Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I Don’t Think I Should Use Pinterest to Plan a Bridal Shower.

I’ve planned many baby and bridal showers.  They may not have been perfect or even as great as what I had in my mind, but I was generally satisfied with the result.  The bride or mom (I think) felt honored and had fun with her peeps and all was well with the world.

Then came Pinterest.

I had avoided it for a long time.  I was already too digitally engaged and didn’t need just one more reason to waste time.

My friend Judy and I began planning a shower for this pretty little lady (center)--

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Judy invited me to view her ideas on Pinterest.  Dangit.  Ok.  I set up an account strictly to look at them.

I had 5 followers by the next day.  Ha!  Joke’s on them, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Oh, cute.  Oh. Yes, we can do that.  Cinchy.

Let’s start with the food, because I think that was mostly a success…

We planned chicken salad in phyllo cups—

chicken salad in phyllo cups- the salad recipe is made by the pineapple, don't leave it out!This is the Pinterest picture

 

 

 

 

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This is actual.  Good job, Judy!

 

 

 

We also planned cucumber sandwiches.

 

 

Not necessarily this fancy, but you get the idea …

 

 

 

 

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We kinda thought we might include bread and a spread of some sort (you know, the sandwich part).  But, well, something had to go when all was going amiss (more on that later).  I think simplicity adds a certain sophistication, don’t you?

We also had a lovely salad that I made from our friend’s recipe (shout out HERE!  She’s amazing!).   The picture does not do it justice, the colors are really pretty.  Spinach, couscous, roasted carrots and pine nuts photo 2with a garlic/white balsamic dressing. 

Can’t take too much credit.  Hubby roasted the carrots and Judy made the dressing.  I panicked when I saw the small container of dressing in the fridge and insisted she make more, lots more.  Only later did I realize that it didn’t have the olive oil in it yet.  Probably THE decision that spelled the end of the cucumber sandwiches AND we ended up with way more dressing than needed.  Sorry Judy!

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Berries and amazing cookies brought by friends (another shout out HERE!  Thank goodness for talented friends!)  Overall grade?  B.  Would have been higher, but I marked myself off for being grouchy with guests and shooing them outside while I was stressing about food prep.  I don’t think anyone missed the sandwiches, they’re probably all avoiding carbs anyway!  Fortunately the heavenly cookies don’t count as carbs *wink*.

For drinks, we planned from Pinterest:

Love the jar of lemonade. Pretty.

Large Ice cubes for pitchers

Mason Jar Juice Boxes- Pink lemonade

 

 

Flavored lemonade with cute lemon ice all served in canning jars with fancy straws.

 

The results?  Not bad at all!  We did have a cute punchbowl just like the one above (trust me, unfortunately no pics!) but it was watermelon lemonade with mint sprigs and the cute ice.  Warm day, though, so the ice melted quickly and we had…lemon slices.  OK then. 

We did use canning jars (without the lids) and cute straws: 

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Probably cuter when full.  Grade?  I’d say A-.  I only graded off for our industrial black ladle that we used to serve with.

 

 

 

D├ęcor.  That’s where the real fun starts.  We had a plan.  It was mostly a good one, I think.  Japanese lanterns under the patio cover.  Food table on the patio.  Tables and chairs in the yard with white linens, rustic centerpieces and little potted plants as favors.  Here is some of the Pinterest inspiration:

bright, cheery, and pretty!hanging Japanese lanterns

Eye Candy - Fleaing France & French Shopping

We were using Judy’s yard, and she’s my neighbor so I went over to her house in the am to set up.  Her 3 kids were invaluable little helpers as they toted and carried and taped stuff. 

The day was gorgeous!  We were so excited.  We set up the tables and chairs out in the yard with white linen.  Each table had a square of craft paper in the center with the bride’s name written along the borders.  In the center were large canning jars with informally arranged flowers and a jute bow.  Encircling the flowers were mini potted succulents, each with a quote about love for the guests to take home as favors, like little fortunes.  Doesn’t it sound lovely?  Can you imagine it in your mind?  You’ll have to  because we didn’t get a picture.  Oh, and we spent way too much time attaching jute to the patio cover with duct tape, untangling the lanterns (from a previous use) and hanging them.  Probably another sign those cucumbers were just going to have to go it alone without bread nor spread.

It was lovely.  Martha would have been so proud.  I went home to get cleaned up and the birds were chirping merrily.

Meanwhile.

The wind came up.  Wiped out the rustic flowers, which spilled their water and ruined the craft paper centerpieces.  The mini pots all tipped and because they were so mini their dirt was already dry and fell out and blew away.  The jute hanging the Japanese lanterns kept giving way.  We put A LOT more duct tape up and crossed our fingers.

