Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Parties at Southard House

Hello Friends,

My sweet step-daughter Maggie had her 12th birthday last week and this past Saturday I had a party for her at my little house in North Enid.  I have been hosting small gatherings for family and friends since 2004 and they have gotten bigger and better every year.  The hosting of these parties is one of the main reasons I wanted to have a B&B because I know there is a need for it in our community, because I love doing it, and because I am really good at it!  I absolutely love taking a theme and making it come to life to celebrate a special occasion.  I wanted to share these photos of Maggie's party as a sampling of the parties I hope to host when the time is right at Southard House.  If you are interested in seeing more great pictures of other parties and events I have hosted you can check out my personal blog - www.tammyssweetheart.blogspot.com to see posts of past parties I have hosted.  There are some great ones, including a summertime mermaid party I hosted for Maggie's sister Lucie in June of this year and an amazing Paris tea party for Mother's day.
I plan to host children's birthday parties, baby showers, wedding showers, and ladies tea parties in 2014 or maybe sooner depending on how business is going.

We have a beautiful buffet that I painted white that will be moved in to the parlor of Southard House when the time is right.  It is in my dining room now and I decorated it for Maggie's snow fairy princess birthday party.  I had so much fun with this theme!  There was snow and snowflakes everywhere!

I made her birthday cupcakes to fit the theme.  I made white peppermint cupcakes with vanilla butter creme frosting.  I also made the beautiful lace cupcake sleeves and a hand-made snowflake pick to decorate each one.  I used lots of different white sprinkles and edible pearls as well.  These cupcakes were beautiful!
My mom gave me this beautiful carriage for my wedding shower and I decorated it up for Maggie's party.  I hung snowflakes on the inside so it looked like it was snowing inside the carriage.
 I also had these great snowflake-shaped white chocolate pretzels, powdered donuts, and marshmallows for the girls to munch on.  We ate these goodies with our cupcakes and drank hot tea from pretty tea cups!
 Each place setting had a place card.  This clear globe held artificial snow and a name tag for each guest.
 I also made each girl a beautiful snowflake fairy wand and crown.  These were a big hit with the girls!
 Somehow I got lucky and caught a snowflake fairy of my own and put it in this beautiful glass jar.  Maggie loved this centerpiece because the fairy is also a ballerina and so is Maggie.
 The whole room was like a fantasy snowflake fairy land.  Everything was so pretty and Maggie had a beautiful birthday!  I know she felt very special with this beautiful birthday party.
 I met Maggie when she was eight-years-old and I can't believe that next year she will be a teenager!  They grow up so quickly!  She is growing up to be a beautiful young lady and I am so blessed I to know her.
If you like what you saw here and you would like to have a custom-created party for your child, friend, or loved one I hope you will contact me about hosting a party for you at Southard House Bed and Breakfast Inn.  I can coordinate just about any theme for your party and I would be so honored to be a part of your special occasion!  There are many more wonderful posts to come, so until next time . . .

May You Be Blessed!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Main Street Enid Christmas Ornament

Hello Friends,

I had SO much fun making this beautiful ornament for the Main Street Enid Christmas trees.  I have recently seen several of the beautiful ornaments designed by local business on the Main Street Enid Facebook page and each one is unique and beautiful.  It is really amazing how the ornaments seem to truly represent the business. 

It is also really amazing to me that these basic items could become something so beautiful!
 On one side of the ornament I use the angel cutout and the banner at the bottom says                        "Count Your Blessings".
 I used lots of pink and other pastel colored ribbon and flowers to decorate the top.
 On the other side of the ornament I used the Southard House logo and glitzed it up with glitter! 
 I also used artificial snow, mica flakes, glitter, and pearl beads in the bottom of the ornament to make it look like it snowed inside the ornament.  It actually looks like a snow globe if you shake it up! 
I love how it turned out and I hope you will go by the Main Street Enid office and see all of the ornaments in person.  They are all so beautiful and creative!

Special wishes to you for a blessed and beautiful Christmas!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peppermint Cake Recipe

Hello Friends,

Last night I made the most delicious peppermint cake and I wanted to share the recipe with you.  After I made those delicious cookie bars (that didn't last very long) we needed a new dessert to try and I wanted to make something that was festive for the holidays.  I wanted to make something that I had never made before.  I found this great recipe and made some modifications to make it a really delicious cake.

