random taste tester

The first weekend of October my sister had an "open house" of sorts to show off her newly renovated kitchen. She asked me if Party in a Box would make a couple of things for her guests to enjoy. We decided on Deviled Eggs, Chicken Salad Cups, Spinach & Artichoke dip, chips, salsa and a trail mix served in waffle cones. 

We decorated with pumpkins, candles, fresh flowers, pine cones, etc. Everyone loved the look of the new kitchen and enjoyed snacking on my food.

A few days before the party, I was shopping at the new Neighborhood Market for the necessary ingredients. While checking out, the cashier asked what I was going to do with 4 boxes of fillo pastry shells. I explained that I was going to fill them with my homemade Chicken Salad for a party. She started telling me how she loved chicken salad and never thought to serve them in the pastry shells.

She said a couple times more how much she loved homemade chicken salad so I said, "people seem to love the way I prepare it, but most of those people are family. I should bring you some and let you taste for yourself." She said she'd love to taste some. I thought she was simply being polite to a customer.

Weeks go by and I'm asked to make more chicken salad for a cousin's birthday celebration. I'm back at the market with more fillo cups in my cart and Diane is again my cashier. Seeing the fillo cups, she says, "I've not forgotten about that chicken salad..." I told her I was making some that evening and I'd bring her a sample the next day. So I did. With a tube of Ritz crackers.

It was a couple of weeks before I saw Diane again. Before I could ask her what she thought, she started telling me how good it was. She had intended to share with her daughter but ended up eating it all during her lunch break. She mentioned she had my container in her locker and if I had a minute, she'd go get it. I told her, like I tell everyone, if you like it and give me the container back, chances are good that you'll get more. Her response, "Hold on! I'll go get it right now!" I guess she really did like it!

Makes me so happy to see others enjoying something I cook. People have often stated that I should sell my chicken salad. My answer, "It's way more fun to make and give away than it would be to make and sell." 




As I sit on my porch at Villa Gorilla planning a menu for guest arriving next week, I started reflecting on all that's happened in the last year or so. There's been big trips, small trips, surprise trips, family trips, a whole house remodel which included redecorating. There's been no blogging, little picture taking, and no parties from my box!

Or am I looking at it the wrong way? There's no mistaking about the blogging. Ok, I'm done thinking about it. Maybe I'll get better, maybe I won't. But my "party in a box" isn't just about taking food to people's houses or events. I have 2 "boxes" where I host small to large parties all the time! One is in North Carolina and one is in Virginia.

Let me start with the original "box" -- it's in Harrisburg NC and last year received an extensive makeover. So extensive, we moved completely out of the house. I moved to Virginia while the husband moved into an apartment. It was 4 and a half months of torture, but it paid off! 



The inaugural party in this box was Thanksgiving 2013 and not a single picture was taken. There is still a "remodeled open house" rolling around in my head. I just need to make it happen.

Most of the parties have been happening in and around my box in Virginia.

Party for one -- My neice, Sara, enjoying the hammock

Party for two -- My Grandfather and his new bride

A party for the "A Dub Bug" -- before going to the neighbors for fireworks

Party for two -- My cousin, Ron, and his lovely fiancee, Ramona 

 A Birthday Party for one...

... A massage for four!

And today, it's an Anniversary Party! Happy 29th Anniversary to my wonderful husband!

I hope whatever you do tomorrow and days after, you'll have fun and consider it a party! 




it's about time...

To bring this blog back to life!  I can't believe it's been so long.  So much has happened since the last post... Manager's Meeting at the Gorilla, Family Beach Vacations, time with family at the Gorilla, etc.

Why start blogging again now?  I'm getting ready to embark on a journey of awesomeness...we are headed to South Africa for one of those probably once in a life time opportunities... and in addition to some hopefully incredible animal photos, I'd like to take you on my personal, possibly scary, culinary journey.  (if we have internet)

We'll be staying at the Wild Wildebeest Lodge the entire visit.  This lodge looks amazing, however, I'm a little nervous for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1:  We will be dining on what is "harvested!"  Kudu, Springbok, Warthog, etc.  (excuse me, could I please have some simple chicken or pork or even some plain ol' ground beef...from a cow that says "MOO".)

Reason 2:  Not a single mention of any sort of spa treatment what-so-ever at this lodge.  A lodge located in the absolute middle of what looks like nowhere!  How is a girl suppose to survive in S. Africa without a spa?  In the middle of nowhere?  (ok, I'm breathing... deep cleansing breaths. One, two, three...)  (ha ha)

View Wild Wildebeest Lodge in a larger map

I really am looking forward to this trip but will admit I'm a little anxious as to what awaits us.  I hope to be posting pictures of what is on the dinner plates along my review.  Disclaimer:  While I'm planning on tasting things, I reserve the right to not taste everything! 

Thanks for stopping by after all this time!  I appreciate you bunches!



sunrise, monday vs. sunrise, thursday

This was what I almost missed seeing Monday morning.  I was trying to keep the room dark for David to sleep a little longer before a "grueling day" of meetings. 

Turns out my shuffling in the dark for a power cord woke him and he said, "you can open the drapes a little for light."  After getting a peek at what was outside, I had to fling them wide open and get a picture.

You can't imagine how breathtaking it was in real life. This picture was taken from our balcony in Palm Desert, California.

We left Palm Desert Wednesday afternoon and drove to Las Vegas, Nevada.  It was about a 4.5 hour drive through the desert. Not too exciting, but was still pretty in it's own way. (keep in mind this photo was taken from a car moving about 75 mph!)

Cut to Thursday morning and this is the view from our bed...

Quite the contrast, don't you agree? However, even in this photo I can find beauty. Take for instance the actual bed -- it's extremely comfortable and that's considered beauty in my eyes!

It's been a very busy trip out West, but we're having fun.  I am definitely looking forward to returning home and getting back to a normal routine. 

It's trips like this, during such sadness and tragedy happening in the world that makes me well aware of how blessed I am.  I'm extremely thankful for all God's has given me...strong family, friends, health, love and so much more. 

Please keep the world in your prayers, especially those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami.

Thank you for taking time to read this silly blog!  Now, go take note of all that's beautiful around you!


family nights are a good thing

A couple of years ago, our weekly Family Night dinners started becoming "random" dinners.  After a while, they became nonexistent dinners.  I have no excuse.  Well, I could actually come up with a few excuses and they'd be pretty darn good ones too.  But mostly I think the reason is, between trying to build a vacation home, extensive travel, aging pets and life in general, I knew my family would understand and "it would be ok if I didn't cook this week.  Oh, and by the way I will be out of town next week..."  Somewhere along the line, it just became understood that we weren't having Family Night unless I specifically made a formal announcement.

But Family dinners are important.  I need to start having them again.  It's a time of bonding.  Keeping up with the nephews as they get older.  Keeping up with the parents as they get older.  Sharing time together, laughing, joking and enjoying a meal cooked with love without being rushed.

However, I have discovered another important reason to have weekly family gatherings...

The other four chairs at the table get dusted on a regular basis!

I love my family. Hopefully they know I do. And, I promise to start trying to have Family Night again. Except not this week or next because I will be out of town.