Parties


Well, I’ve finally made it to telling you about the fabulous dessert plate we had at our tea. I know that is really the part you wanted to know about, right?! We were all on a total sugar high the rest of the day.

dessert plate 2

Let me give you a little tour of the plate.

labeled dessert plate

A. Lemon Bars

B. Sugar Cookie Fruit Cups

C. Cream Cheese Melt Away Mints

D. Fudge Bites

E. Chocolate Covered Tea Bag Cookies

F. Petit Fours with Cream Cheese Filling

Some of the work did get farmed out to a couple of other ladies. My sweet friend, Kathy, pictured here with her fiancée, made the Lemon Bars. She slaved all night to get them just right. I must say, I’m a sucker for any lemony dessert. Kathy’s were fabulous! We cut them into little fingers to add variety to the plate.

Kathy and Randy

Kaye made the Melt Away Mints. I could eat my weight in those things! Here is Kaye, dutifully getting instructions on how to serve tea. She’s the one in the middle. Thank you, both!

Getting instructions

Today I’m going to share with you the Petit Fours. I didn’t get too many “in progress” pictures of the other items. I’ll share them, none the less, in following posts.

petit fours with violets

I was really pleased with the way the Petit Fours turned out. I had been really nervous about making them. They weren’t hard, but they were time-consuming. Knowing that, I made the cake in advance and froze it.

I made just a basic pound cake. You could even use store-bought if you wanted. I made mine in a 10 x 15 bar pan lined with parchment paper. I split the cake and spread strawberry ice cream topping on each half.

The filling was the same  yummy, lemony, cream cheese filling I use on my Luscious Lemon Angel Roll. When I put the layers together, I used a baking rack to help with the transfer. It was tricky, and I did have a little breakage. (The Critics got to do some sampling for me !) Then I wrapped it all, whole, in plastic wrap and said a prayer as it went to the freezer.

When I was ready to fix them up for the tea, I defrosted the cake a bit, then cut it into 1 1/2 inch pieces, roughly. Being partially frozen made the cake a little easier to cut.

I only cut what I could handle frosting. I didn’t want the cake to dry out too much. I even kept the large piece covered with a damp paper towel while it waited to be cut.

I was not nervous about how the cake would taste. I knew that part was okay. It was the frosting and decorating I was worried about. I had made petit fours exactly ONCE before in my life. I used a powdered sugar glaze that time. I was disappointed that they didn’t look like the ones I had seen in the magazine. It was for a friend’s baby shower. There were only a few people there. I guess it was okay that they weren’t perfect. These, however, I felt had to be more on the mark. People were paying to eat them, after all!

I know you are wondering what I used on as the frosting.

stir the frosting

Yep! Store-bought vanilla frosting!

Just heat and stir!

fill squeeze bottle

Okay, I poured it in a squeeze bottle to make things easier.

icing petit fours 4

I squirted,

icing petit fours 2

and squirted,

icing petit fours 3

and squirted,

icing petit fours 4

and squirted some more!

When the frosting started to cool off, I just reheated it in the microwave.

While the frosting was still wet, I gently placed a little purple violet on top.

use tweezers to place the flowers

Tweezers made this a little easier.

violets on petit fours

I went ahead and tapped the flower into the frosting. Since I didn’t make sugared violets, I was afraid they might wilt.

tea cakes

I had made plans to use cupcake papers on the cakes. I’m glad I did. The sides of the cake just didn’t look as covered as I wanted them to look. I guess you have to use fondant for that look. No thanks!

These were just regular, cheap-o, generic cupcake papers. They were just a little too tall So, I recruited my daughter trim them down for me a little while I worked in the kitchen. I just kinda mushed the papers into the frosting. The papers covered my non-covered sides and they looked pretty that way.

Violet petit fours

Well, my Petit Fours still didn’t look like the ones you see in the glossy magazines, but they looked better than my first attempt, that’s for sure. Everyone seemed to love them!

The second course at our lovely tea party was scones. If you follow this blog regularly, you might remember me testing out the scones recipe. (click here)

They turned out great!

scones with clotted cream and jam

scones plate 1

I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones. I just left out the blueberries. This was the only recipe I tested. It was so yummy, I figured, why bother with another one? It was simple enough, too.

First, mix all your dry ingredients together.

