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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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FacebookEaster

Are you an Easter Feaster?

Are you a Easter Feaster? Did you have an Easter Feast?

We did!

It is my sincerest hope that nothing I ever post on this blog ever comes across as bragging in any way. It is my wish that that the only thing this blog does is spread joy and serve as a reminder to celebrate every moment.

I can clearly recall past Easters where life had not been so kind and we could not fit an Easter Feast into the budget or I had simply lost the ability to celebrate or appreciate much of anything — we just skipped the holidays. Those were very dark days.

The things that I write about in this blog are like a Spring celebration — coming back after a long winter hibernation.

Back to the celebrating! Spring is here again.

This year our dining table converted to spring on the first day of spring. 

Overnight on Easter eve, the Easter Bunny did his own special magic and left us Easter treats at each of our place settings.





This year the Easter Bunny left us each our very own Chocolate bunny in a bed of Easter grass. 

We also received adorable little foil wrapped chocolate chicks, pink bunnies, and solid chocolate eggs! 

There were jelly beans set in silver dishes and lets not forget the Peeps! 

He also left us a little silver dish of After Dinner Mints. They are so pretty and pastel and I think I have only ever eaten them at Easter time!



We also found our Smithfield Spiral Ham at Aldi, and it was delicious!

Peggo says it was the best ham she ever made. It was not at all fatty, no bone, no waste, easy to cut, perfect size, easy to cook and easy clean-up. It even came in a festive foil  wrapper that had spirals on it. I mention the wrapper because I appreciate the detail. 

Our Easter Feast was the above mentioned spiral ham, delicious steamed carrots and red potatoes seasoned with rosemary and thyme. 

For dessert we had scrumptious mini eclairs and cream puffs. So so so yummy!

This Easter and every Easter, we always seem to be just a little bit behind schedule and the coloring of the eggs seems to happen on Easter Eve.

We bought 4 dozen for coloring. Is that excessive? I always wonder how many eggs other families color for Easter. 

It seems wasteful to use the color for less than 2 dozen, and anything more than 4 dozen and I don’t think we could ever possibly eat them all before they spoil. 

We’ll be up to our ears in egg salad as it is! 


For our ‘egg party’ we ate warm soft pretzels and jelly beans while we brought out our great storehouse of Easter egg coloring kits. 

I have been saving the dippers from Easter egg coloring kits for MANY years now. 

We have an egg dipper for every color now (and then some) and it makes the coloring so much easier!






Though many aspect of Easter tuned out picture perfect, there were a few poorly hatched plans that did not quite turn out as expected, and some downright silly substitutions were made.

I had hoped to create one of those lovely pineapple covered hams — the pretty ones with the pineapple rings and maraschino cherry centers.

We kind of forgot about that step, so I had a bunch of pineapple rings with no place to go. 

Honestly, the rings turned out way too big for the ham anyway, so it was no real loss, plus now we’ll have fresh pineapple with breakfast for a week!

Our silly substitution this year comes in the form of an onion! 

I was hoping to have some fresh flowering bulbs for Easter, but I never got around to buying any. 

At the same time, one of our onions decided to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight as our Easter plant.

I swear, just seeing the greens coming out of the bulb makes me feel happy!

We plan to plant it in the garden along with the potatoes that grew eyes and now have mini leaves growing out of them!! 

It may still be cold outside, but spring sure is sprouting in our kitchen!

That sums up our Easter celebration! I’m going to go relax on the couch, watch The Ten Commandments and eat my yellow Easter Peep!

Happy Easter!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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St Patricks Day – Potato Soup

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With an Irish name like Hickey, people kind of expect us to celebrate good ole St. Patty’s Day.

After discovering that the ‘traditional’ St. Patrick’s Day dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage may NOT even be a traditional Irish dish, we decided to explore the alternatives.

Continue reading “St Patricks Day – Potato Soup”

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Mardi Gras Celebration – King Cake

Happy Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras Celebration!

