Ramping up: Prop Ideas for Halloween 2014

An interactive exhibit of a Paper Craft Guillotine by Mandy Smith. Image Courtesy of Make.

An interactive exhibit of a Paper Craft Guillotine by Mandy Smith. Image courtesy of Make.

 

 

I know…it’s still summer. But this is the time I like to think about what I’d like to make for Halloween. Whether I can actually accomplish the things I dream of making…well – that’s another story. I’ve just had back surgery (all those hours of prop making can do a lot of wear and tear after so many years). But don’t count me out just yet.

Planning Ahead Saves Money

By making your plans and item lists early, you can save a bundle. Especially in garage sale season because you can pick up a plethora of items for pennies on the dollar. You can also find priceless stuff on the curb.

The Newest Prop to Love

While in my Reader, I found an awesome prop idea from Make. It is a paper craft guillotine that was used in an exhibit. I’d love to make one for the kids to try out. You’ll find it at Vimeo:

Unsure of what this season holds for me, I’d appreciate all my creative counterparts to start posting their ideas and if you accomplish your dream prop, shoot me a pic and a quick note so I can highlight you on my blog. Thanks!

Quick Food and Drink Ideas for the Fourth of July

Skewers of food can make party planning easy and visually appealing. Image courtesy of Pinterest via Martha McCall.

Skewers of food can make party planning easy and visually appealing. Image courtesy of Pinterest via Martha McCall.

In order for party planners to have enough energy to stay awake for the fireworks, the execution of creating great foods should be simple, visually appealing, and of course, crowd-pleasing.

Here are a few quick and easy energy-saving recipe ideas:

Love the Skewers:

This can be skewers of meat and veggies for the grill, appetizers of fruit and cheese, or anything else that can be jabbed with a stick.They can be laid upon a tray, poked into a cabbage head that has been leveled by slicing a piece off the bottom, Styrofoam, or in tumblers or glasses. For more info on skewer recipes see 50 skewer recipes by The Food Network.

Arrangement of Foods

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Easy Last Minute Grad Party Favors and Snacks

Guest couldn't resist the grad party hats that can be made in a variety of ways without any cooking involved. Photo courtesy of Mark Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

Guests couldn’t resist the party hats made from a variety of possible edibles. Photo courtesy of Mark Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

With the onslaught of graduation parties within the next few months, people are now scouring for party ideas more than ever.
Since I had the opportunity to just throw one of my own, I can offer some helpful tips that will save time, aggravation, and money.

Graduation Party Hats

These hats can be made with a variety of pre-made cookies, candies, and Fruit Roll Ups. You – the maker decides which is the easiest and most cost effective.

You’ll Need:
Chocolate-covered graham cracker squares
Choice of cap bottoms:
Mini brownies – premade as in mini brownies snacks or you can make your own brownie mix and use a mini muffin pan.
Mini muffin liners (if making own brownies)
OR  Peanut butter cups OR Round Chocolate Cookies – The choice is yours.
Choice of Tassel Tops:
Black or red string licorice OR Fruit Roll Ups (any color)
Candy buttons OR mini M & M’s OR other small round candies
Choice of frosting that hardens quickly:
Royal recipe, or my plain 10x frosting recipe: 1 cup 10x sugar, a tsp. of vanilla and enough water(add tbsp at a time) to make a very thick frosting. Mix well until smooth. Cover if not using right away or it will harden quickly.
To seal tassel top:
You can either add chocolate flavoring/cocoa to darken a bit of frosting to the side (1/8 cup) OR  melt choc. chips, melts, Kisses, or plain bar – you’ll need no more than 8-10 kisses for 40.

Before going into the directions, let me go over the most inexpensive options and my own mishaps during the process:

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Inexpensive Balloon or Decoration Party Weights

Make your own table decoration weights. Image courtesy of http://www.awesomeevent.com/blog/category/cheap-balloon-weight-centerpieces/

Make your own table decoration weights. Image courtesy of http://www.awesomeevent.com/blog/category/cheap-balloon-weight-centerpieces/

With every party, aesthetics is important.Yet, paramount to most party planning – is cost. Each table should be decorated with a theme of colors and/or genre.Whether it is a Hawaiian Luau or a graduation party – an overall theme should exist.

