How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch

Posted on Apr 21, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch 4

Easter was three weeks ago, but since I’m still finding plastic eggs around my house, I figure it’s still appropriate to tell you all about the Easter brunch I hosted for Damon’s coworkers and their families.

But first, here’s some free advice for you all: Don’t decide to host a major holiday function because you have some cute decor you purchased last year at a major discount from Williams-Sonoma and you’ve been waiting a whole year to display it.  Because it will rain and you won’t even be able to use the cute decor.  And then you’re stuck hosting 40-50 people in your small-ish, undecorated house.  And that requires cooking and cleaning and everything else you’re not naturally good at and you won’t even have decorations to distract from the fact that your food sucks and your house is dirty.  So just don’t do it.

Seriously.  What was I thinking?

I actually love hosting, I really do.  But Easter is a big holiday.  40-50 people is a lot of people.  75-100 Easter eggs to stuff and hide for the egg hunt you also offered to host is a lot of eggs.  It’s all just a lot of pressure.

To take some of that pressure off, I made the brunch a pot-luck.  That way guests could bring their own time-honored, traditional dishes that you have to have for Easter to be Easter.  I would cook the ham, a side, and a dessert.

There.  Food was set.  Next I rented tables and chairs that we would set up outside, since we certainly couldn’t fit everyone inside.

Then I realized that the decorations that had been the impetus for this celebration wouldn’t be enough and I would have to do some online shopping.  Obviously I would need pastel tablecloths, matching tableware sets and candy cups.  Was I originally planning on making individual candy cups?  No.  But once I saw them on the party store’s website, I knew they would be imperative to the success of my party.

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Candy cups in final form

I was feeling pretty good about everything.  As the big day approached, the weather forecast turned ominous:  Rain was threatening to ruin my outdoor brunch.  Rain!  No!  Where would my guests sit?  I had to focus.  Luckily there was still time to rent a tent.  My guests would be shivering and cold outside, but they would be dry.

But the Easter egg hunt was doomed.  I couldn’t force a gaggle of small children to search for eggs in the wet, cold rain.  Even if it meant my decorations would be forced to spend another year in our storage closet buried under a pile of equally worthless crap that I should never have purchased in the first place.

I was so disheartened.  No Easter decorations?  Why bother even going on with the brunch at all!?

“Diana, why didn’t you just move the decorations inside?” you ask.  Because they were OUTDOOR decorations – duh!  Come on people, spare me such pedantic questions.

Anyway.  It was too late to cancel, so I had to forge on with plans.  Despite my best efforts at preparing everything ahead of time, the night before the party rolled around, and there I was, stuffing candy cups and icing cupcakes at midnight.  Turns out the candy cups were a bad idea.  Stuffing dozens of small paper cups with that Easter grass is incredibly tedious and a huge, huge mess to boot.  Not worth it.

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Tedium masked in cuteness

But cupcakes.  Cupcakes are the worst.  Way worse than candy cups.  Sure they look all cute but they are really, really annoying to prepare.  Especially when you buy special cupcake wrappers to match your tableware, which you have to assemble individually.  I didn’t mention that I bought matching cupcake wrappers earlier, did I?  Well the truth is out.  I bought the freaking matching cupcake wrappers, thus condemning myself to a night in pastry hell.  A night only made worse when I realized that I had nowhere to store 48 cupcakes, because I never, ever make cupcakes.

Okay, while I’m being honest, I also bought cupcake toppers.  Because Pinterest has poisoned my brain and plain cupcakes simply aren’t good enough.  I should have known the cupcake toppers would have caused me misery when I saw they were made by none other than Martha Stewart.  Martha had led me astray before, yet I foolishly gave her another chance.  Stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

After staying up way past my bedtime hiding eggs in my non-decorated living room (just so you know, it was a very high egg/sq. footage ratio), I woke up early the next morning to start cooking and complete final preparations, and what did I have to contend with?  Those damn cupcake toppers.*

I opened up the bag of toppers and were they in pom-pom form as advertised?  No they were not.

