Happy Thanksgiving!

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We hope that all of you have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! We do because of all of you! Enjoy your day with friends and family relaxing and eating too much!

Making the Perfect Turkey

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The secret to making the perfect holiday turkey is brine! Find out how to brine your bird just in time for the holidays. Brining meat is flavoring by soaking in a salt water solution. Brining locks in moisture and makes the meat tender. This will ensure your turkey is always moist, savory and flavorful.

Chances are the space in your refrigerator will be taken up with other food, considering the time of year. Real estate in the fridge is very valuable around the holidays. You will need to keep turkey cold for 5-8 hours. Either buy brining bags or use a large cooler that is large enough to hold the bird and brine solution.

When purchasing your bird, check the label to make sure it has not been pre-brined. If the turkey is frozen, make sure to thoroughly thaw it before brining and always do this at a safe rate. Remove all leg ties and discard giblets from neck and body cavity. Trim any extra fat and cut off the tail. Rinse the bird with cold water inside and out. Then pat dry the interior and exterior with paper towels.

The next step is figuring out how much cold water solution is needed to brine turkey. Add the turkey to a large cooler (make sure cooler has been thoroughly cleaned) and pour enough cold water to completely cover the turkey. Remove turkey from the water and measure the water that remains in the cooler.

To make brine solution add the following ingredients per gallon of cold water.

  • ¾ cup coarse kosher salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper.

Add the salt and sugar to the boiling water, mix to combine. Cool the mixture in the fridge overnight. Pour the mixture into the cold water and add pepper. Stir to combine.  Add savory flavor add 5 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of cracked black peppercorns. Stir the mixture once again.

Place the turkey back in the cooler. The bird and brine will need to be cooled for 5-8 hours. Place several re-sealable bags of ice into the cooler. Every couple of hours check cooler to see if the bags of ice need to be refreshed. Also mix contents when checking on bags of ice.

Proceed with cooking the turkey as usual. Keep in mind that a brined turkey will cook faster, therefore use a meat thermometer and check meat frequently! Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. 

Brining your turkey will guarantee that your bird will be moist and flavorful. Enjoy your holiday dinner!

Using Pumpkins in Your Thanksgiving Décor

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It is a popular custom to carry the pumpkins from Halloween through Thanksgiving. Find out more creative ways to incorporate the orange gourd into your holiday decorations. They are not just for doorsteps anymore! The pumpkin is making its way onto the table; not only as food but for serving and as table décor.

Hollow out pumpkins and use them to hold dip. Make sure you clean the inside well. The pumpkin will work for any dip; they work best containing pumpkin flavored items. If you do not want the pumpkin flavor to sink in, find a circular, clear container that will fit into the hollow in the pumpkin.

You can also use a hollowed-out pumpkin as a vase to display on the holiday dinner table. Hollow out the pumpkin and insert a large can or a cylindrical container that will keep the flowers standing upright. You can make one large arrangement for the center of the table and use the tiny pumpkins as place cards. Simply write guests name on the smaller pumpkin with a sharpie and place in front of the plate. If you do not fancy your handwriting you can use sticker decals, used for scrapbooking.

Baby pumpkins are actually quite versatile. Use them to hold tapered candles on your dinner table. Place the base of the candle on top of the pumpkin and trace a circle onto the pumpkin. Cut out the hole and make sure there is enough room to insert the candle into the top. Include small branches and other foliage to create a firm hold. Place around your table and light the candles during Thanksgiving dinner.

Smaller pumpkins can also be used as a filler. Hurricanes lanterns that are normally used to shield candles from the wind can be filled with the small pumpkins and placed around the table. These filled hurricane lanterns can be placed anywhere in the home.  Outdoors surrounding the front door creates a lovely welcome for guests.

Don’t leave out this popular gourd during the Thanksgiving season.  Halloween shouldn’t get all of the great decorations!

No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas for Little Ones

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Carving pumpkins is a fun activity every Halloween. However it is not the safest for children under the age of ten. Find out many different ways to decorate a pumpkin with your small child, without losing creativity.

Do you have a “Mr. Potato Head”? The face pieces for this toy can be used to decorate pumpkins. You can buy these face pieces in kits for Mr. and Mrs. Potato head. Your child can press the pieces into the pumpkin’s surface and come up with the craziest configuration possible! They can even re-arrange the face as many times as they want. This will ensure they are having fun and making their pumpkin perfect. The pumpkin is transformed into a funny face and it will also stay fresher much longer because you are not hollowing it out.

