I've been pretty under the weather for the past three days too so that doesn't help with motivation at all. Hit me pretty hard, but I guess that's what I get for never getting sick.
Anyway, to celebrate my regenerating health, I thought I'd share the A to Z details on the Galentine's party I hosted two weekends ago.
As with most things, the initial inspiration sparked with Pinterest. Then my imagination pretty much took off from there.
Admittedly, I am probably what most people would call a Valentine Grinch. Not because I dislike chocolate or flowers--both are pretty high on my favorite things chart, for the record--I just don't like feeling that I have to buy them or give them just because all the store flyers tell me to.
Love isn't really love if it is forced. To me, it would mean more to receive a special treat or gift on a random, unexpected day. But maybe that's just me.
That all being said, I like just about any excuse there is to express my love and appreciation for all the special gals in my life.
Especially my fellow single ladies, we need a little extra love when this holiday rolls around and tries to make us feel unimportant.
Anticipated attendees: 15-20.
The best part about an all-girl's party is there is no such thing as too much food.
Girls don't eat much? Please. If the food is there, we graze. All day, er'day.
Seriously. If it could be cookie-cut into a heart, it was on the menu.
I scoured Target's and Fry's overwhelmingly gushy pink Valentine's section and found the heart-shaped cookie cutters I wanted.
Friday night was prep night.
|Bread heart halves for chicken salad sandwiches|
To save on time Saturday morning, I used the refrigerated, canned pizza dough (regular crust). Not something I'd normally do but hey, gotta cut corners where you can to make time for other things. Two of those were just the right amount for the crowd we had, along with the other food available. These took about half a block of shredded mozzarella cheese, and I used a tomato-basil sauce.
|Looked similar to this (found on Pinterest)|
Other heart-shaped things, not shown in an individual photo, were heart-shaped cheddar cheeses and cucumber slices. We ended up putting the heart-holed cucumber rinds into ice water for drinking to dress it up a bit.
Two birds with one stone.
I attempted, for like two seconds, to cut carrots in the shape of hearts as well but bagged that idea pretty quickly. Patience is a virtue; it's just not one I excel in.
And now that we're on the subject of my faults, might as well point out I'm not very good with following recipes.
Oh sure, I follow the basics, but I always add my own touch, and I don't always use exact measurements. But, my cooking and baking concoctions always taste fantastic, so, I still win.
Like I said, I don't have measurements, but here is the list of what I put in my chicken salad, generally: Canned chicken (though I've used home-cooked shredded chicken many times), mayonnaise, mustard, hint of dijon mustard, celery, green apple chunks, dried cranberries, cinnamon (key ingredient!), and a hint of lime juice and salt/pepper to taste.
I made the chicken salad the night before but left it covered in the bowl until Saturday morning. After cutting out the bread hearts I put them back in the loaf bag and twist-tied it to keep them all from going dry.
I also had the vision for a cookie bar where guests could decorate their own heart-shaped sugar cookies. So Friday night my friend came over and baked 2 dozen of those so they were ready to set out with all the fun frosting and sprinkles the next day.
No picture of that table, I'm sad to say *facepalm*.
While she was doing that and setting up a mix of both of our decor in inspired spurts, I took a stab at my first attempt at french macarons.
|attempt at heart macarons|
This time, I cross my heart, I followed this recipe
with diligence (minus the fact that I used heart cookie cutters to try to shape them based on this recipe
, and purple food coloring for the occasion, but that's IT!!).
We'll call this attempt a classic Pinterest fail. No discredit to the author of the recipe either--because that thing is beyond thorough.
Maybe it's just proof that I'm not meant to follow a recipe, #RecipeRebel.
|...they tasted amazing. Promise.|
I added an organic raspberry spread to the filling to give the cookie cream a little more flavor.
If anything that's what probably saved these poor, miserable macaron-wannabes.
Again, I just don't have the patience, and that is exactly what these little delicacies call for. I'd say better luck next time but there probably won't be one.
Happy to say, however, that everything else turned out marvelously!
The next morning we assembled the veggie tray: carrot, celery, and bell pepper spears, along with radish slices and the cucumber hearts. Tag-teamed with a spinach-artichoke dip and a Mediterranean hummus.
|The spread *all the heart eyes*|
Meat and cheese tray was assembled next. Then the sandwiches were finally arranged.
