I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
Art PrintsArt Prints

Friday, August 26, 2011

Class Reunion Coming Up? Ideas on "How To" make sure your guests have FuN!

Do you have a Class Reunion Coming Up? I do, our 30th Class Reunion... yes, I'm getting that old! Like most things, I have been doing some research and brain storming. Creative types have ideas bouncing out at rapid speeds; --my spouse makes fun of me for it because the ideas regarding just about anything in my life never cease.  
We should play a game; just whose legs are those, lady in blue?

If you are involved with planning your reunion, just fill in the correct names for your classmates into any names you see mentioned here, or note that I use -xyz- instead of a name. First you will need a basic check list in an outline form, a timeline can also be included with this list.

Timeline for success While it's a good idea to begin planning your event as soon as you
know you are going to have one, here is a timetable to consider for planning your event.

Twenty-four months before Form a committee and divide the committee into subcommittees
Recruit and appoint subcommittee members that will focus on individual projects. Some tasks will need individualized attention are: finding classmates, getting the invites out, event venue, format and program, financing, decorations, prizes and awards, advertising, deceased classmate tribute, fun slide show and games.

Survey classmates for ideas and venue preferences
Determine event format
- picnic, dinner-dance, etc.
- informal, formal
- single day event, multi-day event; if multi-day, consider a fun field trip, like floating down a river on inner tubes! Bring your own beer, of course.
Brainstorm additional activities (school tours, etc.)
Set date(s)
Scout candidate reunion facilities,  not excluding the unusual like galleries and hotels; Position your reunion as a non-profit event and you may get a favorable rate.
Develop budget
Start developing mailing list and tracking classmates

Eighteen months before
  Reunion Website Creation 

Collect giveaways from local businesses. Ask local businesses to provide door prizes and awards for the event. Businesses can receive logos and advertising in the reunion invitations and event schedules in exchange for their donations.
Strategies for Increasing Reunion Attendance
Invite any teachers that are still alive. See if they will give a short speech.
Select and reserve reunion facility and hotels
Arrange for and hire entertainment, caterer, photographer (Call the yearbook staff of Richmond High and hire a student photographer), etc.

Make arrangements with the photographer to be at the event, take candid shots, as well as poses, and sell the photos directly to the classmates. This way, the committee does not have to worry about the cost.
Enlist a family member , or hire someone to videotape classmates giving a one-minute summary of what they've been up to. Edit the video after the event, and sell the DVD to classmates. This is much more lively than a memory book. This video can also be uploaded to the website.

Twelve months before Determine cost per ticket; Send initial mailer announcing date and location of reunion and Fundraising
Publicize reunion information
- public web sites
- newspapers
Arrange for additional leisure activities (sightseeing tours, etc.)
Pay deposits

Order ribbon that says, "class of 1982" to be used in decorations. Order Giveaways like Notepads and Pens in school colors with the website address, and order items like T-shirts to sell before and during the event. You can sell T-shirts. To ensure you have the right sizes in the right amounts, put a sample on the website, and people can pre-pay for shirts (specifying size) when they buy their tickets. This also frees you up from dealing with a lot of cash at the event. Another option is to arrange for a School Supplier to come to the event and sell t-shirts directly to classmates, which will free up time and resources. 
Drink and Raffle tickets may need to be obtained. Signs that may need to be made: Registration, Raffle, Drink tickets, T-shirts, For those who are not here, Class photo and/or Video.
Create Welcome schedule and program packets to be given to guests at various hotels in the area.
Name tags made w bold font, maiden names and yearbook photo, spouse and guest badges too. Have extra blank badges.

Six months before Mail reunion registration materials
confirm all reservations, caterer, entertainment, etc.
Select menu
Meet with hotels and reunion venue staff

Four months before Make payment arrangements with all suppliers for group functions
- meals, tours, photographer, DJ, etc.
  Reunion Ambience agreed upon and created 
Create Slideshow

One month before

Plan Registration and cash box ahead of time, because this is an area that can be full of turmoil.
Create decorating and displays 
Create Giveaways
Create a diagram of the layout, indicating where the reception area, tables, bar, food stations and displays will go. 

For whoever has the slideshow skills: contact Eagles; ask them if you can come early to run your slideshow once to make sure that everything is set up properly and to work out any glitches.

