Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Celebrate our Independence....

The 4th of July is a truly fabulous celebration. Not only does it give you an automatic theme (red, white and blue), there is an excuse to eat hot dogs, drink beer and just be AMERRRICUN. (That's American in a rugged redneck voice.)

I think there is also some historical reference to our country finally being free from Britain... but you can all Google that on your own time. Let's get down to the important business of cute 4th of July party recipes and cheap DIY decor ideas. That's what the Declaration of Independence was really talking about. I think there was some sort of famous quote in that old scroll:


sincerely with sugar on top, JACKIE HANCOCK

(get it... John Hancock...know your history people!)

Enough of this history class mumbo jumbo. Let's show you some ways to make your 4th of July celebration fabulous.


Would we be independent without our food? Nope. We would not. Here are some adorable red, white and blue treats I have found around the web. I opted to show you desserts because I think that is where the red white and blue theme can really shine. Plus, dessert is awesome.

(Click on the images to see them in a larger format.)

(Image Credit: 1, 2 and 3)

1. The classic stars and stripes cake is always a winner. I used to see this in my mom's magazines every summer when I was little and I always loved it. I made it last year, and it was just as fun I imagined it would be.

2. Star-shaped shortcake. Doesn't get much easier than this. I was JUST at my local grocery store and the 4th of July goodies were literally thrust in my face as I walked in the front door. Some of these goodies? Angel food cake, strawberries, blueberries and cool whip. You don't even have to walk in to the grocery store to buy these items, just stand at the door and reach your arm out. Throw your money to the cashier and you are good to go. I know some people like shortcake as a biscuit, but I prefer it with angel food cake. Cut it into a star, you don't even need a cookie cutter for this shape - no excuses!

3. See number 2 above. Buy readily available items at the store, then just layer them prettily. I made similar parfaits for Memorial Day.

(Image Credit: 4 and 5)

4. These adorable cupcakes look classic and clean. What a cute idea!

5. This is a must make for me. This fruit flag kabob idea is so cute I practically shed a tear when I found it. I love fruit kabobs and am just plain jealous that I didn't think of it first. How cool would that have been? You will see pictures of this at some point, I can guarantee it.

For more patriotic treats, don't forget to look back at my Memorial Day post HERE.

Patriotic Decor

Do you think the signers of the Declaration of Independence worked in an ugly, sparsely decorated, non-themed room? Doubtful. You know there was red, white and blue everywhere up in that place.

(Image Credit: 6 and 7)

6, These are cute and economical. Find some sparkler decorations and stick them into a mason jar filled with sand. If you are at the beach, just take some sand from the beach! (Is that legal?) An easy and cute centerpiece that takes about 10 minutes. Love!

7. These little bandanna toppers are really cute because they don't SCREAM red white and blue! They incorporate the color in a unique way minus the American flags. I will be using the American flag toppers at my party, but I have them leftover from Memorial Day. If I didn't, I would jump on this idea.

(Image Credit: 8, 9 and 10)

8. DIY Pinwheels. I think these are SO cute, and you can even make them spin. Mr. Fo almost had quite the paper project set out for him before I found pre-made pinwheels at the Dollar Store of all places. Sometimes I am so thrifty I even impress myself.

9. At pretty much any party store in town you can find blue and red stars. String them up using ribbon and you have an instant garland. Score!

10. Now this doubles as a snack item and also decor, but here they used snow cone cups to display blueberries and strawberries. Can't you just see some cute little kid decked out in red white and blue holding a little cone full of blueberries in his grubby little hand? I can. Is that weird?

Red, White and Blue Cocktails

Along with all the crazy decorations they had in the signing room for the Declaration of Independence, you know those crazy guys were imbibing a little sauce while signing their names. Maybe they sipped on some of these delicious looking cocktails, as seen on the Simply Stated blog. Go there for links to all of the recipes to these fine looking beauties. I'll take one of each please, just as our forefathers did.

