Spooktacular Halloween decorating suggestions come in Halloween handy for the decorista who dares to bedazzle house and home in haunted fashion destined to thrill and delight the eye.
Halloween is a prime time for showcasing your decorating creativity.
From fraught with frightful or a lavish display in spine-chilling style, doors, windows, fireplace mantels, staircases, porches, lawns, gardens, and sidewalks become prime players in a game of Halloween decorating dress-up.
Affordable is the trick.
Eye-catching is the treat.
I like a little fright mixed with a tad of harmless haunt so the theme appeals to kids of all ages.
About ten days from Halloween (or party date) pick up a dozen or two of roses. I stick them in a vase with very little warm water, and allow them to wither and dry out.
Come the day of the dead roses place the stems in a freakishly gorgeous vase.
Tulle by the yard is my go-to inexpensive solution to table wraps and centerpiece accessory.
Vintage style eyeglasses, a novelty pipe, magnifying glass, and a Victorian style top hat(Halloween decoration now, Christmas tree topper for the holidays) and you’ve got yet another themed Halloween decorating suggestions centerpiece.
Ambiance is an essential component in the entertaining equation.
Bring on the ooh la la factor by placing cake stands and serving pieces inside fresh or faux greenery wreaths both Thanksgiving and Christmas pretty and set about the table or countertop at various height levels.
Take advantage of this time to style the dining table to your liking. Place, stack, and set out the items you can now.
Cover serving bowls, utensils, and cake stands with a clean dish towel, label with a sticky note what dish goes in what bowl, and. mark this part of the process off the list.
Let those kitchen countertops pull serving table duty. I work with a salads and sides to the left, desserts and drinks to the right, keep it moving on down the line plan.
Space is one hot commodity in the Thanksgiving kitchen and dining room. Going with a dessert table frees up space.
Chatting with Dave the Builder about how Memorial Day weekend traditionally signals let the summer patio good times begin and the opening back up of stores, shops, salons, restaurants, casinos, and the like brought up the question of just when to jump back into the swing of normal things.
Slow and safe is the approach I’m taking concerning out and about, but I’m all in on the season of living easy.
Granted, I would love to host a gathering of more than just me and Dave the Builder to usher in the summer season, and we will eventually, but for now we’ll keep it summer, party of two.
A little levity while home sweet home in the time of coronavirus by no means makes light of the situation.
What it does do is take some of the stress out of this unprecedented and trying time, if only for a moment or two.
“A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.”
–Laura Ingalls Wilder
Between disinfecting surfaces, finding somewhere to put all the supplies and extra food we’ve purchased, corralling Mama Places In The Home who at 80+ years old gets that others need to shelter in place but keeping her standing beauty shop appointment is exempt, and trying not to go crazy with every breaking news update, I’m learning the internet can be a wonderful source of entertaining and educational virtual activities to discover while home sweet home in the time of coronavirus.
For kids and big kids alike, check out these resources and activities from Scholastic and live streams from the Houston Zoo and the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
Planning for school closures? Scholastic has you covered with FREE engaging online resources and activities from #ScholasticLearnAtHome
Yes we cam! We got you covered in these crazy times. While we’re closed to the public, you can still get your stress-reducing animal fix via our live cams. Watch penguins, baboons, koalas, giraffes, elephants and more 👉 https://t.co/DputHsHt5npic.twitter.com/sTYk0srM5v
When I was a freshman in high school, a group of friends and I hosted a progressive dinner at the end of each six weeks.
We carefully planned out the evening, assigned a cuisine theme, dressed in disco and dine attire, and hopped from one house to another enjoying appetizer, salad, main course, dessert and coffee delicacies.
It dawned on me a virtual progressive dinner could be a lot of fun.
Sure, dining with friends or family is always better in person, but why not get creative and host a virtual progressive dinner.
You could theme it dinner with the girls, cooped up couples virtual night out, or what’s cookin’ with the kids.
In keeping with the scrub-bacterial-germs theme, this snippet from Scrubs comically explains how bacteria and viruses can easily spread from person to person.
Our crew were big Bernie Mac Show fans, and the episode “Now You Got It” was a favorite.
One highly anticipated Vegas trip was totally wrecked after I got sick mid-trip complete with emergency room visits (three to be exact).
I picked up a now you got it germ of my own from one of the Canadian snowbird’s birthday party guests aka the darling little Petri dishes.
Watching this episode brings a little humor and levity to the day.
Look, there’s nothing funny about this pandemic.
