Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Th Art of The Cheese Board

Photo: chardonnaymoi.com
I come from a long and proud line of cheese lovers. Never once did a holiday or major family gathering happen without the humongous "Cheese and Pepperoni Tray", a staple in the average Italian New Jerseyian's diet.

My brother and I would compete to see who could eat the most cheese, and still have normal digestive function the next day. (He won.) But it wasn't until I moved out on my own that I realized that there were other cheeses than Mozarella, swiss, cheddar, provolone and Velveeta. In fact, I had no idea that actual mozarella came in little delicious balls and not in plastic wrapped chunks, or that Velveeta, as useful as it is, is not actually "cheese". My eyes were open to a big (and tasty) new world.

The Cheese Board is as unique and mysterious as the person who creates it, but it is easy to get intimidated at the thousands of marvelous varieties of cheese from around the world. My advice is to start simple - ask your favorite deli or specialty grocery for a sample and ease you way into the world of cheese.

I have helped design numerous cheese boards over the years-from simple to elegant-displayed on boards, planks, marble slabs, trays, mirrors and any other type of surface you can think of, and guide my clients to think of the event type and the other dishes being served when selecting cheese varieties. You can keep it simple with domestic varieties, or add some exotic imported types, but either way, you want to try and keep a balance of sharp and mild flavors.

Eddie Ross, Lifestyle expert, suggests using several cheeses of varying textures, colors and heights to your cheese board to add visual interest, much like you would an entire buffet. He also recommends using chutneys as a compliment to hard cheeses. (A chutney is a type of condiment associated with South Asian cuisine. They are made from a highly variable mixture of spices, vegetables, and/or fruit.)

Are you ready to design a cheese board? Here are some great links to get you started:


7 Secrets To a Beautiful Cheese Board





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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why We LOVE Appetizers

Photo: Caprese on A Stick
Find the simple recipe at Eventup.com
When entertaining guests its easy to get caught up in the details of the menu. 

An important life lesson I learned from Jenny, my very first customer, is that while the food/beverages are important, the gathering is more about the people and the experience than the amount or type of food you serve. No one will remember what they ate-but will remember feeling welcomed and at home at your gathering. 

Jenny, the wife of a professional athlete, unashamedly drank and served wine from a box as she declared "grapes are grapes-wine is wine"; used her index finger stuck in the center of casseroles to test for "done-ness" ; and shrugged off burnt garlic bread side dishes and with "that's life in the big city kid". I learned so much from working with her and watching her entertain, (which she did quite often), particularly her selection & presentation of appetizers. It was at Jenny's gatherings that I first saw a "Shrimp Tree" assembled by attaching shrimp to a foil-covered foam cone with toothpicks, and other food presented in vessels other than an ordinary plate or tray. (Party Genie's Crudité Stations are patterned after the way Jenny would present hers-simply yet artfully with as many different varieties and colors as possible. )

Party planning experts will even tell you that while you want to prepare something delicious for your guests, keep it simple! Simple, recognizable, easy-to-prepare food, presented in creative ways, lets your guests know that you care enough about them to leave yourself free to mingle and make memories rather than in the kitchen cooking while your party is happening.

This is why we love appetizers! They can be prepared quickly, simply and even ahead of time and leave you stress-free as your guests arrive. In fact, in my humble opinion, I would just be happy to serve appetizers & other finger foods and a box of wine and every event, and call it a party!

 You can start your soiree off right with these party foods and easy recipes for dips, spreads, finger foods, and appetizers:

Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes...
Party-Perfect Meatballs...
Marinated Mozzarella...
Mustard-Dill Tortellini Kebobs...
Shrimp Mojo de Ajo...

There are about 80 different appetizers at the top link below - (Courtesy of Southern Living - and 15 more at the second link (You're Welcome!) so easy to prepare - visually & gastric-ally appealing - for your next casual or elegant gathering. The hardest part will be narrowing down your favorites!

Which one(s) would you like to try?

Do you have any other favorite appetizer recipes to add? If so tell us in the comments area!







Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Power of the Peacock: Hiring a Housekeeper ( Video )



Scenario: You desperately need a housekeeper but don't know how to begin. Here is a short video with some help and advice on how to hire a housekeeper.





Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A "Tent"-ion to Details-Party Tent Rental

Now that the snow has melted and party season is coming quickly, you may be looking forward to spring (I know we are) and considering having a backyard bash. 

