Monday, February 27, 2012

Throw an Oscar Worthy Bash

I've always wanted to throw an Oscar/Academy Awards get together using all the fun Hollywood themed decorations. I finally got my chance this year. I had a few people over for an Academy Awards Party and I had so much fun planning and decorating for it. There are unlimited options with what you can do so it was hard to narrow it down. Here is an overview of my decorations and recipes.

For decorations, you want to think gold, black and red. You also want to think statues and stars and movie themed items such as popcorn, movie reels, tickets, etc. I started at Party City and picked a few things that they had. I then went on to place an online order at to get a little more variety than the Party City store had. Here are the final results.

I wanted to give the feel of walking into an Oscar party right from the start. I found this door poster that says "Welcome to Awards Night" that I thought was perfect for that feeling. I hung it on my front door so guests could see it right away.

What is a red carpet event without a red carpet?

I love the look of having decorations hanging from the ceiling. I found these gold and black swirls with Oscar statues on them and hung them around the ceiling above the food table. I also hung these strands of movie themed items in the kitchen entry way. I think both give the setting an overall glamorous look. Another idea would be to have gold, red and black balloons all over the ceiling.

If you follow my blog, you're probably familiar with my hurricane centerpiece that I have been updating for all the different holidays. I even found a way to use this in my decor. Along with a fake "Oscar" statue and a clapboard, I displayed my hurricane centerpiece with an Award Show twist. I filled it with red and gold confetti filler and sprinkled movie themed confetti in between. I thought it turned out very well.

I love doing some kind of photo booth or prop that people can take pictures with. I saw a few different choices but I ultimately went with this doorway one with an Oscar couple with the faces cut out.

I also purchased these metallic stars and decided the best place to put them was around the photo prop. I put the two small silver ones on the sides where the tape was holding the prop up and then I hung the big gold one above the photo prop. You can't see them too well in the pictures above but they added something to the display in person.

One easy and fun idea that anyone can do with a color printer is make movie posters. You could do a vintage theme with old movie posters and past best picture winners or you can do my idea. I made a Best Picture Nominee wall and made a movie poster for every movie that was nominated for Best Picture this year. I didn't have time to do this but I think they would have looked good if I had matted them with red, gold and black paper.

One of the main reasons I ended up getting some additional items on instead of Party City's website was because I saw these Hollywood Walk of Fame stars and I thought it would be so much fun to create my own. I thought about putting them on the kitchen floor like an actual walk of fame but decided I didn't want them to get messed up with people stepping on them so I put them on the door instead. Each couple signed their stars and got to take them home as a fun favor!

Aside from the decorations, you have to think menu. I definitely wanted to feature a few drink options as well as some snacks. For my drinks, I went ahead and went with a Pink Tea Sangria in a punch bowl and then made Red Carpet-tinis for everyone. Click on the links for recipes. I served the sangria in cute cups with reels on them. Gary also featured some of his craft beers.

As for food, I was actually planning to do a popcorn bar because I have these adorable popcorn bags but I completely forgot so maybe next year for that. I made some smoked sausages with crushed red pepper and served them with cute movie themed toothpicks and a variety of dipping sauces. The sauces included horseradish, ketchup, 3 kinds of mustard (honey, spicy and regular), and barbecue sauce. I also picked up a selection of delicious cupcakes from a local bakery and added my movie themed picks to make them themed.  I had some friends bring chips and salsa to add to the salty and I had some Bailey's candy and peanut butter M&Ms to add to the sweet.

The most important part of throwing an Oscar bash is the ballots. Even if you're not that into the show, it's fun to fill out a ballot and have a competition during the awards between your guests. You can print copies of the official ballot off of the official Academy Awards website.

Red Carpet-tini

I saw a couple different recipes out there for a Red Carpet-tini drink for the Oscars. I decided to make my own version based on ingredients I already had. I thought it turned out great. The color looked perfect and it tasted delicious! For my recipe, 1 bottle makes about 6 drinks.

