Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape

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Today we’re sharing our tips on creating the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape. Insight for this post was provided by GE Café™ Series.

Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m starting to plan out our Thanksgiving table. I love being able to create a festive tablescape for the holidays even if we don’t host Thanksgiving at our home. It keeps things fun for dinnertime. Why leave all the fun to my mother-in-law, right? And why not keep the house festive all month long? Plus if we get unexpected guests we can entertain easily without worrying about decor.

I haven’t talked much about our new home but one of the things that frustrates me is the fact that we don’t have enough room in our home, nor do we have an adequate kitchen, to host a holiday meal… yet. Luckily we have plans to remodel our kitchen and dining room so that we have the space, and appliances, to accomodate entertaining along with our every day meals.

So for now I focus on what I can control – the decor and festive tablescapes!

Last year we went with a simple centerpiece to decorate the table so this year we’ve continued with the simple approach. By using pumpkins and squash we picked up at the pumpkin patch right before Halloween, I was able to repurpose a few of our fall decor into a nice tablescape that was festive and coordinated with everything else I had.

Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape - fall foliage and squash

Keep The Center Simple

Since we typically keep a buffet of food in the kitchen, the center of the table is for decorative pieces to keep things festive. By utilizing some gourds and squash and placing them along with some leaves on top of a burlap runner, I can create the look of Fall without too many pieces.  I was able to utilize the orange leaf print table cloth that I use for Halloween again for our Thanksgiving tablescape. I’ve also used a cinderella pumpkin here to serve not only as a centerpiece, but as a place to put the pie for dessert at the end of the meal.

When you want to keep conversation flowing, keep the centerpiece low. That allows guests to converse across the table. If there are a few taller pieces, make sure they’re seperated out so there are spaces between to make eye contact. Also, if you’re using candles, make sure they’re unscented. There’s nothing that’ll ruin a dinner more than a scented candle when you’re trying to eat food. 

Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape - place settings

Have Fun With Place Settings

I love creating fun place settings for my guests to enjoy. This year we found some party poppers from our most recent trip to one of our favorite cooking sho that had a festive turkey theme. These are great conversation starters when guests sit down because they want to open them and discuss what they got inside. Sure they’re normally at the kiddy table but why can’t the adults have fun too? I’ve also created fun place cards and napkin rings to keep the table fun and entertaining for everyone.

While I do keep our plates and silverware near the food at the buffet, I leave a bowl for the guests to take to the buffet with them for their salads so they have room on their plate for other foods. Don’t you hate when you put the salad on your place first and it takes up a ton of room? No? Just me? I also like to leave a napkin at each place setting. I’m always that person who gets to the table after getting her food, sits down, and has to get back up to grab a napkin because I forgot it or didn’t have any hands free.

Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape - centerpiece

Keep Versatile Pieces

It’s a great idea to have some key pieces from your tablescape to utilize from one holiday to the next. Consider investing in some timeless colors or colors that work with various seasons. Green can work for the fall and winter seasons depending on what you pair it with. Orange works for Halloween and Thanksgiving. And red can work from Christmas to Valentines Day to patriotic hoidays. I also keep a few basic colors of place mats as well on hand to switch it up. Cream, green, and blue are in my current rotation. 

Creating The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape - a simple, easy idea for Thanksgiving dinner

Now that I’ve taken care of our tablescape, I can focus on testing out a few of our favorite recipes to contribute to our holiday meals. And next year I’m hoping that I’ll be preparing a holiday meal in our new kitchen. With the research I’ve done on appliances, I’m starting to narrow down exactly what I want. And first things first, out with the electric stove and in with a gas stove!

Since I love to cook, I am aiming to purchase appliances that will last a while and keep up with my passion in the kitchen. I also have to keep in mind my husband’s love of baking. Luckily I can “Take Food Further” through the power of GE Café™ appliances. These appliances bring the expertise of the restaurant, home, during holiday timing.

With the GE Café™ Series I’ll be able to get the details designed to help the meals I make become masterpieces. From slow roasts to quick sears, from soups to sauces, the advanced cooking technology and intuitive design of our ranges can take every meal further. And boy do I need that! With each burner specialized for precise boiling, simmering and searing I won’t have to put up with the frustration that I feel with our current kitchen.

How do you simplify the holidays?

Disclosure: Insight for this post was provided by GE Café™ Series.

Party On A Ritz: Carnitas Street Taco Bites

These carnitas street taco bites featuring our love of travel and food are brought to you by our sponsor, Ritz, . Read ahead to find out how to marry your favorite destinations all on one tablescape! 

