How to Host a Fun & Easy Ladies’ Morning

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #DunkinatGiantEagle #CollectiveBias

Have you been beyond busy the last couple of months?  With a new writing project, our big yard improvements and the usual busyness of family life, my head has been spinning.  I have been running here and there with no end in sight.  And in what often seems like so much chaos, I needed some time to slow down and connect with friends.  So I threw together a fun and easy ladies’ morning get-together.  And when I say “threw,” I am being literal.  I did this whole thing quickly and simply because that is all I could tackle right now.

And do you know what?

It was simple.  It was easy.

And it happened!

Plus, it was so much fun . . . and exactly what I needed.

Here is how I did it and how you can, too!

Pick a Simple Menu

While there are times for baking everything yourself and setting up fun food and beverage bars, for this little party I needed something more practical.  And that is where the new bottled Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee came in!  I thought this would be the perfect treat for a ladies’ morning.  Served alongside baked goods, the iced coffee took center stage at our casual breakfast!

Even though I was going simple on my menu, I still wanted to offer choices to my guests because in my world of menu planning for a party, variety equals fun.  Here is where I was able to do it.  I offered four flavors of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee:  Original, Mocha, Espresso and French Vanilla.

Each bottle is a refreshing beverage with a smooth, flavorful coffee taste . . . one that can keep you going throughout your day.  I drank the French Vanilla and it was delicious!  Whether you’re enjoying Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee at breakfast or any other time of day, it will give you that boost to help get things done.  And we all could use that!

Go Store-Bought and Pre-Made!

There wasn’t time to do any baking last week.  So in keeping things ultra simple, I bought prepared breakfast foods from Giant Eagle.  It was perfect!  Between the iced coffee and baked items, Giant Eagle was my one stop shop for this little gathering.   Entertaining becomes less difficult when you only have to run to one place for all your needs.

I served plain and asiago cheese bagels, biscotti, nut bread and muffins.  Can you tell I was going a little more savory than sweet?  If you’re serving bagels, don’t forget to have butter and a toaster available.

Send Text Messages to Keep Invitations Simple

Since we are not planning a formal soiree but rather a casual get-together, text messages are completely fine to use to invite your guests.  I texted friends the evening before saying something like this:  “Things have been crazy busy lately and I would love the chance to slow down even for a brief time and connect with some friends.   If you’re free, stop by tomorrow between 9:30am and 10:30am for some Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and savory carbs.”  One run to the store and several texts later, our fun was underway!

Shop Your House to Create a Cute Buffet

You may be amazed what you can come up with to put on the buffet if you just walk around your house.  I used my galvanized bucket for the iced coffees, a reclaimed wine barrel tray for my food, a bird cage for added decor and my refinished tea cart to hold everything.  I also found this cute circle banner to add “a little pretty” as a backdrop.  Do you have old birthday decorations you could repurpose and reuse to add interest to your tablescape?

Keep Set Up Easy

When time is precious, don’t worry about pre-plating everything on different platters.  Line a tray with a napkin and put all your food in one place.  It will look bountiful . . . plus you’ll have less to wash afterwards.

If you’re using a big tub for the iced coffee like I did, don’t try to fill the whole thing up with ice.  Place an overturned bowl at the bottom and put a plate on top of that.  You’ll need a lot less ice!

Once you have your set-up complete and have arranged the food and drinks, don’t forget to start a playlist to set the mood for your party.  Decide whether you want something relaxing or more upbeat.  For our ladies’ morning, I played beautiful instrumental music . . . it was warm and inviting.

I love it when things look good, taste great and are stress-free.  All of this allows me more time to focus on connecting with my guests.  For this ladies’ morning, everything was kept simple but it was perfect for a busy hostess and her friends.

Wondering where to pick up Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee?  Here is where you can find it at Giant Eagle:

Do you need to carve out time to connect with friends?  Keep things simple and yummy with Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and already prepared foods from Giant Eagle.  Click this link to find a store around you.  

 

 

 

 

“Looking For Lovely” – Do You Need to Read This?

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Last fall, my cousin called and shared with me about a book she read in an afternoon at the pool.  It was Looking For Lovely:  Collecting the Moments that Matter.  She absolutely loved it.  Well, any book that she loved would be enough to make my list and one that she read in an afternoon . . . jackpot!

Now, I didn’t read this book in a single afternoon.  It was my “waiting book” for when I was waiting at my daughter’s dance class, at doctor’s appointments or in the school parking lot.  Do you have a book like that?  This was perfect!

This was the first book I had read by Annie F. Downs.  She also wrote Let’s All Be Brave, Speak Love:  Making Your Words Matter and 100 Days to Brave (which just released this week).  Annie has a fun, relational writing style.  She is real, vulnerable and yet funny.  She is open about her struggles and her growth.  The book is full of great stories that take you through Annie’s journey of searching for lovely.

Looking for Lovely is an enjoyable read.  However, there were days when my Type-A self lifted my nose out of the book and asked “What is this book about?”  But as I kept going, the reveal came and Annie tied it all together beautifully in the end.  The book is a journey of finding God in the everyday moments, of walking with confidence the road before you and picking up on the things God is trying to teach you.  It is what everyday living is made of.  But most of all, it is about perspective.

