Fall means the start of holiday season and family fun. We spend a lot of time gathered around the TV watching football, so I always decorate my family room first. I really love lights, so I tend to layer them. Here's how you can make your own easy fall decor:
I used two fall garlands that I purchased from Hobby Lobby. I added extra pics of pumpkins and sunflowers to make them fuller. I then added my favorite lights-a sting of pumpkin lights I bought years ago from Target. I love these! I also added another string new from Target this year-they are Vintage style lights with orange glass bulbs accented with a little black added for dramatic effect.
To finish it off, I used two candlesticks from Pier One to give two of my three pumpkins some varying heights on one end of the mantle. On the other end, I used two lighted pumpkins I purchased from QVC this year. That's it for the mantle.
For the buffet below the television, I used one fall garland also from Hobby Lobby with extra pics just like the mantle. I then added a softer LED owl light strand from Target, so the lights would not compete with the television. The owls are cute!
Next, I will layer in some extra wide fall ribbon I purchased from Grandin Road into both garlands. I think your decorations look better when you layer multiple items together. Then, it will be time to add in all the Halloween decor. Eek!
It's that time of year again-the Fall and for our family, this means lots of wonderful things. Cooler weather brings more time outdoors and SPORTS! We love football and one thing we host every year is the draft party for the fantasy football league. It's a fun event and all I do is make tasty treats for the drafters. I really enjoy doing it every year.
I made a small football field from guacamole with queso and salsa for the end zones. I crafted field goals out of slim jims and piped the field with sour cream. The guys loved it. Every year, the "Snack Stadium" has grown bigger and better. Last year's stadium was pretty spectacular and pretty hard to improve on. I mentioned at a game night that I wasn't going to make one this year and the guys were disappointed, so, I rallied and came up with an easier solution to make a pretty fun stadium for the party. Here's how I did it:
To make the stadium, I took banker's boxes and covered them with paper from a local teachers tools store. I also purchased some Cowboys banners because they didn't have generic NFL ones to decorate the boxes with.
Finally, for the center, I bought an extra long aluminum pan from Party City to fill with homemade guacamole and pipe with sour cream. It was demolished.
I filled the stadium with varying types of chips, pretzels and candy. Another hit!
Have you been paying attention to the news about our food supply? The more I learn, the more alarmed I become. Our food supply, in general, is in trouble. We are eating food that is pumped full of chemicals, additives, antibiotics, pesticides and preservatives. We no longer eat what our grandparents and generations before that ate. No wonder diseases including cancers, IBS, obesity, gluten and other allergies are so prevalent in our society.
What can we do? We must try to buy organic, non GMO, free range, no antibiotics, no preservatives, no additives or anything artificial added! Food that has been raised humanely is a must as well as avoidance of most farm raised fish. This is not only extremely difficult but also is expensive. I find myself scouting out sources for "clean" food-fortunately I have stores around me that carry some good options including farmer's markets, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Central Market, and more. However, one must question-can we trust the labels? Even if vegetables and fruits are marked organic, does that mean they were also grown from non GMO, organic seeds?
I have started a very small garden of my own. I would have a much larger one already if it weren't for my extreme fear of snakes. I have lots of non venomous garden snakes in my yard and the very idea of working in the earth in such close proximity of them makes me somewhat nauseated. However, I know I could grow things myself that would be healthier alternatives to many grocery store options, so I am studying organic gardening and similar resources.
I may try some raised beds and add more containers to my gardening! Ha :)
No one makes home made spaghetti sauce as delicious as my mom. She simmers all the ingredients together from scratch and it is amazing. Of course, that's how most of us feel about our mom's cooking :)
I did come up with a tasty sauce that I am sharing today. Here's how I made it:
In a large pot, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the pan and over medium high heat, add a chopped onion and three minced garlic cloves. Simmer for a few minutes and add chopped vegetables of your choice. My favorites include zucchini, summer squash, red bell pepper, artichokes and fresh spinach.
Saute the veggies for about five minutes then add 1/4 cup of good red wine. Simmer with 2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp Italian seasoning and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Pour one large jar of good spaghetti sauce into the pot-I use Muir Glen Organic. You can also use canned or fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce or paste as options.
I added 1/2 cup of cooked ground beef to the sauce and simmered til the spaghetti noodles, cooked separately, are done.
*Add fresh spinach at the very end of the cooking and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese to serve.
Faux Cat Litter-just Grape Nuts Cereal and Tootsie Rolls
Mummy Dogs- Just cut crescent roll dough into strips and wrap around cocktail wieners to resemble a mummy. I used black frosting to dot eyes after baking.
Samples of some of the best Jack O Lanterns-this one won for Scariest
This won for funniest (LMFAO Character)
This eerie one with the skull popping out took home Best In Show!
Caramel Apple or Apple Jello O Shots-I used Jolly Rancher Green Apple Jello and Green Apple liqueur and topped a few off with Caramel Sauce (I used the store bought kind in a jar for ice cream/dessert topping).
Every year we host the gathering for the Fantasy Football League Draft for family and friends. We have a great time together and I enjoy making snacks. Every year I make a snack stadium and here's the latest and greatest one to date:
In the beginning:
I used matting material that was on sale at Hobby Lobby. It was a little hard to cut evenly with the new exacto knife I bought. I made up the design and I went along. I wanted it to be large-like a real stadium.
I added collectable football player stickers to the stadium to simulate football posters hanging on the walls.
After filling with snacks:
We used Cheetos puff snacks, Fritos, Tostitos, Chex Mix, Movie Style Popcorn, Cheese Nips, and Chocolate Chip Cookies-which are all fan favorites at our home.
After making the guacamole field:
I included mini football players from Michael's-used for their football mums and sour cream for field line markers. Instead of slim jims, I used pretzels for goal posts this year, secured by a block of cheese underneath the guacamole. I have used salsa and queso for end zone areas before, but kept them separate this year.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it-it was shown by others on instagram and snap chat, so that makes it a success to me.
I made a double batch of queso, homemade salsa, frosted brownies with a football shape piped on top, chili with fixings, and buffalo chicken bites. We also had Cajun, hot pepper, and cheese popcorn from a local specialty popcorn shop.
I also shaped the popular Frito's bean dip into a football shape complete with sour cream laces:
Lastly, the biggest hit of the party seemed to be the sausage and cheese stuffed jalepenos:
A good time was had by all! Good luck with the fantasy teams! I love football....