Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where to Shop for Parties (List of Places I Got my Wedding Goodies From)

In two days, my fiance Mike & myself leave for Kaua'i (Hawaii) to get hitched & enjoy our honeymoon. (Whoo hoo & a little shake of the booty :-)) Mike brought me a Kaua'i guidebook yesterday & the book said, "It is prohibited by law to bring your worries." And since I am the law-abiding citizen I am...I will fully comply with this law. :-)

Are you a little confused? Are you thinking, "But, Heidi...I thought you were busy getting your PP (party planning) on for your wedding reception??"

We're backwards, not exactly go with the flow kinda people, so we're getting married FIRST (in Hawaii just the two of us), honeymooning & then August 20th we'll have a backyard wedding reception with all our peeps.

Seeing clearer now? :-)

I can't wait to show you the before/after of the backyard reception. The only thing that could completely derail everything? RAIN! Some prayers would be much appreciated! I may/may not be doing my "stay away rain dance" in the backyard. (If you're wondering what it looked like, click on the video below...Sandra Bullock & Betty White in The Proposal)

Okay...maybe I fibbed...Sandra's dancing was a lot more graceful than mine. :-)

For the backyard reception, I'm trying to make a lot of things & do things as cheaply as possible. There are some things I've had to purchase, though. I thought it may help you guys to see where I got some of my "goodies."

I got the yellow bakers twine from here. They also have printables, paper goods & cute packaging. 

Straws just make life happier, don't they? :-) You will be in love with Sweet Lulu as soon as you click on this link. Visions of pretty parties will be dancing in your head.

I didn't actually end up purchasing anything from here but I still wanted to share this cool site with ya. It's a blog that posts pics from real weddings & they oozing with creativity. If you got to this blog, look on the top right hand side. You'll see something called "Recycle Your Wedding." You can find all kinds of fun the typewriter above, wedding dresses, accessories, milk jugs & more. Even if you aren't planning a wedding, it's still a fun place to check out for party accessories.

The best place to find invitations, programs, table number, etc. I am a little biased. :p This is my friend Jenny Haddad's company but she is honestly one of the most creative people I know. She did my invites & is also doing a little program for the reception.

I didn't get anything from this site but I was really contemplating it. I'm 100% sure I'll be spending some moolah here. They have adorable plates, cups, gift tags, etc. So cute! 

Here are a few more sites that I found some great items -

6. Craigslist - I am renting my table linens from a girl I found on craigslist! She is getting married in the fall so she bought a ton of white table linens & is renting them out. I got them for 60% less than any other rental place. Just use precaution when dealing with craigslist...this world is just not what is used to be. :p (My mom used to say that all the time)

7. - I found some supplies for my favors here & even something to enhance the catering. :-)

8. GOODWILL - Love this place! Besides stocking up on Mason jars, I also found a WHOLE bolt of yellow fabric for $12!! Oh my goodness...I literally squealed, out loud, in the front of the store. I wish I was talented like my friend Kauri & could do the side, heel click jump...but alas, I am I just shook my booty. I can do that! :p

I hope this helps you plan your parties! Do you have any websites you love for party supplies? Or any tips?? Please share! :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Souper Jenny!

I'm so excited about this post because Souper Jenny! is my favorite place to eat in All. Of. Atlanta. To give you an idea of how deep my admiration is for this heavenly place, the first time I met the owner & founder, Jenny Levison, my face turned red & I turned into a bumbling idiot. I have interviewed Sarah Palin, talked to tons of musical artists, come within inches from Josh Lucas (sigh)...never got that nervous...ever. Embarrassing moment documented here. :-)

Not only is the food creative & fun but the passion that Jenny & the rest of the staff has for arts, for people, for giving, for spills over into every inch of that restaurant & leaves you nothing less than inspired.

And hopefully you'll be inspired by these great tips from Marcie, the general manager of Souper Jenny! I was able to sit down & ask her a few questions the other week & she has some great summer entertaining tips that are charming, easy & affordable.

Marcie, tell us more about you...

       Well, I'm a professional actress. I've been acting since I was 3 years old. I've performed in every
       theater in the city, except for the GA Shakespeare theater. I love animals. I volunteer at FurKids
       which is a no-kill cat shelter & I clean the cages at Petsmart once a week.

How long ago did you start working at Souper Jenny?

       I've been here 9 years after I met Jenny while doing a [theatrical] show together. I was a server for 4 years. When Souper Jenny started getting bigger than they could handle, Jenny moved me into   management. Since then, it continues to grow. Since I've been the general manager, we've published a cookbook, been on the Today show 4 times, been on every local morning show, most radio programs, started a food truck (see below) & started an underground supper club.
       For a woman that wanted to sell soup in the South, we're doin okay.

