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Pineapp-O-Lantern: A Tropic’alloween Treat

Who says you can only make a Jack-O-Lantern out of a pumpkin? 

Not me! 

Allow me to introduce you to a frightfully fun Halloween treat that makes a great presentation when serving a fruit plate, or fruit and cheese platter or even an awesome Halloween breakfast!

I’m calling it a Pineapp-O-Lantern: A Tropic’alloween Treat!
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It’s basically the same process as carving a Jack-O-Lantern, so I wont bore you with an in-depth how-to, but I will share some tips.

I went the traditional route – cutting the top to make the ‘lid’ of the Jack-O-Lantern and then scooping out the contents, but I’ll definitely be doing things differently the next time I do this (see tips below).

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A much more efficient way (and what I ended up doing about half way through digging and scooping pineapple) would be to make the ‘lid’ cut at the top, and also chop the bottom off the pineapple so you can approach it from both ends.

Then you’ll only need to run the blade of your knife around the inside edge of both ends, hollowing out a cylinder and sliding it out. This will leave you with nice hollow shell for carving a face, as well as a nice neat tube of pineapple to core and slice for serving.

All that’s left to do is carve a face, and pop in a battery operated tealight candle (I got my candles 2 per pack at Dollar Tree, batteries included and they even flicker like real flames!).

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This project is great for bringing some whimsical Halloween fun to an unexpected place like a fruit platter, and I love that the pineapple top looks like spooky spiked hair!

EXTRA TIP: It’s not just for Halloween! Change the facial features slightly and you could carve a tiki face into the pineapple for an awesome display for a luau or other tropical themed summer party!

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Well hello there Mr Creepy Pinapp-O-Lantern face!

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Leprechaun Clips


Top O’ the Mornin’ to ya on this fine March Day! 


It’s almost St Patrick’s Day so I thought I would share a fun and free St. Patty’s Day activity.


When I was a little girl, I made a paper leprechaun (to the left)in school for St. Patrick’s Day. 

The arms and legs are attached with paper fasteners so that they are movable, and you can make him leap and dance an Irish Jig. 

The only time I have ever used this type of paper fastener was in the construction this leprechaun.

For my entire life I have always called those fasteners “Leprechaun Clips,” and in my mind (and my mind only) these clips are decidedly Irish.

I know this is not reality, but it has always been my reality, so it seems quite fitting that I would create my own St. Patrick’s Day project using those very Irish (in my mind only) ‘Leprechaun clips’!

The original Leprechaun (pictured above) that somehow survived all these years was obviously the inspiration for my leprechaun.

If you’d like to make your very own Leapin’ Leprechaun, all you need for this project are ‘Leprechaun Clips’ (paper fasteners picture to the right) and my free printable below.

Lets all make some new memories of Leprechaun clips!


This Printable is free to use for personal and/or educational use. Commercial and other use is strictly prohibited.

I’d love to see your finished leprechauns! Please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Enjoy!

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Mardi Gras Celebration – Monte Cristo

This is our biggest Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras celebration yet! 

Though in all fairness, the most we did to celebrate in the past was eat on Mardi Gras paper plates!

This year, aside from the decorating, and the King Cake and watching Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (set in New Orleans and gorgeous!) we also had a yummy Fat Tuesday dinner!

Peggo made AMAZING Monte Cristo sandwiches, and we all loved them!

She followed the recipe from the Blue Bayou restaurant in New Orleans Square in Disneyland (recipe below) and it was seriously dee-lish! 

Though I wasn’t able to capture the entire process/recipe in pictures, I did get a few!

The Monte Cristo is basically just a turkey, ham, and swiss sandwich dipped in batter and fried. It’s served with powdered sugar and some fresh raspberry jam/preserves.

It really doesn’t sound like flavors that would go together, but somehow it really does work!






Here is one in all it’s deep fried glory, fresh out of the pan… 








…before Peggo so artfully cut it on the diagonal, plated it, sprinkled it with powdered sugar and put a little raspberry jam/preserves on the side.

It looked and smelled and tasted divine!

This is all quite a departure from our usually healthy meals — not a steamed veggie to be found here!

Tomorrow we’ll have something extra healthy and nutritious for dinner balance it out…if we can resist that left-over King Cake!

Happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebration Y’all!!

