Purchase-parties? Oh, you know exactly what I am talking about. It started long ago with Mary Kay and lately it seems that everyone and his or her mother is peddling something. No, thank you, I don’t want to host and I certainly don’t want to be a rep. I’m not even sure I want what’s on my order form, and I certainly don’t need it, but I’m buying it anyway. My invite frequency reached such a high level that I’ve limited my attendance at these to no more than two per year. It’s only May and that attendance quota has already been met. Purchase-parties really aren’t bad. You meet a few people, enjoy drinks, play little raffle games, and try before you buy. However, when you get multiple invites for the same company, you tend to run out of options. I’d like to discuss the products that I own or have enjoyed from these purchase parties, then we’ll make dinner with one of the less expensive items you can get. As a result, this post will run a tad long, but you’ll get some valuable info. Opinions are my own, so please don’t take any offense if I don’t like a particular company or product.
Mary Kay: Nada. I have never purchased a product from Mary Kay. I carry a similar sentiment for Avon products. I find my response to it very, “Meh,” but I am also very particular about makeup and skin care. At the first Mary Kay party I ever attended, my friend (the host) invited her mother who proceeded to complain about interracial dating. Never you mind that the Caucasian Mary Kay rep was married to an African-American gentleman. That made for a very nice, socially awkward situation. If tortured and prompted to purchase Mary Kay via a gun to the head, I guess I would pick a Mary Kay Satin Hands kit which features an exfoliant scrub and emollient moisturizer to make your hands look and feel pretty. It vaguely smells like Bain de Soleil (BDS) orange gelée (or at least it did years ago). Anything that smells like BDS gets some points in my book.
Tastefully Simple: Again, nada. I’m just not that into cream cheese, dip, and soup mixes. I do think they would make lovely hostess gifts. I recall liking a key lime pie cheese ball and a Greek seasoning, but not enough to drop wad. I also recall someone getting into an argument with Siri on her iPhone about the proper definition of a Dirty Sanchez. It’s probably best not to bother Siri about something you can look up on Urban Dictionary. She can get rather nasty.
Lia Sophia: Earrings. Lots and lots of earrings. So many earrings. Earrings that I have since seen on other people, so I am no longer interested. They just don’t change the product line enough and I got burned on an exchange when it was the rep’s fault. She sent me a necklace instead of (you guessed it!) earrings and I got stuck with credit that I had no desire to use. No, thank you. I have never attended a Silpada party and I do not think I would partake because I have heard it is more expensive than Lia Sophia.
PartyLite: Again, “Meh.” I’ve purchased a candle or three at these. They were okay, but probably wouldn’t repurchase.
Scentsy: Actually, this was the best purchase-party I attended over the past year. It’s basically a decorative electric tart warmer that melts a scented bar of wax with a lightbulb, which is great for reducing candle soot, etc. The fragrances are long-lasting and reasonably priced. I have found several scents I like and have since purchased refills. While I will need some back-up candles for thunderstorm-induced power outages, it has significantly reduced money spent on very pricey home-fragrances. It also helped that the rep was not local and thus, not at the party. My friend, who has a blog over here, hosted at her home and continued with an online party. So the atmosphere was more relaxed and there was no sales pressure about special deals or hosting. They have a wide range of fragrances (foodie, floral, fresh) which are suitable for any preference.
Pampered Chef: Since I haven’t attended a sex-toy or a purse party yet, we’ll finish up with this one. I’m sure it is no surprise that the majority of my purchase-party fund has been dedicated to Pampered Chef. I currently own: a pizza stone, a springform pan, two metal loaf pans, lidded prep bowls, some doo-dad that holds your food while you cut it (I actually use it to poke holes in acorn squash before I roast it), a garlic press, and several other items. I enjoy most of my purchases, but my favorite of all is probably the Moroccan Rub pictured above. If you can only spend about $5 at a purchase-party, this will help you out tremendously. This rub really turned me on to the more exotic spices I use today. I like to keep one of these on-hand my for when I’m feeling like I just want to keep it simple. I’m not a big red meat-eater anymore, but I occasionally get a craving so I tried my Moroccan Rub on steak with a variation of my traditional steak marinade.
Lady Sensory’s Moroccan Manfood Steak:
1 tbsp Pampered Chef Moroccan Rub
Cracked black pepper and salt, to taste (I’d say about a 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of each)
1 cup of Worcestershire Sauce (I use the Lea & Perrins kind in the paper-wrapped bottle)
1/2 cup full-bodied red wine (Red Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, or a blend of these)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or pressed with the above-mentioned Pampered Chef garlic press)
2 lean-cut steaks, like top sirloin or filet mignon (beef tenderloin)
1 tbsp olive oil
Rub steaks well with a small amount of oil, Moroccan Rub, salt, and pepper and allow to sit on a plate in the fridge for a half hour to one hour while you mix up your marinade. In a shallow container, combine the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, red wine and remaining oil and whisk together. Place the steaks in marinade and allow to sit in the fridge for about 4 hours, flipping once. Prepare steaks on the grill or under the broiler to your desired temperature (I like mine medium-rare so I do about 4-5 minutes on each side under my broiler; steaks were about 1.5 inches thick). If you like yours more well done, add a minute or two on each side. If you choose to do larger steaks, like strip steak, trim off a bit if the fat and increase the recipe to accommodate the size of the steak. I think you could probably use a flank or hanger steak but that cut doesn’t appeal to me as much. Once you have removed steaks from the grill or broiler, allow them to rest for 10 minutes. I served steak over salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar dressing, alongside mushroom risotto and the sweet potato fries below, but you could totally pair it with your own choice of potato or veggie side dish.
Lady Sensory’s Simple Spiced Sweet Potato Fries
I use one potato per person and this recipe could season 1-2 sweet potatoes, so increase recipe as needed.
1 tbsp Pampered Chef Moroccan Rub
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with foil and brush with a small amount of olive oil. This will help prevent sticking and makes for easier clean-up. Clean sweet potato and peel if desired. I leave the skin on. Slice in half and cut into wedges. Place wedges into bowl. Combine dry ingredients and sprinkle over potato wedges. Then drizzle with remaining oil. You may need to add a little more oil, depending on the size of your potato. Toss and rub the oil and seasoning mixture onto the surface of the wedges until well incorporated. Place in a single layer on the cookie sheet and allow to cook for about a half-hour, turning the fries over once, and keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. These can caramelize really quickly! Remove from oven and serve with ketchup if that is your preference (balsamic vinegar also pairs nicely), but these are fine on their own.
Since this is on the healthier side, I wouldn’t classify this as the kind of ‘Manfood’ that my father, Crazy Bob, used to enjoy at random diners while traveling for work. But, I’m pretty sure a dude wouldn’t complain about having a plate of tasty moo-moo meat placed in front of him. And if he does, he gets to wear that dinner home.