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.








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!




smile emoticon

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 

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)



Join us on Facebook for more information & Inspiration!




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

*Visit us on Facebook




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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Sunday, February 7, 2016

No Place Like Home

IMAGE: eclecticdomestics.com
I love how each home that we visit, whether for a consultation, housekeeping services, candy buffet set up or a family gathering has a "heart" - a very distinct personality, one which is unique to the individuals and families living there.

I live in a quirky older home, that is filled with the imprints of the family who used to live here. (Okay, it may be a bit haunted, but not in an evil 'Amityville Horror' kind of way-no, we hear laughter, friendly chatter and music all of the time! But that will be a post for another discussion.)

In spite of some of the decor being a bit outdated, one of the things I love most about where I live is light. My front windows face east, and each morning, as I sit at my computer, I get to witness the most incredibly beautiful sunrises (see below)  from my office  window.

This Morning's Sunrise
from my office window








So today's blog is all about the home: tell us, in the comments area, what you love most about your living space. Be specific and as descriptive as you like.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

You Say Sangria....She says "Non-Gria"

PHOTO: www.recipes100.com
We recently had a request to put together a menu, including sweet buffet and beverages for a baby shower. We added this "Non-Gria" non-alcoholic Mocktail to the menu as there were several ladies who were pregnant and not consuming alcohol.

The recipe is below, and is one I developed from a combination of several recipes I found. This combination has gotten rave reviews from family, friends and clients. It makes quite a bit, so be sure to have plenty of space in your refrigerator! The longer it chills, (at least overnight) the more intense the flavor. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!



Non-Gria: (makes about 3 gallons)

1 Standard size bottle Cran-Raspberry Juice
1 Standard size bottle White Grape Juice
1 Standard size bottle apple juice
Juice of 2 whole lemons OR 2 cups lemonade (from a mix)
2 lemons sliced- with peel2 limes sliced-with peel
2 naval oranges halved and sliced-with peel
1 sweet apple-cored and sliced-skin on
1 tart apple cored and sliced-skin on
2 peaches pitted and sliced-skin on
1 Pear cored and sliced-skin on
2-3 cups fresh or frozen berries-any variety
2-3 cups fresh or canned pineapple (with juice) cut into bite sized chunks
1 liter orange or pineapple soda


1- Wash, pit, core and slice fruit, except berries. Place in a large container (I used a stainless steel stock pot-do not use aluminum!)

2- Add all juices to fruit, including pineapple from can (but NOT the soda) and gently stir to blend. Add 1/2 the berries to container/pot and place in refrigerator preferably overnight, but no less than 3 hours.

3-In a separate round plastic container or cake pan, place reserved berries and pour orange soda over so that container is 3/4 filled to the top. Plcae in freezer so that it is level. Freeze solid.

4-When ready to serve, scoop juice and fruit mixture in a punch bowl. Remove frozen soda ring from freezer and pop out of its container. (You may need to run under warm water for a moment to release it.) Place the frozen ring in the punch bowl to keep Non-Gria cold. (AS the soda ring melts it will not dilute the juices.)

Serve in wide mouth glasses, so the beverage and fruit can be enjoyed.


VARIATIONS:

You can add some honey (1/4 to 1/2 cup) to the juice mixture before chilling if you like a sweeter taste

Freeze soda and berries in cube trays to add to glasses or pitchers if you are not using a punch bowl.

To make an alcoholic version, replace orange soda with orange juice, and replace white grape juice with a (liter) bottle of wine.

Garnish with a stick of cinnamon (fall and winter) or a sprig of basil or spearmint (spring and summer) if desired.


Enjoy! :)


*A downloadable version of this recipe will be coming soon!)





Thursday, January 28, 2016

Out & About This Weekend: Jan. 29

PHOTO: eclecticdomestics.com
Has the snow given you Cabin Fever? 

There's LOTS to do this weekend 
in Bucks County PA!   Take a look:


Visit Bucks County (Event Calendar)

Philly Fun Guide (Fun Savers Offers)

Bucks County Alive (Things to Do)

Bucks Happening (Upcoming Events)

Trip Advisor (Activities-Bucks County)

Visit Philly (Bucks County Attractions)


Do you know of or are you hosting an event in Bucks or Montgomery Counties this weekend or in the future? Please let us know in the comments area below.

Have a great weekend everyone!

~Barbara





Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Organizing: Tackling the Paper Mess Part 1

Paper Problems can rob you of time, energy
and in some cases, money!
It has been said that every piece of paper sitting in a pile represents a decision that was never made.

Looking at  that growing piles of paper on your counter, dresser, dashboard, desk or even dining room table can be frustrating and overwhelming, but breaking the task (and the piles) down into smaller segments will help ease some of the pain, clear some of the clutter and help restore your Stress-Free Space!

Beginning the task is often the hardest part, and I recommend you not focus on all the piles of paper, but on just one reasonably sized pile at a time. Understand that clearing clutter is an emotional task as well as a physical one, and to do it successfully you must be prepared to reduce or eliminate as much distraction as possible, and to possibly do the task over several days or even weeks.

Now, pick a single area  (such as your office/desk or kitchen/counter top) and work in 10-15 minute increments. The shorter duration of the task will help prevent overwhelm and distraction. 

(By the way, it is absolutely reasonable to ask for assistance if you think you might have a hard time deciding what to toss and what to keep. Sometimes a friend, family member or a professional organizer can help take some of the attachment out of the task by focusing only on the information that is important to keep.)

