Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blueberry / Lemon Ice Cream Pie

I love an easy,  refreshing, cool flavor on a hot summer day .  What a better combination than a Blueberry and Lemon Ice Cream Pie, especially if the colors meet the criteria for celebrating 4th of July! 

Blueberry and Lemon Ice Cream Pie

Crust (this can be done a day early)
20 graham crackers (approximately  1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 c butter, melted

Mix together. Spread on pan on pie plate evenly and firmly.
Bake @350 degrees for 7 minutes.

White Filling:
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1 cup whipped topping
1/2 cup thawed lemonade concentrate (less 2T of lemonade, if you don't want it tart)

Berry Sauce
1 cup fresh blueberries
2T water
1/4 cup plus 2T sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (prefer meyer lemon)

In a saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice.  Cook and slightly stir over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved.
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2T water

Mix until smooth.  Stir into berry mixture.

Bring to a boil and stir until thickened about 2 minutes.  Refrigerate until chilled.
Remove pie from freezer at least 5 minutes before cutting.  Serve with berry sauce.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Apple Pie

What's more American than a good old Apple Pie, served on the 4th of July!  I made a latticed top and added 5 stars to represent the American flag.   

Apple Pie

Make pie crust or use your own crust

2- 9 inch Pie Crust:
2/12 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I use King Arthur's flour)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
4 to 5  Tablespoons ice cold water

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.  Cut or break butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture.  Stir around with a fork and sprinkle in water 1 tablespoon at a time until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl.  Gather pastry into a ball; shape into a flattened round (for 1 crust pie) or into 2 flattened rounds (for 2 crust pie).  Chill 1 hour. 

Apple Filling
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4  cup white sugar
3 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4-5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1T cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare filling. Combine  first 4 ingredients. 
Pour into apples, mix gently to coat.  Put in to pastry lined pie plate.
Brush pie crust with 1 egg white slightly beaten and sprinkle with 1T cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 50 minutes  slightly covered with foil. 
Cool for 15 minutes. Serve a la mode or with whipped cream.


Monday, July 22, 2013

How to Highlight Auction Tables

Fundraising events are the lifeblood of non-profit organizations and the Silent Auction is one big area of revenue at these events.  This post is about "how to highlight auction items  and embellish gift certificates"  to make them more appealing to buyers.  We'll use before and after photos from a recent successful non-profit silent auction to show how you can "liven up" your auction table!

The goal is to make an auction item come alive and catch one's attention and make it more attractive for guests to make higher bids. 

"Silent" auctions are so-named  because there is no auctioneer selling individual items.  Many items are auctioned simultaneously on a table.  Bid sheets usually have a fixed starting amount, predetermined bid increments and close at the same time.  At the end of the "closing" time,  the highest listed bidder wins the item.  

   Below are some examples of the donated items BEFORE and AFTER:

BEFORE- a brochure, postcard, and scarves

To display the scarves distinctively, I've  added height and texture: a small gift bag with green wrapping paper, a large polka-dot bag, a medium shiny purple bag and added silk flowers to bring out the colors of the silk scarves. 

For a dramatic effect, I typed the company's motto on pink paper and cut it out like a ribbon and glued in the front.  Lo and behold, there were a lot of inquiries about this company.  

A simple black and white note describing the photography item; colorful marketing cards were provided inside an envelope with the gift certificate. 


Since there were several of these photography gift certificates (which took almost the whole table) that were donated,  I framed the gift certificate and displayed the pictures.  I wanted to create an illusion of  a photo gallery highlighting the photos, so I added varying sizes of frames with  colorful gift wrap paper, and added old cameras for special effects to make this corner stand out by itself. 

BEFORE -  a marketing card for an art and wine event

AFTER - framed with a few embellishments

BEFORE - black and white ad

AFTER- framed and added colors denoting math shapes

Pens that were in plain boxes were given a fresh look by adding fillers and ribbons and displayed in varying heights.

Simple gift certificates were framed to stand out more.  Simple black and white forms with "pampering" words are given some floral touches to attract attention right away.

So, for a more effective silent auction and the highest returns, it's ideal to highlight and embellish your auction table items!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Floral Arrangement - Red, White and Blue

Red, White and Blue - the defining colors of our country's flag.  For the 4th of July celebration, I wanted to represent the colors of our flag with simple,  inexpensive, and  easy floral arrangements.  I enjoy celebrating the holidays by decorating different corners of the house with  sprinkles of flowers.

A simple design can be turned into a dramatic look just by adding a few embellishments.  I found some red roses and red carnations from our grocery store that were discounted, white oleander from the yard, and blue flowers (real ones are hard to find)  from my silk flowers collection.

