Archive of ‘Entertaining’ category

Halloween 2013 Decor

Gearing up for Halloween around here is always a last minute thing. It starts with grand plans and usually ends up being a piece meal affair. But those little steps add up, and by Halloween we’re set…to start taking down. However, in an attempt to get my act together a bit more this year, I aimed to be mostly done by the week before Halloween.

I decided to go with a witches theme this year. Nothing too extreme, just a little hat and cauldron action. There may be a broom in there for good measure.


Move in a little closer and you start to see all the little details that make this entry so much fun.




We even threw out a few grave markers, just enough to keep it spooky.



And my absolute favorite thing about the entry this year is the cauldron. On a small table covered with black cheese cloth I layered a wreath of grape vine followed by some orange tissue paper. Inside the paper I wrapped a cord of orange Halloween lights and then placed the cauldron on top. Lit up at night it gives the appearance of fire boiling the ingredients in the pot. I also added poly fill to make it look like steam bubbling inside.


Moving inside I stuck with my color palette of creams and blacks on the mantel. I started with an old bird cage I had and placed several crows and an owl around. I added two urns, each with a white pumpkin atop, and finished it off with a few old books, bottles, and a skull for good measure.




So that’s it. I’ve still got a couple of things to do around the house in preparation for our Halloween party this weekend, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Now if only I could get someone to come and put all this stuff away next weekend.




Intentional Gratitude: Thankful Conversation Starters

With Halloween on the horizon and the holiday season gearing into action, it’s easy to lose sight of the everyday moments, the ones that make us smile and remind us of how fortunate we are. In an effort to be more conscious and thankful this holiday season, I devised a simple way to remind myself and my family of our blessings.

large image thankful

On small strips of paper I wrote conversation starters. They all began with the phrase, “a time you were thankful for…” followed by a different prompt such as, “home, Mom, Dad, being a sister, bad weather, etc”. I filled a vase with the prompts and placed them on the dinner table. While we had a meal we each chose one. A simple act but one that made us remember just how fortunate we are—how much gratitude resides in our home.

thankful detail

This activity is perfect for the holidays, or any time you need a gentle reminder of how blessed your life truly is.


Le Bebe: A Parisian Baby Shower

My baby sister is having her second child, a girl, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate my little niece in style. I mentioned in my last post that I’d be reusing some decor for Big Bean’s Ballerina birthday party. I used the same back drop as the starting point for the Parisian theme I went with. By adding black and white stripes I was able to give the same look a decidedly French feel. Well, that and an Eiffel Tower for good measure. I tried to evoke a cafe feel to the setting without plastering everything with Eiffel Towers and I think it turned out sweet without being too precious. Enjoy!


Guest were greeted with a little nod to who we were celebrating at the door.



The games started the moment they came in the door. I’m not one for shower games in general, but the clothes pin game is always an easy one to play.

chalk board


The table was set with a casual collection of flowers from my garden in a variety of different glass vases. I wanted a relaxed feel so I used craft paper as my table cloth and added the plate-fork-knife drawing at each setting. I’ll have a small tutorial on an easy way to do that soon!



The dessert bar was simple; cake, gallettes, and madeleines. The hot air balloons were a fun and easy craft that added just a touch of black and white stripe to define the theme as it’s own against the same backdrop from the Ballerina party.




A tutorial is coming for how to make these hot air balloons soon!


I also made these burlap signs to continue the french theme into the living room.

bebe sign

Guests enjoyed a french menu…so there was cheese…lots of cheese. And quiche. Which I thought would be darling as little personal sized pies. Six hours of baking later, I have since changed my mind. Personal sized quiche suck unless you’ve got yourself one of those fancy pans that makes 12 at a time. My little 4-pie pan mocked my attempt at being darling.



What didn’t suck were these guys. The water was watermelon and mint infused and I brewed the tea the day before with french lavender. Both were delish!



My sister was surrounded by friends and family, many of who are crafty themselves. One of her friends made this darling diaper cake. Such a cute gift!


And this little girl will have more clothes than she’ll be able to wear before she grows out of them!


It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to meet my new love, the…


Keep an eye out for a tutorial on mass producing the plate-fork-knife drawing on craft paper as well as the hot air balloons in the next few days!


Too Easy Tutu

The party favor for Big Beans Ballerina party was a tutu. There are tons of tutorials on how to make tutus, but the vast majority are for knot-tied tutorials in which strip after strip of tulle is tied in a knot onto a band of elastic. Although simple, I know from experience just how long this type of tutu can take to make. I made one for Big Bean when she was a year old and needless to say, it took me forever and a day to get it done in time for Christmas…nearly six months later.

So with very little time and even a smaller amount of patience, I knew I needed a speedier solution. To that end, I created a simple sew tutu that takes no more than five minutes to make. That’s right–FIVE minutes!

You can find the step-by-step instructions on for how to make this simple yet darling tutu here.



A Very Ballerina Birthday

My big bean turned six this last Saturday and per her request we celebrated with excessive sums of pink and all things ballet. See, she’s *really* into ballet right now and there was no persuading her otherwise (see my post about birthday persuasion here). Armed with tutus, frosting, and enough estrogen to make a grown man cry, we had ourselves an amazing day celebrating my first baby.


