Simplify Your Party Clean Ups with Flings® Pop-Up Trash and Recycle Containers

Having a party takes a lot of work and planning, but it is certainly worth the effort to see lots of smiling faces, hear giggling and laughter, and catch up with old and new friends. Clean up, however, is another story entirely. Sometimes, the time that I spend cleaning up after a party is longer than the time that I needed to spend to prepare for it.

Here a Cup, There a Cup, Everywhere a Cup- Enough, Enough!

After hosting a large event, I have already gotten frustrated when I discovered half-empty cups, paper plates, and napkins everywhere from the fireplace mantel to the bookshelves. Perhaps it isn’t that my guests are slobs or they figured that I could just clean the mess up at my leisure. Perhaps the problem is simply that my guests could not find the trash can.

Plus, maybe my guests haven’t always been sure that I recycle. Maybe that is why they have been more likely to leave their empty beverage cans out in the open on a table or window ledge rather than placing them in the trash can where they will end up in a landfill somewhere. Of course, they should have been able to discover my recycling container since I keep it right next to the trash can. Ah well, it is nicer to give my guests the benefit of a doubt.

Now, however, I won’t have to do that anymore because I have discovered the Flings! Let me tell you, I really wish that these clever stand-alone trash bags had been around when I was throwing four kids birthday parties a year- twice that if you count family parties for birthdays.

What Are the Flings® Pop-Up Trash and Recycle Containers?

The Flings offer an easy solution to trash and recycling concerns at any party. As long as you purchase enough of these free-standing trash and recycling receptacles, you won’t have to worry about clean up at all. Just set them up and forget about them until it is time to clean up from your party.

They offer a nice option to setting up trash cans all over your home, backyard, or rental hall or taping trash bags to the end of the table. Who has that many spare trashcans anyway? The Flings are big enough to hold 13 gallons of waste or recyclables; and they are sturdy and leak-proof.

With Flings, you don’t have to keep emptying your trashcan and replacing the trash bag. Just set enough of these attractive alternatives around the areas where you think you are going to need them and you are done! Once the Fling is filled, simply pull up the top of the bag and close it securely using the drawstring. Toss it in your primary trash receptacle and that’s it. No borrowed trashcans to return. No back and forth scurrying. It is simple, easy, and affordable!

What Do the Flings® Pop-Up Trash and Recycle Containers Look Like?

Flings are currently offered in five different patterns. The recycling design is easily recognizable with the green and white display featuring the recycling logo. Most people recognize this, so they have no problem knowing to place their recyclables in it. That is one of the reasons why this particular style of Fling makes it so terrific to use for tailgate parties and BBQs.

Pair the recycling design up with the picnic/BBQ design and you even have an extra touch of ambience for your party. The picnic/BBQ design is adorable. It features burgers and franks along with bright yellow swirls and suns.

The holiday design offers an attractive red and white display of bows. Two all-occasion designs are available with either cake and stars or balloons and stars. These are great for all types of parties including birthday parties, showers, retirement parties, and holiday gatherings.

Not only do you get easy clean up for each event, but you never have to worry about trash spilling over or out of trash bags that have been secured to the end of a table or on a doorknob.

Pricing and Shipment of Flings

Flings are sold in a variety of combinations that pair up certain designs. You have two quantity options: 4 for $15.99 or 10 for $29.99. If you are interested in trying these adorable freestanding trash bags, visit http://www.Flingsbins.com/Default.asp. There’s even a short YouTube video showing you how easy it is to set these up and use them. Plus, they are currently offering free shipping!

Product provided free to writer for reviewDisclaimer: I received one recycling Fling and two all-occasion Flings to review. I can’t see how you could possibly disagree, but you do have that right. These trash bags are terrific! It is about time someone created stand-alone trash bags that are attractive and functional.

Mardi Gras Party Food Suggestions and Recipes

Try these tasty homemade beignets with this easy recipe to make them at home. Photo and recipe by Cafe du Monde.If you are planning a Mardi Gras party, your menu and party food ideas should be at the top of your priorities. Mardi Gras party food can be as basic or as elaborate as you’d like, and beginners have just as good a shot at creating the perfect Mardi Gras party menu as the experts. Simply decide what you would like to serve at your Mardi Gras party, gather the ingredients, and get cooking!

“The tradition of colorful beads and elaborate parades now stretches from New Orleans, Louisiana to all across the country. Mardi Gras is one of the fastest growing celebrations in the world and a great excuse to enjoy Cajun flavors. Ingredients such as shrimp, and bread pudding, and Louisiana yams are all representative of this unique cuisine. Everyone assumes that Louisiana food is hot and spicy, but I prefer to call it ‘well seasoned.’”


Prepare to host the party of a lifetime with perfect decorations and a star-studded Mardi Gras menu. Consider these Mardi Gras party food suggestions and recipes to help you plan your Carnival party.

Mardi Gras Food Suggestions
Depending on the amount of time you have and your own creativity, the food possibilities at your Mardi Gras party are virtually limitless. Baton Rouge based cookbook author of the trim&TERRIFIC cookbook series Holly Clegg offers the following Mardi Gras party food recipes from her latest book, trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites.

Mardi Gras Salad Recipe
“Get in the spirit with this festive salad of oranges, bacon, carrots, red onions, and green spinach representing Mardi Gras colors with a delicious slightly sweet dressing,” says author Holly Clegg. “Make the dressing ahead of time, have the salad ingredients ready to mix together, and toss when ready to serve.”