Staying close to home may be a sacrifice, but it’s an exercise in social responsibility that is the smart, safe, courteous, and vigilant thing to do at this time.
We must do our part to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this horrible disease by practicing good personal hygiene, social distancing, and following the advice of those in the know by staying home sweet home in the time of coronavirus.
I’m here if you need me, and am keeping you all close in thought and prayer.
Ella asks it, and revelers answer with a chorus of festive New Year’s Eve celebrating and entertaining.
As for Dave the Builder and me, hardcore party animals we are not.
Our party of choice is to host a casual come as you are ringing in the New Year open house in at home style with a few family members, close friends and beloved neighbors.
I keep the decorations traditional, festive, sparkly, and inexpensive.
Gold and silver glamour is the party color palette, and gold glitter ball confetti and silver tissue pom poms signals we’re gonna party in style like it’s 1999 and beyond.
Speaking of party tunes, here’s our updated New Year’s Eve playlist.
Fun and stylish decorations that you can pick up well in advance or even the day of hit all the right New Year’s Eve celebrating and entertaining and decorating notes.
Metallic and/or glitter spray paint and a collection Styrofoam balls in various sizes makes a fun NYE DIY project that results in focal point presence.
Holiday clearance sales quickly become a decorista’s best friend.
Hit up a holiday clearance sale for everything from party supplies to glitter accents to string lights and lanterns.
A quick and easy table decoration tip that always looks grand is to intermingle battery operated string lights and flameless LED battery operated candle filled lanterns or glass holders from table end to table end (think table runner).
Don’t you love the no worries convenience and safety of using flameless candle? I haven’t used a real candle for luminary purposes in years.
Flameless LED battery operated votive and tea light candles give good style, eliminate safety concerns and unless the batteries die, light the party night.
A sand timer and clock become perfect centerpiece accents and sidekick to a bottle of New Year’s Eve bubbly.
The time of year for gathering around the simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table with family and friends who are family is upon us.
The plan is to place the emphasis on the gathering, the feasting, and generating a feels like home ambiance.
Cozy welcomes family, friends, tradition, and style home, and is the requisite for our home for the holidays celebrations.
In keeping with the spirit of the home for the holidays feel, I’m suggesting these distressed metal houses as a super cute decor addition for the holiday table, sideboard, or bar cart.
Holiday Time Distressed Metal House Table-Top Christmas Decoration
Battery operated candles (I source faux candles and battery operated lights with safety in mind) or a strand of LED fairy string lights placed inside illuminates holiday style and brings the look home.
Decor items that easily make the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas decoration have a longer shelf life, decoratively speaking.
Around our house, Thanksgiving day officially signals the holidays have arrived, and I believe in taking full decorating advantage of the relatively short decorating season.
For that express reason I ordered the Holiday Time Winter Frost flocked un-lit wreath from Walmart to “spruce” up the foyer for Thanksgiving into Christmas.
Among treasures found was this vintage soup tureen. For less than the cost of two tall specialty coffees, I secured a lovely serving piece to adorn the sideboard.
“What recipe will fill the tureen on Thanksgiving day?” you may ask.
Autumn Squash Soup (in the taste style of Panera Bread)
1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 pounds (l large) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into cubes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (easier to use and flavor packed)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fine black pepper (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup apple juice
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
½ cup heavy cream (Greek yogurt or half-n-half may be substituted)
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Peel squash removing seeds. Cut peeled butternut squash into chunks and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over squash chunks and season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 450°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork tender.
Using a potato masher, mash the roasted squash cubes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or soup pot heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions to heated oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes soft and translucent. Stir in minced garlic.
Add roasted butternut squash, pumpkin puree, broth, apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to pot and stir to incorporate. Bring to a slight boil. Cover and lower the heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes to incorporate flavors.
Remove pot from the heat. Add the maple syrup and softened cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese is melted.
Use a hand blender to blend mixture until smooth. If you do not have a hand mixer, carefully transfer mixture to traditional stand blender in two batches. Puree each batch until smooth. Transfer mixture back to the pot and adjust flavors to taste.
If you feel the soup is too thick, add more broth to reach desired consistency.
Garnish soup with a swirl of heavy cream, half-n-half, or dollop of Greek yogurt and roasted pepitas.
Rounding out the decorative details includes a selection of simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table items easy to find in retail stores, produce sections, and online retailers.
So many if not all of these items will transition beautifully from Thanksgiving to Christmas decor.