(Image Credit)

And finally, for my gazebo, Martha Stewart provides us with decor ideas for our gazebo. Thank GOD because I was wondering how I would decorate my very own personal gazebo. Here's the thing Martha - Can you provide decorations for a house that is as big as this gazebo? That's kind of where I'm at right now. But this is pretty cute for those of you who have readily available gazebos to decorate. Martha just cracks me up. It's like, "Hey Martha, can you also provide etiquette on how to tip your butler and a free subscription to Mansion Weekly?" Oh Martha. How I Love/Hate you. Let me count the ways. (As a side note, my mother in law did just gift me with Martha Stewart's Cupcake book. Ain't nothin' to hate in that book of treasures. Thanks Sus!)

(Image Credit)

Once I am done decorating my gazebo and the west wing of my mansion, I will be getting ready for my cousin Lauren's visit! While she is here, we are having a cookout and are making an amazingly fabulous treat. I can't tell you about it yet, but let me just tell you - it's going to be legendary. Intrigued? I knew you would be.

Well, I am off to delve into a world of red, white and blue! Hope everyone has a happy and SAFE 4th of July!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marketing Myself :)

Today was quite a productive day for me! I have been brainstorming ideas on how to grow my party planning business and promote my Custom Party Packages for awhile now. I decided to start by using a very easy, cheap and wide reaching promotional vehicle - EMAIL MARKETING!

After weeks of agonizing over every picture, comma and spacing issue, the final product is here. And thank God because I was kind of getting sick of Mr. Fo asking me why it took me 3 weeks to send out an email. He wasn't being mean, he was really just trying to figure out if there was some reason as to why I was moving at a snail's pace. To which I would answer: "Rome wasn't built in a day love muffin." We are super romantic like that.

Today was the day I FINALLY sent it out to everyone I know, and then asked them to forward it to everyone they know! Soon the whole world will be taken over by Jackie Fogartie Events... muah-ha-ha (evil laugh).

Without further ado.....

Jackie Fo Events Flyer

You are under my spell already, aren't you?! Told ya.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Travel-Worthy Party!

Greetings and Happy Summer friends! Hope everyone is staying cool... it is sweltering in North Carolina; I may actually melt. Before I do, let's get down to business :)

A little while ago, Katie ordered a Fo Fabulous Custom Party Package from me for her mom's surprise retirement party. Katie made it easy on me because she already had the invitations picked out and she provided me with the theme - TRAVEL! Her mama has lots of traveling in her retired future and Katie really wanted that to come through in the party theme.

I put together a package with elements of travel to give her some ideas. See below for some pages from my custom party package. You can click on the pages to enlarge them.

I also included an "Around the World" menu with food stations from different countries. Travel is such a broad party theme with so many possibilities... just like actual traveling... ha!
(Lame joke in 'da house.)

Here are pictures from Katie's party setup. Everything looks great and I am honored she used my ideas!

Some of my favorite party elements were the postcard garland and the airmail envelopes. Katie used airmail envelopes for guests to write messages to her mom. I also loved how Katie incorporated the yellow and lime green color theme by using flower arrangements and citrus fruit in glass jars.

Katie - you have done me proud girl! I'm pretty sure that isn't proper grammar, but you get my drift. Bottom line - Katie's mom retired in style!

If you are a busy lady (or guy) and have a party to plan, think about ordering one of my party packages for just $30. I send you the ideas, you throw a fabulous party, it's pretty much a win-win!

In the meantime, happy and safe travels to Katie's mom and everyone else out there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Essential Elements to a Fun Wedding

I am a sucker for a good wedding. A TV wedding, movie wedding, real life wedding - I am guaranteed to cry at one point or another. And you can forget about when I know the couple really well! Combine 2 good friends getting married with a wedding filled with fabulous personal touches and other creative elements and you KNOW I am happy. Happy with tears of joy of course.

Last week I talked about a ROAD TRIP to our friends Kaylee and Eli's wedding. It was well worth the 14 hour (round trip) car ride. Here are some elements that really made their wedding special.

Personal Touches:

If you have followed my blog for any period of time, you know that I love to use personal touches at my parties. Whether that is a baby picture, an inside joke or a person's hobby, people always like to "see" themselves in their parties. At least I do - wink wink. Kaylee and Eli's wedding was chock full of personal touches.

