"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Party Planning

May 8th, 2012


I was working a bridal shower this past weekend (more on that later), and as anyone who’s ever successfully planned a party knows, it takes good organizing skills to take a party from concept to realization. You can dream big and have a fantastic vision, but without execution, you might as well keep it a dream. So here are some tips to help you make your party a success! Don’t be daunted if it seems like a lot of work – with good organization and focus, it’s actually a lot of fun.

Make a plan and stick with it. Don’t be swayed by thoughts or suggestions along the way of “oh, we can also do this, or add that”. It will throw off your time, and when you’re planning a party yourself, you still want some time to be able to enjoy it, rather than being stuck “in the weeds” while everyone else is enjoying themselves. If something goes terribly wrong, be flexible enough to adapt, but stick to your plan as much as possible. Your plan is king and it must be detailed so that nothing is forgotten, and so that if you have help that you trust, they can look at it and see what needs to be done without having to come to you for everything. For us, time was an especially big factor, since due to the amount of attendees we had two sittings, with an hour in between to transition.

When making a plan, I start from the top (or big picture) and work down to details. What is the theme? The budget? The number of attendees and type of crowd? Don’t forget other important things, like dietary restrictions and mobility issues. What is your level of ability with decor and food, and/or the level of ability of others who will be involved? Is there someone who’s more of an expert than you in a particular area and is willing to pitch in? If so, pass off that area to them, with basic guidelines to help them manage that particular department.

In this particular instance, my friend A was planning the party and handling the decor, G was hosting and planning activities, and I was in charge of the food. So my plan had to cover a few things:
– the menu based on the theme and time of day, and any recipes scaled to the right quantities for the number of attendees
– budget for food, broken down into an itemized list of ingredients and their quantities (for ensuring we were within budget, and for grocery shopping)
– a schedule of what needed to be done every day broken down to specific tasks – testing the week before, groceries and cookies two days before, all other prep one day before, and assembly of items and things that needed to be made fresh the morning of the event.
– a list of tools needed to complete everything and all serveware.

Making a detailed plan in list form also keeps you positive, since you can see your progress and accomplishments being checked off one by one.

Delegate. You might be determined to do everything yourself if you’re a perfectionist, but without help it can be a lonely and frustrating process, especially when you start to fall behind. (Trust me on this, things always take longer than you expect. Build in a time buffer and enlist help where you can.) You will not have time to explain everything, but you can delegate things that can’t be messed up, like cutting fruit, cheese and veggies for platters in the case of food, or picking up pre-ordered flowers. If you’ve had a helping hand for any trial runs, all the better, for you can then easily hand off tasks to your helper who already knows the drill. (Thanks sis!)

Communicate. Tell the people helping you what your vision is for the finished product and what your goals are for each day so everyone knows what they are working towards and understands what’s important. It helps people stay on task and avoids disappointment.

Do as much as possible in advance. On the day of the party you, the host, want to be relaxed and in a good mood for your guests. Getting as much as possible out of the way will also afford you time to double-check that everything is done, ensure you look presentable, and perhaps even take photos of the setup before guests arrive.

Ziploc bags are your friend. Our party was a themed tea party, and there were a number of components I had to make in advance, and assemble the morning of the party. I used ziploc bags for a few things:
– tartlets, which would get too soft if they were assembled too far in advance. I filled a ziploc bag with the filling for the tartlets the day before, and when it came time to assemble them the day of, snipped off the tip with scissors and piped the filling in easily.
– cupcakes. I don’t often bother with piping bags; a ziploc bag is just as good, can be used for multiple purposes, and can be sealed. Just snip off a corner, place the piping tip in and fill with icing. To prop your bag up for easy and clean filling, place the bag in a large glass and fold the sides outward over the rim of the glass. I also used a ziploc bag to make chocolate decorations for the tops of the cupcakes; I placed a few ounces of chocolate in one corner of a ziploc bag and placed it in a bain-marie over lightly simmering water until the chocolate was mostly melted, then set it aside until it was cool enough to handle, snipped a very small hole in the tip of the bag, and piped chocolate in the desired shapes onto a baking sheet lined with foil.
– tags for gift bags. A made customized tea bags and I used her motif to make matching tags for tea-bag shaped cookies, and kept them all in a ziploc bag with string and scissors until it was time to assemble them. It kept them all in one place, and grease-free.

