Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Polo: Picnic with the Ponies

 I am the first to admit, I have little interest whatsoever in watching professional sports. In vain, I've tried to comprehend friends' passions for the fierce and frenzied competition of football or the complex intricacies of baseball statistics. Bundling up in an icy stadium or braving crowds of avid fans holds little appeal.
The one exception to this rule being the sport of Polo. Contrary to stereotypes, one does not have to be to the manor born or a seasoned equestrian to enjoy this sport of Kings.
In fact, there is a park in my area which features weekly Polo matches and tailgating events from late Spring through early Fall. For the very economical price of $10.00 a carload you can pack up a picnic and camera and enjoy the excitement and grace of this centuries old sport. Not well versed in polo? The entertaining announcers explain the game and its history as the match unfolds and charming players welcome visits with their horses during breaks.

I took these photos at Tinicum Polo Park in Bucks County, Pa. You can get more information at or for matches in other parts of the U.S you can visit
This fine horse takes a time out to meet his fans
before the action begins
heading off for a break

Polo Picnic Fare

Of course picnicking is one of the high points of attending polo matches and some spectators really go all out. But no need to grab the fine champagne and Limoges china. By adding some easy touches to classic picnic fare you can put together an elegant but budget friendly al fresco spread perfect for dining with the horsey set.
 keep snacks simple and elegant with easy to eat favorite cheeses and fruit
If weather or circumstance prevents a trip to the polo fields, croquet captures the spirit of the game as a fun alternative (Warning: it can get competitive) or simply use mallets as decor. The ribbon was from one of my husbands golf outings but after champagne no one would know.
Timeworn serving pieces in silver plate are non breakable and a nice departure from paper and plastic. My "set" combines well-used free hand me downs and flea market odds and ends. A blanket hides a less than lovely cooler.
The monogram blanket is fleece ($2.88 at Walmart) with an initial and quick crown painted in white acrylic. Of course as it was drying, our furry friend decided it was for her.

On the Menu

Horse Shoe Twists and Bread Ponies

so easy!
Make a fun twist on a snack basic by simply curving refrigerated crescent dough into horse shoe shapes, adding"nail" holes with a skewer and baking according to package instructions.
Using horse cookie cutters and bread dough you can also make a batch of savory bread ponies. If desired sprinkle with cheese, some sea salt or herbs to flavor before baking. Serve with cheese, dip or fruit.

Personalized Polo Bubbly

No Dom in the drink allowance? Vintage inspired labels from a homemade printable and packing tape spruce up individual budget bubblies. 

Serve with dainty white straws. Make sure to include non-alcoholic drinks like mineral water or lemonade as well.

check for more on our Printables page

There are many online resources for custom labels but this is an easy DIY version you can make for pennies.
 Remove any moisture from outside the bottle with a paper towel.
Print label so it will cover existing label and measure same width as packing tape if possible.
Carefully lay packing tape over label, making sure it is completely covered and smooth and wrap around bottle to adhere. Tape not only adds a bit of shine but will help repel some of the moisture when the champagne is chilled.

Pony Coconut Cake

Yes it's pepperidge Farm 
My original intention was to decorate a cake with sugar cookie ponies. Alas as cute as the cookie cutter was, and despite the fact that it worked fine with the bread dough, when the cookie dough was baked it morphed into a form less equine and more bloated hippopotami.
In a culinary panic, I grabbed an extra plastic pony, brushed him with honey and sprinkled him with white sugar to lend a confectionery air. (He'll get a bath later) Some mint leaves and a quick border of pale green colored icing add a little panache. For portability pack cake and pony separately and assemble after arrival.

DIY Polo Decor
Even a tailgate can get spruced up with a few horsey touches. If you can't find vintage trophies at a yard sale you can whip up a few easy DIY versions. Plus, as outdoor dining can get breezy and sometimes upset a well set tablecloth, pony decor can double as napkin or blanket weights and make fun favors.

Plastic pony ($1 each)
"silver" tray ($1 each)
pony printable
party favor mini trophies
Spray paint
Wood mini plaques craft store (79 cents)

Pony Trophies

I attached ponies and plastic trophies to mini wooden plaques and fashioned two quick polo mallets from cut drinking straws

I spray painted them using silver, gold and copper colors letting them run together for an aged metallic look. Accent with a name plaque or date using paper scraps or scrapbook embellishments.

These make fun favors: you can give away cheeky awards, say for Best Hat or Best Divot Stomper!

Polo Plate

Add a little provenance to your decor with a DIY faux antique plate celebrating your event. You can adapt this printable or create your own personalized image.

Image in sepia created using images from the and Dubai Polo Club logo
For a black and white version without the Pennywise name visit our printables page

I first copied the printable onto a silver finish paper. Because of the texture (I couldn't find smooth silver paper for some odd reason) some detail was lost in the image, but as I was going for an antique look anyway, I made do. I then decoupaged the image onto the plate using Modge Podge. Once dry, I added more thinned silver, black and copper acrylic paint to camouflage the decoupaged edges and give it a tarnished aged finish. 