Then you are going to cut in your butter. (Cold ingredients will be best.) The butter needs to be cut into small pieces. That is how you get even distribution of butter.

butter, small pieces

cutting butter

I have read that if you don’t have a pastry cutter you can use two knives to cut in the butter. Personally, I have never liked that method. You can pick up a cutter fairly inexpensively.

Next, whisk together your wet ingredients and drizzle over the dry-stirring as you go.

add wet ingredients

After you dough comes together, turn it out on a floured surface. Gently knead a couple of times to incorporate all the flour. Pat it into a 1 inch disk.

pastry disk

Cut into 8-12 wedges, depending on the size you would like. I went with 12 on my trial run. After tasting how yummy they were I decided to make them a little larger for the tea party.

cut in eighths

Transfer the wedges to your parchment-lined baking sheet. (The batch pictured was waiting its turn on the pan.That’s why it is on a cutting board.)

bake on parchment paper

Here you will brush each scone with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

brush with egg wash

sprinkle with sugarI can’t believe I was able to sprinkle sugar while I took the picture!

spilled sugarOkay, maybe not!

Bake ’em up at 375˚ for about 22 minutes. My parchment paper looks kinda nasty because I reused it. I was making 13 batches of scones! Parchment paper costs money! I used each piece two or three times. I scraped the crusty parts off before reusing it each time. Cool the scones on wire racks.

on parchment paper

scones cooling on wire rack

When they are completely cool, you can freeze them. Of course they are best straight from the oven!

I made lots of scones!

lots of scones

pile of scones

scones pile

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Stir in blueberries.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and the vanilla. Drizzle over flour mixture, and stir lightly with a fork until dough comes together but a small amount of flour remains in bowl.
  4. Turn out dough onto a work surface, and gently knead dough once or twice just to incorporate flour. Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool.

Cook’s Note

Scones are best served immediately but can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

The scones were served with “Mock Clotted Cream”. I found the recipe here.

Mock Clotted Cream Recipe


Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered (confectioners’) sugar, sifted


Preparation:

Using a whisk attachment on your mixer, whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the sour cream and powdered sugar just until combined.

Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Make approximately 2 cups or enough to serve 6 to 8.

Don’t know about clotted cream? What’s Cooking America also had this little tidbit of information:

Question:

Could you tell me what the difference is between clotted cream and creme fraiche?  It doesn’t sound like there is much difference, other than country of origin. Thanks – Jim Buffy (12/29/03)

Answers:

clotted cream – Traditionally served with tea and scones in England; it is a 55% minimum milk fat product made by heating unpasteurized milk to about 82 degrees C., holding them at this temperature for about an hour and then skimming off the yellow wrinkled cream crust that forms (until the cream separates and floats to the surface). It is also known as Devonshire cream. It will last up to four days if refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

Devonshire cream (DEHV-uhn-sheer) – Originally from Devonshire County, England, it is a thick, buttery cream often used as a topping for desserts. It is still a specialty of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, as this is where the right breed of cattle is raised with a high enough cream content to produce clotted cream. It is also known as Devon cream and clotted cream. Clotted cream has a consistency similar to soft butter. Before the days of pasteurization, the milk from the cows was left to stand for several hours so that the cream would rise to the top. Then this cream was skimmed and put into big pans. The pans were then floated in trays of constantly boiling water in a process known as scalding. The cream would then become much thicker and develop a golden crust, which is similar to butter. Today however, the cream is extracted by a separator, which extracts the cream as it is pumped from the dairy to the holding tank. The separator is a type of centrifuge, which extracts the surplus cream at the correct quantity so that the milk will still have enough cream to be classified as milk.

creme fraiche (krem FRESH) – It is a matured, thickened cream that has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. The thickness can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room temperature margarine. In France, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally. In America, where all commercial cream is pasteurized, the fermenting agents necessary can be obtained by adding buttermilk or sour cream. To make creme fraiche, combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. It is an ideal addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling. It is also delicious spooned over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or puddings.

Now you see why I went with the Mock Clotted Cream! It is not real sweet, so it is perfect with a dollop of jam!

Since I had made the scones in advance and stuck them in the freezer, they needed to be warmed a little before serving. (After thawing, of course.) I was a little nervous about how they would turn out reheated.

Scones

Not a problem! They were excellent! You do, however, lose some of the texture of the sugar sprinkled on top. I think I’m the only one who knew the difference. Well, NOW they know.

scones plate 2

We had strawberry jam with our scones. Mmmmmm!

