Chocoholic Party 2011 (our sixth!) recap

25 02 2011

February 12, 2011—First off, a huge thank you to the gals who helped in the pre-party preparation—Gina with shopping all afternoon the day before (Giant, Trader Joe’s, Michael’s, World Market, etc.), for coming up with fabulous decorating ideas (and wrapping vases in fabric, gluing glitter to anything and everything, and punching out heart shaped confetti until her fingers gave out—we crafted until 1:30 a.m.!), for making her yummy cornbread, for creating her “Sweet Dreams” candy party favors, and for bringing real chocolate (Leonidas) straight from her recent work jaunt to Belgium (and also for those fun birthday boy eyeglasses); for Carmen for all her help decorating (especially our annual-joint-effort over-the-top chandelier creation), for Michael‘s chocolate covered strawberry birthday box and giant pinata in the shape of the big 5-0, filled with chocolate candies for his birthday, and for all her help (as well as Karen W.‘s) cleaning up afterward. Carmen came the farthest to join us (from South Carolina), but we also had a guest from Lexington, Kentucky (hello, Bob!).

Thanks also to Michael P., who proved to be an extraordinary photo assistant when I was down in my studio doing the sweetheart portraits. I’m keeping him in mind the next time I need help! As you can see, this year’s collage of portraits is quite colorful—I let each guest choose which background they wanted—the pink and red swirly roses from Chocoholic Party #4, brown & blue fabric that echoed this year’s color palette, or a bright yellow abstract painting I began working on a few weeks ago.

Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate our first party of 2011, for all of your culinary contributions (from desserts to appetizers to side dishes to wine and beer), and for the special gifts you gave to Michael for his birthday. Special thanks to Judy for bringing a birthday cake and for having the baker write Happy Birthday to our Feb. 12 birthday boy (Michael), the lovely Hannah (Feb. 11) and Paul (Feb. 14). It was nice to celebrate the birthdays of all three of these V.I.P’s! Earlier in the day Michael said, “doesn’t seem fair that I have to make my own birthday dinner.” He made two huge pots of chili and as in years past, it was consumed quickly. He makes one pot of “two alarm” chili and one we label “mild stuff.” It seems our guests dole out a little of both and mix it together. I never got one taste of the stuff (I never eat anything at our parties—I’m too busy greeting, mingling and photographing to do so). And Rob, lest you think your rice offering didn’t get consumed, it did. Michael has used it in three different meals this past week, using up the last bit in a tasty stuffed pepper concoction.

I hope everyone enjoyed the musical stylings of our acoustic guitarist, Jim Canfield. We met Jim a few weeks before when he was playing for tips at IKEA (of all places). Jim performs at various restaurants around the Woodbridge area and we hired him to play for us—it was a real treat, doncha think? Thanks for celebrating with us—Nanda, Bob, Carmen, Gina, Karen W., Karen B., Hannah, Margot, Dana, Gordon, Eric, Rob, Leda, Norma, Paula, Ken, Judy, Paul, CJ, Regina, Tom, Holly, Jim, Sudha, Lynn, Jeff E., Amy, Jeff M., Jonathan, Rob, Pat, and Michael P.

Our next party is slated for late May in the great outdoors! This will be a new event for us. I’ll be co-hosting with Gina, a fervently fanatic Francophile, with consultation from my French-born friend Karen B. This affair will be based on the annual “Le Diner en Blanc” in Paris. Anyone know any French musicians, torch singers or mimes who will work for food?

http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=diner+en+blanc&cp=7&bav=on.1,or.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&sa=X&ei=6mtkTbbvIojAtgf0ip2wDA&sqi=2&ved=0CD8QsAQ&biw=1407&bih=1172

http://www.demotix.com/news/85439/diner-en-blanc-white-dinner

This annual White Dinner is kept secret from authorities and participants are only told where they are going 15 minutes before the event via text and twitter. Too fun! We’ll give you more advance notice than 15 minutes and although our venue won’t be quite as exotic as the Eiffel Tower, Arche de Triomphe or Place de la Concorde, we promise you a memorable evening. We intentionally kept the guest list smaller for the Chocoholic Party this year (since it’s held indoors in a townhouse), but we’ll be able to expand the roster for this big outdoor soiree.

Our guests won’t have to bring their own tables, linens or chairs, but they will be asked to wear white (white + khaki permitted) and it will be our usual semi-potluck. Yes, there will be photos (in front of a lighted Eiffel Tower) and lots of white stuff (no, the food will not be all white, although really—what beats mashed potatoes, whipped cream, bread and a slab of brie?).

Thank you to Norma and Nanda for supplying some of the photos in the collage above.

