Monday, October 29, 2012

Thinking about Thanksgiving - Part 2

Last week we started changing gears from candy and goblins to thinking about Thanksgiving.  We thought about what decorations could be carried over, started making our guest list, and looking at what we already had on hand.

This week we are going to delve into our to-do list a little further.

Thinking about Thanksgiving this Week:


  • Are you going to cook, order, or have catered the main dish or entire meal?
    • Place your Order
    • Contact Caterer
    • Measure Oven, Pan, Platter
    • Preferred Cooking Method - Bake, Fry, Grill
  • Invite Guests - During the RSVP, if a guest offers to bring a dish, accept the offer - it's one less item for you to handle (you reserve the right to make the same dish)
    • Keep a running RSVP / Dish list
  • Purchase, Rent, Borrow, Clean or Polish
    • Dinner Plates, Dessert Plates, Glasses, Wine Glasses, Coffee Cups, Silverware, Napkins, Linens, Serving Dishes and Utensils
  • Measure Table or configure Table Arrangements
Large Dinner Party Table - preset stage
This table is made up of 3 separate tables and seated 12
  • Check your Pantry for items already on hand, what needs replenishing and specific items that need to be purchased
  • Make a Grocery List of everything in the recipes including a total count - whether you have it on hand today or not
  • Begin purchasing items you do not have (cranberry sauce, olives, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin pie filling, marshmallows, green beans, turkey/ham/tofu turkey) along with your normal grocery shopping - this helps allocate the cost over a period of a few weeks rather than one major shopping excursion
  • Start saving your stale bread for homemade stuffing

Your house is most likely looking pretty good since you've been spending more time inside decorating for Halloween and parties.  Take a breather in this area - besides who ever looks in the bedrooms or closets anyway?

The areas that will matter the most are: Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room or main rooms, Coat Closet, Guest Bathroom, and Guest Room.  Close the doors to the rest of the rooms and no one will be any wiser.  When you get a moment, visit these rooms in the chance that someone might want a tour of the house.

I have to laugh at the mention of the coat closet.  A couple weeks ago, DH and I had guests over and it was one of those surprise chilly nights down here in the south and a few people actually had light jackets.  Lo-and-behold, our coat closet was not ready!  We had to have our guests pile their coats on the bench in the foyer.  How embarrassing was that?  Rest assured, the coat closet was cleaned out the very next morning.

Good luck to you this week.  Please let us know how it's going.


P.S., What is your favorite side dish?

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Substance of Living

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hosting a Tea Party - Notes

A good friend and I have decided to host an Inaugural High Tea for the neighborhood ladies.  We would like to have this tea in the beginning of November but not necessarily fall or holiday themed.

We spent an afternoon brainstorming and this is what we have come up with so far.

Tea Party Sandwiches by The Party Times
Tea Party Sandwiches and Cupcakes

Notes:


  • Name for the group?
    • Do we want a theme so we can continue hosting future teas?
  • Invitations
    • Hand Written
    • Printed Out on Pretty Paper
    • Purchased
  • Menu
    • Scones
    • Soup
    • Delicate Sandwiches
    • Cake / Tart
    • Tea - Are tea bags permissible?
      • Lemon / Milk / Sugar Cubes
  • Table
    • How many?  One big one or a few smaller ones?
    • Table Cloth(s) - make?
    • Napkins - make?
    • Tea Party Chairs by Cookin for My Captain as seen on Make and Takes
      Ribbons on Chairs
  • Decorations
    • Tie a ribbon around each chair ( I really like the idea of using white towels (as seen in the photo) or strips of fabric over the chairs and then tulle and ribbon bow ties around the backs of the chairs)
    • Calling Cards by Sample Board Online
      Calling Cards
    • Place Cards
  • Party Favors
    • Writing Cards
    • Calling Cards
    • Tea Bag Holder
    • Herb Plant
    • Mums
  • Activities
    • Make Holiday Ornaments
    • Nothing
    • Decorate Hats


Oh my goodness, I'm sure there will be so many more notes.  We have an idea as to the menu and what we'd like to see happen with this tea party.  We are meeting again to finalize our plans.

