Friday, December 26, 2014

New Years Party Tips

Throwing an awesome New Years bash at home is really quite simple with a few of my favorite tricks that I shared with Page Crawford on Good Day Carolinas:

Perfect Party Favors and Simple Decorations
o   Celebration in a Bottle.  The perfect way to ring in the New Year is by sending your guests home with a mini bottle of champagne.  These adorable favors can be found at your local wine store or ordered online and can be quite affordable if you are willing to settle for sparkling wine.  To dress up the bottle you can simply add a pretty ribbon or gift tag and you have the perfect New Years party favor.

o   Countdown to Decorations.  Don’t forget to literally ring in the New Year at your party.  Create a fun focal point near where you will be watching the countdown by setting out a number of clocks.  Set all of the clocks with alarms to go off at midnight.  The ringing of all of the bells simultaneously will get your crowd roaring!  Plus it will bring back fun memories of the opening scene of Back to the Future :-)

DIY Noise Makers
o   DIY Shakers.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on throwaway noisemakers this New Years, all you need are plastic containers and dry beans.  Here I’ve used old drink bottles that have been washed and dried then filled with dry beans.  To add a little decoration, I covered the bottles with black cardstock and added bright white ‘2015’ stickers.  Kids and adults alike will love using these simple shakers to make a little noise on New Years.

o   Countdown Balloons.  Another fun way to ring in the New Year is by popping confetti filled balloons!  All you will need are balloons, a permanent marker, a funnel and confetti. Use the funnel to fill each balloon with confetti and when the balloon is inflated use the permanent marker to write 2015 on it, or the hours leading up to the countdown if you plan to pop a balloon ever hour leading up to midnight.  Just be prepared to clean up the confetti! 

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter. 

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY Holiday Gifts

Holiday gift giving can be tough, picking out the right gift within your budget for your friends and family can be very time consuming.  And, it is officially last minute so you better get cracking!  Here are some sure-to-not-fail DIY holiday gifts you can put together yourself to make the process a bit more personalized:

Mason Jar Magic
o   A Jar Filled with Goodies.  When it comes to creative, reusable gift packaging, nothing beats a mason jar.  They are simply perfect.  Whether you are giving out homemade peppermint bark, store-bought cookies or a year supply of lip balm and lotion, a mason jar makes the perfect container.  Simply fill the jar with your chosen treat, twist on the top and add a cute bow.  It is simply magic.

Relaxation in a Bag
o   At Home Pamper Kit.  Give your overworked girlfriends the gift of a relaxing evening with a beautiful bottle of bubble bath and a comfy new nightshirt.  You can even add a few chocolates, a candle or a new pair of slippers.  The options are only limited by your budget, which makes this the perfect gift ideal for any budget!

Family Fun Night
o   Cookie Baking Kits.  If you are looking for a small gift the whole family can enjoy together, or you have a friend who loves to bake, create a cooking baking kit.  All you need is a cookie mix or recipe, decorations and a cute cookie cutter.  This gift is also perfect for any budget from $5 to $100 and will help the recipient make some fun holiday memories.  TIP:  This is also the perfect gift to send to family across the country that you won’t be able to spend the holidays with – it will give them a little taste of home.

Accessory Loving Wine Lady
o   Wine and Socks.  If you have a girlfriend or buddy who has a bit of a sock addiction, go ahead and feed it!  Find a nice bottle of wine and a pair of fun knee-high socks and wrap the bottle with the socks.  Simply place the bottle inside one sock and use the other to tie a cute bow around the neck of the bottle.  Your friend will think of you while they are enjoying the wine and every time they wear their new favorite socks.

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter. 

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Holiday Gift Wrapping Tips

It is that time of year again when many of us spend painful hours wrapping gifts, waiting in line at the mall to have someone wrap them for us or bargaining with our spouse to wrap everything.  Here are some of my favorite holiday gift-wrapping tips to make your wrapping a little easier, cuter and even cheaper:

Make Your Wrapping Paper do Double Duty
o   DIY Bows.   Even if you aren’t terribly crafty, it is easy to make your own gift bow out of wrapping paper.  Simply take the strip of paper leftover from wrapping your gift, fold it in half lengthwise and cut ½ to 1 inch strips, leaving ~1/2 inch of uncut paper at the fold.  Then use scissors to curl each strip like a piece of ribbon and tape your adorable bow to your package.  This is the perfect way to use every scrap of wrapping paper and make you look like a wrapping pro.

Gift Wrapping on the Cheap
o   Free Gift Tags and Inexpensive Bags.  Any good penny pincher will reuse gift bags until they literally fall apart, but if your supply runs low, don’t forget to watch for sales throughout the year.  You would be amazed not only at what is 50% off the day after Christmas that you can use for any gift, but you may also find that in the Spring beautiful green bags perfect for Christmas will be 50% off.  So stock up!  You can also save a few bucks on gift tags by repurposing old Christmas cards.  You can use the old stash of Christmas cards you’ve never sent or even the card you received in the mail from your dentist.  Simply cut out the portion of the card you’d like to use, punch a hole in the top corner and add a small piece of ribbon or string.  

