Because “House Party” just doesn’t cut it.
This summer we had our first house party. Well, we actually had three or so parties before this part-ay, but they didn’t include decorations and hours of scrubbing the baseboards.
Timothy and I had our church’s music ministry over for a lovely evening of food, games, and fun. These people work so hard every week to bring their best to the music ministry – they deserve a party every day!
Like all bloggers (who apparently need to work on blogging consistently), I had planned to take lots of pictures. But as soon as the party started I went full on hostess mode and forgot about the camera entirely. Thus, I only got a couple pictures of the decorations.
Like this lovely picture of the half-eaten food table. We kept the food in our screened in porch, strung up some Christmas lights, and some paper lanterns. The paper lanterns didn’t quite turn out as cute as I saw them in my mind. They’re made with tape and glue. Tape and glue! I’m going to stick with needles and thread from here on out.
My sweet mom made these cupcakes. And since she always makes enough to feed the Hun army, there were cupcakes left at our house for days after the party. It got so bad that I would walk through our kitchen, lick the icing off of a cupcake, and throw the rest away. All these hipster people are all juicing beets and kale, and we’re licking frosting off cupcakes at the Gothra’s.
For entertainment, Timothy bought lawn spray paint and sectioned off some areas for volleyball, croquet, and a paper airplane tournament.
The highlight of the night was definitely the paper airplane tournament. Who knew one can of lawn paint and a pack of paper could provide such fun?
Having plenty of activities for people to do really helped prevent that awkward down time that can happen at parties. And the paper airplane tournament was definitely proof that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun. What are some of your best party tips and tricks? What foods do you like to serve? Any fun games you like to play with a crowd? Do you clean your baseboards? I’d love to know.
(pretending that I knew what I was doing while my mom was making cookies)
When I started this blog two and a half-ish years ago, I could rock out a meal of spaghetti. Three ingredients: ground beef, spaghetti noodles, and a jar of Ragu. Boom. Or a meal of biscuits and gravy. With canned biscuits and gravy mixed from a packet of course. Impressive.
Last week? I made an Indian dish that required 21 ingredients. Yes, I counted. And I would have had to drive an hour to buy an expensive jar of one of those ingredients, so I made that ingredient myself. Which took eight hours.
I’m pretty sure they don’t make “ghee” out of a crock pot in India, but it was the first recipe I found and I went with it. This multiple hour, multiple ingredient meal thing is kind of a step up from my 3 ingredient dinner masterpieces as a newlywed.
When I look back at my young naive self who was so proud of herself for making meatballs, I just want to smirk. Oh you. Wait until you accidentally buy chicken breast with rib meat that has actual rib bones in it. And your dinner guests are coming over in twenty minutes, the closest store is 30 minutes from your house, and your chicken needed to be put in the oven like five minutes ago. So you cry a few tears, put on at least two pairs of gloves, and tackle trimming that beast. And then you spend the whole dinner creeping on everyone’s faces making sure that they aren’t choking on a stray rib bone.
After that meal? You become a woman. I am Whitney. Watch me cook.
The other day I was making a recipe that began with “get a 2 to 2.5 pound whole chicken and cut it into roughly 18-20 pieces.” Um, no. And to make things worse, a quick google search assured me that I would have to pull the “innards out of the cavity” if I bought a whole chicken. That’s NEVER going to happen.
I am Whitney. Watch me not cook that.
But I digress.
The point of all this is that I started out as a Mrs. with limited cooking knowledge. I never expected to like cooking. I just expected to learn enough recipes that my husband could live off of, have children, and send at least one of them to cooking school when he or she became old enough to reach the counter. Problem solved.
But these plans were thwarted. I kind of sorta accidentally started loving to cook. I mean, I have read cook books for fun. Who am I?
I’m pretty sure that Indian food is responsible for this weird affection. My husband is half Indian and craves Indian food constantly. That just ain’t gonna happen in our town of 600 people smack dab in the middle of a corn field. So I started cooking it.
Indian food isn’t one of those “fake it ‘till you make it” kind of cuisines. It has a lot of steps. And ingredients. As in that infamous 21 ingredient meal.