Red Carpet-tini

Fresh or frozen raspberries- about 3 per drink
1/2 a shot of Grand Marnier in each drink
1 bottle of Pink Prosecco

Basically I took 6 champagne flutes and put 3 raspberries in each glass. I then poured 1/2 a shot of Grand Marnier on top of the raspberries. I used frozen raspberries and let them soak in the Grand Marnier for close to 2 hours. It's up to you how long you let them soak but I definitely recommend letting them soak for some period of time. Having the frozen raspberries thaw in the liquor helped meld the orange and raspberry flavors. Finally, when you're ready to serve the drinks, top each glass with Pink Prosecco.

Pink Tea Sangria

I found a recipe on Pinterest for a Red Tea Sangria. I thought it would be fun to make as a "Red Carpet" drink for my Oscars get together. Unfortunately I had a little trouble finding red tea bags last minute. I only went to two different places, Acme and TJ Maxx, but no luck. I did however find a box of pink tea, so I decided to give it a try. The recipe also called for Rose wine which I thought I had but then realized it was White Zinfandel instead. It also called for only 2 cups of wine, I used the whole bottle. So this isn't quite the Red Tea Sangria recipe I was aiming for but I ended up creating my own Pink Tea Sangria recipe. The pink tea was quite good so I would definitely use that again however the White Zin made it too sweet so I'd definitely opt for the Rose next time. Again I forgot to get a picture of the final result, but I have a few pictures of the process.

Pink Tea Sangria

36 oz water
4 Pink Tea bags (or red tea or other similar flavor)
1 juicy lemon, quartered and seeded
1 juicy orange, quartered and seeded 
1 cup of sugar
2 tart apples, chopped
1 small bunch of red grapes, halved
1 bottle of White Zinfandel wine (or Blush or Rose)

Step 1: Start by putting 36 oz of water to boil.

Step 2: While the water is heating up, slice up your lemon and orange and remove the seeds. Squeeze the juice from the slices of both into your bowl or pitcher. Toss in the slices as well. Add 1 cup of sugar. Stir and muddle the fruit juice and sugar together well.

Step 3: Once the water is boiling, add tea bags and let steep for 6 minutes.

Step 4: While the tea is steeping, chop up the apples and cut the grapes in half.

Step 5: After 6 minutes, discard the tea bags and add the tea to the citrus sugar mix. Add the wine and chopped fruit.

Step 6: Let chill for a couple hours and serve with spoonfuls of fruit in each glass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: BONUS!

While my 7 Days of Mardi Gras series is complete, I came across this recipe on Facebook today. I think I might have all the ingredients at home so I'm going to give it a try tonight. Stay tuned...

Roasted Salmon with White-Wine Sauce

I found this recipe on Pinterest, it was pinned from Martha Stewart's website. I had some salmon in the freezer and decided to give this recipe a try. You can see the original recipe here or just read below. I paired mine with grilled asparagus (grilled on a George Foreman with olive oil, salt and pepper) and whole grain brown rice.

Roasted Salmon with White-Wine Sauce

Ingredients:1 large skinless salmon fillet (1 1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine (I used white cooking wine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (I didn't have fresh ones so I used chives from my spice rack)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Roast until opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add flour, and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Add wine, and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chives; season with salt and pepper. With a fork, gently break salmon into large chunks, and serve topped with white-wine sauce.

7 Days of Mardi Gras Summary

As with all my holiday challenges so far, I had a lot of fun doing my 7 Days of Mardi Gras. I think I had a good variety of drinks, decorations and food throughout the seven days. It was a bit of a quick turnover from Valentine's Day but I was able to make it through.

7 Days of Mardi Gras
Day 1: Mardi Gras Wreath
Day 2: Hurricane Centerpiece
Day 3: Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix
Day 4: Beaded Votive
Day 5: SoCo & Lime Hurricane
Day 6: Smoked Sausage Jambalaya 
Day 7: King Cake

Up next: 7 Days of Shamrocks in honor of St. Patrick's Day! Stay tuned...