As the guests were arriving, we put them to work!  We moved the food to the counter inside and all the tables under the patio cover.  Simplicity ruled the day and the craft paper was done away with, the rustic flowers centerpieces were REALLY rustic and the cute mini plants were salvaged and gathered aside. 

OK, not ideal, but on the plus side they ended up in the shade which was WAY better than our original plan.

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Our lovely bride eating her lunch on her unadorned table, save for the rustic flowers.  Ugh.  So plain.  Note how sunny it is on the lawn.  We did dodge a bullet on that one.  Thank goodness the wind had a better idea.

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Another rustic flower centerpiece and note the people (mostly) smiling in the shade.

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I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to making floral centerpieces.  It takes a lot of flowers to make an arrangement look casual and unfussy.  OK, probably not that many flowers.  These are all the flowers I DIDN’T USE.  Don’t even ask how much they cost.

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Our Japanese lanterns.  Cute, huh?  If you look closely you can see the sagging jute.  It became comical as a piece of duct tape gave way one at a time and various guests had lanterns bopping them on their head.  We were taking bets on where the next piece would fail.  Oh yeah, good times. 

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I love this picture because you can actually see the duct tape piece perched in mid air on the fallen jute.  Kind of like a tacky fly strip that used to hang on my grandparents’ back patio.

Overall grade on the decorations:  A for effort, D for outcome. 

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The resurrected favors.  Trust me, they looked really cute on the tables.  I still like these. 

The day after the shower people would come up and compliment the shower.  It was impossible for me to simply say “thank you” in response.  Instead, I felt the need to launch into this discounted acceptance where I told them in detail all the things it could have been.  Awkward.

So, I don’t think I’ll be using Pinterest to plan parties again any time soon.  It just sets my own personal expectations TOO HIGH and I can’t just live with my dashed hopes.  It’s all just so much more enjoyable when I don’t have these unattainable fantasy creations to compare myself too.

It’s kinda the same reason that I don’t buy SHAPE magazine.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My New BFF, Sister Featherstone

A little background may be in order…in our church, there is no paid ministry.  People are asked to serve in various capacities (“calling”) for a while, and then someone else does it and you do something else.  We believe that Heavenly Father directly inspires these decisions as to who serves where and when.

torchThere is organization to these jobs. A hierarchy, if you will.  Take the Young Women’s organization, since that’s what I’m writing about today—each congregation (“ward”) has a Young Women’s President and counselors and a secretary who serve with her, along with other advisors and specialists.  This organization is replicated at the regional (“stake”) level, and again on a church-wide basis (General YW Board, in the collective).  To give you an idea of magnitude, in our area the typical ward has about 30 young women they are responsible for, the stake has 235 young women, and the church overall has …. gosh, no idea, but there are over 14 million church members throughout the world, so you gotta figure a bunch of those are young women between the ages of 12 and 18.

At the ward level, the leaders directly teach, serve, and minister to the young women.  At the stake level, the leaders teach and serve the ward YW leaders as well as organize stake-wide activities for the youth.  At the general level, the leaders set policy, curriculum, and teach at every level, though on a much more centralized basis—we get to see them through articles, webcasts, and broadcasts.  Being a California Mormon, I don’t run into these ladies in the grocery store or anything, so they kind of take on this mythical status in my mind…too much People magazine, I think.

Are you bored?  Ok, enough background. 

Lori. L. FeatherstoneI currently serve as a stake YW President in my area.  We recently were visited by one of the General YW Board members, Lori L. Featherstone.  I was charged with hosting her for two days, including visiting YW, a focus group, and training.  I made sure my car was REAL clean. 

I was nervous when I picked her up (mythical status, remember?)  However, she put me at ease right away, reporting that she was a “toilet scrubber”, just like me! 

[Aside:  I failed to admit to her that I, in fact, rarely scrub my own toilets owing to the fact that my husband got me a housekeeper a few years back when I took a short term full time work assignment and then he never had the heart to take it back after the work assignment ended.  7 years ago.  Shhhh.  Our little secret.]

Anyway, she was darling, and she did forget things in the car and lose her pen.  That WAS just like me! 

Despite those human foibles, when she was in a home talking to a young woman, she was sheer perfection!  She was definitely on the Lord’s errand and I immediately felt that as she met these great girls.  The Spirit and love was abundant, as were the tears.  I learned so much from her during those visits.

Only one little thing.

I scheduled waaaay too many of them. 

In my head, I thought, “teenage girls, meeting with a stranger, 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for travel equals 30 minutes per visit.”

So the first day I scheduled 3 visits for a 90 minute block of time.

Only.

I got a late response to a query I had made 10 days before saying that another girl would in fact be available.  I couldn’t say no.  OK, the more the merrier, we’ll make it work.

