Happy Olympics!

Happy Summer Olympics everybody!!

I have been excited for these ever since the closing ceremonies in Beijing in 2008.  Haha, I love the Olympics!  Winter and Summer.  But let's be honest- as someone with a blog called "Swim, Eat, Repeat", you know I prefer the Summer Olympics.  I mean, mostly, it's the fact that for once people care about swimming.  And 5 of the Team USA swimmers are from the MD/DC area.  Woot!  I just love following the swimming heats, semis and finals. I got absorbed watching trials, and now I'm even more excited for the real thing!

So, to honor the USA, athletes everywhere, and the Olympic tradition, I decided to host an Opening Ceremonies party.  I invited about 50 people.  Yes- to my 1 bedroom apartment.  I figured the more the merrier, and wanted everyone to be as excited as I was.  Well, of course not everyone could make it, (phew, cause I didn't entirely know how I was going to host 50 people in my place!) and I ended up with around 20 people helping me ring in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London!  And celebrate we did!

To help drum up excitement, I asked everyone for two things.  They had to pick their favorite country and 1. bring a food to share representing their country, and 2. wear something to honor that country as well.  These were up to very loose interpretations, and people were allowed to pick their favorite country based on what they wanted to wear or bring.  So- you want to bring chips and salsa?  Mexico can be your favorite country for the night.  And the clothing requested was also up to loose interpretation.  Dress up in the flag colors, traditional garb, your favorite athlete from that country, a typical citizen of the country... Mostly, I wanted something for people to get excited about if they didn't necessarily care about the Olympics.  I was also hoping this would be a great conversation starter between my different groups of friends from high school, college, swimming, etc.  Win win.  I hoped these rules wouldn't deter people from attending, but like I said, I was just hoping for another fun factor to the party.  Who doesn't love a good theme?  Honestly.
I started preparing my foods a couple days before.  I bought 3 boxes of Red White and Blue funfetti cake mix from the 4th of July and made two things from it- whoopie pies, and cupcakes.  I stumbled upon these cupcake decorations at Williams Sonoma, and figured they would be way easier than the lofty icing piping decorations I had originally planned.
So make the cupcakes as directed on the box.
I then used the other two boxes to make some funfetti cookies.  There are directions on the side of the box for these as well.
I paired up the cookies based on size, and put everything in the fridge.  They would be kept fresh until I was ready to ice them before the party!
So then I made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!  I had used that recipe before, just made them a smaller cookie.  This time, I made the larger cookies though.  You know why?  I was going to make a gold medal for everyone to take home with them.  A cookie wrapped in gold foil, with a ribbon attached.  Are you seeing just how much I love the Olympics?  I really do love the Olympics.
Umm, there might have been some wine involved in baking these cookies.  Cookie dough and wine was my dinner that night.  Hahahaha, I don't condone that.
So once again, I made these beforehand, put them in the fridge, and pulled them out on Friday before the party to assemble the medals.  You need some ribbon (I picked red white and blue striped) and gold foil.  I found some at Jo-Anns, near the cake decorating section.  None of the employees knew they had it though, so just keep looking even if they tell you they don't have anything other than gold leaf (so wasn't going to work).
And start wrapping your cookies and attaching ribbons!
I decided to display my finished product on the half-height wall as you come up the stairs into my apartment.
I was excited.  Have I told you that yet?  Cause I was.  I bought some 4th of July decorations on sale, and a cardboard build-it-yourself cupcake stand.  I set this stuff up the night or two before.
I tried to order my favorite Olympics poster to add some ambiance to the party.  I envisioned a backdrop to a photo-op area.  But alas, it was sold out by the time I got my act together.  Well, unless I wanted to order it framed and $100 more expensive.  That hadn't been my plan.  So I lamented to my sister, Patti, who had been on top of things and had already ordered several of the artistic Olympic posters to display in her apartment (my family really loves the Olympics), and not 2 days later at work, I had the other half of the poster she had cut up to fit into a frame she already had!!  I was so excited, and had a perfect frame in mind already that would fit some of this other half!  The poster added some much needed class to my dollar store decorations...  I bought two of those stars- one for the table, one for the front door, so that everyone would know they were at the right place :-)
So after all of this preparation, I just hoped my friends would actually show up.  And maybe bring food.  A bag of chips.  Anything.  I got worried and ended up picking up some pita chips and hummus, and a veggie tray.  If we ended up with a table of chips and salsa, at least I had added some variety.