Celebrating outdoors with family & friends can be a wonderful way to welcome spring-but as with any type of outdoor event, its a good idea to plan for the unexpected, such as weather.

If you have a large home that can easily accommodate your guests, then weather may not be an issue, however for those who may have a smaller dwelling, keep in mind that a tent can be a viable option for your event. 

Party tents come in all styles & sizes - to fit 20-200 people, and can be simple or decorated with chandeliers; with or without a bar or dance floor, depending on your event and your budget. 

Generally speaking, there are 2 (basic) tent types:

Self-supporting: This metal frame tent is usually about 40 feet in length and are recommended for hard, level surfaces, such as patios. This type works best for smaller events & parties.

Pole tents: This type of tent is held in place with a combination of stakes, winches and straps, and center poles that create peaks. These tents can support a structure as large as a ballroom.



Most rental companies offer everything you will need, including installation as well as take down & removal after your event. Most can also rent tables, chairs, lighting, chocolate fountains, catering supplies, jukeboxes, and even beautiful pastel or jewel tone napkins & linens to complete your look. 


Doug and his staff from Harleysville Rental, (our local tent expert & community partner) installs their tents for clients, and includes a site survey to confirm that the size of the tent being reserved is the right size for the event location & number of guests.


Doug tells me, "We can provide the client with a computerized layout of how the event can be set up, including tent, tables & chairs, food tables, dance floor, catering tent, entrance tent, and more."

"All of our tents are priced according to their size, the traveling distance to the event site, and how accessible the tent site is for our crew."


In general you want to reserve your tent as far in advance as possible, and be prepared to answer and ask, as many questions as possible  regarding the indoor and outdoor conditions before receiving a final price quote.

Have you ever rented a tent (or wished you had) for an outdoor event? What was your experience? Please tell us in the comments area below!

To keep up-to-date with the latest party trends, be sure to join us on Facebook

To book your event, contact Barbara by e-mail or by phone: 215-257-3193.








Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Best Way to Clean Wood Floors



IMAGE: Eclectic Domestics

Last week, Some questions came in regarding the best way to clean hardwood floors, so today's post will hopefully give you some answers.

I will start first with what NOT to do: Do NOT mop wood floors! Do NOT use vinegar, bleach, products with de-greasers or harsh cleaners. Standing water and chemicals can seep into the bevels and cracks of the wood, causing it to swell and layers to peel. 

Mopping wood floors with vinegar, chemicals or water is the best way to shorten their life span. The same goes for bamboo and laminate floors. Water from a bucket left on the surface can leave stains and cause peeling and buckling. 

The absolute best way to keep your wood floors clean is to be sure to remove shoes before coming in the house, vacuum or dry mop daily, and avoid spills. But we need to be realistic, and we need to live in our homes.

So the trick is, to use as little water as possible, and to dry washed areas completely.  To accomplish this for our clients, we only use microfiber cloths and mop pads. If the manufacturer recommends a specific floor cleaner, use a small amount diluted in a spray bottle. Spray small area to be cleaned, and be sure to remove any leftover spray as you are washing and dry completely with a clean cloth. 

Keeping these basics in mind, here is our own method, and what we believe is the simplest and most efficient procedure for cleaning your wood floors:


  • Prepare the area to be cleaned by clearing it of any toys, trash cans, shoes, pet bowls, throw rugs, random items and smaller pieces of furniture. (Its a good idea to purchase some furniture pads to move furniture pieces. Pads will not only protect your wood floors from scuffing, but also make it much easier to move furniture.)
  • Vacuum floor entirely, paying special attention to the perimeter, corners, under counters and appliances, and the cracks in between wood planks. It is important to not skip this step. The surface dirt and debris needs to be lifted first or you will just be grinding dirt and particles into your floors when you clean them. We don't recommend using a 'Swiffer' type dry duster for this step as it will not fully pick up sand or dirt that has been tracked in from outside. It also will not pick dirt up
    O-Cedar Flip Mop
    out of cracks. Use the brush attachment and the hose OR a microfiber dust mop such as this one to the right. 
  • Spot clean: Inspect floor for any spills, sticky spots or stains that may need attention first. Using a lightly wet microfiber cloth, by hand, wipe up the spills and spots so that your next steps will be much easier.
  • Damp mop floor part 1: starting in one corner of the room, and going around the perimeter first with a long smooth stoke, and picking up any left dirt at the end with a hand cloth. Use a damp microfiber cloth, attached to a mop or Swiffer with  rubber bands, or a mop with a large microfiber pad. Wet the pad or cloth and wring out until almost dry. Rinse and wring out again once perimeter is finished.
  • Damp mop floor part 2:  Starting again in the same corner, with your cleaned, wrung out mop pad or cloth, working in a small section and going with the grain of the wood, use and "S" motion and long smooth strokes to damp mop across the length of the floor. (We position ourselves to work with a "left to right" motion.) If any standing water is left, use a clean, dry microfiber attached to a Swiffer or other large mop head to dry the area, using the same "S" motion. Rinse mop pad or microfiber, wring out completely and start a new section using the steps above.
  • Buff floor: (Optional) To get rid of any left over streaks, using a clean dry microfiber mop pad or cloth attached to a Swiffer, go back over cleaned area, going with the grain of the wood, across the length of the floor in an "S" motion, and rubbing gently. If you cleaned and dried it thoroughly in the previous steps, you probably can skip this step.
  • Put back Furniture and other items, making sure floor is completely dry.

