Saturday, February 27, 2016

How to Host a Brunch Party like a Pro!

Growing up, my mom would host large parties in our home throughout the years. From the numerous birthdays year round, to Thanksgiving feasts, Easter brunch, Christmas dinners, and celebrations of accomplishments, baby births, and new beginnings. As people gathered in our home, I would hear them say time after time that my mother was the best cook. She entertained. She presented a beautiful table. And her ultimate goal was to please others. Happy bellies and lots of laughter made for a successful evening all around, and being around that only propelled me to want to follow in her footsteps.

I'm not going to lie, it's hard to host and to gather with those we love when we have three little ones at home and work full time. Cooking numerous dishes with beautiful presentation is an art and a gift, and it certainly comes with time and practice. I always worried that I wouldn't add up, that people wouldn't enjoy the food, or worst of all that they may not have a good time. Part of the problem is that I ran out of ideas. What sort of party to host, what to serve, and how to please.

So I needed a little practice. I needed a reason to host a little party for those that I love to be around the most. A place to gather, a place to reminisce, and a place to make new memories. 

Here's the thing. It doesn't have to be complex. It can be as simple as inviting your friends or family over for an afternoon of tea and bite-size appetizers. And best part about it, it won't require you to prepare for months, to stress over for weeks, and to cook for days.

I was able to get our tea party set up in a matter of hours! And here's how I did it.

1. Pick a Theme.

What is the purpose of the get together? It is a brunch. Is it a celebration. Is it a simple gathering, a breakfast brunch, a book club over appetizers and tea, or anything else that you may think of. I love the idea of starting a book club, and am thinking of getting a group of people together to join. Better yet, you can rotate what homes you go to every week/month!

2.  Send out invites!

These days, you can create invites online sent via email, or you can be a little crafty and go to pinterest and create cute little ones like these to send out in the mail. 


3. Plan A Menu

There are no rules to hosting a party and what's on the menu. You can do store bought, or you can cook. You can make simple bite-size food, or you can make complex dishes. Some of my favorite things to make:
  • Bruschetta
  • Tomato/mozarella sticks
  • Cucumber bites
  • Mini Cheesecakes
  • Salama/Prosciutto dish
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Coffee cake
  • Mini meatballs
  • Fruit salad
4. Tea Presentation

We drink tea in our house daily. And when we are sick, tea is our go-to remedy for healing; tea, honey, and lemon. The great thing about it, is it doesn't end with just one tea, or even two. There are so many varieties, for all different taste buds.

So, for the tea party that I hosted, I was able to have an assortment of Lipton Tea Flavors that I knew would be a big hit with our friends. Of course, I had to test them out first hand prior to their arrival, and it was hard for me to decide which one I enjoyed the most. I really think that each one was made for different moods and scenarios.

The herbal tea blends were a huge hit with real ingredients that awaken the senses. The new blends create an exciting and unique tea-drinking experience. The taste is light, it's fresh, the color is clear, and it brings a wonderful aroma to the room. With so many flavors, your guests will not be disappointed!

No matter the occasion, no matter what is going on in your life, if you just need a simple reason to gather with friends and to be around good company, host a tea party with Lipton Tea. It doesn't have to be traditional, it doesn't have to have any set of rules or expectations, and it can be as fancy or as low-key as you want it to be. At the end of the day, there is just something beautiful about gathering around the table with good friends and family and sharing stories over a cup of warm tea. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dear moms that don't teach their children to clean up

 Dear moms that don't teach their children to clean up,

Are you serious right now?!

You see, I make that face every week that we go to the library and I witness what is known as the "tornado" erupting right before my eyes. A tornado caused by little minions {very cute, and adorable, with lots of energy minions who are just having fun}, all while so many moms sit back and pretend all is okay, assume Johnny and Susie are allowed to make a mess because there is someone else around to clean it up, and then have the audacity to just walk away when they are finished.  Like, "yay that was fun my toddler was entertained, and it wasn't my house that got destroyed for once."

And I'm over here, still like....

Hey lady, you forgot your mess!!
Moms, I'm really not understanding what's going on here. I want to make sense of it, I really don't want to judge, but it's come to the point where I just have to flat out call it how I see it.


Our children are lucky. The library opens their doors for them and entertain them, for free. They get to do story time. They craft. And then the great librarians even turn on some tot music, bring out an assortment of toys, and let them have at it. We end our two hour stay diving into thousands of books and filling our own bag with 30+ to take home for the week. It really is a wonderful time, and we are there at least once a week, so I'm serious when I say this... this post has been 4 years long overdue.
And so you could understand why I am baffled every time by the common courtesy that is lacking in adults (and as a result, their children). Baffled, confused, and completely frustrated. 

If you come to a place that isn't your home, and your child proceeds to make a mess of the books, the toys, and the craft supplies, then please teach them to pick them up. And if they are too young to do so or to understand the process, then you pick it up and be that example for them. 

It may be a tough lesson to learn, and it may result in a tantrum and tears and maybe even a little embarrassment for you. But trust me, I've been there. I sat with my boy less than a year ago in the library for 30 minutes while he cried, kicked, and screamed and flat out told me "No! I'm not doing it!" in regards to the box of blocks that he decided to spill out and then refuse to pick up. But here is where I couldn't just walk away. I couldn't just let him win this, because I was only ever going to allow this one tantrum over this, and I had my chance now to fix that. Because if I stood my ground, if I made sure that at the end of this misery {on both our parts} it meant that he would be cleaning up those darn blocks, and if I stayed certain that he knew that when mommy said you need to clean up, then you need to clean up, then he would trust me and that we would never experience that sort of episode again. And it's true. We never have. Sure, they've tried to avoid it, or took their pretty old time, but at the end, gosh darn it, they do it. 