Makes 8- 10 servings

Try this colorful Mardi Gras salad featuring the traditional colors of Carnival. Photo and recipe by Holly Clegg.Ingredients:
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 head red tip lettuce, washed, drained and torn into pieces
1 (10-ounce) package baby spinach, washed and drained
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 cup shredded carrots
4 slices center cut bacon, crisply fried and crumbled

Instructions:
1.    In a small bowl, whisk together onion, vinegar, sugar, mustard and olive oil.
2.    Refrigerate until ready to toss salad.
3.    In large salad bowl, combine lettuce, spinach, red onion, mandarin oranges, carrots and bacon.
4.    Toss dressing with salad when ready to serve.

Terrific Tip: Cook bacon in the microwave for crispy bacon without the fat. Drain on paper towels after cooking. Center cut bacon is a better choice to use.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe
“Of course, the best jambalaya is prepared in huge black cast iron pots, but here’s a quick home version that is equally good,” shares Clegg. “I used chicken and sausage but add pork or ham, if desired. This Louisiana favorite serves as a great family one-dish meal or is perfect for a large crowd.”

Makes 6-8 servings

For an authentic New Orleans dish, try chicken and sausage Jambalaya. Photo and recipe by Holly Clegg.Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
14 ounces reduced fat smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 cups chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups canned beef broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Instructions:
1.    In large pot coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown chicken over medium heat until done, turning constantly.
2.    Remove and set aside.
3.    In same pot, coat with nonstick cooking spray and cook sausage until lightly browned.
4.    Remove and set aside.
5.    Coat the same pot with nonstick cooking spray and sauté onion, pepper, and garlic until tender about 5-7 minutes, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. This adds color to the jambalaya.
6.    Add rice, broth, chili powder, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper, browned chicken and sausage and bring to a boil.
7.    Lower heat, cover, and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25- 30 minutes.
8.    Uncover, stir in green onions, and continue cooking over medium heat another 5 minutes.

Terrific Tip: When sautéing the chicken and sausage, the brown bits that stick to the pan give the jambalaya the lovely brown color and will come up when the broth is added. A secret tip is some add a little Kitchen Bouquet for that rich brown color.

Shrimp, Corn, and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe & Beignets…


Tips for Planning and Hosting a Mardi Gras Party

Throwing a Mardi Gras party can be easier than you think!For an unforgettable party idea, host a Mardi Gras party during Carnival season or any time of year. Your Mardi Gras party can be as tame or as wild as you like, but you should be sure to focus on your Mardi Gras party food and beverages, party favors and decorations, and of course, music. Consider these tips for hosting a Mardi Gras party to help you give your soiree the right atmosphere.

As you plan your Mardi Gras party, remember to make yourself a checklist of things to do as well as a grocery list of all the items you need to buy for your food and beverage offerings. Get a few CDs or create an iTunes playlist of your favorite Mardi Gras music and don’t forget to decorate your home for the occasion. For an even more memorable Mardi Gras party experience, encourage your guests to dress up in the Mardi Gras colors or ask everyone to wear a Mardi Gras mask to the party.

Consider these tips on hosting a Mardi Gras party from party planning experts and those who have attended Mardi Gras in person. You can always add your own special touches, too!

Mardi Gras Party Decorating Tips
Make sure you decorate for your Mardi Gras party.Setting the right atmosphere for your Mardi Gras party is vital to the way your guests feel when they walk through the door. Decorate your home with lots of gold, green, and purple to give the right feel to your Mardi Gras party. Be sure to get masks, beads, balloons, and feather boas to further decorate if the spirit moves you. Take some advice from the party pros or make up your own Mardi Gras party decorations however you see fit.

“Décor of traditional purple, green and gold should be abundant not only for the home (tablecloths, streamers, etc), but for the hosts and guests, too,” says Don Miller of Harrison Leifer DiMarco Public Relations. “Most party supply stores carry Mardi Gras supplies.”

Holly Clegg, Baton Rouge based cookbook author, suggests decorating your party tables with traditional Mardi Gras accessories like colorful beads and festive masks. You can strew them about the table for a casual yet classy look.

“Buy an assortment of green, purple, and gold paper napkins to enhance your theme and ensure easy clean up,” Clegg adds.

Mardi Gras Party Food Suggestions
Often the food at any party becomes a point of memory for years to come. If you plan your Mardi Gras party menu in advance, you can likely get all the supplies you need to create an authentic New Orleans style spread. Gather your favorite southern and Cajun recipes and let the fun begin!

Some top Mardi Gras party food ideas include:
–    Crab and corn soup
–    Jambalaya
–    Gumbo
–    Red Beans and Rice
–    Crawfish
–    Shrimp Po’boys
–    King Cake
–    Beignets

“Cuisine is vitally important, even for the non-experienced cook there are some good, quick dishes you can buy in the supermarket like jambalaya, red beans and rice, etc.,” Miller shares. “Andouille sausage is easy to find in most areas. Finally, an authentic King Cake can be ordered online and delivered in time for the celebration, and according to tradition, the person who finds the plastic baby in his or her piece of the King Cake gets to host next year’s party. First time revelers from my party last year are very enthused about hosting this year’s party and have been talking about it for months! Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

Don’t forget the ingredients or mix for your Hurricane drinks!