When the Tea Party was over, we had some of the clotted cream left. My family enjoyed it with French Toast and fresh strawberries.

French toast with strawberries and cream

French Toast with strawberries and cream 1

The scones were easy and tasty. There are so many flavors out there to try–Orange Cranberry, Nutella, Pumpkin, Maple. Oh, yeah! I’ll be trying some of those!

Have you made scones? Do you buy scones? Do you have a favorite flavor?

Is all of this new to you? Are you going to give it a try?

After the chorus sang for our guests at the Tea, we served a plate of savories.

Savory Tea Plate 3

Before I tell you about the food, I want to give a special shout out to my gal-pal Susi!

Chef and sous chef

If I was the “chef”, Susi was my “sous chef”. I think she can pull that off really well if we call her a Suz-chef! Get it? She how I made a little funny with her name?

We also had some fabulous servers. Here are a few of them getting instructions on how to serve tea from D’arylan Ball, the caretaker of the home.

Getting instructions

Susi and I were the ones in charge of the kitchen. The two of us did all the plating of the food. Susi also made the fabulous Cranberry Chicken Salad Puffs.

Chicken Salad Puff

She made the puff pastries from her family’s never-fail recipe. The chicken salad was wonderful! One of her secrets was to use rotisserie chicken!

Susi, leave us a comment on how you made your chicken salad.

Savory Tea Plate 2

Don’t you just love the internet? When we started planning for this event, Mom and I started searching for recipes, crafts, and anything inspiring. The two of us started a Pinterest board to save our ideas as well as share them with one another. This was a very helpful tool. You can see our board here. We are still adding to it. You never know when you might need tea party recipes again!

The tomato sandwich and cucumber round both were found during our search.

The cucumber rounds were really easy. Before slicing the cucumbers, I scored them with my zester/scorer from Pampered Chef. I used the end with the small holes. Of course, if you don’t have one of these, you could just peel part of the cucumber off with a regular old peeler. We had to go fancy though!

zester:scorer

After slicing the cucumber into approximately 1/2 inch slices, I used a tool similar to this…

corerMine, however, is just a regular old strawberry huller. I scooped almost all of the seeds out of each cucumber slice, leaving a little base for the cheese.

As you may or may not know, cucumbers are FULL of water! I placed my slices, hollowed-out side down, on some paper towels in a container in the fridge overnight. I sure didn’t want cucumber juice all over the serving plate!

Oh, by the way, the idea for the cucumber slices came from Annie’s Eats. I love her blog.

Annie made her Cucumber Bites with Boursin Cheese in the middle. Well, Boursin Cheese can be a little pricy at the store.

I was overjoyed to find a recipe for homemade Boursin Cheese here.

HOMEMADE BOURSIN CHEESE SPREAD
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon dill
2 teaspoons chives
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

In a mini food processor, process the cream cheese, butter and garlic until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Put in an airtight container and chill a couple of hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

Makes about 3/4 cup
Can be frozen

For some reason, I couldn’t get my fancy decorating tip to work right–an operator problem, no doubt. I had made the spread the night before and stored it in a resealable bag. I added a little whipping cream to the mix then I just snipped off the tip. I was able to squirt the spread into the cucumber cups with ease.

They weren’t quite as fancy as I wanted, but they were very tasty!

Savory Tea Plate 1

The Tomato Sandwiches were a HUGE hit! I was surprised because they were so easy!

The inspiration for the Tomato Sandwiches came from Paula Deen! I did do a little tweaking of my own on this one.

The bread I used was the cheapest plain ol’ sandwich bread they had at Walmart. I used brown and white, like Paula. Using a small biscuit cutter, I was able to get two cuts from each piece of bread. I made bread crumbs with the leftovers.

Cutting out the little rounds went really fast. I put them in Ziploc baggies in the freezer until the night before the party. I had LOTS of things in my freezer until the night before the party! Being able to do a lot ahead of time was essential!

Tomatoes are like cucumbers in that they are packed with water!

I did the whole slice and drain thing with the tomatoes like I did the cucumbers. DO NOT skip this step. If you do, you will have a soggy sandwich! Yuck!

Here is the spread that I put on the sandwiches…

SAVORY PARTY SPREAD

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 package (0.7 ounce) dry Italian salad dressing mix

I just spread it on each piece of bread and put a tomato in the middle. A little piece of parsley spruced up the top a bit.

