Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat Halloween Banner

I had a little last minute Halloween decorating inspiration, and I designed a paper and ribbon Trick or Treat banner. I took my time creating this, but if you're moving right along, this should take you two hours or less.

You will need:
Print out letters -- I used this template from
Black paper -- construction paper or thicker
Glue stick or rubber cement
Colored ribbon -- I bought this black and orange striped version from Hobby Lobby
Orange marker
Hole punch (a 3-hole works fine)
Glue gun (optional)

Step 1: Save the letter template to your computer. Using Photoshop or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, crop the letters you will need and save them as individual files. This way you can print the exact letters you need, and be able to size them to your liking.

Step 2: In a Word document, insert and arrange 3 T's, 3 R's and 1 A, C, E, I, K, and O. Hint: Double click each image and under Format>Text Wrapping click Square. Will make it easier to move them. I made mine about 4" across. Print and cut out your letters.

Step 3: This is where the bowl comes in. I used one that is about 5" across, which gave me about an inch border around my letters. Use whatever you have on hand and that you like visually and leave enough room to punch a whole at the top. Trace the bowl with a pencil on your black paper. Cut out the circles.

Step 4: Glue your letters onto the black paper circles. Let dry for a few minutes.

Step 5: Punch holes at the top of the black circle. You can do one or two, like I've done, to really show off your ribbon.

Step 6: Embellish your letters. I simply added some orange around the star in each letter, but you could draw curlicues, color the letters completely, draw pumpkins, etc.

Step 7:
Cut enough ribbon to string your letters, plus an extra foot to give you some room to work with. For this banner, there are 12 letters 5" across, so multiply that and you'll need roughly 6' of ribbon.

Step 8: String your letters onto the ribbon and space to your liking.

Step 9 (optional): If you have a glue gun, heat it up and glue the ends of your ribbon in a loop for easy hanging. Trim the ends if they're a little ragged.

Step 10: Find a place to display your banner and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baked Fruit: Dessert and Air Freshener

The other night I was jonesin' for something sweet to eat, but I didn't have anything immediately on hand. Upon inspection of my kitchen, I realized that there were two pears and an apple sitting all by their lonesome in my fruit basket.

And now that it's fall you know what that means -- baked fruit deliciousness! Pears baked up very similarly to apples -- they sugar and fruit juice create a lovely sweet syrup and the fruit softens and sweetens as it bakes.

To prepare the fruit, I cut them all in half, scooped out the cores, and sprinkled them with ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar (approximate). You can adjust the spices to your taste, and you can also sub the sugar for honey. I baked them for 40 at 350 degrees.

I always know when they're done because suddenly I'll get a nose full of sweet fruit and spices. I sometimes add a little dollop of Cool Whip, or if you want to have a really good dessert, serve the fruit with some vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I Learned Today

(Re-learn from college) However much time you think you need for a project, double it.

Yellow jackets like your lunch. Especially if it includes tuna, turkey, chicken, salami or cheese.

Fall in a Soup Bowl

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall dishes, and it's always a pleasure to grab a bowl at a restaurant. I've always thought about making my own, but I usually go for chilis or bean and meat soups. And, to be truthful, I've been a little unsure of (okay, a little lazy too) dealing with squash.

But recently I had the opportunity to take home a nice squash after we used one in a photo shoot. It was just the right size to use for this soup recipe from Cooking Light. I settled on this savory version so I could pair it with chicken, sandwiches or salads.

After doing a little research in my cookbooks and online, I cut the squash in half first before peeling it. I unearthed a vegetable peeler I didn't know I had and got a peelin'. The contrast between the beige skin and bright orange flesh was very striking.

I simmered the squash, carrots, onion, and chicken stock for some time before throwing it in the blender and pureeing it.

I was a little worried when I tasted it initially, as the dominant flavor was carrot. I mixed it up and popped it in the fridge and hoped the flavors would blend better overnight.

I'm happy to report that all of the flavors melded after a day in the fridge and I've been happily sipping my soup. This recipe is actually pretty plain (the only seasoning is a little salt and the stock) so each time I've had a bowl I've added a different mix of spices such as black pepper, ground ginger, curry powder, and cinnamon. Now that I know how easy (and affordable) making squash soup is, I will definitely prepare this again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Loafing in the Garden

Last night I headed to the Bham Botanical Gardens with some friends to catch up and eat some cocktail hors d'oeuvres at "Cocktails in the Garden," an even put on by the Gardens. This was the third and final event of the series for this year, and the food theme was "Autumn Harvest Feastival."

The food was pretty good, but I skipped on the drinks. For $15 I'd hoped they would include one non-alcoholic drink, but they were all a la carte. My favorite nibbles were the cinnamon and sugar sweet potato fries and cream cheese crostini. And...the doughnuts! Glad I didn't indulge in a Publix doughnut yesterday at the office.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Really Am Writing...Just Not Here

All right kids, here's an update of my "You've Got to Taste This" blog posts I've written for

Fun Fall Chocolate Truffles -- Moonstruck actually contacted us and gave a sneak peek of their fall truffles, so I had to order some and host a tasting with the staff.

Sip for a Cure teas -- We photographed these Republic of Tea Sip for the Cure teas for a Shop Pink gallery, and I decided to try them out and share my thoughts.

Great Food in Auburn -- Review of Amsterdam Cafe. I had lunch here with a friend while visiting her in Auburn, Alabama.

Fun Beverage Accessories -- I'm always trolling websites and Design*Sponge for cute home stuff, and this is a collection of my newest favorite beverage/bar accessories.

National Root Beer Float Day -- Yum, I couldn't resist. One of the only ways I'll drink root beer!

Chill Summer Soups -- prompted by my nostalgia for a luscious strawberry soup I had in Budapest. I created my own peach soup, and tried a mango version from Coastal Living.