You will need:

1 box white cake mix
eggs, oil, and water called for on the cake mix box
several drops of red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
white chocolate peppermint candies
1 container of vanilla frosting
bundt pan
pretty cake plate

 The first thing I did was unwrap a whole bag of Hershey white chocolate peppermint kisses (with very clean hands) and chop them up.  James was a big help in unwrapping the candy and I know it was hard for him to not eat them because they smelled so good!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next make the cake mix according to the package directions.  If you want a pure white cake batter only use the egg whites and not the egg yokes.
 Remove about 1/3 of the batter into another bowl and add several drops of red food coloring and the peppermint extract.  A few drops of food coloring will make pink batter and several drops will make red.  You can decide how dark you want your batter.  Pour 1/2 of the remaining white cake batter in to the greased bundt pan.  Then add the red batter on top of the white layer.
 My delicious addition to this recipe is to add a layer of that yummy white chocolate peppermint candy I chopped up.  I am so glad I added this layer because it made a big difference in the cake.  There wasn't much peppermint flavor and this candy made the cake delicious!
Next add the remaining white batter on top of the candy layer.  Bake in the oven according to the package directions.  I believe it was about 30-33  minutes.
 Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.  Make sure to grease the pan very well before adding the batter to help the cake come out in one piece.  After the cake is cooled a while place your cake plate over the cake pan and invert it on to the plate.  Let the cake cool completely and then microwave a container of vanilla frosting for 30 seconds.  Gently drizzle the liquidy icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with chopped peppermint candies.
 Besides the fact that this cake is really easy to make and it is delicious, it is also very pretty!
 Doesn't it just look like Christmas?  I love the red and white candies on it!
There are some white chocolate peppermint chips that Ghirardelli makes but they have been difficult for me to find this year.  The Hershey kisses are a little more work but they are definitely worth it because they have a great peppermint flavor.
This cake will definitely be on the winter dessert menu for next year.  It is very tasty and very satisfying with a cup of hot tea or coffee.  I am so excited to serve our guests this delicious, festive dessert.

I put together our ornament for Main Street Enid's Christmas trees that are proudly displayed in the agency's window down town.  I am excited to reveal my ornament in my next blog post.  It is beautiful!  If you would like to decorate an ornament to promote your business, please contact Kelly Tompkins at (580) 234-1052.  The cost is $10 if you are not a member and free if you are a member.  This is a great way to advertise your business during the holidays!

Until next time . . .
May You Be Blessed!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Magic Cookie Bars

Hello Friends!

I have been practicing making some of the items on the menu at Southard House lately.  On Monday I made the dessert item for Wednesday - 7 Layer Magic Cookie Bars!  These cookie bars are my all time favorite.  I could eat them every day and not get sick of them!  My mom used to make them during Christmas time when I was a kid and I have always loved them as a Christmas treat.  I wanted to share the recipe with you, just in case you have never had these amazing cookies.

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

 Assemble your ingredients - butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut, butterscotch chips, sweetened condensed milk, and chopped nuts.
 You can used the already crushed up graham cracker crumbs they sell but I prefer to buy the graham crackers because I get to eat a whole package of them with peanut butter before I make the rest in to crumbs AND because they are cheaper.  This is how my mom made them.  Put the graham crackers into a sturdy Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs.  Make sure there are no big chunks.  This is a great way to get out all of your weekly aggression! 
 Melt the butter in a small microwave-safe dish, then pour the butter into the graham cracker crumbs.  Mix well with a fork.  Pour the graham mixture in a buttered 9x13 pan and press down firmly with your fingers to make a solid crust.  Pour some of the sweetened condensed milk on top of your crust.  This will act as a "glue" to hold the graham cracker crumbs together.
 Next layer the coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and chopped nuts on top of your crust.  Pour the remaining sweetened condensed milk over the top of your layers, making sure to get the edges and corners.
 Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes and while it is baking you get to enjoy the aroma as it fills your home with chocolatey, toasted coconutty, baked cookie deliciousness.  Bonus!!!
 Let the bars cool completely before cutting them into squares or triangles, whichever you prefer.  Store them covered at room temperature - if they last that long! 
 I know you will love these delicious cookie bars and I hope you will share this recipe with your friends and family.  They will be enjoyed at Southard House Bed and Breakfast Inn every Wednesday evening with coffee and tea.  The 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars are the dessert of the day on Wednesday!
Here is the list of ingredients and their measurements for this recipe:

2 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c butter
1 -14.oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C butterscotch chips
1 1/3 C flaked coconut
1 C chopped nuts

I plan to share more wonderful recipes and other exciting things happening at Southard House with you soon!  Until then . . .

