Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Chili Cook-off Alaskan Style

What better way to set the scene of an Alaskan themed Chili Cook-off than to be met with a moose, a wolf, and her cubs.
I used my birch tree props behind evergreen trees to give depth to the set. I made birch trees from wall insulation.

Clients were met at the front door by mama bear and her three cubs.


Clients and guests checked in at the front desk, to the bear awards I had made to set the
scene of Alaska.

The first four scene setting window panels set the scene of arriving in Sitka, Alaska.  When my family took an Alaskan cruise, this was my first impression.  We passed many towns set on the hillsides by the water.  Notice the sky plane. These birch trees in the 
two photos above are actually real ones in the garden outside the office.

As you can see in this enlarged photo, the second set of four posters show a cruise ship by an iceberg.  Tucked into the trees is a wolf, bear, and deer. The fourth poster, by the red
chairs in the back, shows a train.  My family actually took the train to the top of a mountain that prospectors had hiked in the days of gold prospecting.  The centerpiece on the table is one of my chicken feeders with birch branches and greenery.  This was the fourth year I had searched for vinyl red and black Buffalo Plaid tables covers.  They just weren't available.  I scored this year and found a site that sold them.


Sign Pole with Alaskan Towns

Woodsman guarding cornbread and other fixings

The were oversized dear and bear amidst greenery for the centerpiece.

The above three photos are in the conference room where most of the chilies were
displayed.  You can see two of the panels on the end wall, with husky dogs and Northern lights by an ice berg.  Each chili pot rests in an aluminum tray to help prevent spillage.
You can see the voting cups by each one.  The chili labeling signs got too big, as this
is a highly COMPETITIVE office.  I enlarged the top photo for you to see the greenery,
trees, and animals I used for the 10' long table. 

                             I brought my stuffed huskies to the party to add to the scene.


The office kitchen area theme was an Inuit Village by a lake.  As you can tell by the
window panels, there is salmon fishing occurring. This centerpiece used silk hydrangeas, ferns, and assorted greenery in another one of my chicken feeders.

Once in a while, I like the staff and clients to try to earn prizes, so I include games.  Here are two of them on my new water rugs.  I had a child sized kayak at the back.  The object of the game was to toss the plush salmon into the boat using a plate spatula/dish attached to a VERY LONG extension rod.  It was doable, but HARD.  The right side shows
a buoy I made.  There was a plush seal sitting on top.  You can see in the picture below the stool had a plate of plush shrimp, that you used with my snowball thrower to shoot  through the green hoop. The idea was to feed the seal some shrimp.  To keep to the Alaskan theme, there was even a whale in the water.

                   Here is a photo of me showing you the shrimp and throwing machine.

Above is a photo off the lobster crab pot.  You had to stand back 5' and using the grabbers, you had to grab and fling a plush lobster into the pot. You got five chances.  Not easy.

Above is hubby and his brother laying the "river" for the log rolling game.  I bought plush logs on Etsy and piled them on a scooter.  You had to try to push the logs down the river without them toppling over from their pile.  I used blue variegated scrunchies for the river. I untied them for their length.  That is a stuffed otter and crabs in the river.

Strawberry cupcakes and Boston Cream Pies

Moose and Bear cake pops, chocolate cream cupcakes, berries cream pies, and candy-loaded bar cookies

The DESSERTS were themed around my MOOSE BAR.  The monitors over the counter
had moose in a river.  I had moose and deer statues, along with trees placed on moss runners.  I used my rustic log serving pieces.

I bought a new cupcake sized pan that makes bowls.  I made them out of brownies.
I made a chocolate cream cheese filling, added miniature marshmallows, chocolate chips, and crushed graham crackers.  These went FAST.  I also had two mousse cakes from a bakery (the only things I hadn't baked). They were placed on the stand next to the cookies.  I made tree sugar cookies, using a new fast drying frosting recipe for which I had been searching on Pinterest for YEARS.

Do you see my deer in the background?


1st Place winner left, so that is why she is holding two awards.

The "gaudy" award stays in the office.

Most of the photos below and crowd scenes were taken by
Halley Johnson in our Publicity Department.