Savory Tea Plate 3

Three little bite-sized treats was perfect for our first course.

Two more courses to come~stay tuned!

The Sweet Adeline group I sing with, Top of the Rock Chorus, recently had a fundraiser event. Wanting to do something different, we decided to have a Tea at the historic Harper-Alexander House.

Harper Alexander House

Everything was just lovely! The weather even cooperated. It was sunny and the temperature was in the low to mid 70s.

Porch exterior

I’ll give you a little pictorial tour of the house. Be sure and follow the link above to learn more of what goes on at the Harper-Alexander House.

Beautiful pressed tin ceilings….

Ceiling Tiles

…and wide winding staircases were typical of homes built in the early 1900s.

Uptairs looking down

Meet some of the Harpers.

The Harpers

Beautiful details were at every turn.

Lamp Details

vintage Hershey's Cocoa tin

Roses in water

Tea Tray

Decorated Mantle

Every table was eloquently arranged.

Living Room Low table

Living Room,

Porch

Porch table

table for two

table for two centerpiece

table for two china

yellow room

Blue Room full table

Blue Room

Blue Room Table

Big Room 1

Big Room 2

downstairs bedroom

Front Room side table

Front room

Front Window Table

Bride's room

As guests arrived, handsome gentlemen escorted them to their tables.

Greeting at the door

ushers

Of course there was some singing. That is what we do best!

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock singing

While folks enjoyed their tea and treats, some members of the chorus acted as fashion models. Fashions were provided by Chico’s in Little Rock and Fashion Corner in North Little Rock. (Unfortunately, we were all so busy serving and so taken with the food and surroundings we didn’t get pictures of the models. If some turn up somewhere, I’ll be sure to add them here.)

And, of course, there was food…

Savory Tea Plate 1

and food

scones with clotted cream and jam

…and more food!

dessert plate 2

Watch for more to come about the food.

It was a wonderful day!

Top of the Rock partnered with P.A.T.H. and His Kaleidoscope Ministry for this event. Being able to share with these groups made the day that much more special.

Top of the Rock would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to Walmart, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Atwoods, and Bonnie Plants for making our event possible.

I didn’t know if you knew it or not, but the Chinese New Year is coming up on February 10. This year will be the year of the snake. To learn more about this holiday click here.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a birthday party we had several years ago, like 9. This was looong before my blogging days. There are several pictures I wish we had taken. Oh, well.

Let me show you the inspiration for this party to begin with.

girls with hats via Pork Chop Tuesday

Precious, I know!

My mom had bought these adorable outfits for the girls. They wanted to wear them all the time! Megan’s birthday was coming up, so the outfit was the inspiration.

Couldn’t you just eat them up!

We made these little hats for all the girls at the party. That was one of the pictures we didn’t get.

We also did not get a picture of the cute little kimono invitations we sent out. We ordered them from Oriental Trading Co. They don’t even carry them any more.

cherry blossoms via Pork Chop Tuesday

I loved this party! We put it all together on such a shoestring budget.

These cherry blossoms were made from a stick from the yard and some pink tissue paper from the gift wrapping closet. All we did was cut out square stacks of tissue. Then we folded each square three times into a cone shape. Then we used scissors to round off the end. I used a pencil to help glue it to the branch with tacky glue.

paper lanterns via Pork Chop Tuesday

Homemade construction paper lanterns, along with a few store-bought lanterns, hung form a piece of scavenged bamboo in the garage. I wish I could relay the hysterical laughter and giddiness Mom and I experienced gathering this bamboo from a strangers yard and hauling it home in the trunk of the car!

We had some crafts and games of course.

One craft was to make a paper lantern of their own.

party crafts via Pork Chop Tuesday

This was very easy. Fold the paper in half “hotdog” style. Cut slits in the paper about 1/2 to 1 inch away form the edge. Open it up. Wrap it around. Staple it. Add a handle. The girls stamped their lanterns with some Chinese letters before assembling them.

The other craft was kinda hard. That is probably why we have not pictures. It took all hands on deck. We made folded paper dragons. They were cute. We decorated the heads with sequins and such. Then attached them to a bamboo skewer like a little puppet. Sorry there isn’t a picture. To tell you the truth, the memory of it isn’t real clear either.