The guests knew it was a Kaylee and Eli wedding when we got our gift baskets upon checking into the hotel. Kaylee is from Columbus, Ohio and therefore a rabid Ohio State Buckeye fan. I realize that rabid is quite a dramatic adjective, and I have never actually seen Kay foam at the mouth while cheering for the Buckeye's, but I wouldn't put it past her. Fittingly, Buckeyes (chocolate and peanut butter deliciousness) were put in the gift baskets:

Not to be left out (because we all know he would not let this happen ;) ) Pittsburgh native Eli was also represented in the gift basket with the below popcorn. Which by the way was AMAZING. Not that I ate it all by myself or anything:

Pittsburgh was also represented at the reception with Kaylee and Eli's signature drink that apparently lead the Steelers to the Superbowl. The signature drink was accompanied by a festive picture of RABID (and I DO mean foaming at the mouth) Steeler fans Kaylee and Eli.

The final treat from the Pittsburgh based couple was brought out as a late night snack. The treat was hearty sandwiches with french fries as a topping, originated at the famous Pittsburgh grease pit, Primanti Brothers. Definitely worth the calories, my friends. A late night snack is always a fun unexpected treat at the wedding. Plus, after knocking back a few of the signature cocktails, I suddenly became hungry again. It's weird how that happens.

I loved the table numbers at this wedding. They were all based on years in Kaylee and Eli's life and had accompanying pictures. Here are a few of Eli that were too good not to share. Please do me a favor and click on the pictures so you can see them up close. You will laugh, I promise. Dear Eli: I will truly treasure these pictures forever as you look absolutely hilarious and just plain ridiculous.

And finally, for one of the most meaningful personal touches at the wedding, the banner below. Eli's grandmother makes these for all of the grandchildrens' weddings in their family and I thought it was just beautiful and a wonderful tradition.

General Prettiness:

Of course we expect "prettiness" at a wedding. There was tons of it at this one, but I will just touch on a few of my favorite elements.

First and foremost, the beautiful bride and her beautiful dress! Kaylee's dress was stunning ... take a look at these pics and check out the back! Fabulous!

Now check out this model shot of the happy couple... umm hello BRIDE magazine? I loved this shot with the skyline in the background!

The bouquets were gorgeous. I LOVED our bridesmaid bouquets of simple calla lilies.

I also loved the ceremony setting, which was at Jeffrey Mansion in Columbus, Ohio. The scenery was beautiful, but what stood out was the unusual way the bridal party and bride walked into the ceremony. Instead of a traditional aisle, we walked down steps towards the guests. If you look below, you can see the chairs on the lawn below the arch and the stairs above the arch. Kaylee walked all the way down those stairs with her dad - it was so dramatic and beautiful! Us bridesmaids only had to walk down half the steps. I may or may not have practically fallen and almost pulled my partner down with me, but I caught myself. Oh the risks of being a bridesmaid!!

General cuteness:

The candy bar below with personalized bags served as sweet favors. I loved how the candy bar colors were not really in a theme and were all just bright colors. It matched the fun tone of the event. They also had candy necklaces and bracelets which are always a nice throwback to being a kid. Note to self: Don't wear candy necklaces and bracelets whilst busting a move on the sweaty dance floor. The candy will melt on your skin and the color will not come off for days.

There were 2 adorable flower girls and 2 ring bearers. They were SO cute - there are NO words! One of the little ring bearers had broken his arm a few weeks before the wedding and got an orange cast to match the coral wedding color - how is that for dedication!! Take a look at the flower girl dresses and tell me you don't swoon. Pay close attention the the BUBBLE HEM THAT MATCHED OUR BRIDESMAID DRESS BUBBLE HEMS!!! How ridiculously cute is this dress!

Great friends:

Obviously one of the best parts of weddings are catching up with friends. I had a great time catching up with my college housemates. Love you Bizmark girls! And Jess, we missed you :)

Here I am with the bride! Can we talk about what is wrong with my eye? Why is one eye squinting in that strange fashion? And yes, that is Mr. Fo's tie. It's typical for me to be wearing his tie by the end of a wedding. He is usually breaking it down on the dance floor and the tie just gets in the way of his impressive and highly skilled dance moves. At that point I usually think it's a great idea to wear it as an accessory.