What's the underground supper club?

We try to do 4 a year. It's a secret dinner that 25 are chosen to participate. We have over 300 people
asking for an invitation right now. We choose a unique venue & a well-known chef & the guests
don't find out where they're going until that morning. Some of the chefs we've had have been Jerry
Klaskala from Aria, Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene, Richard Blais. We've done a supper                on  Halloween night at Oakland Cemetary. We had one at Antico Pizza based on the movie Big Night with Stanley Tucci. The whole movie is based around a meal so we recreated that meal.

Sounds like you guys know how to throw a party. Since it's the middle of summer what are some must-have menu items for a summer party?

Jenny is the ultimate hostess. I'm the detail person. Jenny comes to me with an idea & I can run with it.

For a summer party, I love sliced watermelon & feta. Drizzle with olive oil, fresh mint or basil & sprinkle 
with a little sea salt. I also love an heirloom tomato open-faced sandwich with real mayo & argumato
(Marcie explained that this is lemon olive oil). Serve it on Ezekiel bread or another thick bread. Put
a little basil on top.

Any other simple, easy appetizer ideas?

Take fresh figs, slice enough to create a hinge. Take a spoonful of goat cheese & put it inside then add a
sprig of basil on top of the goat cheese. These keep really well & look beautiful.

Good hummus with homemade pita chips is really easy & there are some great store bought brands.
Publix has some great ones.

Since it is summer, I love a fruit salad or sesame noodle salad. Add a little peanut butter, julienne
carrots, ginger & scallions. You can put it in the fridge the day before & it's great.

One question that I always wrestle with when I throw parties is How Much Food Should I Estimate? Is there a formula based on the amount of people?

       There isn't really a formula. It does help if you know who's coming. Are they a picker? A big eater?

(Here's what Marcie goes by)
Salad/fruit salad/couscous - plan on 8 oz/per person
Sandwiches - 1/per person
Soup - bowl/per person or if it's a cocktail affair cup/per person

       If I'm doing a big catering job, like we have one we're doing for 200 people or so, I split the salads in half. If we're serving a fruit salad, I'll do it for 100 people & a green salad for 100-125 people. If there is a big crowd & people are walking around with a plate, they're not going to mound the food.

What are some tips for staging a food display?

Levels are very important
I stack books that platters can rest on. You could also cover them with a cloth napkin.

In between the levels, I'll put whole pieces of fruit or clip hydrangeas. I've even gotten stems of monkey grass & tufted them in between the levels or ivy. Just becareful of bugs when pulling things from the yard. Place a few tea lights around the table & you're set to go.

No matchy matchy either. I don't have any platters that match.

Thank you so much, Marcie, for taking time out of your busy day to give us great tips!

Marcie is such a beautiful person on the outside, as well as on the inside. You can tell from her love of animals & people. If you'd like to visit Souper Jenny! just click here to go to their website. A heads up, they do close for the month of August (I think that's such a great idea to give the employees a break) but you can catch them at my wedding reception August 20th. Yes...they're catering it & I'm so freakin excited! :p Jenny also just opened Cafe Jonah & the Magical Attic. It's a coffee, breakfast & lunch cafe. I just ate there yesterday & it never disappoints.

Here are some more pics I couldn't squeeze in above...

Outdoor patio area

At any given moment, the Eric...may break out in song! They're all soo creative & talented

Such a simple solution & yet adds such character!

I have never tried anything from Souper Jenny! that I didn't love!! 

They serve special house dressing with all their salads that has become my all-time favorite. I bought Jenny's cookbook so I could make it & now I don't use any other salad dressing. 

These soups don't exactly look appetizing...but I promise you they are famous for their soups! They make you wish it was 40 degrees outside. ;p 

That little girl was so cute! I'm gonna train my children in the way they should eat, too! :p 

I think everyone should have a sign somewhere in their house that says this! :-) Where? Wherever your heart desires! :p 

Regarding the interview, I had to condense a little so while most every word was exactly what Marcie said...for the sake of shortening it, I altered it slightly. 98% of this interview was verbatim. I just wanted to clarify that. :-)

Thanks again to everyone at Souper Jenny! that allowed me to snap pics & steal Marcie away for a bit. I want to be like Jenny & the rest of the staff when I grow up! :p

What did you think of the tips? Did they sound easy to you? Do you have any more questions you wished I had asked? Thanks for stopping by!

