Landscaping Trends That Step up Outdoor Spaces, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, Winter 2022

The Winter 2022 issue of Elegant Lifestyles Magazine came out last week and in it are two of my articles. Researching the latest landscaping trends put me in the mood for warmer weather and an update of our backyard. I don’t know what we’re doing with the space that used to house a swing set. No rush, thank goodness, because there are so many ideas to choose from!

Candy Cane Cocktail, Peppermintinis

Image source: Brad Hollad for Delish.com

Are you a fan of peppermint? How about when it’s combined with chocolate?

One of my daughters shared Peppermint Bark that a friend made and it was soooo sweet! These Peppermintinis from Delish.com are like holiday bark in a drink! I included this recipe for Peppermintinis in my article for Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, “Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas: Gatherings with Family and Friends” along with lots of other fun ideas.

Happy holidays, hon!

Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas, Published In Elegant Lifestyles Magazine Winter 2021

Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, which shut down during the pandemic, debuted its return with a Winter 2021 Holiday Issue. Two of my articles appear in the magazine: “Ready, Set, Glow! Creative Hosting Ideas: Gatherings with Family and Friends” and “Seven Healthy Habits–(Self Care During Stressful Times).”

For the feature article, I thought about how winter holidays appeal to our senses and researched fun ways to add warmth and welcome from the moment guests step in the door. Can you tell I enjoyed coming up with section titles? “Let’s Take an Elfie” = sight. “Happy New Ear” = sound. “Spice it Up” = Scent. “Warm and Toast-y = taste. “Fleece Navidad = Touch. So many ideas to make get-togethers even more inviting and special.

Happy holiday hosting!

Hosting for the Holidays Hot Cocoa Bar

Image source: Southbound Bride
Image source: In Fine Taste

Sweater Weather!

As soon as it gets dark at 5pm and morning frost hardens blades of grass, I crave a hot drink every night. Hot chocolate is my favorite winter aperitif, so when researching ideas for an upcoming magazine article on creative hosting ideas, my favorite idea was–you guessed it–a Hot Cocoa Bar!

Easy Kids Activity: Why not ask older kids and tweens to participate? Set up a separate table with a wintery tablecloth or a cleared countertop. Supply mugs and spoons, mix-ins and containers, and labels and markers, and let the kids set up the display with a place saved for the hot cocoa. After you add the hot drink, they can be in charge of introducing the Hot Cocoa Bar to the rest of the guests.

Perk of the “job?” They get first dibs!

Supplies and Ingredients:

  • mugs, saucers, spoons
  • carafe of cocoa or hot water and powdered cocoa
  • containers with or without labels
  • mix-ins such as cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, toasted coconut, crushed toffee or whatever are the fan favorites
  • whipped cream and marshmallows

Note: Depending on diet preferences, ingredients may be parve (dairy free), gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan.

Happy hosting, hon!

Fall Fete (Dessert and Decor)


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I recently hosted a Fall Fete, or festive celebration.

Hon, you know how much I love a theme.  And baking.  Combining my favorite season with decor and dessert energized me more than usual.  The morning after the Get Together, we drove through the stunning Lehigh Valley to visit one of our college daughters.  I guess I was still buzzing from the night before because, when I ordered coffee with lunch, the Barista said, “Decaf for you?”

Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.
Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.

Look what I found at Trader Joe’s.  I’d never heard of pumpkin trees before, but apparently that’s what those branches with real, mini pumpkins growing on them are called.

Window display.
Window display.  I love to merchandise!

I love merchandising!
I collect decor for every season and am a big fan of using what I  have and embellishing it.

Snoopy-dressed-as-a-pumpkin and youngest daughter's ceramic bunnies welcome friends.
Snoopy-Dressed-as-a-Pumpkin and Youngest Daughter’s ceramic bunnies welcome friends.

It must be the children's writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!
It must be the children’s writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!

Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House.
Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House Kit.

I couldn’t resist this Haunted House Kit from Williams-Sonoma.  Orange icing inspired the Decorate-Your-Own-Cupcake Station.  The flavor of the icing is

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…candy corn!  And the Hershey Kisses aren’t chocolate, they’re pumpkin spice!  So much yumminess!

Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.
Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.

Apple Crumble
Apple Crumble.

You can bet I tried a little of everything!

Menu:

Pumpkin Muffins

Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rice Krispie Treats (made with M & M’s and candy corn)

Crudites

Dried Fruit

Chips-n-Salsa

Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins 

Drinks:

Hot Apple Cider

Hot Chocolate

Coffee and Tea

Wine

A candy bat is caught in a giant spider's web.
A candy bat is caught in a giant spider’s web.

The candy corn fence is adorable.
The candy corn fence is adorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!
Assembling the Haunted House looked like fun.  Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe:  click here

Apple Crumble Recipe:  post under construction (source, Mama’s Gotta Bake)