Friday Find: The Best Lunch Box Ever

gold frame

While I am quite creative in the kitchen, when it comes to packing Journey’s lunch my ideas fall flat.  It’s just the beginning of October and she’s already getting bored with what’s in her lunchbox. I added a few new hot lunch options into the mix, but how many times can I do pasta? Then I came across this week’s find… Continue reading

Back To School: Lunchbox Love

lunchbox loveIt’s back to school time already!  I’m always looking for creative ways to welcome kids back to school and what better way than to show them a little Lunchbox Love! Continue reading

Eat & Tell: Pumpkin Spice Applesauce

pumpkin spice applesauce
With so many crisp apples and pumpkins a plenty, I thought I would add a twist to my usual applesauce recipe by adding some pumpkin puree.  My little taste tester gave it a thumbs up and I’m sure your kids will love it too! Continue reading

3 Tips To Help You Plan Your Next Party

stress party

It’s hard to believe that the 4th of July weekend is upon us already!  As hosting the festivities can be overwhelming, I am sharing 3 tips to help you get out of the kitchen so that you can enjoy the party.  Continue reading

Be a Hostess, not a Hostage: Get Out Of The Kitchen & Enjoy The Party

stress party

It’s the end of the summer.  You decide to throw your final soiree of the season.  Nothing fancy, just the usual backyard barbeque menu.  Chicken, hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, and the like.

You only plan to have a couple of people over, so no need to do any real planning.  As the week goes on, you have invited a few more people (and some have invited themselves), but the menu is simple so it’s not a big deal.  You decide to clean up a bit the night before and now you’re tired.  So you’ll go to the grocery store first thing in the morning, after all, you don’t need that much.

You decide to set up the tables and put out the chairs before you head to the store.  Ugh! It’s 10am already!  By the time you get back from fighting the crowd at the store, it’s 12pm and you haven’t even fired up the grill yet!  Guests start arriving and you’re working frantically to get everything ready.   Your guests are having a good time, but you aren’t aware, because you can’t get out of the kitchen!!

If this is not you, I’m sure you’ve been to this party before.  So, I offer a few tips to help you or someone you know become a better hostess and stop letting the kitchen hold you hostage.

1.  Know your strengths, accept your weaknesses

I have a friend that lives by the mantra, “I am a party goer, not a party thrower.”  She clearly accepts that she is not interested in dealing with the details that come with planning events.   While I know Martha Stewart makes everything look easy, everyone does not have a penchant for entertaining and planning parties.  And if you’re in this category, that’s okay.  Instead of spending hours trying to channel your inner Martha Stewart to plan a 5 course dinner party, make reservations and spend the rest of the time shopping for something to wear to dinner.

If sweets are your thing, suggest a progressive dinner party and host the dessert course at your home.  This will allow you to prepare items that you enjoy and eliminate the stress of planning a full-blown event.

 2.  Share your kitchen

I admit, I am definitely guilty of this one.  But most of the time, it’s because by the time my guests arrive, I am already putting the food on the table to be served.  It’s okay not want help in the kitchen, but make sure you have appetizers, snacks or something for your guests to nibble on until the main course is served.  The worst is when the host tells you to go on and enjoy the party while she is just starting to season the chicken.  We are offering to help you because we are hungry!  We want to eat dinner some time before breakfast!!  So please, take the hint and take the help.

3.  Small or large, you still need a plan

The main reason most people have anxiety about hosting events is because they get overwhelmed.  And they usually get overwhelmed because they did not have a plan.  Although planning is a party is not hard, it does require the skill of time management.  Whether you are having a few people over for a barbeque or planning your parents’ anniversary party, you need a plan.  Making a list of what needs to be done along with a timeline will help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

I always start with my guest list.  This helps me to make sure that the theme, menu and all my ideas will work in the location I have chosen.  Sometimes after you create the guest list, you realize that the small and simple gathering you had in mind is really much more complicated than you thought.  Having a plan will help you make adjustments before you realize you have more guests than you have space.  It will also help manage your budget and your to-do list.

And remember, just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.  If you don’t like to cook, hire a caterer.  Want to serve a signature cocktail, ask a talented friend to serve as your mixologist.  Stick to doing what you do best!  And in the end, if all you truly want to be is a hostess—hire a party planner like me :)

Follow me on twitter @herlifeinspired.

Girls and Dolls: A fun peek inside American Girl Place

Recently, I took Journey to American Girl Place in NYC.  She has been dying to get her doll’s hair done ever since she realized that the store has a hair salon.  Journey has also been wanting to take the doll to the hospital in the store.  Luckily, she is smart enough to know that getting your hair done is much less expensive than going to the hospital!

If you’ve never been to this store before, I must tell you it is unlike anything you have ever seen.  Three floors of everything that you can imagine…all for dolls.   You can create a doll from a selection of 40 different skin, hair and eye color combinations.  Plus, you can add accessories that match your little girl’s physical appearance and interests like glasses, sports equipment, musical instruments and so much more!  In addition to the hair salon and hospital, the store also features a café and a photo studio.

After we got our hair appointment, we went to see if the café any cancellations for lunch.  (A few days before our visit, I tried to get a reservation at the café for lunch, but they were booked.)  Luckily for us, they did!  When it was Alexandria’s hair done (that’s the dolls name—at least it was on that day, it changes quite often), the stylist confirmed the hairstyle that Journey had chosen as she strapped Alexandria into her chair and put a cape around her neck.    Then, the stylist proceeded to give us tips on how to do the dolls hair.  Turns out, the process to achieve Alexandria’s hairstyle is the same as the process that I use to do Journey’s.  But there’s no way, I’m spending that much time on a doll’s hair!

Fresh from the hair salon, we headed to the café for lunch.  It was quite an experience.  Each doll is placed in a booster seat and served tea.  If you do not have a doll, they will lend you one to dine with.  The set price for lunch includes an appetizer of cinnamon rolls as well as a plate of fruit, cheese and warm pretzel sticks.  I assumed the menu choices would be limited to chicken fingers, PB&J and the like—I was wrong.  I enjoyed a grilled vegetable panini and sweet potatoes fries.  They had a nice selection of salads and other entrees as well.   And for dessert—a fruit kabob, a heart-shaped piece of vanilla cake and a flowerpot filled with chocolate mousse, topped with crumbled Oreos.

As we left the store, Journey said, “I’m sure she’ll need her hair done when we come back for Christmas.  Next time we’ll have afternoon tea.”

For store locations or to purchase a doll online, go to americangirl.com