Holiday finds at Restaurant Supply

When you need something for your kitchen or for entertaining in your home, where do you go?  Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel?  If you would like an affordable alternative place to shop, I recommend your local restaurant supply company.  Most of these stores are open to the public and they have a lot of great items that can make your life easier during the holidays or when you are entertaining.

If you need extra wine glasses, silverware or serving pieces, the restaurant supply store has a variety to choose from at reasonable prices.  Also, if  you are feeding a large number of people, they have big restaurant sized pans, cookie sheets and platters. In addition to having these items on hand for the holidays, in the case of the wine glasses, they usually come in boxes that can be used to store the glasses when you don’t need them.  Two things that I have purchased there that help me during the holidays are stainless steel tongs which are about $2.75 and are the best tongs that I own.  I also have a large stainess steel sheet pan that I use to pour my homemade caramels in to cool.  I think that sheet pan ran me about $9.00, but to me it is priceless.

In addition to having regular kitchen items, these stores carry items that you don’t find in regular kitchen stores but you may find helpful.  One of these items is a sign holder.  You find these at buffet dinners and they have a small sign telling you what food it is you are about to enjoy.  Using sign holders to identify which food has nuts or which punch has alcohol can really make your party go smoothly when entertaining a lot of people.  They also have professional grade stainless steel tables, storage racks and bag sealers.  Some of the items could be used in your kitchen or in other parts of your home such as your garage or craft room. 

The next time that you need an item for your kitchen, think about venturing into your local restaurant supply company.  Spend some time looking around at what they have available, you never know what you might find that will make your next holiday party a lot easier on you!


Organizing big events with less stress!

Have you been to an event where it seemed like the person who organized it forgot that they were having guests?  It is understandable that at big events such as weddings, baby showers or graduation parties that it is all about the people being honored.  However, if when you are planning a party or an event and think about it from the point of view of the people attending, it can make it more enjoyable for everyone involved.  

Here are some tips to consider when planning an event or party:

*How is the parking for your guests?

If you are holding an event at a venue, is parking included or are your guests going to have to pay.  Is there enough parking and how close is it?  Are people going to have to walk a mile in fancy shoes to get to where the event is being held?  I attended a wedding that was out in country and the bride and groom hired a shuttle service to get their guests from their hotels to the wedding location and then back again.  This was a thoughtful service that made the event that much more enjoyable. 

*What about the weather?

How likely is it that it is going to rain?  Do you have cover for people to stay dry?  Is it going to be sunny and hot and will there be shade?  Do you have elderly guests that will need to be out of the sun and may need air-conditioning? 

All of these things are very important to the enjoyment level of everyone attending the event.  It may mean renting an extra tent or some fans but it will be money well spent so that you are not worried about it during the party.  Also, think about having beverages available to help alleviate the either cold or hot that you cannot control.  Coffee and cold water that is readily available can go a long way in providing comfort to your guests.

*Think about starting on time.

Right after the weather and the parking, the time that the event starts and if it starts on time is a major factor in whether your guests enjoy themselves.  A few minutes is not a big deal but when you start 20 minutes, 30 minutes or 45 minutes late, it can put a damper on your party.  For some events, this is not a factor because people show up and the party starts whether you are ready or not.  However, some events don’t start until you say they do and this is where you should think about getting it started as close as possible to the time on the invitation.  Some people have hired babysitters or have something to do after the party.  Be respectful of your guests and their time by not starting late.

*Think about getting some help.

When we are the host of an event, we sometimes feel obligated to do everything ourselves.  However, delgation can be a helpful skill in having a successful and stress free event.  Not only can family members help but you can also enlist an event organizer, wedding coordinator or personal assistant.  A big event is full of people that you have not seen in a long time.  It is a chance to visit and catch up with them.  If you have too much on your plate with the organizing and running of the event, it can decrease your enjoyment a great deal which in turn decreases the enjoyment  of everyone at the party.  Someone who you hire can be completely focused on running the event so you can attend the event.  It can make the difference in whether you come away feeling good or exhausted never wanting to host anything ever again.

What other tips do you have when organizing a big event?  Have you had an experience either going to or hosting an event that you will soon not forget.  Let me know!


Dust off your slow cooker and save time

When you are looking for ways to make your life easier, sometimes you need to look towards the tools in your home that you already have that you are under utilized.  I love my slow cooker.  I use it on a regular basis to cook delicious and hearty meals.  With a little planning, it can help make meal time easier after a long day at work.  

You can make one dish that you can stretch to make two or three dinners in a week saving you time and energy.  For example, you could roast a chicken in the slow cooker and enjoy that on the first night.  The next night, you could take the left over chicken, shred it and add some taco seasoning to have chicken tacos.  If you have more chicken left over, you could stretch it a third night and add it to salad with egg, bacon, avocado, tomatoes and some cheese for Cobb salads. 

The other nice thing to do with your slow cooker is to make a large batch of your favorite dish of chili, stew or soup and have it for dinner one night and freeze the rest to have in the future.  That way when you are at a loss for what to have for dinner, you can just pull out a serving of your homemade slow cooker masterpiece and just add a salad or some rolls for a complete meal.

Another great use for the slow cooker is for parties.  I often cook pulled pork in my slow cooker when having people over for a party.  I serve it with buns and coleslaw and people love it.  It cuts down on the amount I have to prepare before the party as I just put it all in the slow cooker and forget it.

A great website for slow cooker recipes is The Taste of Home Slow Cooker Recipes:  I like these recipes because they have reviews and include nutritional information for each recipe.

I hope that you will take a moment to plan a meal to cook in your slow cooker.  You will be glad you did when you come home from work and smell the delicious dinner that is hot and ready to eat.