Friday, March 30, 2012

Throw Down: Office Space Movie Night

Recently my friend Mary threw a stellar Office Space party. Stay tuned and we'll show you how Mary brought the movie to life in her own living room - every detail was pitch perfect, including her choice of screening kung fu movies on mute before the actual movie screening. Click here for a playlist inspired by the films of Mike Judge that you can play as mood music for your own Office Space night. And click here to learn how to make your own Office Space Bingo cards.

If somehow you have missed this cult classic, it is the anthem for a generation of people working in jobs they hate, cramming themselves into cubicles, and getting upsold at obnoxious chain restaurants. In this film, Mike Judge does what he does best - lampooning middle America, pitting the powerless and foolish against the smug and idiotic, and creating situations that escalate in hilarity and sheer ludicrosity until the underdog has a chance to shift the entire paradigm.

The first clue that this would not be an ordinary movie night was that Mary asked us to wear as many pieces of flair as possible - with a prize for the winner. I thought I was sitting pretty with 17 - until another friend showed up with over 40 buttons on her vest. 

Mary gave out great prizes - DVDs and the movie's soundtrack for the flairiest and the first two people to reach movie-quote Bingo, and we even played pass the stapler; every time Lundberg said "mmm yeah" you had to pass to your left. The person holding it when Lundberg steals Milton's stapler got to keep it. 

She served food inspired by the movie - mainly foods one could find at Chotchkes, and a cake she decorated herself. And she outdid herself with the decor - among other things, she made a banner saying: "Is it good for the company?" And she made her own Jump to Conclusions mat. Genius.

"Only if you celebrate this man's entire catalogue."

Shannon designed her own office-supply jewelry line.

Kristopher is stealing from the crippled children.

I mean, you can wear 17 pieces of flair if you don't mind doing the BARE MINIMUM . . .

The Most Flair

Office Space Bingo!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seven Deadly Sins Photo Gallery

Looking for ideas for superlatives for your Seven Deadly Sins party? We came up with 30 categories and voted by secret ballot - what better way to evoke Envy than a popularity contest? Here is a photo gallery of the winners - feel free to steal these superlatives or make up your own!

Brad Reed: WINNER: Most Opinionated and Most Politically Savvy
Elissa Jordan: WINNER: Best Dance Moves
Laurie Fisher: WINNER: Best Laugh and Most Generous
Jason Tennis: WINNER: Best Hair and Biggest Computer Geek
Kristina Horacek: WINNER: Best Smile and Nicest Legs
Rishi Basu: WINNER: Best Singing Voice and Most Cultured
Kristina & Rishi: WINNERS: Most Photogenic
Shannon Daly: WINNER: Most Hilarious

Lauren Vitale: WINNER: Biggest Hippie and Most Trendy

Linda Lea Wells: WINNER: Most Brilliant
Hugh Beckett: WINNER: Best Bartender and Most Rock & Roll
Liz Doran: WINNER: Best Cook, Most Athletic, Most Creative, Most Flexible and Most Outgoing
Patrick: WINNER: Most Emo and Hottest Tattoo

Rob Riley: WINNER: Most Adventurous and Nicest Eyes

Steve Toland: WINNER: Most Likely to Succeed and Most Likely to Win a Bar Fight

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lust Playlist

Say what you will about the Seven Deadly Sins, in my opinion Lust is probably the most fun - or at least the easiest to put a soundtrack to. Here's the link to download this raunchy little playlist - Not Safe for Work, unless you happen to work in a dance club or strip joint.

We warm things up with some old school hip hop, and then work our way up to some fun dance songs. Play this at your next Seven Deadly Sins party, or any time you want to get a late-night dance party going.

Here's the track list:

1. Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)/Digable Planets
2. It Was a Good Day/Ice Cube
3. Wild Thing/Tone-Loc
4. How We Do/Mount Sims
5. Take Off Your Clothes/Morningwood
6. Poster of a Girl/Metric
7. Ice Cream/New Young Pony Club
8. F*****g on the Dance Floor/Dirty Sanchez
9. Positive Tension/Bloc Party
10. Closer/Nine Inch Nails
11. Idioteque/Radiohead
12. Gay Bar/Electric Six
13. Desperate Guys/The Faint
14. Glass Danse/The Faint
15. In Concert/The Faint
16. Flower/Liz Phair

Friday, March 23, 2012

Meatballs and Spring Salad

Spring is here and it is not kidding around! Why not whip up a little light lunch and take it outside? Grab some friends and dine out on your porches and patios with these tasty recipes from guest chef, Cara Valla.