Mardi Gras Party Music Tips and Other Party Tips…


What to Wear for Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or a Mardi Gras Party

Visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras can be an unforgettable experience. Just decide what to wear on Fat Tuesday!Visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras is an amazing, unforgettable experience, and the outfits you decide to wear to the festivities should reflect that. From the colors of the New Orleans Saints to the traditional gold, green, and purple of Mardi Gras, you can coordinate your outfits with the colors of Carnival or you can choose outfits that you love. If you are wondering what to wear to Mardi Gras, or if you could use a few packing tips and fashion suggestions for Carnival, try these fashion suggestions from Louisiana natives.

What Colors to Wear for Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is perhaps best known for its gold, green, and purple hues, but black and gold combinations also tend to be popular due to the New Orleans Saints NFL team. LSU (Louisiana State University) is another popular local team whose gear Carnival-goers tend to sport. You can choose to wear any of these color combinations or simply wear your favorite colors and favorite clothing. Honestly, jeans and t-shirts or hoodies make excellent choices for most days you’ll spend there. You can also wear shorts or skirts weather permitting.

Wearing lots of green, gold, and purple is a Mardi Gras must!“Anything purple, green and gold is always a must have!” shares Mary Beth Romig of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. “A very popular shirt during Mardi Gras is a polo shirt from the New Orleans store Perlis. You can actually order them online.”

“With all the excitement with the Saints, and with Drew Brees as Bacchus the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, I think black and gold / Saints gear will be a must-have this Mardi Gras season too,” Romig adds. “For all things Black and Gold, the Black and Gold Sports Shop on Veterans Blvd is great. Also, the Drew Brees Finish Strong shirts are a popular choice right now.”

What to Wear for Comfort, Climate, and Weather at Mardi Gras
If you are from up north or anywhere that your winters are bitter cold, you’ll most likely enjoy the warmer climate when spending part of February in the South. The temperatures at Mardi Gras tend to be fairly mild, allowing you to get away with jeans and short or long-sleeve tops and sometimes even shorts or skirts, tank tops, and other warmer weather gear.

Be prepared for the elements. “Just in case it rains, cute rain boots are popular, along with Patagonia or North Face rain jackets,” Romig recommends. “Wear layers, because parades are an all day/evening event!”

Wear comfortable shoes. “From a native who has enjoyed scores of Mardi Gras celebrations, wear comfortable shoes,” says Tom Long of Thomas Long Corporate Communications. “You are on your feet for hours at a time.”

Wear layers. “New Orleans can be both warm and cool in late February,” Long says.

What to Wear on Fat Tuesday or at a Mardi Gras Party…


Food Ideas for a Super Football Bash or Super Bowl® Party

Gathering a few friends together for an afternoon or evening of watching football can be a lot of fun, especially if you prepare a few delectable treats ahead of time. From dips and chips to quesadillas and flavorful chicken nuggets, Consider these great tips for a football party, Super Bowl party, or sports get-together.your fans will have plenty to satisfy their appetites while filling their eyes with football maneuvers on the field. Make sure that you take a look at the dessert ideas that will allow your guys to make a few football maneuvers of their own.

Start by setting up a clever football theme for your tasty treats with easy decorating ideas, a few football-themed tablecloths or paper products, and some yummy appetizers, desserts, and entrees. Not only can you use these suggestions for a Superbowl or football party on game day, but these ideas are terrific if you are planning a birthday party for any of the special guys in your life. For a flavorful alternative to getting takeout, try the following products for any of your football parties or tailgates. In fact, try them for your next Super Bowl® party and create a smash hit with your guests for using your pigskin theme.


Football Finger-food Appetizers
Score your own touchdown with Tyson’s appetizers. One good reason to try Tyson products besides the fact that they taste good is that you can use just a portion of the bag and save the rest for later. Plus, if you have kids, you do not need to use all of the sauce packet if you have finicky eaters.

For a tangy bit of zip, Tyson’s Sweet and Sour Chicken Nuggets give you just what you are looking for in a snack or meal. If you like spiciness, you should prepare Tyson’s General Tso’s chicken nuggets; not only are they easy-to-make, but they are easy-to-eat offering a strong full flavor.

Try Tyson Anytizers chicken bites for a football party or appetizer snack anytime.

If wings are your thing instead of nuggets, why not try Tyson’s General Tso’s chicken Wings or Tyson’s Crispy Breaded Wings with Citrus Fire Sauce. Both of these are flavorful and easy to prepare. Just be sure to put out plenty of napkins even though these are finger-licking good. For a traditional serving method set out forks or football toothpicks to keep up with your pigskin theme.

Try quesadillas made with Swanson chicken as a delicious football party snack or entree.For delicious quesadillas, use Swanson’s canned chicken, your favorite shredded cheese, sliced mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers, and whatever else your heart desires, or should I say stomach desires. Quesadillas are one of the popular dishes you can serve because they are easy to prepare and can be cut into small pieces and eaten easily as finger foods. For a bit of added zest, you can add in a tablespoon of salsa or a few pieces of Hormel pepperoni. This is a great way to use canned meat!

