Monday, July 26, 2010

Summertime Jewelry Party!

I had the great pleasure of hosting a jewelry party on Sunday. A great time was had by all (I hope! I haven't heard otherwise). A friend of mine recently because a Lia Sophia consultant in order to make some money for her master's degree and perhaps a vacation or two along the way. So I volunteered to host a party. No arm twisting needed because it involved my three favorite things; friends, jewelry, and dessert!

The decision to make it an intimate afternoon party was easy. I could serve dessert and cocktails. The menu included;

Raspberry shortbread squares
Blueberry upside down cake
A fruit bowl
Marionberry mint spritzers
Iced blueberry green tea

I used local sources for most of the party which made it a wonderful way to showcase talent and delicious food. There are many lovely bakeries in Olympia. At first I thought that I would showcase a few of my favorites. But as the local produce began to roll across my table, I realized that it would be shameful not to take advantage of it. The farms down the road from my humble home raise some of the best berries in the state (in my opinion) including the delightful Spooner Berry farms. I stopped here the day before to pick up the marionberries and raspberries.

The marionberries were blended with handfuls of mint from my garden and a scoop of organic white sugar. I strained them to get just the juice. Guests could then pour a desired amount into a glass, add ice, brandy, and spritzer. I left it open for guests to add alcohol or not, knowing that it was a hot afternoon.

For the raspberries, I borrowed the blackberry shortbread recipe from Martha Stewart and substituted raspberries. I also cut the orange zest out because the raspberries were tart enough! These bars were a huge hit with the guests as well as my family. The dough is crumbly enough that I might even toss these on yogurt or ice cream. People couldn't stop eating them.

As if the above two delights weren't enough berry goodness, the blueberries are just coming into season. My local supermarket had a great deal on a few pints so I grabbed them in my pre-party shopping. Hence, the blueberry upside down cake came into being. From Martha Stewart, this cake is slightly different than the norm which automatically drew me to it. It's so unusual to pair brown sugar with blueberries but this was also a hit. It had a musky flavor, deeper than the other tart berries on the menu. Plus the market offered colorful posies of flowers that I put around the dining room. They were small enough to add decoration but not overshadow the jewelry. Check out the SIX dollar bouquet!

But I couldn't stop there. The idea to showcase bakeries still clung with me as my son and I made one of our traditional summer shopping trips down to the Farmer's Market. One of our favorite stands is the San Francisco Street bakery. We usually get the feta and tomato pizza along with other goodies. They were offering a new pastry which they called macarons. I've had the more French version which is small and thin in comparison to these. I took one home to enjoy with my afternoon coffee. One bite of these light airy confections and I was hooked. I had to share them with my friends! In the picture, you will see the lemon almond one. The chocolate ones flew off the plate so I wasn't able to snag a picture of them. And my favorite flavor is the hazelnut one. The buttercream in between the meringues is so light and fluffy that it is decadent to bite into one. I carefully sliced these in half because not only are they rich but huge. I wanted everyone to try a bite of the flavors.

Lastly, in keeping with the summer theme and inspired by the flowers, the tablecloth was a summery blend of roses on a gold background. My grandmother's German china made the best backdrop to the whole affair and I had just enough dessert plates for everyone.

So to the fun part, besides the eating! Lia Sophia is not a well known brand out west so most of the people at my party had not heard of it. I had a small gathering with many different income levels there. Lia Sophia offers a variety of different price points and the jewelry is well made. If you were concerned about budget even more when having a jewelry party, I might look up your local Avon representative. The fun thing about Avon is that it can be a jewelry and makeup party!

Afterward, I started thinking about all the other ways that I might have a girl party without the pressures to buy. Then I thought about the drawers of accessories that I have some of which I never wear or doesn't think suit me. It would be fun to bring all my extra accessories to a party and trade people for theirs!

At the end of the party, I served iced coffee. The best part was after the consultants left, we sat around and munched on the leftovers.

The party was fun and everyone went home pleased with their purchases. In retrospect, I rarely have a party without offering goodies to take home. I went against my typical hostess instincts and thought perhaps the jewelry and pastries would be enough. Bath gels might be over the top. However, I think that I will send them along with the thank you note. Since I see most of these people on a regular basis, a hand delivered thank you is in order and who would refuse some fun bath goodies!