Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fondue Fun

The other week I was preparing for a Fondue Party that I hosted at my cabin for a ladies group.  I will share how all of that started in a future blog but today I want to share my party with you.  

I had never made fondue before, but I DID have a fondue pot.  It was a Christmas gift that I had asked for a couple of years ago.  It was great to finally have a reason to pull it out of storage.

One of the ladies in the group made a chocolate fondue.  YUMMMMM! 

The whole cabin smelled of chocolate as this simmered.  Oh - what a wonderful smell.  

I made the cheese fondue.  

I think it is funny that it looks like a face.  If I had noticed earlier, I would have fixed that face to look a little happier.  Oh well.  It tasted good.

The ladies each brought something to dip in the fondues.  This is the chocolate table.

And this is the cheese table.

Since I had never been to a Fondue Party, let alone hosted one - or even HAD Fondue, I decided to do a little research on Fondue Parties.  I started with this great PDF by Martha Stewart.  In it she gives tips on the proper etiquette, things that are good with Fondue and some recipes.

I found the recipe for the Cheese Fondue online.  I chose the top one in the Google search.  It seemed to be the easiest for me to gather ingredients for.  Of course, had I prepared a bit further ahead (I knew about this for 3 weeks), I may have done more research (or maybe not).  The recipe can be found here.

One of the things I want to include in the Ladies Group is an activity.  Since Fondue, I felt, was an activity all by itself, I needed to create something simple.  I found a blog where someone played a game.  Anyone who dropped their food into the pot had to answer a question.  LOVED it. 

I proceeded to find questions (more googling).  I wanted questions that helped us get to know each other without making anyone feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.  I actually avoid parties where there may be games that make one (mainly me) look foolish or stupid so I decided I can't be alone with this feeling.  

I found great "Ice Breaker" questions at several different websites.  I actually copied and pasted questions from several sites as a document, but if you prefer, you can find ready to print questions here.

I wanted to use some questions that weren't part of that beautifully done PDF so I had to come up with my own thing.  I wanted all of the questions to be the same size.  I thought about using old playing cards but decided that might be more work than I was ready for.  

As I was digging for ideas, I came across some scrapbook paper that was about 4x4 in size.  They came in a pack of scraps for embellishing the scrapbook albums that I've not had the time to work on for a couple of years now.  

I had several different sizes . . .

and colors.

I decided to write the questions on the smaller pieces of paper and adhere them to the 4x4.

I had some fun with the colorful papers.  It's been a while since I've done any paper crafting.  It was fun to create again.  I need to do it more often.

I even added extra embellishments to some of them.  Here they are in the basket.  I had a basket of cards at each fondue pot.  We only got through a few questions.  I found that the questions would often lead to other questions from the ladies themselves which began a conversation that allowed the ladies to get to know one another.

I've been trying to decide what activity to do for our March get together.  If inspiration doesn't come, I may just pull the baskets out of the closet and see where the conversation goes again.

Have any of you had a Fondue Party?  Did you play a game?  What did you do?  What did you serve with your fondue?  

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Valentine's Day Debacle

With having one son at home for schooling, the planning of special days is, well, pretty much non-existent.  I did, however, manage to come up with a plan for a special lunch for my husband and a dessert for my kids this Valentine's Day.  I had steak tips thawing in the fridge so I knew I had something for dinner.  I just had to figure out how to prepare them.  No biggie (I thought).

I began my morning by making Carrot Cupcakes.  After they cooled, I frosted them in between school disruptions.

In the midst of frosting cupcakes, I realized that it was time to get lunch started so it was ready for my husband's noontime lunch.

I got the recipe out and gathered the ingredients.

As I'm gathering things together I find that I am OUT of cream of chicken soup.  How could I be out?  Oh.  Yeah.  I grabbed it in a pinch to make a pork chop dinner the other day.  Normally I would have a few but I was down to one and planned to go to the store for more.  I forgot.