I have to admit, I have never tasted King Cake. I don’t know what makes a King Cake good or bad. 

I do know that I wanted a festive treat for Mardi Gras and King Cake is one of the most festive looking Mardi Gras treats around.

Please look away now if you are from New Orleans, or have tasted the real King Cake, because I have made a quickie version of a King Cake-like treat that probably pales in comparison to the real thing.


It’s a giant cinnamon bun twisted/ braided into a big wreath-like cake, with the cinnamon bun frosting covered in Mardi Gras colored sugar.

It was a lot of messy fun to make, and I would have taken more pictures of the process, but my hands were covered in sticky cinnamon filling and I didn’t want to have a cinnamon flavored camera — because I would have to eat that too.

So, this is the only in-progress picture, but I think its says it all.


I mentioned in a past post, that I have made my own colored sugar for the first time this year. It was easy and fun!

In case you missed it, here are the full and excessively lengthy instructions;

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







The tradition is to hide a baby charm in the King Cake. The lucky person to get the piece with the baby in it will be blessed with good luck and prosperity.

Choking hazards aside, I’m wishing you all find the piece with the baby! 

Good luck and prosperity to you! 

Happy Fat Tuesday!


UPDATE: We just served it!

Here it is cut open!

I have not tasted the King Cake yet because I am still happily stuffed from eating THESE divine Monte Cristo sandwiches that Peggo made, but so far two of us have tried it and there are two thumbs up so far!

Not bad for a quickie substitute idea!

UPDATE again:  I tried it. *swoon*
4 out of 4 thumbs up so far! Best served warm. YUM!

Nitty Gritty Notes – We used two cans of Jumbo Cinnamon Roll dough from Aldi (2@$2.39) — the kind that explodes when you unwrap the cardboard can. Each can contains 5 rolls. We unrolled all the rolls into strips, and made two groups of 5. We loosely grouped/stacked the strips and then twisted them together. The twisted dough was loosely shaped into a wreath-like shape with only minimal efforts to tuck/blend the edges.
 
All of the dough shaping was on Non-Stick foil on a sheet pan that was also used for baking it. The directions on the can said to bake 18-22 minutes at 375. We were using two cans at once so we tried 22 minutes and then pulled it out and poked at it a few minutes before deciding to toss it back in for 8 minutes longer at 350. It came out PERFECT.
 
We used the frosting that came in the cans of dough, and frosted them with a flexible silicone spatula while they were fresh and hot, working quickly and covering the entire ‘cake’ with frosting before sprinkling the colored sugar on top before the icing cooled/set.
Want more Mardi Gras? 
Check out our Mardi Gras decorating 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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Be My Valentine Charlie Brown

Did you watch?

I may not be the biggest fan of the ‘ole melancholy melon head Charlie Brown — or his very odd dog pal Snoopy — or the insensitive pack of bullies who make Charlie Brown’s life so miserable, but something about those cartoons and the focus on each individual holiday has an undeniably cozy, nostalgic feel. 

Plus, it gives me another ‘event’ to plan out and make special, as a sort of practice run for each holiday. 

So despite the fact that there are no little ones here to enjoy a cartoon, we are usually tuned in for all of the holiday specials. 

So here is what our Valentine’s Eve with Charlie Brown looked like;

Be My Valentine Charlie Brown on the TV — with hot buttered popcorn, hot cocoa with whipped cream on top, and Hershey’s Kisses in Valentine red foil — on the big comfy couch with fluffy warm blankets! 

It was a Cartoon Cuddle Party Extraordinaire!!

These ridiculously low temperatures and frequent snowfalls definitely amp up the need for cozy blankets and comfort food!


This winter has been particularly cold and cruel, but before you know it, it’ll be Springtime again, and time for The Easter Beagle Charlie Brown holiday special! 

Quick and easy Strawberry Hearts how-to HERE!
Valentine’s Day decorating HERE!
Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast HERE!
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Valentines Day Pancakes

What better way to start your Valentine’s Day than with some pink chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream on top and fresh strawberry hearts on the side?