Loose ends

The welcome schedule should include the visit to the high school, and the planned outings: i.e.: an ice-breaker at a bar on Friday night, a golf tournament, picnics, and the program for (including menu planned)--the main party:

The Main Event Plan:
Starting time: 7:00 P.M. at the Eagles. Registration table w name tags, money collection for tickets, raffle, T-shirts, video from the night and group photo ordering. Also give each guest a questionnaire about their classmates that will have them in splits. Tell them to vote throughout the night based on the new impressions they're getting of old friends and that the winners will be announced at the end of the evening. 
There will be a cash bar for people to purchase their beverages, and plenty of appetizers. Happy Hour will be all night.
The Dress Code is casual-chic or semi-formal (cocktail-dress).
Ensure you have a working microphone and hosts set up.
At 7:45, the class is welcomed by -xyz-, and the dinner buffet opened. On the menu: prime rib, herb crusted chicken or Clara's pizza, roasted red new potatoes w thyme, Field greens salad w Caesar dressing, pasta salad, and seasonal vegetables of zucchini, squash, carrots, and broccoli.
Towards the end of dinner, show slide show that includes yearbook photos from 1980- 1981-1982, set to music of the 80's, the official school song, and football songs like "Another One Bites the Dust" and "We Will Rock You." Include a serious section in the video as a tribute to deceased classmates, creating a short memorial for them with, "Those who are not here." Then back to the fun slideshow. Allow slideshow to play throughout the evening, without sound.
Group photo taken outside or inside. Chairs, then short in front, tall in back.
Announce T-shirt signing time and that more T-shirts are available for sale with "Go Big Red!" & Class of 1982, sizes M or L.
Encourage photos taken during the reunion from the disposables on each table, to later be posted on the Official Website, for others to view --turning the created site into an Alumni page. Also encourage guests to post pictures from their personal cameras on the site. Designate a committee member to be responsible for collecting cameras at the end of the night.
Microphone turned over to Gary and Jeffrey to give a rundown of the golf tournament that took place earlier. Let them award prizes to the winners. Award: Kid's plastic golf clubs (right now at the dollar store is a Wii game Golf Club for $1.00)
Hold a contest for the person who can come up with the funniest high school memories. Of course the classmates will have to stand up, and speak into a microphone. The class choses the winner by clapping votes. Award the funny, brave classmate.
The last activity is the Awards Ceremony, (winners are taken from questionnaires provided at the registration table), hosted by -xyz-, up-and-coming comedienne. Announce the winners the classmates voted for:
Who traveled the furthest to the reunion? Award: Wizard of Oz Travel Mug, "There's no Place like Kansas" with a small card that says, "There's no place like home"
Who traveled the least? A World Map.
Who lives closest to Richmond High? Award: A World Map.
Least Changed in appearance? Award: Slim Jim

Lived in The Most Places? Award: Wizard of Oz Travel Mug, "There's no Place like Kansas" with a small card that says, "There's no place like home"
Most gray hair? Award: Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy
Least hair? Award: A comb.
Most Dangerous job? Award: A Will Kit.
Most Exciting or interesting job? Award: Goldmine Nuggets Bubble gum
Most recently Married? Award: Red Hots Candy
Married for the Longest? Award: "Longevity Formula" Vitamins 
Most Talkative? Award: Duct Tape for classmate, Earplugs for the spouse.

Up-and-coming Comedienne? Award: Laffy Taffy

Martha Stewart Award (good at all homemaker things)? Award: Betty Crocker Spoon Rest

If a teacher comes, Most Popular Teacher. Award: Shinny Red Apple and Flowers.  --(Can also acknowledge the teachers in our class at this time)
Most kids? Award: Bottle of Aspirin.
Most recently became a Parent? Award: Diaper Pins.
Most Pets? Award: Jolly Ranchers candy (rancher of animals)
Most College Degrees, or Most educated? Award: a Sharpie marker
Most Tattoos? Award: Big Pink Eraser that says, "For Big Mistakes"
Most Body Piercings? Award: Big Pink Eraser that says, "For Big Mistakes"

Door Stopping Beauty? Award: Doorstopper

Most involved with Little League kid's sports? Award: Babe Ruth candy bar
Announce the winners of the superlative awards:

Best Smile, Award: Big smile brush

Most Likely to Succeed, Award: Nerds Candy, a "Genuis At Work" door sign 

as said in high school, "Sweetest", Award: Honey Buns,

Prettiest, Award: Red Hot Sauce,

Most Handsome, Award: Beef Jerky;