We'd like our afternoon to be totally feminine and hopefully over the top.  We envision glitter (well, I do anyway), flowers, candles, dressing up, giggles, and of course fun.  We'd like the ladies to walk away feeling rejuvenated and utterly pampered.

P.S., Have you hosted a tea party?  Do you have any suggestions?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Children's Halloween Party Drinks

Children have the most fun at parties so why not make their drinks fun too!  Fete a Fete starts us off with some drinks, not exactly sure what is in them but let's say different juices or funky powdered drinks, in beakers and black straws giving us a mad scientist theme.  If you're ever looking for exquisite or unique party ideas, this is the go-to place.  Every detail is captured.
Beaker Beverages by Fete a Fete
Beaker Beverages

Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. has mixed us up one scary looking drink.  Orange soda and ice cream - I can handle.  Now add in gelatin and WOW! this is a totally different creature.
Igor-Ade by chemistry.about.com
Igor-Ade

Wes Martin of The Cooking Channel came up with this (lower calorie) version of the root beer float and the chocolate worm cake.
Cemetery Slime Punch by Wes Martin
Cemetery Slime Punch
Jacqueline at Purple Chocolat Home must have brought back some "fresh" water from her last vacation.  Now, I've heard of bringing home shells and other souvenirs but have to say not water.  Well, she didn't really bring it home with her but she did make it for a special someone.
Swamp Water by Purple Chocolat Home
Swamp Water

Kate at Our Best Bites has a potion that you might remember from Halloween parties at school.  I remember an orange sherbet, lemon/lime soda, and dry ice to make a "witches' brew".  We thought we were so cool drinking something that had something in it that we weren't even allowed to touch!
Mad Scientist Potion by Our Best Bites
Mad Scientist Potion

P.S.,  What Halloween party drink do you remember from years past?

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Substance of Living

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thinking about Thanksgiving - Part 1


Halloween isn't even over and we need to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  This is the time of year that everything passes by so quickly and staying on top of things can be daunting.

Being prepared is one way to enjoy all the festivities.

Things to be thinking about right now for Thanksgiving:
  • Guest List
    • Who will be invited?
    • How many guests?
  • Invitations
  • Type of Dinner
    • Buffet Style
    • Formal Sit-Down (How many tables and chairs are needed? 

Formal Table Setting by Etiquette Scholar
Formal Table Setting
  • Traditional foods or family favorites prepared for Thanksgiving
    • Start compiling recipes
  • Dishes / Silverware / Glasses

Mix and Match Table by Belle Cose
Mix and Match Table Setting
  • Linens
    • Paper Napkins
    • Cloth Napkins
    • Table Cloth(s)
  • Serving Dishes
  • Decorations
    • Can any of your Halloween or Fall decorations carry over into November?
That's it for now!  In fact, it probably appears overwhelming.  Most of the items can be done while going through your daily routine.  While you're pulling out dishes for dinner, take a moment and look at all your dishes making a mental count and condition.  Same with the serving dishes and linens.


P.S., What additional items do you include at this time?  Do you follow a week-by-week schedule leading up to Thanksgiving?

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Bites (Appetizers / Tapas / Hors D'Oeuvres)

I might have to have another party so I can serve up these delectable delicacies.  Who wouldn't want to eat things that crawl or control our bodily functions?



I wonder if Megan was ever on one of those reality shows where the contestants have to eat bugs.  These stuffed cockroaches will be the hit of the party.
Gross Halloween Appetizers by Megan's Cookin
Stuffed Cockroaches (Goat Cheese Filled Dates)

Have you checked out Examiner for halloween tips?  Joanie Pimentel with Sunset Magazine came up with these creepy deviled eggs. 
Spider Eggs by Sunset Magazine
Spooky Spider Eggs

Nikki of Canary Girl is serving up some deliciously gross intestines.  Would you like yours savory or sweet?
Intestines, a Halloween appetizer by Canary Girl
Intestines

In case the cockroaches, spiders and intestines weren't enough to get you hungry, how about a little slice of brain by KiffaKitty.
Brain Cake by KiffaKitty
Brain Cake

I'm so sorry!  I couldn't help myself.  When I came across this last one, it seemed to fit in with the other body organs.
Bleeding Heart Brie by Keen Observers
Bleading Heart Brie

In all seriousness, anything can be made ghoulish.  Using bat or bird cookie cutters to make shapes out of sandwiches or cookie dough, then using food coloring to make the mayonnaise or frosting black or red.  Can you picture using cookie cutters on meat slices then adding some spicy horseradish "blood"?