Part of each table decoration often includes balloons or other lightweight decorations that need some kind of weight to keep them in place. Sure, you can purchase those balloon weights at your dollar store. But as the table count goes up, so does the cost.

Being the frugal gal, I thought of several ways to hold down the graduation caps for an upcoming graduation party. With 10+ tables to dress, I needed to consider what would travel easy and look good – even if the caps were lifted by curious guests.

Light Bulb Moment

For previous parties I’ve made my own weights using Plaster of Paris in a variety of containers: decorative Chinese food boxes, decorator cups, mini flower pots, etc. For this event, having to deal with the mess of preparing the mix along with the added drying time, just didn’t appeal to me.

This is when it struck – why not fill balloons with play sand or better yet – the more inexpensive counterpart – salt? It worked like a charm. It cost only $1.50 per 11 weights and it took less than an hour of working the salt into the balloons.

Since these were not going to be seen in generally, it was the easiest and most inexpensive solution.

Three items are needed to make balloon or table decoration weights. The cost for 11 weights: $1.50. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, all rights reserved.

Three items are needed to make balloon or table decoration weights. The cost for 11 weights: $1.50. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, all rights reserved.

Here’s what you’ll need: Continue reading

Great Father’s Day DIY Ideas for under $10

Hand print tree image courtesy of The CraftyChicks.com.

Hand print tree image courtesy of The CraftyChicks.com.

Priceless Endeavors

Although some may believe their dad would prefer a store bought item, it will be the gifts made from the heart that will be cherished – especially when they’ve moved out and gone to college.

Every project selected can be made for under $10 dollars, but may need a few days to a week to dry and complete. Many of the items needed can be purchased at your area dollar store.

The Tree of Life

You’ll Need:
A picture frame
A sheet of heavy weight paper (ex. card stock, constructions, etc)
Paint – in any color desired but be sure to use non-toxic for young children (I’ve seen all green hands and multicolored leaf hands used in projects)
A free tree template of a tree such as the Crafty Chick’s version, Kid’s Blogspot version, and Coloring Shape’s version, or if crafty, draw and paint your own.
A pencil/pen
Optional: matte board for framing picture inside picture frame

1) Before printing template, reformat it to the correct year or reword it in a MS Word or Open Office software program.
2) Pour a small pool (big enough for a hand print) of paint in a paper plate and call the kids in for the printing.
3) Once tree is stamped and dried, place in the optional matte frame and place in a picture frame.

Love in a Jar

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Sometimes Simple does the Job

Banana Dolphins. Image courtesy of Luz's Unique Creations on Facebook.

Banana Dolphins. Image courtesy of Luz’s Unique Creations on Facebook.

We’re all in to creating, or at least most of us that visit this page, but sometimes…doing something so simple does the job in a big way: It puts a smile on the faces we love. Here is a healthy snack that only takes minutes to create.

You’ll need:

Bananas (washed)
Grapes – green and red (washed)
Small Containers
A Knife
A Black Marker (non-toxic)

1) Fill containers with grapes of both colors, leaving enough room for the banana to stick in.
2) Cut the end tip of the banana long enough to hold a grape and mimic a mouth.
3) Use the marker to make dots for the eyes of the dolphin.
4) Place each banana into the container, pull apart his mouth and place a grape in it.

Option 2: For Those with more Time on their Hands

Looking at this idea, another one came to mind: Instead of using grapes for inside the container, make blue gelatin.This can be achieved by either making the blue gelatin in a large bowl and after it firms up, scooping up pieces( it will look like waves) into each container or just pouring the gelatin into each individual container(which could be more cumbersome in the refrigerator), but it will look like still waters.
Place the cleaned and prepared bananas (as in in directions above) into the gelatin and place an orange fish cracker in the mouth.You can also scatter a few crackers on top of the “water.” Enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Food Fun

Quick and easy shamrock cupcakes. Image courtesy of recipebyphoto.com.