Sound complicated and involved? Maybe, but a small price we pay for having beautiful wood floors! Of course, you can always call us to clean your wood floors for you-and save yourself about 2-3 hours a week on this particular task!

CONTEST TIME: 

So now we have a question for our Bucks County PA readers: do you like or dislike wood floors and why? 

Submit your responses below, (you can be as brief or as specific as you like), between April 8 and April 22, and one lucky winner will be selected by random drawing, to win our exclusive floor cleaning package, including our Bathroom/Kitchen Touch up Service, and the O-Cedar Dual-Action Microfiber Flip Mop Damp/Dry All Surface Mop ! Good Luck to all!

For questions, please contact Barbara: 215-257-3193.





Saturday, May 21, 2016

Laundry Mathematics

In much of my advertising, I often say that the average American woman spends about 22+ hours a week doing household tasks. Some people have doubted this statistic, so today, we are going to take just one of those tasks - laundry -  and do some quick math to demonstrate where my numbers are coming from.

So according to a recent (and unscientific) poll, the average family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) generates between 60 and 65 pounds of clothing per week. (To give you an idea,  depending on the size, and whether or not they are kid's clothes or adult's , about 9 - 10 pairs of jeans weighs about 12 pounds.) The average size washing machine holds about 10 - 12 pounds of clothing, so 60 - 65 pounds of clothing would break down into about five to six loads of clothing. Not too bad you say. But wait. It gets better.

In addition, when you add in a load or two for all of the bedding for a week (that would be two sets of sheets per load), and another two loads for towels (so figure about 10 - 12 washcloths, 2 to 4 
 hand towels, 6 - 8 bath towels, 2 -3 kitchen towels, plus 2-4 dish cloths ) then a typical family of four probably generates between 8 and 10 loads of laundry per week. (For now we are not counting the additional loads generated by kid's baseball/swimming/soccer uniforms and such.)

So, let's take this math equation a bit further: about how much time does one spend doing 8 - 10 loads of laundry each week?

The answer will vary slightly, and will depend on the size and set up of your washer/dryer, but in general, a full (short) cycle in the washing machine is about 35 minutes, and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to dry a load - maybe a bit longer for towels (and my daughter's sweatshirts). So, a single load from start to finish in the machines takes roughly 1.5 hours to wash and dry. My husband's work clothes take a bit longer because I wash them on a longer cycle, so that number could reasonably be closer to 1.75 hours - but being conservative, each load taking "only" 1.5 hours, for 10 loads of wash...you have just spent 12 - 15 hours washing and drying your laundry.

BUT WAIT...the math goes on...

Let's take another 10 - 15 minutes (per load) for folding and putting away. While 10 - 15 minutes is not much time while standing alone, when multiplied by 8 - 10 loads of wash, it adds an additional 1 - 2 hours to the chore for a grand total of...13 - 17 hours PER WEEK on JUST the laundry. We will not add in ironing or mending... or running to the dry cleaners, or whether or not if you have pets (which will increase these numbers by another hour or two) because I don't want your head to explode.

But-let's follow through: taking an average of 15 hours a week for laundry-that is 60 hours a month and 720 hours a year-of time lost in the laundry room. Time you can never get back and time you could spend on so many other things: baseball games, dance recitals, "me" time... 

How much do you or your spouse earn hourly for 15 hours? At $20/hour, (the average wage) that would be another $300/week, or $1,200 a month earned if working instead of doing laundry. 

