I am super excited to host a spooky early Halloween dinner
tonight for three of my most favorite people. Joining my husband
and I will be my cousin Lindsey and her husband Gino. Lindsey and I
were very close growing up and she is like the sister that I never
had. We spent many Halloween's together as kids, often being forced
to eat hot dogs at our grandma's house for what seemed like an
eternity when what I really wanted to do was canvas the
neighborhood for candy. We lived in the country and houses were
really far apart, so if you wanted to accumulate any candy at all,
you really had to get a move on.
Anyway, it's so fun now that we are both married gals because the
only two people that might have more to talk about than we do are
our husbands. The four of us always have a great time, and it has
been years since Lindsey and I have gotten to spend Halloween
together. So this year, to mark their autumn visit to Asheville,
one of our activities for the weekend will be a spooktacular dinner
Here is a little preview for you. Behold the tablescape!
Here is a little preview for you. Behold the tablescape!
I whipped up a few paper luminaries, which I have
been a little addicted to lately, but the real show stopper is the
bat tree centerpiece. This could not have been easier or less
expensive and the pictures do it no justice. It came out so cool, I
could not be more excited about it!
I picked up two twigs from the yard, sprayed them off in the sink
and let them dry, cut small bats out of black card stock, arranged
the twigs in an orange glass vase that I had on hand and strung the
bats from them with black string. When the candles are lit in the
luminaries below, the heat from the flame makes the bats flutter
about. The effect is impressive, especially for how totally easy it
was to construct. Oh, and a big thank you to the Graphics Fairy for
the awesome images!
Happy haunting this weekend!
The pumpkin carving party was a success and a good time was had by
all, including the hostess. I thought I would share a few photos
and some recipes for the treats I whipped up. The pumpkin sugar
cookie cut-outs were a hit. I had a wonderful time baking and
decorating them. I used the classic Crisco
sugar cookie recipe and made my own royal
icing for decorations. I love the royal icing for sugar cookies
because it sets up really nice and makes it easy to display or
package the finished product.
The dining room looked ready for pumpkin carving fun with my
paper jack-o-lumiaries and
paper table cloth with spider web runner.
And the treat table, with candy corn and
Martha's candy corn cookies, along with the pumpkin
sugar-cookie cut outs, was a crowd favorite. I made the paper
scroll "TREATS" sign as a last-minute addition. I printed the text
our onto a piece of parchment card stock, trimmed it like a ribbon
and used the closed edge of a pair of scissors to curl the paper
enough for it to stand on it's own.
Everybody really got into the carving
We had some pretty creative guests and the final result was
I great idea for entertaining this fall is to host a pumpkin
carving party. I am planning one for this Sunday afternoon. It's a
great party to have with children, but you are never too old to
carve a pumpkin! We are having all adults at our party, so we might
skip the apple bobbing, but I have plenty of fun in store for my
The party I am hosting is BYOP (P stands for pumpkin). If you are
feeling like an outing to start the festivities, meet friends at a
local pumpkin patch to start the fun by selecting the perfect
pumpkin. If you don't know where to find a pumpkin patch near you,
here is a
great source for locating a pumpkin patch in your area.
Another option is to provide pumpkins for your guests. Maybe you
had a bumper crop yourself this year or you know a local grower
that will give you a great price on pumpkins, either way, use hay
bails, mums and maybe even an wheelbarrow to
set up a cute display by your front door and let party goers
pick a pumpkin on the way in.
Next step is to prepare for some carving. Pumpkin carving can get
messy, so plan to cover your table with newspaper or, to make
things even more festive, take this tip from me and use brown craft
paper. I used a sharpy marker and a ruler to draw a spider web
"table runner" on the craft paper for added cuteness:
Have some pumpkin carving tools in place, like a variety of kitchen
knives, a few
pumpkin carving kits, and some
Sharpie markers, and some trash bags for the pumpkin
And what is a party without some snacks. The menu at my house is
popcorn, toasted pumpkin seeds (of course) and pumpernickel
pretzels with pumpkin dip. For dinner we are having vegetable soup
and whole wheat rolls. And for dessert: Martha's
candy corn cookies,
pumpkin sugar cookie cut outs, and of course, pumpkin pie.
