Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The best of all gifts around
any Christmas tree,
is the presence of friends all
wrapped up in each other.

One of my last S T R E T C H I N G projects for the year was to overcome my fear of having a party at my home. (I also want to memorize the Gettysburg Address by the end of the year, yikes)

I am a perfectionist in a weird sort of way. My friend calls me a compassionate perfectionist - which feels like it is two worlds colliding. I want things to be perfect but also am very tender to others feelings. It gets me in a rut. For example, I have had an email to return for over a month but because I want the email to be perfect I have not taken the time to write it, but then feel horribly guilty that I have not emailed this kind girl back.

Anyway, back to the party thing. I am not a good housekeeper. My house will never be known for being really clean, but if you pay me an expected visit you will think I am. I should underline expected. I am not good at the day to day upkeep but can get my house spiffy if I know someone is coming. I get worried about having people over because I know it will take me three days to get ready for it, then I will be exhausted and not enjoy myself. So my Stretching project was to send out invites to a party and NOT stress over it. I did just that.

My gift to my girlfriends was to invite them over for a cookie exchange and have them leave with plates of goodies tied with bows to deliver to their friends. It was my way of doing my neighbor gifts this year and I think I will do it again.
seeing my friends leave with packaged gifts with tags ready to give was very exciting, it felt better than dropping something off to their door.
I used my side table to do the packaging. I used Safeway waffle cones (they come with cute red and white stripped paper on them) in the center glued down with icing. This helped the cellophane stick up high and straight for the tied bow to rest on. I had found these awesome Christmas Toile plates at Home Goods.
My friend Jane made the most awesome salad - sad I didn't take a photo it was beautiful. It had dried cherries and yummy seasoned pecans.
this photo is of Peppermint Whip! it is yummy. I chilled my silver pan over night to keep it cold. You just dip it with the Pepperidge Farm cookies and it is yum.
These fast and easy Turtle bars were a snap and thanks to my friend Kimberly who gave me the recipe the night before.
I made the chocolate turtles as usually but this time used the Dove caramel chocolates and think they may have won out using Rolo's. Because they are square (and cheap at the commissary) they melt really evenly.
I overcame my fear of my house being too small. I didn't have space to put the completed plates, but my resourceful friend found a space on the top of my new $10.00 Goodwill shelf.
So I learned today, I have great friends, my house is not too small to have an event, my baseboards do not have to be clean to have a party and the theme of this Christmas has been giving people the opportunity to give is even better than giving! Great day!
I did go to bed at 7:30 exhausted but I did enjoy myself.

Recipes in case you are interested
Turtle Bars

1 (12oz) box of Nilla Wafers
3/4 cup butter melted
1 (10oz) pack of semi sweet choc. chips
1 cup pecans, chopped
caramel topping

Crush vanilla wafers to fine crumbs. Stir together with butter: press into bottom of 13x9 baking dish. Sprinkle with morsels and nuts. Drizzle caramel topping. Bake at 350 for 12-15 min. Cool in pan on wire rack. Chill (must chill before cutting) 30 minutes.

Peppermint Whip

1 bag of round peppermints crushed
1 med size carton of Heavy Whipping cream
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

whip cream into peaks, beat in sugar and stir (with a spoon) crushed peppermints. stir just enough to have the cream become pink and white striped.


Anne said...

Kristi, Having made a few "unexpected" visits to your home, I must disagree with with your assertion that your house is only spiffy when you have a few days to plan. Your house always looks nice and tidy, but even more importantly (in my eyes), lived in. There may be a toy or two lying around, or a few crumbs on the ground, but it means that people live there, play there and love there. You shouldn't ever be embarrassed.

Moving on...I'm glad that you stretched yourself and hosted that cookie exchange party. Your girlfriends, not to mention their neighbors, definitely benefitted from your creative and delicious genius. And the waffle cones with the paper sriping?? GENIUS!!

Anne said...

Oh my, I just got a better look at those plates, are those actual plates? Awesome, not to mention completely gorgeous!!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I've loved reading about you fulfilling your word this year....way to go!

Lindsay said...

Hurray for you! I totally hear you on the perfectionism thing. That can definitely be my downfall too! Good for you to stretch beyond that. What a wonderful party idea. I need to throw a party like this. I have been baking treats for our neighbor plates and keep thinking that there must be an easier way!

And I LOVE those toile plates!

carlo said...

oh kristi, one of my common responses (b/c it can be used in response to so many things, not because i am not thinking about it)

We Moms are TOO hard on ourselves.

I am sure that your party was a hit and it looks fantastic.

We have a lot in common- i have a post in my drafts about being a perfectionist and how that impacts my life.

also, I tend to stress b/f hosting functions too but am also trying to overcome it with my cookie exchange party, hosting a couples party on Dec 29. It feels great, doesn't it?\

wow you have stretched so much this year. you had better get busy on that gettysburg address! :)

Liz said...

Wow! Awesome get together. I love that you turned a cookie exchange into "giving to friends/neighbors". What a great idea on the ice cream're brillant. Another problem solved!!
You seriously should write a book!

Amanda :-) said...

