Saturday, November 15, 2014

Themed Party Ideas

Next time you get together with friends, you should consider changing things up and throwing a themed party. It can take an ordinary birthday, graduation party, or dinner event to a whole new level. Make it memorable with any of these tips below.

And be sure to party often! Life is short; celebrate every chance you get! It doesn't have to be the big events in life or major holidays that give you a reason to enjoy life. Look for those other simple reasons and party on!

Medical Graduation Party

Medical doesn't only mean "med school". Medical graduation can apply to medical, dental, nursing school, or any healthcare field. These are all important careers and the accomplishment deserves to be acknowledged.

Decorate using gauze bandages (as streamers) and blown up latex gloves (for balloons). Hit up a medical supply store and buy urine sample cups for drinks and emesis basins for snack bowls.

Hospitals love to serve the "liquid" diet so be sure to have jello shots with your "healthy" snacks. At least there will be a doctor in the house if anyone does too much celebrating!



One fun idea I had for my cousin's graduation party as an ultrasound technician was to rent an actual ultrasound machine! She was able to show off her training and showed us some cool stuff! Going to all that trouble was worth it to celebrate her getting to a point in life where she was independent and pulling down an excellent salary as an ultrasound technician - it's one of the best choices she made!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

If you've got an ugly Christmas sweater, pull it out of the mothballs. But, if you've never invested in one of the beauties, take a sweater you have and get tacky with it by adding bling such as:

• Christmas stuffed animals (or just the animal parts...head in front of sweater, rear in back)
• Battery lights (preferably flashing)
• Tinsel (shiny and ugly)
• Plastic poinsettias (hot glue gun time!)

To make the sweaters stand out as even uglier, make your home and table settings really beautiful.


Casino Night

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Host a Casino Night Party and party like you're in sin city. Clear out the dining room and set up tables with green table cloths. Each table has it's own game:

• Poker (5-card draw, Texas hold-em, 5-card stud) - especially popular these days
• Blackjack

Vegas is known for alcohol and buffets. Set up your own buffet table with snacks, pizza, appetizers, and desserts. Set-up another for open bar. Be sure to provide non-alcoholic beverages for those that don't drink.

Need some background music? Fill a playlist with some old-time Vegas fav's like Frank Sinatra, Liberace and Tom Jones.

Oscar Party

Don't get dressed up in uncomfortable dresses and tuxes. Come as your favorite actor or actress. If you're celebrating in 2015, consider coming dressed as Doogie Howser in honor of host Neil Patrick Harris.

Print your own ballots and have guests vote for their picks. At the end of the evening, whoever chose the most winners is awarded a statue of...something (get creative).

Get fancy with drinks and food. Champagne/wine, appetizers, and pretty desserts will have your guests feeling like stars.

Coffee Tasting Brunch

A list written by the cafe wouldn't be complete without without a java party?!Brunch is the perfect time. Pick some unique flavors to brew and keep warm in carafes. Include all the sweeteners and creams that your guests could want. Plus, whipped cream and sprinkles for those that only pretend to like coffee...








Brunch foods include casseroles, fresh fruits, muffins and bagels, and juices. For a nice touch, have a personalized coffee mug (with sample coffee) for each guest.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ideas for Your Next Kid's Party

Planning your kid's birthday party should not make your life more stressful than it already is. More and more parents seem to be trying to out-do themselves and what they planned from the previous year. But you don't have to break the bank to give your child a birthday party not only they'll enjoy but you will too! We have some great kids party planning ideas that will give you and your child a day of great celebration and fun.


IDEA #1


You just can't go wrong with a good ole fashion costume party for the young ones. Whether boy of girl, all children love to dress up and have creative play with all there friends. You won't have to think hard for the theme of the party, just ask the guest of honor what theme he/she would like to have. They'll be sure to let you know!


IDEA #2


Every little girl loves to dress up and have a tea party with her closest friends. This can be as easy as going to a second hand or thrift store to purchase dress up hats or costume jewelry for your little one and her special guests.

Finger sandwiches and pettifore's can be served along with child pleasing beverages she can serve for her "tea". Favors could include inexpensive teacups filled with stickers, lip-gloss, play makeup or candy. The party guests could also take the dress up hats and jewelry home for their own special tea party.


IDEA #3


You may have that typical boy who loves to get outside and explore for bugs. So why not throw a party that is all about those creepy critters. There are lots of party supplies available that revolve around insects and reptiles. Party favors could be simple mason jars filled with tattoos of insects, gummy worms, plastic play insects and mini flashlights for searching in those dark creepy crevices.

You can decorate the lids of the jars by hot gluing fabric found in any craft or fabric store that contain insects, and a strand of twine around the base of the lid to cover the seem of the fabric, to give your bug jar a more finished look. The cake can be decorated with finely crushed Oreo cookie to cover the top, and strategically placed gummy worms, plastic spiders and play bugs your little one can really sink his teeth into.

