Dreaming of A Tasting Party…

If you’ve been into a Pier 1 lately, there is a chance you may have seen their new “Tasting Party” line of party-ware.  If you haven’t, you should totally check it out!!

http://www.pier1.com/TopMenu/GetInspired/TastingParty/tabid/889/Default.aspx

I tagged along with my sister to Pier 1 the other night, and when I saw this new line, I was totally smitten with the idea of having a “tasting” party.  I secretly love to cook (shhhh… don’t tell my husband).  I especially love to cook appetizers, finger foods and desserts.  I think it’s the only reason I ever have parties in my home. 

OMGosh! I want to have a tasting party!!

I’ve spent the last 36 hours unable to think about anything except what I would serve, what I would serve it on, and what wine or cocktail would go with each course.  It’s all I can think about.  I’ve been constantly planning a menu in my mind.  I think I may have even dreamt about it!

I would have a few different beverages for people to sip on throughout the night.  A nice selection of wine would be a must.  Also a few different cocktails – after all it would be a “Cocktail” and tasting party. 

As for the meals, I’m thinking of 4 courses. 

     Course #1 would be a selection of 2 or 3 appetizers.  Cheese, crackers, salmon pate… maybe my artisan grilled cheese sandwiches, cut into small squares.

     Course #2 would be a small cup of soup and small plate of salad.  I love arugula.  I would definitely have an arugula salad.  With bacon.  I love bacon.

     Course #3 would be the main course.  Some sort of smaller version of a normal entrée.   Maybe a beef tenderloin or grilled shrimp kabob.  Maybe bacon wrapped shrimp kabob.  Did I mention I love bacon?

     Course #4 would be a selection of 2 or 3 desserts served in shot glasses.  I’m a sucker for tiramisu and cheesecake… maybe even a dark chocolate mouse or mini creme brulees.  A dessert wine and espresso would also be available.

The possibilities are so exciting!!  I’m not sure, but I may have been a caterer in a past life… 

I love the little plates, little bowls and little cocktail glasses that Pier 1 is now offering.  They would be so perfect.  Now mind you, I don’t see any reason to spend an arm and a leg to purchase these items at Pier 1.  But the “idea” has really got  me thinking.  Why couldn’t I find these items or similar items at a dollar or discount store?  I see little ramekins and shot glasses just about everywhere.  I’m sure I could come across some smaller cups, bowls and wine glasses in the near future. 

 Now here comes the reality of it.  I’d love to have the money to purchase this whole line of dishes, but that’s just not feasible at this time.  Even if I could find them cheaper, I couldn’t afford to purchase them all at once.  Heck, I don’t even have the money to purchase the food that I would want to serve – even if I cut costs and served it on paper plates.   Much like most of my “dreams”, my pocketbook just doesn’t seem to share my passion.

So in the mean time, I will be keeping an eye out for these smaller dishes at much smaller prices – maybe purchasing a few plates here and a few glasses there.  I’ll also be polishing up my “menu” – maybe even experimenting a little in my kitchen with different dishes.  I will also continue day dreaming about hosting an elegant, sophisticated party, where everyone is dressed to the “T” and is constantly complimenting me on my delicious food. 

This is amazing, Tera”…

“Who is your caterer, Tera?”

“You sure look amazing in that cocktail dress, Tera.  Have you been working out?”  

Hey, they’re my dreams… don’t judge!

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Winner, Winner… Chicken Dinner!!

WARNING!! This post is sure to ensue extreme jealousy!  Please prepare yourself to be green with envy! 

  As many people know, I love winning prizes (just ask my local radio station). 

About a week or so ago, I entered a contest on Facebook from Two Crafty Chicks Handmade Cards & Gifts.  As a ‘fan’ (or a person who ‘likes’ them… whatever) I saw that they were having a give-away and decided to enter.  And… guess what?  I won!  Whoo-hoo!!!!

 I originally found Two Crafty Chicks on Etsy (http://www.2craftychicksonline.etsy.com) through the forums.  I instantly feel in love with their soaps (which sounded good enough to eat – or in some cases, drink!) and became a “fan” of theirs on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/twocraftychicks).  I highly recommend checking them out!!  Besides soap, they also make journals, notebooks, cards, tags and other misc items.

 So the contest was easy.  I simply told them what scent of theirs that I would like to see them make available in other bath and body products.  I chose their Cupcake and Cosmo fragrances, because again, they sounded good enough to eat or drink.  They chose one winner from every so many entries, and I was lucky enough to be one of the people chosen.

 I have to say, I didn’t really know what to expect.  They just said that I won a “prize pack”, which could mean anything.  I was really hoping it would be one of their soaps, since I was dying to try one – but I totally would have been fine with anything they had to offer.

