Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Parties In A Pinch: Start of Summer

Summer vacation is finally here!  One of the greatest things about being an educator are these glorious and long holiday breaks.  Having all this time off makes each year alllllllll worth it.  This summer is all the sweeter since this year was especially tough, (starting with a new district, in a new county all with a new grade level).  But, despite this being the most challenging year of  my professional career, I was lucky enough to have met some pretty incredible teachers who kept me pushing on each day.  I knew I wanted to show my appreciation by having them over to my new home.  So, of course, that meant this hostess with the most-est needed to throw together an end of the year a pinch.

Moving into my new home has kept me working around the clock.  I had to kick it into high gear with guests coming over.  Piles of boxes to be unpacked were just not going to work! So, I hit the organization train harder than ever and pulled together the main rooms of the house.  Once I had unpacked and cleaned almost every room in the house (not counting closets which turned into massive storage nightmares), I was ready to focus my attention on the party.

First things first, I needed to set the scene.  Since I have a nice, grassy yard I decided to set up a "family style" table in the center under a lovely shady tree.  Despite the girls not coming over until the late afternoon, I still needed to provide a bit of shade for my guests.  I had borrowed a table and Adirondack chairs from my Aunt B, so we were able to kick back and relax.  I used my favorite floral vintage sheet as a tablecloth as it was big enough and I just adore those sweet pink flowers!   I used some light pink linen napkins (bought at a garage sale for $3) to make the those flowers pop and added a white candle atop a small vintage dish...I do love some outdoor candle time. 

With fresh purple roses in mason jars to add another little pop of color and some nuts for quick snacks...the table was set and I could move on to food and drink prep.

Since I had whipped up my Sassy Sangria the night before, all I had to do was stir and cut up some fresh fruit for each glass.  I made a white and red batch since I wanted to make sure and provide some variety for my guests. The recipe is simple and always my go to drink for warm parties in a pinch.  All you need is....

-1  to 1 1/2 bottle of red or white wine (or you can make two separate batches like I did)
-1 to 2 cups Brandy
-24 ounces of Sprite (or Diet Sprite, Sierra Mist or any Lemon-Lime Soda...I just use a heavy pour)
-12 ounces of any juice of your choice (I used pineapple and again just went with a heavy pour)
-Lots of fresh fruit (raspberries, strawberries, oranges, peaches, pineapple...)

Mix all the ingredients together, stir and let it sit overnight.  I save extra fruit to add to each glass with ice prior to guests arriving.  It takes five minutes or less...and is gone just as fast!

With the sangria ready to go, a water station set up outside near our table (I like to stay hydrated) I was ready to prep my snack table.  The dining room table was our "buffet" of sorts, so with risers, table cloths and my serving dishes, I got it all set up.

I wanted the fare to be light and easy, this party was really in a pinch and therefore, time was of the essence.  I decided to go with easy , low prep foods.   To start, a no nonsense cheese (brie and smoked Gouda)  and cracker platter (an assortment of Trader Joe's finest).   I whipped out some Caprese stackers (Buffalo mozzarella, organic beefsteak tomatoes and fresh chopped organic basil with a drizzle of balsamic) as I know they are a crowd favorite.  I also made some fresh guacamole on the fly using avocados, garlic, Mexican seasoning and hot far so good.  With a few cocktail cups filled with nuts and olives, we were set!  Not to mention the girls brought some treats as well so as usual, there was food a plenty!

My favorite non-vegan treat..cheese!
Check out those stackers....yummo!
Easy, two second guac...

The evening was a total success!  Not only was I so thrilled to showcase my beautiful home (despite not being close to done) but also to make a toast and thank these strong women for helping me get through each week..because frankly, sometimes I didn't think I would make it.  But alas, not only did I make it, but I hosted a great start of summer party in a pinch!  Looking forward to many more to come.

Are you planning a party in a pinch this upcoming 4th of July?  Let us know what you have planned!

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