Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This morning, my friend Janet and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins. She did an awesome job for her first pumpkin carving (at left). Mine was a bit of a vampire this year, and I love they way he glows on our front porch!

Hope you all have a safe, fun, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Dining Decor

I am having some Ghouls over for dinner tonight, and decided to spruce up the house with some easy Halloween decor. Here is the dining room:
I used the same orange fabric from our Gator party, and added a cute cutout spider web runner from Pier 1. Here's a closer shot. 
The black wrought iron candlesticks were my grandmother's, and I have no idea how old they are. The blood taper candles are also from Pier 1. The spider is from the dollar store and I just suspended him from the chandelier.

In the background, you may see the mummy tray. I wanted to create one like Martha, and since we had a vintage glass head from a garage sale trip years ago, it was just too easy! I simplified Martha's recipe since I didn't want to deal with anything sticky. It came out just as I had hoped!

  • Start with the head. You can get a Styrofoam one or a glass one, and actually I have seen vintage reproductions of my glass head at Pier 1! 
  • Next, get two large rolls of gauze. The night before, heat up some hot water and either regular tea bags or instant coffee on the stove. 
  • Once it is hot and brown in color, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, or until it is at a safe temperature to touch. 
  • Place each roll of gauze, unraveled, into the pot for about a minute.  
  • Remove, wring out in the sink (do not rinse), and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. You need to let the gauze dry out for about 12-18 hours.  
  • Once you have the gauze dry, simply wrap it around your head until it looks like a mummy! I used about 1 1/2 rolls around the head and then draped the rest along the tray. 
I used a large silver tray from Salvation Army ($2), and after cleaning it, covered it with napkins, since I will be putting food around the mummy.  A super easy project that I will definitely replicate next year!

More to come this weekend as Halloween comes. Check back soon for more fun and fast projects before Halloween night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dazzling Mini Pumpkins

So I did not get to my pumpkin carving last night, but I did do a pumpkin project that is just as cute: Dazzling Mini Pumpkins!

This project can be super easy or super hard, depending on how intricate you want to get. It does take a little bit of time, but can be done by adults and kids of all ages. 

Start with mini pumpkins, or in this case, I used white marbled gourds sold in a pack of 3 for $2. I purchased self adhesive round rhinestones and elongated black beads at Joanns, as well as some superglue for this project. The round self adhesive rhinestones were easy to work with (no glue needed!), but I did find myself tired of peeling off the paper from such tiny things.  They easily made cute dots and letters. I made up the font of my letters, but yo could put in a little extra effort to find one you like online and try to replicate it.

The elongated black beads were much easier to work with to make the lined pumpkin, but needed to be glued on. I chose super glue so that they would stick and stay immediately. However, this is not recommended for children. My suggestion would be to use a craft glue and maybe bead the top half, wait for it to dry, and then flip it over and bead the bottom half.
You could certainly buy larger rhinestones and decorate a larger pumpkin too. I just love the little ones, and this great project is not only for Halloween, but can be left around the house through Fall!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin + Chocolate = Heaven!
 A few weeks ago, I found a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, and had to make them! I can't remember where they are from, but I managed to save the recipe on my computer so that I could make them before Halloween. These cookies are amazing! The consistency is more like a pumpkin bread, but so tasty nonetheless! Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two greased baking sheets. Combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. I used my KitchenAid mixer, which just makes adding ingredients so much easier! In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Next, slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mix. Then mix in the milk and the vanilla. Once the batter is done, use a spatula to hand mix in the chocolate chips. Spoon the mixture onto baking sheets 2" apart, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking racks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Tonight I am carving my pumpkin. It is not as big, or will be as lavish, as some I have done in the past, but the pastime of pumpkin carving is one I have to do year after year.

If you have never carved a pumpkin, or need some tips, Martha Stewart has a great tutorial here. Or for an easier reference, you can go to my post last year on Last Minute Pumpkin Carving Tips.

Wish me luck that I make a good one this year (photos to come!). Good luck with your pumpkins!!!

How To Be Scary

My college roommate Jennifer Valdez is a meteorologist and special events reporter in Atlanta. This morning, she sent me a hilarious video with some good points on how to be scary this Halloween. Click the picture or link below to see the video!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Spirits

In honor of this weekend's festivities, we bring you a special post of wines with "spirit" to serve this Halloween. You won't find any whites here, only blood red varietals with bite!

Vampire Vineyards, 2007 Dracula Syrah
Paso Robles, California

Armida Winery, 2006 PoiZin (Zinfandel)
Dry Creek Valley, California

Orin Swift, 2007 The Prisioner
St. Helena, California

Vampire Vineyards, 2004 Vampire Merlot
Paso Robles, California

Spellbound Wines, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

R Wines, 2007 EVIL Cabernet Sauvignon
South Australia, Australia

Twisted Wines, 2007 Merlot

And if you want to make some scary mixed drinks, check out our Halloween Spirits post from last year here.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Freebies!

Planning a Halloween party? Here are some awesome freebies from fellow bloggers.

Artificial Eyeballs courtesy of The Graphics Fairy. Simply print, cut, and add to any photo or artwork in your house. They remind me of the eyes that follow you at Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.

Blush Printables has really fantastic Bottle Wraps  perfect for your Halloween Cocktail Party! They also have adorable straw flags too! I love how they look aged, and great on different sized bottles.

If you want to get a little more creative and make your own, Centsational Girl has a Bottle Wraps How To Guide on how to design your own.
The AMAZING Stefanie at A Brooklyn Limestone created these Toe Tag Invitations that you can simply print and write in for a last minute Halloween bash. Check out her site for more incredible ideas for Halloween. She is the best!