Pin-the-tale-on-the-monkey was one of the games. Seems like when there is a birthday party, you HAVE to pin-the-something-on-the-something. It was the year of the monkey that year, so it made sense to use a monkey.

Pin the tail on the monkey via Pork Chop Tuesdaypin the tail on the monkey 2 via Pork Chop Tuesday

Then we had the cotton ball pick up game. Pick up the cotton balls with the chopsticks and put them in the take-out carton. Have teams race against each other.

chopstick game via Pork Chop Tuesday

Not everyone played by the rules.

chopstick game 2 via Pork Chop Tuesday

The last game we played was catch the dragon.

Chip made a great dragon head out of construction paper.

dragon head via Pork Chop Tuesday

Someone wears the dragon head. Naturally, this was the birthday girl. Everyone files in behind her and holds on at the waist.

We stapled black and red crepe paper streamers around the kids’ wrists for extra effect.

catch the dragon via Pork Chop Tuesday

The dragon runs around to try to catch the person at the end of the line. Then the next kid goes.

catch the dragon 2 via Pork Chop Tuesday

After the dragon game, we headed in for refreshments and gifts.

front door decor via Pork Chop Tuesday

More lanterns covered the lights in the kitchen. These large ones were made out of red poster board.

large lanterns via Pork Chop Tuesday

Snacks were goldfish crackers, mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles and “green tea” with paper umbrellas(green kool-aid).

table decor via Pork Chop Tuesday

Then came the fortune cookie birthday cake, homemade, of course.

fortune cookie cake via Pork Chop Tuesday

Bamboo skewers held the “Happy Birthday, Megan” fortune. No, it did NOT catch on fire!

take out boxes via Pork Chop Tuesday

Each girl went home with a take out box filled with folding fans, chopsticks, fortune cookies,  fish-shaped water toys, kimono stickers, more paper umbrellas, and maybe some other things I can’t remember. They also took home their lanterns and dragon puppets.

What a fun time for so little money!

me w-cherry blossoms via Pork Chop Tuesday

Happy Chinese New Year! (But not until the 10th)

Happy 2013 everyone!

The kids went back to school today. Therefore, life must return to “normal”. Normal, I suppose, includes a blog post! So, we have come to the point in the year, the first post of the year, where I tell you all the stats from last year.

Why? Why do I feel I must do this? Peer pressure? Everyone else is doing it!

If you are a regular around here, none of these posts will be new to you.

However, if you are new, maybe you’ll see something you like and go investigate.

Here goes…

According to the statisticians at WordPress, thank you very much, these are the posts that got the most views in 2012. (Strangely enough, all of the Top 5 are actually from 2011. I guess I can look at that in a couple of different ways…1) Stuff I wrote about in 2012 wasn’t as interesting as 2011 topics, or 2) These posts have staying power–like a little black dress! We’ll go with #2.

#5 Christmas Tree Tour

Bible made from a matchbox and alphabet pasta

Bible made from a matchbox and alphabet pasta

#4 Tie Dyed Fingernails

swirling polish 4

#3 Linguini Salad

Linguini Salad finished

#2 Christmas Party Food

CheeseMan

#1 Dr. Seuss Snacks

proud moment

I had a hard time trying to decide my favorite post of 2012.

I have to say, I was extremely happy to finally finish the Impressionist series. You can see the entire series here. Part X is here.

waiting to go inside

I piggy-backed this post in the BLOGtober series I did with Arkansas Women Bloggers. That was fun too. You can see that series here.

I think my favorite new recipe I tried was Cannellini Beans. Y’all, it is just so good!

spooning beans

Looking back on 2012, we really did a lot! We ate great food, at home and off of trucks! We visited family and friends. We crafted.

My favorite thing we did last year was make a pirate movie with the kids and some of their friends, then hosted the premier for the movie.

The planning, the scrounging, the cooking…it was all good!

table 2

And now, here are the Critics’ favorites.

Critics’ Corner

Chip:

Favorite dish–Pork Chops and Field Peas

ready to serve

Favorite Restaurant–The Bavarian Chef

Schweineschnitzel

Favorite Event–Movie Premier

watching movie

Megan:

Taste–Bud Biscuits

15-hot biscuits

Coolness–Butterfly Cupcakes

completed butterflies

Creative Title–Help! I ate something green!

more kale

Fun–Bocce Ball

bocce ball 1

Gross–Welch’s Fruit FIZZ

box

Katie:

Great Wolf Lodge!

main attraction

Strawberry Delight!

