{halloween} Pumpkin Cocktails

Thirsty? I have a few Pumpkin Cocktail recipes to share - and some of them sound better than Halloween candy!  Enjoy!

(Vodka, Lime Juice, Pumpkin Puree and Ginger - looks refreshing on ice!)

(Vodka, Pumpkin Spice Liqueur and splash of Simple Sugar - sounds sophisticated!)

(Aged rum blended with cloves, fresh lemon and apple juice - could be a crowd pleaser!)

And this recipe sounds the best to me - Pumpkin Pie
(Rum, Kahlua, Milk and Pumpkin Pie Filling) 

All recipes and photos from here.


{halloween} Scary Spider Pumpkin Cooler

Creating a beverage cooler from a large pumpkin is a perennial favorite for many hosts and hostesses.  It's a festive touch for a Halloween party, harvest cocktail party or Thanksgiving gathering. 

Want to take the design one step further - add copper legs to make a scary spider!  Love this great idea and how-to video from Southern Living!

Want more creative ideas for your pumpkin? Read this Southern Living article on 31 Halloween Pumpkins!


{in season} Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is almost here!  Time to carve the pumpkins ... and roast pumpkin seeds!  I've never roasted pumpkin seeds but supposedly, it's easy to do and the nutritional benefits are awesome.  I found this basic recipe with many variations and great suggestions adapted from the Whole Foods 'Whole Story' blog.  What do you think?  Join  me for some roasted pumpkin seeds?  Which variation appeals to you?  Scroll down to see my favorite variation!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Boil seeds for 10 minutes.
Drain and pat seeds dry.
Mix seeds in a bowl with a little oil and dash of salt.
Transfer seeds to a baking sheet and spread out to a single layer
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Roast with seasonings such as chili powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander.

Roast with dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley and rosemary.

Roast with sweet spices, too: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and allspice.

Roast and garnish grain dishes, breakfast cereals and pilafs.

Roast and garnish roasted root vegetables, steamed vegetables or sautéed vegetables.

Roast and garnish soups such as corn, pumpkin, butternut squash or vegetable.

Roast and garnish for beef or vegetable stew.

Roast and garnish enchiladas, tacos, chalupas, tamales and migas.

Add them to muffins, pancakes, cookies, granola and other baked goods.

Grind them up and add them to specialty sauces such as Mole.

Roast and garnish salads, slaw and even Caesar salad!

Add roasted pumpkin seeds to trail mix.

Throw a small handful into a smoothie with fruit or yogurt.

Roast and garnish ice cream, yogurt, fresh fruit salads or non-dairy desserts.

Incredibly yummy as a garnish on dark chocolate cake!

Cook whole grain pasta; toss with olive oil, garlic, Reggiano Parmesan and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Add to pesto sauce in place of or along with pine nuts.

[I think this variation sounds the best! Enjoy!]


{party trend} Party for a Cause

Fundraising events are not new; however, there is a growing trend to host fundraising parties at home!  For example, I received an invitation this week from my friend who hosts an annual holiday shopping party in her home.  She invites her friends with small businesses like Silpada, Pampered Chef and Usborne Books to display their goods whille other friends come over to shop, eat, drink and be merry.  It's an afernoon of fun and the best part is a small percentage of the proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.  No surprise, my friend is a top fundraiser for Reston Relay for Life!

Ready to party for a cause?  Here are two fundraising home party ideas to inspire your philanthropic endeavors:

Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month with the moms from your child's play group or members from your book or bunco club with free printables, festive drinks and party supplies!

Photos clockwise:
Favor Tag from Chickabug
Cupcake Wrapper from Eccentric Designs
Pink Ribbon Punch from Martha Stewart
Plates, Cups & Napkins from Celebrate in Pink (20% off, use promo code 5YEARS)

Support Operation Give Thanks, a nation-wide fundraising campaign to help Operation Shower continue its mission of throwing amazing baby showers for military families to ease the burden of deployment. [You may remember my recent participation in Operation Shower's A Star is Born baby shower at Walter Reed Army Medical Center].  Now you can help too by hosting a fundraising party!  There are free printables - amazing designs - to get you started.

