Sunday, July 17, 2016
Celebrating National Parks
My family just got home from a 3000 mile two week road trip! Among other stops, we visited Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Both were beautiful and the inspiration for this month's monthly dinner theme - Celebrating National Parks.
Invite: I created the invite on Photoshop. The fonts I used were Rustler and Rocky Mountain Beauty. They are both free fonts I downloaded.
Decor: My color scheme was greens and browns. I made the brown National Park poster using cardstock and my Cricut cutter. I glued the pieces on foam board. The carved bear and the branches in the vase I already had as decor in my home. The pine-cones and rocks my kids collected on our trip. The stuffed bobcat was my daughter's souvenir from Yellowstone.
This beautifully carved bear was a wedding present from our friend Josh Slater in Mammoth. He even carved our names and wedding date into the stump base. It was one of my favorite wedding gifts. Check out his website, Bear in Mind Carvings. This wooden bear was a perfect addition to this month's theme.
I added a few of the ornaments we purchased in Yellowstone to the branch tree. I always purchase an ornament from the main places we visit on vacations, and I love decorating my Christmas tree in December and remembering these fond family memories.
Table Decor: I used a green tablecloth and my wicker chargers for the table. I bought the green and white mixture of centerpiece flowers at Costco.
For the centerpiece, I purchased a wooden tree ring from Michaels. I used vases I already had for the flowers and the candle. The stuffed bear and the deer were my other two children's souvenirs from Yellowstone -- along with the pine-cones. The frame I also purchased at Michaels. I cut a postcard of Yellowstone to fit inside the frame.
The entire centerpiece.
The Yellowstone postcard in the centerpiece was from a pack of postcards I purchased from Amazon here. I also used these for place cards. I bought small pieces of wood from Michaels, and my husband cut a slit in them to hold the postcard.
I wrote each guest's name and address on the back of the postcard just like you would if you were actually going to mail it to them. It would have been cute to write a fun message and create a fake stamp that went with the theme, but I thought of that idea too late!!
On each plate, I folded a green napkin and cut an animal out of cardstock using my Cricut. I cut bear, bison, deer, and elk since those were the animals that my family saw in Yellowstone.
Drinks: I created water bottle labels to match our theme as well. Costco water bottles suddenly became "Geyser" water from Old Faithful in Yellowstone!
I created labels for my wines based on National Parks that had Red or White in the title. I used images I found online of park maps and the vintage postcards so they would match the rest of my decor.
The wine charms I also created using images I found online. The images matched the vintage postcard set I bought for the place cards.
Menu: I made a starter salad with romaine lettuce, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, cheese, and crutons. I used a small cookie cutter to cut the cheese into a leaf shape and called the salad "Autumn in the Tetons".
I served a bison ribeye steak which was delicious. My husband grilled it, and I added a browned herb compound butter to the top of each steak. I found the recipe on Food52 here.
With the steaks, I served small potatoes that I thought looked like different colored "rocks". I used a cookie cutter to cut butter into acorn shapes to serve alongside the potatoes.
Asparagus "trees" were our vegetable. I seasoned them and baked them in the oven.
I also served Pillsbury rolls calling them "Bread DOE Rolls". I served these with a Huckleberry jam I purchased in Yellowstone.
For dessert, I themed it around two Yellowstone animals - moose and bear. I called it Chocolate "Moose" with "Bear"ies. I made the chocolate mousse using this recipe from Betty Crocker. I added raspberries and blueberries to the top along with a chocolate bear I made from a mold. Yummy and perfect for the theme!
Favor: As a parting gift, I made chocolate and peanut butter fudge shaped into tree rings. I used the recipe found here on Lumberjacks Rejoice! The first batch I made did not turn out. Either my candy thermometer was incorrect or it needed to be cooked higher than the 234 softball stage that is indicated on the recipe. I had to start over. The second time I used dark chocolate chips (the recipe didn't specify and I had originally used milk chocolate). I would recommend dark chocolate. I also cooked the milk mixture a little longer to thicken it. The fudge was very tasty and the tree rings turned out great. I love that they are not perfect, so they look even more natural. I made the "TREE-T" tag on Photoshop.
All in all, this was a really great dinner and a fun theme. I was sad all my ladies couldn't make it this month, but the small group of us had a good time. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this party! Leave me a comment on something you liked!