Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Perfect Summer Steak Sandwich

A lot has happened these last few months - my husband and I began a house hunt, and, through some miracle, found one we liked!

Fortunately, this house does not have any of the following attributes, all of which were highlights at other houses we toured:

  • Floors so slanted that the dog's tennis balls would be constantly in a corner.
  • A massive, several hundred-deep Barbie collection in the unpermitted family room.
  • A neighbor wandering out to vaguely threaten you, with this sign in his window: 

  • Huge One Direction decals in every hallway (free of charge!)
  • A bedroom, entrance to which is only through another bedroom.
  • Sketchy boarding-house style locks on every door and makeshift entrances.
  • An old spa tub our realtor nicknamed "the embalming bathtub."
  • WINNER: a femur bone in the backyard. For reals.

Also, the last three were all the same house. On our first day of house hunting. It didn't inspire much confidence.

So, while we did see some gems, I will admit that we very lucky in finding the new home, and are absolutely in love with it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

DIY Game of Thrones Pint & Wine Glasses

If you have read my earlier posts (Part 1 & Part 2), you will know that, for my thirtieth birthday, my husband and I threw a Game of Thrones-themed house party. Being presently immersed in the book series, I was excited to find ways to bring out a crafty side of things that would allow me to geek out on multiple levels.

One night, I had the brainstorm to buy Game of Thrones-branded pint glasses as party favors. A quick Google unearthed that these can cost about $10 each on the HBO site. A bit rich for my blood, I would say! Especially as we were expecting about 40 people, I wanted to have glasses available for all without breaking the bank.

I was still riding the high of my purchase of $1 stemless wine glasses from Dollar Tree (of which I had 36 remaining) so I figured, why not take some of those and some discount pint glasses and find a way to etch them? For those new to this technique, etching glasses is done by applying a stencil and painting with an etching solution, letting it set, and washing it off so the design is actually 'baked into' the glass.

Game of Thrones Party | NobleHostess.com

The hardest part of this project was figuring out what design I wanted, and deciding how I can get them accurately presented on the glass. I am sure you can make the stencil at home if you have a crafting machine (and design skills), but that is not something I am equipped to handle. Instead, I reached out to Dana of decalsndecor on Etsy, who was extremely helpful in getting me exactly what I needed.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

I knew I wanted a mixture of both Stark and Targaryen sigils, so I sent the HBO version of the sigils as a reference. Dana was able to create custom vinyl stencils for me for use on the glasses, and I ended up ordering twenty of each, forty total, for about $29.

Once receiving those, and following the directions provided by Dana, I started by running all of the glasses through the dishwasher to make sure they are free of dust.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

Once clean, Ryan and I assembly-lined applying the stencil to the glass. This is done by peeling off a protective layer on the back and carefully spreading from the middle outward. The goal here is to ensure that the border around the design is stuck very closely to the glass so that the etching solution does not slip into an air bubble and etch outside of the design boundaries. After applying, we used a credit card to ensure that it was on tightly.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com
Laundry room chic.

After peeling the top protective layer, I painted on the etching solution. The most popular I found was Armour Etch, which will run you about $10 for 3 ounces at JoAnn Fabric (or $5 if you download the app, as they are always posting 50% off coupons). I found 3 ounces to be the perfect amount for this project.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

After painting on, I let the glasses sit for about 5 minutes each (give or take). I did a test glass and found that the 2-3 minutes I first tried left the design far too faint. 5 minutes worked perfectly. The big warning I kept reading at this stage was to be careful about the surface you use this on, as the etching solution will damage many surfaces. We have a pretty junky utility sink, so it was fine for me. That said, note the hearty, obligatory warning.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

After sitting for the 5 minutes, we peeled the decal off and rinsed thoroughly. Note: despite the lack of them in this photo, definitely wear gloves for this stage. It will make it harder to peel the decals, but good heavens, why risk getting something that eats glass on your fingers.

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

I also recommend having your visiting guests help. Having an artist in residence definitely speeds the process up!

Homemade Game of Thrones House Sigil Pint & Wine Glasses | NobleHostess.com

After they are all rinsed (and you are basking in your etched glass glory), your design will be permanently on the glass. That means you can run them through the dishwasher before use and treat them like any other glass - there is zero risk of it 'fading.'

Game of Thrones Party | NobleHostess.com
...wow that glass really filled up since the beginning of the blog post.

