Wrappers (this is a MrsH modification: I’m not a fan of Nori)
1 12-oz can Spam
6 Tbsp Soy Sauce
6 Tbsp Hawaiian BBQ sauce
I cut the end off of my Spam can with sissors to use to make my Musubi, and I used a wooden meat mallet to press the rice down. After making my musubi I have decided Nori is just too healthy tasting for my taste, so after making it with Nori, I peeled the Nori off to eat it, and next time I’m going to try making it with rice paper (Spring Roll Wrappers) instead. I also didn’t care for the Furikake (rice seasoning) because of the seaweed that was in it. The one I used was Wasabi Fumi Furikake. It had a good flavor that really does need to be there, but just warning you not to go hog wild with it if you aren’t a seaweed fan. I do like wasabi and sesame. And I added chopped green onion. Maybe there is a variety of Furikake without seaweed???
Prepare the Rice as per package instructions. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, cut the Spam into eight equal slices. Fry the Spam in a frying pan until very crispy on both sides. Mix soy sauce with BBQ sauce and pour over Spam. Stir around and flip until sauce is carmelized onto the Spam. Remove from heat.
This is the process for making the musubi: (shown using Nori seaweed)
Cut each sheet of Nori in half. Lay half a sheet down on a clean paper towel. Place Musubi press (Spam can) in the center. Add about a heaping tablespoon of rice and press down. Add a sprinkle of Furikake. Place a slice of Spam on top. Sprinkle with more Furikake and add another heaping tablespoon of rice. Press it all down firmly and hold down while lifting can off. Wrap Nori around. Cut each finished roll on the diagonal and serve. *Below is what Musubi looks like without the seaweed wrapper. I wrapped my musubi up in plastic and refrigerated them overnight. The next day I removed from fridge, peeled off the Nori, and cut them into bite-size slices. Much better!
HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
5 medium Sweet Potatoes, baked in 350*F oven for 1 hour, until soft
2 green bananas, diced
1 cup diced and crushed fresh pineapple
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime (also the zest)
2 Tbsp Cocunut syrup (may substitute honey)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
After potatoes have cooled, peel the skins off and discard skins. Slice the potatoes into inch thick slices and lay in a single layer in a buttered oblong baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and drizzle with melted butter. Add a layer of pineapple and bananas. Press down with a spatula to mash the potatoes slightly. Mix lime juice with coconut syrup and pour over potatoes evenly. Sprinkle with coconut and macadamia nuts in an even layer. Cover and bake in a 300*F oven for about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 mintues until toasted on top. You can also broil the dish for a few minutes to toast the top if you wish.
HAWAIIAN LONG RICE (MrsH’s super easy version)
Cook a box of Pad Thai rice noodles as directed on package. Drain off most of the water, but leave the noodles a little soupy. Add a can of Campbells Creamy Chicken soup to the noodles and stir to mix. Serve with chopped green onion for garnish.
ISLANDER’S COCONUT CREAM PIE
1 prepared pie crust, baked as directed for cream pies
1 package of vanilla pudding, the kind that cooks, not instant
1 package coconut flakes
1 container of Cool Whip with 1 tsp. rum mixed in
Broken, slivered almonds
Cook pudding as package directs using 1/2 cup less liquid. Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the pudding and stir to mix. Pour into prepared crust and spread to fill evenly. Chill until set. Spread Cool Whip over pudding in piecrust. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and then almonds over the top. Chill to set.
HAWAIIAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
1 8-oz can Dole pineapple slices, drained (reserve juice for serving)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 maraschino cherries, halved
In an large oblong cake pan melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices next to each other in three rows of four. Place a half of a cherry in the center of each pineapple.
2 ½ cups All-Purpose flour
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 ½ cups milk (or substitute Coconut Milk)
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat softened butter with sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating after each. Stir in dry ingredients and milk. Beat with a mixer until thick and creamy. Pour over pineapple slices in large baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm. If you desire your cake a little more moist, drizzle with reserved pineapple juice.
1 pkg Thai Black Tea bags (available at World Market)
Sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey, Stevia, as you prefer)
Half & Half
Place 8 teabags and 8 cups of water in a saucepot and bring just to the steaming point on high heat on the stovetop, and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. The tea will become dark orange colored. Add whatever choice of sweetener to taste, I like this tea a little on the sweet side. When the tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
To serve: Pour tea over ice in a tall glass. Gently add Half & Half by the Tablespoonfuls until the top 1/4 of the glass is filled. Add a straw and serve. Let guests stir the cream into the tea before drinking.
1/2 ripe mango (peeled and seeded)
1/2 ripe papaya (peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cream of Coconut
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. honey
2 cups ice
In a blender, mix mango, papaya, banana, orange juice, coconut cream, yogurt, honey, and ice. Blend until velvety. Serve in martini glasses and garnish with mini skewers of pineapple chunks.
Other Adult Beverage options:
Fire Rock Pale Ale (beer) or Spearhead Pale Ale
FROZEN MAI TAI
1 cup of ice
1 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy
1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple
Splash of sour mix & Splash of orange juice
Blend all ingredients in a blender for 4 seconds on low speed. Garnish with lime and orange slices, and a little paper umbrella. I f you want to make it non-alcoholic just use 1/2 tsp of brandy flavoring and 1 1/2 tsp of rum flavoring in a half a cup of soda water with the other ingredients.
CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Piña COLADA
1/2 cup ice
2 oz. light rum
2 Tablespoons Cream of Coconut
1/2 fresh or canned pineapple
1 Tablespoon vanilla ice cream
Pineapple chunks, cherries, umbrellas for garnish
In blender blend until smooth. If too thick add fruit or juice. If too thin add ice or ice cream. Garnish with Pineapple and Cherry, and a little paper umbrella. You can use a mix to make these if you would rather… and you can make them non-alcoholic by substituting rum flavoring and soda water.
Traditional Island games
Walk on Hot Coals
Dig a shallow pit about three feet wide by six feet long and fill it with charcoals. Add starter fluid to get the charcoals burning. Cover them completely with medium-sized smooth rocks and let the rocks get hot. Any guests who are brave or foolish enough may hop across the rocks with their bare feet.
‘O‘O Ihe(Spear Throwing)
Spear throwing contests were held to display strength and skill for fighting and food gathering. A target, sometimes the stalk of a banana plant, is set up and contestants stand some 15 feet away and attempt to stick a lightweight wooden spear in it. Watch the video below, which features spear throwing and other traditional games.
A great alternative for the littler ones would be the inflatable Fish Spearing Game at Party America.com or Party City.com, if they still carry it as of the time of this writing. If not, this is what it looks like and you can make your own version out of a an old toilet seat (padded and decorated) and a bamboo stick. Hang it in a tree in the corner of the yard.
‘Ulu Maika’ (Rolling Stones)
Based on ancient Hawaiian Makahiki games, this game is played similar to horseshoes. Stones somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks were rolled between stakes on specially prepared courses to test a player’s skills, or rolled down long courses to show strength. One of the best of the remaining ‘ulu maika courses, approximately 500 feet long, is located on the island of Moloka’i.
Moa Pahe‘e (Dart Sliding)
Using a wooden dart, which resembles a very small bat without the little grip stop on the end (maybe 8” long) with the skinny end and the fat end, you grasp the skinny end and toss the dart like a bowling ball between two stakes.
Blowing a conch shell takes skill: you have to know how to purse your lips, where to place them for the best sound, and how hard to blow. (The sounds made by a novice are hilarious!)
Ancient Hawaiians used to hold foot races to see which warrior was the fastest. You can hold single person races, three legged races, and backwards running races. Watch the first video above, under spear throwing, for an example.