“WTF?!” I yelled in a mix of anger, exhaustion and confusion.  “I have to put these together myself!  Oh hell no, Martha.”

Damon tried to calm me by showing me how simply they could be arranged with a simple, self-adhesive strip.  It didn’t matter.  I hadn’t budgeted time for such crafting!  I worked as quickly as I could but in my haste errors were made, pom-pom toppers were lost.  But there was no time to dwell on the wasted cupcake crafts: I had to put the ham in the oven.

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The blasted cupcakes.

Believe it or not, my main priority that morning was getting to church.  Everything was timed around church.  I had very carefully planned when to start cooking the ham so it would cook during the service and be ready when the guests arrived.

So when the time came, I pulled the ham out of the fridge …and it was frozen.

Nonononono!  My ham cannot be frozen right now!  My life is not a sitcom and this isn’t supposed to happen in real life!  But it was frozen.  And that’s when – in a fit of rage fueled mainly by Martha Stewart, but also by Pinterest and my frozen ham – I picked up the worthless meat and threw it through my kitchen window, tossing the infuriating cupcake topper pom-poms right out after it.

Not really.  That’s what I wanted to do, but instead I did what any good woman does:  I told my husband to deal with.  Somehow he thawed the ham in time, and somehow we made it to church in time.

But church ran long, as church tends to do, and no amount of hurrying would have had my party completely ready before the guests arrived.  Once home, I pulled out the ham to apply the glaze.  “Pour the glaze over the ham and then cook another 10 minutes,” read the instructions.  I opened the packed of glaze (as if I make my own!) and dumped it onto the ham.  It was powder.  SERIOUSLY CAN I NOT CATCH A BREAK WITH THIS HAM!?

I re-read the instructions.  “Mix powder with water and heat to make the glaze,” they said.  WHO WROTE THESE DIRECTIONS!?  SHOULDN’T THAT COME BEFORE, “Pour glaze over ham”?  Since I already had guests at my house I couldn’t scream at the ham packaging, much as I wanted to.  Instead I discreetly poured tap water over the ham in an attempt to make the powder spreadable.  It was all quite pathetic.

And then I saw a five-year old girl drinking a mimosa, and suddenly I wasn’t so worried about the ham as I was about her parents suing me.  Perspective.

Ultimately the ham was edible.  And ultimately, I think everyone had a good time.  Everyone brought delicious dishes and helped profusely with the set-up and clean-up, the kids enjoyed the Easter egg hunt despite it being indoors, and that one five-year-old girl was the only incident of underage drinking at the party.  Success.

The hunt

The hunt

Oh.  And it didn’t rain.  Turns out I could have used the decorations.  The cruel irony is that now I never will.  They will be buried in that storage closet for eternity – or at least until our next Navy move – because I will never, ever host Easter brunch again.

*What is really crazy about all these silly, useless details is that half of my guests were male fighter pilots who could not care less about matching tableware and candy cups, and the other half were kids and their  mothers who don’t have time to notice such things because they were too busy trying to keep their kids from accidentally drinking alcoholic beverages.  Will I ever learn?

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My Beijing “Vacation”

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Travel Traumas, Uncategorized