Disneyland Blue Bayou Monte Cristo Sandwich
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
1 egg
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 slices egg bread (challah works well), sliced 1/2-inch thick
8 thin slices ham
8 thin slices turkey
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
3 cups canola oil
Confectioners sugar
Raspberry preserves
 
Directions:
Line a cookie sheet with paper towels; set aside.
Whisk the egg and water together in a mixing bowl. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and whisk thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl.
 
On one slice of bread, arrange 2 slices of ham, turkey, and cheese, covering the bread evenly. Place another slice of bread on top and slice each sandwich in half diagonally.
 
Heat oil to between 365 degrees F and 375 degrees F in a 10-inch pan. Do not let the oil reach a higher temperature than this; if the oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down. Dip half of the sandwich into the batter, allowing excess to drain, and very carefully place into the oil.
 
Repeat with the other sandwich half. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place the cooked sandwich on the prepared cookie sheet in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat with the other three sandwiches.
Cook one at a time, and allow the oil to reach the desired temperature between each.
Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve with raspberry preserves on the side.

Read more about our Mardi Gras decorating fun HERE!
Read more about our Mardi Gras King Cake HERE!

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Mardi Gras Celebration – Decorating

Happy Mardi Gras!

This is our first year celebrating Mardi Gras, so we’ve been doing some research!

Mardi Gras already has its own signature colors of Purple Green and Gold, so the color palette is already set as far as decorating, and each color has a special meaning. 

– Purple for Justice
– Green for Faith 
– Gold for Power.

Purple can be a difficult color to work with. Finding the right shade is quite a task, and it can be nearly impossible to find other items to match!

One way to get around this is to find items made by the same company, or from the same line, so that they least match each other. 

We made sure to do this with our tablecloth and napkins. Having that one consistent base to work with really helped pull the look together.

Our decorating goal for the dining room is to design the buffet and the table so they look like they are meant to be together. We want them to compliment one another instead of competing for the spotlight.

Here we have the buffet covered in a purple tablecloth, and the dining table is covered in a gold tablecloth with purple napkins placed diagonally as place mats to give the table a harlequin pattern. 

It brings the exact same color from the buffet to the table so they stay harmonious without weighing down the entire room with two dark purple table cloths.


We went with the literal metallic gold as opposed to introducing yellow accents. We did this mainly in the form of gold charger plates, gold platters, gold flatware, gold tablecloth, and an assortment of gold beads and baubles to simulate over-sized Mardi Gras beads (mostly Christmas decorations…sshhh!! don’t tell anyone!!)

Once again the dollar store saves the day with lots of awesome inexpensive bead necklaces to drape from every available surface. 

They had lots of other cute items as well, such as our cute little masquerade masks.

We’ve even wrapped beads around the napkins instead of napkin rings so guests can join in on the fun and wear them if they’d like.

We’ve draped beads from the candlesticks and on the pedestal in the centerpiece.










With the decorating complete, we can focus on our Mardi Gras feast!

The plan as of now is to make Monte Cristo Sandwiches — probably using a copycat recipe of the recipe used in The Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. 

We’re also planning to make King Cake for the very first time — or a modified version of king cake, just as long as it has the traditional colored sugar.

UPDATE: We made  the King Cake and the Monte Cristo sandwiches, read more about it here;

Check out our King Cake HERE!
Check out our Fat Tuesday Monte Cristo HERE!

I made the colored the sugar for the King Cake myself for the very first time — so fun and easy I should blog about it! — except the whole blog would be;

1 – put some sugar in a ziplock bag
 
2 – add a few drops of food coloring
 
3 – shake-a, shake-a, shake-a
 
4 – the end

Maybe if we are lucky we’ll be able to score some Packzki this year. Though it’s not traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras fare, it is a traditional Fat Tuesday food.

I’ll update this post with how it all turned out! Until next time, Happy Mardi Gras y’all!

Check out our adventures in making a King Cake HERE!
Check out our Fat Tuesday Monte Cristo HERE!

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Holiday Candy Hacks

Creative Holiday Candy hack!

Catch the after Christmas sales for red and green mixed chocolates like M&M’s and Hershey Kisses.

Sort the candies by color and store them away (so you won’t be tempted to eat them!).

Now you have both Valentine’s Day AND St. Patrick’s day covered! 

You are covering two holidays at once, and your holiday chocolate needs through mid-March while getting deep discounts from after Christmas Sales.










‘True Love Kisses’ and red M&M’s for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.









‘Kiss-Me-I’m-Irish Kisses’ and green M&M’s for the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Strawberry Valentine Hearts – Quick and Easy!

