Baking · celebration

Unpopular Thanksgiving Opinions

Get ready to be outraged:  I don’t like Thanksgiving.  Turkey is fine and all, but it’s definitely not one of my favorite types of poultry.  When people decide that duck is appropriate to eat at Thanksgiving, you can call me.  But on Thanksgiving, it’s inevitable that someone has dried out the bird, and the only thing worse than dry turkey is…well, nothing.

Stuffing is okay too, and sometimes it’s absolutely delicious, but a big mound of stale breadcrumbs is not enough to make a meal.  In the Vella family, it’s all about the food, so if you want to see what a real holiday is like, come see us on Christmas eve where we serve course after course of bomb ass food.  Thanksgiving, however, is not where the Vella’s shine, mostly because Thanksgiving food is boring.  Yeah, I said it.  And I’m not sorry.

But it’s not even the entree that I have the biggest problem.  It’s the desserts.  Pumpkin and Apple pie.  Here are some very clear reasons for my hatred:

  1. I’m just not all that into pie crust.  I’m know there are some better than others.  But whoever has made my apple pies the past 30 years certainly doesn’t have the ratios down.  Typically I find pie crust to be dry over flaky.  No thank you.
  2. I don’t like warm fruit.  I just don’t, I can’t explain it.
  3. I hate hate hate nutmeg.  Anything pumpkin flavored is basically just a bunch of clove and nutmeg and I think it’s way overused.  

So it’s all a matter of preference, but mine happens to be an unpopular one.  So what do I typically do on Thanksgiving?  I load my plate up with mash potatoes and Brussel sprouts and I skip dessert.  But I’m not doing that this year.  No way.  Skipping dessert is bullshit,  I live for dessert.  This year I’m taking matters into my own hands.  I’m making something for myself…sure, other people can have some too.  I’m not going to eat an entire cake by myself.  But this is about me, and my dessert is going to include chocolate, because dammit, dessert means chocolate.  There, I said it.  I feel so much better.

Ginger Choc cake 1

Here’s what I baked, a chocolate ginger bundt cake.  The recipe didn’t include ginger, but because I’m not a total scrooge, I decided to be a little festive.

I am so thankful for my readers.  Thanksgiving, in spite of the crappy food, is special to me.  I am so grateful for the many wonderful faces around my dinner table.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

celebration · Uncategorized

Bachelorette Parties – A Recipe for Success

If you are in your twenties or early thirties it is inevitable that you will have one of those years where every weekend is devoted to weddings.  Your calendar will be filled with showers and ceremonies, or trips to the Bed Bath and Beyond bridal registry.  This is my year, people, I am experiencing a wedding filled 2017.  I am in three weddings, and invited to attend many more.  I didn’t know I had so many friends!  But I honestly shouldn’t complain, one of my college friends had a year where she was either in or attended 11 weddings!  But even with my whopping 7 weddings on the horizon, it is making for a very busy fall.

Because of this, I have gotten really really good at knowing just what to do for each event:  what to buy, what to wear, and how to plan.  This became even truer the past two weekends when I was the host of two very different, but very fun bachelorette parties.  It seems like I’ve got a bachelorette party formula down with only slight alterations necessary to fit each bride.

Here are some simple tips and touches that will make your bestie’s bachelorette bash one for the books:

  • Know Your Bride  

Does anyone still hire strippers for bachelorette parties anymore?  Surely someone is out there doing it, but chances are, the bride to be isn’t all that interested in a sweaty man (other than her own) bumping up on her.  The point here is, plan activities around what your bride might actually want to do.  It’s a day or a weekend to celebrate her, after all, so keep the bride’s style in mind.  

Is the bride a party animal?  Good, take her out to a club, let her dance the night away.  Is the bride shy?  Cool, so maybe don’t make everyone stare at her while she opens gifts.  Pick activities that your bestie is sure to enjoy, that won’t make her feel uncomfortable, like a *cough cough* stripper.   If you’re in her bridal party, then you know her best, so make sure her style is in mind when you’re planning her bash.

Tess - Bach party - Chicago
My bachelorette bash in Chicago in 2015
  • Bride First, but Guests Second

You want the celebration to feel true to the bride’s style, but remember that you’re still the hostess of a party, and you have to entertain the other guests too.  This means picking activities that everyone can enjoy.  If you’re in my group of friends, that means drinking.  A bachelorette party formula that has always worked in the past is starting the day with brunch, then heading out to a pool for some fun in the sun.  Not too many people I know would object to that.  Keep the activities light so that everyone can have fun.  Make sure there’s good music playing, and enough food and drinks for everyone.

On that same note, be sure to have a variety of food and beverages.  A bach party I threw recently had two girls in attendance that had gluten allergies.  That meant ensuring we ordered pizza with gluten free crust and had some hard ciders on hand.  We knew that the rest of the group would want to drink wine and champagne, so those were the drink options.  This goes back to being a good host, know your audience, and prep accordingly.