One thing I loved about this book was that I felt like I knew Annie.  It was as if we just chatted for hours at the coffee shop or ventured on some fantastic road trip, spending hours together in the car.  Don’t you love when an author makes you feel this way?  It is a gift.

Should you read it?  Yes.  You’ll enjoy Annie’s stories and be blessed by her perspective of looking for lovely in the everyday and in the trials of life.  You’ll be inspired by her growth and relax a little more when facing a challenge because you know to find the beauty in the situation.

I’d love to know if you read Looking for Lovely.  Please share your thoughts below.

 

What Else Has Been on My Bookshelf Recently:

 

How To Build An Awesome Baked Potato Bar

You all know it is hard for me to resist a do-it-yourself or build-you-own style food bar.  I love them!  I love how they appeal to a variety of tastes and can be customized to each person’s own opinion of greatness.  Maybe it just comes from having (or being) a picky eater, but I love when you can add your favorite toppings to whatever you’re eating.

I created this baked potato bar for my kids’ joint family birthday party.  The weather was perfect so I set up everything outside.  We had tables for 30 people on the driveway (which of course I forgot to take pre-party photos of!).  But here is the buffet, bonus kids’ food station and drink area.

Baking the Potatoes:  After washing about 70 medium sized potatoes, we pricked them with a fork.  Then, my daughter and I rubbed them with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.  Once wrapped in aluminum foil, we baked them in crock pots (along with one roaster oven from my sister in law).  For the crock pots, we baked the potatoes for about 8 hours on low until tender.  (You can also bake on high for 4.5-5 hours.)

Baked Potato Bar Toppings:

  • Guacamole
  • Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Green Onions
  • Salsa
  • Black Beans
  • Lightly Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots (most commented on!)
  • Bacon
  • Cubed Ham
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Ranch
  • Hot Sauce

We rounded out our meal with grilled chicken, bean salad, watermelon and dinner rolls.

I also served hot dogs and baby carrots for the kids.  Just in case . . .

I used our Lemonade Stand for the beverage station, serving blue punch and assorted flavored waters.

 

 

I love outdoor parties!  Don’t miss my Jedi Knight ready to strike in the photo above.

Happy Birthday, kiddos!

Have you tried a baked potato bar before?  What are your favorite toppings?

Get Ready for a Fun Game Night at Home with Escape the Room

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Have you heard about all the “Escape the Room” locations opening up around the country?  I have been aching to try one but we haven’t made it yet.  So I was thrilled when my friend handed me this game and said we must play it!

It is Escape the Room for home and it makes the best family game night!  You have to think outside the box, use logic and even get creative.  It was compelling and fun.  Dan and I played it with the kids (at that point, 7 and 9 years old).

Here is What I Loved:

The setup and logistics of the game couldn’t be easier.  Everything is well laid out and you can even go to their website to see how to repackage everything.

Everyone was involved and engaged.  At every stage of the game, there were things to figure out.  I was excited to see how each person added to the game.  Even my 7-year old came up with an answer that the rest of us didn’t see.

Problem solving.  I love problem solving.  There is lots of it in this game.

It is creative.  Man, I would love to meet the person who came up with and structured this game.

If you get stuck, clues are available online.

Here is What to Consider BEFORE Playing:

For this particular game, Mystery At Stargazer’s Manor, the suggested age is 10 and up.  I have loaned it to many other families, all of which have children as young as 6 or 7 years old and they all did fine.  It is a bit sci-fi in nature and the story revolves on a grieving man whose wife previously died.  I am guessing that is why it is rated for 10 and up.  I had no issues with our 7-year old playing it.

You need to have plenty of time.  This is not a 20 minute game.  You start with 90 minutes and then if you take an added challenge, you add another 20 or 30 minutes.  Plan on two hours.

It is one and done.  Once you play the game, you cannot play it again since all the mysteries will be revealed.  My suggestion is to buy one and pass it among friends.

The second game we played, Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat, is rated for 13 and up.  The cover is a bit gruesome, but the game itself isn’t too bad.  My daughter (now, age 8) was a little creeped out when I read the card about us being the next “guests” to be experimented on.  #momfail.  It would have been so easy to remove that sentence.  There was one other line of text that can be altered as well and I was changing it as I read aloud.  But my son, who was looking over my shoulder quickly corrected me and read the line that was printed.  (grrr)  Aside from those two lines (and knowing that in advance), I think younger kids would be fine with it.  Truly, it is the figuring out of puzzles that makes this fun.

 

There are other Escape the Room games out there but most of them seem to be for ages 16 and up.  We haven’t tried those and probably won’t for awhile longer.

What do you like to play for family game night?  Please share below.  I am always looking for new ideas!

How to Make an Awesome Hot Wheels Parking Lot from a Tray

Do you have a Hot Wheel loving kid?  Here is an easy craft to make for your child or to give as a gift.

Months ago, a friend gave me this unfinished tray that she didn’t want.  (This tends to happen when you’re crafty or throw a bunch of parties.  People want to get rid of the stuff they’ll never do anything with and they give it to you . . . which is a good and a bad thing.)

Anyway, when my friend gave me this tray, I decided I would do something fun with it and give it right back to her.  Well, I’m a little later than planned but I did make it into a mini parking lot for her son’s Hot Wheel cars.

Join me at Motherhood On a Dime to see the full tutorial.