Easy Halloween Decor:: Creepy Cloche

IMG_9418 copy Having a little Halloween around the house is always super fun, and it doesn’t have to be just for the kids. Adults can get in on the Halloween action, too. The best part is that making a big Halloween impact doesn’t have to come with a big decorating budget.

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Here’s a quick, easy, and budget-friendly idea: create a creepy cloche. Your local craft store is probably filled with all sorts of items just waiting to be used. I found these awesome neutral skulls hanging out with the Halloween decor at my favorite place – Michaels. My love affair with all things natural made me think these could be perfect stacked up in a cloche. After all, it’s always good to think outside the box…or in this case, inside the cloche.

This little project is a pinch scary and a lot Halloween-y without being overkill. Simply gather all of your skulls in a cloche; it’s that easy!

How are you decorating this Halloween?

xx Annette

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Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

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I love butternut squash soup, the creamy, buttery, nutty kind. However, I also enjoy soup with a little bite to it. Give me a veggie crunch just about any day. This hearty butternut squash soup gives you all the flavors of the season with some extra oomph from the vegetables. Feel free to swap any vegetables with what you have growing in your garden or what you find at your local markets. Or, simply prepare this soup as is.

I think this would be a great way to kick-off Halloween trick-or-treating in a few weeks too. Serve alongside a rustic baguette, and a spinach, apple, walnut salad with blue cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette. YUM.

Hearty Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 1 cup cubed butternut squash
– 1 cup rough chopped yellow onion
– 1 cup cubed carrots
– 1 cup cubed celery
– 1 cup cubed parsnips
– 1/2 cup cubed baby red potatoes
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
– 2 cups kale, shredded
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 15 oz can of white beans
– 1 quart organic vegetable stock
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

Peel and cube squash, onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and red potato into 1 inch cubes.

Put the vegetables in a heavy cast iron pot, except the kale and white beans

Saute all the vegetables in the olive oil until they are soft and the onion is translucent (about 15 minutes).  Then add the kale, beans and stock, and stir until blended. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Simmer on low heat for 1 and 1/2 hours and serve.

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4th of July Firecracker Cookies for Kids

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Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. I’m guest-posting today just in time for my second favorite holiday, the 4th of July!

For as long as I can remember, July 4th has been a special holiday for me. I love the patriotic attitude, the fireworks, and of course, the food! Since 2009, I’ve spent every 4th of July on the Florida Panhandle with my husband’s family. Over the years, the family has grown, and there are a lot more kids than there once were. Because of that, I’ve started to look for things that can both entertain the kiddos while pleasing their palates. After all, I’m not a regular aunt, I’m a COOL aunt!

While at Target recently, I stumbled upon the cutest 4th of July decor in their dollar spot. Namely, these adorable metallic paper straws. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our beach trip in some way. Taking a tip from Annette, I started thinking about how these straws could be used differently than just with cocktails (although nothing wrong with that!).

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Then, BOOM! I had an idea: 4th of July firecracker cookies. What’s more fun than food on a stick?! These stuffed cookies dipped in white chocolate serve a few fun purposes:

  1. Kids can get involved by decorating them with sprinkles.
  2. They make a darling centerpiece – just fill a festive vessel with dry rice!
  3. They’re fun to eat!

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Let me know if you give these a try, or save them for your food arsenal later this year. Simply swapping out icing and sprinkle colors means these can be used for just about any holiday!

4th of July Firecracker Cookies

You will need:

– Double stuffed sandwich cookies
– White melting chocolate
– Sprinkles/candies for decorating
– Paper Straws

To prepare:

Begin by cutting your paper straws down. I snipped off about 3 inches. Set aside.

Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

If you want to have multiple shades of icing, divide your chocolate into two (or more) microwave safe bowls, and melt it according to package directions. I melted mine in 30 second increments until smooth.

Add food coloring and mix well.

Dip your sandwich cookies into the icing, using a spoon to cover at least half of the cookie. Gently lay the cookie down on the cookie sheet and decorate!

Once your cookies are decorated, place the cookie sheet into your freezer for 15-20 minutes until icing is firm.

Remove from freezer.

