Food Ideas for Valentine’s Day

I love creativity, especially when it comes to

food design ideas during the holidays!

The following are some creative ideas I found on the internet and Pinterest, for Valentine’s Day.

They inspired me so I’m sharing them with you… 

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

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Red ice cubes in a white drink, or…

valentine-drink2

white ice cubes in a red drink?
Either way, it’s heartfelt! LOL

add a marble for heart shaped valentine cupcakes

Add marble before filling to create heart-shaped cupcakes

val cocoa

Cocoa with Marshmallow Heart –
cut from the large Kraft
s’mores marshmallows

courtesy of Bakarella

cookies

Cut slit in cookie prior to baking

cinnamon-hearts

Cinnamon Hearts made from slices of refrigated cinnamon rolls

courtesy of Land o Lakes

courtesy of Land o Lakes

heart eggs

My kind of breakfast!

pizza in heart shape

pizza hearts

Valentine's Day Recipe - Salad with tomato hearts

Valentine's Day Recipe - making heart tomatoes

Directions for making heart-shaped tomato

vday-cookies-sm425x270

FUDGIES_COMPLETE_CLOSE

These are mine!
Look for the simple, easy directions
under my RECIPE tab.

val fruit

val day fruit

plate

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Cozy New Year’s Eve Dinner Party (at home)

[As always, click on any photo for a larger view]

A few years ago, my hubby and I decided to start celebrating New Year’s Eve at home…. just the 2 of us.  But, instead of eating our dinner in the kitchen, I decided to create the feel of a cozy restaurant by placing a small table in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree in the Living Room…  the perfect setting for a romantic evening for two.  The dinner, decor & party favor ideas I created this year could also be used for a party of more than 2, so I’m sharing in case you’re up for an easy-to-do celebration!

PARTY FAVORS

These were soooo easy to create!   Collect empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, to wrap, using gold, black or silver paper (it’s ok to use leftover holiday paper if it matches your color scheme), ribbon, candy, party confetti, scratch-off lottery tickets and create a personalized horoscope for each person attending (copy these from the internet & remember to keep it positive! LOL)…
s_cracker ingreds
Cut a length of gift wrap wide enough to wrap completely around the empty paper roll (I used toilet paper rolls) and 2 inches longer on each end…

s_cracker roll up

Roll up the toilet paper roll in the paper and tape closed…

s_cracker_rolled

Squish (technical term, in case you were wondering) one end and tie it closed with ribbon so you can fill the tube…

s_cracker_ribbon curled

Place inside: a scratch-off lottery ticket, the recipient’s personal horoscope (according to their Zodiac sign), a bit of the confetti & candy in the other (open) end…

s_cracker_insert ingreds

s_cracker_inside

Squish the remaining end & tie it closed with curled ribbon also.  Add self-adhesive, glittered letters to the outside, spelling out each of your guest’s names, making it easier to hand them the correct horoscope.  And if you find that some of your guests have longer names, you may want to go with their initials/monogram instead (both options show below)…

s_crackers_done

PARTY PLATES!

At Target, I found some plastic black plates (under $2.00 each) & a package of 8 clear plates for around $3.00.  I placed self-adhesive, number stickers (representing the incoming year – 2013) and some silver, mylar confetti in the center of the black plate.  Then, I turned the black plate into a charger by covering it with one of the clear plastic plates.  I held the clear plate in place using 4 glue dots…

plate assembly

HELPFUL HINT:  I love this idea because, next year, I can simply peel off the last number (3) and add the new number (4) and place a fresh clear plate on top to recycle the whole look!
And just look at how great these inexpensive items look on my cozy New Year’s table…

s_plate on table

My Christmas tree and fireplace garland was super easy to transition into a look for New Year’s because of the color combination and theme I chose this year.  So, if you’re planning a New Year’s gathering, keep that in mind when you’re decorating for Christmas.
To turn my Christmas decorations into a”New Year’s” feel, I removed: the Christmas tree candles & SEASONS GREETINGS sign from the mantle.  I added: more candles, New Year Party Hats, a “2013” I drew & cut out of a small piece of foam core board & painted gold, a few “Happy New Year” plastic light covers (to the wreath & garland) and floated 4 gold balloons on black ribbon in front of the fireplace, covering the balloon weights with gold, mylar basket shred from the Dollar Tree…

s_table best

s_balloons base

HELPFUL HINT:  If you can’t afford or don’t have time to get your balloons filled with helium, use packing tape (rolled into a circle so it will stick to the back of your balloon and a 2nd, flat surface) to keep a balloon, in place, making it appear to be floating!
To the Christmas tree, I added black, gold and silver horn cardboard blowers, a few of the “Happy New Year” plastic light covers and some cool clock ornaments I found a few years ago.  HELPFUL HINT:  Clock ornaments are in stores every year, so keep an eye out for them.  You will only need to purchase around 7 clock theme ornaments to add a New Year feel to your tree.

s_tree top

So, on a small OR large-scale… enjoy your party!