We actually made these Valentine’s Day Pancakes – ON Valentines Day! 

Trust me, this is a small miracle, as we tend to PLAN a lot of things that never really make it into reality, or make it on their own unique time table, usually after the holiday,  but this time  – voila! Pink Pancakes!

I’d be lying if I said that this blog and the need for content and quality pictures wasn’t a HUGE motivator for getting these plans into action. But when you think about it, the whole point of this blog is to celebrate and appreciate more. I actually AM doing that.

I’ve always said that having little ones in your life makes you appreciate and celebrate more. Even if you don’t really feel like coloring eggs or putting up the tree or all the other traditional holiday activities, you will do it for them  – to create those lifetime memories and traditions. But what about when there are no little ones in your life? Do you stop celebrating and appreciating?

When a family is at that awkward in-between stage where there are no little ones, sometimes it feels like all holidays are on hold – which to me feels like all of life is on hold. For now, this blog is my baby, and I am devoting myself to giving it everything I can – creating beautiful and memorable holidays and a home full of love.

So, kids or no kids we are going to celebrate like we’re in kindergarten! Starting with PINK PANCAKES!

We bought this festive Valentines pancake mix at Aldi.  

It’s pink and has chocolate chips – what more could I possibly ask for?

We tried, oh how we tried, oh so hard to make these pancakes heart shaped. 

We used our little silicone heart shape specially designed for this, but it was bent out of shape from being in storage, so the batter was leaking out the edges. 

So we ended up making traditional round pancakes instead – well, sort of round…..round-ish.

 

In the end we had a lovely holiday pancake breakfast and a sense of accomplishment that we went that extra mile to celebrate not for any actual children, but for the sake of each of our own inner children. You could almost hear the magical giggles as we served these.  
 
Valentine’s Day breakfast checked off the to-do list!
 
Happy Valentine’s Day!
 
 
Quick and easy Strawberry Hearts how-to HERE!

Valentine’s Day decorating HERE!
Charlie Brown Valentine’s Special 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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Groundhog Day Celebration

Happy Groundhog day!
 

This year is the first time we are attempting to ‘celebrate’ Groundhog day.

So here we go!

To start with, we made Coco Krispy Groundhogs!

It’s just the standard Rice Krispy Treat recipe only we swapped out Rice Krispies for Coco Krispies so that our groundhogs would be brown.



Here’s the recipe:
——————————————
INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) Marshmallows
OR
4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups Coco Krispy Rice cereal

DIRECTIONS
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. 

2. Add Coco Krispy Rice cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Release your creative side and start forming groundhog shapes!
——————————–

We had some candy eyes left over from Halloween baking, and the teeth are made from mini marshmallows cut to shape and size with cooking sheers.

As you can see in the picture, we tried several approaches to the overall design of the groundhog. Let me tell you, when you look up at this motley crew of slightly deranged looking weather forecasting rodents, it makes you giggle.

We used a piece of a green plastic tablecloth for the ‘grass’ and some dry Coco Krispies around the base to simulate a dirt mound around the groundhog burrow hole.

Clearly Coco Krispies and marshmallow do not create the most cooperative sculpting medium, but this is not meant to be fine art.

Creating them was a fun and silly break from reality and they taste dee-lish!

On the absolute MUST-DO list for today is to watch Groundhog day! 

Unfortunately it’s not available for streaming on Netflix. If you don’t have the DVD, Blu Ray or digital copy, it’s on AMC several times on Groundhog Day so fire up those DVRs!

Here is the schedule:

Monday February 1st at 10:00 AM
Monday February 1st at 12:30 PM
Monday February 1st at  3:00 PM
Monday February 1st at  5:30 PM

Enjoy!

UPDATE:
I added links below for The Groundhog Day Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download, respectively. 

I also added a link for the CUTEST stuffed groundhog! I want to buy him and put him right in the middle of our dining room table as a centerpiece next year!


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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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