And FINALLY, speaking of Mr. Fo... take a look at what he wore under his suit.... this isn't R rated, so relax Mom:

That's right - its the MOST RIDICULOUS PICTURE of Kaylee and Eli ever taken. The infamous "swing picture" was taken as part of their engagement photo session. Mr. Fo and I have all sorts of silly pictures of us doing normal things such as frolicking in the woods and jumping in leaves. You know, the completely natural and non-posed activities we do on a daily basis. Anywho, as soon as Mr. Fo caught wind of this picture, he immediately put it on a t-shirt and waited to wear it under his suit to the wedding. Once the dancing started and the tie came off, the t-shirt wasn't far behind. Oh Mr. Fo, you make me giggle. Here is a close up of the swinging couple:


Remember if you are planning a wedding, these personal touches and unusual elements really make your day memorable. Plus people always love seeing pictures of the bride or groom with really bad 80's hair... ;)

More to come this week, so check back!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On the Road Again...

"On the Road Again" refers to a famous Willie Nelson song, a GREAT GREAT GREAT book by Jack Kerouac ("On the Road") (thanks to my liberal arts high school for offering a class titled "Beats and Hippies Literature"), a ridiculous yet hilarious movie entitled "Road Trip" and finally, my plans for tomorrow.


Being that I am a terrible, awful, sinfully bad driver, I will not be partaking in said "driving." I will simply partake in magazine reading, DVD watching and sleeping. Oh, and did I mention eating? But more on road trip snack essentials later.

Here are the details:

Road Trip Participants: Me, Mr. Fo and Matt. Matt is our best bud and coincidentally, I met Mr. Fo and Matt at the EXACT same moment 9 years ago. Mr. Fo, Matt and I make a great team and they pretty much keep me laughing for hours. An excellent quality in road trip buddies. Here we are having a grand old time at our wedding:

Road Trip Destination: Charlotte, NC to Columbus, Ohio. 7 hours. Not horrendous, I have participated in worse. But still plenty long.

Road Trip Purpose: The nuptials of one of my best friends, my college roommate for essentially all 4 years. (I say essentially because the 1st year we were across the hall from eachother, but that basically counts.) Our room was hands down the messiest room in all of Miami University of Ohio's history. It was legendary. LEGENDARY. Please see pretty Kaylee below...

How cute is she! I guess I have to post her future husband, Eli. If I must. See, we have a love/hate relationship. In a joking manner, I must admit. I actually really love Eli and so does Mr. Fo. In fact, Mr. Fo has quite the man crush on Eli and vice versa. OBSESSED. We like to argue over who is better friends. Clearly Kaylee and I are since we were friends first. But I digress. Here is Kaylee with her smelly fiancee, Eli:

I will hand it to them, they make a CUUUUTE couple!

So, there you have it. Our reason for the trek to the midwest.

Said "trek" requires a lot. Gas, patience, good attitudes, GPS, etc. But most importantly, food. Being the resident girl in our tripod, clearly it was up to me to shop for Road Trip Snack Food. Take a look:

General Snack Items are below. Just the typical chips, crackers, etc. Few things to note:

1) Nutter Butters: This goes back to an early Road Trip when Mr. Fo and Matt took a road trip to visit me in college. They bought a 4 pack of Nutter Butters and there were only 3 in the pack. CAN YOU IMAGINE?! To be honest, I still don't believe them and think they were just suffering delirium from their long drive. But 5 years later, they swear by it. So I got some Nutter Butters so we can count and make sure the right amount is in there. If not, someone will be getting a nasty letter. My boys have had it.

2) Peanut M&Ms: Just a warning. Please make a clear distinction between PEANUT BUTTER FILLED M&Ms and PEANUT M&Ms. Matt and I had some confusion when he made his requests. Finally he just said, "Buy the yellow bag." So I looked for yellow. I'm smart.

3) Please note new Batch of Squash Bread I baked for this trip. Still delicious even when the squash is not as fresh.

How much cuter does a bunch of junk food look in a PINK PICNIC BASKET WITH YOUR NAME ON IT?! RIIGHT?!

Below are the only food items I will eat. Apples, Bananas and Carrots. .............. I wish this were true, but the truth is, that is simply an impossible feat. Yes, I did buy these healthy items in an attempt to not immediately gain 20 lbs. on said trip. But while I may have an apple or banana, I can pretty much guarantee I will succumb to eating Tostitos and the like. It can't be helped. A girl can try.

