Drink Of The Week - Nutcracker Sweet

Nutcracker Sweet cocktailHere we go, kicking off the Christmas season with a nod to the epitome of Christmas traditions, the Nutcracker Ballet. Recipe serves 1, courtesy of Cocktail Times. Come back for this week's Fiesta Friday with my thoughts on how plan an entire party around this drink!

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz amaretto
3/4 oz white cream de cacao
rimmer: chocolate syrup, crushed almonds, coconut
garnish: a maraschino cherry

1. Rim a martini glass in the chocolate syrup, then dip into the crushed almonds and coconut.
2. Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add vodka, amaretto and cream de cacao.
3. Shake and strain into the prepared martini glass, garnish with the maraschino cherry.

Fiesta Friday - Fruit By The Foot

fruit chandelierOne of my favorite children's books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a perfectly simple story about a very hungry caterpillar. And when I saw this awesome fruit chandelier, all I could think about was how to plan the perfect TVHC party around it.

A quick search turned up some amazing parties and treats, but then I saw Personally You Parties already covered most of them. Since I'm not about reinventing the wheel, check her out for some great parties.

So, I'll add my two cents with more fruit-inspired fun...

The Very Hungry Caterpillar inviteThe Very Hungry Caterpillar party collageYou must go check the rest of this party; she started the party off right with ADORABLE invites!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar balloon caterpillarUsing the Eric Carle Birthday Kit, check out this clever setup from Harri's Mom; I love, love love her balloon caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar mini cupcakesCute cupcakes bites for guests accompanied a themed smash cake

Fruit tagsCheck out awesome Alpha Mom's free fruit tag downloads; we've done her lunch box tags, it's nice for the kids to have a 'hug' from you during the day.

Fruit ValentineThese are perfect for Valentine's Day, but you can change the juicy puns to fit your party's theme.

We Go Wednesday - Ninja New York

Ninja New YorkMan, the Travel Channel is awesome! While watching "Extreme Restaurants", they spotlighted a few crazy places that I just have to share over the next couple of W.G.W. The first, Ninja New York.

It's a theme restaurant and the theme is...ninjas. Set up like a ninja castle in feudal days, there is the possibility of getting lost and/or ninja-attacked while you are being led to your booth. Swords and ninjas may pop through your booth at any given moment. Waiters go through a month long training in the ways of the ninja and impeccable service. "Ninja signatures" include guests breaking up a gigantic cheese cracker doubling as a crouton with a karate chop. Diners can order "floating sashimi", presented on a small plate within a huge bowl filled with dry ice.Ninja New York 2

Tuesday Trend - Advent Calendars

Pottery Barn advent calendarI know, 3 posts in one day! But I realize that next Tuesday is Dec. 1 and that's time to break out those advent calendars for Christmas. A few weeks ago I attended one of the Pottery Barn Kids' decorating series on Christmas. They have this absolutely fabulous pocketed calendar, but it's $69. So here are a few just as fabulous options, whether you want to purchase one or make your own...

1. Target's gift advent calendar is fun and affordable.
2. Pretty paper envelopes make a perfect countdown.
3. Although no longer available at Pottery Barn, this wall unit is a fun project for the woodworker in your life, plus it's perfect for year round use.
4. Got a drawer full of stray socks? Take a cue from Martha and turn it into a fun runner that is a perfect holiday reminder of how big those little feet are getting. Advent calendar collage
5. Got a drawer full of stay gift boxes? Here is a clever way to put them to good use with removable putty.

Tuesday Tutorial - Harvest Trees and Toilet Roll Pumpkins

OK, so the name of my blog is 'Not Just A Mommy' and yet, my posts almost always seem to eventually center around my kids. Case in point, our little harvest party yielded three crafts that would be perfect if you are having kids over for Thanksgiving and need to keep them out of the turkey. We made no-cook playdough and sponged harvest trees.Harvest tree painting 3Harvest tree painting 2harvest tree paintingUsing package sheets of posterboard, have guests draw the tree's bough with brown marker. I made cloud-shaped templates, taped them down with painters' tape and they sponged away with acrylic paint. We also made these cute pumpkins (courtesy of our children's museum...see, can't get away!).paper pumpkinOur guests wrapped toilet paper rolls and covered the ends with brown paper, then taped 1" by 11" strips of construction papers to each end of the roll. I hot-glued their choice of artificial leaves. Don't spend big bucks; check out the floral section of your dollar store and just strip off the leaves from a leaf bundle. Talk about thrifty fun, gotta save up for our Christmas soirees, you know!