Strawberries outside

Thank you for following my little blog. Whether you are a subscriber to the blog or the Facebook page, get here from Pinterest, or stop by at random, your visits, “likes” and comments are appreciated!

Now I know why people do the “year in review” post…happy memories! I plan on making some more in 2013! I hope you are there to share them with me.

These skeleton treats are so cute and super easy to make!

I came across an adorable Halloween party table at Wants and Wishes. You will want to go there. Way cute! She made some really cute pretzel skeletons for her party. I just had to try them on my girls.

They have not seen them yet. I sent the treats in their lunch boxes today!

I think they turned out really cute.

I made them in a BIG hurry. My pretzels could have used another dip–just to make them look whiter.

Here is what you need:

Now, I just used store-bought brownies because I didn’t have time to make my own.

As I’m sure you know, Little Debbies come “2 to a pack”. If you ask me, they come one to a pack. However, there is that little dividing line so they can easily be broken into two pieces.

I used one little square. I wrapped it in plastic wrap, so it wouldn’t dry out as much.

For the pretzels, I just used a candy coating on regular pretzels-no rocket science there.

My skewer was a regular sized bamboo skewer. I cut it down to about 4 inches with my kitchen shears.

For the faces on the marshmallows, I used a food safe marker. I would like to have a finer tip on a marker. I’ll have to be on the look out for those. For the eyes I used the letter D and a backward D. I thought that made the eyes look vacant, like a skeleton.

I had myself a little skeleton treat assembly line going in my kitchen yesterday.

•Dipped pretzels

•Wrapped brownies

•Trimmed skewers

•Marshmallows with faces drawn

•Bags & trimmed ribbon

Set a pretzel on top of the brownie just to make sure you have it positioned correctly. Stick the skewer through the bottom opening of the pretzel. Thread about five more pretzels onto the skewer. Pop the marshmallow on top.

Stick it all in a bag and put a bow on it. Easy peasy!

It is truly amazing how a cellophane bag and a fancy ribbon dress up a snack!

I didn’t go crazy and make these for all the trick-or-treaters that come by tonight. I mainly just wanted to make them for my girls. I did make a couple of extras for a couple of extra goblins we know.

I was rather pleased with these little skeleton treats.

They really take no time at all to make. Hurry, there is still time. If you are seeing this post at a different time of year, just put it on your Pinterest board for next year! You’ll want to make them–quick, easy, delicious!

Well, here it is. The long-awaited “Pirates of the Secret Island 4: Mutiny on the Secret Island”.

The Premier was quite an affair. I begged, borrowed, and stole from various sources for weeks! We pulled off the party–swag bag, food, decorations, the works–for less than $50!

I think that was a pretty good accomplishment. Parties are fun. Paying for parties? Not so much!

The dress for the evening was “fancy”. We pulled out an old dress my sister had in college for Megan. Katie wore one of Megan’s hand-me-downs. One of the benefits of being a Sweet Adeline is having fancy clothes and jewelry. So, I wore something from my stash. Chip was on his own as far as his fancy clothes went.

The family had all worked tirelessly to prepare for the party. Food. Decor. Yard. Clothes.

I knew I had not timed things perfectly when it got to be 5:30 and I had not even gotten in the shower! There was still food and hair to fix before the guests arrived at 6:30!

Fortunately, Mom and Dad came early to help. Thank goodness! I would have never made it.

Next to arrive was the Dowlearn family.

Charley had to set up the special Hollywood style spotlights he made for the occasion.

Maybe he will leave a comment telling how he made them. Here is a hint.

More admiring fans, groupies, “agents”, and actors showed up on the scene.

My folks really got into their roles. Mom interviewed everyone as they arrived. The kids didn’t really know what to think about that. (Somehow, one interview didn’t get photographed. Sorry, Mac.)

The “Paw-Pawrazzi” was played by my dad. Be sure to click his picture and check out his credentials.

Megan thought it was great fun to “avoid” the paparazzi every chance she got.