Wishing you a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR

 and thank you for your support of THE SEASONAL HOME,

Eileen

s_full_best

2012 Christmas Holiday Home Tour Video

Our 2012 Holiday Home Musical Video is ready to provide you with some inspirational holiday spirit! 

Click below, to view:

If you’d like to watch it in HIGH DEFINITION QUALITY, click on the “GEAR” icon (this will appear in the black bar once you hit the PLAY button) and then, click on 720p.

Don’t forget to turn up your speakers, fix a cup of cocoa, put your feet up to…

Enjoy the Creativity!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Eileen

My sincerest thanks to the talented Production Staff at THEM FEELINGS MULTIMEDIA for creating our video each & every year, simply to support a small business!

CHRISTMAS 2012 – the year of the New Puppy!

[As always, click on any photo to enjoy a larger view]

Christmas decorating at The Seasonal Home had to go in a slightly different direction for 2012, thanks to the addition of a new family member.  Meet Miss Lilly Grace, who sometimes looks more like a Teddy Bear…

    

She’s a very sweet girl who didn’t mind posing for her holiday photo…

And just this week, those cute little puppy ears turned upward (to help her listen for Santa!) and I think she looks more like a fox…

Whatever our little girl turns out to be, because she can get into things (as most puppies do), I had to out-fox her by creating some clever holiday decor.  So, if you have a new, young one around this Christmas, whether on 2 or 4 legs, I hope my ideas help you out too!  Also in this blog post, you’ll find unique & budget-friendly decorating ideas as well as DIY tutorials, so make yourself a cup of cocoa and enjoy the creativity!

THE FRONT PORCH

Because I created such a large display last year (click HERE to review), I chose to keep things simple outside, utilizing my trusty footed urns (you’ve seen these before! lol) again to hold natural, preserved wreaths, with a large red ornament in the middle of each.  The berry garland is actually 3 separate (4-foot) pieces.  HELPFUL HINT: attaching several smaller (less expensive) lengths together is easier than trying to find one, (expensive) long berry garland:

I found myself in a “Holly and Berries” mood, this year and it began with my outdoor bench.  HELPFUL HINTS:  Don’t hesitate to decorate outdoor furniture with garland (adding lights too!)  because it welcomes your guests with the “unexpected”.  And the mossy gift (on the bench seat) is simply a white box that I covered in moss, using glue… easy!

I love my Goat Cart!  And it turned out to be a great investment because it holds larger decorations, for every season!  Also, I’ve used it in my garden, yard and now, on my front porch.  How versatile is that?!! 🙂

The final front porch touch is an old sled I display every year (found years ago, at a local yard sale… in FLORIDA, no less! lol).  I usually add a “PLEASE SNOW” sign to it, but I think I’ve finally given up on that dream and added holly, berries and a skate to it instead.  In Florida, we CAN do ice! 😉

THE FOYER

The Holly and Berries snuck right in the front door and laid out beautifully in the Foyer also…. welcoming Christmas, with a little help from Santa, of course!

And here’s where the “clever” part comes in, for the first time.  Anyone who’s been a fan of The Seasonal Home for a while is probably familiar with the 2-tiered table that is usually in the foyer.  Knowing that a puppy (or child) could easily AND quickly clear off a shelf of easy-to-reach decorations, my idea was to temporarily shuffle some of my accent tables to new locations (in the home) for the season.  Check out how nicely a cabinet from the kitchen also fits under the mirror in the foyer!

THE LIVING ROOM

The Living Room is where the first tree went in The Seasonal Home.  I knew any tree I displayed would need to be elevated (out-of-the-way) to keep our little pup safe, so the unique & inexpensive idea I came up with is a Drum Stand tree base!  The total cost to make this was around $20 and here’s the DIY instructions:

CLICK on photo to better view the instruction details

I chose a color theme of black & gold along with frosty and musical (under the stars) accents.  If you look closely (at the tree below), you’ll see that I recycled the black branches from Halloween 2012, adding them into the tree for texture.  I also reused 2 silver drums from Christmas 2010 by cutting & adding a length of the black & gold reindeer gift wrap (used on the drum tree stand) and gold cord (to hide the gift wrap edge) so they coordinate, when added to the tree.

It’s so hard to find large, quality glass ornaments in black! Check out Seasons on the Web link (right hand column of this blog) to check out their huge ornament inventory!

And here’s the rest of the room!

HELPFUL HINT: boxes, gift wrapped in coordinating paper & ribbon make an inexpensive room accent for the holidays!

