The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: pampered chef parties

The results are in…

Well I know you are all on the edge of your seats waiting to hear about my Pampered Chef par-tay last Saturday!

The reason this was such a big deal is that I don’t entertain very often. I’ll be honest with you, it’s because I have an inferiority complex. Most of the time, I feel like a laminate counter top girl living in a granite counter top world. Or as my husband lovingly says after he witnesses me try on the 14th outfit, “It’s tough being you, isn’t it.”

Long story short, I rarely ever get my shit together enough to entertain.

So, the thought of hosting a Pampered Chef party was daunting.

But I sucked it up and I did it. And we had a great time! Well, I think we did. I was actually too tired from cleaning until my fingers bled to fully enjoy it. But the food and the company were excellent, I must say, even if the hostess {me} was not.

I learned a few things about life in general during the process that are worth sharing:

For starters, never have a party over spring break. You’ll get a poor turn out. Duh.

Secondly, the tone you set with your invitation is really important. Know your audience! I emailed out two different invitations, and the one that led to the best attendance was the one I sent to my closest friends. Maybe they came because they are my good friends. But maybe they came because their invitation started with the phrase “Please… save me from myself.” These gals rose to the occasion and supported their anxiety-ridden friend in need. These are the kind of friends you cherish for life. Anne, Kathy, Terri – thank you.

The invite that wasn’t so well received? That would be the one I sent to the ladies I know in my neighborhood. It started like this:

My sister-in-law Teresa is a brand new Pampered Chef consultant and I promised her I’d help her get started by hosting a party. I’m trying to assemble a group of the nicest and most fun people I know to help her practice her schtick! Unfortunately, none of them can come, so I thought I’d ask you.
Kidding.
Seriously, want some free food?
Or perhaps you just want to see how ugly my kitchen cabinets are so you can feel better about your own home?
Either way, I’m cool with it. I’m just looking for a good time. And some new recipes and kitchen gadgets wouldn’t hurt.

 

I don’t need to tell you that this invitation went over like a blender full of three-day-old roadkill.

Of the 16 neighbors I sent it to, only one came. That’s a success rate of 6%. Sure, it was spring break and many of those gals were out of town. But also, apparently not everyone gets my humor. Who knew?

The ONE person from my neighborhood who did take the bait, as shitty as that bait was? Turns out that gal is a real peach, bless her heart. I already knew that actually, but she sealed the deal for me when she showed up at my house carrying this:

"I brought you a hostess gift!"

One, the “hostess gift” is a dying art. Who does that anymore? Especially to a purchasing party where the guest is kinda expected to spend money! But two, a hostess gift that looks like a specimen jar of urine? I love this girl.

Don’t worry. It’s not urine. It’s actually real extra virgin olive oil that someone in her family exported from an olive orchard in Tuscany!  I wish you could smell it… pure HEAVEN. I drizzled some of it over a salad this weekend and it practically made me weep with joy, it was that good. What an incredibly thoughtful and generous gift. Thank you, Lisa!

I also learned some fabulous new ways to respectfully decline a shitty invitation…

For instance, from my good friend Nora Vagina:

I hate these almost as much as I hate baby showers! I don’t understand housewares or babies, so it’s all kind of lost on me.  So I think I will respectively decline.  You are a good wife and sis-in-law and God will reward you.

I just applaud her honesty, don’t you? And bonus points for ending with a blessing. She’s a classy broad all around, that one. And believe you-me, it takes one to know one, fuckin’-A.

Or how about this decline from one of my other friends, Yolanda:

Or you can just stab me in the eye.

Again, how can you not feel anything but admiration for someone who just tells it like she sees it? Respect, girl.

One more decline that I enjoyed:

Love to. Can’t! But thank you for the invitation.

Simple. Succinct. Effective. Well done!

I also learned that one should never save the most critical cleaning tasks for the day of the party.

I was waiting to do the powder room right before people arrived because, hello, I have two little boys and a hairy-ass husband… things don’t stay clean for long around here. In fact, next time I redecorate, I’m just going to paint my powder room walls yellow and choose a pube-patterned floor tile.

Murphy’s Law, however, guarantees that whatever you save for the last minute will inevitably have to be added to the “Shit I Didn’t Get Done” list.

Thus, I have learned that I should create a prioritized cleaning schedule before a party, and that means things like the powder room take precedence over things like the car and the freezer. Yeah… my freezer was spotless and opened exactly ZERO point ZERO times during the party, but my guests were undoubtedly holding their noses while they used my hairy, pee-sprayed powder room. Good times.