Now what to make for lunch?  I'm down to 10 minutes.  I wasted too much time trying to find the missing non-existent cream of chicken soup.

I found Chef Boy R Dee.  Definitely not what I planned, but it's food.

12:00.  Lunch was ready.

While I waited for my man to arrive home for lunch, I frosted more cupcakes.  Sometimes the frosting got on my finger so I did what every proper housewife would do.  Yes, I licked the frosting off my fingers.  The frosting wasn't very good.  After trying the frosting again, I decided I had better check the date on the frosting.  Guess what?  The container said "Use by May 2012".  I had already frosted most of the cupcakes, so I tossed the frosting and found another one in the cabinet.  This time I check the date BEFORE using it.  It says "Use by May 2013".  Whew!  I'm safe.

It was now 12:10.  No hubby.  Lunch was no longer hot.

I finished frosting the cupcakes with the fresh frosting.

12:20.  Still no hubby.  I thought about my phone.  He will often send me a message if he will be late or not home at all.  I usually notice 30 minutes later (or hours), but this time, there was no message so I decided to my day might be good for my blog and started taking pictures of things while I waited for him to come home.  It's so funny how blogging changes what you photograph.

12:30.  Hubby finally arrived for lunch.  This is actually becoming more and more the norm.  It isn't his fault.  It's just part of his position at work.

12:45.  Time to go to school to pick up my other son for an appointment.  That was a short Valentine lunch with hubby, but this is life when you are married to a farmer and have children.

The appointment went longer than I expected.  I needed to stop at the pharmacy AND I needed that Cream of Chicken Soup.  Then I thought it might be nice to get them all something for Valentine's Day.  Yes. I bought gifts last minute.  I don't prepare and plan for these special days like I do for Birthdays and Christmas.  I feel like those are plenty, but since I was totally bombing everything else . . . I went to Target.  That way I could one stop shop for the soup I needed, the gifts I wanted to find (which ended up just being M&Ms & Goldfish crackers) and Starbucks.

I got home around 3:15 and needed to get some things cleaned up, put the things I bought away and still figure out what I was going to do with the steak tips.  Time was running by too fast and I never got the other dessert started.  I also had to get back to those cupcakes that I learned from hubby that no one, but me, would eat anyway.  I thought I had better toss out the cupcakes with the old frosting.  I wasn't sure they would really hurt anyone, but they sure wouldn't be very tasty.

Here is what is left from the 20 I originally baked after tossing the "expired" ones.  At least it's a more manageable amount for me to eat by myself.  

My mother in law loves to bring us food for every occasion so she stopped by with chocolate dipped sugar cookies, chocolate mint cookies and chocolate covered strawberries.  Talk about saving the day.  Now my boys all had something they liked for dessert and I didn't have to worry about that anymore.  Who know's HOW that would have turned out anyway.

By this time, it was after 4:00.  My husband would be home and hungry by 5:00 and I hadn't even checked to see if the meat was thawed enough for a marinade.  I haven't looked for a marinade.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to attempt to cook another thing.

By this time, I think my son would have referred to the efforts of my day as an Epic Fail.

So what's for dinner?

Well, I went ahead and made the Crab Mornay that I had planned for lunch.  I figured it would be a nice appetizer (and I had been trying to make this for him for 3 weeks now so I was determined).  I still needed food for the rest of the family and I decided it was time to call for help.

This pizza place is more than pizza  They have a lot of italian entrees as well as subs and salads.  There was something for everyone on the menu.  I picked up the phone and placed an order for delivery.  After all, isn't that what every mom who isn't Martha Stewart would do?

So Valentine's Day came to us courtesy of my mother in law and a pizza delivery guy.  Well . . . I did have to pay the pizza delivery guy.  BUT that doesn't change the fact that I very much appreciated him.  He doesn't know that he saved my Valentine's Day meal.  Neither did my mother in law (until now).