Use a golf tee and a rubber mallet to create beautiful pumpkin luminaries. Hollow the insides out first (a job only for the parent, although removing the pumpkin innards can be left to those who appreciate messy hands!). Let your child choose a design and print it out to use as a template. Show your child how to hammer the golf tee through the pumpkin and let them go to work! Your child will be occupied for more than ten minutes and the end result is beautiful.

Let your child paint the pumpkin to create a scary jack-o-lantern, scary face or their favorite character. The choices are endless as long as you have an array of paint colors. You can even add a fun hat to the pumpkin. Paint a green witch’s face, equipped with ugly moles and top it off with a witch’s hat!

Gauze is an inexpensive item that can be used to create Mummy heads. Decide what type of eyes your pumpkin will have. You can use Mr. Potato Head parts, paint eyes or find scary eye stickers. Then once your eyes are on the pumpkin, let your child wrap the pumpkin with gauze to create a mummy head. You could even add some fake blood to the gauze, to make the pumpkin even scarier!

No matter how you choose to decorate your pumpkin, make sure everyone has a fun and safe Halloween this year!

Mysterious and Beautiful Halloween Wedding Ideas

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A Halloween themed wedding isn’t for everyone of course, but some couples love the spookiest holiday of the year and they find it very romantic. If this happens to be you, bravo! The opportunities to create a splendid, memorable, and unique event are endless.  The best way to go about planning a wedding with this theme is to strike a balance between elegance and tradition so it doesn’t seem too kitschy. Try some of these ideas!

  • Serve water at dinner with dry ice misting out of the glass.
  • Use a mini coffin box to hold the rings while the ring bearer is carrying them.
  • Write your vows on vintage parchment paper, roll up, and tie with a beautiful black and purple ribbon. Have a member of the wedding party present the vows on an antique tray when it’s time to read them.
  • Wrap pumpkins in black or white lace and secure at the top with a boa
  • Use Dia de los Muertos figurines for the wedding couple cake topper.
  • If you’re having an outdoor wedding in an area surrounded by trees hang dozens of lanterns in the tree branches to light the ceremony from overhead.
  • Design the dinner table using all black chairs and table, white dishes, and black vases filled with white roses. If you’d like the theme to be slightly creepy place plastic spiders throughout the flowers.
  • Decorate faux trees as you would at Christmas. But rather than green trees use black trees and decorate them with silver, black, and white ornaments. When the tree is fully decorated spray everything with silver and black glitter so it sparkles.
  • On a large white pumpkin hand paint the phrase, “Till Death Do Us Part.” If possible, paint the letters in traditional calligraphy.
  • Carry a bouquet of dark yellow sunflowers, and use them for table centerpieces as well.
  • Have the flower girl carry black and red rose petals and yellow sunflower petals in a pumpkin pail. (Use a fancier version of those typically used by trick-or-treaters.)
  • Serve the formal dinner with a Halloween theme by asking the chef to prepare the mashed potatoes to look like ghosts and to make the squash look like mini pumpkins.
  • If the bride is going to walk a long path to the alter frame it with a large trellis made of multi-colored fall foliage. Line the path on both sides with candle lit jack-o-lanterns that have been carved with wedding themes. 

How To Dress the Bridal Party for an Elegant Halloween Wedding

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There are several ways to guide the theme of a Halloween wedding. Certainly you can try a cutesy theme with a cartoon and Disneyesque vibe. However, another option you might want to consider is “dark elegance.” There is something beautiful about an air of mystery and All Hallow’s Eve is the ideal time to capitalize on it.

The level of formality at most weddings is dictated by the attire. It is, of course, the bride who sets the tone for the day so pay plenty of attention to how you will dress and require everyone to follow suit. After all you’re the star of the show on your wedding day. If you want your wedding to be pure class in the midst of a darkly romantic ambience, then start with the decision about color. Halloween is associated with black, orange, and purple for the most part. When planning colors for a wedding it never hurts to work white into the scheme, even if the wedding will be primarily dark tones.  

An excellent color for the bridal gown is purple, and because Halloween is generally an overstated event we recommend a traditional ball gown. In keeping with the sense of mystique we most definitely recommend a veil with a long train. If you prefer to keep the wedding dress a light color, try experimenting with lavender instead of white. A large bustle with tiered layers adds a nice touch as well. Once your decision is made, use the opposite color for you bridesmaids and maid of honor. So, if your dress is purple have them wear lavender and vice versa. Next think about accessories. Lace is commonly associated with darkly romantic themes so include laces gloves for yourself and all of the gals.