Point out any recipients who have changed paths since their high school ranking.
Thank you's to those who were responsible for work on the reunion.
Dessert anounced; Joann's cake with the Richmond High School's, "Go Big Red" written on it.
The rest of the evening allow classmates to view the room of photos, memorabilia, yearbooks scattered around and chat with each other. The DJ plays music from the 1980's for people to dance to.
Registration / check-in
Plan Registration and cash box ahead of time, because this is an area that can be full of turmoil. Properly think through and plan the registration process. When guests arrive, they receive registration kits (if they did not get them from a hotel) and nametags, as well as any special papers, tickets or questionnaires for games planned. Highlight their names on your guest list as they check in. 
Keep track of any money that is received and issue receipts.
 Don't bog yourselves down by running the check-in desk. Get a trusted volunteer for the night.  Supply them with all the lists and information they need, and be available to them should any issues arise. They will also need some office supplies on hand (pens & pencils, markers, scotch tape and masking tape.) Make sure there are many markers and pens, as people will be borrowing them all night to collect signatures on their T-shirts, or to simply keep in touch, exchanging contact information.

Any tables that deal with currency will need a cash box with a float.  Raffles and contests will also need ticket collection boxes. Make sure that there is always at least one person (and 2 people is preferred) at the table with the cash box.
Create Decorating and Displays:
Place red balloons into white ballons. Using helium, fill the red balloon (small inside one) two thirds full and tie the balloon closed. Push this red balloon deep into the white one, so you can fill the white balloon (outside, larger one) up with helium. Tie a knot and place a long red riboon (long enough for balloons to stretch from floor to just two feet off the ceiling) to be tied to bags full of red and white M&M's. Attach additional loose curling red ribbons to dangle down. Purchase red table clothes and red napkins, use as much red as possible to create an elegant monocramatic mood.
Creative centerpieces can double as awards and raffle giveaways!
Purchase tall tube red vases (Or clear --found at the dollar store, filled w red food-colored water) for the centerpieces to hold about 10 flowers in monocramatic reds. Purchase clear or red stones to add weight into the vase. Tie three of the previously made double-balloons onto the vase. Photo copy pictures of classmates from yearbooks, double-slided tape these photos on the stems of each flower (or you can cut them in a circle, making them the center of the flower), so that it is displayed outward toward the people seated at the table. Insert a red pipe cleaner in the middle of the arrangement that holds a picture of Richmond High. Make sure it sticks up vertically and prominently above the set of flowers. Tie a ribbon with "class of 1982" around each vase.
Enlarge yearbook school photos and post them on walls .
Post Top 10 lists from 1982: movies, music, news, and fashion.
Enlarge our class of '82's class photo. Ask everyone to sign it for a memorabilia. Either copy that image and let classmates purchase it, or give it away in an auction or as a prize.
Optional: A memorial Table is a wonderful way to honor and remember deceased classmates and teachers. This table might include a photo and short biography that has been provided by family members.

For the Subcommittee for Locating Lost Classmates:
  • 1      Pull out your old yearbook or contact your school to get a list of classmates from your year. Enter all of the names into a spreadsheet and add columns for married name, email address, mailing address and phone number. You may also want to add columns to track classmates who no longer wish to be contacted or who are deceased. Lastly, make columns for whether or not they are interested in the reunion, planning to attend and interested in helping out.
  • 2      Enter as much information as you can into the spreadsheet. Contact your friends and ask them to fill in the blanks with people they are still in touch with. Have them pass the message along as well. Many of your contacts will be found from simple word of mouth. They may have moved, but perhaps their parents are at the old address.
  • 3      Search for classmates on popular social networking groups such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Remember that many of the women in your class may have changed their last names through marriage. You will need to create a free account on each of these sites to search and contact classmates. Split the task with friends.  
  • 4      Use your favorite search engine to look for additional missing classmates. Try using both their full name and their nickname to search. Place the name in quotations to help filter the pages. This type of search is hit or miss, since there many be many people online with the same name. Use clues such as the place that they work or live to help you find the right individuals.
  • 5      Consider joining premium services such as Classmates.com or Reunion.com. You can usually search for people on these sites, so look for missing classmates before signing on.  
  • 6      Send out initial reunion “save the date” invitations approximately nine months before the reunion date. Include a missing classmates list, and ask people to respond if they have any information about the lost alumni.
  • 7      Locate as many alumni as possible through your alma mater’s alumni center. Make a list of missing classmates, and begin a more extensive search to locate these people. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tonight's Dinner: Low carb, low fat, no sugar... Chicken Lettuce Wraps & Springtime Lemon salad.

