Tag Archives: Book Exchange

New Year’s Eve Book Exchange Party

Today was a beautiful day, unusually warm for December 31st, but we do live in the South, so the weather is slightly unpredictable any time of the year. Around noon, I drove out to a dear friend’s new home in Tryon, NC. What a beautiful drive! Their new home is a quaint English cottage built of stone over 100 years ago! One look at the place and I immediately felt refreshed, like I had stepped into a piece of Jane Austen’s world.

There were a dozen or so close friends gathered together around two tables, sharing warm bowls of chili topped with sour cream, cheese, corn chips and chopped black olives, along with salad, veggies, hummus, and an assortment of sweet treats and hot coffee.

The culmination of the day, of course, was the book exchange. There was everything from spiritual memoirs to learning to live a simple, from scratch lifestyle, biographies to Jane Austen with zombies, classics to children’s literature. As far as I know, every one walked away with a book they liked. Can you guess which one I brought? That’s right, Made From Scratch.

We finished the day with board games and more coffee paired with a beautiful carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and black walnuts, prepared by an artisan chef at a local bakery in Tryon! The hostess and I sat at the dining room table, chatting of God’s grace and direction and living simply as we sipped our coffee and tried to resist the urge to grab a second piece of carrot cake.

I ran by the grocery on my way home to pick up a few things I had coupons for (Organic Girl lettuce and all-natural half-and-half) – the coupons expire today, so I had to get them in! Then I came home, straightened the house, and I plan on reading a little more of my current book, The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball, before turning in early. Tomorrow, we have a 9 AM coffee social at church, followed by morning worship at 10 AM and nothing for the rest of the day. I like Sundays that begin in worship and end in rest.

Happy New Year! Enjoy the Journey!

Irish Pub Party

We host Book Exchange parties on a regular basis (kind of like White Elephant Gift Exchanges, but with books that you actually like instead of pranks). It started with everyone bringing a book and a snack to share. Then the food part evolved into a themed party. This last theme was by far my favorite to date: an Irish Pub Party! The food was fabulous! But then, how can you go wrong with an array of comfort food?!

Inspiration Behind the Irish Pub Party

Mini Corned Beef Sandwiches with Swiss, Sauerkraut or Slaw, Pickles, Horseradish, and an assortment of Mustards

Vegetable Tart by Rachel that featured an assortment of Potatoes, Parsnips, and Cheese, caramelized and baked to perfection! And it went well with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup by Ashley and Ben (not shown). Yum!

Toast with Pickled Beets and Soft Boiled Eggs, drizzled with a Dijon Dill Vinaigrette (recipe from the Irish cookbook) - apparently traditional, this was a surprising hit at the party.

Fresh Fruit brought by Daryl & Adrianne, used in combination with fresh veggies and bread for dipping in the Pumpkin Beer Cheese Fondue (not shown); the Fondue recipe can be found here.

Bread Pudding with Raisins by Catherine and Greg (perfect with a cup of coffee and some Irish Creamer) - I can't wait to add this recipe to my permanent file!

Are you inspired to host a themed party yet?! I highly recommend this theme. Remember, keep it simple and let your guests bring some of the food, so you can enjoy your guests during the evening and not have to spend the entire evening in the kitchen. So, do you have a favorite party theme?

Turning 30’s Not So Bad…

Dark Chocolate Squares and Pumpkin Walnut Muffins with Golden Flaxseed and Cream Cheese Icing

Today was the end of my 30th year of life! I thought it would be more dramatic, but it really wasn’t. My husband and I both got the day/night off work and he brought me a dozen beautiful yellow roses from the Fresh Market!

Yellow Roses from Bryan

We celebrated with a few couples who are close friends this evening. We had a book exchange (white elephant style…minus the gag gifts) and everyone brought healthful hors d’oeuvres. It was SO much fun! I made little tent cards for people to label their dishes. Here’s a recap of the food:

Hors d'oeuvres Plates and Fun Napkins

Plenty of Organic Coffee!

All Natural and Organic Sparkling Juices

Tent Cards for Labeling Dishes

What a Beautiful, Healthful Array!

Veggies and Hummus

Caprese Skewers on Rosemary Branches

Grapes and Cheese Tray

Mini Turkey and Ham Subs with Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

And a recap of the guests: Dave & Rachel, Rick & Jan (& baby Andrew), Nate & Leigh, and Bryan & me. Bryan created a great easy listening and light jazz playlist, which really set the mood for a relaxing time with friends. And the book exchange was fun too (though, there wasn’t much stealing, swapping, etc., with such a small crowd).

Dave & Rachel

Rick & Jan (Note: the Coca Cola in this picture is the original recipe with cane sugar instead of corn syrup)

Andrew - the life of the party!

Nathan - sorry, Nate, I couldn't get a serious picture of you. 🙂

Leigh (she's with Nate)

Me & Bryan

Book Exchange - everyone put your books in the middle!

Bryan with his new book - courtesy of Dave

Finally, I’ll close the eve of my 30th birthday with a few favorite quotes I found and picture of me and my man:

“Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty” -Robert Frost.

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes” -Frank Lloyd Wright.

So happy together...

Happy New Year! (Jan. 1, 2010)

Need a fun party idea with minimal planning on your part? Try this!

We hosted a New Year’s Eve Book Exchange Party this year. It was so much fun, we decided it will have to be a tradition. We asked each guest to bring a wrapped book (we specify that it should be a book you’d like to own, not a prank). And we asked each guest to bring either an appetizer or a dessert to share. This way, it cuts down on your cost for the party and on the cleanup (as guests usually take their food with them when they leave).

We provided a loaf of bread and cheese fondue (recipe found in an earlier post) and 2 apple pies, coffee, tea, and punch. My husband makes the BEST apple pies! It’s just a simple recipe from Betty Crocker’s cookbook, but they’re delicious!!

As for the book exchange, we cut up a piece of paper with a number on each small piece, folded them up, and placed them in a basket (one for each book). If you brought a book, you pick a number. Player 1 gets to choose a wrapped book from the pile. Player 2 can either choose a wrapped book or steal Player 1’s book. If 2 steals from 1, 1 gets to pick a new book from the pile. You can’t steal directly back, and once the book has been stolen 3 times, it sticks with that player. Player 3 can then either choose a wrapped book or steal from any open book, and so on. It’s always fun to see the random books people bring. Don’t feel bad about stealing the book you want; that’s what makes it so much fun! I secretly enjoy it if the book I bring gets stolen at least once.

You can do this with other themed parties too: White Elephant Gifts, kitchen items, tools, etc. But whatever theme you choose for your party, remember to keep it simple and everyone will have fun.

Happy New Year’s!
Melissa