Sunday, October 31, 2010

What makes a great Halloween get-together?

Mummy Dogs

Candy Corn Cupcakes
(mmm...not my favorite cupcake ever. I made the frosting recomended on Our Best Bites and was not impressed. They still looked fun...)
White chocolate dipped pretzel rods with Halloween sprinkles

Nutter Butter Ghosts, courtesy of my sis-in-law, Shanna

A "cauldron" or cooler bubbling with homemade rootbeer...yum!

Eyeball (grapes) salad

2 snazzy grandparents and a pirate throwing gang signs :)

"It's the Great Pumpkin!" Charlie Brown

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Our Best Bites" Love

Have you seen the food website

It is fabulous. Sara and Kate, the masterminds, are amazing. Great recipes, beautiful food photography, super helpful tutorials... what's not to love? I have a long list of recipes I would like to try from Our Best Bites. If you have not checked them out I highly recommend it. You won't be dissapointed.

As we speak, I am munching on Cinnamon Bun Popcorn, made with my $2 garage sale popcorn popper. It is absolutely sinful! The cinnamon and white chocolate take it over the top from your typical caramel corn. I HIGHLY recommend this recipe...but be prepared to eat the whole batch in one sitting! Unless of course you have more restraint than me... :)

A new grocery store in town, Sun Harvest, ran a sale last week on 88 cents a pound strawberries! I lost count of how many pounds I bought...My freezer is pretty well stocked with freezer jam so I had to come up with another way to use up all the strawberries. I came across a recipe for Strawberry Syrup on Our Best Bites that I just had to try. Amazing! I have sampled it drizzled over crepes, Krista's Buttermilk Waffles, and Double Chocolate Waffles (another Our Best Bites recipe!) and can say without a doubt that it is wonderful... and I can think of a gazillion other ways to use it too. And you can freeze it. Love!

So easy and so worth the effort.

Other recipes I have tried recently -
Chunky Monkey Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup (I was a little skeptical about this one, but MMMMMM...the flavors blend beautifully!)
Caramel Toffee Fruit Dip - the name says it all!
Pizzookies easy, delicious, lovely... warm chocolate chip cookie meets vanilla ice cream.

Recipes on the menu for our family Halloween get-together tomorrow:
Candy Corn Cupcakes
Mummy Dogs

You can be sure I will share pictures (and reviews) of our little Halloween party come Monday, so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Tis now the very witching time of night"...the makings of a Halloween Dinner Party

Last night we had our annual Davis Halloween party - and I must say it was my favorite one yet! Here's a look at the details and decorations:

The theme for the decorations: Black and White
The costume theme: Classic Horror Films (to see pictures of the costumes, check out my family blog at
Dinner theme: Italian, multi-course, sit down dinner for 16 people. The food was all SO delicous!
Course 1: Appetizers and drinks = bruschetta and 3 mocktail choices
Course 2: Salad = Fabulous salad with strawberris, feta, and candied pecans
Course 3: Soup = "Kidney Soup" (Minestrone)
Course 4: Main Dish = Manicotti with garlic bread
Course 5: Dessert = pumpkin cheesecake or triple chocolate cheesecake

Enjoy some pictures of the decorations! I had so much fun putting it all together! I couldn't have done it without my fellow Halloween lover, Elizabeth, who provided a good portion of the serving pieces. If you would like more specific details, please leave me a comment and I would be happy to give you more specifics. I will say that "Dollar Tree" was definitely my go-to source for this party... (click on each photo to enlarge for more detail)

Dinner Table 1

The place settings - courtesy of Elizabeth

Dinner Table 2

The appetizer buffet with mocktail menu

The front porch

I love mason jars with votives to create some magic on the front porch...
It was certainly a night to remember!
Thanks to everyone who came and helped make the night special!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What do you do with a bushel of apples?

We visited a local apple orchard last week. Nothing like picking apples to help you feel "fall like"! Aside from making another Caramel Apple Galette, I decided to make some apple butter with some of the granny smith apples we picked using my trusty crockpot. Oh how I love my crockpot. I don't think I have professed my devotion to my crockpot on this blog yet. It is amazing. My life would not be the same without it :).

So back to the apple butter... I love this recipe because it is so easy yet yields delicous results. If you are an apple butter lover, you should definitely try this recipe. I love smothering biscuits, toast, rolls, just about any carbohydrate with apple butter. And I think I may try making some of THIS with the apple butter too...mmmm!

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored, and finely chopped
(3 medium size apples = 1 pound)
4 cups white sugar (I do 1/2 white sugar, 1/2 brown sugar)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix all other ingredients. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on high 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze. You can adjust the amount of sugar based on the sweetness of your apples. I also like to add about 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Usually I get this cooking late in the evening and let it cook overnight - such a delicious smell to wake up to!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Inspiration not Intimidation...and shower details

Oh how I love to plan a good party! It gives me something to think about, search the internet about, shop for, decorate for, make food for, etc. Planning a party covers alot of my personal interests. There is just something about a good party. The way it makes people feel. The appreciation. The memories. The enjoyment. The little details that make people smile. I can't quite explain it. I love to be a part of it. It gives me deep satisfaction. Of course I have those moments of stress where I think "Why do I do this to myself? Why do I set my expectations so high?" but when all is said and done, I am usually very grateful for the opportunity and very pleased with the results. This past weekend was no different.

I started planning this shower back in June. I do not say that to make anyone feel like they can't have a beautiful event if they do not plan months in advance! Sometimes I feel like I intimidate people with the way I host a party. That people won't invite me to their event for fear I may judge their efforts. That people won't let me help them plan events because of the big way I do things. Yes, I have high expectations for MYSELF. Yes, I like to plan BIG. Yes, I want only my BEST work and effort to be put out there with my name on it. But I do not judge, or stick up my nose, or criticize other people's efforts the way I do my own. I hold myself to a very high personal standard. It can be exhausting to entertain the way I do and it is a choice that I make for myself, but understand it is not always a choice that is right for others. I always hope that my efforts inspire, not intimidate :).

