Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mr. & Mrs. P's Halloween Tips 2011

Halloween is one of the holidays we most look forward to the most in our home. We hope our Halloween tips and ideas inspire you to make your home a little spookier! We will show you how using items you may already have.

Keeping with our "cooking" theme, we opted to be a  butcher and a creepy chef last week! Mr. P wore a black t-shirt, jeans, a hair net and a blood covered apron. We used fake blood to strategically coat the apron and intensify the creep factor. Mrs. P carried out a gothic look with black lip stick and smokey eyes. She purchased the chef outfit and hat online. Her props were a spatula and an old skillet with plastic severed fingers, which were glued on with a hot glue gun.

 The bat clings in the picture above are from Martha Stewart. We love them! They are super easy to put up, very inexpensive and can be reused. At night, we turn on a lamp near the window so that our neighbors can see the bats glowing from the window.

Spiders decals are also from Martha Stewart. We pair a strobe light with these!

In our living room we put three candles in vases and filled them with candy corn.  We already had the vases and candles in our home, so we decided to use them in a different way. 

 We  bought this blown glass pumpkin a few years ago in Marshall's for a great price. We use it for both Halloween and Thanksgiving season. We went to our local fabric store and bought about a couple yards of fabric and asked Mr. P's aunt to make us various sized runners for the tables in our home. The glass votive holders were bought in Z Gallerie for just $3 each! We just love them and use them year round. We put rubber eye balls we picked up in the dollar store to give it's finishing touch.

 Have a bookshelf? Dress it up with spider webs or an eerie fabric we also picked up in the dollar store.

Halloween has gone glam! Nothing says "party" more then pumpkins and skulls covered in glitter! Buy them made or do them yourself with just a few items from the craft store. 

We bought this giant spider on clearance last year the week after Halloween. It looks great clinging to our antique grandfather clock. Make sure to stock up on half-priced Halloween items the first week of November. 

Our used our cupcake stand with pumpkins as our dinning room centerpiece. Great thing about this centerpiece is that is that you can keep it for Thanksgiving and re-use the pumpkins.

 Our buffet table is covered with an arrangement of different decorative pumpkins. One of our favorite things is the wine bottle all dressed up in its witch costume on the left.

 On a budget? Make your own custom halloween candles! We bought a pack of filled glass votives and halloween crystal stickers for under $10. All we simply did was stick the stickers on the glass. Your guests will be impressed!

 Decorate them any way you like! Let your creativity take control.
Last year we were asked to decorate a ballroom for the American Cancer Society's Halloween party fundraiser. The budget was tight, but we made the most of it. For the centerpieces, we decided to revamp regular pumpkins and stick with a black and white theme. 

Spray the pumpkins evenly with white spray paint and let them dry. 

 Use black acrylic paint and paint the stem of the pumpkin with a paintbrush.

 Paint any design you want on the pumpkin. We drew bats on this one.

 We did several different designs.

 Include sayings!

 Don't forget about the front of the house! We love how the purple and orange LED lights look.  We put a light-up spider on the window, which we have had for years. Line up pumpkins on you steps to create a welcoming entrance.

 Light up the path for trick-o-treaters with these pumpkin stakes! Another bargain find in a clearance sale from last year!

 What do you think about our chihuahua carving? Personalize your carvings.

 It looks even better at night!

 On Halloween put some warm water,  glow sticks and dry ice in a bucket  and place next to your carved pumpkins to intensify the creepy factor!

Joey loves his pumpkin!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Once a year, Epcot transforms itself into a festival of culinary treasures for foodies from all over. We didn't have to travel too far, just a few hours by car, but we got to experience food from abroad without leaving Florida. Below are our notes and photos of what we sampled. We know it looks like a lot, but keep in mind, we shared every dish and spread out our meals throughout the day. All in all, we spent about $80 per person, not including admission into the park. That cash went far considering that we didn't have breakfast or dinner that day. Not only did we had a fantastic day at the park, we had the opportunity to try amazing cuisine from around the world. What are you waiting for? The Epcot Wine & Food Festival is almost over! Don't miss it!