Monday, February 20, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 7: Happy Fat Tuesday!

Along with hurricane drinks, beads and masks, a kings cake is a classic symbol of Mardi Gras. Because of this, a classic kings cake was the obvious choice for the final day seven of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras. I've never attempted to make my own before and king's cakes sound a little complicated so I was delighted to find a king cake mix online. Mam Papaul's is straight from LA so I know it's legit.

Kings Cake

 Before getting started, here is a little history straight from the box:

Nancy Wilson has created this easy to prepare Mardi Gras King Cake using her grandmother's brioch recipe. Six years in the making, Nancy has applied her skill and knowledge as a home economist and teacher to simplify this recipe so that virtually anyone can be successful despite a lack of culinary skills. Enjoy the experience of baking your own "homemade" Mardi Gras King Cake and being able to say "I made it myself." The tradition of sharing cake with family and friends on the Epiphany or "Little Christmas" (January 6) began in the Middle Ages. Today, this date signifies the opening of the Mardi Gras season with parties and parades prior to Lenten Season. In New Orleans a pot of steaming coffee and a King Cake constitute a party. The baby in (under) the cake must host the next party, thereby, continuing social gatherings throughout the season. The colors of Mardi Gras signify the following:

PURPLE signifies justice
YELLOW signifies power
GREEN signifies faith

 The box of mix contains:
1 pk. dough mix and reclosable mix knead bag
1 pk. yeast - small packet
1 pk. brown sugar praline filling mix
1 pk. white glaze mix
3 pks. Mardi Gras sugar crystals
1 pk. Mardi Gras baby (the baby in my box was missing a hand!)

 Additional ingredients needed:
1 cup hot water
1 egg
1 stick butter or margarine

The following instructions and steps are laid out on the back of the box.

Mix and knead in bag

1 Place cake mix in (large bag) and yeast in reclosable bag. Lock bag and shake well. Add 1 cup hot water, and 1/2 cup butter to contents of large bag. Press air from bag and lock. With fingers outside bag, mix by squeezing and pulling dough until butter can no longer be seen.

2 Add 1 egg to contents of bag. Press air from bag and lock. With fingers on outside of bag, mix and knead ingredients by squeezing and pulling dough for approximately 15 minutes. (Be careful not to puncture bag)- I found that I didn't need the whole 15 minutes, more like 5-10.

3 Unlock bag. Set bag of dough in a bowl in a warm place until dough has doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Warm Place: Turn oven to lowest setting for 2 minutes then turn oven off.

Shape and Rise

1 Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Flour rolling pin and roll dough into 5" x 30" rectangle. (I found that to be longer than I  could manage, I didn't have a rolling pin either so I used an empty wine bottle.) Mix 2 tablespoons melted butter with brown sugar praline mix. Add nuts, if desired (I didn't.) Spread evenly over dough. From 30" side, roll dough jelly roll fashion. Pinch edges to seal. (Again I had a little trouble with this step, I did the best I could)

2 Place on large cookie sheet. Shape into oval. Let rise in a warm place approximately 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.

Bake and Decorate

1 Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool.

2 Mix 1 tablespoon water with white glaze mix. (I discovered I needed a little more than a tablespoon of water, probably closer to 3) Spread on top of cooled cake. Decorate with colored sugar crystals.

Finally you're supposed to hide the baby in or under cake somewhere. I also added some beads and coins for flare.

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 6

For day six of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, I decided that we needed some food to go with those hurricanes. Thanks to a coupon and a sale, I had some Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage that I needed to find something to do with it. I decided to cook it up in a skillet with some fresh veggies that I had in my fridge. I sprinkled some cayenne pepper on top and paired it with some rice to make my own version of a jambalaya. I was totally experimenting so I wasn't sure how it would taste but Gary and I both thought it was quite good.

Smoked Sausage Jambalaya

Smoked Sausage Jambalaya Ingredients: 
1 package of Hillshire Farm smoked sausage
2 cups of multi-grain rice
A sprinkle of cayenne pepper
A variety of chopped veggies: I used celery, carrots, tomatoes and bell peppers 

Step 1: Start cooking the rice according to the instructions on the box. Rice usually takes about 30 minutes so you should start with that first.