I’m planning a fall harvest party for my family and cannot wait to share a few of the recipes I’ll be serving at the party. With the help of Ritz, I’ve created two delicious destination dishes that include one inspired by local foods here in San Diego, and another dish inspired by a Southwest Airlines destination I’m dying to travel to.

One thing these recipes have in common are that they’re both very simple to put together and the dessert can be made ahead for easy serving at the party. I love make ahead dishes! Not only do they make planning easier, timing is also easier with a few make ahead dishes at the party.

I’ve also submitted both of these recipes to be featured on LuvRitz.com in a contest they’re hosting with Southwest Airlines. I have a chance to win a $500 Southwest Airlines voucher if I receive the most votes on my recipes! How awesome is that? Read ahead to check out my recipes and don’t forget to vote for me:

Carnitas Street Taco Bites

I’ve lived in San Diego all my life. Born and raised with deep roots in this city. I’m 3rd generation San Diegan and my husband is 4th generation. It’s pretty rare to find one of us around town and we’re pretty proud of the city we live in. One thing I absolutely love about this city is the copious amounts of good mexican food available around town. From our favorite taco shops, to our go-to mexican sit down restaurants, whenever I have a craving for the food I love, I am always close by.

I don’t just head out for mexican food either. Being raised by a dad who’s half mexican and half english rubs off on you, even if that means eating tortillas and drinking tea for breakfast. And some of my relatives make the best carne asada and mexican rice out there. I remember my dad’s stories of his father making fresh tortillas for him and his siblings and how he wished he had a chance to learn how to make them too.

Needless to say, I enjoy preparing mexican inspired dishes in my own home today. And that includes street tacos! But when I’m serving food at a party I love making things bite size. So for our upcoming fall harvest party I decided to miniaturize our favorite street tacos and put all of our favorite flavors on a Ritz. All of the deliciousness of carnitas street tacos in one bite!

Carnitas Street Taco Bites with guacamole

Carnitas Street Taco Bites

  • Ritz crackers
  • Carnitas, shredded
  • Guacamole
  • Onions/cilantro
 
Grab a Ritz, top with shredded carnitas, guacamole, and onion/cilantro mixture. Place in mouth, chew, and enjoy!
 
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Carnitas Street Taco Bites

Ingredients

  • Ritz crackers
  • Carnitas shredded
  • Guacamole
  • Onions/cilantro

Instructions

  1. Grab a Ritz, top with shredded carnitas, guacamole, and onion/cilantro mixture. Repeat on as many crackers as you'd like. Place in mouth, chew, and enjoy!

 
Party On A Ritz
 
Stay tuned to see more of my fall harvest party next week! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the tablescape I’m planning.
 

What are your favorite bite-size meals for parties?

Love this recipe and want more? Here are some great dips to dip your Ritz into! 

Pin this article for later! 

Click the Pin button on the image below to save for later. 

Mom’s Night In: Halloween Inspired Book Club Party

Mom's Night In Halloween Style

Sitting back with friends enjoying delicious glass of wine and some yummy goodies is one of the best ways, I find, to unwind and relax after a long week. There’s something about the conversation with friends and laughter that follows that warms my heart and leaves me feeling relaxed. As I mentioned previously, I hosted a girls night in recently. We hadn’t done a book club get together and it was about time we started up again!

By the way… you don’t actually HAVE to finish (or even start) the book to attend book club. It’s more of an excuse to get out and do something with friends instead of staying at home. But I have found that it’s very motivating to at least try and finish a book before the next meeting. Even when that means reading during nap time, or right before bed while my husband reads my kids stories.

This time of year is perfect for Halloween-inspired books, so if you’re looking for a great book club suggestion, check out the various lists of Halloween books perfect for adults to indulge in and scare the crap out of you.

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club with Woodbridge wine

I may have alluded to the fact that wine is a staple at every book club meet up. While it’s not necessary, it does make the night a bit more fun! Especially as we chat about the happenings around us as well as discuss the books we’ve (tried to) read. I love having both a red and a white on hand to satisfy everyone. I personally love this cabernet sauvignon!

And paired with the wine is the delicious food. I opted to make some “Bloody Fingers” in the form of steak and brie sandwiches with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce on a puff pastry. Literally that simple. 4 ingredients and they pair so well with the cabernet sauvignon. Also served was an artichoke spinach dip (recipe coming soon!) and for a little dessert, the chocolate peanut butter ball monsters I made. It was the perfect amount of food for our little group!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club bloody fingers steak & brie sandwiches

“Bloody Fingers” Steak and Brie Bites

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 steak, cooked and sliced thinly
  • 1 wheel of brie cheese
  • Sriracha sauce

Defrost puff pastry. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper. Grab one sheet of puff pastry and unroll/unfold. Using a knife, cut into half length-wise and thirds on the fold lines. Then cut each third into half. You should have 12 rectangles. put rectangles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Once finished, carefully pull baked puff pastry apart into two pieces. Top each piece with steak, a slice of brie, and drizzle with Sriracha sauce. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club chocolate peanut butter ballsMom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club dip

I also got a little festive with my chalk markers and the plastic wine glasses I picked up at the dollar store around the corner from our house. Non breakable and easy to decorate! The best part? The designs wiped right off with a baby wipe.