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Chocoholic Party 2009

10 03 2009

Fellow Chocoholics, I apologize for my delinquency in posting a recap of the party in a timely manner. I recently finished preparing the “party favor portraits” I take at each event. The night before the party, Sue and I collaborated on a new backdrop—a lively summer-sky-blue background with bouncing chocolate balls. I still had my original pink and red rose background available as an alternative, though. I think Michael and Norma appear to be the only ones who escaped having their sweetheart portraits done this year. How did that happen?

Thank you to everyone who helped in the pre-party preparation—Carmen and Sue (for organizing, cleanup and decorating help), Regina (with her big batch of delicious vegetarian chili), and Michael (who made sure we didn’t run out of chili this year by preparing two giant pots of turkey chili). Carmen (up from Greenville, SC) and Sue (up from Huntsville, AL) arrived earlier in the week just to join us for the event! Carmen was my co-creator of this year’s “bordello chandelier” in the kitchen (photos of the chandelier to come soon), as well as an all-around hard working assistant—even baking cookies as she flitted from task to task earlier in the day.

Sue was my co-painter for the new bouncing chocolates background and also helped design the buffet table centerpiece (photos of that to come soon, too). Special thanks to our bodacious bartender, Brenda, and her ever-handy-kitchen-cleaner-upper-and-mingler extraordinaire husband, Tom. Brenda created a lively and fun-to-read drink menu (which I’ll share in a later posting) for the Chocoholics in attendance. Tom and Brenda came all the way from Pennsylvania to join us again this year, and have developed quite a fan base among our local friends. I’m sure their contribution of a drink bar made them even more memorable this year.

Much appreciation goes to Karen W. for her brilliant suggestion to move the main buffet table to the library area so guests wouldn’t bottleneck in the kitchen (the kitchen is the heart of the home and our guests seem to agree). That arrangement worked out so well that I’m surprised none of us thought of that for the three parties prior to this one. Then we added Bodacious Bartender Brenda with her full and lively bar to the mix—which kept the “libation curious” in the kitchen anyway! Plus, the highlights of the party—the chocolate fountain and decadent desserts—were also in the kitchen. We just need a bigger kitchen, I’m thinking.

Thank you to everyone who brought wonderful side dishes, appetizers, and desserts, too (special thanks to Norma, who brought the it-wouldn’t-be-a-party-without-’em deviled eggs as well as additional chili). Karen B. brought her infamous cheese straws to the party again this year (with her two lovely teenage daughters in tow). Click here to see last year’s party recap and the Whole Foods cheese straws recipe she shared with us. Nanda and Sudha briefly took over the stove and heated up flatbread on-the-spot for their traditional Indian rice and potato side dishes. Karen W. and husband Joe were assigned cornbread-making duty earlier in the week (and sent home with a plethora of very heavy cornbread pans from our extensive collection) and they didn’t disappoint in their delivery.

Insert shameless plug for friend here:
Half of the cornbread-making duo was my dear friend Karen W., a skin care specialist with her own salon, Karen Wyatt Skin Care, in Burke, VA. If you live in the Northern Virginia area (or are just visiting) and would love to be pampered by a knowledgeable and sweet-as-the-day-is-long skin care expert, Karen is your gal. Click here to learn more about her salon and to make an appointment. I had never had a facial until I met “Magic Hands” Karen four years ago. Now I know what the fuss is all about. Last summer I treated my sister Debbie to a facial with Karen (it was her first experience, too) and she loved it!

A great big thanks to F.T. for taking the initiative to record the festivities with his digital camera and dropping off the CD for me. That gesture was much appreciated and I’ll be preparing a collage of both our candid photos for a later posting.

I must say—having so much help is wonderful! This was the first party where I was actually able to shower and change more than 10 minutes before the first guest arrived. This year I had an entire hour to get party-fied. Imagine that! I’m usually still buttoning my shirt, slipping on whatever shoes are handy (whether they match or not), trying to apply the rest of my makeup, and running to the door with wet hair when the doorbell rings. I’m almost certain this isn’t how Martha does it.

Regarding the very last photo—I have no idea what Carmen said to Karen, Regina and Sue in this photo, but I imagine she delivered it as only Carmen can—I love this shot!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

chocoholicheads






Chocoholic Party 2008

20 02 2008

Here are some images from our Chocoholics 2008 party. It’s a bit hard to hostess, do sweetheart portraits, and also remember to get party ambience shots, too; hence why there are so few snapshots of the event, decorations, and all the chocolate, chili, and appetizers that were consumed. I think next year I’ll assign that task to a budding photographer in lieu of them bringing an appetizer!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Speaking of appetizers, Karen made these delicious cheese straws and shared the recipe:

cheese-straws.jpg