My Beijing “Vacation” 3

How do you define a vacation? For Damon, vacation means he is on official leave.  Time and place don’t matter. For me, vacation means I’m lying by the beach/pool/someplace warm with trashy magazine an intellectual book in one hand and an adult beverage in the other.  Preferably one with an umbrella in it. So when Damon got home from work on Wednesday evening (the night before we left for Beijing) and exclaimed, “We’re on vacation!” I had to disagree with him. Unless he was going to fold two loads of laundry and pack five days worth of clothes, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, medicine, portable snacks, and toddler entertainment, we were certainly not on vacation. Though I don’t agree with Damon’s mentality, I understand it.  When I had a paying job, vacation meant time off that job and usually travel somewhere to enjoy that time off.  But since my job now is rearing a child, I’m not technically on vacation until I am away from my child.  Which is pretty much never. So while our trip to Beijing was a truly great trip (despite my lack of planning), I wouldn’t call it a vacation. Because to me, a vacation is not: -Getting practically cavity searched at the airport because you’ve packed baby food pouches in your carry on. (That didn’t actually happen on this trip, but it has in the past.) -Flying on a several hour flight with a sweaty toddler attached to your chest. -Washing poopy onesies out by hand in your hotel bathroom’s sink -Waking every morning between 3:45-4:45AM because your baby will only go back to sleep if she is sharing your twin bed with you, squeezing your face, neck, chest and arm fat until your entire upper body is numb.  (But not your husband, who sleeps comfortably in the other twin bed, oblivious to the arm-fat squeezing happening to you a few feet away.) -Eating in mediocre restaurants that your tour company has pre-arranged. -Anxiety that your family is going to be killed because the van you’re riding in has no seatbelts and the driver likes...

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That Time I Forgot My Vacation

Posted on Apr 3, 2013 in Travel Traumas, Uncategorized

That Time I Forgot My Vacation 4

I realize I’ve been a bit MIA recently.  Damon was gone on detachment in Australia for three weeks, the better part of which either Elisabeth and I were battling illness at home in Japan.  We’ve been busy with other things as well: I hosted Damon’s squadron for Easter brunch, which brought out first-birthday party levels of Diana Craziness.  And we’re going on vacation to Beijing tomorrow.  Which I sort of forgot about. Okay, I didn’t actually forget about it.  I just kind of pushed it to the back of my mind.  Party planning will do that to me.  Easter brunch > Beijing vacation.  That’s not really true.  Only sometimes in my head it is.  I know, I’m twisted.  To be fair, we did have a very helpful travel agent organize pretty much our entire trip.  All I had to do was approve our itinerary and fill out unholy amounts of paperwork to secure our visas.  Let me tell you, securing visas to China is no easy feat.  Especially when you have a toddler who does not want to have her visa photos taken.  See below. So last night I had a moment of, “Oh, crap!  We’re leaving for China in two days and I don’t even have a guidebook!”  Who goes to a foreign country for the first time without even a guidebook?  I could say I’m just really adventurous and like to fly by the seat of my pants, take the road less traveled, see where life takes me.  But that’s not true.  I like a plan.  And I like guidebooks. So today’s quest became about finding a guidebook.  But first I had a spouse club meeting.  Then I had a luncheon planning committee meeting.  Then I had to go pay some road tax.  I have no idea what exactly a road tax is, all I know is that paying for it is a somewhat tedious process.  First I had to wait in a long line to present all sorts of documentation that proves… I dunno.  That we have insurance?  That our car is fit to be on the...

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The Good Stuff

Posted on Mar 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

I stopped nursing Elisabeth last week.  And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.  Because shortly thereafter, I came down with (Elisabeth passed along to me) a nasty cold.  And for the first time since I was pregnant – the first time in TWO YEARS – I was able to take real meds.  When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your medicinal options are pretty much restricted to Tylenol.  And most of the time, Tylenol just doesn’t hack it.  Oh, there’s also Benedryl.  However if you like to be conscious during the day, Benedryl is not always a good choice.  Now, though – now my options for Over The Counter meds were endless! Giddy with excitement, I hit up the drug store.  I peered up through watery eyes at the rows and rows of pills, sprays, and syrups.  I carefully inspected the labels between sneezing fits.  With so many possibilities, how would I choose?  Multi-symptom cold medicine?  Cold & Flu gel caps?  Drowsy or non-drowsy cough syrup?  I noticed a bright orange label affixed on many of the boxes: “DMX”.  What was this DMX?  I saw you could only buy two of these products at a time and that ID was required for purchase.  I still had no idea what it was, but clearly it was the good stuff.  I grabbed the Robitussin with the mysterious “DMX” label and a package of Dayquil and Nyquil capsuls for good measure. Back at home I eagerly ripped open an individual Nyquil dosage.  Dang they make those little packets hard to open!  Had those tiny, perforated lines always been so hard to tear, or had my hands grown weak after two years of medicinal abstention?  I eventually pried open the package and swallowed the pills.  That night was glorious.  Instead of waking five, six times with a hacking cough, I only awoke two.  The wonders of modern medicine! Early in that morning – 4AM or so – I needed another dose.  But it was too late to take another Nyquil.  Damon was gone* and I had a child who would be awake in...