10 days until I leave for my wedding ceremony & honeymoon (don't worry I asked a friend to post the week I am gone...and you are going to love it!) & 31 days until my backyard wedding reception...oh man...I can't wait to show you guys! :-)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Burlesque Bachelorette

My original plan for this weeks post FAILED...not once, not twice, but three times. By the third time, I gave up on the mantra "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Sometimes you just have to know when to let a dying chicken lay...or something like that. :p

So...instead of the failed kids party idea...we're heading in the OPPOSITE direction to a more adult-themed party. Bachelorette party to be exact.

When planning themes/activities for parties, I always think of these two things -

1: Is it unique? A different spin on a classic idea? Like my Trimmings & Tapas party here. It was a classic Christmas party but I gave it a different title & put a unique spin on it.

2: Offer something that will allow everyone to participate. For the Trimmings & Tapas party, we had each girl 1) wear a bow somewhere on either their outfit or themselves 2) & bring a piece of jewelry that they never wore anymore but could put into our jewelry exchange.

For my Bachelorette Party, after I watched this movie....

I thought it would be fun to learn a "Burlesque" routine to one of the songs from the musical. Instead of just going dancing where there'd be weirdo guys asking to dance with you, it would be something unique that everyone could participate in & do together. 

I called a dance studio I had taken a couple classes from called Dance 101 & told them what I was thinking of doing. They were wonderful! There happened to be an instructor there that has choreographed Burlesque shows & actually performs in them too. His name? Apollo. :-)

Here are some snapshots from the party -

I'm not sure if I was confused or that was actually part of one of the dance moves. :p 

That's my sister with the blonde hair, in the corner. She organized the whole thing & did a great job!!! 

Look at that poor lonely feather boa in the floor. I think we were all just trying to get the moves down. :p And please take note of my friend Kauri's getup. Pink leggings, jean skirt, pink scarf & tee shirt that said, "You Crank my Tractor." She wins best outfit!! Loved it!

Do you remember Legally Blonde? The part where Elle teaches the "bend & snap" move? There was one move we did that was soo similar. It cracked me up every time. 

Me & Apollo. I have to give props to my friend Kareena who got me that cute tank. It said "Bride" on it & was perfect for the party!

The whole group! Everyone did sooo good & I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time. 

By the looks of this pic, Deb & Jo did! I have to admit...I'm a little jealous of Jo's flexibility! 

After we became Burlesque dancing pros, we went to eat at a mexican restaurant & I got a whole bunch of "cute pajamas." ;p Thanks to everyone that came & for the gifts!

Do you have a unique/out of the box Bachelorette party idea? 

Coming up next week...I'm taking you on a tour of my favorite Atlanta cafe, Souper Jenny, & getting great tips from their manager Marcie. Good stuff!  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The D.L. on the Y.L. (Yarn Lanterns)

Here at P4P (Parties for Pennies), I always like to take the biggest party trends & do them cheaper, easier & in less time than most of the other tutorials out there. I can definitely tell you some shortcuts that WILL. NOT. work when making the fancy twine/yarn lanterns that are so popular now. And I did find a small way to cut some $$$$ & a little time.

But FIRST, let's talk about what WON'T work (cus that's always so fun...or funny, in my case)

                  #1 Shortcut Failure - the use of spray adhesive instead of this concoction below

 My fingers were literally sticking to everything in sight, my feet kept sticking to the floor b/c of the "overspray". The only thing not sticking?? The yarn to the balloon. 

#2 Shortcut Failure - Using Modpodge after wrapping the yarn around the balloon. 

This was like that gift under the tree that looks very similar to a jewelry box, when in fact, it's a deck of cards. The modpodge looked like it was holding well, until the balloon was deflated & the "wrapping" began to shrivel up like...well, I could use a lot of things as an analogy for this...but I think I'll let your imagination do it instead. 

#3 Shortcut Fail. - Using only glue to uphold the shape of the yarn

Sure it cuts out a step but you will be left with a pile of yarn that resembles spaghetti. 

I tell you these things in hopes you will learn from my failures & grow & learn in life...or at least when making yarn lanterns. :-)

I am making yarn lanterns for my backyard wedding reception in August. I need about 12-13 I called for re-enforcement. 

Meet my Supermodel Team -

Wendy Wynne
model, actress, friend
& incredible cupcake baker

Meg Rew
Singer, partner in party planning
& sister

Yeah, so I only accept supermodels to be a part of my lantern-making team! :p I am super blessed to have both of them in my life. And what talent they have at constructing yarn lanterns! :-) They both rock. 