So-what would you do with all that time if you could reclaim it? 

(We can help you find out!)

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation: 215-257-3193.

 












Saturday, April 9, 2016

How Much Food Should I Buy?

Photo: Bucks County Taste
"How much food should I buy? is a question we are asked often. The answer will vary depending on what type of occasion or event, (a cocktail party would require less food than an outdoor picnic.) whether or not it is a brunch, dinner, sit down or appetizer reception, how long your event will be held, and in many cases, the ratio of children to adults at your gathering.

In addition, men generally eat more than women, and the richness of the food will also come into play when determining the proper amount of food to purchase.

One general rule of thumb is to always round your final food estimate up rather than down. It is way better to have more food than needed, than to run out before your party has ended.

Another "trick" is to fill in with rolls, breads and other "bulk foods" which require little or no additional preparation.

Good menu planning would include consideration of food colors, temperatures, textures & tastes, as well as the range of foods offered (You don't want to repeat ingredients). You ultimately want some variety without overdoing it. Keeping it as simple as possible makes your guests feel at ease and reduces your stress level as well.

We've compiled several Party Planning Guides for our readers, including lists for how much food to buy. These are for you to download, print out and keep handy for your next occasion.

Please feel free to post any other questions or comments below.

Happy Entertaining!

*For more entertaining tips and recipes, Come and Join us on Facebook!





Friday, April 8, 2016

The Power of the Peacock: Why a Peacock?


We have had some recent questions as to what made us decide to use a Peacock as our mascot, rather than a maid, vacuum cleaner or mop, and what do we mean when we say, "The Power of the Peacock"

We made a short video on this topic, but wanted to also summarize in our own words.






The decision to use the Peacock was not random! 

When I started my original company (20 years ago) I wanted it to be as unique as the clients I served, and to be able to leave a lasting impression on everyone I worked with. Over time, Eclectic Domestics has developed into something very close to what I imagined. The Peacock with its stunning plumage and distinctly unique call, reminds me to keep striving towards offering the customized services my clients ask for.

As far as other Peacock symbolism:


  • Greek Mythology: the Goddess Hera is said to have given the Peacock "many eyes"- (representing our eye for detail.)
  • Chinese Legend: the perfect blending of plumage colors represents harmony. (We maintain and preserve the order and harmony in the homes and other dwellings we service for our clients.)
  • Egyptian Lore: The Peacock is associated with Ra, the Sun god. (We strive to leave each environment warmer, lighter, brighter, and more welcoming to those who live there or visit.)
  • Religious/Spiritual: The Peacock represents renewal or "arising from the ashes" (which is what we wish to do for each and every client and community we serve.)
  • Other Symbolism: Integrity, authenticity, prestige, pride, showing of "true colors". (All the qualities & characteristics we strive daily to incorporate into our work and lives.)
With every project, we endeavor to be like the Peacock-
proud to show our colors!

That, my friends is 
"The Power of the Peacock!"


For more videos, be sure to Follow our new You Tube Channel !
















Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Boursin Cheese Spread

When we are asked to help plan spring & summer ‪‎picnics‬ and other family ‪‎gatherings‬, One of our most requested appetizers is our Boursin Cheese‬ Spread. This delicious treat is not for those of you watching your cholesterol, so the trick is to not over-indulge, and just eat a small amount of it. Its a perfect compliment to ham or prosciutto, and delicious served on a toasted baguette, pita chips or crackers. You and your guests will love it!
This Recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups, and takes 2-3 days of 'aging' for the flavors to blend.
8 oz cream cheese softened,
1/2 cup butter softened,
1 TBS lemon juice or white wine,
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce,
1/2 tsp dry or dijon mustard,
1 TBS parsley, finely minced,
1 TBS fresh chives, minced,
1/2 tsp dried tarragon,
1 garlic clove finely minced,
1/4 tsp dill weed,
Dash of freshly ground black pepper.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash together with a fork until blended. 
Then, stir with a spoon until well mixed. 
Place in refrigerator, in a crock or airtight container, for 3 days. 
When ready to serve, bring to room temperature. Will keep up to 2 weeks refrigerated, if it lasts that long! 

Enjoy!




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Monday, April 4, 2016

Moscato Lemonade (For Grownups!)

Photo Credit: Classy Coolers (Facebook)

This "Lemonade for Grownups" not only looks pretty, but is so refreshing! 

Now all we need is for someone to have a brunch, a shower or just throw a party so my Bartenders can make a pitcher or two of these! 