Type of Hawaiian Luau fighting. The contestants do not use their hands, and can only stand on one foot, and try to knock their opponent out of the ring.
Tug O’ War
To play this game you will need a 20’ length of rope, a 6’ length of rope, and a bandana.
Divide your guests into two equal teams. Choose a large grassy or sandy area to play. Place the 6’ rope on the ground in the middle of the chosen area. This marks the centerline. Have teams line up in single file on either side of the centerline, arms length apart. Tie the bandana in the center of the 20’ rope and place over the centerline. Each player grabs the tugging rope and at the signal tries to pull the first member of the other team over the centerline.
This is a card game played with special Hana Fuda cards. I was introduced to it by a friend whose mother was Japanese. She gave me a set of these cards many, many years ago. I’ve even forgotten how to play it has been so long. So I went online to see if I could find the rules. How thrilling to find that this game is played by native Hawaiians under a different name. The cards do not have numbers on them, only beautiful pictures, but they have point values. Along with the rules I found some vendors who sell the cards.
There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. The consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, and W are pronounced exactly as in English. If a name ends in a consonant, add a vowel. Always place a vowel between consonants. The following conversion table can be helpful in translating names:
Add some true Island spice to your dinner with genuine Island customs:
Placing a lei over someone’s head is the customary way to welcome or congratulate them. If the person is close in relationship to you, you would give them a honihoni (kiss) also. Leis are usually made of flowers, but can also be made of candies or other decorative items. And when your lei starts to fade and die, don’t toss it in the trash. It is bad luck to throw a lei away. A lei is love and you would never throw love away. Rather cut the string and cast the flowers into the sea or hang the lei outside until it is gone.
I love that it is the custom in Hawaii for young ones to refer to older people as “auntie” or “uncle” when they are old family friends or neighbors of the parents. That is how we raised our kids to do. In Hawaii it is appropriate even to address a stranger as “auntie” or “uncle.” It is friendly yet respectful.
You would never walk into someone’s home in the islands with shoes on. And it is good manners to bring a small gift with you, possibly a dessert, when visiting someone’s home. There is a pidgin phrase, “Make Plate” or “Take Plate” that also shows good guest manners. When you have been invited to share a meal at someone’s home it is customary that you make a plate of food of the leftovers to take home, even if you don’t intend to eat it. By doing this you are being a good guest and not leaving the mess for the host to clean up and put away. Many times all the leftovers are packaged up and taken to the homeless.
Unless you are at a sporting event, it is considered rude to talk loudly, or to act like you are entitled to special treatment. Politeness and reserve are considered a show of good breeding.
Dress is casual, aloha shirts and slacks are worn in place of suits and ties in business, and it is considered rude to stare or look someone in the eye for too long in public places. And when you go away on a trip it is considered thoughtful to bring back gifts “makana” from your journey. Most prized are special foods that are unavailable at home.
I’m so happy you stopped by, and I pray your family supper night is such a huge hit that it becomes a favorite monthly tradition. God bless!
“Let love be without hypocrisy…be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13
My bestie and I live three states apart, but out in the west, and when one of those states is Texas, this adds up to a pretty dang far distance. Too far to get to spend as much time together as we’d like. But we stay close by texting every few days and calling often, we read out of the same Bible devotional every day, we send each other pins on Pinterest, and at least once a year we travel to meet somewhere and spend a few days hanging out.
She came to both my girls’ weddings, my girls both call her Aunt Treva. And I in turn got to go to her son’s wedding, and even take pictures. We are as close as sisters, and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. She’s my people. My home team. My rock. My laughter. And my comfort zone. We go together like peas and carrots.
Her family moved to my little town when we were just four years old, and she and I went through school together, from Kindergarten to graduation, although she got to graduate a year early.
Her mom was the best cook in town. You can string me up if I am lying. Ask anyone who lived there. I cherished every invitation to come to supper. And, I have several of her recipes that I still make to this day. I even found a set of dishes at a yard sale once that are the same ones she had, pattern, color, and everything, and I bought them. Whenever I serve food on them I hope that it is somehow blessed by sweet mama-Agnes as she looks down from heaven. Her own dishes of course passed down to Treva, and so we both have the same dishes in our kitchens. Isn’t that fun?
Treva and I were visiting on the phone the other day, asking each other what we were going to make for supper, and when I told her I was thinking of making tuna salad she told me about a tuna salad her mom used to make sometimes when she was going to have girlfriends over. I’m not usually a fan of tuna on a tomato, and what’s funny is neither is my friend, but I will admit, it is much better on a nice fresh ripe garden tomato, one of those magnificent heirloom black tomatoes especially, which I just happen to have today. Treva also suggested trying a halved bell pepper next time. A red one, for looks. She’s a genius … it is a perfect substitute!
MRS H’s SHOESTRING POTATO TUNA SALAD
1 cup julienned Carrots
1 cup julienned Celery
1/4 cup finely chopped Green Onion
1 can (12 oz) Tuna (I prefer the kind packed in water), drained
Mayo (maybe half to 3/4 cup – I just eyeball it)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 heaping tsp. fresh or dried Dill Weed
1 serrano chili, seeds, stems, and membranes removed, minced
season to taste with: (start with a little shake of each)
Montreal steak seaonsing
1 (1.5 oz.) can Shoestring Potatoes
2 Fresh, ripe, garden Heirloom Tomatoes (or substitute red bell peppers)
In a large bowl, combine carrots, celery, onion, tuna, mayo, lemon juice, dill weed, serrano chili (I am hopelessly addicted to heat, so I add the whole thing, but you can add as much or as little as you want, or none if you are sensitive to spicy foods), and seasonings. Add a little kosher salt to taste if desired. Cover and chill for an hour or so in the fridge.
When ready to serve, cut tomatoes in half (be fancy), wash the lettuce and lay a leaf or two down on each plate. Set half of a tomato in the center of the lettuce. Now, at this point I like to drizzle both with dressing, and I happened to have Green Goddess when I took this photo, but my favorite, favorite, favorite is Serrano Ranch!
Stir half of the shoestring potatoes into the tuna… (I like the spicy ones)
…and then pile tuna salad onto each tomato, dividing equally between four servings. Garnish with the remaining shoestrings and serve.
If using bell pepper in place of tomatoes, you can slice it into strips (to make it a little easier to eat) and just tuck a few on the side of your tuna salad. Or, you can cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise and fill it with the salad, just like you would the tomato.
This is how my friend Treva’s mom used to serve hers, with bread-and-butter pickles and a boiled egg. I also like to tuck in a couple cucumber spears, when I have them. YUM!!!!!!!.
Thank you Ms. Treva for sharing another winner with me!!!! Sending hugs to you and to your precious mother, God rest her sweet soul. I’m blowing kisses your way. ❤
“We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.” Numbers 11:5
Can you hear the birds chirping? And smell the wildflowers in bloom? The pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof? Ahhhh…SPRING!!!! Everything old is new again.
How about having all your gal-pals over for a quick, impromptu lunch, easily prepared on a Sunday afternoon, and served on a manic Monday!!! Do you work outside the home? Text your closest circle of co-workers on Sunday night and tell them not to bring in lunch for themselves, because you’ve got a little surprise for them. Then carry in this little luncheon for your super spoiled little crowd.