BEFORE - Simple Designs

AFTER - 5 Roses representing 50 states 

BEFORE - white flowers on red vase


BEFORE- simple design

AFTER - combining all three colors in a vase

 Simple designs for hardly any cost! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

4th of July Tablescape

Happy 4th of July!  It's one of the holidays I look forward to celebrating with family - picnics, barbecue and fireworks, red, white and blue... stars all over.  What a grand way to celebrate our country's birthday!

This 4th of July tablescape touches on some of the historical aspect of our country.

 My family enjoys reading, watching and collecting anything involving the American history:   my husband, a dedicated reader, collects a variety of books including  presidential figures; my kids have always had an affinity for historical  facts and I collect historical stamps and plates.   My boys appreciated American history more than ever after visiting Washington DC.  So, it's befitting to celebrate the 4th of July this year with a reverence for some of the key members that made the Declaration of Independence happen:  George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.

Since it's been scorching the entire week this year, I decided to have the picnic inside, where I know the temperature will be more predictable.

The buffet table is a tribute to our country's beginnings:  my historical plate and stamp collection, a copy of the  Declaration of Independence from one of my sons,  a collection of presidential books,  and presidential coins.

Some of the major contributors to our current way of life:  Jefferson,  Franklin, Adams plus a bicentennial stamp set featuring the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

George Washington, the first president of the U.S.,  crossing the Delaware River - a pivotal story of the American revolution.

I happened to pass a garage sale years ago where I stumbled onto this Liberty Blue
plate - Historic Colonial Scene at Valley Forge, made in England (of all places!)  It didn't have any other matching sets,  but I purchased it anyway since I loved the colors and the touch of history it reflected.

I also bought this plate, by Liberty Blue Historic Colonial Scene of Independence Hall, during one of our vacations at an antique store, matching  the first Liberty Blue colonial scene of the Valley Forge I acquired at a garage sale.  I was fortunate to get a setting at a good price and in good condition.

 As luck should have it, I also have a birdhouse that I'm able to use to depict the historic Independence Hall building design on the plate.

I like to purchase at least one new item during the holidays to keep my collection up to date - my newest acquisition:  a utensil piece set by Cambridge Silversmiths, ltd.,  vibrant colors of red(fork), white (knife) and blue (spoon, inside the milkshake glass).  Just perfect to complete the table design!

The white lamps were added to symbolize the lantern that Paul Revere was carrying to warn the Americans of the imminent British invasion.  According to legend, Revere, a silversmith, used the lanterns to warn about how the British would be arriving.  Thus, the  lantern symbolizes the famous saying "one if by land, two if by sea".

I arranged the utensils like a coat of arms (like most military logos whose arms crisscross) and placed the flag, to symbolize brightness and steadiness, on top of the plate as a tribute to the soldiers and their families sacrifices for freedom.

To bring the celebration to current day , the words "Happy 4th" were cut out from colorful papers and connected by a ribbon.  I also spread out various sizes of stars on the table to  represent the 50 states.

What better way to celebrate with a "bang" than with Milkshakes and cowboy hats!

(A little variation of the typical American meal)
Hamburgers w/Avocado and trimmings
 Hot dogs on Hoagie bread
Mac & Cheese with 2 types of cheese
Pesto Pasta Salad
Variety of Fruits and Green Salad
Corn with Herbal Butter

(Red, White and Blue... stars all over)
 Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie with 5 red, white and blue stars to symbolize the 50 states

What is more American than an Apple Pie with latticed crust and cutout stars to depict a flag!

Blueberry/Lemon Ice Cream Pie - a great combination to cool down on a scorching day!

Shopper's Corner:

Walgreens - blue star hats, white lamps
Ross Store - blue, red, white utensils

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Table Design for Non-profit Fundraiser - Garden Style

Mission:  Create an elegant tablescape for a new non-profit's fundraising event with no money allocated for the decorations.

 A friend, who is a friend of the founding President, asked me recently to help coordinate a fundraising event for 100-150 people.  After learning about the cause, in spite of the fact that I was coming in at the 11th hour,  I was inspired to help.  

The real challenge was to create something inviting and yet elegant out of  the organization's given theme of  "Summer's Time"  and logo colors of pink, lime green and purple to display donated food and auction items without spending a fortune.   Many prayers and generous people willing to lend their items (white tablecloths, paintings, baskets, platters & accessories)  have helped make these elegant table arrangements  possible for hardly any cost.  