Who wants to book a party?



What would you serve with this refreshing cocktail?

(Put your answers in the comments!)



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Aloha Spring!

Image: All Posters
The Luau has to be the most requested theme party in our archives! I don't know a single person who does not have some fascination with tiki-bars, tropical flowers, hula dancers and other things Hawaiian.

Interestingly enough, the Luau of today is much different from when they began.

In ancient times, Hawaiian men and women ate their meals separately, as it was forbidden according to religious rites. In addition, commoners and women were forbidden from eating certain types of food delicacies.

Then, sometime around 1819, this practice was ended (thank goodness!) by King Kamehameha II.

At that time, a symbolic feast was organized, where the king ate a meal with the women of the island, The luau was born, named after the main dish that was served, a favorite of islanders. (Young, tender taro leaves combined with chicken baked in coconut milk-and called luau. Find a modern version of this recipe here: Chicken Luau, )

If you are thinking of throwing a luau for a special birthday or graduate, you are not alone! There are dozens of different ways to have a luau and our staff loves dressing for them!

To find out how to book costumed wait staff for your Luau, contact Barbara: 215-257-3193

I've posted a few links below that will help inspire you, including photos of the Luau themed candy buffet I donated to my daughter's middle school for the 8th grade graduation dance last year.

Do you have a favorite Luau-Inspired link, recipe or idea? Please feel free to post it in the comments area!

A hui hou kakou 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Non-Toxic Housecleaning Ingredients: 9 of Our Favorites

IMAGE:Non-Toxic Cleaning
 kitchenkoachla.com 
Spring Cleaning has begun. Many of our clients are requesting "Green" Products this season due to personal illnesses, allergies and in response to information on how chemical compounds can affect us. But are "Green" products really what they claim to be?

"According to research from the American Chemical Society, the truth behind green-cleaning disinfectant products varies wildly, with some of these products found to be loaded with harmful petrochemical ingredients.

The researchers measured the source of ingredients in more than a dozen liquid laundry detergents, hand soaps and dish soaps that advertised claims such as "natural" and "ecofriendly." The plant-based ingredient content in the hand soaps ranged anywhere from 28 to 97 percent; laundry detergent ranged between 28 and 94 percent; and dish washing liquids from 43 to 95 percent. 


While there were a fair number of products whose "green" claims held true, many more still harbored considerable amounts of harmful petroleum-based ingredients, (which carry respiratory irritants and hormone-disrupting chemicals)." ~Rodale's Organic Life

In addition to being potentially toxic, conventional cleaners cost a bit more than those you would make yourself using common household ingredients that most of us keep on hand. We  recommend these top nine ingredients to keep on hand for all of your (non-toxic), pet and people friendly cleaning purposes: 


White Vinegar
This common ingredient contains 5 percent acetic acid, which is effective in killing numerous strains of bacteria, including E. coli. It's also effective in getting rid of odors, mold and fungus.

• Witch Hazel - An excellent stain remover & jewelry cleaner, when mixed with some (white) toothpaste. When mixed with baking soda and lemon juice, it makes a great all-purpose bathroom cleaner that cuts through soap scum, mildew, and stains.

Lemon juice—An easily obtainable, natural de-greaser that also contains antimicrobial properties. Can be used as a deodorizer and laundry booster.

Baking soda—Perfect for jobs that require scrubbing or scouring, such as bathroom tiles & grout. Also can be used as a deodorizer  for carpets, microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and more. Excellent laundry booster to deodorize whiten and soften clothes.

Washing Soda—Its "washing" power actually comes from the fact that it's sodium carbonate. You can usually find it in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket.

Castile Soap—A plant-based, petroleum-free (liquid or solid) soap found in most natural food stores, drug stores and online.


• Borax—This versatile product is a mineral salt that dissolves easily in water. It is an anti-fungal and a water softening agent and can be used for surface cleaning or as a laundry cleaning booster. It is also contained in some ant and roach killing compounds. 

 Cream of tartar—Can be mixed white vinegar and water to use for stain removal. This ingredient comes in powdered form and can be found in the spice or baking aisle of your local grocery store.

• Essential Oils—Natural essential oils such as Tea Tree, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Basil, Clove, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, etc. add an additional disinfecting, antibacterial, anti-fungal quality, while providing a naturally pleasant smell. In this case, a little bit goes a long way-and you usually only need a few drops dissolved in some Vodka or Witch hazel, then added to your home made cleaners to do the trick. Be sure to use pure essential oils and not fragrance oils and do not overdo it! While some may enjoy lightly scented products, others are highly sensitive. 