I used Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Quiche recipe, from her cookbook, Food From My Frontier (one of my absolute FAVS), I cheated though and used a store-bought deep-dish pie crust, two in fact. And, I did it myyyyy waaay, with a couple of special touches (to make it a little more girly without being PW’s “Cowgirl Quiche,” because I didn’t have those ingredients on hand). Here’s how I did mine:
2 whole Unbaked Pie Crusts (from the freezer section, thawed and poked)
1 lb. Bacon, fried until crispy
2 Tablespoons Bacon fat (left over from frying the bacon)
1 whole red Onion, Sliced
8 spears of fresh, raw asparagus (I have it growing in my garden, lucky me)
1 cup of diced smoked sausage (I like the spicy jalapeno variety)
8 whole Large Eggs
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream Or Half-and-Half
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 cups Grated Colby-Jack Cheese
Let’s Make it…
Fry the bacon until crisp. Chop into little bite-sized pieces and set aside to cool.
Fry the onions in the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes (until translucent), stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fix the edges of your pie crusts, if you want them to look a little less store-bought, and then poke them with a fork around the bottom in a few places. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, chopped smoked sausage, onion, and raw asparagus around in your pie crusts, of course dividing evenly between the two pies. Cover both with cheese.
Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and then pour the mixture into the pie crusts. Use a fork to pull the contents around a little and make sure the egg mixture seeps down into it all really good.
Place the pies on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche doesn’t jiggle easily when moved and the crust is golden brown. (The quiche will still seem slightly loose, but will continue to set once remove from the oven.)
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into slices with a sharp knife, and serve!
You might like to top yours with a little dallop of sour cream, maybe a spoonful of pico de gallo, or torn cilantro leaves. Maybe a drizzle of Shiracha? Or just naked!
< < < I got the idea for these when I saw this photo on Pinterest, and then made it a reality when I found these flatbreads at my local HEB > > >
I purchased several packages of the flatbreads (and have them in the freezer, because the lady at the deli counter said our store is discontinuing them. Bummer!!!! Why do they do that just when I find something that I like??? Husband even liked. Ugh!!!)
Anyway, I took the thawed flatbread and drizzled it with olive oil on both sides, then grilled it for a few minutes on each side on a hot, preheated grill, which gave the bread the nice grill marks and made it really soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I cut each flatbread into thirds and placed on a platter for my guests.
I purchased a tub of Veggie Cream Cheese and a tub of Chive Cream cheese to spread on the warm bread.
And then I had several veggies chopped up for toppings:
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
Sliced Red Bell Pepper
Sliced Red Onion
Baby Arugula, Kale, and Spinach mix
Marinated Artichoke Hearts
And an eater’s choice of seasonings:
Fresh ground Salt & Pepper
I got’ta tell you, these are just darn good pizzas. Even hubbie liked them, like a LOT!!!! Even said I knocked dinner out’ta the park, and that I was back on my game. Which made me blush a little. And now I really want to impress him more!!! Fresh, crunchy, delish!!!!
2 or 3 cans of frozen concentrate Lemonade (I like the kind with pulp, pink or regular)
Prepare a large pitcher with lemonade, following package instructions. Fill large glasses with ice and set out a platter of cut-up fruits. Let your guests pile whatever fruits they want on top of their ice, and then fill the glasses with lemonade. When they are done sipping, they’ll have a nice fruit salad to eat!
And for dessert…..
I found these adorable, tough, reusable, silicone flower pots online, and once they arrived (and I washed and dried them), I used a boxed muffin mix to fill them, and then a canned frosting to frost them. Who says cheaters never prosper? Lol!
I should have purchased the chocolate rocks when I saw them at Amazon too, because there were none to be found in my little town (I’d insert a little sad face here except I don’t have the cute little emoticon stickers on my computer. I guess I can always paste something from Google…….like this……which actually, surprisingly gives me a tiny bit of satisfaction).
At least we have a Wal-mart, and at least our Wal-mart has a cake isle in the hobbies section with a few choices.
And I found Chocolate mushrooms at FIVE BELOW:
And I had an abundance of MINT growing in my garden!!!! So, I did the Martha Stewart thing! Which was to poke a sprig of mint into each little cupcake after they were all decorated with the other stuff.
After frosting each cupcake, I sprinkled them with crushed Oreos (I whirled a handful of the cookies in my food processor until they turned into dirt), and tinted coconut flakes. I really could have done a better job with the tinting! Made it more green. I’m a dork!
Just look at these chocolate rocks! Gosh, they would have just been sooooo cute to put on top of the oreo dirt! (I’m still sore about it!)
Oh well, “Be content with such things as you have!” Nobody likes a whiner.
(((UPDATE: I found chocolate rocks at Cracker Barrel!!! $2.99 for a 3 oz. tube!!!! And I also found these cute cute cute Gummy Lightning Bugs!!!! Gosh, now I want to toally remake my cupcakes!!!)))
This is what mine looked like….before I poked in my mint leaves!
After my little luncheon that I hosted I thought of another way to make flowerpot cupcakes that you may like better…
You can use real terra cotta pots for the trifles, which come in larger-than-cupcake sizes. And since the cake is not being baked in the terra cotta you won’t have to worry about dyes or other toxic elements leaching into your batter in the oven. I soaked my pots in the sink to get the price stickers off, then I put my pots in the dishwasher and ran them through a full sterilizing wash cycle. When they were done I put them in the oven on warm (170*F) to dry them out completely before using.
You can also decorate your pots all pretty before filling them with the trifle ingredients – just something simple that wouldn’t compete with the cuteness of the cakes themselves. Something like this, I was thinking..
Aaaaand…. if you’re feeling especially ambitious, as I was, you can make some cute little flower pot pens to give as gifts for your gal-pals desks, or home offices. Or, even better, let your gal-pals make their own… after lunch. OOOO fun…cRaFt PaRtY!!!!!! 🙂
I found all the stuff for mine at Wal-mart (because seriously, that’s all we have), and when I got my little pots home I soaked them in hot sudsy water to help get the price stickers off. I filled them with aquarium rocks. Then I took a spring assortment of flower bouquets that I found in the floral section, cut them apart, and used floral tape to attach them to my pens. I even found colored ink pens (Bic Cristal).
If you’d like, you can even have a nice little devotion while your eating your lunch!!! Check out this one that I thought was really sweet:
(NOTE: Bible Seeds devotional is now out-of-print, but you can find used copies online.)
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusts in Him.”
I’m a grandma! <I say, with a huge grin on my face> Can I just say that so far in life being a grandma is just about as good as I could have ever imagined. I am completely smitten with these little granddaughters of ours! Completely and utterly smitten! And I’ve decided that getting to be a grandma must be God’s way of saying, I forgive you for all the mistakes you made with your own kids, and I’m giving you a second chance with grandchildren. Don’t screw it up!
I don’t know that I have any more patience with them than I had with my own kids. And I can’t say that I let them get away with murder at my house, because I honestly couldn’t live with them expecting to get things all the time. But after grandpa and I have loved on them, and spoiled them just a little, and are pretty much give-out chasing after them for a day or a night, we can send them back to their parents and then go take a nap. And that’s the beauty of grandparenting. 🙂
As far as throwing a baby shower, I take my ques from my oldest daughter Dani. She threw the first baby shower for her sister, and had so much energy and charisma through the whole process. She is just gosh darn good at everything she puts her hand to. She tossed an amazing, fun party together in about an hour (including the decorating), and even between gadding about with her friends, whom she hadn’t seen since high school, and her party turned out so magnificently I can’t even tell you. I’m such a poser!
But, in the shadow of her genius, I tossed a Texas version together – in a bigger house, and a bigger yard, and a slightly plumper guest list!
