Fall Party Idea – Lumberjack Style!

 

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Fall parties are the best.  The more rugged the better, in my opinion.

Do you have anyone in your life that can take scraps, odds and ends, and turn them into something magical? Because..I have about 4 of those types of people in mine.  My mom and her three sisters amaze me with what they can dream up with minimal resources.

My brother turned 18 last week, and all he asked for was to be outside with his friends by a campfire.  What was birthed from there was a party fit for teens and family alike – lumberjack style!  There were beards, axes, flapjacks and flannel.

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In lieu of presents, guests were asked to bring a piece of wood.  I love that! It set the tone of the gathering, and I’m sure the teenage boys were relieved to not have to pick out a gift.

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The dutch oven hung over the campfire was a great touch.  It was hanging from a campfire tripod.  I’m not sure if it was actually filled with anything, but hot apple cider would be perfect!

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As soon as all the guests arrived and were socializing in soccer chairs, hammocks, and mats on the ground, flapjacks were served.  Such an easy and fun appetizer.

Shortly after, they were ready to dig into some “real food.”

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Nothin’ like eating straight off the grill!

 

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The cleaver stuck in the wood board adds to the theme, and is oh so manly.


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As you can see, flannel from the fabric store makes a lovely table cloth, and an old metal truck is the perfect holder for “firewood”…I mean pretzels.

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No 18th birthday party is complete without a fun backdrop for photos and selfies. Cardboard trees covered in felt, log fabric, and woodsy decor did the trick.  lumberjack5

And of course, you can’t take your selfie without a paper beard and fur hat! Having a box full of props brings out the “silly,” which is great for getting guests to relax and have fun.

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To end the evening, they all enjoyed a wood stump cake.  This is 6 layers of cakey goodness covered in chocolate.  I’m not sure I could pull this one off on my own, but it’s adorable nonetheless.

Hopefully this sparked some ideas for any fall gatherings you might be planning.  If at all possible, keep it outdoors!  Don’t worry about how your house looks.  Just light a fire, roast some marshmallows, and enjoy the crisp air with good food and even better friends.

Have a great week!

Steph

 

 

Friday Finds – Gluten Free Goodness

I have been sans gluten for 18 months and have grown accustomed to “living without.” Of course that is until I come face-to-face with donuts, onion rings, and pretty much anything fried and delicious.  So, when I come across a gluten free recipe that actually tastes awesome, I cannot keep it to myself.  I thought I might share some of my favorite gluten free recipes with you today.

Some of these have been recommendations from friends, others I have happily stumbled upon.

  1. Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes – I have searched high and low for a hashbrown casserole that didn’t include “cream of whatever” soup, and this one not only checks that box, but it really delivers in the flavor department. It’s creamy, cheesy, and oh so delicious. Use fresh parmesan – it makes it!
  2. Chuys Creamy Jalapeño Dip – If you like things a little spicy, this is the dip for you! Enjoy with chips, roasted potatoes, or even atop grilled chicken.
  3. 5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili – This is a great fall recipe.  It has some spice to warm you up, and leaves you feeling full and satisfied.  Don’t forget to serve it topped with cilantro and diced avocado.
  4. Soft and Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – So, I have tried my fair share of GF cookies, and these are by far the closest to the real deal in my opinion. I may have eaten 2/3 of the batch.
  5. Raw Brownies – These are really yummy and actually good for you! My whole family loves them and I don’t feel guilty for indulging in several of them.

All of these recipes can be enjoyed if you are avoiding gluten…or not!

Enjoy!

Steph

The Insecure Woman’s Guide to Entertaining

 

We’ve all experienced it:  the dinner party where the host has thought of everything…from the themed menu, all the way down to the organic, environmentally responsible candle lit in the powder room.

I am always so impressed by this, probably because this is something that does not come so naturally to me.  I admire those that can pull this type of gathering off: their drive and the sheer amount of things they are able to accomplish in half the time it takes me to think, “what was I just doing?”

I’m a laid back person in general, but now that I’m eight months pregnant, I’m venturing into “just plain lazy” territory.  My home is rarely company-ready, and even when it is, it is far from perfect.

I have insecurities about inviting people into my home sometimes, but if I let that stop me, I will miss out on a huge blessing.  So here are a few of my thoughts on how to entertain when you are not feeling like super woman.

My main goal: just keep it simple.

 

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 Food

  • The slow cooker is your friend.  Seriously, it takes minimal effort and does the work for you.  Throw a roast, potatoes, carrots, and beef broth in there; then 8 hours later, it might as well be beef bourguignon prepared by Julia Child herself…or something close to that.  This recipe has been my go-to many times when I have company.
  • For a simple appetizer, create an Antipasto Platter.  These are great because they require no actual cooking, just assembling.  You could even delegate this job to your spouse or kids if they are feeling creative.
  • Lastly, do not underestimate the power of Pizza.  I have yet to meet someone who does not like pizza.  Order from your favorite delivery place and call it a day.

Decor

  • No need to go out of your way to dress up your home.  I’ll be honest, if it’s last minute company, I have a twinge of “oh no! they are gonna see the real deal” and “why can’t I get myself together!”  I think most people are relieved when they walk into a home that feels “lived in” and normal.  I think having a humble, yet loving home is a huge asset in setting people at ease.
  • Clean, but just remember, it does not have to be perfect.  Focus on the kitchen and sitting area in the living room.  A clean kitchen makes the food more appetizing, and being on a comfy couch without having to brush the crumbs off your back side when you stand up is relaxing.  Do a quick wipe down in the bathroom and you’re good to go. Just don’t offer to give a tour of the rest of the house and be sure to close those bedroom doors!
  • Don’t apologize about the things in your home you don’t like.  Chances are, your guests won’t even notice.

Focus

  • Focus on your guests.  The purpose of having people into your home is not to impress them with your cooking, or make them envy your impeccable style.  It is about loving people in an intimate setting that communicates, “you are important  and I want you to leave feeling poured into and loved.”
  • Don’t worry about the dishes.  Sit and linger at the table awhile after dinner.  Or better yet, use paper plates.  Your guests will appreciate your presence so much more than fine china.
  • Be intentional about your conversation.  If chatting doesn’t come easy to you, focus on asking about the other person.  Be curious about what they are interested in and passionate about.

Entertaining is just a fancy word for showing kindness to people by opening up your home and inviting them into your imperfect life.  Don’t be intimidated by all the ways you feel you “don’t measure up,” but instead, embrace reality and all the wonderful ways God has made you.  You have a ton to offer…perfect home or not!

Enjoy your week, and invite someone in!

Steph