Tuesday Trend - Turkey Treats

Turkey trat collageLooking for a few gobble-inspiring ways to keep those little (and big) hands busy? Set out lots of leftover Halloween candy for decorating these inspiring treats; this too-cute turkey cupcake or this Rice Krispies Turkey that doubles as a place setting.

Pretzels and peanut butter sorta kinda make this turkey treat slightly healthy.

"Baking" their hands is sure to be a hit!

Looking for healthy alternatives? Lots of great fruits make this little gobbler a great snack. This fruit gobbler is fun to make and will make the perfect centerpiece.

You must go check out Amy Atlas' Thanksgiving buffet these adorable cookies are part of.

Drink Of The Week - Whiskey Sour

Martha Stewart Whiskey SourKick off Thanksgiving in style by greeting guests with this old-fashioned drink...recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart Food and serves 8.

4 cups fresh orange juice (from 8 oranges)
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 8 lemons)
1 cup triple sec
2 1/2 cups whiskey
garnish: thinly sliced wedges of oranges, maraschino cherries

1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher; serve over ice, topped with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

Fiesta Friday (On A Saturday)/Color Party - Colorific Parties II

Another rainbow assortment of amazing parties. Looking for more fun? Check out Part I.....
White Hawaiian luau partyA white Hawaiian luau by Bo Peep Productions via Imprintables.

Pink ice-cream buffetPink confections and other treats rule this ice-cream buffet

Ladybug partyGo buggy over this ladybug party at TomKat Studio.

Orange kids' tableWhat a fun kids' table, inspired by the adult tables' palette of pink and orange poppies.

Sunflower partyA Stunning Affair's Under The Tuscan Sun bridal shower is chock full of great ideas for any party.

Frog partyI'm so much in love with The Frog Prince theme; I love when the party is personally inspired.

Breakfast at Melly's partyBreakfast At Melly's is the perfect theme for a slumber-party bridal shower inspired by the bride's favorite movie.

Real Party Sneak Peek - Pilgrim Hats and Ugly Sweaters

Yeah, I've been a bit slacky on the blog lately; I've just been super busy hitting up all the fabulous Christmas stores getting inspiration and trinkets for this year's Ugly Sweater Christmas party and prepping for two harvest-themed parties this week. I was a marshmellow-chocolate-dunking fool for these Pilgrim hats that are going to become cupcake toppers...Pilgrim hat treatsAnd speaking of Pilgrim hats, I thought I would share our Thanksgiving placecards that we made last year...Pilgrim hat placecardI pre-painted clay pots black, and everyone painted the band color and added the paper buckles and a black craft foam brim. After they dried, I wrote our names on with a Sharpie marker. Super easy to make and so much fun, you could have guests decorate theirs own early in the day, giving them plenty of time to dry before the meal.

And speaking of guests, how excited was I when my box with....Yum Box Christmas invites 2my fab party invites arrived! They are Yum Boxes, and I just had to have them. I ordered them from my favorite party spot, Plum Party, during their 75% off sale, and I got free shipping! They came with peppermint candies, but they looked kinda old, so I switched them out with snowflake confetti. I was going to do a sweater die-cut with knit material, but wouldn't you rather receive this?Yum Box Christmas invite

We Go Wednesday - Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Alderbrook Resort & SpaThis amazing place was our first choice for our Mother's Day weekend getaway, but alas, the gold-brick tree didn't bloom in time. But one day, some day....

Tuesday Trend - Cupcake Wrappers

Bella Cupcakes Couture Halloween cupcakesI love the idea of cupcake wrappers; bake or buy your favorite frosted cupcake and set inside the wrapper for a beautiful finish.

Carrie Middlemiss of Bella Cupcake Couture kindly sent me an email about her lovely company. Her boutique-style cupcakes wrappers are made of durable, heavy-stock recycled linen paper and soy-based inks. Their designs offer a sophisticated elegance to any special occasion.

