Monday, February 25, 2013

My Oscar Party ~ 85th Annual Academy Awards

I really can't tell you why or how my obsession with awards shows began, but as long as I can remember, I have always loved watching celebrities win statues. Whether I am watching the Grammy's or the MTV Movie awards (not counting the past five years, which have been pretty lackluster in my opinion.) I love the glamour, the speeches and the performances. The Oscars are by and large my favorite awards show. Most people don't care about the Oscars and actually find it pretty boring. I think of it as my Super Bowl. Ironically I find the Super Bowl boring and I only watch it for the commercials and half-time show. This year I decided that I wanted to take my Oscar Party to a new level. I have had parties in the past that were fairly low key. This go round I wanted to decorate and have games as well as make some more tasty treats for my guests. Thank goodness for Pinterest (as always) for helping a sister out!

For the games I was able to print out Oscar Bingo and Oscar Ballots from the Academy Awards Website.

Source: via Tiffany on Pinterest

I also made the Moet Silver Screen Punch. I chose not to spend the money on Moet and substituted my favorite cheap champagne instead. Everyone liked the punch so I recommend subbing out if you don't want to spend $40 on a bottle of champagne.

Everyone had a great time playing Bingo and waiting to see if their nominees won. My cousin Danna won in Bingo (as well as best dressed.)

I won the ballot game, because most of my nominees (some were lucky guesses) won! 11 out of 24 aren't bad odds!

I had also printed out these really fun Oscar Fashion Scorecards.

I think most people's favorite was the "No you Din-en't!" category (Worst Dressed). We had alot of fun with the "Picante (Hot, Hot, Hot!) category as well. As always there were some gorgeous gowns and jewelry.

I bought some of my decorations from a card and party store, but I wanted to be crafty with my decor too. I don't get crafty often enough in my adult life so it was nice to "create" some cute things to accent my party. I felt like my Oscar party would not be complete without some actual Oscars, so I made these:

Theresa won "most lovable/fun"

I had to hot glue mine in a few places, which was not in the instructions. Everyone liked the statuettes and they made great party favors (that some people took home) as well as fun photo props.

Everyone wins at my party!

  I also made these cute stars:

 And these "Sparkly Votives"

I used the cupcake toppers from this pin:

And the wine charms from this site:

I used these tags for my "swag bags."

I found directions to make my envelope napkins here:

For the food (my favorite part) I made Copycat Applebee’s Artichoke and Spinach Dip. I haven't eaten at Applebee's, but when I read the ingredients I figured this would be a yummy dip and I love anything that involves chips and dip.

For the main dish I wanted something easy, yet delicious so I pulled out my old trusty crockpot and made these Slow Cooked Pulled  Pork Sandwiches:

These were so good and so easy! the hardest part for me was shredding the pork. I used  one bottle of Stubb's Spicy and one bottle of Stubb's Sweet Heat. I was really pleased and all my guests seemed to like it too.

For dessert I made Inside-out Chocolate Filled Strawberries:

I definitely liked these better than chocolate covered strawberries. The author of the blog post makes a great point that when they are covered most of the chocolate falls off after your first bite. With these you aren't wasting the precious chocolate and they are cleaner to eat.

I also made these "Red Carpet" cookie balls. (I re-named them for the Oscars.) I had two different recipes to choose from. One was the cookie balls and one was for cake balls and because the cake balls required me to make cake and was a little more labor intensive I chose the easy road:

I had my doubts about this recipe. I thought taking the easy road was going to leave me with a crappy dessert. If you have a food processor, this recipe becomes even easier.

These balls looked kind of gross but I forged ahead.

The hardest part was coating them in chocolate.

You can not believe my shock when everyone went on and on about how good these were. My family members asked me to make these for every holiday from here on out. I guess easy roads do pay off sometimes!

We ended the night with "Dirty Shirleys" I recommend this drink because they are easy to make and taste very good. I did not use cherry vodka, I used plain old Absolut and everyone  liked them.

The party was a great success. A few of my guests were really excited about The Oscars, while some could care less, they just wanted to come to my party. The games kept everyone engaged in the awards ceremony, the food kept everyone happy and the drinks just helped us have a good time. Even though my swag bags didn't have anything expensive in them, (movie candy, Cracker Jacks, funny magnets, pens, Marilyn Monroe and Breakfast at Tiffany's stationary and cute post-its) everyone seemed pleasantly surprised to receive a goody bag. I never really thought about it, but it seems only kid parties supply goody bags. Well that is a shame! Adults like goody bags too! 

I feel like I really out did myself this year, which was my goal. I can't wait to try to top this party next year!

 My husband and fur baby were partied out.
 My mom and dad.
I won best hostess!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach and Mushroom and Spinach Frittata With Smoked Gouda

Last week I tried two new recipes off of my pin boards. The first was Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Go out there and make a change!

If you've looked through my archives you know I love a good New Year's post. I am a little more late this year than I prefer but oh well. Better late than never, right?