Huh.  Come to think of it - I forgot to give the boys their Valentine Gifts.

By the way -- he wasn't a huge fan of the Crab Mornay.  It's ok.  It's a risk you take when you try something new.  We will just stick with the Crab Dip in the future.

So now it's your turn.  Did you ever have a Valentine's Day plan fall apart on you?  Please comment below and share your story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is Love Really in the Air?

It's Valentine's Day!  It's a time when everyone speaks about love and chocolate and romance.  It also seems like the marketers want you to believe that you have to get certain things for your man or lady in order to truly show your love for them.

Today I came across a subway art image that had I Corinthians 13: 4-8.

It seems to me that this verse is used a lot this time of year.  I guess, on the surface, these words can be romantic.  Have you ever really noticed, though, just how hard it is to be all of these things in this verse?

Love is patient.  
Love is kind.  
Love does not envy.  
Love does not boast.  
Love is not proud.  
Love is not rude
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil BUT rejoices with the truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love NEVER fails.

At first, when I looked at the words above, I thought, "I'm not too bad."  Then I remembered Jesus' command to "Love your enemies" in Matthew 5:44.  That changes things, doesn't it?  It did for me.  We tend to compare our shortcomings to the shortcomings of others when we really are to compare ourselves to God.  When we do that, we can then have a better understanding of our need for God's grace and mercy.  It still isn't always easy for us to do, but I know that God is asking us to offer that same grace and mercy to our family, our neighbors, and, yes, even our enemies.  I'm just going to be honest.  That last one is TOUGH!  I guess that is why, in the remainder of Matthew 5:44, he says "pray for those who persecute you." There are some people that are hard to love.  I believe Jesus tells us to pray because we can't love like this on our own.  Prayer is the necessary tool we need to fill us with the love God wants us to pour out on each other.

So - when I take into consideration the commands from the Bible to love EVERYONE and I check off my successes and failures of what love is in I Corinthians, I have failed.

I just came across this quote today and thought it fit well.

"I can't brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily.  But I can brag about His love for me because it never fails."

I love this.  I serve a God who knows my shortcomings and loves me anyway.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Valentines Day Things I Like

I've not been feeling very creative in the craft world lately, but I do enjoy the inspiration on Pinterest.  When I can't exercise my creative muscle, I guess soaking it in will do for now.  :)

I thought I would share some Valentine ideas I found on Pinterest with you today.

Just Between Friends has 10 DIY Valentine Ideas that would be great if your child has a Valentine party coming up.  I wasn't so creative about this when my kids were exchanging Valentines.  Oh, well. Here is one of the Valentines you can find on Just Between Friends.

Ro-Bot Valentine

How about a card for someone special?  Here are some cute ones.

You Light Up My Life - Birthday Candle Card at Real Simple

DIY Valentine, birthday candles

Love Ya to Pieces with puzzle pieces by suzARTe

How about a bouquet of flowers card?  Found this at Ben Franklin Craft & Frame Shop

I've been looking for a reason to melt crayons.  :)

If you want to create a romantic ambiance - here are some beautiful ideas.  Just proof that Christmas lights can be used all year round. These photos were found on a blog called Beyond Beyond.  I think this is for a wedding, but you can often take a wedding idea and adapt it.  Obviously - this is gorgeous ANYTIME!  Well . . . I like it anyway.

All of the lights Now Let there be Light Wedding inspiration outdoor wedding inspiration wedding idea Light  wedding decor 2 inspiration

I'll be honest.  I've never really done well with Valentines Day.  Maybe it is because I usually work so hard on my Christmas decor that I'm still recovering.  I like some of these ideas because they are simple.  I think I can handle simple.

NOW - I have to figure out what in the world I'm going to get hubby and the boys for Valentines Day. Maybe I need to browse Pinterest a little more.

What are you planning for Valentines Day?  I would love to know.  I need the inspiration.  :)

You can follow me on Pinterest here.