And lastly, I learned to listen to my friends. Margo at Joyful Homemaking suggested I host the party in my newly clean van! Brilliant! And OneShabbyChick advised that I “Have a blast and don’t sweat the tumbleweeds!” What a wise (and stylish) woman! I mean really, true friends seem to like me anyway… stinky powder room, laminate counter tops, quirky humor, and all. And as for the rest, who cares? Let’s all worry less, and party more.

By the way, my sis in law, Teresa did a wonderful job. Not only is she down to earth, but she’s also just as cute as can be and fun to boot. I particularly enjoyed her vast product knowledge and masterful demonstration of the Veggie Wedger, which is almost as fun to use as it is to say. If you live in the northern suburbs of Atlanta and are in the market for some Pampered Chef fabulousness, email me and I’ll hook you up.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

How to prepare for a kitchen party… if you’re an idiot.

Well, tomorrow is my Pampered Chef party. {Gulp!} And like Laura the Org Junkie says, inviting company over is the best motivation for getting your house in order! That’s just one of the 100 great tips in her book, Clutter Rehab. It’s fabulous.

When time is of the essence and you are about to have a gaggle of women held hostage in your kitchen for two hours, you need to get your clean on.

That’s why this week… I cleaned out my car.

Oh yes I did.

Clearly my Grandma dropped me on my head. Probably right after my Mom squeezed my papery-thin skull and my Grandpa blew smoke rings in my newborn face.

Sorry. I just can’t get enough of this picture and thought it was worth the repeat.

But back to getting organized. I actually did clean out my kitchen drawers this week too so that I’d have some kitchen gadgets to donate to the women’s shelter. But I also needed to clean out my car because it was beyond gross. You know it’s time when you start purposefully parking far away from other cars for fear that someone will peer in your windows and know your dirty little secret.

Fortunately, I have a cool system for cleaning out my car, so it wasn’t that bad.

I recently bought some flexible rubber buckets at one of the big box stores. I won’t tell you which one because my business manager/husband tells me I do too much free advertising, but the store name rhymes with Ball*Fart.

Aren’t they pretty? I love them so much that I bought one of each color! (Can you say: “Bucket Slut”?) And I use them constantly for all my organizational needs.

I assigned one color for each kid and I keep three buckets behind the couch to toss in the crap the kids constantly leave lying around. The kids empty their buckets once or twice a week as part of their chores. It works for us. We like it.

Of course, no surprise that Bucket Head likes the buckets. We don’t call him Bucket Head for nothing.

I also enjoy the buckets for sorting/purging tasks…

He's a keeper!

These buckets are great because they are made of flexible heavy duty rubber and they have handles. They’re easy to carry, even for the kids. And they won’t crack or break when they get dropped or thrown at each other, unlike some other hard plastic buckets I’ve tried in the past. They were about $5 each. Totally worth it.

So I took two buckets outside with me to clean out my rolling petri dish the other day…

One was for crap that didn’t belong in the van (teal). The other was for crap that did (magenta). I also had a garbage bag with me for crap that could go right into the trash.

A few minutes later, the buckets looked like this:

Why yes, that IS a rainbow clown wig. Everyone has one of those in their cars, right? I like to put that on right before I go through the car-rider line at school to pick up my two older kids while I’m blasting some Donna Summer and singing along with the windows down. Beep beep….yeeeeaaaahhhh… toot toot! Good times.

Once the van was emptied out, I was able to vacuum out three cubic tons of crumbs and wipe down the surfaces. I’m no professional auto detailer, so take this next part with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt. There are only a few things I need to clean the inside of my car…

Pictured from left to right: Shaklee microfiber towel, Shaklee H2 All Purpose Cleaner, Swiffer Duster, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.

The center of my dashboard is shiny black plastic and shows every speck of dust. That’s nasty. I have a solution though. I keep a Swiffer Duster under my passenger seat in the built in drawer right next to my first aid kit. You never know when you are going to need a band aid or a duster, right?

Some people text while they drive. Some people dust. Don’t freak out, I wait until I’m at a red light. Geez!

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my go-to tool for scrubbing off scuffs and dried boogers. If you’ve never used one, you are missing out! Just wet it first and wring it out, then scrub scrub scrub. I use the Shaklee H2 with the microfiber towel for everything else. What a difference it makes to not be driving around in such a garbage hole. Smells better too.