I started by painting the backdrop. I knew I wanted it to look like a set backdrop in a production and that I wanted it to highlight the desserts. Using those ideas as my guidelines, I painted the piece with colors that would set the tone for the party.

I also went with mainly sweet treats for food. I knew that this party might send someone into a sugar coma, but I figured, “Hey, what’s a little sugar-induced-child-out-of-control among friends?”





And there was no way I could pass up on vintage ballerina cupcake toppers. I may have planned most of the party just so I could have these.

cupcake ballerinaswm

The birthday girl got her own ballerina as well.



The meringues were from Trader Joe’s (love that place) and the donuts were store bought, to which I added a little extra icing so my nonpareils would stick. And those petit fours? A Pinterest fail. I’d thank Amy Atlas (it’s her recipe) for nothing but I’m fairly certain hers would be perfection and mine are simply a result of user error.





With the girls sufficiently sugared up, we proceeded to get jiggy dance gracefully with the tutus I made for the girls. We had a hair station for those without proper buns and did face paint because, well, because it’s awesome.







We also made pipe cleaner crowns. Now, I had it in my head that I would make those beautiful vintage lace crowns all over Pinterest, but then I remembered I’m not *that* crazy and instead enlisted the ballerinas to make them.



The big bean was spoiled rotten by all of her adorable friends.



And she even gave me a little love in between scenes.



All in all, it was a wonderful birthday.




A Taste of Summer: BBQ Nectarines

To me, one of the best parts of the summer has to the fruit. I have an ancient nectarine tree in my yard that produces the most amazing fruit in sums that would put rabbits to shame. It also means that I have an awful lot of it and am constantly looking for new ways to prepare them. And the newest one has got to be the best—BBQ Nectarines.


BBQ Nectarines with Honey, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Ice Cream


-Nectarines (plan on one whole nectarine per person)

-Spray oil  (such as Pam)



-Vanilla ice cream



1. Heat your BBQ to a medium flame. Hotter and you risk scorching the flesh.

2. While heating your BBQ, wash and halve your nectarines, removing the pits. Spray them lightly with your oil as it will help keep the nectarines from sticking.


3. Place nectarines cut-side down, leaving them for 5-7 minutes. This allows you to get the roasting marks on the flesh, caramelize some of the natural sugars, and heat the fruit without scorching it.


4. Remove fruit from heat and plate. Add a scoop or two of ice cream directly on top, then add a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately…because if you don’t, your ice cream will melt very quickly.


Delicious and beautiful, it’s the perfect dessert for a summer celebration.




Sneak Peek: Ballerina Birthday Party

My biggest bean has requested a ballerina themed birthday party this year, and since little miss is turning the big six, and ballet is the center of her world right now, I am more than happy to oblige. The big day is next weekend, and I’ve been busy sewing and painting and gluing and well, generally getting a little out of control with everything. I thought I’d give you a little sneak peek at what’s to come.






Next week I’ll post the full party. In the mean time, hope your week is far calmer than mine will be.



Summer Sangria Spritzer

This deep into summer and the nights are nearly as hot as the days. In search of relief, and without a pool in the backyard, I turn to the closest thing; alcohol. Alright, alright, perhaps the two are not the same, but they do go well together, just like the ingredients in this super yum, super easy drink I made up tonight, the Summer Sangria Spritzer!


One of the best parts of this Sangria is that you don’t have to let it sit overnight. The juice that’s used imparts the sugar necessary that usually comes from the fruit.


-1/4 cup red wine (I used Costco cabernet sauvignon. If you haven’t tried it you’re missing out. Such an easy and affordable wine)

-1/2 cup Blood Orange Italian Soda

-1/2 cup ripe nectarine, cubed

Add all ingredients together and give a gentle stir. The soda makes it effervescent, it’s light and refreshing, and the best part, its beyond easy. Enjoy!




Pie and the 4th of July

We celebrated the birth of our great nation like every other patriotic American does; by overdosing on food and blowing stuff up. The morning was spent walking in our neighborhood parade, and by the time it was finished around 10 am, the thermometer was already at 103 degrees. We hightailed it back into the safety of air conditioning until later in the day when we joined some wonderful friends for a BBQ, some pie, and the amazing pyrotechnics done by the men lighting fireworks off in the streets (which are legal in our neck of the woods). And although the glitter of 1000 degree fireworks is quite a show, I’d contend that my cherry, strawberry, and blueberry pie was the show stopper. Image

In full disclosure, I didn’t actual come up with the recipe, BUT I did do the baking. I also didn’t come up with the design, that business is all over Pinterest already, but let me tell you, I deserve all the flippin’ kudos ‘cuz this bad boy was work. Cherry pitting is the pits, and that pie crust (which is amazing, btw) was a temperamental sucka, but in the end it was so worth it.

The recipe is from Epicurious and so worth all the work. It’s for a lattice crust cherry pie but I used blueberries and strawberries and modified the look of the crust and it was perfect. And the crust will be my new go to. Enjoy!

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