Tonight I wanted to make something really easy, due to it being a school night and I started dinner later than usual. A friend had just requested a low carb recipe, so my mind was in that zone when I created tonight's dinner. You can use any recipe you have for tacos, or meals that you need to lay on pasta, rice, or potatoes, just eliminate the carb by replacing them with a lettuce leaf or a bed of field greens. Arugula is a personal favorite of mine; I just love the peppery flavor this green lettuce provides! Tonight, I just used Bibb lettuce because it makes a nice cup, kinda like a healthier taco shell. ;-)Walla, instant low carb meal! Hee...

Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Pam (olive oil)

1 Lb. ground chicken

Fresh Ground blk pepper to taste, about ¼ tea.

Salt to taste, about 1/8 tea.

1 C. vertically sliced red onion

Artichoke heart out of an artichoke. Or, buy jarred or canned (about ½ C.) 
Cut off bottom; Boil artichoke on stove (bottom in water --until done; about 20-25 min's):
 Cut up core of artichoke:

1/3 C. large cherry tomatoes or small tomatoes cut in half.

1 Tbl fresh oregano torn off stems.

1 Tbl fresh flat leaf parsley torn off stems.
10 garlic stuffed grn olives cut into about 4 slices. 
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded in bag if kids are eating; for adults you may want to cube fresh mozzarella cheese.

Squeeze juice out of one large juicy lemon.

Bibb lettuce leaves from one bunch.

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet; coat pan w Pam cooking spray. Add Onion and next 5 ingredients (through olives); cook about 3 min’s.

2. Pour out mixture in a bowl (set aside). Use skillet to cook ground chicken, salt and pepper chicken while in skillet.
3. Cook chicken until no pink is seen and it is crumbled; stirring around often.

4. Add bowl mixture to chicken and heat through (warm up the veggies).
5. Stir in cheese and add lemon juice.
6. Spoon ¼ C. chicken mixture into each of two lettuce leaves.

I just love light springtime salads and this one I literally just threw together; it's so easy! I will try to come up with measurements because I literally just made it up as I went along while posting a picture on FB, chatting with my husband, and tasting my friend’s homemade wine, lol. ;-)

Lemon and Cucumber Springtime Salad


Garden cucumbers washed and cut lengthwise with a veggie peeler, cheese cutter, or sharp knife into very thin strips. (This will act as your pasta).
1 handful each of Green beans and Sugar snap peas, (about 1/2 C. of each).
Steam for 1 min and 45 sec in microwave.

Place in ice bath imediately to stop cooking.

1 Mango, cut into strips.
Just fyi when deciding whether to use a mango: They get all the sweet flavour from their carbohydrate content. There are many varieties of mangoes, and most of them have a high carbohydrate content. Since the carbohydrates are fruit based, its healthy complex carbohydrates- sucrose (as opposed to simple carbohydrates). Per 100 gms of mangos, there are about 14 gms of carbohydrates. There is almost no fat or protein content in mango. It provides you with more than your daily requirement of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It also contains fiber, magnesium, iron and antioxidants. So, as you can see mango is overall a nutritious fruit, and like most fruits is low fat and cholesterol free!

The glycemic index of mango ranges between 41-60, so its low. So, mango does not have any significant effect in increase blood sugar levels, so it does not promote fat storage. Due to the medium glycemic index, mangoes are okay for diabetics.

1 Avocado, cut into strips.
In regard to deciding about an avocado: Carb-conscious dieters know that carbohydrates in the form of fiber are not counted as “Net Carbs” – the carbs that interfere with weight control. Half of a Haas avocado has 6 grams of Total Carbohydrate, but the 4.2 grams of fiber brings the Net Carbs down to just 1.7 grams. There are also 1.8 grams of protein, 153 calories and 15 grams of “good” fats. Plus, you’ll gain significant amounts of folate, vitamin A, vitamin E (more than any other fruit), potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, vitamin B6, and riboflavin.

Micro planed /grated lemon peel from one large lemon
Juice of the lemon.

Fresh coarsely ground blk pepper to taste.

Drizzle olive oil around on salad, about 3 circles around, maybe about 2 Tbl's.

Balsamic vinegar, two splashes, maybe about 1 Tbl.

Freshly sliced mint (optional, I did not add tonight, but thought of it... it had become dark outside-- I had already sent my husband out to get the oregano and parsley for the chicken dish, and did not want him to have to venture out again).