Red and a little Blue food color mixed with corn syrup adds instant blood drizzled over any dish.  Flavor your blood with vanilla, almond, or licorice.

Plastic spiders crawling across the food or frozen in ice cubes is another way to make the presentation that much creepier.

Light some candles, plug in the black lights, and add "cob webs" in the doorways for instant atmosphere.


P.S.,  What ghoulish food are you serving up this Halloween?

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Substance of Living

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Easy DIY Halloween Decorations

Easy and inexpensive Halloween decorations that can be done in a day is in order since we're actually running out of month.  A few of these ideas can easily transition into Thanksgiving decorations as well.

Starting us out is an outdoor mesh ribbon that is done in black and orange but if fall colors were used (gold, brown, maroon, orange) this easy bow could transition through November.  If you don't have a light on the side of the house, tying this to the mailbox or a light post would look really nice.

Outdoor Mesh Ribbon Bow by Decorating Ideas Made Easy
Mesh Ribbon Bow

You might not have 10 or 20 milk or water jugs lying around but even a couple would work.  These really are adorable ghosts and what better way to light the path for party goers or trick-or-treaters?

Milk Jug Ghosts by Inspiring Pretty
Milk Jug Ghosts


Chris Barnes came up with this beautiful light piece.  It is a flameless candle with twigs and brown ribbon.  This would be beautiful for an outdoor party this fall.  This is another project that is super simple and will last through November.
Nature Inspired Flameless Candle by Chris Barnes
Nature Inspired Flameless Candle


Debi Lilly from Chicago explains how simply this table adornment can be made.  You might already have some glass floral vases lying around or some glass storage containers.  If you don't, even different sized glasses would probably work.  Add some candy corn, jelly beans, flameless candle, mask and ribbon and you're done!
Candy and Candle Filled Vases by Cheeky Chicago
Candy and Candle Filled Vases


Laura purchased these towels and added a few embellishments but you could easily sew or use an iron-on adhesive to place scrap Halloween or Fall fabric and add some ribbon.  Laura went an extra step and added some sparkly iron-on embellishments.  These would look fabulous in your kitchen but would also make a wonderful hostess gift.
Embellished Halloween Towels by Laura's Crafty Life
Embellished Halloween Towels



Adrienne Audrey of Crafty Little Gnome is very clever.  If you haven't had a chance to check out this website, it is a MUST SEE.  This is another simple and inexpensive project and Adrienne walks us through each step.
Spider Mummy Wreath by Crafty Little Gnome
Spider Mummy Wreath

Some additional ideas:

  • Use a wire wreath or bend a wire coat hanger into a wreath shape, tie bits of fabric or grosgrain ribbon until full.  This can be all black, black and orange, fall colors, or printed fabric that gives a nice fall or Halloween feeling.
  • Spray paint a nice size twig black, place in a urn-type flower pot, add moss and black birds.
  • Glue magnets to the backs of plastic spiders and place them all over your front door as Delia did.

Plastic Spiders on Front Door by Delia Creates
Black Spiders on Front Door

What easy and inexpensive DIY Halloween decorations have you made this year or used in the past?  Please share your ideas and words of encouragement.

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Substance of Living

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Menu for 10/21/12 - 10/27/12