Hormel offers great snack foods like pepperoni and other treats.Hormel’s pre-sliced pepperoni is so easy to serve that it is a definite must have for any culinary quest or football party. Whether you want to serve a meat/cheese/cracker tray or toss a bit of flavor into a salad, quesadilla, dip, or Stromboli, Hormel’s pepperoni brings full flavor to the table just as the football players bring full force to the football field. Serve it at your Super Bowl or football party and please all of the fans at your home as well.

Veggie Patch products are perfect for those vegetarian sports fans in your life. This company offers a lot of tasty temptations so you have your pick of yummy spinach bites, broccoli bites, corn bites, portabella bites, broccoli and real cheddar cheese bites, spinach and three cheese bites, spinach and artichoke bites, and sweet corn and real mozzarella cheese bites.

Products provided free to writer for reviewFinger-food Snacks…


How to Plan an Annual Wine Tour

Plan an annual wine tour for lots of fun and great memories with your friends.Annual wine tours can be a truly memorable and exciting tradition for you and your friends to enjoy. Wine tours can bring together diverse groups of friends who may not otherwise have met. Even if you are a novice wine drinker, annual wine tours offer a great way to learn about what kinds of wine you like and what kinds of wine you don’t really enjoy.

If you would like to plan your own annual wine tour, you can easily do so as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. Planning an annual wine tour surprisingly can be a lot like a project in and of itself. If you have any project management skills at all, you may find an easier time planning a wine tour than those who don’t have those skill sets. If you treat your wine tour as a multi-part project, you should be able to successfully plan an unforgettable wine excursion for your closest friends.

Consider these tips to help you plan your own annual wine tour.

Research All the Options for Planning your Wine Tour
If you’ve never planned a wine tour before now, take it easy and slow to avoid getting overwhelmed. There are a lot of steps to go into the planning of your wine tour. Research is the most time-consuming and most tiresome of the steps. Once you have completed all the research needed in planning your wine tour excursion, you will find the remaining pieces of the planning to be much easier.

First you need to research wine tour transportation companies, such as those offering a limo bus or a special wine tour bus, trolley, or other luxury vehicle. The tricky part of planning your wine tour transportation is knowing how large or small of a vehicle you need. Depending on your group size, you can consider chauffeured vehicles from a standard limo (or even a town car) to a huge, luxurious wine tour bus. Some wine tour limo buses even have a bathroom on the vehicle!

Sometimes you may find yourself waiting on your friends, delayed at making your transportation reservations. If this is the case, you can still call the different transportation companies to find out which one will give you the best deal. Sometimes you might be able to get a better deal than advertised, especially if you are willing to make a deposit right away. Be prepared to plunk down about $300 or so for a deposit to reserve your ride. You should probably wait to reserve your wine tour transportation until you hear back from enough friends to make a judgment call on the vehicle size, but do not wait so long that you lose out on reserving something altogether.

As far as researching the wineries in your desired wine tour itinerary, there are a few key questions to ask. Find out if the winery can accommodate a group of your size first and foremost. If you don’t know how many people are going on your wine tour, estimate for now. Next you should ask about any tasting fees or costs to your group if you should visit. You can always ask for more details, but these are the two main questions you should ask every winery that you call.

Determine the Budget, Guest Count, and Wine Tour Bus Size for your Event
To help you plan your guest list, guest count, and wine tour bus size, not to mention your budget, you can send out an evite or any method of invitation that you prefer. The evite method is nice because it offers you a chance to poll your guests, for example about food choices and whether people would like to continue the party when your wine tour concludes.

Ask your guests what their budget would be for the cost of the bus and any other relevant fees such as driver tip and winery tasting fees. If your guests are on a tight budget, and many may be due to the economy, you may have to scour the area for wineries with free tastings. If your guests have more of a budget, you may be able to look at the wineries more objectively and choose those that best suit your group.

A note on guests’ RSVPs – whenever possible, do whatever you can to collect your guests’ money for the wine tour in advance. This way if anyone should back out at the last minute, it will be on their own dime and not yours.

Require your guests to RSVP to your event by a certain day and time. This way, you can book your wine tour transportation sooner rather than later, ensuring that you have a limo bus or other vehicle to take you around to your chosen wineries. The earlier you plan in advance, the better chance you have to learn about all the deals and possibly save money, although there is something to be said for the luck of finding a company with an open date with available transportation at the last minute. You can usually get a decent discount in these cases.

Make Reservations for your Wine Tour Transportation and Preferred Wineries to Visit
While many of your pals may be procrastinators and may not want to get back to you very early on, you do need to make the reservations for your wine tour transportation as early as possible. Ask the wine tour vehicle’s company if you are able to change the size of your reserved vehicle if you end up with too many or not enough guests. Some companies may let you do so as long as a bigger or smaller vehicle is available.

Once you have the wine tour bus booked, take the time to call back any of the wineries that interested you. You need to make sure they can accommodate your group size and you should also let them know roughly what time to expect your group to arrive.

Plan out the Finishing Touches and Other Details
Once you have the wine tour bus booked, your winery itinerary settled, and your guest list finalized, congratulations – you are almost there. Here are a few tips to help you plan out the finishing touches and other details for your wine tour.

•    Plan at least one full meal and possible snacks for your day. Food placed in coolers tends to work well.

•    Ask guests to bring snacks, bottled water, and/or a bottle of wine on the bus. Drinking a little wine on the bus can be lots of fun between stops.

•    Consider ice breakers and other silly games to get your mixed group of friends interacting with each other.