IDEA# 4


For those older children or pre teen party, especially if co-ed, a pop star party is fun and allows everyone to be involved.
Invitations can suggest the guests dress up like their favorite pop star, and a contest can be held where the winner receives a gift certificate for a CD or DVD. A karaoke DJ or machine could be rented or hired or just break out your own machine, for a day of fun music and singing for everyone.


IDEA# 5


Spa day for your teenage girl who is so into self image, can be a great party idea especially if she's sweet "16".

Have stations set up where the girls can work on each other by doing hair, make-up and nails. You may try to find a professional in the industry who would come and do facials, massage, manicure or pedicure if the group isn't to large, and may give you a discounted rate. Favors could include gift bags of bath salts, body lotion, and hair and nail products.

If the party idea is for a pre-teen, activities could include making their own lip gloss, body gel/glitter as well as the stations where they can work their own creative magic beautifying there friends.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Event Planning - One Detail at a Time


The most important advice for planning any event is to be organized. Make a detailed list early in the game of what needs to be done within a reasonable time frame. Having more time is better than not having enough.
Probably the two most important details to decide upon immediately are the venue and date. When choosing the date, be conscious to not plan an event during a religious holiday. The date of the event will help in determining location. Consider the following:


  • Is the event taking place in the summer or winter?
  • What is the purpose of the event?
  •  Is it to entertain, inform, honor, socialize, or advertise?
  • Is the event going to be informal or formal?



Once these decisions have been finalized, a location needs to be locked down. Too often people plan out an entire event only to discover that the location they had counted on being available is not available on the date needed.

If at all possible, think outside the box when choosing a location. Try some place unique. Even when these important details seem to be finalized, always have a backup plan. Other options are especially crucial in spring and summer months when an outdoor event may be rained out. When my sister graduated from nursing school with her degree as a nurse practitioner (which is a huge undertaking!), I had planned to have a lakeside brunch. Of course, it rained us out, so I was luck to have had the cafe to fall back on.

The next broader decision that will help narrow down later choices is the budget. Whatever happens, do not overspend the designated budget. The budget will determine the possibilities in publicity, entertainment, and food choices. 

Once a location and a date have been nailed down, send out invitations that are appropriate for the venue and formality of the event. Great invitations can be bought at a decent rate on Etsy - it's my go to site. On the invitations be sure to include the date, time, location, and any specific details that may be helpful, for instance, a suggested color scheme, particular theme, or parking provisions. (If the invitations mention a theme, make sure the theme is a major part of the event.) 

Remember that the invitation is the first aspect to the event that the guests will see. The invitations should grab attention and impress. Be sure to contact the invitees a few days before the event to confirm their reservations.
And of course, thank those who come for their attendance afterward. Be aware of any dietary allergies or convictions. 

Be sure to accommodate all food preferences among those invited. An event should be enjoyed in all aspects by all people attending. Include possible opportunities for making money in the budget as well.



Some general tips center around being prepared. Always have items ready in case of an emergency. These items may include disinfectant wipes, bandages, over-the-counter drugs, stain remover, or a portable sewing kit.
More often than not, the guests will come to the event coordinator in any sort of emergency, whether it be medical or fashion related. Have umbrellas handy in case of rain. 

Go through all the technical aspects involved the day before the event takes place, especially if technological aspects are integral to the entertainment.

All these details can be easily kept track of using an Excel spreadsheet. Keep the information even after the event is over. Copy and paste the information to keep track of people attending, dietary restrictions, and people's addresses. Also, if you plan to store valuables on the premises, you can do what I did: look over gun safe reviews to find a good option to carry with me. While I'm not carrying a gun, I figure if a safe is good enough to hold a gun safely, it should offer protection for anything I have to store in it.

The information can also be used in the creating of place cards and thank you notes. Do not be afraid to make the work easier. Have a group of people help plan the event. Ask for volunteers for setup and cleanup. Be sure to provide some form of refreshment for the voluntary help.

Anyone on the committee should have a nametag or some form of identification for the guest in case of questions and emergencies. Have a program for the guests as they arrive to give them an idea of what to expect during the festivities.

Before the guests leave, have them fill out an evaluation, like these. No matter what the occasion, something can always be learned and improved. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn for the next event from the feedback. Remember to take any event one detail at a time. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Unique and New Ways to Brew Coffee

There are multiple ways to brew a good cup of coffee. With the convenience of automatic coffee makers and bulk stock of instant coffee in the grocery stores it is easy to forget that we have options. Some options are more affordable than standard coffee making and others provide unique flavor or style of coffee. This article will discuss three different ways you may not have been aware you can brew coffee. 

Moka Pot in Action
One option to brew that many espresso fans are fond of is using a moka pot. A moka pot allows an individual to brew dark strong coffee without the requirement of an espresso maker.  It is recommended that you purchase a stainless steel moka pot over an aluminum one for best taste results. 

