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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Open House: Cost Review & Price Comparision Tips


So the question is still out there, did we keep the open house under budget?  Well, let's see.  Our budget for the event was $150.00.  For all of the food and beverages, our total cost came out to $158.74!  $8.74 over budget--not too bad for an event that fed 50+ guests!!

Planning for this event was the first time that I really did price comparisons at different grocery stores.  And I learned a lot about how to be efficient in doing it.  Here are my top three biggest takeaways from this experience:

1. Make sure you have a good and thorough list of everything you need--including quantities. It will save time while you're shopping and it will help prevent you from overspending and avoiding buying items "willy nilly."

2. When you visit each store, make sure you write down the cost per quantity of each item.  This part was a little tricky for me, because I didn't realize (call me naive) that each store and each brand has a different way of packaging food.  For instance, one store may sell celery per ounce while the other store may sell per stalk.  Keeping track of this will definitely help prevent confusion and frustration.

3. Don't be too legalistic that it takes away the fun in what you're doing!

I hope this helps.  I'm sure there's a lot more to price comparison shopping than what I shared in this post, but I'm still learning.  Remember, I'm still a little foreign to all of this domestic stuff :)

Check out my recipes, if you haven't already. 

Take care!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Open House: Ain't No Thing But a Chicken Wing..Recipe

Hey Everyone!

So, the open house layout continues.  If you've been following along with all of my previous "Open House" posts, you may have been waiting to read about the chicken wings.  You may have even seen them in other pictures.  If you missed my previous posts, you can catch up here.

At first I skirted around making wings because we all know how messy they can be to eat.  And who wants people with greasy, slimy fingers holding their cute little nieces?  Not this aunt!  My mom and I went on a quest to find a non-sticky and not as greasy chicken wing recipe.  Here's what we came up with:



Ingredients:
1 c. honey 
1/2 c. soy sauce 
1/4 tsp. garlic powder 
3 tbsp. ketchup 
3 tbsp. vegetable oil


Directions: 
Mix ingredients together.
Pour sauce over chicken in a 9 x 13 pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

**After an hour we realized that the chicken wings were looking kinda sticky and really greasy, so we removed the extra sauce and cooked off grease and placed the wings back in the oven for about 20 minutes to get them crispy on the outside**


You can check out all the recipes here

They were delicious!  Hope you enjoy!

Linking up here: 




http://my3boybarians.com/


http://www.sillylittlesparrow.com/


Photobucket

 

Monday, June 27, 2011

50 Days of Firsts Complete!

Hey Everyone!

Well, my mission is complete.  I did/tried something new everyday for 50 Days.  It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  Here's what I was up to for my last 8 days:

Monday:  I ran a new 4-mile run route at my parents' house.  It was a great run; so great, I ran it again a few days later.

Tuesday:  My mom and I went on a road trip together last week, and this was our first day of the road trip.  We drove from Virginia to Ohio.

Wednesday:  I went suit shopping for the first time with my mom.  I still can't believe how much quicker it is to find and purchase men's clothing than it is women's clothing.  Who is the recipient of this suit, you ask?  My 103-year-old grandfather.  We wanted a new suit and we got a great deal on 2!  I wish I had taken a picture of his face when he found out we purchased them--he was so happy!

Thursday:   As we continued our road trip, this was my first time driving from Ohio to New York directly through Pennsylvania.  What a beautiful, and traffic-free drive!  

Friday:  I got to see and catch up with a lot of friends in NY for the first time since I moved.  It's always so nice catching up with old friends.  I also tried this amazing dessert recipe that I hope to try someday.  I don't even know how to describe it.  But when I make it, I'll take pictures and share the recipe with you all.

Saturday:  I went to this little restaurant in Nyack, New York for the first time for breakfast.  It's called the Strawberry Place.  So tasty and really cute!  The prices were very reasonable--a rare find in NY.

Sunday:  I was looking for something to make for dinner at my parents' house.  I found a bunch of ingredients to put together a Mexican dish.  So, I created my own Mexican Casserole.  I don't even remember how much of everything I put in it, but it was yummy!

Monday:  My husband's a huge fan of almost anything with honey mustard.  As a result, I always have my eyes open for different things to try.  I found these Rold Gold Tiny Twists Honey Mustard Pretzels when I was grocery shopping.  It was my first time trying them.  I think he'll be a big fan. 


