Tag Archives: Party

Busy, Busy, Busy

Standard

Good morning, blends!

I’m penning this post on Tuesday morning, though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to publish it. We have not had Internet since Friday afternoon, hence my accidental hiatus from Sarcasm. But let me back up a bit…

On Thursday, I took my two final exams(!); afterward, a bunch of my classmates and I went out for margs and bottomless chips and salsa. I was so excited to come home, I could barely sleep. In fact, I woke up at 7:00 Friday morning, already packed and rarin’ to go.

Friday evening, Ian, my sister Caroline, and I went out to dinner at one of my all-time favorites to celebrate: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro!

DSCN0275

Probably no one out there is totally Chang’s-obsessed like I am, but I have literally dreamt about the Ma Po Tofu, the spring rolls, and the lettuce wraps.

Then, we celebrated a little more. A few of my favorite ladies from college came over to Ian’s apartment, toting Bitch Bubbly and PBR.

IMG_0076[1]

I downed more moscato than I care to admit; if it’s in the name of celebrating the end of one’s second year of grad school, it doesn’t count, right? 😉

Saturday we slept in until the very great hour of 9:00 (ha!) before heading to my house to help my parents put the finishing touches on their Kentucky Derby party. This was one of my dad’s Bucket List items, complete with an electronic spreadsheet betting system, enormous hats, and tables laden with fancy finger food.

DSCN0289

DSCN0292

DSCN0283

I placed $1 bets on Overanalyze (true to my nature) and Orb (not just saying that because he won!), respectively, and won $16.40! By the start of the race I believe there was over $220 in the pot. The big winner was one of my neighbors, who won $82 on Orb. I’m not a gambler, typically, but I could easily see how this behavior becomes addictive…

It was early to bed for all of us after a long but exciting weekend.

Sunday, it was cool and breezy downright freezing here in Richmond, but we decided to hit Arts in the Park at Dogwood Dell anyway, and we dragged Ian along. I always enjoy seeing all the different vendors’ wares, like homemade soaps and candles, handspun pottery, local artists’ tapestries, and jewelry made from natural Virginia materials.

We ate an early snacky dinner from leftover picnic and party food, and crashed in front of Myrtle Manor. Have you seen that show?!

Yesterday, we had a bit of a incredibly lazy slow start, but we (my mom, my sister and I) finally made it to the gym. I had planned to run a light 5k in preparation for the Susan Komen 5k on Saturday, but I started cramping so badly around one mile that I only made it through two. Perhaps a do-over is in order.

Well, blends, I guess that’s what I’m off to do. Hopefully you’ll be reading this soon. Ta ta!

Advertisements

Jumping on the Melted Snowman Bandwagon

Standard

Since everybody else this winter has been making melted snowman cookies… obviously, I needed to make them, too. I’ve seen them on blogs galore, and they are so stinkin’ cute!

DSCN0073

I started by baking 24 store-bought sugar cookies until they were just barely ready — I am not a fan of overdone cookies. The chewier, the better.

DSCN0071

DSCN0074

While they were baking, I worked on the marshmallow heads. For each cookie, I made one large marshmallow a simple face.

The very second the cookies were just cool enough to be touched without mussing the dough, I began working with a mix of room-temperature vanilla frosting and glazing with melted vanilla frosting. I found it easiest to spread the mixture with a brush to look like snow. I wanted the melted snow to look smooth like fondant, but I’m not much of a gourmand. (Yet!)

DSCN0075

DSCN0077

Of course, I tested one “body” out while I was frosting to see whether the colored icing would melt too much; it worked perfectly! The faces on the marshmallows didn’t slide down, the buttons and scarves and such didn’t melt into food-coloring puddles, and they really looked like melted snowmen!

Mom suggested I use coconut to look like freshly fallen snow, so Dad adorned 8 of the cookies with coconut flakes and nothing more. We decided on a “less is more” philosophy for the cookies farthest right. I tried my best to have no two snowmen be identical. Dad and I even attempted to make little frosting neckties, bowties, feet, and scarves flapping in the… wind?

DSCN0085

DSCN0087

Bear with me — I’m still learning how to use the Nikon I got for my birthday. But I’m happy as a clam, my hands smell like Betty Crocker frosting, our kitchen smells like sugar cookies and holiday cheer, and I am way. too. excited. to share these cookies with my extended family tomorrow at the annual Grady family Christmas gathering!

