Harvest Party: Winning at Wining & Dining in Autumn

Acorn Doughnut Hole Party Favors

It’s a known fact I love nothing more than to throw a party. Give me any reason whatsoever and I will come up with a theme, research recipes and try my hardest to make my house as adorable as possible. So when some of the favorite ladies in my life and I decided to plan a little drinking dinner party, I quickly volunteered to host. We decided on the seasonally appropriate theme of “Autumn Harvest” and decided to do it as a pot-luck style sit-down dinner.

I got into the spirit by decorating my house:

An autumn-inspired wreath helps corral the wine glasses

Autumn potpurri and hors d’oeuvre plates

And as always, a touch of class

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Dinner in the Garden of Eden: Portland’s Tabor Tilth

A few days ago, I posted about a dinner that I helped my husband prepare as part of the Portland Fruit Tree Project’s Orchard Series. It was a pretty amazing experience — as you can imagine when you’re cooking for 40 people in an urban garden and this is the kitchen.

The best place to cook is outside!

And the spread my husband put together was pretty spectacular. It started with some passed appetizers…

Watermelon and wasabi with Oregon elderflowers

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Crudités in Clay: An Unexpected Appetizer in an Urban Eden

Being married to my husband is like having a second job sometimes. Not the actual marriage part (that part is fun and games!) but the part where I am his go-to sous chef for off-site events. I’m definitely not complaining — I occasionally get paid and if I don’t, well, I always get to drink plenty of wine which is just as good in my book.

So, just like his pig roast extravaganza, I jumped at the chance to help him do a multi-coursed dinner to benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project. You can read more about the project here, but the basic premise is to educate people about urban gardening and to help give those less fortunate access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The 35-person dinner party was held at a house in SE Portland, known as Tabor Tilth. The woman who lives there grows so many different things in her front and back yards it’s actually overwhelming…and overflowing. She raises rabbits, grows corn, keeps bees, has more tomato plants than I could count, and even has a mullberry tree all on her 1/5 acre of residential property. She has a truly fascinating online video in which she describes her very thoughtful and meticulous system for planting and composting (she uses some very unique manure in her yard!).

To complement her creative urban gardening, my husband served dishes like “compost” beef (rubbed in coffee grounds and herbs) and a mullberry sorbet with lime salt. But my absolute favorite thing he came up with was these planters. Part centerpiece, part appetizer, each potted plant harbored hidden surprises.

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How to host an urban scavenger hunt party, part 3

Over the past week, I have been working on a series: How to host a scavenger hunt party (pirate-theme optional). We covered awesome invitations and the list of things to find.

Now let’s move on to locations, strategies for the competition and prizes. Oh yeah, and what kind of food to eat afterward!

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How to host an urban scavenger hunt party, Part 2

Scavenger hunt list, a cupcake and an off-camera serenade. This was one team’s way of collecting 20 points!

* If you missed Part 1, check out Monday’s post! We covered the basic theme for the party as well as how to make kick-ass pirate-approved invitations.

Now on to the Scavenger Hunt list, rules and the game itself!

Once the invitations were sent out, I moved on to the most important thing — the scavenger hunt list. First off, I needed to decide how to go about having people “find” things. I chose to combine digital photography with physical evidence. Some of the things were just needed to be captured on camera  — things like:

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Birthday Bliss: How to host an urban scavenger hunt, Part 1

I have mentioned once or twice that I take my birthdays very seriously. I start planning months before — beginning with a theme and going full force until the big day. This year it was honey and bee themed, last year I did a pub quiz-based party. But the year before that was one of my best ever: the pirate-themed scavenger hunt.

I not only got a great response from my friends on this one, but I recently had another friend (currently living in a different country) ask me for tips so she can plan her own scavenger hunt. While Ms. Dipity may not need to worry about the pirate part (she’s planning a bachelorette party), I thought it added to the fun and gave extra oomph to the theme.

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