Step 2: While the rice cooks, slice the sausage and put in a skillet sprayed with Pam or other cooking spray.

Step 3: Slice up your veggies and add them to the pan as you cook the sausage. Sprinkle cayenne pepper over the entire skillet.

Step 4: Once your rice is cooked and your sausage and veggies are browned, mix it all together on your plate! Serves 2.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 5

For day five of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, I decided to try a different hurricane recipe. Hurricanes are one of the biggest parts of Mardi Gras and with so many different recipes out there, I couldn't just stick to one for my challenge. I found a recipe on Pinterest for a Soco & Lime Hurricane that I thought looked interesting. The picture showed a bright green color but the drink ended up looking more of a teal color when I made it.

Southern Comfort Hurricane

3 oz. Southern Comfort
1.5 oz. sweet and sour mix

1/2 oz. blue curacao

1/2 oz. sweetened lime juice

Fill a hurricane glass with ice. Add all ingredients and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and cherry.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 4

For day four of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, I experimented with making a Mardi Gras colored beaded votive. I saw something on Pinterest with one strand of each color bead wrapped around a rounded votive. I wanted to do something similar but make it my own. I had a plain square votive I have been wanting to do something with. I found some beads at the dollar store that were all three colors tangled into one strand. I simple wrapped it around the square votive three times. It almost didn't fit bu I finally got it. It doesn't look amazing but it's simple and cute. Multiple ones of these would look great around the room at a Mardi Gras bash.

Mardi Gras Beaded Votive

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 3

For day three of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, I wanted to go with a classic New Orleans cocktail: the famous hurricane. There are so many hurricane recipes out there that it is a little overwhelming. I happened to have a pouch of Pat O'Brien's famous mix so I decided to just go with that.

Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Cocktail Mix

Here is a little history I got offline about Pat O'Brien's:

Pat O'Brien's Bar and its legendary fruity rum drink are both an integral part of New Orleans culture and cocktail history. Pat O's created the original cocktail during World War II when liquors like whiskey were hard to come by but rum was plentiful. The recipe quickly evolved and the tasty treat was served in a special glass shaped like a hurricane lamp, hence the name. Today the drink is as popular as ever! In fact, the Pat O'Brien's Hurricane glass is one of the most sought-after souvenirs in New Orleans. We can't all make it to NOLA every time we crave one, so the kind folks at Pat O's decided to sell their delicious mix sealed in a moisture proof foil pouch. Sip on a bit of history, no matter where you are.

How to make an authentic Pat O'Brien's Hurricane:

In a 26 oz. Hurricane glass, mix * 4 oz. of good Dark Rum * 4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix * Fill with crushed ice * Garnish with an orange and cherry.

The recipe calls for "good" dark rum so I went with my favorite, Kraken. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 2

For day two of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, it was time to update my go to hurricane centerpiece. I started with fall leaves, then snowflakes for winter, then candy hearts for Valentine's Day. See either the fall or winter blog for instructions.

My initial idea for Mardi Gras was to simply add beads. Since I already made the bead wreath, I ended up wanting to mix it up a little more. I got a pack of green, gold and purple coins and filled it with those first. I then added one strand of each color beads on top. For a fun addition, the gold beads I used were Southern Comfort beads so they had the logo on them, I think it turned out great!

Mardi Gras Hurricane Centerpiece

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 28

Somehow I got lost along the way on my 30 Day Photography Challenge. Different obstacles got in my way that forced me to spread out my challenge so that the 30 days weren't consecutive. That wasn't a huge deal but then I got busy with my various other Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day challenges and never finished this one. I usually don't post commentary on my photography challenge, just a simple day, word and photo but since it's been so long, I thought I'd explain a little. I'm down to 3 more days and although it's much later, I'm determined to finish! I got stuck on flowers because, after all, it is winter. Luckily Valentine's Day created an opportunity for me to pick it back up.