Oooh, quick tip. I owe you one this week since I was busy dealing with the Po-Po and my faithful dog’s arrest on Tuesday. I have this center console table thingy in my van. It’s a great spot to rest my phone or a huge bowl of Cheez-Its. But I didn’t like the way my shiz would slide around when I took corners on two wheels. So I cut out a square of rubber area-rug backing and put it there. Works like a charm.

I also keep a little plastic bin with rubber feet and a rubber liner (also from Ball*Fart) under the center console to hold my box of tissues so it won’t slide around.

Ahhhh. Molto bene! Driving around in a clean vehicle feels like such a treat. It even makes listening to Geronimo Stilton audio books less grating.

As usual, I’m linking this post up to Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing. It’s week # 14 there and her topic this week is “Does your system need a change?” Go there and see what my other sisters in organizing are up to! So inspiring!

I’m also branching out and linking to Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify. Check it out! It feels so good to know I’m not the only one out there struggling to simplify my life and get organized!

Well if you’ll mi scusa, I have to get crackin’ for my party tomorrow! Wish me luck!

your friend,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Roasted Kale Chips

When your loyal canine companion is in the hoosegow for the crime of protecting his family from a stick-wielding intruder, chances are you may want to take the edge off with a cocktail. Or two.

But if that’s not an option, you’ll need something else to squelch your sadness.

And indignation.

And rage.

You could choose something sweet and satisfying like several pints of Ben & Jerry’s. Or perhaps you would prefer to tie a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos to your face and go to town. Either of these options would work nicely in the short run.

As for me, I am choosing the high road. I need to be in tip top physical and mental shape when I go to Night Court to defend my sweet dog later this month and reduce his sentence. I am training for battle.

And thus, when I get that urge to snack until I burst, I will be snacking on Roasted Kale Chips.

They are super easy to make, very satisfying to munch on, and pretty healthy too. Here’s my recipe if you’d like to try these yourself…

You will need:

  • one bunch of fresh kale
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1.) Preheat your oven to 400° F.

2.) Wash your kale. Or don’t, if you don’t mind some bugs, and/or pesticides, and/or E. coli with your kale chips. Totally up to you.

3.) Strip the leaves off the kale stems by holding the stem in one hand and grasping the leaves in the other hand, then pulling the stem away from the leaves like so:

And no, I’m not doing that with my feet. Did you think I was kidding when I told you about my hands? Not kidding. Hands like feet. Man feet. I can type really fast though and open jars like a mofo.

4.) Dry your kale leaves thoroughly. You know I am a big fan of the Spin n’ Stor for this part.

5.) Rip your kale into bite sized pieces.

6.) Spread the torn kale on a cookie sheet, preferably one with sides. I’m using the Pampered Chef large stoneware bar pan. I use it for everything. Look how beautifully seasoned mine is!

If you want one, come to my Pampered Chef party on Saturday or email me and I’ll order one for you.

7.) Drizzle the kale with extra virgin olive oil. Probably about a tablespoon.

8.) Salt and pepper to taste… but not too much! If you are feeling frisky, you could even put a little sprinkle of chili powder or garlic powder on at this point. That would be goo-ooo-oood!

9.) Use your hands and really mix it up so the oil and seasonings coat every single piece.

10) Place in the oven for about 20 minutes. You’ll want to stir it up once or twice while it is roasting.

The edges will brown up. That’s okay! It adds a great crispy texture and smokey taste that totally melts in your mouth.

11.) Serve and enjoy!

Iris's Roasted Kale Chips

By the way, I do this same technique with several other veggies like cauliflower and brussels sprouts (cut into fourths). It is delicious!! Try it and let me know what you think.

your friend,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

I made my kitchen cabinet beg for mercy.

It’s week # 13 in Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge. This week Org Junkie’s topic is “Purge Magazine Backlogs.

I don’t have this problem because me no read too good. But it’s worth checking out Org Junkie’s tips on this topic if you are a magazine person.

It’s also worth the click just to see that she actually quoted LITTLE OL’ ME! Can you believe it? Me! Bearded Iris. What a kick in the rubber parts! I sure do like that woman.