 I  start with the theme -  Summer's Time.  The theme evoked a feel of aliveness and warmth - abloom with colors, sweetness and freshness.  The company's colors of  pink, lime green and purple  set the tone -  that gave me the idea to create something like a summer garden party!

 Normally, I like to do a trial run to save time during set up. I visit the venue for room specifications, measure the tables , get the final count and size of the donated food items (after numerous phone calls), estimate close proximity of table size by laying out appropriate containers (saving space for vendors who want us to use their serving trays),  platters and decorative items (which requires visits to different stores for ideas)  that will best highlight the food and then, take pictures as a reminder.
I wanted the dessert and food tables to be inviting.  I didn't want to use just white tablecloths, so I highlighted the tables and chose pink as the main color and used lime green for embellishments.  Pink is normally used as a universal symbol of hope and awareness but also compassion and love which is apropos for this organization's purpose - providing after care services for abused young women.

As luck should have it, I have just enough  pink tablecloths (used several years ago for my niece's baby shower) to cover the dessert and food table.  Borrowed original paintings (from a friend and fellow coordinator) accentuating some of the theme colors combined with the greeneries and other accessories,  created a feel of an outdoor garden setting brought inside! 

The upside of using borrowed/recycled materials for any event is you hold the cost down low.  The challenge is to take these disparate items and blend them together into a cohesive design.  

As part of an appreciation to the food donors, individual placards, made especially by a committee member,  and business cards were added for guests to recognize and, hopefully, patronize the generous restaurants and bakeries. 

I like using solid white platters to make the donated desserts stand out.  However, since the founding president had this cute lime green cake platter, I used it to add a bit of color to stand out amongst the platters. 

Again,  I made pink the dominant color for the food table with a few touches of purple flowers, greeneries and flower paintings that will be spread around the food table (this will be a longer table since it has to accommodate 12 donated  large garden salad bowls, fruits and  appetizer platters) . 

To save more money, instead of using fresh flowers on the food table, I used silk flowers (from a dollar store) and filled tall vases with water.  I wanted to incorporate the water into the décor to represent something like a summer creek - inviting to watch.  Also, by adding the flowers it looks refreshing and cheery!

Since this is a light buffet luncheon the majority of the donated food are salads and fruits, white wicker  baskets (for utensils, paper plates, napkins and bread)  are used to symbolize the purity of the summer gathering of harvested flowers, fruits or vegetables - hence, mirroring the gathering of people to share and learn what this new company is about.

Based on the configuration of the room, the drink table has to be situated at  the same side as the food table.  So, I used white tablecloth on the utensils table to break the colors between the drinks table and the food table.  As a contrast to the food table, real fig leaves were used and spread around the drinks table to soften the pinkness of the tablecloth.
 Since Purple is the main color of the organization's logo,  I decided to use purple on the auction table and accentuate it with green and pink. 

Purple has influences on our emotions, our actions and how we respond to various people, things and ideas. What a perfect color for the auction table where so many donated items to choose from!  The idea is to entice guests to keep coming back.  

Again, it was fortunate to have these purple and green flower curtains (which I acquired from a friend) to complete the scheme colors.
 To highlight  the  bottom purple tablecloth and break the monotony of the white walls and the white tablecloth,  the auction sheets  and most of the auction items were accessorized  in different shades of purple, green and pink.

 To bring about the feel of a refreshing garden and add color to the white tablecloth, I used real fig leaves, from one of the committee member's tree, and spread them around the table.
These beautiful pens came in a plain box and were transformed by a simple addition of green fillers, ribbons and silk flowers. (See "How to Highlight Auction Table"  Items)

                                                        PODIUM AREA
To extend the garden feel of the room to the podium area, I mixed houseplant greens to accentuate the green part of my silk plant and covered the bottom vases with the borrowed purple cloth (which blended well with the carpet). Thus, saving us the expense of acquiring live bouquet flowers.

For a bit of originality, instead of boxes for the raffled tickets, I borrowed these ice cream recycled tubs from one of the committee members.

One of the raffled baskets we called  based on the theme "Summer's Time" because it's filled with everything that is summer: sun hat, sun tan lotion, beach towels, flip flops, book, ice cream creamery gift certificate, popcorn, sunglasses, cooler bag, summer cups, etc.

These tablescapes once again show how everyday simple items can help keep costs down while adding a touch of elegance to the room.  I was so glad to be a part of this event and met new friends in the process. 

 Mission accomplished!

See also: How to Highlight Auction Tables

Shopper's Corner:
Dollar Store - black frames, canvas flowers, silk flowers inside water vases
Beverly's - green mesh