And her wrappers are so super special, she was chosen as the Martha Stewart's "Doer of the Week"! And she's been featured at the dessert goddess herself with my other idol, Trophy Cupcakes. Check out their Flickr site for more fabulousness, if I could lick the screen I would.
cupcake wrapper collage
Don't limit yourself to just baked treats. Candy-filled cups can make a fabulous display or set at each place setting as a party favor. I'm inspired to share some other amazing cupcake wrappers from around the blogosphere, just in time for holiday baking...

Autumn damask from Cupcake Wrapture; poinsetta cups from Fancy Flours; my personal favorite - Paper Orchid Stationery's sunflower wrapper, snowflake wrapper from Wedding Things; silver holly wrapper and orange pumpkin wrapper from Cakes, Cookies & Crafts Shop.

Tuesday Tip - Invitation Consultants Little Artist's Contest

Invitation Consultants Little Artist CardsI'm so glad I received an email about this, because I don't know how I missed this!

The genius that is Invitation Consultants have created Little Artist's Cards as a way to share your child's awesome creations with family and friends. The cards have a space for your child's drawing or painting and a space for a photo of the little artist.

They are having a contest to win 25 Little Artist's Cards. Contest ends next Tuesday the 24th, so skedaddle over, wouldn't they make the bestest Christmas cards?

Drink Of The Week - Early Autumn Cocktail

I'm not sure why it's called "early autumn" but it serves 8 and sounds tasty! Recipe courtesy of In Style Parties.

1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Galliano
1/4 cup honey liqueur

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker, pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with flowering thyme sprigs.

We Go Wednesday - Dealbreaker

So, today's W.G.W. isn't a physical location, but it is just as entertaining. OK, I'm stretching that a bit. OK, you got me, I'm tooting my own horn today.

I love me some 30 Rock, and if you haven't been watching it, you should, because anything Tina Fey does is side-splitting. Who's that? Oh come on, you know her from her dead-on impressions of Sarah Palin during the elections last year. Oh yeah, she also wrote this little movie called Mean Girls.

Long story short, one of the episodes deals with romantic advice to the audience at a TV show. My favorite has to be when an audience member says ' "My boyfriend has been acting really weird since he got promoted at his job--" ' to which Tina Fey's Liz Lemon replies ' "Yeah, he thinks he deserves a vajayjay upgrade. He doesn't. He's not Tom Brady. Shut it down. Deal breaker!" '

Inspired by such inspiration is the site Dealbreaker - devoted to anything capable of ruining everything. Sample Dealbreakers include "You Watch The Hills", "You're Lady Gaga" and my personal favorite "You're Wal-mart". Oh, is that me? Why yes it is! Inspired by my dislike of Crocs and Wal-mart, I decided to channel my inner Liz Lemon and shut it down. And to disclaim, I had nothing to do with the photo, the genius that is the Dealbreaker crew did that. I love that his name tag says 'Facebook'...hmmm...subtle message there?

Oh, and second disclaimer to the couple of people who have emailed and commented asking why do I complain and go somewhere else to shop, I say to each their own. People jump out of perfectly good planes for fun and others wax their bikini area, to which I say "Why, why, why?" but to each their own. If you've had a fab time at Wal-mart, good for you!

I was just there the other day, and I swear the people in front had to be buying $200 worth of produce, all requiring weighing, counting and typing in codes. I kid you not. Plus, I've been under the weather and desperate to get out of the house and my befuddled brain figured that being early afternoon meant less people would be there. I must have stood there for 15 minutes; meanwhile my befuddled brain kept debating if I should move, but damn it, I'm next, while popping cough drops and hacking into tissue. It's just a cough, no swine flu thank you. Just one of those that wakes you up from a deep sleep, forcing you downstairs for more medicine while your husband 'sleeps'. I know he hears me. When he goes to bed first, I can creep in later with the skills of a ninja and he says 'I can hear you.' I'm hacking up a lung and he's dead to the world.

Wow, that train derailed fast. It's been awhile since I've ranted and raved. Good for me!

Tuesday Trend - (Sesame) Street Smarts

Today's trend is perfect because today is the icon's 40th birthday. I can't believe that it's been around that long...and then I remember, I've been around almost as long. Sigh. Ok, so my kids won't come near Elmo with a ten-foot pole, but I would force the little one to have a Sesame Street party just to attempt to make these....
Bakerella Sesame Street popsBakerella Sesame Street pops 2Run, run, run over to Bakerella; she has a full tutorial, pictures, sketches, everything you need! And if you need some help planning the party around the treats, check out my previous post on some fab parties. And if that's not enough, and here are a few more to get those creative juices flowing!
Hostess Sesame Street candy buffetHWTM's decadent candy buffet, perfect for the young and young-at-heart.