Caffeine is our friend as you see below. I do not show coffee below, but that is because I will obviously be making it fresh before the trip. Gatorade is for dehydration purposes. Water will come in the form of water bottles. All drinks will be cooled down via ice in our handy dandy cooler (Not pictured). How prepared am I?! I am like the MacGyver of Road Trips! If we get stuck in a cave on the side of the road (or some other improbable scenario), we will survive for weeks because of my diligent food shopping.

Finally, for when we get to our destination:

So, that rounds up my Road Trip Essentials.

Do me a favor. Tomorrow when you are sitting in the comfort of your own home, or even the comfort of your own cubicle, please think of me. I will be in a car with 2 boys for 7 hours.


Congratulations Kaylee and Eli!

Pictures and a wedding post to follow next week :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Squash it up

Squash is just weird. It's a vegetable and it's also a game with a funny racket that prepsters play. It also resembles a telephone. If you don't believe me, see the picture below:

Yup, I had a conversation on my squash phone and had Mr. Fo take my picture doing so.
Totally normal for a Monday night around here.

It comes in yellow... and other colors I think. It's good as a roasted vegetable. I guess you can chop it up and eat it on a salad? It's starchy, so you can't even say it's low carb. I don't really know it's purpose. UNTIL NOW, that is.

Have no fear. My mother-in-law, Susan, recipe inventor extraordinaire, has made the whole squash thing a lot more interesting. In fact, I am convinced her brilliant Squash Bread recipe is the entire reason this vegetable was created. Sweet but not too sweet, cinammony and just plain delicious, Susan's Squash Bread is perfection in loaf form. It's so perfect, in fact, that several members of the Fo clan had to be consulted before this recipe was put onto the World Wide Web. After meeting with several family ranks, both young and old, this recipe is now being broadcast to the world. And you should really thank your lucky stars. You are about to look at squash in a whole different way.

Susan's Supremely Sublime
Squash Bread

1 loaf 16 slices

Calories per slice ~ 150


Flour, un-sifted 1 ½ cups

Cinnamon 2 teaspoons

Baking Powder 1 teaspoon

Baking Soda ½ teaspoon

Eggs 2

Sugar ¾ cup

Oil ½ cup

Vanilla 2 teaspoons

Summer squash,

Coarsely shredded, lightly packed

1 1/3 cups

- preheat oven to 350 F

- grease a 9 by 5 by 3” loaf pan

- mix dry ingredients except sugar thoroughly

- beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Beat until lemon colored—about 3 minutes

- stir in squash

- add dry ingredients. Mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.

- Pour into loaf pan

- Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean

-Cool on rack. Remove from pan after 10 minutes.

** Note: Zucchini or yellow summer squash may be used


A few comments about my experience making this not so sinful treat.

1) Squash Overflow: The reason I made this was becuase my sis in law Drew brought me over 5 ginormous squash from her vegetable garden. This is significant for several reasons:

-We all thought Drew would kill her vegetables so we are all proud of her

-My thought was initially: "What the hell am I going to do with 5 squash?"

-Why are these squash so huge? The ones I see in the store are much small smaller....and probably genetically modified. So at least they are fresh... if a little too mature!

Giant squash below:

2) Whole Wheat Flour: In an ongoing attempt to eat healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour in 1 of my loaves. Whole Wheat flour can make somethings dry but obviously you could substitute anything in this bread and it would still be delicious. Success! Whole Wheat is completely allowed here, and even encouraged. Get on with your healthy self. See the comparison picture below. The wheat is just slightly darker than the white. But both delish.

3) How do you shred squash? I am sure there better ways to do this, but this is what I did: I cut the giant squash in half and scraped out the seeds. Then I took my magic tool (Microplane Grater) and scraped away. Makes a mess, so do it over a large bowl. But it was perfection. You can use a box cheese grater too, but why when the Microplane is so much fun?

Here are some more squash bread making pictures:

Getting that perfect lemon color...

Shredded Squash below...

Just warm out of the oven...

Take a closer look...

Sus, I hope I did your recipe justice. All of you squash haters - hate no more! Make this (semi) healthy bread and you will thank me. For reals.