I know there are hordes of recipes out there to make these cookies more decorative and to make the frosting smoother and more snow-like, but as much as I’m a recipe-follower, sometimes I like to experiment in the kitchen. I haven’t actually tried a cookie, but I’m sure these will be a big hit — especially with the little ones. It always makes my heart sing when tinkering with a recipe or wingin’ it works out for me 😉

Have a marvelous weekend, blends!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Standard

Last night, the Lew Crew did something we’ve never done before as a family: we attended an improv comedy show! I was hoping it would be like Whose Line, but it was so much better! It was called Comedy Sportz, and it involved two three-person teams with a referee to determine the winner of various comedy challenges and skits. The improv involved lots of audience participation, including having text messages or Tweets read aloud onstage! Two of my texts were used, so I was thrilled. It was a family-friendly show, but there is also a not-so-appropriate show my sister and I would like to check out 😉 Can you say “fart jokes”?

Tonight, I’m ready for many more laughs at my godparents’ home, especially since my “godsister,” Mallory, has literally just returned from more than a year in Uganda building a school and working with orphaned children. I’m so excited to be able to share the news of my engagement with them (even though Ian won’t be in attendance), but I’m even more excited to hear the stories Mallory will have about the work she has been doing. Every year since I can remember, we have gotten together (sometimes with other close family friends of my godparents’) for brunch to catch up and to celebrate the reason for the season. This year, we’re doing dinner, and we’re doing it in style! My godbrother Taylor is whipping up his grill specialty — bleu burgers — which I am really excited to try. My godmother, Kathy, always has some of the best and the fanciest foods for us to sample.

Speaking of food in style…

We ate at Keagan’s Irish Pub last night. I resolved to make better meal choices at restaurants, so I started last night… or at least I tried. Instead of immediately choosing something creamy with a heavy pasta base, I let my eyes wander the menu. I ended up choosing the Celtic Chop Salad and a bowl of Virginia Beach’s Finest Shecrab Soup. Little did I know that the salad would probably have fed our party of five comfortably, or that the soup was the size of a UFO!

DSCN0030

DSCN0031

I even asked questions to try to gauge the size of what I was ordering… Nevertheless, my meal was incredible, and I even have leftovers for lunch today.

This afternoon, I am planning to get my first shellac manicure, something I’ve been wanting to treat myself to for awhile, but not an expense I could justify until every bit of my Christmas shopping was done and wrapped. My sister set the deadline for all presents being under the tree at 11:59 p.m. on December 23rd, and I’ll be ready 😉 I used to get acrylic nails done about every two weeks, but that’s not an expense I can justify at all anymore. Thirty dollars (or more) every time I turn around seems ridiculous to me — though I am ridiculously excited to have beautiful French tips for all of our upcoming holiday affairs! #FirstWorldProbs at their finest, amiright?

If you don’t do anything else on this blustery Saturday, my blends, do yourselves a favor and laugh!

Losing the Battle AND the War

Standard

Unless you have insanely good willpower or you have allergies to everything under the sun, for most of us the holidays are a two- to three-week period absolutely filled to the brim with scrumptious goodies just itching to give us saddlebag hips, a spare tire, or thunder thighs. At this time of year, there aren’t just one or two parties for me to cautiously navigate without exploding — there are more like 5 or 6. I’m not yet at the point where I have work holiday events (can I please stay a student forever?!), but that’s a bridge I’ll be crossing before too long.

I’m honestly convinced that I don’t have the willpower to say “no” to holiday delicacies, so I have a few party “rules” — I use that term loosely — by which I try to abide so I don’t feel like a total elephant (with my pants surreptitiously unbuttoned under the table) after each and every event. It’s not that I want to offend any of my relatives or family friends who have slaved over their treats; it’s that while I’m still on my weight-loss journey (with 36 more pounds to go…) I don’t want to take one step forward and two steps back. This is what I mean when I say I feel like I’m losing the battle and the war.