This was John's fourth win.  You can see the different trophies per theme.

The Crowd

Someone asked me why so many people were wearing plaid.  Can you read the invitation below and find the answer?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Ski Resort Themed Office Party

Since I was setting the scene of a ski resort at the office, the lower photo with Santa starts with arriving at the town and with holiday shoppers. (You can click on any photo to enlarge it.  The second scene is the bus arriving at the lodge with skiers in the background.   In the top scenes, farther into the office, above the couch, is the skating
lodge with ice skaters taking up all four panels.

To add to the outdoor theme, I made 12  6" x 8 foot birch trees from wall insulation.  I painted all sides white, then marked them with black sharpies.  I bought white birch branches on Amazon and poked holes in them to add the branches to the stems.  (The staff and guests LOVED these.  In above photo you can see the inexpensive coat rack I bought on Amazon, but used as a ski rack.  Add a few artificial trees, and I set the scene.

 Every lodge needs a fireplace.  The company who prints them made them too short, but I used them anyway.  I had a wooden frame from a construction project that was 5' x 5'.
I added another piece of trim for the mantle, black science boards, birch logs, and flashing lights for the front of the poster.  The moose is one of my new acquisitions.  He was a popular guy at the party.

Here is an up close look at the fireplace.  That is yellow cellophane I've wrapped around
remote controled flashing lights.

The MAIN EVENT, which the office participated in for the 3 days previous to the party, was a dog sled event.  Our dog sled was built with a 24" x 45" handled dolly.  I  velcroed a 
stadium seat to the back and added a pillow.  Please notice the pool noodle velcroed to
the front to protect the office walls.  We have a very long and wide main hall that lends
itself to these rides. If you will also notice there are two snowball launchers and a box
of bean bag snowballs that are going along for the ride.

How do the dogs tie in?  I am glad you asked.
The dogs are waiting to be fed at the feeding station.  I bought two fold-able step stools.
I recycled 12 empty 20 oz pineapple cans and made new husky dog food labels.  Have you figured out that they are going to use the launchers and snowballs to knock them over.
Since this is a timed event, they were given points  for their speed added to the number of points for each can knocked over. The oil pan actually worked for catching most of
the snowballs.  Each team had to pick them back up after riding through the kitchen, around the tree, and back to the start.  
                  BUT...after the first day of runs, they were still going way too fast.  Hubby was afraid of someone getting hurt, so we needed a way to slow them down.
We adapted this game for just the office pre-run.  I had large hoops you had to throw around the goat's head.  It worked.  No points, but it slowed them down.  This area
was the ski resort's PETTING ZOO.  You had to get the baby animals back in the pen (shoe rack) by their mamas.  There were 3 babies per mama.  I brought the Chicken Toss game back from last year.  Instead of throwing rubber eggs, you just tossed the baby chicks in their "nest" baskets.  Each basket has a different points value.  I bought this game on Amazon for the beach. It comes with bean bags (which you can swap out for your games).

Back in this nice area of the kitchen, I reused my baby skunks on sliding boards and my
mop stick (minus the head) for a shuffleboard.  This is always a popular game, and not an easy one either. 
Above is my fun foam- science board Caps Hockey player. Since we designed the Capital's Hockey Center, I felt this was a nice touch.  There is a triangle beneath his legs and a net behind him.  He is standing in front of a shelf with bricks loaded on it for weight.
The hockey sticks have furniture moving slides velcroed to them.  I bought a teen-sized
set on Amazon that included the stick, pucks, and net.  This was fairly inexpensive. The
kicker was they strapped on carpet skates (made with furniture sliders).  I bought those on Amazon also.


You might have caught a glimpse of an empty baby pool earlier and wondered what it was being used for.  Well, I had four of them.  I filled two of them up with white play pit balls for the POLAR BEAR CHALLENGE.  I bought the plastic play shovels at Target when I first saw them, then built the game around them.  I already had the polar bears from the polar bear birthday beach party (see post about that).  The object of the game was to ride a 
scooter back and forth across building lobby, fill up small bucket with balls, bring balls to other side of lobby, and empty them into other pool.  This was a two team relay.
You can see that the lobby was a very popular spot.  On right you can see a raccoon food toss (I bought felt food on Etsy last year).  You can see the small scooter I bought for little kids to ride on.  You can spy the large scooter by the pools. And you can spot three of the company's partners, including my hubby.  But to see the most popular game of the evening, you will have to see photo below.