Day 28: Flowers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

7 Days of Mardi Gras: Day 1

For day one of my 7 Days of Mardi Gras, I experimented with making a bead wreath. It was honestly a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I used purple, gold and green beads that I already had and purchased a small plain wreath. I glued the end of one necklace to the wreath and wrapped it around until I was able to glue the other end on. I alternated green, purple and gold until the wreath was covered. I thought just beads was a little plain so I also glued some inexpensive purple, green and gold masks. It's not perfect but it'll work as a door decoration for seven days.

Mardi Gras Wreath

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Next Up: 7 Days of Mardi Gras

There is no rest for the crafty when it comes February. For being the shortest month of the year, it sure is packed with a lot of fun themes and holidays. Now that we're past the Super Bowl and at the end of Valentine's Day, next up is Mardi Gras. This year the famous Fat Tuesday falls on February 21 which leaves exactly 7 days to countdown to it after the red, pink and hearts are packed away. Mardi Gras is full of purple, green and gold, masks, beads, kings cakes, and hurricanes. If you can't be in New Orleans for the actual celebration, there are a lot of fun ways to celebrate on your own. Stay tuned....

14 Days of Valentines Summary

My 14 Days of Valentines is finally complete. I had fun doing this but there definitely wasn't as much variety as with my Christmas challenge. Valentine's Day is a lot of pink and red and hearts! It was still fun though and I'm hoping to get a little more unique next year.

14 Days of Valentines
Day 1: Countdown to Kisses
Day 2: Candy Heart Hurricane Centerpiece
Day 3: Cloud Nine Martini
Day 4: Candy Cane Heart Lollipop
Day 5: White Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
Day 6: Heart Candle
Day 7: Wine Cork Heart Wreath
Day 8: Valentine Peppermint Bark Popcorn
Day 9: Conversation Heart Tree
Day 10: Valentine Mani-Pedi
Day 11: Valentine White Hot Chocolate
Day 12: S'mores Love Bars
Day 13: Valentine Candy Skewers
Day 14: Cupcake Toppings Bar

Sampleicious: Birchox Edition: February Box

I was excited when I got the email that my February Birchbox had shipped. Now that I'm on the fourth month of my membership, I continue to see that each box is full of fun surprises. This month even included a heart shaped nail file as well as some free song downloads, loves it!

Samples Inside:
BLK DNM Perfume 11 
Exude Lipstick
Eye Rock Designer Liner 
LA FRESH® Eco Beauty Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

The BLK DNM Perfume 11 is interesting. I just spritzed a little on my wrist when I received it to see what it smelled like. I'm not sure if I like it yet. It is a unisex scent done by a denim company and I think the scent fits that perfectly. Unisex scents are definitely difficult because it's hard to find a scent that fits well on both men and women. I will probably use this sample up but don't see myself buying this bottle anytime soon. Especially for the price, you would have to love it.

This Exude Lipstick is very unique. First of all, the sample is full size which is awesome! The design is also very cool. It looks like a stick of lipstick, but the stick part is clear plastic and the color is inside in more of a gloss form. You twist the bottom and it oozes out for you to apply. I think I've mentioned it in previous blogs but I don't wear enough lipstick or lip gloss to spend too much on one particular tube, this one is $29 so that would fit into too much for me, but I really like this and will definitely use the sample. The fact that Birchbox includes full size items sometimes is awesome because it makes the 10 bucks a month well worth it.

This Eye Rock Designer Liner is another full size sample that was included. I honestly don't know how to feel about this yet. It looks cool on the package but I have no idea how it will look on me. I will update this when I have tried it! It's a little extreme so I need to wait for a fun night to try it.

I love new ideas for nail polish remover. I have used a different brand of wipes before and loved them. These look even better though with the fact that they are acetone-free, which makes them healthier for your nails, and they are biodegradable which makes them eco-friendly! Assuming these work well at removing the polish, I would definitely purchase a box of these!