Now before you think I’m an all high and mighty professional chef or anything, let’s get it straight. I’m not. I still can barely touch raw meat and I still have no clue what I’m doing. That 21 ingredient dish? Yeah, I cooked it twice last week. The first time ended in a pan of mush and a stream of weepy tears. The second time had a happier ending.
See, Timothy has been asking me to make this dish since the very first time I experimented with Indian cooking. Since that time I’ve made a few Indian dishes. I loved them all, but I was pretty nervous to try this one. Chicken curry. The plain ol’ chicken curry that is apparently cooked in all the homes in India. The one dish that Timothy orders at every Indian restaurant and then always proclaims “this is not as good as my family’s curry, that’s for sure!”
You can see why I was a bit nervy.
One problem was that I couldn’t find any legit recipes online. They were all for “Americanized” curries. Or for chicken tikka masala or butter chicken, which involve cream and are both tastier to Americans. Or so they say. I found some recipes that called for curry powder, but I read somewhere that no real Indian uses curry powder. It’s lazy. So after quite a bit of searching, I finally found the 21 ingredient recipe and knew it was time.
I gathered all my ingredients and dove right in. I have no clue what went wrong. Well, I have some clues, but they don’t make me look too good. Let’s just say I tried to make my own makeshift mortar and pestle with a serving bowl and a measuring cup.
After spending over an hour on the dish I called Timothy in to look at it and he was all, yeah. That’s not right. I don’t think you can save that. Do you want to go get take out?
(photo in b&w to spare you the sight of what’s in that pan; Timothy finding out the “real” recipe)
So I cried all the way to the closest drive thru, lamenting that I’ll never make Indian food as good as the Indians. When we got home Timothy called his family to get their recipe. And joy of all joys, or horror of all horrors, his dad asked if we had curry powder. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY USE. Their curry has like 7 ingredients. No curry from scratch for them.
I picked my jaw off the ground, glared at Timothy, and resolved that I was still going to make curry from scratch if it killed me. He calls me stubborn, and I have zero clues why.
The next day, armed with my mom’s food processor, I tried again. And two hours later, wouldn’t you know it, out popped a curry. A chicken curry. And please don’t tell Timothy’s grandma, but he said it was the best chicken curry he has ever had.
I did it. And I didn’t even need to wear gloves or call my mom for help. (Well, she had to help me with the food processor, but I’m gonna just say that doesn’t count.)
I think it took cooking the dish that I was most intimidated to make to realize that I love this thing. I love this process. I love planning the menus and picking out the ingredients. I love chopping and dicing and simmering and stirring and roasting. I love the smells of the spices and sauces. I love shooing Timothy away when he’s trying to steal “just one” piece of chicken. I love proving to myself that I can do scary things, even if it’s something that’s only scary to me. And I really love hearing that my curry was the best curry my Indian has ever had. One point for the white girl.
It is no secret that I have a thing for floral. It is also no secret that floral is probably my husband’s least favorite trend of all the trends. Well, that and aztec.
A few months ago I posted some floral wreaths that caught my eye. A wreath is the perfect place to add a little dose of something you usually can’t get away with. So with my inspiration in mind, some yarns scraps, and plenty of flower tutorials, I came up with own.
For the flowers, I scoured my Pinterest and Ravelry accounts for all the cute flower tutorials I could find. My general plan was just to crochet a whole bunch of flowers and only use the ones that worked together. I only ended up getting rid of one flower, so the plan worked out okay!
I used sewing pins to pin all the flowers onto the wreath base. It’s fast and really easy to switch out in case I want to make an aztec wreath. Ha! I kid.
The bobble flowers are probably my favorite, and the butterfly was a last minute addition. I’m not a “butterfly person,” but I just couldn’t help myself. I also clearly didn’t read the pattern correctly. The butterfly was supposed to only be two inches wide, but it’s more like six. Crochet is so confusing sometimes. Ha!
If you are interested in the pattern for any of the flowers just let me know and I’ll be glad to pass it on. But I will warn you – I’m not the best at crocheting and a few of those flowers turned out a bit different than the pattern. When I get confused, I just kind of wing it. I’ve also learned that blocking hides A LOT of flaws.