Once you have selected the pile you will start with, (be sure it can be gone through in 10-15 minutes) designate 4 categories in 4 separate piles or containers:

  • magazines, catalogs & books (set aside for now) 
  • papers you no longer need and are tossing (for trash can)
  • papers with personal information (for shredding)
  • papers you will keep to file later (for a box, bin or basket)
For the moment, you will focus first on the sorting &  de-cluttering-we will save the filing and shredding for later.

Pick up your first pile (any pile will do) and go through it-making a decision and placing each paper in its correct container until the pile is gone or your 10-15 minutes are up. (If you are undecided, save it to the end of the pile.)

Now, looking at your bins, you should have the most papers in the "toss/shred" bin, and the least in the "file" bin. If not, go through your "file" bin a second time.

Okay- admit it. That felt good, didn't it?

On to the next pile, following the exact same procedure as above. Stay focused and do not get distracted with the content of the papers. (Example: Love letters from your ex-husband that make you sad/angry that the marriage is over, or cute greeting cards from friends that make you reminisce about old times, etc.)  Stay on course.

Once you have completed two piles, take a second look at what you have left in your "file" pile and see if you can whittle it down further.

Then take a look at your magazines & catalogs and decide what can be tossed (old outdated catalogs-place them in trash) what can be put back on bookshelf or donated (books-put the ones you are keeping back on shelf, and set ones you are donating by front door ) and what you might want to pull a recipe or article out of (magazines-place on bottom of "file" bin under the papers you have placed in there.) 

Some key questions to ask when deciding what to keep and what to toss: 

Do I need it for a specific/legal purpose? (Example: bank statements, tax returns & receipts.)

Is this the most recent/updated copy?    (Example: phone bills, retirement account statements)

Do I have the room for it? 



In part 2, we will discuss in more detail what to do with your sorted piles.

Oh-by the way-if you have a paper shredder, be sure to put those documents with personal information (medical bills, bank statements, etc) through it before you toss them in the trash. If you don't have access to a shredder, there are companies (such as mine) who will come out to your home with a portable shredder and shred them for you. 



~Barbara

To learn more about our organizing services and to schedule your phone or on-site consultation, please visit: www.eclecticdomestics.com  











Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Removal Tips to Save Your Back

only remove as much snow
as you’re comfortable lifting!
So now that we (in Southeastern PA) have our first significant snowstorm under our belts, I thought I would post a few tips for those of us who will be completing the massive snow removal task by hand, using old-fashioned shovels.

Please be careful! Be sure to use good body mechanics (bending at the knees, not lifting too much snow at a time, etc) when shoveling. Dressing properly, using the right tools, staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks will help the task go more smoothly.

In general, you’ve got two choices:

  • Shovel after every few inches of snow that falls or 
  • wait until the storm ends and remove the snow in layers.    
In either case, only remove as much snow as you’re comfortable lifting. We chose the latter, to remove in layers. Jay has been out there for several hours by himself, because one shovel has broken, and the other is on its way out! 

Packed snow is definitely much harder to clear, so try not to walk on, drive on or other wise pack it down before shoveling. 

If you can hire someone with a snowblower, or plow, (or if you have one yourself) do it! I don't have to tell you how much easier it makes the job, especially when removing 2 feet of snow from a very long driveway!

On average, 11,500 injuries related to snow shoveling, and 100 deaths are reported and treated in each year, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy (Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.)

One in every three of those injured, suffered lower back injuries along with injuries to the arms, hands, and head. Slipping/falling accounted for one in five shoveling accidents, and about 15%
of the injuries were caused by being struck by a snow shovel.

The following tips are recommended by Nationwide Children's  for preventing injuries when shoveling snow:

  • Warm up with light exercise before you start.
  • Make sure to pace yourself by taking frequent breaks for rest.
  • The best way to clear snow is by pushing it instead of lifting.
  • Ergonomically designed shovels are a great choice to reduce the need for bending and heavy lifting.
  • When possible, avoid large shoveling jobs by clearing snow several times throughout the day.
  • Remember to wear warm (and waterproof) clothing, including a hat, gloves and slip-resistant, high-traction footwear.
More from Nationwide Children's web page: 

"While the majority of snow shovel-related injuries occurred among adults, more than 1,750 children and adolescents under the age of 19 years were injured each year while shoveling snow. Patients in this age group were almost 15 times more likely than those in other age groups to be injured as a result of being struck by a snow shovel, and two-thirds of their injuries were head injuries. “Shoveling snow can be a great outdoor activity for kids; however, it is important for parents to teach children the correct way to shovel snow and remind them that shovels are not toys,” said Dr. Smith, also a professor of pediatrics in The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Many of the snow shovel-related injuries to children are the result of horseplay or other inappropriate uses of snow shovels.”

On a personal note, you also need to look up! Watch for and safely remove overhanging snow and giant icicles such as these on our porch, pictured at right. I certainly do not want anyone to be under that when it decides to let go!

Bonus Tip: If the snow is sticking to the shovel (or the snow blower’s shoot), give it a quick spray with either silicone or, in a pinch, non-stick cooking spray.

To ensure that your cleared surfaces stay that way, use salt or ice melt on those clear areas. If the sun comes out, like it is today, that helps melt and dry the pavement you have cleared. (Click this link to see a Consumer Reports Product Review article on which ice melts work best and are safest for your pets and your property.)


Stay warm, safe & dry everyone! I hear round #2 is coming on Wednesday!

~Barbara
www.eclecticdomestics.com 











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Friday, January 1, 2016