Thursday, October 30, 2014

Favorite Fall and Halloween Decorating Ideas

When you’re decorating for Halloween, do you choose scary or cute? Are you Halloween specific or do you go with a more general autumn theme? This year, we’re hosting a Halloween costume party, so we've gone all out Halloween through most of the house. But I do have one space reserved for more of a general autumn and Thanksgiving theme. When the Halloween decorations come down, that will take us through a month of giving thanks.

Whichever theme or style you choose, here are a few of our favorite finds for decorating ideas including our very own haunted garden. Enjoy!

Our Haunted Garden has grown a little more each year. This year's addition is the orange sign that we made to welcome our visitors. 

A couple of my favorite mantel designs come from Hometalk and the Seasonal Home.

Photo taken from

Photo taken from

This is one of the most original ideas I've seen for a table setting, from Weddingomania. Love the color choice, the hand and the rose. Great detail and this was from a Halloween wedding table!

Photo taken from

Two front door designs that I really like. The first is ours (I'm partial), and the other is a more elegant design from Create Craft Love

Photo taken from Create Craft Love

As for pumpkin carving, you can find just about anything. We did a traditional pumpkin this year, but my good friend, Gail and family, created a much more artistic display! 

Have a happy day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

13 Creative and Spooky Halloween Food Ideas

Well I've finally finished my menu planning for this year's Halloween party. I've scoured Pinterest and Google for the best creative Halloween food ideas, and although I won't be making all of these, I thought I'd share with you my top 13 finds. (Of course 13 - it's Halloween!)

When it comes to party food for Halloween, there is a lot out there. Personally, I'm not a big fan of food looking like stuffed cockroaches, severed fingers, or gushing brains. I like my Halloween foods to look cute and clever, but still appetizing! These are my picks, and I'm not telling which I'm making for the party this Friday, but I'll be sure to post pics when the table is set!

Monster cookies
Photo taken from

Photo taken from Bakerella

Photo taken from Raining Hot Coupons

Photo taken from First for Women

Photo taken from Chickabug

Photo taken from

Photo taken from One Sweet Appetite

Photo taken from Sally's Baking Addiction

Photo taken from Real Simple

Halloween Veggie Platter

Photo taken from S Spicy Perspective

Photo taken from BHG

Photo taken from BHG

Have a happy day!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Favorite Autumn Recipe: Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients for 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 32 ounces chicken broth (veggie broth works great if you prefer vegetarian)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream
  1. Heat oil in large pot.
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot, potatoes and squash about 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer 40 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. 
  6. Return to pot and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and croutons or crusty bread.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery

I've been to Sonoma and ridden a hot air balloon over Napa. It is a beautiful region with such a wide variety of styled wineries, making it an amazing vacation spot.

On a family reunion trip this summer, we discovered Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. It's in the area near Green Bay where my dad grew up, just up the road from his favorite meat shop. On our stop there, we purchased a freezer full of the best Wisconsin sausage and cheese and headed toward the Winery.

What struck me most about this place was the farm and silos in the background of the vineyard. It had its own unique feel that was very Midwestern and spoke to my heart. (And the wines aren't bad either!)


Have a happy day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sweetest Day Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread

I found this recipe on Epicurious a few years ago and it quickly became a favorite. Ken loves peanut butter. I love shortbread. We're both kids at heart so this recipe, like us, is a match made in heaven!

Unless you've sworn to chocolate this Sweetest Day, give this one a try. It's not for the faint of heart. It takes a bit of work, but it's well worth it.

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray (I use canola)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter (I use Smuckers all natural)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup blackberry jam

  1. Spray bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray. 
  2. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Beat in vanilla. 
  5. Add flour; beat on low speed just until blended.
  6. Transfer 1/3 cup dough to work surface. Shape into 1/2-inch-thick disk, place on plate, and freeze until hard, about 1 hour. 
  7. Press remaining dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. 
  8. Spread jam over dough in pan, leaving 1/3-inch plain border. Refrigerate while dough disk freezes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using large holes of box grater, grate frozen dough evenly over jam.
  10.  Bake shortbread until dough edge is deep golden and grated dough on top looks dry and baked through, about 50 minutes. 
  11. Cool shortbread completely in pan. Release pan sides. Cut into wedges.

Release pan sides. Cut shortbread into wedges.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Favorite Healthy Recipe: The Best Shrimp Stir-fry

After Labor Day and all those summer BBQs, I decided it was time to go on a diet. Just to lose enough weight so I don't feel too much holiday weight gain starting in November. I'm really not a yo-yo dieter, but I do enjoy good food and need to balance that with maintaining a healthy weight. This shrimp stir-fry is a great dinner to satisfy my happy taste buds and keep my diet in check. 

The Best Shrimp Stir-fry

Ingredients for 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, cut julienne style
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews (I actually used both)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 cups medium shrimp with tails removed
  1. Heat oil in large skillet or wok.
  2. Saute green beans and carrots in oil 5 minutes.
  3. Add soy sauce, orange juice and shrimp and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add green onions and nuts, stir and heat through until shrimp is fully cooked, 3-4 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Halloween Party Ideas - Scary or Cute?

Every year as we approach Halloween decorating in our house, there is much discussion around scary vs. cute. I, of course, like cute and festive. Ken, of course, likes scary. Somehow we always manage to find compromise, although I have to say our house tends to lean more toward the scary side.

This year we'll be hosting a costume party so I've been on the lookout for new decorating and party ideas and thought I'd share with you what I've found. A little bit scary and a little bit cute!

Make your favorite punch in a bowl with floating frozen hand, from Real Simple.

This is a pretty easy trick I found on BuzzFeed. Melt red candles to drip onto large white candles to create a blood effect.

A fun, festive, and only slightly scary cocktail table display from BHG:

This is a fun idea - Spider ice cubes. Mostly scary, not too cute! From

Now this is mostly cute, and I love it! A great cupcake idea from Bird's Party Blog:

These Gooey Monster Cookies from Lil' Luna are both scary and cute! Great idea and easy to make!

Well, this got me off to a great start for planning our Halloween party! Add your favorite Halloween party ideas in the comments.  Would love to hear from you!

Have a happy day!