Thursday, May 24, 2018

Romantic Gazebo Redecoration

Welcome to my romantic She Space!
Rather than a She Shed, I have created this
romantic gazebo - my She Space, in the garden.

The basic structure has been there for 16 years,
and has always had a table in it, and it has
been featured in many of my summer tablescapes.

Here is a picture of what it looked like from day to day

The chandelier was added a few years ago when
the clear crystal one became too rusted.
I guess that was the color inspiration.

Two summers ago it was featured in 
our Mother Daughter Garden Party,

and I brought this hutch down for the serving.

It was also the backdrop for a wedding reception 
a week before that.

You can tell the gazebo is well loved in our garden,
and now it is a romantic, girly spot for sitting
or even napping.

 The tufted pink velvet sofa even folds down into a bed.

The sofa is flanked by a pretty pink garden stool
and a gold and mirrored end table.

I have two antique columns that have been out under
the deck and I moved them in the gazebo.

I added pillows, a shag rug and some
acrylic legged ottomans.

 The hand painted backdrop was left in place, but sheer
curtains were layered over it.  I got the netting panels from IKEA.
I have used them in the gazebo before.  They are so inexpensive, and
come two in a package (around $6 for the package),
and I used 12 panels on the back.  The backdrop has
aged over the years, but it is a great wind break.

 The corners were also draped in netting and tied
off with artificial peonies.

Potted urns flank the front entrance.

 Hubby loves it just as much as I do.  Now he is asking
when we are going to have a party here.

Tonight I added two acrylic chairs in the front corners
but didn't get a picture.

Of course it has sprinkled almost every afternoon
since I got it decorated, but I bought a waterproof
outdoor sofa cover to keep it dry, and I grabbed
the rug and put it in the house.

If you can't get ahold of me, come into the garden.
You may find me here!

Thanks for stopping by to relax in my She Space with me.

I will be bringing my She Space to the
Garden Party with my dear friends
Linda, Liz, and Jann and others.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Harry Potter Feast

Having gotten back from New York just
a little while ago for the debut of 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,

I thought now would be the perfect time to go 
back in time - with my personal and unconfiscated
time turner, of course, to show you our 
Harry Potter party we did for our Young Single Adults.

The Family Home Evening Committee (those young
adults that plan Monday night activities) asked
me to play Professor McGonagall and do the
sorting hat to separate the kids into their houses.

Little did they know that crazy old me would take
this to a whole new level.  I found some green fabric
that I had bought for curtains and fashioned a
Minerva-style robe using my Harry Potter robe
as a pattern, but extending the sleeves and adding
a silver broach.  I used a black velvet witch hat
I already had and added a feather.  Underneath
I wore a black turtle neck with some jewelry I
thought Minerva would approve of.

Those who follow me on Instagram would have
seen the collection of around 65 wands that I
created using plain chopsticks and bakeable clay,
which were then painted.  I had asked my niece Shaunna
to come over and help me with these, but I got started
without her and had so much fun, I was finished
before she got there.

The church cultural hall was set up with four
rows of tables using plastic tablecloths
for the four houses, with their house flags
hanging over the tables.  I found the house
flags online.  We also strung tons of electric
candles from wires going across the room,
and electric candles were placed in candelabras
on each table.  This view is from the head
table which was set in gold and black.
The tablecloths, plates and napkins for each
of the houses were purchased at Dollar Tree.

To create the head table, this particular cultural hall or
gym had risers, so we placed those up front and 
collected wooden tables from the Relief Society
and Primary rooms for the professors to sit at.
We borrowed the podium from the Primary
room, and I had taken a picture of the podium
prop when we went to the Harry Potter Studio
tour while in London, so I had that blown up
and cut out the owl and taped it on the podium.

Behind the podium hung the Hogwarts banner,
also found online, and in front of the podium we
had a large collection of packages and letters
ready to be delivered by owls.

My husband is always so fun and supportive,
and we had dressed up a few weeks ago and
gone into the Relief Society and Elder's Quorum
classes on Sunday to invite everyone and get
them excited.

My niece Shaunna created tickets for the
Hogwart's Express for everyone.

When they entered the church they were greeted by 
 left to right, Hagrid, Trelawny, Ollivander,
Dumbledore (hubby), McGonagall (me), Rita Skeeter, and

There first stop was here at Ollivanders where inside
this small writing desk were all of the wands.  Of
course, you don't pick the wand, the wand picks you,
so they were asked to give two numbers, the first was
to be between one and five and the second was to
be between one and twelve.  The first number
determined which drawer was opened and the 
second number determined which of the 
twelve wands they were to receive.

Next they came over to me to have the sorting
hat placed on their head.

I had purchased mine from the Wizarding World
of Harry Potter.  They were told that if they came
in costume for their house, they wouldn't be sorted,
but otherwise I sorted them and tried to listen
to their wishes (and to make the groups fairly even.)

Then they were escorted into the Great Hall by
one of the professors or Rita Skeeter.

But first they had to stop at Platform 9 3/4
to have their photos taken.

My great assistant and party planner, my niece Shaunna,
provided a lot of the props.  She made the broom herself
and purchased the brick background at Home Depot.
Then she printed a sign for the platform.  She works
for my husband as his graphics designer, so she always
gets to help out on our big parties.

We had a dessert table filled with goodies I had
made, with the centerpiece being
The Monster Book of Monsters Cake.

Chocolate Fudge with Pop Rocks on top.
(Don't put the Pop Rocks on too soon, they
start popping right away from the moisture 
of the fudge and can become wet and sticky.)

I ordered a chocolate mold to make these.

These were Lindt Truffles sprayed with gold Wilton Color Mist
and wings that I printed off and cut out glued on with a
dab of frosting.

