If I told you the year was half-way over, how would you feel? Inspired? Excited? Depressed? All of the above? It’s true. We have crested the hill of 2019, and while it is still the smack middle of summer, you know the downhill snowball of the second half of the year is fast-approaching.
This past month, I discovered (and rediscovered) some of my favorite beverages, party tools, and methods. I am excited to share them with you!
Let’s dive in…
Ice Cream Sodas.
I first made these for an Ina Lunch, and they were the hit of the party. They were so outstanding, we decided to serve them at our Ina VIP party. The recipe is a riff on old-fashioned ice cream sodas, from the time when soda fountains were a thing.
Basically, in a glass, you combine a flavored syrup, a little bit of heavy cream, a scoop of ice cream, and then top it off with club soda. The sweetness of the syrup is mellowed out by the cream, and the bubbles from the club soda make it frothy and effervescent. It is heavenly.
For the lunch we served these in stemless wine glasses with a bamboo spoon and a pink and white striped straw. They were so freaking cute!! This is my new favorite summer dessert. Make it super easy on yourself and scoop the ice cream before the party. Store it uncovered on a sheet tray, and when it’s time for dessert, the ice cream is ready and waiting for you!
Tablecloths as a party hack.
Sometimes the easiest tricks are the most obvious, but they deserve being pointed out when they work. If you are trying to execute a theme for a party, the biggest bang for your buck visually is to make the table look in line with the theme.
Let’s say, for example, you are throwing a State Fair Themed Party. You can hang things on the wall, decorate with cute little touches here and there, but the biggest swath of visual space that your eyes will take in is the table. So make it sing and drive home your theme.
I have two methods I use I do this, and it is my single biggest party trick that I have used over the past twenty years. Find either a disposable table cloth or find a roll of wrapping paper and cover your table in it. For the State Fair Themed Party, we found red and white picnic checked plastic table cloths. It instantly communicated the look and feel we wanted. All the other touches only played a supporting role to the table.
Throwing a lego party? Find bright solid colors.
Throwing a flamingo party? Find the cutest pink polka dot wrapping paper and use it as a runner.
Throwing a new year’s eve bash? Go with metallic gold paper.
You get the idea. It never fails, and at the end of the evening, you throw it all away!
Several years ago I discovered the single biggest game changer in my daily (yes, daily) skin care routine. Exfoliation. But not just any exfoliation. Dry exfoliation. Exfoliation on its own will do wonders for your skin, but to maximize your efforts, dry exfoliation is the real winner.
The idea is simple. Apply your exfoliator directly to dry skin. Do not wet your skin first. Why? Because all those dry dead skin cells, waiting on the surface to be buffed away, are more easily removed when they are dry. It’s the difference between sweeping up dry bread crumbs on the floor versus sweeping up cooked rice. Does that make sense? When the skin in dry, you can more easily sweep away the unwanted “crumbs” on your face. Don’t water down the situation by getting your face wet. Try it and see. I do this every night when I wash my face, and the after glow is real.
Someone gave this to me as a gift, and I’m not sure I would have purchased this on my own. But I love it! There are lots of places you can use this (tossing salad, serving meat, mashing guacamole), but my favorite is scrambling eggs. The silicone means it won’t scratch my nonstick pan (which is mandatory for scrambling eggs), and the fork design helps develop those soft luscious curdles as the eggs cook.
There was a time when these baskets were a part of my regular arsenal of packaging materials. I used to keep these in stock and use to them to package treats when I ran Hurley House out of my home. They are really cute and fun, and add a certain summer flavor to wherever you place them. We ordered a sleeve of them off of Amazon for the VIP party, and I was reminded how useful and cute they are.
Jam jars full of flowers look adorable in them. Garlic on the kitchen counter looks cuter in them. I use them at home in my junk drawer to organize hair ties, stamps, scotch tape, and all the other millions of things my family collects over time. My girls use them in their bathroom to do the same. I have a couple on my kitchen counter to actually hold fruit. It’s nothing essential, but I love the color and the seasonality of such a little touch.
Have a lovely July!