So this week, instead of purging my nonexistent magazines, I’ve been working in the kitchen… again. {deep sigh}

You see, I’ve agreed to host a Pampered Chef party next weekend for my sister-in-law, Teresa. You remember her… the one with the gorgeous hands? She’s just starting out in the wild wild world of Pampered Chef and really needs her family’s support right now, so I said I’d do it. And you’re all invited! {Make sure you RSVP so I can buy enough wine!}

Now, you should know, I am not a huge fan of purchasing parties. They are just so… I don’t know… consumeristic. And people like me with clutter problems don’t need MORE stuff. We need LESS stuff. Duh.

But I thought about a way I could do this for Teresa and still honor my current path. I am going to ask each of my guests to bring a gently used kitchen gadget to donate to a shelter for battered women. All the donations will go into a fabulous kitchen basket for a woman who needs to start over in a new kitchen of her own. Isn’t that a great idea? It’s not mine, although I certainly do appreciate your applause. I got it from Peter Walsh, another of my organizing gurus. He is running a “Declutter for Kindness” campaign to help the family of a teenage boy in Virginia who is the victim of a senseless, brutal beating. It’s a heartbreaking story, but I love how Peter is using his superpowers to help a family in need.

Besides helping others, this will also enforce the One In, One Out Rule to help us stay organized. It’s a win-win.

But also, from a more selfish perspective, if my party guests are focusing on how organized and altruistic they are, maybe they won’t notice my hideous kitchen cabinets. Or the dog-hair tumbleweeds rolling by. Or my nerve-induced B.O.

So yeah… I’m carving away at my krappy kitchen klutter bit by bit to make my house more of a home and my Pampered Chef party less of a colossal embarrassment. Oh the things we do for love.

Remember this area above the kitchen desk?

Wait. It gets worse. Go ahead, open the doors and look inside.

Oooooh-weeeee. How did it get like that? No matter. Let’s fix it.

Well, I followed the Org Junkie PROCESS (it’s really much better than my ROACHES technique) and cleaned that mother out. Man, if I could leave it like this, I totally would:

Next I did something totally crazy. I’m talkin’ straight-up rubber-room, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ca-ra-zay. You’re not going to believe this, but I moved my cookbooks INTO the kitchen.

For reals.

I had been sloppily storing them in the basement (WTF?) on a gorgeous wrought iron shelf that I bought two houses ago and don’t have room for anywhere better.  You would think running up and down the stairs every time I need a cookbook would be a good thing for the old rump roast, but my brother still calls me “Saddlebags.” Butt-munch.

The hardest part (for me) about this whole decluttering process is that it is such a can of worms. You start working in one spot, then you have to “make room” somewhere else for the stuff you decide to keep, and then that other spot becomes a mess… and so on and so on. Like a domino effect of CRAP. Pretty discouraging at times.

Well I managed to make room for some of the less-frequently used things from the kitchen cabinet, in the dining room buffet, which had been previously storing school supplies (again, WTF?), but then I needed to find a new home for those. And, oh… I seriously need a margarita. And it’s Lent. And I’m on the wagon. And shit, this is hard. No wonder I’m living in squalor.

But I stuck with it and I conquered that som’bitch. Oh yeah. That cabinet is calling me Daddy and fetching my slippers right about now.

Drum roll please….

Let me open it up so you can get a better look-see:

Isn’t that better? The biggest change is the two baskets: one for me, one for my husband, The Gatekeeper. The baskets corral all the little clutter that we need easy access to like sunglasses, wallets, etc. What a difference.

Then I chose just a few of my favorite things to display: a flashy green $2 vase from Goodwill that I use all the time and some handmade pottery by the kids…

Nature Boy made this in preschool. I broke it into a million little pieces once, but The Gatekeeper glued it back together for me. He's da bomb. I like a man with a slow hand.

Nature Boy and Mini-Me made these for us at camp last year. They rock my world. The colors and big handles are fabulous.

...and look what's inside! A clay cheetah and clay piggie! So stinkin' cute & fun with every sip.

I totally forgot how much I loved those three little things. It’s hard to appreciate the stuff that really matters when it is buried under so much clutter!

And as for the other side…

I decided to move my tacky school calendar to the INSIDE of the cabinet instead of the outside of the pantry door thanks to one of my wonderful readers and commenters who told me two weeks ago that she keeps a baggie for those “evil Box Tops” taped inside her cabinet door so it’s close but out of sight. Simply brilliant. Thanks, Connie!

So that’s it. One more project down, 39 to go!  See you next Saturday at my Pampered Chef party, right?

Your friend,

-Iris

PS – To catch up on my previous 52 Weeks projects, click here.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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