Et voila! I totalled an average cost of $2 a glass for this project, a big savings compared to the $10 HBO versions.

...and, after all this, I naturally forgot to tell people to take them as favors at the end of the party. Whoopsie daisy. I am now the proud owner of several dozen Game of Thrones glasses! Thank goodness for the return of the show and inevitable parties.

This so wraps the Game of Thrones party posts! I hope that this was helpful in your own party planning, and feel free to reach out about any questions you may have.

Valar Morghulis!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Game of Thrones Party, Part 2- The Food & Drink

Hello again, friends and fellow Game of Thrones fans. This post is a follow up to my previous post about our Game of Thrones party, featuring the theme details, decor and temporary tattoo craft from my 30th nameday - er - birthday.

While the decor was fun and gave me a chance to fulfill the craftiness I was craving, you surely know by now that menu planning is my absolute favorite part of any gathering. Planning this menu was a challenge, as this group could vary from 25-45 people, taking 'maybe' RSVP numbers into account. It ultimately ended up being about 40 people throughout the day, so thank goodness I planned ahead!

Game of Thrones Party | NobleHostess.com

This table also had to be thematically appropriate (I was picturing a hedonistic Lannister spread), and presented in a way that kept with the general house sigil / loose medieval feel of the party. If some of the dishes could tie into book themes, all the better!

As with the first post, the amazing photographer (and friend) Alexander Wysocki was kind enough to take photos for me to use in this post. So let's take a food tour through our Westerosi-inspired spread!

For the main munchables, we are lucky to be close to the much-beloved Porto's bakery, which offers catering at dizzyingly reasonable rate. We got several dozen meat pies as well as several dozen vegetarian-friendy spinach-and-cheese pies, a savory treat we think they would happily indulge in in Westeros.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Game of Thrones Party, Part 1 - Theme, Decor & Printable Tattoos

I have heard that a lot of women suffer from a kind of withdrawal after their weddings are done. They've gotten in touch with a DIY side of themselves they never knew they had. The wedding ends, only to have the adrenaline rush subside and be left with thick rolls of butcher paper and artistinal twine, with naught to be done with it. That was not the case for me with our wedding - I loved everything about how it turned out, and was happy with the mild crafting I had taken on (the bulk of it having gone to my mother). I felt satisfied, but not eager to keep the momentum going.

...I think that withdrawal just caught up with me.

For those of you still getting to know me, I do not tend to plan parties full of charming crafts and clean, thematic, Martha Stewart-esque spreads. This particular party post comes to mind. I respect those who do, and know some who do it expertly - I just never had that kind of crafting ability, nor can refrain from making a big 'ol mess in the process, ruining the notion of a tidy spread.

Until, one day this past Summer, my husband asked if I would want to have a party for my 30th birthday. We had hosted a house party for his 30th several years ago, which was a big success (It was Batman-themed... I may have strong-armed him into it). Plus, it had been so long since we had thrown a large house party! I was ready to dust off my entry-level crafting skills and apply them to my current obsession. Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones Party | NobleHostess.com

After Season 4's gripping conclusion of the hit TV series, I just plain couldn't wait another half year for it to return to the air before getting another fix of Tyrion Lannister and Westeros. Instead, I dove in and power housed through those books. Dear God, was I ready to talk to people about it! My nerdy obsession with Game of Thrones had reached the same level of geeky insatiability as waiting for the final Harry Potter books to come out.

It seemed only right that my milestone birthday party should not only combines the joy of seeing friends, but indeed welcome them in the warm embrace of the Iron Throne I have come to love.

The more I searched for inspiration, the more I found fun little touches used at various premiere or viewing parties. I also discovered that there is a very delicate balance between throwing a Game of Thrones-themed party and making your house look like a medieval sex dungeon, with candles and blood red fabric draped everywhere, accented by plastic weaponry.

Game of Thrones Party | NobleHostess.com

As such, I decided to theme the party around the different houses from the series (and their sigils), versus the general medieval time period.

As a birthday gift, the amazingly talented Alex Wysocki was kind enough to take photos of the party and gift them to me to use for this post so I could actually enjoy my party. So let's take a stroll through this geeky Westerosi soiree, shall we?

If you landed here because you are throwing your very own Game of Thrones party, I hope you find something you can use! Please feel free to message me if you have any questions about details or sources.