In the spirit of the holiday we recommend adorning the ladies’ hairstyles with oversized fascinators made of flowers, feathers, and tulle.  Another elegant and lovely accessory is a mask. Think along the lines of the beautiful and intricately designed masks used during Mardi Gras. If weather will be warm be sure to use masks that breathe and are lightweight. Otherwise your makeup will melt. The final consideration is your bouquet. Choose flowers that are in line with the fall season and exude class and good taste. Skip the orange and try white, black and purple flowers. Once the bouquet is designed ask the florist to spray it liberally with silver glitter so it has an element of magic.  

Memorial Day

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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How To Care For Your New Lilies – Part 2

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Part 2 – The transition phase

Spring delivers so much beauty! Thankfully this includes seemingly infinite flowers that are fond of cool yet temperate conditions, not the least of which are Easter Lilies. They sure are lovely but if you’re not a gardener you may be baffled about how to care for them, so we created this two-part guide. In Part 1, we discussed the flowering phase. Now, let’s discuss the transition phase.

The Easter Lilly will have dead blooms throughout its flowering phase. When this occurs be sure to promptly remove any dead blooms. This ensures that your plant will remain focused on nurturing its existing buds, rather than turning its attention to toward next year which requires it to nurture the bulb from which it grew.

You can enjoy the flowering phase of the Easter Lilly into summer. As summer ends and fall approaches, you have three options. Plant the bulb for next spring, give it to someone with a garden if you don’t have a place to grow it, or be happy that you enjoyed it for a long time and be done. If you have the opportunity to replant your Easter Lilly it’s a fairly easy task for which to prepare.

Near the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the blooms will have ceased and the foliage will begin to turn brown. This doesn’t mean it is dead! It just means it’s ready to go into “hibernation” until next spring. Once the foliage begins to brown (but not die entirely) ensure it gets approximately six hours of sunlight each day. If you live in a cold climate, do this indoors until any threat of frost has passed. Refer to your local news weather reports. They typically keep track of frost activity. Once temperatures outside are warm enough you can move the plant outdoors to finish its transformation. Leave it in the pot for a short bit if you like, and then it is ready for planting! 

How To Care For Your New Lilies

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Part 1 – The blooming phase

Spring has made her grand debut! As such, there’s a very good chance that you just received the gift of an Easter Lilly. While its trumpet shaped quirkiness may amuse and delight you, you might find yourself wondering, “How in the world do I keep this thing alive?” It’s actually quite easy! Just follow our guide.

To start, determine which room in your house offers up the best environment for your new plant. Easter Lilies are most comfortable at cooler indoor temperatures. A good zone during the day is 60-65 F, and at night 55-60 F. Heat in general is not conducive to a happy lilly so keep the plant away from drafts of hot, dry air. Avoid areas near home appliance, HVAC vents, fireplaces, etc. Next, consider light. This plant will positively thrive in plenty of indirect light. Never place it in direct sunlight as this will quickly cause it to wilt. Since bringing your Easter Lilly home you may have noticed that it is rather fond of leaning. Simply turn it each day so that it gets 360 degree exposure to light, which will curb it’s inclination toward the light source.

The big question we typically have about caring for any kind of plant is, “How much do I water it?” Basically this plant likes average amounts of moisture in the soil. Not too wet, not too dry. It does not respond at all well to overwatering. It’s especially important to avoid leaving it sitting in standing water. Most flowering plants are sold in a pot that is covered in a pretty foil wrapping. Be sure to remove it each time you water, or transfer the plant to a proper flower pot.  If you don’t do this, the Easter Lilly will essentially drown in the water trapped at the bottom of the foil wrapping. If you aren’t yet ready to pot the plant, it is okay to return it to the foil wrapper but only after the water has drained. To water it properly, place it in the shade outside or in the sink. Saturate the soil, let it drain, and then you can put it back in the foil wrapper. The flowering part of the plant is also fond of a bit of humidity. If you happen to live in a dry environment you can try keeping it in a well ventilated bathroom that will provide moisture. There is also another little trick for simulating humidity. Place the flower pot on a saucer that has a layer of small stones in water. With the appropriate amount of moisture the new, unopened buds will be sure to reach maturity. 

Next read Part 2 – The transition phase