Hang on, are 'baseboards' skirting boards? I stress about my skirting boards, and I even inspect other women's skirting boards when I visit, just to check if I'm one of many or I'm failing as a housekeeper. Last night I went to bed after 1am, and as I had a wash in the bathroom I noticed my skirting boards were dusty. So there I was in my nightgown, squishing down into the corners next to the toilet with tissue paper, trying to sweep the dust off the skirting boards. Do you think anyone really notices the dust - or worse still, do they even notice when you've cleaned them?

Another thing - is 'powdered sugar' icing sugar? I see so many recipes on these blogs and I'm keen to do them, but then I'll read some weird name for something and think, 'Right, that's it - I can't do it, cos I don't know what that stuff is'. What are 'semi sweet' choc chips? Do you mean dark chocolate? See, I'm lost!

I'm so glad it all came together well, and that nothing 'failed you'. Your shelf looks fab, and very clutter free. I'd have it covered in all sorts in no time.

I agree with Anne. A house should look lived in. I visited a friend in her huge, huge Victorian house and expected it to be the creme de la creme. But we stood in her kitchen and I noticed pieces of sliced onion strewn along the edges of the kitchen floor. What a mess! But it instantly made me relax and I enjoyed being in her house more. She's now opened a small catering business, the messy mare! Hahaha!

Anyway, I know your house always smells divine, because I remember you saying that AK came home one day and said, 'This house always smells so good'. That's just priceless.

Jill said...

Hey good for you for getting over your fear and for knowing that clean baseboards are not a requirment for being a good hostess (they're just a bonus for the anal retentive).

I love the look of those ice cream cones, they're so pretty. I also love the striped ribbon you tied your awesome toile plates with...okay I like everything!

lisa (lost pezhead) said...

YEAH! i'm so glad you had a party! our townhouse was about 1200 sq ft and so is our new home, but i can still fit in around 20 people pretty may have to sit on the floor or hang in the kitchen, but it's always nice and cozy. it is very stressfull though, preparing and cleaning and making sure you remembered everything and then actually trying to enjoy yourself and quit thinking about what more you could do...horray for you!

can't wait to see your word for 2008

Jen said...

so you are my soul sister. :) i totally get you- however, i live with BOYS and a dog- so seriously, i never even consider having people over!!! :) people continually remind me that homes are made to be lived in, not looked at, but it still makes me cringe when people stop by- unexpectedly or not!

and i hear you on procrastinating b/c you want the details to be perfect- hence, i have not called you as i said i would, b/c it never seems the "right" time- i always want to try to call when the dog isn't barking or the kid isn't screaming- and by that time, it's way past midnight on the east coast- i'll break down and do it one day! :)

i love your word of the year. it's fantastic- i can't wait to see what you pick next! :)

Kim Sue said...

I'm sure it was a great party and what a great idea for the guest to leave with gifts for others. I love how your fun with your friends will "stretch" so far! I might have to steal that idea for a get together this year.

Marla said...

I loved, loved the idea behind the party...what a great thing for have the time & conversation out, and save so much time & stress too!

I too am a mad dash picker upper, hider when I hear someone is dropping by...I just wish i knew how to live so that was unnecessary...but i just don't think it is in my DNA. I love "lived in"!

Traci said...

I am so glad you got over the fear of having people at your house! Looked like you were the perfect hostess too! What a fun time for sure! Loved the ice cream cone idea too. I was going to ask for your peppermint whip recipe and you already supplied it, so thanks!
Glad you had a great time and got to go to bed early too!

Elisa said...

I have the same hosting it genetic do you think? So far I have only stretched myself to do kid parties...I don't even like the parents to stay:)

michelle said...

Kristi, you have made more of your word of the year than 10 of me combined. I just love to see how you are stretching yourself! I am not a good housekeeper, and I am always worried about people dropping by unexpectedly. I hate that about myself, but there you have it. I forgot my visiting teachers were coming one day this week, and when I invited them in I had to clear off the couch for them to sit and take my laundry basket out of the room, etc. Congratulations on throwing a party, not stressing about it, and having a good time! (The toile plates from Home Goods, my favorite store, the striped ribbon, the waffle cones... again, you are genius.)

Holly said...

You know Kristi, you have not only stretched yourself--which is fantastic--but reading about your stretching has made me want to stretch too. Seriously, thank you.

I agree with what so many of these ladies have said, homes are lived in and should reflect that--but I still have a hard time not beating myself up for dog hair tumbleweeds, but...I'm a work in progress.

Sooo proud of your for hosting a get together and not stressing, but enjoying. Hooray! I love your plates and waffle cones (best idea!) and what delicious fun to swap cookies!!

Barb said...

This post has a little bit of suspense with the recipes not posted till the end! Ha! Thanks for sharing the recipes and your cookie plate presentation speaks of your perfectionism.
As far as house cleaning goes, these are the words I live by:
My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.

Price Cream Parlor said...

OH MY HONUS! Those stockings are amazing! I love that you are going to bless the lives of those children in your downtown ward. How wonderful for everyone to send you things!
CONGRATS on having your cookies exchange party! I am sure that everyone had a grand time! Looks so festive and yummy! I do the same thing - I LOVE having parties, but I stress about cleaning and having things PERFECT. I realized that my perfect isn't everyone elses perfect and that helps me to just chill for a moment.
Wondering if you will use STRETCH for yet another year or will you choose a new one?