I’ve mostly focused on organization, but there are many other tips that come in handy when planning your own party. What are some of yours?

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It’s Time For Spring!

March 20th, 2012

Spring Equinox is today! And with warm, almost-summer temperatures and clear, sunny skies people in the city have already begun to populate patios and frequent their favourite ice cream shops. Due to the early warm weather we’re enjoying, I’m guessing that spring and summer product sales are going pretty well for our retailers. So, you’ll probably want to get into stores before the good stuff is gone! And if you need some motivation (seriously, is the beautiful weather not enough?) to go out and explore the stores, here are a few of the best fashion Spring/Summer video campaigns to get you inspired.

Bold graphic shapes, long flowy silhouettes and lots of attitude at Prada

Rhythmic lines, metallic shine and art deco at Gucci

Candy sweet stylings, sorbet colours and broderie Anglaise at Louis Vuitton (behind the scenes)

Late night parties with snakes and fiercely dressed robotic mannequins at Lanvin

And last but not least, campaigns that transport you to a gentler time and place:
Emporio Armani (shot in Hong Kong)

Valentino (shot in Mexico)

Chanel (RTW, behind the scenes)

I hope your first day of spring this year is sunny and wonderful!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 16th, 2012

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend! And as with all festive holiday weekends, you might find that everyone’s so busy it’s difficult to round all your friends up for a drink at the same time. But the folks at Guinness have trained a sheepdog to do the hard work for you:

If you plan to forego the rowdy crowds and celebrate at home, we’ve also got you covered. Here, some ideas from our St. Patrick’s Day archive:

Green Beverages
Green Beverages

Green Goddess Dip
Green Goddess Dip

Guinness Pot Pie
Guinness Pot Pie

Guinness Truffles
Guinness Truffles

Have a fun weekend, and drink responsibly!

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Happy Chinese New Year!

January 23rd, 2012

Chinese red lanterns

image via www.dragonhorse.ca

To all who are celebrating, Gung Hey Fat Choi! Many wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. It’s the year of the dragon, and dragons are said to be confident, enterprising and creative (it’s no wonder we get along!).

May you be blessed this year and beyond with more food than you can fit in your bellies, more friends than you can count, better health than ever before, and may you be unstoppable in all your endeavours!

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New Year, New Site!

December 29th, 2011

HappyNY2011

Happy New Year, Everyone!

So I know, it’s a wee bit early, but I can’t wait for the new year to begin.

I hope you all have a wonderful year ahead of you, full of vigorous activity and personal triumphs, great friendships and happy moments!

I’ve been working on this project over the last of the old year, and it’s finally time to unveil the new home of The Garden of Earthly Delights. Come on in! Goodbye Blogspot; we’re moving up in the world.

As in any project, there are people I have to thank for their help and support, and they are:

DL of Spotted Fashion, for giving me a space to test and teaching me the WordPress ropes
TW, for lending me his camera, lighting equipment and photography expertise
JS, for being my working buddy and helping me out when I got stuck

Thanks, guys! You don’t know how much I appreciate the help you’ve given me.

Well, I’m off for now – ’tis the season to celebrate with friends, and I can’t keep mine waiting! Have a fun and safe holiday season!

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Anthony Bourdain’s Twisted Christmas

December 24th, 2011

Anthony Bourdain's Twisted Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, everyone – and I hope you’re having a great time with your loved ones! Just don’t let Ol’ Krampus get you…

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The Garden of Earthly Delights goes Social

August 24th, 2011

Happy Hump Day! I hope your week is going well.