Gently squeeze the top of your straw to make it flat at one tip. Insert this flat part slightly into the cookie (about 1/4 – 1/2 inch). Repeat with remaining cookies.

Place your firecracker cookies in a rice filled vessel until it’s time to chow down and enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!

xo, Nicole

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DIY Snow Globe Place Cards

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table.

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table. They’re a sweet, functional, and a wonderful gift for guests to take home after the festivities. Even though snow globes are usually resolved for children, adults will get just as much joy out of them.

Giving your guests a specific place to sit at the table puts everyone at ease. Plus, it’s the little touches that make all the difference. Show your guests you care and take a few moments to make a little something special like these snow globe place cards. They’ll be impressed by your hospitality and your table will look festive too!

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table.

DIY Snow globe placecards

You will need:

– Hot Glue Gun
– 2. 5″ ball jar
– Small toy deer, rabbit, or christmas tree
– Faux snow
– 1/2 inch silk ribbon
– Stickers (these are from Michaels)
– Sharpie
– Twine

How To:

1. Cut a 3 inch piece of ribbon, attach the sticker, and write the name of your guest

2. Attach the ribbon banner to the tree or toy animal with a dot of hot glue

3. Remove the lid of the jar, pull the lid apart, and add a little glue to the inside of the outer rim. Glue the round part of the lid to the rim.

4. Place a dime size round of hot glue on the inside of the lid, and attach tree or toy.

5. Place about 1″ depth of the faux snow into the jar.

6. Once the glue has solidified, twist the top onto the jar.

7. Flip the jar and place the jar lid side down on the table. You can shake the snow into place.

Voila your placecard/takeaway gift is done!

Let me know how it goes! xx

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A Nutty Valentine’s Day treat

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Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager. When Annette asked me to share a Valentine’s Day post with you, I couldn’t wait to get started. Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite holidays.

Whether you’re celebrating with a significant other, your best friends, your children, or your coworkers, it’s a day to stop and remember the good and loving people around you.

My husband and I live in a quaint little neighborhood in Atlanta, and we happen to have some of the best neighbors around. They get packages off of our porch if we’re not home, smile and ask about what we’re up to, and make it a point to always look out for us. As a street, we take care of each other; I love the camaraderie!

I decided I wanted to give a little token of appreciation to each of my neighbors (a nutty Valentine’s Day treat!), and I knew the first place to look was Minted. Minted is an online marketplace for independent artists and designers, and a vibrant playground for paper lovers like me.

You can find everything from photo backdrops to home decor at Minted, but this time of year, I love looking through their Valentine’s Day cards. Of course, Minted has a large selection of photo cards, postcards, and greeting cards, but did you know that Minted also has classroom valentines?

I’ve always enjoyed how cheeky and funny kids’ classroom cards can be, so I knew I would find exactly what I was looking for…and I did! Minted kindly sent me a set of these Nuts Classroom Valentine’s Day cards for the neighbors’ treats. With Minted’s easy to use personalization options, I was able to change the color, select my own wording, add a scalloped edge, and include an adorably nutty background. So cute!

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Once my Valentine’s arrived (within a week!), I picked up some cute food-safe pails** from my local craft store along with Valentine’s Day crafting supplies. I used scrapbooking stickers and ric-rac washi tape to decorate each pail before filling it with Annette’s Big Game Snack Mix from her book, Picture Perfect Parties.

Her snack mix packs a punch and includes a lot of flavors that meld so well together. Plus, who doesn’t love snack mix? Annette’s mix is incredibly easy to toss together and requires no extra work other than picking up the ingredients from your local grocery store. I love that I didn’t have to dirty any dishes, pots, or pans and just could just mix everything together. Her recipes are great like that!

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I can’t wait to leave each of these pails on my neighbors porches as a fun little Valentine’s Day surprise. Let me know if you find any other cute uses for classroom Valentine’s beyond the classroom. Minted has a great selection, and I’m excited to hear your ideas! Thanks for having me, Annette!

xo, Nicole

Thanks to Minted for sending me the classroom valentines seen here in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

**Be sure to read the labels to get food safe containers for any food crafting.

Photos: Nicole Letts

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