May You Be Blessed!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chair Auction to Support Nights of Shelter

Hello Friends!

Everybody knows the story about how Rudolph and those other eight reindeer helped guide Santa through that foggy Christmas Eve.  This year the reindeer and Southard House Bed and Breakfast Inn are helping Santa find safe shelter for some local kids in need. Rudolph and his friends are raising money for the Nights of Shelter campaign, which supports the Youth and Family Services emergency youth shelter here in Enid.
In this case the reindeer are being played by nine vintage dining chairs originally from the former Richill's Cafeteria.
 Many of you may remember Richill's Cafeteria, which long was a staple of the downtown dining scene in the location currently occupied by Napoli's Italian Restaurant at 221 W. Randolph.
Many of you may remember Richill's for its food, or the train that ran around the ceiling of the restaurant, or the talking parrot, or perhaps the great holiday parties.  Now, you have a chance to own a piece of downtown history with one of these well-built vintage dining chairs.
The chairs, all made around 1984, are constructed of hard wood with vinyl seats and backs and rolling casters.
Marty Tydings, former owner of Southard House, purchased the chairs when Richill's closed the downtown restaurant. The chairs are in excellent condition, just like they were the last time you were in Richill's.
Even if Richill's was before your time in Enid these chairs still are an excellent choice for a “man cave,” kids' rooms, desk chairs, retro decorating, or dining chairs.
Since there are nine of these chairs, and in keeping with the holiday season, each of the chairs has been assigned a reindeer name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and of course, Rudolph.  We're auctioning off these "reindeer" with every penny of the proceeds going to benefit Nights of Shelter.
Since the shelter was opened in 1974, Youth and Family Services has provided more than 24,000 nights of food, shelter, and services to more than 1,900 children in need.
Many of these kids have been abused or neglected at home, or come from families that simply don't have the money to support them.
Budget cuts have hurt Youth and Family's ability to help these kids. In response to the crisis, the shelter initiated the Nights of Shelter campaign, allowing people to make donations in increments of $30, the average cost of sheltering one child for one night. 
We're hoping each of our “reindeer” will bring in enough money for at least one night of shelter. To get things started, the starting bid for each chair is $20. Bids will only be taken in dollar amounts … no raising by pennies please.  Since all the payment for winning bids goes directly to Youth and Family Services, anything you bid beyond the fair market value of the chair is tax deductible.  Tax receipts can be obtained from Youth and Family Services at the front desk.
All reindeer bids will be taken through the Southard House Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthardHouse. Bid on your favorite “reindeer” by name by Facebook message to Southard House. Example: Blitzen, $30.
The auction will run Dec. 3 – noon Dec. 17. Bids will be updated daily through Dec. 16, and will be taken live by post comments up to noon on Dec. 17.
All payments for winning bids should be made directly to the Nights of Shelter campaign at www.yfsenid.org or in person at 605 W. Oxford.
Chairs will be delivered in Enid after confirmation of payment to Youth and Family Services, or you can make arrangements for pick-up through Facebook message to Southard House.
We would greatly appreciate you sharing this information on Facebook so we can help as many kids as possible, and "like" the Southard House page on Facebook to follow the auction.
Please help us raise money for Nights of Shelter, help some local kids in need, and take home your own “reindeer” on wheels!  We appreciate your support of this important campaign!  Unitl next time . . .

May You Be Blessed!
The Neals

Advent and the Inn

Hello Friends,

James and I are members of New Hope United Methodist Church here in Enid and as you may know this was the first weekend of Advent.  We lit the first advent candle to represent hope.  During that service all of the children in the church decorated the Chrismon tree with ornaments representing Christ.  I have always loved symbolism.  That is just who I am.  I use symbolism a lot in my decorating, so when you come to Southard House and see all of the beautiful decor there is probably a meaning behind that certain color I used in the dining room and why I used two candles on the mantle, etc.  There will be meaning behind why I have done just about everything that gets done at Southard House.
After the service was over yesterday I began to think about how Advent correlates with my life right now.  There are so many people that are so anxious about the opening of the inn.  There is much anticipation and it is difficult to be patient to watch this process unfold.  Advent is another word for arrival.  There were so many people anticipating the arrival of Jesus.  They were promised a Messiah and they believed He would come.  God did not disappoint them!  He came through.  He kept His promise.  Jesus was born and grew to be that Messiah they were promised.  We believe that God will come through for us too.  We are in a difficult time right now because I do not have an income, the bills are mounting, and we still do not have all of our financing secured. We are putting our faith in God to see us through.  He has always taken care of us and I know He will not stop now.  It is difficult to wait and be patient.  It is difficult to not know what is going to happen in the future or when it will happen.  The only thing we can do is be patient, trust God, and have hope that it will all work out in the end.  I believe He will come through for us.  He always has and He always will!