With all that being said (Thanks for bearing with me - I needed to get that off my chest!) here are some of the details that went into the Jungle Safari Baby Shower I hosted this past weekend. Katelyn, it was truly a pleasure! Thanks for letting me be a part of your memories!

The cookie buffet was my favorite part of the whole shower. I found the original idea for the buffet HERE including the names I gave each cookie.
The mosquito net: After pricing mosquito nets online, I decided to make my own mosquito net to add to the jungle feel. I used 9 yards of white tulle and an embroidery hoop. I purchased the tulle at Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon you can print online. It was super easy and you can find directions to make your own HERE. This would also make a cute bed canopy over a crib or little girl's bed.
The big glass jars: Since I started planning this shower several months in advance, I was able to find all but one of the jars at garage sales over the summer for between 75 cents and $2 a piece. That is quite an improvement from the $7 to $12 price tags you will find in stores!
Ribbon: I am in love with ribbon! Ribbon adds such a special touch to everything and makes it look like a million bucks! Shop Hobby Lobby's 50% off sale, use Michael's coupons, or check out the dollar stores selection of ribbon for ribbon on a budget. And I don't throw away the strips of ribbon I use to decorate things. I have a big jar full of different lengths of ribbon that I reuse for other projects.
The giant palm leaves: I found these on clearance for 74 cents a piece at Target's end of summer sale. I wasn't sure how I was going to use them at the time, but knew they would be great with the jungle theme. I love the impact they make.
It just wouldn't be a party without an appearance from my Dollar Tree hurricanes! I have gotten so much use out of this $2 investment. If you haven't made any yet I highly recommend them. They are so versatile. For a tutorial on how to make them click HERE. I added a fake fern (from Dollar Tree) around the inner candle to carry on the jungle theme. Candlelight sets a beautiful tone for any event and make everything seem magical!

Underneath the hurricanes on the table, I added a sheet of "lace" cardstock to jazz it up a bit. I love the texture and interest it adds and I found them for 40% off in the scrapbook section at Michael's.

I love food labels. I think every buffet table should have food labels. I don't always do food labels but I often find myself wishing that I had. It makes it so much easier for hosts and guests to know what they are being served. I simply found different wooden animals from both Dollar Tree (in a pack of 3 pictured below) and Hobby Lobby, glued them to animal print notecards I found in the $1 bin at Michael's, and typed out the name of the dish on the computer. SO SO easy!

Pack of 8 notecards for $1 I found at Michael's

The milk jugs. I am in love with them. I have had so many people asking me where I found them. I got them at Ross for cheap and I love the simple statement they make. And they are plastic not glass... It's those small details that make a difference.

These removable wall stickers came from Dollar Tree for $1. I wasn't sure how I was going to use them at first, but the morning of the shower I had a thought...

Put them on the entry way mirror to carry on the jungle theme for guests to see as they come in! Small, simple, inexpensive details. They are what make everything just a little bit more special.

So what do you think? I would love some feedback so don't hesitate to leave a comment! Got questions? Leave me a comment and I will be sure to answer them. You can check out all the baby shower pictures HERE if you missed them previously.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thrifty Finds and Makeovers

I know, I know. This isn't the post I promised with details of the baby shower. That will be my next post. I promise :). For now I just wanted to share some thrifty finds and a few makeovers of my garage sale treasures. I didn't go garage saleing this past weekend due to the baby shower. These are my finds from last weekend:

3 legged table - $2
(see what I may do with this HERE)
gold star - 75 cents
bag of dominoes - $1
(I will show you what I did with these later...)
bag of corks - $1
(make great vase fillers/dollar store hurricane fillers!)
black frame - 50 cents
cute honey jar - 50 cents
And my favorite find:
Set of 4 platters with iron serving rack for $3! That's right. $3.
I was in love! I have a weakness for serving dishes. And with 4 different colors to choose It was practically brand new. And the price...I could go on.

And just to give you a taste of what I have done with some past garage sale finds, and so you don't think I just buy random junk (at least that is what my husband says sometimes...):
Remember these finds from a couple weeks ago?

Here is the 25 cent green vase today:

Nestled in my Halloween vignette with a nice coat of Heirloom White spray paint, some spanish moss, and sticks spray painted black. And of course a Dollar Tree crow perched in the branches. I think this works just a bit better than the candle I had there previously (the candle found its way to the mantle).
It just makes me smile when I look at this :)
Here is the 50 cent chunky frame with a coat of Heirloom White and some calendar art above the toilet in our newly repainted bathroom. This whole piece cost $1.50 for the frame and the calendar.
Gotta love a thrifty makeover!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's a jungle out shower :)

Here are some pictures from the jungle themed baby shower I hosted today. I will be posting more details of the shower over the next several days so stay tuned!

The cookie buffet

"Chunky Monkey" = Banana Nut Oatmeal

"Elephant Snacks" = Peanut Butter

"Cheetah Chips" = Chocolate Chip

"Wildlife Reserve" = Animal Crackers (regular and chocolate mix)

"Crocodile Bites" = gingerSNAPS

Milk to wash down the cookies!

The food table

"Zebra Bites" - white/chocolate marbled mini cupcakes

Safari Sandwiches with various sauces, lettuce and tomato

Garlic and Herb Mayo, Pesto Mayo, and Honey Dijon Mustard

"Crocodile Teeth" - Apples and Caramel Toffee Dip

Black Bean Safari Salsa

Jungle Juice = lime slush

My fabulous Dollar Tree hurricanes!