My girlfriends told me that next time they want to decorate their glasses so I plan on making it a thing now to put out the chalk markers and let the guests doodle on their glasses to mark which one is which.

The food spread was simple, wine yummy, and friends amazing. Definitely a night I needed!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club wine glasses

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club food spread

What’s the last book you’ve read while enjoying a glass of wine?

Christmas Gift Making Party Ideas

This #GoNutsForNuts shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Christmas Gift Making Party Ideas

Tis the season for gift making and gift giving. One of my favorite things to do is make homemade goodies to give out to family and friends. This year I’ve put together some fun ideas for a Christmas gift making party. Gather some friends around, put on some crock pot hot chocolate, and make some gifts for your friends to pass out to their loved ones.

One of my favorite snacks to bust out during the holidays – and a family tradition – are the Planters mixes. From their Brittle Nut Medley to their Winter Spiced Nuts, there’s a combination for everyone.

I still remember many Christmas Eve’s over at my grandmother’s house reaching for the Planters mix. Such fond memories! And now I’m sharing those memories with my friends. But in a slightly different way!  [Read more…]

Big Game Party Ideas: Creating the Perfect Football Party

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big game party ideas

Last weekend I hosted an awesome playoff party for family and friends in celebration of getting our new, amazingly awesome big screen from Best Buy the week before. We wanted to celebrate the playoffs while talking about our new electronic devices with family and friends.

With the geek squad setting up everything for us, the only thing left for my husband to do was mount the screen to the wall. And invite his friends and family over so we could celebrate! The rest was left up to me. And I was up for the challenge!

I love hosting parties and celebrating just about any occasion. So this party was a blast to plan and put together. We used a few things we already had from past years celebrations and mixed them in with some new editions. [Read more…]

How to Make A DIY Football Pennant Banner

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DIY Football Pennant Banner

Last weekend we hosted a playoffs party for our family and friends and in the excitement of the game I went all out with the decor. That includes this awesome diy football pennant banner. It was so easy to make and, in my opinion, much cuter than the stuff they had at the store!

Plus if you have most of the supplies lying around it costs next to nothing to make!

I enjoyed working with this cute sparkly corrugated paper from Jo-Ann’s and thought it gave a slightly feminine touch to this masculine party.
[Read more…]

Explore Under The Sea with Ariel and The Little Mermaid Party Ideas

The best part about Disney movies is the bonding time I get when watching them with my kids. With the upcoming release of The Little Mermaid Collector’s Edition BluRay/DVD on October 1st, I thought I’d treat my daughter to an impromptu Little Mermaid viewing party with her friends after naptime as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias®.

The Little Mermaid Party Ideas Instagram #DisneyPrincessPlay #shop

We don’t yet own the DVD but I was able to dust off a VHS tape that my husband brought over from his parents house. And since my daughter had never seen the movie before we figured we should get some toys so she can play along as the movie plays.

While she played a bit with her new The Little Mermaid Story Gift Set I picked up from Walmart I set up the rest of the party around her. You can see more from my adventures at Walmart shopping for this awesome toy here in my The Little Mermaid G+ Album.
[Read more…]

My Favorite Thing: Thumbs Up Wine Finder App

Thumbs Up Wine Finder App My Favorite Thing

Oh wine! Glorious wine! You are always center stage at any mom’s night in I host and the mamas are always appreciative. Especially when I host the My Favorite Things mom’s night in event I have every few months.

And this month, front and center, was wine. Because my favorite thing this month is the awesome wine app that helps you shop for wine whether you’re at home or in the store! The Thumbs Up Wine Finder app is pretty darn awesome and I was so excited when I chatted with the folks behind the app to find that they wanted to gift a few app codes to my guests as my favorite thing.

An added bonus? They sent us wine to enjoy at the party!  [Read more…]

Minnie Mouse Summer Party Celebration Dream Party

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and it client. #DreamParty #cbias

Minnie Mouse Summer Party 1

It’s no secret that I love to host a good party. So when the middle of summer came around I knew we had to have a celebration with our friends and make the most of the final weeks of fun in the sun. Hosting a Minnie Mouse summer party seemed like the perfect way to do just that.