I hope you will take time to stop and reflect on the Advent season and its meaning in your life.  What roles do hope and faith play in your life right now?  As you reflect I wish you peace and blessings during this wonderful holiday season.  We will keep you updated on our progress.  Until next time . . .

May You Be Blessed!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decking the Halls

Hello Friends!

I finally completed decorating the front porch at Southard House and I wanted to share the photos with you.  Here is the final product!  This is my first time to decorate for Christmas at Southard House and I think it is so beautiful!  I have never decorated a porch this big before and I think I did a pretty good job!  

I love the silver and white decorations this year!  They shimmer in the sunlight and look magical - just like Christmas ought to be!
I put together this topiary with James' help.  I think the gusty Oklahoma wind has gotten the best of it though.  This beautiful urn belongs to the previous homeowner and she is graciously loaning it to us for the time being.  I have put it to good use and will continue to do so until it has to leave.
Here is the sleigh all decked out for the holidays.  You might have seen pictures of her before at Enid Lights up the Plains.  We gave her some fresh coats of black paint (the original color) and now she looks so classy!  Now all we need is a horse and some snow!  The cherub statue you see sitting next to the sleigh belongs to the previous homeowner.  She is also letting us borrow her.  The cherub got a pretty silver bow around her neck to decorate her up for the holidays.  I absolutely LOVE this statue and I know I will cry when she has to leave.
I put together two small wreaths to greet guests at the front doors.  I love painted jingle bells so I painted some white, sprinkled them with crystal glitter, and attached them to the wreath.  The wreaths make a gentle jingling sound when you open the front door and I love to hear that sound at Christmastime.  I also added those beautiful angel ornaments.  They are also covered in crystal glitter and they really sparkle in the light.
My very favorite part of the porch decorations is the beautiful angel wings centered over the front doors.  I used to be the coordinator for a teen drama troupe in the community and I purchased these angel wings several years ago as a prop for one of their skits. 
One night when I was laying in bed thinking about how I would like to decorate the porch (which is more often than not these days) I remembered that I had these wings and I knew I wanted to use them somehow. I want Southard House to represent peace, love, and serenity and I think I can best do that through the use of angels and cherubs in my decorating.  You will see them all throughout Southard House when we open.  I have never seen the use of the angel wings over the door like this before so I think this is an original design application!  I really love it and I will probably leave them up for other holiday decorating in the future!
James will be adding some icicle lights to the porch and we may add some to a few of the bushes in the front yard as well.  This will give Southard House the perfect glow it needs for the holidays!  Now I just need to talk James in to buying me this pair of beautiful illuminated angels for the front lawn that I have picked out in a catalog and it will be perfect!
If you live in Enid you are welcome to drive by 518 W. Pine in the evening to see the decorations lit up.  Hopefully the lights will be on for you!  It is very magical and romantic on the front porch at night.

I guess the front porch of Southard House is all I am going to get to decorate this year for Christmas.  We are still in negotiations with contractors, plumbers, electricians, and fire suppression crews to begin work on the house so we can open soon.  You have no idea how anxious I am to decorate this house, so I have been taking my frustration out on my little cottage in North Enid.  I wanted to show you a sneak peak of what is to come next year for Southard House.

 I have a beautiful antique ivory china hutch that will be moved into the dining room of Southard House and I always decorate it to the hilt for each holiday and season.  I love the ivory, white, and silver color theme this year.  I will be using a lot of these decorations next year at Southard House.
This is a sweet snowflake tea set I plan to use during the winter months at Southard House.  I hope we get some snow this winter, it makes the tea and cocoa that much sweeter!
 Here is my fireplace mantle adorned with angels and cherubs.  You will see them at Southard House all year long.  The cherubs will become part of the decoration in the parlor and the beautiful angel in the middle will find a home in Suite Blessings.  The fireplace will also be moved to Suite Blessings in the bedroom area.
Here is my Christmas tree all dressed up in silver, ivory, and white.  The mannequin on the other side of the fireplace will be in the parlor at Southard House and she will be dressed up for each holiday or season.  I have lots of big plans for making Southard House a truly amazing showplace!  I hope you will come visit us and stay the night if you can!