In addition, be cautious when using any cleaning product, especially vinegar or citrus oils on furniture. It can strip the finish right off. Its best to save these compounds for tile and other non-porous surfaces. Our belief is that "clean" really does not have a smell at all, and the less scent the better when it comes to servicing our more sensitive clients.

Here is a simple recipe for our Heavy Duty All-Purpose Cleaner that can be used on surfaces in the kitchen or bath, inside microwaves and refrigerators, and on minor carpet or fabric stains:

Peacock Power: Lemony-Sage 
All-Purpose Cleaner

2 cups distilled Water
1 cup White Vinegar OR 1/2 cup lemon Juice (pu;p strained out)
1 tsp liquid Castille soap
10 drops of Basil Essential oil
10 drops Sage Essential Oil
15 drops Lemon or Grapefruit Essential oil

  • Stir and blend together vinegar and essential oils.
  • Add distilled water to mixture, stirring constantly to blend.
  • Add castille soap to the mixture, slowly, several drops at a time while stirring, until well blended. (You may notice some thickening or curdling of the soap as you add it to the mixture. This is due to the acids (vinegar/lemon juice) mixing with the soap base and neutralizing or "cancelling" each other out. If this occurs, do not add the rest of the soap.)
  • Place mixture in a clean pump spray bottle, label and store in a dark cool place. Gently invert bottle to re-blend ingredients before each use.






















Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick Guide: How to Safely Clean your Screens

Learn how to safely clean your screens!
Electronics are a part of our lives. With constant use, dust, dirt and fingerprints are bound to build up on those screens. But you can't just grab a bottle of Glass Cleaner and spray away. Removing dust and dirt from electronic screens requires the right tools as well as the right touch. 

Whether you’re trying to keep the dust particles off of your computer monitor, or the fingerprints off of your iPad, when you clean them incorrectly it could damage them permanently. There are many sites on the internest giving incorrect information on this! Here is our quick guide to safely cleaning your screens.
Cleaning screens correctly will extend its life and keep it from malfunctioning. Dust is one thing, but grease, dirt and oils from your (or your kid's) fingers, is another story. So here are the top two things you DON'T want to do:
  • DON'T spray glass cleaner or any other fluid, (especially  alcohol or ammonia-based) directly onto the screen. Modern flat screen monitors are made with layers of material including plastics, glass, adhesives, display elements, and other materials. When any liquid touches the edges of these screens, the liquid can very easily leak and work its way inside and in between the layers. In addition, alcohol and ammonia can strip the coatings from these layers and cause clouding and other damage to your monitor
  • DON'T use paper towels, tissues, old socks or other scratchy cleaning cloths. Modern display screens are very delicate. Paper towels socks and old t-shirts are not designed for cleaning delicate surfaces. They are somewhat abrasive and can cause scratches, smears and buffed out areas on your monitor.

We also do not recommend any generic "screen cleaners" that don't have ingredients listed on the label. These may contain alcohol or ammonia and will shorten the life of your screen.

We recommend that the single best way to keep your screens clean is to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place, by NOT touching them with your fingers, by not eating or drinking food around them, by not letting kids use them as toys, and by keeping them covered or in their sleeves when not in use. 

It is important to note that your screen should be "off" and cooled as you clean it to avoid any malfunctioning. 

Use a clean microfiber cloth to dust your screen first, using a gentle and smooth "left to right motion", to remove the bulk of the particles. We recommend using the SAME soft cloth, with no cleaning fluids on it, to clean your screen every time. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing as this could cause dull scratched areas.

If after dusting, oily fingerprints remain, take a small amount of distilled water, sprayed on your clean microfiber cloth, and gently wipe screen again. Distilled water will not leave mineral deposits, and as long as your cloth is damp-not soaking wet-you can safely clean fingerprints with it. (Remember to NOT spray distilled water into your screen-as you do not want it dripping down in between your screen layers.) If any dampness remains on your screen after wiping, dry it completely with a clean & dry microfiber cloth.

If stubborn prints remain on your screen after dusting and using distilled water, try mixing a tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons distilled water, apply to cleaning cloth and repeating as above. Dry completely.

For more tips on computer screen use:















Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What are Craft Cocktails?