I have always loved these creepy mice playing on the stairs (courtesy of Martha Stewart). You can go to her site to download and print these here. She also has other clip art that you can use to decorate here.

Another great site I found is that of This Fresh Fossil. she has adorable clip art of Halloween Tags, Creepy Mice, Black Cats, and even a great Halloween card to give to family and friends.

And I love these Tombstone Place Cards from Go Against The Grain. There are so many different uses for them too! You can also use them a tags on goody bags, food labels, or even put them on glass jars filled with candy on your Halloween table.

And if you have any more freebies to help make your Halloween party even more spooktacular, let us know!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be
something, but to be someone."  
-Coco Chanel

I am off trying to be someone lately. Regular parties and posts will resume shortly. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Last night we hosted a University of Florida (our alma mater) vs. Alabama party for one of the biggest football games of the year. While the game did not have the outcome we were hoping for, the party was a great time had by all. The food we served was typical game day food, and the decorations were from our Gator collection, having been fans since we were young. I made the two sided invitations on Microsoft Publisher, using some free clip art found on the web:

Years ago, my dad, also a big Gator fan, was given this plaster 5 foot alligator as a gift. He passed him on to us a few years ago. Normally, we keep him on our porch, but he made a great centerpiece on our dining room table. I like how he is a bit intimidating! I used some orange fabric I got at Joann's for $1.50/yard and then used some blue place mats from HomeGoods ($5/pack 4) as the runner. The orange utensil and plate caddy was found on clearance at Dollar General for $1.50. All of the Gator plates and platters were gifts that have been given to me over the years, but you can find them online and in stores at Bealls and Gator Haven. They really make a table setting more festive and into the college spirit!
As part of the tailgate food fare, we served classic 7-layer dip and Buffalo Chicken Dip with Tostitos Scoops.

We also served hamburgers and hot dogs right off the grill, and they seemed to get the cheer of approval from Mr. 2 Bits. The foam Gator heads we bought at the dollar store last year - they are actually hats but looked like Gators lurking out of the Florida swamp on our tables. And the football condiment bowls and spreading knives came as sets from Dollar General for $2 each. It was also the first time I have tried the new Oscar Mayer Angus Hotdogs (because they were on sale and I had a coupon), and I have to say they were delicious!

For dessert, I made some Pumpkin Bread muffins with cream cheese frosting. Every year, I seriously buy stock in Williams-Sonoma's quick breads. They are the easiest things to make, and even give as presents or housewarming gifts. I made some Gator toothpicks (tutorial to come) to help decorate!

And lastly, there were a few goodies for our guests to take with them. I really wanted some Orange and Blue candies to have on the table too, but it is difficult to find Blue candies this time of year. I went to our local Cracker Barrel, because they always have a great selection of fun candies and in an array of colors. As I walked in, there before me was an entire table of Florida Gator apparel and treats!

These pre-wrapped mints, which I labeled "Gator Mints for Gator Breath", were $4 for a pack of 100, and the football was made of crispy chocolate for $3. And in case our guests needed a little extra Gator spirit, we had University of Florida Silly Bandz for them to show their true team colors. Hopefully this party will bring us some luck for the rest of the season... Go Gators!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cream Cheese Peppermint Candies

Here is the recipe my mother used to make the pink cream cheese peppermint candies:

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp peppermint oil
4 cups confectioners' sugar
a few drops of food coloring, if desired

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Ina  medium bowl, beat cream cheese, shortening, and peppermint oil with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until well combined. Dough will be soft and elastic.

Roll dough into small balls, and place each ball on prepared baking sheet. Press fork into each ball to flatten. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap, and chill mints overnight.

Optional: Crush peppermint candies and/or candy canes. Before flattening the balls with a fork, sprinkle the ball with the peppermint pieces. Then flatten with a fork, pressing the pieces into the candy for an added mint touch!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - The PINK Party

As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and PINK is the universal color for awareness of this terrible disease. Two week ago, I hosted a ladies "PINK Party" rally brunch for our local sorority alumnae team to participate in this weekend's Race For The Cure Breast Cancer Awareness Walk/Run. We raised money for the team, and had a delicious brunch, with all PINK inspired food. Check it out!

Bagels with PINK cream cheese and Lox (Salmon)

PINK Penne Pasta (Made with Vodka Sauce) with Grilled Chicken and Shrimp

PINK Watermelon Salad (recipe found here)

A PINK Dessert Table, featuring:

PINK Cream Cheese Candies, that my mother made (recipe to follow), and Homemade PINK swirl cupcakes.

And who could forget the drinks?! We had PINK Lemonade and PINK Flamingos (vodka, triple sec, grenadine, and orange juice) to celebrate!

To decorate, I used simple pink and black felt table runners that I had made previously for a wedding shower. Since most of the food was pink, I decided to let it stand out by using my clear vintage glassware. White plates would have the same effect. I tied nameplates on each food item to let people know what they were eating, using simple ric rack in PINK and cutting out black paper circles. Just hole punch the top and use a gold or silver pen to write on the black. Top the table with some pink roses and you are set. A quick and easy party idea for any occasion!

And because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I encourage you to visit the Susan G. Komen Foundation website here for events in your area, ways to donate, get involved, or even just how to give yourself an at home breast exam. Take a few minutes to educate yourself and get involved, to save someone's life, if not that of your own. Here's to PINK!