Like what you see? Join Birchbox today! See also my November & December boxes and my January box.

14 Days of Valentines: Day 14: Happy Valentine's Day!

For the final day of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to make a cupcake toppings bar for my co-workers. A cupcake toppings bar consists of a selection of iced cupcakes and then you have choices of different toppings. A muffin tin with cupcake liners is the perfect way to display the toppings.

Valentine's Cupcake Toppings Bar

For the toppings, I tried to choose V-Day candy. I went with heart shaped strawberry marshmallows, V-Day peanut butter M&Ms, red and pink sugar crystals, mini V-Day colored candy coated chocolates, conversation hearts, coconut, and pink candy corn.

For the cupcakes, I baked strawberry ones, I thought their pink color was fitting for the holiday. I then iced 12 with white icing and 12 with chocolate icing. I used heart cupcake liners that came with little heart toothpick cupcake toppers.

Valentine's CupcakesValentine's Cupcakes

Monday, February 13, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 13

For day thirteen of my 14 Days of Valentines, I made V-Day themed candy skewers. These make a great centerpiece or a great addition to a fondue party. I made mine using strawberry heart marshmallows but you can use any Valentine colored or heart shaped soft candy. Some other ideas are pink and red taffy, Valentine Peeps and heart shaped gummies. All you need to do is skewer them onto a lollipop stick and find a fun way to display them. I displayed mine in a LOVE vase with some red and gold basket filler.

Valentine's Candy Skewer

Sunday, February 12, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 12

For day twelve of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to make S'more Love Bars. Everyone loves S'mores and these have a nice V-Day touch.

S'more Love Bars


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cups M&Ms  (you know I used more than that though!)
1/4 cup hot fudge topping
Pam spray

Step 1:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray Pam in a 13x9 inch pan.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, beat crumbs, brown sugar, butter, flour, and baking soda with electric mixer until coarse crumbs form.  Press mixture in bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Step 3:  Remove partially baked crust from oven.  Sprinkle marshmallows over the crust.  Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until the marshmallows begin to puff.

Step 4:  Remove the pan from the oven.  Drizzle with hot fudge topping.  Sprinkle the M&Ms evenly over the marshmallows.  Let it cool for an hour and then cut into bars.

14 Days of Valentines: Day 11

For day eleven of my 14 Days of Valentines, a delightful hot beverage was the perfect idea for a cold blustery day. Valentine's White Hot Cocoa is a fun twist on the classic winter beverage. This tastes exactly like hot white chocolate and is very delicious!

Valentine's White Hot Cocoa

Ingredients Needed:

  • 4 ounces of white chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Red food coloring (optional)
  • 16 ounces milk
  • 2 ounces cream (Optional for richer taste)
Whipped cream and heart sprinkles make the perfect topping.

Step 1: In a pan or microwave, heat the cream and milk until almost boiling.

Step 2: Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate chips until melted.

Step 3: Stir in vanilla.

Step 4: Add red food coloring to make pink or red hot chocolate. (I skipped this step, didn't have any food coloring and figured the whipped cream would cover up the color anyways) This might be a fun step though if you're making it for a party.

Step 5: Serve with whipped cream & red sprinkles. You can also drizzle raspberry or chocolate syrup over your hot cocoa.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 10

For day ten of my 14 Days of Valentines, I had a Groupon for a mani-pedi so I decided to get a Valentine's Day themed one. I opted to go every other nail, red and pink. I then topped the red nails with red glitter and the pink nails with pink glitter. I was very happy with the end result! It looks great and the colors are perfect for the holiday. If I hadn't had the Groupon, I would have had fun experimenting with doing my own at home mani-pedi with similar colors.

Valentine's Manicure

14 Days of Valentines: Day 9

For day nine of my 14 Days of Valentines, I thought I would have more fun with conversation hearts. I had a foam cone left over from my 25 Days of Christmas crafts and I had the idea to cover it in conversation hearts to make a V-Day tree. I also had a few heart floral picks so I thought one of those would make a great tree topper. I started by sticking the heart in the middle of the top of the cone. It was the perfect size. Then I started by making a row of conversation hearts by hot gluing them onto the cone. I tried to do random color patterns. Below is the end result.