Wreaths are really fun projects. In the past I’ve made an owl one and a big bow one. They don’t take too much time but they add so much personality to your front door! So if I get an unexpected visitor (hello neighbor that came to our house three times in two days!), I just hope that the bright crocheted floral explosion will just distract him or her long enough not to notice a messy house. As if my house is ever messy. Oh, I kid again. Messy just means loved.
As trendy as mason jars and chevron, chalkboard walls are everywhere. Sometimes when things get super trendy and played out, they lose their appeal. You know what I mean? It seems more glamorous to be original than a trend follower. But that’s not the case with chalkboard walls. I’ll just go to the very back of the original line because I love me some chalkboard walls.
I wanted one in our first home, but I couldn’t commit to a spot. But this house? As soon as we moved in the chalkboard wall started calling my name. I knew exactly where it needed to go.
Enter: this big blank wall in our kitchen.
We gave a good chunk of our lives to the process of ripping off the floral wallpaper and the kitchen carpet. Then we painted and installed tile.
We have decided to go darker with the wall color and paint all the trim white, but that sounds like a job for someone besides me. Someone tell me, is painting trim as annoying as it sounds? Or is it something like childbirth where the end result makes you forget the pain? Does painting trim equal childbirth? Because I don’t think I’m ready for either.
Our walls have an odd texture. They aren’t textured, per se, but they’re not super smooth either. Maybe it has something to do with the type of dry wall used? So I taped off the area and sanded the walls a bit. It knocked off the larger bumpy patches, but still kept a bit of texture. Then I painted and painted and painted.
I decided to paint everything with a brush instead of using a wall roller. I hate wall rollers. But if you don’t, then I suggest using a roller. They’re speedy. For the brush I just painted on each coat in a different direction. I ended up doing four light coats, and at the end you couldn’t see any brush strokes. Score!
We then waited the requisite three days for it to cure. L o n g e s t three days of my life, those were. After the three days I rubbed chalk all over the wall to season it. My brand of chalkboard paint (I used Valspar) didn’t mention anything about seasoning the wall, but I’ve seen everyone else do it in the blog world. I figured it couldn’t hurt anything, and it was actually a lot of fun.
Then, chalking time!
We were preparing for a party for our church’s music ministry, so I chalked up a little welcome sign.
During school I detested the sound and feel of chalk on chalkboards, but it feels totally different on a wall. Maybe that added bit of texture keeps it from being slippery? All I know is that it is a blast to write on!
One night when Timothy had a bunch of guys over to watch a basketball game, one of them had the great idea to do a love note for his fiancee. He gave me the words, I chalked them up, and he posed for the picture. How sweet is that? Timothy and I are in their wedding in a few months, and we’re quite excited.
Currently the chalkboard wall is sporting a verse from my favorite hymn. I love having a reminder of God’s love being one of the first things I see when I get home.
This project is probably one of my favorite ones I’ve ever done. It’s not perfect, but it just makes me happy. Isn’t that the whole point of DIYing and decorating? Regardless of trends or originality, just doing what makes you happy? I’m going with yes. Now if I can just convince Timothy that more floral in our home would make us both happy. Wish me luck.
So, this is fun. You may have noticed I’ve been MIA for a while. Someone or something has been hacking my web site. My sweet husband/web guru has paid extra and extra for more and more protection, he’s bffs with his host support guys, and he has spent countless hours trying to stop the problem.
I’m just saying, what kind of hacker is concerned with my blog? It’s not like I’m making a real dent in the world by blogging about wreaths and meatballs.
Several of my recent posts have been deleted, as well as your precious comments. And I’m not being sarcastic when I say precious. You know that bald Lord of the Rings guy that cradles the ring and whispers “my precious” over and over in a super creepy way? That’s me. Except without the baldness and hopefully a little less creepy.
My handsome web hero says that he may be able to get those posts back. So if in a few days you see the same old blog post or two, and you thought they were lame the first time, just keep trucking. If you thought they were awesome, then you just may be my mother.
Here’s to more blogging with a new and improved back up system. And here’s to catching that hacker that doesn’t like my rambling. We will find you!
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I'm honored that you took time to stop by my blog! My name is Whitney, and I'm a diy loving, piano playing, sewing obsessed, thrifty, non-house cleaning, crafty newlywed. I love God, my husband, and life as a wife. If you'd like to know more, just check out my About Me page. Much love!
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