Here is what you need to gather for this project - 

I had no problem blowing these suckers plenty of hot air.  Blow the balloons to the desired volume you want & tie the ends. (We ended up doing a few different sizes)

The 4 ounces of glue covered one balloon for us, so we brought the big daddy! 16 ounces...and I got two. Just measure this & set aside.

Go ahead & mix the cornstarch & water until the starch has dissolved. We used a painting pan to keep our concoction but an old bucket would work too. Once the starch has dissolved, add the glue & stir until combined. 

This is where I differ from other people. Most of the tutorials online use twine then they spray paint it the color they prefer. I didn't want to have to mess with I'm too impatient. 
I used yellow yarn & it worked great. It saved me a step & saved money by not having to get yellow spray paint. 

Step 1: Take the end of the yarn & tie it to the end of the balloon

Step 2: Take the rest of the yarn & dip it thoroughly into the glue & starch mixture. Do not dip the entire ball of yarn in there or it will get tangled. 

**BTW...I put down a plastic drop cloth b/c it is MESSY with a capital M. That's why I don't have any pics of the process! My hands were so filthy I couldn't take the pics**

Step 3: Begin wrapping the yarn around the balloon in several different directions. Try & hold the balloon steady & the yarn tight. This is the trickiest part. 

Step 4: After you've wrapped the balloon in yarn to your heart's content, hang the yarn wrapped balloon some where to dry. (I used two chairs with a string in between them on one occasion & our ironing board on another) 

Step 5: Wait for at least 24 hours for them to dry. Once they're completely dry, pop the balloon & clean up any remaining glue around the edges of the yarn. 

This is what you'll get - 

I can't wait to show you how they're going to look at my back yard reception. You'll have to stop by after August 20th to see all the fun & festivities of the wedding reception.

Here's a full shot...sorry for the bad lighting. :-(

I was being silly playing with my editing tools. It kinda looks freaky, doesn't it? 

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I appreciate you & all your comments & input. Please let me know if you feel there's anything I can improve on?! You want more of something party-related? Certain party questions answered? Need ideas? Let me know! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Edible Bunting

You know when you get fired up...commit to that workout program...swear to consume cabbage soup for the next 30 days...or just read more (whether your bible or that good book you've been wanting to start)...


Life Happens.

Your kids all get sick at the same time, a tree falls on the power lines to your house, you get stung by a bee cleaning up the debris...just silly ole life. Then you end up getting shut-eye instead of working out, eating those chocolate chips cookies because they were promising a little bit of comfort and watching Housewives of Orange County just b/c you didn't want to think for awhile.

Well...that's what happened to me this week. No, no...not the whole kids and tree thing. I did get stung by a bee...but that's small compared to the rest of the week.  Life just happened & I didn't get to post to the blog on Wednesday, like I committed to do since I started this sucker.

Work was just a rollercoaster ride this week & it just kinda sucked the life out of me. But, I took today off to get myself together & life goes one...I'll learn from this week & it will get better.

But ENOUGH of that! :-)

Let's talk bunting.

It's one of the latest crazes in parties.

It is such a simple & inexpensive party decoration that anyone can do. 

(p.s. I just checked out this glorioustreats blog...oh my...she has some adorable ideas!) 

Anyways...with 4th of July in a few days...I thought...I wonder if I could do an edible bunting. 

Disclaimer: I've been picking up a few photography tips here & there & trying to do a better job taking pics of these things. I attempted to use a "back drop" in this pic. Should've ironed it. :p I hate ironing. :p 

Thanks for being patient with me as I learn. 

If you squint while you look at the picture, you can't really see the creases anyways. That's what I do when I do my own nails. Hold them far away & squint. They look great! :-) 

Remember - Squint! 

If you want to recreate this for your 4th of July is really easy. 

Here's what you'll need:

* Various Fruits (the more dense, the better)
* Needle 
* Bamboo skewers (I used the medium size)
* Dental Floss

Thread the dental floss through the needle. Cut a long piece of the dental floss off & tie one end to a bamboo skewer that you insert into the watermelon (or whatever you're using). Begin threading the needle through the fruit in the pattern you want. Make sure you sterilize the needle before inserting into the fruit. It's like the perfect the pineapple, then floss your teeth. :-) 

Once you have your fruit strung, tie the other end to another bamboo skewer you insert into the other end of the watermelon. 

Here's a tip - Make sure you slice the strawberries & other fruit thick enough. This will give the fruit some stability. I made sure to thread about 3/4 up from the bottom of each fruit (except for the blueberries, obviously) so that it wasn't too thin at the top but it wasn't right in the middle, either. 

Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!