And not only do they clean up their mess, but we clean up after others. We {me included} will walk around pushing chairs in, putting books back on the shelves, picking up trash off the floor, putting puzzle pieces scattered over tables back together, blocks and toys all over the ground back into their spots, and trying to leave the library a tidy place. No, they didn't cause the mess, but I try to teach them that it's important to clean one up when we see it, even if if it was at the hands of others.

I try to teach them that we should be respectful of other people's homes, as well as our own, and when we see that someone or a place (in this case, our beloved library) is disrespected, then it is our duty to help them.

They get it. They they understand why they are doing it, even if they may gripe and moan about it.

A few months back, my daughter picked up trash on the playground {that we find often}, went over to the trash can and threw it away. She then proceeded to say to me, "Mama, why do people throw trash on the ground, when the trash can is right there." Wow. A 5 year old gets it. Why is it so hard for adults then to understand this basic concept of common courtesy.
Moms, I understand the whole "pick your battles" and I completely understand that you don't want eyes on you, and you're afraid. I've been there.  But damn it that's what parenting is about. It's not meant to be easy. We shouldn't take short cuts. We are simply cheating our children as a result, and robbing them of learning some pretty darn valuable lessons in life.

Cleaning up, and respecting a place that is not ours is pretty important. It's at the top of the list. It means a lot more than just picking up after yourself. It will teach them more about life than putting trash where it belongs, and pushing chairs back in.

We are the example to our children. They will follow in our footsteps. It is our responsibility as parents to show them what respect and courtesy looks like. Trashing a home or building that belongs to others, and then expecting others to clean up after you or your children is just rude. And then they grow up to be self-centered adults that have this "me, my, and mine" mentality and we say "oh my gosh!!! I didn't raise Johnny that way!" 

Oh yes, yes you did.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If I found out I was 4 months pregnant....

I wouldn't hate it.
I wouldn't be sad.
I wouldn't have fear.
I wouldn't wish I wasn't.
I wouldn't wonder how we would make it work.
What others would think.
When I would sleep.
How to manage my time.
Or if I had enough love of my heart.

I would just be... excited.

Those were the thoughts that came into my head this morning as I was driving into a meeting for work. I actually {out of no where} said to myself, I would be thrilled if say in a couple of months I noticed there was this baby bump that didn't used to be there and went in to find out I was 6 months pregnant. Selfishly, the reason I say 6 months is because that would mean that I would be toward the end of my pregnancy. But in reality, I would just be... excited. Not because I was pregnant, but because there would be a baby at the end of pregnancy.

It's strange for me to say all this. In fact, I don't even know where I am heading with this. I haven't written a spontaneous blog post in a while, and for me to write it on this topic {not exactly even sure what the exact topic is}, leaves me a little puzzled. Am I writing this for myself or for others. Am I writing so that others may relate, chime in, or give me their honest advice? I'm not sure. I'm not sure why I'm writing it, but I just know that I had this sudden urge to write.

So here I am, talking about this idea of having another child.

All while my third is merely 3 4 months old----yes, I just accidentally wrote 3, that's how fast time is going by. Not to mention, the fact that my husband believes that we are 90% done with having children. I say 90% because I know him well enough to know there is a tiny bitty ounce of possibility left in him. Maybe because Polina has been a dream baby and it really hasn't felt any different with her around. Or maybe because he actually loves having babies as much as I do.

I think a little bit of both.

When I think about the reasons that we have talked about being "done" having children, they have always seemed to be for the wrong reasons.

Lack of sleep.
Less "me" time.
Guilt of family members watching the kids.
Guilt over family members buying gifts for our children.
Guilt over sharing our time with them.

They're all silly. Each and every one of them.

Do we think we have enough love in our hearts for more children? Absolutely. I think I could have ten more children if the first 2 "reasons" were excelling in our lives {room and money}, but that is completely beside the point {as I definitely am not having 10 children}. There is nothing about sharing your love, hearts, and time with your children that is challenging, you simply grow to love each of them individually for who they are. Having a child is a gift. A gift of meeting someone new, learning about them, watching them grow, and build this amazing relationship with them. A gift that you just want to keep on giving, because you know how wonderful the feeling is.

That's what having children feels like to me. I have never loved anything more in my life than being a mother. And I'm not even a great one at that. But man do I love those children. Man do I enjoy those children. And boy do I love being with them. Nothing beats the time that I have with my people here in our home. The people that keep on growing right before our eyes with unique, funny, and wonderful personalities.

And don't even get me started about the future. The future that holds many holidays, birthdays, proms, college move-in-days, and wedding dances. We have a life in front of us to build, and a wonderful future to look forward to. All because of our children.

So then, how could you blame me. How could you not understand how perfectly normal it is to be driving in your car one {very} early Wednesday morning and not think about having more. More children to hold. More children to love. More children to get to know, to teach, and to be siblings to the ones that we already love so dearly.

"Are you done having children?"

I get this question a lot.

My answer is simply this...
"I'm here having children. That will never end."

As far as the rest... I'll take it one day at a time. 

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye