Thursday, September 29, 2016

Housewarming and Hostess Gifts

(photo credit to

It's a little early but soon the holiday entertaining season begins in Minnesota.  Starting with fall bonfires and then Halloween gatherings and moving into  Thanksgiving and then Christmas and New Years. Our house is not the size to host more than immediate family, and then it is sort of busting at the seems, so we tend to go to others more frequently than host. I hate coming empty handed, and while my stash of wine comes in handy when I know the hosts will enjoy it, it isn't always suitable. I also don't want to break the budget.

We have a housewarming party this weekend for DD2's friends family that had the fire.  While they have been back in the house for months, there were still finishing touches and other activities to turn it back into a home. I want  to bring a gift for the family, so wine will not do, but I don't want to bring clutter into their home. There's s a few new neighbors on our cul de sac as well, and I'd like to give  a little welcome gift to them, but don't know their lifestyle to know if wine will work, plus as in the housewarming, the families have children. 

Hence my quandary, and why I am putting out this post in hopes I'll get lots of ideas in the comments. I have a few standbys such as home baked bread and cookies, but of course, not knowing if there are any food allergies and sensitivities, that could be hit or miss. There are lovely mum plants, and that seems a pretty safe bet for neighbors, or as a hostess gift, but I know the rule that you should not bring cut flowers unless they are already arranged as that creates more work for the hostess. 

For our friends housewarming, my idea is to put together a gift basket of items from Trader Joe's-a couple bottles of sparking lemonade, a few large bars of chocolate (I know, chocolate and lemonade???), pears, tapenade, and crackers to have at their leisure as a family. While not exactly frugal, it would practical, and something I personally would enjoy, and all six of them should be able to enjoy something from the basket. Now to you. Do you have any go to gifts to take along to a party, or to welcome a new neighbor? Anyone else stuck when it comes to housewarming gifts? Please load my comments with ideas.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Breakfast Wednesday-French Toast

Wednesdays are so busy with volleyball, reffing, and show choir, we don't get a chance for anything but a slap and dash supper. I slowed down this morning and made some French Toast for breakfast. My mix is one egg, cinnamon and sugar and about 1/4 cup of milk whisked together. I used 12 grain bread, dipped and soaked on both sides, and it turns out golden, but not too sweet.  A dab of maple syrup, and we are good to go. I get four slices out of this mix. Later we might be scrounging from a vending machine, or eating while standing at the refrigerator, but for this morning, the sweet smell of breakfast is in the air. 


Monday, September 26, 2016

Yawning Through the Last Week of September

I had good intentions of doing a little picture taking after work tonight. While still more purging is needed, and the rooms behind the shut doors are scary, the place we live in the most are tidy after the party. It was a wonderful service and we had a nice time afterwards. Several no shows and a late conflict dropped my numbers. I sent DD1 home with leftovers that she likes and some ham for her BF who is not vegetarian. I froze two significant portions for meals later, plus 1/2 pan of cheesy potatoes, and a couple dozen dinner rolls. Th rest of the leftovers will be lunches this week. I heated up some wild rice soup tonight with veggies and some leftover rolls-easy. Still, I am physically and mentally drained and found myself dozing on the couch watching a couple YouTube vloggers. It dawned on me how much I actually accomplished in the last 10 days between housework and repair, party preparation, and work with a person down from our already lean team. 

My colleague and I held a 3:15 webinar session, late in the day so program administrators that also  have classroom time could participate. Me colleague spent the first 18 days of September traveling to or from and in Japan and Korea and is still fighting the impact of jet lag. I naturally couldn't let 1/2 a bottle of a delicious South African red wine left after the party go to waste, so I finished it as I cleaned up, making 5:00 a.m. seem even earlier. We were doing all we each could to not yawn, and get the other one started. By the time we wrapped up at 4:30, we were completely spent. 

I'm giving myself permission to be a bit lull tonight. I do have a load of laundry to fold, and will start another. DD2 has a late 8:30-10:00 show choir sectional, so I'll be running her up to school in about 10 minutes, but may flip a coin with DH on who will pick her up. I think I will listen to the debate rather than watch, but don't want to miss it. September will end with me being tired each day, I suspect, but I don't want my momentum to wain. Hopefully tomorrow I will get out and take some pictures, write a more interesting post, or edit some content for the web site. Tonight though, I will be zombie lie and push myself through the motions. Until later, bonne nuit.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hostess with the Mostess

Clean, clean, cook, cook. I'm on a quick twenty minute break to let some ibuprofen kick in before I keep on with my house cleaning and party preparation. Alas, despite my best efforts, there will be doors that we will just shut. As successfully as my purging has been, it is slow going, and items that we should have thrown, still are lingering and the clutter will need to behind shut doors. 

I thought I would share my menu for the confirmation dinner, and my costs. Keep in mind, I know I am serving a minimum of 23 people, but because my family often doesn't RSVP and treats things a s open houses (a pet peeve of mine and my sisters on both sides of me in age), I over shoot by 30%, so planned food for at least 30. Leftovers will be dinner Monday and Tuesday, as well as used for lunches. 

Appetizers (easy to put out snacks while I get dinner pulled together):
 Bacon wrapped little smokes, veggies and dill dip, strawberries, assorted  cheese cubes, hummus, and pretzel chips.

Ham, cheesy hash brown potatoes, green been hot dish, coleslaw, dinner rolls, pickles, and olives. 

Vanilla cheese cake, Turtle cheese cake, brownies

Beer, white and red wine, assorted pop, juice, water, and coffee. 

Grand total spent:  $223.87. This does not include the wine, as I used my own stash, but let's throw in $40 for the four bottles I set aside. Revised grand total: $263.87. At 30, that comes to $8.79 a person. More than likely I bought twice as much beer, pop, and bottled water than needed, so the left overs will be used to keep future costs down for weekend football watching. If I was more organized, I am sure I could have shopped better  and cut the cost down, but for three courses, plus "open bar",  I think I am entertaining on the cheap, but all should be tasty and no one should leave hungry. 

That's my timer.  Next room, my entry, and then to tackle the bathrooms. I'll put the food together either later tonight, or even in the morning since church isn't until 2:00.   I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Confirmations are very special to me in general, and seeing my youngest who was such a gift to us, affirming her own faith and the promises we made at her baptism, will no doubt make me a bit teary eyed. I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I'll give you an update on mine tomorrow.