You had to throw 3 bean bag axes, while standing on a balancing exercise board, at the stuffed tree target--to try to knock them over. I had this game--minus the exercise
 board--- at the Chili Contest Lumberjack Party a few years back.  So many people played it, that it broke the trees and I had to install rulers in them to make them stand up.  So I bought cheap ones on Amazon that worked just as well.  Since they weren't falling to the floor this time, they ended up being stored intact.  WHEW!!


This game also shows the tree signs I made for each game with directions on them. I had bells on the balsam tree you could ring as an option.

What were people doing in the small conference room?  Rolling dice to draw a snowman,
of course.  You're never too old for a favorite elementary school game.  Only the dice chart was using combinations that made it harder and more fun for adults. I posted my snowman drawing on the wall.  Soon it was covered with many more.

We have a phone booth in the office, in case a client needs to take a call.  But, during parties, it is usually a fun place to sit for a small group gathering.  This party, though, it was used for the bear fishing game.  Please note the tree and directions and the raffle box for winners.  Each game has it's own raffle box.  I used my other oil pan which I velcroed to my easel.  I also velcroed shower curtain hooks to the pan.  I laminated pictures of salmon to adapt it to the theme.  There were swimming diving hoops you tossed from the doorway to land on the hooks.  This was a VERY popular game.  Mama bear and her 3 cubs were standing by waiting for the fish.

If you follow this blog, or visit it regularly (thank you, by the way) you are waiting for the DESSERT BAR photos.  Above are the graphics I did for the two monitors that are installed above it. Notice Santa in the red truck.  I am always on the hunt for good tree graphics, and I love the snow covered one I found.

Out came all of my rustic serving pieces, including this new cupcake stand.  I had two of the office wives help me bake this year.  Wowzers!!!!  It was fabulous.  Those little peppermint cheesecakes I made went FAST.  I crushed up Hershey peppermint kisses for the cheesecake part.  I always use Oreos in the bottom of my mini pans, because when you pop them out, these cookies make them easier and sturdier to handle.

I made brownie trees, cutting the cookie sheet layer into triangle shapes (seen on Pinterest).  I drizzled melted green chocolate disks and added holiday sprinkles on each.  I dipped a pretzel in the chocolate to add to the bottom.  All of the desserts nestled on round snowflake doilies I printed and cut out.

I cheated and bought a big chocolate cake from Costco, along with cream puffs.  I added
mousse cakes and cookies from Wegman's.  One of the two Samantha's helping me made
48 s'more pops on sticks.  So, I am HAPPY TO SAY, I made no cake pops for this party.
But I am making moose ones for the Alaska Chili Contest in March.  I am using the same trees, same tableclothes, same stuffed wild animals, same rustic wooden serving pieces. 
Are you getting the drift.  Reuse.  Reuse.  Reuse, and twig the theme so people think you're just so creative.  This same Samantha made all of the live centerpieces on the tables, and the big box of greens.  She has agreed to start taking over the Christmas party, so that I am not so stressed, now that we have even more employees.   

                                                                   A special thank you to the band, Irresponsible.  Bands love this gig because they get to play games.  Too many games (insert sad face icon here)options, so noone danced to the music this year. But a live band always makes for a more festive party.

Just in case anyone was wondering, yes we played Wii Ski on the monitor in the conference room. We gave away lots of cash and prizes for the drawings.  Below are random photos of our party guests.

Samantha the Greens Designer
People waiting hopefully that their envelope from wall has money in it

Yours truly during raffle drawings
Newest member of my stuffed collection, Chocolate Moose.
Bags are prizes for winning sled race team.

Buzz's partner looking festive.  Note
Wii Ski in background.

Happy family
My tech guru and his family. Best cleanup helpers ever, also

First time EVER--line for the buffet.   They'd heard about the meatballs!!!