So I had 4 visits for a 90 minute block of time.  Which meant that she was ONLY an hour and a half late to her dinner appointment.

I’m sure she had exactly one raisin to eat that evening, because she was scheduled for a focus group across town half an hour after I dropped her off at her dinner location.

Focus Group

Our focus group.

The next day, I thought, would be much better.  Four morning visits in 2 hours, but their homes are much closer together.  It WAS better.  I only made her 1/2 an hour late for lunch. 

By the way, my instructions just said “LUNCH” so I dropped her (in the pouring rain) where I was supposed to and went to go find a sandwich and a bathroom before picking her up for the afternoon visits. 

Apparently “LUNCH” meant me too!  They called me to come on back.  I ate lunch with other leaders in my stake, as well as the General Primary (children’s org) President and the General Relief Society (women’s org) Counselor.  Elite company and amazing women.

Well, of course they had waited for me to to return to begin lunch, which meant we were all late getting out the door.  And of course, I had too many scheduled again in my grand plan.  Which meant that we were late finishing once more.

We’d missed our rendezvous time, where she was to meet a driver at her hotel to take her to the next city on her itinerary for the weekend.  We called from the car to see what they wanted us to do and we ended up meeting them on the road out of town (hence this picture we took in the wind on the side of the road before they whisked her away!  It is OFFICIALLY the worst picture of me ever.  Don’t judge).

Sister Featherstone

As we were driving to the meeting place, I fretted because she hadn’t had a chance to freshen up at the hotel before going on to her next round of meetings that would last well into the evening.  I rummaged through my purse…

“GUM?  It doesn’t replace brushing your teeth, but it’ll do in a pinch.”

“Lipstick?  Do you have lipstick with you?  A girl needs lipstick!  Here, take mine!  Will this color work?”

So if you see Sister Featherstone wearing Burt’s Bees watermelon lip shimmer, you’ll know from whence it came!

Epilogue  I got home absolutely exhausted.  (I don’t know how Sis. Featherstone does it!  She still had many hours to got that day.  The Lord definitely does make you equal to what He asks.) I checked email.  There was an email from the church leader who was coordinating Sister Featherstone’s California visit that says, in part:

“As you meet and visit today please stay on schedule. We have a tight agenda with everything leading up to our meetings in Ventura this evening. Our 3:00pm departure time for the Ventura Stake Center is critical.”

I felt THIS BIG.  I hadn’t checked email that morning.  My response, in part:

“In my head, my visit schedule would operate just like clock work.  However, you must be wondering, ‘Does that woman own a clock that works??’”

He was very kind and later said that Sister Featherstone confirmed our BFF status (my words) and everything worked out just fine. 

P.S.  I got this cool card in the mail from Sis. F yesterday.  I read it four times.  She actually IS pretty much a rock star to me.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

And This is What I’m Thinking in My Head After Those Last 2 Posts:

“You don’t blog for 3 months and suddenly you’re inspired by blood sausage and awkward lunches?”

Yeah, I know…

And in More Food News

This is what Bryce found in his lunch today:

  • Bottle of water – standard
  • Turkey & swiss on sourdough bread with mustard only – of course
  • Apple, cored and cut into quarters – yep
  • Fig Newtons – yum
  • Cliff fruit rope – is it candy or is it fruit?  Let’s go with fruit and save me the guilt (it does say “Organic”!!)
  • About 1/3 lb. of turkey in a plastic bag, what remained of a pound of golden roasted turkey purchased in the deli section of the grocery store – Uhhhm…
  • Sliced swiss cheese, in the Kraft package, probably like 5-6 slices – what?

Someone might have been a little sleepy this morning making lunch.

Dangit, now what am I going to eat for lunch?  Thank goodness I didn’t pack the rest of the box of Cliff fruit rope.  Or the Fig Newtons.

Gastronomical Machismo

Elder Tyler’s email today told of his adventurous eating this week including guinea pig, turtle, and monkey.  Yes, that soup has a monkey hand in it.

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That inspired this email chain:

OH MY.  That is a Monkey hand.  Makes blood sausage look like the Jr. circuit. ~DAD*

Try kran. Makes both look like jr. circuits.  ~Justin

Yada-yada-yada. ~DAD

Yada yada this. ~Justin

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Back at ya Elder.  Blood Sausage ain’t as dainty as you think… ~DAD

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"Mine's bigger."  "No, mine's bigger."  Men.  Whatever. ~Mom

I’ll concede.  As a victory award, I’ve ordered a couple of these for Justin and Tyler.  They can use it to wash down the Kran and the Monkey paws. I’m done. Savages. ~DAD

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Jeff served in Germany and did, in fact, get served blood sausages on his mission.