•    Be careful and keep the safety of your friends and guests in the forefront. Do not let anyone drink and drive.

•    When you do visit a winery with free tastings, try to be as courteous as possible by buying a bottle or two of any types of wine that you liked.

Because your wine tour is a once-a-year event, you can probably justify paying a little more than you normally would for average weekend plans, but make sure you check on this with your guests. After you get one or two wine tours under your belt, you will be in great shape to continue planning the annual event indefinitely. Enjoy!

Good for the Soul Gifts for Friends or Acquaintances by Yara’s Bliss

Sometimes certain friends are difficult to buy for, and other times you may have just met someone and quickly need a present, not having a clue about their tastes. In these cases, it’s usually a good idea to get the person a gift with a theme that is appealing to a wide variety of people. Gifts centered on relaxation and rejuvenation for the body, mind, and soul can often be the perfect gift for a female friend or acquaintance. Yara’s Bliss offers countless relaxing ways to show your friends you care.

Yara’s Bliss allows you to give your friends, family, coworkers, or acquaintances a lovely and luxurious spa experience in the comfort of their own home for a reasonable price. Spa and relaxation gift items from Yara’s Bliss are hand-crafted, containing a intermingling of natural herbs, botanicals, and essential oils. No matter who your gift recipient may be, you are sure to find a gift or gift set within your budget, from a $4 bath bomb to a bridal gift basket at $65.

For a relaxing gift for a woman of any age, a soft and soothing eye pillow filled with rice and essential oils or herbs offers a great way to rest and recharge your batteries. The “cuddle” fabric of the eye pillow is incredibly soft and pleasant to the sensitive skin around your eyes. I received a lime green colored Cucumber Melon scented eye pillow to try out. The bright green plush fabric and the hot pink ribbon make this gift bright and cheerful for any occasion. The fabric on the back of the Cucumber Melon eye pillow is black Bridal Satin. This handmade gift is filled with jasmine rice and fragrance oil. The Cucumber Melon scented eye pillow retails for $15.99.

Yara’s Bliss offers a variety of luxurious spa themed gift ideas in bright and beautiful colors. The Soap and Sisal Gift Set is another way to add some color to your gift or to coordinate a gift basket with a certain color scheme. The Yara’s Bliss Soap and Sisal Gift Set features a Sisal Soap Saver and Handmade Soap in a variety of colors and fragrances, including Lavender (purple), Sweet Pea (pink), Green Apple (green), and Lemon Sugar (white and yellow).

I received a Green Apple Soap and Sisal Gift Set, and this item is as luxurious as they come. The set was packaged in a bright, hot pink sachet bag that contrasted beautifully with the lime green and white slice of homemade soap. The Sisal Soap Saver is reusable, as it is the perfect fit for many standard bars of soap. The crafting of the soap saver is also lovely, featuring an even knit pattern and a sturdy drawstring. The Soap and Sisal Gift Set retails for $10.

Shoe Fresheners can be a great gift for the athletes and even the men in your family. Golfers, hunters, runners, and sports athletes can all enjoy nicer smelling shoes thanks to the Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners, which are made with cedar wood shavings, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, jasmine rice, and other herbs and fragrances. Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners are also great for keeping dress shoes smelling nice. The minty fragrance of the shoe fresheners is a true delight and each shoe freshener is individually wrapped in a triangular sachet bag with a pretty adornment at the drawstring. Yara’s Bliss Shoe Fresheners retail for $8.50.

Countless lotions, sugar and salt scrubs, and other beauty and relaxation products are also available. I got to try a Bathing Beauty Herbal Bath Bomb, which is pretty in pink and white and roughly the size and shape of a baseball but packed with fragrances and essential oils. The Oatmeal & Soy Body Lotion by Yara’s Bliss is rich and creamy, delivering hydrated skin with a soft and delicate fragrance. A great option for winter gifting is the peppermint and tea tree foot and leg lotion – always a lovely fragrance combination. Dry winter skin – or dry skin anytime – gets banished thanks to this silky yet rich body cream. Finally, Yara’s Bliss Shea Butter Revitalizing Lotion offers a pretty yet subtle fragrance and a smoothing effect on skin. The lotions and skin creams can become addicting! I think my skin craves more of them after each initial use. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it – but no complaints here!

In addition to these products, Yara’s Bliss specializes in Brazilian beauty and offers bath teas (or soaks), aromatherapy neck warmers, heating and cooling pads, and countless bathing accessories, to name a few. For more information, please see http://yarasbliss.com.

Cocktail Party Checklist for Shopping and a To Do List

If you are planning a cocktail party for your guests, be sure to create a cocktail party checklist to help you prepare for the occasion. A cocktail party checklist will give you great guidance as a shopping list as well as a “To Do” list to get your home ready for the cocktail party. To ease your stress levels, start planning for your cocktail party in advance so you don’t have to rush at the last minute.

As you start thinking about your cocktail party checklist, be sure to write down any ideas that come to mind. You can use this cocktail party checklist or make up your own including any of the suggestions below. Don’t forget to be creative and add your own flair to all the cocktail parties you host.