The moka pot requires you to put heated water in a chamber on the bottom, put the filtered grounds into a screen that is above it, once all pieces are in place you put the moka pot over medium heat on your stove. After about 4 minutes you should hear a “gurgle” noise that indicates that the Moka pot is done brewing. This method of brewing is most popular amongst drinkers of dark and strong coffee. 

Pour Over Method
Another unique method of brewing coffee is known as the “pour over method.” This method requires the brewer to use a cone and a filter to brew the coffee slowly. In order to brew you must grind the coffee grounds and place them in a cone already lined with a filter damp from warm water. The grounds should be evenly placed in the filter. 

The brewer is then required to periodically pour heated water over the grounds and allow the funnel to direct the coffee into a cup or container.  It is important to know when to pour more water so that the coffee does not build up on the sides of the filter. This method is ideal for coffee enthusiasts experimenting with new coffees. 


Probably one of the most popular alternatives to automatic coffee makers is using a French press. A French press allows a brewer to create a rich tasting cup of coffee  One key difference with a  French press over other options is that the grinds are typically going to be larger. 

French Press Being Plunged
In addition, the brewer should be aware that brewing with a French press is more time consuming then other methods. The first thing to be aware of is making sure you are using the correct temperature of water of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, after pouring the water over the grounds you must allow the correct amount of time of three to five minutes to pass before using the plunging the mechanism to press the coffee. 

This method is best used by coffee brewers who are familiar with the method as getting the process incorrect can cause the flavor to not be correct in the end product. 

Not all of these methods will meet the needs of all coffee brewers. The moka pot is for those who enjoy darker coffee but not the expense that comes associated with espresso, the pour over method allows you to try small amounts of coffee, and the French press allows for a richer experience of your chosen coffee. 

If you are not a fan of dark coffee the moka pot may not be ideal for you the same as the pour over method may not be worth perfecting if you find that you consistently drink the same types of coffee. Like all the different kinds of coffee it is important for the individual brewer to decide the best method.

Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee at Home

Many consumers are so used to using automatic coffee brewers that they are unaware of how to properly brew a cup of coffee. Though it may take more forethought there are a multitude of steps that you can take to make yourself the perfect cup of coffee. Making small changes to how you prepare and select your coffee you may find yourself, like so many other enthusiasts, immersed in a new hobby.  

This article will discuss tips to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

One of the first things that any coffee lover will tell you about brewing the perfect coffee is that you need to select fresh beans. The ideal coffee beans are grown in favorable conditions and have recently been roasted

Also, selecting coffees that are stored in vacuum sealed bags or dark containers are ideal as many beans sold in supermarkets are exposed to a lot of oxygen and light. If the coffee beans are not properly stored during production the flavor could come out altered.  

If you do buy fresh coffee beans it is important to properly store them away from light and heat and in a dark or ceramic glass container. This will ensure the beans stay fresh and the flavor will last until you are ready to brew. 

Another tip to brew great coffee is to not grind the beans until right before you brew.  Coffee loses its quality of flavor quickly after grinding so for best results it should be put off as long as possible. If you do find that you are not able to brew all that you have ground you may store it properly in a dark container and use as soon as you are able to.

When grinding coffee beans it is important to remember that the finer the grinds the better the overall brew will taste. Some experts say that grinding right before brewing is the most crucial step to brewing the perfect coffee. 

            When brewing the perfect cup of coffee it is important to create the correct measurements of water to coffee ratio.  The ideal measurement is 2 tablespoons of coffee for each 6 ounces of water. In addition, to making sure that the coffee is properly measured out, using a quality water filter is also important. Using cheaper low quality filters can distort the flavor and it is recommended that consumers use “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters.   
             
It is also important to use quality water when brewing the perfect cup of coffee. A lot of coffee brewers prefer to use bottled water but many are satisfied putting a proper filter on their tap water sink. 

Chlorine and other chemicals in tap water can create problems with flavor. Brewers should be aware though that softened water is not ideal for the perfect cup of coffee as the minerals in water enhance the taste of the coffee. If you're not sure if you own a water softener, this list should be reviewed to see if you have one installed on your water line. If so, you have a water softener.

Water used for brewing coffee should be no hotter than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is hotter than boiling can warp the grinds and create an off flavor.  Once the coffee has been brewed you will need to make sure you properly clean the equipment to prevent build up that could affect future brewing. 
            
Like most anything there are different grades of quality with different types of coffee . Each individual person will have their own preferences to the types of coffee that they enjoy and to ones that they would prefer to not further explore. 

Trying different brands and noting preferences will help you find the perfect taste of coffee that you like. Though you can use tips to create the perfect cup of coffee it is ultimately up to your personal tastes to determine the “perfect” cup.