Summary Sunday: The Pahr-tee (The Joanne Fluke Blackberry Pie Murder House Party)

Summary Sunday

Okay.  I know.  I’ve been gone a bit.  I had a few scheduled end-of the month blog posts already written and in the outbox, but this past week has been strictly about THE PARTY.  In the end, counting myself, Josh (briefly on lunch break), and Muffin, we had eight attendees.  And a lot of fun.  However, my parties never really go on schedule (no matter how much planning goes into them).

My mom and aunt arrived at 12:30, just after I snapped these photos and before I finished making the scones.

These were the goody bags and also the “Create-Your-Own-Blackberry Pie Cooler” (nonalky) station. The recipe calls for blackberry puree or blackberry drink syrup (like Torani–I bought a jar of seedless blackberry preserves and made that into a syrup by microwaving it with water until smooth). Josh had squeezed lemon juice into a squeeze bottle. The recipe also calls for white cranberry juice (but I went to several grocery stores and couldn’t find any). I substituted white grape juice instead.

This was the dessert section of the table. I purchased a 97 cent tablecloth from Walmart as well as aquamarine plates and pink forks (trying to make it match the concept of the cover of the book as well as the spring colors of the Hershey’s kisses wrappers in the brie box). The bottom tier is the Pepperidge Farm Apricot Rasperry thumbprint cookies that were included in the prize pack surrounded by the Fresh Blackberry Cookies (from Blackberry Pie Murder). The middle tier has the Sublime Lime Bar Cookies (from Blackberry Pie Murder) and the Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies (from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder). I used spice containers and baking supplies to create the height of the tiers. The top tier is the Fudge Cupcakes (from Fudge Cupcake Murder). Also in this picture were the floral centerpiece as well as the Bingo prize bags (containing a baking-scented jar candle, cake batter chapstick, and a Hershey chocolate bar), the book sampler that came with the party pack, and the signed copy of Blackberry Pie Murder.

This was the “healthier” foods section of the tablescape. I had butter and homemade boursin (I’ll post my adaptation of the recipe below) for the crackers as well as the Cream Cheese and Herb Scones (from Blackberry Pie Murder) which I waited until guests started to arrive to bake. I also had ham and cheese slices for either the crackers or the scones. I included fruits and veggies for Muffin (and for one of my attendees that was supposed to start a diet that day). I had blueberries that were still in good shape from last week’s shopping trip and I purchased a veg tray and fruit tray from Brookshire’s yesterday morning. The veg tray had broccoli, grape tomatoes, celery, and carrots (as well as a cup of ranch dip). The fruit tray had honeydew and cantaloupe (muskmelon) as well as grapes (very very few) and pineapple. I had planned on doing red and green pepper strips and cucumber slices, but I ran out of time…literally.

This was what was included in the goody bags: French Vanilla Chai and Orange and Cinnamon Spice herbal teas (from the party pack), Hershey’s Kisses, a drink packet, the recipe card for the Blackberry Pie Cooler, a bookmark with the Blackberry Pie recipe, the sampler for Blackberry Pie Murder, a word search that I created based on the series using Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker, a copy of Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, a copy of the menu, a copy of the recipes that were made (except for the ones in the sampler and on the recipe card), and a mini stenographer’s notebook like a smaller version of the one the main character Hannah Swensen uses in the books.

My peep/bestie arrived shortly after one with one of her best coworker friends.  My best coworker friend arrived around 2.  It was a very relaxed, casual atmosphere.  Of course, I went into manic mode first thing that morning, something I always strive not to do that always ends up happening.

Um…we may have forgotten about the bingo and drink-making until it was time for people to leave.  It was fun to visit and talk about her works and where the recipes come from (especially the Fudge Cupcakes that I was so so so excited about getting to make)!  Muffin loved all the taste testing this week (although I probably shouldn’t have given him a cupcake as a bedtime snack).  It was almost chocolate-coma inducing.

It seemed as if the week passed in a blur of work and party preparations, especially the baking.  On Monday, I baked the Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies.  On Tuesday, I made the Boursin cheese and the Fresh Blackberry Cookies.  On Wednesday (after being ill–not contagious), I made the cupcake part of the cupcakes.  On Thursday, I made the frosting for the cupcakes and frosted them.  I also made the word search and the other printables.  On Friday (after working the basketball game…we won!  Go Lions!) I put together the goody bags.

Yesterday was the party, so I blitz cleaned in the morning (with Josh’s help), mixed up the scones, and placed them in mini muffin tins and regular size cupcake tins (two cookie scoops in a cupcake tin, one scoop in a mini muffin tin).  Then, I set up the tablescape in earnest.  Like a crazy person.

We have lots of leftovers.  They will probably be lunches/breakfasts throughout the week.  Muffin had the bag of fruit for his bedtime snack.  Josh took the bag of veggies with him this morning for a work snack.

Muffin’s behavior before and at the party?  Um…  We’ll just leave it at um.  Today’s behavior hasn’t gone so great either.  As I type this, I have him lying down for a nap (unsuccessfully).

Verdict on the House Party?  I think I will not sign up for one again, at least during the school year.  It was too much prep (for me, who adores Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series) in an attempt to do the party justice for during the school year (and having to navigate work and planning and prepping the party).  Or maybe I just made it more difficult than it had to be. (Those who know me can stop nodding at any time)

Here is the recipe for the Homemade Boursin Cheese (heavily adapted from

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces butter, at room temperature (unsalted)
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Neufchatel)
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese ( I used grana padano grated with the MicroPlane)
  • 1  teaspoon dried dill weed, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil, dried and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chives, dried and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground on a fairly coarse grind
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Mix cheeses, butter and garlic using a hand mixer.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, folding in the herbs and spices until fully incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld.
  4. To serve, bring to room temperature.

Serving suggestions:  on crackers, as a sandwich filling for tea sandwiches (maybe with cucumbers or watercress…although I’ve never tasted watercress), fill a hallowed out cucumber (with seeds removed) and slice into rounds, stuffed into a chicken breast and breaded and baked, as one of the main ingredients of the Cream Cheese and Herb Scones (I used 10 Tablespoons in the recipe).

This stuff is fantastic!

Did you host this (or another) House Party?  Let me know by dropping a line below.


2 thoughts on “Summary Sunday: The Pahr-tee (The Joanne Fluke Blackberry Pie Murder House Party)

  1. Pingback: Meal Plan Monday: Prepping Leftovers for Josh’s Oven | Full Happy Muffin and Mama: The Blog

  2. Pingback: We Plan Wednesday: MIL and SFIL Trip 2017!!! | Full Happy Muffin and Mama: The Blog

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