Decorating, Cooking, Party Ideas, Travel, and a Halloween addiction

Friday, November 19, 2010

Clearence finds

Usually this time of year I cut back on my thrifty-decor spending because of the Holiday season. That of course entails a lot of $$$. Gifts, decorating, baking, and holiday cooking take priority over the thrill of the hunt. But when I saw the extremely low prices on these items, I couldn't resist. The platter was $2.98 {originally 12}, and the cups were $.98 each. What a bargain!

My plans for decorating this season are-
Living Room and Hall- Enchanted Woodland theme
Kitchen and Dining room- Retro red and white with some turquoise accents{The perfect backdrop for winter creatures like polar bears and penguins}
Guest bath - Winter Wonderland snowflake style
I will post some pics soon
Hope you all are finding lots of treasure to add some sparkle to your holiday home.
P.S. I already put my tree up
P.P.S.  I can't wait to put up more holiday decorations.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Halloween Party Post Mortem

This Halloween party is in the bag. We had such a great time. The food, the people and the costumes were all impressive. I actually had a record number of trick-or-treaters. In the four years leading up to this Halloween, I have had a total of 3 trick-or-treaters. This year I had probably 40 kids come and ask for candy. I give all the credit to the big kitty looking out the windows.  Because I was already in costume for the party, the kids all got a thrill when I answered the door in full on Medusa garb. I was so surprised by the record numbers, all the candy I had out for decoration in bowls was gone a quarter way through the party. Oh well, probably for the best anyway. I certainly did not need any more sugar after everything I devoured. But in my own defense, I was the hostess, I was duty- bound to eat some of everything that people bought. Plus, I had to taste test my own creations to make sure they were acceptable...... At least that's what I keep telling myself. ;p

Some of the goodies I gave people in their take home trick-or-treat bags

snarky gravestone sugar cookies

Pumpkin hand pies

Creepy cheese and frightening fruit tray- my time spent catering very apparent

Vegetarian gello-brain. Strawberry-lychee flavor,
Thanks to everyone who brought other food.  No pics to prove it, but it is appreciated.

Party People
Your hostess Medusa

Nikki, Mistress of the night{shift}

Cheryl, the wicked witch of the East{errr E-lectrical}
Joe-zo the clown
Julia Audubon, Bird Watcher Extrodinaire
Not sure if she was supposed to be a school marm, a nun or what.
 I personally believe she was channelling Julie Andrews from the sound of Music and came as Sister Mary-Margaret

Father Richard the flirtatious

Annette as a dragonfly {I still say she's actually a love bug} and Reina, as herself a lady who had to close the store that night and open it the next morning.

John as Elvis during the white jumpsuit era ....{Uh thank ya, thank ya verra much} 

The only picture I was able to catch of my mother in law {corner} the whole night, She and Joe went as a pair of clowns
Many other people came, but I didn't get any more pics of
Pumpkins from the pumpkin carving festivities

Margaret's kitty and a sickle moon

Julia's kitty face

My spider "Sal"
All in all I'd say everyone had fun. Another year in the books.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great finds

This past week was my birthday, so I indulged myself in a Goodwill spree. Well. not a real spree as I only found 3 things, but boy, are they AWESOME!
First off these two cutey jars. One is the clasic cookie jar shape and one is in a ginger jar shape. Perfect to fill with fall odds and ends. I am thinking maybe channelling St. Mary-Martha {Stewart, that is}and cutting little shapes of spirits or devils to have floating in each jar.

Price on the cookie jar-
Price on the ginger jar-

Plus I got this little ghost candy dish. I plan on filling this with the mini bat cookies I made yesterday.
 If any of you are considering making "mini" cookies .
They are so much stinkin' work . As if cut out cookies aren't bad enough . Lets roll out the dough and cut shapes and peel them off the counter an extra 6 times per recipe. One time was enough to cure me of my desire to use my mini cookie cutters. From now on the will only be used to cut bread or cheese or other easy things.
Anyhow, here's the last find.


More Halloween to come!!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween luminaries

Sorry no post in a week, I have been aggravated with blogger. I have been busy doing all kinds of Halloween projects. Most recently these little luminaries. My plan is to place one or two in each window in the kitchen.  These luminaries took like 10 minutes. Literally. I cut out some cute Halloween shapes, stuck them on some drinking glasses and thenwrapped the glasses in wax paper and secured.  That's it.
Sorry about the picture quality on this one. During the party the shades will be up and luminaries in place.
The paper curtains took alot more time to do than they probably look like.
Lots more has been happening this week decor wise. Also I picked up some great stuff at Goodwill that I'll be sharing in the next day or two.
Still plenty to do before the party.
But I have my costume basically figured out. I will be going as Medusa
Dress- white linen sheath
Hair- will do in a messy up do with tendrils coming down.
 I bought several toy snakes to weave through it and around my neck.
I will do some glitter green eye shadow make up on my face to simulate scales.
I still need to make a couple of arm bracelets and a big necklace....hmmmm

Will keep you all posted as things get done!
Happy Halloween

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Find part deux

Skull Ice Cube Tray.... $1.00!