2012 was pretty sweet. One of my proudest achievements last year was going form 169 pounds down to 145. One thing that really helped me was a "Biggest Loser" competition at work that was money motivated. I won a few weeks but ultimately I was not the overall winner. I still felt like a winner though because I went from a size 12 to a size 6. Buying a whole new wardrobe wasn't easy on my wallet, but it sure was nice to need to buy smaller clothes. It was also nice not to buy clothing based on hiding flaws. Wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses without the accompaniment of a cardigan to hide my flabby arms was exciting. Once I was even asked if I had been working out because of my new found triceps and biceps. That felt awesome. In the past few months (Freaking holidays!) I have gained back 7 pounds. That doesn't seem like much when you think about the number, but I have learned that the scale is really not my friend. A lot of times in my journey to lose weight I would get so mad because the numbers were not reflective of all the work I had put in. Conversely, my weight gain feels like more than 7 pounds because my body mass has changed. You know the phrase: muscle weighs more than fat. It kills me! When I weighed my self on January 2nd I wasn't as let down with myself as when I measured my chest, biceps, thighs, waist (the hardest area of my body to control) and hips. The amount of inches I had gained really sucked!

So, I started working out again. Last year the majority of my success was due to Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I hate gyms and I hate group workouts. I chose to try videos because I can't be too self concious all by my self and I wanted to have less reasons to talk my self out of working out. I also chose 30 Day Shred because I knew that I could make myself get through thirty minutes without giving up. It was really hard at first, but as the days went by I felt stronger and stronger and I was gaining confidence. For about ten years I had been in the double digit sizes, topping out at a 12 that was beginning to feel snug. For years I wanted to lose weight, I just didn't want to take action. I am so glad that I finally did. There is a real power that I felt knowing that I, and I alone, was changing my body. It reminded me of being a kid and playing with play-doh. You can make your body look however you want to with enough effort. Unfortunately I did not reach my goal last year. My goal was to either get down to 130 pounds (which is optimal for my 5'3" frame. 120 would be awesome, but I thought that was really stretching it.) or I wanted to have a flat stomach. Whichever I reached first would make me feel satisfied. I had a much smaller belly at 145, but there was still a little pooch. For the first time in ten years I felt confident enough to wear a bikini. I felt self conscious sometimes while wearing the bikini, but I had worked hard and I felt like a bikini was part of what I had seen as a goal when this all started.

Besides working out, another tool that really helped me along the way was  MyFitnessPal. I had read many times before that keeping a food journal is a great way to be accountable for what you eat. I find that this app/website takes a huge amount of guesswork out of tracking your food, nutrition, calories, fat, etc. Also, when food was broken down in numbers for me, I began to think twice about if eating  (or drinking) a certain "bad" thing was worth it. If you work out for 30 minutes and burn off 180 calories, you begin to respect the calories and the effort it takes to reduce them.

I am still going to chase the same goal as last year. While I am not happy about gaining those seven pounds, I am very grateful that that I get to have a 17 pound head start from where I began this time last year. I am proud that I was able to at least keep 17 out of the 24 pounds I lost last year off . Before I had begun my weight loss journey washing my hair was beginning to feel like a strenuous activity. That was when I knew I could not keep on the same path I was on for the rest of my life. Through working out and making better eating choices I feel so much better, not just because I look better and have more confidence. I appreciate my body more because I know it is strong and healthy and capable of so much. I have more energy and I found that working out really helped affect my mood and stress levels.

This year one thing that I am attempting, loosely, is the Paleo Diet. If you are wondering, what is the Paleo  Diet, click here.  Last year my pin boards, Fitness Goals and Healthy Eats really helped me along the way. In that respect I started a board called Paleo. I am not going in 100% on the Paleo diet at this time, but I am following it as closely as possible. I am making the changes I can live with and if I want some greek yogurt or a few chips now and then I am going to go with it. I basically don't want to geet so rigid with it that I end up going on a binge of all the things I can't have. I plan to update once a month on my weight loss stats here. I feel confident that I will be sharing some good news with you all around a month from now! If you are on quest to lose weight I hope some of what I have shared will help you. Please feel free to comment of contact me if you have questions or need encouragement. I am not an expert, but I know how frustrating being overweight is. Hell, at my lowest weight I was still considered over weight for my height. That really sucked when I felt I had come so far. If you are having a hard time being or staying motivated, I want to share with you one thing that became my mantra last year:

Happy New Year Everybody! Make 2013 a great one!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I had to clean a microfiber couch and I ran out of Febreze!

Well, I had low expectations for blogging during the holidays, but sometimes you really need to use a pin that you know is on one of your boards. Case in point:

 That small little dog right there is a pig! She scarfs down snacks really fast so I like to get her these Rollhide Busy Bones by Purina . It takes her while to eat the whole thing which is good. What is not good is that when I am not paying attention she likes to eat these on "her" comfortable, micro fiber couch. That white crud looks nasty and I couldn't ignore it any more. The first pin I came across on my boards was this one:

I followed the link to the original post and followed the directions. I was pretty pleased with the results and I only did a half way job of things. After the fact I found this pin that I also had on one of my boards:

There were things I learned from this pin that I had not learned from the first one. Eventually I think I am going to do a more thorough cleaning of my couch, but for now I am happy with the outcome.

I tried one more thing today. I know a lot of you have pinned this one too. I was all out of Febreze. I have been waiting to run out so that I could try my hand at this:

There was one difference though. I have a 16.9 Fluid Ounce bottle that I wanted to use. I read through the comments on the blog and saw some other people had the same dilemma. There were suggestions to use half the amount of liquid fabric softener and baking soda. So to help you skip a step, 1/16th cup is equivalent to 1 tablespoon. I used Snuggle Exhilarations White Lavender and Sandalwood and I am satisfied with the results. I am even more satisfied that I didn't have to go to the store to buy more Febreze!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fantasy Fudge Update

I wrote about Fantasy Fudge in December of 2009 here.

I recently made a pin for it:

So, what I should have said in the previous post