The party I threw was half indoors and half outdoors on what turned out to be a beautiful south Texas spring evening! Indoors was the food (to keep it cool and away from the bugs), and outdoors were the games. I used old baby food jars, placed tea-lite candles in each, lit them, and scattered them around on the buffet table inside, and the tables outside. The tables outside sat under an Easy-up portable gazebo which was decorated with balloons and streamers and pretty pink ribbon. I covered the outdoor tables with little baby blankets (from when my babies were little – quilted ones, knit ones, crocheted ones, tied ones, store bought and homemade) and used rolled up baby diapers tied with ribbon and Baby Bottle vases for centerpieces, along with some of the little baby food jar tea-lites. Indoors I layered a black and white tablecloth over a solid pink tablecloth for the serving table, and placed a few potted plants and a bouquet of roses around with the baby food jar tea-lites.
I hung up a small “clothesline” across the yard here and there and hung some cloth diapers, onesies, baby blankets, and little bibs on it, with old fashioned clothespins tied with pink ribbon and bows?
I set up a CD player outside that had *lullaby music playing softly and continuously in the background during the party. (*I used the Rock-a-bye Baby and Hush-a-bye Baby CDs. If you’ve not heard of them, they are the songs of country and rock musicians remade into lovely little xylophone lullaby melodies. So sweet for a Baby Shower party, and after the party they make a great parting gift for the mother!)
GOURMET CUPCAKES: I cheated and used a cake mix and baked up 24 cupcakes. Then I swirled store-bought frosting on them in two colors, white and pink, using a zip-lock bag with the corner snipped off. I sprinkled them with pink sprinkles and decorated them with mini York peppermint patties and fresh mint leaves from my garden. Then displayed them in cute little swirly cupcake stands that made a perfect presentation and centerpiece for the buffet.
FINGER SANDWICHES: my neighbor and friend Sharon made some finger sandwiches with cream cheese and green olives, and I don’t know what else, but they were delish.
FRUIT SALAD: I cut a baby carriage shape out of a watermelon, decorated it with pink ribbon, then filled it with chunks of fresh seasonal fruits (melon, grapes, pineapple, berries, kiwi, etc.). I made a fresh yogurt, honey, and lime dressing to drizzle on top.
VEGGIES: I did little individual crudités using little see-thru plastic tumblers, placing a small amount of dip in the bottom, and then arranging cut vegetables (carrot, celery, snow peas, asparagus, bell pepper, etc.) vertically in each.
PUNCH: tea, lemonade, and lots of ice.
These first four games below began right away as guests arrived, but did not have a winner until the end of the party. Each game was set up at a seperate station in my house, and a little pink footprint trail led the guests from first station near the front door (diaper name tags), to the next (Mommy Measure Game), and the next (Pacifier Necklaces), through my house, and ended at the food table near the back door, where a little sign welcomed them to help themselves to the refreshments, and asked them to place one frozen baby ice cube in their drink.
This was the best way I could come up with to be in all places at the same time – greeting guests as they arrived, hugging and welcoming them, pinning a name tag on each one, and then sending them on to some entertainment while we waited for everyone to arrive. By the time the last guests arrived, everyone would have had things to do, food and beverages to nibble and sip, time to mingle with each other, and would be ready for the games to begin.
Dirty Diaper Name Tags: I made little diapers out of white felt or flannel and pinned them closed with a diaper safety pin. Before I pinned the last one shut I smeared a little streak of brown marker in it Then I mixed the marked one in with the others so I wouldn’t know which one it was. As the guests arrived, I pinned the little diapers on each (you can jot their names on them if your guests don’t know each other). At the end of the party I asked my guests to look inside their name tags. The one with the dirty diaper won a prize.
Mommy Measure Game: Using ribbon, string, or a store-bought game, each guest sections off however much length of the material as they think will take to wrap around the mommy’s belly. They’ll cut their piece and then label it with their name, and leave it in the designated place. At the end of the evening, whoever’s piece comes closest to the actual measurement is the winner.
Pacifier necklace Game: This game is played by giving each guest a necklace and announcing that the forbidden word is “baby.” Anyone caught by another player using the forbidden word loses their necklace to the player who caught them. No one is ever out, because even if you lose your necklace, you can gain a necklace back by catching someone saying the forbidden word. The person with the most necklaces at the end of the party wins.
My Water Broke: The day before the party place little plastic babies in ice cube trays, and then fill the trays with water and freeze. Once everyone has helped themselves to cold beverages, have them drop one of the frozen baby ice cubes into their drink, but don’t tell them why yet. (The first person whose baby melts free is the winner).
Once all of my guests had gotten name tags, measured off a length of ribbon for the mommy measure game, gotten themselves a necklace and a plate of food, and dropped a baby ice cube into each of their drinks, I came and explained the rules for the necklaces and the baby ice cubes. These games played in the background of all the other games for the duration of the evening.
These next several games will have winners right away. Try to keep things moving along so no one gets bored, but be somewhat flexible for those players that are a little slower.
What is it?: You will need 10 brown paper lunch bags (numbered 1-10) and 10 random baby items (diaper pins, pacifier, diaper ointment, baby bottle, teething ring, rattle, mittens, nail clipper, thermometer, disposable diaper, baby powder, baby lotion, receiving blanket, onesie, etc. all removed from their packaging), and a sheet of paper for each guest with 1-10 numbered along the left side, and a pens for each. Make sure each bag has only one item in it and is sealed (taped, stapled, and fastened with a pretty ribbon). Pass the bags around and allow the guests to try to figure out what is in the bag. After 30 seconds shake a baby rattle for the guests to pass the bags. When everyone has written their guesses down, Set a nice basket beside the mom-to-be and have her open each bag to reveal what’s in it, placing the items in the basket. Give a gift to the person with the most correct guesses, and mom gets to keep the basket contents.
Nursery Rhyme Fill-in: Make up a sheet of lines from nursery rhymes (get a book from Wal-mart if you need one) leaving out a word or line for your guests to complete. You can either hand out game sheets to each guest and give them time to complete them, then read the nursery rhymes out loud and ask if anyone had something different…OR…you can play this game like a game show where players are seated and the first to stand must give an answer. You can either read the title of a rhyme and let your guests see if they can recite the rhyme, or read part of the rhyme and have them fill in the missing word or line. The first guest to stand up must give an answer. If they are right, you tally them a point. If they are wrong they sit down and the others race to stand up and answer. When you are out of rhymes, the person who answered the most correctly wins a prize.
Baby Food Tasting: With as much class and sophistication as a wine tasting, you will offer this game. Take the labels off a variety of baby foods (12 is good – 3 of each food-group: veggie, fruit, cereal, dessert) and replace with a number. (Make yourself a master sheet as you are doing this, so you remember which is which and can show it to the guests at the end). Give each guest a sheet of paper with 1-12 listed along the left side, and pen, and 12 plastic tasting spoons per person (ask them to not reuse spoons). Pass the baby food jars and give everyone time to make their guesses. They may taste, smell, look at, jiggle, stir, or use whatever way they want to distinguish what food it is. You can provide a list of multiple choices if you want to help them out a little, just make sure some of the choices on the list are different from the foods so it’s not too easy. The person who gets the most right wins.
The Hen Party Game: Perhaps you’ve seen it on YouTube? It is the plunger and toilet paper game. Need two rolls of toilet paper and two brand new toilet plungers. Split guests into two teams. Each team sends a player to the other side of the yard with a roll of toilet paper. She then places the toilet paper between her thighs/knees. The remaining members of the teams line up behind a leader and the person at the front of the line places the toilet plunger between their thighs with the handle sticking out in front of them. At the sound of the baby rattle the two plunger people must run down to their teammate without losing the plunger and attempt to poke the plunger handle into the hole of the toilet paper roll. Once they are successful, the plunger person takes the toilet paper and the toilet paper person runs the plunger back to the team for the next person to relay down the track. The first team to finish wins.