I don't know why I was so worried.  My friends brought it.  And then some.  Starting the morning of opening ceremonies, I started getting texts and emails saying what they were going to wear and bring.  It made getting through work pretty difficult, let me tell you.  Mostly because- success!!  People were excited about Opening Ceremonies!  Or maybe just the excuse to party... but there was excitement regardless!  So I got home from work and put the finishing touches on my cookies and cupcakes.

I made a ton of buttercream frosting.
I took two small bowls and mixed in red and blue.
I put red, blue, and white into a piping bag and made the whoopie pies.

Then I made two more colors- yellow and more red.  I iced the cupcakes with the red, yellow, and some more white to make "Olympic torch" cupcakes :-)
I was putting on the finishing touches to everything when the first group showed up- Steven, Joe, and two of their friends who happened to be in town from Baton Rouge.  They were Italy, and brought Italian cookies and cannolis.  Like I said, my friends brought it.
This table filled up quickly, and luckily I had asked my friend Liz to bring a folding table for us to spread out more!  Liz dressed as a Korean Pop star and brought sushi, seafood rice fritter things, and pickled radishes.  She also brought a vanilla and fruit layered pudding.  My friends Tamir and Kasey dressed as France (wearing Red White and Blue, haha) and brought "pastries" of brownie bites with strawberries and blueberries on top.  They were healthy and made with sweet potato and coconut oil, so I didn't feel as bad about eating a couple ;-)
My mom added some Richardson's Candy Kitchen chocolates (from our relatives in Massachusetts!), Whitney brought chocolate cupcakes with the Olympic rings piped on top, and spinach and artichoke dip and chips.  I devoured that dip, it was so good!
Michal and Brian were USA ALL THE WAY and showed up in red bandanas and straw hats and brought angel food cake with berries and whipped cream to put on top.  This is how they chose to label their dish.
Clearly it needed no instructions.
And in a huge oversight on my part, I managed to miss taking pictures of the things Jordan, Ashley and Ingrid brought.  Jordan and Ashley brought this Indian spiced fried rice, with chicken and egg in it.  I think I had two platefuls of it, it was so delicious.  And Ingrid brought stuffed dates, and spanakopitas.  True Olympic Greek food, so amazing!  I can't believe I missed these, I'm sorry guys, I didn't mean it.
We had so much food, representing so much hard work from friends, and I was so impressed with what everyone brought.  Hands down, it was a fantastic party.  Hi Steve!
Oh right, and the Opening Ceremonies.  We ate, we drank, we watched the English industrial revolution, and huge nightmare puppets.  We saw the queen jump out of a plane with James Bond, and the Olympic flame transferred along the Thames by Beckham, and we watched the parade of nations.

People filed out as the night grew later, some people waiting to see a certain country, or some just needing to get an early start the next day.  Whitney, Liz and I were the only ones left to see USA parade in.  I had dressed up in a similar outfit to theirs.
Complete with borrowing a navy blazer from my friend Ben and all.

Thank you friends!  For showing up, having a great time, and starting the Olympics off right!

I have had NBC on my tv non-stop since.  Did you see my boy Ryan Lochte dominate that 400 IM?  Yep, I had called it (see the last paragraph).  Go Lochte!  Go USA!  Go Olympics! 

Call Me Maybe- USA Swim Team Edition

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