Of the many things I love about this country, dollar stores are in the top ten... well at least top 20.

I dub this facial expression "grinnacing"
get it...?
grin+grimmacing= grinnacing
I crack myself up...
Are they wearing sunglasses?
a mug shot

I'm thinking I could make some seriously gross-out candy with these as well.
Like white chocolate filled with gooey carmel or peanut butter brains....
Actually that is not grossing me out at all .
Just tempting me to raid the party favors stash I have hidden from my hubby.....and myself, lets be honest here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

halloween in every corner

The picture quality is crap on this pic, but it was like 11 pm when I took it..... Not an ideal time for lighting.
You can't really see, but in the cheese plate is a big spooky ball of all sizes of spiders and some webbing.  The skull is one of two I own.  Glowing, and only like 5.99 last year at Party City. The Trick or Treat sign I picked up at the Dollar Store like 6 years ago for obviously 1.00. The pewter candlestick was a Goodwill find- .25. That little white dish is a Shelly candy dish .99 courtesy of Goodwill again. And the pumpkin....well I just bragged about that here.
So not to toot my own savings horn,
I purchased  this two years ago on target clearance. I think like 2.99
The new home for the Medusa head...
I think I will make the candles drip blood or something. The plain white is bumming me out.
Maybe hot glue some candle bling to it? I also will be filling up the tea service with candy for the party,  but candy is not allowed in the house otherwise I will  gobble it all up in one sitting.
Seriously, I have no self control when it comes to the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
And you know that's what I'll buy. No gummy items {has gelatin, which is not vegetarian} and no boring candy either.

Speaking of candy.....
The hubby and I were talking about treats that we enjoyed as kids, and Andes chocolate and mint candies came up..... My question is, Why have they not made a Halloween version of this. There are Halloween Oreos, M&M's, Chip's Ahoy, Reeses, and everything else under the sun. Why no Andes? The green would look super cute with a bit of purple mixed in the wrapper. A low cost option vs. reformulating the whole confection.
Hear me Andes makers! We want A Halloween option!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Top of the Hutch options

Option 1

Decided not to go with this based on hubbys statement that the Medusa head was one of the coolest Halloween items I had, and it wouldn't be fully appreciated up there.
BTW she has glowing red eyes. and I got her for $7.00 last year on Target Clearence
BOO-yah {I am so punny, I crack myself up}

Variation , no Medusa Head...
Thought this was too blah color wise

Final choice
yes the little thing on the left is a collectors Jack and Sally shot glass set.
I realize it does not go with my whole Vintage Victorian inspiration, but a little bad taste is like salt.

I will show the rest of the hutch tomorrow....

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Fall Flavors.....

I grew up in Northern Michigan, which is prime apple growing country.
I remember picking apples every fall from our neighbors orchard. Neighbors, that lived about two miles away mind you. Practically next door if you grew up in the country!
My favorite apples to pick and eat were Jonathan apples.
They are in my opinion one of the best apples to eat out of hand. Small, tart, sweet and juicy, they really pack alot of flavor into one little apple. Not to mention it has pink colored flesh that always appealed to the girly girl part of me.  We always made apple crisp and apple pie from them, if we didn't eat them all up first!
Since I moved to Florida, I haven't even seen one.
I have made do with Gala's and Fuji's, but that will only cut it for so long.
Last fall I discovered Honeycrisp apples. I am sure some of you out there have probably been enjoying this delish specimen since your childhood, but it was totally new to me.
Crisp, never mealy. Sweet, tart, firm and AWESOME. A bit more expensive than the regular varieties, but worth it.
I did a little research and it is a hybrid cultivated by the University of Minnesota from
a Keepsake apple and an unknown varietal.
This is one time where science has improved on nature.
Here are some I bought from Le Target. Each box was $8.00.
But sooo worth it!
This is the flavor of fall. {besides pumpkin of course!}

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Find!

I am doing my happy dance right now!!!!
I hope you all appreciate this as much as I do.

The name brand variety runs around $15-30 per pumpkin.
You know I was not about to spend that much on a single item {unless I can wear it}.

My luck this fall is AWESOME.
sorry about the CAPS explosion....{I am very excited}

The variety of carving possibilities are making my head spin!
a witch flying over the moon?
a wise old owl?
a haunted house with ghoasties in the window?
Gaaah, I need more pumpkins.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First of the Fall Flavors...