Baby Bottle Game: Fill baby bottles (one for each guest) with cranberry juice or tea. If you want, you could use the previous game’s winning team as contestants for this game to compete in this chugging contest in front of everyone. Just to be ornery, plug up the tip on one of the baby bottles with super glue prior to the party. At the sound of baby rattle players begin chugging from the baby bottles. The one who finishes first is the winner. See also how creative the person is who got stuck with the plugged bottle, and give them an award for being a good sport.
Sniff-a- Poo game: You’ll need 6 clean disposable diapers labeled 1-6 and 6 different snack size candy bars (Mounds, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Way, York Peppermint Patty, Three Musketeers, etc.). Place one candy bar in each diaper and microwave each diaper for 20 seconds. Stir the candy around and microwave another 10 seconds. Give each player a slip of paper numbered 1 to 6 down the left side, a pen, and 6 plastic tasting spoons per person (ask them to not reuse spoons).. Set the six diapers in front of the guests and allow them to look, smell, taste, and touch each “poopy” diaper in an attempt to identify the contents. Take lots of pictures! The person with the most correct answers wins a prize.
After the outdoor games, I invited everyone back inside and asked them to please refill their drinks and plates at the buffet, and then asked them to take a chair (bean bags, rocker, couch, ottoman, kitchen chairs, etc.) in a big circle around my living room to watch the mom-to-be open her gifts. One of the guests graciously offered to make a list of each gift and who gave it, so I gratefully provided the notebook paper and pen. Once all the gifts were opened, and the food and drinks were devoured, I awarded the prizes for the name tags, measuring game, and necklace game, and also gave out the little parting gifts (babyfood jars with jellybeans in them). Then I asked if we could all stand and hold hands and close by saying a prayer for the mom-to-be. I led the prayer but also left it open for anyone else who felt led to pray. One by one each guest hugged the mom-to-be, and started making their departures. It really was a fun party, and I was so blessed by all the compliments… which is why I decided to share it with you.
Prizes (need at least eight)
Little Bathroom soaps in a basket
Chap sticks and Lotions
A Gift Certificate for a specialty coffee (Starbucks or another local place)
A Women’s Magazine
A pretty necklace
Small bouquet of flowers
Assortment of tea bags
Party Favors (as many as you have guests)
Send each guest home with a baby food jar filled with jelly beans and ask them to say a prayer for the momma and baby every time they eat a bean.
Purchase everything you will need for the games. Read through each game carefully and make a list. Purchase all the prizes and party favors – or make the party favors. Purchase all your groceries and try to make everything the day before, if possible. Purchase everything you will need to decorate or make decorations, and make the decorations. Give yourself time to groom the yard (the day before), clean the house (the day before), and do all the decorating (early in the day). Purchase paper plates, napkins, cups, plastic utensils, ice, serving pieces, flowers, balloons, etc. Set up all the games the night before. Set up the food table right before guests arrive, keeping things covered and cold, and in the shade, or keep the food inside (which is what I did to avoid flies). Set out all the table service and place a paper weight on the napkins and plates – or tie them up in pretty bundles.
PARTY SCHEDULE (plan for the party to last about 2 hours)
Guests arrive: pin a diaper name tag on each and encourage them to mingle pointing them to the little pink footprint trail (like a yellow brick road – follow the yellow brick road!).
Make sure each guest gets something to drink and helps themselves to the sandwiches and snacks that have been set out.
Ice Breaker: Introduce everyone if your guests don’t know each other, and maybe tell how they each know the mother-to-be.
Play the games in the order listed on the previous pages. Keep a fairly quick pace with the games and activities, so there is no time for boredom. I tried to alternate sitting games with active games and quiet games with loud and fun games to keep it interesting. And also tried to find games that would be amusing.
Invite guests to help themselves to more food if desired, and make sure everyone’s beverage is full as often as possible.
Award prizes at the end, if they weren’t awarded at the end of each game, and give each guest a small party favor.
Let Mom-to-be open gifts.
Gather around the Mom-to-be to pray for her and the little one, for a safe delivery and a healthy, perfect baby. Allow guests to hang and visit as long as they wish. Hug everyone goodbye and thank them so much for coming. Put away the foods that need refrigeration. Pass out from exhaustion!
* * *
Alternative Games for your party
Baby items scavenger hunt: Hide several Baby items in and around the house. Create a scavenger hunt for guests to find these items. Guests may compete against everyone individually, or you can pair people off in 2-person or 3-person teams. First person/team to find all of the items wins.
Memory game: First guest says a word or phrase, second guest says the first word/phrase and then their word/phrase, the third guest says both previous words/phrases and then adds theirs. Play continues around the table until someone forgets a word/phrase, then they are out. Play continues until one person is left having memorized the whole thing.
Itty Bitty Baby Parts Baby Shower Game: Baby shower games step into the 21st century with this high tech, offbeat Ultrasound picture challenge. You will find that people say the darndest things when they try to identify the itty bitty baby parts in this contemporary baby shower game. Identifying these parts isn’t as easy as it may seem and your friends will be chuckling for days afterwards at some of the oddball responses! People say the darndest things! Itty Bitty Baby Parts baby shower game brings those sometimes hilarious answers out into the open. Your friends and family will enjoy hearing the responses of the other players while they try to identify the images.
Entertaining and affordable. Itty Bitty Baby Parts baby shower game can be purchased from http://www.bigdotofhappiness.com and comes complete with 12 ultrasound picture cards, word lists(25 player sheets for 25 guests), directions and answer page. Itty Bitty Baby Parts (Ultrasound Picture Game) $13.99
Baby Bingo Baby Shower Game: Yea! Finally! A bingo baby shower game with Pizazz! With Pep! With, with… spunkatudinality! In this 20 card version, guests are handed colorful cards with baby themed pictures: a crib, a birth certificate, stroller, baby blocks, etc. The first person to get five in a row and yell “Baby Bingo” wins. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this baby shower game has got to be worth Millions!
There are 2 squares on each card which allow each guest to write in the name of the mom-to-be and her (expectant) due date. The mom will beam with pride and joy every time she hears her name and baby’s due date called during each game.
20 Card Baby Bingo comes complete with:
20 unique bingo cards
80 perforated caller chips
390 heart markers
Master call sheet
Cards measure 5-1/4″ x 6-1/2″ h each.
Diaper raffles are the hot new baby shower activity! Use our baby raffle tickets – baby shower game to ensure your diaper raffle goes off without a hitch! Hand out raffle tickets to each guest who brings a pack of diapers. You could give one ticket per every 5, 10, or 20 diapers they bring. Have them write their name on the tickets and collect them. At some point during the celebration, draw tickets to give away special prizes. Guests will love their odds when they arrive with the all-important diapers! You could pass out tickets for other items as well – bibs, onesies, blankets, and much more!
There are a few different ways to set up a raffle at a baby shower. Tickets for the event can be “sold” based on the basic baby-care items that guests bring, or can be given to everyone who arrives in a manner similar to door prize drawings. One commonly used option is the holding of a “diaper raffle,” where an extra ticket is given for every five, 10 or 20 diapers given. The same could be done with single bottles, onesies, pacifiers or even common goods such as soaps, shampoos and lotions. A winning ticket will be drawn toward the end of the baby shower, though some planners may decide to have multiple drawings and give away smaller prizes leading up to the “Grand Prize.”
Tummy Measure Gameby Factory Card and Party Outlet
An immeasurably fun shower game! Our Tummy Measure Game features 150ft – 2 1/2” W plastic yellow measuring tape (number are not printed on tape) with the words “What Size is the New Mommy’s Tummy?” Simply have guests cut a length of the tape by guessing the mommy-to-be’s tummy and the closest fitting tape wins.