Photo: A Gold & a Blue Margarita
What exactly are Craft Cocktails? You may or may not have heard this term, but many do not recognize the distinction between a classic cocktail and a craft cocktail.

Craft Cocktail is one where every element is tailored, by hand, specifically to the drink. This might include special glassware, custom syrups or ice cubes, unexpected flavor combinations, and always includes high end ingredients.

It takes care and skill to mix craft cocktails, so if you are looking to serve specialty or signature cocktails at your next event, be sure to ask questions and inquire if your bartender has experience in this area before you hire him or her.


To learn more, please visit the links below:

Elements of Craft Cocktails

Signs of a Fake Craft Cocktail Bar

Craft Cocktails are his Superpower


To hire our serve staff or one of our professional bartenders for your next event, please contact us!  


*Connect with us on Facebook







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Kid's Party Menu Planning for Food Sensitivities

PHOTO: www.cnn.com
If you are planning a child's party, one of the things to keep at the front of your mind, is that statistically speaking, your child probably knows at least 1 or 2 classmates or friends with food allergies. This may affect how you will need to plan for your child's birthday menu.

The key here is to offer an allergy-free option or two and include the children with allergies, without drawing further attention to their dietary needs.

The best advice I can offer is to just ask. Ask if there are any dietary restrictions, (for example, with a peanut allergy, you would be sure to look at menu items and ingredients carefully. If you are planning a candy or dessert buffet, you would be sure that the candy did not contain nor was made in a plant that processes peanuts. ) and if there is something you can offer instead.

Below are some great articles addressing birthdays and food sensitivities. I encourage you to share this post with anyone in your immediate whom you think might find this helpful.

We want to keep all of our kids safe-and especially at a happy celebration! Does anyone have a good resource for food sensitive children? Please post the name and link in the comments area!

Thanks!

~Barbara

Here are the links:

Planning an Allergy Friendly Birthday Party

The Best Snacks for Kids With Food Allergies

Party Planning Tips for Kids With Allergies

Birthday Parties & Kids' Food Allergies

Allergen-Free Snacks for Kids

Kids With Food Allergies (General Information Site)



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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Party Planning Basics: Plan Ahead

Party and event coordination entails so many skills and tasks that I never imagined I would need, but if asked which one skill I have utilized the most, I would have to say it would be planning & visionary skills. 

I have always been one to plan ahead. Even with my children, they have always known that the last minute "By the way, I was invited to go to [name event] after school tonight at 6" and its now a Friday at 3, will send me into my stressful place-which is a place that is bad for everybody around me. So I have taught them from a young age to plan ahead - as far ahead as possible.

This morning as I was doing a supply inventory, I had the pleasure of receiving a phone call from to a lovely, enthusiastic bridesmaid who was inquiring about some services for a Bridal luncheon in mid-July. 

As she we talked about the details, she suddenly asked me if I thought she was silly calling around & planning this far (4 months) in advance. (She had no idea that I LOVE people who plan ahead!)

My answer to her and to anyone else who likes to plan ahead is, "it is absolutely not silly to plan ahead!" In fact, I personally think it is silly to NOT plan ahead.

As I listened to what was being said to me, I also listened to what was not being said, but yet was expressed through the tone and emotion in her voice. She was telling me that she wanted this to not only be a beautiful, memorable experience for her friends-the bride, groom, the family and the entire bridal party, but also that she wanted it to be as elegant, and stress-free as possible.

One of the ways to do that is...you guessed it! To plan as far ahead in advance as possible!

And that is part of the Magic of what our sister company, Eclectic Domestics, does: is to take on those stressful time consuming tasks ahead of time, and allow you the freedom to put it out of your mind, focus on the other things you have to do, such as celebrate the upcoming occasion! Because in our universe, Less Stress = More Fun!

Gathering information, and planning ahead is always the best strategy-because you never know when unforeseen circumstances will come up or when life or schedules in general might get very full, and you will be left with little or time for planning much of anything. This causes unnecessary stress and we want to help eliminate as much overwhelm as possible so you can enjoy the upcoming events without having to worry about a single thing except what you are wearing and what time to be there.

I think I speak for most event staffers and planners when I say that we like it when people plan ahead. This ensures that there is plenty of time to book staff, develop a concept or theme, plan a menu, and make any changes that might be necessary, and order or obtain supplies that might be hard to get at certain times of the year.

The other reason you want to plan ahead, is that many vendors will "lock in" a price for early deposits, especially if you are booking in a slower season. So, especially for budget friendly reasons, the earlier the better.