The red carpet was great! I really struggled with this aspect of the decorations. I really wanted a RED CARPET. You know, Hollywood style. I thought about getting a remnant and spray painting it. That was just going to be too expensive, and it just wouldn’t look right. I looked all over town. I was really working on a shoestring budget. I was determined, or as Moe, at Carpet Mills in North Little Rock, said–persistent! A big thanks goes out to Moe for donating several carpet samples. I knew I needed more though! Mom found a red carpet runner at Party City. Yes, I realize it was only $6.99, but remember, SHOESTRING budget! I refused to give up! After hitting at least 3 more carpet stores, someone suggested Classic Carpets in North Little Rock. Tracy had a red carpet! He typically rents it out for $50. He let me borrow it for FREE! Thank you, Tracy! The long roll of red carpet was exactly what I wanted! The carpet samples extended the red carpet on down the sidewalk perfectly. Thanks a million guys!

Adoring fans brought roses for the actresses and Sonic gift cards for the actors. How sweet!

The director, naturally, was behind the camera, again.

“The Faceless Bartender” showed up for the gala, I think.

We really did some rearranging inside. As the actors and actresses entered the front hall, there was a curtain hanging in the hallway. This curtain usually hangs in my parents bedroom in the fall and winter. For the party, it hung on a shower rod. I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad use a regular curtain rod when they hang it. We used our white Christmas lights to light the entrance and the “theater”.

I moved the couch from it’s regular position, so we could fit the dining room chairs in the den in rows. This also required that two chairs, two tables,  a secretary, and a rug find a new home. (It didn’t all get put back after the party. I decided I liked some of the things in their new homes.) I used our TV trays between chairs. I thought folks might need a place to set their plates and cups. I borrowed some extras from Mom and Dad and the Dowlearns.

First, let me tell you about the table decorations and serving pieces. Then, I’ll fill you in on the food. Click the picture above for the details.

The gold table cloth is one that my Mother-in-Law bought at an after Christmas sale a couple of years ago. This was my first time to use it. It was perfect!

The gold chargers were an anniversary present one year. You can’t serve food off of them though, so I used clear glass plates that I think I got as a wedding gift almost 20 years ago.

The tower that the cupcakes are on is from my days as a Pampered Chef lady. It is from their Simple Additions collection. It’s been a while, so some of the pieces have changed. I sure have enjoyed my set though.

The punch bowl came from a garage sale about 10 years ago. I opted to use plastic cups rather than washing punch cups. The gold and silver paper plates were some Mom had leftover from some shindig. She couldn’t remember where she got them.

The adorable little spoons were borrowed from Chip’s Aunt Mary. Are they not the cutest?! The plate they are sitting on was a hand-me-down from either Chip’s mom or grandmother.

Red tray with popcorn bags was borrowed from Mom. Parmesan Stars were in a silver basket, another wedding gift. ( You can’t see the basket, but it’s there.)

Gold place mats were a wedding gift, too.

In addition to punch we had water with and without cucumber slices. It had to be on a separate table-actually an organ bench.

Please notice the film reels in this next picture. They were inspired by these. The price was a little different, however. Ours were made from cardboard I stole out of the neighbor’s trash. It was clean! Chip cut them out and spray painted them with paint that either Mom or I had. You might also notice the drape over the TV cabinet. My sister had a burgundy swag in the bathroom when she lived in this house. I didn’t want to use it, but I couldn’t part with all that taffeta. Glad I didn’t! The gold tassels came from an el cheep-o sale. The center of the drape is held up with a chip clip!

This is the PRESTIGIOUS Dowlearn Award that was given for the first 3 films! Don’t you love it under glass?

Once again, Chip is not in the group photo. Sad.

This is the “swag bag” the kids went home with. I’m really sad we didn’t get a picture of the treasure chest that held them. My friend, Cyndi, had a treasure box from work that came with Post-It Notes in it! I sprayed it gold and put the bags inside. Thanks, Cyndi.

The red velvet bags with gold tassels came from a close out sale a couple of years ago. I think I paid 5¢ each for them. Each kiddo got a copy of the movie. Actually, it had all 4 movies on the disc. Thanks to Ryan Kravitz for designing the label. They also got a CD with the still photos that were shot the day of filming. A $1 picture frame with the group photo, a star ornament/bookmark (that came from the same sale as the bags), and some hard candy rounded out the goodie bag.

I do hope they all had the time of their lives. It was all great fun!

RECIPES:

I feel I should mention that one of our guests has severe food allergies. I had to be very careful that none of the indigents were even from a factory that uses nuts. Harder than you might think. I have a new appreciation for people with nut allergies.