 When I walked into the house after work yesterday, the package was sitting on my living room cabinet, right across from the front door… almost as if it was welcoming me home.  I dropped everything and flew across the room.  In a moment that was reminiscent of waking up on Christmas morning and seeing what Santa had brought you, I tore through that box like it was made of old pantyhose.  My eyes instantly lit up and a huge, gleaming smile came across my face.

 Here is a picture of all the amazing treats I won.

Oh my goodness! OH... MY... GOODNESS!!!!!

I received 2 regular size bars of soap (Tango and Cafe Au Lait), 5 sample size soaps (Indulgence, Queen Bee, Diva, Goddess and Brekky), 4 fridge magnets, 1 large pin-back button, 2 small pin-back buttons and an index card notebook.  I totally feel spoiled now!  I cannot wait to try everything out!

P.s.  Totally need to check this out -> Two Crafty Chicks has an amazing opportunity to help someone in need.  Purchase a bar of soap and they will donate it in your name to a local shelter.  They will also match your donation – so the shelter will get two bars of soap in your honor.  Go to http://www.etsy.com/shop/2craftychicksonline?section_id=6992905 to find out more!!

Why I Love Handmade

“Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers” – Unknown

I know, I am bias… but I love to buy handmade! 

Handmade Bracelet by Creativity is Messy

I started to think the other day about all the reasons I would rather buy a handmade item over something mass-produced.  I was amazed with what I came up with.  I posted the question in a forum and received even more feedback.  I decided to share some of these reasons here in my blog, hoping to inspire others to consider buying handmade as well.

  • When you buy handmade, you are purchasing a unique item, make with love and care from an artisan. 
  • When you purchase something from the mall or a big-box store, you are buying a mass-produced item made by machines in a factory, or even worse, in a sweatshop with unethical work practices. 
  • Handmade items have a personal touch.  A lot of handmade items are OOAK (one-of-a-kind).  Even if the design is reproduced buy the artisan, oftentimes there is still a uniquness to each piece.  
  • Mass-produced items are exactly that… Mass-produced.  You could buy the exact same shirt, or bracelet, or picture, or whatever that a million other people bought that day.
  • Buying handmade supports crafters and artists.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of crafters and artists that are rolling in the dough.  Not everyone can make it big like Martha Stewart.  Most of us do what we do because we LOVE doing it.  Not for the money.  I doubt that the CEOs of Wal-Mart can say they don’t care about the money.  I doubt that the reasons they open hundreds of new stores each year, selling cheaply made, sub-par products, driving away millions of dollars from small business is simply because of their LOVE of buying crap and reselling it to the consumer.
  • Handmade items are often made with quality materials by expert craftsman.  They usually last longer, look newer and better longer!
  • Handmade items can often be custom-made to specifics made by you, the buyer.
  • Handmade items are now easier to buy.  There is no need to wait for the next craft fair!  With sites like Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet and many others, you can buy handmade from the comfort of your own home! 
  • Customer service!  If you ever have an issue with the product that you buy, you deal with the person that made the item… not some person behind a customer service desk or even worse… over the telephone!  You deal with someone who cares because they take pride in their work.  You deal with someone who wants you to love the item as much as they loved making it.
  • I began my post with this quote “Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers”.  Be a trendsetter!  Be an original!  Don’t settle for cookie-cutter!  Be OOAK!
  • Buying handmade is cool! 

 And lastly…

I actually can’t give enough reasons to buy handmade.  It is something I am extremely passionate about.  My favorite reason is because I love to give unique, one of a kind gifts.  I love giving something to someone and listening to them when they say “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!”  I hate giving something as a gift and listening to them say “Oh, I’ve seen these” or “I have one just like it” or “(someone else) has one just like it”.  For me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. 

I had a wonderful Aunt by the name of Joyce.  She was one of the most amazing women I have even had the pleasure of knowing.  She was strong, smart, beautiful, talented, independent, creative, stylish… I could go on and on.  I always looked up to her – and still do. 

Joyce was the most amazing gift-giver!  She would get me some of the coolest, most unique items as gifts.  Not everything she gave me was handmade, but most often it was.  I use to look forward to every holiday, just to see what would come in the mail from her.  Even as an adult, I would get giggly with excitement when ever a package from my Aunt Joyce would come.

Unfortunately, my Aunt passed away 6 years ago after battling breast cancer.  In her memory, I have tried to adapt many of her life philosophies, but especially her passion for gift-giving.  I always try to find unique and modern items for gifts.  I always try to find  or make items that no one else has, but that fits the personality of that person.  I love to see the look on people’s faces when they open the gift and “get” how unique that particular item is.  I love seeing that look, because I know exactly how that person is feeling. 

There are so many reasons to buy handmade.  I am sure there are many I left out.  I hope that one of these reasons touches you and inspires you to buy handmade as well.

My customers are AWESOME!!

I have received some really great feedback from some of my customers recently.  I am so happy that people are enjoying my work!

