Home Sweet Hostess

Well I'm back from California, I'm finished cooking for Thanksgiving, and I've had quite the fun week with my sweet boy, so it's time to get down to business. It has really been quite the busy past couple of weeks. Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while, but I really think the wait will be worth it. Hello... this post alone features a free printable and a recipe! WHAT?! Awesome, I know. While I was in California (seems like months ago), soaking up the sun (aka spending time in meeting rooms all day), my dear friend Maddy and her sweet friends decided to come freeze their little buns off playing tourist in Washington, DC! 

Growing up in Texas, I was forced to write Thank You notes and enjoy it, I was taught how important it is to be a good host to any and all guests, even if you don't like them that much, and I always bring something any time I'm invited somewhere, it just comes naturally. So, when my dear friend Maddy said she and her roommates were coming to DC for a visit, I naturally offered them some fresh clean sheets to sleep on, a stocked fridge, and some fun surprises.

I was so sad to miss all the fun and adventuring in the 30 degree weather. (okay, that's a lie, I don't really do 30 degrees) As sad as I was to miss my precious friend, I was so happy that she decided to stay at my little apartment. It felt so nice to come home after a long week of work and know that I was able to give them some warm beds to sleep in and some fresh coffee in the morning. As we all know, a good host is a host that ensures her guest are well rested and well caffeinated.

I know it sounds funny, and I know some people think I'm crazy, but I love having people come and stay with me. I love getting the house ship-shape, packing the fridge with scrumptious snacks, washing and changing the sheets, and making something delicious for them to nibble on. Doing the prep work for a visitor just makes the apartment shine a little more and it makes it feel a little more and more like a home each time.

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I think there are some crucial things you have to do as a hostess:

  1. Clean as if you've never cleaned before, or as if your grandmother is coming to visit. Yes, even for your casual friends. Everyone should feel like you rolled out the red carpet and made an effort for them. 
  2. Stay organized. This can include a couple of areas... One, make a to do list of everything that needs to be cleaned or scrubbed. It feels great to check it off the list and it helps you from getting overwhelmed. Two,  if you're playing tour guide, have a good list to turn to, don't expect people to know everything about the new city they're visiting, and think of some fun things to do that they might not have on their lists. Three, make sure and do your shopping before your guests arrive, no one wants to have to run to the grocery store for toilet paper or milk it cuts out of the fun time! 
  3. Have at least one meal planned to eat at home, either breakfast or dinner. I know this sounds a little strange, but when I have visitors, either on the first night they come in or the last morning they are going to leave, they've really enjoyed having one night/morning in to relax, refresh, or plan the next couple of days or last couple of hours. If I were you, I'd make some of the overnight french toast you see below... hint, hint, nudge, nugde.
  4. Provide your guests with 1 or 2 comforts of home, whether it's a late night snack for them to sneak a bite before bed or a curling iron for those forgetful guests. Go over an above my showing them your home is their home.
  5. Have fun! Think of something cute and fun to get your weary travelers laughing, and don't forget your guests decided to spend time and money with you, I know it can be hard having people stay with you, but keep up the spirits until they walk out the door. Wake up early, get the coffee going. Go to bed after everyone, just in case something happens and your guests need you. As soon as they walk out that door, you can throw on your pjs and eat a pint of blue bell ice cream, but until then fake it till ya make it! 

For Maddy and crew, since I wasn't going to be home I decided to make them an apartment list of tips and tricks, and a list of places to eat and things to see while they were in DC. 

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Of course I made sure they had plenty to eat... Including some wine, cheese, hot breakfast options, and some on the go snacks! Have you tried the Trader Joe's Fig & Olive Crackers? They're amazing... go get some now. 

Of course I changed the sheets, made up the sofa, and added a little surprise. 

So I know most of you will be around when your guests come which means if you're going to make breakfast for them, it has to be way more impressive than canned cinnamon rolls. So I have a perfect recipe for you... Overnight French Toast. I made this a few weeks back for my sweet friend Amy! She and her roommates had few girls over for brunch, and this french toast was a hit. I felt a little guilty, because it really is one of the easiest recipes in the world. 

Overnight French Toast

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Step-By-Step

the night before your brunch/breakfast... cut the bread into a little larger than bite size pieces and put them in a butter lined casserole dish...

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in a medium bowl... beat the eggs...

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add the milk and half 'n half, vanilla, and spices... pour the egg mixture over the bread... cover and stick in the fridge...

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the next day, make your topping by combining the brown sugar and butter...

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add the cinnamon and vanilla...

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fold in the pecans...

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spread all over the top of your bread/egg mixture...

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bake and enjoy with a drizzle of syrup or jam or honey or powder sugar...

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OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST

 

INGREDIENTS

for the french toast

1 loaf challah bread

8 large eggs

2 cups half 'n half

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

for the pecan topping

1 stick butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

tear apart the bread and layer in a buttered dish

whisk together the eggs, half 'n half, milk, vanilla, and spices

pour the egg mixture over the bread and let sit covered, overnight in the fridge

take your french toast out of the fridge and make sure that all the egg mixture is soaked up

preheat the oven to 350 degrees

make the pecan topping by combining softened butter, and brown sugar

mix in the spices

fold in the pecans

top the bread and egg mixture with the butter mixture

bake at 350 for about 40 minutes

 

notes:

top with powder sugar, syrup, or jam

Adapted from Paula Deen - I know, I know... I took out the butter