Friday, May 8, 2009

Private Quarters Party

I hosted a Private Quarters party last night. I had been to a couple and decided to host my own to share the wonderful products with more people. Several ladies in my circle of friends are familiar with Private Quarters, so we keep having the parties to provide each other the opportunity to purchase items on our wish lists.

My theme for the evening was Tuscan…..When I looked up Tuscan foods I discovered the dishes included a lot of beans and meat….not what you generally think of when you think “Italy”, so I went off the menu a bit and had things that were simple and easy.

Mainly I opened up a bunch of packages and jars.

I purchased some Classico brand bruchetta, and I served with Garlic and Parmesan toasts I got from Publix. The bread slices were very hard, but after spreading the Bruchetta on and allowing it to sit for a bit it was very chewy.

I used a long skinny basket I've had for years to fashion a centerpiece. I used a tupperware container in one end to hold some crackers. I draped a cloth napkin over the tupperware to hide it. In the other side of the basket I used a couple of small silk ivey bushes.

I used my “Taste of Home” appetizer server/cake server to hold some fresh fruit and I mixed up some Ricotta Fruit Dip in my blender. Mix ½ cup low fat ricotta cheese; 4 oz. cream cheese, softened; 3 T. orange juice; 2 T. powdered sugar in the blender. Add mixture to one 6 oz. container vanilla low fat yogurt. Stir well and transfer to serving bowl. Serve with cut up fruit.

For the marinated mozzarella I took a pound and a half of cheese and sliced it into chunks. I mixed up 6-8 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 T. chopped basil ( I used dried, but the recipe called for fresh), ½ t. crushed red pepper, and ¼ t. ground sea salt. I put the cheese in my serving bowl and drizzled the olive oil mixture over it. Very pretty…very good.
The chickpea salad came from the Publix deli.
I also sliced up some salami and had some garlic and herb cheese spread for the crackers.
Lemon Glazed Poundcake from the Publix bakery.

We had tea and coffee to drink, and since the invites stated I would have wine (the Private Quarters representative did the invites for me) I picked up a bottle each of white and red suitable for light appetizer fare including fruits.

I purchased Beringer California collection. The red wine was actually a white merlot (2007). The white was a Moscato (2008) and the label states it is a floral-scented wine with the aroma of honeysuckle and fruity flavors.

It was not to be, however. I didn’t have any takers for a glass of wine, so hubby and I will enjoy it over the weekend as we finish off the leftovers.

Our tea....
Savory Spinach and Cheese bites from the freezer section....

....and some coffee all set up and ready to go if someone wanted it.

Here are some of the party guests:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dinner for Nine

My husband and I are members of a small fellowship group from our church. There are nine members….four men and five women, or four couples and one widow. We get together once a month for dinner, fellowship, prayer, and the host always provides some type of Bible lesson or devotion.

We’ve been members of the group since last August, but my health concerns over the last few months have kept us from hosting until our March meeting.

I wanted everything to be “just so”, and it was.

Since none of us have a dining table that seats nine we usually have a men's table and a ladies' table.

Here are some shots of the ladies' on each image for a better view.

The table cloth was white linen from Ralph Lauren...found on sale at Kohls. I got such a good deal with the cloth that I purchased the matching white napkins as well. The placemats are also from Ralph Lauren. I found them for $2.00 each at Dillards right after Christmas....they had been $25!

The glassware came from Target.

I wish I could say the gold silverware is mine, but it is available to me when I need it. It belongs to my sister. I'm thinking I may ask for my own set for next Christmas. Isn't it looked great with the gold dishes.

The flower pots in the middle of the table were purchased at Michaels...on sale. I had worried I would have too much white with the table covering being white, the white pots and flowers.....

To break the white I purchased some brown laquered nesting boxes that came in four sizes. I ordered two sets, so I would have plenty of different options. I opted for using one box in the middle and two boxes underneath each pot on the outside.

The butterflies were also found at Michaels....the butterfly just happens to be the women's symbol of the group we belong to. I had thought about purchasing some gold napkin rings and wrapping the wire the butterflies were on around the ring, but opted instead just to nest one butterfly in each arrangement.

I have printed roman shades to go on my French doors, but haven't gotten them up yet.....I'm going to miss all the light early in the morning when they do go up. Notice the kitty by door.....

Here's a better shot of the flower arrangements down the middle of the table.

I also found gold covered placecard holders at Michaels in the wedding section. I printed out the everyone's name on cardstock and then cut them to fit the frame. The cardholders are just paper/cardboard and pretty cheap, so I believe I'll purchase some mini-frames next time to hold the cards.

I have several cut glass votive holders, so to place a little candlelight at each place I put a votive holder in front of each place setting. Instead of regular votives I used gold colored ones. The votives work the best because I don't have to worry about messing up my candleholders with wax.

For dessert we had Key Lime Cake. No......I didn't make it. I bought it at a local bakery. It was very good. Lots of good lime taste with a lemon curd filling. Yum!

Here's a shot of the men's table I set up in the Great Room. I tried to stick to manly colors and no fru-fru.

The folding table was purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond. It is all wood. The top of the table is a leather inset with a wooden frame around it. It was just too lovely and manish to cover, so I opted for placemats only in a dark red tone.

The napkins were ringed, and I just sat them inside the salad bowl.

Every place had a green plate, but I alternated my green and dark red salad bowls. I placed a hurricane lamp in the middle of the table with brown tones.

For dinner we had a marinated pork loin, asparagus with hollandaise, salad, wild rice, crescent rolls, and the key lime cake.

Playing the Coupon Game...Again

I used to use coupons all the time when I shopped for groceries, however, when I worked a full-time job I got away from the practice. Now that I’m home again and with the economy being like it is I’ve decided to become a coupon professional again.

I used coupons on 4-11-09 at my local Publix. My total purchase was $137.07, and my ticket indicates a total savings of $37.46 which breaks down to $7.50 store coupons, $12.95 vendor coupons, $16.49 advertised special savings, and $0.52 advantage buy savings.

I visited my local Kroger this past Saturday….5-2-09. My total purchase was $186.10, and my ticket indicates a total savings of $53.62 which breaks down to $16.65 manufacturer’s coupons, $1.80 bonus coupon savings, $35.17 store coupons and Kroger Plus Savings.

One thing I like about the Kroger receipt that I didn’t get with Publix was the number of items purchased….I purchased 67 items at Kroger.

Another thing....while I'm impressed by what I save using my Kroger Plus card or buy purchasing the bonus buys at Publix, I don't really gauge my savings on those items. Seems like they jack up the price and then lull you into thinking you are actually saving something. I tend to use the manufacturer coupon amount as a sign that I've really done well at the store. The rest seems like gravy.

These four sites came up as the top four Google sites when I searched for “grocery coupons”.

Coupons from – this is the site for the company that prints the coupons I receive in my Sunday paper.

The Grocery Game
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