So fear not of planning ahead. In the immortal words of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra"To be prepared is half the victory!"


*For more planning tips and inspiration, please join us on Facebook

To inquire about our Eclectic Event Staffing & coordination services, please contact Barbara by e-mail or by phone: 215-257-3193.







Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ode to Crudité

Photo: wellandgood.com
"Oh kitchen, if crudité comes, can dinner be far behind?"

(With apologies to Percy Blythe Shelly)

Crudité-simple definition: vegetables in the raw.

The expanded definition would include that these fresh, mouth watering foods, bursting with color are arranged around and dipped in olive oil, vinaigrette, hummus or another dressing, and served as part of an appetizer course or as an addition to a cheese board.

The Crudité is of French origin and are considered a quite healthy menu choice.  The word crudité literally translated means: "uncooked food" (Originally from the Latin "crudus" meaning "raw" and later "cruditas", meaning "undigested food" and eventually French, crudité .)

Crudités are simple to prepare (wash, dry and slice vegetables of your choice into bit size pieces) and arrange on a dish, platter, basket or other container. Crudités can include any variety of vegetable colors, textures and tastes, and therefore offer little something for everyone.

Again, can I tell you why and how much we love appetizers? Especially a crudité?

We've compiled and included our favorite relevant links for you below. Please share-and remember to enjoy your crudités responsibly.


15 Times Crudité was the Most Beautiful Thing on the Menu (Photos)

Crudité Upgrade: How to Make your Crudité Sexier

In the Raw (with Dip Recipes)


For menu planning assistance please contact Barbara 215-257-3193

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Where Hospitality and Entertainment Meet!

Photo: Grandmom Philomena, Me,
and my Mom (standing)at my baby shower, 1999
They say that hospitality begins at home, and I definitely agree.

Most of my fond memories from childhood center somehow around a meal. 

I can remember the aroma of (tomato) gravy & braciole floating out to my grandmother's front porch as we went through her front door for Sunday dinner.

Grandmom would be in her apron, bare feet, welcoming us, grabbing our faces with her garlic-scented hands, and giving us rapid-fire kisses that made our ears ring. 

Pepe, her maltese poodle, would be barking and running back and forth, and Pop-Pop would be getting up from his recliner, gesturing and yelling "stai zitto!" (put a cork in it) to the dog. (Apparently Pepe understood Italian!)

Then came the food. Lots of it. I mean, if a bus broke down in front of the house, the passengers could all have a full meal, and there would be leftovers! Delicious, home grown, home cooked meals, all carefully prepared and served - thoroughly seasoned with love.

When it was our turn to entertain family or other guests, I got to help my mom (meaning wash the hundreds of spoons, spatulas, bowls and dishes she used) in the kitchen. She, like my grandmother, was a dynamo, often doing several things at once before I could event think of doing it.

Two things struck me about these two women: the first was that they genuinely loved to cook and entertain guests. The second was that of all the times I watched and helped them entertain, I never saw them sit still & enjoy. They would be popping up and down during the meal, ensuring that everyone had what they needed. Salt, pepper, grated cheese, an extra napkin, more wine, etc. They never got to enjoy their delectable kitchen creations, or visit with cousin Sylvia, or Aunt Nada, who had to come from North Jersey-about 2 hours away, or anyone. Even after the meal was finished, they would be packing up leftovers and cleaning dishes as guests were walking out the door to go home.

My original party service (Party Genie-Servers & Bartenders for Any Affair) was motivated from what my mother would express as regret. Regret that she didn't get to spend time with her own guests. Even with my help, she still would up doing it all. (She wouldn't allow her guests to help even when they offered. After all-they were guestsThat early experience was what helped me shape my original home & hospitality services, and commit to providing extra sets of hands to help families who entertain at home.

Recently I have had the opportunity to expand those original services (Eclectic Event Staffing) and fuse hospitality and entertainment into a full set of services for event staffing and design. This blog is designed to inform, inspire, and entertain visitors & readers, as they plan their own celebrations, whether at home, at a park or at their favorite local venue. I aim to remove the mystery & reduce the stress that builds around entertaining, and to introduce simple ways to welcome, entertain and spend maximum time with your own guests!

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy sharing!

Vivere  ub abbondanza

(May you live in abundance!)



Barbara Gini
*CEO
Eclectic Event Staffing (of PA)

*(Chief Entertainment Officer)


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