Abby Cadabby 1st birthday collageA very elegant Abby Cadabby party, perfectly appropriate for 1 year old Abby. Don't you love the themed sippy cups?

Elmo party tableI love that this toddler Elmo party requested guests to wear red.

Cookie Monster/Big Bird treatsMe want Nick^D's Cookie Monster cupcake! How fun would it be to send guests home with a cute Big Bird lollipop?

Tuesday Tip/Tutorial - Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Cinnamon Apple MuffinsLooking for a new Thanksgiving tradition? How about a Thanksgiving Day Breakfast featuring...

Cinnamon Apple Muffins - recipe courtesy of My Punchbowl
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsps baking powder
¾ cup sugar
1½ tsps baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup of whole milk
1/3 cup of melted butter
1 egg
1 cup peeled, cored and diced Granny Smith apples
1 cup cinnamon chips
muffin or cupcake liners

1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Mix the milk, butter, egg, apples and cinnamon chips together, then add to the flour mixture, stirring until smooth.

3. Fill each muffin liner about 2/3 full, then bake in a 365 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

4. Allow the muffins to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving them.

Punchbowl Giveaway Winners

Congrats to Melissa and Chriss for their Thanksgiving comments, and I'm going to have to check out that Souper Suppers...Chriss if you could please email me I can get you in contact for your membership upgrade.

Drink Of The Week - Pumpkin Pie Martini

Rachel Ray pumpkin pie martiniAnother 'Yum-O!' moment from Rachel Ray...this recipe makes two cocktails.

2 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces crème de cacao
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
whipped cream, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add liquors, heavy cream, pumpkin pie spice and shake well.

2. Dip the rims of 2 martini glasses into a bowl of whipped cream. Strain the cocktail into the glasses.

(Not) Food For Thought

I love the idea of making treats that look like other foods; here are a few fun ideas to try for your next kid's (and kids at heart) shindig.

FamilyFun Not Food collageA tasty plethora of goodies from FamilyFun; chicken not pie, sweet sushi, fried egg sundae faux french fries, and pizza cake.

Not food collageA Baked Creation's clever candy kabob. For my son's SpongeBob party, I was inspired by FamilyFun to make Krabby Patty hamburger cupcake toppers. How in love are you with Smiley's Sweets and Creations popcorn cupcakes?

Hello Cupcake collageTreasures from Hello Cupcake! include an inspiring TV dinner; the drumsticks are candy melts and the "gravy" is caramel sauce.

Fiesta Friday - A Fall Hoot-enanny!

Needing some clever ideas for a fun fall party? While looking through Matthew Mead's Monster Book Of Halloween, I discovered the cutest Owl-oween Party, but really couldn't you use it anytime? Change the colors to fit the occasion; pastel for a baby shower or gender-specific colors for a birthday, or whatever you like! Thus today's inspiration....
Owl Party Invite CollageGet The Party Started
They may be for a wizard party, but you can still download and use these scroll invites and place cards. I love the colors of Polka Dot Design's owl invite; this blue and brown owl invite from My Good Greetings has clean lines and simple perfection.
Owl Party Decor CollageSetting The Scene
Bring in natural elements like grapevine wreaths to mimic bird nests and manzanita branches adorned with small owls. Of course you have to use feathers, like this beautiful wreath from Zofia Design.
Owl Party Treat CollageThe Munchies
If you have the skills, this owl cake will blow your guests away. Catching Fireflies' too cute owl cupcakes and Bright Ideas' owl cookies have easy tutorials to follow. Transform moonpies into clever treats; serve these chocolate owls or send them as favors. Adorn cupcakes with these cupcake topper downloads from Rock Scissors Paper.
Owl Party Craft Collage
What To Do
Check out petit elefant's DIY for a fun party activity; make their felt bean bags and let guests glue on the features. Or set out paper bags and craft supplies for this inspired owl craft. I know that owls don't live in birdhouses, but setting out small wooden birdhouses (check out your local craft or dollar store) to paint would still work.
Owl Party Favor CollageSend Them Home With A Smile
End the party with Favormaker's owl favor box filled with treats or this cute Stampin Up! favor bag.
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