One in particular: this weekend a gal that purchased one of my necklaces for her mother sent me a note telling me that it nearly brought her mother to tears.  The necklace was part of my “Bird Nest” series, and had a small red cardinal with its nest full of eggs.  Apparently, her grandmother who had passed away 10 years ago, loved cardinals.  She bought the necklace for her mom for Mother’s Day in memory of her grandmother. 

Needless to say, her mom wasn’t the only one who was almost brought to tears!  I love that she shared her story with me. 

I have some pretty amazing customers!

Long Time Bloomie… First Time Runner

Yesterday, I participated in the Lilac Bloomsday Run – a 12km (7.46 mile) race through the downtown streets of Spokane, WA.  This is my 5th year in a row doing the race, however this was my first year “running” (if you’d call what I do running).  My husband, Jeff, who had a heart transplant in 2005, and myself have participated in the last 5 races as a way to celebrate life and organ donation.  My father has also walked with us for all but one year – the year he was recovering from chemo after a bout with throat cancer.  We usually walk, sport some awesome “Donate Life” t-shirts, and talk with people about Jeff’s story. 

I decided that this year was going to be a little different for me.  I set a goal in January to run Bloomsday.  Now when I say run, I mean alternating between a slow jog and a fast walk, but hopefully do more jogging than walking.  I wasn’t going to kid myself.  I knew that I would not be able to run the whole race.  But my goal was to really push myself – because it doesn’t feel like much of a challenge when I walk. 

So after months of jogging at the gym and mentally preparing, this is how the race went…

1st Mile – My goal for the first mile was a brisk walk.  I wanted to get a good warm up before I began jogging, and I knew how congested the first mile can get, so I wanted to take it easy and not risk any injury.  Surprisingly, the first mile wasn’t as packed as I thought it would be, so we ended up alternating between walking and jogging.  It felt good.  Not bad at all.  Yeah, I could do this for another 6-1/2 miles… Yeah…

2nd Mile – Jogged the entire mile, most of which was downhill.  Jeff and my Dad jogged for 3/4 of the mile, but then dropped back to a walk and I went on my way alone.  I kept an eye on them, however.  My husband is 6’6″ and built like a line-backer, so it wasn’t hard to spot them in a crowd.  As the mile progressed they began to get farther and farther away, which worried me slightly.  I’ve never done this by myself….

A small hill at the end of the mile took a little wind out of my sail, but I managed to keep a good pace.  I set a little goal to jog to the first water station which was just a little past the 2 mile marker.

3rd Mile – I managed to make it to the water station.  I slowed to a brisk walk as I downed a paper cup of the best tasting water I had ever experienced in my life.  AHHHHHHH….. I remained walking as I attempted to maneuver my long underwear top out from underneath my t-shirt.  This took longer than anticipated, and I didn’t begin jogging until halfway through mile 3.  I’d like to say that I took advantage of the rest, however taking off my undershirt while continuing forward progress, without flashing 40,000 strangers took more energy than I had to spare…. 

Once I managed my shirt trick, I took a look back and realized I could no longer see Jeff and my Dad.  A little panic set in….

4th Mile – Shortly into mile 4, there was a small, but steep hill, that took me back to a brisk walk.  Once I got past the hill, I began jogging again (which was accompanied by labored breathing).  It didn’t last that long…. I began this “walk up to the next group of people, jog around them” maneuver that carried me to the next water station.  I’m pretty sure they put something in the water because it was the best damn tasting water I have ever experienced.  Even better than the last one….. 

As I enjoyed my water, thoughts of worry about Jeff and my Dad began to surface.  I hope they are both okay.  I always worry about Jeff, due to his heart – but I began worrying about my 63 year old Father, who was just fighting cancer 2 years ago, who jogged the first few miles of the race….  jogged for the first time in… well… EVER…. 

I wished I would have brought my cell phone.

5th Mile – Downhill!  Glorious, glorious downhill!  I began a solid jog down the hill and across the TJ Meenach bridge.  I was feeling good again.  Could this be that “runners high” people are always talking about?  I could keep this up for another…. OH CRAP!!!!  Doomsday hill!!!  I am approaching Doomsday hill!  How could I forget about Doomsday?!?  Why didn’t I walk across the bridge and save a small amount of energy to push my extremely tired ass up the hill?  What was I thinking?!? 

At that point, I think I began to hallucinate.  I remember walking, pushing my strides to as long as my legs would allow… there were birds there – an Eagle and a Buzzard… and a blue dinosaur was there…… and then…. the remainder of Mile 5 was and is a complete blur….

6th Mile – As I began to come out of my Doomsday Hill “fog”, realizing I was still upright, I came to terms with the fact that my legs had gone on strike and would no longer be able to hold a consistent jog.  I walked the majority of mile 6, only jogging as needed to go around other people. 