Cucumber-dill salad

This recipe is super simple and really has to be tailored to taste. If you are a vinegar lover...splash a little more in. If you love the creamyness of the yogurt and want to make this salad more like a sauce, by all means..keep those spoonfulls of yogurt coming! This salad is great as a sauce for lamb or chicken or the meatball recipe below, or even to dress up a hamburger.

2 large cucumbers
1 small red onion (or even half of one depending on your affinity to onion)
salt & pepper
splash red wine vinegar
3-4 Tablespoons of plain yogurt
Tablespoon chopped dill

1) Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise (I keep the peel on but that is another preference thing!) and cut into desired thickness.
2) Slice onion as thinly as possible.
3) Combine the two and season with salt and pepper, dress with vinegar and yogurt, and add dill just before serving.

Meatballs are often disregarded theses days for being either too simple or too old school, but there is nothing like a nice, juicy, crunchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside meatball! These can be made with your ground meat of choice - turkey, beef, pork or lamb.

2 slices stale or dried bread
1 cup milk
1 medium onion
1/4 cup  parsley leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
1lb. ground meat
1/4 cup  nuts of your choice toasted and finely chopped (I love pine nuts and sliced almonds but walnuts also work wonderfully.)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1) Soak bread in milk to rehydrate and then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
2) Slice onion and combine with herbs in food processor, pulse to puree (if you do no have a food processor just chop onions and herbs finely).
3) Combine bread, onion, nuts and meat, mix and season.
4) Form into small meatballs and pan fry gently in oil until cooked through (if you use olive oil be aware is has a lower burning point than canola or vegetable oil so keep an eye on it).
5) Serve meatballs with cucumber salad and a nice hunk of crusty bread.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Much Are You People Planning to Eat?

Dear Bashionista,

I'm throwing a dinner party, but I have no idea if I'm making enough food. How much are people likely to eat? Is there some kind of magic formula for figuring this out? The last thing I want to do is send people home hungry. But the second to last thing I want to do is make way too much food and have to throw it away. Help!

Wayne A.

Dear Wayne,

The short answer is: your guests will not go home hungry. How do I know this? Because you are a concerned host, you're already fretting about not making enough, and the rookie mistake is to make way too much food. That being said, here are a few tricks you can use to hit pretty close to the mark of having the perfect amount of food and minimal leftovers.

1. Don't triple that recipe!

Far too often people make a multi-course meal and quadruple each dish so that they have the precise number of servings for each person. The thing is, when a cookbook tells you that a risotto dish feeds 6, they mean it will feed 6 if that's the only thing they're eating. Your average diner will not be able to eat a full serving of risotto AND a full serving of soup AND a full serving of fish AND a full salad AND a full dessert. Instead, think of a dinner party as a sit-down buffet where people will want lots of little tastes.

Of course, there are notable exceptions to this rule; food that comes in individual portions, e.g. anything served in its own shell, in a ramikin, on a piece of bread, on a chicken bone, etc., will have to be made with the specific number of people in mind. It's important to remember that self-portioning foods like these pose challenges that ladled foods don't - and you will be reminded of this the next time someone shows up forgetting to tell you they're bringing four of their cousins from out of town, or the next time five of your guests are allergic to the main ingredient in the individual souffles that you just pulled out of the oven. Proceed with caution - or limit dishes like this to one per meal.

2. Do plate the food yourself!

Plating my guests' food might make me a control freak, but there's a method to the madness. If you're concerned about running out of food, or conversely if you're worried about people gorging themselves and then running out of room before they get to the dessert you spent six hours making, doling out attractive portions yourself will help solve either problem. It's a fact: human beings have really bizarro ideas about portion size. Think of the last time you ate at a fancy restaurant - odds are you looked down at your modest portion and worried that you'd be hungry later, and instead, after savoring every bite you left the table feeling perfectly sated instead of doubled over in abdominal pain. When planning your dinner party, think a little more high-end bistro, a little less Old Country Buffet.