"The Epcot Wine & Food Festival is a peaceful day of extraordinary food,
delicious wine and undeniable fun!"
-Mr. & Mrs. P

Food: Grilled lamp chop with potato goat cheese salad
Wine: Greg Norman estates Shiraz
Notes: The lamb was tender and we enjoyed the wine reduction sauce. The wine paired well with the lamb. The potato salad was okay but we would have liked it better warm.
Food: Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato purée
Wine: Terrazas reserva malvec
Notes: We loved the chimichurri sauce. It tastes similar to Mr. P's family recipe which we will share on the blog someday. The meat was well done because everything is cooked to FDA standards, but it was not over cooked. The boniato mash was steaming hot - just the way we like it! Wine was full bodied and delicious! We loved this kiosk. The only disappointment was that we didn't have a place to sit. There really should be more tables. (Hint, hint Disney)

Food: Grilled ribeye taco with chipotle pepper sauce and scallions on a flour tortilla and a crispy shrimp taco with chipotle lime mayo and cabbage on a four tortilla with cabbage
Notes: We were excited to try this kiosk because Mexican food is one of our favorites! We ordered two tacos and shared the happiness. The shrimp taco was light, while the steak was a little heavier. Order both for a perfect balance of flavors and culinary delight. The chipotle wasn't too spicy but it did have the kick we craved. Totally recommend this one if you are a Mexican food foodie! Awesome! Don't forget to go inside of Mexico to shop and ride the Gran Fiesta Tour staring the Tres Caballeros!

Food: Black pepper shrimp with sichuan noodles, ginger and caramel ice-cream
Wine: Green tea plum wine cooler
Notes: Shrimp dish had scallions, the shrimp was lightly breaded and fried, the noodles were thick and held on to the sauce. We might try the wine cooler at home...just mix cooled green tea and plum wine in a pitcher with ice. The ice cream was creamy but not overly sweet...perfect for when you want to continue trying savory dishes at the festival. At first you taste the caramel and then the simple notes of ginger. The cup was big enough for two people to share.

Cheese Kiosk
Food: Cheese fondue
Wine: Sterling vintners collection Sauvignon blanc and riesling
Notes: The fondue was okay but not great. It was made with Swiss cheese, which Mr. P is not a fan of. We think our recipe is better. We will post it soon. We overheard other guests say that the cheese platter was very good but we didn't order that. The Sauvignon blanc was refreshing and light yet a little dry.

Food: Nuernberger sausage in a pretzel roll and apple strudel featuring Werther's original caramel and vanilla sauce.
Wine: Selbech JH riesling classic
Notes: The sausage was flavorful and the pretzel bread was nice and soft. We enjoyed the strudel but wished it was warm. The wine was better than the one we tried at the cheese kiosk. Very floral.

Food: Ravioli di formaggio all'emiliana (baked cheese ravioli with creamy beef bolognese, parmesan and mozzarella)
Wine: Fantinel prosecco
Notes: Excellent! After your snack, take a photo by the gondolas and pretend you are in Venice!

Food: Shrimp cake on a sugar cane skewer with Singapore noodles
Wine: Tiger beer
Notes: Nice presentation! Shrimp cake was moist and flavorful, tasted like the filling of a dumpling. The beer was nice and refreshing.

Food: Kefta pocket (ground seasoned beef in a pita bread), Baklava
Wine: Royale mimosa (orange juice, champaine and orange liquor)
Notes: This dish was one of our favorite except for the fact that the pita was soggy because it was sitting out for a few minutes. We loved the mimosa and Baklava.

Food: Belgium waffle with berry compote and whipped cream
Notes: Airy, light and colorful - best waffle we have ever tasted!

Food: Cog au Vin sur gratin de macaroni (red wine braised chicken, mushrooms, pearl onions and macaroni gratin) and Creme brûlée au chocolate
Wine: Sparkling pomegranate kir
Notes: Very yummy and a good portion. The chocolate was very light, but it was great.

Food: Grizzled Greek cheese with pistachios and honey
Notes: Best way to end our food tour! We recently went to Greece and this dish took us back instantly. You must try this. The only bummer was that the servers were not Greek. Every other booth was staffed with people from their respective country.

Dessert Kiosk
Food: Sampling of three mini desserts: Lemon Chiffon, White Macadamia Mousse, Tres Leche
Notes: Disappointed....lemon dessert was way too tart, the Tres Leche was not authentic and the mousse was nothing worth bragging about. The presentation looked better than how it tasted.
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