Conversation Heart Tree

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 8

For day eight of my 14 Days of Valentines, I took a stab at something I've been wanting to make for a while: peppermint bark popcorn. I had a recipe for this that I wanted to try for my Christmas challenge but never got around to it. The main reason is that I cannot find almond bark at any grocery store. I decided to give it a try with a valentine's day twist but instead of almond bark, I used melted white chocolate chips. The consistency wasn't exactly what I was looking for but I'll experiment with something else next time and go from there. For now, here's what I tried.

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

1 bag of microwave popcorn
1 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips
1 tsp of peppermint extract
1 bag of crushed chocolate peppermint candy canes
Valentine colored m&ms and sprinkles

First pop the popcorn in the microwave and spread it out on a cookie sheet on top of wax paper. I needed two cookie sheets. I then divided the crushed candy canes between the two pans. Next melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave. I did a cup at a time. For the first cup, I tried adding some peppermint extract to the melted white chocolate. It seemed to give it a tougher texture which made it hard to mix the popcorn in. For the second cup, I left out the extract. It was still difficult to mix with the popcorn but not quite as bad. Finally I added the valentines sprinkles and m&ms. So I basically have two batches, one with the peppermint extract and one without. Finally, I let it cool for 15 minutes and then divided it into cute heart baggies. This could make a great gift or goodie bag at a V-day themed party.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 7

For day seven of my 14 Days of Valentines, I put my collection of wine corks to work by making them into a heart wreath. I started by placing the corks on a foam heart to get the idea of what shape I wanted.

Wine Cork Heart Wreath

Once I was satisfied with the look, I heated up my glue gun. I started by adding a line of hot glue on the side of one of the corks and attached it to another cork. I did this as I followed the pattern until I had a heart! I also made sure all the wine sides were facing up, this gives your heart a little purple color. I thought about adding ribbon but I love the simplicity of just the corks in a heart shape.

It makes a great mini wreath for your door or a fun wall decoration. If you have enough corks you could also fill it in and make a fun trivet.

Monday, February 6, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 6

Heart Candle

For day six of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to make a heart themed candle. I took a baked cookie scented pillar candle and decorated it with foam heart stickers. Once complete, I put it in a heart dish filled with conversation hearts for a festive look.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Margarita Jello Shots with salt

Margarita Jello Shots with Salt

1 large box of lime jello
2 cups of boiling water
1 1/2 cup of Tequila
1/2 cup of Grand Marnier 

The most basic Jello shot recipe includes replacing the cold water with alcohol. In college I used to just use cheap vodka but I've now realized you can mix up the flavor by pairing a liquor with the flavor of the Jello you're using. Tequila seems like an obvious choice for lime Jello. As luck would have it, I had almost exactly 1 1/2 cups of tequila left which meant I needed half a cup of something else. Many margarita recipes include Grand Marnier or something similar so I chose that for my other half a cup. Just follow the recipe on the Jello box which basically mixes the boiling water with the powder first. Next add the cold water (or alcohol) and stir together and dish into tiny cups. Put in the fridge to set. When you're done, sprinkle sea salt on the shots before taking, salt is the perfect addition to give you a well rounded margarita taste.

14 Days of Valentines: Day 5

For day five of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to make white chocolate dipped pretzel rods. You can also make these with milk chocolate, dark chocolate or caramel.

White Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Ingredients Needed:
1 cup of your choice of melted chips (white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate or caramel)
Pretzel Rods
Valentine sprinkles

All you need to do is melt the chocolate and dip the pretzel rods in it. Then dip them immediately into the sprinkles. You can also use mini m&ms, peanuts, or other toppings. These are fun to display in a vase similar to the candy cane heart lollipops.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

14 Days of Valentines: Day 4

I had a lot of candy canes left from my Christmas crafts and recipes. Luckily Valentine's Day is the perfect way to use up those leftover candy canes. Not only does the red and white match V-Day colors, but you can also make hearts out of putting two candy canes together. For day four of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to try and make heart candy cane lollipops.