I have a great blog post about breakfast at Southard House in the works so I hope you will come back and check it out!  Until then . . .

May You Be Blessed!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Enid Lights Up the Plains

Hello Friends,

I know several days have gone by since then but I wanted to share our wonderful experience at the "Enid Lights Up the Plains" event we had here in the community on Friday evening.  Enid Main Street organizes this festive event to light up the downtown area with glistening twinkle lights.  There is entertainment on the court house lawn, vendors of many kinds, and plenty of refreshments for everyone.  The evening concludes with a beautiful fireworks display - that was quite exceptional this year!  James and I thought that this would be a perfect venue to begin sharing our plans for the B&B with the public.

All week long last week I worked to get things prepared.  I printed and copied our brochure, bought several boxes of red and white candy canes, and made these sweet cocoa cones to pass out to the public.  The cones were filled with a wonderful cocoa mix I made from scratch.  There was pink peppermint cocoa and pink cinnamon cocoa.  This sweet cocoa is pink in your cup!  Each cone was topped with mini marshmallows and tied with a pretty pink ribbon and a hand-made instruction tag.
I enjoyed putting these sweet treats together but I especially enjoyed passing them out to all of the cute little girls I could find during the event.  I know they will enjoy their cocoa when they get it home.
 I also baked four batches of my Southard Hospitality cookies that I will be serving at the inn each afternoon.  These cookies, however, were Christmas cookies because I added peppermint white chocolate to the dough.  Yummy!  I wish you could have smelled the house when they were baking.  It was just heavenly!
 When we got downtown we unloaded the sleigh and I got busy decorating.  It wasn't quite 5:00 PM and there were already many people milling around.  We didn't want to miss out on sharing information about the B&B with them so we started passing out flyers, cookies, and candy canes.   We weren't very far in to the event and I feared we would run out of goodies because we had already passed so much out!  We decided to pace ourselves from then on.

The sleigh was a very popular attraction that evening.  There was a great picture of a group of young ladies from Danceworks of Enid taken with it, many people from the public had their picture taken in it, and the Enid Regional Development Alliance used it as a backdrop to film a promo ad for their website.  The spot should be on their website in January.  The sleigh had a big night!
I sure am glad we had helpers that evening because there were a lot of people out to enjoy the festivities!  This is Mary Margaret (Maggie) and Lucinda Caroline (Lucie) from Fairview,OK.  They are James' daughters from a previous marriage and my new step-daughters.  They were great helpers and did a great job passing out brochures and candy canes.  Thank you girls for all of your help!

 She doesn't look busy in this picture but Miss Lucie passed out 180 candy canes in two hours.  I think that is a record!  We met a lot of wonderful people and got to speak with several of them about the B&B.  We heard lots of great stories about the house from previous owners, friends, and neighbors.  There was a lot of excitement that evening about the new B&B opening in Enid in the spring!
 I must tell you that I have an absolutely amazing husband.  He is such a hard-working, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, loving man and I am so blessed to have him in my life.  I have so much fun doing anything and everything with him and I am so glad we were able to share this experience together.  It was on this night last year that we sat in lawn chairs on the other side of the court house lawn staring at the building that used to be the "Serendipity" store and dreaming about opening our business.  Now this year we got to promote our business.  It is so amazing that we are making it happen!  I am so grateful to have James by my side as we go on this journey to business ownership and I am so thankful for all of the support that we have found from our wonderful friends and family.  Thank you all for everything you have done to get us where we are today!
 We worked hard most of the evening but we did take some time out to have some fun.  The father of the organizer of the event built this neat snowman and we just had to have a picture with it.  We also had to have a hot pretzel with cheese sauce, some hot dogs, and some hot apple cider.  We also enjoyed some wonderful entertainment at the gazebo on the courthouse lawn.  Besides the almost unbearable cold it was a great night! 
Before we went home we witnessed a beautiful fireworks display that lit up the cold November sky.  It was truly beautiful and the only thing that could have made it prettier would have been some big fluffy snowflakes gracefully fluttering to the earth below.  Maybe next year? 
 We had a wonderful evening and met some wonderful people.  We want to thank those of you that came out to see us and we hope you will spread the word to your friends and family about our inn.

I finally finished decorating the front porch of Southard House for Christmas today and it is beautiful!  I plan to share those pictures in my next post.  Until then . . .

May You Be Blessed!