PennyWise Polo Tips

In polo, the well being of the horses is priority one. Matches are often cancelled or rescheduled in cases of bad weather, excessive heat or chance of rain. Having a plan B for your picnic is always a good idea.

Some of these ideas can be reworked perfectly for a variety of horse themed events: Think Kentucky Derby fete or even kid's cowboy party. 

Polo usually runs from Spring through Fall, so you might want to prepare for spending time outdoors with hats, paper fans and cool drinks in Summer or extra blankets and a thermos of hot beverages in the Fall.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lavender, Sweet Lavender

While armchair travelers might dream of idyllic rustic farmhouses or romantic fields of lavender in the south of France, it's easy to forget that there are most likely many charming botanical treasures right in your own hometown.
 So, while time and budget sadly prevent a jaunt to Provence in my immediate future, I was delighted to discover a little gem of a lavender farm mere minutes from my house in Bucks County Pennsylvania, no passport required.
 Lavender has long been hailed for its soothing and medicinal properties as well as for its aromatic flavoring in a variety of drinks, foods and confections. So returning home, I immediately put my little purchases from Peace Valley Lavender Farm to use in some easy DIY projects celebrating this delightful plant.
In the Bucks County area? 
Pop over to the Peace Valley Lavender Farm site to plan a visit or browse their array of lavender based products and gifts.
overlooking Peace Valley Park 
a classic sun hat and lavender drying on racks
The farm features a delightful gift shop with soaps, dried lavender and handcrafted gifts

Lavender, sweet lavender;
Come and buy my lavender,
Cumberland Clark flower song book 1929

the barn and gift shop
Bees all abuzz over the fragrant blooms

Photos CPaul2013

I'm so delighted! This post was a fan favorite the Dedicated House

 Provence in a Window Box
Regular Pennywise readers might have guessed at my fondness for pint size gardens. I don't know if it's my love of all things miniature or my dismal failure rate with actual life-size horticulture, but I find there is something enchanting about a mini garden which can rest easily on your windowsill or deck.
You'll Need:
Small Lavender plants
Potting soil
Well draining container
Small box or milk carton (trimmed to size)
Set of fake fingernails ( I found them at the Dollar Store)
Joint compound
Small stones
Acrylic paints and spray paint
Craft moss
No need to grab your polish, we aren't doing manicures. 
To be honest I find those boxes of fake nails a tad creepy, but repurposed they make perfect roof tiles for a petite French farmhouse. 
Spray paint enough fingernails in assorted sizes to cover roof area. I chose a hammered copper and ivory look as I had some of those colors leftover from another project, and then gave them a wash of terra cotta acrylic once "installed" to take down the shine.
Trim carton or box to desired house shape. Mix compound with acrylic paint. (I chose a taupe shade.) Leaving room for any windows or doors apply mixture evenly over milk carton. Insert stones randomly, no need for perfection, as with the real version, a timeworn look adds charm.
I added a few cut popsicle sticks as a door and painting it a French blue once dry.
Attach roof "tiles" using larger ones on the bottom and smaller toward top and let farmhouse set.
                                                       our inspiration:
Plant lavender according to instructions (it likes good drainage) leaving sufficient space for your farmhouse, moss or stones. If you like add a mini painting (I did a quick start of a Provincal landscape) and easel or any other accessories a la Francais.

Lavender Truffles

There are many recipes available online or in cookbooks highlighting lavender's unique flavor, but I thought I'd opt for a surprisingly simple white and chocolate truffle with hint of lemon. Visit the Food Doctors' beautifully photographed site for this and other fun recipes.

Simple ingredients:
I subbed white chocolate chips for solid 

and used the culinary lavender from my visit to the farm.
I covered some in dark and some in white chocolate,
then sprinkled with some extra chopped culinary lavender and garnished with mint

label created using images from the Graphics Fairy
My French is quite rusty but according to "google translate" this hopefully means
Lavender Truffles 

This old $1 cookie tin had seen better days so it got a spritz of sage green and ivory paint 
and a decoupaged vintage inspired label, perfect for gifting

One of the delights of blogging is the opportunity to visit so many wonderful sites, meet new friends and exchange ideas. Of course when a generous blogger offers a giveaway that's just icing on the cake. Recently I was lucky enough to win the most lovely set of notecards, featuring blogger Nan Burger's beautiful pen & ink artwork. You can visit her delightful site and find links to her designs at 

Lovely cards deserve what else but Lavender ink? I stumbled on this most unique idea on the charming Elaine's Lavender Page where you can find the ink instructions, more lavender recipes and lots of lavender fun facts. 

Lavender's Blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender's Green
When I am king, dilly dilly,
You will be queen.
old English folk song - 17th century