While I stuck the first pizza in the oven around 12:30 (party started at 1 PM), I began work on the chocolate fondue.
I recently bought this circa 1980's tea kettle and fondue pot set that totally matches my orange, blue, and yellow kitchen. Craigslist is where it's at, guys.
Anyway, so I melted one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with probably a cup or so of half-n-half. You're supposed to use heavy whipping cream but I didn't have that so I made due.
For the fun of it I also added in a couple drops of orange extract.
|Cool but unused, unfortunately|
Once the chocolate was done on the stove I removed the heat and placed it on the table over the Sterno heater. Then all the fruit was rinsed, cut, and arranged next to it and the skewers for convenient dipping.
At this point, pizza two was ready to go in and most of my guests had arrived and helping themselves to the pink sherbet punch
. That was a big hit.
So it wasn't much longer before we prayed over the food and then said bon appetit.
Of course, we had a billion other ideas.
For instance, I wanted to roast heart-shaped potatoes and beets but decided it wasn't needed for all the work they required. And then I found this cool ice cube tray with lip shapes I thought we could dye red and use in the water cups, but they took too long to set before we could have enough.
Silly me, I forgot to mention that we decided to make this party a dress-up event. I don't care how old you are, holidays like Halloween (which I don't actually engage in) are proof that everyone loves costumes.
We told our guests to come dressed as their favorite female character, either historical or fictional. Now the pictures below will make more sense. We had a Tinkerbell, Rapunzel, an Anne of Green Gables, Jane from Tarzan, Minnie Mouse, Wendy from Peter Pan, Maid Marion, a few Jane Austen characters, and Annie Oakley, to name a few.
|Some of the party guests at my newly built table|
|Chandelier via Craigslist & handmade vintage quilts|
|I spy Minnie Mouse & Jane from Tarzan|
|DIY pallet boho couch complete w/a friend's record player|
Some friends also brought a green salad, heart-shaped rice krispies (as well as cat face ones...don't ask), and a heart-shaped red velvet cake.
Like I said, "too much food" is an impossible concept.
|My gluten free pizza via Smart Flour Foods|
Next to food, though, the most important thing is decor.
I had a vision, because it's what I'm good at, but knowing I'd be putting most of my effort into food prep, I gladly accepted the help of my best friend, Emily.
Friday evening, my dining room looked like both our craft closets had barfed all over it, and it was beautiful.
I gave her free reign, and by Saturday morning she transformed the back room and patio into the perfect bohemian dream.
She also set up a photo booth area complete with props, because she's crafty and amazing like that.
Many a selfie and group photo were taken that day with all of our gals.
|Photo booth courtesy of my best friend :)|
Could I have done all of this myself? Oh, probably. Though, not quite as well.
But half the fun of parties is the prep and planning beforehand. Why not share the fun and craziness with a best friend who knows your brain?
Besides, I needed her around for emotional support after the macaron-massacre #NeverAgain.
And, who else but she could be Jane Bennet, as I decided to dress as Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen
's classic Pride and Prejudice
. I'm an English major, what would you expect?
|Emily, as Jane, and me, as Elizabeth|
To keep things interesting, we did play a couple minute-to-win-it games using conversation hearts.
In my humble opinion they aren't good for much else.
Both games required chopsticks. For the first, players challenged each other by seeing how many candy hearts they could move from one end of the table to the other, using only chopsticks. Whoever had the most in the dish at the end won the round. For the second, players used the chopsticks to stack the hearts--whoever could keep the most stacked was the winner.
It's amazing what anyone can get competitive over.
They were fun, mostly to laugh at each other. But otherwise, the rest of the afternoon was passed by grazing and chatting happily.
Here's a few more pictures from the day, I regret I didn't take as many of the decor. Hindsight.
If I missed anything else from the day, well, I guess we'll just blame my sick brain. Wait, I mean...I'm sick, so my brain isn't totally functioning. You get it.
Now, off to pop some vitamin C and lather on some essential oils.
|Our glasses & straws (can kinda see the cucumber...)|