Thursday, December 30, 2010

Appetizers are Always Welcome! Part One -Crab Treats!

It seems that it's time to post some appetizer recipes. I have to say that I LOVE appetizers. In fact sometimes, I would rather eat appetizers than a real meal. I have come to the realization that it is because you can just get so creative with them. Several types are usually required when entertaining. The ingredients are never boring, and spices are fun and well, SPICY!!! It can be inspiring to create and design an appetizer platter. Food can be a fabulous part of the edible and memorable "decorations" for a party as well.
Since it is New Year's Eve Day * (This post was edited on 1-5-11 as my recipes did not show on the original post! Sorry!) I thought I would share a couple of Appetizer recipes that I have collected over the years. My Mom Sharon called me yesterday and asked me to give her that Yummy Hot crab appetizer recipe that I made last year for them. I had to pause for a moment because I actually could not remember which one that she was talking about. But this gave me the chance to go through some of the great recipes and so when I made a copy of them for her, I thought that I would share them with you too. If you can't make them for tonight, then try to make at least one over the weekend. ENJOY!
These first two recipes are from one of my favorite little mini books printed by Oxmoor House for Southern Living called "Ultimate Book of Appetizers" The last one is a crab dip that you serve cold that was published first in Southern Living Magazine in April of 2004.
Crab Dip Recipes1-11

Crab Cakes & Lime Garlic Shrimp & Mango Salsa Recipe1-11

Planning for a Successful Party.

December through February are Party Months. You will get invited to or decide to host a party more during these months than any other season, except Summer. Having a party helps most of us keep our spirits up during the long cold winter, especially after Christmas. ( Even those of you who live in Florida! ) Why do you think they have the Super Bowl when they do?! Think about it and you know I'm right! LOL. So, Let's think about putting one together...

First things first, for a Successful Party, you have to come up with a good plan and make a list. That's essential for not only keeping you organized, but also on budget and for time management. Trust me, I've learned most things the hard way.

Here is a plan for your list:

First: Come up with a Theme. Usually it is the reason you are having the party. Then get creative. Here's an example:  It's Chris' Birthday and since it's January I'm going to make Snowflakes the theme- (I usually like to embrace the negative and turn it into a positive!)

Second: Make an invitation list and make or buy the actual invites. Remember to invite those people who would enjoy each other's company. They don't have to know each other but they do need to be able to find some common ground with others, so make sure you have at least 2 other invitees that your guest can feel comfortable with, because the host will have time to mingle, but not always have time to hang around and have in depth conversations with all of the guests. This is a section that I could post a whole weeks worth of ideas for this on Create and Decorate, so that being said, this is a whole other topic to write about in the near future.

Third: Know your budget. You may not know exactly how much money you have to spend, but you probably know how much you cannot go over budget with. This is another great idea to blog about, getting creative with little money. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a successful and fun party. But remember, you can't serve shrimp when you can only afford cheese! So keep this in mind when you are planning the next item of business.

Fourth: Make a menu. Remember, not every party needs to have an extensive list of food, but taking the time to put a little bit of thought into your menu will go a long way toward making it a memorable party. Good food = Good party. Try to look at the theme, budget and the people you invited and it will make it easier when making food selections.

Last, but not least: Come up with a date and time. This is the last thing to do on your list  and it will be a whole lot easier to decide when you look at all of the variables above. When you think of who you invited, you know if it's better to make it a week-day, week -night or week-end. For example, if it's a Birthday party, the time length would be different for other children to come, than say for family and adult guests. If it's a football party, you obviously would have it during the game. 

You also want to give your guests some time to put the event on their calendars. If you wait and only give them a few days notice, your turnout will not be a good as if you gave them 10- 14 days notice. Just a helpful hint too, not only send them something in the mail or e-mail, but follow it up with a phone call to make sure they received it. Don't leave a message as you cannot guarantee they will listen in a timely manner, connect with them in person.

My last tip for the day is to make a reminder call the day before. Life gets busy and your friends will appreciate the call.
Blessings, Pam

Thursday, December 2, 2010

25 Days until Christmas... the countdown begins!

Hello and Happy Holidays! 

Life seems to have gotten in the way a little... My intentions have always been to post at least once a week on this Create and Decorate Blog. I have been a pretty busy gal working my design businesses and have not been taking care of my blog so my apologies! But that stops now! You can look forward to seeing much more blogging from me. 

Now that the countdown 'til Christmas has started,it is time for me to share some of the great design and decorating tricks I have learned over the years so that you can use them too.

Today was the first day of December. 

Three pieces of advice: 

Don't Stress. 

Get Yourself Organized!

Enjoy the Spirit of the Season.

Now you can really start to go crazy putting up and displaying all of your Holiday decorations that you have collected over the years. If you are really on the ball, you spent some time this past weekend shopping and getting some of those great Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals! Now, I am sure that all of you happen to have at least one friend or family member who always seems to have everything decorated and all her shopping for the Holidays done by Halloween. That is NOT what the majority of us do, so don't let those wonderfully super organized people stress you out when it's just the first week of December! 

You can still make great things happen and get your home and life spruced up, looking perfectly holiday pretty with plenty of time before the holidays are hear. The Key is simple- make a list of all things that you want to get done, and then sit down and plan in your calendar when you are going to do them. If you don't have a day to day or weekly calendar, it is time to get one.

Also organize your tasks in order of importance, and make sure that you check with your spouse and kids so you can write in any functions that you might have to participate in with them. The worst thing you can do is double book yourself and have to miss out on some holiday fun! 

So I'm going to end this post with a quick message. I'm going to take my own advice and will post my list of tasks  along with a christmas design tip tomorrow, later in the afternoon or evening! 

Blessings- Pam