 

Cocktail Party Checklist – Alcohol Shopping List
Be sure to pick up a variety of the following spirits as part of your cocktail party checklist:

1.    Rum
2.    Vodka
3.    Gin
4.    Whisky
5.    Tequila
6.    Flavored Rum / Flavored Vodka
7.    Amaretto
8.    Brandy
9.    Schnapps or Other Fruit Flavored Liquors

Cocktail Party Checklist – Mixers and Garnishes Shopping List
Don’t forget to pick up these mixers, juices, sodas, and garnishes to ensure your cocktail party is a shining success:

1.    Limes
2.    Lemons
3.    Oranges
4.    Maraschino Cherries
5.    Olives
6.    Sweet & Sour Mix
7.    Cosmo Mix
8.    Bloody Mary Mix
9.    Tom Collins Mix
10.    Daiquiri Mix
11.    Margarita Mix
12.    Pina Colada Mix
13.    Coke / Pepsi (and diet soda for the calorie conscious)
14.    Sprite / 7up
15.    Cranberry Juice
16.    Pineapple Juice
17.    Grapefruit Juice
18.    Orange Juice
19.    Lots of Ice
20.    Food as needed to serve as hors d’oeuvres

Cocktail Party Checklist – Menu Suggestions and Food or Hors D’oeuvres to Serve
Consider these ideas for what kind of food to serve at your cocktail party or come up with your own cocktail party menu:

1.    Piggies in blankets (cocktail weenies)
2.    Cheese puff pastry
3.    Shrimp Cocktail
4.    Cold cuts or mini sandwiches
5.    Chicken or beef on skewers
6.    Swedish or sweet & sour meatballs
7.    Chips and dip of your choice
8.    Cheese and crackers
9.    Baked Brie
10.    Veggie tray
11.    Fruit tray
12.    Pastry tarts
13.    Brownies or cookies
14.    Chocolate mousse
15.    Cake or pie

Cocktail Party Checklist – Bar Supplies
Keep these bar supply items on hand to successfully concoct just about any kind of cocktail:

1.    Shaker
2.    Strainer
3.    Shot Glasses
4.    Variety of Glassware
5.    Cocktail Napkins
6.    Bar Tools
7.    Bar mop
8.    Stirrers
9.    Straws
10.    Cocktail Swords / Umbrellas

Cocktail Party Checklist – To Do List
Use this cocktail party To Do List to help you get ready to host a cocktail party at your home:

1.    Invite guests.
2.    Purchase all liquor.
3.    Purchase groceries and relevant bar supplies.
4.    Make the food or get your party catered.
5.    Slice the fruit.
6.    Chill the mixers and sodas.
7.    Place ice in an ice bucket.
8.    Set up a buffet area for the food.
9.    Set up a special area to function as the bar.
10.    Enjoy!

Top 10 Kinds of Christmas Cookies to Make

Holiday baking can be a fun Christmas tradition for your whole family.Christmas cookies are one of the holiday favorites for many people. Baking Christmas cookies together with your family can be a fun tradition that lasts generations. Little girls often love baking cookies with their moms, and little boys can have lots of fun making Christmas cookies too. As kids grow older, they may enjoy baking Christmas cookies with their friends or doing Christmas cookie exchanges. No matter what your cookie preference, you’ll need to come up with a list of favorite Christmas cookies to make.

As you start to make your Christmas cookies this year, consider the traditions in your family, classic cookie favorites, and of course, something just a little over the top. With a good variety of Christmas cookies, you can appeal to the tastes of everyone you know. If you plan to do a lot of baking, you can make tons of Christmas cookies and box them up nicely in tins as gifts for your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Consider these top 10 kinds of Christmas cookies to give you a head start on your holiday baking. Don’t forget to pick up all the ingredients before you get started!

Top 10 Types of Christmas Cookies

Bake lots of colorful Christmas cookies for family and friends.1.    Chocolate Chip Cookies
2.    Sugar Cookies
3.    Oatmeal Raisin or Oatmeal Craisin Cookies
4.    Spritz Cookies / Press Cookies
5.    Candy Cane Cookies
6.    Snicker Doodles
7.    Chocolate Mint Cookies
8.    Florentine Cookies
9.    Neiman Marcus Cookies
10.    Gingerbread Cookies

After you bake all your Christmas cookies, be sure to share with those you know so all can enjoy your delicious baked goodies. To keep cookies extra fresh, keep them sealed in a Tupperware container or gallon-sized Ziploc bags. You can also add a piece of bread to the container or zipper bag for added freshness. Most importantly, enjoy eating and sharing your fresh and delicious Christmas cookies!

Make a tasty gingerbread cookie family in your holiday baking.

7 Tips for Hosting a Holiday Potluck Party

Holiday potlucks are a fun and economical alternative to the traditional corporate holiday party or holiday family gathering. Holiday potluck parties offer an interactive element that allows your guests to get involved by cooking, baking, or even picking up a snack or dish from the store or a restaurant if time is of the essence. With a few tips for hosting a holiday potluck party, your event can be as successful as can be.

Holiday potlucks offer a great option for a Thanksgiving party or a Christmas dinner party. You might also enjoy a holiday potluck in between holidays with your coworkers and friends from work. Holiday potlucks around Easter can be just as much fun – just don’t forget the Easter candy. You can, of course, host a potluck party any time of year – it needn’t be a holiday. Holidays are just such a great excuse to organize a potluck!

“There is nothing tacky about asking guest to bring something – you’re not skimping; you’re simply encouraging others to share in the creation of this event,” says Jes Gordon, celebrity event producer and author of Party Like a Rockstar.

