Polka Dot Parties!

This year when you find yourself planning you child’s birthday party, stop stressing and simply think…Polka Dots! This fun and colorful pattern is a hot trend right now, and in good reason. Polka Dots are versatile, allowing you to be as creative (or basic) with the color selection as you dare. With this simple theme you will be able to create an impressive and thoughtful party in a snap! Just start thinking in circles, and you’ll soon realize what I mean when I say, Polka Dots are SIMPLE!

My Tips- Choose 2 colors and go at it! Above: Hot Pink & Lime

All items above can be found at Polka Dot Market!

Head on over to Sally’s Polka Dot Birthday Blog to get great tips on throwing that perfect polka-dotted-party! She has all the tips, ideas, and goods!

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Pumpkin not just for pie!


Pumpkin Shakes

These pumpkin shakes are such a festive {and simple} treat for the fall season. An easy treat to whip up for a festive snack – try this pumpkin shake recipe.

To make this simple shake:

Mix 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup milk

a pinch of cinnamon

Told you it was simple!

Recipe from Martha Stewart

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Yummm….Pumpkin Cheescake

For a delicious fall dessert, try this modern take on the traditional pumpkin pie. This Pumpkin Cheesecake is sure to dazzle the taste buds of all your party guests!

Serves 16
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Prep 2 hours
Chill Overnight
Crumb Crust

1 cup graham-cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Pumpkin Filling

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin, (not pumpkin-pie mix)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons bourbon, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

Sour-Cream Topping

1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 9″ by 3″ spring form pan, with fork, stir graham-cracker crumbs, melted margarine or butter, and sugar until moistened. With hand, press mixture onto bottom of pan. Tightly wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty foil to prevent leakage when baking in water bath later. Bake crust 10 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

2. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth; slowly beat in sugar until blended (about 1 minute) scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. With mixer at low speed, beat in pumpkin, sour cream, bourbon or vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3. Pour pumpkin mixture into crust and place in large roasting pan. Place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour enough boiling water into pan to come 1 inch up side of spring form pan. Bake cheesecake 1 hour 10 minutes or until center barely jiggles.

4. Meanwhile, prepare Sour-Cream Topping: In small bowl, with wire whisk, beat sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Remove cheesecake from water bath, leaving water bath in oven, and spread sour-cream mixture evenly over top. Return cake to water bath and bake 5 minutes longer.

5. Remove cheesecake from water bath to wire rack; discard foil. With small knife, loosen cheesecake from side of pan to help prevent cracking during cooling. Cool cheesecake completely. Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Remove side of pan to serve.

Recipe from Good House Keeping. photo by Brian Hagiwan

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Fall Bridal Shower

Fall Bridal Shower

If you are having or hosting a fall bridal shower, here are some simple ideas you just might fall in love with!

-Pick a natural setting and let nature do a lot of your decorating. Host the event in family or a friend’s backyard. The outdoor colors of greens and browns will set the mood of your shower.

-Skip the formal flower arrangements; pick up some planter boxes, potting soil, and rich colored flowers from you local garden center. If you are having round tables then look for round planters, otherwise the rectangular planter boxes work wonderfully for oblong tables. Oh- and if you cannot find planter boxes in the right color, a little spray paint will do the trick.

-Don’t forget the candles! Have candle lighting throughout your shower. Think bathrooms, table tops, even floating in a pool if there is one.

-Serve a deep red or auburn cocktail. Try Bridal Sweet Martini!

Bridal Sweet Martini (serving for 4)

6 oz vodka

2 oz strawberry juice

1 oz cranberry juice

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Combine all in mixer w/ice. Shake and strain into martini glasses.

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Spice It Up!

If your spice cabinet looks anything like mine, it is a black hole of little jars with little organization. Despite my organizing efforts, my spice cabinet never seems to stay tidy– and of course the chaos eventually got the best of me. Because rather than using what I had already, I was in the habit of purchasing whatever spice I needed for a particular recipe. The outcome, unneeded purchases at the grocery store and more clutter to the spice cabinet.

So, as I realized there was no need to have 4 jars of “ground cumin” on hand, I began to get organized. My tip for today is to spice up your spice cabinet!

What I did: I set aside a few minutes and took inventory of everything actually in the spice cabinet. Write down each spice (making sure to note the amount of each you have on hand). Then, simply type up your list and tape to the inside of the spice cabinet door.

Next time you are making out your shopping list you will simply have to open up the cabinet and check to see if you already have “dried mustard,” preventing any unnecessary strolls down the spice aisle.

Also try purchasing spice racks and shelves to keep everything visible! These are from The Container Store and are under $10.00

What are your spice-organizing-ideas?

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Baby Shower: Blue & Brown


blue and brown baby shower ideas

Blue and Brown Baby Shower Ideas

Who says baby boy showers can’t be gorgeous too?! Here are a couple photos from my best friend’s shower this past summer. Here are some ideas:

- Think anything blue & brown (you could also try green & brown).

-Purchase many onesies and baby outfits all in blue and/or brown, making sure to mix up the sizes so Mom doesn’t get all newborn outfits he’ll outgrow before he can wear them! String them using clothesline and clothespins (paint them if your the crafty type) and hang them from patio covers, doorways, pop-up shades, anywhere you think the decor will look good. At the end of the shower, remove all the clothes and put in a basket for mom- decor and a gift all in one!

-Make sure your dessert is all blue & brown; cupcakes, cakes, cookies- whatever it may be.

-Serve a blue themed drink (alcohol and non versions).

-If outdoors, hang blue/brown/white paper lanterns from the trees.

-You can also pair blue with yellow for a modern color scheme.

You get the idea, use blue and brown touches throughout the shower (don’t forget the invites and thank yous) and your shower will be simple and gorgeous!
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