Here are my party rules:

(1) If you’re not sure there will be anything nutritious and the event is potluck, bring your own goodness! I’m always the first among my friends to volunteer to bring the veggie tray. I load a platter up with celery and carrot sticks, broccoli florets, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, cauliflower, and hummus. That way, if I start to feel overwhelmed by all the sugar, I can snack on my own provisions.

(2) Drink a glass of water before you arrive at the holiday party, and have another as soon as you’re settled in. If your stomach feels full of water, you won’t be as inclined to stuff your face with calories, carbs, and fatty guilt. Bonus! You can never go wrong with water, and hydrating yourself properly helps keep your digestive organs running smoothly so you don’t feel as sluggish after a big meal.

(3) This one I borrowed from my mom, but I’m claiming it as my own 😉 Don’t sample every single treat just because. If it’s Aunt Hilda’s world-famous fruitcake (gag me! Maybe someone out there somewhere likes fruitcake) or Cousin Marty’s secret eggnog recipe, then by all means. If you’re looking to cut a few corners, don’t eat what I call “everyday dishes” — chips and salsa, sodas, brownies, slice-and-bake sugar cookies, French onion dip, etc. Save your calories for special foods that aren’t available everywhere you go.

(4) If possible, fill a plate with dinner-type items first, and choose a separate, smaller plate for dessert items. If everything is piled together on one vessel, it may not look as if you’re consuming as much. If your salty and sweet items are separated by time and distance, it’s often easier to tell at a glance how much you’re eating and whether you really want four different types of fudge.

(5) When you feel full, stop eating. I know I am guilty at many events of feeling the need to clear my plate so as not to offend anyone, and because I feel compelled to sample everything. You’ve probably experienced that I-hope-I-don’t-barf-I’m-so-full feeling, and you don’t want to feel stuffed and miserable for the remainder of the party.

(6) Don’t stand by the food displays. Once you’ve put items on your plate, find somewhere else to munch and socialize. If you have to walk some distance to get back to the goodies, you’re less likely to pile your plate high again than if you were standing right next to them and could feed yourself practically from serving dish to mouth.

(7) After you eat, do something. Suggest that the group play a brain-teaser game, Apples to Apples, or a card game. If you simply sit for a few hours after eating, don’t be surprised if you feel drowsy or your eyes glaze over. Getting your brain buzzing will likely encourage your bod to move around a bit.

(8) If possible, exercise within a few hours of the event. Don’t fall into the health halo of “I exercised today so I can eat whatever I want,” but a good sweat sesh will raise your metabolism and energize you.

All that said, enjoy yourself this holiday season! Relish time with family and friends, and don’t stress yourself out about a cookie or two 😉

Why Did I Eat That Much?!

Standard

For the first year in about a decade, I actually ate turkey. I’m 98% sure we’re all sick to death of hearing about Thanksgiving and looking at other people’s Instagrammed turkeys, but I’m going to be cliché and blog about my Thanksgiving anyway, if for no other reason than that most families — with the possible exception of the Obamas — would be hard-put to have as ridiculously large a spread. I’d like to pretend that I’m not bragging, but I totally am. The Gradys and the Smiths put on one hell of a Thanksgiving celebration.

Let me back up to Thursday morning; we were to be out the door by 8:30 sharp, and somehow we met our goal. As I mentioned previously, we celebrate Thanksgiving at my mom’s oldest sister’s house, which is 3 hours from our house. With (miraculously) just one bathroom stop, we arrived around 11:45. I’m pretty sure Caroline and I were supposed to make ourselves useful, but we pretty much explored photo albums and socialized with our cousins. Finally, when all 16 of us were present and accounted for, we feasted. I tried to snap a few photos before my 20-year-old, 6-foot cousins devoured everything, but this is just a sampling:

A new addition by Gina, pizza dip (I will definitely be modifying and trying this recipe!)

Sylvia’s famous carrot cake, as well as pumpkin pie

Pecan pie, and my mom’s “magic cookie bars,” which I successfully recreated

Corn pudding, Gina’s deviled eggs, Sylvia’s sweet potato casserole, homemade cranberry sauce

Requisite mashed potatoes and gravy — literally, the best I’ve ever had!

There was whipped cream for the pies…

…but we were not lacking for anything, even so.