With St. Patrick’s Day only a week away, the party planning better begin.We’ve all seen green beer and green hair, but how many of us can say we ate a green shamrock? These adorable shamrock cupcakes take only a few extra minutes of preparation compared to their regular counterparts.

You’ll need:

1 Cake Mix (any light-colored flavor)
Green Food Coloring
Cupcake Liners
Glass Marbles or Aluminum Foil (rolled into some balls)
Frosting (Green)
For the Smile: You can use black gel writer, or cut a small piece of black string licorice.
For the Eyes: Use paper dot candies and follow directions of my earlier post called Not the Gingerbread Cookies Your Grandma Made or buy pre-made edible ones.

1) Make the cake batter according to package directions and add green food coloring to your desired shade of green.
2) Place the wrappers in each muffin hole and in between the wrapper and pan, place the marbles or rolled foil to help  shape the shamrock.
3) Do not over fill each shamrock with batter- no more than 1/2 full.
4) Bake at the temperature directed by the cake mix box, but for a few minutes less than the time the box suggests.To ensure they are cooked, stick a toothpick into a cupcake and if the pick comes out clean – they’re done. Let cool.
5) Add green food coloring to white frosting if you didn’t purchase green frosting. Frost the cupcakes, add the eyes, and either the gel or tiny strips of black licorice for the smile.
6) Enjoy with friends and family and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Last Minute, Quick New Year’s Eve Party Ideas

A quick last minute appetizer. Image courtesy of Weezerthewonderful at FlickrCC.

A quick last minute appetizer. Image courtesy of Weezerthewonderful at FlickrCC.

Not all of us are great planners. So  for those of us who decided to throw a last minute impromptu party, here are a few suggestions:

Keep It Simple Appetizers

  • Cheese/Crackers/Pepperoni Trays
  • Fruit trays – Grapes, Orange Slices, Melons, Kiwi, Strawberries
  • Cheese Ball and Crackers, Bagel Chips or Baguette Slices
  • Veggie Trays – Celery, Baby Carrots, Pepper and Cucumber Slices, and Broccoli or Cauliflower Crowns
  • Rye Bread Bowl – Dig out “bowl” in rye round bread. Break apart bread pieces and scatter around the bowl. Mix 16 oz. sour cream, 1-2 tsp. powdered beef bouillon and 1-2 Tbsp. dill weed for dip center.

Easy Oven Appetizers:

  • Bruschetta
  • Easy Potato Skins
  • Oven BBQ Chicken Wings – In a large foil turkey pan, place 5 pounds of frozen wings to 3 bottles of your favorite sauce and bake between an hour and an hour and a half covered in foil. Remove foil last 10-15 min. for crispier wings.

It doesn’t hurt to ask people to bring their own bottle, dish, dessert, or appetizer to pass.

For quick decorating tips, check out Easy Decorating Ideas for New Year’s Eve by Jan Peterson.

One more thing: Have the Happiest New Year Ever!

The Unexpected

There are very few things that stop me in my tracks. A serious illness that prevents me from thinking or typing coherently, or…death of a loved one.

It is the later mentioned circumstance that has me at a stand still. These are the first words I’ve been able to type. My 26-year-old daughter died unexpectedly and has turned my world upside down.

The world is a little darker with the beautiful light that was dimmed. My daughter - Tiffany Scheel.

The world is a little darker with the beautiful light that was dimmed. My daughter – Tiffany Scheel.

I want to apologize to my followers for the lack of offerings – especially during these holidays that I am usually all about. I also want to apologize to the people I follow and engage with. I miss our collaboration of creativity.

So for those who enjoyed or looked forward to my posts, please have patience. Somewhere within my broken heart is the writer who wants to continue to share and communicate.

I’m hoping that with each day, I will feel more capable of returning to our exchange and commentary. But for now, this is all I can offer.

Twas the Night After Halloween…

Twas the night after Halloween and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…Because we were all so tired from celebrating! Here was the yard this year and a highlight of costumes at the Halloween Bash.

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Below are a few memorable costumes from our annual Morrow Halloween Bash. I’m sorry for so few. My photographer aka my husband was having such a great time he forgot his job for the night.

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