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

2814818487426916_QNY20VSb_b

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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12 Gifts for 12 Personality-types for $10… or Less!!

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO to view it larger]

Still scratching your head for gift ideas?  Well, since we have finally reached the 12 days of Christmas, here’s some budget-friendly suggestions that I hope will help.  Each one is $10 or less and some of them even make terrific stocking stuffers!

mags

For the Reader, Crafter or Hobbyist – a magazine on their favorite topic (there are TONS of new ones out there!)  Simply wrap it around their favorite sipping beverage and tie it closed with a length of ribbon, tied in a bow!

tire gauge

For those who have to spend a lot of time in their car

a Digital Tire Gauge is not only easier to use, but a great reminder to keep their tires inflated, for safety and better gas mileage,

-OR-

a Personalized Car (removable) Decal for their car window.

Consider their Monogram:

initial decal

Tons of these on ETSY

Family Members:

Click on photo for website

Click on photo for website

Or Fill in the Blank to create a Customized Decal:

Click on photo for site

Click on photo for website

For the Gardener – a basket of herbs.  Recycle one of your own baskets & tuck in 3 easy-to-grow, popular herbs.  My favs are Rosemary (Roasting small potatoes in fresh garlic, rosemary and olive oil is SOOO DELISH!), Cilantro & Parsley

Photo courtesy of www.Givingplants.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.Givingplants.com

For the Cosmetic-aholic – I know the store of “choice” these days is ULTA, however… I have found a new, inexpensive brand of make-up in Target, called “ELF” (LOL- this brand sounds as if it might have been made just for me, but actually, it stands for “Eyes, Lips, Face”).  It’s incredibly inexpensive and everything I’ve purchased works just as well, if not better, than the expensive brands!  Some facts I learned about them… they are: eyeliner

  • High quality
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic and their ingredients are listed, for each product
  • NOT tested on animals nor do they endorse such practices
  • NOT derived nor do they contain animal ingredients
  • Supportive of HSUS and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project

My favorite is the creme eyeliner and it comes in 11 colors, glides on like butter and stays in place without cracking or smudging.  Best of all… it’s only $3!  Here’s their website for more product review: http://www.eyeslipsface.com.

soap barAnd if you’d like to introduce someone to more natural products, consider a bar of natural soap, or make it yourself.  Once you’ve tried natural soaps, you’ll never go back!

For the Snacker, 2 suggestions (and P.S. – making several of these, at once, is a great gift idea for co-workers, neighbors, teachers, salon employees, etc.) –

Mini trays of either veggies & dip OR fruit & dip OR both!  Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving a healthy snack they didn’t have to make themselves?  And if you choose to give the fruit, don’t forget to try my family’s heirloom Fruit Cream Dip (the “How To” is located under the RECIPE tab on my website).  Party stores have small (condiment-size), lidded plastic containers or ask your local restaurant if you can have or purchase some of these to use with the dip so it won’t spill on the way.

a_veggie tray

If you would prefer to satisfy their sweet tooth, try your hand at making these easy cocoa dippers.  Purchase mugs (Dollar Tree), small box of regular-size candy canes

candy canes semi sweet morsels   marshmallows

peppermint chips

regular-size marshmallows, a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.mug and cane

Break off a section of the tail-end of a candy cane (so the remainder can hang freely from the  lip of the mugs, with apx. 1-1/2″ to spare, to allow room for the marshmallow). see photo on right for approximate length

Push the broken end end of the candy cane into a marshmallow.  Melt the  mini chocolate morsels and roll one end of the marshmallow in it.

a_cane in marshmallow    a_coating marshmallow

Crush some of the Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (with the back of a spoon).  After dipping the marshmallow in the chocolate, immediately roll the chocolate end of the marshmallow in the semi-crushed chips.

a_crushing peppermints     a_completed

Allow to dry/harden and you will now have the most wonderful treat, when used as a hot cocoa dipper!  Place 1 or 2 in a plastic baggie, use ribbon to tie it closed and tuck it into a mug with a packet of hot cocoa mix.  Wrap it up or give it just like that!

cocoa dipper

For the CookCL mag

the 25th Anniversary issue of COOKING LIGHT just came out, with all of their best recipes, in magazine form so that really keeps the cost down!

Upgrade or replace one of their older cooking utensils, i.e. an ergonomic potato peeler or a sturdy, bamboo wooden spoon or spatula, etc.  Or, introduce them to a new kitchen tool on the market, ldishwasher 1ike a funnier dishwasher alert magnet or unique drink “ice mold”Eek!  Shark Fins! like the shark fin one pictured here. LOL

wine stopper

Target

For the wine connoisseur – Bottle Notes!  This new tool doubles as a bottle stopper and note board (write dates or how the wine tasted to you on this mini dry erase board)

For the Entertainer

Handmade set of Coasters (I love this idea I found on a website called Crafting Green World.com) and I included the link for details & directions:

scrabblecoaster

Click on photo to visit site

For the Organizer – dec hooks

Who couldn’t use a little extra hanging space, but not all of us are handy.  Solution:  look at how beautifully dressy “over-the-door” hangers have become!

baster duoFor the Grill Master –

2-Pack of Basters with reservoirs

grill light

Click on photo for link

Magnetic, battery-operated, LED Grill Light (found this one at Bed,Bath & Beyond for $8.99).