Candy Cane Heart Lollipops

Ingredients Needed:
Mini candy canes
1 cup of white chocolate chips
Valentine sprinkles
Lollipop sticks

This is one of those projects that seems really easy but the technique is a little harder than it seems.

Step 1: Arrange the candy canes and lollipop sticks on a piece of wax paper. You use two mini candy canes per lollipop. Arrange them to look like a heart with the stick in the middle. See picture.

Step 2: Melt your white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl following the directions on the bag.

Step 3: Pour the melted white chocolate in the middle of each heart. This is the part that was a little messy. I used a baby spoon since the space was small.

Step 4: Finally sprinkle some Valentine's Day sprinkles in the middle and wait for them to cool.

Once your lollipops are cool, you can do a couple different things with them. If you're making them for a party, you can display the pops in a vase, tying a ribbon around them looks cute. If you're bringing them somewhere, I recommend putting each individual pop in a Valentine's Day themed baggy and tie with a ribbon to keep them fresh.

14 Days of Valentines: Day 3

For day three of my 14 Days of Valentines, I decided to try out a V-Day themed cocktail. I have been looking for a recipe to use some more of my Godiva White Chocolate liqueur since making my Winter Wonderland Martini for my 25 Days of Christmas Challenge. I came across this Cloud Nine Martini recipe on Pinterest and it sounded like a good idea to try!

Cloud Nine Martini

Cloud Nine Martini (Serves 2)

6 ounces Godiva White Chocolate liqueur
2 ounces Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Pour ingredients into the cocktail shaker, and shake for 20 seconds.
Strain and serve into martini glasses.

For added flare you can rim your martini glass with red or pink sugar and add some heart sprinkles. Wet the rim of the glass by dipping your finger in a small pour of the Pinacle Whipped and rub it around the edge of the glass. Then pour some colored sugar on a plate and roll the rim on the glass around in the sugar until it's coated.

I own two different kinds of martini glasses. I tested how it looked in both. I think the red glass with pink rimming sugar looks more Valentine's Day like. The pink rimming sugar on the glass with the green handle looks more Spring-ish and if I had used red rimming sugar on the green glass it would have been Christmas colored. Also, I tossed a few heart sprinkles in and most of them sank. One resurfaced which looked cute. This martini is delicious and I think I even like it better than the Winter Wonderland one I tried for the holidays.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

If you know me you probably know that I love to celebrate holidays and themes. I came across the idea for these cute little guys on Pinterest yesterday and knew right away that I wanted to make them. I realized that other than watching the movie "Groundhog Day" I haven't really ever done anything to celebrate. Not that there is much to do other than actually go to Punxsutawney, PA, which is on my bucket list by the way. Anyways, these cupcakes are simple and oh so adorable and seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.

The original ones I saw were made with white icing dyed green with a little food coloring and covered in green jimmies to look like grass. I decided to just go with a brighter green icing and I think I like the look better than the ones I had originally seen and they were easier to make!

Devils Food Cake Mix (or your favorite chocolate cake recipe)
Green Icing
Teddy Grahams

As I stated above, these are super simple. Just follow the cake recipe and once the cupcakes are cool, you're ready to decorate. Start by icing them with the green icing. I started on the outer rim using a starburst looking tip and worked my way in. Next take a Teddy Graham and stick it in the middle of the cupcake so that just the hands and head are sticking up. Even though they're teddy bears, the heads look enough like groundhogs that it works. Finally, take a few Teddy Grahams and stick them in a ziplock bag. Crush them up into tiny crumbs. Then sprinkle the crumbs around each groundhog on the cupcakes. This gives it the effect of the dirt that would unearth when the groundhog pops up.

Once you're finished, you're all set to plop down on the couch and enjoy your groundhog cupcakes while watching Groundhog Day!