'Til next time,


Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Friday! Funny Phone Chat

This made me laugh today, and I hope it makes you laugh too--or at least smile!  Have a great weekend, everyone!


Photo Credits




Thursday, June 23, 2011

Open House: Meatball Recipe

I have a recipe to share.  My mom's simple & delicious meatball recipe.  The meatballs were a huge hit at the event.  The best part is, we were able to fix a lot of them at one time.  The recipe below is for 80 meatballs--we made 160.  A huge thanks to my mom!

Some of the food out on the table and ready to eat
A close up look at the meatballs--delicious!


Ingredients: 
2 12 oz jars Heinz chili sauce
1 32 oz jar grape jelly
1 bag meatballs (appx 80 in a bag)

Directions
Bake frozen meatballs for 20-25 minutes at 350/375 depending on the oven.  Put chili sauce and jelly in a large pot, heat until jelly is melted and sauce is smooth, stirring often. Add meatballs; simmer for 3 hours.  Transfer meatballs to a crockpot to stay warm. 

Enjoy!




Linking Up Here: 


Somewhat Simple




Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Open House: Fun Food Displays

The open house recap continues!  I wanted to use this post to show the ways we displayed some snacks for the guests.  As a result, this post will be more pictures than words.  I used my mom's awesome camera so I think they turned out better than if I had used my camera.  I'm pinching my pennies to get a camera as nice as hers one day :).

For something savory, we had we had olives and marinated mushrooms.
I thought it would be fun to serve them out of martini glasses
So cute--at least I think so :)

 For something sweet, we served fresh cherries, strawberries and grapes
We thought it would be fun to serve them in these jars for guests to pick out their own fruit


The fruit was a big hit!
 Like I said, not very many words, but the pictures speak for themselves.

Tomorrow, I'll share the meatball recipe!


Linking Up Here: 

Somewhat Simple



Until Next Time,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Open House: Bite-Sized Caprese Salads

Bite-sized caprese salads
Thank you all for bearing with me as my schedule seemed to fly out of control last week.  I'm going to use this week to re-cap the open house I planned for my sister's twin daughters.  I set a budget to feed 50 guests and worked my butt off to stay within it--I'll let you know, this week, how I did sticking to the budget.  I'll also share some recipes we used and some other tips and tricks.
So easy to make

So, I'll start with the sneak peek I gave you all:  the bite-sized caprese salads!
 
These little treats were so easy to make.  I used cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, lettuce, vinaigrette dressing, and toothpicks. The picture pretty much speaks for itself.  I chopped the cherry tomatoes in half and put a toothpick thru the lettuce and mozzarella balls to hold them in place.  But there is something I would do differently next time.

Next time, I won't drizzle the vinaigrette dressing on top of the mozzarella, I will let each piece soak in a dish (tomatoes down) with the dressing in the bottom.  Drizzling the vinaigrette on top made the mozzarella look kind of old and brown--not the look I was going for at all.  Anyway, lesson learned.

If you're looking for a fresh, easy to make, and easy to eat appetizer, I recommend these little guys!  

What you need: 
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mini-Mozzarella Balls
  • Lettuce
  • Vinaigrette or Italian Dressing
  • Toothpicks




Linking Up Here:

Somewhat Simple




Monday, June 20, 2011

42 Days of Firsts Complete- 8 Left!

Hey All!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend celebrating Father's Day with those special dads in your lives.  I had a great weekend with family and got to spend some time with my dad.

My husband has been out in the field for training for the last--oh 42 Days...which is one of the main reasons I'm doing this "50 Days of Firsts" challenge.  I want to keep myself busy while he's gone so I won't sit on the couch watching sappy movies and crying over his absence (not like I really do that anyway).  It's hard to believe 42 days have passed and I'm down to single digits!  Woo hoo!  That also means that my husband be back home in about 8 days too!  If only you could see the smile on my face right now.

Anyway, here's what I've been up to the last 7 days:

Monday:  I completed my first thrift store treasure makeover.  I posted the results here last Wednesday, but the actual transformation occurred on Monday.  I'm so happy with the results and I can't wait to get it up on a wall!  It takes me a little while to decide where I want things to hang before I start hammering nails into the walls.  But when I finally decide on this one, I'll share it with you in another post.