Festive Paper Bags
o   Rudolf the Red Nosed Paper Bag.  If you have paper lunch bags lying around the house, put them to good use as ‘free’ gift bags.  All you need are two candy canes, two googlie eyes and one red pompom.  Simply cut two holes for the candy canes near the top of the bag, tape the candy canes to the inside of the bag and glue on the eyes and pompom. You can easily personalize your Rudolf bags by adding the recipient’s name at the bottom.  This is a simple, fun, candy-filled way to dress up the presents under your tree.

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter. 

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Papa Spud’s Experiment: Week 1

The Papa Spud's Experiment: Week 1

A while back I was asked if I would be interested in teaming with Papa Spud’s, a farm to fork delivery service connecting over 50 local farmers and artisans with tons of lucky Triangle residents.  I of course said yes because I’ve often toyed with the idea of signing up for such a service but I’ve never pulled the trigger.  So here goes!

I will warn you that you should not expect anything earth shattering in my next few Papa Spud’s, just a busy Chick’s tips to work more fresh local produce onto my family’s plates.  And yes, you’ll learn lots of fun facts about my lack of knowledge about a few, ok a lot, of veggies :-)

Week 1 was quite exciting – getting to pick the contents of our box and then the excitement of the delivery of the first box.  Honestly, it was ridiculously exciting.  I will admit it was also a little daunting.  I love to cook, but with our busy schedules I do not get the chance too nearly as much as I’d like to so the pressure of using all of these fabulous veggies before they go bad is not to be underestimated.
The beautiful box

Here are the beautifully lush contents of said first box:

My first Papa Spud's box 'o yumminess

Step one on Wednesday night was of course to figure out what was what.  Seriously.  I had to look a couple of things up…

Step two, chop some veggies.  It is much easier to grab a healthy snack if it is prepped and ready to go so the first task I tackled was chopping up some carrots and cucumbers:

My exceptional chopping skills on display ;-)

The carrot sticks and cucumbers were perfect for my work lunches and with all of that baby bok choy I knew the chopped carrots would be perfect for stir fry.

Friday night was the first time I cooked with any of the veggies.  I made two super simple side dishes:

Roasted red potatoes (cubed and roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary)

My favorite and easiest side dish - roasted red potatoes

Sautéed spinach (sautéed with olive oil and garlic)
Sautéing like a champ

On Sunday night I hade the most fun, I decided to tackle the baby bok choy.  While I love bok choy, I have never purchased nor cooked it before so I was of course nervous.  I started easy and worked it into a simple stir fry:
My new favorite stir fry

Bok Choy Pad Thai Stir Fry (baby bok choy and carrots sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and pad thai sauce, served over rice)

You can very easily add chicken, beef, shrimp or really anything you like.

The leftovers then became lunch for work on Monday :-) :
Leftovers - time and $ saver

I think that’s a pretty darn good start for my first 5 days!  If you have any fun recipes you want me to try, send them my way:

Until next time,
aka Chick #1

P.S. A HUGE Clueless Chick thank you to the lovely ladies at Clairemont Communications for connecting us and of course an even bigger thank you to Papa Spud's for the box 'o yumminess!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Perfect Hostess Gift

If you are going to a holiday party this weekend, or staying with a friend of a few days, don’t forget to take a Hostess Gift with you so that you’re sure to be invited back next year.  I shared some fun and creative hostess gift idea with Page Crawford on Good Day Carolinas:

The Gift of Time
o   Dishes are on Me!   What could be better than giving your hostess the gift of time and dirty dish avoidance.  Wrap up a set of paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic silverware to give to your hostess so that the night after the party they won’t have to wash a single dish.  TIP:  This is also the perfect gift for new parents or a friend who has just moved!

Unsung Heroes, I Mean Hosts
o   Gifts for the Rest of the Family.  When you think of a hostess gift, chances are you are thinking of what you can buy for the lady of the house.  But what about the man of the house or their cute little toddler who surely had a lot to do with their party prep (or at least stayed out of the Hostess’ way as she frantically saw to all of the last minute details).  Pick up a Beer Tasting Kit for your beer loving host, or an adorably festive holiday barrette from Lilly Mac Creations for your littlest hostess.  These handmade barrettes are made by a NC mom and could not be any cuter!

Dress up a Bottle of Wine
o   Wine and Socks.  A bottle of wine is of course the most traditional of hostess gifts and for a wine lover it is the perfect choice.  But don’t show up with a naked bottle, dress it up!  Pick up a pair of Fun knee-high socks that your hostess will love, place the bottle inside one sock and use the other to tie a cute bow around the neck of the bottle.  It’s a cute, green, functional and FUN way to wrap!

For all of my tips pick up your own copy of my Tips for the Clueless Chick books and follow the Clueless Chick on Facebook and Twitter. 

Until next time,
aka Chick #1