For drinks, I'll serve local apple cider and a local Octoberfest
As with any party, it can be as simple or as detailed as you would
like to make it, but a pumpkin carving party is a great reason for
friends to get together this time of year. You can put on scary
movies or watch some football. You can get creative and make the
carving a contest and offer prizes for the winner. Or you can
simply take a photo of the finished products, all aglow, at the end
of the evening. Regardless, guests are sure to relax and have fun
at this casual fall -fun get together.
This weekend I hosted a
Breakfast at Tiffany's themed lingerie shower for my good friend
Michelle, a fashion designer and model. She is having an October
wedding, to be held in a lovely theater, and her theme for the big
day is Old Hollywood Glamor. I felt that a shower inspired by one
of the most iconic movies of all time, would be more than
appropriate and I had a wonderful time working on all the little
details that made it special.
Let's start with the favors. I totally scored at the Dollar Tree with these Tiffany blue ring boxes
that came complete with a white satin ribbon tied in a bow. To fill
them, I used Martha Dahling's,
recipe and tutorial to make
candy gems. What
could be more decedent than dining on diamonds? I can't think of a
single thing. I used blue food coloring and crème de menth candy
flavoring to add some pizazz and the multifaceted candy mold
yielded rock candy in many different gem cuts: princess, emerald,
round, cushion -cut, pear. They turned out quite lovely and tasty
For the door prizes, I used my cricut to create mini martini note
cards with lined envelopes, all packaged in Tiffany blue sleeves
tied with a satin ribbon. Cheers!
For added fun I hit the Hobby Lobby website for tiny tiaras, giant
blingy plastic diamond rings, and strands of 'pearls' (iridescent
white Mardi Gras beads). I filled long stemmed Tiffany blue martini
glasses that I already had on had with the 'jewels' to decorate the
buffet and gift tables, and party-goers used them to decorate
For the beverage bar, I purchased tall glass bottles of European
style soda and removed the labels. I made tags for the sodas and
also for my apothecary style drink dispenser, and I filled the
drink dispenser with a blue champagne cocktail I called "Wedded
Bliss." I used champagne, pineapple juice and blue Curacao to
create the concoction, and it was a hit. I beaded black cocktail
stirrers with iridescent plastic beads and set out small clear
plastic cups so that party-goers could easily help themselves to
the cocktail of their choosing. The concept for the beverage bar
was inspired by
Also note how cute those
little ring box favors look all stacked on a cake plate!
With the help of Rachel Evans from Lovely.Crafty.Home and the mother-of-the-bride,
Elizabeth Holland, I served: stuffed mushrooms, bre and fig mini
pastry cups, mini chicken and walnut salad sandwiches, hummus with
vegetables and pita points, crackers with vegetable cream cheese
tapinad, star fruit skewers.
We had gourmet cheese
straws and edible gems for snacks:
And for dessert, what Breakfast at Tiffany's themed party would be
complete without a Tiffany & Co. Box cake.
For the cake, I used
Barbara Streisand's Never
Fail Chocolate Cake recipe from the Beautiful Wives
substituted dark chocolate for milk chocolate in the recipe and
filled the triple layer cake with dark chocolate ganash. I then
iced the cake in chocolate butter cream icing to provide a base for
the marshmallow fondant. I have never worked with fondant and
friend and fellow cake baker
Lacey Graham recommended trying the marshmallow
variety. It was fun to make and very fun to work with. And, I am
not usually a fan of the flavor of fondant icing, but let me tell
you, this stuff is yummy. I was so pleased with the way the cake
turned out, especially for my first attempt in a new baking medium.
I served the cake on an 8x8 square cake-board (no serving plate)
and placed it atop another Tiffany blue box with a white satin
ribbon in the middle of the buffet table. It made for a very pretty
and unusual display. And golly was it ever delicious!
That's the cake in the middle of the buffet table!
Some other fun party details included the "congratulations dahling"
banner made with my cricut. Each banner tag was suspended from an
iridescent plastic bead, for added bling. Also,
bubbles with movie
lines were a hit at the party, and after party.