I purchased mostly regular Jelly Bellies, but threw in
a few Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and
I made a few molded chocolate rats - Scabbers,
you know!

The Cauldron Cakes were domed cupcakes made
from a silicon shaped mold, then cooled and
dipped in melted chocolate and decorated.
Handles of chocolate were attached at the end.

I had a lot of fun making the Monster Book of Monsters Cake
by stacking two 9x13 chocolate cakes, frosting three sides with 
white frosting and then creating grooves and brushing
a little brown food coloring on for the pages.
Cover the back in chocolate frosting, and create
the page marker tongue and gums and teeth
with fondant.  Attach those, then pipe on some
chocolate tendrils.
The book is finished by using a grass tip and covering 
top of the book with "fur".  Mound up a little
frosting and add gumball eyeballs that have 
food coloring "paint" for the slits in the eyes.
Cover the back, sides and between the eyes
with fur. 

Pages from the Daily Prophet were scattered
on the house tables.

Once everyone was all seated the Professors
came from the kitchen carrying the platters
and bowls of food and made a processional
down through the rows of tables.

We followed the menu similar to The Three Broomsticks
feast at Wizarding World of Harry Potter and served
chicken and ribs, roasted vegetables and salads.

And of course we served my version of Butterbeer.

( one of our First Presidency in the LDS Church)
and finished with the dessert table.  We had about 70
attend, and there were no treats left on our trolley!

We even had our Stake President (a local ecclesiastical leader)
and his daughter come.  

It was truly a FEAST AT HOGWARTS!

The houses were then used for competitions for
Family Home Evening throughout the month.

How did I like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
you might ask?  I had read the book/script, but had
kind of forgotten it.  We had the original London
cast, so that was really exciting.  The special effects
were just magical, and you definitely wondered how
they could enter The Ministry of Magic through
a telephone book, or how they could be sucked into
a bookcase.  I don't know that it had to be put into
two plays as that seemed to make some of it drag,
but it was exciting to go at 2:00 and then come back
again at 7:30.  The theater has been transformed and
the carpet and wallpaper were specially made for
Harry Potter.  A grand foyer has beautiful patronum
 on the walls.  They were fun to take pictures in front of.

One last thing - for both parts of the play they handed
out cute little buttons saying, "Keep The Secret".  We
all wondered what that was for because the script was
published in a book and we couldn't necessarily figure
out all of the special effects, but it was kind of fun to
get the pins as little mementos.

Big disappointments - Hermione Granger was nothing
like the Hermione we have come to know and love.
She would have been better playing Umbridge.
She was stern and mean and one dimensional.  Even
Malfoy comes across as nicer than Hermione!!! What??

As we sat at intermission we heard the same discussion
all around us.  So we were unhappy with the way
the character was played or the way the actress
was directed - not sure which.

We also couldn't believe that with all of the attention
to detail there was absolutely not a drop of Butterbeer
or Chocolate Frogs or any other Harry Potter foods
that are sold at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
They have a really cool little store but instead of
Harry Potter related foods they had sandwiches 
and candy - nothing themed, with all the high
quality theming going on all over the theater.

We think they really missed it on those two points.
Other than that, we all loved it and that was the
reason we had come to New York, but we snuck
in Frozen - which was absolutely delightful, and
Hamilton, which is great, but not three times greater
than any other Broadway play, despite the fact that
you will pay three times the price - that is if you
don't pay more! (Although I do have friends with
season tickets in SLC who payed a normal price -
the rest of us are just at the mercy of those who
want to and can make a killing on reselling their
tickets.)  But in the end I figured I wanted to see
Hamilton - so I payed the price - choke, choke!!

I hope you had a fun peek into our Wizarding
World of Harry Potter and how we feasted
both in New York and for a party.

I am taking this party to

Monday, May 14, 2018

Meringue Roses

Meringue roses have been on my cooking
bucket list for a long time now, but you
know how that goes - something else always
takes precedence!  

After making the Cookie Cake for Easter
that was covered in macarons, meringues, chocolate
eggs and fresh flowers, I realized the grandchildren
loved the meringues as much as the macarons,
and so I decided to add them to the Mother's Day Cake.

Don't worry, I didn't slave over a cake for my
own Mother's Day celebration!  Hubby bought the 
Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake from Cheesecake
Factory (truly amazing) and I had the fun of
decorating it.

They are so quick and easy and it is
amazing what two little egg whites can do!
I decided to use a little Raspberry Jello to
add flavoring.  All I had in the pantry was
sugar free, so I tried it.  I have made many
meringues in my years of baking, but adding
just a little Jello made the best flavored
meringue and it was so firm and make
such pretty lines on the roses.  I will
always use a little Jell-O from now on.

Meringue Roses Recipe

2 egg whites room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. corn starch
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
11/2 tsp. sugar free Raspberry Jell-O

In a clean bowl with whisk attachment,
begin whipping the egg whites until
frothy.  Mix the cornstarch and vinegar
together and whisk in for about a minute
to form soft peaks.  

Continue beating the egg whites 
adding the sugar slowly, until glossy
stiff peaks form.  Beat in the dry Jell-O.

Pipe out onto parchment paper.  Bake at
200 for one hour and fifteen minutes,
 then turn off the oven and leave them in the
oven for six hours or overnight.

I piped a pan full of roses and still had
plenty left, so I piped another pan of hearts and

The cake was decked out with fresh roses,
meringue roses, hearts and dots.  

Then I dipped the bottoms of some roses and hearts
in melted chocolate.  They were all a hit and
made such pretty cake decorations.

The chocolate Eiffel Tower I made using a mold
we had bought in Paris a few years ago.  I then
painted it with gold lustre.  It was hollow and
had hidden treats in it.

Now that I know how much the little ones love
meringues, we will be making them a lot more
often - they are so quick and easy and beautiful.

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