I continued to worry about the “boys”.

7th Mile – As I walked and began to realize how close to the end I was, I began to build up some more energy.  I continued to “wog”, a term coined by a lady I spoke to before the race (She said she doesn’t walk or jog, but “wogs” the race – a mixture of walking and jogging, alternating of which is only determined on how she feels at the moment).  I didn’t want to push anymore than that because I wanted to finish the last 1/2 mile strong, jogging to the finish line.

.46 of a mile remaining (Yay!) – Once I saw that last mile marker, I began my last “go” at jogging.  I felt good, but I didn’t push it too hard.  I didn’t want to get 100 yards away and collapse from exhaustion, so I tried to contain my excitement and my wanting to sprint to the finish.  (HA, HA!   Sprint!  I crack myself up!)

Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line just ahead, I almost began to cry.  Was it because I was so proud of myself?  Was it because I did more than I ever imagined I could?  Was it because I set a personal best?  Yeah, let’s go with that…  It sure wasn’t because my body was shot and I still had to walk a mile back to the car….

So, I crossed the finish line in 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Not an elite runner by any means.  In fact, I don’t know if I could even classify myself as a runner, but I ran nearly 3/4 of the race – and that is good enough for me.  My Dad finished just under 2 hours – jogging the last mile to ensure he would make his goal.  Jeff was just behind him at 2 hours and 3 minutes.  I didn’t need to worry about any of us, and I am so proud of us all!

Now that I have “ran” a Bloomsday, I no longer feel the need to EVER do it again.  Besides the fact that I am hurting pretty bad today (I feel like I have the hips of an 80 year old woman, and the knees of her 90 year old sister), I really enjoy walking the race with my husband and talking to other people about our story.  I don’t care if it takes me 2 hours or 10 hours… I like being with him and my Dad, and I like crossing that finish line holding his hand.  Sappy, I know…

I can now say that I ran Bloomsday once, but choose to walk it now instead. 

I’m a long time Bloomie, first (and last) time runner!

Happy 40th Birthday Earth Day!

I have never claimed to live a completely eco-friendly life.  I, like many others, often do or use what is “convenient” instead of what is “earth friendly”.  However, I try to make up for the “not-so-great” behaviors with twice as many “great” behaviors. 

I recycle A LOT.  Which is not always easy living here in Spokane.  Our city recycling is pretty limited.  I long for the day that Spokane (like other cities) has the huge bins for recycling and the small little containers for garbage.  I even recycle at work, even though my work does not participate in my eco-enthusiasm.

I make a lot of things from what people would consider “trash” as well… old t-shirts, bottle caps, magazines, lost buttons, forgotten jewelry… pretty much anything that inspires creativity in me.  Just another way I recycle…

I pick up litter – sometimes in an organized group, other times on my own when it crosses my path.

I use re-usable grocery and shopping bags.

I have efficient appliances in my home.

I drive a fuel-efficient car. 

I use a lot of natural products and eat a lot of organic and natural food.  I even grow some of my own veggies in the summer.  I love going to farmers markets and local grocers (but I could do it more).

I pretty much do the things that come easy to me.  Now, I just have to work on some of the things that don’t come so easy…

In honor of the 40th year of celebrating Earth Day, I have decided to try to slowly cut out some of the bad behaviors that I partake in my day-to-day life.  Here is my Earth Day resolutions…

1) Unless I am having a party, I will no longer use paper plates or plastic utensils. (I’m ashamed of this, but I use them almost daily because I hate doing dishes…)

2) I will consider riding my bike to places when a car is not necessary.  Good for the environment… good for me.

3) I will install a clothes line for drying in the summer.

4) (Boy, I hope my husband is not reading this….) I will TRY and minimize the amount of new clothing that I purchase for myself and my family.  When I can, I will re-vamp existing items in my closet.  I will consider buying used.  And when I “have” to buy something new, I will try to buy brands that participate in good environmental practices.

5) I will open a window or put on a sweater, instead of turning on the AC or up the heat.

6) I will cut down on (maybe cut out) red meat.  Not just for health reasons, but the impact that the meat industry has on greenhouse gas emissions. 

7) I will invest in re-usable lunch baggies for me and my family.

8) Lastly, overall, I will consume less, share more and live more simply.

Also, I will start featuring a “eco-friendly” artisan/crafter/company on my blog each week.  Please check back next week when I will put together a selection of recycled and repurposed items from members of my Eastern Washington Etsy Team.

Facebook Fan Page!

Just a quick blog today…

To help promote sales to my Etsy shop (www.creativityismessy.etsy.com) I have created a Facebook fan page.  If you would like to get updates of new items and upcoming events, please visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Creativity-is-Messy/ (or just search for “Creativity is Messy”) and become a fan!

P.s.  Spring Open House will be Saturday, June 5th from 10am to 4pm!  Save the date!

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