Yesterday I dropped by our local Joann store to pick up two small faux cedar wreaths for a holiday project.
More on that to come.
As soon as I walked through the front doors the aroma of cinnamon filled the air. To say the scent instantly put me in the holiday mood is an understatement.
I spied a huge display cinnamon scented pine cones, and knew those babies were coming home with me.
Pine cones identify with fall, Thanksgiving, winter, and Christmas.
Further tie the season and holidays of cozy together by using pine cone ornaments tied with velvet ribbon as napkin rings.
Loop ribbon in your choice of design, texture, and color through the top of an ornament ring.
Tie each ornament around individual dinner napkins, securing in a loose knot.
Custom napkin rings made their way to the table several holidays ago by way of small oval framed pictures secured with wire ribbon and a tucked in ginkgo leaf.
Here’s the fun part.
Announce to your guests the custom made napkin ring is theirs to take home as a from me to you favor gift.
I hope these simple yet elegant Thanksgiving table decor choices lend ideas and inspiration.
“Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.”
You can substitute homemade pumpkin puree for any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
With that fall baking fact in mind, let’s check out how to make homemade pumpkin puree.
Here we will be using a sugar pumpkin (also called a pie pumpkin), the best for cooking and baking.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Carefully cut off the top of the pumpkin. Using a large metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and the “strings”.
Cut the pumpkin in half.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pumpkin halves cut side down onto the baking sheet.
Generously rub the outer skin of each pumpkin half with olive oil.
Place in a 375°F preheated oven and roast for 45-60 minutes or until a fork easily inserts into each pumpkin half.
Allow to cool for twenty minutes or until cool enough to handle without risk of burning your hands.
Using a large metal spoon, scoop out the softened pulp. Place the pulp into in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Pumpkin Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
2 Sugar Pie pumpkins (each about 2 lb.)
Substitution: 4 cups of canned pumpkin puree
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme, plus whole sprigs for garnish
¼ cup Marsala
5 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the grilled cheese croutons:
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 slices artisan white bread or sourdough bread
1 ½ cups grated Gruyére cheese
To make the soup, using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the top of each pumpkin to remove the stem, then halve each pumpkin vertically.
Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and any stringy fibers and discard.
Brush the flesh of the pumpkins generously with olive oil, then place them, cut sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkins are very tender when pricked with a fork, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then scoop the flesh from the peel into a bowl; discard the peels.
You should have about 4 cups of pumpkin. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter.
Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the Marsala and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and maple syrup.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot.)
Stir in more vegetable broth, if desired, to achieve the desired consistency. Keep warm over low heat while you make the grilled cheese croutons.
To make grilled cheese croutons, spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread, dividing it evenly.
Heat a large fry pan over medium heat.
Place 3 slices of the bread, butter side down, in the fry pan. Divide the cheese evenly between the 3 slices in the pan, then top with remaining bread slices, butter side up.
Cook until the bottom of bread is golden brown, then carefully flip each sandwich and continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes, turning down the heat if the bread is browning too quickly.
Transfer the grilled cheese sandwiches to a cutting board and let cool slightly while you ladle the warm soup into 6 individual bowls.
Drizzle each serving of soup lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a few grinds of pepper. Cut the grilled cheese sandwiches into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes and divide them evenly among the bowls of soup.
Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve immediately. Serves 6.
“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.”
Charcuterie | shahr-ku-tuh-ree refers to the art of preparing and assembling cured meats.
Charcuterie boards feature an array of dried meats, cheeses, fruits and nuts, crackers, breads, jams, preserves, marmalades, olives, pickles, and the like.
A recent conversation on the topic included a rundown of charcuterie board essentials.
Great entertaining minds think alike, and we all agreed a gathering of friends or/and family on a crisp fall late afternoon into evening is an excellent entertaining opportunity to bring on a fall cheese or charcuterie board.
There’s no wrong way to do a cheese or charcuterie board. I put together a small with fall in mind cheese board this afternoon.
It’s meatless, so it doesn’t officially qualify to be referred to as a charcuterie board.
Crisp apples, fresh dates, red grapes, assorted nuts, blue cheese, white cheddar, cream cheese with fig preserves, and dried cranberries fill the board.
A quick walk around the yard later I had fresh rosemary sprigs and mint leaves to use as garnish and filler.
The aroma is spectacular.
What’s in the little vintage creamer?
Honey drizzled over a slice of cheese topped with an apple is the taste of fall.
I love these carved wooden spoons for spooning up preserves and marmalades.