Tuesday: I watched that TV show, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition online.  Have any of you ever seen this show?  I love it!  I'm a huge "Biggest Loser" fan and a fan of positive life transformations in general.  Let me know if you've seen it and what you think about it!

Wednesday: My friend Rebecca invited me to go to a water aerobics class with her.  I love to swim, I love the pool, and I love to workout, so I signed up for a month.  She warned me that she was the youngest one in class the first time she went; I believed her.  When I went, she was still one of the youngest ones in the class and I may have been the second youngest.  I'd never been to a water aerobics class so it was my first time.  It was a nice change to my workout routine.  An unexpected bonus, while doing some of the underwater kicks, I felt my muscles stretching a ton!  Amazing!

Thursday: It was the first time I can say I looked at a Greek word, pronounced it correctly, and knew the meaning, and how to conjugate it!  What a great feeling!  I'm so excited to learn more.

Friday: I went up to visit my friend Andrea in Durham, NC.  After reading my Cupcake Paradise post, she told me about a great cupcake place near her.  I tried a couple of mini cupcakes for the first time when I visited her and they were delicious!  Again, who doesn't like cupcakes?  Thanks for the treat, Andrea!

Saturday: I ran my first 8K race.  What a fun run!  I've run quite a few 5Ks, a few 10Ks, a 10-miler, a few half-marathons, and a few marathons, but never an 8K race.  I ran plenty of 5 mile runs while in the Army, but I hadn't run a race for fun.  I think it's a fun distance to run and I will definitely do one again!

Sunday: My dad loves this little Indian restaurant in my hometown but I'd never been.  One of his and a brother-in-law's Father's Day treats was having dinner brought in from the restaurant courtesy of my mom, a sister, and myself.  I love Indian food and it was my first time trying it from this restaurant--yum!

What have you all been up to?  Feel free to share, I'd love to hear from you!

 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stay Away from Fences

Have a great weekend everyone!  Be safe... and stay away from fences. 










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Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Sneak Peek

I love days like today--busy & very productive.  The only downside is that I didn't have much time to put a post together today.  I'm working on my Open House post, but it's not complete.  So, I'll give you a sneak peek.

Bite-sized caprese salads.

I was so excited to make mini-caprese salads for the event.  I think they turned out well, but I do have some tips and recommendations on things I would try next time.  Stay tuned!


Linking up here:


http://www.somewhatsimple.com/2011/06/blog-link-party-and-giveaway-from-pick-your-plum.html


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Thrift Store Treasure

Today I really want to share what I found when I went thrift store treasure hunting with my mom last week. As I mentioned in my last Fifty Firsts post, I made my first thrift store purchases.  I purchased 3 items from two of my favorite categories.  The first category is mirrors and the second category is art.

Oh, I love art so much!  My love for art all began in second grade when we lived overseas and my class took a field trip to visit Claude Monet's home.  He quickly became my favorite artist and has been ever since.  I'm a huge fan of impressionist painting, in general.  Well, I guess there's no surprise that one of the paintings that caught my eye at the thrift store was an impressionist painting.  Check it out!


 The bold colors stood out to me, but the frame it was in wasn't doing the painting any justice.  I believe a frame (another favorite of mine) can make any painting pop a little more.  So I bought the painting for $6.00.  Yes, I only paid $6.00 for this painting. 

The next day, as I also mentioned in my last Fifty Firsts post, I spent quite a bit of time shopping in a local arts & crafts store.  One of the objectives of my trip to the store was to find a frame to accompany this beautiful piece--something that would really do it justice.  And guess what?  I found one!  It was on sale from $50.00 to $20.00, so I scooped it up quickly.

When I removed the painting from the first frame, I learned something pretty amazing about the piece.  The painting I bought for $6.00 at the thrift store is an original!  Can you believe that??  I had no idea I was buying an original piece! I'm looking up information on the artist to learn more about him/her.  I do know that the piece was painted over 20 years ago.   Here's the painting in the new frame:



I'm so happy with my first thrift store purchases.  I really think I found some treasures.  I can't wait to share more of the transformations with you all!