Are you looking for a last minute idea for a Valentines Day treat? 

Well here is an idea that is great for Valentines Day, or any day you want to show your loved ones that you love them. 

It gets better – this idea is super quick, easy and healthy!

Your strawberries are all just 3 simple slices away from being the perfect Valentines Day breakfast, dessert or healthy snack.

Step by Step Guide to creating quick and easy
strawberry hearts below.

Have you ever seen a sweeter way to serve fresh strawberries?


Step 1: Start with a nice fresh strawberry.
 
Step 2: You’re going to remove the stem and 
leaves with a “V” cut at the top. 
This is the first diagonal cut.
 
Step 3: Make the second cut of the “V” the 
same as the first and meeting in the middle.
Step 4: Remove greens along with the wedge shaped cut out.
 
 
Step 5: Cut straight down the middle.
 
Step 6: You’ll now have two perfect little flat backed 
strawberry hearts to put on your plate.
 

 

Step 7: Serve them;
 
 -on a little cloud of whipped cream, or
-a circle around a dollop of Greek yogurt, or
-as a festive garnish, or
 
Let your heart decide!
Enjoy!


Valentine’s Day decorating HERE!
Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast HERE!

Valentine’s Charlie Brown Party HERE!

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Valentines Day Celebration

 

Wow, these winter holidays seem to be one after another with very little time between!

We get to enjoy the Valentines decorations until the 14th but then Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year are right after – only days apart on February 17th and 19th!

So little time to plan, prepare and decorate!

Anyway, back to Valentines Day – the decorations are up and the house is looking a bit like a cupid sanctuary.



We went with a white Battenburg lace tablecloth over a red tablecloth, so the red peeks through all the openwork in the lace.

There are red roses and various other sparkling red baubles scattered through the center of the table. 





We chose white China and red cloth napkins with silver charger plates and flatware.

Hearts and roses are all standard Valentine’s decor, but in honor of this blustery winter that just won’t quit, we’ve incorporated some frosty accents. It is a February holiday after all. It lands squarely in the middle of winter, despite what any groundhogs say!

My love for snowflakes is no secret, so I am happy to pull them into any design. This one really tickles me pink.



Sure, Valentines decorations can easily go from elegant and romantic, to gaudy and garish, but – it’s Valentines Day! 

It is supposed to be over the top and flashy and as far as it can go without crossing the line into hopelessly and irrevocably tacky.

So bring on the fancy froo-froo design and let your Valentine’s Day spirit show with sparkly shiny heart, flowers and cupids! 

Especially in a cold and snowy winter, the bright cheery red and sparkle of Valentine decorations really warms the heart.





We haven’t figured out what to serve for the perfect Valentines Day dinner yet, so that plan is still being worked out, (will update blog when we figure it out) but we’ve got breakfast covered with our super-simple heart shaped strawberry’s for breakfast.

Check out how to make them HERE.

We’ve also got some PINK chocolate chip pancakes planned – YUM!





And lets not forget Dessert. Though I certainly wish I had baked these myself, we actually found these delicious cookies at Aldi.  
Shortbread Cookies with Strawberry Fruit Filling and a milk chocolate Base. 

The Strawberry and Cherry versions of this cookie both somehow ended up in our cart and we don’t even have a toddler with grabby hands to blame!







In my dreams, I also have one of these gorgeous baroque silver heart candy dishes at each place setting filled with chocolates and those little pastel candy conversation hearts.

For now that fantasy only exists in my mind and my amazon wish list.




Let’s not forget the tradition of watching the Charlie Brown Holiday Specials. This year, Valentine’s Day Eve, we’ve got a movie date with Snoopy!

Hot buttered popcorn, hot cocoa with whipped cream on top, Hershey’s Kisses in Valentine red foil and the big comfy couch with the fluffy warm blankets! Cuddle party!!



Until next time, Happy Valentines Day! 

May your day be filled with Love and Abundance!




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Holiday Home Tour 2014 – Better Late than never!

As I mentioned in a previous post, home renovations and stressful events had delayed the start of our holiday decorating until mid-to-late December.

We’ve got our Evie Bird home now after a nearly 4 month hospital stay. 


Though most people have taken down their Christmas decorations by now, we’ve extended the season a bit so that she can enjoy that home-for-the-holidays feel a bit before we move on to the next holiday.

So, though it’s late for a holiday home tour, we’re on our own holiday schedule this year and it’s still Christmas at our house!