THE FAMILY ROOM

In the Family Room, I couldn’t place too many decorations or snow on The Seasonal Home hearth because of our new pup and her thieving ways.  And because she thinks she can carry away just about ANYTHING in her tiny mouth, I had to be sure I used something too large for her to consider… these lighted, faux gifts appear to be just perfect… so far!  (lol)

And here’s the rest of the Family Room

I’m starting to notice a “puppy” theme in this room (LOL)

And I simply can’t let a Christmas go by without highlighting a series of my ornaments, like these (Hallmark Windows Series) that feature children peeking into shop windows at Christmas time.  A cabinet or sideboard (with shelves) is the perfect place to display a collection.  HELPFUL HINT:  If you also have a collection of ornaments, consider trying something new by displaying them together (for maximum impact) instead of spreading them around the tree… it’s incredibly fun!

Here’s some close-ups so you can see how much fun adding small details (like snow & trees) can create!

THE KITCHEN

Another Christmas tree to be elevated!  And, of course, it should also make sense with the theme I chose –  Snowmen and Holiday Sweets to create the Frosty Sweet Shop!

I was inspired by a $500 Cupcake (themed) tree stand I saw at my holiday wholesaler.  Although it was beautiful, the cost to make mine was only $10.

Here’s the directions:

Once you place the Cupcake liner around your basket, it’s time to add frosting.  Lightly spray-paint polyester fiber fill (comes in a plastic bag at craft & discount box stores) and shape like frosting dripping over the edge of the Cupcake liner.  I used a light pink color of spray paint.  Finally, add small (matte or glitter-finish) ornaments to the fiber fill to create a look of candy sprinkles on the frosting.  I found a pick of several glittered ornaments at Target for only $2.00 and because each one was already on a piece of wire, it was easy to slip them into the fiber fill batting, individually.

And here’s the finished look –

The rest of the room –

HELPFUL HINT: Large foam snowflakes (Dollar Tree) make great winter-theme placemats!

HELPFUL HINT: the 6″ plastic snowflakes I found at the Dollar Tree this year fit perfectly into the chandelier to create instant ice-bling!

Light and motion collectible house by Department 56

KIRKLAND’S has wonderful holiday art… this one lights up!

HELPFUL HINT: Use holiday cards to help you decorate inexpensively! I used 3 inside the openings of this photo display & coordinated a little scene below them.

You’ll find even more details and decorations in this year’s HOLIDAY TOUR on YouTube… here’s the link:

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

Back-to-School “Teacher Gift”

Want to start the year off right with a new teacher?  Then, don’t wait until the END of the year to give them a little gift… do it now, at the beginning!

I know – giving a “year-end” gift is the usual tradition most people practice and it’s certainly well-deserved, especially by that point, because of the countless hours they’ve spent nurturing students all year-long.  But, if you also consider a reasonably priced and useful gift on “Day 1”, your thoughtfulness will surprise them and show your eagerness to establish a good relationship (right away), thereby setting a positive tone for the entire school year. 😉

And here’s my (useful) gift suggestion…. a lunch kit!  This kit idea came to me when I had to come up with a “thank you” gift for 2 VIPs I recently helped host at a charity event.  Both of these ladies are hard working career women and I know a lot of people are watching their diets today by making & taking their lunch to work.  So, I thought a gift of lunch necessities and recipe ideas would be something they would appreciate and actually use!  The kit consisted of: an insulated, re-closeable lunch bag with their name attached (I used a Vera Bradley luggage tag for this  *found on clearance!*, which created a dual purpose BONUS GIFT!), creative lunch ideas cook book, package of napkins, 2 unique & reusable food containers and for those stressful days… some snacks & gum.  Cost: less than $20.  Value:  Priceless!

MORE IDEAS!  You could also add S & P shakers (I found a bright, polka-dotted pair at Walgreens for $1.49!), yogurt bars, instant drink mixes (like Starbucks VIA and Nestea Blueberry Pomegranate & Honey), recycled & reusable bamboo utensils, etc.  And if you find out they are on a restrictive diet (Gluten free, etc.), you can probably locate a cook book with those recipes.  Whatever you choose, keep in mind that a co-worker, relative, friend or sibling would also love to receive a gift like this!

P.S.  Click HERE to check out my Back-to-School Wreath too!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

Unique Christmas Tree Skirt Ideas

[as always, click on any photo for a larger view]

This year’s decorations feature a couple of unique Christmas tree stand cover ideas… one is a tree skirt, but the other is quite different, inexpensive and easy-to-create!

One of The Seasonal Home’s trees features a plaid, Santa-inspired theme so I was able to recycle a tree skirt I made, a few years ago, using inexpensive, red & black vinyl (at the fabric store for apx. $10/yard & don’t forget to use a coupon to save money!) 