Wilton Baby Shower Spin Gameby Wilton
Play this fun game at the baby shower. It’s a great way to break the ice and get the party started. Guests spin the bottle and do as the spot on the card asks. Some of the spaces say: Suggest 10 Baby Names; Give Mom-to-be Baby Advice; Relax and do Nothing; Sing a Lullaby; Whistle a Baby Song; Say the ABC’s Backwards; Recite a Nursery Rhyme; Repeat 5 Times: (a tongue twister).
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalm 127:3
When I lived in the Rockies I used to spend pretty much every weekend in April and May (and even some years in June) sipping my morning coffee by my front windows and gazing outside at the dead, gray landscape, wishing (oh so desperately wishing) for spring, as winter relentlessly lingered. All I could think about was busting outside to push the lawnmower around in my yard, dig out the rotting leaves that had blown in around my porch, plant and fertilize my spring bulbs, and tidy up my dormant yard. I could almost hear thunder and lightning in my mind, and with feverish delirium I built castles in the clouds for the return of the robins and squirrels games, and the mommy & daddy birds fluffing their feathers, gathering twigs, and chirping their springtime songs. I swooned over what to grow in my gardens, my mouth still salivating at the evaporating memory of last year’s harvest.
Being in south Texas, I now whence at how overwrought I was for the scent of fresh washed anything to be hanging on my clotheslines. I haven’t forgotten though how badly I wanted to crank those frozen windowsills open, throw back the curtains, air out the dust and cobwebs, and let a little sunshine in. If only by my shear will I could have held back winter and coaxed those leaves to bud out on the trees, or tantalized my daffodils to bloom, or tempted the grass to creep up out of the earth, lush and green.
Almost anything was better than shoveling snow AGAIN, or sloshing in slush, or looking out at barren trees, or being cooped up inside torturing myself with the fallen mercury on the outdoor thermometer. “Oh hurry up spring,” was my daily mantra.
And then finally it was here.
Well, my dear, north-country friends, I know you are suffering now, but come sit on my south Texas porch swing (I wish this was my porch and my porch swing) for a bit, kick your sandals off, and have a slushy lemonade with me? I’m just reminiscing over my garden parties of yesterday and would love your company!
It’s a funny thing, but as soon as the words “garden party” roll off my tongue I am humming the song by Ricky Nelson…“Come to a Garden Party; reminisce with my old friends….” Hee hee, I can see you do too! Shall we hold hands and sway and sing it together?
I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends A chance to share old memories and play our songs again When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same
CHORUS: But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
People came from miles around, everyone was there Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air ‘n’ over in the corner, much to my surprise Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise
Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same I said hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave
Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should If you got’ta play at garden parties, I wish you a lot’ta luck But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck
‘n’ it’s all right now, learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself
Wow…I didn’t mean to sing the whole dang song…. Sorry. The lyrics are kind of odd, aren’t they? Hee hee! 🙂
I recently finished a Bible study of the book of Esther, written by Beth Moore and since it is so fresh in my mind I thought to share with you a garden party on steroids:
KING AHASHURAS’ GARDEN PARTY
“…The king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in Shushan…in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.” — Esther 1:5
A seven-day feast. Holy cow! (…Possible pun intended). My, oh my, he sure knows how to arrange things! This is how King Ahashuras decorated for his party: “There were white and blue linen curtains fastened with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble. And they served drinks in golden vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in abundance, according to the generosity of the king.” (Esther 1:6-7). The drinking was not compulsory, but according to each man’s pleasure…soooooo, I’m guessing, since the booze was free, that it was each man’s pleasure TO DRINK!
After the king’s “garden party” came another feast. It was for his officials and servants – the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the 127 provinces over which he now ruled. This feast lasted 180 days, (holy smokes – did you catch that? 180 DAYS!!!). I can’t even imagine how much food and wine he dished out for a 180-day party! My goodness, that’s almost six months. How does one entertain guests for that long? What do you suppose they talked about? How many bedrooms do you imagine he must have had in his house to make the princes and nobles of 127 provinces comfortable, not to mention the sheer volume of bath towels they must have gone through!
Being a hot-shot, he entertained by giving his guests the grand tour of his sprawling estate, showing off his riches, splendor, and majesty, as if the food, booze, and decorations weren’t enough of a brag.
It all reminds me a little of Oprah’s Garden Party, which you perhaps caught on television some years back? The Queen of daytime talk TV wanted to pay homage to some special ladies in her life whom she admired, but in the process couldn’t help showing off a little of her great wealth, lavishing them with an exquisite menu, costly gifts, and luxuriant preparations. You can read all about it at Oprah.com.
The term “garden party” does tend to stir up in my head notions of big Queen Mumm hats, lush flower gardens, and dainty little porcelain teacups brimming with exotic teas, accompanied with a myriad of condiments to add to them, like pure white, sparkling sugar cubes, dew covered mint leaves, juicy lemon slices, and fresh, succulent raspberries.
In my dreams my tables are covered with layers of lace and floral patterned tablecloths. Bouquets of flowers, topiaries and ivy centerpieces. The chairs all around are covered in cloth and ribbon. And there are twinkling lights and lanterns hanging from the trees.
Marlene Allan – Garden Party Online has some fun ideas too. I really liked the idea of spreading picnic blankets on the lawn and resting a large umbrella at each. The edges of the umbrellas are also decked out with flowers.
I found these garden party themes and ideas at Evite.com:
Garden of Eden—It doesn’t have to be clothing optional to evoke the spirit of Adam and Eve’s home. Serve a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and decorate with snakes and apples.
Plant Swap—Celebrate your garden by asking guests to bring a flower arrangement or potted plant to swap with another guest. Guests can either fight over the foliage or pick names out of a hat to see who gets what.
Flower Arranging—Ask guests to bring blooms and vases, and invite a floral expert or a friend with very green thumbs to show you different ways of putting them together.
“Seeds of Kindness” Garden Party – was another terrific discovery. Visit this website for all the details: http://www.juliabettencourt.com/themes/kindnesstheme.html.
This is a garden theme that revolves around our planting seeds of kindness. Her emphasis is on being kinder and more caring Christian women. I won’t spill the beans, but hope you will check out all her swell ideas.
Unlike the garden parties of the rich and famous, mine have all been either merriments of Mother’s Day, or low-budget baby/wedding showers, so don’t be intimidated. You can afford this!
Garden Party 2007
Decorations: I hung plastic/silk flower strands that I found at the dollar store in swags along the patio eves. I did the same along the edges of the patio umbrella and table. I set out a few flower arrangements in baskets. I spent a decent block of time mowing and trimming and grooming my back yard so it would resemble the ritzy landscapes in the rich parts of town. There is no way it could possibly compare, but it looked its personal best anyway. I pulled all the weeds and watered until the grass was green green green. I planted the flower boxes with colorful blooms and foliage and piled them up with mulch just like the gardeners on TV. I wished I’d had a pretty gazebo that I could have lavished with tulle and silk flowers, or a lovely little pond and waterfall that would have drawn our eyes and trickled in our ears. Even a heavy cast bird bath would have been great. But I had to be content with such things as I had.