For added ambiance, I lit lots of candles and had the movie showing
on the television in the living room for background. I killed the
audio on the movie and instead played a collection of jazzy
standards and sambas to fit with the period of the film.
The party was so fun and fabulous. Even though we used plastic cups
and paper plates and napkins, the style of the event gave it an air
of class. As the hostess, I was really able to relax and enjoy
myself because all of the food and beverage was self-serve. For a
shower game, party-goers split into teams, elected a model and
fashioned a wedding gown (complete with accessories) out of one
roll of toilet paper. Then, in honor of the bride-to-be, the
'dress' models worked a 'runway' through the center of the room,
showing off their team's fashion creations. It was hysterical.
Michelle judged the dresses and modeling skills of the contestants
to select one winning team---and let me tell you, it was not an
easy job - these girls knew how to WORK. All-in-all the night was a
smashing success and the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" theme made a
great platform on which to plan an unique and very fun
I have so much to write about the tea
party on Sunday and many fun photos and ideas to
Here is a sneak peak!
There are few things that make me as happy as adorable favor
boxes, and I am very pleased with the turn out on these little
beauties. To make them, I used this
free template from
I Still Love You and the same cardstock and grosgrain polka-dot
ribbon I used to create the tea party invitations. Each box is
filled with earl grey tea bags for my guests to take home. Just
Fondue is a great way to have a dinner party. It's fun (they
really should call it Fun-do). It's inexpensive (how else can you
fee you and five of your closest peeps on four dollars worth of
meat). And, the sky is the limit (anytime you can use left-over
craft paper as a place mat is a good time),
Here are a few snaps of my most recent fondue party:
I used the leftovers from a retro looking holiday stack of 12x12
craft card stock as place mats-an added bonus for easy clean up. I
also used the same coordinating papers to make pace cards. One
fondue pot is all you need for up to six people. Get all of your
fondues ready on the stove, and chop and plate all of your dippers
before the party. Serve the cheese fondue first as the appetizer.
When guests are finished serve a small salad to cleanse the palate
and allow time to soak the remaining cheese out of your fondue pot.
Wash the pot and move on to your broth fondue and dippers. When you
are ready to move on, send your guests to the self serve coffee
station while you give the pot a quick wash. Now it's time for the
chocolate! A fondue party turns a meal into an event, and the
self-serve atmosphere lends itself to a fun and casual
Here are the recipes I used.
Classic Cheese Fondue
1 ½ c peach cider
½ lb shredded Gruyere
½ lb shredded Emmentaler
2 T corn starch
2 T lemon juice
½ t garlic power
Nutmeg and white pepper to taste
Pour cider into pot and heat over medium high heat. When liquid
starts to boil, add cheese. Stir until melted and combined. In a
small bowl, whisk corn starch and lemon juice until combined. Add
to cheese mixture along with spices and stir.
crusty bread cut in cubes (check with your local bakery and see if
they will sell you bread heals on the cheep. This will give you a
wide variety of bread for very little money) and apple
A small dinner salad of your choosing.
5 1/4 c. vegetable/chicken broth
2 T. cumin
2 T. jerk seasoning
2 T. black pepper, cracked
1/4 c. orange juice, fresh-squeezed
2 T. lime juice, fresh squeezed
1 T. garlic, minced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
Instructions: Put it all in a pot and cook it.
Cubed steak (the 'stir fry' cuts sold in the butcher's case)
Baby potatoes (par-boiled)
Sauces (all store baught):
Apricot Chipotle beef marinade
Sour cream based lemon dill
Classic Chocolate Fondue
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate
2 c heavy cream
Instructions: combine chocolate and cream in a double boiler and
melt slowly, stirring constantly.
Strawberries, Bananas, Marshmallows
Set out small bowls of chocolate sprinkles, crushed candy bars,
grahm cracker crumbs, and anything else wonderful you can think of,
to 'double dip' the dippers in
Be sure you have plenty of wine. A robust red will pair well enough
with the cheese, beef and chocolate, or you could get fancy and
pair a different wine with each course.
Oh, and a cleaver e-vite is never a bad idea for a super casual
gathering among friends