Day Menu Item Shopping
Sunday
Pumpkin Panna Cotta by Kitchenography
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
Unflavored Gelatin
Heavy Cream
Pureed Pumpkin
Monday
Pumpkin Roll by Beach Bake-a-Holic
Pumpkin Roll
Powdered Sugar
Ground Cloves
Eggs
Pumpkin Puree
Cream Cheese
Vanilla Extract
Tuesday
Pumpkin Dump Cake by Cookie Madness
Pumpkin Dump Cake
Pumpkin Puree
Evaporated Milk
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Yellow Cake Mix
Pecans
Ice Cream
Wednesday
Pumpkin Banana Creamy Dreamy Dessert by Family Friendly Food
Pumpkin Banana Creamy Dreamy Dessert
Heavy Cream
Half and Half
Vanilla Extract
Pumpkin Puree
Light Brown Sugar
Ground Ginger
Ground Nutmeg
Brandy
Bananas
Orange Juice
Orange Zest
Unflavored Gelatin
Thursday
Pumpkin Cheesecake by Bakers Royale
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ginger Snaps
Cream Cheese
Pumpkin Puree
Ground Nutmeg
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Candied Ginger
Vanilla Extract
Semisweet Chocolate
Heavy Whipping Cream
Bourbon
Carmel Sauce
Friday
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream by Arctic Garden Studio
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Heavy Cream
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Kosher Salt
Dark Brown Sugar
Vanilla Extract
Rum
Pumpkin Puree 
Saturday
Creamy Pumpkin Mousse - Dairy Free by A Food Centric Life
Creamy Pumpkin Mousse - Dairy and Sugar Free

Unflavored Gelatin
Pumpkin Puree
Agave Syrup
Ground Cinnamon
Ground Ginger
Ground Clove
Ground Nutmeg
Vanilla Extract
Healthy Top

October 21, 2012 - October 27, 2012

You will also need:

Milk, Sugar, Ground Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Butter, Flour, Eggs

Enjoy a Full Week of Pumpkin Desserts (Not a single one being pumpkin pie!)

These recipes provide great week-night meals for your family but they are also perfect for entertaining or special occasions.  If you or anyone has a special dietary need, these recipes are also easily adapted to Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Vegetarian.  An example of changing out ingredients in a meal to make it Vegan is to use soy or another nut milk, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, or vegan Parmesan cheese.

At the end of the week, or sometime during, please sound off about this week's menu.  Did you enjoy the websites?  How were the recipes?  Were they easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find?  Did you have quite a bit of the ingredients already on hand?

Did you find cooking different meals having similar items easier?  Were you able to prepare multiple meals at once?

What would you like to see on future menus?

Weekly Menu Link-Up


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Party - Table Decorating Ideas

Decorating for Halloween is fun but the table always makes a statement. Keep your guests out of the kitchen and at the table with these decorations.


Orange and Black is the theme for this Children's table.  The gift cornices on each chair adds a special touch for each guest.
Children's Halloween Table as seen on Skip To My Lou
Children's Halloween Table

A trip to the craft store will most likely score you some of these black birds.  Add some white dishes, black napkins, black candles, green table cloth, and black chairs to make this a table Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.
Black Halloween Table Decor by Base Decor
Black Halloween Decor

This table setting was actually used in a wedding but wouldn't it be simple to recreate?  The gourds hold luggage tags for each guest's name for place setting, white plates, pumpkins placed on a runner down the center of the table along with simple flower arrangements.
Halloween Wedding Table

This table setting is so easy it's scary.  Black fabric or table cloth, white and black dishes, red wine, over-sized hard bound books, two candelabras, and some "spider webs".  Make this a little more vampirish by adding drapery if you're eating alfresco or in the corners of your dining room.
Black Dining Table by Beach Interior
Black Dining Table


This looks much more complicated but the DIYer in you can do it!  Silver or shiny grey fabric for the table cover, black tulle tied around the backs of the chairs into a bow, white dishes, blue napkins, twigs from the yard spray painted white, a bat or black bird from the craft store, and some "spider webs".  See, I knew you could do it!
Elegant Halloween Table by HomeDesignLatest.com
Elegant Halloween Table

What Halloween table would be complete without a skull?  This is simple and complex.  The theme is black and orange, similar to the children's table above.  Here's where it gets a little tricky.  There are skulls flanking the candelabra, feather boas on each glass charger and below the plate.  It looks like the menu is ensconced in a silver frame and at each place setting is a votive candle along with a bust statue holding each guest's name.
Gothic Tablescape by Hostess with the Mostess
Gothic Tablescape

Are you hosting a party this year?  If so, please send us your Halloween Tablescape (substanceofliving at gmail dot com) so we can share them.

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Substance of Living