GRILLED PORTOBELLO SANDWICHES
Ciabata bread, drizzled with olive oil and lightly toasted
Portobello Mushroom caps, grilled and placed on top of the bread
Red onion slices, grilled and placed on top of the portobello
Fontina cheese, melted on top of the onion in the broiler
Fresh Basil leaves, arranged on top of the cheese
Tomato slices, drizzled with a balsamic/garlic/olive oil/black pepper dressing
Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Peppers sliced into wedges
Cut fruit into wedges and skewer on wooden spears. Arrange kabobs on a pretty platter
SUGAR COOKIES cut and frosted to look like pansies, arranged on a pretty doily covered platter. OR…those flowerpot cakes that are made with Oreo crumbs and the gummy worms on top would also have made a clever dessert for this soirée. (Click here for a how-to video for Pansy Sugar Cookies)
MUSIC: I ended up being a little too pinched for time to give the music selection a proper scavenge. So we started with a peaceful classical guitar CD and ended up with golden oldies music on satellite radio. I’ve since had a little more time to look and here’s the thoughtful lineup I found:
At a Garden Party, Ed Bickert
Garden Party, Rick Nelson
The Last Dance, Music for a Vanishing Era
Radiance, Music for a Garden Party (Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Dvorak, etc.)
And Dan Gibson’s Solitudes Classical Garden, featuring the sounds of nature with music
Or… we could make a homemade CD or create an i-tunes playlist to play at the party. If the garden party is to celebrate Mother’s Day, you could give the music mix to Mom afterward. Buy MP3 singles from Amazon.com and burn them onto one CD. Here are a few suggestions:
Anita Renfroe, The Mom Song (Momisms)
Boyz II Men, a Song for Mama
Chris Young , Voices
Carry Underwood, Mama’s Song
Brad Paisley, She’s Everything
Carry Underwood, Don’t Forget to Remember Me
Dolly Pardon, Coat of Many Colors
Jamie O’Neal, Somebody’s Hero
LeAnn Womack, I Hope You Dance
Rascal Flats, My Wish
Martina McBride, In My Daughter’s Eyes
Merle Haggard, Mama Tried
Taylor Swift, The Best Day
Trace Adkins, One Hot Mama
Trace Adkins, You’re Gonna Miss This
Trace Adkins, She Thinks We’re Just Fishin’
Celine Dion, A New Day Has Come
Loudon Wainwright III, Daughter
Lonestar, Mr. Mom
Martina McBride, Blessed
Edwin McCain, I Could Not Ask for More Sara Evans, Always Be My Baby LeAnn Rimes, How Do I Live Carrie Underwood (feat. Randy Travis), I Told You So Guns n Roses, Sweet Child of Mine
Alicia Keys, Superwoman
Aerosmith, Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
CRAFT: After our luncheon I gathered the girls up and moved our party to the far side of the yard where I had a craft project set up – making garden stepping-stones. I laid out all the decorations (small stones, marbles, jewels, beads, mosaic tiles, sea shells, tools, etc.) and the cement forms, one for each person. I mixed up cement in a wheelbarrow with water and mixed in a little cement dye to give our stones a kind of adobe look.
After I poured the cement into each form (pizza boxes) we got busy decorating. We started with pressing our handprints (footprints) into the center, and then we started arranging little decorations around it and carving designs into the wet concrete.
We all pitched in to make a stone for my sister who died the April before. We also made one for my other sister who lives far far away. With hers I asked if she could send a paper tracing of her hand that we could use to press into the cement, and also if she could send some decorations for us to use in her stone, and if possible draw us a pattern of how she would like us to decorate it. The finished products needed to set-up and then dry without being moved for at least 24 hours, so my guests left their creations with me for delivery on another day. I later delivered all of them to my mom’s yard and we set them along a lazy path in her beautiful gardens.
GIFTS: I paired a devotional book with a little watering can and filled it with garden tools, gloves, and seeds, for a hip little gift set. I found my small inexpensive watering cans at Big Lots, along with the low-cost garden utensils, gloves, and packets of seeds. I put the tools down into the watering cans, squeezed in the pair of gloves, and tucked two seed packets in the top. I tied a THANK YOU card to the handles with macramé twine. Then I gave them to my mom and sister. I also placed one on my neighbor’s door step, and made another for a girlfriend. And while I was at it, I thought they would make nice end-of-the-year gifts for each of the teachers I worked with in an elementary school, so I made three more.
The devotional books I purchased several years ago were from Crossings and are unfortunately no longer in print, but they can be found used sometimes on eBay or Amazon.com, or other out-of-print, or used book stores. They paired really well with the watering cans to make a thoughtful gift.
Bible Seeds, A Simple Study-Devotional for Growing in God’s Word
From the Creators of the God’s Word for the Biblically-Inept ™ Series
Starburst Publishers, ISBN 0-7394-2142-5
Bible Seeds for Enriching Your Character,
A Simple Study-Devotional for Growing in God’s Word
From the Creators of the God’s Word for the Biblically-Inept ™ Series
Starburst Publishers, ISBN 0-7394-3048-3
Garden Party 2008
This Mother’s Day I invited my mom, sister, her daughter, my other three nieces, my grand-niece, my sister’s mother-in-law, and my nephew’s wife. It was a full house.
And for this year’s garden party I planned a “kiddie pool pedicure party” where all my guests would sit in lawn chairs in a circle outside around our kiddie pool filled with hot sudsy water and perfumed bath salts and floating flower pedals. The sun would be shining and the birds would be chirping. We’d be wearing our capris and peddle-pushers. We would take off our shoes and soak our footies in the warm water while we nibbled on a modest buffet of brunch items. I thought it would bring back memories of when my sisters and I were young. In the summers our Grandma Gen’s would fill tubs with water and we’d all sit around in her yard and dangle our feet in the tubs. It is one of my fondest childhood memories.
Once our feet had soaked we would give ourselves PEDICURES and paint our toenails with our choice of nail polish, all the while chit-chatting about this and that. Afterwards, since our feet would be so pretty we would need some way to show them off, so I planned a CRAFT of decorating flip-flops. Our local Hobby Lobby store had everything I needed from the glue to the flip-flops and all the cutsie adornments to decorate them.
Well, you know how plans go sometimes – right out the window! That Saturday morning we had cold drizzle, and I mean blue-lips, can’t-feel-my-fingers, it’s-raining-it’s-pouring-the-old-man-is-snoring, COLD drizzle. Ugh. So we had to move our little soirée indoors to my cramped man-cave.
I phoned last-minute and begged everyone to bring a foot tub. I had also asked in the invitations for everyone to bring their own pedicure kits, and a few bottles of nail polish to share.
We didn’t let the inclement weather, or all the other little mishaps dampen our spirits. My guests seemed to have a blast and thankfully found humor in my severe lack of hostess skills that day.
Karen was my first guest to arrive and helped me put together the mimosas. While she poured orange juice I finished assembling the breakfast pizzas and that’s when the smoke alarm went off. Oh dear, someone – I’m not mentioning any names, but her initials are Lindee (sorry Sis) – placed a stack of paper plates out-of-the-way and over on the stove… on a lit burner that she didn’t realize was lit (whoops)! Thanks to Karen’s keen sniffer and quick reflexes, she grabbed and tossed the stack in the sink and ran water to put the flames out. Woo hoo… disaster averted! It all just added to our zany fun that day.
I don’t know whether the weather put me off or what, but I just didn’t have my feet under me with this get-together. Have you ever had a party like that? I felt scattered and rushed, and just helter-skelter, all over the place with my mood and my time management – just everything. In spite of that though we spent a sweet morning together listening to silly music, eating, being crafty and otherwise enjoying each other’s company. I ended up with enough stuff for everyone to make two pairs of flip-flops each, and I had gathered enough decorations and idea sheets to give us all plenty of inspiration.