Linking up here: 





Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Natural Styles

It's been a couple of months since I wrote my post "A Black Woman's Hair."  Since I wrote the post in April, I've gone through a couple of different hairstyles. I'm still natural, but I'm trying different ways to keep my looks fresh and manageable. Here are the styles I've worn so far this summer:

I got my hair cut & flat-ironed.  No more processed hair, Woo Hoo!
Braids- My Favorite Summer Style
This is after washing my hair and leaving it in braids overnight.  So easy and I love it!


This weekend, I got a really nice note from my new friend, Shanna, from Swoon Style & Home. Shanna shared an article one of her best friends wrote on natural hair.  Toya Smith Marshall's article entitled "Doing What's Natural" was featured on NPR.  Her article discusses the cultural and personal decision many black women are making to begin their journey into the "wild, nappy, adventurous" world of natural hair.  Some also make the journey to regain a healthy head of hair. You can read or listen to her article here.  Thanks so much for sharing, Shanna! 

I love being able to try new styles and to not have to worry about how it's all going to fit under my beret or meet military regulations.  Although, I've heard the beret is being "retired" from the Army now.  If you're at all interested, you can read this for more information.

Until Next Time!

Monday, June 13, 2011

7 More Days of Firsts- 15 Left!

What an exciting journey this has been trying something new every day for 50 days.  I can't believe there are only 15 days left!  So, here's what I was up to last week:

My $5.00 Mirror Purchase
Monday: While in Virginia visiting my parents, my mom and I decided to visit a local thrift store to see what neat things we could find.  Well, I found a couple of really neat things--2 paintings and a mirror and I bought my first thrift store upcycle finds! I love mirrors and I love art!  I have some plans for these pieces.  One of them is in the process of getting a new frame placed on it now.  Check out the pictures of my $5.00 mirror purchase.  I can't wait to do something special with it.

Tuesday: This was the first time I can really say I got sucked into an arts & crafts store.  I wandered the aisles with my mom and I felt like we were in a time warp when we left.  I had a list of things I was looking for, but when I walked out...no, when we walked out, we had a few more items than planned. There aren't very many stores that can do that to me; typically, it's only bookstores. I got a few supplies to finish up a project and a few more to start others.  Someone please remind me to find some good coupons to arm myself with before I go back!

Wednesday: This was the first day of my first time legitimately doing comparison shopping.  I won't get too into detail right now--I'm working on a post to go into more depth on this topic later this week.  I was shopping for an event and I had a budget that I was determined to stick to.  

Source
Thursday: I was invited to join a Bible Study for newly married women, and being the newly married woman that I am, I was so excited to participate.  Unfortunately, I was going to be out of town for the first study.  I jokingly mentioned "skyping in" to one of the leaders and she thought it was a good idea.  Thursday was my first time skyping into a Bible study.  It's amazing how technology can keep us connected all over the world. It was great!   

Friday:  Friday was a big day for me.  I finished my first DIY project!!  Before and after pictures to come.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I can't post them yet since I'm giving the project to someone special as a gift and I don't want to ruin the surprise.

Me by the food table at the open house
Saturday:  I planned and executed my first open house.  Thankfully, I had an expert veteran (my mom) helping out.  I've planned parties, showers, and other functions, but never an open house.  It was a great experience and we had a really good turn out.  I'll share more this week so stay tuned!

Sunday:  It was my first time watching this cute, made for TV movie with my mom called "A Crush On You."

What have you been up to? Please feel free to share! I love joining in the excitement of what's going on in others' lives!


Have a great week!


 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Almost How I'm Feeling Right Now

What a clever pillow!  So funny.  This is almost how I'm feeling right now.  I have a few projects I'm working on right now and still have a little more to do on some of them.  One of the big projects I'm working on is in the final stages.  I can't wait to share it with you all, but it's a gift for someone very special and I don't want to spoil the surprise by posting pictures too soon :).  Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Fashion Trend I'm Loving

Source
There's a fashion trend that I'm loving right now.  I've seen a lot of women wearing it, but I haven't acted on any urge to go out and purchase my own.  What trend, you ask?  Well, if you haven't noticed the pictures scattered in this post :), it's the women's jumpsuit look.  I love it! 
Source

I'm gonna do some shopping around to find some styles and, of course, reasonable prices.  I've added pictures of some styles that have caught my eye so far.  Most of the styles I've seen are black, but I'm a huge fan of color, so I may spice it up with a brighter color--like the blue one on the left.  But black is always classic.  What do you think?
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