My favorite is the Fall/Thanksgiving "Grateful Mod" Collection from Hostess with the Mostess which includes invitations, drink tags, favor tags, bottle labels and more.  I'm not hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year so I think I may host a Girls Night cocktail party using these free printables - and raise money, as well as awareness for Operation Shower!

Additional Operation Give Thanks contributors (and amazing free designs) include:

So, what fundraising party will you host at home?


{halloween} Monster Treats!

This morning, I have some Frankenstein-inspired Halloween treats to share with you!  These recipes look easy to make; in fact, your children might enjoy making a few too.  Enjoy!

Monster Treats (clockwise, L-R):


{in season} More Apples!

In yesterday's post, I forgot the one recipe that started my quest for other apple recipes ...oops!  So, here it is - Feta Crostini with Tomato, Bacon and Apple Jam!  Doesn't that sound delicious?!  If I was at a cocktail party and the hostess served this appetizer, I know that I'd have to have more than one!  The sweetness of the apple jam mixed with the savory cheese and bacon - yummy!

I spotted the recipe in the latest issue of Better Homes and Garden (November 2010 I think).  Here is the recipe, which looks easy:

1/2 lb. smoked bacon
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup sugar
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 loaf baguette-style French bread, thinly sliced and toasted (about 30 slices)
1 8-oz. block feta cheese, crumbled
Snipped fresh chives

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is just browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain excess fat. Crumble or cut into small pieces.

2. In a large saucepan combine the drained tomatoes, sugar, apple, onion, vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes or until apples are tender and most of the liquid is reduced.

3. Remove pan from heat; let sit for 5 minutes.

4. Arrange baguette slices on a serving platter, top with a dollop of warm jam, the feta, and chives. Makes 30 crostini.


{in season} Apples!

Got apples?  I've got apple ideas ... for snacks, drinks and decor!


Apple Spice Sangria; inspiration posted here
Bailey's Caramel Appletini; inspiration posted here

DECOR, inspired by
Apple cake decorations; inspiration posted here
Apple-themed fall party; inspiration posted here



Operation Shower: A Star is Born

Last week, I participated in an amazing event called Operation Shower, which is a unit-wide baby shower for military moms-to-be whose husbands are deployed or in high-stressed situations.  Hosted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC and supported by the PGA Tour and March of Dimes plus generous contributions from KMart and many more extraordinary companies, Operation Shower "showered" 40 moms with car seats, clothes, blankets, snugglies, boppies, diaper cakes and all the other essential baby gear.  Sound incredible?  It was!

Above are some highlights of the decor.  The theme was "A Star is Born", a Hollywood premier complete with red carpet, concession stand and the most adorable table centerpieces!  Kudos to Leanne Morrisey and Amy Belle Isle for generously creating this remarkable event.  For more information about Operation Shower, please visit OperationShower.org as well as their Facebook page and YouTube video.

The event was also special because I got to meet and work with some ultra-talented party professionals - Sarah from Sheek Shindigs, Lindi from Love the Day, Amy from Stem Parties and Chris from Celebrations at Home; see photo above.

I'd like to thank Midory Takeda-Ragonese of BBJ Linens and Ramona Kelly of Select Event Rentals for supporting this event.  The linens (including the black and white zebra print napkins!), as well as the china, flatware and stemware made the shower look special!


{halloween} Ghost in the Mirror!

So, I'm busy preparing for my family's annual Boo Bash and came across a spook-tacular 'good thing' - a Ghost in the Mirror.  Made of frosted window cling, this cute decoration looks super easy to make!  The template and instructions are available on MarthaStewart.com.

I don't have a foyer mirror but I can easily put this little ghoul in my powder room or better, blow up the template to fit my Dining Room windows.  What do you think?  Do you like this project idea?  Do you have other ghost decoration ideas to share?