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(Re)Name My Blog

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hey Folks, This blog is about to undergo a major redesign.  To go along with the new look, I’m going to need a new name.  But here’s the thing: I’m no good with titles.  That’s why half of you readers probably don’t get Non Om Mom now.  I need your help. I’ve appealed to you before.  Perhaps you remember when I asked you to Name My Baby and Name the Grandparents.  I sure do!  You guys were awesome, offering up loads of wonderful suggestions.  So I’m appealing to you again.  (Re)Name my blog. You’re probably all, “Dude.  Diana.  Start naming your own s*** already!”  I get it.  I get your frustration.*  I do.  But really, this is not my thing.  I can’t condense all my brilliance into a witty, memorable, AND succinct title.  It’s too daunting a task.   So I repeat – I. Need. Your. Help. We’re going to make this fun.  We’re going to make this a contest.  This is how it’s going to go:  All you readers submit your suggestions for a new blog title.  If I choose your title**, you will receive an Amazon gift card.  BAM!  Who doesn’t love Amazon!?  Nobody! Okay, well, don’t get too excited yet.  It’s only going to be a $20 Amazon gift card.  I’m not made of money, people!  But do you know how much crap amazingly awesome stuff you can get for $2o on Amazon!?  So much amazingly awesome stuff!  Go on, get excited again!   A really easy contest to win $20 on Amazon!  Woohoo! Now that you’re appropriately psyched, put your thinking caps on.  Just this time, I’m going to request that you don’t leave your submission as a comment.  Please go to my Contact page and email me your suggestion.  Multiple entries are welcome!  And if your friends or family are smarter and funnier than you***, please feel free to pass this contest along so they can enter, too. I wasn’t going to offer any guidelines for the title – I’m curious to see what title you think reflects this blog without my influence.  However I will...

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The Christian Bale Scale

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 in My Kid Stole My Cool

The Christian Bale Scale 8

I’ve had a rough week.  Maybe its been two weeks.  My memory is a little fuzzy from fatigue, so I can’t remember exactly how long its been since the Night Stalker returned, just a long time.  You see, Elisabeth is teething and Demon Baby has returned, waking several times a night and slowly sucking the life out of me. I wake up every morning looking wrecked.  No amount of makeup in the world can help me.  It’s really quite depressing. I always thought I’d be that mom that everyone hates because she always looks put-together: cute outfit, coiffed hair, bright-eyed.  But no.  Sadly I’m the hater, not the hatee.  Some days I do try to look less zombie-like.  Really, I do.  If you see me on a regular basis, you may not believe me, but honestly – there are days I dab on the expensive de-puffing eye cream, apply blush to add color to my sallow skin, and swipe mascara over my lashes to perk up my droopy eyes. It’s all useless – especially the expensive eye cream – but I do it anyway.  Definitely not every day, though.  Not even most days.  Why waste that expensive eye cream? Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you also don’t want to squander your precious beauty products when it will hardly make a dent.  Maybe you wonder how to choose which days to put effort into your appearance, and which days to say, “To Hell with it all!” That’s where the Christian Bale Scale comes in.  I determine on a scale of 1-10 the likelihood that I will run into Christian Bale that day, and plan my put-togetherness accordingly.  For example, if I know I’m going to be staying on base all day doing errands and taking care of the kiddo and whatnot, that’s a zero; that day doesn’t even make it on the scale.  Why would a gorgeous, Oscar-winning Welsh actor be wandering around a small naval air base in Japan? He wouldn’t.  So on those days, I don’t bother.  The dark circles are out in all their glory, the greasy...

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