3. Make at least one high-bulk item.

Soup is great because you can make it in bulk, it's relatively inexpensive, and it fills people up like crazy. Pastas and rice dishes are similar - and in a real emergency you can head back to the kitchen and double the pasta recipe. It's a good idea to have at least one major dish you expect to have leftovers of. That way your guests who brought their serious appetites can come back for seconds.

4. Stock up on emergency snacks.

In my family, holiday meals take about eight solid hours - after a feast we sit around the table long enough to get peckish, and that's when we bring the appetizer trays back out. Think of a well-stocked pantry as your insurance policy.

One of our readers, Jason Cristofaro, an excellent party host in his own right, suggests keeping the following items on hand:

Non-perishable (these things last forever!):

Crackers - a few different types
Homemade preserved veggies - pickles, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes - it helps to have an Italian father!
Fancy jellies - We found this place in Nova Scotia, which is unbelievable. A bit pricey, but they will last you a while and are worth it. The horseradish jelly is awesome.
Boxes of Girl Scout cookies kept in deep freeze (people go apeshit over these for some reason; whenever we put out some with desserts we made from scratch, these will invariably be eaten first!)
Fig spread - goes terrific with cheese and crackers.
Nuts - you can roast mixed nuts yourself with seasoning if you want to get fancy. Marcona almonds are especially awesome, especially if your guests have never tried them.
Wasabi peas


Cheese - you can't go wrong keeping a nice hard cheddar and a brie (and they are virtually non-perishable if kept in the fridge)
Preserved meats - a dry sausage is great here. Again, having an Italian relative is awesome here if you want homemade.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Throw Down: Seven Deadly Sins

Shannon & Kristopher, looking wrathful
 Wrath and Greed, Sloth and Gluttony, Vanity, Envy and Lust. As sins they may be deadly, but as party fouls go, these are par for the course. Why not embrace the fallibility of man and throw a most excellent party?

Click here for a lusty little dance mix. And join us Wednesday when we unveil the winners of the Seven Deadly Sins superlatives - more on that in a minute.

First, let's set up your venue. When I threw this party in my apartment, I made little hand-written signs in my best Catholic school penmanship, labeling each room at the top of the doorframe.

What better way to make people sick with envy than to have them vie for superlatives? On the landing outside my apartment door, I set up a little photobooth area, and snapped pictures of each guest with a polaroid (today I would use my Fuji Instax), then labeled them and pinned them to a corkboard so everyone would know who everyone else was. Each guest was then given a ballot with a number of superlatives, and they got to vote for the winners in a multitude of categories. Important note: depending on the size of your party, tallying votes can take a really long time, even if you have a doting boyfriend who is willing to take a long break from partying to tally them in your room. So you might want to do yourself a favor and limit the number of categories to 10 or so. We had superlatives such as: Most Creative, Most Considerate, Most Generous, Most Opinionated, Most Hilarious, Most Photogenic, Best Bartender, Best Dance Moves, Best Hair, and Biggest Hippie.

Jason & Fish, King & Queen of Sloth
I loved turning my front porch into a den of sloth. I laid out blankets on the floor and set out floor pillows for lounging on, and set up a table with trays of ring dings and other stoner-type desserts.

The living room was completely taken over by a banquet of party foods. To the right of the door was a full bar, and the coffee table was laden with savory dishes.

My dining room was converted into a dimly lit dance floor. We moved one tv into the room and played a loop of antique porn movies from the last century, and then hot current dance videos.

The bathroom was the obvious location for vanity. Apart from labeling the door, we set up a little preening station, with cosmetics for ladies, and combs, little samplers of Axe body spray and breathmints for the guys. The baskets had little signs saying, "Tart yourselves up, ladies!" and "Look your best, gents!"

Wrath and Greed
Admittedly the toughest sins to plan for, especially since we lacked the square footage for a Fight Club, we set up the kitchen table for gambling, and moved our second tv onto a folding table, and played violent movies . . . like Fight Club.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Arielle & Kyle's Wedding Photo Gallery

Here's a gallery of photos from Arielle & Kyle's Wedding - their wedding day story in 20 pictures. Enjoy!

Kyle & his groomsmen

Arielle & her ladies

Here comes the bride!

Inside the Great Escape Lodge

The banquet hall

The wishing well, made by Arielle's dad

Dancing to "I Loved Her First"
Dancing cousins