1 tube Pillsbury Pizza dough (refrigerated) (or you could use a Boboli ready-made crust)
2 Ripe Avacados, mashed (or a ready-made spicy guacamole)
6 strips of crispy fried bacon, crumbled
Grape tomatoes sliced in half
Handful of Arugula (or spinach) leaves
Dash of Tabasco
Pop the dough out of the tube and press out onto a large greased pizza pan. Bake until just turning golden, or use a Boboli crust. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Mix a few drops of Tabasco in with the mashed avocados and spread onto pizza crust. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, arugula leaves, and grape tomato halves. Cut into wedges and serve. I tripled this recipe because of our number of guests and we had left-overs.
2 (1-lb) bags frozen peaches
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp. Mace (or nutmeg)
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter, melted
Cinnamon and sugar
Toss 1 bag of peaches with next 5 ingredients and then layer in bottom of a buttered casserole dish. If you want to be fancy you can split it among ramekins (one for each guest).
Place sugar, flour, and milk in a bowl and whisk until blended. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the batter over the peaches. Sprinkle with Cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 1 hour, or until the peaches are bubbling and the crust is golden. Check a little earlier if doing ramekins.
½ gallon organic orange juice with pulp
2 small cans of peach nectar
1 small bottle of champagne (or sparkling cider, or ginger ale)
Mix all together in a large pitcher and pour into wine or champagne flutes. Decorate with orange slices dropped into the glass and a sprig of mint on top.
For this craft you need at least one pair of flip-flops per guest. Hobby Lobby had a whole section dedicated to this craft. I picked up all the supplies there. At home I had material scraps that could be torn into strips and tied onto the straps of the flip-flops. I also had double-sided tape to adhere bead strips and fur strips and other decorations to the top of the sandals. If you can’t find craft flip-flops, just have each of your guests bring a pair from home to bling out.
Other Craft Ideas from Parties Past (pictured below):
Broken dish mosaic picture frames. Mosaic pieces can be glued to picture frames or clay pots and finished with grout to make a very nice looking product. Look at yard sales and second-hand stores for pretty dishes that are inexpensive; or use one of the dishes from your own cupboard. If you have a child who has gotten engaged, this would make a neat “break the dish” (Jewish engagement custom) activity for a mother to do with the fiancé’s mother, and would make a neat wedding gift for the couple to place their wedding photo in. Wrap the dishes in several sheets of newspaper and whack them several times with a hammer until there are just quarter-sized pieces. Use a fast drying mosaic glue (available at hobby stores) to adhere the pieces to the picture frame or clay pot. Keep the pieces fairly close together. Let the glue dry.
Follow package directions and mix up a batch of grout. Purchase any color sanded grout powder (available from Home Depot) that will compliment your china. Smooth it in between the tiles being sure to fill all the gaps and air spaces. Let it dry for as long as is recommended on the package, and then use a damp sponge to gently wipe the grout off the tiles. Keep rinsing the sponge and squeezing the water out of it in between wipes.
Once all the tiles are clean, let the project sit and dry for a day or two.
Paint Clay pots with acrylic paint. My family and I have done this at Christmas time and then planted narcissus bulbs in the pots after they were decorated. We’ve also done them for Mother’s day with summertime themes. Dani did hers with sunflowers. I did mine with dragonflies and other bugs. Gracee painted hers with stripes, and our other guests did designs that unfortunately escape my memory. Buy whatever size terra-cotta pots suit your fancy and some containers of water-based acrylic paint. You’ll also need an assortment of different sized and shaped paintbrushes. Remember to get the little plates that go underneath the pots and paint them too.
Paint and decorate birdhouses. A few years back I found some little wooden birdhouses at the craft store. I drug them out on Mother’s Day and we painted and decorated them. I glued rocks and sticks to mine after painting the little roof. My mom and daughters just painted theirs with pretty designs.
Rock Bugs: Hunt for rocks that are all different shapes and sizes. Glue small round ones together to make caterpillars or ants. Use small round ones and paint to look like ladybugs, bees, spiders, or beetles. Use long skinny ones and paint them to look like grasshoppers or hornets, or lizards. Use your imagination and have fun. These look especially cute when placed in the soil of a potted plant or scattered around on a window ledge with potted plants.
Craft Party 2011
My first year in Texas I decided to celebrate mother’s day with all my girlfriends and their daughters/grand-daughters. They all came over for a craft party. I served food and had music playing, of course. JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts had little wooden birdhouses on sale for $1 each so I picked up about $30 worth. I also picked up some cheap wind chimes to attach to the bottoms of the birdhouses, and hardware to put some heavy string through to hang them on our porches. I asked my friends to bring paints, brushes, glue guns, and whatever other things they might want to use to decorate a bird house with. They all did and we had hours of fun with each other.
COWBOY CAVIAR (and tortilla chips)
1 can Black Eyed Peas, drained
1 can White Shoe peg Corn, drained
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 ripe Avocados. Diced
2 fresh Jalapeños, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Cumin
¾ tsp each Salt & Pepper
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Family Size Package of Tortilla Chips, Scoops
Mix all ingredients, except for chips, in a bowl. Toss well to distribute flavors. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until party time. Serve with tortilla chips, like you would salsa and chips or guacamole and chips.
EGG SALAD SANDWICHES
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 small white onion minced
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
½ cup Mayo
1 Tablespoon Spicy Brown Mustard
Dash Cayenne powder
¼ tsp Salt & Pepper
5 leaves of Romaine Lettuce, shredded
2 Loaves of White Bread from the Bakery, sliced thin, crusts removed
Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill overnight. The day of the party, lay out the bottom slices of white bread on a flat surface and spread egg salad over them in a thin layer. Layer several shreds of lettuce over, and then cover with the other slices of white bread. Cut each in half from corner to corner and then in quarters from the other corners. Arrange on a platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until party time.
SOUTH TEXAS SHRIMP COCKTAILS
2 lb frozen cooked shrimp, tail off, thawed, rinsed and patted dry
3 Large Ripe Avocados, cut into small chunks
6 Large Jalapeños, stems removed, chopped with seeds
1 Small White Onion, chopped
Half a bunch of Cilantro torn apart and chopped
2 12-oz bottles Louisiana brand Seafood Sauce, Spicy
3 Lemons cut into wedges
Clear plastic tumblers
In a large bowl combine shrimp, avocado, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, and sauce. Toss to combine. Spoon into clear plastic tumblers, top with a lemon wedge and sprig of parsley if desired, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2 gallons drinking water, reserve 3 cups
10 Lemons, sliced
1 can frozen concentrate lemonade
4 cups sugar
2 gallon container with lid
Place 2 gallons of fresh cold drinking water in a 2 gallon glass container, reserving 3 cups to be used in a moment. Add lemons and frozen concentrate. Stir well. Place the 3 cups of reserved water in a bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes until boiling. Add the 4 cups of sugar to the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool, and then add to the lemonade. Stir well, chill until ready to serve.
Variation: Add a variety of chopped up chilled fruits (e.g. thin watermelon wedges with rind on, strawberries halved, green melon chunks, raspberries, blueberries, red grapes, orange slices, lime slices, and maraschino cherries) to the lemonade just before serving, or place fruits in large beverage glasses and fill each with lemonade. Serve with a straw.
RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE DELIGHT
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add butter and blend well. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees *F for 8-10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before filling.
1 pkg of cream cheese, warmed to room temp
1 small container of marshmallow cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small container cool whip
1 package fresh or frozen raspberries
Mint leaves and lemon slices for garnish
Mix cream cheese, marshmallow cream, lemon juice, and cool whip in a bowl. Carefully fold in half the raspberries. Spread over cooled graham cracker crust. Place the other half of the raspberries on top and garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
And here’s a menu I put together for a Baby Shower garden party for my daughter:
“And when these days were completed, the king made a feast…for all the people…great to small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.”