This year I will only have beer and hard cider at the party,
so we taste tested a few interesting looking ones......
I have posted real beer tasters reviews because I either like it or not, I really don't know the "proper" terms for the flavors
White Rascal- pretty good, had that Belgian White taste of orange and coriander.
Dead Guy Ale- Hubby loved, but I am not a big fan of ales... a bit too dark tasting for me
Shipyard Pumpkinhead- My favorite of the lot...a nice pie spice flavor
Saranac Pumpkin Ale- average, I would drink hard cider over this any day.

I will hopefully taste more and post pics, but I can't lie,
I will most likely just go with Woodchuck Amber cider and a beer that the hubby picks. Compromise is the name of the game. He puts up with my incessant Halloween chatter, and I indulge his beer preferences...;p

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harvest Moon

The Harvest moon was actually the 23rd of this month, but I just thought of sharing it with you all....
It was called a harvest moon because it provided so much light that farmers could keep harvesting their crops through the night.

"The harvest moon comes soon before or soon after the autumnal equinox. It is simply the full moon closest to that equinox. About once every four years it occurs in October (in the northern hemisphere), depending on the cycles of the moon. Currently, the latest the harvest moon can occur is on October 7.
When the night of the harvest moon coincides with the night of the equinox, it is called a "Super Harvest Moon."[1] In 2010 in the contiguous United States, the harvest moon happened in the early morning hours of Sept 23, only 5 1/2 hours after the autumnal equinox, creating the first Super Harvest Moon since 1991.[2]
Often, the harvest moon seems to be bigger or brighter or more colorful than other full moons. The warm color of the moon shortly after it rises is caused by light from the moon passing through a greater amount of atmospheric particles than when the moon is overhead. The atmosphere scatters the bluish component of moonlight (which is really reflected white light from the sun), but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to one's eyes. Hence all celestial bodies look reddish when they are low in the sky.
The apparent larger size is because the brain perceives a low-hanging moon to be larger than one that's high in the sky. This is known as a moon illusion and it can be seen with any full moon. It can also be seen with constellations; in other words, a constellation viewed low in the sky will appear bigger than when it is high in the sky." from wikipedia.

I watch the moon cycles, and I thought you all might  enjoy this too.

Next month is Hunters moon{ sometimes called blood moon} , more on that later

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Free vegetable stock!

I don't know about you all, but I LOVE free stuff. In my opinion, you just can't beat free!
 But I digress....
 As I'm sure some of you have realized by now, I cook approx. five nights a week. Partially because it is a heck of a lot cheaper, but also because it is WAY healthier. {plus I'm a pretty good cook if I do say so myself!}
I wanted to share this idea that I reinterpreted . When I was cooking for a living, I had the privilege to work with some classically trained chefs. One of the main things I learned was that in the classic French kitchen, there is no waste. Every part of an animal or vegetable is valuable. The way I applied this to my home kitchen is in the form of vegetable stock.
I hate store bought stock for two reasons.....1- it has a ridiculous amount of sodium in it, 2- it is way over priced.
The simple way to solve this is make your own. -with scraps.
Here's what I do....
over a week or so save all of you veggie trimmings in a big tub or Ziploc. The main things you want to have are onion, carrot and celery.  Those 3 are referred to as Mirepoix in french cooking, and are the foundation in basically any soup, stew, or sauce . So the tips, stalks, peelings, rinds, and any ugly ones or ones that are on the verge of spoiling throw in the bag. Any thing goes except things like lettuce and cucumber. I also do not add eggplant bits or winter squash bits. But parsnip, zucchini, tomato, green beans are all good bets.
Try to keep the bag in the coldest part of the fridge to prolong its life until you feel like making it.
Throw everything into a big pot and add twice as much water as you have veggie scraps.
Add in herbs. I use a combo of 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp oregano,1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp savory,  dash of sage,  1/2 tsp basil, and salt and pepper {whole peppercorns are best]
 Go easy on the basil and sage because their flavor will take over the whole pot.  This step is one that you just learn what flavor after making it a few times
Boil for 10minutes then reduce to medium heat and simmer for a few hours.
strain everything through a wire mesh strainer. throw away veggies. Use stock in soups, sauces  or anything else you would normally use water in , but want an extra kick.

Although I am now a vegetarian, I was cooking meat in the not too distant past.
 On a side note if you want to make a beef or chicken stock, this method would work as well, just add in 1 chicken carcass {leftover from a deli- roasted chicken perhaps} or beef shank bones.

For the beef - Get a few pounds of beef shank bones {shank is used because of the connective tissue and marrow} smear them with tomato paste and then roast in the oven to improve the taste before adding to your stock mixture