As you prepare to host your holiday potluck, don’t forget to give your guests quite a bit of notice so they have time to contemplate recipes, make a shopping list, buy ingredients, and prepare their chosen dish. A minimum of two weeks advanced notice would probably be a good place to start, but if you have a spontaneous crowd, you can surely give less notice and see how it works out. Consider these tips for hosting a holiday potluck party to help guide you in planning your own special potluck event.

1.    Consider keeping track of the potluck dishes your guests plan to bring. Ask guests what they would like to make or bring so that you have a running list for the menu. Don’t force the issue if people still want to think about it – planning ahead is just a good practice to ensure you don’t end up with five hams and no sides or a room full of desserts. Once you know what most or all of your guests are bringing, you as the host or hostess can then fill in the gaps for whatever items are missing once the potluck date gets closer.

2.    For a festive atmosphere, consider a color scheme or theme for your potluck.
“So tell folks to bring something other than the ubiquitous green bean casserole – get them involved in the environment as well,” says author and celebrity event producer Jes Gordon. “As with any type of co-op, the best way to make it a success is with some form of structure. I suggest coming up with a holiday palette for the party. Instead of regular red and green and blue and white, re-imagine your own holiday hues like chocolate brown and copper – or put a spin on the originals by using navy blue and silver for a Hanukkah party. This way when you request items, you can tell guests to keep the color palette in mind when making their offerings.”

3.    Make your potluck a little competitive and a lot of fun. “We have a potluck lunch for the corporate office right before Halloween that is very successful,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive vice president for Half Price Books in Dallas, Texas. “We vote on the best themed dish and best tasting dish. Each department enters a decorated pumpkin and we vote on the most creative. We have great entries. I always bring my mac and cheese and it is a favorite! I have won best tasting for two years, so I have taken my name out of the entries.”

4.    Get creative with how you warm up potluck food and keep it warm. “Most people bring desserts because they are easy to keep,” explains Kathy Doyle Thomas. “Hot or cold is never an issue, but we have had great stews and soups in crock pots. My take on the party is that most people like hearty warm foods. Since we do not have an oven in the break room, I have gotten metal containers with lit Sterno under them to keep the food warm.”

5.    Open the potluck invitation


Tips for Throwing a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Bash

Sweet Sixteen comes only once in a lifetime per person, and so many young girls look forward to this special birthday for so long. Sixteen marks the age in many states where a driver’s license may be obtained, and also a step closer toward adulthood. Celebrating the Sweet 16 birthday is a must for families with a teenage daughter. Depending on your daughter’s likes and dislikes, you can find the perfect Sweet 16 celebration style to suit your sweet teen.

Before you begin to plan your daughter’s Sweet 16 party, consider your teen’s personality and party preferences. Some girls may prefer an all-out birthday bash while others may prefer a smaller gathering with a few very close friends and family. Consider the following tips on throwing a Sweet 16 birthday bash for your daughter.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas for Outgoing Party Girls – A Surprise Party: Sweet 16 Birthday Bash
Outgoing birthday girls may truly enjoy a large scale event with all the fixings. A super surprise Sweet 16 birthday party may be the perfect treat to tickle this teen’s ego and personal preferences. Consider teaming up with some of your daughter’s closest pals to put together an unforgettable surprise party for your teen.

When it comes to the Sweet 16 party details, your outgoing daughter may appreciate a pink punch fountain for drinks and a chocolate fountain with all kinds of fruits and confections for dipping. Don’t skimp on the sweets and treats, snacks, appetizers, and of course, the music and decorations. Be sure to include all of your daughter’s friends, cousins, and family on the invite. Ensure that the Sweet 16 birthday cake is a sight to behold, and don’t forget 16 candles.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas for Intellectual Teens and Artistic Girls
Your intellectual daughter or artistic daughter may enjoy a cultural or a creative experience for her birthday. Plan a special birthday event such as a tour of a museum or a local historical sight, or an interactive craft session. You could really take advantage of a fun experience such as a ceramics class, pottery throwing class, or even a glass blowing demonstration / workshop for a small group.

Your artistic / intellectual teen might also enjoy an interactive cooking class where everyone in the group can participate, and of course, taste the results of their efforts. Painting, beadwork, and sculpting are just a few other options for the creative types of Sweet Sixteen birthday party ideas.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas for Athletic Girls and Sports Fans
A Sweet 16 party for the athletic daughter and sports fans can be especially enjoyable to Dad and the athletic or sports fan mom. Consider all of the fun professional and semi-pro sports teams in your area for a few ideas of what you can plan for your daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday party. If your daughter has a favorite sport or a loyal following to a particular team, that is a great place to start in planning her Sweet 16 party.

Depending on your budget, you might consider bringing a few friends to a pro or semi-pro sporting event or even renting out a party suite at the sporting venue if cost is not an issue. Remember though, the admission, the food, and the souvenirs at a sporting event can all add up quickly. Don’t forget to ask the venue’s ticket office or salespeople if there is a birthday party package available. If you plan your daughter’s sports related Sweet 16 party enough in advance, you might even be able to get her name and age noted on the screen or scoreboard at the game!

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas for the Princess Type
If your daughter is really a princess at heart, you might find plenty of pinks and purples in decorations a wise choice. You can glitz things up with some glitter and streamers, and make if a fun day full of fantasy and excitement. Go the whole nine yards on the Sweet 16 birthday cake and make the entire day a big production.