  • Don’t Skimp on the Photo Ops

This is a weekend to remember, but also one where things get a little bit fuzzy, if you know what I mean.  You will want this fun filled weekend well documented.  In an era where everyone has a phone in their hands 24-7, take this opportunity to have extra special pics of the bride and her gals.  My recent Columbus bach extravaganza was full of great photo ops.  One of the bridesmaids made an awesome photo cut out with the bride’s name.  We also had big balloons in our hotel room to pose around.  My next bach party started out at my house, so I made a little photo booth area for guests to pose in front of.  We also live in a magical time of Snapchat filters, so make your own geo-filter for the night.  It’s quick, cheap, and really ups your social media game.  

 

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, make a bachelorette party hashtag.  You can go online and get hashtag options generated, or come up with one yourself, but it’s a great way to catalog the weekend events, and something the bride will probably want to look at time and time again.  Hashtags are the future people!  And if you’re still coming up short, ask me for help.  It’s one of my greatest joys in life.

  • The Devil is in the Details

I’m typically not one of those girls that thinks that every party needs to have a theme, but sometimes with a bachelorette party, it helps.  For big bachelorette parties, like the one in Columbus, a theme helps keep everything organized, like party favors, and decor.  Because my friend’s bach party fell on the same weekend as the Lollapalooza music festival, we decided to make the bach party a festival theme, we called it Bride-a-palooza.  We had flower crowns, VIP passes, temporary tattoos, etc.  We set up a tepee in the hotel room for the bride’s gifts, tie-die plates and cups.  Everything went down to the smallest detail, and it made all the difference.  

Again, not everything has to have a theme, but you still want the party to feel cohesive.  My Dayton bach party didn’t have a theme, but I made sure to put effort into creating the right atmosphere with food, cocktail napkins, and decor.

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Because it’s still a party, it’s important to have a little fun with it.  The bride we were celebrating in Dayton is getting hitched to another bride, so penis straws were out.  Instead, I baked boob cookies, that’s right, nipples and all.  

boob cookies
The gooooregous Dayton bride, posing like a lady

As with every party I throw, paying attention to those extra details may mean a little extra time, but it will translate to your guests as an extra special event.  This is your best friend, we are planning for, right?  That extra mile will mean the world to her, so plan around a theme, buy those balloons and make those boobs!

  • Be Gifted

Bachelorette party gifts are sort of a strange territory.  I can’t tell you how many times over the course of attending or planning a bach party I’ve asked my friends “So, what are you getting for her?”  A bach party is not the time or place to buy the bride something off of her registry, it’s a time to have fun with her present, be a little silly.  Some brides want wedding night lingerie options.  I did not, no no, I did not want to hold up panties the size of a tent in front of my friends.  Good gifts include personalized jewelry, fun clothing, undergarments, and even a silly *gasp* toy can make for very good options.  

M bach photos

Bachelorette parties have really transformed from the days of drunk girls stumbling around with veils on their heads.  Trust me, there are still plenty of drunk girls, but they have become a much different type of party, a party that requires more effort than penis shaped crowns and tequila shots.  It’s the last chance to get super silly with your girlfriends, have a ball, and throw back a few drinks (or chambongs, because, let’s be honest.)  Keep these few bits of advice in mind and your bride-bestie is going to have the time of her life, and that’s what it’s all about.

celebration · drinks

Celebrating Like an Adult

Yesterday was my birthday.  The big 3-1.  I was sort of dreading it.  Not in a “woe is me, I’m getting older” sort of way, but rather a “Man, 31 means I have to start acting a lot more like an adult” way.  

Last year for my 30th birthday I threw myself a little party.  My friends came over mid-day.  We drank lots of champagne and had a blast.  I’m pretty sure, though I can’t confirm, that I did a cartwheel in the middle of my apartment.  We chambonged the afternoon away, and the next day was rough…like, real rough.  But it was okay, because 30 is an appropriate age to act like a bit of a fool.  You’re an adult, but you still know how to have fun, and you don’t have to take yourself too seriously.  

IMG_0405
My birthday bash last year, chambongs included

However, adding on that extra digit made my 30th birthday feel so juvenile.  As my date of birth started to creep up and my family asked me how I wanted to celebrate, I felt like I had a very adult decision to make.  No longer was it appropriate to bong glasses of champagne and attempt gymnastics in my home.  No no, now there was a real threat of breaking something (like a bone, or a piece of furniture that wasn’t purchased from IKEA), or never ever recovering from my hangover.  

Instead I opted for dinner with with my family and friends.  Trust me, there was still plenty of champagne consumed, but mostly we just ate until we were stuffed to the brim.  We went to a traditional Turkish restaurant and filled up on baba ganoush, lamb, and baklava.  It was a pretty perfect way to ring in another year; good food, good company, and instead of reaching for a gatorade and Advil the next day, my 31 year old self was reaching for the Tums.  That, my friends, is called growing up.