I’ve decided it’s time to spruce up my Blogspot space a bit while I work on a WordPress redesign (it’s gonna be a long road, but with some exciting changes), starting with my social networks! I’ve had most of these accounts registered for a while, but never really did much in the way of promoting them. So if you’ll pardon my break from regular programming, I’d be so happy to have you join me on a few networks! And if you’ve got Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and anything else you’d like to share – leave me a comment and let me know so I can join you in return!

The Garden of Earthly Delights on Facebook

Earthly Delights (HeironyMuse) on Twitter

The Garden of Earthly Delights on Bloglovin'

The Garden of Earthly Delights on Networked Blogs

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5 Things About Me

August 12th, 2011

I needed a little break from the world earlier this week. You know the Twitter “over capacity” whale? That’s kind of how I felt. Anyway, I’m back now and no longer whale-y! (I know, that’s not really a word)

I love reading other blogs that give you a sense of who the writer is – not in terms of what he or she does or knows, but the true character of the person behind the screen and the little (or big) quirks they have. An example of this would be The Man Repeller. If you like fashion and have never heard of her before, you’re missing out! She’s crazy, bold, and laugh-out-loud hilarious.

So in this post, I’ll share with you a few of my quirks. If you’d care to share some back, please do! I’d love to hear them.

1) I constantly have a million tabs open on my browser. Okay, not a million exactly, but a lot. I would bookmark them, but to me the bookmark folder is where “important” tabs go to die – and so they usually stay in my browser until I’m done with them or realize they’re not that important to me.

tabs

So many tabs.

2) I’m deeply insecure about my elbows. I can’t even… I think they look weird. I have elbow insecurity. Once I saw a photo of Angelina Jolie and thought her elbows looked like mine, which made me feel better.

3) Whenever I eat Smarties, Skittles, or other candies that come in different colours, I have to sort them by colour, then eat them in an order that evens out the number of pieces of each colour. Gummy bears and Jelly Bellies are the exception to this rule.

4) I used to have a signature jade ring, and broke it about 2.5 years ago. My finger still feels naked from it being missing. Funny how you can get so attached to certain things. (I fully intend to get a custom replacement made one day)

5) I’m an Excel nerd – I have spreadsheets for everything. I even plan parties on Excel.

Your turn…

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Mobile Retail, and reason #8 to vote for me!

August 7th, 2011

Tesco subway mobile retail

Until recently, I worked in the retail sector, and as any good curious person should do, I still like to keep up with industry news and see what’s going on. If you’ve been following my Twitter (I’m @heironymuse), you might have seen that this year so far has been a mixed bag of results, with luxury and e-commerce mostly coming out on top.

Another quickly growing area in retail is mobile commerce, and I love seeing what different companies are trying out. Along comes South Korean discount supermarket, Tesco Homeplus, in a wonderful campaign using Seoul subway stations.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend!

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Passion

March 23rd, 2011

I spent my weekend with a great friend; you know, the kind you don’t necessarily see often, but whenever you do, it’s like nothing has changed and you can chat about anything and everything, and it’s just fun, and comfortable, and even inspiring, and you don’t care about the time? Yes, that kind. I consider myself lucky to have a few such friends!

At one point in the course of an evening, he asked the question: “What is your passion?”

Without hesitation, my answer was “Creating things.” And it’s true – though I’ve chosen a few mediums to focus on, it doesn’t matter so much what exactly it is that I’m creating, as long as it fits with my personal values, as long as I’m doing something new (to me), and as long as there is the element of challenge in bringing a vision to fruition.

I’d like to add a secondary layer to this, and that is: Sharing Information. Finding/developing skills and knowledge, being able to pass them on and see where others go with them is so very rewarding and was one of the things I most enjoyed about my university experience – being surrounded by people who were equally dedicated and passionate, learning together and seeing everyone take the things we had learned in completely different directions.

These two things are the reason for my blog, and I will endeavour to stay true to them as it grows. I just attended a seminar on Fall/Winter trends for 2012 and can’t wait to start building content for you to see!

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