Another fun option for your princess daughter is to organize a fun day of glamour and celebrity for your teen and a few select friends. Rent a limo and plan a day where the girls get to attend spa treatments or a show, concert, movie, or other fun event. Be sure to include a special stop for a Sweet 16 birthday meal, complete with cake, and don’t forget to end the day with sparkling cider or grape juice. If your daughter prefers, a slumber party may also be a great option for this special Sweet Sixteen birthday party.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas for Shy Girls and Low Key Loving Teens
If your daughter tends to be on the shy side, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make her Sweet 16 special. First, consider talking to her a few weeks to a month in advance to see what her ideal birthday party would be like. Perhaps it is merely a special dinner out with the immediate family. Perhaps it is a baking party with a few of her closest friends. You can get extra creative to ensure your shy teen has a memorable and enjoyable Sweet Sixteen party.

If your teen tends to be more relaxed and low key rather than shy, you can still plan a rather tame Sweet 16 party idea. Instead of going all out with the decorations and novelties, consider making the day special in other ways. Your daughter may simply want to invite a few friends over to watch movies and eat popcorn. She might prefer a simple pizza party for her sixteenth birthday. Either way, you probably have it a lot easier when it comes to planning your daughter’s Sweet 16 party!

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No matter what you decide to do for your daughter’s Sweet Sixteen birthday bash, remember that this is a memorable occasion she’s likely anticipated for much of her life. You don’t have to break the bank to make this particular birthday special. Stick to your budget and find creative ways to enhance the atmosphere and the occasion without spending more than you can muster. As long as you put in a little effort, your daughter will be sure to appreciate all that you’ve done for her 16th birthday!

Simple Feng Shui for Your Thanksgiving Celebration

Most if not all of us know just how hectic it can be to plan a memorable and successful event, much less a special holiday meal for the whole family and extended relatives. Sometimes everything comes together perfectly, sometimes nothing does. This year rather than stress, try out some simple Feng Shui tips for your Thanksgiving festivities, compliments of ChicagoHealers.com Practitioner Dr. Andie Pearson, DMD.

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving should not be intimidating to you in the least. You can start with as many or as few Feng Shui tips as you like for your holiday decorating. ChicagoHealers.com Practitioner Dr. Andie Pearson, DMD, shares her favorite five tips for simple Feng Shui at Thanksgiving time.

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving Tip #1:
Clean and Clear – “No matter what the occasion, the first step in Feng Shui is clearing clutter and cleaning the area,” says Pearson.

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving Tip #2:
Analyze – “After you have cleared, cleaned, and organized the area where you will be entertaining, you need to decided on themes, purpose, how many people will be invited, who will be there, and what activities and foods will you have,” Pearson explains. “This should help you with the rest of your planning.”

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving Tip #3:
Color It Warm – “Plan the decorations with warm, relaxing colors,” Pearson suggests. “Use goldenrod, earthy greens, tans, amber, deep rich reds or maroons, etc. You want a color scheme that will be both relaxing and welcoming. Fall and Thanksgiving colors lend themselves to this very well.”

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving Tip #4:
Traffic Flow – “Create a good flow of traffic throughout,” she adds. “Ask yourself – Are you having an actual sit down event, buffet, or cocktails with appetizers?”

•   Feng Shui for a Formal Thanksgiving Dinner: “If you are having a formal dinner, have that room separate from the rest of the party, allowing the rest of the party area to be designated as the place for social gathering,” Pearson instructs.

•    Feng Shui for a Buffet Style Thanksgiving Dinner: “For a buffet-style Thanksgiving, have an area for the food and a section for drinks,” she adds. “You will also need to have seating scattered about in organized fashion that doesn’t block flow of traffic.”

•    Feng Shui for a Thanksgiving Party or Cocktail Party: “A Thanksgiving party that is just snacks, appetizers, and cocktails has a bit of free flow,” Pearson notes. “You can arrange several areas for food and drinks scattered throughout the room so that people can stroll from place to place and socialize.”

Simple Feng Shui for Thanksgiving Tip #5:
Minimalist – “Decorations should be pleasing to the eye, but kept to a minimum,” Pearson advises. “Overly large or overwhelming items or too much clutter can create an environment of anxiety. The stimulation will be too much and will make it hard to relax into the party. Flower arrangements on the table or throughout the room should be conservative and moderate to short. Anything big or tall will not allow for conversion across the table. Because people will be visiting and talking, music would be very nice, but needs to be low and soft so that it doesn’t compete with everyone there.”

As you plan your Thanksgiving festivities, consider these helpful and simple Feng Shui tips from Dr. Andie Pearson, DMD. If you aren’t ready to go full Feng Shui, take note of any suggestions that do work for you and try those out first. You can always create a warm and inviting atmosphere with the right mindset – sometimes it just helps to have a bit of direction when it comes to Feng Shui.

“If you stick to the basics of Feng Shui, your party will be a success,” Pearson encourages. “So remember, clear and clean, plan in detail, go low and conservative on decorations, and allow for good social flow patterns throughout the party area.”

About the Expert:
Dr. Andie Pearson, DMD, is a practitioner at ChicagoHealers.com. She practices holistic dentistry, general dentistry, craniosacral therapy, body-based orthodontics, and dental homeopathy. For more information, visit www.holisticdentalservice.com.