Good thing there’s a great selection of Hallmark Disney-branded party goods and an extensive selection of Disney cakes available at our local Walmart. Planning this party was a breeze since all of the things I needed to make it fabulous were easily accessible.

We sent out our invitations to our playgroup and headed to Walmart to pick up the essentials for our party. We called ahead the day before to make sure they could create a cake perfect for our summery theme and once we had a pick up time we were on our way! Check out our Minnie Mouse Summer Party G+ album to see how our shop went. [Read more…]

Enjoy Summer Fun With A Root Beer Float Party

Root Beer Float Party

It’s the summer. And we all know what that means – party time! If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate summer and try out all of those tasty ice cream recipes you are seeing consider hosting a root beer float party.

With warm days and cool nights the weekends of summer are perfect for enjoying the classic root beer float and the gorgeous weather summer brings. Since my mom is in town visiting we hosted a root beer float party and invited her and our other extended family members down to enjoy the fun. And I couldn’t wait to use the adorable ice cream cone cups I picked up at a local discount store.

Root Beer Float Party party food spread

A Healthy Take on Summer Barbecue

Most barbecues are filled with tasty goodies but these summer favorites might not always be the best choice health wise. So I changed up my menu a bit and made a few healthier dishes to sub for our party favorites.

In an effort to stick with my goal of staying healthy and losing weight I made a few minor changes to our barbecue menu.

Our lighter fare items consisted of:

  • 97% Fat Free Hot Dogs
  • Turkey Bacon Burgers with Lite Cheddar
  • Watermelon Feta Salad – recipe here
  • Mixed Greens Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing
  • Corn on the Cob

The turkey bacon burgers were simply pre-made turkey burgers from the store with turkey bacon and light cheddar cheese on top. Super simple but very tasty! And less fat than a beef patty. I’m pretty sure I turned my mom into a turkey burger convert!

With most summer barbecues we find ourselves faced with heavy, filling sides like potato salad, macaroni salad, and pasta salad so I decided to lighten things up and served this delicious watermelon feta salad instead. Not only are watermelons in season right now, they’re sooo good paired with feta and basil!

Now the mixed greens, hot dogs and corn on the cob were easy additions that rounded out the meal. We served some veggies with a yogurt ranch dip that we picked up at Walmart to munch on before our meal. No need for heavy appetizers because we were saving room for dessert!

Root Beer Float Party dessert table

Root Beer Float Bar

After our delicious meal it was time for dessert! And what better to serve on a hot summer day than a root beer float bar with all of the ingredients and toppings set out for the guests to serve themselves.

Our root beer float bar included:

  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Root Beer
  • Whipped Cream
  • Cherries
  • Straws/Spoons/Cups
  • Root Beer Float Cupcakes – recipe here

With the combination of vanilla ice cream and a creamy root beer we had the highest quality ingredients for the perfect root beer float. The guests loved them! And you can easily add more great ice cream toppings to your table to put your floats over the top.

Since it was a root beer float party I couldn’t resist making cute little root beer float cupcakes to go along with the root beer float bar. They just fit the theme perfectly.

Root Beer Float Party making a float

Root Beer Float Party Ideas

Root beer float parties are the perfect way to celebrate many summer occasions. If you’re looking for an interesting spin on 4th of July or Labor Day or simply have a birthday to share, guests love being taken back to their childhood with this favorite.

I was able to easily put together this party with the help of the fabulous inexpensive decor found at various retailers. A checkered tablecloth, some pinwheels, and other barbecue decor helped set the stage for our party and create a gorgeous spread.

By including a mix of plastic and glass cups for our floats I was able to safely serve the kids as well as the adults without worrying about anything breaking. And I couldn’t wait to try out the ice cream cone glass cups I found a few years back! They fit the theme perfectly.

Root Beer Float Party enjoying a float

Lighter Option with Half The Fat

If you’re watching your weight or trying to cut back on your soda consumption like I am you don’t have to forego the root beer float! With reduced calorie soda and lower fat ice cream varieties you can enjoy a lower calorie and lower fat option that fits your plan.

And if you choose to serve the lighter fare menu I outlined above there’ll be no need to worry about your waistline at your next get together!

Many classic flavors of summer can easily be created in a healthier, more figure friendly way. You just have to be a bit creative and try out new recipes!

Root Beer Float Party having fun

Another great flavor combo for your party would be the classic taste of a 50/50 bar in your glass. It’s super simple. Just grab some orange soda, vanilla ice cream and your favorite cup. Pour the orange soda over the ice cream and stick your straw right in. Mmmm!

Top your floats off with some tasty ice cream toppings and you’ll have one heck of a sweet treat.

DSC_0261

What favorite summer recipe would you like to lighten up?



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