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
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!



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.