Or, an Apron with pockets for tools AND slots for drinks! (disclaimer: okay, I found this on the internet for $13.90 so it’s a little pricier, but provided they don’t fall over -with the weight- what a funny gift!)

grill apron

For the Designer – a decorative tile featuring their home to display on a stand…. turning it into a design feature!  This is totally do-able if you are artistic.  If not, you can always take a photo of their house and transfer it to the tile (here’s a link for directions I found on whatIlivefor.com: http://www.whatilivefor.net/2010/06/mod-podge-photo-transfers.html).

house tile_a

HELPFUL HINTS:  1)If you don’t have a laser printer, most copy shops do, and 2) be sure to find out the “Year” they moved in so you can hand paint “Established _____” somewhere on the tile also.

batonFor (my favorite) the Sentimentalist –

This requires a little detective work, accomplished by having some 1-on-1 time with the gift recipient so you can (covertly) ask questions & garner “CLUES”about their youth, i.e. favorite hobby, toy, an old skill they have that you didn’t know anything about, etc.  Doing this will give you an idea about something sentimental that you can help them revisit, via a gift.  For example, I just found out (during one of those 1-on-1 times) that a BFF used to be a majorette.  So, I headed to the toy store and brought a $7.99 hot pink baton, which I plan to wrap & give to her as a sentimental LOL.  She’s going to LOVE it!!  And you better believe that I plan to ask for a demonstration of her whirling & twirling skills of old… I can’t wait! 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS and…

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

P.S.  Next week’s blog post... a Yummy SNOWFLAKE BREAKFAST!

A Patriotic Pergola Picnic!

This post is all about the ol’ Red, White and Blue and with July 4th around the corner, I hope it inspires you with its patriotic spirit… enjoy!

Feel free to click on any photo for a larger view and if you have any questions (or comments… I “heart” those! 🙂 ), please feel free to share them.

During the year, so many celebrations and holidays call for a “Patriotic” theme (Military Homecoming, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day… even the Olympics!), so here’s some creative ideas to inspire you when it’s time to wave your own flag…  on a budget, as usual! 😉

The FOOD!  Keeping it light…

For your celebration, you might want to consider challenging yourself to come up with a slightly healthier menu, starting with a lighter hotdog.  Then, some unique twists on old favorites like corn on the cob.  I call this recipe “Crunchy Corn on the Cob”.  Instead of rolling it in butter,  sprinkle it with crushed blue corn chips (blue) and a touch of chunky sea salt (white) and paprika (red).  Do this right after the corn leaves the pan, using the hot water (instead of butter) to help the crushed chips stick to the corn.  You won’t believe how incredibly tasty this is and how well the two flavors & textures go together!  Accenting the corn with the flavor of fresh cilantro was yummy too!   And check out how cute Patriotic Skewers work as holders for the corn.

Create a “bite-size” salad with Caprese’ Skewers.  Add another “patriotic twist” with a single blueberry at the end of the fresh basil leaf, mozzarella ball and cherry tomato lineup.  Place the ingredients on Patriotic Pinwheel Skewers (Pier One) for some patriotic pizzazz!  Finally, drizzle a Balsamic Glaze and sprinkle fresh herbs to keep taste high and calories low.

The dessert’s main ingredient is an old family recipe – Amoretto Fruit Cream.  It’s very similar to the one featured court-side at England’s famous Wimbledon Tennis matches, which take place around the U.S.A.’s Independence Day.  So, why not let the fruit cream pull double-duty for you by having a Wimbledon party & serving strawberries & cream?  Check out the RECIPE section of my blog for the super, simple details and directions.  You’ll never serve the old marshmallow-y stuff again! LOL   To drive your theme home even more, add the unexpected – a little, sugary sweet in the center.  I used a patriotic flag cupcake accent (found in the boxed cake section of most grocery chains) and served it all over a slice of Angel Food Loaf Cake (check the bakery dept. of your local grocery store).  

The BEVERAGES!

Keep things simple & low-cal by serving water and iced tea.  I found cute patriotic straws (also at Pier 1) and created a hole in the center of a strawberry, to push a straw through, for another decorative touch.  To add some patriotic flair to a dispenser of iced tea, use a shape mold to create “star” ice cubes, in red and blue [note:  juices melt, so if you’re going to use them in clear water, stick to 1 color because mixing colors can give it a murky look].  You’ll find this star mold at most craft stores.  I used a 50% off coupon so my cost was only $5.00.  And since I LOVE two-fers, wouldn’t this be perfect to use during Christmas too?  🙂

PARTY FAVORS!  