1. Place thinly sliced cucumbers into bowl.

2. Add Green beans, Sweet sugar snap peas, Mango, Avocado, and mint (if you use it).

Salad before dressing is added:
3. Drizzle oil on Salad.

4. Squeeze juice over salad, careful to catch seeds.

5. Ground blk pepper over salad, stir ingredients.

6. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over dish.

7. Sprinkle with lemon peel.

 Enjoy ;-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Guess what we did last night? Take a look and try it yourself!

Want something fun and different for the entire family for dinner tonight?
I wanted to do something fun with the kids for dinner. We had a fire-pit night, instead of the old hot dogs on sticks and smores... here are some of the new ideas we tried:

Note: I tried to cook on skewers, using the fire-pit coals, but the stick was to short making it too hot to work with for the kids and I. So, we had to transfer our goodies onto long marshmallow roaster sticks, which worked fine. I also cooked some of the skewers on a grate laid over some coals, a barbeque grill would be a great place to grill the shorter skewers as well.  
Just lay grate, or your "grill's rack" over coals.
Note the red coals are what you want to cook on, not a flaming fire.

Stuffed Peppers, Caprese Bites, Sweet Breadsticks, Pineapple S'Mores, Turkey-Brie Baguettes, Ham and Cheese, Mini Salami Subs coming up!!!

Note: Before using wooden skewers. --Soak Wooden Skewers in water to avoid them catching fire.

Stuffed Peppers:

Baby Bell Peppers
Salt and white pepper
Haloumi or Feta Cheese
Olive (optional)

 Garden peppers washed

Simple Instructions:
Slit open baby bell peppers (being careful to not disturb the rest of the pepper because you want it to shut again after you add the cheese). Season insides with salt and pepper and stuff with cubes of Haloumi or Feta cheese. Thread an olive and the stuffed pepper onto each long metal skewer or long marshmellow stick.
Toast over a flame until the peppers blister.

You want to see chared markings on peppers, cheese will be melted inside, YuM!!!

Caprese Bites or Basil Salad on a stick:
Cherry Tomatoes
We had a bunch in our garden, but the small cherry tomatoes on a vine in the grocery store are delish too.
Out of garden, not washed yet.

Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella comes packed in water.

Scoop out mozzarella balls.

Wrap prosciutto around mini mozzarella balls. Thread a cherry tomato, a wrapped mozzarella ball, and another tomato onto each skewer; toast over a flame until the tomatoes blister.
Or     We get so much from our garden that I find creative ways to use it.
Wrap Basil leaves around mini mozzarella balls. Thread a cherry tomato, a wrapped mozzarella ball, and another tomato onto each skewer; toast over a flame until the tomatoes blister.  Yum, fresh basil...   

Pineapple S'Mores:
Assembled; ready to go.

Pound Cake
Dulce De Leche or caramels

    Cut pound cake into small squares;
spread with Dulce De Leche (store purchased as below or homemade as above) or use a sliced caramel candy.
Thread a square of cake, a chuck of pineapple, a marshmallow and another square of cake onto each skewer; toast over a flame until the marshmallow is browned.

Doughnut on a stick:

Refrigerated Breadstick dough
Confectioners' sugar
Fixings of melted butter with a brush, powdered sugar, and cinnamon are ready to go, awaiting the skewers to be baked over coals or on a grill.

Cut strips of refrigerated dough in half; thread a piece lengthwise onto each skewer by simple folding it around the stick. *Note: Don't open bread sticks to soon, or the baking powder will flatten and it will not rise. Meanwhile melt butter for 30 sec's in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Toast over coals until golden. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and cinnamon.

Also Try: Mini Salmi Subs, Ham and Cheese and Turkey-Brie Baguettes.
Mini Salami Subs:
Split open Italian sub roll; drizzle the inside with olive oil and dill with sliced salami, provolone and basil. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Thread a pickled pepper and a sandwich piece onto each skewer; toast over coals until the cheese melts.
Ham and Cheese:
Spread mayonnaise on sliced bread. Sandwich with sliced ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. Trim the crusts and cut into quarters. Thread a quarter onto each skewer; toast over coals until the cheese melts.
Turkey-Brie Baguettes:
Split open a baguette; spread the inside with Dijon mustard and fill each sliced smoked turkey and brie. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Thread a cornichon whole small pickle and a sandwich piece onto each skewer; toast over coals until the cheese melts.
The basic smores are great, but try something different this year.