That year, I trimmed the whole tree skirt in white fur, using apx. 3 yards (at $2/yard).  I also purchased 1-1/2 yards of the black vinyl, 1-1/3 yards of the red vinyl and a $2 metal buckle.  To make this, cut and tie a piece of string 26″ long to a pencil, which will make it apx. 24″ long in length.  Next cut & tie a piece of string 29″ long to a pencil, which will make it apx. 27″ long.  Lay out the black vinyl (face down).  Holding the end of the 27″ long string in the center of the fabric & fully extending it to the edge of the fabric, draw a complete circle.  Then, repeat this step using the 24″ long string/pencil combo on the red vinyl.  Trim all of the excess vinyl away from the outside edge of the “circle” of each piece of vinyl, which should leave a 28″ black vinyl circle and a 24″ red vinyl circle.  At this point, you will want to use the 24″ string/pencil combo to create another circle on the back side of the black vinyl, but this time… cut the vinyl on the INSIDE of the circle away.  This will leave you with a 4″ wide circular ring of black vinyl.  Glue this to the outside edge of the red vinyl circle, on top of the red.  Cut a slit, starting at one side of this circle to the center.  When you reach the center, cut a circle (in the center) apx. 3″ in diameter (which will encircle the Christmas tree stem).  Finish by gluing the white trim (see photo above).  Finally, cut one extra (apx.) 6″ x 3″ strip of black vinyl to feed through the buckle and glue this buckle/vinyl combo to one side of the slit, on top of the black vinyl ring.  This year, I didn’t want the entire skirt trimmed in white fur, so I removed it and as you can see in the (left) photo, it created a slightly less whimsical version to match my tree look this year.

In The Seasonal Home kitchen, I don’t like to use tree skirts because it’s my busiest room and the floor is washed quite often.  And this year, I’m using my flat-back wall tree (which is basically half of a Christmas tree), so the idea I came up with worked perfectly!  This would work well with a slim profile tree also because they also stand close to the wall.

Instead of putting the tree in its stand, I added a Styrofoam topper to a tall, slim, container, which I “weighted” inside (filling it 1/2 full with rocks) for stability.  I placed the pointed tree stem through the Styrofoam until I hit the rock base inside and then, placed it up against the wall.

Next, I tucked the top flaps of a box inside (the box), taped them down and cut a slit in one end (to accommodate the Christmas tree stem).  Finally, I gift-wrapped the box, coordinating with my tree’s color scheme, lifted the tree container slightly, slid the wrapped box under it and snugly against the wall.  I added a large bow to fill in the gap between the tree bottom & box top to complete the wrapped gift box idea.  Here’s the finished product….

GUESS WHAT?!!!  If you like my holiday style, learn my Christmas decorating tricks, tips and methods…. they’re on my new DVD.  It covers tree decorating and MUCH, MUCH MORE!  You can preview it in my SHOP (above) and thank you, in advance, for your support of a growing small company.

Making MORE Memories!

I am firm believer that children, and people in general, remember what you DO much more than what you give.  Because of this philosophy, I receive many requests to create gift baskets filled with items that help us make memories with family and/or friends.  If you would also like to make one of these, here’s how I build one:

I use my book (Creative Family Traditions and Ideas) as the foundation for each basket because it has ideas useful in many different types of  relationships, including simple friendships.  Next, I search out other manufacturers who also sell products encouraging us to focus on the “M” word…. MEMORIES…  not money and include those, thereby supporting my book as well as the products of other deserving companies.  Finally, rather than place the items in a typical basket, I search for “useful” containers.  Before you know it, I have a gift filled with fun and useful items for creating memories or at the very least – items that make life easier for the recipient.

On an even HAPPIER note ~ When I wrote my book, I discovered that raising 4 children on an extremely tight budget provided me with a true “gift”.  Necessity being the mother of invention, my circumstances helped me become creative – teaching me how to spend “time” (on my children).  I developed clever traditions, ideas and problem solvers as well as ways to reinvent new uses for everyday items.  All of my efforts made them feel loved and special.  And now that they are amazing & creative adults themselves, I realize that they benefited tremendously from my situation!  Coming to that conclusion makes me even happier because I realize that today’s tough economic hardships may actually have a silver lining… it gives me hope for the future adults of today’s struggling parents.  I applaud the parents who roll with the punches and dig deep to find their own FREE creativity to “spend” on their children.  I wish I could give every one of them a HUGE HUG and tell them to hang in there.  I want them to know that the end result can be positive and wonderful!

[check out BABY’S 1st GIFT post as well as the 2 baskets (below) that I created for a fund-raiser, this week]

 

 

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