A party favor is extra fun & easy when you follow the lead of a theme (enlarge photo to see note card).  The note card sets up the idea behind this favor: “SNAP”  represents small fireworks, “CRACKLE” – is represented by 2 different kinds of sparklers and “POP” – a blue, over-sized blow pop.  Also, knowing how hot it can be, at outdoor parties, a hand “FAN” is a great item to include for your guest’s (individual) comfort.  To create one, cut out the flat, center circle of a sturdy, patriotic theme, paper plate.  When done, glue a wooden tongue depressor to the back.  P.S.  Don’t throw away the leftover paper plate’s outer ring… I have a fun idea for that too!

All of these goodies fit perfectly into a tall, plastic, patriotic container (Wal-Mart Party Dept. – 97 cents) and there’s no need to fill it all the way – just pop a small, red potato in the bottom of each to weight it down.   Wrap the finished favor in clear plastic, add a bow and the “theme” note card (click HERE for a printable version of the theme note card I created for mine).  For apx. $3.00 each, you have a festive party favor that’s not only colorful, but also completely “interactive”!

Time to DECORATE!

Check party stores and the Dollar Tree for inexpensive decorations.  I found these paper lanterns and pinwheels at PARTY CITY, for $14 (total).  For the price, they really add a punch of color to a picnic setting.  Be sure to check out my up-cycled thrift store chandelier idea because it looks great in this setting!

Consider a 2nd (side) table to hold and display your dessert, drinks, plastic-ware, etc.  This is also a great place to use your party favors to help you decorate (double-duty!)  More decorating ideas:  a rustic Uncle Sam (made from a fence post) and flag.  The flag is made by wrapping a large piece of foam core board with inexpensive muslin fabric, which is pulled to the back and stapled in place.  For the stripes, untwist lengths of red “twist paper ribbon”.  To create the star, glue white buttons onto a piece of dark blue construction paper.  Once everything is glued into place and dry, spray paint a light coat of “Wood Tone” by Design Master (a thinned-down brown paint), over the entire project, to give it an aged look.

Utilize cake plates, everyday plates and vases from around the house to create varying height on your table… a great technique that caterers use.  It creates visual interest and saves space!

Check discount stores for inexpensive tablecloths.  I found these at Big Lots ($3.25).  The color POP is fantastic and they coordinated perfectly with my hanging decorations.

And doesn’t it seem like every patriotic table-scape you come across features a geranium?  I love how they look also, but they have gotten expensive, so check out all of the other red, summer, flowering plants in the garden shop.  I found this Lantana for 1/3 the cost!

As promised… the reason you saved the outer rings of the paper plates is because nothing goes to waste in The Seasonal Home!  Overlap the ends and staple or tape it back together, to create a circle/ring.  It makes a fun, patriotic hat.

Imagine some of your party-goers wearing these hats while holding their sparklers… turning themselves into the famous MISS LIBERTY herself!

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

http://www.TheSeasonalHome.com


It’s a LEMON-y, LIME-y Summer!

It’s a fact that “Summer” is the longest (holiday) season of all.  So….. why not place a few inexpensive summer accents around the room you inhabit the most (at this time of year)?

In my case, it’s the kitchen & dining room area, where I’m constantly whipping up pitchers of cool summer beverages and tasty snacks to feed the troops.  To me, Lemons bring back such a nostalgic feeling and memories of my first lemonade stand, so I decided to surround myself with this theme to keep a hot summer light & fresh.  Also consider other citrus fruits… like oranges or pineapples!

[If you like this black & white look, but haven’t found any curtains or valances like mine, there’s a good reason.  I wanted to “freshen up” my black & white toile accents for summer so I looked for a valance that had a more young & contemporary pattern… perfect for summer!  Of course, you can never find what you’re looking for if you look in the NORMAL spots, so I started checking ALL the (Home Dept.) clearance sections of every store I went in to.  Finally… EUREKA!  I found some clearanced (teen) sheets in K-Mart.  This set was an off brand and was marked down to $10!  I only needed the top flat sheet to make 2 valances (1 not shown) for my kitchen area.   I sewed them, using my basic straight sewing skills and a little black ribbon trim.    However, you could use self-stick sewing tape and create this adorable valance with no sewing machine at all.  Total investment: $15 for two (2) cute & contemporary valances… yea!  I hope you find a cute pattern too. :-)]

[click on any of the photos below to view a larger image]

Real and faux Lemons and Limes encircle a vase of fresh yellow, white and green summer flowers. Placing your vase (and fruit) on top of a cake plate adds another level of interest to your arrangement!

Keep your counter or tabletop accessories simple so your lemon and or lime accents really POP!

Don't forget side areas in the room! Just look at how this small lemon wreath alongside a few (faux) lemon and lime accents adds that Summer-y touch to this Key West print.

Simply adding a small wreath of lemons around an everyday shelf accent extends my Summery theme into this cabinet display.

Keep accent furniture (around the room) in mind as you complete a summer theme in your home. Here, I tucked in a "lime" green pillow (see black bench) for the perfect final touch!

For more ideas, check out the ABOUT THE AUTHOR page!