With the snow coming down for Winter Storm Juno, I am definitely enjoying the extra cozy feel of still having Christmas decorations. 

Come on in from the cold and blowing snow and stay a while!



Pictured above is our Dining Room Table and Sideboard set with deep red brocade table cloth and napkins. 
The centerpiece is a white china cake pedestal with dried pomegranates and vintage silver salt and pepper shakers shaped like ornaments on an oval silver tray. The centerpiece is flanked by mistletoe kissing balls mounted on silver candlestick holders.

The sideboard is covered in deep red poinsettia patterned brocade fabric with sheer white draped fabric, and pine boughs adorned with sparkling snowflakes and white twinkle lights.


Each place setting is a pure white china set atop silver baroque charger plates. 

Matching baroque silver nut dish added on top for some extra sparkle along with cloth napkins that match the table cloth, wrapped in silver napkin rings with crystal accents.


Our dining room french doors are decked with pine boughs covered in pine cones and little white twinkle lights. 

On the french doors you’ll find two matching pine wreaths covered in deep red poinsettias, over-sized snowflakes and a single white candle in the center of each wreath with a flickering flame bulbs.









Our tea cart is set with our freshly polished silver tea set resting on cheery Christmas tartan tea towels, and the most adorably whimsical plush gingerbread men that look like they are related to the Fraggle Rock Doozers!


Our silverware caddy has been re-purposed for the season as a candy cane caddy. So that we are always ready with a fresh candy cane for every cup of eggnog or peppermint chocolate milk.

A small gingerbread creation station has been set up with some candies in small clear bowls on a silver tray, and a small decoration station has been set up with spare Christmas ornaments on a silver tray.
Here is a blurry picture of most of the above items all together in one shot, along with our Christmas tree.
Want to find out how I created this entire opulent Christmas look with practically no decorating budget? Check here!(article and link coming soon)
China pattern: Alsace by Farberware
Silverware Pattern: Baroque by Godinger
Silver Chargers and Nut Dishes: silver plate baroque style – unknown discontinued line.

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Last Minute Christmas Decorating and a Flooring Update!

I promised frequent updates on the hardwood flooring restoration project, but unfortunately there have been no updates to report. 

Due to some big-time stressful life events, we decided it would be best for all of us to put this project on hold and avoid adding to our stress. 

We had planned on finishing this project before Thanksgiving, and it is now rapidly approaching Christmas.

Anyone who knows me knows, I LOVE decorating for Christmas. 

I look forward to it all year – I am always trying to extend the season by starting earlier and leaving the decorations up a little longer than most people do. As you can imagine, waiting and waiting until mid-December with no end to the waiting in sight has been torture. 

We felt like we were skipping Christmas by living in an un-decorated work-zone.

So, we moved the furniture back into place and put up the Christmas decorations in a hurry. (♫ because we need a little Christmas, right this very minute…)

We’re referring to the current state of the unfinished floor as ‘charmingly rustic’ – in other words scratched, rough, and discolored wood with a few remnants of 50 year old varnish around the edges.

In certain light (at night) the unfinished hardwood in the dining room doesn’t look all that different from the finished wood in the living room, and the transition is not too terribly noticeable – and it doesn’t take any imagination to envision how it will look when it is done.

In daylight it is a whole different story – but still a huge improvement over the tired old plastic-covered-picture-of-bricks linoleum that wasn’t fooling anyone.

A Christmas decorating home tour will be coming soon (hopefully), with pictures that artfully avoid daylight and/or showing the unsightly areas that are still unfinished.

Until then, here is a taste! Enjoy!

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Spooktackular Halloween Cereals

Okay, confession time. 


Before today I had never tasted Franken Berry or Boo Berry cereals! It’s crazy, right?

Well, in the midst of my quest to appreciate all the tiny everyday miracles in life, and celebrate everything, a Halloween breakfast party was born.

When we saw Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry cereals there amongst all the Halloween goodies at Aldi at a frightfully low price, the little kid in me reached out and grabbed them and slipped them into the cart when the adult me was not looking.

I am so glad my inner child was a little miss grabby hands this time.
Even the boxes make me smile. They are so Boo-tiful.

This is one very easy way to make a new family tradition and give little ones great Halloween memories just by making a VERY easy breakfast party any time in October.

As for me, I am still learning how to use my camera, so I took pictures of all of the spooky breakfast treats in their natural habitat (our kitchen table).

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