There were also collard greens, turnips, pickle and olive selections, cream cheese dip, creamy garlic dip, port wine cheese dip, country ham, frosted pumpkin bread, mini cranberry muffins, hot spiced apple cider, homemade dinner rolls… and probably more that I’m forgetting, as I’m still recovering from yesterday’s gluttony.

Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I ate until I could not eat anymore. I was terrified that as in Thanksgivings past, I wouldn’t have room for dessert, so I sampled almost all of them. Indulgence is both a blessing and a wicked curse. Thankfully, after our belly-bustin’ meal, everyone wanted to go see my cousin Bethany’s new house, so we (literally) piled 10 people into two cars and set off. If I had not walked up and down sets of stairs, climbed over piles of plywood and siding, and mozied around the yard, I would have lapsed into a food-induced coma. I am absolutely not ashamed that after my meager “exercise,” I returned to the food. After all, part of being grateful for all that I have is not insulting the cooks 😉

We finally decided to pack it up around 7:30, which put us home just after 11:00 last night. If I hadn’t still been so full, I would have been just the tiniest bit sorry to miss the last quarter of the ‘Skins-Cowboys game, which was in full swing when we departed:

Today, my sister and I are planning to venture out to do some Black Friday shopping. We are not those midnight-to-6 a.m. crazies, or the loonies who’ve been camped out for three days in front of Best Buy. Any deals I was hoping to catch will still be available around lunchtime or on Cyber Monday. For me, Christmas shopping on Black Friday is a rush, though the parking situation is a different kind of rush…

Needless to say — as evidenced by the above — I am thankful.

I hope your Thanksgiving was excellent! What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Loofah Lovin’

Standard

I may have mentioned obsessively a few times over the past few weeks that I have been ridiculously excited to finally wear my Halloween costume: a loofah! My boyfriend, Ian, and I bought the materials for the costume and actually created it two weeks ago. I showed pictures to anyone who would stand still long enough, and even accidentally had the picture on my phone passed around my Wednesday night class… But I was determined not to ruin the surprise on The Blog.

The boy and I headed to Farmville around 3:00 yesterday. We went to the science building to visit some of his old professors and check out the new equipment the department purchased shortly after he graduated. Then we headed to a Farmville favorite, Macado’s, for dinner and drinks with friends. Finally, it was time for me to don my costume.

I learned a few things about dressing up as a loofah.

Namely, when the weather is predicted to be in the mid-30s and windy, you should heed your Weatherbug app. It might as well have screamed at me, You’re going to be freezing your bubbles off tonight! but I still would have ignored it amidst my excitement. I did think far enough ahead to purchase a long-sleeved shirt to attach the tulle, and I wore matching opaque tights. Nevertheless… nearly every part of my body was numb when we finally called it a night.

As it turns out, when you attend a themed party at an all-male college, many of the party-goers won’t be familiar with a female-related bath item (i.e. “…what are you?”). I should have anticipated as much. I did, however, enjoy many of my friends’ and acquaintances’ facial expressions as they twisted their bodies around and mimed showering while they searched for the word loofah.

Ian was supposed to match me in a soap costume. We had even planned to plaster “We found Dove in a soapless place” on the front of his bar-of-soap costume. He farted around until the last minute, and as a result, he bought a reduced-price costume from Party City. I called him the Khaki Crusader because of his oversight that the costume did not include the black pants pictured. Next to someone in a completely unrelated costume, even fewer people will be able to identify a loofah.

We saw all manner of costumes last night: Kung Fu Panda, Indiana Jones, Michael Vick walking a “dog” (his girlfriend), the old man from Up, several very convincing white guys as Rastafarians, Mr. Gangnam Style, and even The Human Centipede. We also snuck in our tradition of snapping a few photos with one of Ian’s undergrad professors, who is also the fraternity’s advisor:

All in all, it was a fantastic night, even though we ended up forgoing our plans of staying in a friend’s room and driving back to Richmond at 2 a.m. On the way home, Ian and I reminisced about the night we met at his fraternity house, and all of the memories we created at each other’s schools. I decided that we are not too old to still dress up for themed parties, or to visit Hampden-Sydney and old friends. The time is rapidly approaching when we won’t know anyone there anymore, and we’ll be too busy with our adult lives to drop everything. We might as well soak it up now, right? 😉

P.S. What were you for Halloween? Did you attend or host a party?