Table Tent Trivia Cards

My friend, Stacy, of Everday Celebrations in NJ introduced me to these clever conversation starters - Table Tent Trivia Cards!  Displayed on a cocktail table and or bar, these trivia cards have lots of thought-provoking questions like 'How many grapes does it take to produce a bottle of wine?'... and they come in a wide assortment of designs/themes like Wine, Martini, Girls Night Out and even, Halloween.  I've been eyeing the 'Martini' collection for a Martinis and Mayhem Holiday Party in December (but I don't know if that party needs any more initiative!)

Anyway, check out the trivia cards and then, contact Stacy to order ... or better, stop by Stacy's table this Sunday, October 10 at The Dilworthtown Inn's Wine Festival from 12-4pm!


{party trend} Grilled Cheese and Bloody Mary Bar

Yesterday afternoon, I did something that I rarely do.  I watched The Oprah Show!  But wait, it gets better.  Martha Stewart was on ... and they talked parties!  I was inspired so I thought I'd share it with you.

Martha featured her Grilled Cheese and Bloody Mary Bar.  Wow!  It looked so good.  The set up was pretty simple; platters of cheese, bread, condiments and extras like sliced apples, bacon strips, red peppers and avocado slices (top photo above).  Of course, they made sandwiches.  Martha made Oprah a Gruyere Apple and Sage on Rye (small middle photo) that looked really yummy!  Clicking through the recipes, I discovered the Proscuitto Arugula and Tomato sandwich (small left photo) oozing melted Gruyere cheese; now that's a tasty sandwich!

To accompany the sandwiches, Martha had a Bloody Mary bar with red and yellow tomato juices and homemade vodka (small right photo).  I'm intrigued by the yellow tomato juice (it's less acidic according to Martha) and I like this grown up alternative to tomato soup.

So, what do you think of this party trend?  Ready to host a Grilled Cheese and Bloody Mary bar at your next casual party?  I am!


{halloween} Green Gooey Slime!

Kids love to make a mess, especially when making green gooey slime!  Here's an easy recipe from Disney's FamilyFun web site:

Two mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Green food coloring

Mix together 3/4 cup warm water, 1 cup glue and several drops of green food coloring in the first bowl.

In the second bowl, mix together 4 teaspoons borax and 1 1/3 cups warm water.

Pour the contents of the first bowl into the second, but don't stir. Let it sit for 1 minute, then lift the now-congealed slime out of the bowl.

Divide slime so that each child has a piece to play with. The glue in slime can make it stick to certain fabrics. To minimize accidents, give each little monster a zip-top bag to store it in.

SAFETY NOTE: Since borax is toxic in large doses, be sure to keep the slime away from kids younger than age three.


{halloween} More Cocktail Napkin Decor

Last week, Maddycakes Muse showcased a great Halloween DIY project - Modge Podge Pumpkins - using strips of leftover cocktail napkins.  Here is the tutorial with step by step photos from The Other White House.  I think the trick is using a repeating pattern like the sophisticated black and white pattern (above, left).  For a more whimsy feel, I like these cocktail napkin designs (above, right) - black and orange dots, spider webs and especially, the colorful Halloween dots and pumpkins.  

I've got an assortment of leftover Halloween napkins plus this week's 40% off Michaels coupon.  It's going to be a very creative afternoon!  How about you?  Tell me about your DIY Halloween Decor projects.


{halloween} Owl Treat

Happy 1st day of October!!  Like so many others, I go batty for October - cooler temps, awesome colors and my favorite holiday.  I plan to celebrate all month long with inspiring ideas to help you celebrate, too.

First up.  Whooooo could resist this owl treat?  It's so cute - and according to Amy of LivingLocurto.com, it's easy to make (recipe below the photo) ... maybe 30 seconds to assemble and less than 5 seconds to microwave.  My kind of fast food!!

You’ll need:

graham crackers
chocolate chips
yellow candy melts
candy corn

Place two marshmallows on a large graham cracker (2 stuck together).

Put a candy melt on top of the marshmallows.

Heat in the microwave for about 2-5 seconds, just enough to make the marshmallows puff up, but not get too hot.

Take out of microwave and add a chocolate chip on the yellow candy melt and the candy corn beak while the marshmallows and candy are still warm. Everything should stick together nicely.

Let cool and serve! You can make these the night before a party and everything is still very tasty.