Ok, so some of the snacks didn’t really have a recipe per se.

1. Cheese and crackers–I admit, I took the easy way out. I bought the pre-cubed cheese. I already had a variety of crackers. This was an easy appetizer.

2. Popcorn–Again, not rocket science. Place package in microwave for 3 minutes. Listen for popping to stop.I just had to have popcorn with the movie.

3. Veggies and dip–Just carrots and celery arranged on a plate with ranch dressing in a bowl.

4. Pigs in a blanket–Pretty easy. Roll lil’ smokies up in crescent rolls. Cook until done.  Barbecue sauce and mustard were available condiments.

5. Stuffed Mushrooms–These were really easy because someone else brought them! Whitney said she used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe but tweaked it a little. Whitney, please leave a comment and tell about your tweak.

6. Strawberry Tarts–I didn’t make these either. Whitney said all she did was let the berries sit in sugar for a while. The crust was made in a mini muffin pan. Put a scoop of the berries in a cooked and cooled pastry cup. Top with whipped cream.

7. Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and gold sprinkles–Megan made the cupcakes. I decorated them. We used a boxed cake mix and ready to spread frosting. The gold cupcake liners really added a lot. I found them at Hobby Lobby.

8. Parmesan Stars–These were really easy. Thaw frozen puff pastry. I used a tiny star cookie cutter to cut out stars. The girls helped me by smearing olive oil on the stars as I put them on the pan. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Bake according to package directions.

9. Bacon Wrapped Chicken–These turned out to be trickier than I thought they should have been. Mainly they were tricky because I was pressed for time. Cut chicken breasts into small pieces. Cut bacon strips into thirds. Wrap bacon around the chicken; secure with a toothpick. I melted some apple jelly and mixed it with a little soy sauce. I would have used orange, but  I didn’t have any. Brush on meat. Bake at 425* for about 10 minutes, turn and cook for another 10ish minutes. We had to cook them just a little longer.

10. “Fancy  Grapes”–Megan and Katie made these. Wash grapes and DRY COMPLETELY. While you are waiting for the grapes to dry, melt some vanilla almond bark. Poke a toothpick into the dry grapes then dip the melted chocolate. Immediately dip into graham cracker crumbs. The original recipe said to use peanuts. I had to improvise. Stand coated grapes on your serving plate while the chocolate is still warm. If you wait, they won’t stand up straight. These went like hot cakes! I think next time I will just use purple grapes.

11. Twice Baked New Potatoes–I was very excited to find the potatoes on sale. Buy one bag get one bag free! Boil the potatoes until fork tender, maybe just a little longer. I pulled them out of the pot a little too soon. Cut each potato in half. Slice a small piece off the bottom of each half of the potato so it will stand upright. Scoop out the potato flesh. Be careful to leave enough of a “wall” so your potato will keep its shape. Combine potato innards with a little sour cream and crumbled bacon. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shell.

12. Brownie Batter Dip–Aunt Mary sent me this recipe via Pinterest.  She served it at a shower at her house and said it was a hit! The same can be said of it being served at the Premier as well! Katie mixed this up for me. Mix an 8 ounce package of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of butter. Both should be softened. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and 1 tablespoon of milk. Add 5 Tbsp flour, 5 Tbsp cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 Tbsp milk. Whisk together. You can add more milk if you need to. We added mini chocolate chips at the end too! Put a scoop on a cute little fancy spoon and top with a mini Nilla Wafer. We had a bowl with extra dip and a dish of extra cookies as well.

13. Punch–There are a thousand different punch recipes out there. This one came from my friend Kathy Zimmerman. Make a simple sugar by combining 3 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water. Boil for 3 minutes, until clear. Mix together one 12 oz. can of frozen lemonade and one 12 oz. can of frozen pineapple juice-mix both according to package directions. Add on 12 oz. can of frozen limeade-DO NOT DILUTE. Add to simple sugar. Put mixture in the freezer. When it starts to solidify, give it a stir every now and then so it gets slushy. When ready to serve, put it in your punch bowl and add a 2 liter bottle of ginger ale. Sooo yummy!

Well, that was our little party. It was a great time. I realize this was a really long post. Thanks for stayin’ with me. I guess I could have had about 15 different posts out of this one party. Oh, well. I wanted it to all be together. Plus, we were so crazy before the party started that no one got “blog quality” photos of the food.

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